Saturday, June 1, 2013

Issue #53 -- June 2013

THE DAYS OF SWINE AND ROSES
By Eddie McNamara


“Just because you can’t stand the idea of fucking me anymore doesn’t mean your friends feel the same way.”

Her words make your stomach drop like you’re on a roller coaster—they nauseate you, shake you; your thoughts race. Who wants to fuck her? What did she do? Something awful is about to follow this statement—this can’t play out any other way. It takes some prodding, but eventually she confesses to hooking up with your best friend Gustavo on the night of the blackout, when, instead of comforting her in the dark, you were rescuing perishables from the freezers at the three clubs you co-own. She’s nervous, slow with the details, stuttering. Wilting under your interrogation. The definition of sex is being bastardized as she tries to minimize her guilt. Phrases like “fooled around,” “made a mistake,” and “didn’t go all the way” are pouring out, along with the kind of tears that make a beautiful woman ugly. It stings more than if they had just screwed like normal people. The prelude is always more intimate than the main event. You shut off. No more details.

You were just trying to be helpful when you suggested hitting the gym—as a couple—last month. She was feeling down about the 15 pounds she put on after you both kicked the Charlie habit, and she developed a taste for higher-calorie nourishment than coke, cigarettes, and Diet Dr. Pepper. You were trying to be the kind of modern, sensitive husband who helps motivate his wife by exercising together, instead of the kind of insensitive dick you really are—one who resents marrying a model and ending up with this distorted version of beauty. She looks swollen, like she was stung by every hornet in the nest. She didn’t take your hint the way you intended. Women who are professionally beautiful are used to only compliments and affirmations. She can be as self-deprecating as she wants, but don’t dare agree with her or she’ll go pit-bull vicious on you, and that trust you had in spouses and lifelong friendships will have its throat ripped out.

You mindlessly walk to the kitchen and grab the bottle of Grey Goose you keep around for guests, then kiss six months and nine days of sobriety good-bye, drinking until you stop caring about the sound of her crying. But you can’t. She wails because she knows who you are. She knows that you don’t work things out—in your dispassionate Irish way, you completely cut off people who have wronged you. You’ll never get fucked over twice by the same person; it doesn’t matter if they’re your liquor distributor, a family member, or someone you love more than anything in the world: If they take a liberty, they’re dead to you. Your father told you, “People get one chance,” and it was the best advice anyone has ever given you.

She wanted attention; she wanted to feel like a badass. Well, now she’s lost someone who saw more than just the façade, someone who actually gave a fuck about her, not just another user. But you can’t let her wallow like this. You hold her like a baby until the bawling stops. What a selfish cunt. She cheats on you and you’re the one comforting her. You hate yourself almost as much as you hate her.

You’re desperate to leave the apartment, but where do you go? Haven’t driven this drunk since the last time, and that was the last time, wasn’t it? Take a cab? Stay at the Tribeca Grand? No. Don’t shit where you eat. You run their nightclub and promote their parties. It’s impossible to get a room without someone noticing you, and you’re in no condition for small talk. Sleep on the couch? It’s a chesterfield. How much did she spend on this fucking thing you can’t even sleep on? Why should you sleep on the couch anyway, when she’s the one who fucked up? Fuck her. You’re taking this couch when you move out.

All you can think about is his hairy ape hands all over her new curves, and her mouth around his uncircumcised cock. She’s so much hotter now that she’s not yours. Even her fat is sexy.

Was it the first time? Or did it go on for years? Was it hotter for them because it was so wrong? Did it heighten the excitement knowing that if you walked in, you’d go O.J. on them?

You get up off the couch, still wobbly. It’s 5:25 a.m.; you take a cab to Havok. The bridge-and-tunnelers who keep you in business are gone, sneaking one-night-stands into their parents’ basements. The bar staff are on their way home; the bouncers are mass texting looking for desperate, early-morning ass; and the porters will be coming in to wash last night away, but they’ll be too nervous to even make eye contact with the boss. Renato might still be there. After tonight’s revelation, he just got promoted from partner to new best friend. You wouldn’t mind talking to him. Maybe you’d feel better if you did.

