Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gum isn't pussy

Psycho chicks are by far the best in bed.

Traumatic childhoods. Drug problems. Nasty breakups. All of them swirl around a woman's brain, flipping the cerebral switches necessary to turn her into a dick-loving sex fiend.

It all boils down to self-esteem, if you ask me. Remember the chick in high school who got her first boyfriend, and sat in class wistfully scrawling his name on her books? Remember how she couldn't go more than 30 seconds without talking about him, and then wandered the halls wailing like a widow when he finally dumped her for someone cuter? We all shake our heads sadly to hear about a chick who's that far gone. And we all long to have that power over someone.

The real sick ones, like Krista, only wish they could get some guy to commit. They don't try to find boyfriends, lest they get turned down or dumped, which would make them feel even worse.

"She needs help," you are saying. "She needs therapy. You should be ashamed of yourself for taking advantage of her."

At my old office, there was a vending machine filled with Chicklets. It sat there for months, until, at some point, someone found out that the top was unlocked and could be pulled off, so that anyone could just reach in and pull Chicklets out, free of charge. The pure-hearted folks walked by it every day to get their coffee, never dreaming of taking candy without paying. Me? I indulged lustily, laughing as I grabbed overflowing fistfuls of the free gum, like a pirate running his fingers through a chestful of dubloons.

Yeah, I know, gum isn't pussy, but you see me working. I won't be the one to crack open the vending machine, but I'll help myself to what's inside. It's someone else's job to monitor such things, and to fix them when they break. If they don't, whatever happens is merely Darwin's law at work.

I guess I'm supposed to be Captain Goody Gumdrops, swooping in to carry Krista off to the therapist's office, wherein she will exorcise all her demons. And I am supposed to do it not for money, or thanks, or for any repayment at all, but simply because it is the Right Thing To Do, and knowing that should be more than compensation enough.

Or maybe I am supposed to be aloof, and simply run away from Krista. Maybe I should just walk by the vending machine and leave the gum alone.

First off, I'd be madder than a swarm of hiveless bees if someone tried to force therapy on me. In fact, people have, and that's just how I felt. Secondly, if something is in front of me, and it's free, and the only reason for not taking it is "it wouldn't be nice", I'm taking it. Oh, and this isn't exactly torture for Krista, anyway.


Thursday, November 30, 2006, 6:30pm
Steve and Tim's house

"Nate's taking me to Ming Garden on Friday," Lila says.

"Damn, that's expensive!"

"So does that mean you don't want to come? You said you wanted to go on a double date with us."

"No, we'll come. That sounds like fun! Tim's gonna have to switch with someone to get the day off, I think."

"Are you guys doing okay?"

"Yeah, you know."

"What does that mean, 'you know'?"

"Nothing, we're fine."

"Are you cheating on her? You cheated on me, I know you did."

"Don't be silly, Lila."

"Did you?"

I should have no qualms about telling her the truth. I'm not with her anymore, and probably never will be again, and you all know how loathe I am to lie under any circumstances. Maybe I'm being nostalgic; maybe I want to preserve the idea that our relationship was pure and unspoiled. Even if the idea were only in Lila's mind, it would still be alive.

"No, Lila, of course not."

She pauses. "So, does Friday sound okay?"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Remember the Brady Bunch episode when Marcia was supposed to go out with a guy named Charlie, but she broke their date to go out with Doug Simpson?

Sure, she liked Charlie and all, but Doug was the quarterback of the football team, and the most popular guy in school. So, Marcia did what most of us would have done, and told Charlie she couldn't make it.

In old-school sitcoms, this type of behavior is viewed with shocked disdain: Marcia might as well have been hiding pot inside the head of Cindy's Kitty Carry-all. Of course, the network television gods, with their uncanny ability to solve all human dilemmas within a half-hour (including commercials), saw to it that Marcia was duly punished for her aberrant behavior.

As even non-Brady fans will recall, shortly after extinguishing poor Charlie's testosterone-fueled fantasies, Marcia takes a football right in her formerly petite schnoz. And once Doug gets a load of Marcia's newly banged-up grill, he suddenly realizes he's got better things to do than be seen with the female version of DanielBEAK.

