FL2, otherwise known as Fine Life Magazine, Issue No. 2, hits newsstands today. Being the editor of a wine county lifestyle rag has its perks – namely the ocean of wine that arrives at the office by the case – or two – thanks to the fine lands at Council Tree. Correspondingly, the theme of this issue is wine, or more specifically “harvest,” which is, in part, what lured me to Sonoma in the first place and has kept me two years thence. FL is distributed by Hearst Corp. so it will likely turn up in today’s San Francisco Chronicle and, of course, in the Sonoma Valley Sun. To request a copy, do not hesitate to call…
Unlike some of my pals, I don’t need to walk into the local pub to get my nose whacked. I mastered the art of the self-inflicted nasal wound using that ubiquitous instrument of the Nomaville experience – the wine glass. How I transformed this delicate and otherwise benign vessel into an instrument of blunt trauma has little to do with the glass itself, but everything to do with the apparent enormity of my nose.
The Roman arch, as it turns out, is not limited to architecture – it’s been fixed to the abutment of my face since the earliest of my days. Its genetic derivations remain something of a family mystery, though I once spied a photo of camera-shy great-grandfather cowering behind a tree. At first glance it appears to be obscuring his profile. A second look, however, reveals that the trunk is merely camouflaging the bridge of his nose – I had mistaken the rest of it for a branch extending far out of frame.
Since transplanting to the wine country, I’ve learned to avoid certain types of glassware on account of my proboscis. Champagne flutes are a particular menace, since the mouth of the glass is too narrow to clear the tip of my nose. Thus, to sip, I must tip my head (and the glass) back about 75 degrees. The result is that I appear to be guzzling the sparkling, which, in point of fact I am, since the angle causes the wine to spill from the glass like a whitewater rapids. Likewise, stemware impresario George Riedel apparently has a grudge against those of us with larger endowment. Of the glasses he manufactures for specific varietals, it is only the wide-mouthed line created to showcase cabernet sauvignon that I can drink from with relative ease (though I have to be mindful not to let my nose get wet).
Due to a freak tetherball accident in the third grade, my nose lists a little to the left. This creates the optical illusion of being larger from certain angles, rather, any angle except one. Through years of diligent study and experimentation with mirrors and other reflective surfaces (the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial, say), I’ve learned how to counteract the effect by slightly cocking my head to the right. When I first spotted my future wife, the Contessa, I attempted this subtle corrective, but turned too far and inadvertently grazed my nose against a light switch, which momentarily dimmed the cocktail party we were attending. I tried to save face – or nose – as it were by suggestively chirping, “You know what a big nose means?”
“That you’re a liar,” came her retort.
Damn, the Pinocchio Reversal. Well played. I fell instantly in love. The Contessa herself has a fairly prominent nose, but its aquiline shape, even bridge and striking resemblance to Greco-Roman statuary amounts to a classic beauty and what some have commented is an aristocratic bearing. Mine just makes me look like a snob, seeing as I have to keep it fairly high in the air, counterbalanced by the long hair I’ve grown for ballast, lest its weight drive my chin to my chest.
But tell us what happened to your nose, Cyrano, I hear you collectively cry. Okay, but you have to promise not to laugh. I was having a candlelit dinner with my wife on our back patio. After making a toast, I returned my glass to the table near a candle – too near, as it turned out. Later, I went for another sip, but the lip of the glass had become heated to the point that when it met the bridge of my nose (alas) a crescent shape was seared just below my brow. That which we call a tetherball by any other name would smell as sweet.
Winding down the Californian coast this weekend piqued a peculiar anxiety in me, the genesis of which I could not immediately place. The usual culprits (craggy coastal cliffs, the great, gaping maw of the midnight sea), were not the source, nor was the Contessa’s drowsy helming of the wheel. When she made me aware that I was nervously tapping dashboard as if transcribing War and Peace on a telegraph, the answer finally came to me. The illuminated oil rigs lurking off the Santa Barbara coast resembled the blocky, pixelated adversaries of the ancient arcade game Space Invaders and no matter how rapidly I tapped the phantom “fire” button on the dash, I could not smote them. Not quite ‘Nam, I know, but traumatic nevertheless.
