The Suburbs of Babylon Chapter 2 Part 2

Happy Friday, coronavirus survivor. It’s the time on my blog when I ‘frowback’ to a time in the past that in some manner or other influenced my eventual escape from the hellscape of the West to the paradise of Thailand. Below is part 2 of the 2nd chapter of a mediocre mini-tome I wrote a couple of decades ago. It’s a semi-fictional semi-autobiography called “The Suburbs of Babylon.” If you missed part 1 of this chapter, you can find it by going to the homepage and scrolling down. Now on with the blah…

“In my miserable pursuit of meaningless women I have come across a few worth noting.

The first, Lynn, is a redundant enigma, though not worthy of paradox.  She fancies herself an intellectual.  She has a lot to say about nothing and no way to say it.  She is inarticulate.  Instead of speaking, she grunts her approval, gurgles with pleasure.  She screams with happiness.  These, at least, are her intent. What they really are are sounds of disdain made high to hide the fear, made loud to keep her from thinking; echoes in an empty room.  She is forever unfilled, unsatisfied.  She hates my words, which she voraciously consumes.  She knows she can’t have me, but prefers the frustrating chase over letting me go.  She can’t get enough of my touch, a thing that scalds her.  She is folding in on herself.  She wants to get inside herself, to see if anything real exists there.  If there is nothing, she would like to fill her void with me.  But I don’t want to go in there.  It is a desolate, desperate place.  I want to go away from her and stay away, but I must go to someone.  And sometimes I can’t help it.  I feel sorry for Lynn.  I know what it is to be alone, for absolute loneliness to be the title on your cross, and for no one to mourn your execution.  When the world doesn’t want you, you feel like a martyr.  You see yourself hanging in the open in a sacred act of pain, but you’re in clown make-up, and people are laughing and throwing fruit at you.  And you can never say, “It is finished,” because it’s up to the crowd when you are taken down, and they love you up there.  You’re the best show in town.  So they send your act on the road and they call you “Hot Dog on a Stick” but even that is better than what you are.  You are the butt of the joke, and you always will be, and the more it hurts, the more they laugh.

Lynn has stopped calling.  She is marrying a man she’s known for a month, happy to grab on and never let go, never be alone.

Another of these women—Gwen—is the antithesis of Lynn.  Lynn is exquisitely beautiful, a perfection to the eye, yet sick and dying on the inside.  In contrast, Gwen is unendingly charming, quick, funny, and desirable purely for the excellence of her company.  Her disposition is light and subtle as her perfume, her beauty concentrated in her smile.  She is who I would, for practicality, choose to love had I the will to decide.  But as it is, I am unable, so Gwen seeks it elsewhere, coming to me for laughter, discussion, and affection, but not love.  The irony would be laughable, if one could laugh at such things.

The rest of my history with females from age 5 to the present could be summed up easily:

Bernice held my hand in the second grade.  We used to go behind the trees at recess and kiss.  I thought she would never leave.  Until she did.

Amy used to kiss me all the time.  Like it was nothing.  I imagine her now to be very much like Jane.

Miss Wexell was my kindergarten teacher.  She would take off her shoes in class and sit on the floor so you could see the top of her stockings at the edge of her skirt.  She changed everything.  Some part of the boy that I was caught a glimpse of understanding through her that should only be meant for a man.  And there I was at age five, feeding on some desire I had no idea how to define.  I suppose that’s where it all started.

Maribelle played that she liked me, and then moved to Florida.  I was depressed for three months, convinced I had lost my only chance at happiness.  That was age twelve—my introduction to heartache.

Andra was my longest and dearest female friend.  I carried a torch for her for seven years amid a score of other relationships.  She recently married, and has faded like 70’s Kodak.

Stacy was older than me, and so pretty I was too intimidated to talk to her.  She was the first image of regret.

I went out with Carrie for a month.  At the end, she said the only reason she stayed with me was because I made her laugh, and that it was not enough.

Skipping one here.  Cris, from the peninsula.  We’ll get to her later, but what followed her was a time where I felt nothing for any woman, a time that ended with Jane.

Michelle was revenge against Cris and women in general.  She showed me how much easier it was to hurt than be hurt, though at the time I didn’t realize what I was doing to her.

Fiona was an angel.  I destroyed her with a cruelty that now seems impossible to believe.  By the time I met her I thought myself unlovable, so the notion that she might care for me was preposterous.  Therefore I had no idea my leaving would hurt her as bad as it did.  I, however, was absent of feeling, though I did believe that if I kept at it, my heart would eventually begin to function again.  How very naïve I was.

Annie stuck with me for years, off and on.  She hoped I would attach sooner or later, but my heart was too cold.  Actually, I wanted to love her, tried time and again, but the truth is there was nothing there to love.

Jenna tried to argue me into loving her, saying I was obligated.  I was merciless.

Marie never told me she had feelings for me, so nothing ever happened.  She got lucky.

Genie said she loved me, but then left me for a guy who she’d been seeing for months on the side.  When I asked her why she was leaving, she said, “Because Dan has a Jeep.”  It was around this time that my feeling about women began to change from pained misunderstanding to cold, dark hatred.

The list goes on, maybe two or three more who all have gone away.  None of them ever meant much to me seeing as how I still had not recovered from Cris.  Jane was the first.  And hard as I try to crawl out from under this burden, I find myself trapped not only by my geography but by the frantic urge to flee from Jane and her power over me, as well as my unquenchable thirst for her, both of which keep me frozen in place.  Once in a while I fantasize that I could meet someone who will eclipse Jane and my history of failure at the hands of women.  But then I realize that more than likely another woman will just be a repeat of what I’ve endured before, so I inevitably turn to strippers—the eternally friendly semi-acquaintances who dance at a nearby topless bar—who for some reason aren’t as threatening.  I suppose it will be like this forever.

I had a dream the other night that I was on some faraway Pacific Island, surrounded by blue-green water, on a beach under swaying palm trees.  I was looking for someone—a woman, I think.  But I couldn’t find her.  Still, the setting, and the search itself, seemed enough for that moment in time.  The next day I spent some time looking through maps of Fiji, Hawaii, and Tahiti, imagining myself on a deserted beach holding a giant conch.

As it happens, though, I am in Los Angeles, and the prospect of a faraway island is only a dream, since I have no money.  And for the time being, I can’t leave—not when there’s a chance I might see Jane again.”

This aspect of my past—of not wanting to let go of a particular piece of female driftwood for fear of floundering—haunted me for all of my teens and most of my young adulthood. It wasn’t until I found the bastion of bachelory known as Thailand that I was finally able to shake that profound albatross from my lonesome neck. Thank God for Thailand, friends. Thank God for Thailand, and the lovely women who dwell therein. They saved me. They healed me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.