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LETTER FROM SOUTH AFRICA
MONKEY ON THE WIND
MY GLASS HOUSE
NEW YORK STATE
THE SEX COLUMN
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LAST WEEK's EDITION
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TABLE OF CONTENTS & BACK ISSUES
NEW ORLEANS - 29 January, 2003: On Monday evening, which is my "Friday", I put a woman into an ambulance. That was the beginning of a Rod weekend.
Tonight, a pal's girlfriend told me I tend to make woman have too much fun.
It's time for me to step back from the New Orleans bartender lifestyle. It's time for me to take a break. This is not me.
I'll tell you about Monday and the ambulance scene in a moment. Right now I'm still trying to get over tonight. Too much fun? What does that mean? I'm melancholy. How can I make anybody have too much fun?
Too many of the women I've talked to have been at The Cat recently. I am not keen on meeting women at The Cat for three reasons:
- It's where I work.
- It was the last place a number of people had seen me with the woman I'd put the in the ambulance.
- The last few times I've not been working, I've been on the other side of the bar with a woman. Never the same one twice. I don't want to develop a reputation.
The Lurker and I love each other's company, as you'll recall. Tonight it was her turn to play the flame to my moth. She made her comment after I told her about my last doings with a mutual friend and then the ambulance story and Fashionable showed up in the process.
Somebody made it a point to mention to me that Fashionable happened to be in the house at the time. I said, "To Hell with her." Fashionable has exhausted my non-existent patience.
That didn't stop her, Fashionable that is, from coming over to give me a kiss and tell me that she would definitely be coming around to see me. (Doesn't she say that every time?) Sure, I believed her.
I forgot Fashionable'd even been there as soon as she walked away.
At least I know where I stand with The Lurker - which is nowhere. She, The Lurker's, fun to be around. We have great talks and it's easy to attract other women when you're with a woman.
That's why I need a break, though. It seems that I'm always "with a woman" lately and the results have been mixed at best.
I was "with" Elusive only a few nights ago. She was apologizing for standing me up when I'd come around to fix her computer problem. I listened to her, played with her dog and asked Curtis, who had just relieved me at the bar, to call me a cab. You know I'm not very forgiving, Darling. I got up and left. She's toast.
The next night I left the bar with my pal Janine, another bartender. We've talked before. She thinks that I attract women because I just listen. Scott was in The Cat, so I encouraged him to come along with us. (Remember when I had Matt come with when I left with Elusive a few weeks ago? I like chaperones. It gives me cover.)
The next night I left with the woman I put in the ambulance.
DRAGANA FLOORED ME THIS WEEK. She sent me an e-mail saying that she would read "My Glass House" even if she didn't know me because it's akin to watching "Sex & The City". She's always waiting, she writes, to see when I'll find The Last Woman.
I'd never looked at this diary that way, my love. I'd never thought of it as some suspenseful story, just as my day-to-day travails, with my romantic hunt thrown in along with the details of the magazine's production and my political "hints".
Dragana, on the other hand, thinks I should forget about the politics altogether and be more specific about my (non-existent) love life.
[Aside: Some days later I was in my cups with a New Orleans woman friend who confided that the only column she ever reads in this magazine is this "Glass House". I chided her, of course. But I also thought that Dragana might be onto something. I might actually have scores of women readers who come here only to read about my failures with women.]
The other problem I have with that "Sex & The City" metaphor is that it would be more realized if I were also to share with you the tales about the love lives of my friends. Believe me, in a city like New Orleans, they'd make for juicy reading. But I feel I can only go so far in revealing the lives of my friends to you. It's okay to expose myself like this - I don't have any damned secrets anyway - but other people value their privacy.
Why not pictures of Fashionable, Elusive and all the rest, so that we could know your taste in women?
ANSWER: Photos would confuse you and embarrass me. Every one of these women is different. One is petite and Korean, one is medium of stature and blonde, another is a statuesque sister. The "woman of substance" was short and Greek and no longer wants to have anything to do with me.
I love women. I don't have a "type" that I'm attracted towards. Besides, I don't want to invade their privacy in that way. Make your own mental pictures.
The bottom line is that the one thing they have in common is that I'm chasing them and they are escaping (dare I say "rejecting"?) me.
THIS JUST IN:
My pal, Lionel Rolfe, is certainly irrepressible. I wish I had a tenth of his talent for shamless self-promotion. He sent me this e-mail:Subject: check out -- i dare not ask that you make it a link, but i wouldn't mind if i do -- am working on bulgarian piece From: "Lionel Rolfe" To: Rod Amis "email@example.com"
What's the word for this, Lionel? Could be ... "chutzpah"?
I'm not sure, now, why I dropped out of the relationship thing for over a decade. Scratch that. I am sure. It was inordinate guilt and that period that my friends refer to has my "secular saint" phase. I was in an excessive atonement mode.