The digital nemeses frequently appear in street art given their geometric form, which aptly lends itself to stencils and tile mosaics (Sonoma Valley Sun photog Joe Lemas recently spotted a tiled invader in Paris). Many of these representations are the result of a loosely organized guerilla art movement that has found the invaders depicted the world over by a contingent of co-conspirators.
Predictably, guerilla marketing campaigns have hijacked this approach featuring similar creatures. Sam Ewen, founder and CEO of ad firm Interference, Inc., garnered the wrath of Homeland Security when his team planted objects d’art inspired by the Mooninites, two-dimensional alien villains from the Cartoon Network show Aqua Teen Hunger Force that owe a genetic debt to Space Invaders). Meant to inspire viral cell-phone photos and blog posts, the Mooninites’ blinking electronic circuit boards instead caused post-9/11 Bostonians to believe they were bombs. Authorities were outraged – at least one congressman pilloried Ewen in the press and the Boston police commissioner described the campaign as “unconscionable.” You know, sort of like oil rigs marring the California coastline.
Play Space Invaders here.
This week in Nomaville, I return to one of my perenial obsessions — the bomb — by way of another obsession — Dr. Strangelove. Both notions culminated into something of a personal nuclear meltdown my freshman year in high school during an ill-fated stage adaptation of Kubrick’s masterpiece. Dr. Strangelove vs. Madame Wadsworth recounts how I managed to raise both the ire of my drama teacher and questions regarding a certain rubber chicken — with one bad move. I had conducted the interview with Madame while penning a screed about the bomb for the Bohemian, published as Atomic Hangover. In the end, the quotes never made the story, however, I did release the interview in the “Back to School” edition of the Daedalus Howell Show on KSVY 91.3 Sonoma in September of last year. Even mushroom clouds have a silver lining.
Blade Runner, the seminal tech-noir film directed by Ridley Scott inspired by a Philip K. Dick story, has been a cultural touchstone since its original release in 1982. Now, celebrating its 25 anniversary, star Sean Young candidly discusses her role in the film, her career since and her brightening future in the biz. Suffice it to say – Sean Young is no replicant.
By Daedalus Howell
DH: This is sort of a “boxers or briefs” question, but which do you prefer, the original Blade Runner or the director’s cut which was stripped of Harrison Ford’s narration?
SY: I prefer the original. I think it’s just because that’s what I was exposed to, so long ago, and was used to. I don’t know why, I think it was just imprinted on me and became the one I’m close to.
DH: Given its cultural impact, were you “set” after Blade Runner?
SY: Oh, no. My career got whacked somewhere in 1989. I’ve had to stumble and survive ever since.
SY: If you have an actor accuse you of leaving a voodoo doll on their door step, it doesn’t do a whole lot for your reputation. I suppose if I was a guy that might, you know, help.
DH: I must admit, I know some of the controversy that’s laden your career, but frankly, I’m a fan so I find it irrelevant.
SY: You’ll have to do your research because I don’t go back. It’s a good thing you don’t know, it’s not something I would want you to reiterate or revisit [laughs].
DH: Was it your hairdo in Blade Runner?
SY: [Laughing] No, no they did a great little hairdo. It took a long time. I’ve had to explain it to hairdressers over the years. Those were the days when I had a “leaning board.” You would get dressed and go off to the set, but weren’t allowed to sit down because you would wrinkle your clothing. You would have to have this board that was slightly leaned backwards and it had little armrests on it. You had to stay on the leaning board until you were released and could go back to your little dressing room and then you could take off your skirt or whatever and, you know, sit.
DH: Sounds pretty old school.
SY: Betty Davis had a leaning board, Joan Crawford did and so did I.
