BoSStyle

Elementary

Posted in Uncategorized by MamaSass on May 23, 2008

It was the Sherlock Holmes of my youth that really set me off. I remember watching the old BBC series, where Holmes would stalk around the crime scene with the awkward grace of a praying mantis, throwing around rich observations with an abundance of overpronounciation that even the likes of Kenneth Brannaugh could not hope to achieve in his wettest of dreams. It was this Sherlock Holmes that I fell in love with first—the brooding asexual genius who’s keen eye, dulled though it was through a haze of morphine, would never falter over the tiniest of clues. The actor who played this Holmes with such sympathetic appeal was Jeremy Brett, but that doesn’t matter. It’s not Brett that I fell in love with, it’s not even the quality of genius that attracts me so much; it’s the particular Holmesian genius, the ability for facile analysis of the most abstract of situations, to find clues hidden where no one else could hope to find them. Maybe that’s the attraction, the ability to find meaning, to put together a scene from a random assortment of facts. Or maybe I just find deduction sexy as hell.

I can’t really explain it. But it recurs in my life like a narrative theme. Always crushes on genius detectives, the more bruised, the better. Literary or not. Detective Bobby Goren, of the Law and Order juggernaut, is a good example. I realize I’m not alone in finding him sexy—there are legions of women on the internet who are vocal in their approval, (although there are many more for the ape-like Detective Stabler, who flexes his muscles rather than his brain to solve his cases.) I hesitate to say it, but I almost find Vincent D’onofrio, who’s acting is pretty genius-level, even sexier than his character. Almost. But there it is again, the wounded genius detective. There’s something about his breathless delivery, the teetering on the edge of slightly too crazy to function, that is overwhelming. His character couples his deductive genius with a sweet and sour mixture of childlike exuberance and shaky, deep-rooted emotional pain. Its almost too good, a cocktail I can’t refuse, someone who makes my heart ache a little because I want to hold his head and rock him back and forth, gently, like a mother.

Many women are attracted to wounded men. That’s not at all hard to explain. But what is it about the detective that turns me on? Why that particular brand of genius? Dr. Gregory House might hold the answer, if I could only stop staring into his eyes long enough to try to figure it out. For all intents and purposes, House is Sherlock Holmes. (He lives at apartment number 221B for god’s sakes.) A medical Holmes, who’s brainpower is so intense that he never has to worry about losing his job, despite having a very Holmesian painkiller addiction and being maybe the world’s biggest asshole. Part of it could be that his boss wants to get in his pants. As do almost all of his female co-workers. While Bobby Goren and Sherlock Holmes may have pathetic sex lives, House gets gorgeous women lining up for a chance with him. Maybe it’s the cane. I can’t tell if it’s sexier that he acknowledges himself as a sexual entity, or if it’s sexier to be mysteriously celibate. It’s true, however, that whenever there is a case to be solved, House is more interested in exercising his brain than in other athletic endeavors.

So what is it about them? Is it me? Do I think I need to be solved? And if so, why do I think it would take a genius to do it? Am I that complex? Maybe I have an overinflated opinion of my own psyche, but I would welcome a chance to be investigated, broken down into my distinct elements, and put back together in some kind of order that made sense.

I mean, come on ladies, when you think about it, wouldn’t it be nice?

