In the past several weeks I’ve given a lot of thought to reinvention. This is, in no small part, due to the fact that I’m trying to completely reinvent myself as a woman, friend, potential lover, and as a participator on this weird, spinning ball.

My love affair with America was inflamed today as I sat at the bar of Margie’s Diner on the verge of the 101.

Lit up by determined, crimson letters flashing *Real Food* *Real Food* *Real Food* a man in a stained and faded hunting jacket stirred his coffee for the seventh minute and a waitress licked her lips and winked at me… and my heart skipped a beat.

I used to write. I used to write a lot. I wrote about everything that happened to me, the daily minutiae, the ups and downs and highs and lows. Hundreds of people tuned in when I posted online to hear about my sex life, my love life, my boozy escapades and narrow escapes, my darkness and light. And then one day I stopped. I got happy and distracted. I became enmeshed in a loving relationship and kept my stories safe and secret. I got caught up in caring for someone and making a home. I put writing aside. I stopped sharing the ups and downs. I held my cards close to my chest and even, over time, grew to distaste the idea of writing about my life. I became grossed out at all the TMI-ness of it all. The very thought of writing something personal provoked a Pavlovian gagging in my throat.

“I can’t remember what you look like,” I admitted to Cole one day. “I know I thought you were a bit on the yummy side, but let’s face it, I was drunk and slovenly and talking shit on a chaise to a total stranger.”

He paused.

“Check your email,” he said.

He’d sent me a photo of himself walking away from the camera. A tall body and the back of a messy head was all that was visible.

“You’re an asshole,” was all I could muster.

“Check it again.”

I checked.

“Yep, you’re funny.”

I examined the crime scene. Self portraits with spilled red paint can appear quite realistic and gory if you squint hard enough.

“Nice. You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you.”

The months passed. Two of them, to be exact. Weird things kept happening that hinted at a cosmic intervention working for us as a couple.

One night Cole went to a dinner party in LA and sat next to an old friend to whom he described the tall, mad Australian girl who was capturing his heart and mind from the other side of the world. His friend looked at him quizzically and interjected, “Oh. You must mean Zoë Brock. Where the hell is that wild horse of a woman these days, anyway?”

Soon I would be heading to Fiji, to begin work on a book project I’d been commissioned to research and write for, a project that fell by the wayside after many hapless adventures in paradise and a falling out with the contractor. In Fiji I’d be harder to contact, via email or phone.

“You know,” Cole stated one day. “All I need is a formal invitation and three days notice, and I’ll be anywhere you tell me to be.”

It was a scary proposal.

Do you meet your perfect person, only to have them be a lesser creature in reality than what you imagined? Or do you keep the status quo and let this cerebral love stay an indefinite, intangible, gossamer thing?

“Maybe,” he added. “We meet soon, or maybe we never meet at all? You decide. By the way, a magazine I never subscribed to just arrived INSIDE MY HOUSE, and the cover story is ‘Romantic Getaways For two In Fiji’, just so you know.”

A mystery? A sign?

Compelling, confusing stuff.

So I did what every sensible Australian girl in Melbourne does when confronted with a dilemma….

…. I flew to Sydney and got wasted.


“This is an insane story. You have to meet him.”

“I’m terrified.”

“Shut up. You have to invite him.”

“What if it’s horrible, Sar? What if he has a tiny little invisible penis?”

“Well… Considering he’s that tall it’s almost an impossibility. Granted, that would be a fucking disaster, but you’re never going to know unless you meet him.”

“Pass me the damn tequila.”

“Lemon? Here, salt. Tell me more.”

“I don’t know what else to tell. Tall, dark, and kinky as a twisted pipe-cleaner.”

“He sounds perfect.”

“Did I mention he works for an environmental cause?”

“You’re fucked then. This is it.”

“Oh god.”

“Invite him. Now. Here, tequila, laptop, email…. now.”

Blearily I typed.

Dear Mr —— Esq,

This is a formal invitation written on behalf of one Zoe Brock, by one Zoe Brock, to invite you to join her in Sydney, Australia at your earliest convenience, for fun, frivolity and other indoor sports, maybe, and to potentially accompany her to Fiji (unless homicide has been enacted upon either of the above parties, by either one of the above parties) within the allocated Australia-time.

Sincerely and with much trepidation,

Zoe Brock.

I pressed ’send’. The tequila repeated itself in my esophagus.

“Now you’ve done it.” Snickered my dearest friend. “He is SO going to have a tiny little cock.”

“Fucking hell.”

The airport was crowded and the throng made my head splinter.

“What sort of asshole gets a flight that arrives at 7 am anyway?”

I flushed, realizing I was muttering to myself, and tried to breathe without hyperventilating. The last three days had been a heady mixture of dread and anticipation, suspicious wishes and tentative hope.

