Fantasies Door

images“Now, I’m very vulnerable to female beauty, as you know. Everybody’s defenseless against something, and that’s it for me. I see it and it blinds me to everything else.”
-Philip Roth from “The Dying Animal”


Last night I crossed the border. For weeks I have been living in a kind of small town celibacy. Since I moved here a month ago my normal sexual practices have been interrupted. Not that my sexual practices are anything unusual, but placed besides that of any ordinary man I would say that they may be surprising at best. You see, most men’s sexuality is a carnivorous kingdom of repressed fantasies and perversions. My sexuality is no different than any male friend I may have- the difference between me and other men is that I no longer harbor shame about my sexual indulgences. They are with me for life so I have learned to embrace them. To my surprise, since I moved out into the country my “normal” sexuality has become tempered by heat, marital difficulties, bugs in the bed, unemployment and boredom. Sex has not been much on my mind but it has been lurking slightly below the surface like a cold that is manifesting as a small scratch between my legs.


Because I live in a college town I cannot help but notice the scantily dressed young women everywhere. Even though I try not to stare at the abundance of legs (which have become a recent pre-occupation of mine), breasts and butts- these appendages of female anatomy are like a sweet potion that offers me the possibility of banishing everything that is plaguing me. What were a few weeks of abstinence from sexual feeling has slowly evolved into a slight sexual itch. I have caught myself staring at the behinds of women, searching for their underwear underneath. I have even found that I spend more time focusing on the breast flesh born from a tight tank top than maybe I should. All this hide and seek that I seem to be playing with my eyes has inflamed in me what can only be described as a lustful desire for female flesh. Even though I try to keep this repressed, to keep my attention focused on the books that I read, or the more important responsibilities in my life- it seems as if the female figure is stronger than my urge to resist.


I live not far from Nevada. One hundred and sixty miles at most. For the past week I have been visualizing the legalized sexual carnivals that are housed on the other side of the border. Last night I had a few drinks and a fury filled fight with my wife, so I decided to go. I had to drive my car through the mountainous regions of the Sierra Nevada’s and weather the torrential winds that threatened to tilt my car. A man who is consumed with sexual desire can make it across the most tempestuous of seas and skies and I was not about to let any heavy winds ruin my flight. I knew the promise that Nevada was filled with and I would not stop until I made it to the front door of my sexual fantasies. I was determined to see and touch a stranger’s naked flesh and the moment I crossed the Nevada border- I felt goose bumps colonizing my arms and neck.


I have been to brothels many times in the past (many years ago I was commissioned to write an essay on the brothels of Nevada for The New Yorker Magazine). I knew exactly where I was headed, Fantasies Door in Carson City, and along the way I decided to stop off and play the slot machine. It was early yet, and I still needed more to drink.  I stopped at the Coral Casino and found myself a comfortable corner to play in. I sat at a particular slot machine that I felt looked lucky and might be willing to pay me a moderate amount of change. I took advantage of the free drinks that were being offered me and began what would become an expensive rendezvous with a single slot machine.


Even though men are dominated by their sexual desires, they are even more dominated by money. I do not know what is more powerful- a naked woman or the opportunity to make a lot of cash. Some how a long my way I got lost. What was initially an impulsive journey into the arms of a naked whore had become an obsessive and inseparable night spent with a slot machine. In a heated frenzy stirred up by the desire to get back the money I had lost I had completely forgotten about my lustful desire for female flesh. I was drinking too much and I was overly committed to not leaving the casino with less money than I had come in with. Life has been difficult since I have been unemployed and the idea of earning a little extra cash made me naive enough to think that the more I put into the machine the better chances I had of getting money back. Cocktail waitresses kept me entertained (one even allowed me to rub my hand up and down her nylon covered leg) as I managed to loose all the cash that I had come in there with. Fortunately I was wise enough to leave my ATM in the car- but giving the slot machine $500 of my hard earned cash was not easy to walk away from.


