Adjuncts of Love
February 6, 2000
I arrived at the TV studio terribly late. There was no time for hair or makeup, they just shoved me right in. I was introduced to my co-interviewee
another online sex diarist amid the clamor of assistants rushing, wheeled machines rolling and the host doing loud throat exercises.
You know how you can instantly get the necessary information from the way someone’s shirt falls from their shoulders and around their wrists? Or how the organization of acne scars, wrinkles and downcast eyes tells you they have the exact right amount of pain history to suit your present philosophy? Well, I knew immediately that my co-interviewee belonged inside me. Then I remembered that I was there with my husband.
“How old are you?” was the first thing I said to my fellow diarist. I wanted
something with an exact answer. I think that passion might lie in plain facts as much as in emotions and opinions. I don’t know for sure because I’ve never approached it that way. I’ve never had a cold hard romance. I want to find out how it works.
During the show, he kept using my name. I laughed and gave stupid answers to the questions, or no answers at all. He had long answers but I can’t remember any of them. When it was over, an assistant led me and Dave through several corridors and glass doors. I thought I’d never see my fellow diarist again. Right as we got to the last door, he caught up with us. “I just thought of something,” he said to me. It was a work-related item that necessitated him giving me his number. He wrote it down on an uninflated balloon that was all we could find that second and it seemed like everything had to happen that second and then he put the balloon in his shirt pocket and walked away.
“Um . . . the balloon?” I called after him.
“Oh yeah,” he said, and sort of threw the balloon at me and ran away.
“Well he was pretentious,” said Dave as soon as we were out on the
street. “How he enunciates every word.”
“I was attracted to him,” I said. “Do you care?”
“I don’t care, but I don’t want to talk about him either. Because he’s
“Maybe it’s because I know he had sex six hours before we met,” I continued. I did want to talk about him. “I read his diary over breakfast today. He had bad sex this morning, he wrote.”
We passed a sex shop with bamboo canes in the window. I wanted Dave to buy
one and cane me. They were only two dollars, and he had the money, but he
refused because “that stuff is just silly.” Oh yeah, but getting all
dreamy-eyed over a man dressed like a stewardess from the fifties is so substantial. I’d been listening for days with a fascinated expression while he went on and on about his drag queen. And then he totally brushed my online diarist aside and wouldn’t buy me one little cane, either. I was really very irritated.
On the drive home, Dave marveled over and over about his infatuation with someone who has a penis. He kept saying “I don’t care” and holding his palms up like it was this miraculous thing not to care about a penis’s existence.
“Why is your crush so worth talking about and I can’t talk about mine?” I
“Because my crush is a beautiful, sexy creature and your crush is a
I called him the second I got home. He accused me of having put Dave on the
spot during the show because I spoke fondly of past lovers in front of
him. He called me a freak! He said Dave should have been excused from the
room. I told him that’s what he does he excuses his girlfriend right out of her own life. He pretends it’s fiction, and he uses that word as
an excuse to turn her from a person into material, changing whatever is
convenient to prove his point, ignoring the fact that that’s her day
he’s pilfering. Everything I do is clear. His girlfriend doesn’t even know about his column. That’s why I’m not using his name. She didn’t know he
was on the phone with me. Dave was twenty-five feet away, and could hear any
part of this conversation he wanted, as long as he didn’t get bored and go
watch TV (which he did).
I told him I detested the way he wrote that his girlfriend wasn’t very pretty, and how he described what was wrong with her face, habits, beliefs and I told him I was also attracted to it. I said I wanted him to criticize me, because I’m overly confident and nothing bothers me, and I want to be bothered.
“You didn’t appear over-confident at the studio. You were shaking.”
“I have stage fright. That’s not lack of confidence, it’s just stage fright,
like arachnophobia or something. Plus, it’s kind of cute that I shake, no?
But see, that’s what I like that I tell you what I want and you tell me
I’m wrong. Even if you’re wrong about how I’m wrong. It feels . . . um . . . fresh.”
I wondered if I was breaking rules. As far as I can tell, the policy Dave and I have is that you can say any devilish thing you like to your crush, and do just about anything with them but when you start caring about what they think . . . well, that’s definitely not okay. I imagine this is the most common form of open marriage.
I wanted to argue with my fellow diarist all night long. That’s attraction.
But as the conversation progressed, he used the word “funky” three times,
which is hideously repellent. He also used “dig” as a verb, which isn’t so
bad all alone, but when you combine it with “freaked out” and then add
“edgy” as a compliment . . . well, by then, everything the man said was suspect. I don’t mind naïve misuse of words, but this was blatant, conscious use of “with-it” words. Even “empathetic” was borderline. I mean, the man barely knew me, and he brought empathy into it. I find empathy very personal, it’s like religion.
But then he started a new sentence with “As adjuncts go . . . ” and that’s when his speech patterns crossed over from annoying and dumb and wrong to endearing. So he ended up passing the test as to whether I could have a relationship with him which meant of course, with my marriage and all, I could not have a relationship with him.
This morning Dave played me a song that he wrote last night. He sang in
a Curtis Mayfield voice, so the words were kind of hard to decipher, but they went something like this: “Cold dark night, shimmy straight into the spotlight. Sweet high sensitive thing, you dance so . . . discourteously. I won’t bother you, just watching you . . . burrrrrn. Won’t dance with you, just watching you burrrrrn.”
Obviously it was about his drag queen. He wrote me right out of the night we
met her! I don’t write him out of things. I set him up with that
transvestite because I love him and I don’t want him to die without trying
something that I know intrigues him. I did it because it’s one of the ways
my husband and I flirt with each other in and around and through these
other people. You have to be really careful, living like this. You have
to be alert, or you might be surprised to discover that what you’re doing is leaving someone. I hope Dave knows that.
I wonder what Dave’s “sweet high sensitive thing” would think if she knew he
wears his rustly red jacket around the house every single day, the one that makes him look like an overripe raspberry with a puny head on top and two skinny legs sticking out the bottom. Rustle, rustle. And that he plays Sting’s new CD even when I’m home. No one likes that CD, not even old people. There’s only one person in the whole world who likes it, and I live with him. It’s not fair. I feel lonely.
I wonder if my fellow diarist would have caned me.
Dave and I were cleaning the house. I was still sulking. He picked up one of
those hard plastic sticks that you twist to open venetian blinds. It had fallen off its tiny gold hook. It was two feet long and very skinny. He looked at me with the thing in his hand and said, “Take your pants down.”
I got venetian blinded!
Lisa Carver and Nerve.com, Inc.