“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”
—Ford Madox Ford
Back in my bartending days, I used to be pretty good at gaging which girls I was going eventually to sleep with, which ones would be wasted effort, and which ones I wasn’t interested in. I didn’t even have to be explicit about it to myself. I just knew; I suppose that’s the way it is with most things in life, if you think about it.
This was in a crunchy West Coast city, where there were lots of lesbians and feminists and stinky hippies. I worked crazy Friday and Saturday nights, and it was the kind of bar where people order lots of martinis, not to mention cosmos and lemon drops and shite like that, so you were always barely keeping ahead of the flood for six straight hours. Sometimes glancing up from the well at the sea of people crowding and jostling around the bar, the barback suddenly nowhere to be found, you felt like Priam on the battlements of Troy as waves of bloodthirsty Achaeans are about to crest your walls. But it was fun.
On other nights it was actually quite slow and you could get to know folks. Every Tuesday night, this odd little trio of people would come in. They were a guy and his girlfriend, and their mutual guy friend. The extra guy-friend I can barely remember now; he was such a meek little leftover of a human being. The guy-girl couple were those half-hipster, half-hippie combos you find on the West Coast. The guy, “Ambrose”, was more of a skeezer than his girl. He was pale-skinned and thin, with a dirty mop of hair he kept tucked under a little faux Jamaican hat; he always wore oversized zipper-hoodies and such. Despite his contemptible wiener-boy appearance, he always seemed to me like a pretty OK guy, and he was young enough and had a handsome enough face that he was able to pull off the fey emoti-stoner thing better than most.
That’s what I told myself, at least, to help understand how he had nailed down such a little hottie for a girlfriend. “Phan,” as she annoyingly called herself (an alternative shortening of “Stephanie” that she gave herself; it sounded like “fen”), was a classic beauty wrapped up in a dirty artsy-girl exterior. She had big, expressive blue eyes, beautiful brown hair (that she unfortunately always hid with a hideous knit cap), a smattering of adorable freckles across a roman nose, and a small but luscious mouth. Her frame was slender and a little muscular, like a girl who spent lots of time in the outdoors. She seemed to me like one of those girls who was so pretty as a teenager that she later adopted an unattractive exterior just so people would pay attention to anything about her aside from her beauty (brooding poetesses and steel-cold professionals are sometimes sub-species of this type).
Ambrose and Phan and their nothing friend had been coming into my bar for a long time. I knew their drinks, knew them as friendly and respectful people, we bummed cigarettes from each other. In all that time, I never saw Phan without Ambrose, and while I rarely saw them kiss or look passionate with each other, neither did I ever see them fight or talk badly about one another. They seemed like a happy couple, and even if I really wanted to fuck Phan so hard her freckles fell off, I always kept her in my mental “non-candidate” category. As a bartender I fucked my customers all the time, but I didn’t make stupid advances… you can shit where you eat, but you better be careful about it.
Flash forward a couple of years. I wasn’t bartending anymore, but still living in the same hood. I had seen Phan around from time to time on the street and we would wave to each other. One night I went to my old bar to visit with my replacement and my old co-workers. When I went out back for a smoke, I found Phan sitting there alone by the candlelight, bent over a glass of gin and a book. I got very close to her before she looked up. When she saw me she immediately smiled.
“Master Dogen! You’re back!”
I walked over, “Hey Phan… Where’s Ambrose?”
Her face got a nervous, polite smile and she laughed. For a moment I thought maybe it meant they had broken up, but she answered, “He had to go to Chico to see his family. But I thought, what’s a Tuesday night without coming to this place? It’s weird not to have him here, but at least you are back here! Just like old times.” She smiled, and the candlelight was sparkling between her eyelashes.
I joined her for a smoke and a drink. We went back inside and joked around with the new bartender (a super sassy, friendly gay boy — having friends like that is a huge asset in the eyes of a certain breed of modern artsy girls), and I suggested we needed to keep catching up, but that it was starting to weird me out being in my old bar. “I feel like I should get up and go see if the corner table wants another round of gimlets. Come on, let’s go somewhere else.”
Phan was laughing and having a great time. It wasn’t hard to get her to come to a sexy, cave-like wine bar nearer to my house. I noticed all kinds of animation in her body language and her voice. Before, around her boyfriend and his parasite buddy, her eyes had the fire of beauty and youth, but they were sealed inside a calm face and stiff body. She always seemed to be trying to play things oddly restrained and cool. Now she was more like a little girl. We got nice and drunk at the wine bar, and I told her about my latest adventures in Provence and Catalonia.
