Thursday, November 11, 2010

Violet Ibis Amusement Of Fire: Drapery Hot Flaming!

This is the story of my second-to-the-top Worst Date Ever. Number 1 is here.

Now, many of my dates have had bad moments, but this date was bizarre from beginning to end, which is why it earns the second place ribbon. So..... (extensive preamble follows)


My senior year in High School my parents decided to allow me to have a social life*. My new friends-to-be were selected from the offspring of my mothers' religious buddies, a rather shallow and murky pool at the best of times.

Our outings were...charming, I guess you'd have to say. It was sort of like the 50's...we would attend evening 'Youth in Christ' meetings and then all go out in a big heap to McDonalds or something and sit around with our huge bibles stuffed with tracts, talking about the Lord and sipping pop. One memorable evening found the ten of us seated in a greasy banquette at Lani Louis' while the boys chugged Pepsi and then treated the other patrons to a belching contest, which is what passed for 'pushing the social envelope' among this crowd. Maybe the adjective I'm looking for is 'sad'.

My Mom had decided that I was going to be best friends with one girl in particular, and this girls' mother was consulted and had agreed. T's mother described her daughter, the eldest of eight children, as being mature enough to be able to keep an eye on me and steer me in the right direction, and firm enough in her walk with the Lord to be able to resist any temptations I might throw in her path. (T recounted this end of the phone call to me and we were both almost too appalled to laugh about it. Almost)

T's mother was a very sincere and sweet lady, but she had no memories whatsoever of what being a normal teenager was like**. As soon as T and I were out of the driveway the fuckity-fuck-fuck started flying and we lit up a smoke. Then we hit a gas station, slapped on a couple of layers of makeup in the restroom, and headed out to see if we could get served alcohol somewhere.

One night T stopped off at a house and picked up two boys. Surprise! It was one of those 'guess what?' double dates. Her chosen was a nondescript young man with a sprinkling of violently red acne. His version of 'hello' was to step into the car, slide across the seat and attach himself to her mouth like a lamprey.

My date was a total Red Shirt. His name didn't even appear in the credits...all I remember about him was that he was male and somewhat taller than me. He said nothing. He just took my hand in his, covered it with his other hand, and spent pretty much the rest of the evening patting it gently from time to time. This was better than having a lamprey attached to my face, and as lampreys tend to run in schools I was content to let things remain on this lower rung of the piscine 'affectionate display' scale.

T and her date smooched and slurped pretty much constantly from that point on. Me and the Red Shirt sat in the back seat and looked out opposite windows. How we managed not to end up dead in a ditch still amazes me. Still, I wasn't complaining; I was out of the house. So it was that we spent what seemed like the next 10 hours driving aimlessly around Clackamas County, no radio, no conversation, just the constant slurp blat splat blurble of Lamprey Boy attempting to hickey T's face into a meaty goo so he could suction it into his tooth-rimmed maw.

Somewhere in the outskirts of Oregon City Lamprey Boy broke suction and said "Hey, turn here. I know a guy who lives up the street. He'll probably let us party at his place."

That was how I met Jay.

We walked into an apartment filled with overweight armchairs, a cabbagey smell, hobnail glass and crocheted doilies. It looked like it had been decorated by someones' grandmother, probably because it had. Jay's grandma. Jay had been living there taking care of grandma during her last days and had simply failed to move out once she'd gone on to that big Bingo hall in the sky. His only personal addition to the decor from that point on had been to take his deceased grandmothers' lipstick and write 'affirmations' all over the walls. "You are a worthwhile person" "You matter" "Life is good" and other things like that. A huge mirror dominated one wall directly across from the couch, framed in roccoco gilt, and this was completely covered in happy mottoes, a little sparkly place with a crown on top drawn right in the middle where our boy Jay could admire himself.

Anywho, I could see at once where the evening was headed so I pleaded cigarettes, and with that Lamprey Boy took his overactive salivary glands, T and Red Shirt into the back bedroom and shut the door. Jay seemed to take this in stride. "Would you like to sit down?" he said.

Jay and I perched on his couch and made distracted, awkward small talk for the next hour while I chain smoked and angled around trying to frame my face in the bare spot on the mirror. While we sat there and the silences grew longer, someone obviously sent by God chose that moment to set a series of dumpster fires up and down the block. We opened up the window and leaned out to watch the firetrucks and police cars caroming up and down the street randomly while flames and smoke roiled up from the alleyways. The evening had taken a distinct turn for the better, I decided. It certainly was less creepy than trying not to hear what was going on in the back bedroom...and distracted me from dwelling on the fact that I still had what was bound to be an extremely awkward ride home ahead of me.

(Now we're coming to the date part. Hang on.)

A week later the phone rings and who should be on the other end but Jay, sweet talking my mother, asking her for permission to take me out.

What, as they say, the FUCK.

T, as it turned out, had given him my phone number. And since T was approved by God and my mother, that, it seemed, was good enough. Sight unseen, permission was given, and just like that, I was going out on a date. What I thought about it was obviously immaterial, but after a moments' reflection I figured, as I did a lot in those days, what the fuck. It got me out of the house.

