I was cruising along this Sunday morning (c. 9am, the crack of dawn in Berlin) and the word “hum” popped into my head.
I was listening to the raw demo of a song I wrote a few months ago and the word “hum” was the final puzzle piece of the song.
The song, I felt, became perfect when the word “hum” fell into place on it while I was cruising along in the early morning sun. I love the song, I love the song and my demo performance of it (the first take, the best take, it will never be improved when I do this in a proper studio) but the one line in the song had been giving me trouble. The last word, an end-rhyming word in a couplet, had been the perfectly-adequate-but-fairly cliché word “drum”: the silence in the darkness is so thick your heart is like a muffled drum. A heart like a “drum”? Where have I heard that before? Everywhere. That little tidbit of cliché left the song feeling unfinished, for me, for three months, until this morning, when “hum” dropped into the slot and fit like a hard key in a soft lock. Just that one word makes all the difference. Now the song says exactly what I wanted it to say.
If you are attuned to such things, you know that every word is a singer.
I was excited when the word came to me: “the silence in the darkness is so thick your heart is like a muffled hum”… which captures the sensation of tachycardia a sexually-frustrated male can experience when he’s horny-to-bursting and his lover, who has frozen him out, sleeps placidly beside him, back turned, a thousand miles away in the gated community of dreams .
That was me in the year 1999!
That was me and my first wife!
A marriage made in Purgatory but great for songwriting, fertile for songwriting and fiction.
To write the song WAKE UP DYING (linked below), all I had to do was remember 1999.
What a hard year that was.
Stuck in So Cal with a woman who had decided to destroy me.
Who complained when I typed, complained even harder when I strummed a guitar or sang, complained at the money I was earning as a house-painter (20 per hour, just as much as she was earning ) and decided that the best way to really fuck me up was to slam shut the gates on Sex. This monstrous personification of a person who may well have matured into a very different and much kinder creature, years later, was even, back then, likely to complain about the sound of me chewing potato chips, with a closed mouth, while typing ever-so-fucking-quietly in the living room… peck—pause—peck—pause— … while she reclined in the bedroom with a bowl of grapes, bedroom door closed. I had to eat my potato chips on the sidewalk and keep my songs to myself (the super-sweet irony being that, four years after leaving first wife, I earned my first royalty checks for songs I’d co-written; one of the songs, alone, earned me about 30k and has fan-made tribute videos, on YouTube, to this day).
The running joke, that year, with a friend who was back in Berlin, was to refer to me as the “Chip Jew, “ in that tiny So Cal apartment where first wife was the soigné commandant. I was a figurative Chip Jew hiding under the floorboards with his verbotten ways. She was like Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter but she was playing the Dirk Bogarde role. I got so many stories out of that terrible year of 1999.
I learned the word “soigné ” from Kurt Vonnegut, when I was a teen, and have never used it before today. Kurt’s last wife was somewhat like my first wife, from what I’ve read. I have to go back to the two biographical books, I own, on the subject of Saint Kurt, to try to determine when Kurt’s last wife cut the Sex off. Kingsley Amis confided to son Martin that the last day of his Sex Life was when his second wife commented “just let me know when you’re finished, chap” (or something to that effect) and Martin leaked that, in a memoir, to me.
Both Kurt and Kingsley risked that old caper, afforded famous men, of marrying much younger and very pretty wives when they, themselves, are older and not pretty at all. Your much-younger and pretty wife had better love you if you expect anything other than to be Chip-Jewed but scant years into the union. How had K & K not seen it coming? What young and pretty woman would want old Kingsley Amis belly-flopping on her unless she was in the arms of a libidinally-deluding LOVE so great that miracles become not only possible but homely anchors of deranged common sense?
My much-younger, very pretty, second (FINAL, PERFECT) Wife very cannily gives me kneeling blowjobs on a regular basis (and lets me kneel to cat-lick her to orgasm afterward). When I fuck her I don’t so with too much of a belly and I shave first and I support my weight with my own elbows, anyway, and remove all of my ear hairs and nose hairs on a regular basis, you know, so when I distract her into sensual inanition by inhaling her breaths, and exhaling our mixed breaths back, into her lungs, while stroking her hair before coming, it’s not entirely unpleasant for her. After I come I go down on her like a blind little lamb and she has to cover her own face with a pillow or bed sheet in order to feel unselfconscious enough to orgasm (flinching like a wench attached to a belt around her waist suddenly yanks upwards three times); there are times after she has gasped (three times) that I sit up and wipe my chin and look down upon the Surrealist tableau of her super-long legs, fabulous fit torso, the bulging eyes of her densely meaty boobs and the outline of her open-mouthed face, stilled under a sheet, like a Magritte, her fisted hands slowly unfurling and I ask, in a conversational tone, Honey?
