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This is Part 2. You may read this as a stand-alone piece, or you may read Weekend One First.
I sat in front of a monitor watching a film about a kid about to burn his house down. The camera crew set up the shot of him lighting a match and staring at it, wide-eyed. I had a script in front of me with marks all over it and scribbled notes on dialogue. “These two lines rearranged”; “Does not exit on take 3.” Also already about a hundred still pictures on my cell phone of the action as it unraveled take by take. This was my job.
We were in a spacious apartment opening onto the roof of the building. It was the kind of apartment one can only find in Chicago. I was seated in the kitchenette area and the main action was being staged in the living room. Dozens of people were walking around, nearly tripping on cables, spilling craft food. More people than were needed.
The director’s name was Emma. She was a first-year graduate student. Her producer had asked me to come on board the project. I liked the script but I didn’t like how it was being executed. Emma seemed almost apathetic about the film itself. She was attractive but only in the most clichéd way. She seemed to be in it for the experience of spending time with her best friends at school.
The Dunkin Donuts coffee that I sipped was not cutting it. I stared at the monitor thinking, please hurry up and roll camera, please roll camera, please roll camera…and for a moment, thought of how wonderful it would be to fall asleep right there.
My phone buzzed. I took a look. It was at that point that I remembered Courtney’s existence.
01:10PM: Want you between my legs.
My first instinct was to hide the phone as fast as I could. There were lots of people present. My second instinct was to think, who just out of the blue writes these things?
Women like Courtney write these things. Women who never leave their apartments and watch too much trashy television.
“Okay, we’re going for a take, quiet on set!”
I readied myself. I reset the stopwatch. I put my phone away. I watched the monitor.
I was not yet done with Courtney.
I wanted to be between her legs.
I wasn’t sure if I’d tell anybody about the two women I’d had the last weekend. It wasn’t anybody’s business. But on Wednesday I felt antsy and braggy and I had three gin and tonics in me. So I texted my friend in San Francisco, Pat, on whose couch I’d once banged a nurse. I sometimes wondered why I had more success with women when I was around him. I sometimes wondered if he was my only true friend.
I got to the bragging about halfway through our convo;
09:33PM: I’m well. Chicago is treating me well. I hooked up with two girls in a row last weekend.
09:55PM: Nice!!!! At bars?
10:00PM: One at a bar, one from OkCupid.
10:10PM: Nice!!!! Which one do you like more? Meeting both for the first time?
10:24PM: The OkCupid girl I’d hooked up with before, the other girl was a firstie.
10:39PM: Nice!!!! You like one more than the other?
10:49PM: The Internet girl is a fucking freak. Cums loudly. As a person she’s kind of strange and I don’t think we have much in common. The other girl is more interesting and also a good fuck and she’s ten years older than me. Apparently just got divorced. I think I like her better.
When he didn’t respond, I punched in;
10:52PM: What about you, where are your ladies at?
I didn’t really care, though, where his ladies were at. I hadn’t cared when I walked up the hill with the nurse in tow towards his apartment all those months ago. I hadn’t cared when she asked me, ‘bed or couch?’ so I’d answered, “bed.” I hadn’t cared when, mid-coitus, I’d cupped a hand on her cheek and whisper-asked her if she liked it rough. And I hadn’t cared what her answer would be. So when she’d gaspily responded (“Yes!…I love it…rrrr…) I was already cranking up the pelvic movement. I was already cupping her thighs in my hands and spreading her legs further apart. Because I didn’t care about what she thought she wanted, or if Pat wanted us to fuck on his bed, or if the neighbors wanted to listen to us or not. When we have sex, what we want—we, the individual– is supreme. Isn’t it?
I spent the week looking at my wrist now and then to check the time and only seeing hairs. Fuck, my watch. I thought of it still laying on Courtney’s bedside table beside her and her computer while she dashed off e-mails to her clients and sold her designer bras and other things. I thought of her watching another rerun of friends on her gigantic T.V all alone in her living room, some distance from my watch, a vibrator between her legs instead of me.
I didn’t do normal guy stuff, like watch porn and masturbate. I felt like that was simply unnecessary. There was, of course, the other side of me that said, Don’t assume anything. They might not want to see you anymore. You could be back illegal bahis to square one this weekend. You need to go out and you need to seduce somebody. Pronto.
