One festival night after his set Dylan was immediately surrounded by fans. He accepted compliments, told jokes, took photos, hobnobbed, hi fived, smiled big and grinned. Then one young fan apologetically suddenly said, “Sorry man, I just came up with a new nickname for you, but I’m not sure I should say it.” “Well now you gotta,” said Dylan gamely. “It takes a lot to offend me, so go ahead.” The fan sighed self-consciously and stalled for time. Then he said, “Over-the-hill Gates” in such a muttering tone as to be almost inaudible. Nonetheless what the young fan said still managed to be heard loud and clear by everyone near. I stifled a laugh and turned my head slightly away. Dylan’s face darkened as he scowled. This is a sight to see since Dylan’s default facial expression is happy-go-lucky if not outright zany. Dylan was annoyed. “Sorry dude,” said the young fan, and he did look sorry, even though all of us were trying hard pretending to not be laughing. Later we told Bil Bless what happened and he also got a good laugh in. Nice to see Bil Bless laugh as he usually seems depressed. Months later at another festival, Dylan was smiling grand and effusive hanging out after his set feeling fresh. He chatted contentedly with friends. Out of the blue a guy came streaking by, leaned into Dylan and hectically said, “Over-the-hill Gates” and with a worried face he scurried away. Dylan’s face darkened as he frowned, he looked quickly left and right, but it all happened too suddenly and the culprit fast disappeared. Then Dylan spied Bil Bless nearby in the shadows chuckling. You could tell he put the kid up to it. “Wiseguy,” said Dylan with eyes like slits, and he shook his fist at all of it.
In Bangkok we went to get a couples massage and had trouble finding a place that was legitimately for straight up massage and not for anything else. A few places we passed seemed immediately seedy or suspect. One place had the girls dressed beautifully in matching blood red Asian silk robes, they stood huddled close and frozen like a careful still life in front of the shop in the darkening night. The girls were exquisitely arranged close together group gazing straight ahead as though they were posing for an eternal picture that was always just about to be taken.
The women at these places called demurely out to prospective clients but when we approached they fell silent. I took this to mean these establishments were not meant for us. The girls at all the parlours looked beautiful, sweet and vague, some of them looked painfully young. I tried my best not to overthink the moment, not to gaze too intently or to judge. I of course still did all of those things.
We eventually finally found a place that seemed like it might be legit. The women there treated us with courteous welcome but with some reservation. Maybe this was because Dylan and I were foreigners, we looked and seemed strange, maybe it was because the place was actually for sex not massage but the workers were humouring us, naive innocent unversed obvious tourists that we were.
The place itself was pretty, clean, calm and nice. The atmosphere was soothing, dimly lit, and hushed, with small sparsely interiored bamboo chambers containing long thin floor cushions laterally arranged. Each space was divided from the next by simple thin curtains that could be silently moved aside. We were led into a chamber by two girls who looked sixteen. We were motioned to lay down next to each other, we smiled and held hands while the girls set about their tasks with a degree of professionalism and poise that was remarkable considering how young they seemed.
The girls conversed freely in soft tones while they worked. Dylan’s girl slowed a bit as she felt and considered his skin. When she got to his forearms and his hands, her amazement and wonder apparently became uncontainable. She made loud exclamations in excited rapid fire Thai. My girl weightlessly hurdled over my prone form and rushed to see. Massage girls from all the neighbouring chambers came crowding around. All the young women started gingerly touching Dylan’s skin. They caressed it reverently and made low murmuring sounds of appreciation and surprise as they marveled. They looked at each other in wonder as they petted and stroked. They made “Oooooooooooooooh” sounds. The girls couldn’t believe Dylan’s skin could be male and real. Such softness and whiteness on a man was beyond them. The girls stroked and conjectured and made “Oooooooooooooooh” sounds. Finally I cut in. I snapped my fingers and said brusquely, “Ladies. Please. My massage.” The chastened girls flew back to their posts at once, sheepish and still murmuring. Christ. What’s a woman gotta do to get a decent massage. Jeez.
And so the massage girls went back to their workaday lives. Collectively they recalled the dreamlike softness of the pale male foreigner’s delicate silken skin already like it was a distant and beautiful memory, a story to tell their grandchildren, even though Dylan was still right there. His massage girl set about to concluding Dylan’s massage with the greatest reverence. There was to her every motion immeasurable focus and exquisite care. My girl was okay but much more perfunctory. Also, as she was so young and tiny, I felt her maneuvers were a bit too jabby and poking. I suppressed comment and tried to relax. My face at times did the not comfortable brows furrowed thing. Dylan meanwhile laid all loungingly out at an apparent height of repose. There was a totality of effortlessness to his contentment. I scowled. He grinned.
