Chuck Klosterman’s latest book is The Visible Man. It is told from the point of view of a therapist who is treating a man referred to only as Y___.  Y___ has the ability to make himself unseen by wearing an invisibility cloak. He likes to observe the boring lives of others, sometimes for hours, or even days.  He is obsessed with how others behave in private and visits the therapist to deal with his guilt issues over this quirky and intrusive hobby.

Klosterman has written seven books and is probably best known for the essay collection Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.  The Visible Man is his second novel.

We sat at a small table in the back of Aub Zam Zam, a bar on Haight Street in San Francisco, for about an hour, shortly before he was scheduled to read at Booksmith across the street.

I went on a crappy date. Yes, I call them dates. The 27 year old I “dated” insisted it was the first date of her life. She begged me not to tell anyone we went on a date. We went on the date. I know for a fact she’s not a virgin, since earlier penetration ensued.

I was craving a date. Taking a girl to a movie, while holding hands, a little bite to eat and a good night kiss at the end of the night. It didn’t matter we already had done IT a couple of times. I had an epiphany about being single and divorced and 40 years old. I don’t need to play by the new rules.

What are the new rules?

After roughly 15 years of monogamy I found the new rules are:

A cup of coffee is not a cup of coffee. It’s a human way to smell each others’ asses to see if we’re going to fuck. Most likely right after coffee unless you fart.

When did coffee become so sexual?

One night stands are easy. There are hot ladies who want to get their rocks off every night on the streets and in the bars of San Francisco.

For about 10 days I tested this phenomena. When I was 38 I had only slept with one woman my whole life. A few weeks shy of 40 I had slept with eight women. For some reason my brain clicked onto this theory that I had to be in double digits before I was 40 or I’d be a loser.

Time was running short.

And my mom was staying at my place, so in order to have animal sex with someone I had just met, I would have to get to her apartment.

At the first bar there was a woman who was sexy and smart and we were talking. I gave it a try. She was with a dude. I asked the guy when the woman went to “freshen up” if they were together because I would leave the bar if they were. He assured me they weren’t together, so I went into full pursuit.

And here’s the line I used for the next 10 days:

I’d love to talk to you a little longer, let’s go to your place, but I can only stay for 30 minutes. Should we grab some chips and beer on the way?

It worked EVERY time.

Girls like time limits, I know this. It’s an OUT if things aren’t jiving at their place, though we were usually naked before the 30 minutes were up and some hours later I was searching kitchens for coffee filters.

Another hurdle: I’m agoraphobic and the symptoms manifest themselves at odd times. I have even had panic attacks during sex. So, leaving the next morning, or as “they” call it, the walk of shame, usually included a panic attack or two on the way back to my apartment.

But, I inched to double digits. (Pun intended.)

I asked this tall blond girl on a date. We met while we were drunk a week or so before. I misunderstood that she was a librarian, it turned out she was interested in becoming a librarian. On our date, she was so happy about her temp job and that her boss said she was doing a good job answering phones that they were going to keep her.

“I thought you were a librarian?”

“I’d like to be one, but it’s so much schooling.”

The DATE went horrible and I dropped her off at BART at midnight, horny and alone. Within one hour I was naked with another lady I had just met and we were back at her place.

I used the line, 30 minutes, beer, chips, talking.

30 minutes definition: nudity

beer definition: vaginal penetration

chips definition: it’s hard to cum with whiskey, but I can ride for days

talking definition: do you have a clean towel so I can take a shower?

And it happened and I had sex with 13 women before I turned 40. That’s counting penetration and not evenings that turned into oral or hand play.

It was fun, getting naked with strangers and being physically intimate way too fast. But it also felt empty and I felt a little used. And, I realized that my pathetic line only worked because the girls already knew they wanted to fuck me and had pretty much gone out to get fucked.

So, I turned 40 and stopped one night stands, dates, and women and getting laid. A couple of the one night stands actually turned into repeat visits which turned into, yeah, let’s stop getting naked and be friends…actual friends where we got drinks and hung out. But I was done with the new rules.

Girls would give me their phone numbers without my requesting them. I’d thank them and drop the number in the trash on the way out.

No more random fucks.

I wanted to be single, yet unavailable. And women smelled it on me. They’d ask if I had a girlfriend and my answer was, I’m not available.

It wasn’t to be noble or righteous. I had just been monogamous too long and needed my head cleared, to take a step back as a single dude, to figure out what was good for me, not what everyone around me was doing.

Back to my date gone wrong, or my number 8.

Before the film we went into a deli to get sandwiches to eat during the film. It was an industry screening, so they’re lenient on bringing your own food, beer, etc.

I paid for my sandwich and I didn’t put money in the tip jar.

My date flipped out.

“You would give a bartender a dollar for mixing you a drink, why won’t you give a tip for someone who makes you a sandwich?”

“Because it’s a deli. Bartenders and waiters make their living on tips. It’s a damn hard job, I did room service and waited tables for years. Just because someone puts a tip jar on the counter doesn’t mean I’m supposed to tip.”

She tried to convince me on the way things were. But I’m 40. Five years ago there wasn’t a tip jar at a deli. These tip jars are appearing everywhere.

She begrudgingly held my hand as we entered the screening room. That’s when I realized it’s easier to fuck a girl than get her to hold my hand in public. I should have put a couple of bucks in my hand.