The incident helps Marcia understand her appalling behavior, and after her nose miraculously heals--literally overnight--she decides to go out with Charlie, the purehearted lug who didn't care what her nose looked like, kicking Doug to the curb. And wouldn't you know it? During the date, Doug shows up, he and Charlie fight, and in a Shakespearean twist, Doug runs home with a swollen nose.

This is how I learned morality: in 30-minute installments, complete with clearly-delineated rights and wrongs, and guaranteed happy endings. I never bought it, not even at 10 years old. Life doesn't work that way, I knew.

You probably chuckled at the ridiculousness of this episode, because you know there's no way it would have happened like that. After getting ditched, Marcia would never have gone back to Charlie: She would have descended to self-esteem hell, convinced that she was the ugliest creature ever to breathe earthly air, until A) she underwent a few years of therapy, or B)Doug asked her out again.

She would have pursued a course of action dictated not by "good vs. bad", but by what felt right. She wouldn't have analyzed why it felt right; she would have just done it.

Whether we admit it or not, most of us work the same way--and it's annoying when others try to steer us in a different direction.

A good example is the 65-mph speed limit. We can assess road and weather conditions, and we know our own driving abilities. We have a clear sense of how fast we can safely drive, and that's how fast we go. And we don't agonize about breaking the rules, because the rules are arbitrary; they were written by people who don't know anything about us.

There are legally-blind octagenarians, with licenses still in hand, who are completely within their rights to do 65 on the highway. Of course, they would probably kill someone if they did so, but it's legal. Formula I drivers, on the other hand, do three times that speed with another car six inches away from them. I'll ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 80mph a hell of a lot faster than I'll ride with some Depends-clad senior citizen at 50. But of course, the rules tell us one of these men is bad, and the other is not.

Some people are emotionally incapable of cheating. They simply can't bring themselves to do it, or they are racked with guilt if they do. For them, it's clearly wrong, so they stay faithful. But they are faithful not because some rule says they have to be, but because that is what feels right to them.

The Brady Bunch is good television, but it's a farce. People like Marcia are superheroes of morality, making choices to benefit mankind before themselves. It's a fairy tale.

Far be it for me to disappoint, but I ain't Marcia Brady. Then again, you probably aren't either.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006, 9:45am
Steve's office

"Do you want to come over for lunch?" Krista says.

The bottom falls out of my stomach.

With a simple question, she has managed to communicate to me that she wants sex, and that she is willing to have it secretly, without discussions of what this means or how we stand. I know a freebee when I hear one, and if I don't nail her, someone else will.

I wait for the guilt to come. It doesn't. Obviously, I will be safe, so I'm not jeopardizing anyone's health. I'm not breaking off a relationship to be with her, and neither is she. Hell, I'll be on my lunch break, so I won't even be wasting work time! I'll go back to work, and, at the end of the day, I'll go home, just like I always do.

"That sounds good... did you... I... did... could... I mean, I could... bring over some, Chinese, I guess--"

I'm surprised at how flustered I sound. Sure, I've played this scene out a million times, but not lately. In fact, not for well over a year. And it feels good, just like hearing a song from my high school days that I had totally forgotten about.

"Great! See you around noon?"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stevo the fixer

Thursday, November 16, 2006, 6:58pm
Steve's house

"Is Tim there?" Chris asks.

"No, she's working. Why, you gonna hit on her next?"

"Shut up. She's working at that steakhouse now, right?"

"Yeah, she comes home in the middle of the night."

"In that case, can you come over to Irene's house?"



"Why are you being such a bitch?" Irene screams at Kristen.

"You're the one dating a married man!"

"Oh, like you didn't go out with a married guy last year," Irene hisses.

"He wasn't married in my eyes, because she didn't treat him right."

"Oh my God," Irene chuckles, derisively.

Kristen wheels around. "Oh, hi, Steven," she purrs, and her warm smile makes my stomach hitch. She kisses me slowly on the cheek, as if... if she had a major crush on me. Was this the girl who was screaming uncontrollably 10 seconds ago?

"Sit down, I'll get you a drink."

"Thanks, Kristen."

"Call me Krista."

"You're engaged! Why are you still living at home, anyway?" Krista snaps to Irene, as she hands me an icy Diet Coke.