DH: I would definitely say your look in Blade Runner borrowed from their DNA.
SY: I think so too. I think there’s been a sad loss in terms of homage to that kind of great beauty — the great, mysterious beauty.
DH: Indeed. And it seems to me that, despite some of the issues that we’re not talking about, you’ve retained a sort of cult following.
SY: I do too, in the real world. But Hollywood is not a real place. It’s like a figment in the imagination of people in the corporate offices who think their opinion has any value. And they do – they think it’s good. The way the business has changed – reality TV has had a big impact on it. The people producing reality TV couldn’t hope to make a Blade Runner in their last dying breath. The market for the kind of things I’d like to do – there’s not a lot of support for it in terms of finances. Frankly, I’m only now just overcoming my shyness. My wretched shyness.
DH: What about doing something independently or even on the web?
SY: I might do it. My children are old enough now where I’m not worrying about whether they’re going to throw themselves off the balcony. I’ve started to actually concentrate on that. I did a 12 day shoot his last June. I was one of the producers and one of the reasons it got made. I’m starting to do that. That one is named Darkness Visible.
DH: I’m glad to hear that because I definitely think you still mean something to audiences.
SY: I do too. I’ve only just stated to mean something to myself. I guess it took me a long time to recover.
DH: What, a decade at the most? Hey, some people have gone longer.
SY: I think I’m an odd commodity. I’m certainly a name and a commodity and there’s a certain amount of mystery that has almost mistakenly been built up. It’s there, it’s doable, it’s usable. There are a lot of people who are supporters. I think the big bridge for me has been overcoming having my reputation whacked, surviving that and overcoming that. I’m starting to get my sea legs back. I don’t feel so shy and I also feel kind of vindicated in the sense that when people try to wreck your reputation, it does catch up to them. It may take a while, but people ultimately know – and they know when someone is an asshole.
DH: You’ve weathered the storm and most of those people probably don’t have their jobs anymore.
SY: That’s right. That’s actually true.
DH: It might be cheesy to characterize where you are now as a comeback but –
SY: Oh, I’m a comeback waiting to happen, that’s for sure. I just had to sort of step on the bandwagon. I wasn’t honestly very impressed with success. Success can bring really good things in people at times, but I think that’s less common. Mostly, success can make people have very large egos and feel justified in kinds of behavior that, in my mind, depresses me.
DH: Success tends to magnify any crap that’s there.
SY: Yeah, pissing contests are not my forte.
DH: This sounds like an exciting time for you.
SY: Yeah, not really [laughs].
DH: But, you sound like you have a renewed sense of spirit.
SY: I’m older now, so I at least have perspective. I’m not the kind of person who is going to walk in with pistols blazing. I’m much too shy for that. I don’t think I’m characterized like that either. I feel like I’ve been endowed with a fiery, mysterious power, which is a complete illusion. If I feel uncomfortable, I’ll just back out of the room and quietly disappear. I don’t do those kind of fights anymore because I recognize that women don’t win them. You got to have a strong arm next to you in order to win that one and I that’s a battle I’m not even interested in being a part of.
DH: After some recent meditation on our culture, my colleagues and I have had the feeling that you’re due to pop again soon. It’s like “Sean Young, of course!”
SY: I think you might not be alone in that department. And I hope not. I would certainly know how to handle it in a way that would be graceful and dignified. I’m now in a position where I can accept only what I want to – I wasn’t always in that position. I don’t have to say “yes” to things that I felt I had to previously to support my children. When you have that kind of freedom to say “Nah, I don’t think so,” it’s a totally different thing. I can’t say that has always been the case.
This year marks the 30th anniversaries of the films Star Wars and Annie Hall, both cultural milestones in their right, which affected at least one member of a certain generation.