Over drinks I had been excitedly telling her about some new poet I had been reading. Back out on the street, I told her we were going to my place so I could read her one of his poems. I didn’t ask, I just told her, and took her hand, and she followed after me, laughing and stumbling a bit awkwardly in her wooden shoes, tipsy from gin and wine. It wasn’t just a line — I really was excited about the poet and I really did want her to hear one of his poems, but of course I had other plans as well. I noticed how vibrant she seemed, and I couldn’t help but wonder when the last time a man in her life had showed so much passion (even that small, everyday excitement of wanting to share something with her). Her boyfriend was friendly, but such a weak, pale little poseur milquetoast.
I don’t remember how I made the final move, but we were very quickly making out when I got her back to my place. After the first “testing-the-waters” kiss, when I found her responding positively, I grabbed her and squeezed her whole ribcage at once and bent her backwards and kissed her hard on the mouth… all that pent up desire of years of seeing her pretty face at my bar. She seemed to be melting like soap in the sun, soft, falling apart right in front of me. Rarely have a felt a girl feel so ready so quickly. She literally swooned.
In bed she fucked like a wild creature caught in a net, her whole body bucking and clawing at me, biting my neck, moaning, sobbing. It was amazing; though it was all I could do to stay on top of her at times. After a little while I tried to roll over on my back so I could admire her body while she fucked me on top (and, frankly, I needed a rest), but she wrapped her lean legs around me tight and refused to change positions. “Just fuck me,” she moaned in my ear. “FUCK ME!” So that’s what I did.
When I came and she clawed me so hard it almost pulled me out of my moment of pleasure. She stayed there, gripping me to her and breathing hard and shuddering and sighing for what felt like 10 minutes. The wet spot on my sheets was so big and soaking that for a minute I thought maybe she had peed herself. Finally I pried myself away and rolled over.
After a while, she spoke… “God. I can’t tell you how long it’s been.”
“What?” I asked and lit a smoke, “since you’ve been with someone new?”
“No. Well, yes…” She hesitated. “I mean, since someone’s fucked me like that.”
I didn’t think I had been doing anything that special; in fact I was kinda drunk. So it took me a while to get it out of her…
It wasn’t that I was new. It wasn’t that I was an evil god in the sack (though I am). No, the thing that drove her so wild was that I had actually put my penis in her vagina.
She explained that about halfway through their relationship, she and Ambrose had played around with different toys and roles etc. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, because the goriest one is enough to make me want to puke to this day. You see he had asked her to fuck him up the ass with a strap-on, and she had obliged. Well, homeboy liked it so much, he started asking for it again and again. By the time of our rendezvous that night, according to her, it had been months since he had actually penetrated her like a man.
“Everything else is great. We laugh, we snuggle, we kiss… hell, I can even feel my pussy getting wet sometimes even though my brain knows nothing’s going to happen.”
So of course it made sense that she had reacted to me the way she had. All I had done was treat her like a woman. I had been respectful and fun and non-creepy about it, but I had also been sexual with her in a straight-forward and aggressive way. And the way my sheets felt like someone had dumbed a gallon jug of water on them attested to how badly she had needed that.
It still breaks my heart to this day to think about it, even as it fills me with contempt. Part of me wanted to “rescue” her and give her nightly rootings for the next year, to work out all that stored-up pussy juice. But I wasn’t seriously interested in her for a long-term thing, and any girl who agreed to do what she was doing with her boyfriend obviously has some deep issues. Still, though she is probably worthy of scorn, all I could muster was sadness and pity. Such a pretty, pretty girl, so full of life. What a tragic and criminal waste of life and love!
No, I save my scorn for the “man.” In fact, I almost don’t even want to write anything about it because it makes me so angry, and I am in a good mood today and don’t want to go around with a tight chest and furrowed brow. But goddammit! Pathetic, weak, awful waste of skin! I have far, far more respect for gay dudes who can at least embrace their own desires. This pathetic little quivering, simpering excuse for a man… he slithered his way through life, avoiding hard work and sunlight. Somehow, because we live in a society severely lacking in real men, he was able to snag a confused, loving, lively young lady and completely scar her, abuse her, ruin her, dry her out, without ever lifting a finger or raising his voice: all through his refusal to be a man.
There’s essentially no more perfect being on this planet than a beautiful young woman who has charm and wit and a good heart. The spark of life in her eyes is the spark of everything good and divine. I truly mean this. The capper to this crime of manhood-shunned is that Phan, for all her ridiculous hippie-drippy shit, was a really lively and kind and fun woman. Women like this are a treasure, and her disgusting boyfriend is the worst kind of sniveling scum I can think of. She might have outgrown that absurd nickname at some point, but she’s probably never going to have a normal relationship with a man. We have a shortage of feminine women in this country. Every single one we lose to frigidity via mind-fuck quisling bitch-boys, is to be mourned.
I’ve never written anything about this before, and it is still one of the most astonishing things I have ever encountered. The depths of weakness in the human race can never be fathomed. Looking back I can hardly believe it’s true.