It was after midnight when I decided to leave. The feeling of deep regret and indignation had wiped away my buzz and all I could feel was the acrimonious distillation of vodka and beer in my gut. For a moment I considered continuing on to Fantasies Door– but the idea of spending more money made me sick. I vomited a few times and wanted to hang myself on the closest telephone line but my desire to live and flourish was stronger than my compulsion to throw my life away. I got back in my car and decided to make the long journey back across the border to a home that was filled with troubles and disdain. My wife and I have a difficult time getting a long and when I go out and play and come home broke and in a depressive funk it only spreads our troubles out into another day.


Today, I cannot help but think that my actions last night were a mistake. I acted on a whim and threw myself into the winds of chance. I went where my desires lead me and ended up on the wrong side of chance. It was as if my penis was tied in a rope that was pulling me towards Nevada. Not only did I loose a few weeks worth of food, book and beer money but I also lost my feeling of integrity (what is a man without his integrity?). I was feeling good the past month keeping my sexual impulses under control. I felt more in charge of my will power and not as subjected to the fantasies fueled by females that have had so much power over me for so much of my life. I was slowly entering into a small town lifestyle of calm resignation that was beginning to signal for me the possibilities of suburban bliss. Girls could no longer nag at me, or so I liked to think, despite my wondering eye (and passion for bare legs). But my fight last night blew the roof off my self-control and left me spiraling out of control towards the object of my lust. Today I have spent a lot of time sitting in my hammock and staring at the sky. Even though I know that what is done is done and lamenting over the past will not undue what went wrong, I still can not help but think about what could of happened if I only made it to Fantasies Door.

The Wrong Way Brain

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I am always going the wrong way. Whether it is on a road, while walking in the city or within certain choices that I make for my own life- I seem to be moving in the wrong direction. I do not know if this is because of an inherent biological disorder, overprotective parents and/or the result of years of lust, drinking and smoking weed. Whatever the case may be- I cannot seem to find the right way. Yesterday while driving in my car, my father said to me, “Son, you are going the wrong way!” “Story of my life,” I sardonically replied. My response pissed my father off. He has been in denial of my wrong turns since the day he set me free.  “Well,” he responded with a palpable frustration, “If you know that you are going the wrong way only an idiot would not try and change directions.” “If only it was that easy,” I replied. “Well then son, maybe you just have a wrong way brain,” he replied. I let him have the last word and we were silent the rest of the way home.

4.
I have been trying to change directions for as long as I can remember. Still I seem to make wrong turns. I often find myself lost in big cities and I end up in places that I should not be. I have spent more time in strip clubs, whore houses and run down bars as a result of making wrong turns than I care to remember. I have found myself in near fatal head on collisions because of my continued inability to realize that I am traveling the wrong way down a one-way street. Recently, I have been getting lost around the neighborhood in which I live. In my attempt to find my way home I often end up further away than where I began. Last week when I found myself completely lost after having gone on an after dinner walk- I ended up in an area where there was a bat and owl nesting ground. The darkness and ominous sounds gave me an anxiety attack and because I did not have my cell phone with me I had to ask a police officer for a ride home. “What are you doing way out here?” he asked me in attempt to find out what was wrong (I was sweating and shaking). All I could say was, “I took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.”


3.
There are no classes offered to learn how to go the right way. Being able to go in the right direction is a skill that one acquires either in birth or over many years of the wrong experience. I would of thought that after thirty-eight years of going the wrong way I would have finally learned how to go the correct way. But the older I get the more complacent I seem to become- and going the wrong way is as simple as being dumb. It takes no thought, but instead it seems to be something that just happens to me. If I ride my bike, drive my car or go for a walk I am most certain to go the wrong way (this is why my wife bought me a GPS system, that I never use, for my birthday) but what bothers me most is that the choices that I make in my own personal life- always take me in the wrong directions.