Our running joke is me saying, in a “foreign” accent of strange and macho provenance: You are my muffin and I frost you. It turns out that Playboy Bunnies* in 1972 weren’t lying when they claimed that men who could make them laugh turned them on: so go get yourself a Time Machine. Although I have long suspected that a man could achieve the same desirable results, without the daunting expense of Time Travel, by doing nearly all the housework. Which is why I do nearly all the housework. I am smarter than Kurt and Kingsley combined, in that regard. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, talking about how good (with freak luck) my Life has become.
[*Incidentally: I will never cease to lament the fact that Playboy Magazine missed the opportunity to cleanse itself of any trace of repellent psychosexual gender-dominance atavisms, in the 1960s, by merely featuring as many good-looking naked males as females...]
Let’s go back to talking about My Life when it was so shitty that I sometimes didn’t want to exist.
Before she cut the Sex off, first wife had been content to be the world’s least tender sex partner. I will never forget the (last) time I was fucking my first wife’s slender frame from behind (as she preferred it) and, at the first hint of my orgasm-announcing groan, she disengaged while I was ejaculating. She skipped to the WC to take a shower. I was still kneeling, eyelids a-flutter, canting backwards, my hands in a conjurer’s position, coming in flinched arcs over the blue, blue carpet as she patted my head en route to the shower. Mean but not entirely un-erotic, I guess. So there was a season after that during which I avoided Sex with her at all, which made her bicker and hector and gripe, strangely. She’d reach for my mutinously erecting cock and I’d gently bat her hand away. Having no Sex was no fun but better when I was the one saying no to it, obviously. And so then she started saying no to it instead, with a vengeance, and cut me off entirely, though sleeping beautifully beside me every night, her circumflexed lips parted. About which living-death-sentence I wrote, in a story called SALTER’S LUCK:
“She got home at one, eight-feet-tall in her heels and the cool fuselage of her dress and hair of burnished blades. He was watching television like a good boy when she clomped into the bedroom waving hello but not speaking as though speaking’s a kind of touch and she wasn’t in the mood but he got a bobbing erection the instant he saw her in all her pomp and name tag.
“Lola unsheathed her nude glory. Breasts and hair lifted and falling as the dress went up and she clomped into the bathroom in heels and zilch else to brush and floss and mop the angel-face off then proceeded to snore and smell of soap on her side of the bed within thirty minutes of walking through the door. A record. He wouldn’t even have minded the usual missionary position and get it over with. No touching the tits, don’t mess up my hair and keep that finger away from my rectum. Poor Salter sat knees-up beside her, treated to a view of a meter of tawny back and he clutched the remote. O wretched man who craveth a fuck.
I wrote the first draft of that story when the memory of that life was still painfully fresh.
My first wife let the glitz and status-mad materialism of So Cal turn her harpy-crazed, it turned her into a tiny-titted monster, a monster who needed to exert its monstrousness upon a captive victim made nearly helpless by super-proximity. She was torturing me for not being the wealthy man she had come to believe she deserved. It never occurred to her, I guess, that working together, and being patient and clever (well I was, at least), we might have done something about the statuslessness of our Existence.
Our statuslessness didn’t bother me at all: we weren’t hungry, we didn’t live in filth or danger or in the soul-eroding conditions of some loud, graffiti’d, gang-infested barrio on the other side of town. We lived on the main street of a touristy shopping district of a nice neighborhood. I could have lived there for years with a less psychotic wife. Or even with a psychotic wife willing to fuck me.
Well, that’s true.
Because we are Animals, first of all. Our minds and souls (I see the “soul” as a pre-or-post-verbal process of mind) are the minds and souls of Animals. Very fancy Animals but still rich with magisterially obscure chemical impulses “civilization” has failed to cook or freeze out of us. Most males who are Fuckless are in a very bad way and this is nasty knowledge for a power-hungry, vengeful, non-Male partner to possess.
-Can we all finally agree that Waterboarding is torture?
-Can we all finally also agree that Sexual Deprivation is, too?
That’s how we’re wired; nothing to be ashamed of.
If we can refer to the endless and intention-free shifting and stacking and million-years-honing of genes as a process we can poetically name, in aggregate, “GGOD,” we can say “GGOD” made our wanting erections beautiful and fruitful as the splendid-with-mystery vaginas our erections yearn to pair with. Think of it as the Ethereal Angels of our Soulminds walking the dogs and pussies of our earthy genitals and pausing, from time to time, to smile with benign patience as the pets, on their leashes, hump.
