Let me start by saying I loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Loved it. Such a smart movie. Such great writing. So god damned smart. Why they can't market such a great film boggles me. I'm boggled.
My Sunday started as it normally does, I got up and finished up my review, then spent some time going over tearsheets for the J with the editor. Today we finished early around four, and with three and half hours until my date, I decided I'd run some errands that I wanted to get done before Turkey vacation. I got a hair cut and grabbed two books for the flight and personal edification: Profoundly Erotic, and The Moviegoer, which I should have read a long time ago. The barber talked my ear off in a good way, telling me stories about his father, and about how the AIDS epidemic killed off all the good art in the 80's. As his gentials seemed to rub against me once or twice, well, I'm adult and it didn't bother me, but it was notable. With enough free time, I went to Amoeba and grabbed A Man Escaped and Cop. And it's sort of shameful that I know which I'll watch first. But I still had a bit of time to kill, so I waited outside the Arclight reading Profoundly Erotic, and popping my head up like a kid waiting for his x-ray specs. Aili took a cab and showed up about five minutes before the movie began. Admittedly I started sweating about ten minutes before she showed. I shouldn't be this nervous, I know, we're married, but I can't help it.
The movie was great, and then we headed over to this Thai restaurant nearby. Aili said nothing of the haircut, and I had that moment where I was having a conversation with myself about what a girl I am about this stuff, but then it's like "hey we were hanging out on Friday, and this is my God Damned wife." She liked the film okay, but she's not all that movie critical. She works as an administrative assistant for an Entertainment lawyer, but unlike 99% of the LA immigrants, she's got no cinematic aspirations that I know of. She liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but she says she rarely goes to movies, and she's mostly a reader, but she sees "the good films when I hear about them enough." That said, we had a good dinner - I got her to laugh a couple of times, just riffing on stuff. Somehow it came out that a big cultural reference for her was Facts of Life, she had seen numerous episodes while she was growing up, and we had a nice long talk about how the show is horrible, but we were both addicted. The conversation came to a bit of an abrupt end when I said I get her the box set when it comes out as a wedding gift. "That's a nice thought (pause)." Conversation reboot.
In fact it wasn't until we split the check that the conversation got lighter. I still only know her slightly, I know a little about her childhood (she has an older sister and a younger brother, both of whom are in Europe still. Her sister is married to a East Ender and has picked up a slight British accent, while her brother still lives in Finland and lives with his partner. He's a hairdresser, so - based on scant evidence - I guess hairstyling is a common profession the world over for homosexual men), and her parents (they're still together and her mom works as a nurse, while the father is a retired architect. Crazy). As we exited I said "Shall I give you a ride home?"
I didn't expect her response: "Would you knock it off with the passive aggressive tactics, Damon?"
As someone who was raised in a matriarchal household my first assumption was that she was right, and that I was guilty. "What's wrong with me saying 'Can I give you a lift home?'" "I told you earlier that I needed a ride home, why are you asking?" "Because it slipped my mind." "No it didn't." "Now you're telling me what's going on in my mind?" "Look, let's drop it."
We get to the car, and she wants to smoke. I roll down the windows, and put on More Songs About Buildings and Food (from The Talking Heads box set Brick, buy it now, the 5.1 mixes are insane). While driving I tucked my right hand under her leg which stood for about a minute and then the argument transpired. I wish I had recorded it, but this is what is echoing through my mind right now. And this is hard, I shouldn't reveal this much about myself or her, but I feel bad, and I'm trying to work through this, so if I delete this in a couple of days, you know, there you go. I'm embarrassed by my behavior, but here is an approximation/greatest hits:
"It seems all you American men are defined by your high school experiences."
"What were you like as a teenager?"
"I watched a lot of movies. I hung out with my friends. I had friends. I didn't date much but enough. I wasn't a geek, I just lived in a bubble, and then when college hit, I became more socially refined - I think most people liked me, but I was too busy watching movies. I entered the Mr. Lincoln contest, like the male version of the prom queen, and came in second from what I heard. Hell, I was even on MTV at one point. I still have video of that lying around somewhere if you want to see. Most of my issues revolve around Daddy, and his illness. What do you want to know?"
"Damon, you're aggressive and passive at the same time. I don't know where it comes from so can't get a read on you. It's like you want to jump me but you'll do everything but jump."