Here’s how I think of it. Do you tip the popcorn vendor at a movie theatre? They make the same wage and have to deal with douchier people than someone working at a mom and pop deli.

OR, what about those poor people who work fast food joints? The bottom of the bottom of service jobs. Have you ever tipped someone for a Whopper?

OR, what about a divorced 40 year old dude who just wants to hold your hand and watch a film?

 

To bring you up to date on my life with the ladies, I now have a girlfriend. We have lots of “beer” and I don’t buy “chips”. Intimacy is so much more fun in a relationship.

 

My first night at my apartment in the Tenderloin turned into sex with a fan of my novel.

The only furniture in my apartment was a bed and bathroom supplies. I had recently gone through a break up with a girl. We lived together in the Mission District and I had two options, stay in the Mission, a neighborhood I adore, and live with a roommate, or move into a studio in the ‘Loin and live alone.

I wanted some solitude and I like Vietnamese food.

The Tenderloin invited me into her arms by giving me a sexy 20-something girl, someone who was literate. Someone who came from the Sunset District and wanted to meet me at the Hemlock. Someone who didn’t shave her pubes and respected her jungle down there.

The Tenderloin called and gave me a dark haired woman with kissable lips and an infectious, eager smile. After drinking at the Hemlock we ended up back at my place and were naked within 30 seconds, rolling around on my only piece of furniture.

“Do you have a condom?” she asked.

In my 40 years on this planet I haven’t slept with many women. She was my 8th. I was a virgin until I was married at 25 since I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness. I didn’t have a condom, I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to having sex since I was actually too busy doing promotion for my novel.

I ran down the stairs and outside while the wind gusted east down Geary Street. I wore my clothes half on/half off so when I got back to my apartment she wouldn’t have time to change her mind. There was a naked sexy girl waiting in my bed. It was 2:45 a.m. so all of the liquor stores were closed. I asked an Asian dude walking down the street with a tripod who seemed harmless where I could find a condom at that hour.

He said to try Frenchies, an adult video shop up the street. Then he asked why the desperation and I told him there’s a woman in my bed and I want to have sex with her.

“Can I come up and film you guys?” he asked.

Welcome to the Tenderloin.

I ran to Frenchies and put my hand in the condom cookie jar, buying whatever I pulled out. Lubed, ribbed for her pleasure, hooker grade STD double thicks.

Running down Geary back to my apartment I held the handful of condoms in the air like they were an Olympic torch and I was running my way towards victory.

I found condoms. I was going to have sex. She was still naked when I opened my apartment door.

I shed my clothes. She had a wonderful laugh and we giggled and snuggled under my blanket and got things started again.

I fell in love with her that night. I fell in love with the Tenderloin that night.

I fall in love easily. Less than a week later we were talking relationship and it was too soon for me. I needed to heal from my last two long term relationships. I needed to understand myself and trust myself. I knew my judgment was clouded by my own baggage and my lust for her.

The Tenderloin and I are still in a relationship. We’ve had our ups and downs. Sometimes I’ll gaze upon her and just watch and know if there is an Apocalypse, this is how the people would look and act. Many carrying all of their possessions in carts. Some screaming at the sky with mangled faces because they didn’t get their medicine, prescribed or unprescribed.

And then there are tough Brazilian trannie hookers all dolled up, every once in a while slamming a purse on some privileged suburban kid who thought the ‘Loin was Disneyland and you can touch and make fun of the characters.

And then there are us so-called functioning people. We can walk a straight line, hold our mouths quiet until society deems it appropriate and we clean ourselves. We watch the madness, sometimes with sympathy, other times with dread, knowing one little click in our brains can have us wandering down these streets, screaming about how well our novels were received and about that one time we had sex and fell in love with a fan. It would be a little hard to believe while doing a poop in an alley.

As for the girl from the Sunset District who came to welcome me to the Tenderloin with her adoration, well, there are times I can still smell her hair.

(Havelock, NC)

I lay on the floor and watch her disrobe, her naked body, hovering over me. She starts the shower. She soaps her hair and I watch the lather run down her curvy body, a bit irritated by the moisture since it’s taking years off of my life.

I go to bed with her. I rest on her chest as she sleeps and slowly make my way towards her belly as she lightly snores. Life with her is good.

(Venice, CA)

I giggle, knowing that you’re back home, struggling to pay your bills, knowing you can’t see all the nudity. I don’t need to go to therapy, drink, even in moderation and I stay 214 pages all of my life while you count calories and exercise so you can keep your 32 inch waist.

You don’t see the tears that well up in her eyes when Gabe is heartbroken. Or how she giggles when Gabe describes the world around him, pulling her in, making her care.

She threw me across the room because some lover betrayed her. I smacked that fucker in the head. Damn straight. Don’t mess with my woman, even though she makes me mad because she dog-ears my pages. She makes up for it by smiling when she reads a moment of victory. Oh her sweet dimples.

(Nanterre, France)

Not all is well for me. Sometimes you really wouldn’t want to be in the bathroom with these people. I won’t even discuss the toilet, but a fat English bloke peed in the shower. And the sex, there are some things that if you witnessed them they would turn you off of sex forever.

I sat on his lap for a full five minutes and he just looked at your name on the cover, trying to figure out if he’ll look more French if he brings me to a cafe. Yes, DuShane, it’s French, now open me up.