2.
I have always felt most comfortable, doing the moonwalk. Even though I am sliding backwards when doing the moonwalk- somehow I feel like I am going the right way. There is something comforting about moving backwards. Recently (and not because of Michael Jackson’s death) I have been spending a lot of time around my home doing the moonwalk. In this particular time, where I have found myself unemployed, living in a new town with less than two grand to my name and debt coming out of my ears- I find the moonwalk to be comforting. It is like a meditation for me in which I feel like everything is going to work itself out. Lately, I have been known to do the moonwalk for hours at a time. I slip and slide all around my hard wood floors and take great pleasure in knowing that I am going the wrong way. I especially like to do this after I have had a few drinks. It annoys my wife when I do the moonwalk while drunk (because I knock things off the wall and sometimes I slip and fall and startle her) but I try to help her to understand that when I drink and do the moonwalk- I feel whimsical and free. I feel like everything that has gone wrong is suddenly going right.


1.
It’s not so easy to go in the right direction. After years of collisions, poor choices, mistakes and miserable situations I find it hard to believe that I will ever start taking the right way. As a child my movements where so strictly directed that once I was turned loose on my own as a young man- I had no idea which way to go. Unfortunately, I ended up in situations that did not help me find the right way- but from the times that I have spent in jail or working in a morgue, bagel shop, shoe store, restaurant, adult book store- I have learned one fundamental thing: Taking wrong turns will put an individual in a situation that they could never imagine with their logical mind. It is as if the moment you go the wrong way- you are faced with a series of events that you could of never imagined before. It makes life a bit more interesting and spontaneous to go the wrong way now and then- I just wish I could find a way to stop doing it all the damn time.

Legs

imagesThere are legs all around me. Legs on bikes, legs on feet, legs in chairs and legs in the grass. Everywhere I look- young legs, middle-aged legs and a few old aged legs. An abundance of legs. Legs in skirts, legs under dresses, legs in shorts and legs in tight pants. I have always been a legs man, a lover of legs, but this is too much. Since I moved to the country, where heat predominates most hours of the day and night, there is a twenty-four hour leg show going on and all I seem to think or dream about anymore is legs.


It is really only female legs that appeal to me, which is strange considering that I come from a long lineage of repressed homosexuals. Men’s legs fail to stimulate my sexual longings…..or any sexual feelings for that matter. Male legs are not only deeply hairy but the texture of their skin often times reminds me of sandpaper or snakeskin. Female legs, on the other hand, ignite my sexual cravings like water coming to a boil or a rocket ascending into outer space. Female legs have enough power over me to send me flying over my bicycle handle bars or tripping over my own two feet in public and at times to even rear end a few automobiles. My better judgment is arrested when I get a glimpse of these female appendages- and I am no more in control of myself than an undomesticated dog off a leash.


Tattooed legs, shaved legs, tanned legs, sculpted legs and freckled legs seem to follow me every time I step out my front door. They are on display by their owners like paintings hanging in a gallery. There is not a corner that I turn down, a park that I walk in or an establishment that I visit- that a pair of legs does not catch my attention. Even though most, if not all of these legs are hard to get legs, legs only for viewing, legs that I will never get to touch– I still receive a feeling of gratification upon beholding a pair of legs within my mind’s eyes. I stare hard enough to store the legs in my photographic memory catalogue and once home I can spend hours preoccupied in leg ruminations. In my mind I am able to visualize a veritable orgy composed of all the legs that I stored in my mental catalogue for that day. I swim with these legs, massage them, and rub them up and down my body until my incessant pleasure is interrupted by my need to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom.


I have been staying indoors more, so as not to be so preoccupied with legs. Often times my obsessive desire for the flesh can suspend the accomplishment of other goals that I may want to accomplish in my lifetime. God only knows that I have spent many years of my life preoccupied by sexual longings, when I could of spent that time productively- reading, studying to be a doctor, making money or working on my spiritual practice. Even more discouraging is the belief that I relied upon as a young man- the belief that as I grew older my sexual longings would diminish and have less control over me. Instead, I am an almost forty-year-old man just as preoccupied by legs as I was at the age of 16. The only difference is that at my age it is no longer cute to stare at legs- it is simply perverted.


