Originally Posted: 2005-01-09 1:53am
GIRLS CAN TELL
First times are something else. They’re these intimate, extraordinary occasions, marked only by the disposition of legend and marvel. Tiny miracles - beholden only to themselves - they can never be compared or judged. They are of our own inventions.
And I stress inventions, because first times are discoveries. They’re landmark revolutions. When we journey through a first time, doesn’t it feel like we’re making history? Like, we’ve encountered and broke through the unknown? And sure, nobody likes the unknown, but when it’s all said and done, don’t those first times make you feel special? Don’t you wanna smile?
I remember the first time I lit up a smoke. And the first time I clocked a kid in the face. I remember the first time I just said no to drugs. (And vaguely, the first time I said yes.) I remember the celebrated day I beat Super Mario Brothers Three - without any of the warp whistles. And the night I lifted fifty dollars from my mother’s purse.
I remember ‘em all. And good or bad, I smile.
I remember my first true love, Jenny Bannon. And how, since I was such a fuckin’ pussy, she had to ask me out. I remember our first date. And our first full, hard-on kiss. I remember that first quarrel. And the first time I provoked her eyes into tears. I remember the exact moment I fell in love with her. And the way she used to make me feel.
And I smile.
I remember our first fumblings at pre-marital sex. And how over a chaotic string of errors, we blundered into one. I remember the sloppiness of that winter twilight; the misguided innocence that gave rise to tense and unsure passion; the timid longings. I remember how each and every waking moment felt like a Greek tragedy.
Yeah, that night worked itself into a complete disaster - yet, it somehow played itself off as being magically exotic. Fucked up, I know, but first times are like that. They can be flawed by incessant complications, and still manage to enchant the soul.
You know, Jenny was my first time. I’m serious. My first time, ever. I was a twenty-four year-old virgin; one of those late bloomers. And it was my very first time.
And see, I smile.
Then, I stop smiling. Because this is like a goddamn chain-reaction. As soon as I conjure up our first, I’m faced with the last. I’m faced with tonight. The night, when everything hit.
You know, in the scheme of Love, that’s all you’re really allowed. First’s and last’s. There’s no in-between’s. Well, theoretically there are, but it’s not like one can isolate deterioration. Shit, it’s like a silent infection. It rolls up, slowly proliferates in its preordained way, and the next thing you know, you’re staring at tonight.
And oh, how I remember tonight.
For tonight, I’m a fuckin’ machine. I’m an indifferent calculation, one that processes the likes of brevity and efficiency. It’s rather debasing. In place of passion, I exhale routine. Instead of longing, I occupy automation.
Tonight, there’s no originality or excitement - just predictable conventionality. I’ve pinpointed our carnal movements down to the exact second. Hell, I’m more than a fuckin’ machine. I’m what you call artificial intelligence. Tonight, I’m the living dead.
But, don’t let this drama king jerk one over on ya. Being dead ain’t all knocks. I do get to watch life pass me by. Which, if you’ve got the right view, is simply breathtaking. And it’s not like I’m breakin’ a sweat over here. Goddamn dogs can play dead, so how hard do you think I got it?
And nowadays, you needn’t even bury the fact that you’re dead. Cause, guess what? No one really cares. Newsflash. Kobie Bryant is cheating on his wife, Matt LeBlanc has his own spin-off, and all Justin Timberlake wants is to luv ya, babe. Fuck, with all that sorry shit juicing through your head, who possibly has the time to take in a broken heart? Who has the time to even notice? Face it, kids, in this day and age, you can die for the rest of your life without anyone givin’ up two fucks.
Well, just as long as you can take the pain. You know, that unfettered suffering which accompanies death, dying and the such. You stomach the pain, and well, then you’re untouchable. Conquer it, and on top of the world, you are.
And okay, okay. I know what you’re thinkin’. Pain, death, deterioration, last times. Matt, what the fuck are you talking about?
