Thursday, December 23, 2004

Let Me sleep it's Christmas Time--1997 (iii) finale

"Do you know anything about the Festival of lights?"

It's not the voice I was anticipating hearing, but its a voice. It's feminine warmth permeates into the plastic lobe of the phone. I can feel her entire body opening up; pouring like a carafe of vintage wine through the plastic receiver.

"Yeah, in fact I was wondering...."Romantic bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Not the voice you've been waiting for kid, but a voice none the less. A voice tucked inside the plastic womb of Ma bell. The voice caged behind succulent lips and a killer body. And that ass. You told all your male co-workers that you would hit that. You tell your gay boss when you are reeling down the metal grille that you're going to hit that, even though he responded with a shoulder shudder and a verbal 'ick. You tell you best friend Hale that you are going to hit that. It feels like everyone is expecting you to hit that and now, She is even expecting you to hit that. She made the first initiative. She cornered all of your emotional pawns on the dating chess board and now expects to be mated.

She called you up. She wants you. She's been waiting for you.

You already have her phone number posted in the back room memorized. Twice, during a shift, you burrowed your face deep into her fur coat, inhaling, wondering what her warmth feels like from a closer angle.

But you are waiting for another girl. Megan. You called her the day after Thanksgiving and she was her typical, aloof self. Quiet. Confused. She didn't laugh at anything you said. She suggests that your view of reality and adulthood are askewed everytime you talk about your books you are writing. She said she would call you back Sunday night. It is Sunday now. You've called Megan twice already and left friendly messages. You tell her you love her. You tell her you'll wait for her. You tell her that whatever she's going through right now is fine. You practically make-out with the dubbed voice that informs cyber-optic solicitors that she can't take your call right now. You call back long distance just to listen to that voice. YOU LOVE THAT VOICE!

You try to write poems about her. You wait. And finally, the phone rings!!!! It is a female voice and it asks for you! You smile. You're charming. You're confident. She came back to you. You're life once agian has merit. You're no longer a failure. But wait.... It's the lithe voice of your co-worker Jana. The girl with the nice ass. "Is this the nice ass club? Hale said, nudging his thick slab of elbow into your gut the first night she clocked into the book store where you are a supervisor. You trained Jana that night. She smiled at you. She seemed charmed, delighted. Her cheek bones drove you nucking futs, the two of you continued to flirt. You feel comfortable around her, the two of you LAUGH incessantly together. The world's a big joke. Even things that are meted by a certain measure of sincerity--important worldly topics-- seemed to sit on the global whoopie cushion--like someone farting in a United Nations Press conference.

"Festival of Lights. Yeah. I'll take you. This Friday I'll pick you up. How 'bout dinner before hand. You ever been to Rizzi's? I love Rizzi's! That settles it. This Friday. I'll pick you up."

Months later you find out that Megan, the girl you were waiting for, was actually sitting next to her anwer machine when you called that Sunday night in November. When asked why she didn't pick up she would shrug and say simply "I couldn't."


You pick Jana up in the same clunker you ferried to Matthiessen three weeks earlier. She is dressed to kill. You could light a cigarette off the low-cut leather skirt she is wearing; that's how hot she looks.

You hand her a rose. It is the fifth of December. For the next nine months the fifth will be christened as your anniversary. You'll take her out to dinner on the fifth--hell--you'll take her out to dinner every Friday!!!!

She's a picky eater. She doesn't eat "crusts." She also doesn't smoke "What a coincidence?" You say, making an inward vow. "I just quit!"

You take her around town. The two of you look at the Christmas lights together. At first you feel like a clumsy high-school freshman usurped from a John Hughes film taking a stab at the senior homecoming queen. You drive fast. Your left hand on the wheel; your right hand in her lap; ensconced in her palm--a clam shell composed of fingers and flesh.

You take her up on the bluff to a place where you can see the entire city. The city is a blur of holiday lights. You hold her. The two of you have yet to kiss. Have yet to fully embrace. You quote her poems; your favorite poem, a mantra from Whitman-- you quote, holding her hand, looking through the glass windshield of your clunker, dazed by the green and red lights -- interstellar holiday constellations.

