Self Conscious, the J Eric Miller blog

Sunday, March 06, 2005

(the post before this one is the only one that counts)

…The lead singer of Ratt was at Dixie Fri night. What the name of his new band is, I don’t know. They just explain the ten dollar cover charge to you by saying that the lead singer of Ratt is playing. He doesn’t sing Ratt songs. He sings Guns and Roses and Poison and so on. What does the lead singer of Ratt do? He fronts an 80’s hard rock cover band.

He screams into the microphone, They tell me rock and roll is fucking dead, but they should look in this fucking room. It’s not fucking dead!

And I look in the room, 150, 200 people bouncing around, swaying and leaping, mid life crisis babies and kids who will dance to anything, and I think to myself, Rock and Roll is dead. Or if it’s not, it life support system has nothing to do with the people on the dance floor or the man screaming fuck into the microphone.

And that lead singer from Ratt, he’s old.
And so am I.
And I can muster more sympathy for him than I can for myself.

--The Irish girl is back.
The swing couple still works her.
The little squat man, like a runaway from a Peter Jackson film.
The wife who grows on you, the way, as my friend suggests about the movies you watch enough to begin to like, you will want to fuck anybody you stare at long enough.

She’s always smiling and he’s sort of grim. He knows how thin it all is, this line he is trying to straddle between control and emasculation. I wonder what stories he tells himself, and how they’ll have to shift as the gap between them continues to grow.

--The Irish girl, I haven’t seen her in months, but I’ve been mostly retired, and now she is here, M, she has an almost impossibility pretty face, though there is something destroyed around the mouth. It is destroyed in a way I’ve never quite seen and it is destroyed in a place I’ve never seen destruction, from the corners of the mouth to the chin, on either side.

This destruction, it is a sort of attraction.

--I’m thinking of California, Santa Monica, the beach there at night, not quite safe, the girls I used to go walking with in the sand, scratching messages to each other with the toes of our shoes.

I am thinking of CC and how we drank at a bar at the top of a hotel there and a man played music through a single microphone, Gordon Lightfoot when I asked, and CC, she was small and adorable, and I remember clearly how she looked one hot evening when she stood before a fan in her living room and lifted her skirt to cool down, a sexy act of perfect innocence, and I remember the story she told about a bottle of wine, a man she didn’t like, and what they done in the dugout of the park in which we were standing. It was a sexy story not only for its details but mostly because she was telling it to me.

That kind of intimacy.

--Why I’m at Dixie Friday night thinking of LA, I don’t know.
It’s overly full.

With every drink you are a different person. These are not the stages of inebriation necessarily.
Just the changing you.
Just the fast forward or rewind button toggling in your personality.

I’m not a discerning person. I don’t see that well. My sense of smell, of taste, of hearing, they’re all average, or below.

And yet all Friday I’ve smelled something foul in everybody who has spoken close to me, something from the flesh perhaps, but mostly from the mouth. Students bending toward me in class, they have the odor of stomach disorder, of old garlic. It’s the same in the Dixie tavern and I remember how it was last week, that woman that reeked.

(Was that a week ago? Only? I recognize my life is reshaping into what it once was. Like a crumpled paper made ironed by the hand. The words are still the same.)

This is no gift. I imagine to see very well, to hear very well, all of these heightened senses would be more burden than they would blessing. Who wants to know that much about a person? What they have eaten. What they are like deep down inside. Who wants to appraise every pore?

Give me blurred vision. All people should shake and smear before me. As if they are the same. And of a different world entirely.

--But I think of California at the Dixie on Friday. I think of the make up artist, the girl with the name of a goddess, we rolled around on that beach, this girl who would never take her panties off, no matter what we doing, as if somehow that exempted her from the carnality of those acts we performed.

Am I remembering the way she looked properly? We met at the Viper Room. She had a kitten that was dying though she tried to keep it alive. After a certain point, the cruelty was in her care.

I knew her for perhaps two weeks, maybe a bit more.

I’m thinking of California, LA, but mostly the beach, Santa Monica.

These memories. These fragments. Nothing is remembered in whole. Everything is the condensed version. “To remember a day would take a day. To remember a lifetime would take a lifetime.”