Check this out. People hate change. On the whole, we find warmth in stability. It seems that we’re attracted to order, to perpetual consistency. If you haven’t noticed, there’s a motive behind why our society flocks to the exploits of apathy, monotony, and sloth. It’s for the simple reason that these actions mandate no change. Instead, all they demand is maintenance. Now, it’s with the introduction of change that the forces of chaos, specifically those of the unknown, are allowed to roam free. And like I said, nobody likes the unknown. Nobody likes being held in the dark.
Now, last times? Those are simple. A last time is just an ending. Endings breed new beginnings. And new beginnings? Well there rests your change that so many abhor. Come on, you ever endured the frustration of starting from scratch? Well, then you’ve felt the sting of a new beginning.
So where am I? Ahhh, deterioration. In a relationship, deterioration is unspoken change. Look at the word. You’ve a good thing going and then it deteriorates; it follows a downward spiral, changing everything in the relationship to shit. And most importantly, even though we don’t consciously feel deterioration, it prophesizes of the break-up; the ending, the last time. And thus, it tells of that horrendous new beginning.
This is why so many people take cover under the guise of death. They intuitively assume that within the process of deterioration, one can maintain. Thus, ultimately, banishing any change from their existence. Ever been roommates with a guy who just couldn’t quit his job because “Burger King needed him?” Because “how far would Microsoft get without their Employee of the Month?” How far. Or ever had that friend who’s an eighth year senior? Whose always fifteen credits shy of a diploma? Folks, these aren’t live broadcasts. These are the living dead.
And the sad part is, you can maintain within deterioration. I know plenty of accountants and social workers that hate every second of their nine-to-five. Yet every morning, these dear and treasured individuals wake to an endless sleep. A dad heads off to work. A best friend puts a coat and tie on, over a fitted shirt. A playwright drives straight into gridlock. A ballerina preps herself to “maam” and “yes sir” her way though intrapersonal memos and teleconference calls. These fuckers can’t stand a minute of their existence. One single minute. But in the back of their heads, nothing else fits right. Or seems so directly applied. For them, maintenance is the ultimate of all virtues, while failure is the definitive of all sins. Sure, they can’t stand a minute of their lives, but what they can’t stand more, is the idea of shaking off that safety net; of traveling through the unknown without guard or resistance.
So, their days are of little consequence. To everyone else in the game, these chumps are meaningless. No one’s seen, no one’s heard. And all this, just for the sake of consistency. Just so one can remain the same.
And it sucks, but that’s their choice. That’s the boon of free will. When it amounts to employment and education, one owns the option to exercise self-rule. Shit, wasn’t it Rush who said, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” And, come on, if Rush said it, its gotta be true.
But, that’s of employment and education. That’s not Love. See, regardless of what the commercials say, you are not your job or Alma Mater. You are not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fuckin’ khakis. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. And you’re definitely not your Special Edition Fight Club DVD box set.
You are a succession of emotions, Love being one of the highest orders. You can’t just tap out on Love and expect the fight over. What did I tell you about Fight Club? Love is bigger than that. Love is life. Love is truth. And it hath no fury, period. It doesn’t get mad or livid. It doesn’t get even. All it does is bring the pain.
And this is where pain comes into play. This is why people take it on. It’s not because they’re S & M freaks. It’s because of a fundamentally American creed that asserts: if I can overcome my pain, I can ultimately command it, along with my life purpose. It’s the dogma that’s plastered over every Gold’s Gym and Stallone sequel. It’s: no pain, no gain.
But beware, for this ain’t your run-of-the-mill pain. If you plan on takin’ this beast, you best come correct.
See, your average pain aims to physically harm or damage. But, this? This one’s a completely different ballgame. This pain seeks out your sour endings - those foul conclusions taken to lock and key. It digs at those unruly last times, and once unearthed, summons upon the brothers of Penance and Contrition.
This pain dines on the awkward endings of human frailty. It sows its seeds in funeral parlors and deathbeds. For fun, it parades through abortion clinics and divorce settlements. Simply put, this is the kind of pain that mind-fucks your most tender and sensitive failures - just because it can.
This pain runs only onto itself. It retains no charm, yet is irresistible to all. It is inescapable, yet never does a soul openly embrace its command. When it hits – and it always hits - it binds, shackling all ideals of proper decency and justice.