Now that I'm again interested in women in more than a platonic way, I'm frustrated by my own rusty flirting skills, let alone attenuated capture skills.
In a city as infused with sex and death as New Orleans, you'd think I'd have no problem (a) meeting a dangerous woman or (b) getting laid.
I'm a bit picky, I'll admit. And overly serious. And I do come off as aloof. But too many people judge the book by the cover, too, I feel.
If I'm starting to sound like a guy in rutting mode, you're reading the book right.
LYNDA AND I HAVE TALKED a few times over the last week. It's been both comforting and humorous. Now that we are both older, it's actually funny to juxtapose our current selves, fully-fashioned adults, against the childhood lovers we were.
I write this "Glass House" to her former self, the one who fashioned me and she reads it from the former me, the handsome and heroic one. (I think I was handsome then. Who knows?)
I suppose she's, you've, seen the photo of me on the staff page by now looking like a black Papa Hemingway. That's from my time in Romuliana (the Roman ruins in Yugoslavia) in '01. I don't look much different today, other than having lost the beard and gone back to only a mustache and goatee.
I try to make a mental picture of how you must look today. There must be stands of grey in your auburn locks by now. I'm sure you've gained a bit of girth, as well. Middle age does that to us all.
I try to picture you dancing, as you told me about, in your house, to the newest music you love. I always loved that you loved music.
You must have plants, of course. So I imagine them around you as you dance.
My former personal astrologer, Jennifer Blue, said that dancing is a form of initiation.
I'm happy we both got to laugh the last time we talked. So now I'm not so upset about having this telephone.
THE LAST WOMAN WITH WHOM I WAS INVOLVED, in the Biblical sense, Hacker Barbie, had a series of rules for "her" men. I actually wrote them down and put them in a file on my computer. She was a piece of work. One of the first things she told me, when we started dating, was that she was an only child and thus expected to be spoiled. She wasn't lying.
A number of my friends expected that she would be my second wife. I adored her.
But that was not meant to be. Roughly six months after our relationship had started, I went into secular saint mode. That was more than a woman who wanted to be spoiled could bear.
"Wait a minute! Run that by me again. You're quitting your job, selling your car, all your stuff, giving up your place and moving where to devote your life to who?"
"San Francisco. The poor."
"Are you nuts?"
(Admittedly, as part of my atonement, I was taking the Biblical directive a bit too seriously.)
By the time I got back to my place, she had used her key to get in, taken all of her clothes away and that was that.
I moved to San Francisco and devoted the next few years to the homeless and Ethiopian immigrants.
That's how I ended up in City Hall, working for the then-President of the Board of Supervisors, Angela Alioto.
Nonetheless, ever since my relationship with Hacker Barbie, I've remained celibate.
WHAT ABOUT THE DANCER? Ehm ... well. I've been meaning to talk to you about that.
She has the same malady as I do. That might even be why I'm so attracted to her.
The big problem is that my bartending job is probably more than she can endure. It's too public. The Rod Show makes her uneasy. I don't think she understands how I can even abide it.
EVERY SINGLE DAY I tell myself I should call her again. I want to call her again. But then I know that my lifestyle would be intolerable to her. Even the latest moonlighting work I'm doing, for Scott, is in a bar.
The Dancer, as attractive as I personally find her, would only take my life as poison.
I have computer-related subcontracting gig proposed that looks promising. If that comes through I won't be out in the Quarter as much. Maybe then.
3:06 a.m., 31 January, 2003: I TELEPHONED THE DANCER last night. I was baking chicken after working for Scott today. He is opening a taqueria in the back of Molly's At the Market. So, after returning home from doing my Manuel Labore routine I was in a sentimental mood. I felt the need for comfort, thus the baked chicken and the telephone call.
It was a good conversation. I made her laugh. We agreed to go out for coffee next week when I am not bartending.
She admitted that the bar bothered her a bit and that she was amazed, considering what she knows of me that I could do The Rod Show. She says that I am stronger than I appear.
No sooner had we concluded the conversation than my telephone rang again.
It was my mother.
My mother has only telephoned me five times in the last twelve years.
When my mother calls me, it is usually because she is afraid. She would not say that, but I have sussed it out over the years. I am the oldest child of her last marriage. I am the one who ran away. The last time she called me was in 2000. Her youngest sister had died. I went to see her in '01.
This time her worry was that her other sister was in a coma, had been for months.
"Why didn't anyone tell me?"
"I thought Rudell had let you know," she replied. (Rudell is my sister-in-law. I have been close to her since childhood. My mother knows that I have always remained in touch with her.)
There was more. She has an adopted sister who we call Aunt Sis. Aunt Sis is also in hospital. She had a stroke.
That makes my mother, the oldest of all her siblings, the last of her generation still relatively lucid. She is fading, but she endures. She was even feisty on the telephone. She joked with me and was even in bit risque in some of her gossip.