Once upon a time in a galaxy, far, far, away – 1977 specifically – girls wore jeans that had to be zipped with pliers and undulated to the sounds of Saturday Night Fever and Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop. For us kids in the wine country, the city was San Francisco, a whole continent away from the peanut farmer Walter Cronkite called Mr. President. There, gas lines spanned city blocks and suburban chic included a drought-inspired bathroom sign that read “If it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down.” It was the year Apple Computer was born and the year Elvis and Groucho Marx died, later to be reincarnated together as punk rock. It was the year Star Wars, the real Star Wars, hit the silver screen.
As a five year-old, I immediately fell for Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia, which started a life-long search for a tough dame with aristocratic affiliations. To complicate matters, 1977 also saw the release of Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning re-imagining of Pygmalion by way of the Times’ “Arts and Leisure Section.” Annie Hall starred Diane Keaton as a young woman dealing with life and love in the Manhattan of the seventies, which started a women’s fashion craze for vests and ties that can only be described as hobo-chic.
Anyway, I was an impressionable kid. Imagine, the hard-boiled sci-fi siren and the bohemian artist type from Chippewa Falls—together, alas, my perfect woman. Her name was Carrie Keaton. We dated. What follows are scenes from the motion picture version of our relationship:
Scene One: The Cue
A line, long with theater-goers – anemic dudes clad in corduroy jackets with elbow patches and snooty women in long skirts, boots and berets. Carrie, donned in her ubiquitous vest and tie, radiates an earthy sensuality. Her eyes are a faint blue, curtained by deep henna-hued bangs. She’s approaching thirty and in every other manner, prime, in the Miss Jean Brodie sense of the word.
Carrie: “Can’t you use your press pass or something? This sucks. Why do we always have to go to the theater?”
Me: “Because I’m a columnist. And we get free tickets. When my sales pick up we’ll go to where successful writers go – like brothels and sanitariums.”
Carrie: (sighing) “I should have gone to yoga.”
Me: “And you would think putting your feet behind your head would benefit our relationship.”
Carrie: “I’m not good at relationships. I told you I’m kryptonite.”
I have to interject here. Carrie’s excuse for every tic that transpired between us was that she was “kryptonite.” Why she chose the sole element that could kill Superman to express this is a question better left for her analyst. I suppose, since being in a relationship with her didn’t kill me outright, I must have been Bizarro, Superman’s backward doppelganger to whom kryptonite was more boon than bane.
Frustrated with Carrie, I step out of line and pull in Tony Roberts, Woody Allen’s bearded, baritone-voice multi-movie sidekick, to consult (self-help guru Tony Robbins could fill-in in a pinch – everyone always thinks this is who I mean when I mention “Tony Roberts”).
Me: “You have to help me. My girlfriend thinks she’s kryptonite.”
Roberts: “You don’t need me – you need Lex Luther. When a woman says she’s kryptonite, believe her. Get out before you end up in a tabloid.”
Me: “You’re right. But she was so sweet when we met…”
Scene: Group Encounter
My pal Han made his fortune creating niche-based online dating services. Take your kink, realize you’re not that kinky in the grand scheme of things and then Han’s website finds all the other not-that-kinky people who share your kink. When a new site needed beta-testing, we were the guinea pigs. The kink du jour had something to do with college drop-outs with tattoos and complete sets of wisdom teeth or something.
“You met in school – where?” Han began. It was a softball question meant to lead, eventually to something more suggestive. I fully expected him to unveil his “you can lead girl to Vassar but you can’t make her think” gag again, but alas…
“Santa Cruz,” said Carrie. “Go Banana Slugs!”
“I can’t get behind any school wherein you can kill their mascot with salt,” I quipped, but nobody cared. I tread water: “We went to State. We didn’t have a mascot for fear of offending, you know, mascots.”
Han shook his well-coiffed head.
“It was a diploma mill. It was easier to get a diploma there than it was to get rolling papers,” he laughed haughtily.
“But you didn’t graduate, right?” Carrie asked.
“No, we had little use for diplomas,” I said.
“Or rolling papers. We had a bong,” Han added.
Carrie pursed her lips. “So, where did you meet, rehab?”
