I Haven't Got Time For The Pain
I do not have Part 2 of Sex Pistol ready yet. I feel like I owe you, my non-existent readers, an explanation. By "non-existent readers" I mean, of course, me. I need to explain to myself why I've squandered another Thursday - Sunday writing period.
My day job was busy this week. Fine. It happens. But then I hurt my back at the gym on Thursday. How did I do it, you may ask? I was at the squat rack, doing Romanian dead lifts. That's the exercise where you stand up straight, holding a barbell by your waist, and you bend forward, then back up, working your hamstrings. It's imperative that you keep your spine perfectly straight when you do this exercise, because the slightest break in form could result in a serious back injury. And that's exactly what happened. I felt it immediately, stopped that exercise and continued with the rest of my workout.
Mistake #1: I should have went home right then, but I happen to be in love with a girl at the gym--have been for six months--and I wanted to stick around in case she approached me for sex.
The pain/stiffness didn't set in until that afternoon at work, and even then it was manageable. I was able to walk around (though at first I walked like grandpa Simpson, then after 200 feet I resumed a normal posture; I was like a living evolution chart!) and lay on the ground and stretch every few hours. I took some motrin or Advil or whatever the fuck it's called, and that helped a little. I skipped my AA meeting that night (the long walk and the grammar school chairs would have been too taxing), which sucked because Alan got his 6-year medallion, which I would have liked to have witnessed.
It also sucked because there are usually at least three hot chicks at that meeting. Hot, sober, angry chicks. Booya!
Instead I went home that night, ordered a medium pepperoni from Domino's and watched four old episodes of "Entourage".
Mistake #2: Everything from that previous sentence.
The next day, Friday, I felt better. Work was still busy but my back felt looser, even after sitting all day in that Filipino-made bullshit ergonomic chair I have. Or maybe I was just so busy I didn't even consider the pain, which could have been the case. I threw a little ice on it and spent most of the day yelling at my computer, throwing temper tantrums in front of my IT guy, and insulting innocent co-workers for no reason. I was pissed that I had work to do and couldn't do the Friday NY Times crossword. I missed the last AA meeting in the area, walked home, nuked some pasta, made a salad, beat off and watched 40 minutes of "Interview With A Vampire" on my DVR. I was asleep by 11.
Mistake #3: Nothing. Perfect Day.
Saturday I woke up feeling great. I actually got out of bed and walked to Dunkin Donuts in an almost upright manner. I lied in bed and read for a bit, drinking my coffee, then called a massage parlor in Chinatown (the name and number of which were procured from a fellow AA brother) and made an 11:30 appointment. I took a shower and walked there. It was beautiful out and I felt great, walking perfectly fine. The girl at the "Spa"'s reception desk was very cute. She walked me down into a subterranean room smaller than my bedroom and told me to take my clothes off, lay face down and wait. I did. Five minutes later another girl--this one not exactly cute, but more like a cross between Bruce Lee and 70s Elvis Presley--walked in, wearing cuffed sweatpants and a Russell Athletics t-shirt. The only English she knew was "sir", and "deep or stone". She spent the first 10 minutes trying to pop a zit on my back, then she got to work. And yes, there was a happy ending. I closed my eyes and pictured the girl from the front desk, and not Bruce Lee's bloated brother.
Afterward I went to Carson beach and lay flat on the stone wall that runs along its perimeter. I listened to music and looked at chicks and caught some rays. My back didn't hurt. It felt great, actually.
I went home and did something incredibly stupid. I PUT A HEATING PAD ON MY FUCKING BACK. I lay down and took a nap with A FUCKING HEATING PAD ON MY BACK.
Now it's time for Mistake #3: AFTER 24 HOURS IT'S ICE, NOT HEAT. Ever hear of the internet, fuckstick???