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Neighborhood Boy

Posted in Uncategorized by MamaSass on May 3, 2008

Neighborhood Boy

We thought of him as ours. That boy from the neighborhood. The other mothers called us a group of “wild girls.” After me, there was Francia Jimenez, who was a ‘fast’ girl, who wore makeup and had bigger breasts than all of us. None of the mothers knew that when Mr. Kenwood was supposedly tutoring her, every Wednesday at 4pm, he was actually just looking at her. She says he would take his willy out of his pants and just stroke it, up and down, and look at her. She found this fascinating, and would beg to go early, and her family just thought she was eager to get help in school. She was close to failing out anyways. Connie Malloy was a shoplifter. She brought us things from the Mall and we wore them proudly, like a secret, big ugly fake jewelry, lip gloss. Magaret DuMont was the newest member of our group of wild girls. She had just moved here and was thrilled to have found a bunch of girls who had moved past sleepovers and story-telling into Malls and Boys and harassment.
So he must have been a little older than us. 15 maybe, though it was hard to judge his age since he was a dummy. None of us had ever heard of ‘special needs.’ The only special needs we knew of were the need to go to the Mall on Saturday nights and to be bought milkshakes by the old men who worked at the Diner on South st. We came across him in the woods one late Friday afternoon. We were smoking and laughing and had a pile of gossip magazines to read. We stopped dead when we saw him sitting on a rock in the middle of the woods. He wasn’t doing anything, just nodding his head. Like I said, he was slow.
It was Francia, of course, with her big boobs, who started the joke.
“Hey,” she drawled, staring with big, lush eyes at the boy. “Hey its Charlie Morgan, from down the street”
Charlie just looked at us with a kind of dim awe. He liked us. We knew that. We were cute and we knew that too.
“Charlie,” Francia said, drawing it out in a kind of wheedling, coy voice. “Mary here likes you.” I stifled a giggle. Yeah, I liked him. I had a thing for big dumb boys who couldn’t piss by themselves. “Shes just shy,” Francia continued, and then Connie took up the refrain.
“She wants you to kiss her, Charlie,” she grinned. “She thinks you’re the cutest boy on the block. She told me that, Charlie.” He was looking at us, from one to another, but he avoided my eyes. Looked down. I joined in.
“Its true, Charlie,” I said, straight-faced, pleading with him. “I think about you all the time. Will you kiss me? Will you give me my first kiss?” This, I thought, was a good touch. Kevin Boch had given me my first kiss, last summer. He was a football player, in highschool, and was terriffic looking and had a car. But Charlie might not want to do it if he knew that. It seemed so important, now, that he kiss me.
“Kiss her” taunted Connie.
“Kiss her” echoed Margaret.
“For fuck’s sake, Charlie, she’s waiting!” said Francia, with a wicked smile towards me. I puckered up my lips and fluttered my eyelashes.
Charlie slipped slowly off the rock where he was sitting and approached me. I smiled gently at him, and the other girls moved away, studiously not watching us. His lips were warm and wet against mine. He didn’t even put his tongue in, just pressed his slobbery mouth to mine. He reached up and touched my hair.
I pulled away. Francia ran forward, laughing. “You kissed her, Charlie! Do you know what that means?” Charlie shook his head, looking at the ground.
“It means you’re going steady now. You can never kiss another girl or else Mary will hate you and break up with you. Get it?”
Charlie nodded, and reached to take my hand in his. I pulled away and we all walked towards the lake, not looking back at him. Laughing. Smoking. Connie turned around halfway there and shouted “WE’D BETTER NOT CATCH YOU KISSING ANOTHER GIRL, CHARLIE” and we all broke up, laughing so hard that Francia said she peed a little in her shorts.

I think we chose Margaret to seduce Charlie because she was so sweet looking. She seemed to have no scruples, would do anything we asked her to. She had already “gone all the way” with a boy at summer camp, and wouldn’t mind touching this strange neighborhood boy’s willy. We wanted her to seduce him, so we could catch them. We thought this up with a strange sort of exstatic glee over milkshakes at the Rosebud Diner. Margaret was giggling. “I wonder if his dick is as dumb as the rest of him?” she asked.
Connie snorted ‘He can’t probably even get hard. I think you need brain cells for that.”
“Nah, dummy,” I said, “just blood cells. The blood all goes into the dick and makes it stick up.” I was one of the only girls who was actaully doing well in school. It was easy for me, and I secretly thought that sometimes my friends could be pretty dumb.
After milkshakes we each bough cans of whipped cream, and inhaled the gas from inside, savoring the quick rush, and throwing the cans past us into the woods, laughing madly and lying down by the leaves, the world spinning. Margaret would corner Charlie tomorrow, and we would be watching.