“It’s more romantic. We had a mutual enemy. He stole our girlfriend,” I explained.
Carrie was incredulous, so I elaborated.
“Well, she was his girlfriend, but I would sub. Sometime in the 80s. Back when barrier protection had something to do with Iran-gate. Now we don’t let women come between us.”
“Unless it’s consensual,” Han lobbed resulting raised eyebrows.
“So that’s where I picked him up. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?”
“You mean, ‘frenemy?’” Carrie jibed.
Han smiled broadly, then ran off to register the domain name of his new niche. I stayed with Carrie.
Scene: Last Summer
Me: “What do you mean he was hitting on you?”
Carrie: “I don’t know, there was just, you know, something…”
Me: “Well it’s got to be a little more specific, Han is my oldest friend. Was it the partner swapping gag? That’s just his patter.”
Carrie: “No, it was no big deal, nothing. At the boat house, but it’s not important. Don’t be jealous.”
Me: “Whose jealous? When were you at the boat house?”
Carrie: “When I helped him move. Don’t be jealous.”
Me: “I’m not jealous. He moved? Huh. What did he say to you? I’ll interpret it so we’ll know that you’re not just flattering yourself.”
Carrie: “Thanks. He didn’t say anything.”
Me: “Then how could he hit on you? What, was he counting his money in front of you? ’Cuz the man’s subtle.”
Carrie: “I think he tried to kiss me.”
Me: “You think?”
Carrie: “It was dark. We were talking.”
Me: “Nah. He’s very old world.” I kiss her on both cheeks. “See, hello, good-bye. Like that? No? What, he tried to kiss you goodnight or something?”
Carrie: More like “good morning.”
“Was your ex good in bed?” she asked, which I knew instinctively was girl-code for
“Was she better than me?” Carrie cantered: “Oh, what does that mean, anyhow? It’s so subjective.”
“No she wasn’t good in bed. She was like a four star restaurant,” I explained. “Any achievement she enjoyed in bed was small and pricey.”
“You like me better than her, though, right?”
“You? I love you.”
“My ex claimed to have phantom pain from his circumcision,” she said, staring through the pillow. “Do you really love me? You shouldn’t. I mean, you know what I really am, right?”
Scene: The Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
North, at the Marin Headlands
We sat on a bench.
Beautiful isn’t it?
I see why people always jump off.
Something on your mind?
You’re perfect, Carrie.
Please don’t say that, I’m trouble.
That makes you sexy.
I am kryptonite.
Sure, but, I’m not Superman.
You are Bizarro
Scene: Han’s Company Party
The loft looked like a nightclub on Planet Softcore. Girls clad in kitsch space vixen outfits maneuvered trays of exotic hors’dourves through throngs of young, rich, angry people. Han clinked his Champaign glass with a silver spoon.
“I just to says some words about our new strategic partners, the Russian Space Administration,” Han began.
Carrie pitched my elbow.
“You didn’t say he was working with cosmonauts,” she whispered in my ear.
“Yeah, the Russian space people were seeking an injunction to shut down Han’s website because they thought it was, you know, defamation of character. Then they found out how profitable it was, scraped up their rubles and became a majority investor.”
Han raised his glass: “To our Russian partners, welcome to Slutnik-dot-com!”
Han: “Thanks. Aren’t these women just amazing? That one has a tattoo that reads ‘STS-51-L.’”
Carrie: “What does it mean?”
Han: “Last flight number of Challenger – the space shuttle. Too cool. Hey, man, try the Tobiko caviar. It’s red hot and spicy. Had it shipped.”
Me: “I can’t handle spicy, you know, it’ll blow out my O-ring and then the teacher will die.”
Han: “You guys wanna see something?”
In his office, Han takes a cylindrical object out of a locked case. He hits a button and a glowing shaft of light projects from it. The dude has a lightsaber.
Me: “What about the part about hokey religions and ancient weapons?”
