Monthly Archives: November 2009

Gimme Three Steps, or "I Ain’t Never Told Nobody This Terrible Tale About What Happened To Me When I Was Living Down There In The Ozarks"

I’ve never told anyone this story before, other than my father when he was dying. He had asked me why I had always dated so many “crazy women,” and I had given him some crass-as-fuck answer like – “because they fuck better” – so, late one night when it was just me, him, and the morphine – I told him this tale. He was halfway out the door at that point, but raised an eyebrow and said “Sean, sometimes you are the dumbest motherfucker I have ever known – but I love you anyway. Stop being so stupid” – and then he fell back into Morphine Dreamland.

Running away was always the easiest thing for me.

I was living in a very dark and smoke-filled apartment across the street from the main campus of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville was an interesting little town, although I very rarely ventured outside of my cave. Smoke runs. Odd-houred journeys to the laundry room of the apartment complex down the hill behind me. One very ill-advised and spontaneous joyride in a running car that was left idling out in front of my tiny apartment building.

I left it at the Denny’s off the highway – I‘m not a fucking savage. I really wanted a Grand Slam and a bottomless coffee. I wanted to see other haggard and restless night-time faces.

Most of my days were spent with me sitting on the floor, either devouring a book or trying to write one, depending on how I was feeling that morning. Some days were Writing Days, others were Consuming Days. Most days were Who Gives A Fuck Days, spent in a haze of discontent and loud music.

When I was leaving Brooklyn to head down that way, I made some sort of deal within myself that I was going to force myself to get well in some way. Being smarter than the average payaso, when I shipped my belongings down ahead of me, I stashed a decent amount of the strain of marijuana I was smoking daily into a few of the boxes – so as not to upset my innermost system. I promised myself that I would not buy more – what was there was what was there, and that would be that.

There were a fistful of reasons as to why I had run down to Fayetteville – a friend and mentor I had just connected with deeply had been killed in an accident, the finalities of my Grandmother’s passing were set into motion, as the home I spent large portions of my youth within was sold to a neighbor, and the tumultuous and terrible relationship I had been in when moving back to Brooklyn from Phoenix had finally imploded into a fireball of deceit and indiscretions that made even the druggiest and sleaziest parts of me shudder.

So I ran away.

A friend of mine from the Internet had lived down there her entire life, and she and I spent a ridiculous amount of time talking about how I just needed to get away from the lunacy of the situation I was living in, so that I could heal and write. She certainly didn’t lie to me about her town – she told me it was small and basically nothing more than a college town. What we did talk about was how low the crime rate was, and how cheap it was to live there. According to her, it was the most liberal town in the entire region – which was a huge selling point for a cat like me.

I stayed with her, her ex-husband, their five year old daughter, and their roommate for about a week to ten days, and then I landed the aforementioned apartment right off the campus. The rent on this place was retardedly cheap – less than four hundred duckets a month. I paid the landlord for three months in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than getting my head together. I borrowed a car and went over to the truck yard where all my stuff was at, and started bringing it on over to my new Secret Hideout.

The friendship between my friend and I was already horribly strained – not for any other reason other than the two of us both being very headstrong people who were set deeply into our own roles in our heads. She was a very strict vegetarian who was trying to align her mind and body into some form of healthy, and I was a very strict carnivorous hedonist who was hell bent on self-destruction. It wasn’t good for me to be staying over at their place – my presence was creating a lot of tension within their household, as I found myself really getting along with her ex-husband, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t good for her at the time. She and the roommate and I would go to the gym together, and I’d watch with awe and respect at the level of commitment she had for getting herself healthy.

It almost matched my level of self-loathing that I had brought down to The Ozarks with me.


I think it was my second or third day living there when the police knocked on my screen door in the middle of the afternoon. I was very set on getting myself back on a Spiritual Path of sorts, and had set up an altar on top of my refrigerator – nothing too fancy, but somewhere that I could burn incense and focus during my daily meditation. When I opened the screen door, one of the cops, the younger one, asked me if I was “one of them Satanic-type of people,” which made me laugh in a way that didn’t translate too well. I mean – who thinks a statue of Buddha is Satan?

“Is there something I can help you with, officers?”

The other cop had decided it was okay for him to walk past me and enter into my apartment, and he was walking into the other room where I had music playing. The younger cop was sort of standing in a way where he was blocking the doorway, with one leg jutting across the threshold as he leaned into the door jamb all casual-like.

“We came over here because we got a complaint about loud music. You wanna come on in here and turn this racket off?” – the older cop was obviously not in a playful mood.

I realized in that moment that I probably wasn’t someone these gentlemen were used to – a Yankee covered from head to toe in tattoos, with strange incense burning in front of a statue of what they thought was Satan, blasting Public Enemy in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. As I started to walk into the bedroom, I saw that the older cop was using his baton to lift the flaps to the cardboard boxes that I had yet to unpack, as if casually looking into my belongings was part of the call they had received.

“You looking for something specific there, officer? I just moved in two days ago – I still have plenty of unpacking to do.”