You feel stomach-churning loneliness in the pre-dawn taxi ride. The city is empty, silent. The cab smells like curried corpse. Your thoughts turn equally sour. What kind of wife was she, anyway? In seven years, Ivy never once made dinner for you, she never washed a dish. She was more concerned with her eyebrow symmetry than your DUI case. The woman was born without empathy. The times when you were anguished, desperate, and needed her, trying to kick cold-turkey, she sat silently, flipping through Italian Vogue, and waited for you to stop feeling and shut up. Attention was a one-way street in your relationship.

You recognize your cunty thinking and stop yourself from calling home and barraging her with grievances. She stayed with you when your addictions turned you into a monster. She saw you steal from your family, watched you slice half of that Puerto Rican club kid’s ear off in a turf war outside Limelight. She flew headfirst into your windshield when you nodded off and hit that highway divider on the FDR, nearly destroying her moneymaker. You put it out of your mind; you can’t take the moral high ground if you admit who you used to be. How many women would be that understanding with a degenerate husband? Shoe on the other foot: Would you stick with her if she were the hopeless junkie? Be honest. Maybe her way of caring just looks like not caring.

You didn’t marry a housewife or a therapist. You married an artist, your partner in slime, and the most beautiful woman you’d ever seen. A face made of perfectly arranged angles, enormous gray eyes, plump lips in a half-sneer—as if Patrick Swift had painted a pretty girl who came to life. The freckles on the bridge of her nose are the only hint of earthliness about her. She’s pure rabid sexuality, immune to female envy; women want to be her or be with her. When she catwalks into a room, they lower their gaze and recognize that there’s no competition. They don’t bother with jealousy.

Your first date lasted 16 days. You left New York to find Real America, with only the Rag and Bone clothes on your back, her dad’s gas card, half a key for personal use (and sale if needed), your Bonneville, and a Polaroid camera. The world outside your glamour bubble was ugly, fat, and snaggletoothed. It smoked meth and wore sweatpants. You toured hourly motels and truck stops, shared cigarettes with lot lizards, went days without sleep. Every morning, you gave a new uniformed waitress at another rusted-out diner a thrill and a story to tell her boring friends. You laughed so hard that you pissed in a pair of Wranglers while trying on Walmart clothes. You took turns puking from days of fast food. You fucked in every Home Depot bathroom from New York to Nevada. You exchanged vows at a drive-through chapel in Vegas, and consummated them in the backseat of the Pontiac.

What you have with her is better than love, better than the second heroin high, better than the feeling of relief right after losing your virginity. Every couple in the world thinks that they’ve found love, so you hate calling yours the same thing—it isn’t. Their love is stupid and contrived; it’s a meaningless word from a greeting card. What you have is better, bigger, more real. She gets your references, loves the same movies, has read the same books. She’s able to use the shorthand of Smiths lyrics to describe anything. After a lifetime of talking to yourself, you finally found someone capable of conversation. The rest of them have settled like the Pilgrims at Plymouth for the first person who’d put up with their shit. Your life together is shared performance art, just the way you envisioned it. Any idiot can cook and clean.

The cab lets you off at Havok; you swear that you still smell like the inside of that hotbox of Calcutta. The light’s on in the office. Renato’s still there, filling tip envelopes with cash. He jumps to his feet and rushes you as you walk through the door. “Seanie, I’m so sorry. I just heard what happened.” You hate that your business is in the street. Who else knows? “Adrianna told me; she’s been talking to Ivy. Ivy’s hysterical over this whole thing.” You just floated that cocksucker Tavo 30 grand so his house doesn’t get foreclosed on, so his kids don’t end up in the street, and at the same time, he’s getting sucked off by Ivy behind your back.

Renato grabs you forcefully by the shoulders and makes you promise not to use. You nod your head and really mean it. That vodka slip-up won’t happen again. He says you should bang another broad—no, two broads—to offset the imbalance in your relationship. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I should fuck Tavo’s wife,” you say. “That’ll make things even, but I don’t know if my dick would even get hard for her.” She’s all banged up after those kids, like a pale, deflated balloon. Renato pays you no mind and says you can’t break up with Ivy, that you’re the only couple he knows that should be together, that you’re better together than on your own. He wants you to think big-picture. But you have to trust your people without thinking about it. They both have to be dumped like trash.

Renato isn’t listening. “If not for her, where would you be? Would you be my partner or just some piece of shit trying to sell coke in my clubs? Think hard about that one,” he says. “I wouldn’t even know you if you weren’t bringing models into my joint. No Ivy, no model friends. No model friends, and I never even meet you. Forget about buying in for half.”