And before those days of California fucking, when I was a kid from the country gone off to the big city, the end of Western civilization, this place that all that Manifest Destiny that began with the Greeks and the Romans finally came to rest, LA, my friends, JA and JT, later to be my roommates, we came driving down to the beach.

We were kids. We were happy. We sat on the top of lifeguard houses and threw the melons and oranges that had washed out of the sea back into it. I went running nude and white into the water, that kind of baptism.

These good friends, these non-acquaintances, these people who knew me when I was not who I am now but know me who I am now too.

We make of that knowledge something almost sacred.

--This girl at the Dixie, she’s blond and overly young and hanging around me but acting snotty, just as she did last week when L and I were here. If she knew how far I was from wanting to kiss her, she’d try very hard to get me to do that.

It occurs to me at the Dixie and then the night after, Saturday night at the Dark Horse and the other bar in Midtown, that I am in no mood for games of seduction

--L comes into the city with me, Midtown, those bars. Right away there is trouble with a man. Later, there is more trouble.

L wonders why I see to have brought out the worst in men.
I don’t know.
I don’t look for trouble.
I don’t even relate to other men in bars.
I try to imagine a world in which only the women count.

I decide finally that it must be pheromonal. That just as there are time when it seems more women than my haircut can justify seem to be attracted to me—and that must be some invisible chemical scent thing—there are time when men just seem to want to have trouble with me. Maybe that too is an invisible scent thing.

Different bars bring different types of trouble. If you have at the Dixie, it is a face to face thing and fairly combustible. In Midtown, mostly, it starts as a passive thing, that man, he’s trying to see what he can get away with at your expense, if you turn to him fully, he’ll shiver, shimmer, and fade out.

--The problem with the person you fight in a bar is you don’t really know anything about him. You don’t know if he is an off duty policeman. A profession fighter.

A man who has just lost his job. His wife. A man who has been diagnosed with something awful. A man who feels in perfect health but has grown a small clot in some artery that if hit properly and not even hard could break free and explode against his brain. A man who will take whatever you do to him home and there take it out on his wife. Or his dog. Or his child.

You can beat darkness into another man. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take your fists. But the game, it’s all about emasculation, and you can force darkness into a man like that.

And it’s a game of odds, no guarantee, what he’ll do with that darkness. What it will do to him.

Or whether or not, rather, that he’ll be beating it into you.

The problem with fighting in bars.

That makes me think of California too, all those puffed up wanttobeactors, lifting weights on the advice of agents, managers, wondering what to do with these muscles they’ve grown. End of the night frustration.

The good old American dilemma: sex of violence?

--A girl introduces herself by pointing to another girl and asking, Who looks smarter, me or her?

And you say, Shouldn’t you be asking who is hotter?

And that type of patter begins.
At certain moments, when the music is low enough and the vodka sits just right, you could have these conversations with your eyes closed.
In fact, at certain moments, you do.

--It doesn’t matter. The Dixie tavern, where everybody seemed to stink, or the Midtown bars where the girls look like they are wearing things they got at sweet sixteen parties, where the boys where button down shirts with rolled up sleeves and docker slacks. LA bars or Montana bars. The nightclubs of Beirut.

It’s the same.

Girls whose lizard minds try to make them prove, over and over, through smear of makeup, arch of back, semblance of availability, that the male of the species want to fuck them.

Boys who try to suggest, by size of wallet or muscle, by clench of jaw, but narrowed eyes, by push or kiss, that they can the girl, these boys whose lizard brains tell them WIN THE FUCK WIN THE FUCK WIN THE FUCK.

(Even though this won’t be legitimate mating. When our instincts catch up to our birth control, we’ll really be in trouble).

And a man who tells you he is completely over male games, he is the rare and enlightened, or, more likely, he just means: I know I can’t win them anymore.

--And everything ends well.
The ride home, the weekend mercifully sunsetting into Sunday.
I always ask myself, in the guilt that comes with my involvement in any of it, however minor, is this the world you mean to leave to your son? And I always tell myself, How can it be avoided?

Every father, he’d like to control the nature of the world. But it is the rare that can control even himself.