What I did do one of these nights, when this side of me was making a particularly strong appearance, was stand in front of my bedroom mirror with my shirt off and flex my muscles. It looked like the most obnoxious Tinder profile ever. But I wasn’t taking any pictures. I was just admiring how strong I’d become over the past two years of lifting C-Stands and cameras and moving gear around. There is a base physical attraction that we too often ignore; men like curviness and roundness and good-sized tits (of a just-right size, like Anna’s) and compact body types. I liked smooth and curvy thighs. Women like hard features, men who are taller than them, compact bodies and muscles on forearms. I didn’t have all those qualities in spades. And there were plenty of men stronger than me. Nonetheless, I remembered Courtney from the first time I slept with her– her head cocked to the side, staring at my left arm, planted on her mattress, propping me up as I railed her, my hand caressing her cheek—open her eyes and stare at the bulge on my forearm.
I stared in the mirror and I flexed my muscles harder. The cavalcade of memories that then appeared were:
Lana, my girlfriend freshman year of college, her head cocked to the side just like Courtney’s, breathing in heavy, fluttering gasps as I lay atop her, stroking in and out of her slowly, my left arm in that same planted-on-mattress position. She had shut her eyes but I know I saw her open them just a slit, just enough to stare at my arm—which at that time must have looked like a thin, trembling pillar that was about to collapse.
Kati, My Czech girlfriend from the semester I spent in the Czech Republic, working her way down my chest and taking a detour to that same arm, my left arm, which she kissed several times in two different places before moving all the way down and wrapping her lips around my cock.
Fingering some girl whose name I forget when I was very drunk at a party once. We were in a guest room and I was working my forefinger and index finger around in circles and she was responding, she was pressing her forehead into my shoulder and starting to breathe heavily, so I pushed my fingers in deeper…prompting her to bite that same arm, my left arm, and yank my hand out.
There was an awkward silence.
“I don’t like that,” she said to me.
I looked at myself in the mirror. Whoever this guy was, he looked ridiculous. I stopped flexing. I put my goddamn shirt back on. I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a gin and tonic, followed by another gin and tonic and tried to numb everything.
The next morning, an e-mail from one of my thesis advisors arrived in my inbox. It said:
YES. YES. AND YES. I CAN FEEL THE ENERGY NOW. YOU HAVE FOUND A WAY TO DISTILL THE FILM TO ITS ESSENTIAL STORY, ONE THAT I FEEL IS MORE IN LINE WITH THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT. THE ENDING IS SIMPLE AND IN LINE WITH THE THEME MORESO THAN ANY PREVIOUS ITERATION. ONE THING TO CONSIDER WOULD BE…
The initial ending had involved the protagonist, cornered by the hitmen, deliver a long soliloquy about why they shouldn’t kill him, because he’s really good with kids or something like that. The hitmen are so impressed that they don’t kill him. End of story. This new ending involved the protagonist getting murdered. There’s a cut to black. There’s a cut to a scene on a bridge, the same scene we saw earlier, of the protagonist walking up to the child; the child he should have saved earlier in the story, stopping and walking backwards, back across the bridge, still failing to save him. The end. The implication is that it’s his final memory. Or perhaps a purgatory he wakes up inside of. I created it by going back to the footage of that earlier scene and playing certain shots backwards; shots of him walking, for instance. I had done this by mind-fucking myself to the tenth degree. And it worked. The film somehow worked. I closed my e-mail realizing that it might in fact be possible to screen this film in the fall after all, and be completely done come January.
What had come over me? How had this happened? Was sex with multiple people conducive to deeper and more interesting revisions?
I’d told my advisors I was taking a break for a week. I needed it. A part of me scolded myself for not working continuously, but the part of me that needed to take a break won in this case. So I did other things. Aside from going to classes, I bought expensive alcohol, I watched a midnight showing of Pulp Fiction at the local movie theater and I wandered around to places where I simply liked being. I found myself in a used bookstore on Thursday night, texting Anna and Courtney at the same time.
JAKE07:32PM: How were classes today?