He just gave me a twisted look as I turned the volume down. His younger partner was now standing in the doorway to the bedroom – in the exact same position he was standing in the main doorway to the apartment not two minutes earlier. It must have been part of the Fayetteville PD’s training program to block doorways from possible perps or something.

“Just try not to play your music so loudly – your neighbors will be less likely to call us and complain. If anything, turn down all that bass. My idiot nephew is your downstairs neighbor, and his mother has been calling me since you moved in bitching about some scary guy covered in tattoos who listens to loud rap music upsetting her half-retarded baby boy who’s trying to get a degree in some bullshit. My sister annoys the shit out of me, so can you do me that favor?”

I smiled and told him that I would do my best.

After they left, I looked at the top of my bathroom counter and realized I had left out a pipe with some weed in it, so I took it as a sign that I should be thankful and try and honor what the older cop had asked me. There was no sense in dicking around with fate or jail time any more than I needed to. I also went out of my way to go downstairs and apologize to his mouth-breather of a nephew, who looked like he was going to shit his pants when opening the door wearing his favorite WWE t-shirt – I even shook the kid’s hand and told him if he needed anything to just come on up and ask me.

Because I was all about being neighborly and shit.

After a couple of weeks of hiding out in my cave, I decided to venture out to the main drag and have myself a few cocktails. I figured that since it was a Thursday night in a college town, the odds of me getting into trouble were pretty slim. What I forgot to factor into the equation was that this was The South, and trouble can be found anywhere if you didn’t fit.

I spotted a place that had some Harleys in front of it, and went inside and plopped my ass down on a stool at the bar. The bartender couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. She was pretty in an awkward way – jet-black hair pulled into a side ponytail, pale as fuck, wearing a black tank-top and a schoolgirl skirt, and flashing a couple of really shitty tiny tattoos on her bare shoulders. She was doing that whole I’m-over-here-cleaning-glasses-pretending-you-ain’t-sitting-at-my-bar-even-though-I-keep-on-staring-at-you thing, so I called her over and asked her for a Jack and Coke.

Now – I had developed myself some terrible habits after spending most of my adult life working in the service industry. I was always respectful toward bartenders, servers, and the like – but I’ll be damned if I didn’t say something if something was wonky. I always tried to temper it with a little humor, because I know I always appreciated complaints that were at least presented in a funny light.

“Excuse me, Miss? Would you mind if you actually put some liquor in my glass – I mean, if it’s not too much to ask and all?”

Elvira, the Mistress Of Dickson Street made her way over to where I was sitting, picked up my glass, and then dumped it right into the sink – all while staring me down in a way that I wasn’t able to decipher – it simultaneously said Fuck and Fight. I heard one of the big gruff boys at the end of the bar make some smart-ass comment to her, and she shot him a steely glance. I then watched her as she poured me a Proper Cocktail – again, while she stared at me intently.

“What’s your name?”

“Sean.”

“Where are you from, Sean?”

“Brooklyn.”

“Well, Sean from Brooklyn – my name is Emma. I’m from Little Rock. Came up here to go to college a few years ago, and then I never left. You ever ask me to put liquor in your glass again, and you ain’t gonna leave here neither, okay?”

I let a real slow smirk move across my face and lit up a smoke. Emma smiled and giggled a little bit, and then went back to pouring drinks and polishing glasses. Every now and then I’d look up from the notebook I was scribbling in to see her glaring at me some more. There was a group of extremely drunk kids hanging out over by the pool tables, and a few of the local bikers hanging out at the other end of the bar. They were all taking turns glaring at me, too.

One of these things is not like the others. Obviously.

After downing my fifth Proper Cocktail – which I surreptitiously used to choke down a Lorazepam, I decided it was time to march my crooked ass back down the hill to my cave. I called Emma over to thank her and to settle up the tab. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught one of the bikers giving me the hairiest eyeball I had ever seen, so I decided to keep my flirting to a minimum, so as not to suffer the wrath of the natives.

“So – where do you live, Sean from Brooklyn?”

Emma was giving me the are-you-man-enough eye, while leaning herself over the bar toward my position, lots of exposed and glowing flesh billowing out of her black tank top, like a Siren Call, only without melody.

742 Taylor. The bottom of this hill. Apartment number one.”

She then leaned in even further, reaching with her still-wet hands from washing all of those glasses to grab at the back of my head, kissing me gently in the middle of my forehead.

I really hadn’t planned on this little exercise taking place. Hell – I just then remembered I didn’t even have a bed. Whiskey always made me do dumb shit. This was definitely in my Dumb Shit Sean Does wheelhouse.

Fast forward an hour and a half or so, and I am now not only still buzzed from the benzo/whiskey treat I’d allowed myself, but I have smoked a bowl of my NYC red-haired reefer. I was sitting at my computer, listening to some Miles Fucking Davis(Miles and I had reconnected and our love affair was getting mighty goddamn deep down there in them Ozarks), trying to uncoil some sleeping literary ambitions out from under my nervous system’s warm little blanket of drugs and hooch.

I realized that my intoxicated ass had left my front door open when I felt Emma’s hands rubbing my bald pate as she cooed some ridiculous nonsense at me. I tilted my head back in my chair, and she was leaning down, grinning at me. Things are a little hazy from there, as there was a lot of grunting, pushing, and pulling going on – lust and alcohol always made me an odd beast.