Carrie: “Can I touch it?”
Scene: Inner Thoughts
“Something has definitely soured between Carrie and I. Everyday, she becomes a little cooler, remote, distracted. By tomorrow she may become catatonic. With a woman like Carrie, I should be happy just getting into her pants – maybe I don’t want to be in her head.” – Me
“It was nice flirting with Han, in the boathouse. I should never have said anything. I’m a wreck. Han makes me feel sexy, unpredictable and naughty — feelings I enjoy, then feel guilty about, which, turns me on even more. I get so bored I fear slipping into catatonia. Hold tight. But, you know, you did encourage Han…” – Carrie
“See, you finally admit to yourself, you did encourage Han. Great.” – Me.
Scene: Indoor Racquet Ball Court
Me: “We’re at that age when our heroes begin to die – in the metaphysical sense. The myth-makers of our youth are being put to pasture to be grazed on by junior college professors and blogs.”
Han: “Everything I learned about life was from the movies I saw as a kid.”
Me: “That’s why you’ll end up a new age weirdo with an absentee father and a fake hand.”
Han: “That’s why I changed my name to Han.”
Me: “You changed your name? All these years I know you, you’re an imposter? What was your – ”
Here, I thought it would be ironic to pretend not to notice the irony.
Me: “You secretive bastard. I’d hate to be your girlfriend.”
Han: “What girlfriend? I had to quit seeing Sutton. After the merger, we discovered there was a conflict of interest. Our parent companies are competitors. We’re going to see other people until our stocks vest.”
Me: “Wow, that’s horrible.”
Han: “S’business. How are you and Carrie?”
I missed the ball, but Han thought it would ironic to pretend not to notice the irony.
Me: “It’s not, you know, a bull market. In fact, it’s mostly just bull. Carrie seems so remote somehow, she says I over-idealize her, that I …Hey, you don’t fancy her or anything — I’m just paranoid, you know, ’cuz sometimes I detect sparks.”
Han: “That’s just from grinding our axes.”
Me: “As long as that’s all you’re grinding.”
Han: “She’s got a great axe.”
I walloped the ball, which lodged into the corner of the ceiling. This was not ironic.
Scene: Garden Party
“Han gets invited to everything,” I muttered.
I hadn’t been to a Star Wars party since my eighth birthday. The garden was rife with characters — if you stood in place too long a Jawa would run between your legs. Chewbacca worked the bar. Darth Vader was the DJ. I accepted a glass of Champaign from passing Stormtrooper and another for Carrie, but when I turned to find her, she and Han already had theirs.
“You’re projecting what you want in a woman on her,” an oddly diminutive Stormtrooper advised. That’s not who she is. Now she’s craving the attention of other men, who appreciate her on her own terms, not some invented romantic vision.”
“Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper,” I said in an effect to dismiss the runt, but his words echoed a looming truth.
Han and Carrie were joined by a Jedi who goaded Han to compare the length of their lightsabers. He left disgruntled.
“Maybe you’re right, maybe she’s not the woman I’m looking for.”
The stormtrooper agreed. “She’s not the woman you’re looking for.”
“And I should just move along?”
“Move along,” he admonished.
Me: “The old books mixed with the new. Bookstores like this have no respect for the linear nature of time. It’s meaningless here — only the arbitrary order of the alphabet, which is itself completely arbitrary. I mean alpha, omega, A to Z. Who’s to say? And even still that system is fallible. What’s DeVore doing among the Munroes? And no H’s whatsoever. Of course. Tell ya, bookstores can be like a hall of mirrors for us bottom list writers — you can see everyone else but never yourself.”
Carrie: (sighs) Remember in the seventies?”
Me: “I’m a child of the seventies — I was swaddled in Christo’s Running Fence. Vote for Anderson?”
Carrie: “Remember the drought of seventy-seven?”
Me: “If it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down. Blah, blah. Why?”
Carrie: “We’ve reached the flush it down part of our relationship. It’s gotten too complicated. For what it was supposed to be.”