Immediately I started feeling pain, stiffness. I figured it was all part of the healing process. By the time I walked to my Saturday night AA meeting I was hunched over again. I had to stop and touch my toes a couple times. I sat through the meeting fine, but walking home was all grandpa Simpson again. I got back home, crawled up my stairs, and PUT THE FUCKING HEATING PAD UNDER MY BACK WHILE I LIED ON MY LIVING ROOM FLOOR. I hadn't realized Mistake #3 yet.
Like the genius I am, I microwaved the heating pad real good and slept on it, waking up a couple times throughout the night to re-zap it. By the time I woke up, this morning, I was immovable. I could barely even curl up in the fetal position. I walked to Dunkin Donuts all upright and stiff, as though I was holding in a massive crap. I got home, lied on the floor and stretched my back. Then I walked to the gym, and halfway there, after seeing my reflection in the EZ Storage doorway, I realized it was ridiculous. I couldn't even walk. How the fuck was I gonna lift heavy weight? I turned around and went home.
That was when Mistake #3 occurred to me. Maybe heat isn't a good idea this far into an injury, especially considering I was feeling great when I started using it, and now I feel like the Tin Man. So I began my ice regiment. I currently have four various ice packs in my freezer and I spend about 75% with one of them pressed again my lower back and the other 25% stretching. Maybe stretching isn't a good idea, either. Should I go for a walk or should I be resting? When I rest, should I lay flat or sit upright? When laying flat, should it be on my bed or on a more firm surface, like the sidewalk outside? Jesus Christ, I can't take these fucking options. When it comes to forks in the road I have a notorious history of choosing the wrong way. And no, I will not look on the internet for advice. The last time I did that I had just got out of detox and I was trying to find out how long the withdrawal would last. The first website I came upon informed me that my life would be hell for at least 5 years and that I should just kill myself. In retrospect, that was pretty accurate.
Alas. Nothing to do but nurse my wounds, watch bad TV and try and stay calm. The pain can't last forever. Or can it? Today was a beautiful day, probably the last beautiful day of the year. I was planning on going to the beach today, after going to the gym and taking a yoga class. Instead I stayed inside and felt sorry for myself. I'm going squirrelly. I'm getting cabin fever. I'm so bored I jerked off twice today to tranny porn. The only time I left my house was this morning, when I drove to Whole Foods for Pro Biotics. In the parking lot a man approached me and asked if I could give him, his wife and two sons a ride to Framingham, to a "small motel", as he kept referring to it. I looked over at his wife and kids. They all wore New England Patriots T-shirts and were locked in a group embrace, all three of them making these overly-dramatic sad faces, as though they were posing for a homeless family ad. He told me they had just arrived from Kissimmee, Florida, and now they were stuck in a Whole Foods Parking Lot in Newton. None of this made any sense to me. I sat in my Jeep, blocking the entrance to the parking lot, while my lower back was screaming at me to get the fuck away from this psychopath.
"I don't understand...what's in Framingham?" I asked, confused.
"A small motel," the man said, clearly annunciating the words as though I was deaf, or from another country.
I wanted to help, but something just didn't seem right. The only evident luggage the family possessed was a single black gym bag.
"I don't know, man. Framingham's quite a ways away--"
"Oh fuck this," the man spit out, then turned and walked away. I proceeded to park my Jeep and kill the ignition. But I stayed in it for a few minutes before getting out and going into the Whole Foods. I needed a moment to process it all.
Sex Pistol -- Part I
Dear Readers, I'm trying something new: old-fashioned, serial storytelling. Just like in the old days, when we'd gather around the wood-paneled radio for a swashbuckling episode of Captain Blood or the rousing trumpet of the Lone Ranger, enrapt for 30 minutes until the hero finds himself in a jam with no foreseeable way out and we're left hanging with the ubiquitous words, "tune in next time!".
Well, apply that device to Penthouse Forum, and you've got my latest installment in two parts: Sex Pistol.
Part 2 will be posted next Sunday. I assure you it will be worth tuning back in...
SEX PISTOL -- PART I
It was the summer of 1999. I was 23-years old, waiting tables at a trendy, cosmopolitan brasserie in Boston called the Blue Cat Café. The Blue Cat was known for its jazz, specifically Acid Jazz. I’m pretty sure I know what Acid Jazz is, and I think I like it. I don’t want to look it up on Wikipedia though, in case I’m wrong.