Thick legs, skinny legs, short legs, long legs, round legs and square legs- I never discriminate.  All legs are welcome in my mental catalogue. Certain days, when my longing for legs is creating an overwhelming pressure in my chest, I take myself on leg tours. In town, there is a college (which, is not a far walk from my home) where there is always a feast of legs to be found. I bring binoculars, wear a sun hat, and put on my hiking boots and a backpack and head out for the day. I will walk around town and the campus for hours, staring at legs, until my own legs grow tired.


There is a certain oak tree covered knoll that I go and sit upon. The knoll is perfect because it allows me a covered spot to watch the student center without being noticed by anyone. I take out my binoculars and enjoy what feels like a major motion picture made up of nothing but legs. I watch them all and delight in the variety of legs like a committed connoisseur. I cannot say that there is a specific kind of leg that I find particularly attractive. Instead I relish in the multicultural leg environment that universities seem to be. After an afternoon spent out in the world staring at legs I return home exhausted by the amount of legs that I have lodged in my memory. I pour myself a glass of red wine, sit on my couch and spend hours alone remembering all the long legs, tanned legs, black legs, muscular legs, tattooed legs, white legs, thin legs, brown legs, small legs and every other kind of beautiful leg I admired that day.

One More Reason To Get Nothing Done.

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I am not an ambitious man. Under motivated is an adjective I have often heard used to describe me. I have a tendency to dream of fame and fortune but I do little to make my dreams a reality. I suffer from a particular kind of congenital laziness that seems to fill me with sloth and despair. Now do not get me wrong- I am a man who is happy to be alive. A bit addicted to my melancholy, sure (I am working on this in therapy) but I see the beauty in every moment that I am alive. Maybe this is my problem- too much attention paid to being alive and not enough motivation to get things done. If I could spend my days sitting in a chair doing nothing and have checks show up in the mail- I would choose this reality, but since this is not the case I feel the constant pressure to get things done.


Of course I do everything I can to resist this pressure. I drink beer, read novels, write short stories that no one reads, eat, ride my bike, meditate, go for walks, paint and recently I have one more reason to get nothing done. My wife hung a hammock in the back yard. It is a purple hammock made out of thick hemp string. When you rest in this hammock it embraces your body with the comfort of a womb. This hammock is a universe unto itself that makes you feel like you have everything you need. It sucks you in until you fall asleep and it will not let you go until you are forced to come out. The hammock is tied between two trees and has a constant gentle sway, induced by the wind funneling through the branches. While swaying in the hammock I am reminded of being gently rocked to sleep in the tranquility of my mothers arms. Since my wife hung the hammock a week ago it has been impossible for me to get anything done. No reading, writing, painting or looking for work. I spend my days dangling in space between two trees, swaying to and fro, dreaming and thinking- while the world seems to pass on by.

2.
I have been unemployed for two weeks. I left my job as a teacher when I lost interest. The problem with me is that I do not know what it is that I am interested in. I enjoy being drunk more than I enjoy being sober. I prefer sleep to the waking life and I almost always spend my waking days thinking about food, sleep and what it is that I have to do. This nagging drive to get things done, to be all that I can be will not leave me alone and the only defense I have is to do nothing at all. I do not know if this is an American affliction, my jewish upbringing with heavy expectations or my own inability to be present with myself. Whatever the culprit may be- it seems as if the hammock has become the only way for me to break free. I have tests to take, jobs to find, money to make and a marriage to save- but none of these things mean a thing to me when I am swinging free beneath the trees.