Me: “What was that?”
Carrie: “Brief. I don’t know. Maybe we just need some space — some time apart.”
Me: “No more nights and weekends.”
Carrie: “This is a relationship, not a calling plan.”
Carrie’s phone rings. She fishes it out of her bag and answers while strolling off. Lost in my own thoughts, I bump into an attractive woman, fairy-like character and fascinatingly vague.
Me: “I’m sorry, excuse me.”
Anima: “I recognize you. Omigod, you’re that writer! I think your column is just – just meow.”
Me: “Meow? No one has ever meowed at my work before. Or even read it for that matter.”
Anima: “I think you’re meow too.”
Me: “Should I pet you or something? I’m sorry, I’m being cavalier.”
Anima: “You can pet me. I like cavalier. I even like narcissistic.”
Me: “Really? You know, I have a lot of self-love to give.”
Anima: “Mmm, I bet.”
Me: (having painted myself into a corner) “Okay, now I have to go.”
Anima: “No you don’t. It’s not like I’m kryptonite or something.”
Me: “That’s refreshing.”
Anima: “I’m your anima. I’m the female archetype within your unconscious.”
Me: “Who says?”
Anima: “Carl Jung.”
Me: “Fair enough.”
Anima: “I’m a projection of your inner, feminine side.”
Me: “You’re definitely my good side.”
(She wraps her arms around me and plants a smooch.)
Anima: “Listen, let’s ditch your girlfriend and go home. I’m your ideal woman — not her. This is you’re ultimate fantasy.”
Me: “You’re right. And it wouldn’t really be cheating, would it?”
Carrie walks back in, shocked. Expletives follow.
Me: “It’s not what it seems. She’s my anima, my inner female.”
Carrie: “And you’re kissing her.”
Me: “I know, but it’s alright, you see, she’s just a projection of an aspect of myself.”
Anima: “He’s hyper-critical of himself so he projects his longing for self-satisfaction on women, which he over over-idealizes in inverse proportion to his innermost anxieties.”
Me: (to Carrie) “What she said.”
Carrie: “You may over-idealize me, but you’re kissing her.”
Me: “I know, it looks bad, but this is really just an elaborate form of masturbation.”
Carrie: “Well, you better get good at it!”
Carries storms off.
Scene: Han’s Ex
My conversations with Sutton proved illuminating snapshots into the female psyche. Though she and Carrie claimed to be best friends, they secretly hated each other. In fact, the term best friend was really the nom de guerre for worst enemy. The cleverest of rivals, the girls kept close social proximity to each other. Their friendly embrace made it easier to stab each other in the back.
“Carrie and I met at a dance club near campus. The Cha-Cha-Cha,” Sutton recalled as she unclipped her long, honey-brown hair. As it tumbled I could have sworn I heard harp music. “We discovered we had been sleeping with the same men. At least two. The Rogers and Hammerstein of musical beds. They’re gay now. But not together.”
Later… In her bed.
“Carrie was the consummate drama student. The fake British accent, a tote bag of unread books. She had a protracted puss in boots stage. Only danced with girls.
Dance clubs are human rat wheels. I prefer dancing alone anyhow. My father got me a really big ‘back off ring,’ see—Says ‘married.’”
“Is that what that says?”
Sutton kept an Apache knuckle-duster beneath her bed, made me look like bantam-weight drunk and had a razor-sharp tongue she sharpened fellating her professors in grad school. Moreover, she was my best friend’s girl, which, of course, accentuated her illicit allure.
Afterwards, when the lights came back on…
“This is very Henry Miller. Think about it. I did it with Han. You did it with Carrie. Now, you and I just did it,” Sutton observed.
“We could’ve organized better and made a weekend of it,” I quipped before I had completely understood what she had said. “What do you mean, Han and Carrie? You, you say that like they’re together.”
“Don’t play dumb. That’s why you’re here isn’t it?”