(Houston, TX)

I remember when she took me off of the shelf, stroked by tender hands. I was like an orphan looking for a parent. A dog with his paw to the cage. Me, me, me, I yelled. When she took me to the cash register I felt like I sent a farewell note to you. This is it. This is what you wanted. Good-bye.

Then I snicker because you will be judged. They do those little star-thingies on those book websites. What you put me through, what you put all of us through for three years? Back when we were naked, when we had no spine. Those days you just sat there and looked at us, half formed, deformed, a few of us characters bloated like we were force fed popcorn and chili. That wasn’t fun, but you wrote your way through that time and now I don’t feel like farting as much.

(Cleveland, OH)

I just sat there, not a care in the world and then this two-year-old kid showered me with a bowl full of milk and Cheerios. Nobody read a word of me and down the trash shoot I fell. Four stories.

By the way, there is an after life, and it doesn’t involve a heaven or hell or ghosts bothering humans or anything like that. Wait a second.

What? Oh, I can’t tell him. That’s funny.

(Brooklyn, NY)

I’m at another writer’s house. He’s good. I mean, wow, the wealth of material. I’m up against his manuscript. I know I can’t call you, but maybe there’s some weird shit in the universe that will make it to your brain and into one of my younger brothers or sisters.

(Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I heard you might adapt me into a film. I wish someone would throw me at your head, what are you thinking? They’re going to change things around. And, have you seen some of these films? I’m with a woman who insisted we watch Eat, Pray, Love. Twice in a row! She brought me into the theatre bathroom after seeing it once.

Yeah, I got to go into the women’s bathroom and I know you’re thinking there are a bunch of bare breasted women applying makeup, comparing their front bottoms and splashing water on each other, but don’t get your hopes up too high on that idiotic fantasy. She just sat there, looking at her ugly mug in the mirror, actually thinking she was Julia Roberts, or that she could be Julia Roberts. We bought two boxes of Junior Mints and she ate all of them before the previews, of course, and I had to watch that crap film again.

I swear on my holy…..if you…if they….if Julia Rober-…..I will hurt you. Somebody place me on a computer I will one-star-thingie the shit out of you. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Powell’s. Goodreads.com. Why would I care, we’re done, I’m home and you’re back in San Francisco doing whatever you San Franciscans do when you’re not writing or waxing your hipster mustaches.

And, you didn’t have that mustache when we started. Yeah, I’m calling you out on it to the world. You were fat. You were a fat bearded fuck. 234 pounds. I know, you go on and on about how you lost 50 pounds and the first 20 pounds were easy because they were heartbreak pounds. What was that pithy little sentence you wrote?

“Divorce is the number one cure for weight loss without a prescription.”

Actually, that’s not bad. And it was good to see you get healthy. Well on your exterior since we both know your insides are just rotting guts and you’re still a tormented artist, blah, blah, blah. I wish I could write your next book for you and call it, I’m Tormented, Help Me.

Forget what I said about Julia Roberts, you and I spent so much “quality” time together, you know what I’m talking about you delusional sod, that I now want Julia Roberts to play the role of Mom. Yep. If I could call your agent and sound halfway intelligent with the limited sentences you gave me, I’d find out. But I can only say sentences the way you wrote them. Let’s see:

“Did you touch her?” Page 8. Not going to work.

“Shitfaced.” That’s a sentence on page 142. You’re not too shabby on the internal dialogue stuff when Gabe says what he’s thinking.

Okay, flipping through myself. Hrmm. That feels kind of good. Flipping through my pages. Flipping through. Flipping through. Flipping through. Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, I’ll be right back.

I’m back. All of a sudden I feel a little tired. I thought I broke something there for a second.

“It was a very Norwegian way to communicate something that hurt too much.” Page 62.

Look, you’ve given me nothing to work with here so you’re on your own. I’ll never speak to you again if the world knows my story through some starving, numbskull actors who rubbed the right people the right way to get into the-.

Rubbed. They flipped through my pages. Flipping through my pages. Flipping. Flip, flip, flip. I feel a bit light headed. I’ll be right back.


When two staggering drunk ladies are mad because you’re not as drunk as them and they ask you to catch up, so you drink more…..that probably means you were already too drunk. (Things they don’t teach you in elementary school, lesson #1.)

So I drink from my flask and the staggering Jasmine intrigues me. I’m her honorable man, the man of chivalry, walking the drunken girl home. She drops her purse and wallet. I pick them up and give them back to her, while salivating junkies stare at the wallet on the sidewalk and wonder if I’m a fast runner. We are in the Tenderloin. It’s my duty to protect this girl, this flower, this woman of intrigue.

I met Jasmine at last call and I scooted to the stool next to her and we talked. She ordered three drinks for her friends, but her friends were already outside. Don’t drink those, I said as she picked up the first one. It was like a junkie telling another junkie they need to cut down on their smack use.

She told me that she got her masters degree in history.

History and philosophy degrees are my favorite degrees. They turn me on. Breasts work as well, but tell me you’re in human resources or business management, and my penis shrinks back into my scrotum. History degree? Can you rub that degree on my ass while we kiss?

Jasmine needs pizza and her friend walks with us. I’m just dropping you off and going home, I say. I like this drunken lady, she’s going to law school. She’s smart and sexy and I want to spend time with her. When we’re both sober. I will come for you and tomorrow you’ll remember me: the gentleman, and the author who kissed your hand at your apartment door. I give my mustache a twist and wonder to myself about the chance of the relationship progressing to the point where I might acknowledge her in my next novel.

