I’ll kiss you longer babe and live with no regrets.
Ironic that nine months has brought me through three dedicated dating websites and I find him here again as I’m trolling catfish. Blond with hazel eyes, he’s fit and on the west side this time. I don’t respond to his ad but the attachment that other ladies will lust after will include the information that he is an ex-masseuse no longer licensed but certified. He splits his time between states and jet skies in the summer at Lake Havasu. He will claim that he once dreamed of being a chef and opening his own restaurant before he realized that only the rich or well placed open restaurants. Hell’s Kitchen bloody be damned, I think as I listen to Jason’s slurred speech.
I told Jason, “He looks like Heaven and feels like Hell—must be home.” He laughs, “Oh, Girl!” Jason is all about class; he’s from an old name without any new money out in Hollywood. He has a picture of him and Drew Barrymore at the Oscars or the Golden Globes in a box of things he doesn’t look at, they went to the same High School. Jason is on the other side of forty, and I’ve learned ten years behind him that there is a box of stuff that all of us has filled with mementos we don’t care to look at.
Jason’s condo rises off the Boulevard at Gramercy. You can see all the way into downtown L.A. on a good clear day. It is breathtaking at night, alive and noisy. He’s living in Little Armenia where its trendy to be gay, an ex actor slash model like he is. His degree is in Oceanography but he manages entertainment securities at Universal. His fancy long title that I don’t recall really means he deals with “people”, and “has-been-people” and “would-be-people” those people that want what all Hollywood royalty wants; a lot of something for free. Free tickets into the park, no photos by “other people” and short lines. Yep, he’s that guy, the guy that deals with the golden glittering gutter chickens. GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT!
“Money don’t buy nothing but a place at the table,” he’s saying fucked on two bottles of CVS vino. “Class will get you to that same table, you just won’t be able to afford to sit the fuck down and rest for a minute.” HAHAHA. “If I still had those dolls,” he’s slurring. “Those fucking things and I’d be over in Switzerland with the best of my family and not here dealing with the stealing fat bitch I’m forced to call mother.” He’s trailing off into some gibberish I can’t quite make up over the phone but I know in ten more minutes he’s going to be out like a lamp off Sunset.
I’d gotten out of Hollywood Land only by dint and will, but not before I met a musician who became a Grammy award winner the summer after I left. Go figure. He was just Hollywood Famous when we met. A name I didn’t know, my knowledge of current “in people” limited because I hadn’t owned a television in ten years. What was the point? I was one of those people that went out and did shit. Hell, I didn’t even know what TMZ was, sounded like a late night skin channel at a low rent dive motel. A place where the manager streamed his own movies and shit would light up on the ceiling like someone killed Predator if you hit it with UV.
As luck would, or wouldn’t, have it I was accosted while taking pictures of those famous pink stars that summer I last visited Jason. While my little dog posed for Lassie and Edward R. Murrow walk of fame pictures I was startled by his rich voice asking, “You live here?” I looked up into his dark brown eyes and smiled. “God please,” he stammered. “Let the little dog mean you live here.” I bent my head and considered laughing. “No. I don’t live here. I’m visiting a friend.” His eyebrows shot up, “He don’t mind you out walking around without him?” I laughed openly at this thinking of Jason. “He’s at work and he’s gay. He doesn’t care what I do during the day.” He took my arm at the elbow and asked, “Walk with me?” There was a man with a camera behind us hurriedly snapping photos in our general direction. I looked around for someone interesting. “Who are you? Tell me everything,” he continued walking a little brisker. “Ah, the best friend gig, I get it, “ I answered.
“We just won’t have much time before this gets…well, before we get interrupted.” My silence after that seemed to confuse him. It was my third day in Hollywood and I was getting used to the weirdo locals one might say. He hesitated, “You like to take pictures?”
“Sure, I like to take pictures. I’m on vacation,” I emphasized rolling my eyes.
“Why didn’t you take a picture of me then?”
“You’re not a statue, why would I take a picture of you?”
“You really don’t know who I am, do you?”
“No; am I supposed to?”
“I’m kind of famous,” he replied a little deflated.
“Like Hollywood famous or really famous?” Jason had recently instructed me on the difference while we “hiked” up through the park to see the sign, complete with coffee in hand. “Really famous”, he stated. “I write songs, mostly hits for other people but that’s going to change.”
It did change. He’s out touring right now, worldwide, finally hit it big as they say out there in Hollywood Land. He’s what people in the know call, “an artist”. His apartment looked like he lived out of a suitcase, the only exception being his living room where he’d equipped a recording studio. Drum kit, guitars, keyboard and mikes opposite the couch. No glasses and no dishes but he had a bass and an acoustic in the corner. Sometimes I think artists believe their passions can actually feed them, just like Peter Pan believing in his imagination food.
We met three or four times in the time that I spent in Hollywood. I insisted that it was during the day and never for long. In retrospect I think I instinctively knew that you don’t do famous, famous does you. He was paranoid and full of promises. He wasn’t the first man to teach me about an unchecked ego and the power of money. I’m not sure why I’m reminiscing about him while I’m on the phone with Jason tonight. Maybe I’m dwelling on the facts of my own secrets I’ve kept from him. I never told Jason about the musician, he’d asked where I went during the day and I’d describe spots I’d seen either before or after I’d been with the musician. Never really lying, just omitting. “Carve the truth, darling,” my mother might have whispered. “Just like the ice sculpture that is your pretty little heart”.
