June 25, 2001
“There is no toilet,” Bernadette said to the young man. “Two boyfriends were fighting and one put toilet paper rolls down the flush holes and clogged all the indoor toilets. You have to use the porta-potties outside.” The disappointed young man headed for the awful Porta-potties. We were at the Nerve party. Oiled contortionists contorted atop tables; Em and Lo were borne aloft on a dark cloud of underwear-clad, humping men; and very large HBO cameras and boom mics insinuated themselves as the third (or fourth) party in every makeout session. Bernadette and I were on a date. We huddled on a short, square chair, our ship in an ocean of spilling, erratic people. Whenever one would come close, Bernadette would lie to him or her. Of course there was no homosexual quarrel resulting in clogged toilets she made that young man go to the Porta-potties for nothing. If she were my wife, I wouldn’t let her trick people to their detriment, but cruelty looks a lot better on a date. At least normally it does. I’d spent most of the previous two weeks sleeping in hospitals (with two family members one had a quadruple bypass, the other an extra-complicated tonsilectomy), dreaming about Bernadette’s modesty the first time we met. In hospitals, you get woken up every seventeen minutes by someone crying for their mother, by the beeping pulse-ox, by nurses taking temperatures and rolling bodies over, by chipper morning doctors shaking your shoulder and saying, “How did the night go?” I don’t usually remember dreams, but since I’d get woken up every time a dream started, I’d lay there thinking about it until I was asleep and the dream would continue: Bernadette coming to me with her covered body, her face and hands radioactive, and I’d reach for her and she’d pull away. And now here she was for real, not trying to get away from me at all. She was looking for trouble. How could I tell her I wanted no trouble, I wanted her to be so good she would bring peace to all sick people? It’s not a normal attitude to bring to a date. I was secretly trying to get her to read my mind, but she stole the drink of a man wearing a shirt but no pants instead.
My boss Genevieve had been trying to get me to go into the party’s Exhibitionist Booth all night. People were doing dirty stuff in there mostly Grant’s new German girlfriend and her string of lesbian lovers while a hidden camera projected it all onto a giant screen above the dance floor, but at that moment the pink shack was uninhabited. Genevieve is another person who has a restrained and illuminated appearance normally, but that night she was touching strange men, slipping out for drunken rides with girls. Still, she was the hostess of the party, and if she had asked me to
Dave picked me up at the bus station the next day and took me out to eat. He didn’t believe me that nothing happened between me and Bernadette once we got to my hotel room. He liked not believing me, so I let him. He kept wanting to hear about the party-goers: the gorgeous girl on rollerskates, the famous people. But I just wanted to talk about Big John, the Carabella’s regular who, on the night I first met Bernadette, knocked the guy who’d looked at his woman into the next room with his big belly. I bet sex with him is short, squashing and ultra-satisfying. He must have a big one, I said to Dave, leaning across the table why else would that woman stay with a dumb alcoholic like that? “When does the nightmare end?” she’d wailed at the bar. When Big John takes her home and Heaven’s door opens, that’s when. Dave’s face got red and I got a suspicion. I felt under the table, and it was true he had a big john. It wasn’t just erect: It was going to break his pants! We got in the car and I said, “Take it out.” He did, and he put my hand on it. It was the first time I’d touched it naked in weeks. This is the longest standoff we’d ever had, but the second I touched it, it was like I’d never stopped. This old, tall, familiar staff rising up between two zipper halves, made that way from perverted, disgusting stories that I wouldn’t even print here. Not because they’re so wild . . . they’re not wild; merely gross and perplexing to anyone I tell but Dave. His hand found its way up my skirt for the first time in weeks and rubbed two fingers up and down, then patted and hit, then made circles, and I forgot to criticize his driving. Lightning lit up the sky whiter than it ever is during the day. It was flashing over and over, and Dave and I drove into it and drove our hands down, up, around, down, and I felt really proud that we never broke up, I felt really happy to have his hand on me because it’s legal and I said I want it in front of God and the most longwinded preacher there ever was, on a rock island in another storm almost exactly two years ago. Then he switched to just the long, firm strokes, and I started panting. I don’t think I panted the last time we had sex I think I was too angry. It felt like I’d be in danger if I let him hear me pant, like he might find out that he’s the one I really want. I don’t know what bad thing I think he could do with that information.
“Something wrong?” he teased. “You sound funny.” That was his way of saying, “I know I got you. It’s all right I like having you.”
Twenty-four hours later, we’d be not speaking to each other again. But it wouldn’t be a very hostile not-speaking-to-each-other. I’d still drive him to work (his car was at the garage), and I’d ask my friend in L.A. about getting a show for Dave to play there. Sometimes it’s just overwhelming to be so close to someone and know you need them and they can’t be replaced you need to rest a minute inside some distance, in a little hostility.
Lisa Carver and Nerve.com, Inc.