Her friend Camille walks with us and seems like a decent lady….I don’t mind that she’s with us because I could seem a bit menacing. I’m okay with it. Girls have to help girls and they don’t know that I’m the last person on earth who is threatening or will take advantage.

I’m still trying to figure it out. This single stuff. The dating stuff. There are some girls I date and there’s no romantic connection and I feel guilty about it. Like I have to break up an engagement.

That’s baggage from my religious past and I’m finding out that it’s okay to hang out and be friends if the dating doesn’t work. I suck at this stuff, but I plunge into the deep end and feel the rush of the ice-cold waters without regard for rejection. Getting phone numbers. Having fun.

It’s like I hit a homerun out of the ballpark. Yet I can only run to second base, and then drift into centerfield somewhere. I lay down on the lawn and dream of meeting a girl who will stick around for a while. Someone where the chemistry just clicks and I know exactly how much milk to put in her coffee. Then, she tells me where I left my pin stripe pants.

Camille is with us and I know that in order to woo Jasmine I should make an effort to be friends with her friends.

Jasmine and Camille tell me to drink more. And I pull out my flask and drink more and they are satisfied. I always bring a flask when I go out. It’s a great way to save a little money while walking to another bar, or an after party….pull out the flask and take a big swig. [Look out for police, they don’t like that.]

I drank and try to catch up with the honorable Jasmine and her drunkenness. My Dulcinea. Later I realize I was already caught up and drunk, I just had a better handle on it. We stumble and I love her hair. And her glasses. And I love our potential.

We get to her apartment.

I start to drop to one knee and go to kiss her delicate hand good night but she pushes me through the door.

I tell Jasmine and Camille that I host a radio show. (Drinks with Tony). Camille asks me to interview her. She insists. And Jasmine plops down on my lap. She has runs in her leggings and all of a sudden Camille’s continued pleading for an interview does not irritate me when Jasmine puts her arms around my neck.

How would you interview me? Camille insists.

Jasmine sits on my lap and it’s like going to first base. I make it to first and the ball continues to sail out of the ballpark, so I appease Camille’s need to be interviewed.

What are you into? What am I interviewing you for? I ask.

Camille responds by asking me to ask her to take her shirt off.

Ask me to take my shirt off….Camille gets adamant, she insists and I’m role playing my real radio show so I tell her, well, I’m more of a Craig Ferguson than a Howard Stern on the radio.

What was I thinking? I love breasts.

It continues and Jasmine rubs my inner thigh, then grabs my crotch and we kiss and kiss while my fake radio show guest waits for me to ask her to take her shirt off.

Camille finally gives up and stumbles onto one of the loft beds in the apartment. Jasmine’s tongue finds my tongue and my hand finds her nipple. The other nipple makes its way out of her shirt and my hand rubs up her thigh until I put light pressure on her vagina, under her skirt and over her underwear. She moans and I pull down her shirt. In a moment of modesty I ask if we can retreat to the bathroom where Camille won’t see us.

We kiss and kiss and clothes come off. She has a bush of hair between her legs. Another reason to really get to know Jasmine. She doesn’t trim the lawn, and I love the running my fingers through the grass.

After about an hour of exploring each others’ areas that don’t see too much of the sun, I give her my information….everything, phone number, email, Facebook, shit, I would have given her my social security number if she asked for it.

I want a tomorrow with you. I want an outdoor kiss across a table at a cafe with you.

Are you staying, she asks. But there’s only one room in her studio apartment and Camille who only wants an excuse to undress for me was on the bed. I decide to go home.

Jasmine walks me to the door. Naked. Her milky white skin in all of its glory.

What was great was she wasn’t planning to get lucky that night. Her legs were stubbled. That made me more excited. Sometimes women are out to get laid and all they have to do is point.

You.

If the man she points to says no, then…

You.

If she has to point to more than three men, the earth will tilt off its axis and we’ll all float to Mars.

It’s been more than a week and she still hasn’t called me. Maybe she blacks out when she drinks and woke up wondering why she smelled like sex. Maybe she found the paper with my information on it and went, oh, his name was Tony, and tossed it in the trash.

I slutted up. My Don Quioxite turned into Eros. Into a Johnny Drama situation from Entourage.

I still want to meet her again. Fully clothed and we can talk.

Bask in the humor and the embarrassment and fun of our drunken oopsie.

I’m just trying out this sex thing like the animals we are.

My post apocalyptic religious cult belief system is finally squashed. A messy divorce after 13 years of marriage, forgiven. And still, I look for the one.

A one.

When two staggering drunk ladies are mad because you’re not as drunk as them and they ask you to catch up, so you drink more…..that probably means you were already too drunk. (Things they don’t teach you in elementary school, lesson #1.)

Singing while riding a bicycle:

Easier if you’re on flat ground or going downhill, but I’ll sing in between breaths up a hill as well.

Dancing alone in the house:

It started at five years old with my record player and a Temptations album and decades later it hasn’t stopped.

Whiskey Thieves, Geary Street, 10 p.m.

My head swims from free drinks after reading passages of my novel at bar. Then I’m invited to another bar, the free drinks decided to go snorkeling in my head. One Jamison, two Jamison, three Jamison, more. I walk over to Whiskey Thieves to introduce one last drink to the party in my brain.