She did not say so outright, but I knew that the fading around her was making her afraid again. The other leaves appearing to fall from the tree were making her wonder how much longer she herself could hold on.
She did not say so, but I knew this telephone call was her way of saying that she wanted to see me again.
I made her promise me that she would hang on until her eighty-fourth birthday. "Do that for me, Mum," I said, "and I'll come home again."
Bermuda is not my home, of course. It's hers. But she likes to think of it as mine as well.
She said, "I'd love that, Rod."
I talked with Rudell. Things are busy on the island now. The season is just beginning to heat up. There is the Bermuda Festival and much else. My nephew, the composer, is scheduled to play there. Considering all his international gigs, this is a rarity and a special event.
My mother is a pathological liar. We all know that. She was complicitous in much of the cruelty I suffered as a child. She has done little or nothing to help me in this life. Nonetheless, every time she has called I have come. She is my mother. I have never given up on having her show me her love.
EVEN INTO MY MID-THIRTIES, I was accused by women who favored me of being ruggedly handsome and having a fetching "boyish charm." I don't hear that anymore. The rugged is still there, but there is nothing boyish about me any longer. Nothing "handsome", either. Maybe in the eyes, but that is about it.
I try to be honest with myself about these things. My teeth have gone. My moustache and beard are grey and I'm beginning to grey at the temples, as well.
I can no longer afford, financially or physically, to keep up the predilection for bimbos. I must settle for women who are attractive in their way, but also willing to settle for me. The days of aspiring to squire the most gorgeous woman in the room are behind me.
Perhaps that is why getting compliments at all come as such a shock to me.
Trish, my boss, and I sat in The Spotted Cat tonight and talked for a while. She is easy on the eyes, to say the least. She is younger than I, but I never focus on that. As I say, she has defended me and supported me many times before. She had white wine and I had gin and then Scotch and we talked about personal things rather than business.
I told her about the call from my Mum and how I hope things will go well with The Dancer. I told her about "Sunset in the Sahel" and yarns about the many writers I have tried to herd like cats.
She shocked me by giving me this compliment: "Rod, I am so happy that you came to New Orleans! I love hearing about the people and things that delight you!"
I was embarrassed. This was the second time this week that a woman had told me that there was still some delight, some fun, left in me. And this woman was my boss, no less!
Trish later joked with one of my customers, who was asking where I would travel/move to next, that I no longer had the choice of leaving New Orleans. (He did not know she was my boss.) I was surprised by this statement of hers, too. I did not know until that moment that she liked me that well.
SO THERE IS MY WEEK WITH WOMEN. I worked with Scott and Steve on the taqueria, of course. I got shit from Jim Monaghan for putting the woman in the ambulance.
But it is the women of this week who have stood out in my mind. I love women, though I don't often understand them. They are expressive and willing to listen, which is why I am so often inclined to listen to them. I want to learn what they have learned.
Perhaps that is part of what has made these days of mine seem like weeks. I wrote Dragana today that I need to make enough in tips to make rent. I do not know if I shall be able to accomplish that.
So tonight I am back cooking at home on this Friday - my Sunday - before beginning The Rod Show at The Spotted Cat again for another weekend.
Some of my women will come to visit me again, I suspect. I have been getting closer to The Delivery Woman. She comes from her job to laugh and ululate with me when she can. She makes The Dancer appear tame.
Things That Keep Me Awake This Week1. Having a week left -- or a weekend of tips -- to pay the rest of my rent.
2. The haunting memories of past failures.
3. The foreboding that the Black Hole of New Orleans is sucking me down below the surface.
Thanks for coming back this week.
"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues. He was also principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviewed technology issues weekly, producing 383 editorials. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000, and left in September of the same year. He was a contributing writer for ACCESS magazine, which appeared both on- and offline for 10 million readers in 100 newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Boston Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Denver Post and Orlando Sentinel, among others. Rod was the US reporter for Silicon.com, a division of Network Multimedia Television in London, UK, reaching 3.5 million European readers, until May, 2001.
This year he worked as Assistant to the General Manager of a Big Easy company that does restaurants and nightclubs. (Think: The Boy.) Oh yeah, Rod's had Day Jobs working construction. Mostly renovations of old New Orleans structures, houses and a bar. Sometimes he designs Web sites for other people so that he can get his creative juices flowing the way he can't at a staid publication like this one. And he's been the instructor in Editing for Internet Publications at the Novi Sad School of Journalism in Yugoslavia. Right now our Resident Philosopher has joined the pantheon of New Orleans bartenders and still doesn't know when he'll have a "permanent residence" that he likes.. In his spare time, he chases women in the manner that a fly pursues a spider.
Rod lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. This town is eroding his normal sense of driven purpose. He wants to live somewhere civilized when he grows up. Wish him Luck.
He continues to be committed to integrity,
chastity and a dose of humility.
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