Laying around in a pile of clothes and blankets on the floor, smoking and replaying shit in my head as Emma slept softly – I was watching how her back would rise and fall as she filled her lungs with air when I noticed something shadowy move in the other room near the front door.

I noticed it a little too late, actually.

It only took a matter of a few seconds before the gun was planted firmly in the middle of my forehead. It only took half a second after that for Emma to roll over and start laughing her ass off. It took less time than that for me to realize I’d just been burned something fierce.

“Alright, Sean from Brooklyn – give us everything you got. Money, weed, whatever else kinda drugs you got stashed up in here. You do that, and we won’t kill you, understand?”

Emma was still laughing while she was pulling on her clothes. The big greasy biker guy kept on calling her “Baby,” but she never said his name once. I had about a quarter pound of that marijuana stashed all throughout the apartment, and gave them about half of it. Homeboy rifled through my wallet, and got pissed off when he saw there wasn’t any money in it.

“You’d best cough up some motherfucking cash or I’m gonna put a hole in your head, Sean from Brooklyn. I’m not fucking around here – GIMME THE CASH!”

I stared at him for a good long second – this was the same dude at the bar who had muttered something to Emma – and in that good long second I thought about taking him down. I mean – what good was all that military training if I wasn’t going to use it, right?

“I’m from New York City, man – nobody keeps cash in their wallets unless they’re a fucking tourist or a target. The cash is in my front right pants pocket over there – it’s about three hundred – just take it and get the fuck out of my goddamn house.”

As I watched him pulling the cash out of my jeans, Emma walked over to me all sassy-steppin’, as if this little home invasion/strong-arm was no big deal or anything. I took a step back away from her, and she started to laugh again.

“Oh, Sean from Brooklyn – I ain’t gonna hurt you, honey. This is just your Southern Comeuppance, that’s all. Y’all Yankee motherfuckers always think you’re so fucking smart and slick, but just like we seem like yokels and morons to you – you do to us down here.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. What the fuck else was I supposed to do – she had a point. I let my guard down, thinking that my regular sense of reality would help me out in an alien world. I was goddamn wrong, and I was man enough to laugh at it.

Emma gave me another long and weird kiss as I watched homeboy count the cash he snatched as he put the pistol back in his waistband. Again – a fleeting idea to tackle him and put the gun to his head popped into my head, but I realized that was fucking stupid. No sense in me getting shot or roughed the fuck on up when it was all over now.

“Okay Sean from Brooklyn, we’re gonna leave now – but don’t you ever think about coming into that bar again, you got me? You show up – you disappear out in the woods. And don’t you even think about calling the cops, okay?”

I just stood there like a big dummy.

I watched them walk out the door, Emma looking back at me through the screen door with a look on her face that said “I’m really sorry, honey.” As soon as they were down the front stairs I kind of collapsed on the floor. I was half-laughing, shaking, and half-crying. What the fuck? Nothing like getting set up by some fucking hillbilly motherfuckers – but they were pretty goddamn smart. An old con, one I shouldn’t have fallen for but did. Lesson learned.

After that, I rarely went out while still living down there in Fayetteville. I made nice-nice with the two kids who lived upstairs – I never told anyone what happened, but positioned myself as the neighbor who kept his eye out for everyone – hoping it would be reciprocal.

The one time after that when I did go out was after my father had already been diagnosed with cancer and I was already gearing up to go and take care of him. My friend Carole rolled into town from Louisiana with Fruity Jim and Crazy Wayne.

We had us a hell of a ball – but that’s another tale altogether.

I do still feel guilty about jacking that car to go to Denny’s, though.

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Filed under drugs are bad, i used to be stupid, nuggets of infinite wisdom, who is sean?

Ramble On, or "Awkward As Can Possibly Be – That’s Me!"

The clicking underneath the opening of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” sets my mind reeling into Flashback Alley.

I remember the first time I had the record, Houses Of The Holy, in my hands. Twelve inches of a new world for me to explore. The eerie cover art, with a naked prepubescent girl standing on some rocks that are jutting out of somewhere I’d never seen or been to before – it reminded me of those old books about Irish folklore and Faeries my little sister and I had as kids, the paintings and illustrations inside becoming Nightmare Fuel for the long-off-in-the-distance hallucinations of my Drug Years.

I was probably fourteen years old or so. Music was just beginning to grab me by the balls, right around the same time hormones started to play with my mind and cause me to notice girls and their breasts and the way that they smell when you lean in real close to them. Girls and Rock And Motherfucking Roll, a conflagration inside of my belly.

Never-ending fire, with no need to stoke it.

I had just started experimenting with drugs around this time as well – nothing too heavy yet, just smoking marijuana pilfered from an older brother of a friend. He would sneak enough for us to roll a joint out of his brother’s sack, and we’d get high before baseball practice.

Those were always the days where I felt like I could hit a ball seven hundred feet. The spinning of the ball as it was released during batting practice slowed to a crawl, being able to read the laces and see the ball connect with the aluminum bat in my hands, watching it rocket off of it as I pulled the orb into the stratosphere that was left field.