Fair enough. “What would that bitch be doing without me?” you say. “Still fighting off grabby photographers? Her retarded Satan art? No one besides her father and me ever paid for that shit. I’m the one who gave her the idea to put her prints on T-shirts and tights and call it a clothing line because nothing else was working.” Uzi Suicide was your idea. “Full credit to her for making it massive and getting celebrities to wear her yoga pants with Baphomet on each butt cheek, but without me, she’s no designer. She’s just another model with an addiction and a painting hobby.”

“So, you do understand,” says Renato. “Look, you probably want to kill your boy Tavo. If I were you, I would, too. But let’s be smart about this. First, he pays you back the 30 with an extra 5 for pain and suffering. Then, let me reach out to Vinny Haircuts; he’ll take care of it. Nothing crazy, maybe just use the straight razor to nick the kid’s face, so whenever he looks in the mirror he’s reminded about how he fucked up. That’s fair, right?” Renato smiles. “But not until after my wedding. He’s not gonna fuck up my pictures looking like Scarface.”

“You expect me to be a groomsman and stand with Tavo after what happened? No, I won’t do it. I can’t.”

“But you will,” he says. “In this business there’s beautiful people and there’s bad people. A guy like you is somewhere in the middle, and you’re the only one I know who can work both sides. You need to be here for this to run right. I can’t lose you over those two making out like a couple of teenagers.”
           
Making out? In the game of telephone that is your misfortune, some major details were left out of the story Renato heard. You keep it to yourself. No reason to correct him. If he wants Tavo’s face slashed over a tender kiss, you keep your mouth shut for the sake of your former friend. You tell your partner you’ll be having dinner with your parents tonight. He insists that you come to the club as a patron around midnight, get some ass, and stay with him and Adrianna at their pink-walled and yellow-halled guinea mansion in Dyker Heights. The idea of partying in the club you co-own, straight-edge sober, and sleeping in the Vic Damone suite just adds to this nightmare.

At least it’ll be a clean break. As drunk and high as you were, you always managed to pull out. No kids to worry about; just divide everything in half and walk away. Sell the loft or let her buy you out; you’ll never go back to the scene of the crime.

***

The house you grew up in looks so much smaller than you remember it. Even the table you’re sitting around seems miniature. Drinking that too-strong Barry’s tea your parents love, you’re shocked by the size of your father’s hands. They were the size of canned hams when they were beating the bad out of you. Now they’re small, feeble old-man hands. You’re amazed that you could ever have been so afraid of those delicate things. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you tonight,” your father says, “but it looks like woman trouble to me.”

You try to talk, but he cuts you off. “Keep your personal matters to yourself. If you tell family what goes on in your marriage, they’ll be the ones holding grudges long after you’ve taken her back and forgotten what it was that you were fighting about.” You change the subject and ask for your mother. She’s in the other room watching The Young and the Restless, not to be disturbed during her story, least of all by you. Eleven years of silence since she found out you were cashing your dead grandfather’s pension checks. Bullshit walk-around money, 11 rocks a month if your dealer let you slide on a buck, but it was meant for your grandmother. Understood. You tried to buy her forgiveness by writing a check to pay off their mortgage when you were coronated King Shit of Clubland. She never acknowledged it or deposited it. The old man never acknowledged it either, but had no problem cashing it. He wants to talk football.

It’s time to leave.

***

You powerwalk past the line at Havok. Dimitry, the doorman, makes an uncomfortable attempt at a smile and escorts you in. The bouncers regard you differently than usual; they look as if they’re about to offer their condolences, as if someone you loved just died. Your table in the V.I.P. is three-quarters full. Renato is there with Saffron, a model originally from Hong Kong who lives in Flushing, Queens. What kind of a model lives in Flushing? The other girl is wearing a hideous sequined eighties prom dress. She has red lips, big teeth, and quirky girl bangs; she’s an actress, a singer, very coltish. She looks like she should be racing in Belmont instead of sitting at your table. That’s cruel. She’s a beautiful girl, but you only care about one beautiful girl, and it’s not this colt or her praying mantis from Queens. Renato’s face reads disappointment. You’re dull and charmless, off your game tonight—unable to work the room, more concerned with the carafe of kale and Granny Smith juice than the girls he’s trying to pimp out.