This is pain of its own caste. It’s undeniable and one of a kind. I joke around the subject and make laughs, but it’s far removed. Motherfuckers, this is pain.
And tonight, it’s mine. So come, let me show you my pain. Let me show you the way we get by:
· Allot seven seconds to her left ear, eighteen to her right.
· Assign half a minute to that spot, two inches below her neck.
· Wait for her to heave one of her good sighs.
· Hold up for two seconds.
· Run the right hand down the stomach, while the left moves up the back.
· Fasten the right hand to her left.
· Intertwine legs.
· Offer two shallow breaths upon her cheek.
· In. Out. In. Out.
You have no idea. This is my pain. This is my last time.
As our cadavers coldly thrust back and forth, ominous corridors spring skyward, extending to the Heavens. Looming above us, these passages besiege our deformed unity with an endless course of avenues, each reflecting every notion we refuse to put into words.
In a pastoral attempt to pull free, we associate copulation with autonomy. So, we fuck like it’s our job, praying for the path that’ll fetch our salvation. But these walls, they’re forever running. They rope in our jackrabbit-like haste with ease.
See, in these state of affairs, liberty will never be ours. This ain’t the Declaration of Independence. We do not have certain unalienable rights. Jen and I, we’re jailed to Love’s will. Only it can decide when and where we’ll be set free. As for the love birds? Well, we just receive roles, nothing more.
So it begins.
In hushed tones, self-absorbed contemplations stretch their feet. Remember those “notions we refused to put into words?” Well, like it or not, now they’re full-fledged questions. They whisper, "Do you really want to be here? How much longer this will take? When do you think she’ll let you go home?" I make efforts at blocking this interrogation, but it’s weighing-in with a might that crushes bones. Like I said, this is inescapable.
But, beat the system, I will. Take the pain, I can. "Fuck the rules," I think. "I’m Matt Singh. I have the will of a thousand men."
Wrenching into a shadow of my former self, I focus all available concentration towards the situation at hand. However, the more I vie for control, the more I break into consciousness. Funny, but in front of the light, even the will of a million men can fold. And, just like that.
This isn’t happening, I think. I’m probably just not in the mood. This has nothing to do with us. "Matt, you’re not concentrating. If you just relax, it’ll all fall into place. It’s been a stressful week, that’s all. This has nothing to do with you."
Jen grabs a hold of my mental hypocrisy. I mean, she’s always known that something was wrong, but tonight? Tonight she knows there’s something wrong.
My self-inflicted reassurances quickly wither into haughty disclaimers. "I will not let this fall apart. I refuse. I’m a motherfuckin’ machine. I’m Matt Singh. Jenny, I love you. And I promised that I’d never fail you. I intend on standing by that last part. This will not happen, baby. I will not fail you. Not tonight. Not ever."
But it’s too late. For this will happen. I will fail her. It shall hit. And just to piss me off, it’ll hit tonight. Trust me, I’ve no voice in these measures. They hail from a higher power and play their roles regardless of my desire.
See, that’s the bitch about committing yourself to Love. Once you’re in, you’re in. Once you’ve laid down your life, you’re done. You have no voice. You can’t just say, “Hey, Love, this was nice and all, but I gotta jet. Phone me when things are lookin’ better.” It doesn’t work like that. When Love seizes your heart, all it leaves you with is naked vulnerability. And trust me, if Love wants to bring the pain, it will. If Love wills your relationship to snap, steel yourself for the fall. And if tonight, Love says your relationship is giving up the ghost, then it’s probably already dead.
Unless you can break the cycle. Unless you can cheat Love.
Jen’s eyes are transfixed onto mine. She wants a guarantee that I won’t let this hit. But for Christ’s sake, I can’t even reassure myself. How am I to deal with her?
But, I do my best. With iron-high walls stretching as far as the eye can see, I close my own and counterfeit a solemn moan. Weirdly enough, this comforts most of the overt reservations in the room, including Jenny.
In appreciation, Jen feels the necessity to press this travesty a step further. She murmurs a rather unconvincing, “You feel so good.” But, now it’s my turn to recognize the hypocrisy, since I know for a fact that I feel nothing. Nothing for this event, nothing for this night, and nothing for her.