She sits next to me at the bar. She is semi-gothed out. She wears fishnet stockings. Teasing. Exposing the dark skin of her legs. I say hi. She tells me her name and I immediately forget. She is from Chile.

Do you know Hocico? she asks.

Not personally, but I’m familiar with their music.

I’m not the type of guy you would think would have his pulse on an EBM project from Mexico, but I’m full of surprises.

Come to Death Guild with me, she says. It’s a long running dance club in San Francisco that caters to a goth crowd and actually plays music I like, but for some reason I can’t stand the place.

No, I say and sip more whiskey to snorkel through my head.

Yes, you come, we’ll go back to my place first.

Her place?

Let’s go, I say and the snorkeling alcoholics in my brain come up for air and applaud and they call my libido friends in my brain and we watch as the Chilean wiggles her skinny body down the street in those excellent fishnets.

At her place she turns on the radio and brings more Jamison friends for my brain. I grab her close and she turns around and rubs her sweet butt against my pelvic area. Blood reinforcements are called in and my penis starts to expand.

There’s an Italian film called Stanno tutti bene. It has nothing to do with sex, but the title means, Everybody’s Fine. She rubs on me and everybody’s fine. Really fine.

Do you know this song, she asks and puts on a Hocico CD. I nod and go in for the kiss. The kiss is good. I never understand how a kiss can’t be good, but there’s a phenomena in San Francisco of women who can’t kiss. It’s quite shocking to a newly single man.

When I’m with a woman, I listen. Those subtle shifts of moans. Those sporadic shutters of their insides. I listen without a stethoscope.

We kiss and I pull her hair. She moans and pushes her pelvis into mine and we dry hump, me in my slacks and her in her mini-skirt and fishnets. I listen and grab her hair twisting her head to the side and plant one on her neck. She squeals and her dark eyes ask for what’s next.

I tease. I’m soft. Soft kisses on her Chilean ears. Then I pick her up and throw her onto the bed and rip her shirt off. I dive into her erect nipples and nibble and bite and finally teeth with a light stroking of the tips with my tongue. She pushes her chest as far into my mouth as those sweet little a-cups could go. I want her in ecstasy. I grab the back of her head so she can’t move and went in for more mouth kisses.

The little libidos and alcohol molecules in my brain brought out the sombreros and did some type of Ukrainian wedding dance with each other.

She gives half moans and half screams as her neighbors in that Tenderloin apartment either want to kill us, join us or be us.

She jumps out of bed to switch Hocico CDs. I’m out of breath and my body has a subtle shake, waiting for more teasing and sexual wrestling. That Mexican pig fucking industrial act, cock blocking me.

 

We’re going to be late for Death Guild, she says as she fixes her shirt and the Ukrainian wedding dance stops in my head to put their elbows on the bar. They go in wait-and-see mode.

Death Guild. Posers aching to reclaim an era long gone by. Death Guild, we’ll keep this going after Death Guild. My penis actually retracts knowing it will be released into action later.

As we walk to the club we mouth raped each other at every stop light. Every doorway was our chance to fondle each other for a few seconds and move on. I forget we’re going to Death Guild. I forget we bought another bottle of scotch that we drain as we suck face and walk.

Then the blackout.

Fade in:

Int. – Night – Death Guild

Tony and girl from Chile dance and fall. Tony falls on top of her. She’s lucky it was Tony and not some corseted Krispy Kreme.

Fade out.

Fade in:

Int. – Night – Death Guild

Tony looses the Chilean and looks around the club for her, oh snap, they play a Nick Cave song. Tony can’t resist the pull of his favorite singer so he dances alone.

Fade out.

Fade in:

Ext. – Night – SoMa

Tony still can’t find her so he hails a cab home. Whiskey Thieves calls him for one last drink.

Int. – Night – Whiskey Thieves

The bartender asks with a smirk, how did it go?

I can’t believe she talked me into going to Death Guild.

He laughs.

The party in my head is no longer interested in sex play and brings me home to pass out and eventually leave my bloodstream.

I still can’t remember her name.



Be there for installment number one of the quarterly TNB Literary Experience in San Francisco.

WHERE & WHEN: The Makeout Room, Tuesday, May 25th @ 7 p.m.
3225 22nd Street, San Francisco $5.

Featuring:

Penelope Houston (The Avengers, drool inducing poet)
Johnny Genocide (No Alternative, junkie memoirist)
Stephen Elliott (Adderall Diaries, The Rumpus.net)
Paul Clayton (White Seed, humorist)
Lauren Becker (Corium Magazine, great smile)
Thomas Wood (Funny as hell)

Hosted by:

Tony DuShane (Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk, mustache)

Look forward to a fast paced night of excellent readers, lubricating your liver and getting your books signed.

Show ends at 9 p.m.

Click here for a larger copy of the postcard flyer and tell your friends.

April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month and the perfect time to explore the intimacy of a fart.

Let’s get some drinks, she says.

We need pizza to soak up the alcohol, you say, which leads to more carbonated drinks. All of a sudden both parties are loosened up enough to start kissing…..inhaling each others’ pepperoni and pale ale…..which has been downgraded to a faint aroma under the cigarettes you just shared before walking back into the bar.

One more kiss before we go back inside.

More drinks.

