Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seven

She sipped her capirinia deliberately. Measuring each sip.

"You know how chick is down on the first date, dude?" Chuck asked. "See how she holds the glass she's drinking. If she starts fucking around with the stem, she's totally down. I'mm telling you."

The capirinia had been poured in highball glass. No fucking help there.

"So, when was the last relationship you had?" she asked.

Are you going to have sex with me? "A few months ago."

"Really. What happened?"

Are you going to have sex with me? "It just didn't work out."

"How serious was it?"

Are you going to have sex with me? "Well, we were engaged. But, we both decided it didn't make sense to go through with it."

"Wow.That's deep."

Are you going to have sex with me? "Yep. But, it's all in the past now. What about you?"

She took a long sip. "Well, I have been afraid of relationships. I haven't had one in a while."

Are you going to have sex with me. "What is a while?"

"Oh," she smiled, "I don't know. High school."

She is thirty, by my count. Are you going to have sex with me? "Wow, that is a long time."

"I'm fine with it. I can be on my own. And sex has never been a big deal to me."

"Really?"

"I have just never cared for it."

You're not going to have sex with me. Anytime soon. "Oh."

"Yeah."

"Listen, I have to get up early."

"Ok."

We walk outside. She gives me a pretty frisky hug. "Well," she says, "You have my phone number and email address, now."

"Yeah."

I started walking to the metro and then decided to give Amy a call.

She never picked up.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Six

A couple of days later, I was sitting in my house with Terra. She'd blwon me off all day on some plans we made. She came by for a quick drink on the way home.

"Dutch, baby, you look pissed."

"I am."

She laughed,"Why? Oh come on."

"I was waiting all day --"

"Oh, Dutch. Come on."

I stared at the TV.

"You know," she said walking over to the love seat I occupied. "I still love you."

"Oh, fuck off, Terra."

She went home ten minutes later.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Five

The minute she walked into my hotel room, Amber untucked her shirt, smeared her lipstick, and pulled her underwear down to her knees.

"Dutch, for two hundred dollars, you can either fuck me or buy your way out of an awkward situation where you'll be explaining to hotel security how you were not trying to rape me. I get the sense you have a job where a rape accusation would not go over well."

I smiled. She had me.

"Listen," she continued. "I'm offering the fuck because I like you, Dutch. Sometimes, if I'm dealing with some fat disgusting fuck, its just the threat."

"Well, that makes me feel a lot better," I said sitting on the edge of the bed. "Well, you got me."

"Oh, don't get all pathetic on me, Dutch."

"But," I said looking up with a half-smile. "Pathetic is what I am."

"Why do you say that?" she asked sitting down next to me. The smeared lipstick made her look like a deranged clown.

"Come on, I mean...I'm getting shaken down by a prostitute."

"Yes, but it is not entirely outside the real of the possible that someone like me and someone like you might end up in exactly the same situation, except different. We'd make small talk and big love." She said the last sentence with an awkward flourish that did not suggest a background in the arts.

"The cards turned on me, didn't they Amber?" I reached into my pocket and pill out my cash. I took two $100 bills off my wad and put the rest back in my pocket.

"Not necessarily, Dutch. I gave you the option."

"I don't pay for sex."

"Oh, don't be melodramtic, Dutch. All men pay for sex. I don't need to tell you how."

"Are you really a nursing student?"

"I was. Blood icked me out."

I laughed. She was kind of cute. Very young cute, though. "How old are you, Amber?"

"20. Next you are going to ask me how I got into all this, right? I'll need a drink first. Is there a mini bar in here?"

"No. Enough booze for tonight. And, no I don't want to know about your past."

"Ok. Seriously, though, Dutch. I do kind of dig you. If you want to..."

I handed her the two bills and got up. I had to take a piss. I went to the bathroom and came back out.

"I have to get some sleep, Amber. Take care of yourself." I gestured towards the door.

"Ok. But, if you are ever back in town," she said reaching into her bag. She pulled out a card and handed it to me. "You mind if I clean up a bit."

"Ok," I said. I unbuttoned my shirt and kicked off my shoes. I turned on the TV and tuned into a late SportsCenter broadcast.

She emerged from the bathroom. She looked lovely. She gave me a pathetic smile.

"Goodnight." She said with that same smile.

"Goodnight."

