He imagined eating tarts as she so snidely stated. He wanted all of her, her fragility, her cockiness, her shyness, her discovery after being seduced and the loneliness she would feel. But, he also knew he was deluding himself. He wasn’t in control, she was. She clearly wasn’t interested in him and that’s where he lost his control. He could be as honest and forth-coming as he wanted, but he could not persuade her.
No, Nicole was not held in those circumstances. She was merely talking to Frank as if in a “chatroom” and she could easily dismiss him with the push of a button.
Frank deluded himself into thinking that he could keep the conversation going if he just continued to be honest and tried not to wield power over her. She was smarter than he was. His desires were blatant and visible. She knew what he wanted.
Perhaps Frank was willing to destroy his own power and freedom to be with her. Is that how powerful her beauty was? In reality, Frank deluded himself into believing that they were both seeking acceptance and love. The author, Elliot Perlman, he remembered reading in the book Seven Types of Ambiguity, called it the long journey to love: “He says fetishes are about the search of love.” How better to find it, Frank thought, in putting themselves out there and being treated well?
No matter their age difference, Frank thought Nicole was perfect and Frank meant something to her — a rite of passage into her own feminine power?
Frank’s condo was white and spare. Merely a chair sat in his living room, a white one from Ikea that they advertised in a Skinnerian box that gets pushed like a mechanical dildo over and over. A desk, otherwise, was in the room. There were two tall and thin speakers, two bookshelves, his mothers’ silver, and a table he made, white, organic-shaped, and the Ikea twin mattress on the floor with an unheard of thread count white-cotton sheets and a pillow. By the time he saw her, the condo was finally clean of everything except the essentials. Frank was only interested in experiencing this and writing about it. He wanted intimacy and true friendship and most of all he wanted to know what she thought and why, but he was lost.
Frank imagined that they would lie together on a bed talking for hours and they would touch each other. This would send electrical charges to his brain, but he would not do what he did not feel was welcome.
Frank imagined further that they would lay on the bed like two self-administering psychological patients. His resisting and her being open was their friendship and only in this trust and discipline could they be together, or else any wrong move or word would send them spiraling out of control in protective positions. He remembered this from many one-night stands. A relationship, he thought, is only what it is. The truth is always there waiting, watching, and wondering when one or both of them got tired of lying. Even as he said this, he felt the truth had been answered.
Frank came to an understanding of why he was so interested in her despite the obvious attraction. When he was ten, he moved to Honolulu after his father died. It was just he, his mother, and sister, who at four years younger, he could not relate to. He had at least two sexual meetings, one with a baby sitter, who was eighteen, gorgeous, who had spread her legs for him and he wanted to play doctor, and the other, a neighbor, spread her legs in an ivy cave in a lot at the end of the block. That all evaporated with his father’s death and his confidence was suffocated like a candle.
“Father Figure Seeks Daddy’s Little Girl” to be loved by someone beautiful and innocent since there is innocence in the attraction that always remains veiled.”
Frank thought of this for a Craigslist ad if his conversation with Nicole got no further.
Frank told himself that the most important thing to learn from their cyber conversation was that she lived in a different world. You’ve done things too, he thought with her in mind, “Accidents,” we call them, where “spontaneous” means, “accidentally” and for her “unique” meant that she was hoping you didn’t take her mistake as an invite because she was clear that she said she had a boyfriend.
Infatuation and dreams are like this, Frank kept thinking. They do not live in reality. She wants nothing to do with you. Her brevity, although pithy, proves that. She comes to your long, drawn out responses not to spend much time, but also not to reveal your pathetic, hopeless attempts at seduction. Everyone can see your veiled prose and intellectualization for what it is. Sometimes it feels like forever when she writes again, and you apologize, but it has become creepy as if it wasn’t before. Your drip of desperation…you are a sewage pipe full of seeping longing. Her half-smile has become a cautionary silence, a joke that reveals your ailment.
In 2012 from among 24 hours of music I composed via Garage Band on my computer, here is one from among a few that turned out pretty well. It does well in projecting my impression of space and time, a light observational perspective. Enjoy.
Use this link: https://soundcloud.com/mario-savioni/january-14-2012-3-gliding-grace
Frank responded to her: “I assume this is an answer to the questions about what you tell your boyfriend, mother, father, and friends. I read an article yesterday about how a man making time on the Internet was trying to pick up an underage girl and the police were contacted. He said something lewd and he was drawn in and arrested. Any parent or boyfriend wouldn’t want their loved one predated. I question my own motives, thinking of Wilhelm Stekel’s Sexual Aberrations: ‘He is a Don Juan without having to commit sin. The female appears to him devoid of any fascination because the seductive qualities have been violently passed on to a smaller object, the rose. It is no sin to kiss roses. Nor can the rose put his potency to the test.’”