3.
Last night I decided to sleep in the hammock. My wife was a bit perturbed that I spend more time in the hammock than I do with her. Lately she has thrown upon me the Puritan work ethic of “a man has got to get things done, work by the sweat of his brow all the days of his life.” I brush this logic off and spend my days sleeping in the sun. “The world is on the brink of collapse and I just want to enjoy my self- free from worry. Just think how much better off the world would be if people were as unambitous as me,” I tell her.  Spending the night in the hammock seemed to represent for my wife a final turning away from our marriage and my responsibilities as a husband- but for me it just was the impulse of a man wanting to be free. I wanted to sleep in the quiet and ordered nature of my back yard, fall asleep to the flickering lights of the cosmos above- and none of this had anything to do with a desire not to be man or husband.


The night was warm and I needed no blankets. As I swayed in the serenity of the hammock I watched a sky filled with shooting stars. I imagined eternity and how insignificant I was in the larger scheme of things and for once felt no fear. My life’s ambitions seemed to fade away from me and I was able to sway back and forth between the trees and experience what it feels like to be free. Most of my days can be filled with terrible thoughts: You are almost forty years old and have no idea what you are going to do with your life, you need to write the great American novel now or never, you are getting old and you are running out of money and terrified that you can not afford the necessities of life and will never find a decent job or a publisher. Last night, for a brief moment in time I was free– I had mastered the fine art of doing nothing. Man, hammock and nature as one. I do not think I have ever slept so well.

4.
This morning I arrived back home from my walk to find the hammock gone. You can imagine my surprise and mortification- especially after spending a perfect evening in the hammock like I did the night before. There was no question in my mind that my wife had taken the hammock down. When I immediately confronted her dripping with the sweat that I accumulated from my walk, she said, “don’t even think about it.” “Don’t even think about what?” I asked with a defensive tone. Who was she to think that she was so superior that she could read my own mind? “Asking for the hammock back,” she replied while digging a hole for where she was going to plant a lavender bush. “I have hidden the hammock and will not tell you where it is until you have gotten a job.” “A job!” I said with the frustration of a man that does not feel recognized for all the work he does. I could not expect my wife to understand that doing nothing, in our modern world, was an art form that took work. I could also not expect her to understand that even though I made no money from my art and I live in a suburban neighborhood- that she was living with one of the greatest artists alive. Instead, I had to suck it up, remain humble and accept that my life had just changed when she looked me dead in the eyes and said, “that fucking hammock is just one more reason for you to get nothing done!”

Moving In With Bugs

1.
I have never lived with bugs before. At least not the kind of bugs I seem to be shacking up with now. This morning my wife opened a box and was startled to find a cockroach the size of her thumb inside. As if a surprise like this would not be enough for a delicate heart- the cockroach proceeded to spread its wings and fly away! When my wife came to me in a fit of exasperated panic and said “honey, the cockroaches fly,” all I could do was look at her and then ask my omniscient God….. “why?” Maybe it is my karma, or simply the way my deck of cards have been dealt- but flying cockroaches….common. Fifteen years ago my father and I stayed at a remote Mexican fishing village, where we spent our days fishing and drinking Pacifico beer. On the second night when both my father and I discovered flying cockroaches in our hotel room we packed our bags and left for an upscale hotel that was a moderate airplane ride away. I grew up in a family that detested bugs, did whatever they could to keep bugs astray- and now I have found myself in the nexus, sexus and plexus of a bug haven.

2.
My small home sits on a rose lined corner where a busy cross section funnels and filters cars, cyclists, skateboarders and buses like a large liver. From the outside, my home looks like a normal lower middle class home. My wife and I have done much work on the garden that surrounds our home and we have wind chimes and a sitting Buddha out front that helps give the appearance of tranquility.  However, if you dare to venture up a bit closer to our house you may get a quick glimpse of the various bug kingdoms that live within. On the doorway you may find a mass of ants or fallen moths, on the windows a slew of centipedes, in the garage an assortment of cockroaches and mice, and if you enter into our backyard you may behold the greatest spectacle of all- the bitchy black widows.