I was basically relieved when my massage was over. Dylan claimed his was the best massage he ever got in his life. He surely was overstating the case. Mostly he was probably just proud and stoked to have his preternaturally soft womanish skin be so loudly exclaimed upon en masse in a Thai massage girl frenzy of elaborate appreciation and ecstatic notice. I told the whole story months later to Matty when he visited. Matty listened calmly with his habitual attentiveness and laidback ease. When I finished, Matty mused a single beat extra, stroked his chin slowly once, gazed into the infinite future and declared, “ill.GATES: Softer Than a Woman.” His was the voice of finality and conviction while I rolled my eyes into the limitless horizon of Dylan’s smile.
Dylan and I don’t ever really publicly display our affection so sometimes people don’t even know that we are together. Out at clubs, Dylan spends much of his time socializing, mingling, schmoozing, and chatting to fans, often he leaves me to my own devices. He knows that I can take care of myself and handle business, so he’s not exactly spending all of his time keeping an eagle’s eye guarding and protecting me. Usually shit runs fine but every once in a while I get bothered or harassed by any number of boring clueless desperate annoying persistent aggressive guys.
One time, me and my girls were all dancing and having fun. Suddenly some dude barges into our dance circle and starts drastically imposing himself. Some guys seem to think that if a girl isn’t handcuffed and chained to a man, she isn’t spoken for, and is thus fair game. These guys never seem to consider that the girl in question might not at all be stoked or interested, regardless of her current relationship status.
Anyway so this guy drunkenly and aggressively dances into each of us girls. He dances at each of us in turn, lewdly, suggestively, and unpleasantly. My girlfriends moved quickly from casual amusement to being distressed and upset. We gave each other disrupted and annoyed looks and glared at the guy. The guy kept thrusting into each of us under the apparent assumption that we couldn’t get enough. My girls and I were displeased. Dylan meanwhile was chewing his face off high on ecstasy and dancing like no man alive could be happier or more carefree. “Dylan,” I said to him in an undertone, “That guy is bothering us. Do something.”
It took me ages to get through to Dylan, so complete was his joie de vivre. Finally, I used my foot is being put down now voice, and Dylan snapped to. I explained the situation all over again in the gravest tones. Processing badness and untoward behaviour is hard to do when you’re Dylan, especially when you’re Dylan and you’re high on E.
Finally the husband understood. He puffed up his chest, widened his eyes, and smartly tapped the shoulder of some guy that had nothing at all to do with anything. Shoulder tapped random guy turned toward Dylan. All of us girls stood in a semi-circle watching. Dylan slow motion pointed at each of our vaginas with exaggerated emphasis. After each vagina had been accounted for, Dylan made a flourishing “NO” symbol by balling his hands into fists and crossing his forearms firmly forming a giant X. He accompanied this strong “NO” gesture with a slow single head shake that covered a wide distance from left to right and left again. Innocent random guy gazed at Dylan. His dude what the fuck face was truly great. Then wrongly accused innocent guy walked away.
“Fucking Jesus Christ, Dylan. WRONG GUY,” was what my facial expression tried to say. Dylan meanwhile reentered at once into his state of ecstatic joie de vivre, and returned to dancing, confident in a job well done, like no man living had ever done a job better, and like all life and he himself could hardly be more charming, perfect, pleasing and fun. The confidence of a happy husband. Fuck.
We spent an afternoon in Paris, it was Dylan’s first time there. We had our phones off to avoid roaming charges, we didn’t have anyone local to help us with anything, and we hadn’t yet changed our money. The day was insufferably hot, there were thousands of tourists trudging everywhere, you couldn’t get away from them, or the heat. Dylan got all pissy and loudly complained about the tourists, the weather, everything. He ignored the fact that we were tourists too, and that the intense heat could technically be blamed on nobody. Hours later of trudging under the relentless sun and a lot of total misery, we boarded a train and I by that point resolutely stopped talking. We rode that train in an obstinacy of silence heading south of Paris, eventually lost consciousness, and fell deeply asleep. A railway worker woke us at the end of the line, we had entirely overshot our destination, we were the absolute last two left on the train. The railway worker walked us long and down along the tracks away from the last station back to the world without saying a word. He spoke French, we spoke English, our interaction was for the most part simple hand gestures and silence. I was still annoyed with Dylan for having been such previously ill-tempered and unpleasant company, Dylan for his part held himself stubborn and aloof. As the railway worker lead us quietly away, Dylan stopped in his tracks and in a shocked and shuddering voice he said, “I can’t believe she left us!” “Who?” I said. “Nunich!” said Dylan. I looked long and hard and deeply at Dylan. “I’m Nunich!” I said. Motherfucker’s lost his mind, I thought. I gazed at Dylan with more dismay than has probably ever shown on my face. Dylan’s face expressed an equal consternation. His eyes were blank and wild. I pretty much had to slap the guy several times to bring him the fuck back. Dylan challenges the accuracy of this account, who fucking knows what he thinks went down. All I know is it’s crazy when the person you’ve loved for years suddenly looks at you and passionately honestly doesn’t know who the fuck you are. Love. Sometimes it blindsides you by being holy shit strangely seriously unsettlingly surreal and fucked up.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Actually it wasn’t dark or stormy at all, it wasn’t even night. It was a beautiful summer afternoon bright with sunlight. I was at the dungeon provocatively attired and dominating the shit out of one of my slaves with my signature negligent attitude of abstraction and detachment. I was equal parts bored and enjoying myself and everything was humming along fine. Suddenly the doorbell rang which greatly startled both myself and the slave.