From my perch on the railing that separated arriving travelers from the hordes awaiting them I had an ample view of the doors, but there had been no sight of him. It was past 8 so surely he must be through customs and baggage by now? I shifted, nervous, fraught with icky tension, and scanned the crowd of people waiting for someone special or new. I surveyed the crowd of lifted, expectant faces, the broad smiles and eager eyes and… oh, shit… there… on the outside of the crowd… watching me with a wicked glint and a rumpled demeanor… stood a tall, scruffy devil in a Gucci tuxedo.

He grinned.

I blushed a horrid shade of brilliant vermilion.

I smiled. Shy.

We stared at each other with quizzical joy.

“Hello,” I squeaked.

“Hello there.”

“Nice tuxedo.”

“Thanks. I thought you might not recognize me unless I wore it.”

“Did you change into it on the plane?”

“Nope,” he beamed with pride. “I checked in wearing this sucker and, let me tell you, I got some hella props from the brother behind the desk.”

There are moments in your life when you are overwhelmed with certainty. Of course I say this with the ugliness of retrospect and the knowledge that the love affair I’m describing didn’t have the strength, foundation, or capacity to survive the difficulties it encountered, but for a while there it was the most obvious thing in the cosmos. The world had thrown us together.

Those first few hours were an odd dream. We fitted. It was so easy and nice, so right and natural. We were dazed.

The hotel was perfect and the French bubbles cold. I can’t remember if we drank from glasses, or straight from the bottle, regardless, we didn’t need alcohol, we were already intoxicated.

We got naked. We screwed and giggled and played and talked and fucked and kissed and laughed and examined each other. It was beautiful.

Drunk on sex and love and duty-free booze I confessed my size-terror. He was amused. “That’s nothing,” he replied. “My friends have been telling me all along that you were probably a man.”

The next day was Cole’s birthday and we celebrated with feasts and wine and sneaky, public sex in a park as the afternoon wore into night. And the next day we flew to Fiji.

Paradise.

With an edge.

If I’d known how Fiji was going to impact on my spirit and sanity, and ultimately upon my new relationship, I might not have gone, but I didn’t know that and I boarded the plane with a hope-filled heart and head dizzy with love.

To be continued……

His name was Cole and beside him I looked like a midget.

At six feet tall this is no mean feat.

We met at The Chateau Marmont late on a Spring evening. I wore red leather fuck-me boots and eyes of smoky green, he wore a vintage tuxedo with the word GUCCI embossed all over it.

I looked hot and he looked ridiculous, but in a most intentional way.

We started talking by accident, somehow drawn to each other from across the room, snug in the cushions of a beaten-up chaise. It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was an electric one. We recognized each other but knew we’d never met. He made me laugh, he drew me in, and five minutes later I left him to catch a flight to Australia with no idea when I’d return. I scribbled my email for him in his raggedy journal, downed the remnants of my vodka with regret and stood to go.

Cole stood too, bound by his southern gentlemanly impulses.

“Jesus!” I laughed as he unfurled. “Are you wearing heels?”

My memory of his reply is hazy, but I know it was filthy. I cocked my head, smiled and disappeared, tipsy on white spirits, out into the night. And, in an instant, the vision of that scruffy, lean and towering creature vanished from my mind.

The jet lag was, as usual, revolting and Melbourne had already begun to turn cold. My suitcases remained unpacked despite my being back a day or two, and my sadness at having to leave America was compounded by the last vestiges of a deep depression and a fear of the unknown. I was lost, confused, without direction and had returned to live, by necessity, with my mother, an adventure neither she nor I were much enthused about embarking upon.

Still, I was alive

… but then I received an email.

“Zoë,

Excellent meeting you at the Chateau… As we talked about good passages I thought you might appreciate this one:

Smoker paused, He was, this night, experiencing a familiar buoyancy — rather to the detriment of his diplomatic skills. In the inside of his big boxy black suit there nested an enticing email from his cyberpal “k”.  In response to Smoker’s query “what kind of a role do you think sex plays in a healthy relationship?   She’d e’d: ” a minor 1. have we all gone stark raving mad? let’s keep a sense of proportion, 4 god’s sake it should only happen last thing @nite, as  a [email protected] prelude 2 sleep.  none of these dreadful sessions. I find a few stiff drinks usually helps– don’t u?”  Reading this, Smoker became belatedly aware that his most durable and fulfilling relationships had been with dipsomaniacs.  To put it another way, he liked having sex with drunk women.

There seemed to be three reasons for this.

One: they go all stupid.

Two: they sometimes black out (and you can have a real laugh with them).

Three:  they usually don’t remember if you fail.  Takes the pressure off.  Common sense.

I hope you are well and that Australia is more rewarding than LA, which at the moment — for reasons that have nothing to do with the weather or surf or anything of the like– seems a bit like Bakersfield without the glitz.
Cole

I wasn’t sure how to respond, but respond I did.