You wonder if girls still shave their pussies bald like they did when you were single. The most up-to-date pornography you’ve used would indicate that shaving is passé and the natural look is back. You’re more intrigued by what kind of pubic hair these girls are sporting than actually fucking them. You turn down more quality pussy in a week than most men are exposed to in a lifetime. That indifference is nothing new; Renato knows this trait of yours very well. It’s the part of you he hates. The way you lord your discipline and commitment over him every time he puts his dick in someone not named Adrianna.

“Ladies,” you say, “it’s been a pleasure meeting you. You’d both be perfect for cocktailing or promotions. You’ll make a lot of money; I can promise you that. Talk to our GM Kyle Palmer. I’ll leave a note for him. You can start as early as next weekend if that works for you.” The girls’ expressions are a mix of joy, confusion, and relief. “Thanks,” they both mumble and grip your hand with their sticky, clammy, young-girl palms as they exit the V.I.P. area.

“Good job, Father Sean,” said Renato in a mock brogue while making the sign of the cross with his right hand. “God forbid you fool around with…or even talk to a girl after your wife cheats on you. What are you trying to prove?” You aren’t trying to prove anything. The idea of starting over terrifies you. Painful getting-to-know-you conversations; being on your best behavior; over-hyped restaurants and tedious plays; galleries; concerts; holding in farts; awkward first-time sex; trying to figure out if she’s only with you because you’re a club owner; weekend getaways in a hotel with one toilet; hearing about her favorite records, movies, and books; and doing it all sober, only to inevitably find out that she’s a lousy stand-in for Ivy. Fuck all that.

Renato begs you to work it out with Ivy, to see a marriage counselor; he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown himself. Dude’s getting married in seven days, and the Brazo in-laws keep changing major wedding details at the last minute. Earlier today, they insisted the menu include pretentious seafood, so Renato has to reach into his pocket again to have Pacific razor clams shipped in from the Aleutian Islands. He comes to the club to try to clear his head only to see your miserable face and deal with your problems. Adrianna told him that Ivy’s staying with her father in Connecticut. “Why don’t you just drive up there and ring the bell?” he says, throwing your jacket at you. “Un-fuck yourself.”

You walk outside the club and call her from the corner of Vestry Street. She sobs into her phone as soon as she hears your voice. She hates herself, hasn’t eaten since you last spoke, went on a vodka binge and had only bile to throw up. You ask her if she’s used, and she says that she hasn’t—her father lets her stay over only if she takes a piss test before bed. You love that man. “I’ll see you at Renato and Adrianna’s wedding. You’ll be my date,” you say. She wants to meet earlier, but as much as you want to, you have to hardball her and withhold. “Babe,” you say, “please eat something. Swear to me that you’ll eat something.” She promises to eat if you tell her you love her. She says “I love you” seven times. You only manage “good night.”

***

You tell yourself that it’s only this one time. You really need it. You just need to settle down, need to be loose when you see Ivy and Tavo in an hour. Renato sent a Town Car for you. You won’t be trapped in the groomsmen’s limo with that scumbag Tavo, and Renato won’t have to play referee on his wedding day. The car will be here any minute. You swallow three blue Xanax pills and a wineglass full of Evan Williams. The whiskey immediately takes the edge off, and in a half-hour you’ll be too numb to care.

You arrive at the wedding as Renato is making introductions. It seems that every man on Adrianna’s side is named Thiago. Perfect. You can’t possibly be rude by calling someone the wrong name. You scan the church and see Tavo, but he does his best not to see you back. Head down, pussy motherfucker. You walk outside searching for Ivy. She’s smoking a cigarette by the parked cars, de-bloated from starving herself, looking more beautiful that you remembered. She’s beyond human, something alien, a more-evolved species. Her blonde hair is up in a messy twist, highlighting her flawless face and profile. Her lips pervert your mind with every inhale. She sees you and hobble-runs towards you in the Uzi Suicide coke-straw heels she designed. She buries her head in your chest and squeezes you until it becomes uncomfortable. “I’d cry my eyes out, but it would ruin my mascara. Black tears might actually work, but panda eyes….” she said. “I love, adore, and miss you.” She follows this with another bear hug.

“What are you on?” you ask.

“Nothing, just two glasses of champagne in the limo like an hour ago. I saw your friend Vinny Barber, he looked right through me when we were talking, like right over my shoulder. He’s defo tweaking.”

“Haircuts. Vinny Haircuts,” you say, as you slip four Xanax into Ivy’s hand. “Stay here.”

