It occurs to me that, judging from the stories I tell in a literary way, one might think I have no funny stories to tell. At a cocktail party, however, I'm a different kind of story teller, always looking to produce a laugh. Probably the only reason I get the invitations. Here is a standard in my repertoire, but a tale stretched out a little.
I moved to Louisiana in May of '02. Left my home in the PNW, left steady employment, for a woman I had met online in one of the old AOL poetry chatrooms. It was the usual evolution, maybe devolution, of circumstances. First the poetry, then the private chat, followed by the phone calls, leading to the closer encounters. I first visited her in New Orleans, close to her home town. We stayed at the Dauphine Orleans in the French Quarter for a long weekend. She was a finance officer working the sub-prime loan market, a connection I made only later during the sub-prime scandal and market crash. So the idea was that I would buy my plane ticket and she would pay for the hotel accomodations. Only, she did not have a good credit standing, so we put the tab on my card and she would pay me back. Something that didn't happen as she would lose her job before I moved down. (Yes, the signs were there early on.) A couple of months later she flew to me in WA State and we spent more time together. When she returned to LA she said categorically on the phone: You need to move down. This I did in early May of '02. With no job prospects, first on my savings, then on my credit card, with my all time favorite dog, Torrie, driving a 15' U-Haul, distance of 2,800 miles covered in 4 days. The trip was my 4th time travelling by land across the country, this time at a slight angle. Country-side beautiful. Best part of the trip was every night reading Dante's "La Vita Nuova", what I had read when younger, this time with mature comprehension of what he was after: the radical psychological insight that a woman is not an object of desire only but rather a subject in her own right and, as such, a fully realized human being.
Arriving in LA. A week spent in a motel room, an affordable apartment soon rented, a job prospect come my way, one my girl had chanced upon. I'll call her Mignon. Employed by August in, what is for me, a dream job, working honey bees and working with scientists. I liken the move to jumping out of a jet at 30,000 feet with no chute, half-way down hearing a maniacal laugh coming from behind a cloud, and then an outstretched hand appearing, offering me that parachute.
Mignon. Mignon was a Deep South beauty, something she knew how to work. Titianesque and with auburn hair. Kind of beauty that's always been my down fall. She was still married, husband a body builder kicked out of her bed, promised divorce always a near event. Mother dead and sorely missed. Father a cruel and abusive man who selectively bred and raised fighting cocks, lived in a trailer with a floor partially rotted out. Three children, 2 older boys, one little girl with whom I got to be good friends. Sons a little troubled, middle child, aged 14, hating me, which was natural at his age. So my loan officer working the sub-prime market was a charismatic Christian. One might ask what is someone like me doing falling in love with a charismatic Christian? Answer depends on the time of day, time of year, astrological allignments, phase of the moon. Some days, when my intellect is ascendant, I'll affirm I'm an agnostic. Other days my body, my soma, signals I'm a Goddess worshipper, Diana the moon can bend my knee on a full moon night, nature is the only temple of worship I know. Just all depends. Two things I can say. I am simply not ideologically driven. Probably capable of falling in love with a fascist, but not something I've tested. Besides, fundamentalist Christians don't much scare me the way they scare my liberal friends. They are all the same, scared and perpetually on the run from themselves, operating out of psychical poverty. So I would go to church with Mignon. One of those megachurch's, the Oral Roberts kind. My reasoning was sound: if I was to take this woman I needed to accept all of her. And I figured that what is spiritual can, should cut through the idealogical. Of course, there is that I truly loved that woman. But still the signs and danger signals. Her oldest son, a good fellow actually who I think thought his mother had done a bit of a number on him growing up, told me the story once of Mignon marking the doors. With blood, ash, or sanctified water she would mark the lintles. Purpose being to keep the devil out of her home. Think on that for a moment. That is nothing short of ceremonial magic, something Christians say is evil. I love how Christians kid themselves. Prayer is different from magic for them. Higher, better. But what is prayer if it is not invoking a higher being in order to succeed to some selfish end or objective. Same as magic. But I digress.