"You know why! We got engaged and he left for Iraq the next day!"

"Why didn't you live together before? And why did he go back to that idiotic war if he loved you so much?"

"Why don't you mind your own business?"

"Thought so," Krista says, plopping down on the sofa next to me.

"Steve has a girlfriend, you know," Irene sneers. "Better stay far away."

Krista launches herself off the couch, and for a crazy moment I think she's going to attack Irene. Chris and I flinch simultaneously, ready to break them up.

"Can we please go for a ride?" Krista asks, her eyebrows raised pleadingly, like a little girl's.


"You probably think I'm crazy," Krista says.

Well, that's a very relative term... nope, on second thought, you're crazy.

"I think you two should lay off of each other."

"She's such a bitch!"

"Krista, no she isn't. And even if she is, she's your only sister."

"I knoww,"she whines, again reminding me of a child.

"I know you don't approve of her and Chris, but she's old enough to make her own decisions. If you really disagree, you should tell her in a supportive way."'

"So when did you get this car?" she asks, running her hand over the freshly-Armor All'd dashboard. Guess she's done talking about her sister.

"It's a couple years old. I hardly use it. I think I'm trading it in for a 4Runner."

"You're such a loser," she snips, staring straight ahead.

"You love to start fights, don't you?"

"You're stupid! You quit your job, you're selling your car. Your girlfriend has you wrapped around her little finger!"

Obviously, this girl thrives on conflict. She loves screaming matches and bare-toothed anger. Staying calm ought to screw her up, but good.

"Yeah, she probably does," I smile.

She stares at me.

"What?" I ask.


She's 24, a couple of years older than Irene. No job. She quit school after sophomore year--not that her degree in archaeology was going to bring a stampede of hiring managers to her doorstep anyway--and she has absolutely no employment prospects.

"So what do you--do all day?"

"You sound like my mother."

"It's not good to sit around, Krista."

"Don't lecture me," she says, quietly, but I can barely hear her. "Can we talk about something else, please?"

The conversation turns to movies, and her mood lightens quickly. She loves Monty Python; all I have to do is utter the words, "Cheese Shop", and she collapses in giggles.

Tim calling, my phone says.

Instinctively, I glance at Krista, who has already pulled out her own phone. She powers it down noiselessly, then sits statue still, looking directly in front of her.

"Where are you?" asks Tim.

"I was out of wheat bread."

"You're being quiet."

"I'm okay. How's work?"

Krista stares silently out the window. I am impressed with her; she knew it was my girlfriend on the phone, and, with no hesitation, made herself as quiet as a Las Vegas confessional. She's done this before. She's sat in the passenger seat next to guys who were supposed to be at work, or drinking beer with their buddies. She's probably lost track of how many times.

" I told them that I can't do my job if I don't have proper equipment. It's like, so ridiculous! They have money for new curtains, but they can't buy a basket for the deep fryer?"

"I hear ya."

"I better get back," she sighs. "I'll see you when I get home."

Krista snaps back to life immediately as the phone beeps off. Here come the questions: How long have you two been dating, what does she do, do you love her, and are her hips skinnier than mine.

"I appreciate you getting me out of the house."

"You're welcome."

"There's a Starbuck's up ahead. I'll buy you a coffee, if you want."

She didn't mention Tim, not one word. She knows the rules, and apparently she accepts them. Clearly she lacks the self-respect to believe she deserves a real relationship, so she bounces from one taken man to another, giving each a couple of months' worth of sexual highlight reels before the inevitable "I can't do this to my wife anymore" speech.

Her face softens as she sips her latte, the way it did when she kissed my cheek. Her brown eyes seem bigger somehow, and I suddenly want desperately to kiss her as she licks foam from her supple lips...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stupid is as stupid horny does

Wednesday, November 1, 2006, 6:47pm
Steve's house

"Steve," Chris says, breathlessly, on the phone. "You gotta help me. I just--oh, man."

"Oh man?"

"Okay, so I told Janet I was working late tonight. And I went to the liquor store, and I paid with my credit card. She looks at the online statements all the time. She's gonna see I was here, and the bottle was like, 47 dollars--"

At first I have no idea what Chris is talking about. Then the concept gradually reveals itself, like a bathroom mirror slowly unfogging.