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment—what is this, then?

I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women, and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;

All things please the soul—but these please the soul well.

It is the poem you live for and she seems stunned. It was the poem you read in front of your entire illiterate high school. The poem you first came across three years ago when you decided you wanted to be a poe-hit.

You take her to your bedroom. Your parents are downstairs. Your mother is friendly. Your Dad smiles at you and wobbles his chin in an assenting manner as the two fo you pracne through the televised heat of the living room. Your room is full of books--so many books--and a thick oak desk you use as an emotinal puddle--splashing around the chorus of words and sound.

There is art in your room. Renoir. Boticelli. Most girls you reel up here think that you are gay. You hold Jana. The two of you kiss.

"Let's go back to my place." she suggests, with a smile. "I'd feel more comfortable there."


Entering her dorm you feel the wild orchard of her breath--the rosemary sage of her tongue. She is an RA--she has her own room. Everything is neat. Once the door clicks lock there is a rattle. A bevy of college sophmores huddled together in pajama bottoms, giggling. They all want to meet you. She has told everyone about you!

You feel important. The door clicks shut and the two of you glide to her mattress; your lids peeled down; your bodies connected. You are saying things. Making promises no twenty year old should make. You hold each other and before you know it a pastel winter dawn streams into her side window and the two of you are dressed only in your undergarments, huddled on top of a futon, listening to enya--your bodies contorted into a sleepy pretzel of limbs and appendages.

"What's that?" You say, pointing to a plant as you rise up to adjust the blind.

"That's Karen." Jana says, slipping into the shirt you were wearing without asking.


"The plants name is Karen." Jana says. "Don't ask me why I name things. A friend gave me the plant and I just thought it looked like a Karen."

"I think you look like a morning angel." You say, before cursing at the osciallting hands on your watch, reailzing that you have to open the book shop in forty-five minutes.

You get dressed. She peels off your shirt and hands it back to you with a smile. She's more comfortable with her body than you are.

Although the blinds are clipped, the morning sunning still slants through the window, hitting Jana, forming a corona of light, a nimbus, around her head.

"I'll call you later. Thanks for last night." You say.

"Think will have more 'last nights.' Jana inquires.

"I think last night was just the preamble." You say, kissing her lips, her cheek bones, her forehead, her smile.


"So you didn't hit that?" Hale inquires, tugging on his pipe during a smoke break, later in the week.

"She desn't want to have sex until after she comes back. I mean, she says she wants to, she says she's in love with me. She wants it to be special. Not rushed."

"What," Hale's pipe falls out of his mouth.

"She wants to do it once she comes back from South Padre. She says she knows it's right for her."

"Shit," Hale shakes his head in disgrace as if his office pool lottery pick is now void. "you been talking to her."

"For hours every night." You say.

"What about Megan?" Hale inquires.

"She never called me back. She doesn't care. Fuck her."

"Jana is hot. She has a nice..."

"I know. I know."

Hale starts to make unctuous male sexual mating sounds. He re-lights his pipe. Normally you would fire up a cigarette, but since Jana is so adamant about not-smoking you decided to quit.

"I'm spending the night at her dorm this Friday." You said. "It's our Christmas together. She leaves next Tuesday and she'll be gone for a month."

"That's a long ass time bro,"


"Do you love her?" Hale inquires, you smile.

"I think I might."

Hale begins to laugh, breaks into his locker room rant. "Well you know Dave, if she really is your soul-mate there's only one way to find out."


It is the Friday before she adjourns to south Padre and we are having our Christmas together. I break into Jana's dorm and surprise her. Heaps of packages are placed under diminutive Christmas tree. Jana is talking long distance on the phone to her mom. She wants to tell her mom about me in person. I do everything in my power to distract her; to make her laugh; giggle while she is talking to Mamma Bear.

" Be Good," Jana says, with a smile, twisting my hand.


"Nothing Mom," she says, her cheekbones protruding slightly as she says goodbye before tying her arms around my neck.

"Merry Christmas, darling!" She says, before escorting me over to the Christmas tree. We exchange gifts. We tell each other which gifts to unwrap first. We hold gratitude make-out sessions between bartered packages. Finally, she reaches over to her bed, hoisting up a small package from behing her pillow.