Some people bring condoms on a date just in case they get lucky. I bring matches. It’s the new courtesy for drunken lovemaking.

Carbonated drinks and slices of pizza are easy farts to contain when you’re vertical. Once things get horizontal your body makes a phone call to your bowel to relax: Air release A-okay, your fat, cigar chomping intestine engineer in dirty overalls yells to the assembly line.

You make the call to him, but he can’t hear you when the conveyor belts of digestion have started through your lower torso warehouse.

Stop, I may be horizontal, but I’m also naked with a lady.

Clothes are off, condom is on and sex is happening and all you can think about is how much longer you have to concentrate on squeezing your sphincter in order not to let one seep out. You give her your love face, your happy face, contorted into an oh don’t fucking fart you asshole face and she interprets it as a, I’m totally doing it for him, face.

A trip to the bathroom, some running water, relief. And maybe during round two of naked love wrestling your contorted face will actually have something to do with progressing towards orgasm and not holding in your embarrassment.

Kurt Cobain had IBS and heroin helped relieve his symptoms. A different solution for embarrassing moments before making love is to go in to the bathroom, not to let out your beer and pizza farts, but to do a quick spoon burn and shoot up.

Be warned, results may lead to a hefty drug addiction, jumping in bed with your naked partner and vomiting on her. Some people are into that. No matter the problem, there’s always the value of positive thinking and turning an embarrassing situation towards your favor.

Tyra Banks has IBS, so that gives me hope that there’s actually decent content to her talk show. Audio engineers ruin the only intelligent thing about the show with professional software filters: Tyra fart filter at 1:45, then segment 2, :30.

The queen of IBS is Janeane Garofalo. She’s the sexy, funny spokeswoman for our generation. I would love to get pizza and beer with her and just lie naked and fart. Bask in our fartiness. Compare the possibilities of what we ate the day before. I would eat a brick of butt stink cheese right before our date just to outdo her.

But wait, there’s more.

When do you fart in front of a woman? When does she fart in front of you? What happens after the first fart?

It takes intimacy to a whole new level. Years ago, I was married one month after she let the first one rip. I was “saving” myself for marriage and was a virgin until 25, so, like most things in life, I do them backwards. Farting first, sex later.

A fart can bring more meaning to a relationship than spending Christmas with her relatives. In another country. For a week.

A fart can be as committable as a ring on a finger. Or a baby in the womb.

Life lesson learned, never fart first, then sex, sex first, then fart. Yes, a fart is more intimate than sex.

There’s also the fine line that once farting occurs, the sex is over and you’re just friends. Or you’re ALL IN and start changing your relationship statuses on Facebook, iGoogle, MySpace, etc.

Bring matches and be careful kids, relationships and intimacy are serious stuff. They’re not anything to just blow out your ass.


There are two major bookstores in the world, City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco and Shakespeare and Co. in Paris.

Last week I read and discussed my novel at City Lights Bookstore. It was a dream come true. I’m not sure how my literary career can move forward from such an honor. I could die today with bragging rights for my future in the eternal nothingness.

Let me back up…..

***

In 1994 I went to Paris. I was 24 years old. I brought all of my handwritten poetry and expected Shakespeare and Co. to be ecstatic and celebrate an unpublished poet from San Francisco. I had visions that I’d be ushered to an upstairs room and given bottled water while they read over my petit opus, my generous contribution to literature. Bottled water would switch to Absinthe and I’d get a buzz on the smells of the spirits of authors past that also graced Shakespeare and Co. with their greatness.

I had recently discovered Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Louis Ferdinand-Celine. I knew I was next on the list of these greats. My delusion was squashed when I asked about poetry readings and fumbled my papers onto the counter. I can’t exactly remember the reply of the clerk, but I remember my dreams crushed. Who are you?

Customers breathed down my neck as I picked up my papers from the counter and the few that fell to the floor.

It was 1994 and I went to Paris to stretch out my literary wings that were still soaked and unsuitable for flying even in my hometown of San Francisco. Why would Paris embrace me?

Because my last name is DuShane. I’m one of you.

I walked long hours alone in Paris, with my notepad, and a strict budget since the French Franc was strong against a weak US Dollar. I slept in a closet space of a friend of a friend in the suburb of Nanterre. It was understood as only a crash pad, during the day, I had to be out and about. With no one, going nowhere.

I tried to say hi to women, but I didn’t even get kissed. Four weeks in Paris and my lips touched no one.

…..End flashback interlude of my 20-something naivety.

***

Last week I fulfilled a dream. One of the greatest bookstores in the world actually hosted a night where I was the star. It only took 16 years from my Paris disappointment to spread my dry, literary wings in my hometown of San Francisco.

City Lights. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti.

I feel blessed and lucky. I worked hard on my novel. I wrote it in blood. While loosely based on my fucked up life growing up in a cult, I actually have to acknowledge that without that experience I couldn’t have created the characters or have written that book. My novel, endearing, funny and tragic, is a homage to the human condition. Of people standing by their belief systems and making decisions from hearts they feel are pure. Decisions that might damage themselves and others.

I was able to read at City Lights….to discuss these topics….to read and have the crowd laugh and have them in utter silence when I discussed tragedy. A woman asked me if the world would be a better place without religion. I don’t have the answer. I know some people need religion. I know some exploit religion. I know some people are truly good, whether religious or not. I’m not religious, but if I started a religion, I’d called it, Just Don’t Be A Dick.