Endless Summer.

I was about to start High School then. I wasn’t necessarily a popular kid in Middle School – I was far too awkward for that. As smart as I was, I was very shy and gangly. I had just lost a bunch of weight during the winter due to a terrible bout with pneumonia. I had my Bar Mitzvah late – I mostly did it out of respect and love for my mother and her family – being Jewish was something I understood and had already come to terms with, but wasn’t necessarily high on my list of identifying characteristics. Maybe if we had stayed in Brooklyn I would have thought differently, but being Jewish in Phoenix was just a target on my back, especially in regard to the awkwardness and grief I caught from all of my classmates – it was as if I were some kind of alien dropped into their world.

But, being Jewish was how my mother and her family identified, and I wasn’t about to upset them in any way. My mother asked me if it was something I wanted to do, and I saw in her eyes in that moment that she was subliminally suggesting that it was something that I should do, so I agreed.

I went through all of the training necessary to learn enough Hebrew to pull off a Bar Mitzvah in less than six months’ time, memorizing and practicing all of the singing from a cassette tape made for me by our Temple’s cantor every morning before school, when my mother said my mind was “fresh.” I would stand in my bedroom, slowly pulling clothes onto my weary and hormone-infused body, singing along with these tapes. My sister, who always identified with my father’s Catholicism, would walk past my bedroom door, shaking her head and making faces at me because of the terrible nature of my singing voice.

There was something magical about hormones and a foreign language coupled with the rapid succession of time and a need to complete a task.

ANYWAYS…

Around the week before my Bar Mitzvah, I became really ill, coming down with a terrible bout with the aforementioned pneumonia. My lungs were full of fluid and phlegm, my body ached and was hot to the touch. Thankfully, every single older Jewish woman from my mother’s family had made the pilgrimage to Phoenix to witness my “coming of age,” so I had plenty of matronly love being spent in my direction – each one of them having some magical cure-all to take away my illness.

My mother’s grandmother was the eldest in the posse, so I latched on to her advice, being the smart and very attuned to the nuance of respecting one’s elders type of cat that I already was. Her methods were simple and old school – flush it all out with lots of hot tea with lemon and honey, and eat as much grapefruit as humanly possible.

We burned that poison out of my body.

Not only did I remove the poisonous pneumonia from my body, but I somehow managed to slim myself down a bit – which was good, because even though I was constantly active – playing basketball daily, baseball year round, and riding a skateboard everywhere I wanted to go – I was just a lump of a kid. As lumpy as could be. Not portly, but just this husky mess of a boy.

Being Jewish got me my first date, too.

My mother had started sending me off to these Youth Group dances and stuff like that. I was always awkward and self-conscious around people I didn’t know, but my mother would tell me over and over again – “Seany, just act like you’ve been there before – that’s how you learn – stop being afraid already.” The Temple we belonged to was a new one, so it really didn’t have a Youth Group as of yet, but my mother was able to find out where she could send me to get acclimated to being around other kids that were supposed to be like me.

I was sent to a dance at a Temple in Scottsdale, full of kids from all over Phoenix. I would go to the dances at my school, but they were always an exercise in me improving my avoidance skill set, as opposed to me actually being brave and asking girls to dance. Dancing has never been anything I was drawn to – it’s just not in my box of tools. I have plenty of rhythm, and I can sit behind a drum kit and break out the funk to let loose an entire room of jump-stepping, but dancing? Not gonna happen, my friends.

Sadly, this has continued into my Adult Life – I never dance. I danced with The Wife at our wedding for one song(Nick Drake‘s “Northern Sky“), and then once more at another wedding we attended, when she forced me to do it by putting the juju on me and telling me it was “bad luck” for the newlyweds if I didn’t comply.

ANYWAYS…

I only knew a few of the kids at this dance, from my own Temple’s incredibly archaic and terrible Sunday School classes that I had been expelled from for being out of line and telling the instructor that she was an asshole for telling me my Iron Maiden shirt was inappropriate to wear to a Temple. I milled around near the walls, like any scene out of a teen movie from the 80s – just skittering and sputtering my way through the motions of being there. The music they were playing was horrible and not like any of the Rock And Motherfucking Roll I was used to pumping into my system of my own accord. No Thin Lizzy. No Iron Maiden. No Kiss. No Aerosmith. No Sex Pistols or The Damned, for sure.

I found a side door after a while, and I snuck outside to smoke a cigarette.

I was standing over by a column next to some bushes, cupping my smoke in my hand near my side when a girl came over to me to see what I was up to.

“Are you smoking?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh my God, can I have a drag?”

“Sure.”

I watched her as she took the cigarette and put it to her lips. The way she dragged on it told me she wasn’t really a smoker, and her black nail polish told me she wasn’t like the rest of the girls inside. Her dress was nice. She had pretty hair – black, with a little wave to it that hung over half of her face. Her eyes were blue, and she smelled like flowers.

“I’m Hailey. You should come inside and dance with me.”

“I’m Sean. I – ummm – I don’t really dance, Hailey.”

