And I feel like the ghost of a total stranger

from the Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellison

Ok so this has been my week so far.

Sunday: Out supporting my karaoke pals on sunday night. End up meeting a woman who is a dominatrix on the side. It's her birthday this week. We exchange numbers. Retrocrush hauls his ass up from work, but is so tired he only hangs until 3:15 am and then heads home. I go home and im Rasputin who arranges to meet with me the next day.

Monday: Staff meeting-also known as the suicide express(will discuss more at some later date)-Rasputin takes me out for a snifter of cognac and then food. He keeps me up until 1:30 in the morning.

Tuesday: go to the ballet-rasputin helps change light bulb-keeps me up until 1:30 in the morning.

Wednesday:go out with the dominatrix-we get hit on wherever we go-I pick up a broadcaster for ESPN and then she and I pick up two Irish bartenders-Robert hauls himself up with three friends-we go to this empty club and then back to my place-by the time we get back to my place it's 6:30 in the morning-we fall asleep-he gets up at 11 to go to work-I sleep until 2

Thursday: Dominatrix has her birthday at brother jimmy's. The espn broadcaster takes me to an excellent dinner and then we head over to jimmy's for the party. We end up drinking from fishbowls filled with liquor, and the dominatrix sings karaoke.

friday: I get up and do some reading-develop a migraine and spend the rest of the day sleeping it off-needless to say I will not be going out tonight ( right that's what I said last night)

if my students had an idea what I get up to when no one is looking, they would be shocked and appalled-it used to be I acted too mature for my age-now it seems that I have regressed-ain't backlash a bitch?


So, we have met retrocrush, who is proving to have more staying power than I suspected. He has the body of eighteen year old and does nothing to maintain it, so when he says "I think of myself as still a boy, like a 21 year old" apparently his biological functions are fairly convinced as well.

Which is fine with me.

So let's meet contestant number 2, shall we?

Before I went on break, I saw a guy at my usual coffee hang out. He was playing my friend, Bland Lawyer, at chess.

When I saw him, there was just something about him. He has brown eyes, brown hair ( not my usual MO), and lightly tanned skin. He shows his age, 37, with wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. It wasn't that he was that good looking, but there was something. Maybe his intensity, his focus.

And his hands. When I was younger, hands were very sexy to me, particularly an artist's hands. They are clean, well formed, soft, sensitive. There was an attention to them, to how they moved, that attracted me. And this guy had artist hands.

So the next time I saw Bland Lawyer, I casually asked who his chess partner had been. He offered an overwhelming Russian name.

Now when I started ballroom dancing, I really fell in love with Russian men. The accent, the language, the EDUCATION, I mean these people get a quality education. Their understanding of literature and art, even those not trained in those disciplines, is amazing.

So he has artist hands, AND he is Russian.

But I never expected to see him again. After all I had never seen him before and had no expectation of seeing him again.

But then I did. I don't remember how we started talking, but I know he asked me how to get his son to read. ( I will be posting on this topic next week.) We chatted for a while, and he asked if I came around often. I told him I did, and he said he would see me around.

Now he's odd, don't me wrong. He is definitely a little bit more than eccentric. He considers himself to be a novelist, but really he makes his living selling paintings. He has these beliefs about G-d and history that are, well, a little bit out there. OK they are REALLY out there. So I am going to dub him Rasputin, the mad monk.

Which fits him because he is both passionate and clearly big into the womanizing. I knew that even before I knew he had been married three times.

So he and I chanced into each other and few times. And we talked. And I could never tell if he wanted me or not.

So finally we traded email addresses, and last Friday night when I came back from a depressing evening I immed him. We met for coffee the next day, and he got me all liquored up on cognac before I went to dinner with the Beast. ( I never had cognac before, but now it seems I am acquiring a taste for it.) I saw him again Monday, after my meeting, as I was particularly depressed. He took me for a drink and then for food. He kept me up until 1 in the morning talking. "Well," he said, "you aren't going to sleep anyway."

We agreed to meet the next day. We talked, and he offered to put in a light bulb that I couldn't change, that I hadn't been able to change in two months. Afterwards we sat on the couch talking.

And I thought, this is it. He's going to make his big move.

And then he talked to me about the final novel of the Three Musketeers series for an hour.

It wasn't exactly what I was expecting. Then he asked me if my temples were sensitive, that maybe he could help me relax so I could sleep.

Here we go, I thought.

Rasputin always wears his sweaters so that his forearms are exposed. Almost taunting me with those hands. Every time I saw him, I just wanted to feel those hands on me. Now as a former actor, I am a touchy feely girl to begin with, so I had restrain myself. Besides every time I touched him, he pulled back. Even if it was simply, touching his hand with my own.