Without flaws, our stories, our novels, would suck. Without conflict we can’t embrace our human condition. I used to think I was unique as someone who grew up a Jehovah’s Witness….while there are some things I’ve gone through that 99% of the world didn’t have to go through, I know my story isn’t so unique. Most of us are doing our best. Even the assholes. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have spewed hatred at me and personally attacked me for writing a novel that exposes situations they’d rather not have made public. One such Jehovah’s Witness tried to reason with me the only way he knew how, I know your book is true (regarding doctrine and situations), but why make it harder for us to preach?

Then I heard the same thing again. Why make it harder for us to preach?

They don’t even realize they want recruitment numbers over truth. When my book deal went through, I received vicious phone calls and emails from them. They’re human.

It hurt at the time. It still hurts a bit, but my peace is knowing they’re misguided. My peace is knowing that my novel is out there. They don’t have read it if they choose not to, but they can if they like.

……This is the part where Tony realizes he went from funny to grateful to serious to reflection.

***

….Wait, he doesn’t….

Where would American punk rock be without Reagan? Would Henry Rollins have turned into some type of Gallagher, smashing watermelons into a crowd because America actually decided not to be dicks for oil?

Let’s back up further. Would we have Louis Ferdinand-Celine if he wasn’t injured during World War I? Without Celine, could there be a Kerouac?

What? You would like to go back centuries? What if Cervantes never went to war, was never captured and had a posh life? Would we have Don Quixote?

I really don’t know any writer or humorist or comedian or artist that hasn’t suffered. I read them, I listen to them, and they speak to my soul.

I don’t have the answers. We suffer and we can sometimes laugh about it, at the absurdity of the human condition. At the flaws of ourselves.

Last week I read and discussed my novel at City Lights Bookstore. It was a dream come true.

One night, Tony went to a bar to have a drink.

That drink lead to another drink. Then to another bar. Then people bought Tony drinks and Tony can never say no to drinks. One bartender refilled his beer without even asking, and Tony, one never a fan of wastefulness, made sure to keep drinking.

Tony decided to go to another bar and another bar, then Tony took a cab home. On the way he realized that he didn’t want to pay more than $5 for a cab ride, so he stopped the driver at $4.40. It happened to be at an intersection of a bar where Tony knew friends and he drank more.

The next thing Tony knew it was noon the next morning and he was in bed, sleeping next to The Herring Fairy. The Herring Fairy surprised Tony with a tale more embarrassing than David Hasselhoff trying to eat a hamburger on the floor.

The Herring Fairy woke up hours earlier at 2:30am to witness a stumbling Tony. She filled in the gaps from his alcohol soaked memories. She saw Tony taking off his rings. He was bent over the table, with his face two inches from his hands as he negotiated the intricacies of removing his four rings. The rings fought with him and dared to stay on until The Herring Fairy lifted Tony’s head to help him. A string of drool finally broke from the table to Tony’s open mouth.

They gave me free drinks, Tony said.

You need to learn how to say no, The Herring Fairy said.

Tony paused and stared at The Herring Fairy and said, I don’t know how.

There was sadness and desperation in Tony’s reply.

I’m hungry, Tony said. I haven’t eaten all day, Tony said. And said. And said. And said.

After The Herring Fairy listed the meager food inventory in the cabinets, Tony chose Herring and crackers.

The Herring Fairy fed Tony a full cracker with herring. Tony was too drunk to chew. The Herring Fairy pushed Tony’s chin up and down to help him eat.

You need to chew, you’re going to choke, The Herring Fairy said.

After repeated use of those pesky, alcohol saturated jaw muscles, the cracker and herring finally went down.

Whatever happened to that writer who died? Tony said.

What writer? The Herring Fairy said.

The one who choked on a cracker, Tony said and laughed as The Herring Fairy decided to bypass the crackers and just get herring into Tony’s stomach.

Down the long hallway Tony walked, gripping onto the walls, like he was Samson between the pillars. Then he did a face plant onto the bed, giving The Herring Fairy enough space to work at taking off Tony’s shoes and pants.

She finally rolled him over and he fell asleep.

At 5am, The Herring Fairy heard a huge thump. Tony sat on the floor next to the bed.

Did you fall? The Herring Fairy asked.

I have to go to the bathroom, Tony replied.

Hoping Tony meant to use the actual facilities and not go on the floor, The Herring Fairy was relieved to see Tony hold onto the walls and chairs as he stumbled to the bathroom.

Tony learned a valuable lesson that night. A lesson that may help others if they chose to accept help. A lesson that he’ll forever be thankful for.

Tony learned that everyone should have a Herring Fairy.

The End.


Starring

Lia Garcia as The Herring Fairy
Tony DuShane as himself

Does Nick Cave know about my love life?

I found out my wife was cheating on me. Not the greatest feeling in the world after a decade of marriage. I admit, there were times when I met another attractive woman and thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could just…but I put that thought right out of my mind and went home a committed guy.

Not that sex was the only thing to the petit mess that our marriage was. There was me, the writer, and what she thought the writing life style would bring her.

