(Continuing my Confessions.)
The Chess Club had slowed down and JJ just sat in the mostly empty room, telling more stories about the gym.
“Did I ever tell you about Lydia Plowman?”
“She’s this girl who worked out at the gym. She had a boyfriend who was the grandson of some really big mob guy-I’m talking big, like he was mentioned under a nickname in that book they based Goodfellas on.
“She looked kinda dykey, but I dunno man-something about her. My grandfather said ‘Wah? Why are you interested in that dyke?’ And I said ‘Grandpa, just keep watching the TV.’
“So as I’m closing the gym, she starts telling me about all these problems she’s having with her man. And she does this for like a week. I’m just chill, listen and stuff. One night she seems really distressed. And I’m not gonna lie, the thought went through my head, this is the night I could have sex. But I think ‘No,’ do the right thing and hear out her problems and tell her to go home.
“She doesn’t show up to the gym for like a week. I ask around, I say ‘Anybody seen Lydia Plowman?’ And one guy says ‘You didn’t hear? She slashed some guy’s throat with a broken bottle when they were having sex. Was all over the papers.’
“At that moment I thought to myself ‘If I’d just had sex with that woman, that guy might be alive right now.”
Eventually JJ gave up on trying to get an accounting degree after 7 years part time. He found a sales job with commission at a mattress store.
The parts of newspapers with overheard statements and anonymous confessions always fascinated me. Particularly the Eye Saw U columns. Strange and lonely with a whole set of sub dialects of misspellings. I think the ones in the local alternative weekly were submitted through an internet chatroom.
“I come in coffee shop every day and see u. U-maybe…23? Dyed pink hair. Look like a Pixie. Well bebe I wil be ur Peter Pan. Cum to my coffee shop sometime ;)”
At the time I held suspicions people only showed their “true” selves when they simultaneously thought that everyone was watching but no one could see them. I studied the columns closely. Several people I spoke to said that they’d recognized a description of themselves in one of the columns and knew who had probably sent it in.
I liked to spend time in the subway stations idling around those little booths that had all the religious pamphlets and the Scientology Thetan testers that looked like tin cans or love buzzer handles. I once took the 300 question Dianetics written test at the Scientology Celebrity Center with a friend. He scored extremely well. They were willing to give him the L. Ron Hubbard books for free. They wanted him in a leadership position.
I, on the other hand, apparently got one of the lowest scores they had ever recorded. When they took me in the office to discuss it afterward, the young Scientologist in the suit they’d assigned to me asked “You know killing is wrong, right Mr. Levine?” L. Ron Hubbard did not want me.
We took the N train all the way to Coney Island and back in the middle of the night figuring that if we stayed on the same train car long enough, something interesting was bound to happen.
While we waited for the train to start in the opposite direction back from Coney Island, a pimply boy of maybe 16 came onto the train with two girls who must’ve been 14. They were both covered in sores and wearing parachute pants.
The two girls put their legs up over my legs and my friend’s legs on the opposite subway bench.
“How big is it?” one of them said.
“Yeah, how big is it,” the other said.
The boy was holding an aluminum baseball bat.
“Depends on the spacing and the formatting,” I said.
“Yeah, it’s bigger double space than single space. And the font.”
“Is yours double spaced? Is it big?”
“I have a girlfriend,” my friend interjected and the woman took her legs off his. They sat with a space between them for the rest of the ride to Manhattan.
“Mine’s 8.75,” the boy interjected.
“Metric or imperial standard?” I asked.
“Inches. Metric it’d be 22.223 cm.”
We checked these numbers later when we got home and found that whether or not this was the actual size of his penis, his metric conversions were strong.
The rest of the way there we had a long and detailed discussion of the problems the US has had converting to the metric system and whether a pimp could ever be considered a sex addict if the activities in fact didn’t interfere with his work.
The air became less formal. He even loosened his grip on the baseball bat.
I had been undecided on whether to go to the party earlier in the evening. When I decided to, I found myself without a costume and rushed down to the bodega in my pajamas. They had a clown wig, nose, and makeup kit for sale. I put my make-up on on the train. It looked jagged, like something scratched in a desk.
This was a break from my tradition of previous years where I’d not change my clothes at all and when people would ask me “What are you dressed as?” I’d say “What do you think I’m dressed as?” and when they suggested something just said “Yes.” By the end of the night I would just reply with earlier suggestions.
“I’m a retired pirate who wants to keep it low key.”
“I’m your neighbor.”
One year I went around saying I was going dressed as the decline of western civilization. I showed up in my normal clothes and no one noticed the difference.
I arrived at the party and there were three other clowns. They all looked more professional than I did.
A guy in an ape suit took off his ape head to smoke a joint. He passed it to me. I was in a clown suit and when I walked inside I met a woman dressed how I normally dressed when I wasn’t in the clown suit. She drunk, I in a clown suit. We started living together soon after. We weren’t sure what else to do.
(Tomorrow: Further misadventures and fanservice!)