“Will you dance with me if I get them to play a good slow song?”

“Sure. But only if you get them to play a Led Zeppelin song. I bet they don’t even have any. That’s all I really listen to.”

She took my hand at that point. No girl had ever held my hand before. I was trying so hard to look and be cool. I didn’t want her to know that I was terrified. I mean – how the fuck was I supposed to react to some girl who just randomly came outside, caught me smoking at a Jewish Youth Group dance, and is now holding my retarded hand? And now this beautiful girl, Hailey, is dragging me back inside of the big room where the dance is going on. The kids that I know are all looking over at me. One kid, Don, nods at me like he’s giving me his approval in some way.

Hailey and I are standing in front of the disc jockey now. She’s asking him, over the din of some terrible J. Geils Band jam, if he has any Led Zeppelin. The disc jockey keeps on cupping his ear to hear her voice, so she reaches over and grabs him by his skinny tie and pulls him in close and shouts into his ear –

“You need to play ‘Stairway To Heaven’ so I can dance with this boy!”

The disc jockey looks over at me, smirking. Motherfucker.

I cannot hear what happens between them next, because he puts on “My Sharona,” and the sea of awkward Jewish teens is churning to the sound of The Knack like the world is about to end, the room a whirling dervish of hormones and lunacy. I want to disappear underneath his table, to crawl under the banner that says DISC JOCKEY ENTERTAINMENT and hide there until everyone else has been picked up by their parents. I could do it – I could totally hide there for hours and hours without anyone knowing I was there.

“Okay kids, we’re going to slow it down a bit now. This next one is a special request – from Hailey to Sean. You kids behave now.”

Fuck.

Hailey is dragging me out into the middle of the area where all the kids are dancing. I have no idea what the fuck I am doing. She takes my hands and places them where she wants them – one on the small of her back, and she gingerly raises up her ass so that my hand is resting right at the top of it, while she takes my other hand and wraps it around her and into the back of her neck. She squeezes her way into me, even though she is roughly the same height as I am, and puts her head into the crook of my neck where it meets with my shoulder. I can smell how clean her hair is. I can feel her body through my own, every nerve ending inside of me on fire.

It feels as though the song lasts for hours. Just the two of us, slowly swaying there in space, our bodies communicating with one another as if nobody else in the world were alive but us.

Hailey chooses this very moment to softly put her lips on the side of my neck, kissing me gently and kindly. I have no idea if she can feel how much I am shaking. I know I am shaking. Violently. But she takes my face in her hand and turns me to face her, opening her mouth slightly as if to say something, but then kisses me full-on.

Thanks, Mom.

After the dance has ended, all of the kids are milling about the parking lot, saying their good-byes and see-you-laters to one another as they search out parental units amongst the fleet of cars. Hailey is dragging me through the lot, hands stuck together like Siamese Twins. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see my mother standing next to her car, watching me cut my way through the masses of kids, being dragged by a beautiful girl. She’s smirking at me.

Hailey introduces me to her mother in a blur. I am polite – my mother trained me well. I don’t really know how to make small-talk at this point in my life – I’m only fourteen years old and have just had my first real kiss, so my mind is all aflutter and in a different world altogether. Hailey’s mother looks just like her, only older.

My own mother has made her way over to Hailey’s mother, and the two of them are doing the introducing one’s self game that mothers must do when their children become intertwined. Hailey is taking to me, but none of it sounds like English, all I can do is stare at her mouth as she forms words that slip and slide in front of me. She’s still holding onto my hand, even in front of our mothers.

Hailey kisses me on the cheek as our mothers say good-bye to one another, some plan set in motion for us to spend some time together in the future, but I’m in no way understanding any of these dynamics. She shoves a piece of paper into my shirt pocket and gets into the car with her mother – not once unlocking her eyes from staring at me.

“Were you smoking, Sean? I asked you not to let any of these people see you smoking. I don’t want people to think you’re a hooligan.”

I smoke with my mother in the car on the ride home, as she asks me how I met such a nice and beautiful girl. I’m just watching the inside of the car filling with smoke, the way the street lights work their way through the little clouds, illuminating them and the spaces around them.

“She came outside and caught me smoking, actually. I had never seen or met her before.”

The next weekend, Hailey and I went to the movies. Her Uncle was our chaperone. She and I spent a little bit of time on the phone during the preceding week, but I wasn’t very good at talking to girls yet, so I didn’t have much to say to her. I just listened as she talked about school, her friends, her little brother – but I didn‘t retain much of it. All I could think about was the way her body felt next to mine, the way her hair smelled, the softness of her lips on my neck – I was smitten, but had no idea how to talk about any of it.

Her Uncle was in his mid-twenties. We met up at the mall near her house across town. I was an idiot, so I was wearing black parachute pants and some bizarre shirt that looks like a knock-off version of the jacket MJ rocked in the “Thriller“ video. She still had on black nail polish. Her Uncle was wearing a Ramones-like leather jacket, had a face full of stubble, and was holding a paper cup of coffee. Hailey greeted me with a warm hug and quick kiss, which her Uncle immediately made a face about. He asked me if my parents were cool with us seeing an R-rated movie, and I laughed and told him it was no big deal.

