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Something Happened

Something Happened

Something Happened 35


  And I have plenty more I could let myself hate (if I were the type to complain and run off at the mouth, ha, ha, or yield contemptibly to impulses of self-pity, ha, ha, ha). I can even hate myself--me--generous, tolerant, lovable old Bob Slocum (in a kindly and indulgent way, of course)--for staying married to the same wife so long when I've had such doubts that I wanted to, molesting my little girl cousin once in the summertime when no mothers were looking and feeling depraved and disgusted with myself immediately and forever afterward (as I knew, before I did, I would--I didn't enjoy it. I can still recall her vacant, oblivious little girl's stare. I didn't hurt her or frighten her. I only touched her underpants a moment between the legs, and then I touched her there again. I gave her a dime and was sorry afterward when I realized she might mention that. Nobody said anything. I still keep thinking they will. I didn't get my dime's worth. She was a dull, plain child. I wonder what became of her. Nothing. She is still a dull, plain child in my archives. That's the way she stops. The branches of my family have grown apart--I can kick myself for fumbling all those priceless chances I had with Virginia at the office for more than half a year, and with a couple of Girl Scout sisters I knew from high school earlier. I thought they were only kidding in their giggling insinuations. And they were having genuine sex parties with older boys from tougher neighborhoods who would crash parties in our neighborhood they had not been invited to and break them up. It was rumored they raped girls), seeing my big brother with his fly open on the floor of that shadowy coal shed beside our brick apartment house with a kid named Billy Foster's skinny kid sister, who was in my own class in grade school but not as smart (my big brother wasn't even that big then), had nipples you could notice but no breasts, but was doing it anyway (Geraldine was not as smart as I was in geography, history, or math but was going all the way already with guys as old and big as my big brother. While I wasn't even jerking off yet!), abusing and browbeating my children (I have seen them turn dumbfounded and aghast when they thought I was annoyed, observed how insurmountable their plight in trying to talk normally. Their heart clogs their mouth. I see them trembling in such debilitating anxiety and want to hit them for being so weak. Later, I condemn myself, and I am even angrier at them), dishonoring my wife (I no longer want to tyrannize her and I try not to make passes at anyone who knows her), capitulating in craven weakness and camouflaged shame so often in the past to my possessive, domineering mother-in-law (who bossed me around a lot in the beginning) (while I had to make believe she didn't) and my shrewish, domineering sister-in-law (who is pinched and nasty now and whose face is drying up into lines as hard and deep as those on a peach pit), for surrendering so totally, despairingly, fatalistically to broad and overbearing unforgettable Mrs. Yerger in the automobile casualty insurance company, who towered over me then, it seemed (and comes to mind always now when I'm fuming over Derek's nurse--I don't know why we call her a nurse. She does no nursing. She's a caretaker. She takes care of my mentally retarded son), when she hove into view like a smirking battleship, moving out of one indistinct department, of the company to take command of the file room--I knew on sight with a chill in my blood and bones and a feeling of frost on my fingertips that she would fire me soon if I didn't quit sooner--and again and again for fumbling it so thoroughly with luscious, busty Virginia back there in the office I worked in as a dumb, shy, frightened, and idiotically ingenuous virgin little boy, who felt like a waif, and sometimes worse.

  What a dope I was.

  "Do you remember Mrs. Yerger?"

  There will be no one I know in this whole world who will have an inkling of what I am talking about. Virginia might understand, but Virginia will not be in earshot when I lose control of my reason in senility or delirium and begin pressing upon strangers such puzzles of ancient, germinal importance to me as: "Do you remember Mrs. Yerger?"

  (I remember Mrs. Yerger, and I remember Virginia is dead too now and would be a peeling water bag of emphysema and phlebitis if she were not. What a feeble-minded idiot: I could have had her then. She was hot. I was petrified. What in hell was inhibiting me so long, strangulating me? No wonder when I finally tore free it was with a vengeance.) The company is still there. (She isn't.) It hasn't grown. Nobody ever hears of it. And life has pretty much been one damned sterile office desk after another for me ever since, apart from those few good years I spent away from home in the army.

