Saturday, August 26, 2006

"...and IIIIIII-ye-IIIIIIIII, think you need glasses..."

Thursday, February 26, 1993, 6:30pm
Renee's apartment

"What are your intentions with my daughter?" Murray asks, staring down at me through thick glasses. For a white-haired Jewish man, he's intimidating.

Instinctively, I glance at Renee, and she rolls her eyes.

Murray bursts out laughing and hugs me. "I'm just teasing you. I've heard a lot about you. You've been very good to my little girl, from what I've heard."

"I'm Debra, Renee's mother," a stubby, poufy-haired woman says. I shake her hand.

Murray throws his arm around my shoulders. "Steve, I'd like to buy you dinner."

"Thank you, Murray."



The women have retired to the kitchen to make banana bread as Murray and I channel-surf.

"Are you using protection?" he asks, and the canned sitcom laughter of whatever show we are watching punctuates his question perfectly.

"Uh, ah, um..."

"I mean, I assume you're sleeping together; that's natural. It's what people do when they are dating," he shrugs. "You're having fun."

"Well, ah--"

There aren't too many things more uncomfortable than talking to some guy you just met about boning his little angel. I really wish that Renee would walk out of the kitchen and rescue me, but I'm sure she can't hear us.

Besides being uncomfortable, this is also a delicate situation: Murray does not know for sure that Renee and I are sleeping together, but if I gave him a yes or no answer, I would confirm it. And do sponges really count as protection anyway? It's basically a catcher's mitt for my jizzum; one wild pitch, and we're done for.

"Steve. Really, it's alright. I'm a big boy. I know that my daughter--"

"Mind your own business, dad," Renee calls from the kitchen; her and Debra shreik with laughter.

"Busted again," Murray laughs. "Seriously," he whispers, I just want to make sure you're being careful. You guys are just having fun, I know, so it would be a shame if--"

"I'm serious dad, cut it out!!"

At first, I was just glad the conversation was over. But the more I thought about it, the more troubled I was. What did he mean by, "you guys are just having fun"? He made it sound like we were just fucking for the hell of it, like there was no connection whatsoever. But there was.

Wasn't there?

Maybe Murray assumed that when Renee was ready to settle down, it would be with a Jew. Maybe he meant that she wasn't going to stay with me long-term.

Was I thinking about marrying Renee? No! But I wanted to take this to its logical conclusion. If the relationship failed, it failed--but I didn't want it to be over something so arbitrary.

Renee didn't strike me as the type who was dominated by her parents, and surely she was not arcane enough to restrict her life choices for the sake of perpetuating outdated dogma.

Was she?

She wasn't religious. She had never set foot in a temple for all the time I had known her. So why couldn't I shake this fear that Murray was exactly right?

There was no way I was bringing this up to Renee. What was I going to do, walk up to her and say, "Hey, were you planning on marrying me?" Sure, that would go over well. If she wasn't mentioning it to me, maybe she did think this was just a casual fling. So what kind of loser would I look like if I asked her about it?


Thursday, March 18, 1993, 10:00am

"Steve, can you help me do a gig this Saturday?" my friend Dennis asks.

"A gig?"

"I know you haven't helped me in a long time, but I sprained my wrist and it's in a cast. I need you to pull records for me, help set up and break down, stuff like that."

Dennis and I were pulling down a few hundred bucks a week at one point DJ'ing at parties; we had even gotten a few wedding gigs, and were generating some buzz around town. But after I had started my internship the previous fall, I was too busy to continue, and Dennis carried on by himself.

"Sure, I guess I can do it. Same arrangement as usual?"

"Yeah, 70-30, right?"

"Fuck off," I laugh.

"Yeah, fifty-fifty Steve, just like always! It's the spring semi-formal, so the honies ought to be out in force."


Saturday, March 20, 1993, 8:00pm
University "Spring Fling" semi-formal

The doors open, and a sea of liquor-craving undergrads sprint for the bar, drink tickets in hand, bumping and jostling one another for a better place in line.

Dennis and I preferred drunk partiers over sober ones; they were uninhibited, and they made it easy to get the party rolling. We exchange a knowing smile as the booze flows.

One sure-fire party song in 1993 was "She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals. Dennis spins it around 9:30 and, as always, the dance floor fills immediately. No sooner does Roland Gift begin his odd falsetto, than a tanned hottie approaches the DJ table.

Dennis' radar works better than mine; though his back is turned, and the music blares painfully loudly, he wheels around right away, as if he can smell her.

"Can you play a song for me?" she asks, and I devour her with my eyes, lingering on her slender neck and naked shoulders.

"Sure, which one?" I ask.

"Um, I don't know the name. It goes, '...don't hurt me, don't hurt me..."

She's talking about "What Is Love?" by Haddaway. But there's no way I'm telling her that; she's way too hot to let her get away quickly.

"Hmmm," I say pensively. "It rings a bell. Who sings it?"

"I don't know. You don't know it? It's like, 'what is love, baby don't hurt me...'"

"Ohh, that one! That's 'What Is Love' by Haddaway. Sure, I'll get that on for you! What's your name?"


"Okay, Kiersten, you got it."

I stare at her three-inch heels as she walks away. "Don't tell me. 'Shout!', right?" Dennis says.

"No, 'What Is Love?'"

"Oh yeah, of course," he laughs.

"This one's going out to the lovely Kiersten," I say, in my best polyester DJ voice, as Dennis spins the record. Kiersten and two other girls shreik and wave their arms as if riding a rollercoaster.

She's not with anyone tonight, or at least I don't think she is. These gigs were always overflowing with young hipsters, and I often found myself wishing I could go talk to them. For whatever reason, it never happened for me, but Dennis had hooked up a few times.

9:45. Kiersten returns to the DJ booth. She's heartbreakingly hot, all hips and boobs, with mouthwatering pink lipstick. "Can you play something slow? I want this guy to ask me to dance."

"So go ask him!" I say.

"A girl never asks. Play something slow!"

"How about Whitney Houston?"


I cue up "I Will Always Love You", and 30 guys with newly-found beer balls let their hands slip down over their dates' asses. Kiersten stands off to the side, eyes darting about the room as if looking for someone.

The song is less than half over when Kiersten approaches me again, moping.

"Why aren't you dancing?" I ask.

"He's dancing with someone else!"

"Where is he?"

She points to a pudgy, dark-skinned man dancing with a blonde, who looks halfway decent until she turns around and we notice that she's riddled with back fat.

"That's the girl he's dancing with?!"

"Mm-hmm," she nods.

I don't care how cool the guy is, he's just average-looking. Maybe below average. If he's got a girl like Kiersten sweating him, I should be able to nail her outright.

I think I'm going to try.