I had just returned from Los Angeles after a year and a half working for a movie producer. I was living at home, with my parents, searching for my next career move; I figured the best way to explore my options was to work nights, snort coke, party with sexy bartenders and then drive home through my quiet suburban hometown at sunrise, my window rolled down, taking in the smell of freshly cut grass and listening to the ching-ching-ching of automated lawn sprinklers. I lived rent-free. My only expenses were sanity and self-respect.
Each day I pondered my future, from noon to 1:00 PM, while lying in the bed I slept in as a teenager, too lazy and guilt-ridden to go outside for a morning cigarette. For a week straight I watched the recast of the MTV Movie Awards—Will Smith dancing around and singing about the Wild Wild West.
“Fuck L.A.,” I said, turning the TV off and throwing the remote into the corner of my high school bedroom. I stared across the room at my Dan Marino poster. “And fuck you, too.”
By August I was depressed. I was already sick of my twenties. I wished I was 35 and living in a house somewhere with a real job, a 401k and health insurance. I missed eating lunch during daylight. I missed prime time television. The Sopranos was a national phenomenon and I could never watch because I worked on Sunday nights. Life was passing me by.
And then, one night, Carol kissed me in the Blue Cat bathroom, and I found my raison d’etre.
Carol was the Blue Cat deejay on Thursday and Saturday nights. She was an older woman, and by “older” I mean somewhere around 30. She had short, spiky, frosted blonde hair and an angular, German face. She wore leather pants every night—sometimes maroon, sometimes black. She reminded me of everything good about the 80s. Whenever she entered the restaurant—usually around 10:00, when the crowd was peaking—it was like a sonic ripple, something I felt more than saw, like a rock star moving through a throng of fans. She was stopped by at least eight different people on her way from the front door to the deejay booth; each conversation seemed important and personal. I watched her as she hugged, kissed on both cheeks, listened, laughed, talked intently, narrowed her eyes, put her hand on someone’s shoulder, scratched her nose, ran her hand through the back of her short hair (a habit). I watched her as she methodically removed her 33” records from a leather case. She examined both sides of each disc before playing them, brushing the vinyl with horsehair. I watched her every time she went to the ladies’ room. When she walked she stuck her hands in the back pockets of her leather pants; she took long strides, her hips wide and commanding. And I’d just stand there, holding a tray of water glasses or a breadbasket, lacking any self-awareness, unable to register my emotions. I felt like a schoolboy living in an Aerosmith video.
She played remixes, mostly; my faves were a Macy Gray/Elton John mashup and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by Them. One night I mustered up the courage to approach the deejay booth and make a request.
She saw me coming and smiled. My bowels got loose and squishy. “Can you play that Van Morrison song?” I shouted over the din of the crowd. Back then I didn’t know Van was the lead singer of a band called Them. I just knew it was his voice wailing on the track.
“I’ll play it next. For you.” She nodded and smiled again. Her cheekbones were high. Everything about her was exotic, European, sophisticated, way out of my league.
She played it next.
I asked some of the older, seasoned, gay waiters about her. “She’s married and she has a kid,” they informed me. “Why? Do you like her?”
“No, I just…” Suddenly four gay waiters surrounded me, all smiling with their eyebrows arched. They reminded me of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, sitting on top of his mountain perch, rubbing his chin, devising a plan. “She’s married,” I said. “So what difference does it make?”
“Well, she’s married, but she’s not married married. Know what I mean?”
My eyes darted across each of the waiters. “Forget I said anything.”
One of them must have said something to her, because the following Saturday night Carol started looking at me. Every time I looked at her, she looked back. And then she started smiling at me. Not an amiable, “Hiya friend!” kind of smile. It was the kind of smile a coyote gives to a cocker spaniel that’s chained to a backyard leash. I’m going to eat you soon.