  What a deal I blew. (I was a moron. I have laid my wife on the desk of my study more than once and on the desk in my office in the city one Sunday afternoon while the kids were off on their own watching the holiday show at the Radio City Music Hall. They thought that was corny.) What good tits I could have been nibbling on all those months, instead of those soggy canned salmon and tomato or baloney and mustard sandwiches my mother made for me to take to the city for lunch to save money. I enjoyed those sandwiches too. I'd lick her lips and large breasts now with my salmon-and-tomato tongue. No, I wouldn't; everything would be the same; if I had her now and I was the one who was older, I would probably be calculating my ass off trying to keep free of her, squirm loose unscarred with a fairly clear conscience, as I find myself doing habitually with all my Pattys and Judys, Karens, Cathys, and Pennys, and even with my slim, smiling, tall, supple very young Jane, a kid, my refreshing new temptation in the Art Department, who would be putty in my hands. (But how long can you remain entranced with putty?) I break dates with girls with the same proud feelings of accomplishment I enjoy when I make them. (It is easier to break dates than keep them and takes up less time. All we really have is time. What we don't have is what to do with it. So I make dates.) Most of my girls have been very good to me. (That's what I feel girls are for.) But I don't want to see any of them frequently and can't bear being with them long. They want to talk afterward, get close, and I want to sleep or go home. I tell lies. (I like to date working girls for lunch in Red Parker's apartment because I know they'll have to leave shortly to get back to their jobs.) I procrastinate. I procrastinate with Jane (take three steps forward and three steps back); I hedge; I know beforehand what I will not like about Jane later (she'll be too thin, of course. And immature. They're'll be blades of bone everywhere. What will I find to talk to her about? Love? Her painting? She'll think we've been intimate. How awful. How will I ever get my emotions unmixed?); I move closest to Jane when there is no chance of moving closer; I never joke with her about meeting after work unless I know it's impossible. There is method to my madness. I am only rash when I'm safe. I throw caution to the wind when there isn't a breeze. I know I'll be sorry someday about all of my discarded ladies, the way I'm so sorry now about Virginia and even about Marie Jencks. I'm sorry about them already.

  "Do it to me like you did to Marie," Virginia sang.

  I did it to neither.

  I'm always sorry about all of them, whichever way I move. Sorrow is my skin condition. Otherwise, I'm healthy and feel and look pretty good, although I've gotten a little paunchy and carry a bit of a sack beneath my jaw. I can lose the weight in a month if I really try. I think I may have been one of those pretty, young boys some of my girl friends brag about picking up now on bored or reckless afternoons or evenings. (They brag about picking up fags, spades, or each other, too. I don't care. I do care. But that makes it easier for me to dump them finally when I judge I want to. I like a girl who's going with someone else.) Virginia told me often I was handsome, cute, sexy, and smart, and guaranteed I would be able to get all the girls I wanted when I grew up.

  She was wrong. I haven't gotten all I wanted. And have gotten a number I didn't.

  "Take it in your hand, Mrs. Murphy," I sang back at her, gushing with joy, basking innocently in her sweet compliments and the affectionate warmth of her friendship.

  Virginia was wide open for me then and I didn't know it. Virginia was wide open for me then and I did know it. That's probably the reason I always shrank back from her in such solemn ineptitude whenever she seemed to be sweeping me past a point I felt able to go. (As s
oon as I realized I could do whatever I wanted with Virginia, I lost my power to do anything at all. I could not say what was necessary. It came down to a matter of words, and I could not speak the right ones.) I would lose my power of speech (as I lost it with Mrs. Yerger--I never once believed I could ever say anything that would make Mrs. Yerger smile--and as my children, I think, and my wife, lose it with me). I don't know why it hit me that way. Kids today are doing it all over town with older girls and women (if you can believe the kids, or believe the older women). Truthful girls boast about seducing pretty or grimy young boys on summer weekends in places like Martha's Vineyard or Fire Island (it's Arabs, Greeks, and Slavs on vacations in Europe), or picking them up on city streets afternoons when they have nothing to do. They are sexually liberated (they say). They have no compunctions (they claim). They are slaves to no social or psychological restrictions. Anything goes. Then why are they anxious, hysterical, tense, and dejected? They are lonely. They have nothing to do.