I’ve kept only a few secrets from Jason. The one that tears his heart now I could’ve leant a little light on, but butter without the biscuit don’t stop the mouth from watering. You see, Jason wasn’t always the booze hound he is tonight. He’s on the other side of his online love affair. His eight-year relationship with Tommy ended roughly two years prior, their commemorative lord of the rings wedding rings sit in velvet lined boxes right next to that tuxedo picture. The one I thought of earlier with a girl done up in eighties finery and a boy with a stupid grin on his face, could’ve been prom if one of them wasn’t famous.
Tommy was the twink that Jason had loved right from the start. They met online. A year later and Tommy is flying to L.A. and a year from that they’re in Hawaii because Tommy’s won a vacation from the Wheel of Fortune, I couldn’t make up this shit if I tried. They tied the knot on the beach and Tommy dodged the IRS for four years to pay off the taxes on that trip. Tommy’s always been the guy that has a twinkle in his eye and a dragon in his pants. As my stepfather would’ve said, “Ain’t much good for smart, but ain’t half bad for pretty.” When Jason found Tommy in their basement blowing another man, (“Fat, bald and greasy” he assured me) he’d screamed, “The only thing I liked about you was your big cock!” We all say things we don’t mean when we’re angry.
I know Jason still watches Tommy’s jack off flicks he made the summer he turned eighteen up in Chicago. I’m also sure he sent a copy of one to Tommy’s parents back in Nowhere, Illinois, I’d suggested it one night when he was venting and his face lit up. “That’s a great fucking idea!” his eyes shouted. Though his voice assured me that was pushing it too far, but I know him, he’s the same guy who called his credit card in stolen after a hard night of our mutual drinking because he wasn’t about to pay the bill. HaHaHa. Tommy’s Catholic parents were certain that Jason’s L.A. lifestyle had converted their god fearing lip gloss wearing son into the devils lap dog.
I could hear Jason singing in an unnatural baratone, “Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder where you are. Out and about in shorts so tight, with a red nosed Rudolph that fucks you tonight!” I could tell it was going to be an eggnog Christmas and it was only August. There weren’t any creatures stirring in that house but the ghosts of memories past. “Ciao babe” he snorts. “I love you.” A gay man a state away makes me wonder, if I find love will I trust it?
“Oh this is bad for me and Jason,” Tommy states emphatically as I go over the spread of tarot cards in front of me. I’m not a fair weather friend. I’m cautious about who I place my trust with, Jason is no different he just gets swayed by the physical easier. I’m the fortune teller that killed my best friends eight year relationship. Poor bastard, didn’t even see it coming. I did. Five days before Tommy’s little basement stunt, we’re on the hardwood floor of their apartment drinking a descent red while Jason is in the kitchen with his heroin addicted sister, she’s asking for money again. There it is plain as day to Tommy, the fool, the emperor and then judgment. How was I supposed to know how to tell Jason that there was going to be a different cock in between those lips he loved soon, because Tommy had “seen it in the cards”. We get what we look for in all elements of magic. Rudolph might be a red nosed Italian but he was willing to pay Tommy’s bills and let him drive the Mercedes to the store to pick up the essentials. I spread the cards that night but I wasn’t the one that had to live them. You see, living the fate that’s put up in front of you that’s the real tricky part. I’ve never been good at telling people things they don’t want to hear, but when it comes to the “let’s talk about the possible infidelity of your one and only beloved” I’m a real fucking wimp.
Goodbyes are my own personal specialty. The musician would’ve bought me shoes and given me a view of capitol records. Hahaha. He was sweet and he may well have written that song he promised me on his next record, the fact is I’ve never cared to listen. For me, there was something missing. I haven’t sold my soul for a dollar yet and I don’t want to start now. “Thanks for the offer, “ I said. “But I’m halfway to the Grand Canyon right now.” I hang up the phone to his disbelief and my shock that he’s thinking about sending a plane to come get me. I don’t want to be sent for to have pancakes with him at some trendy diner that’s served countless celebutantes and derelicks. “Men are just stupid,” I saw to my loyal little dog. I started my engine and drove east until I couldn’t see the smog. Hollywood’s a fun place, but fuck, it would be a hard place to call home and still tell yourself your living.
Shit at its best and I’m back to the last one! The catfish that started this little jog down memory lane. There’s this unsettled feeling with the stripper. Hahaha. They all have fucking nicknames. Only the ones who stay will get to keep their name, the rest get a moniker and get the fuck out of my life. There was something about him I didn’t want to shake. I think its because I’m getting older, you start to realize that finding the one and finding the right one is a whole lot different than just finding someone. I used to think I had the time to be so choosy. I wonder now if that is a mistake.
I’d kiss him longer if I could now. And I will have no regrets. I did what I could but I’m no saint. West side fucking story I’m sure, kimosabe.