A fine line


We were having a nice enough lunch at the Cosmic Cup, when Marcy blurted out, “Why do you have two blogs when you don’t have time for one?”


Miffed by the truth of it to the point of devil-may-care, I just let residual mind shit roll out and splat on the table.   “Because ever since Derrick, I’ve felt the need to wash, to come clean, to purge in print,” I deadpanned.


“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Marcy said, “Can you not be real?”


I just screwed up my face at her, took a sip of coffee, and shrugged.


Marcy pushed her foot into mine and sing-songed, “Who’s Derrick, anyway?”


“Oh, God,” I said.  I looked to the heavens and back down, down, down.  “You don’t want to know.”


“If you’re trying reverse psychology on me, it worked.”


“No,” I said, sighing.  I looked at her, “The only psychology going on here is me blurting out that name from hell in front of another human being.  My mom brought his godforsaken name up last night.  Obviously, that’s what worked.  On me.”


“So?”  Marcy pushed my foot again.


I stared at the floor and wondered if I should trust even the likes of Marcy with such gory details.  I mean, I had to tell her something because I slipped up and said the name, but I had control over what I said next.  Hell, it’d be more merciful if I made something up.  I’m not a good liar, but I’m a good actress.  I think there’s a convenient difference.  And the issue of mental health could come to bear on us both, here. 


If I described Derrick in detail, if I described the fright of his face, with its pitted little lump of flesh left for a nose from an operation of vanity gone terribly wrong; if I described his ansty-pantsy, bossy childlike behavior that tormented everyone who knew him; if I described the depth of his brokenness, then Marcy’s mind might also be seared with a bloodied, sepia image of Derrick, after a drunken brawl, holding in his hand a chunk of his scalp with his long scraggly hair coming out of it.


I liked the band he ran with.  And he’d pestered the sense out of me to date him.  It was a freak thing, like him, that I did.  For two seconds out of time I saw that his eyes were nice and he tried to do a lot of kind things for people.  For one second I was impressed by how single-mindedly he went after what he wanted.  But the other stuff was too big, too insane, woke me up puking my guts out.  And needing to shower.


“Well?” Marcy queried.


“Oh man, what a flashback,” I said shaking my head, shaking it off.


“Do tell.”


“Wow,” I said.  “OK, well, you know I go for youthful faces, baby faces, but Derrick’s was older and pockmarked from acne as a youth.  But he was a successful architect and developer and so confident, I mean, this guy wreaked totally and mightily of confidence, and you know what that does to me!”


Marcy giggled.  “Oh, yeah.”


I continued, “He went after me like I was the best thing he’d ever seen.  The only time we were apart for two straight weeks was when I had to go to work.  He had two Jaguars, a lovely house, and he talked like we’d be together forever.  He wasn’t my dream guy, but he was my dream situation, you know?”


“I sure do.”  Marcy nodded.  “Sugar daddy heaven.”


“That’s right,” I said.  “I’d always thought that’d be nice.  But I didn’t ever think I’d be fooled by it, that I’d ever lose touch with the reality of it…  We’d started collaborating on a project, even…  I pictured our life together and I was so happily swept up…  In just two, short weeks…”  I trailed completely off this time.


Marcy let a little time go by before she said, “And?”  When I didn’t answer, she sensed the need for a delicate mix of understanding and light, so in her awkward Marcy way, she put one hand on mine and patted my face lightly, “C’mon, Zan!  Stay with me!”  She laughed, had cracked herself up.


“Sorry,” I said, frowning, realizing my own head had mutinied, had swapped one story for another, and this one really hurt.  Derrick was just the annoying buzz of a fly compared to this guy. 


So much for acting in the way most of us think of acting, like we imagine something we’ve not necessarily personally experienced and act out what we’ve imagined or researched.  That’s more what I’d planned to do, but my brain went on auto pilot and crashed with icy wings straight into a house.  It performed the function of real acting, to go back through the emotional arsenal to find some real thing to evoke real tears, real emotion.


I lifted myself up just long enough for the last act.  I told Marcy, “It was all a big mistake.  Even my mom, when I called her up to tell her about Mr. Sugar, said that he sounded too good to be true.  He was.  One morning he told me he needed several hours of alone time to take the remainder of his ex-wife’s things to a field to burn them as a purging exercise.  That night he called me to tell me the truth.  He’d rendezvoused with his on-again-off-again true love and was dumping me.  I was just filler between the off and the on.”






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