She left. I laid back on the bed, and fell deep asleep. The alarm went off a minute later, accompanied by a wicked hangover.

I never got rid of the card.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Four

Having to spend an evening in Detroit brought upon me a sense of heavy, albeit not overwhelming, dread. Fattest, most crime ridden city in the country. Shitty economy. Dammit.

A Detroitian I had been meeting with said, "Well, there is a bunch of things you could try. For example...blah, blah, blah...and then, there are always the casinos, if that is your sort of thing."

You just spoke to me. "I dunno. Didn't bring enough cash."

Which was right. But, that didn't stop me from hitting the ATM machine in the lobby of the Renaissance Marriott. $200 should be more than enough. Then, I was on my way to the creatively named People Mover to take me to the casinos.

Have you ever been to the Renaissance Center. A bizarre, poorly laid out monstrosity. I felt like I was in that scene in Spinal Tap where the band was fired up, but couldn't find the stage. I finally found it, and it took all of two minutes to get to the Greektown Casino.

I spent the first half hour wandering the place. It wasn't terrible big, and most of the people were zombies. Saw at least two people tooling around with oxygen tanks. And, yes Detroit was fat.

I sat down at a $10 minimum blackjack table, and and bought $200 in chips.

"Cocktails?"

"Yeah, a Heineken."

She came back $40 dollars in losses later. "That will be four dollars."

Are you fucking kidding me? You have to actually pay for booze when you are gambling. I handed her a $5 chip and turned back to my losing. I was tapped out in all of 58 minutes.

And, I was out $10 on beers. At a casino. While gambling.

I went to a bar to grab another beer and have a cigarette. I bought another Heineken (somehow drinking those made me feel sophisticated at this joint). The bartender got me one and said, "Good luck." There were video poker machines at every chair at the bar. I felt obligated and plopped $20 into the thing. I was done in five minutes.

"Another one?" the bartender asked.

I still had half a bottle left. "Yes."

I lit up another cigarette and scanned the room. Bartender came back, plopped down another beer. "So, how's it going," she said pointing to the video poker machine.

"I lost enough on it." I pulled out my cell phone and was then forced to make an ill-advised call.

Four beers formed a chorus emploring me to go to the cash machine. Stupid, stupid me. $300 in cash in my pocket, I went back to the tables. The $15 minimum table.

I was in the first chair. I went in in $100 increments. The first $100 went in 15 minutes. The second $100 in 30 more. Then, something started to happen. It all started to turn. I started playing $50 and $75 hands. Blackjack, 20s, everything hitting.

And, the people at the table seemed more interesting. The guy on my left was clearly jealous. He kept looking at my stack of black ($100) and green ($25) chips, then trying to match my bets ($50 or $75). He was out by 10:30.

To his left was a cute girl, maybe 20, who was dressed a little older than her years. She was playing the minimum and seemed statiated by the minor ups and downs of doing that. To her left were two loud Arab guys, who chain-smoked, drank water only, and cursed in Arabic, English and a couple of other languages that surprised me. At the end was a weather forty year old women with bleached blond hair and bad teeth. We were a family.

Things got so good that I bet $5 for Susan, the dealer, almost every hand. I kept winning. I must have ended up tipping Susan (and Johnny who spelled her for an hour at some point) $100. I even apologized to her when I pulled a bad hand. "It's alright, baby, we'll get it next time." And usually we did.

I stopped caring about the $4 per Heineken, and was tipping $6 on each. I must have seemed like the classistest cat in Detroit to her. That is what 6 Heinekens was telling me.

I am not quite sure how far up I got. Definitely had over $1000 at one point. The table started to thin until it was me and the young girl left at the table.

I was betting $100 a hand at this point, and it was going bad, bad, bad.

"The deck's gone bad, baby. Stop now," Susan whispered to me.

I ignored her the first time, lost another $100 and said, "Susan, as always, you are right."

"You still up?"

"A bunch. I'd buy all of us a round, but since you are on duty still...you up for it?" I asked the youngish girl.

"Why not, I don't have to be up early tomorrow."

That makes one of us. I had my alarm set for 7, and it was 12:30.

We went to one of the two or three depressing bars in the joint. I stuck with beer.

"A Belvedere martini. With a twist." She didn't strike me as a martini girl.

"So," I said,"if you don't mind my asking. How old are you?"

"Twenty-four. People all think I look sixteen, though."