The next day was one of those steamy, rainy days that make you think of the rainforest even in the suburbs. Margaret’s damp hair curled wetly against her face, making her look like that perfume ad with the girl under the waterfall. With her flushed cheeks and blue eyes she looked high, beautiful, and dangerous. We were all a little in awe of her that day, walking along in a halter top and her short little shorts. My heart was beating just a little fast as I leaned over Connie’s shoulder, all of us hidden behind the long grass, just near the clearing that the neighborhood boy liked to sit in, to hide from his teasing peers. He was there that day, looking up into the rain. He didn’t even move his eyes when Margaret closed in on him. The rain made his face look shiny with tears but he wasn’t crying. Connie says retards like him don’t cry because they don’t have feelings like the rest of us. Connie touched his shoulder lightly, and he slowly moved his dark eyes slowly over her face, scanning her damp body slowly, without embarassment.
“Hey Charlie,” Margaret spoke loudly enough for us to hear, sounding unnatural in the quiet rustling of the woods. “What are you doing out here in the rain?”
Charlie made no response, he just looked at her hand, still resting on his shoulder.
“It’s raining, Charlie,” said Margaret again, “aren’t you cold?” It was nearly 80 degrees out, but Margaret was shivering elaborately, her shoulders shaking visibly even from 20 feet away. She slid her arm around his shoulders. He looked at her face, closer to his now. Kissing distance. “I’m cold, Charlie,” Margaret cooed, “will you put your arms around me?”
Charlie shook his head. Somewhere in my mind, I felt a little pang of something. Pride? Posessiveness? It didn’t matter. It passed quickly, because I was watching Margaret slide her hand down the front of Charlie’s pants. He pulled back a little, but not enough to remove himself from her touch.
“You know, I really like you, Charlie,” Margaret was massaging him, now, down there, with enviable ease. “Much more than Mary. Mary doesn’t really like you. She’s just teasing you. Don’t you see that?” Charlie shook his head again, but we could all see what was happening in his pants. He was loving it, the perv. Even if he pretended not to. He was cheating on me!
Margaret pressed her lips to his, and we could see a slight wince on her face as his wet lips sagged into hers. He sat passively as she kissed him, his arms resting limply by his sides. This was our cue. He was really doing it. He was kissing another girl, when we had told him. We had warned him. He was going to get it, for real.
I led the charge out of the grass. There was a knot in my throat, and I really felt betrayed, even though it was a set-up. There was a thrill of anger, I could taste it in the back of my throat, like blood. Francia was laughing beside me, pulling Connie by the hand.
“Charlie!” I shrieked, nearing them. He jumped, pushed Margaret away, and put his hands over the front of his pants, backing up, looking down at the ground. He didn’t look at us, even though we were surrounding him. Francia looked like a predatory cat, slim and feral, Margaret was almost doubled-over with laughter. “You kissed my friend, Charlie! You cheated on me! I told you! I told you I liked you! I let you kiss me!”
Charlie was still looking down at the ground. The sight of his hands covering his boner disgusted me. I spat on the ground in front of him. “I hate you,” I said, and Francia and Connie echoed me.
“We hate you, Charlie!” Margaret smiled “I still like you, Charlie,” she said sweetly, “but it wouldn’t work between us. See, I’m normal. I’m pretty. I can’t go out with someone like you.” Francia laughed, a piercing sound. We were all getting closer to Charlie, who was standing, unmoving, still staring downwards. I spat again. For some reason, I was close to tears. I wasn’t laughing, like my friends. I was feeling too much. “I hate you, I said into the silent woods, the rain on the trees, my beautiful, powerful friends, the neighborhood boy standing by silently.
Then I ran home. My friends called after me, but I was crying and I didn’t want them to see. I didn’t want them to call me a baby, or, worse, want to talk to me.