ANNA07:34PM: illegal bahis siteleri Good. I had to design a study, so I used the personality measure (Need for Cognition Scale) and applied it to clinical populations to see if there is a negative or positive relationship with major depression.
ANNA07:35PM: I’ve heard this professor rips everybody’s ideas to shreds though.
JAKE07:37PM: Wow. Well I know how to der, uh, microwave a burrito…
COURTNEY07:39PM: Hey! Sorry passed out after work today. Yeah I guess I have some free time on Sunday if you want to come over then.
JAKE07:40PM: I want to come over then and get my waist between your legs.
COURTNEY07:43PM: Sorry hun, if sex is all you’re looking for you can look elsewhere.
JAKE07:44PM: Relax. I’m just joking around. Sorry that offended you.
COURTNEY07:45PM: Lol I’m not offended. I’m mellow as cheese over here.
(I still don’t know what the fuck that means…)
JAKE07:46PM: Cool. Hopefully you didn’t miss me so much that you broke my watch.
COURTNEY07:49PM: Lol wat?? Your watch is right here by my bed.
JAKE07:50PM: So what are you up to Saturday evening?
ANNA07:51PM: Nothing yet. Shall we gather?
JAKE07:52PM: We shall.
JAKE07:53PM: So I’ll see you at around 6:00 on Sunday.
COURTNEY07:55PM: Sure whatever.
JAKE07:57PM: Hopefully the sass squad will have left by then. See you.
Then it was 8:00. The bookstore closed and we all had to leave.
Friday night, I found myself in my room, having declined to go to an event on campus with my roommates, watching Robert Altman’s underappreciated classic 3 Women. The thing about 3 Women is this; it’s actually just about two women. Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek work at a nursing home and spa for senile old people somewhere in the California desert. Duvall is an insecure snob; Spacek is a mysterious woman-child. Spacek admires Duvall and looks up to her and Duvall mostly just carries on in basic irritation at Spacek until they begin to become friends. They move in together as roommates. They start sharing secrets. Their personalities begin to merge. Until the very end when it becomes evident that perhaps there was a third woman all along; a woman who spends most of the film painting exotic and disturbing murals all around town. Perhaps it is her story that will continue.
It was probably my third time watching the film. It was a completely beautiful, completely strange work; a work that you have to be humbled by if you’re a filmmaker. And this time around it almost put me to sleep. I barely got through it. When I was done, I shut off my computer and shut off the light and went to bed thinking about fucking Anna and fucking
Courtney and trying to distinguish the two of their open-mouthed faces and bobbing naked bodies from each other. I got an erection and I let it live. I didn’t jack off. I just let it live. In a sense, I let it live for two more days. Then the weekend came.
I rang Anna’s buzzer at 6:30 Saturday evening. I was surprised by how much light was still left. I was surprised by how light I felt.
I wondered if she wouldn’t show up at all. As I wondered, the door opened.
“Hey,” she said.
Honestly? The first thing I thought was that she didn’t look as attractive as she’d looked when I had a few beers in me. She had more freckles than I’d recalled. Her face was pudgier. She looked a little…older. Like, maybe in her late 30s. Which, of course, she was.
She looked like she’d just put on makeup. She wore a general façade of purple.
“Hey,” I said. And to dispel her thoughts about whatever came next, I kissed her.
We drove over to the movie. I should say she drove us. When we arrived at the theater she said she used to live in the neighborhood. She said rents had gone up astronomically over the years since she’d lived there. She’d decided to buy her place to save in the long run. I wondered if I would ever own a home.
I paid for the tickets. She tried to protest.
“You drove us here and paid for parking,” I said. “I’ll pay for the tickets.”
During the movie, I slid my hand from the armrest on to her leg. She wore tight-fitting blue jeans. I massaged my hand around her calf and thought that was escalating things just a bit too much at the time. I left my palm spread out on her upper leg. I thought about her thighs squeezing my waist a week before and I thought about her thighs gyrating around the surface of my cheeks and forehead while I buried my face in her pussy. I wanted her badly and I wanted to let her know that I’d make her thighs squeeze me even tighter this time around.
Anna’s hand slid on to mine and she took my fingers in hers’. She rubbed my palm. She had received my message and was letting me know she wanted the same.