I had no idea what to do, other than take a shit.
So I kept looking at her, and she kept looking back. For two weeks. Whenever our eyes met my neck would get warm, my heart would pound and I’d lose all sensation below my waist. I’d be down on the dining room floor, in my stupid server uniform (a black t-shirt and long black apron—like a dopey samurai warrior), and she’d be up in the farthest corner of the cocktail lounge, behind the turntables, wearing a snakeskin jacket or a buttoned-down shirt with the collar up or sometimes just a tank top, and we’d connect through the crowd of 200 metropolitan idiots laughing and spilling martinis on each other. Just me and Carol, and no one else.
One Saturday night, Carol was absent. At 10:30 I went up to Jay, the manager, and asked if she was coming in. He shrugged and told me he hadn’t heard from her. I went back to the dining room feeling despondent, the way I used to feel when one of my baseball games got rained out. For the next forty minutes I skulked to and from my tables feeling like I was about to cry. I didn’t even want to finish my shift. I was about to ask Jay if I could be first cut when I heard the opening keyboard of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, its sweet, melodic chimes rising and falling over the PA. I looked up at the turntables and saw Carol, smiling at me. It was our song. Our mating call. She waved at me to come over.
“I know you love that song,” she said.
I moved behind the turntables, close to her. “I didn’t think you were coming in,” I said.
“I had to wait for my mom to come over to watch Jeffrey,” she said, and then added, “He's my son.”
“Oh.” I nodded and took a half step backward. She turned toward the crowd, her hands in her back pockets, and then took a step toward me.
“Do you like to do junk?” she said.
“Do you party?” She tapped her nose with a long, crimson fingernail.
“Oh…yes! Yes I do!”
She smiled at me, coyote to leashed puppy.
“Meet me in the bathroom in five minutes. Once the next song starts.”
I walked back to the dining room. A few minutes later “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” ended and a song by De La Soul started. Carol made her way through the cocktail lounge—taking those long, leather strides—and down through the dining room, glancing briefly at me as she passed by. She turned a corner and disappeared by the kitchen, where the Blue Cat’s employee bathroom was located.
I checked on my tables and then followed her.
The hallway leading to the bathroom was empty. I walked down it quickly, feeling that warmth again, rising up from my loins and spreading into my chest and face. I knocked on the closed door. Carol opened it a crack and then let me in. She closed and locked it behind me and promptly moved over to the sink, where she cut up four lines of cocaine with her driver’s license.
“I’ve got til the end of this song,” she said, handing me a rolled-up bill. “Go ahead.”
We snorted the lines. I immediately felt like taking a shit. I backed up against the wall and clenched my butt cheeks.
“This is good shit,” Carol said, packing up her purse. “Are your lips numb?”
I nodded. “Uh-huh.”
“Good,” she said. Then she grabbed the back of my neck, and her mouth came toward me.
We made out for a couple minutes, and then she hugged me, pressing her face against my neck. She told me that she wanted to see me outside of the Blue Cat. “Come out next Saturday night. I’m not working, but me and some friends are gonna take mushrooms and go to Machine. Will you come, after you get off here?”
I nodded, holding her, my mouth chewing on air, the two of us swaying back and forth to the final notes of a De La Soul song.
She never mentioned her husband, or her son, Jeffrey. And I never asked.
The next six days were a journey. At first I was eager, but then I was nervous, at one point (Wednesday) considering declining, making up some excuse not to go, anything.
On Thursday she called in sick, and I felt despondent again. I planned on canceling our Saturday night mushroom trip but after an hour of looking at an empty deejay booth I missed her. I didn't want to be there any longer because she wasn’t around to play our song. By the end of the night I was angry and my stomach felt sick. I was desperate to see her, even for a single moment, standing behind the turntables. Or doing anything at all.
Saturday couldn’t come fast enough.
And then it came, and there she was, walking through the door to the Blue Cat, dressed in black leather pants and a tight black t-shirt with two words bedazzled in rhinestones across her bulging breasts:
TO BE CONTINUED...