The neighborhood boy’s father came to see my parents on Monday of the next week. I was sitting, doing my homework at the kitchen table. I think I looked pretty good. My hair was straigtened, and Nick Morgan had asked me out that morning, after Chemistry. Francia was jealous, I could tell. I felt supernaturally good, until Charlie’s father showed up at our door, and I saw my mother usher him into the kitchen.
“She’s in here, Mr. Jorgenson,” my mother said, her hands clasped tightly in front of her lap. My mother was used to me being in trouble, by this point, but she didn’t really do anything about it. What could she do? I was smarter than her, and if she told my dad he would probably just hit me. Or her. So she was dissappointed in me, all of the time, but I usually don’t really pay much attention to her. She doesn’t do much, and she doesn’t interest me. She gives me money every month, and I think she probably drinks, or takes pills. Most mothers do, or so I’ve heard.
“So,” Mr. Jorgenson said.
I looked at him, my lips pressed tightly.
“I hear you and your little friends played quite the joke on my son last week,” he said, and I could tell he was angry. I’ve actually never seen an adult so angry, even when I was caught shoplifting mascara from the drugstore, or when my Dad caught me stealing some of his gin from the cabinet under the TV. He was shaking. It occurred to me that his son probably got teased all the time. So what was he so mad about? If he got this mad everytime his son was made fun of he’d hae a heart attack before he hit 50. I could see him just keeling over, his face red, his eyelids taut.
“I guess,” I said, “we were just playing. I kissed him. I thought it would give him a thrill.”
“A thrill,” said Mr. Jorgenson, his jaw moving. “A thrill to be kissed by such a pretty girl.” I sat still at that, What could I say. Sullen denials ran through my head. Smart-ass remarks came too quickly to my lips.
“Yeah. I mean, when the hell else is he going to get kissed,” I said, swinging one leg over my chair. “He’s a dummy. Who would love him?”
“I love him,” Mr. Jorgenson said. “I doubt anyone will ever love you.” He turned to my mother. “I feel sorry for you,” he said stiffly.
Then he left our house.

He was wrong. I found someone to love. I was married at age 26, to a young writer. We had a small, nice apartment and we smoked pot with our friends on Friday nights and on the weekends we would go for walks in the woods. Connie dropped out of highschool and went to work at her father’s hardware store. Margaret, who came from money, married into money, young. She has some kids. They live in the suburbs. Francia became a model. I see her in magazines, now, in perfume ads just like the one with the waterfall. I don’t know what happened to Charlie, that neighborhood boy. I wonder if he found someone to love him.

Since I just got my first story accepted at a magazine…

Posted in Uncategorized by MamaSass on May 1, 2008

(The NY Press, next issue, 8 million stories column, go pick it up) 
 

I thought I’d post another story here, since a link to this blog goes out with the story in the mag.So here goes. Karaoke. (unedited version)

 

Karaoke is, in my opinion, one of the most fraught activities a dirt-poor 20-something living in a big city will choose to do on a Saturday night. Believe me, any hipster with 20 bucks in her pocket who has knocked back a few gin and tonics at the dive bar around the corner will probably be sucked into karaoke at least 3 weekends out of any given month. Once the myriad pleasures of the photobooth in the dank corner of the bar have been exhausted, it is easy to be pulled in by the black-hole-suck siren call of a private room in a karaoke bar. This may have something to do with Belinda Carlisle. Let me explain.

I firmly believe that both Belinda and Pat Benetar have worked out some kind of clandestine, vaguely unclean deal with the underlords of the karaoke world. These underlords are some idiosyncratc combination of nasty Triad gang-members and moonstruck classic-rock fans, who operate ther massive Karaoke consortium above a dim-sum joint in Chinatown. They are sick with power, and control unimaginable jock-loads of cash. Pat and Belinda have obviously sold their souls to these mystery men, because for some reason, whenever anyone goes to sing karaoke, the first song their fingers unwillingly dial up is either “Heaven is a Place on Earth” or “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It’s unfailing, and deeply, deeply disturbing. Sometimes I try to interject a little Meatloaf (‘come on guys, Paradise by the Dashboard Light. I’ll even let you do the girl bits!’) or maybe some Journey (‘Steve Perry has the same vocal range as Pat Benetar! It’ll be awesome!) but no. Belinda first, or no Guns ‘N’ Roses for the rest of the night. I suppose it could be worse. It could be Stevie Nicks.

This is not the only reason karaoke is a risky business. For those of us who enjoy exclusively the private-room karaoke experience, there is that whole time warp phenomenon (and no, I’m not talking about the Rocky Horror song, but don’t even get me started.) In the novel ‘Bonfire of the Vanities,’ investment bankers make the claim of being “Masters of the Universe.” They’re wrong. Or, rather, Tom Wolfe was wrong. I-Banking, although lucrative, is only money power. Karaoke bar owners have more than that—namely, they have power over the laws of physics. When a group of semi-drunk brooklyn hipsters enters a karaoke bar at, say, 1:00AM, prepared to spend an hour and a half wailing away at Bohemian Rhapsody or Umbrella (the Rhianna song that most everybody denies passionately loving) they stagger our, an hour later, only to find that it is now 7:00 in the morning, wherupon they get stared at angrily by legitimate businesspeople on their way to work, and find out that they owe $340 dollars for occupying the room for 6 hours. What?