“What the—” I said.
The dungeon was an elaborately renovated beautiful old Victorian home clear on the other side of town. Externally, the place had a look of stately grandeur typical of the houses in the neighbourhood. No one would ever know that this house contained many uniquely converted chambers gorgeously interiored to completely accommodate all manner of BDSM sessions and scenes. Mistresses booked meetings at the house in advance so there would never be a conflict of timing or use. The privacy of the clients was paramount so discretion in all details was strictly maintained. A sudden doorbell ring in the middle of a session therefore was highly unusual and extremely unexpected.
The doorbell rang again. The situation felt ominous. I was concerned and briefly worried it was some crazy convoluted scenario perhaps involving firemen, paramedics or the police.
The slave jumped up naked and terrified and ran maniacally about the space. He was doing the my kingdom for a place to hide thing. No doubt he also worried about the police or maybe an enraged boyfriend or husband come to hurt and kill him. Who knows what in a situation like this runs through the mind of a slave. At any rate, I was confused and concerned while the slave was scared shitless.
I exited the central dungeon room and approached the main entrance door teetering a bit on my 6″ black spiky shiny ultra death heels. It was difficult both to move and breathe clad as I was in such skyscraper challenges and a black corsetted waist cinched demurely down to a perverse 22 inches.
Cautiously I put my eye to the peephole. There was Dylan warped comically by the peephole glass but with a grim look of ruthless business upon the face. I’d never seen that expression before on Dylan, I wondered what in the hell he was doing there, plus I didn’t know he even knew the address of the dungeon in the first place.
I opened the door a crack.
“Darling, what the fuck are you doing here?” I asked, keeping my voice low. “You didn’t come home so I thought you were in trouble,” said Dylan.
We gazed at each other. Behind Dylan I could see his little red BMX bike had been humourlessly flung into some bushes nearby. Then I noticed Dylan was carrying a big sawed off metal bar on a thick string. He was in a state of evident readiness to brain somebody.
“I thought you were in trouble,” Dylan said again.
He tried to peep behind me over my shoulders into the darkness of the entrance and house, I hadn’t invited him in. In a flash I realized I forgot to inform Dylan that the day’s session was a long one. Most sessions were for only an hour so since several hours had passed and I hadn’t returned home to gaily share with him all the entertaining details of the day’s affairs, Dylan thought some terrible shit might’ve happened. He then apparently with purposeful quickness grabbed a suitable weapon from off our bedroom weapons wall, hopped onto his red BMX and biked across town to kick some serious slave ass and save me. I was surprised, amused and confused.
The thought of Dylan bashing somebody with that big metal thing for my sake was touching and disturbing. The slave back in the depths of the dungeon meanwhile was trying in vain to disappear by pressing up hard against some wall and hiding pretty much in plain sight. The subsequent thought of this shivering idiot being at all capable of harming me or ever even wanting to was highly entertaining.
“It’s a long session,” I said to Dylan in a ventriloquial whisper. “I’ll be home later. Everything’s fine.” I accompanied my half-smile with a reassuring facial squint as I with firm gentleness prodded Dylan to leave. Dylan looked at me levelly to assess for himself sufficient levels of certainty. He tried again to peer into the dungeon behind me. “Go darling,” I said, “I love you and I’m fine.”
Poor sweetheart. Imagine.
I grinned to myself and returned to the business of dominating the shit out of the slave. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I asked in a loud rhetorical voice and added with punishment in my tone, “Get back into position, you knave.” One of the perks of the job is getting to use words like “knave” seriously in spoken conversation. The slave cowered happily and hung his stupid head. I gagged him to stop whatever excuses he might stutter to offer and also just to cut out all chances for him to bore me with his bullshit. While I punished and abused that useless man, I thought about Dylan and smiled to myself again.
Marriage. For it to work, you gotta keep things fun. And fun might mean biking clear across town to potentially brain somebody with a sawed-off metal weapon in an ill-advised and superfluous effort to heroically protect your woman. Jeez. True love right. You gotta keep that shit tight.
Seated on a stage edge at festivals late at night outdoors in extremely cold conditions, I often shove my freezing hands with heedless familiarity deep into and between Dylan’s thighs in order to steal there what warmth from him I can. This action usually works and casually comforts and soothes. I performed this maneuver automatically one consumingly cold late hours festival evening. As I sat there huddled gazing obscurely about and listening to the sounds of the music and the night, it occurred to me in a way that was both gradual and sudden that something was different and strange, not normal, and not right. Absently I moved my hands between the warm thighs searchingly upward in propulsions that changed from casual interest to confused concern to outright panic. I felt deeply around the V-shaped recess with a wondering insistency as my trepidation grew. No balls. No balls. I looked up and aghast at the owner of the borrowed thighs and it wasn’t Dylan. It wasn’t Dylan at all! It was some tiny stranger festival female that was fully not my husband. She gaped at me thunderstruck as my offending hands below froze in their previously blind and utterly urgent balls-seeking endeavours. In that suspended moment, I don’t really know whose face registered more speechless horror, hers or mine. Once I could wrench myself out from the paralyzing spell of the shared shock and our mutual stare, I flingingly withdrew my provocative hands and fled. Life. Christ. Who knew marriage would be such a minefield of molestation and mayhem.
During the conversation, I mentioned that even after 11 years, people often aren’t aware that Dylan and I are together. We’re not at all into torrid displays of public affection, and there’s also the fact that I called Dylan my roommate for years. Sometimes I still call him my roommate. Initially I wouldn’t even let Dylan tell his mother that we were any kind of anything, so the first time I met Dylan’s family, his mom set me all up in the guest room separated from everybody. Upon retiring, I paid the price for my primness, and I was lonely. Dylan had to sneak over to my room after dark and later he said, “Can I at least tell my mom?” “I guess,” I said. When Dylan dropped the news, “That’s nice dear,” was what his mother said. Scarlett made a huffy sound. “That’s what you do, Nathan,” Scarlett said, “You hide your wife.” “No I don’t,” Nathan said. “Yes, you do,” Scarlett insisted. “When you’re on the road, you don’t let people know you’re married. You don’t think of me. You put your music first.” Nathan narrowed his eyes and puffed his cheeks a bit. He sat there stiffly deep in thought. “Yes,” he suddenly said, “That’s right. Music first!” “You asshole! You’re not supposed to say that!” Scarlett exploded, adding, “There goes your blowjob for tonight.” A fleeting agitation flashed across Nathan’s face, but he kept his gaze level and straight. He was defeated but defiant. “He’s just talking about what he most likes to beat,” Dylan said. Nathan’s a drummer so Dylan was angling rather lamely for wit. “Well he can have fun beating his dick,” Scarlett said. I covered my mouth to hide a desire to laugh and cleared my throat instead. Dylan and I glanced at each other. I winked and he grinned.
Shortly after we moved to San Francisco, Dylan gave several solemn lectures warning me about earthquakes and how I must act whenever they might happen. He went out of his way to be melodramatic in his speech in order to underscore the urgency. The first time a little tremor occurred, I heard a whole bunch of rapidfire scuffling and struggling, which was more dramatic than the actual earthquake. Then Dylan streaked past shouting, “Run, Nunich, Run!” I didn’t run and instead gazed with vague fascination at all the trinkets and things lightly quivering for some seconds on the room’s walls and shelves. Then I went to the door and saw Dylan standing in the middle of the yard in his underwear. He was clutching a pile of hard drives and a modular synth. I shook my head at him and covered my mouth to cut short a laugh. Dude sure can hustle, no matter how simple or serious the seeming situation, and judging by those hard drives and the modular synth, we get of his priorities quite a good inside glimpse.
Dylan emerged from his tent one fine festival morning feeling plucky and fearless. “YOU,” shouted Ariel from across the way. Dylan gazed clear of eyes and light of spirit boldly in Ariel’s direction. “You don’t even remember, do you,” said Ariel. “You don’t remember a goddamn thing.” Dylan blinked with some confusion. He waited handsome in demeanour and elegant in carriage for an elaboration. Ariel’s outburst was so passionate, even bellicose, that Dylan felt slightly concerned. Ariel, jabbing her pointer finger vehemently, fast approached. “You don’t remember a thing,” she said again. “Hm,” said Dylan.
Then came the story.
Apparently the evening previous, Stella was arranging a party platter chock full of Molly and K. Just as she was about to distribute the goods, somebody launched pretty much a full open bottle of Tequila all over the tray. “Fuck,” said Stella, “there goes that.” And there was much grimacing.
“Any takers?” asked Stella. “SURE,” said Dylan.
And that was his last clear memory.
What happened from that point forth was told to Dylan in ghoulish detail, as though he were little more than a passive bystander, which, in a way, he was, although he did not simply stand by. When all was “said and done” post soppy goo Molly K Tequila plate, Dylan felt his night was complete. He sauntered homeward, spooned the Mrs. in his matrimonial bed and went splendidly to sleep. But what Dylan actually did was head off to Ariel’s trailer and missed wide his own tent and bed entirely.
Ariel is a longstanding friend, so there was no problem with suddenly showing up at her place. Except that she was naked in bed sharing carnal knowledge with some young man. Then Dylan out of nowhere appeared, crawled into Ariel’s bed and spooned her comfily while she was naked and in the middle of having sex. “What the fuck are you doing?” asked Ariel. Dylan mumbled, “It’s good, it’s good,” adding, “It’s fine, it’s okay, it’s good” a couple times. “Whatever, dude,” said Ariel finally through the layers of tumult and befuddling. Ariel eventually accurately surmised the influence of K onto all matters. The guy she was fucking though didn’t know what in the Sam hell was happening. In his mind, Dylan was Ariel’s boyfriend come home, so he was the odd man out, the poor dude apparently spent the next 45 minutes attempting to unobtrusively extricate himself and quietly escape the scene.
Dylan from his end started snoring pretty much immediately while poor Ariel lay there naked, interrupted, spooned and confused. Eventually Ariel roused Dylan and set about to lugging the idiot off to his actual tent and bed. Dylan the whole while was none the wiser, until next day when Ariel told him all the lurid details, jabbing her pointer finger vehemently. You might think this all is some kind of cautionary tale about the dangers of doing K, when actually I just think this story’s really fucking funny.
Micah told me a hilarious story during our excellent recent visit. He was walking home one day and a man in a pickup truck passed by, slowed down, pulled over and offered him a ride. Micah didn’t need the ride but accepted the offer. The two men made small talk during the drive, and everything was normal, laidback and relaxed. Once they reached Micah’s address, Micah thanked the man for the lift. “No problem,” the man said goodnaturedly. As Micah got out of the truck and was closing the door, the man said, “I’d do the same for any white guy.” Then the man flashed a smile, and even gave a friendly couple honks of the horn as he drove off. A friendly ride, a friendly drive, a friendly couple horn honks between two Aryan guys. Micah grimaced. There was nothing to indicate throughout the trip that Micah was being driven home by a raging racist. This whole “By the way, I’m a white supremacist” situation didn’t sit well with him. Once I heard the story through, I threw my head back and giggled. Just imagining the situation was achingly amusing, especially as it happened to Micah, who is probably the quietest kindest most soft-spoken and open-hearted white man living. “Hysterical,” I said, once my laughter died sufficiently down, and the story still now makes me chuckle. I’ve been saying, “I’d do the same for any white guy,” randomly, willy-nilly, to whomever’s around to hear, so when I say it, of course it makes almost no sense, but there I go amusing only mostly myself again. “I’d do the same for any white guy,” I say, leaving behind a trail of race-based confusion and nonplussery, and I know nonplussery isn’t a word, but fuck what you heard.
I am the most lazy and careless person ever, with my wigs and shoes and especially with my eyelashes. You don’t know how many goddamned pairs of beautiful lashes I’ve lost, wrecked, misplaced, or ruined. I am the worst.
I have this mountain now of useless right lashes because often late at night, I retire too exhausted and wasted for whatever scarcely sufficient reasons, and so just sumptuously collapse into bed without flossing or brushing my teeth, washing my face, sometimes I don’t even take off my shoes or remove my wig. Dylan, for his part, alternates between energetic speechmaking, passionate instruction, and periodic vehement attempts to heroically perform my nighttime tasks for me; his is a continuity of acceptance, resignation and fondness, with flashes of annoyance, exasperation, failure, and despair.
I wake up mornings with a perfect right eye still flawlessly lashed and made up, and a completely naked left eye, because apparently, I sleep with my face violently smooshed against the pillow hard upon my crushed and smothered left eye, so the make up there, and all my left lashes disappear. Sometimes the left lashes are stuck poetically to my forehead, or are lost deep in the folds of my undergarments and hair.
I often then find myself wandering around in supermarkets without still yet washing my face or showering, looking lackadaisically like a zombie slow motion feral woman, haphazardly dressed, and ambiguously sane. Passersby and strangers stare in stupefied horror, and children run away shuddering with tear-stained faces, while Dylan with skillful effortlessness plucks all manner of random left lashes from wherever they might manifest upon my person. It’s a boisterous and chilling scene.
Now too I still have that mountain of useless right lashes. What’s to be done with all those. Dylan suggested when I’m a famous author sitting behind a pile of books at a book signing, instead of signatures, I should with great solemnity paste into each book’s momentous first blank page a single right lash. Those in the know will know, and cherish.
I tell Dylan if I ever disappear suddenly or in any way go missing, all he has to do is follow an exalted and extended trail of left eyelashes. At trail’s end, there he will find me, fully lashed, smiling like the Mona Lisa, and ready for the great embrace.
Most people really don’t like getting spammed by massive group promotional emails, so a while ago, Dylan implemented some cool new software that individually messaged everyone with “Hello” followed by each person’s first name, but the software fucked up hard. Instead of a private personal message with everyone’s first name written after “Hello,” each message began with the words, “Hello, First Name.” “That’s hilarious,” I said. “Yeah it’s funny,” said Dylan, “and actually it’s not.” His expression was annoyed and pained. “Haha,” I said. And then I called Dylan “First Name” all day long and mimed telephoning him to exuberantly exclaim, “Suh dude. It’s your best friend First Name,” and “Hi First Name? It’s First Name. Such a pleasure to be on a first name basis.” Dylan treated me to much scowls and grimacing while I gaily made kissy faces at him. Fast forward to who’s laughing now. Every time Dyan drops a track or finishes an album, I’m the one stuck promoting it by emailing over a thousand blogs and djs by hand individually. This most recent batch of emails I’ve been slaving through and sending out since last Friday. It’s been over a week and I’m barely halfway. All these press releases, personalized messages and million hours of work are literally a pain in my poor sore beautiful ass. Dyan doesn’t know how good he’s got it. Despite the endlessness and the agony though, it might be me who’s fortunate, or maybe since we found each other and after so many years we still haven’t killed each other, we’re both lucky.
I read in some article that for maximum health you should hug and be hugged 14 times a day by someone you love. “Fourteen!” said Dylan, “That’s a lot of hugs.” Some days I am militant about the number. I’ll appear before Dylan in staunch position and block his passageway. “Fourteen,” I remind him. “Today we’ve not yet even had one! I am ready to receive my hug.” Dylan will concede but sometimes negligently. He’ll with open secrecy text behind my back and use the free hand to pat me in a distracted and casual attempt to reassure me that all is on track. I let the distraction hugs mostly slide and only once in a while critique the poorness of the show. When I am too soft on hug crime, Dylan will make moves prematurely to leave. I then stiffen my body up, set my face to a bold expression of maximum angst and declare, “THE HUG ISN’T OVER YET.” The door slam record scratch drama of my loud announcement snaps Dylan back into the solemnity of the moment. “Jesus,” he says, “You are a Hug Nazi.” “13 MORE TO GO,” I say in a voice like I always totally know the number without explicit counting. And so we hug. We never actually make it daily to 14 but we get some good ones in there. It’s a very nice time. Hugs. They matter.
Walking through artist VIP we ran into Adam who said, “Here, take this. It’s all the rage in South America. It’ll really fuck you up.” Then he placed something small and light into the palm of Dylan’s hand. “What do I do,” Dylan asked and Adam said, “Just suck on it, or chew it a little.” Dylan popped the thing into his mouth and gamely began to suck and chew. Dylan is always down for just such new experiences and I watched him keenly, privately I was disappointed there hadn’t been something for me. “Feel anything?” I asked. “Oh yeah,” said Dylan. His expression was eager and his eyes were bright. “I can feel it in my blood, it’s like my whole body’s racing.” I looked at Dylan closely. Dylan gazed left and right wide-eyed and delighted. Maybe he was already hallucinating, on deck to run around naked and tear the place apart. Adam chuckled. “What is this stuff?” Dylan asked. “A twig,” said Adam, “it’s actually just a twig.” “Haha,” I said. Dylan ignored us and held on an extra beat longer to the earlier better fun of being fucked up on some brilliant new South American drug. One of the many reasons Dylan is lovable is that he is so suggestible. He’s probably the most suggestible person on Earth. If Dylan thought he had just been dosed with many hits of the world’s most wonderful acid, he would act accordingly. It wouldn’t even matter if the acid hadn’t actually happened. Adam grinned. “Haha,” I said again. To this day Dylan insists that that’s not how it all went down. Adam and I don’t argue the point because we know we’re right. We were there. Anyway Dylan was too fucked up on twigs so he can’t say shit.
Once I went to a guy’s house and it was so unkempt and slovenly I was rendered terrorized, disbelieving and confused. I read somewhere that the average single American male changes his bed sheets like 3 times a year, I don’t think this guy had ever done even that. His dish towels and wash cloths also had never graced the inside of a washing machine, not his bath towels either, in the bathroom, I gazed in quiet horror at them, groped them vaguely with hypnotized fingers, and then actually leaned in masochistically for a sniff. I felt an immediacy of deep regret post sniff. It was all I could do not to scream 911 and run, punching through the window glass with my bare fists. I told the story in lavish tormented detail to another friend and when I visited him at his place, he stood proud hands clasped beaming before me and said, “I spent the whole day cleaning, and I washed the towels! Feel free to sniff.” Sweet boy thought my story was a hint and a warning expressly for him. Anyway sniffable towels are obviously preferable to patently unsniffable ones, so the end managed to justify the means. Another time, I broke off with another guy because I didn’t like the shape of his calves. The calves thing I know is pretty brutal, because it’s not like the poor guy could help it. Good thing I find Dylan’s calves terrific.
Most Airbnb places are prettily arranged and carefully maintained, the look and feel falls anywhere between an absent family’s tidy apartment, a boutique hotel, and a bed and breakfast. Usually the host has left little bars of soap and big fresh towels upon the foot of an immaculately made bed, the towels are rolled up into logs, artistically bowed or fanned, or fashioned into the shape of a swan. Dylan rarely notices details like this fancy toweling feature. After his shower taken in our latest place, Dylan used a miniature ornamental hand towel to dry off, it was the only thing evident and present. Dylan then burst with naked wildness from the bathroom and exclaimed, “Man, they sure make towels small in Cuba!”
My friend Sofia after years of marriage recently got divorced and immediately started dating a succession of huge muscular handsome black men. Her ex-husband Thomas however still behaved familiarly with her and would for example waltz into the house where they both used to live arriving often with no warning.
I made a visit to Sofia so that I could meet her latest huge muscular handsome black man. His name was Darnell and he was indeed huge, muscular, handsome, and black. Suddenly at the other end of the house, we heard the front door open and Thomas came ambling in. He was whistling to himself and acting like he still owned everything.
Sofia and I froze. Sofia gazed crazily at Darnell.
Even though Sofia and Thomas had broken up, Sofia for some reason still felt obliged to him, and she clearly wasn’t comfortable having Thomas suddenly reappear with Darnell there. Darnell meanwhile tried to be discreet, as far as a huge muscular handsome black man can achieve such a feat.
“We have to hide him!” Sofia hissed.
“What?” I softly shouted.
Instead of answering, Sofia flailed left and right and aimlessly maneuvered Darnell with great uselessness hither and dither. Thomas meanwhile was fast approaching.
“The wardrobe!” Sofia said. She started shoveling Darnell in that direction. The wardrobe was big but Darnell was bigger. “Are we really trying to hide a huge muscular handsome black man in the closet right now?” I wondered. The situation was too grotesque to be real. I had no further time however to consider the many sociological and racial ramifications of the moment.
Sofia gave a final shove to the closet doors once she had Darnell in place, but the doors could not completely close, given Darnell’s immense measurements. We could hear Darnell’s muffled discomfort and grunts of protest.
“HI!” Sofia and I hollered as Thomas appeared. Thomas stopped whistling and gazed at us. “And just what the fuck are you two bitches up to,” was what his silence said.
Sofia and I both were hectic and flushed. Thomas said nothing. He gazed at the two of us and then he gazed at the wardrobe. Apparently men can have a sixth sense too, I noted to myself, impressed. Sofia and I both attempted postures of relaxation and ease. Our smiles were forced and wide. Thomas did not smile back. Then he sauntered toward the wardrobe and flung the doors asunder. Sofia and I stifled a gasp. Darnell, his massive frame poorly obscured by coats and closet items, gazed coolly at Thomas. Thomas was too dumbstruck to do a thing.
A heavy silence descended.
“Y’all gotta get yourselves a bigger wardrobe,” Darnell said.
“It’s true, they should,” I thought, and silently aligned myself with Darnell.
Darnell despite his hugeness removed himself from the closet with surprising grace. He nodded slightly and left. “Call me,” Darnell said without turning around. Sofia stood statuesque, her wide smile frozen across time. I mumbled some words and made myself scarce. I left Thomas and Sofia to handle their shit.
Dylan came over to my room and plopped himself on the bed where I was working on a dj set. I was lying on my stomach stretched straight out so Dylan laid his legs out long across the back of my thighs and got comfortable.
In the lulls between edited sound clips and selected tracks, I could hear the distant dings and things of Dylan playing his silly Fallout Shelter iPhone game. I swiped aside a headphone, looked at him askance and said, “Why the long face.” “Man,” Dylan sighed, “Poor Knob Gobbler died.” “Oh, one of your guys,” I said, not super closely listening. “No,” Dylan said, “Knob Gobbler’s a girl.” “Knob Gobbler!” I repeated, and gave the conversation more attention. “No wonder the damned girl died,” I said, “She hated her life.” I was offended for Knob Gobbler’s sake at the way she had been named. “No,” Dylan explained, “Knob Gobbler’s a good character. Very valiant. She fought really hard against the Mole Rats.” Rather than fish for the explanation as to what a fucking Mole Rat was, I slipped my headphones back on and returned to the music.
Later I went out and brought back some coconut milk ice cream and a fresh plump and delicious tasty vegan pumpkin pie. Dylan’s eyes turned to saucers for excitement. He emitted a jacked up keening sound, clapped his hands, and hopped up and down twice. If a whole head and entire face and body could water with anticipation, his did. “I’m leaving for work soon,” I said, “Don’t eat all the pie.” “I won’t!” said Dylan.
While I was working, Dylan tended to his Fallout Shelter with great and renewed concern. He didn’t know that the characters languished, suffered, and died whenever he stopped playing, apparently the game continued on in the background, Dylan only lately learned that his tiny digital fallout world does not pause, whether or not he is actively playing the game.