Upon renting our serene home in the country, the landlord failed to mention that we would be sharing the home with bugs. I have occasionally considered calling the landlord and cursing him to hell with regards to leaving this important detail out- but then I remember my spiritual vow of remaining loving, accepting and kind to all (this vow was not made with any particular religious denomination in mind. Instead, I made this vow simply to help myself along in my quest for inner peace). However, I must admit, that this vow has been difficult to keep considering the circumstances. Prior to moving into our home in the country I would abstain from killing bugs. I believed (and still believe) that all life is holy holy holy so I abstained from taking any form of life. Now I am a hypocrite and a murder. I cannot refrain myself from killing bugs. It is the only action that I can take in my defense. I indignantly spray ants and cockroaches until they curl up and die. I squash anything tendril legged that comes near my shoe. I swat flies and flying beetles with books or magazines and I have even managed to crush a few life threatening black widows with a large rock. And then when I am done, I am surprised to find that I have no shame. I go about my business with the satisfied feeling that I have made the world a little safer for all of us.

3.
My wife tells me that I need to make friends with nature and co-exist peacefully with all its slithering creatures. She also tells me that in the end nature will always win “so just let the poor bugs be.” What she fails to understand is that I am a man who grew up in a white walled and white-carpeted suburban mansion that had zero tolerance for the existence of any bug. My parents hired a bug specialist to keep bugs away and some of my most bleak childhood memories are of this “specialist” dressed in an orange jumpsuit taking away boxes, cages and traps filled with dead bugs. I never had to fear waking up in the middle of the night and crossing paths with a cockroach or going into my kitchen and stumbling upon a rat. When I recently admitted to my father that I moved into a place that is infested with bugs I listened to his bitter testimony of a long gone youth spent squashing cockroaches and chasing rats. It is almost as if he was saying good for you son, now you get to know what it is like to live with bugs. Maybe it will make you into more of a man. I found myself getting irritated with his passive implications and in my defense I wanted to say, it is not my fault that I have this aversion to bugs. It is because of the home that you chose to raise me in. However, since my new path to enlightenment demands that I be kind and loving towards all beings (except bugs) I listen to his stories and try hard to make him feel loved.

4.
It is difficult getting used to living with bugs. The strange sounds in the walls when I am trying to sleep, the awkward noises on my floor and window when I am trying to silently write or read, the strange antennas crawling out from my showerhead when I go to take a shower- all unnerve me. This is no easy feat for someone who already has fragile nerves. I have noticed that my consumption of alcohol has increased in order to mitigate the anxiety that comes along with sharing my home with creatures from the underworld. Last night while I was lying in bed what sounded like a tap dancer with claws frantically scratched its way around inside my walls. It would claw, tap, crawl and then stop to catch its breath before moving on. I looked at my wife and said “what the fuck is that?” but being more consumed by sleep than I (and less concerned), all she could say was “just let it be.” Even though every part of my body wanted to jolt out of bed and get the creature out of my walls- my mind just kept repeating let it be as I lye with the blanket pulled up to my chin listening to the varmint crawl. Eventually all three of us fell asleep and in the morning when I awoke it seemed as if the creature was gone.

Today the landlord has come to our home with some laborers to help take away a mass of cut wood that is littered all over our backyard.  “You pay the rent and I’ll get rid of the spiders,” he said to me with a confused smile on his face. Yesterday, my wife called him to ask what can be done about the black widows all over the backyard (who have my cat and I so scared that we refuse to venture “into the outback”). The landlord’s response was that he would get rid of the wood, branches and ivy (where he says black widows like to hide), which he thought should mitigate the amount spiders we come across. My wife and I have spent most of today in our front yard (while our landlord wages a holocaust in back) where we planted a variety of different kinds of summer flowers (all of which are known to be favorites of the deceased writer, Edger Allen Poe). I feel good planting in the sun, allowing my skin to tan as my hands get covered with the earth. There is nothing like digging in the dirt to take one’s mind away from all of the anxiety and unease that seems to come with life.  I can spend hours in the garden forgetting where I am in space and time, happy to be alive and mindful of every breath I take. And then I come inside for some water or lemonade and  suddenly I am confronted with a bug.