"Well, my money was on 19, so I feel better about...uh."

"What?" she said with her mouth agape. She had an unusually large mouth. If she could unhinge her jaws, I could imagine her swallowing a guinea pig.

"What's you name?"

"Amber. Dutch, right?"

"How'd you know?" She was pretty. Long brown hair. Maybe Latina, Mediterraean, the name notwithstanding. Tall, too. In her heels, she came to my 5'10" eye level.

"You had quite the thing going with Susan," she said smiling.

"Yeah, I guess we were on a first name basis. Frankly, Susan gave me more than any woman has ever given me. How could I not fall for her?" Susan was short and fat, but she did have a nice smile. I took out my Camel Lights and offered her one. She took the first drag slowly, savoring it. The smoke dribbled out evenenly from her lips. She'd turned on the maturity thing.

"So, Dutch, what has you in Detroit?"

"I don't like to talk about work when I'm out."

"You sound like a cop. Cop? Agent?"

"I am just out having a beer with a new friend. And it looks like I need another. You?"

"Sure." The bartender must have overheard us; she was already starting the martini as I turned to get her.

"What about you?"

"Nursing student. Wayne State."

"Wow?"

"Yeah. Today was rough," she said leaning in to me.

"How?" I put my arm on the bar, and my chin in my palm.

"We were learning anatomy. Using cadavers. The lungs were especially disgusting," she said putting out her cigarette.

"I've probably made mince meat of my innards. Partying, smoking. I'd only be good as a cadaver for a pathologists course."

She laughed. I was officially drunkish, and was starting to seem wonderful.

"I gotta get up early tomorrow."

"I should head home too," she said.

"Share a cab?"

"Yeah, that would be great."

We grabbed a cab. It was a real short ride to my hotel.

"Dutch?"

"Yeah, Amber."

"I really don't feel like going home."

"Come on," I said taking her hand and leading her out the passenger side of the cab.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Three

"Chuck, I like being the alternative. Plan B."

Chuck squinted. "Plan B is the plan for when you've fucked up Plan A. Plan B is the shit you don't want to use unless necessary."

"But that is the thing, Chuckie. We all need more than one plan. All of us."

"Skinn, I think you are just pulling shit out of your ass because your shit with Terra fell apart. So, uh, what are you going to do?"

A fair question. I had been telling Chuck about the other night. Jonas and I had gone out for drinks. He was more on the make than I was, big eyes and room scanning. Midway through my second scotch, this cute Latina woman sat down next to us, more specifically to my right. Within a couple of minutes of sitting down, she kept looking at her cell phone. Probably wasn't going to be alone for long.

She ordered a warm sake and a Kirin. She filled a highball glass about a third of the way with beer. Then, she dropped a small sake cup in the highball glass, and downed it.

Jonas leaned over and asked her, "What kind of drink is that?"

"A sake bomb."

"Yeah."

"Uh-huh." she kind of turned away and that was that.

Until about two sake bombs later. Both her and us had ordered sushi.

"So," she said to me," You know how to use those things?" The chopsticks.

"Barely. I kind of grab the sushi as best I can, then its a race to shove it in my mouth before it falls on the table. Not terribly graceful."

"I can't even do that. I just kind of grab it and stick it in my mouth."

"There is nothing with doing it that way. Frankly, I don't know why we feel like we need two wooden sticks to stick it in one's mouth. The sticks actually get in the way."

She nodded enthusiastically. "I agree."

Then we started talking. I tried some sake bombs. Pretended I liked them. She works at Starbucks. She actually eats breakfast at McDonalds. She gets mad at little things. She has a boyfriend. Who has a cousin who is in MS-13, a brutal Salvadoran gang that likes to hack up their enemies with machetes. She is not sure she wants to marry him. Her family doesn't like him. She is not sure she wants to spend the rest of her life with him. She realizes that the more she goes out, the more different types of people she meets and wants to get to know. She wants to get to know new people. She is not sure she wants to get married. She is not sure she wants to be with him forever. She's not sure what she wants.

"What about you, uh. Oh my God. I don't know your name. I'm Jasmine."

"Dutch. I just broke of a long term thing."

"I am sorry."

"Just the way things turned out."

"Listen, I am hear to spend some time with my cousin. He's at the upstairs bar."

"By all means. It was a pleasure."