I can't say Mignon was the best lover I ever had, a statement you can make when you've been pushed out of the garden of delight. (Leonard Cohen said that.) I never had a bad lover. Never committed to a woman whose whole self I did not find wantable. Well, maybe once I had a bad lover. But in an act of revenge she told my next lover I was the worst she had ever had, which makes us even. But I can say that, maybe, in her 40s, Mignon was finally okay with the devil's, what?, urge, drive, instinct, need. Said differently the gal was sex starved and sex amplified, which is an interesting comment on what it must be like to have lived 20 plus years with a body builder. Probably all she wanted of me. I'm clear on one thing. I loved Mignon. Wasn't just the sex. I left paradise for her. Went into bad debt for her that took me 3 years to pay off. And after the last time I walked away from her doorstep, getting finally she was bad news, it took a year of getting over her, getting out of the blues. See? She did finally divorce her body builder and find a man in North Carolina who could keep her monied. A realtor and developer. No judgment here. Just a matter of economics in a woman's world.
One more item before I get to the cocktail hour's funny story. Those 2 plus years with Mignon, from May of '02 to August of '04, gave me a suite of poems I could not have gotten to without her. No question. She is the only woman I've ever loved that has driven me to that kind of stark, unreconcilable trope. Loving her brought out in me flamenco's cante jondo, brought me to where I stopped trying to civilize, manage, modify, my life. Maybe one woman before her brought me to the same starkness. But it was Mignon who convinced me of love between irreconcilable natures.
My first year here I was without a vehicle, having sold my '76 Scout International before leaving Washington. I quickly discovered what must be the nation's most dysfunctional mass transit system. Living less than 7 miles from work, an hour plus was needed on the bus in the morning and as many as 2 hours in the evening. Then a mile's walk from the nearest bus stop to my work station. My job can be physically demanding and the hours long. Also, I needed a good 2 years to reacclimate to the Deep South's heat. It was a Friday evening, almost dark. Walking to the bus stop very tired and drained from the week. I called Mignon while walking for a little relief or distraction. I can't remember. She might have already been fired from 2 finance companies, at least 1. She was about to start up with another. Always the lure of easy, indecently good commissions. I guess she wasn't very good at what she did. I was wanting to talk her out of it, figuring what would happen. I wanted her to find regular employment and collect a regular paycheck. In 2 months she would be let go and again I would be pulling out the credit card for her utilities and such. Her husband never thought to pay child support or maintenance and she never thought to require it of him.
So she is talking and I am biting my lip. I arrive at the bus stop, by which time it is dark. Standing right there, not 2 feet from the bus stop sign. Bus comes and passes me by, does not stop. Driver doesn't see me, or so I guess. I lose it. Tired, aching, frustrated I go ballistic. Ranting, screaming, cursing on the side of the road and next to a gas station. Everyone turns and stares at me in my moment of roadside rage. Finally calming down, I walk to a near by bus stop that has a kiosk with a bench. Definetely needing to get off my feet. A half-hour passes, the next bus comes, at last on the first of 2 busses my route home will need. Still talking with Mignon who is standing in her back yard with a glass of wine and a cigarette, also in the evening dark. Suddenly, on the phone, I hear her spitting, gasping, spewing. When she stops I ask if she is all right. In her Deep South drawl, she says: "Sweet Jesus I do not know why you made june bugs." It was that time of the year and in the darkness she hadn't noticed the beetle land in her glass. Suddenly I am laughing hysterically, uncontrollably. Now it's bus passengers staring at me in amazement. I didn't much care. On Mignon's end of the phone there is silence. Finally, in a prim, even curt voice, probably with pursed lips, she says: "I suppose you find that funny." "Maybe just a little, Sweetheart, but I sure thank you for giving me a laugh." Then she says, again that drawl of hers: "Well, I'm serious. When I get to heaven I have a list of questions I'm going to ask the Lord and that's one of them."
Coda to my story. After I came back to my senses and broke off the liason, Mignon tried a few times to contact me. I confess I called her once late at night. But that was only because a hurricane was coming through and had reached the parish. I felt I should make sure she, her middle child, and her sweet little girl were all right. Anyway, not sure why she felt she needed to tell me what she said in one email. Was it an explanation, a confession? Answer unclear. The information shocked, stopped, nonplussed me. After the fact, I would learn she was a Rapturist, believed in the End Days. I had fallen in love with the kind of person I figure is the perfect nihilist. When you are among the elect, know you will be risen up to heaven just before the earth's holocaust, nothing matters. What you do and how you behave, who you love, who you loan shark, none of its matters. Nor does the earth. Wrote a poem to that moment of reckoning. Poem says if I had to choose between Mignon's sweet body of Rapture and the earth on fire I would stay with the earth.
Last edited by Terreson, Aug/3/2014, 2:19 am