I ran into the tall artist on Saturday night at Union Pool, outside of the Waco Brothers show. I wasn't surprised in the slightest to see him. Our lives have looped around many times before since we first met a year ago, introduced by a mutual friend. The last time I saw him he had shown up to a reading of mine after hearing my WFMU session. He hadn't realized it was me, just had blindly shown up after hearing a voice on the radio and enjoying it. After that happened, I sort of realized that nothing is a coincidence with him, as much as nothing is a coincidence in a Paul Auster novel, which is to say that, well, it is and it isn't. Or, as I like to say, fate is what you make of it.
The tall artist has a wicked jawline that is softening ever so slightly with age, and scruffy hair, and big, watery, light eyes. He is exceptionally tall, perhaps six and a half feet, and when you talk to him you have to bend your head back on your neck in order to make eye contact with him. There is no way to ignore someone like him.
We sat at the small circular pool in the outside patio and talked for a while. I was so tired after three nights of rock shows and talking, talking, talking. I could feel every bone, every vertebrae, every cell in my body collapsing into each other. My body was already asleep, it was just a question of me getting into bed. I was happy to talk to him, happy I already knew him. I couldn't imagine meeting one more new person. Plus, he's older than I am, probably in his late thirties, so he was nice and mellow - a pleasant contrast to the hyperactive energy of my young houseguest, not to mention a city teeming with college radio kids.
He asked me if I had done any readings recently. I told him about the one at Lolita a few weeks ago, and how when I found out a woman had covered her face with her hands during the sex scene it had pleased me. He asked me what happened in the sex scene, and I sketched out the details for him, and how it involved awkwardness and disappointment. He nodded his head, and then said, "I sort of have my own weird sex story going on right now. Well, it's just ended but--"
And I felt my heart chug, my brain switch into alert mode, kick start up one last time, because I knew it was going to be a good story. I had been hearing tour stories for days, the same ones over and over again, and I had been explaining how I knew Dakota to every new person I met through him, and who I was, and what I did (or didn't do) for a living, and I had been giving directions, and planning events, and everything was starting to feel dry and tasteless, like paper, until right at that moment. He was going to give me a present. At last, something for me besides a free drink.
"I met this woman in '96," he began. "I met her at a party back West, when I was still living there. I was really attracted to her, and I wanted to take her home that night, but she wouldn't do it. I was very clear about what I wanted and she wasn't interested. And I went home and never thought about it again, until two weeks later the phone rang, and it was her. I didn't even remember her at first, but then she explained who she was, that she had gotten my number through the grapevine. She had thought about my offer some more, and had decided she was interested in having sex with me."
"So we met up at a bar, and we talked for a while about it, and then we went home and did it. It was really great, really hot, but it was just sex. There was no rapport between us, but we were connected sexually. Like, I knew we weren't going to have any sort of relationship. We carried on like that for a while, met maybe five or six times. She would call and I would go over to her house. I would stand there, in the doorway, and she would stand in front of me, and lift up her dress."
His voice choked slightly at the memory of it. I tried to picture it. I could see it. It made me want to lift up my dress, too, but only briefly. I try not to lift up my dress too much anymore.
"After a while it ended for whatever reason, and I never saw her or spoke to her again. And then I moved out here a while ago, and I didn't think about her at all, until a few months ago, when I got an email from her. She found me through my illustration site, I guess, or maybe through friends again. It was the same scenario though, she asked around until she found out how to contact me."
"And at first we just emailed back and forth, catching up, but then after a while, we started talking about sex, about having sex with each other. We sent dirty pictures and scenarios back and forth, letters and emails, telling each other what we would do to each other. I would send her a letter in the mail, and then three days later I would get an email from her telling her how hot it was, how she had masturbated three times that afternoon in the kitchen, in the exact spot where I had said I would do a certain thing to her. I would write it, and she would do it."
"And I found myself thinking about it all the time, it was consuming my brain. I would have to leave work and go home and jerk off in the middle of the day. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I couldn't believe I was writing these erotic, like, masterpieces. And it was getting dirtier and dirtier. I stopped saying 'penis,' and started saying 'cock.' 'Vagina' became 'pussy.' The acts were more graphic, more intense. I didn't know that was in me."
"Finally I realized it had to stop. It wasn't just part of my brain that was thinking about it, it was my whole brain. I was thinking about sex, dirty sex, with her constantly. I couldn't do anything anymore. And it had just hit this point where there was nowhere for it to go. The night before she sent the last email I had already decided it was over, and when I got it, I immediately replied that I didn't want to talk to her anymore."
He added, "And then I took all of her letters, and I burned them in the sink. And I took all of her emails, and I deleted the files. I haven't talked to her since, and I don't plan on talking to her again."
"Until ten years from now, when she tracks you down again," I said.
"Right," I said.
Dakota walked up. He had met another girl, and was going to go drinking with her. He didn't think he'd be coming home that night. Don't wait up, he said, and then ran off, excited.
"Kids," I said, and shrugged at the tall artist.