August 11 1998, Tuesday
hile Kim was off at her Facelift Massage workshop, I went riding on my new blue Schwinn three speed. To guard against Ann Arbor's home-grown Gus-equivalents, I needed some way to lock the bike. I had a padlock, but no chain. I figured I could probably find a piece of abandoned chain rusting in a back alley or parking lot. Chains are ubiquitous in the urban environment, used as barricades and to keep big things from sprouting legs. I hadn't counted on the fact that almost all chains are secured on at least one end, even ancient forgotten chains. So my hunt was unsuccessful. I did a little work at the University of Michigan and then returned home to Wall Street.
hen I climbed the stairs into Kim's apartment, I smelled incense and heard soothing New Age music playing softly. I hooted "doot-dee-doot-dee-doo-doo!" to Sophie the Miniature Schnauzer, but then Kim poked her head out from the "massage room" and told me to be quiet; she had a genuine paying massage client on the table and my noise would not do. I decided it would be best to give Kim space to do her thing, so I fixed myself a vodkatea and went for a walk.
I explored an old hollowed-out shell of a supermarket nearby, looking for loose tools to steal from the floorboards of the yellow machines parked therein. Yellow machines have caused me enough grief in my life that I don't think they'll ever make it up to me in big tools, curved mirrors, and adrenaline-rush-inducing sabotage opportunities.
Back at Kim's place, the client (a middle-aged woman) was settling up. After she was gone, Kim decided to take advantage of the massage table being out, so she got me up there and worked me over good. We had sex afterwards, of course, but there was a clear demarcation between the massage and the foreplay. She wouldn't want to get in the habit of confusing the two.
The plan tonight was to go out to the Bird of Paradise to see a local band called Maschina. We'd be meeting Matt Rogers and possibly all sorts of people. So we took a communal shower and got dressed up, more or less. Boys never have to dress up, but girls always do. While I was content to wear grey dress slacks, battered combat boots and a faded black "Harkness: We puzzle turtles" tee shirt from 1989, Kim put together a decidedly classier outfit consisting of a skimpy little black top, a long black skirt and a black boa, but no underwear. She says since meeting me, all her underwear has mysteriously vanished. I told her that underwear was win-win situation, since it's sexy if it's there, but it's also sexy if it isn't.
punky Lisa's new beau, Josh, was already at the Bird of Paradise, as was Matt Rogers, but Lisa herself was home sick. Kim and I found a place at the bar, ordered up some Oberon microbrew (that hoppy summer beer from Kalamazoo) and eventually the band started playing.
We missed the first set, but Maschina opened the second with an obscure psychedelic anthem, Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (circa 1968). It's a good little tune, and presents lots of opportunities for improvisation. Everything Maschina does bears their distinctive inflection. First of all, they don't have a guitarist at all. In his place is a funny-looking little oldish-looking man in a turban playing a slide-trumpet through an array of stomp boxes. Sometimes he sounds like he's playing a trumpet, but mostly he sounds like he's crunching on a death-metal guitar. There's also a drummer and a Kirstin the Ecoradicalesque bass player, and then there's the singer. He's a little sharp-featured white man with a big poofy early-70s afro (possibly a wig) and a pink feathered scarf. He's got an amazing, forceful, ominous voice, which he delivers with a refined variant of Perry Farrell charisma. But he and his band draw on many other elements, notably King Crimson, Queen, jazz and possibly glam and speed metal. Josh (Lisa's beau) had suggested they were sort of a glam parody group, but they had enough seriousness about them to not irritate me with a Dread Zeppelin, Weird Al Yankovic or even They Might Be Giants shtick. Whatever it is they're doing, it's highly original and I could see them going far with it. I've heard Kurt Cobain interviews where he claimed Nirvana was a parody or quaint revival of punk, but of course Nirvana was a lot more than that. It is possible to transcend your influences, and I would say Maschina does a good job of it. That's pretty high praise, but they deserve it.
There's no dancing and no space for dancing at the Bird of Paradise, but Maschina made an exception for the final song, and Kim, Matt Rogers and others got up for a little spirited gyrating.
The people on the other side of Kim were a pack of girls soon to be departing Ann Arbor for new places throughout the nation. They were in a celebratory mood, eagerly inviting us to a party on Friday and embracing a name for themselves, "the Slutty Girls," of which Kim was soon an honourary member. (Their end of the bar came to be called "the Slutty Girl Corner.") They were drinking strong martinis, so naturally Kim had to have one, even though she'd spoken earlier about not wanting to drink very much tonight due to a mild case of the flu. The Slutty Girls all had a way of waving their legs in the air at the band (not a simple task when you're not wearing underwear, mind you).
One of the Slutty Girls was named Amanda, and somehow Kim and I got to telling her how we'd come to meet one another. We told Amanda that Kim's successful pick-up line had been, "Are you working sound?" "Here, try it out on Matt here," I suggested playfully, and she did. This trivial little incident seemed to energize Matt for the rest of the evening.
After the Maschina show, Matt, Kim and I went across the street to the Del Rio, the bar that reminds me of Millers in Charlottesville. I don't really remember much about what happened there. More beers were drunk, maybe some hard liquor. Kim was trying to track down her good friend Missy (a bartender at Del Rio and an old co-worker at Café Zola). We learned that Missy had just left; evidently her cat was just now giving birth to a litter of kittens and she had to go home and be midwife.