Big hug and a kiss with Vinny. You trade half a bottle of your footballs for a handful of his Dexies. You swallow a few, walk back to Ivy, and give her three go-pills. She smiles and pulls a flask from her clutch. Nostalgia overwhelms you. It’s the days of swine and roses all over again, before green juice and Rational Recovery, when you’d rather die than be home for Saturday Night Live, when you were still alive but didn’t realize it.

You feel awake inside, like the moment after a speeding car just misses you, but this charge through your body isn’t fleeting. Ivy gets the quadruple pupils; she grabs your hand and leads you to the bridesmaids’ limo. You palm the driver a $50 and climb inside. She unbuckles your belt, pulls your pants down, and, for the first time ever gives you a blowjob and swallows. You’re euphoric, relaxed, but still turned-on enough to go again. She straddles your lap as you swig cheap limousine vodka from the bottle and rock together.

You fucked through the ceremony. Missed the whole goddamn wedding.

Head thumping, vision blurred, confused, but you’re invincible. Perry Farrell is spinning; he’s calling himself DJ Peretz now. You and Ivy sweat all over each other on the dance floor to the sounds of LCD Soundsystem: “I’m losing my edge/ to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets/ with borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties”dance music for people who hate dance music. “But I was there.”

For a second you wonder if Renato hates you, then the thought passes and you dance until your body overheats, you feel as if your whole being is roasting from the inside; you can’t sweat anymore. You run toward the bathroom to splash water on your face. Tavo is hanging around outside the men’s room like a public-toilet pervert. First water, then Tavo.

He follows you into the bathroom. He’s crying and begging, but you can’t hear him properly over the running water and your heart pounding through your eardrums. He loves you like a brother, he says. More than his brothers. He sticks out his chin, throws his hands behind his back and begs you to punch him in the face, to knock him out. He’s a piece of shit and he deserves it. “Tavo,” you say, “I’m not going to hit you. I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to know why.”

He could give you a million excuses. He’s underwater on his mortgage, owes 30 to you, 50 to his in-laws, God-knows-what to Haircuts. Gabriella miscarried again. She walks around in a daze, blames herself. The truth is: He just fucked up. He’s ready to eat a bullet; he’s sorry. It was just a mistake between two scared people in the dark looking for comfort. You feel sympathy for your friend. He’s too pathetic to be mad at. You hug him and can feel the tension leave his body. Maybe the poor bastard won’t off himself now. He tells you what a great man you are, how he’s always looked up to you. You cut him off; it’s getting too sappy. “We’re cool. Just do me a favor and get me two gin and tonics at the bar in water glasses. I’ll be on the dance floor. I don’t want people to see me drinking.”

You walk back to the dance floor and see Ivy kissing her friend Emma, the second most beautiful woman in the world—a surgically enhanced improvement on the classic 1940s pinup. Renato blocks your path as you approach the girls, “Party’s over, Seanie. I have to ask you guys to leave. Me, I don’t give a fuck. I’m happy as a pig in shit for you, but people are starting to talk. You understand.” You look back, and see that the two girls are now entwined in a pool of spilled champagne on the dance floor. Ivy’s skirt has flipped up, exposing the black heart tattoo on her ass. Every iPhone camera in the place is flashing. You laugh, delighted that Renato doesn’t hate you for ruining his wedding. You kiss and congratulate him, then run your pointer finger down your cheek in a slashing motion and say, “Talk to Vinny for me.”

You take the Town Car home with Ivy and Emma. Ivy sits up front and watches as you fuck Emma in the back seat. It’s hot—in theory—but something is wrong. Her skin is sandpaper compared to Ivy’s, her hips bones are digging into your pelvis, her smell isn’t the same, and she’s being overly dramatic: “Oh, my God, you’re so big!” You catch Ivy rolling her eyes. You can’t finish. Too much fucking tonight, nothing left in reserve.

The Town Car pulls over in front of Odessa restaurant. “You brought me after our first date,” Ivy says. “This time, pierogies are on me.”



Eddie McNamara is a Brooklyn native living in Manhattan. A writer, chef, and professional contrarian, his work has appeared in Penthouse Magazine, Gotham City Insider, Hungry NYC, and Blanched and Shocked. Follow him on Twitter at @EddieMcNamara, and read his generally unwelcome opinions at http://www.impolitesociety.com.

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