"Yeah, maybe I'll see you around. Um, do you have a business card."

"Not with me. Here's my number."

"Your office number?"

Never. "My cell."

Chuck's question was completely valid. What would I do if she called. On the pro side: she's cute and I'd enjoy fucking her, I am sure. On the con side, she's got a man who may or may not have gang connections. Perhaps more importantly, she works at a Starbucks and considers McDonald's a valid breakfast spot. And she made it seemed like it was a regular breakfast spot.

Those who know me, know Dutch Skinn is complete and utter snob. I've never screwed a woman with less than a bachelor's degree, and more than half of them had advanced degrees. One woman went on to get a Rhodes Scholarship and become an economics professor. I am pretty sure no one I have slept with has ever worked in retail even.

"Chuckie, Starbucks, brother. Starbucks."

"Not even a drink."

"McDonald's? For breakfast?"

"Look, man, if I could be you -- single again -- I'd fuck just about anything I could. Fuck being selective. Fuck being the moral arbiter of shit. Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it."

"Starbucks?"

Chuck waved his hand at me, "Man. Anyway, how did it go with that chick from a couple of weeks ago?"

"Amy? She hasn't called. Starbucks?"

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Two

In just about every measurable way, I'm average. Or balance out to average. Average height. Slightly better than average looks. Below average moral core. The averageness doesn't really make me mediocre so much as invisible. I am the person on the same plane, train or bus as you that you'll never remember. Mr. Invisible, whose superpower is the ability to go through life unnoticed.

And I am a hypocrite. I expect every woman I get with to be above average. Well above average. Or at least balance out to above average. Short? Better have a nice chest. Slightly overweight? Better be pretty.

Amy -- whose mouth was coming at me -- was the first fat woman I had ever been with. She wasn't obese, but she needed to lose more than a few pounds. In multiples of ten. She was cute, but she'd have to be Helen of Troy to balance it all out.

Why then? Seven years of trying to make something meaningful. Over. I needed some emptiness.

The first kiss was violent. She was a biter, my lip, my tongue. Her passion had her mashing her mouth into mine. I grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her towards the living room. She took her pants off along the way to the couch.

"Wait," I said.

She looked at me puzzled. I had noticed a bottle of scotch in her kitchen. I went back and poured double shots into some highball glasses.

I handed her one of the glasses. "To tonight." I drained the glass and fished a condom out of my pocket.

Only two things worth noting about the sex, both of varying degrees of significance. My brother had this theory about fat women's vaginas. Unlike me, he is not as judgmental when it comes to the women he fucks. Any way, he claims that this "fact" is true 80% of the time. According to him, fat women tend to have tighter vaginas. "Its the extra fat around it that compresses it," he claims. You guessed right, he is not a doctor.

Fact or Fiction? Well, based on my sample size of 1, I'd have to say it is 100% fact. Frankly, it was unexpected.

Second. Well. It was towards the end. I was behind her, getting ready to finish, when she let out a loud yelp and then there was the sound of a wet fart. Then something wet and warm.

A moment of horror. Literally a week ago, I had been sitting with Chuck in a dive bar, with him talking about how this girl shit on him when he was screwing her. Worse still, she was on top. "Dutch," he said shaking his head, "Gravity's a bitch."

I jumped back and said, "Oh shit." I ran for her bathroom.

I turned down the light and looked down. It was just some normal vaginal discharge. A lot of it, to be sure, but just that. I grabbed what could have been her shower towel and wiped myself off. I took off the condom and was shocked to see that somehow, unbeknownst to me, I'd come. It was no doubt the worst orgasm I'd ever had. Yet the sex wasn't half bad.

She was standing outside the bathroom, smoking a cigarette and wearing an oversized tee shirt. "My turn."

I put on my clothes. I lit a cigarette and tried to think up what excuse I'd give.

"Oh, you're dressed already. Good," she said coming out of the bathroom. She was now wearing a white terry robe. She was really big.

"Yeah, uh --"

"No, that's good. My parents are coming into town early tomorrow morning, so it probably didn't make sense for you to stay over."

Long drag. "Well, there you have it." I put out the cigarette and put on my jacket.

As I walked towards the door, she said to me, "Dutch. I like the way you deal with things."

I smiled, but as I walked to my car, my smile turned into frown. She didn't apologize for dousing me.

My cell phone rang.