Frank had been touched by her response. It made him warm inside and hopeful. Maybe Nicole was interested in the sexual play that he was inclined to want and she seemed so aware, playful, sarcastic, and therefore it reminded him of the fact that IQ was present early and awareness of ulterior motives could be felt and understood certainly by nineteen, which is what Nicole was, but now he saw another side of her. She was even brighter than he imagined and she was clearly in control.
“You would tell the family and your boyfriend to eat pickles and tarts,” Frank said. “Intelligence is apparent very early. If you are as you say you are (nineteen), then your brain is where it will be. This does not explain your motivations, your intent, your experience. I told an editor-friend about you and he drew his hands in the air comparing maturation levels. He assumes we’ll have nothing to talk about. We live in different worlds. I agree with him in the sense your intentions are not mine. This is just a game for you: The batting about of an indefensible mouse by a cat. For me, it is the churning of emotions and desires, hopes and dreams, and perhaps a death march. ‘In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it: they looked so good, that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them — “I wish they’d get the trial done,” she thought, “and hand round the refreshments!” There seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her, to pass away the time.’”
“When my friend spread his hands,” Frank said, “I wanted to hug him. I exploded with compliments. It reminded me of why we were friends. He is brilliant, nonjudgmental, and so many other people I have known are negative and whiny. I knew the lack of commonality would be a problem. What would we talk about except the truth, which would be both linguistic and visceral? Any relationship is about the truth whether expressed openly or condemned to silent, nonverbal remarks. I refused to be miserable in this. I would tell her everything and I had hoped she would do the same. Why else would two people be so engaged?”
The question remained, Frank thought, why was she in on this? Was it an experiment? Was I a potential sugar daddy? Was she real, was she interested in what I had to say? Was she just interested in this man, who clearly was interested in someone much younger, at least on paper?”
The conversation would go on, it seemed, just as they all had until the truth was known. Her lines were so short as to be without the trace of gender or investment, that soon enough if she didn’t bite, he would cut it and that would be the story. After all, the reader wants the truth. Yet they might also hope that this led to something.
Nicole was quiet on the other end. He could only imagine what she must be doing or thinking.
There was a sense of compliance by the women in the book And Everyday It Was Overcast. Sexual favors were probably not even on their minds because they wanted drugs, distraction and excessiveness due to some greater or different need that seemed to have very little to do with sex. Frank could not imagine himself drugging a woman to get what he wanted. Such an action would destroy the relationship itself. Frank’s sexual experiences in the past weren’t romantic or intimate. They were sloppy and stressful. By morning, he was wracked with the possibility of having impregnated the woman or contracting some disease. In his sexual liaisons, he was irresponsible.
Frank also recalled that there was a Human Talk that was posted to Visage, called “What teens really want to know about sex,” where it said, “pleasure can’t be done in a vacuum.” What that reinforced for Frank was that relationships were contextualized by circumstances and the environment. Nicole’s interest in him, if there ever was any, had to come from something she was either compensating for or perhaps out of some dark interest she was following. The talk also asked why sex was so good? For Frank, he looked upon Nicole as sublime, her figure and face from what he could tell, aroused him. Beauty is powerful, he thought.
“Otherwise, writing a good short story considers the events and ideas in peoples’ minds,” Frank wrote to Nicole. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. “Readers aren’t going to believe something that isn’t steeped in contemporary culture. I am also interested in the age difference between us and how we might bridge that. I feel the coincidence of you taking the literature class constructed a bridge. Maybe you want to be a writer, too. I don’t know if you know about the television program Californication, but in it David Duchovny sleeps with an underage woman and he writes a novel about it and she ends up taking it and publishing it. He concedes it to her because she blackmails him. She gets famous for it and travels around doing book appearances. I would like to do a story that explores social media, Spark, etc. I need you to express yourself. How does all of this make you feel? What do you think? What do you want to say? It also explores the idea that a fifty four-year old man has your attention. Do I? Am I deluding myself? Do you want to work on the story as a submission to your writing class? As I was saying, perhaps we could write it together. Write your reactions down. I am thinking that we could write a novelette. See Bolaño’s new book at the bookstore or look for it on the Internet.”