"I'm not creative like you try to be in your writing, but I did make you something." Jana says, placing a thinly wrapped package in my palms. "Merry Christmas."

I open it up. It is a wooden frame with two sides. On one side is a picture of Renoir's Les dejeuner des canotiers a picture she had noticed in my bedroom--on the other side was a cursive rendering of the poem--Whitman's I Sing the Body Electric--the poem I quoted to her on our first date, only a week and several decades ago.

"I thought you could keep this on your writing desk and think of me." She said, her face full of smiles.

We kissed and held each other and again, awoke several hours later, the hard winter orange signifiying morn creeping it's feathery tail into her bedroom window.

"It's gonna be sad though." Jana acknowledges, batting her eyes. "It's gonna be sad when we say goodbye on Tuesday."

It doesn't have to be sad, " I said. "I mean, we could be like. HI-FIVE."

Giggles and work. There's always work in the morning. I dress, kiss her forehead, clambor in my clunker and head back into work.


On the Tuesday we said goodbye Jana's friend Jill lets you into her dorm room.

"I have a great idea." Jill says. "Why don't you surprise Jana."


"Get into wardrobe and jump out when she comes in."

Jana's bedroom was full of suitcases and duffel bags.

"Oh, and one other thing." Jill notes, in a manner reminiscent of a camp counseler, "Strip."

"What," I say.

"Come on, it'll be sexy. Just take off your clothes. Give Jana something to remember you by."

Jill pushes me into the closet and I begin to slough my outfit. Shirts and shoes doffed, no problem. My jeans are wreathed around my ankles when I hear Jana's voice. I trip. The closet door springs opens. There are ten other females in the room. I am in my underwear. The girls begin to laugh in a confetti of sprinkled giggles.

"Is that your boyfriend or are you just happy to see me baby." One of them says.

"So that's where you've been hiding him" Another says.

"Funny," I say zipping up my pants, snapping my belt into place. Jana smiles.

Gradually the girls filter out of the room. Jana and I exchanged sealed envelopes. earlier in the week we agreed to compose each other eternal missives declaring are love for each other--we decided we read them at four-o'clock the next day. The exact time her plane leaves the runway.

"I have a question for you," Jana asks. "Could you take care of Karen the fern when I 'm gone. I mean. just water her every couple of days....and I don't mean pee on her when you're drunk. I know how rowdy you and Hale get around the holidays."

"Wha...I can't pee on her."

"No," Jana says. I hoist her luggage and help her to her vehicle.

"I love you," Jana says. I volley the thread of syllables back into her forehead, knowing nothing about love. Knowing nothing about giving myself, feeling only that is the correct thing to say.

We begin to kiss. Jana swats tears from her sockets. The car horn is blaring. Jana has to go.

"Goodbye," We both say, Jana in tears.

"Wait," Jana says. "Hi-FIVE!"

We hi-five each other. Jana smiles. The car dissipates. I am standing alone, in my camel coat, holding Karen the Fern in my arms like a toddler.

Our lives would change and thank god for it. In a little over two years Jana would be engaged to a horse-trainer named Chad. When she came into the library to show me her engagement ring I gave her a hug. When we said our life long goodbye and wished each other luck, the only thing I could think of to tell her was "Hi-five." She remained quiet then, and walked out of my life forever.

I saw a picture of her with her husband in the campus Alumni magazine. Ironically it was the same alumni magazine that had the obituary of my father's death.

But that Christmas--Christmas 1997, I slept with the possibility of rebirth sprouting inside my chest. I slept so well. And that chalky December afternoon, cantering across Bradley quad with Karen the Fern in tow, I felt complete.

There was a car horn. It was Hale in his Dodge Ram. I entered the passenger seat and handed him the fern.

"So," Hale said. "Did you hit that?" Hale inquires, giving me a masculine nudge. My lips remained reticent.

"Brother." I told him. "I'm gonna be hitting that shit all my life."


1 comment:

David Von Behren said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I'll be off of Blogger for a couple of weeks.....Peace to all my bloggin' buddies!!!!!!!!!!!