When we dated, I was the quirky artist guy. She thought listening to Nirvana made her alternative and Nora Roberts was literature. We’d go to my place and make out to Tom Waits on the turntable and I’d send her home with a Bukowski book. Did I mention we were Jehovah’s Witnesses? A woman who read anything other than a Watchtower publication was pretty alternative in my universe as a 25-year-old virgin. I was seen as quite a threat to the congregation elders for not keeping up in my bible reading and spending many nights at the public library reading Burroughs and educating myself in the world of literature. Unfortunately the belief system of God’s day of judgment entangled the synapse of my brain, so I had to keep my alternative reading and music cravings on the down low in those days.

A couple of years into our marriage I made a lot of money in the computer industry, which in turn paid to kickstart her career. I gave up the job early enough, before it sucked my soul, to pursue writing. The computer career only worked because I was smart and understood operating systems, not because I actually pursued it in school or anything. I had a tendency of disappearing from my cubicle for an hour reading Tolstoy in the bathroom or sneaking out to Gregg Araki’s latest film. I was excellent at my job at a hands on level, but not a corporate guy who really gave a crap about the future of Sun Microsystems.

In my ex-wife’s mind, my decision to become a writer meant that we would frolic with Danielle Steele at society events. I would make Stephen King caliber money and the film adaptations would pay for her shoe-buying habit. We’d both survive the upcoming apocalypse because I’d write under a pen name.

Let’s back up.

Our first date was a Nick Cave show…don’t tell the elders. There was a silence in the crowd when I yelled for Nick to play one of my favorite songs, Hard On For Love.

“What?” Nick turned around to our side of the stage and walked in our direction.

“Play Hard On For Love!”

“We have our set taken care of, thank you,” Nick replied and hearts spilled out of my eyes and onto the floor. Nick Cave was my favorite musician and I had just had a conversation with him.

From there:

  • Marriage. Sex. Wow, it’s warm in there.
  • I keep writing and taking the wife to see live bands. Don’t tell the elders.
  • I make more money than I ever make in my life and she spends it well.
  • I drop out of the religion, she freaks out and double times as a Jehovah’s Witness to get us both through Armageddon.
  • I go to Nick Cave shows alone.
  • She hides my “worldly” books and places Watchtowers on the table when her mom comes around.
  • I write a novel loosely based on my experience growing up a Jehovah’s Witness teenager. Scared that her gay fashion friends will find out she’s a JW she wanted me to use a pen name. Uh, no.
  • She cheats on me.
  • She repents to the congregation elders for her adultery. They understand. I was such a bad influence.
  • She does her best to take everything monetary.

After three months of grieving, utter shock, weeping in cafes while trying to write, and drinking myself into a stupor, I finally gave it a go with a girl in bed.

Wow, it’s warm in there.

Nick Cave was scheduled for two shows at the Warfield and they were in three months. I made calculations of the women I had been seeing, kissing, dating, and really enjoying. I picked a few to test and see if they were Nick-Cave-date-worthy. We would dance and sing up front and touch Nick’s hand as he’d sweat on us. Oh, the glory of all that is Nick Cave.

I scored an interview with Nick at his hotel since I’ve been a writer and covering the entertainment scene for years. Nick Cave. My favorite singer and me at his hotel.

I interviewed him over the phone before, but never in person. I didn’t tell him about my divorce. Or how I held a personal contest to win a date with me and go to a Nick Cave show. I did tell him I asked him to play Hard On For Love years before at one of his shows.

“What did I say?” Nick asked.

“Our set’s taken care of, thank you,” I replied, remembering every word, every smell of our history together. I told him I stopped yelling out songs at his other shows because I didn’t want to interrupt.

“We probably just didn’t know how to play it,” he said and told me how the version they had in their set for the tour is a lot harder than the recorded version.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds hadn’t played Hard On For Love at any show for twenty years. They wouldn’t play it when I was with my ex-wife, and it took him until 2008 to put it in his set.

None of the ladies were Nick-Cave-date-worthy. I went to the show alone. Dateless.

Inside the Warfield I saw some friends at the front of the stage and stood behind Lia, a girl I had been a friend with for a while. We danced and we sang and Nick Cave sweated on us.


Then, Nick said, “This next song is for you in the hat.” I was wearing a hat and he pointed in my direction in front of everybody at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. I pointed at myself and said, “Me?”

“Yeah, you with the facial condition,” referencing my bushy mustache.

The girls next to my friend in front of me yelled, “His name is Tony, His name is Tony.”  They didn’t know I interviewed him earlier and we talked about Hard On For Love, giving the illusion that Nick and I were really tight. The band went into the song and my friend Lia held my hand and everything flashed before my eyes.

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Marriage. Betrayal. Divorce.
  • The animal drive in my life that craves literature, music and film.
  • Holding hands with Lia. It’s not a date, but a great person to share the moment with.

Lia and I hung out a lot after that show. Still high on Nick Cave. Bar hopping and meeting up as buddies until one night it hits me…..there’s more to us than friends. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s strong and I wasn’t used to someone like her. I messed up our friendship, but she agreed to mess it up as well and now she’s my girlfriend.

I reflect on how Nick Cave wouldn’t play my request for Hard On For Love when I was with my ex-wife. How he never played it through my whole marriage. Then, when I’m there with the right girl…whom I didn’t even know was in the romantic running, let alone the perfect date for a Nick Cave show….then, not only does Nick Cave perform the song, he dedicates it to me.

I am the fiend hid in her skirt
And it’s as hot as hell in here
Coming at her as I am from above
Hard On For Love.

Hard On For Love performed in Croatia on YouTube