“Writing is about telling the truth,” Frank said. “People want to know about us and what really goes on. What do you think of this?” he added.
“As for what I need from you, just the truth,” Frank said. “I looked back and saw that you like to write. You’ve also said that you had a boyfriend and that was all spontaneous. Tell me about that. What did you think when you saw me and when you pushed the green button? I think I mentioned what I would write about myself. I feel I am being completely open. I’ve told you that I liked you. What would you want to tell your boyfriend, your mother, your father, your friends?
“Now that I can look back at the whole conversation, it runs like a dialog between two people. What is missing are feelings we have that we aren’t putting down. That is what makes a short story. The dialog between characters and the context and what they are feeling. What are they feeling usually becomes the outcome, as it does in real life. People start to share themselves and take risks and the other person starts to care. There is a humanity that develops, as if they were treating themselves how they want to be treated, but is this intention always looming in the background that colors their conversation and actions? It is amazing what people do to achieve intimacy, to connect. That connection means something in the end. It is what we remember about life and what was most important.”
“To eat pickles and tarts, of course,” Nicole said.
This response startled Frank. The sexual innuendo was apparent. “Pickles” for men and “Tarts” for the young woman she was and to eat them implied a mutual phantasmagoric union, which of course was what he wanted and then for her to cooperate in the intention both tantalized him and made him nervous. Perhaps, she was just playing with him and so long as they were just doing this in cyberspace, it wasn’t real anyway. Apparently, the game was continuing.
I met a man in a bar. He told me to come to meet Dr. Rudy.
I met Dr. Rudy again. He remembered me. Simon suggested I write him a letter. “A little step at a time. Make an appointment. Ask him if he can take a little time to hear one piece, and then ask him to make a suggestion about the next step.”
Then, I went to the lake.
I played staring across the water at a woman.
No one stopped.
They did smile. Everyone smiles when they see a man with a toy piano.
A man with a cane, one arm pulled in close, the leg on that side of his body dragged along for the ride. He wiped his nose with the hand that seemed to be freer and somewhat coordinated with his impulses. He stood halfway to the counter, then approached it like a body ready for a doctor.
The elderly woman with the large and thick 8 1/2″ x 11″ textbook ordered fruit and granola. She wore a hound’s tooth overcoat and a black dress with black nylons, black heels, with a black satchel. She picked at her skin while reading. Her head moved from side to side as if she were shivering. It was hot and sunny outside. It was Sunday. With whom did she interview? What was she studying?
I sense the end myself. The body parades all its grief eventually.
This struck Frank and it caused him to go back in time when he was a ten-year-old living in Hawaii. He told his friend Taki that he was attracted to a Filipino girl they were dancing with during the May Day Parade at Jefferson Elementary in Waikiki. The next thing he knew, Taki asked him to meet him outside class and Taki threatened him, that if Frank ever tried to date her, he would punch him. Frank was the smallest boy in class. Taki was the second smallest. Still, Taki greatly intimidated Frank. Then, in sixth grade, Kazu and the other boys would throw a hard plastic ball at him in a game called ‘Bean ’em and Run.’ Instead of chasing the other boys, they all kept throwing the ball at Frank. Eventually, he realized that as the Haole, the outsider, he wasn’t really their friend.
He went to Noelani Nishiki’s with Caitlin Watanabe, who was his “girlfriend” at the time. They held hands, walked home, and that was about it. A Samoan classmate escorted him outside near one of the only bushes between the classroom and the Ala Wai Canal and threatened to kill him if he ever saw him with Caitlin again. It turned out that the Samoan was later in jail for murder. What really upset him in these cases was that neither Taki nor the Samoan seemed to have any contact with the girls. Were they jealous? Frank wondered. Then in intermediate school, Frank managed to tell Taki that he liked Sara, then Taki and Kazu tricked him into meeting them by the tennis court. He can’t remember who punched him in the stomach first, but it made him cry mostly because of the injustice: It didn’t seem to matter what Sara thought, or if she even knew. He never sat with them on the bench again. He was fooled for the last time. He did however, dance with another Caitlin during a dance period at school. He, Caitlin, and another couple were the only people on the dance floor. The affect on Frank was to take away that part of his childhood. He reasoned that this may have been the cause for his attraction to Nicole. He also knew that he was attracted to types of women and that their ages didn’t matter. Nicole was beautiful to him despite that she was probably considered beautiful to anyone.