The (Early) Lisa Diaries

Pin it


The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  

Hot European Lover Nihilist

When I’m a hundred years old and too blind for TV, too deaf for company and too cranky for dessert, I don’t want to be bored. In my senile mind, I’ll go over and over the ten most exciting things that have ever happened to me. In that list will surely be a couple of nights I spent with an unhappy young Belgian, and with whom I exchanged nothing more than one kiss. And a little blood. My first husband Jean Louis had secured a spot for our naked opera in a German festival, and afterwards we played two shows in Belgium. This is where I had my speeded-up Leaving Las Vegas–romance, eight years before the movie was made.

July 11, 1990

In Belgium people are furtive, walkways are narrow and trees are black with thousands of tiny white blossoms. At the club where we performed, I ate strawberries and cream while the owners told us about people fighting in the streets and police beating people and people throwing things at the police. One of them showed us his bruises, cuts and scars. After our show, the place turned into a dance club. I was in good cheer. I felt the music moving along my body. I saw a man in the shadows, looking taut — like he didn’t want to be there but didn’t want to leave either. I went up to him and pulled on his arm and teased him, but he remained silent. I became serious: “What is in your silence?” (I was using French, and everything I say in French sounds fancy like that.)


“Nothing,” he answered, “nothing at all.”


“I want to know it, your nothing,” I said. (“Je le veux connaitre, votre rien.”)




“Because I think there is more in your nothing than there is in all of their ‘something’ put together.” (I’m an impulse buyer, and an impulse faller-in-love. I was already completely devoted to the gloomy Belgian, ready to leave my husband and my lovers to be nearer his silence.)


“Give me your drink,” I said. But he wouldn’t. “I’m just a little rabbit,” I said, “I won’t drink much.”


“And I,” he said, “I am a wolf.”


“Good, drink it all yourself. You will die and I won’t. I hope you die quickly.”


“You are not a rabbit,” he said. “You are a dog. You make me laugh. I ridicule you.”


I danced away and later wrote him a note; it said (in French): “I am drunk. I don’t always dance. If you knew me, you would love me.” I gave it to him and went outside. He found me, linked his leg with mine, friendly.
    I said, “Don’t touch me.”


He said, “I love your accent. I love your energy for life.”


I said, “I hate you.”


He said, “I think it is unfortunate for you to have met me.” I laughed. He laughed too, and then he said, “I love you.” That made me laugh again. He kissed me, but it wasn’t rough like I thought it would be. It felt like it feels when I fall down and get hurt. Then he left me.

July 12

The next night he came to our show again, this time with his girlfriend. I was folded up inside a sofa after it was over, all alone, all my happiness gone, all my dancing gone. “When you left last night,” I wrote on a napkin, “I ran through the five a.m. Belgium streets very quick and very free and I wasn’t sad and I didn’t think of you at all. At Le Soir I turned left and ran straight until I reached Le Muckalo, and I danced more and more. Sometimes something you said would come back to me, and I would stop, and I would become melancholy and bewildered, but then I would think, ‘It’s not so
sad!’ and I would rise and dance again and forget about you, until seven a.m. when the club closed. I would like a lot to see your paintings. That I don’t know them and they don’t know me is too bad. But there are lots of things in life I will never know.” By this time I was on napkin number five, and I balled them up and threw them in my bag. A female friend of his sat next to me and said, “I think you have touched something in his soul. But I think it is better you forget him. He is a very confused and unhappy man, very contradictory.”


I remember the rest of the night in little pieces: his girlfriend crying; him throwing her out of the bar; her kissing me on the forehead, saying she forgave me; my fingers bleeding; him kneeling on the floor over a broken bottle with snot dripping and then his fingers dripping blood too . . . how did that happen? And then his blood fingerprints were all over my arms. I tried to give him a glass of water and he said, “I want to be destroyed. I don’t want your help.” There’s nothing I would mind destroying, including him. I could do that. I could live in Belgium with him and become a thief. I could die at his feet, I could kiss his palm. I love his energy for life. Some other girl threw a glass at Jean Louis (these Belgians are wild!) because she didn’t like the show. She attacked me and bit my shoulder until it bled. I scratched her neck and kneed her in the groin. Another girl grabbed me and we danced. When it was almost morning he and I were alone and he said, “What do you want? What do you want? I want nothing from you, nothing. I am nothing, and I think nothing. I have nothing for you. I want more. You don’t understand. I want more.” He was very drunk and trying to focus. He was trying to tell someone (me) what he had thought about violently and secretly when sober. I watched his pinched, cut features. I wanted him to spit on me, kick me, I wanted to kick him — it would make me happy, it would be the same as smiling at me, because it’s him. My love for him is without pride, without ego, without morals, without logic, without hope, without restraint. It’s not even love — it’s abandon.

2000 postscript: I never learned the Belgian’s name or age and I never saw him again. But I don’t chalk him up to the silliness of youth — I believe all those emotions and longings. I’m grateful that we spoke to each other like you speak to figments of your imagination when you have a fever or there’s a fierce storm brewing and you’re all alone and scared yet wild and so very free too. You must take care not to get too pretentious and stagey, but what is much, much worse than that is to restrict yourself for fear of being ridiculous. My favorite poem is by Theodore Roethke: “What is madness but nobility of the soul at odds with circumstance? The day is on fire.” Now that is certainly a dramatic turn of phrase, but I thank god he made it, and I thank god that I met and got bled upon by the Belgian one chilly summer night when I was very young.

Lisa Carver is the author of the books Dancing Queen, Rollerderby, The Lisa Diaries and Drugs Are Nice. She’s written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday and Playboy, among others. She lives in New Hampshire.

Lisa Carver and, Inc.