And that’s when everything hits at once. What we need is just what we want. I go to sleep, but think that you’re next to me. I go to sleep and think that you’re next to me.
And like that, the walls, they fall - break right into two. And kids, you better be payin’ attention, because these tough breaks? These ain’t the kind that get back together with stitches and glue. Plain and simple, I’m screwed. Like I said, I’ve no voice in these accords. Remember? I’m the motherfuckin’ machine. All I get is a function.
And tonight, my function is to recognize these walls for their merits. Tonight, it’s time to wake the hell up, pull the leaves from my mouth, and feel the pall.
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. Let it come on down.
There’s no more fuckin’ around. The rules state that once the songs been song, you gotta accept the cost of what’s been done. Whatever the cost, you gotta accept. You just gotta.
So while making love to Jen, my best friend, I reveal. Looking down upon her naked body, I expose.
"You know what? I feel nothing for you. Nothing. I don’t even like being around you anymore. Baby, who are you? And who am I? What have I become? Am I one of those fools that plague his nights with insipid sex acts because he’s too much of a pussy to say: Hey, I hate your fuckin’ guts?"
Well folks, looks like I am, ‘cause I’m not changing a tune. I’m weak when it comes to these matters. I’d sooner break every rule of common decency than watch my girl endure grief. Even when I know my role.
And since she’s currently pulled off the “you feel so good” line, I’m more than obligated to fill in the blanks. There’s only one way to harmonize with the “you feel so good” line. And, since we’re going through all the same lines, selling out to appease, I go to sleep in my bed of lies.
I tell her I love her.
She weakly smiles and for the first time in over six years, I start crying. You gotta love these second languages. They put everyone at disadvantage.
How did we arrive here? How? They say that you’re at your best when you’ve got the guns turned a hundred and eighty degrees; finding out if it adds all up right. Well, we were two faithful and dedicated lovers. We never slept around. No one ever took advantage. Or inflicted pain for a purpose. Outside of the regular boyfriend/girlfriend spats, we never fought. We were two good lovers who fashioned one good couple. Scratch that, we fashioned one great couple.
So add all that up and I’ll ask it again. How are we here? What brought us to this night?
There was a time when we were absolute. When we held a connection, sovereign to all. My eyes were open and she was marching in. Shit, I was her shadow in the dark. I had her blood inside my heart. We would’ve done anything for each other. You name it, anything. I would’ve brought her cover when she was cold. She’d have brought me youth when I grew old. Hell, we were more than those a series of Clayton cliché’s. We were in love.
This is why I don’t fall in love. Because of shit like this. Fuck, I hate Love. I fuckin’ hate it. To me, it serves no real purpose apart from establishing the orthodox for pain.
Come on, have you ever seen a story that ends happily ever after? Check out the newspapers. Turn on your MTV. In the end, someone’s always dying, disappearing or leaving. Someone’s always crying, agonizing, or suffering. Someone’s always heart-breaking, betraying, or shitting all over you.
And even when you’re “two good lovers fashioned into one great couple.” Even then you draw failure; you still attract the agony. That sort of torment is as tall as the territory. Kids, you fallin’ in love? Well, you better start stockpiling for the day you fall out.
And whatever. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “here’s good ‘ol post-adolescent angst. What does Matt know about Love, anyways? All this kid needs is a little bit of the Holy Spirit. A little bit of the Faith.”
Fools. These days everyone croons about faith. They say, “believing is hard, believing is art.” The rest? To them, there is no rest. You start in with the “believing” and you’re set. Never again shall you worry or ache.
“Matt, all you need is a little bit of the Faith.”
Fuck Faith. And fuck Britt. Believing ain’t the hard part. That’s just another proverbial Texan lie. Come on, take a good look around the North side. You’ll see what it means to be standing on line. Camel Lights. Penthouse. Jack Daniels. Shit, you can buy Faith at your local Quik-E-Mart.
For me, the problem was never believing. I believed in her - in us - so much. That was never hard.