I’m not making this up. This happens. Ask anybody. You can find most of them in Park Slope, either bartending or being a “freelance graphic designer.”

Most of my friends are complete flakes. This is an established fact, and also the reason why my karaoke jaunts are largely unsucessful. One particular time, my second-best friend, who has been living in Japan for more than two years teaching english and having sex with Japanese band-members with pompadours, came to visit me and my friend Leila in New York. We had planned our karaoke mission for weeks before her visit, ignoring her complaints that in Japan karaoke is their national sport, and therefore she is tired of it and hates it a little, and would rather do basically anything else. Leila and I LOVE karaoke. We are obsessed with a little place called Sing-Sing (clever) in the Village, and if we didn’t get to go with her we would probably make her feel guilty for the rest of her life, even from half a world away (we are good at that.) So my friend Jackie, fresh from her three thousand hour flight from Japan, blearily agreed to go with us. She stopped off on the upper-east side, and we were coming from Park Slope (surprise). This is a rather long journey in both directions, and we arrived panting with excitement at the door to Sing Sing. Jackie met us a few minutes later, looking suicidal, but also quite nice in a little vintage dress and darling green pumps. With no purse.

“Where’s your purse, Jack?” Leila asked, in leiu of saying “OMG HI!!! I’VE MISSED YOU SO MUCH! WE HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN 2 YEARS!! TELL ME ABOUT ANY NEW EVENTS IN YOUR LIFE THAT WE HAVE MISSED BECAUSE YOU FOR SOME REASON LIVE IN FUCKING JAPAN!!!”

“Yeah, where’s your purse,” I echoed, my mood starting to sink. Jackie is a flake. Most of my friends are.

“Hey guys,” Jackie said, sounding jet-lagged and surly. “I’ve got all my stuff in my pocket. My money and stuff.”

Let me mention now that we were all around 23 at this point. This fact will become relevant in a few seconds. I look like I’m 16, and still get carded for cigarettes, and Leila and Jackie don’t look much older, though neither of them smoke. We all drink, though. In bars. Where they are legally obligated to ask for your id, to make sure you aren’t trying to sneak by them at age 20. Or 16. Sing-Sing is a bar, as well as a place of karaoke magic.

I think you know where this is headed. The minute the bouncer asked Jackie for her ID, she began to look at first, puzzled, then apologetic, and then, seeing the looks on Leila’s and my faces, a little frightened for her life.

“I…” she began, digging in the pockets of her cute little dress, “I’m 23. Here’s my health insurance card! See! That’s me! That’s my name and date of birth!”

The bouncer just looked at her. “I forgot my ID,” she explained to him, edging away from us. “I’ve been living in Japan, and they don’t really….they don’t really card there?” She sounded unconvincing, to put it mildly.

Leila stepped forward and confidently flashed her ID. “See?” she asked belligerently, “I’M 23.” So is SHE, she said, indicating me. I scrabbled for my ID as well and produced it.

“We’re all 23,” I said, sounding pathetic even to myself. As if two 23 year olds wouldn’t be caught DEAD hanging out with someone who wasn’t herself 23. Everyone knows all 23 year olds hang out exclusively together. The bouncer shook his head.

“Sorry kids,” he said, “I gotta see a photo ID from ALL of you.”

Then he shut the door in our faces.

Emily looked at us desperately. Leila looked ready to kill, and I was tearing up (I’m like that.)

“I’m so sorry—“ she began.

“Forget it,” I said, trying hard not to cry because how much of a loser would that make me seem?

“Yeah..” said Leila, kicking a pebble. “Uh, lets just get a milkshake.”

That’s what we did. Its sort of a lame ending to the story, but again, most of my karaoke attempts are lke that.

They mostly end with milkshakes or tears.

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