"Brother Dutch!" It was Jonas, my brother.

"Brother Jonas. Where are you?" A lounge a couple of blocks away. Shit, it was only 10:30. I was too buzzed to drive home anyway. A couple of hours of guzzling water and hanging out was the perfect antidote.

As I gave him a hug at Stacy's (the lounge), I whispered in his ear, "Brother Jonas, now we can say with 83.33% certainty that fat girls are tighter."

"No shit!" he said pulling back. Then he just laughed. "What you drinking?"

I took one of his cigarettes and lit it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

One

When she left me, Chuck said, "Man, you must be shattered."

He was right, but he had it wrong. The relationship had been a glass casing, and it had shattered all around me. I have to make something of it or I'll go rotten for no good reason.

I haven't had sex with a stranger for seven years. Same person. Then she tells me she can't be with me for the rest of her life. Then nothing for two months.

I found myself at a bar called Chief's three weeks ago. My only goal was to drink and to wonder about the people around me. After my second shot of some terrible house scotch, I finally got tired of this woman next to me and her insufferable ineptitude at video Wheel of Fortune.

B_rr_l _f M_n__ys. Oh for fuck's sake, is she really scratching her --

"Barrel of Monkeys. Sorry, I couldn't help myself," I said. I lit a Camel Light.

"God, that was so obvious, wasn't it? Want to try another one with me?" She had well-coordinated (all the strands were just in place) blond hair. She spoke through thin lips.

And we did a couple more. Then, came her life growing up in Wisconsin. Urban planning. Just moved into town. Doesn't know many people. Really close with parents. They're like the perfect family. They send each other flowers every week. Really close to her sister. A nurse living in Des Moines. Feels bad for her because of all the sick people sister has to deal with.

"God, I've been going on and on. I don't know anything about you. Like your name."

"Dutch," I said.

"For real?"

"Mmm-hmm."

"I'm Amy."

"Amy, we both need another drink."

We drank and smoked until closing. She lived only a few blocks from the bar. I walked her to her door. She looked at me, and we hit the tipping point. The awkward half-smiles. She leaned forward and kissed me. And then gave me her number.

I finally returned her calls a week and a half later. I just wasn't taking calls during that time. Which is exactly what I told her.

"You could have at least made something up, Dutch," she said to me.

"Well, why don't you make me dinner this Saturday, and I'll make some doosies up for you."

"Ok, I can put something together. Seven?"

I arrived at 6:58 with two bottles of a strong Australian shiraz I have been partial too these days. She was just starting cooking when I arrived. We both drank the first bottle quickly (wall clock in front of me read 7:30 when I stood at the counter opening the second bottle).

I took my first bite of some chicken dish she had made and had a flashback. Eleven years earlier. Dropped the same line on this cute, shy Belgian chick at my university. The whole cook for me shtick. She made me dinner too, some rice and beans dish (she was vegan).

Both that meal and this meal were the two worst meals I have ever eaten. To top off the past meal, she was a virgin. She wanted to have sex, but it was physically impossible. The few painful screams were enough for me to make up an excuse about need to study for some physics exam.

"Wonderful, Amy. Is that cumin I taste?"

"No."

The only way out: Talking. Talking, no eating. Talk long enough. I told her about this trip to Paris with my friend Jay, where we got mistaken for male prostitutes. Jay actually got picked up by a Jane and scored us enough money to have a lavish meal and buy two round trip train tickets to London.

"Oh my God. Would you have done what he did?"

"Never thought about it."

"Ok, say it had been you who had been approached," she said draining her wine glass.

"I know this may sound boring, but I don't deal with 'what ifs.'"

"Really, what is that all about?"

"I just try and deal with things for what they are. What ifs are abstractions, intrinsically meaningless."

"And, how are you dealing with this dinner."

I smiled. "This is how I am going to deal with it. I am going to wash your dishes for you."

"Oh no, Dutch. Don't worry about it."

"I insist. Saw you don't have a dishwasher. So, you can dry."

I washed all the dishes. Had to dump two-thirds of my plate in the trash. She was busy grabbing what would have to be our last bottle of wine from a cupboard at the time. I washed, she dried. She couldn't stop smiling. Half-smile, awkward.

I finished and reached for a nearby towel to dry my hands. I turned around, and she was standing right in front of me.

"So, Dutch, how else are you going to deal with tonight?"