But now I got to feel those hands on me, and they were every bit as good as I imagined. Sensitive, yet with strength behind them. He put one hand on the back of my head, and with the other he stroked my hair and my face.

It was the most relaxing and yet strangely sensual experience.

I lay back on the couch, and let him stroke my temples. His finger tips were cool, but his forearms were warm, creating a delicious sensation. Now, I thought to myself, he is going to kiss me now. And he did get awful close. I could feel his breathe on my cheek, on my shoulder. I totally relaxed my body into his hands. But no kiss.

He got on his knees next to the couch and kissed my hand. He turned over my hand, opened the palm and pressed his lips there. He kissed both hands and forearms slowly.

It made me understand how intimate the kissing of a hand can be. Those courtly manners can be quite arousing.

Still I waited for a kiss, still no kiss.

He went back to stroking my temples, looking at me and smiling. He asked me what I was thinking as I opened my eyes. "I am wondering what you want from me." He kept stroking, "I don't know" he replied.

Oh is the man a professional or what?

"I really like you. And given your psychological make up I don't want to hurt you."

Now if he really knew my psychological make up he would know it is impossible not to hurt me. My students hurt me, the idiots I encounter on the street hurt me, the guys who call me shorty hurt me. I've almost turned being hurt by men into an art form.

He continues, "You know, I'm a ladies man." Yes, I do know that. And I know he's dangerous, and wrong, and bad news all the way. And I know this will not end well for me at all.

And still, I want him.

"How man lovers do you take at one time?" I asked him.

"Usually two." I laughed. "Why is that funny?"

"Because, baby, at given time, there are usually 3-5 men in my harem."

It is true that currently I am at 3. I am only sleeping with one, but still, a harem is a harem.

To some degree, what I think I feel towards Rasputin, and he would agree with this, is recognition. I have come to accept that currently the attentions of one man can not be enough for me. (And I do mean attention, and not necessarily sex.) He feels the same about women.

So be it.

So I asked him why he hadn't kissed me yet. And of course, it was because he didn't want to hurt me. And being me, my re action was "Now see that's just cruel. To stroke me and kiss my hand and tempt me with something and then not only say 'No. No, you can't have that' but 'You can't have that for your own good.'"

He laughed. And then he said what every man has said to me at one point in our relationship. "You're really funny."

Actually, no YOU'RE really funny. I'm just pointing it out.

Finally, he kissed me.

I was not disappointed. Apparently, neither was he as we kissed for a good long time. ( Later he would say, "You are a good kisser. Soft, downy, sensitive, sensual." Now that's a well thought out review.)

He told me once that he velvety skin, a family trait, and being me I was skeptical. A straight man with velvety skin? I mean, what are the odds?

He took his sweater off, underneath he wore a kind of peasant looking blouse. ( He always dresses like Rudolpho from my father's favorite opera La Boheme.) And he does indeed have velvety skin.

He picked me up and carried me to bed. It was like high school, how far can you go and not really do anything? The fingers trailing just below the breasts, a blouse pulled the aside to reveal a shoulder, hands and lips stopping just short of touching tender areas.

And then he went home. No clothes removed, no satisfaction garanteed. He went home.

Because he really is a professional. He understands that to me there is nothing sexier than a man who can resist me. There have been very few men who have been able to get up out of that bed leaving me fully dressed. And he is one of the chosen few.

Either that or he operates on the old theater premise, "Always leave them wanting more."

"The stuff that dreams are made of"
Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon

So last Tuesday night a fellow professor asked me to go swing dancing. Let's call him Prof. Humbert. To give you an idea about Humbert, I met him not because we both teach at NYU ( different departments) but because he was a classmate at Yale with a guy who taught me poetry when I was in high school (he also teaches at NYU now). Humbert is big into swing dancing, and he knows I like to dance, but I never do social dancing, so he asks me to escort him to Swing 46 so that I may become familiar with "the scene."

Now I had suspicions he was going to put the moves on me, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Allowed myself to think that he liked me in a kind of fatherly way and wanted to help me out.


It was a Tuesday night. Totally dead, which is good because I'm fairly paranoid about dancing in front of people. There was a big band, I mean like a fourteen person big band. There weren't even that many people in the bar.

So I talk to Humbert. Humbert is telling me about his son WHO IS MY AGE, about his two previous marriages, his current girlfriend who he has recently come to the revelation he is going to spend the rest of his life with, and all the while he is getting closer to me.

Meanwhile over his shoulder there is man, black baggy pinstripe pants, button suspenders, vest, tie, fedora, white sleeves rolled up so you can just see his dragon tattoo peeking out, holding his martini glass. I mean, he looked like a still from a film noir.

But the most striking part of him is not his pale skin, not his black hair ( slicked back, of course) but his blue eyes.