He went and purchased us tickets to see “The Breakfast Club,” while Hailey and I sat on a bench in front of the theaters, her hand already fused into the palm of my own.

When her Uncle turned around to walk back over to where we were sitting, I noticed he was wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt.

“Hailey tells me you love rock and roll?”

“Yeah. I kinda want to be a guitar player. I love Led Zeppelin and stuff like that. It’s all I really listen to. Well, and I like some punk, but most of my friends think that stuff is too noisy and loud.”

He gives me an odd look, and then chuckles something to himself about the way I am dressed – something about “nice pants, loser.” Hailey is asking him if he needs to sit near us in the movie, if her mother gave him instruction to keep us separated. Again he starts to laugh.

“I’m supposed to sit right next to the two of you. That’s what a chaperone does. Maybe if you two little lovebirds didn’t make it so obvious to your mothers that your hormones were insane, I wouldn’t have to be here at all. They don’t trust the two of you alone. I’m blaming Mr. Rock and Roll here for that one.”

I’m not too sure what he means by that, so I just play along and laugh with the two of them. Shit man, this is my first date, and already someone is making fun of me? If I was terrified at the dance, that feeling is nothing compared to how stupid and weird I feel right now.

In the theater, her Uncle decides to sit on my right, while Hailey is sitting on my left – Monkey in the Middle. As the previews are starting, Hailey leans into me and kisses me on the mouth. Her Uncle reaches down with his left hand and grabs hold of my right knee with enough force to pop it loose from its mooring to the rest of my leg, muttering into my ear with violence in his voice – “None of that shit today, Mr. Rock and Roll – you understand me?”

I suffer through most of the movie with an aching and throbbing hard-on that I try and cover up with Hailey’s jacket. She has her hand on my left leg, and has been whispering into my ear throughout much of the movie. None of what she says makes as much of an impression as the process of her whispering does – each rush of air into my ear causing more pain in my lap, more desire to kiss her. Her Uncle, who I now realize is as stoned as can be, has eaten not only his popcorn, but also mine. He is now drinking my soda, and every now and then he grabs my knee to reinforce the edict he had previously laid down for me about “that shit.”

After the move ends, we wander around the mall for a bit, Hailey’s Uncle keeping a distance of a good ten paces behind us, watching our every move. He keeps on making these sounds whenever we sink into one another while we walk, sounds that remind me of the promise of violence, the way he crushed my knee and my libido in one simple motion.

Outside of the mall now, my mother has come to pick me up. Hailey and I embrace, and defiantly, we kiss good-bye. I felt a little bit more empowered with my mother being in the vicinity – as if her Uncle couldn’t lay a finger on me in front of her. Hailey feels warm and sweet. I ask her if I can see her again, and she lights up and smiles, nodding her head quickly, and then giving me another kiss to ram the agreement home.

I tried to call her a couple of days later, only to have her Uncle answer the phone. I asked him if I could speak to her, and he immediately started laughing into the phone in a very sinister and terrible way.

“She’s not allowed to talk to you, Mr. Rock and Roll. I told her mother how grabby and kissy you were. She doesn’t want her daughter hanging around with some doper who just wants to get his rocks off. Go buy a guitar and get your rocks off on your own, punk.”

I never saw her again.

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Filed under dumbassery, i used to be stupid, jealous insecurities, rock and motherfucking roll, who is sean?

Cornelius Fakers, or "Protect Ya Neck On Ye Olde Interweb"

So – upon reflection, and after reading through that last Ramble I posted, I’ve come to a very crystal clear conclusion about myself:

I sure as shit hate me some motherfucking Cornelius Fakers.

Allow me to break down the etymology/Seanism for you – a Cornelius Faker is someone who is not who they present themselves to be. Taken from Fight Club, when Ed Norton’s character in the movie scribbles “Cornelius” on his name-tag at the Men Together Support Group meeting, and Meatloaf’s character – Bob – says to him upon looking down at his name-tag – “It’s okay, Cornelius – you can cry.” We all know what a Faker is – so, me being me, I slammed those two words together and came up with Cornelius Faker, which can be used to describe someone who is basically masquerading as something they are not.

There are plenty Cornelius Fakers running around out there in the world, free as a bird, not being held accountable for their fakery and their petty deceptions. I mean – let’s get on Front Street here – I was a Cornelius Faker for years. Full of so much shit that I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as my fakery, the stink of my lies oozing out of me like the sweat of ten thousand Phish fans at a festival in the middle of the desert in July. I lived that life for quite some time, actually – running game on people, making up who I was with each new smiling face I encountered. I think it was mostly out of insecurity, with a smidge of boredom thrown in for good stoner logic measure. Seriously – what was more fun when stoned out of your mind than creating a new persona to wow yourself with?

I had no shame. Truly.

I used to fake people out with all sorts of ridiculous shit. I remember once being at a house party, and telling someone that I had just met that I was writing a book from the point of view of a midget porn star. I explained, in very stoned but glorious detail, how I had come to the realization that these little studs were the norm in skin flicks from the mid-to-late 70s. Every fuck film from that era always had some weird scene where there was a little dude getting blown in the background by some blonde starlet – I used Behind The Green Door as an example of what I was riffing on, although the couple I was talking to had never seen the movie – which was perfect for my ruse.