Dear Readers, to add another dimension to this storytelling experience I've included a link to the Them song, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". See below. It truly is a mating call...
We'll Always Have Nothing
I know. I know. I know.... It's been over a month and I haven't posted anything. I'm still working on Dave's notes for this piece of shit book, and I've been doing steps 4 and 5 of my recovery program, which involves listing out all the bad shit I've ever done or been a part of and then sitting down with someone and confessing it all. I thought it would take me 20 minutes but noooooo.....it took 2 months.
So here's a very quick snapshot of CHAP 14, which is the first chapter to PART III SLINGSHOT, which basically chronicles the spring-fall of 2012, when the shit hit the fan and I lost most of my colon. This little snippet is a delightful 2-page look at an online dating experience.
Like everything else, dear Pellegrinites, it is totally fucking true.
Enjoy, and here's a tip for the day: the weather inside your mind is always overcast.
(Excerpt from Chapter 14, "The Creature Stirs"):
One girl, a 30-year old, Latino, Naval Academy graduate, showed promise. Our first date was a success; we got tipsy over cocktails and appetizers at a bar in Beacon Hill and then made out in a light snowfall on Charles Street. She looked like Rosario Dawson, with a bright smile and long black hair tied back in a ponytail that slung back around the front of her shoulder. I could see her voluptuous curves through her wool topcoat, and I fantasized about what those curves looked like covered only by red lace. Our second date, an intimate dinner at an Italian restaurant in the same neighborhood, was a disaster. She was in a foul mood because of some work and landlord issues and complained aggressively throughout the entire meal. I tried to bounce some optimism her way but was met at every attempt with a wall of fierce resistance. Things got especially interesting near the end of the meal, when the subject turned to politics.
“I voted for Bush,” she said, “but I just adore Obama. Everything he does. And it drives me batshit when I hear people lay these false claims on him. Socialist? What does that even mean? Like, do you even know what the fuck you’re talking about?”
I looked around the dining room, discreetly, and then came back to her. She leaned forward on the table into her smooth brown shoulders, looking vulpine in a silver strapless dress. “Personally,” I said, “I think they should split the country in two—Republican and Democrat. East America and West America, or more like Coastal America and Middle America, or whatever. Boom, end of discussion.”
She tucked her chin inward and looked up at me, the candlelight dancing in her dark eyes, lighting them up something wicked. “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said.
I looked down at the table’s centerpiece. My heartbeat started to drumroll. “Well, I’m not being completely serious.”
“How would that be possible? Are you suggesting we go back to the antebellum days? Fight another Civil War?”
“I’m saying that people like to bicker. Take that away and they might actually have to fill their time with productive discourse.” I was no longer smiling.
“Ha! Split the country in two? I mean, really? Did you really just say that?”
“Yes, I did. Let me ask you something: why don’t you lighten the fuck up? There’s this new thing that’s sweeping the nation—both of them—it’s called a sense of humor. Google it when you get home.”
She straightened up. The light flickered out of her eyes. “Awkward,” she said, rolling the word back and forth across our table. Her face became solemn; her high cheekbones looked gaunt and macabre, like a voodoo doll.
“Yeah, awkward.” I raised my hand for the check. My heart thudded against my breastbone. I remembered her military background. My stomach sloshed around like a laundry cycle.
The waiter brought the check. As I signed it I made a snippy remark about how I hoped she didn’t want dessert, and when I closed the black vinyl check holder with a determined whap I immediately regretted saying it. I couldn’t help it. I was enraged to the point of tunnel vision.
Without looking at her or the other diners I got up, put on my coat and gestured for her to walk ahead of me, all while staring down at the carpeted floor. I still had the civility to walk her back to her apartment, in total silence, up the hill to Revere Street, three doors down, ironically, from Anisha’s old place.
Daniel Pellegrini is a recovering drug addict with an aggressive form of chronic bowel disease. That means he can't take painkillers after undergoing rectal surgery. He's here to show you just how beautiful life is.
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