Now I've always been a sucker for blue eyes. When I was five, I was totally in love with the blonde blue eyed Duke boy ( much to the consternation of my father "You're grandmother wasn't smuggled out of Poland in a suitcase so you could fall in love with the Hitler youth!"). And I've seen lots of blue eyes in my time, the pale almost white ones with the cerulean rims. The Caribbean ocean blue of Miracle Gro's eyes. The cornflower blue of the Beast's eyes. Pale reflective blue eyes. The dark intense blue eyes. But these were unlike anything I'd ever seen. They were like the way I pictured the eyes of the Lotus Eaters to be, a dream distilled. They were a deep blue, but they were reflective as well, like the surface of an inky lake.

So I keep looking over Humbert's shoulder at this guy, let's call him Retrocrush. Retrocrush looks at me. And me being me, I keep thinking "You know, he is WAY too hot to be looking at me." Besides he is really cool, I mean looking at the outfit, these guy totally kicks. I am not a cool chick. Never have been, never will be. I was not one of the beautiful people in high school. I was not the type people look at and think "Yeah baby I want to be her." I was the type of girl people look at and thought "Yeah, I want her to do my homework." So even if he wasn't hot, he was way too for the likes of me.

So time passes, chocolate mint martinis are consumed, and somehow I end up telling my dungeon story to Humbert (although I left out the house slave part) and zretrocrush over hears the conversation and starts asking me questions. (And on top of everything else, he has a slight Bronx accent, perfecting his film noir look.)

Well before you know it all three of us are heading to Mercury lounge for drinks. Retrocrush heads to the bathroom and Humbert, sensing that his captive audience might have found an escape hatch, says "You know we haven't talked about the situation with my girlfriend yet." "I thought she was the woman you are going to spend the rest of your life with." "Yeah, but we have an open relationship."

You know, all I ask is a little originality. Especially since this guy teaches in the dramatic writing department.

So I'm like, "You must be kidding. And even if you aren't, let me see if have the situation correct. You are emotionally committed to this other person, so I'm supposed to be excited by the chance to just sleep with you?" "Well, no I mean we can go swing dancing and talk. You're very smart." "Riiiiiiiiight. No offense, but if I was going to use someone mainly for their body, I would pick someone with a better body."

To which there was no response.

So Humbert takes off.

Leaving retrocrush and me. He kisses me outside the bar. Presses me against the exposed brick. A hand around the waist, the other on the back of my neck. The street is empty. Not even cabs. It's another movie moment.

Later I tell him about how I couldn't believe he was looking at me. And he says "You know, I was looking at you, but I thought there is no way a girl this hot is looking at me." So there we were two twits pondering each others relative attractiveness, neither one believing the other could be interested.

Now, before you get excited, the guy is clearly bad news for all of his exceptionally dressing habits. He is 37, and by his own admission is emotionally disturbed. (He doesn't look 37, by the way, I would have put him at 25.) He is, as far as I can tell, not exceptionally bright. I can talk to him, but he's not going to keep me engaged intellectually. But I hear that voice on the phone, and I can't resist. ( "It is like a voice from a dream, which comforts me when I am alone" Winona Ryder as Mina in Bram Stoker's Dracula.)

I'm supposed to see him again tonight, but the older I get the more I become like Rick in Casablanca. "I never plan that far in advance."

You can't fire me, I quit: the final installment of ex boyfriend alley

Well, I saw two ex boyfriends this weekend: the Beast and Israel.

Israel finally decided to actually put in some effort by calling and picking me up and cooking dinner for me. ( And it was a very fine dinner, actually.) And for all who think I shouldn't have done it, I will say this. When I saw him, I thought to myself, "This? This? I was freaking out over this guy? I mean, I can soooooo do better than this. Please." Sitting and waiting for dinner, he commented that I was very quiet, and I realized that I didn't have anything to say to him, that I don't really like him, and I should never have wasted my time pining for the twit. But, and this is an important point, because he called back, because he made me dinner ( and after all the effort I put into our relationship in the past, I totally deserve the effort) I can say that I am leaving this situation on my damn terms.

So there.

The Beast took me to dinner on saturday in order to get my help on his PhD thesis ( don't worry I'm getting help on my math GRE AND a ride on a motorcycle as part of my repayment-I already got a very nice bottle of wine out of the deal). It was more harrowing as the Beast was still as attractive and brilliant as ever. But I learned some important information, like that he and I started dating right after a break up with one of the only major relationships in his life. "In fact," he said, " I was very worried about her seeing us together and going brooklyn on your ass." Jesus, thanks for telling me! All this time I was endagering my life, and I didn't know. Further, he had been in a depression over stolen research. Great NOW he tells me. But what got me was two things: first I got to show him how brilliant I am by correcting his thesis ( he was suitably impressed), and second he really is all about his work. He can't think of anything else, and as I told him on saturday "You know, I knew it would never go anywhere with you because I refuse to take second place to protein trays." In addition, he has no sense of time. He didn't realize that we had been dating for several months and that it had in fact been a year since I had really last seen him. Typical to form he didn't apologize, but he did confide about the two major break ups that precede me by saying, "There's nothing worse than seeing a girl cry and knowing it's your fault." Well, I guess the whole not calling thing was his way of eliminating the problem.