I saw that couple at another party a few weeks later, and they actually went out and got a copy of the film and saw what I was talking about.

See? Mission Accomplished! I was able to get attention through my Cornelius Fakery.

And that’s really what this type of humanimal is all about – attention. They are usually pretty bright people to begin with, but they lack the social skills and the ability to articulate their lot in life without the crutch of being full of shit. I don’t want to go whole hog and say that all Cornelius Fakers are sociopaths, but that wouldn’t be too far off. Most of them live in this really dark and focused tunnel, where all they see is their con or game playing out – they miss all the nuances and details of the things happening around them. Daily life shit, like what their friends actually think of them. Hell – two of my closest friends when I was in my mid twenties tried to talk to me about this shit one night, and it took years for it to register – I was that deep in it.

But – the lights did come on in my head. Around the time I hit thirty or so, I started to live on Front Street. I stopped bullshitting people. I stopped creating elaborate tales to try and make myself seem like a much more interesting person. I was already interesting. I was already “cool.” I didn’t need to come up with all that fake shit to be Sean – the real shit that I had gone through was totally and ultimately way more entertaining than any ruse or tale I could conjure up. I could hold up my end of a conversation without commandeering it with some fake-ass shit to make motherfuckers pay attention to me.

I learned to breathe and listen.

In this super-infused-with-every-miniscule-detail-that-ever-happened Interweb Generation we currently live in, it is very easy for a Cornelius Faker to sneak up on unsuspecting people and steal their attention. I know – it has happened to me, more than once.

I got conned pretty fucking hardcore back in 2005. And, unlike other motherfuckers – I ain’t too proud to lie – it was a woman who burned my ass. Well, I am pretty sure it was. I met her in an online community of sorts, where everyone has profiles, like MySpace or Facebook – but this one was geared toward people of a different lifestyle. I had been on the site for a few years, and had amassed a decent number of friends/people that I knew – some of them even in Real Life. I had just found myself on the ass-end of a shitacular relationship that had ended in a really terrible and torturous manner. I was fragile. I was lonely. I was easy pickings.

It started off pretty innocently – messaging back and forth. You know – regular random shit that people do when they are trying to connect with another person. Likes, dislikes, all that junk. We’ve all been there, right? She touched on all of the emotional pressure points that I needed to have touched at that time – telling me she liked my writing, that I was “hot,” that she agreed with the way I saw the world. It was like virtually meeting someone who got “it.” That’s what so many of us use The Interweb for – to make some kind of connection with people that lets us know we’re not alone, that tells us we’re not so freakish and scary – hence, all those sites for Furries and all of those sites for Neo-Cons.

ANYWAYS…

After a while, it became pretty apparent that this woman and I needed to meet. She supposedly lived here in NYC, and the cell number she gave me was for this area. We talked on the phone a few times late at night – her tiny little voice so cute and weird at the same time. She was supposedly a photographer, and taught classes at Parsons Design School – and even had a gig for me as an assistant, since I was having a hard time finding work at this point.

When I went to Parsons one afternoon to surprise her – they had no idea who the fuck I was talking about.

Riding the train back to Bensonhurst, I came to the realization that I had probably just been burned. This person never had any intentions of meeting up with me – all of the shit she said was probably bogus. I asked a friend of mine if he had ever talked to her, and he was hysterical – she had been sort of playing the both of us. We decided that night to fuck with her head a little bit, to get a little bit of Brooklyn Justice going for us.


Tragically, he was killed in a terrible bicycle accident less than two weeks later.

With all of the hurricane of the death swirling around me – I kind of ignored her calls/texts/messages. I wasn’t in any kind of space to listen to anyone at that point. I was in the midst of one of my biggest and most disturbing freak-outs of all time. I was still reeling from the death of my grandmother, the death of my failed relationship, and then the death of my friend – and I came to the brilliant decision to move my ass down to Fayetteville, Arkansas – to get away and collect my head, my soul. Plenty of my friends were aghast at my decision, but they were all smart enough to know I was freaking out, and needed the space to freak out.

So I moved.

It wasn’t necessarily the smartest thing I have ever done – but it served it’s purpose. I was able to get my head together. So much so, that when she made another attempt at conning me – I was ready this time.

You see, she created another bogus profile. And she came after me again. I even started to fall for it, until I started noticing subtle nuances in her messages – nuances that led me to believe it was her all over again. This time, she was pretending to be a girl who had brain cancer – she even went so far as to steal some girl’s brain scans that had been posted on the internet somewhere, and tried to pass them off as hers. Me, being the late-night paranoid motherfucker I am, well – I was able to blow those fuckers up and pull the right name off of them. I contacted the girl the scans belonged to. I told her what was up, and she e-mailed me back, saying that this person had been stealing all of her information over the last few weeks, trying to take her entire identity.