Scene: Slutnik Headquarters
I burst into a meeting Han is leading, which forced him to excuse himself and shuffle me off into a recreation room. He buttonholed me against the vintage Space Invaders arcade game.
Han: “What’s gotten into you?”
Me: “You’re my best friend and you’re poaching my girlfriend. You’re upsetting the natural order of things—alpha-males don’t scavenge off the little guys—bottom feeding should be beneath guys like you.”
Han: “All’s fair in love in war, man.”
Me: “What, are you declaring war on me?”
Han: “I’m declaring love for her. Kind of. I guess.”
Me: “Great, now the circle is complete. When did everyone get so mercenary? Carrie and I were just taking a time-out, that means you take a time-out and warm the bench awhile, not go and play another game.”
Han: “Game’s over, man.”
Me: “Hey, don’t get cocky, kid.”
Han: “She’s booked a flight back East. Going to grad school or something. Today.”
I got panhandled by a bunch of Jedis with tambourines, but they were kind enough to give me a flower and a brochure.
Carrie: “What are you doing here?”
Me: “I don’t think you should go back to school.”
Carrie: “I bought this ticket on the Internet, it’s non-refundable.”
Me: “You should stay in the wine country with me. We’ll get a place together—straighten things out—combine our student loan payments at a reduced rate. Come on Carrie, we’re supposed…”
Loudspeaker: “Flight 1977 from San Francisco to Back East, now boarding.”
Carrie: “What about Han? I don’t think you could ever…”
Me: “Hey, there’s nothing that transpired between you two that a long shower couldn’t fix.”
Carrie: “But I don’t want to come between you.”
Me: “I’m solid with Han, I’ll never see him again, but he can call me for forgiveness from his deathbed. Which, with any luck, will be soon. I love you.”
Carrie: “Peter, you don’t love me. You love an idea of me. Your idea of me.”
Me: “But it’s not a bad idea, is it?”
Carrie: “Sure, but it’s not me.”
Me: “Don’t we owe something to love?”
Carrie: “No. No one ever tells you that because it isn’t romantic, but it’s true. Listen, I’ll be back at break — who knows, maybe I’ll come to my senses and realize that you were the only man that ever accepted me as I am and loved me for who I am, who learned before I did that I’m a better person than I think I am. Christ, I sound like Popeye. Anyway, now I have to go back to school.”
Carrie pauses, approaches and knocks me on the chin.
“Told you, kiddo. I’m kryptonite.”
Then she was gone.
I’m joined by a Jedi —Tony Roberts. What’s weird is that his younger padawan is Tony Robbins.
Roberts: “You know, I thought you had her with all that ‘Don’t we owe love’ crap. What a break. Who knows, maybe you got lucky.’
Robbins: “A wise man once said ‘The heart does not know from love.’”
Roberts: “Good, young padawan.”
Me: “Good, young padawan, indeed.”
Ten minutes later it finally occurred to me, what Carrie had been telling me all along. Carrie Keaton wasn’t Princess Leia and Annie Hall – she was Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane from “Superman The Movie.”
No, I’ve not let this corner of the web go feral – I’ve merely been recovering from my recent speaking tour, which included a pit-stop at Legare’s in Portland and appearances at the 38th Willamette Writers Conference. Here’s evidence that I was actually present at one of the aforementioned locations (rather than having a dipsomaniacal episode in some Portlandian grotto or other, or, worse — drying out) courtesy of journo Vivian McInerny in last Sunday’s Oregonian. The three-day confab assembled the Pacific Northwest’s best and brightest writers, from inklings to page-borne pensioners, hobbyists and hacks alike. And it was a pleasure to meet every goddamn one of them.
Join me for a reading from Action Figure Sold Separately, my forthcoming book of essays at my old chum Jon Legare’s joint. The gig begins at 8 p.m. at the aptly named Legare’s on 1532 SE Clinton St., Portland, Oregon. Call (503) 239-8411 for more details.