After Katie

12 Oct

Chronologically speaking, I’m not sure where I’m at with this story. I’ve been reading through old journal entries and emails to try to orient myself. Between these various dating disasters, manifesting themselves briefly and intensely, I carried around the slow burn of regret about Rachel and irrational, self-absorbed longing and lust for Polly. Pretty soon now, narratively speaking, I’ll realize that I don’t have enough money to support myself and make the move back to La Casa de mis Padres, acutely aware of the emasculating surrender of independence that goes along with it. Before that, though, one or two things happened.

After the Omega thing, I stopped dating for a few months. Once Rachel came to visit on her way from Cleveland to somewhere else, sparing a few hours to hang out with me for the sake of . . . something, I suppose. We sat on my futon, watched some silly bit of Harry Potter fandom, and emphatically did not make out. The futon was folded out bedwise, its cushion covered by a Sgt. Pepper afghan, and we lounged on its opposite ends with the uncomfortable deliberation of people who will not touch each other. She left, hugging me with affection but probably also with a sense of reassurance. Her life was not worse without me. In a way, it reassured me as well.

Polly came to visit also, several times, and make out we did. We fell into a pattern whereby each month or two she’d come to visit, one of us would guide the other upstairs to my bedroom, and her clothes (mine less often) would find their inevitable way to my floor. Her wedding ring, with equal inevitability, stayed on her finger, perhaps serving as an anchor for her scruples, which came flooding back the instant the shudders of her orgasm subsided. Assuming that I could even persuade her to continue once that happened, an assumption that carried no guarantee, she participated only perfunctorily. Every relationship has its complications, I told myself. Love requires sacrifice. I accepted this as the status quo and kissed her each time she left, pressing my lips to hers and letting the unfiltered need I felt briefly consume me, as though I could transfer that feeling to her. As though it would inspire in her a feeling something like mine. As though that feeling somehow mattered at all in terms of how this would play out. She’d drive back to her house and her gainfully employed husband, and I’d walk upstairs again, alone this time, to compose email after unanswered email.

Once or twice I forced myself to go out with Jason. Dave, a friend of his who owned a piercing studio, had occasional backyard barbecues for body modders. I’d attend, using Jason as my passport. From the late 90s to the early 2000s, I’d been gother than anyone who isn’t Peter Murphy has any right to be, and attractive women attractively tattooed still make me feel weak. Of course, in terms of mating, those tattoos function as part of the ritual, tending to communicate that the subject is interested only in a partner with similar plumage. Uninked, I kept to the periphery.

Shawn, a plump and tattooed ball of Philadelphian charisma, told a small but appreciative crowd a story about sodomizing prostitutes in Amsterdam. Amy, a giggling doppelganger of 1980s Molly Ringwald who’d also been listening Shawn, noticed me and kept me company for the afternoon. She wore hip, square sunglasses and freckles. She glared menacingly at Amanda, who’d also attended the barbecue and who afterward kept an appropriate distance from me so as not to cockblock. Amy extended an invitation to me to escort her back to her apartment, an invitation she rescinded after I failed to pick up on broadcast signals in a timely manner. She’d given me her number, but as with nearly everything else, that was irrelevant. A car filled with approximately friendly punks who, over the course of the barbecue, had with growing amusement watched these events unfold, yelled something pithy at me and drove off, laughing raucously.

Other things of that sort happened. By the end of the summer, I’d started packing up my bookshelves into whatever rotten cardboard boxes I could find in our basement. By the end of the fall, I’d moved back to Cincinnati. Before I get to that, though, I need to wrap up with Polly.


Leave a Reply


  1. Jon

    October 25, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Dan! Take a step back from real life and catch us up

  2. Dan

    October 25, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Real life is the *worst*. For real.