Saturday night Jay showed up at the door with his thinning mullet, Michael Caine glasses, and a friendly expression. He wore a yellow percale shirt with a tie and neatly pressed slacks. He looked so...nondescript. My mother was simply thrilled! I was completely bemused. He lead me out to his car.

It was his grandmothers car.

It was a Rambler.

This is the first and only time I have ever been in a Rambler. I am here to tell you that riding in a Rambler is a completely average experience, crocheted doiley on the rear package tray notwithstanding. It becomes less average when the driver begins giggling and veering randomly across four lanes of heavy traffic on 82nd Boulevard like a small motorboat piloted by a drunk. During this time Jay taught me how to let the slipstream coming from the wing window suck the ash off the end of a cigarette, and told me that he was 35. Being 17 and thus kind of an idiot, I had no problem with that. He smiled over at me. "Anyway, I thought we'd go see a play," he said. "A live theatre performance up at Lewis and Clarke College. Is that ok?"

I was thrilled! "Why sure, thats fine!" I replied.

.........It was 'Equus'.

An hour later I was seated in a small auditorium filled with middle aged people in tweed and hand-woven fabrics, not ten feet away from a naked kid smacking himself with a wire coathanger, a makeshift snaffle bit in his mouth, followed shortly thereafter by a naked kid riding another naked kid wearing a horse head sculpture made of rebar, which happened just before the part where the naked kid has sex with a naked girl and then the naked kid jumps up and runs around screaming and blinds a bunch of other naked horse head things with a pointy thing. I was fascinated, but mainly I was trying not to imagine why this 35 year old man had taken a 17-year-old girl to see a naked play about horse-blinding.

After the play was over he announced that we were going to go visit a friend of his and the whole bunch of us were going swimming.

What he failed to tell me was that this friend of his did not own a pool.

And was female.

And had three kids.

And five pythons, one anaconda the size of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, and one rattlesnake. And lived in an extremely bad part of town.

It turned out that this woman had not been expecting him, which added a whole new level of awkward to the evening. She stood there in the doorway, completely surprised and obviously more than a little dismayed to see us on her front step at 11 pm, looking from him to me and him to me again, her frown deepening. "God, Jay, are you kidding?" she finally said.

She was even more surprised when he asked her if the group of us could go swimming. "You mean, at my work? I'm......not sure that would be such a good idea right now," she explained uncomfortably. "It's a full moon."

"Oh," said Jay, nodding.

I didn't get it.

"She's head nurse up at the psych ward at O of U hospital," Jay explained. "So she has the keys to the therapy pool."

We all looked at each other.

It only occurs to me now that I should have wondered under what circumstances he had originally made this womans' acquaintance. What I did wonder was why on earth anyone would think "Hey! What a great idea! It's nearly midnight; I'll just invite myself and my retardedly underage date here over to a psych nurses' house in the middle of deepest, darkest Albina and ask that she jeopardize her career by sneaking all of us into the county charity hospital so we can go swimming in a pool full of nutty people whiz!"

I went outside onto the porch and had a smoke. I had several as I watched the lowriders thump past, smoke lazing out of the windows. Fortunately it was a lovely night. As far as I could tell. One clue was the distinct absence of light. There was a lot of it. I reached inside and flipped on the porchlight. The lady of the house leaped over and turned it back off. Through the thin crack of the rapidly closing door the lady of the house told me that if she left on the porch light and let me stand there under it looking white I'd probably get shot.

Gosh. Thanks.

I figured 'Oh well' and went around to the side of her house to take a leak.

So there I was with my skirt clutched in a bunch before me, bare ass hanging in the breeze, taking an alfresco piss between two houses in the middle of a slum...still, I had the trees, I had the grass, the night sky, and sweet music in the distance (Bootsy Starr 'Dr. Funkenstein' as I recall) which all combined to make this the most romantic part of my evening.

When I came back inside, she and my date were missing. I went straight to the bedroom door and listened. Bob Marley was playing on the stereo. She was giggling.

This was not as dismaying as you might imagine.

I wandered around the room and looked at the snakes. I found a butter tub full of crickets and dumped some in with the rattlesnake. I watched it capture and eat the crickets. It was interesting. I dumped the rest of the crickets out behind her couch (crickets-the perpetually chirping gift that keeps on giving). One of her kids woke up and I got him a glass of milk. He let me watch him feed a white mouse to the anaconda. That was interesting too. About 45 minutes later I knocked on the door of the bedroom and announced that I had to be home by 1:am. My dishevelled date emerged and we went home.

Inevetably, INEVITABLY, Jay called me a couple of days later.

My mother could NOT understand why I refused to come to the phone.


*Little did they know!

**T's mother had entered a convent at 17 and was back out at 23. Ten years later she had eight children. I kind of expect that her version of 'happy teenage memories' involved saying seven decades of the rosary while kneeling on uncooked rice.

No comments:

Post a Comment