So I came out of the ex boyfriend gauntlet feeling better, finally understanding that NONE of this was my fault. ( Except the dating them to begin with part.)

I feel so much better now.


The Intellectual Life

While I'm waiting for him to return, I look out the window at the night sky. It's brighter than I thought it would be, the phospherous glow of the city at night.

As he climbs into bed with me naked, he says "You never stop thinking, do you?" Feeling the flush of his warmth against me, I mouth a word against his lips.

Every mistake I ever made...

...started off by seeming like a good idea at the time. In the moment of decision making, I thought to myself, "How can this go wrong? How can this possibly end up being bad for me?"

Example : House Slave

I was working on a show ( back when I was an actress) with a rather nice guy, who had just broken up with his girlfriend of 8 years. Turns out they were big into S and M, and so he spent a lot of time trying to talk the other cast members into going to the Vault or the Hellfire club. I was very depressed at the time and so he often said, "Bunni, they would love you there. You would come whip a couple of guys, spank a couple of guys. You feel better, they feel better. Everyone is happy."

Needless to say, I rejected the idea.

A week after the show was over, he called me and asked me what I was doing. "I'm being depressed." "Well, get dressed. We are going to a party." "A party?" "Yeah, an opening party for a dungeon."

Well, I was resistant, but he promised it would be small, and he wouldn't leave my side unless I said I was ok. He also said as a writer I couldn't pass up the experience.

So I went.

The dungeon was small, and looked like someone's basement. It was not the height of decadent pleasures I had expected. No red velvet curtains. No large silk pillows or leather couches. No men walking around with ostrich plum fans and grapes. No women with leashes. The people there also looked like they were probably still living in their parents basement. The type of guys who had gone from Star Trek fandom directly to the Marquis de Sade.

There are many more details to the story that I will relate to you some other time. In the interest of your attention span, I shall cut to the important part.

There was a house slave at the party. A house slave is at the mercy of any party guest. Mainly his job was to crawl around and light cigarettes or fetch drinks. Basically, he was a waiter in leather shorts. He brought me a few glasses of wine.

I was talking to a guy who had "just come onto the scene" ( not surprisingly after a bad break up with a girlfriend) when I felt someone touching my feet. I looked down, and the house slave was licking LICKING the SOLE OF MY SHOE. Not the top part. Not light kissing, but tongue licking the bottom of the shoe.

So I ended up talking to the house slave. Turns out he was ( drum roll) a teacher. (I should have known right then this was the wrong profession for me) who was a classics expert ( also one of my interests). The house slave spent the rest of the evening sitting at my feet.

So I dated him.

And when I started, I thought, "Here is a guy who knows his place. He understands that he is here to serve my needs. How can this go wrong?"

Very, very easily. Two months later I was looking at this guy thinking, "You know, every time you open your mouth, I want to throw the toaster at your head." And he left me, after informing that he was seeing other people.

In praise of error

I often make mistakes in the name of "When will I ever get to do this again?" Going back to the dungeon party, I went because when was I ever going to be invited to an opening party at a dungeon again? ( and I never have, not that I would go) It was an opportunity, which was interesting, and now I can move on knowing I have been to an opening party at a dungeon. At least I don't regret not going. And really, the fall out from house slave wasn't so bad. Certqainly not enough to justify staying home that night.

My relatives in PA often tell me they envy my life. They envy that I do these "crazy" things: date a house slave, go to a birthday party at The Slide and end up on the roof of some guy's apartment drinking beer and talking about Nebraska, having dinner under the stars while a guy I know plays jazz, get coached on how to judge cock size by drag queens, modeling for photographs at Wigstock. They envy me, but really if they wanted this life they could have it. It's simply a question of saying yes when the opportunity presents itself.

Sure, I envy them as well, their husbands and stable lives. Their children, their houses, their acceptance by the mainstream. But really, if I wanted that I could move back to CT and have it.

I may have lived a life less happy, but it certainly has been interesting. And I wouldn't give up my mistakes, even if I knew I would be happier, because I love my stories, even the ones where I end up face down in the mud. I am happy that I tried these things. I'm happy that I don't have to live with the regret of the things I haven't done.

Still, everyone in a while, I wake up the next day and think to myself "What have I done?"

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