About 2/3rds of the way through the movie one of the characters—some college bro—made a joke about cunnilingus. canlı bahis siteleri He was talking to a group of girls at a bar about their majors. He said, I’m majoring in an art called cunnilingus, unlike other majors you actually get to practice it in college!
Anna did not squeeze my hand when this was said. She didn’t react at all. She kept my fingers threaded between hers’ and didn’t stroke my hand or anything. I didn’t react either. I would like to think that she was wondering about how many other women I’d been with when that line happened. I’d like to think that she simultaneously thought about me going down on her and got a little wet.
Back at her apartment, we listened to the Beatles White Album on vinyl and sipped wine. Like a geek, I had just been ogling her book collection. She had dictionaries. She had psychiatry books. She had The Corrections and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. She had pretty much everything by David Foster Wallace.
We sat on her couch, talking about our pasts. I asked if she had any siblings. She had a younger sister who was married and had just had a baby. She was from Indiana. Her parents were divorced. Her father was a carpenter who had built her gigantic, stained-wood bookshelf. After the divorce she hadn’t been close to him for a few years but now they were good. Her mother was a recovering alcoholic who had been remarried to a man, also a recovering alcoholic, with a likely case of borderline personality disorder. Anna suspected her mother may have had the same disorder. She said it was sometimes rough being around the two of them. She stayed in touch with her mother but she only visited when necessary.
I asked about her marriage.
“He and I met in college and married a few years after graduating. He’s a fundamentally good person, we just…I just…we weren’t compatible. We tried couple’s counseling but he never really committed to it. Eventually he moved out and that was it.”
“But this happened just recently, right?”
“No, like a few years ago.”
“Oh. Are you still in touch with him.”
“No. Last time I saw him was, like, three years ago when he stopped by our old place where I was still living to pick up the last of his stuff. He mentioned that he was seeing someone. I’m pretty sure they got married recently. That’s all I know.”
“It’s kind of ridiculous. The first thing that comes up about me on Google is our marriage notice from years ago. I’ve tried asking them to take it down.”
(What she didn’t know: I already knew this. Because I’d Googled her.)
“Have you been in any relationships since then?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she nodded vigorously, as if to make sure that I stamped that fact in my consciousness. “One just ended this winter. We had been going out for almost two years.”
“Did you live together?”
“No. That was one of the things that ended it actually. He kind of wanted to move in together, but I just, I wasn’t ready.”
“Looking Through a Glass Onion” started. She sipped her wine.
“What about you?” She asked. “When was your last relationship.”
“Yeah it was, like, three years ago,” I said. “Back in New York. She was an actress.”
She nodded. She wanted more. I laughed.
“As if that explains it all…” I said. “Actresses and actors can be tough to be around. They need a lot of attention to feel good about themselves.”
At some point this conversation morphed into a game of Never Have I Ever. I think it was my suggestion.
She asked, “Never have I ever…had sex in a really public place. Like, public, anybody could see you.”
I thought. I mulled over it for longer than I needed to because I never really had. I thought about having sex with my girlfriend on top of a mountain five years before. But that didn’t count.
I said, “Never have I ever…had any kind of romantic contact with someone of the same sex.”
She shook her head. “Nope.”
A few questions later, she asked, “Never have I ever slept with…well, guess I can’t say that anymore…”
“Were you going to say, never have I ever slept with someone ten years younger than you?”
“Yeah, not quite sure about that one,” I said. I told her that to be clear, there had been a woman eleven years older than me once. I told her how I lied about my age to her and afterwards told her my real age. The only reason I told her this was to impress her.
“I think she was feeling sort of…lost in life,” I said.
I finished my wine. Side A of the record ended. I was sitting quite close to her now.
“Thanks for the wine,” I said.
“It’s good to be here. With you. It’s nice.”
I leaned in and kissed her. We pressed our bodies together and stuck our tongues into each other’s mouths. I caressed my hand over her blouse and slipped both hands under her shirt and felt her bare back. I located her bra with my fingers and was offered the challenge of unfastening four straps (I was used to three). I got the job done. She shrugged her bra off her shoulders. I flicked my tongue around her tongue and thought of the cunnilingus joke from the movie and felt Anna’s thighs again, this time pressed against me. I wondered how wet she was.
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