  "I have nothing to do," my boy says.

  "I wish I had something to do," my daughter says.

  "Can't you think of something to do?" my wife says. "Isn't there anyone we can go see?"

  Sundays are deadly.

  Spare time is ruinous.

  Women my wife's age with broken marriages take up robustly with fellows much younger than themselves, sometimes boys, and their husbands don't like that part of it at all. (It's a means they have of really sticking it to us. The husbands can do without the money and kids. But they can't abide their wives' humping a younger dick and letting everyone know.) Our dicks are so pathetic. (I felt that way early and was close to a truth. I felt need, not power. I felt yearning. I never thought of it as an instrument of domination.) They can always find a hardier one for special occasions. (A girl can always find a man to lay her at least once.) I think they feel safer with teen-agers and young college kids or carpenter's helpers in vacation spots they visit and leave, grabbing the initiative with their tense, sharpened fingertips (if they haven't been chewing their fingernails down blunt, as more and more of us seem to be doing) and keeping control. Everybody wants to keep control. (I want to keep control. Penny makes me lose control, and often my wife does too. Penny diminishes me into a gargling, blabbering imbecile every time, and I love it.) I've got one girl who goes way out of control every time she has an orgasm and hates me and everybody else in the whole world bitterly and ferociously for five or ten minutes afterward (until she regains control of herself), until her scrambled senses start to reorganize. (Then she sucks her thumb.) She is humbled, vanquished, resentful, subdued. She is ashamed. She curls herself up away from me like a catatonic child and will not let me pet her, unless my touch and whispers are consoling. She'd rather not experience it (unless she's by herself, with her vibrator or her finger); she resists response; she'd rather just give them; she sees herself as the laughingstock of whoever watches her. I watch her. I'd just as soon not have to give them. (She and I are compatible that way. But I do taste what power over another human being is when I succeed in doing that to her. I do feel potent. We take leave of our character and are transformed into something else.) Were it not for the element of status, I really would rather not give orgasms to any of them but my wife, and there's even an element of sadistic cruelty (not consideration, not understanding) in that. Some of them change so grotesquely. They ought to be ashamed. There really is something disillusioning and degenerate, something alarming and obscene, in the gaudy, uncovered, involuntary way they contort. It's difficult not to think lots less of them for a while afterward, sometimes twenty years. At least we go in horny and bestial from the start; we want it, like lusting apes, and we let them know. Many of them start out that way too now, and I'm not all that comfortable with those (even though I know it's a sure thing. Maybe getting laid should never be so sure a thing. It isn't with this girl I know, or even with my wife. She gets aches, upset stomachs, and fatigue. It is with Penny. I don't see Penny as often as I used to). I don't like women who are that decisive and commanding.

  "Okay, let's have it," they seem to be ordering. "You've been using it your way long enough."

  Those assertive bitches. Generally speaking, I prefer to make them do all the doing and giving; that way, I feel I have done something to them: I've gotten away with something. Many of them prefer that too. They blow their young boys. That must seem easier to them. They don't have to undress and show themselves. They don't have to be able to come or pretend to. They don't have to be "good." They don't have to go through motions. (Everybody wants to feel safe, not just me. Older, rancorous, divorced ones, though, do want to get laid, insist on it, demand it. I prefer my women with milder insecurities. I feed on submissive feminine loneliness like a vulpine predator. I'm drawn by the scent. My ravenous snout is insatiably passionate, for an evening or two. Bellicose women whose husbands have been philanderers will hatchet you for it: they are affronted if you do not wish to fuck them.) Then they throw them out.

  "What the fuck would I have to talk to him about?" one of them told me about an eighteen-year-old she picked up in a record shop, brought home, and threw out before morning.