"Would things go easier if I jumped you?"
"So then what?"
"Why do you insist on making this so difficult?"
"How am I making it difficult?"
"You're an entire boxed set of mixed signals."
"A Facts of Life box set?"
"Did you have a couple of drinks earlier?"
"Maybe a couple."
"Jesus, should you be driving?"
"It's fine, quit changing the subject. You're my wife Aili, and I know it's a marriage of convenience, but I can't just pretend we have a relationship. What we're doing is a federal offense. I'd feel better about it if I actually knew and cared about you a little more."
"And you want to fuck me."
"Just say it."
"This is what I'm talking about. I'm asking you a direct question and then you get sheepish."
"Are you asking if I would have married you if you were ugly and still gave me ten grand, well, the answer is probably. I do like you as a person."
"You barely know me."
"I'd like to."
"But again, there you go. I asked you a direct question and you danced around it."
"Do you (pause) want to (pause) fuck me."
"Why do you have to ask me that?"
"It's not a gentlemanly thing to answer."
"Do you want to fuck me? Would you be happy if I grabbed your inner thigh, and started massaging?"
"That's not fair."
"You know what's not fair? You."
"How do I not come out as a creep in this situation? If I say yes and you're just teasing me, then I lose. If I say no, then I'm either lying or mean. I'm a guy, I'd fuck most anything."
"There you go again, deflecting."
"Okay, I want to fuck you. I've wanted to fuck you since we met, and me marrying you is just an elaborate stratagem to get into your pants."
"Even now you're dancing around the point."
"Maybe, but I still used the word stratagem, and I think I deserve points for that."
"Are we there?"
"No, you go up to Pico and turn right, then it's still about two miles."
"When we move in together, where are you thinking?"
"Well we both work in Burbank, so around there would be good."
"I could ask my apartment manager if they have a two bedroom near where I'm at."
"Can we get back on the subject?"
"This is Pico, take a right, then what."
"It's not that hard from here, I'll point it out when we get there."
"This is my favorite Talking Heads song. 'I wouldn't live here if you paid me to.'"
"I love them. I grew up listening to Remain in Light Side one every night. My sister Lilliah... Look what you did, you tried to change the subject again."
"No, what happened was that you had to give me directions and the conversation went from there. I love this song."
"I was asking about you wanting to have sex with me."
"And I was using the word stratagem."
"Are you fucking twelve?" (her Finnish accent stings me every time I think about this "Are you fuck-king twelve?")
"Why are you making this so hard?"
"I don't know how I'm making this hard."
"If you go for a pun on the word 'hard' then you'll have to let me out of this car."
"Here's the thing, if I say yes the whole situations become inorganic."
"What does that mean?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Do you want to fuck me?"
"Yes, okay, yes."
"So you think I'm a whore?"
"Hey, you paid me ten grand."
"I don't think you're a whore, and yes I would like to have sex with you."
"How's that going to work?"
"I don't know."
"Some people I know, they didn't get their Green card for a couple years after they had been in the country. Do you think I want to jeopardize that with love?"
"You don't think I'd be honorable?"
"When it comes to love... Turn right here."
"Wait, hold on, did you marry me because you're not attracted to me?"
"So you are attracted to me."
"It's on the left. Park here."
"I had a nice night, Damon."
"Do you want me to walk you to your door?"
"So you can make more offhand flirtations and then settle for a dissatisfied hug?"
"Is that as good as it gets?"
"You make this so fucking difficult, Damon."
"Do I, I'm not even trying."
I parked, (miracle of miracles there was a spot near here place) and got out and gave her a hug goodnight. She started crying. I held her for a moment or two before she got upset and stormed into her building.
I've been drinking since I got home, and will continue to. I pick through our conversation like a child picking through bat shit looking for the skeleton of a mouse. And I can't do justice to what we were talking about, sadly. And I feel guilty as a writer writing out her and my side of things, cause I just read through it, and I think I got the rhythms right, but again, it's all from memory. And maybe I'm playing up the good or bad side of it, I can't tell. Life is so easy to control when it comes to fiction. Here, I'm slightly hopeless. Am I fucking twelve? Am I, like Tyler said part of the generation of men raised by women who own duvets, I guess fucking so. Maybe I should have said I was a gigantic pussy instead of an asshole at the start. And I wish to God I wasn't crying right now.