I decided to go along with the plan that my late friend and I had agreed upon – pretending like everything was all hunky-dory, and that she had conned me. So she would get lazy. I sent her my number late one night, and she called. Sure enough, on the other end of the phone was the same tiny and odd little voice. She confessed to creating that fake profile to talk to me. She confessed to stealing some poor girl’s identity. She confessed to only wanting to know why I had stopped talking to her in the first place. I played it all off like it was no big deal at all – letting her get good and comfortable with all of it. I told her that my father was sick, and that I was coming back up to NYC for a few days before heading to Santa Fe to take care of him, and that we should get lunch so we could talk about all of this in person. She agreed.

OF COURSE, the plans she and I tried to make when I was in NYC fell through on her end – she had something that always seemed to come up. I told her not to worry, that we would work it all out when I got back up after taking care of him. I went to Santa Fe, dealt with the hardest shit I have ever dealt with in my entire life, and then scooted back up to The City.

We would talk a lot. She would text me at all hours of the day or night. She was constantly e-mailing me pictures of her in NYC, trying to quell the questions I had in me about her real whereabouts – since I had become quite crafty, and was tracking her IP Address, which resolved to just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. I asked her what she was doing in Wisconsin one night on the phone, and the connection suddenly went dead. I tried calling her back, but she let it go straight to voicemail. This pattern continued for a few days, until I had the miraculous epiphany of all epiphanies.

Most people, and I’m sorry to say this, are not very smart when it comes to passwords and things of that nature. A mobile carrier will always set a phone’s password to *1234 for every phone – it’s just how they do it. And a lot of people never think to change it. They figure nobody can get into that shit, right?

Wrong.

The next time I called her and it went to her voicemail, I punched the numbers in and waited. The automated voice told me she had 13 unheard messages. 13? This was excellent news. I sat there on my bed, smoking and chuckling as I heard dude after dude asking her where she was – each one of them using a different name for her. Her voicemail was set up in a way that it read the number the message came from before hearing the actual message. I started writing the numbers down, corresponding them with the names these poor bastards were using for her. I did this for a few days, compiling a list that would eventually have seven dudes on it – five from NYC, one from Florida, and one from over in Scotland.


I knew I was about to flip the script on her. I was just waiting for the right time, the perfect moment when an opponent leaves themselves too open, where one magical and well-placed blow will end the whole dance. I had all the cards now. I could, at any moment, do the simplest thing like placing a call to one of the dudes, and blowing her entire little game up. But I was being patient. I was waiting for her to really slip up.

I know it sounds like I was obsessed and maybe even a little mentally unstable – which is probably true. My father had just died, and here I was, drowning my sorrows in whiskey, Xanax, reefer, and a wild goose chase with a Cornelius Faker of a girl who really didn’t deserve a nanosecond of my time. Hell – I was even taking calls from her while loaded at the bar, and begging her to come and meet me, knowing all the while that she would never do such a thing – she was not real.

Every now and then on the phone with her, I would let a name slide on out of my mouth – one of the names of the other dudes she was running her game on – like, “Yeah, my boy XXXXX down in Florida was telling me about some chick named XXXXX that he’s been talking to. She sounds like a real piece of work. I hope he doesn’t get burned again – he can’t take much more of that kind of shit,” and then she would react all freaked-out and hang up, only to call back ten or fifteen minutes later saying she had “lost her signal” or some other shit. It was seriously the best cat and mouse game I had ever been involved in, yet I knew all along I had won.


I finally blew her up one night when I was really good and hammered, laying into her about the ways in which people like her hurt people, about how she abused and destroyed someone’s trust. I told her that I had contacted the girl that she had stolen the brain scans from, and about how my late friend and I knew what she was doing months and months earlier, and about how I was just carrying out the string of what he and I had discussed that night. I told her that I had the names and numbers of the other dudes she was playing, and read them off to her one by one, listening to the sound of her whimpering and crying on the other end of the phone.

“Why? Why are you doing this to me? Please don’t call them! Please!!!”

Those were the last words I ever heard her say. I hung up the phone in between her sobs and gasps, feeling like I had done what I had set out to do. There was no need for me to call any of those dudes – they needed to figure the shit out on their own. Not my problem. I was able to free myself of this Cornelius Faker, this terribly wired emotional terrorist – freeing myself also from the feelings I had somehow developed for someone so twisted and full of lies. Yes – I had feelings for her. Those types of people always prey on our feelings. Sad, but a terrible truth.

After all of that – I am always a little leery of anyone who enters into my little world. Can you blame me? This world is overflowing with Cornelius Fakers, people trying to suck the energy and goodness right out of you through your little flat-screen monitors. Yes, I know that we’re all Nigerian Millionaires in waiting – we just need to send that initial wire transfer over there to unlock all that loot we’ve been promised. But at least in those cases – we know what we’re dealing with. Right? A Cornelius Faker is a little harder to spot at first – but I know how. I really do. If you ever find yourself wondering if someone you’re dealing with is one – shoot me an e-mail. I’ll gladly help you suss it out.

Cornelius Fakers. Sociopaths. See?

Be careful out there.

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Filed under dumbassery, i used to be stupid, nuggets of infinite wisdom, tomfoolery, true stories from nyc, who is sean?