Clearly, I’m talking about Straights, here. I love so many Queers (culturally and IRL) but I can never re-imagine the humorous (or sacerdotal) rectum as the esoteric vagina. Witty Darwinians might call my body the life-support system for my dick and my mind here simply for steering my dick into pussies. Witty Darwinians would be right. They’d call my ART plumage, I think, and they’d be right about that, too. Vestigial plumage. I write stories and write songs and sing songs because of the need to get fucked and, long after my fuck needs have been successfully contracted to be satisfied until my dick will no longer harden, momentum keeps me at it.
First wife would have been too soul-stunted to get the pet-walking metaphor.
She just wanted to hurt me.
SIDEBAR: Young Straight men, please listen. “MGTOW” is a dead end if you’re not planning to adapt to Queerness: this is obvious. You need Sex, this is a fact you must accept, along with parallel fact that no one is obligated to give Sex to you. You must sharpen your wits, develop your talents, improve your body and, in doing all three, harden your confidence into a capable tool. Any talent you pursue monomaniacally will evolve in proportion to the effort (as long as you are brutally honest in your self-assessments). If you’re not brilliant you can still become ripped, to compensate. You need a lover, you need to work on yourself to find one. And THEN you need to prepare yourself to occasionally step on a land mine when your year (2 years? 3 years? ) of hard work affords you the temporary license to trespass on the rolling green lawns of The Fetching Types. I was always very good at attracting Fetching Types and terrible at filtering out the cracked ones. Lots of them are cracked ones. As are lots of us.
Half the point in walking into a trap is learning how best to extricate the chew-toy of one’s cock from those steel jaws, of that trap, after they spring on you.
First wife’s steel jaws were loose.
I had a secret plan to escape; a plan I started on months after first wife turned creepy.
I put small stacks of my money aside, money from house-painting, money to return to Europe. There was a Swdish girl I arranged to stay with for 6 weeks on the way back to Berlin (that’s another story; a very funny one, too). The Swdish girl materialized after my first “wife” had been torturing me, sexually, for about a year. She was called forth, practically, out of the Aether, and we developed a passionate email correspondence that became my Sex Life and it became hers, too. We wrote long texts, poems, sent risqué pictures and then wrote florid letters about masturbating with each other in mind. My year of Sex Deprivation Torture was essentially over as the year 2000 approached, for, surely, jerking off while thinking of someone who is jerking off while thinking of you is pretty fucking horse-shoes-close to the blended sweat and spit of the real thing: all I had to do was pack my things and get, as an Uncle would have put it, out of Dodge. I wrote a story about THAT, too.
ME (41) IN VERY EARLY 2000, PANDERING TO THE CAT-LOVING SWDISH GIRL (seen below) I WAS SOON TO VISIT TO ESCAPE MY TERRIFYING FIRST WIFE
What is interesting, to me, is that I became, in the extremity of my year of Fucklessness, a simpler creature, in a way, or, I mean, that is, the Survival Instinct ( w/r/t my Sex Life itself) kicked in and although, that same year, I scored some treasures in the shockingly good secondhand book shops in San Diego (a first edition of Ellmann’s James Joyce, mint but no dust jacket, and a first edition of Prater Violet) , I suddenly became the kind of person who presented BODY-FIRST in order to acquire Sex. I had never done that before. I had always relied on wit, charm, sincerity, passion, poetry, guitaring. Now I was doing things like sending pictures like this (below: as pixel-poor as pictures were back then) to the Swdish girl I nicknamed “Apricot”.
That doesn’t look like someone who can babble knowledgeably about the Greco-Victorian mechanism of Comeuppance in the works of Philip Roth and Flannery O’Connor, that looks like 6 feet, three-quarters-of-an-inch of dumb male working hard to secure an attractive sex-partner from a great distance. One dick pic, I emailed, in particular, would have been a prize-winning submission to any contest unsqueamish enough have accepted it. If it were 2011, again, I’d post that dick pic here. A corker, as some Englanders say.
I like the Primitive me! But he can stay back there in the early 2000s. He performed his required tasks and moved me along further towards the juncture at which Beloved (Final) Wife was soon to appear.
When I met WIFE-wife (pictured above) in the Xmas season of 2004, I was so happy that I stopped writing for months.
I began to worry that I might never write anything serious again: I was too happy to.
It wasn’t long before I came up with the trick, very much like a Method Actor’s trick, of getting in touch with “1999” whenever I needed access to that deep, deep well of misery, aka the Depths of my Humanity, in order to produce work that isn’t merely glib/ facile/ or technical-ability-without-much-to-say. I revisit the Monster who was beautiful enough, on the outside, to intoxicate me enough to pull me in toward her invisibly whirring blades. There are people like that out there (she was my second, in fact, close encounter with such a type): a frustrated soul with no talent but the talent to destroy a talent.
This song was me reaching back to “1999” to nail it.
Every word is a singer even when few of the songs make sense.
Listen to my plumage [UPDATE: LINK FIXED]: