My Exes Are Awesome

I like hanging out with ex-girlfriends, and here’s why: because I don’t have to convince them of who I am, which is something I spend an inordinate amount of time doing. I also like seeing them 10 years later and thinking, “I know exactly why I dated her.” If we didn’t break up and made it to this point, I’d be A-OK.

This ex-girlfriend was a significant one. We lasted a few years, on-and-off, and in the end I broke her and then she broke me back (goddamn, this could be several exes…). Then a decade later we reconnected and are no longer scared of each other which means that we are inexplicably friends.

What I like is that I don’t have to explain who I am, she does it for me. “But you’re an introvert,” she told me, when I was talking about the social exhaustion I have in Toronto. “You can’t be around people every fucking day, you’re going to die.”

She knows the things that the general public wouldn’t believe, but any girl who dates me for more than a month would. I have a low sex-drive (don’t care for it), I don’t cheat on women (too much effort), I’d rather be drinking alone at home with a stack of magazines than … well, that would be my Plan A (people generally suck).

I like that.

We dated when I was in my mid-20s. I had money and friends and youth and energy. But when I dated her, I ditched all of that and most of the time it was just her and me in her condo, reading books and watching rented DVDs. We’d rarely go out, unless it was to the movie theatre down the street or the bookstore a walk away. Sometimes a bar, sometimes a concert – but we didn’t hang out in lounges or at clubs or even restaurants with things like waitresses (aside from a small Korean cantina around the corner from her condo). I remember that we did a lot of grocery shopping.

She also felt like my first adult relationship, the woman with a secure full-time job and a car and an apartment. She was responsible and intelligent and opinionated and so I tended to listen to her. She was my girlfriend but she was also someone of authority.

Anyway, so the point is that we did nothing extravagant in a time where extravagance was expected from us. We did all of these domestic, mundane activities – but they weren’t boring, they were exactly what we wanted to do. And it’s because of this relationship that I raised the bar for relationships since. Me and whomever I’d be dating would have to be good at this monotonous shit. We’d have to be so fucking good at it that we wouldn’t even label it monotonous shit. We’d have no idea.

It was the two of us versus the world. Nothing and no one else existed outside of our bubble of coupledom.

(I think this is why I take it excruciatingly hard when a girl I’m dating sides with someone else against me. Not in an argument or debate, but one of those scenarios where she’s showing off to impress someone at your cost – ugh, I can’t explain it. Girls who act “cool” tend to do this, to try to project to the world that she doesn’t like me as much as I like her. So I take this as a colossal act of betrayal, because we’re supposed to be on the same side versus the world, not me versus her-and-world, and it’s a dealbreaker and I turn mean.)

So I don’t think being in love with a woman is about your heart beating faster, but the complete opposite – the woman you love should make your heart beat slower. Her presence should drop your blood pressure, temper your resolve. You should look at her and feel comfort and familiarity, like you’re home. That’s what a woman should be: home.

Tough Girls Are Pussies

I have 13 minutes to write 750 words because I’m determined to write these fucking words every day once more.

You see, what happened was that life got too busy – Los Angeles and Toronto – and after days and weeks of not writing anything, it became too heavy and too important and too crucial to write something interesting, when the entire point was to write everything, anything, even the uninteresting shit. That’s what that “meh” category is for, you stupid asshole.

There are girls who act “tough” and that just might be my thing, because I keep dating them. One after another after another, I’ll date the girl who’s a self-confessed bitch, ice queen, robot, emotionally unavailable. I want to say that they’ve all been hurt before and this is a result of the defensive wall that they built for protection, but that’s only about half of them. The other half were just gleeful in this predisposition to be as unsensitive as possible (for a girl).

The thing is, I like these girls because I like just saying shit off the top of my head, and what often comes off the top of my head is some thoughtless, callous shit that – seriously – guys can take but girls cannot. And then they get mad or sad or angry or irritated and turn into what they refused to become – girls – and probably hate me even more for it.

But then, I always think: “You wanted this. You asked for this treatment, this equality. This is what you wanted!”

Girl after girl after girl, they all eventually fell from their stoops and to their knees, while I stood there with my mouth agape, eating a Sausage Egg McMuffin and wondering why she would be so affected by my comment about how her … well, let’s not delve into the details.

Though to their credit, I have a habit of testing these girls. I don’t know why because I know the end-result. I know that they’re bullshitting and putting on an act and covering up some sore spots. But because I have some fucking unrelenting ambition to make people stick to what they say, I have to go and push them to the limits until they crack, so I can say, “See, I gave you what you wanted and you were wrong.”

And then no one wins.

Fuck, 11:59 and 392 words.

Moley Mole: My First Attempt at a Fling Fails

It was during my college years; I had a driver’s license and lived at my parent’s place in Scarborough and spent most of my waking hours between 12pm and 5am. All of my memories of that period are at nighttime.

I met a girl through a friend in design school, this cute girl who got me my first real job (ie: not restaurant- or retail- or telemarketing-related) in the back office of a college where I was designing online courses in the early days of the Internet. I looked like a punk – and I was certainly a drunk – but I’m smart as fuck and taught myself Flash and became indispensible to them, until I graduated and switched to a real real job, one that paid an enormous sum of money back in those days ($34K) and enabled me to move out downtown.

So this cute friend who got me the job, she was nice and polite and feminine and stylish – but we never got along, we never got closer than I’d expected and hoped to, simply because she didn’t: a) drink, b) smoke, c) read comic books. Well, probably the most crucial factor was: d) she had a boyfriend.

Anyway, one day this cute, moppy-haired friend somehow introduced me to her equally cute friend. “Somehow” because it was either very briefly in person, or through some online means like AsianAvenue. We met each other and nothing came of it until a few weeks later when I was bored or when she was bored and we exchanged contacts through the mutual cute-friend and started chatting on – what had to have been – ICQ.

Up until that point in my life, I must’ve had sex twice. Once with the first girl, and then a second time with the second girl. Two times with two girls. I had a slow start, you know? My first sexual experiences weren’t with girlfriends but with one-offs – friends – which is an incredibly shitty way to learn how to have sex since you lose out on the consistency and have no one to practice over and over with. You have no one to ask questions to.

So I was in my late-teens or early-twenties, and I was determined to have more sex. I don’t remember this girl’s name or what she looked like (except for an enormous-but-not-unattractive mole on her face or neck or somewhere visible), but I remember looking at her photo, cocking my head sideways and thinking, “She’ll do.” I also remember that she was exceptionally arrogant and not particularly liked. She stole someone’s boyfriend or did this or that and was recently exiled from her circle of friends.

Now what I was lacking in sexual experience, I made up for in confident shit talk. I was a shy teenager, then became sick of being a shy teenager, then woke up one morning and simply decided that I would no longer be a shy teenager. That changed the trajectory of the rest of life with women – that single pivotal morning when I was exhausted of my crippling shyness and simply waved it off with my hand.

Anyway, so we were on ICQ and I decided that this cocky girl with the mole on her face who was despised by her peers would do, and I laid down the shit-talk — I laid that shit down thick. But I didn’t lie; I didn’t tell her that I liked her. I didn’t promise her this and that or boost or coddle her self-esteem. I was straight up and forthcoming: “Look, it’s Friday night and we’re both bored at home. Why don’t we meet up and have sex?”

“Okay!” she said.

We made plans to meet at Plantation, a coffee shop in Markham. We drove our own cars and met on the patio where we ordered non-alcoholic beverages, likely an Orange Pekoe tea, double-double. It must’ve been late because the joint was about to close, so we left the café and I followed her car in mine, through the windy, suburban streets of Markham.

Moley Mole parked on her driveway and I parked curbside and followed her through her front door and into her living room … where her mother was sitting at the dining room table and cutting up fruit. This was the first time I encountered a “cool” mom, you know? The type that’s acknowledged that her daughter would be bringing home men for her to meet at 2am on a Friday night as she sliced watermelon into cubes and offered them some.

We chatted for twenty minutes or so, and then Mom said goodnight, excused herself, and left her daughter and me alone on the living room couch.

We kissed. Several minutes of making out passed, of light petting, all of our clothes still on.

“I can’t believe you like me,” she said, sitting back to look at my face, to look into my eyes. “I didn’t think you would. But you do, and I like you, too.”

What the fuck? I thought.

“What the fuck?” I said.

“Like, you like little ol’ me. You’re, like, this guy. And I’m just me. I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Jesus Christ,” I said, rolling my eyes, incredulous at her for: a) ignoring the fling arrangement that we’d made just hours previous which was the sole reason I’d left my house, and b) this silly prattling of who I was and who she was and this attempt to, I don’t know, butter me up in order to date me to be repatriated back into society.

“Look man, I’m nobody,” I said, trying to cool it down. “I’m nothing special.”

“Nor am I,” she said. “Nor am I.”

Jesus fucking Christ, I thought, as I drove back home to masturbate in the basement of my parents’ house.

Girls in Toronto Smell Nice

Or it’s not important that they smell nice; what’s important is that they smell at all.

After years of living abroad, I realized that the girls in Toronto have a particular scent. It’s not a body odor thing, it’s that they’re more into scented products: perfumes and lotions and conditioners — shit like that. And no two girl uses the same combination of 72 products, hence, no girl smells the other.

So there you go – scent is huge in Toronto, and I miss it. I miss missing a girl because I unintentionally smelled something that smells like her, like you get a waft of daffodils and your brain’s hit with a tsunami of memories. It’s like how scent plays an enormous role in eating alongside of taste: I miss smelling a girl in conjunction with tasting her.

The girls in Asia don’t smell. They have scented body washes and perfumed shampoos – usually all from the same bulk-sized jars with comically large pumps that are adorned with flowerly labels – but it’s a fleeting smell. It’s overwhelming when you’re in the shower and drenched in the pink or lime-green slime, but it dissipates after a quick 30 minutes of walking out in the Southeast Asian heat. And they all smell the same: that putrid, overly-sweet fake-flower and bubblegum smell. It doesn’t remind of a girl; it reminds me of all girls. Bullshit.

(I have friends who often cheat on their wives [whatever] and so they carry a compact, travel-sized bottle of unscented liquid soap on them to wash up with afterwards, because arriving at home and smelling like fake-flowers and bubblegum is a dead giveaway that they just fucked someone else and showered after, using the girl’s cheap drugstore-brand toiletries.)

The girls in LA don’t smell. But it’s so casual there, anyway, that you wouldn’t expect them to care for such a second-tier sense like olfactory. Aside from the club girls on the weekends, the ones I’ve dated were fiercely under-dressed and under-done-up and under-makeupped – to the point where you know they’re doing it to make a point. I normally don’t care if a girl is done up (well…) but, goddamnit, I hate people who need to make a point. It’s just pretentious to attempt to be so unpretentious. Pretentiously unpretentious people might be the worst people on the planet. And if they’re girls that don’t smell, that’s just even worse. Fuck off.

(Yeah, so I might still be angry about a girl there.)

Anyway, so back in high school, all the girls wore Body Shop something-berry scented lotion. It was a made-up berry (then again, I don’t know shit about berries) hence it was a made-up scent that I’d rarely smelled since. But when I do catch a waft of it now, I’m reminded of cute Filipinos and trying to kiss them. (Also, anxiety and masturbating too much.)

My ex-girlfriend wore some brand called … shit … Pure? Water? Basic? Something with a minimalist, serif-font logo and adorned with an asterisks. Clean*? Anyway, she had a few of their products in my medicine cabinet and for the two years after we broke up and before I moved to Thailand, I would get drunk and argue with myself and eventually lose and unscrew one of the bottles and inhale deeply and then tear up. Not out of sadness, not out of happiness. Maybe just the forlornness of time gone by, like when you think of your childhood doll that you’ll never see again. But the scent would hit me hard and with so much clarity, that my brain didn’t know that she wasn’t there in front of me. I could’ve doused my pillow and then fucked it, and my brain would’ve been satisfied.

A friend once showed up wearing Chanel No. 5. She walked into the room and a few of us immediately racked our brains for why we knew that scent so well. Why is it so fucking familiar? Why does it trigger the part of our brain that releases dopamine? Then it hit us that that was the exact perfume that they pumped through the ventilation system at Brass Rail, a strip club near Yonge and Bloor. That friend never wore that perfume again, or around us, anyway.

So the girl last Thursday. Jesus Christ, the girl that was just supposed to be an abrupt date but who is now turning pivotal – she had her own scent, but I didn’t know it until we were suddenly dancing at the Drake Hotel to a live jazz band that we didn’t know would be there.

She danced first: she stood beside our table and moved her hips in a way that indicated that she had no fucking bones. I watched her hips and her torso and her shoulders and then I joined her but first I said, I forgot how to dance because a) I wanted her attention, and b) I forgot how to fucking dance.

I did a thing with my feet, and she said, You still know. And then she did a thing and I followed her movements, her feet to her hips to her head bobs to her hands gesticulating up in the air, and she said, Oh, you liar, but you see, I wasn’t lying because I’m not good at dancing but I’m good at copying people in order to mock them for it at a later time.

I stood behind her and my hips followed hers and I put my hands on her stomach that was rippling – fucking rippling – with muscles and veins. I spun her around to face me and she reflexively wrapped her arms around my neck (you could tell she thought, Why did I just do this? when she did it) and I leaned in to kiss her and she dodged the fuck out of it. We repeated this six times: attempted kiss, successful dodge. Afterwards, I walked her two blocks west and held her hand and she was flummoxed yet curious which is my comfort zone with women for some reason (out of habit?). I tried to kiss her goodnight and she dodged me for the seventh time that night.

I jumped into an Uber and went back home where I drank more wine with my roommate and fell asleep on his couch without washing up or changing clothes.

And so there it is, there’s the goddamn catalyst: for 8 hours I slept with her perfume on my unwashed shirt, her scent – her essence, really – seeping into my pores and my cells and rewriting my fucking DNA as I slept and inadvertently drank it all in and accepted it as standard. There was no decision to make; I was helpless and defenseless. I was unconscious as my brain rewired itself to this new scent, this new human being.

Mercy, Karma. Mercy.

I can’t help thinking of the women I’ve hurt in my life. It’s never in a purposeful manner, or even in a way that could’ve been helped. Sometimes there’s no other choice but for one person in the equation to get hurt, and sometimes it’s the girl and sometimes it’s me.

But, I suppose, in my experience it’s mostly been the girl. I’m just good – no, not good but, like, accustomed to – walking away and forgetting about it. Shrugging my shoulders and saying, Whatever, and being mad for a week but resentful forever. Break ups haven’t gotten easier and I take each of them as hard as the last – it’s just that at this point I’m used to them.

Alright that might be the saddest fucking thing I ever acknowledged in my entire fucking life.

Anyway. I can’t help thinking of the women that I’ve hurt because I’m beginning to see my comeuppance. I just can’t hold onto the women that are crucial to me, the ones that I can’t stop thinking about, the ones that I see a future with. The ones that my brain tagged with potential for whatever subjective reason (occupation, hairstyle, love of animals, square jaws, etc.). I just can’t get to a point with one of the crucial ones where I can even begin to determine if there’s a future. I keep faltering at Step Zero-Point-Zero-One.

(Though there is a small piece of my consciousness that whispers to me: Psst – you only think they’re crucial because you can’t get them, you piece of shit. All of the ones you attained, all of the ones that you proceeded to the next step with, you deemed uncrucial. Grow the fuck up.)

So anyway, we were talking about my comeuppance. I mean, there are girls who read my texts and then don’t text me back IMMEDIATELY or sometimes AT ALL, thus forcing me to skew the consequential text message ratio BY SENDING THEM A SECOND CONSECUTIVE MESSAGE! That’s the kind of savage shit that I pull when I want to send a hint to a girl that I’m not interested. Jesus fucking Christ, that shit stings. I had no idea. The gods are getting their revenge and I’m seeing the wheel of karma…

Wait, no – okay, this is a fake comeuppance. Do you see what I’m trying to do? I’m trying to fool the gods: Ha ha ha! Okay, you got me, Gods! You got me back for all of my transgressions, for the path of broken hearts that I left in the cities around the world in which I trampled. You got me back for my cavalier attitude, my carelessness, the merciless way in which I’d depart a relationship while keeping my foot in the door, while tossing a loaded text message or email every six months to remind them that I exist. You got me back for all of that, and now we are even.

It’s like I’m proclaiming that this is my comeuppance, just to get it over with as quickly as possible, to get me off the hook and back into the cushy driver’s seat where it’s only my hand on the steering wheel. What the fuck. People who are authentically being comeuppanced don’t say they’re being comeuppanced. They don’t even know. They’re too busy curled up in a closet, weeping and snotting into their sleeve to even give a shit. Jesus, is this how manipulative I’ve become? Is this how much artificial control that I think I have? That I think I can fool the gods? That I can fool motherfucking Karma?

We’re not even close to even, are we? Goddamnit, this is going to sting.

Pink Tube Top

It must’ve been 2005?

Sometime during the heydays of traveling to New York and Los Angeles solely to ruin my mid- to late-twenties liver. We were at the height of partying in those days, so I don’t remember dinner or the nightclub or the karaoke after. I was just suddenly, magically in my friend’s downtown loft, all eight of us, drinking in the dark living room.

I came back to consciousness while talking to a girl. Literally, I was blacked out, and blacked back in while sitting on the arm of a couch while she sat facing me, talking about something serious enough that it was obvious that we’d be chatting for awhile. In my shoddy memory, she was wearing light blue jeans, a pink tube top and a white knitted cardigan on top of it all. She had freckles and bangs and dimples.

It must have been 5am. We were the last ones awake. I think we went to the bathroom and made out in there. Half of me thinks that that’s what happened; the other half thinks that that’s what I fantasized to have happened.

But I think we were making out, hard, as she was sitting on the sink and I had her pink tube top half off but then my friend’s white roommate with long, disheveled hair knocked on the bathroom door, still half asleep, to fetch his toothbrush (or something). I mean, this shit has to be what really happened, right? Who fantasizes about being interrupted?

Anyway, we left the bathroom and went for a walk, which was probably my idea because I like to walk. So we crossed the street and went to a McDonald’s and might’ve got something or might not have, but afterwards we found a hill and sat on it and talked until the sun came up. We probably made out, but I only remember the grass and the weeds and the commenting on all of the Mexicans trudging to the bus stop at 6am on a Sunday morning. They were all middle-aged and in their blue-collar work clothes – the women in aprons and the men in tool belts – and sadly went about starting their day, life just one long ass fucking chore to them, while two spoiled young adults wearing clubbing clothes with vodka still on their breath watched them from the top of a hill outside a (maybe closed) McDonald’s.

My flight back to Toronto was at 11am. I always took that same Sunday morning flight. We walked back to the loft and I woke up my traveling companion and we quietly packed our shit and tippy-toed through the seven sleeping bodies and slipped into our rental and drove for LAX.

I emailed with Pink Tube Top for a few weeks. She was smarter than I thought she would be, and she undoubtedly thought the same about me (I look stupid). She was the only other fan of The Eels, or the only other person I talked to about them.

Then one day I flew back to LA. It probably wasn’t long after – three or four months. I don’t know why I didn’t tell Pink Tube Top that I was coming back. I don’t know, it wasn’t that I didn’t like her and it wasn’t that I wanted the freedom to meet other women (I was flying to LA with a female friend whom I couldn’t leave alone, anyway). It’s like I just didn’t think of it, which might be worse.

Or maybe I thought that she wouldn’t care if I did? I do that a lot, I think that people come out to see me to be nice and I loathe being a burden. I think people don’t actually care but are being nice for some fucking reason, and I tell them, no, no – don’t be nice, don’t do anything for me.

So I didn’t tell her I was coming and at the first nightclub/karaoke we went to after I landed, she was there, drunk, in a fiery red leather skirt. She came into the karaoke room at the back of the club and saw me and exclaimed, “Alex?” in an incredulous and vexed manner. She didn’t give me a chance to respond but she didn’t need to, she knew it was me. Pink Tube Top stormed out of the room, her face buried into her hands.

“Oh, I guess maybe she did really like me,” I said to my female friend, who looked at me like I was a psychopath.

I never heard from her again.

No Sex For 95,040 Minutes

I didn’t know you’d take it so hard, she said.

Let’s not focus on what the fuck she was talking about (because I’ve dismissed it and refuse to acknowledge that she said it at all, in order to invalidate it, distort reality and erase it from history).

Let’s instead focus on this bullshit that I come off as some arrogant and selfish douchebag who’s drunk every night and fucks whatever and basically does whatever he wants to (well…) and tramples and bulldozes on and over anyone who stands in his path.

What is it that makes me seem so pompous? What is it that makes people instinctively tag me as some conceited, egotistical, psychopathic asshole?

It’s because I’m handsome as fuck, isn’t it. I feel like that’s it.

I get this constant barrage of shit from people about my Instagram posts, about how it’s made up of 50% selfies and 50% drinking and partying. They’ll accuse me of this and so I’ll whip out my phone and scroll slowly and deliberately through my feed which plainly demonstrates that 90% of my photos are the disgusting things I’ve eaten juxtaposed with the beautiful places that I ate them in.

They have no response but to smirk and shake their head, like I somehow miraculously omitted the tens of thousands of topless selfie pics that were just there! They don’t say that they’re wrong and they don’t admit defeat and they don’t change their minds; they just shrug it off. They shrug off the evidence, like it’s something shrugoffable.

And so from a factual and verifiable standpoint: I’m a guy that likes food and beaches. But from the perspective of the General Public’s Opinion Of My Appearance And Demeanour, I’m an arrogant drunk that travels the world, fucking girls and breaking hearts. What’s fucked up is that the latter matters more.

Jesus Christ, I can’t even remember the last time I had sex – oh wait a sec, it’s in my calendar…

May 9. That’s the last time, with the girl in Hong Kong who I went on a few dates with the previous time I was in Hong Kong (March). So on May 9th, I called her out and we met in Wan Chai and ate fancy Chinese food and had drinks at some hipster bar and then while we stood outside on the stoop, I meekly asked, “So, can I come over?” and she said yes and we slid into a taxi and went to her apartment on the east side of Hong Kong island where she grinded herself to orgasm on top of me maybe six or seven times before it was my turn.

After that, I was in Hong Kong for the rest of the week, and then Taipei for the wedding and then Saigon and then back to Taipei and then here to LA. That’s how much sex I haven’t been having. But who cares, I don’t have this undying thirst for sex, anyway. I don’t sacrifice things for it, like drinks with friends or a motorcycle trip or soup dumplings or especially — and the most frequent reason — the chance to go home and sleep early.

But even here in LA, even from friends who I’ve known for decades, I’ll get that bullshit. If you want girls, you should go here. If you want to get laid, try this place. Jesus, really?

When was I ever this type of man? When did I ever show any sort of evidence that I had that category of lifestyle? I can count on one hand the number of times…

So anyway, that leaves me with what I started with: I didn’t know you’d take it so hard, she said, because she thought I had other girls in the lineup. Because she thought I was dating a million fucking girls and she didn’t want to be one of them, or didn’t think it’d kill me to date only 999,999. Because she doesn’t know that I operate one-girl-at-a-time (albeit in a very rapid-fire succession – but still). She doesn’t know that I’ve always been so absolutely eggs-in-one-basket that I have neither the time nor energy to put this much effort into more than one fucking person in my life. I mean, I had to cut my mom out for this shit.

Jesus fuck, I hate being this handsome.

Hips & Whips and Fat Bottom Lips

She didn’t come out the first night and I was hugely disappointed, (is she the reason I came to LA? Why else would I care so much?) so we went out a few days later, maybe on the following Wednesday? I picked her up at her apartment in my white Hyundai Accent at 8pm, her address still starred into my GoogleMaps,. We were supposed to meet at 7:30pm but I pushed it back because I wanted to stay at the gym longer, because that’s the kind of frame of mind that I was in: I would rather hit the gym than to see her 30 minutes earlier.

— But now, three weeks after that first time, what exists in the world that I wouldn’t give up for those 30 minutes? Jesus fucking Christ, I had no idea how rare it was to get those 1,800 seconds. I would give up the stupid gym, I would give up traveling, I would give up melted cheese and processed meats and my newfound cheekbones and my sharp tongue and this extraordinary life of living in cities that I have no business in. And I know this because it might be exactly what I do, what exactly might happen —

So I pulled up at 8pm and she came out and sat in the passenger side. She wore her fitted gray jeans that I know very well, the one that makes her ass appear rectangular, made even more blocky when she would thrust her iPhone 5 into the back left pocket, half of it sharply outlined in the thin fabric and the other half perilously dangling out the top. She wore a tight black tank top – with a graphic? – so tight that I was sure that it was a one-piece body suit because it didn’t once un-tuck from the waistband of her jeans. She looked like a rocker chick, like Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease, after she shed her good girl bullshit and painted her pants on.

I hugged her and fell back in and I was done and I knew it.

We went to a dive bar on Melrose. Had a few beers, ate some things. She apologized profusely for missing that first night. She told me the story of the events that happened to cause her to miss it, starting in the early afternoon of that same day (alcohol; entertaining guests). I was confused because it wasn’t like her to apologize so profusely for something so small. I mean, in my head it was a monumental event that shattered my fucking world — but she couldn’t have known that. No one could have, because I acted cool as fucking fuck.

So she apologized and I just kind of nodded and stared blankly at her forehead because I didn’t want her to think it was a big deal, and I also didn’t want to accept her apology.

We walked to another bar down the street. I always need to walk to at least two places – preferably three – to get into my head that we’re bar hopping. Between the first and second place was the original location of the first Johnny Rockets and I asked her, “Wasn’t that the first Johnny Rockets?” and when she answered, I grabbed her hand, pulled her in, leaned my face into hers. She seemed puzzled, but then gave up and acquiesced and we kissed on Melrose after the sun had set but before it was chilly.

“You’re so stupid,” she said, repeating what we would tell each other back in January, both of us urging the other to snap out of it and continue on whatever form of relationship that we wanted (me: normal relationship with us in the same city; her: long distance and instant messaging forever). So she said, “You’re so stupid,” and she meant it and I said it back to her and I fucking meant it.

We went to the next bar, but it was only cursory. After a drink we were back outside on the sidewalk, kissing. We talked about things, things that I didn’t know and was shocked to hear: last January, after I refused her messages and ignored her calls – because she was stupid and I was hurt – she was devastated.

She said it again and again, that word, and I didn’t believe her. I couldn’t believe her. Could not. She was the girl that broke me by not allowing to break herself. You know? She was too tough, too cool, too unemotional – and seemingly proud of this. Opposite of the mess that I am, the melodramatic, foolish boy who wears his heart on his sleeve and mails her packages from Thailand and Vietnam, crammed with simple trinkets and treats and snacks and common fuckery found in my corner of the world that I wanted to share with her.

When we ended, I didn’t think – at all – oh, she’s devastated. I thought that she moved on, quickly, to the next guy, or to her old guy, or to one of the guys in between. I mean, that’s how I was trained to think of her – where would I get such ideas? Why would I think that she couldn’t cry? Couldn’t hurt? Why would I think that she wasn’t emotionally available? The way she acted, of course. She acted like a girl who could never be devastated.

But she was, she said, for the fourth time. Devastated.

I drove her home. I held her hand and it felt good. I was silly, giddy. I asked her, “Can we make out for a bit when I drop you off?” “Shore,” she laughed, in her Southern Californian accent. I parked illegally in front of her apartment complex and dove onto her in the passenger seat and buried my face into her neck and I swear to fucking god that it felt like home. For a man who has no home – a bed, a couch, anything familiar and comfortable and warm – a woman’s neck sometimes does the trick. Her fucking neck is home. Jesus fucking Christ, what kind of life is this?

We kissed, hard, the way we did before, in this weird way where there was all this sexual energy and aggression but very little tongue. Maybe we both waited for the other to lead and it just never came down to it? I placed my hand on her right breast and squeezed and she gasped and rolled her eyes because her breasts are extremely sensitive and even the most clumsy manhandling of them would lead her to euphoria.

I felt the arch of her back. I followed it with my finger, the same way I did it Taipei and Tokyo, starting at her neck and tracing the curve to her waist and hips and ass. Oh my god, her body. Her perfect fucking body that makes me intoxicated when I’m around it and whimper when I’m not.

“Can I come in?”

“No. I didn’t expect this at all.”

“Really? I totally expected it. I wore my good undies and shaved everything.”

“No, I really didn’t. So you can’t. I’m not your ho bag.”

“What? No,” I said, staring into her eyes, insulted. “You’re not my ho bag. You’re so not my fucking ho bag.” She looked at me weird because I took her casual joke far too seriously and it made her suspicious.

We kissed again and she climbed out of my car and disappeared through her gate.

 

I’m Almost 40, I Can’t Live Like This.

It’s fucked: I grew up on American TV shows and movies, grew up watching violence and racism and sex and assault and debilitating drugs use and that whole go go go go go fucking go pace that everyone’s operating on, that hopeless loop of working-spending-drinking-fucking-sleeping. You know.

What’s fucked is that I thought it was fictional. I thought it was all made-up or exaggerated or amplified, this furious life that Americans lead, this life where they’re one step away from crippling substance abuse, where the only reason they’re not is because they produce something somewhere for somebody who validates them for it.

Who can live like this, I thought. Who can live like this day in and day out, expending so much energy on working and finding parking and buying shit and showing off and trying to find girls to fuck?

But it’s not fiction and it’s not over-dramatized – it’s really just a few average dudes sitting in a writing room talking about the stupid shit their jackass friends were up to the weekend before.

I thought Toronto was an American city. I thought I had an American upbringing. But I didn’t, I had a very decidedly Canadian lifestyle, because shit like this was never on my radar. I was never ever close to becoming a drug addict or joining a gang or even coming into work late two days in a row. I mean, shit, I guess we are a nice, temperate, polite, even impotent country.

So that’s why I was so exhausted after spending a month in the States last November. I thought it was the weather, the prices, the car culture, the mentally ill homeless people (what’s up with that?), the gossipy, melodramatic nature of Americans in general (I have never, ever heard so many people so interested in telling me who they know). It wasn’t any of that, it was the distinctive American air that the people breathe here, and it’s contagious as fuck.

I know this because I’m falling into the loop. I’m falling into the cycle and losing myself. What happened to waking up at 7am, meditating, hitting the gym and then working all day? What happened to being happy for no reason, smiling at the fucking sun just for existing? What happened to three-beers-before 11pm, watching half of a Netflix movie, falling asleep and waking up without an alarm?

What happened to writing every day?

All that is gone. All that is gone and replaced with, well, I guess it’s just more money. And although I miss my old life of having money (an unspendable amount of money), I’m quickly remembering why I traded that all in for a life in Southeast Asia.

I used to want this life. I was built for it, you know? For starting up projects and working long hours and social management/manipulation. I groomed myself on American TV shows and movies, to be AC Slater or Vince Vaughn, to be able to talk to bosses and women and women bosses. To be able to drink an enormous amount of vodka and to dance adequately enough to feign coolness to have people talk to me, or even better, to feign coolness to have people avoid me. I was good at that shit.

But now, Jesus fucking Christ, I’ve never seen so much excess, and I’m shocked as fuck that I’m even talking like this. Who complains about excess, what am I, a fucking Swede? A fucking Norwegian fisherman? I live in Bangkok for Christ’s fucking sake, and it’s LA that I’m shaking my head at.

I mean, the amount of times I’ve told myself, “I’m almost 40, I can’t live like this…” in the past three weeks – Christ almighty. I need to go.

Yay, Melodrama

Already, already I’ve been rejected. I watched that fucking door, man. I watched that door all fucking night, waiting for her to walk through it. I drank and drank and drank all of these foul shots, these putrid glasses of whatever, whiskey and bitters and what-the-fuck-evers, and my brain refused to get drunk because we were all waiting for her. Waiting for her to walk through that door so I could feign anger, fake irritation in some weird way that I thought would come off endearing: “Hey, I hate you for what you did to me,” and we would giggle and drape over each other all through the night.

But instead I got a text message, “Sorry, won’t make it, can’t come, sorry, sorry, sorry,” and the feigned anger, the fake irritation turned authentic as I turned sour, really fucking fast. Then the alcohol – all of that shit – was finally permitted to hit me and so it did and then I blacked out and woke up 15 hours later a couch, actually on two couches turned towards each other to form a giant couch island.

I read the messages and reread them and thought hard about the balance of what was going on, of the state of the union. Of how much I wanted to see her and how little she wanted to see me back. I mean, how much more could I skew this ratio without coming off looking like a fucking idiot? How much more could I plead? How much more could I reveal myself while still respecting myself?

There’s a line somewhere, but fuck if I know where it is, so I told her, “Ha ha ha, let’s try this again…”

To the bitter end. That’s been my motto the past few years. Fight to the bitter fucking end. Because in those occurrences where I didn’t, where I left the fight in the middle for whatever reason – I was tired, I was distracted, I was bitter and thought our ratio was off – I regretted it. No, not regretted it, but I was unconfident with the result. I don’t like loose ends; I like ending things by telling myself, “I did absolutely 100% of everything that I could possibly do.”

Wait. But I did that with her. I already did that with her, just a few months ago (but what feels like years). I did this and said that and in the end I told myself, “I did absolutely 100% of everything that I could possibly do,” and I meant it and I was certain and confident and self-assured enough to gripe and whine for about a week – just because – and then move the fuck on. She had tainted Ho Chi Minh City and so I left to Phu Quoc and then to Hong Kong and then to Bangkok and then Bali and Jakarta and Kota Kinabalu and back to Hong Kong and then to Taipei and finally back to Ho Chi Minh City, which was now newly untainted.

And now I’m back in LA, but goddamn it, what a spectacular difference between when I landed four days ago and now, because of a door that she didn’t walk through.