Cole,

Fortunately I am not one of those of those overly analytical and earnest types who sit around trying to discern why exactly an almost total stranger would send me such a daring passage, or what his intentions were behind it.

Considering that I was several vodkas down, and at least a bottle of sake, when I threw myself shamelessly at you on that chaise, then I’m surprised as hell that your face springs immediately to mind. It’s a nice face. Look after it.

I’m stagnating in Melbourne and doing such un-Zoë things as meditating and taking time to smell the pretty flowers. This is unlike me, for I am normally thinking up bitter diatribes and sarcastic remarks about such Californian past-times.

See you, Smoker.

Z

Zoë,

There could be numerous explanations for such an email but the ones that matter boil down to three:

1)  I am a dipsomaniac and, not so subtly, I am suggesting a good dipsomaniac romp — if in fact dipsomaniacs have good romps which, and here perhaps I reveal too much, I am not sure is possible…
2)  I am not a dipsomaniac sex addict and therefore this would eliminate #1 but spawn two separate possibilities as to why I led with such a daring passage which a) and b) are meant to identify:
a)  I wanted to see if whether or not you were one of those overly analytical and earnest types who sit around trying to discern why an almost total stranger would send such a daring passage  which, if you were,  could elicit  two responses from you which are examined in the names of sub category (Y) and (Z) and one response from me in the name of (X):  because, (Y) You would never write back for you could just not figure out what to say; or, because (Z) you would write back but it would be something like: “Please never contact me again and I am calling the cops “;  and, a response in the form of (Y) would have resulted in (X) my utter lack of interest or, in the case of (Z), jail time, which could be considered (X—).  So a chart of this response would look something like this:
Y=X=utter lack of interest
Z=X=jail time
Y+Z=X—=utter lack of interest and jail time (worst option)
b)  irreverence unearths  irreverence, even in the cloud of a haze of a sake/vodka, and such an email might be designed to confirm such a theorem and in the process identify an admirable quality that the two people on the chaise might have had in common.
3)   Similar to #2– I am not a dipsomaniac — but sending such an email is a way of trying to get laid — admittedly, an odd, and possibly piss poor one, but men are men and we will try anything for sex and  you can’t trust us for a minute.

Not to worry:  smelling flowers and meditating are quite good things, particularly when they are done outside of LA where the world still views them as counter-cultural; moreover, such activities usually inspire particularly brutal diatribes and sarcastic remarks when you return and find those people doing them in LA who still think they are counter-cultural in LA and therefore are not sincere, which means you can unload both barrels of what I guess — when you want it to be –  is a high caliber mouth…and if I am wrong about the high caliber part, then I am certainly not wrong about the beauty of it or the fact that you are really fucking tall…. do you date short guys?  I was wearing stilts underneath my tuxedo and that is why I want to know.

C

C,

Because you so suavely managed to avoid answering any of the questions you yourself posed, I feel obliged to use my own expertise as a semi-retired dipsomaniac (but still a general maniac) to help you out.

Yes, dipsomaniacs DO have good romps. They just have problems remembering with whom, where, why and even IF they took place. This syndrome is generally accompanied with a vaguely sore feeling in the nether regions and confused yet (hopefully) satisfied expression.

No I definitely am not the earnest type. In fact, earnestness is my one of my least favorite character traits. This is why I have scorned the ‘acting track‘ – shudder – for the last year and resigned myself to a complete and utter nervous breakdown in Australia. My aversion to all things earnest has earned me numerous detentions in high school, some rather unflattering nicknames around the globe, and gives me the opportunity to have fun at a funeral, something I did very recently.

I am allergic to charts and math. In response to them I suffer from the following –
X= modelitis
Y= meltdown and
Z= facial tic

so X+Y+Z= the need to resort to dipsomania and have a bloody good romp as a consequence.

AH.

OHHH…. I see where you were leading….. nice!

The cops are weary of me and wouldn’t help me out if I begged them too, so you are safe for the moment.

Your (2)(b) earns you the most Brownie points and makes me wonder how many frequent flier points you have accumulated. Australia must be about 70,000.

Men are not the only horny creatures, Australian women can scare the crap out of their native counterparts.

Yes. I am tall, but I’m worth the climb. There are 6 feet of me all up, and I wear 6″ heels to intimidate people, because I fucking well can, you shortarse.

Z

For weeks we wrote to each other without ever speaking. It was a game, an intrigue. Neither of us could sleep. The things we wrote to each other were exciting, crude, weird, fantastic. We were elevated above the mundane by our refusal to even touch on the most obvious of questions. There was no talk of birth dates, star signs, schools and personal history, there was only imagination.  We skipped the details and got straight down to the mentality of each other.

One day I asked him why he’d never called me, considering my phone number was part of the automatically generated signature at the bottom of every email.

Instantly the phone rang.

My heart skipped, stopped and raced as I reached for the receiver.

“Because you never asked me to.” Voiced a slow drawl from across the ocean.


To be continued…