I am twenty-two years old in 1991, which means that I am old enough to drink but not necessarily to exercise sound judgment when it comes to members of the less fair sex. Benjamin Franklin may really have believed that “beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” as he is so often quoted, but I would swear on a stack of Poor Richard’s Almanacs that he never got so drunk he went home with this guy Dale, not even in Paris.
Visiting Dale’s apartment is an experience not to be missed if you’re into the whole feng shui thing, because it’s a perfect example of how NOT to implement this ancient Chinese art of furniture arrangement. If there were government-sponsored feng shui consultants who were paid to review residences door to door like public health inspectors, they would find themselves standing knee-deep in dead and dying chias soon as they entered his apartment. He also maintains a visible aversion to dusting, which for me creates an irresistible urge to put on white gloves and run my fingers over every horizontal surface like a psychotic Mary Poppins.
The thing about sex with Dale is that it’s like going on Space Mountain at Walt Disney World in 1977. You wait in line for two and a half hours, trying to seem interested in the displays of futuristic tableware and soulless domestic life in the twenty-first century, while all the time you’re distracted by feverish anticipation of the rollercoaster ride waiting just around the next polished Plexiglas corner. And then you finally get on board, and it’s fun for a while, and then it’s over. You don’t feel disappointed, exactly, but the experience is not really in line with what Abraham Lincoln would have called “the original idea for which that struggle was made,” had he been talking about casual sex during his February 1861 address to the New Jersey Senate.
Following this unanticipated downgrade of my e-ticket to some lower-falutin character of the alphabet, I tried to get Dale to drive me back to my hotel, but he had already fallen asleep, caddishly ignorant of my all-encompassing driving phobia. So I tried to go to sleep myself, but a nightmare involving B-52 bombers flying through the narrow streets of Pamplona blasting unfortunate Spaniards with old AC/DC records kept waking me up. By the time I identified the source of my disturbance as Dale’s uninterrupted snoring, it had begun to gnaw at my subconscious like an endless freeway rumble strip on the highway to Hell, which is always under construction.
There are red sofa pillows in the living room of the President James A. Garfield house in Lawnfield, Ohio—old-fashioned, comfy-looking pillows, probably stuffed with genuine lamb’s wool and walnut shells. I like to think that they might have comforted old James during his long, lingering death after being shot by disgruntled ambassador wannabe Charles Guiteau. Sometimes when I’m feeling nostalgic, I also like to think about putting them over Dale’s face.