The hard part came after I placed faith, after I believed. It was realizing that Faith is actually finite. That trust, loyalty, assurances, even the goddamn belief... ...well, like it or not, they all deteriorate, follow their downward spiral, and eventually come to an end. The hard wasn’t believing. The hard part was realizing that the end’ll come slow, and that love breaks your heart.
And this may break the cycle, but you better believe in that. Believe or go fuck yourselves. Because I’ve seen God. I’ve been His dancing monkey, His fuckin’ invalid child. I entrusted my heart to His infinite compassion. I did it all. I placed faith and let my will fall asleep in His hands.
And then one night, I woke up, and found myself making love to walls. Rock-solid barricades that blocked me from where I really wanted to be. Which, in this relationship, was anywhere but here.
Making love to a wall. I mean, I’d like to say that we were making love, but that’d require two consenting adults, overflowing with adoration. I’d like to say that we were fuckin’, but that’d imply lust, something this bed lost ages ago. I can’t really find the words for this anticlimax. Is there even an expression out there that illustrates the art of sex via absolute shame and gutless insecurity?
The best I can drum up is that we’re having intercourse… or, I take that back. We’re performing intercourse. Because that’s all this is: a second-rate performance, a routine presentation of arms. One magnificent failure.
And this would’ve been so much simpler if I hadn’t dealt in Love. If this were anything but Love, I would’ve dumped Jen at the curb and ran like the little bitch I am. But, I can’t do that to her. She’s my baby. Judas, I might not be in love with the girl, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love her.
What it does mean is that I’m a fuckin’ casualty.
Thanks to Love, there’s not a single bead of pleasure. Not even does the trite gratification of death remain. I don’t know where I’ve been, or why I even left, but now that I’m back in the flesh, the magic has well-nigh disappeared.
Not to worry, for soon enough, the truth will take flight. The pain will summon the brothers of Penance and Contrition and under our own devices we shall break.
This is why Love’s a bitch. It’s all-knowing and omnipotent. You can fake it for only so long before it lays down its vengeance. It’s just a matter of time before everything hits.
Oh, unless, you can take the pain. Sure it’s a simple plan. All you gotta do is overwhelm the system. Litigate for that million; Purchase that winning lotto ticket. Manage the unmanageable by maintaining the unattainable. Pull off the American dream and never again shall you lose sleep over life, death or the like. Shit, you’ll have transcended! You’ll have conquered Mother Nature. It’s a simple plan. Beat the pain and Love will follow.
Fuck! If only you could beat the pain. If only you could beat God’s plan.
You can tell her you love her. You can tell him that he feels so good. Hell, you can talk it up all of the goddamn night, braggin’ the fact that you both got a right. Fight the good fight, I don’t care. See where that gets you. Just remember. Remember this: when the walls break, it ain’t gonna be just a slap on the wrist. When it hits, it’ll be clear who’s gonna fall prey to His myth.
Come on, do you really think you can play dead for half your life and no one’ll notice? You really think you can outclass the Gods? What the fuck is this, the Odyssey? Yeah, maybe you can sucker mankind, but that ain’t no gonna get you no lollipops.
Shit, haven’t you’ve heard? We’re the dumbest creatures out there. For countless of century’s we’ve interacted with Nature. Countless! Yet, for some reason, we can’t acknowledge our preordained roles. May it be the Grim Reaper or Love Almighty, we consistently think that we’re in control. Or, that we can beat the odds. And then, when it ultimately hits – which it always does – when it ultimately hits that we ain’t shit, we end up reveling in our resentment, blaspheming about how God should go fuck Himself.
We never had the control. Shit, we never had anything. Love was the only constant element in this game. It regulated everything. It was everything.
Like I said, love is life. Love is truth.
And the truth, you say? Where does the truth fall in this whole mess?
Well, the truth is that it’s not her. Nor is it I. The truth is that it’s simply our turn, our time. We’re like spoiled milk, our date overdue. And instead of yielding to Love’s fortitude, we are defying it by prolonging the inevitable. Now it’s just a matter of time.