Dylan paid some money in the form of resources and brought Knob Gobbler back. He also dove with unheeding heartiness into the ice cream and the pie. Finally there remained just a single slice. As Dylan played his silly shelter game, he kept shaving knife slim slivers along one edge of the remaining piece of pie and abstractedly enjoyed these final thin illicit cuttings. The deliciousness of the pie and the intensity of the shelter game made it hard for him to stop. The triangle shape of the remaining slice was all the while reassuringly and pleasingly preserved, but the actual overall size of the final pie piece grew progressively smaller to an extreme. Finally, what remained was the tiniest bit of pie about half the size of an infant’s fist. A magnifying glass was all but required to still spot a triangular shape. At this point, Dylan stopped. There was no going either forward or back.
When I later came clamouring home from work, Dylan greeted me at the door with much fanfare. He was all loud embraces and a drama of attempted kissing. “Well, shit,” I said suspiciously, waving his ardour aside. “Did you save me a piece of pie?” Dylan gazed at me for about ten too many extra beats. “Did you save me a piece of pie?” I asked again, as I tossed off my handbag and outdoor accoutrements. Dylan spent some energy contorting his face to his own approximation of chart-toppingly cute and maximum fun. “It’s—pie-shaped,” Dylan said. He was at his most magnanimous. Dylan pressed his four front fingers and two thumbs together to create the hypnotizing shape of a triangle. I rushed over to the pie box to see. “Pie-shaped!” Dylan, hot on my heels, shouted desperately.
When I arrived at the pie box and flung the lid open, I spied with effort the microscopically triangular piece of pie that remained. “Pie-shaped,” Dylan repeated lamely. “THANKS FOR SAVING ME A PIECE OF PIE!” I roared. Dylan widened his eyes and nodded a little, clinging to the shadowy hope that he had done nothing extraordinarily wrong, and that our love could sally forth strong as before. I made low rumbling and growling sounds that were deliberately unencouraging.
Once my angst and furor died eventually down, and I was through with hearing Dylan’s convoluted explanations and appeals for mercy, I said in a flat voice, “I’m glad Knob Gobbler died.” “I, ah, brought her back to life,” Dylan said. “Well. Motherfucking good for you,” I replied.
And I ate my minuscule piece of ravaged pie, or at least I think I did, it was too goddamned tiny for me to be sure any eating happened. “Pie-shaped,” Dylan whispered, and he stood around aimlessly nearby while I glared at him, waiting for the kiss he neither deserved nor got.
Dylan and I are on some kind of built in Apple iPhone family plan, so our Apple IDs and iCloud usernames and passwords are all messed up. They’ve kind of confusingly overlapped and converged. I get all his cell phone reminders on my phone, which is disruptive and fun. Dylan never updates or deletes his reminders, so shit like “Turn down the potatoes” periodically dings on my phone, for potatoes Dylan was apparently cooking at some point in his life. Also, “I have a meeting with Pete” comes up, even though the meeting with Pete finished probably some time last year.
Dylan has monthly, weekly, and daily reminders too like, “Call my mother” which I find funny, because the “my” I’m sure is superfluous, I mean, whose mother is Dylan going to call except his own.
My favourite reminder that Dylan has scheduled is, “Do something nice for Nunich.” That reminder comes up often, but I can’t say either of us pay it too much mind. The reminder dinged on my phone again recently however, and Dylan called out conscientiously from another room, “I love you.” “Is that the ‘something nice’ you are doing for me today?” I asked, keeping my voice mild. There was a pause. “Siri, delete this reminder,” Dylan, miffed, stiffly said. “Are you sure you want to delete this reminder?” Siri asked. “Yes,” said Dylan. “Ha, ha,” I said.
And dude hasn’t done something nice for me since. Kidding. Motherfucker spoils me rotten. I love my goddamned husband.
Dylan was cheerfully showering so I snuck in quietly and watched him awhile. He was all covered in suds and happily humming to himself while luxuriously massaging his scalp. Dude was acting like he was in a hair commercial, peddling high grade body wash and shampoo, or some shit. His eyes were trustingly tightly shut, all blithe innocence. I hunched down sneaky full ninja, approached him, and soundlessly slid the glass door aside. Then, with a great flourish of suddenness and menace, I grabbed both his ankles fast and hard. Dylan made a delayed reaction loud terrified whooping sound, like a scared and fainting woman, pure blind vulnerability and total fear. His terror and upset were quiveringly real. I wish I had this gold moment captured on film. Dylan was furious when he peaked open his eyes and saw me clutching my stomach from laughing so hard. “You’re gonna get it, lady!” he roared. I waved his words away, still chuckling too enormous and deep to speak. “Ha, ha, ha!” I said. Dylan gazed daggers at me. I was pretty much crying as much as laughing, and for a substantial period. The best romances don’t end happily, and the greatest love stories are tragedies. We might be an exception to this bleak rule, at least we’ve made it this far, we’re still laughing a lot, and we do try. Effort is as important as fate. It’s always much funnier though when I scare Dylan than when he scares me. Scaring me is too easy, scaring Dylan is the bee’s knees. Or ankles. Who knew ankles could offer such an unexpected depth of comedy.