His wife Janet is due in a few weeks, and titanically pregnant women are not the horniest ducks in the pond; Chris must have found a pinch hitter to get him through the dry spell. He's probably romancing her with champagne, or getting her loaded so she'll talk less. There's no bigger turnoff than a chick who takes your cock out of her mouth to tell you how guilty she feels.

"Steve, are you gonna help me?"


"I meant to pay with cash, but it was just force of habit," he says.

There's no way to keep her from seeing the transaction online now. His only option is to explain why he was at the liquor store dropping 50 bucks, instead of working, where he told her he would be.

You guys are probably thinking that this is easy, that Chris can just spit out some lie about buying a bottle for a friend at work or something. But remember, Chris has cheated before, and it almost ended his marriage. She's going to be suspicious of him, so this story better be worthy of publication in The New Yorker.

"This isn't going to be easy, man," I sigh. It seems knotty problems just like this are always being offloaded on me, both at work and personally. Just once, it would be nice if someone approached me about an untied shoelace.

Forget the notion of wanting to surprise his wife with a bottle. She's pregnant, and can't drink. Of course, a dutiful husband might think ahead, however...

"Okay, let's try this," I begin. "You went and bought a bottle of champagne, to open when the baby is born. Go home and tell her you got a little surprise at the liquor store on the way home for when the baby comes. Just make sure you really go and get a bottle today. And pay cash!"

"But what if the prices aren't exact..."

"Never mind the prices! Take the price tag off if you want to, but after the baby is born, the last thing on her mind is going to be checking out a story you told her a month ago."

"Ahhh," he says, slowly.

Now for some dirt. "Chris, what are you up to?"

"Not now, Steve."


Friday, November 10, 2006, 4:00pm
Steve's office

"Can you meet me for a drink tonight?" Chris asks.

"With who? Just you?"


"You're introducing me now? You two must be getting serious!"

"Don't be a smartass. Her sister is coming along."

I must admit, Chris impresses me when it comes to the ladies. He must have game, if he was able to hook up with Amanda and now this one. But he's also making rookie mistakes, such as letting her bring her sister along. You never know: Her sister could know someone who knows someone who knows Janet, and then he would be truly fucked. The less evidence, the better: If I were in Chris's shoes, and this were just about sex, I wouldn't even leave her bedroom.

"A double date? How cute!"

Frattari Tavern

Irene is engaged, and her fiance is overseas in Iraq. She's majorly honked off that he signed on for a second tour of duty, which explains the cheating; women usually stray because they feel unloved.

She's hot beyond belief. I keep catching myself glancing at her shiny brown bob and thick red lips, and her flawless complexion tells me she's in her early 20's. Exactly the type I would go for.

It takes me about three and a half seconds to determine that her sister is a total nutjob. "I'm pissed at you," Kristen says to me, five seconds after shaking my hand.

"Why is that?" I smile.

"You quit a six-figure job? You just quit?"

Yes, but of course, the new job pays basically the same, and requires a lot less work. Factor in the improved mental health, and it's a raise. But none of this concerns her, so I choose not to answer.

"Something like that," I say, tilting back a vodka-tonic.

Chris is an idiot for dragging me into this. I have a girlfriend, too, lest we forget, and I'd have some explaining to do if she found out what was going on.

Kristen heads to the ladies' room, and I look at Chris and his new friend.

"She found out," Irene says. "She saw some text messages on my phone, and overheard me talking to him. The best way to deal with it was to have her meet him. We just brought you to kind of distract her."

"Text messages?" I say, looking at Chris.


"Text messages? Why don't you just leave a bloody knife at the crime scene with your fingerprints on it?"

They exchange looks.

"I'm not judging you. Believe me, I'm not qualified to judge, and Chris knows that, which is why he dragged me into this. But if you two are gonna use each other for a pit stop, you shouldn't be out in public together. And you sure as hell shouldn't leave evidence around."

"But my sister..."

"Tell your sister it's none of her business!"

"You don't know her, Steve. She'll be better about it if she knows the details. We live at home, and it wasn't safe to bring you and Chris over."

"So where do you guys... hang out?"

"My mom works late a few nights a week."

I scowl at Chris. "Are you stupid?"