That’s all the truth is this time around. That’s all it amounts to. Two infantile lovers, trying to manage reality through their imagination. Two petrified and naïve children, residing within their memories of the good ‘ol days. Foolishly hoping that someday, the act of evocation will re-establish those first times; those moments when everything was remarkably noble.
But like I said, it’s just a matter of time - it’s almost measurable. Imagination ain’t kind on us tonight. Nor is the act of evocation. Oh, and those good ‘ol days? Those noble moments? Well, you’re definitely not gonna find ‘em here - not tonight, not ever. Folks, in this entire charade, they’re the ones that are dead. And, stone cold. Nothing will ever bring them back to life. Hell, somebody set ‘em in the past for a reason. Somebody higher than you. So stop fighting the truth and leave ‘em be. Grieve, sure, but move on. Make new moments. Burn new failures. Feel it while you can. Feel it before it’s too late.
But, enough of this preaching. Do what you want. This story ain’t about savin’ your soul. It ain’t about savin’ Jenny’s either. Sure, I can tell myself that this is for all concerned’s health. I can dot that I’s and cross my T’s, glorifying myself as the upright and principled storyteller. Or even better, I can fill it up, pour it down upon my insides, and carouse in my own transgressions; be the next Conor Oberst.
Listen, I’m not here to show you that I’m right. And like hell, I’m here to cry to you over my wrongs. You guys are nice and all – and thanks for being such a great audience – but, fuck, you can all go and take a walk. Yeah, I said all ya’ll can go take a walk. Cause right now, I don’t give two fucks about anyone. And savin’ souls? Well, that ain’t my trade. Hell, I’m still tryin’ to figure out how to save my own.
Not giving two fucks. Nice one, Matt. Isn’t that how I got here in the first place? By not “giving two fucks” aren’t I just sending myself back from where I came?
Judas, nothing’s changed, has it? I’ve been talking for thirty minutes and, in this interim, nothing’s changed. Fuck.
But, I can’t think about that now. Dr. Leo Marvin was right. It’s all about the baby steps. I shouldn’t be worrying about the interim. Or about what’s gone down. I should simply concentrate on tonight. Concentrate. I should conquer it and then move on to tomorrow. And then tomorrow’s tomorrow. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’m gonna stop with all this worrying and analyzing and take each day for its net worth; breathe it in and out.
And it all ends with a new beginning. It ends by starting with tonight. So tonight, I’m moving on now, if I like it or not. Tonight, within my deliverance, I’m taking the first step: the picture is coming down. I’m taking it off and throwing it out. And yeah, the picture is about what coulda been easier but, fuck it, I ain’t gonna win this war by standin’ on a straight line. Shit, the Man came around – the motherfuckin’ Man upstairs. He came out just to make us moot. Just to say that I’ve got nowhere to go.
Shit, tell me something I don’t know. Here’s something. Tell me how I’m supposed to get out of my girls arm. Tell me how I’m supposed to get out of her.
I mean, we’re still “making love.” You get that, don’t you? This whole mess isn’t about reflection. This isn’t five months after the fact. This is tonight. The song isn’t “most of it hits at once”. It’s “everything hits at once.” And everything did. So, tell me. Tell me how I’m supposed to get out of her.
I guess this is what it means to fully grieve. So, I mourn. I mourn by faking the moment. I simulate that guileless flash when all treachery folds and extinguishes in a peak of desolate cum. "Just wait on that moment", I chant to myself. "Just wait, Matthew. Concentrate. Just a few more jerks and this’ll all be over. You’re almost there. Just a few more pumps. Don’t stop now. You’re gonna cum. Don’t stop. Your moment, Matt, it’s gonna come."
Luckily, that isn’t too far from the truth. It’ll be five weeks till we separate, seven till we make up, eight till we split for good, and a tense fifteen till we stop caring.
But, that? That’s another time. That’s then and this is now. And like it or not, there are first times for everything, including tonight.
See, tonight may be our last, but it’s also my first. Tonight, there’s a moment when everything hits at once. When I’ll hear the sounds of washing out at such a tender age. Tonight, I’ll realize the way we get by.
Smile, ‘cause this is my first time.
this is in or around around the way