Halloween II

“Let’s stay and starve the light a little while longer…”

Just a little longer, Blair pleaded- wide eyes, the result of a deliberate evolutionary process; puppies evoking sympathy as their only means of survival; cats as cold, distant bitches with a keen sense of human nature built in to the blood- manipulative, an inherent understanding that people chase what they can’t have. Just a little longer. Everything pushing toward survival- fleeting moments of comfort- everyone hiding from pain; refugees from trauma. Just a little longer- no one wants the night to end; cold and lonely mornings- your reflection looking more haggard by the day; bags under the eyes like sinkholes in sand.

Just a little longer. Get old enough and the goodbyes start to pile up. Perpetually watching dawn intrude on your perfect summer night- the summer between high school and college; infinite possibilities vanquished by the horrible light of the morning sun. Just a little longer- Michael Myers not letting six shots keep him down; determined to keep the party going all night long. Halloween II (1981), picking up where the first left off- more of the night he came home.

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Welcome to Hell

“Hey Mama, look at me, I’m on my way to the promised land…”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I assure you, the story I’m about to tell you is true- all of it. Every small victory. Every little triumph. Every lesson learned. Every mistake made. Every misdeed cast. Every bit of bullshit. Every lie. Every defeat. Every disappointment. Every heart broken. Every tear shed. Everything I’m about to share with you, it all happened. It’s all true- all of it.

Impossible for you to know the emotional toll telling you this story has taken. The long days and endless nights, restlessly searching for the right words, in the right order; hoping it makes sense; hoping to be seen. Restlessly searching for meaning; enduring moments of despair; intense bouts of frustration; fists against the wall. Desperate to be understood. 

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, submitted for your scrutiny and judgement, this is my story- this is my life- and I am proud to share it with you; proud to announce the release of my very first book.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, welcome to hell

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After Hours

“If you close the door the night could last forever” 

It’s okay to do nice things, Blair explained. She had made a reservation for the afternoon at a winery operating on a working beef farm. Anything pretentious would be tempered by a kind of rustic authenticity. They’ll have cows, she told me. 

Although it can be managed, it’s impossible to entirely diminish feelings of hesitancy in a struggle that I can only assume is similar to the misnomer of the recovering drug addict– the same wishful thinking involved- that one can ever, successfully, erase the footprint- bust the ghost… thoughts wander; compulsions linger restlessly. There is no recovery for true addiction.

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The King of Hell

“Darkness will show us the way…”

Dana wouldn’t let me fuck her before she went on dates. Losers she’d meet from pay-to-play dating apps- ones that supposedly offered a more serious assortment of romantic candidates. The kind she’d want to bring home to mom, assuming mom were still alive. Maybe, more accurately, the kind she’d introduce to her children- on a day trip to Adventureland, where he’d spend big money on artisan ice-cream and carnival games skewed against the player.

Big smiles while riding bumper boats. This could be something real- like they advertise on TV, where aging singles find their second chance; the one that counts, as insinuated by complex smiles on the faces of couples in their forties, sipping cocoa in cozy, female-owned coffee shops; discussing life after marriage.

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Eternal September

“A week without you, thought I’d forget. Two weeks without you and I still haven’t gotten over you yet.”

Nancy didn’t like it when I teased her about her house. Put politely, it was unfinished. What was meant to be the baby’s room, with its careful design of overlapping squares hand-painted on the walls, had become a storage-space; miscellaneous items suffering a slow transition to the garbage. Her hardwood floors had stains. Light bulbs dangling from fixtures. Things in the yard that hadn’t been moved since they were put down fifteen years prior. A storm destroyed the fence, with only the posts a reminder that her yard had once been enclosed. The front lawn with crabgrass and mushrooms.

Not that one needed to be tremendously perceptive to realize that the house, more or less, had ceased any major evolutionary activity- the kind where the first time homeowner is gifted a Time-Life “Home Repair & Improvement” book set, with plans made that foresaw holiday duties on the path to grandchildren.

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Better to Reign in Hell

“I dressed up in scarecrow, she dressed up in white.”