  No wonder so many of our virile young men have trouble getting it up nowadays. (It serves them right.) I would too. I did. Virginia was certainly safe with me because I couldn't feel at all safe with her. (I certainly couldn't seize control. I had not the confidence or the know-how.) And Virginia, in her turn, could not ever feel safe again with the adjuster who threatened to throw her out of his car (or with Ben Zack either, for that matter, who tried to rape her in his car, despite his crutches, canes, wheelchair, and all) on the deserted street near the cemetery in Queens alongside which they were parked if she didn't put out for him.

  "That's just the way he said it too," she complained to me in a tone of petulant protest that was not typical of her. Her poise was shaken each time she spoke of it. "He just took it right out without even asking. I thought he was crazy. I just looked down and it was there. I was sure insulted, I'll tell you. I wonder what Ben Zack told him about me."

  I didn't have the confidence and know-how to go too far with her even in my sex reveries without losing heart unexpectedly (and much more). Just like that, my little, rigid, dime-sized prick would dissipate into thinnest air. She scared me (the thought of her all naked scared me. I could never conjure up pictures of her that way). Pretty as she was, she could turn as grisly to me all at once as that separated head of Medusa, that evil, hairy, peristaltic nest of countless crawling adders and vipers arching out to fang me for no good reason.

  "Let's do it all the way today," she'd say.

  And convert me into lead, wood, or stone every time she appeared to be trying to skate me closer than I wanted to go (into what used to be called sexual intercourse. Today it's called fucking). I'd feel dehumanized and castrated; things would feel gone. There'd be a thumping blow in my chest, and my heart would stop. I would feel ill. With tendons and muscles fluttering weakly, I would long to sneak out of sight for a while, in order to creep back later and begin all over again with her from a distant and more secure footing, inching back cautiously. (I think I enjoyed just flirting with her more than anything else: flirting was an end in itself and still often is. I'm still not always sure I really want to get laid.) I would lose my urge, go numb; I would have a lump in my throat instead of my pants. I lost my cock and balls; they'd go away. They lost their sensitivity. I would have to squeeze or hold or look to be positive those limp and wrinkled sausage casings were still sticking there, still mine. I felt absence; no density or weight. I feel no density or weight there now. What an odd and derogatory thing to have to say about our masculine genitalia.

  It is our weakest reed.

  I can feel my feet in my shoes when I pause to concentrate on them, and I can feel my thigh bone connected to my ass bone on this wooden chair. I can feel this hand and forearm of mine lying on my brown desk blotter. I can feel my other hand resting overturned on my thigh aga
inst the worsted fabric of my trousers and can feel my back turned and angled uncomfortably, the lower part (sacrum) aching steadily but tolerably, but I cannot, for the very life and dignity of me, feel anything inside my undershorts where my exterior sexual organs are supposed to be (and probably are). All I can feel, without touching, is something like sandpaper in one spot where my undershorts are pulled too tight. I try to force a stir and can't. I know I had something there a little while ago. I know they belonged to me. I think I'm entitled to them. I know I will have to open my pants and look if I wish to make certain that what is hanging there is hanging there. I do. It is; they are. What a minor relief. Where else would they go if they went away from me? They feel lost now (I've been robbed!), even as I watch, like sloughed-off skin from a blister or sunburn or the cellophane wrapping from a crumpled, discarded cigarette pack, as though they already have gone away from me to work for somebody better and left only these flaccid parings behind to jeer at me. Until I scratch slowly, rub, tickle, and then--ah!--take a hearty grip. Now I've got him, now I know I've got him back, sturdy, upright, alert, obedient, eager, loyal, ambitious. (I think I'll hire him right now for my department. Such attributes of prickiness are much esteemed in companies and governmental organizations.) That's because its natural state is always so very, very small, negligible, puny, slothful, not just mine, all, unless one's growing somewhere on some kind of human zoological freak, and even then it's large only in comparison with others, unless that human freak is a full-grown horse. There are big heads, bellies, and backsides, I suppose, and God knows there are tremendous, full breasts (although I find I am losing my taste for those and already prefer the smaller, shapelier ones of my wife, Penny, Mary, Betty, and Laura, all of whom wish they had bigger ones), even a brain weighs at least a whole pound or two, I think, but I guess there really is no such thing as a big human dick.