Kim called Missy and got directions to her place. Along with the directions, Missy ordered Kim to pick up something "clear and strong." At the party store I was going to pickup a bottle of super cheap vodka, but Kim complained, so I got a tiny little bottle of Bushmills instead. It cost nearly ten dollars.
fter driving back and forth through quaint, collegiate neighborhoods in southern Ann Arbor (sometimes Matt was at the wheel, other times Kim), we finally found Missy's place. It was a big old house, the kind where the wood is worn shiny from years of constantly changing tenants. Upstairs was a cardboard box full of kittens. A very thin feline mother paced about being friendly and proud in detached way while Missy and her housemate Toby fussed over the blind ratlike critters.
We (including the feline mother, but not the kittens) decided to go downstairs to the spacious living room to drink the Bushmills. On the stairs was an ancient handicapped-access structure. It consisted of a small time-darkened wooden chair set on a tan-enamel metal-shielded track mechanism. It's rare to find any such structure built prior to the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990s), but this thing looked to have been built in the 50s. I just assumed it was an ancient relic of a bygone era, so I climbed in and pushed a button and started rolling. It made a loud industrial roar as it slowly conveyed me around a curve in the stairs going down. I didn't get far before a horrified Toby demanded that I get off. He said the contraption belonged to the landlord, a quadriplegic, and that it would be horrible if we broke it. That was understandable; but, as I say, I'd thought it was an ancient relic and hadn't expected the thing to actually start moving when I hit the button. Downstairs, Missy went on and on about how great & wonderful her landlord is and how we shouldn't "disrespect him" in this way.
I'm a little unclear on what exactly happened next. We were sitting in a circle on couches around a coffee table in a very large but cozy living room. The lights were on low and the music was Led Zeppelin and the Beastie Boys. I was sipping my Bushmills while all the others were taking shots. I've probably said this before, but I don't take shots of liquor. I like to taste alcohol as it enters my body. Taking shots is a little too much like its hypodermic namesake. After a very short time the Bushmills was gone and we quickly moved on to tequila and champagne.
Suddenly Kim and Missy were being kind of, well, friendly to one another. At first it just seemed like typical extroverted girl craziness, but then it became clear that they really were kissing, that they really had their hands up each other's skirts. It was a lesbian live show, just like in porno: two hot chicks going at it hot & heavy.
I didn't know what to think. Obviously, I wasn't a part of this sexual thing that included my girlfriend, so I was a little confused. But I wasn't jealous either. I guess in my subconscious sex between girls is not equivalent to sex between boys and girls. This patronizing attitude towards lesbians evidently has tendrils reaching into my jealousy reflex.
I pretty much kept quiet during the "Kim & Missy Show," not wanting to interrupt it or cause it to flee into another room. It seemed better somehow that Kim was willing to do it front of me than off somewhere out of sight, or without telling me.
Matt Rogers was drunk and boisterous, a little more so than I would have liked. He dared Missy, "You're too chickenshit [to go all the way with Kim]." Missy is the kind of girl who takes a challenge such as this as a test of will. "You think I'm chickenshit now?" she screamed with her face buried in Kim's crotch. It was for real. During a break in the action when Kim gave me a kiss, her face smelled like girl.
As if this spectacle wasn't spectacular enough, there was also the drama of Toby's response. Toby is an awkward skinny guy, the kind who doesn't get laid all that often. The sort of event we were witnessing comes but once in a lifetime to a guy like me, imagine how many lifetimes Toby must have lived to make it to this crazy evening! He couldn't control himself; he creeped over to the action and tried to insert himself in it somehow, mostly by attacking Kim. He tried to rub her shoulders at one point and she snapped at him, "All I ask is one millimeter! The only guy who can touch me is him (pointing at me)." But Toby didn't get it. It's rare I witness someone being so thoroughly clueless. He continued creeping after the girls as they thrashed around the room from surface to surface. At one point he asked Kim, "May I kiss you?" "Nooooooooo!" she shrieked as she dragged Missy to another couch. By this time her dress was but a crumpled bit of fabric around her waist.
Toby's actions gave Matt Rogers all kinds of delicious opportunities to inform him what a slimeball he was being. Toby's response was to lash out at both Matt and me, shouting at us to shut up and leave. This provoked Kim to jump to our defense, which would cause Missy to jump to Toby's defense. The worst Missy would be to Toby was condescending, asking him at one point, "Are you doing lights or sound?" The layers of social alliances seemed to have been stripped bare and exposed by the erosive effects of alcohol on obscuring overburden of social protocol.
I kept a lower profile than anyone else present. I whispered to Matt how much this was going to add to the musings. I also said that I could always bring up this incident if I should ever be unfaithful to Kim.
At one point Missy's head went flying backwards into my lap, propelled exclusively by oral pleasure. I instinctively brushed the hair out of her moaning, gasping face. To say the least, it was kind of an erotic moment, but she snarled at me, "Hypocrite!" I don't think she had any cause to be angry, though. She was, after all, the one fucking my girlfriend, as much as lesbians can fuck anything.
Weakened and subdued by the continued assault of Matt Roger's withering criticism, Toby eventually vanished. As the Kim & Missy show wound down to a conclusion, he returned and to bid us a suddenly contrite and civil goodnight. When he was gone, Kim and Matt Rogers began raking him over the coals. But Missy jumped to his defense. She stood there, completely naked in the half-lit room, giving a surreal monologue of endorsement for her housemate, complete with tears in her eyes. "Do you know why I like Tony? Do you know what he did? He called me at work to let me know my cat was having kittens! He called me at work!"
Kim dropped Matt off at his car and she and I headed back to her apartment.
one year ago
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