She told me that she likes “fuck boys”- a terrible, disingenuous cope of a nomenclature; a way for women to reclaim power in an otherwise powerless situation, thinking that, in our modern landscape of gender equality, a slur designed for a man who has too much sex will have the same sting as one made to shame women- fuck boys, she said, because she likes the way they talk to her. She was over forty with three kids; when she ditched the hubby, she got herself a personal trainer and breast implants- which was probably the most sensible thing to do. Ride the midnight train out as far as it will go- better to have your pick of fuck boys than to get a look at the kind of loser who’d take you seriously.

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Some Time Alone

“And I’m in so deep- you know I’m such a fool for you. You’ve got me wrapped around your finger.”

She kissed my cheek and excused herself to the bathroom. Alone in Dana’s bedroom, I walked over to the shelf with her wedding picture. My peripheral vision had picked up on this when I entered the room- my eyes developed the keenness of a hunter. Her husband had finally moved out that morning, she told me. Time to party.

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Dating and Reality (picnic, lightning)

“The only convincing love story of our century.”

Like getting a glimpse of a video game’s final boss moments before your own destruction, unless you’re a real stud, you never get much experience having threesomes. Those who romanticize it have either never done it, or done it so many times that listening to them in the first place would be like taking financial advice from a trust fund kid. It’s nice to be rich. But outside of a resume piece that only comes up in the screening interviews you have with new women you’re trying to fuck, who’ll assume you’re lying anyway, or a sexual bucket list that you only understand as meaningless once it’s all checked off, threesomes are mostly silly.

This is the reality that every internet guru, selling you thousands of dollars of bullshit and filming those ridiculous looking three-way kisses at foam parties in Cancun, will gladly lie about.

Her name was Candace. We met her on Craigslist. I wrote the ad for my girlfriend to post- I had her screen the replies, and she’d have the decent ones text me. We had a good cop/bad cop dynamic- she was friendly with these women, I was demanding. Candace had a boyfriend but he was too nice– he lacked grit. She liked that I was in my thirties dating a nineteen-year-old. This is what women say they hate, and maybe they do on some level, but they’re lying if they say they don’t find it intriguing. After all, what kind of thirty-four year old is dating a teenager? The kind they want to fuck.

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Don’t Fear the Reaper

“Baby, I’m your man.”

Nothing ends well. I hate to be the one to tell you, but if you didn’t already know, romantic endings are for Hollywood. Real life wouldn’t have made it past a single test screening. I’ve never watched someone die, and my hands carry the softness of a man with intellectual savvy- I’ve never known hard labor and this is something I appreciate. After I scrub diligently for twenty-seconds and dry thoroughly, I enjoy the soft touch of my fingertips on my reasonably ageless face. People are shocked that I’m forty- and with a baseball cap turned slightly askew, I can still fuck reasonably young women.

But this isn’t going anywhere. The joke is that once you hammer out the formula, in your Henry Frankenstein fuck laboratory, you’re already halfway bored by the results. They say the journey is more satisfying than the destination, but once you’ve slipped into the realm of hindsight, you wonder if that’s just another bit of Hollywood bullshit. You have so many of the same interactions that it all blurs together and becomes part of your muscle memory- like realizing Punch-Out (1987) is a rhythm game- you could do it blindfolded. You thought you were Tony Soprano, a playboy with a dark side, but you’re really Livia- “it’s all a big nothing,” something you understand now more than you ever thought you would.

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Adventureland

“If you’re gonna scream, scream with me. Moments like these never last.”

I ended up with the plaid button-down because I needed a nice shirt to wear on dates– I was single again and recently set up a new OkCupid profile. I had found success on that platform in the past, although it felt like a thousand lifetimes ago when I was dating the daughter of a colleague in my English department while screwing her best friend on the side. All through the magic of online dating, but stay in a lecherous, testosterone sapping relationship long enough and all you’ve learned gets lost to time- too many Diet Cokes in BPA laden plastic cups at Friday’s, too much time spent in front of network television, an unwilling prisoner of your girlfriend’s viewing habits. Why are women obsessed with TV? Modern relationships should carry a warning label.

Women like preppy men, a friend’s girlfriend had told me. Read their profiles and find something you have in common. “Mutual interests.” Perhaps your values will coalesce. Women in their thirties are different, she said- you can’t talk to them like everything is just sex. They want a caring, intelligent man. They’re over their asshole phase.

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