Diary of a Dancer
11Am Tues 17 Jan 78
Reading Evelyn Waugh’s diaries over my third cup of coffee
with open mouthed amazement. It seems almost a work of fiction. Try to
imagine these whines and wails ever appearing in print! Imposserous Bert
Lahr would say. Thank God for The Victorian High Colonic: a pre-mortem
bonfire. Highly recommended, my dear.
7:30 PM No word from J so I assume he is really coming to
eat dinner here. The evening’s menu: sherry and smoked oysters, cheese and crackers, burgundy and manicotti stuffed with crab. French bread, banana
nutbread and coffee for dessert, if we make it that far without attacking each other. Need to watch the drinking – had two glasses of sherry while
cooking and am definitely feeling it.
2:15 AM Wed 19 Jan J gone – he had to – no clothes here. I let him go
fairly gracefully – after hours of sex without anyone coming I was
happy to be alone. He’s definitely an alcoholic. He gets away with it by
never seeming drunk (only once in awhile. His “tell” is he wants to talk
about Alabama.) But he’s also never not drinking. He seems too young
but it definitely explains the physical problem.
11Am A came home from a bad date. Glad her classes start
tomorrow – Limbo an unpleasant place to live. Need to walk dogs now
– going to AFI theatre tonight to see Next Stop, Greenwich Village.
Time keeps chewing us up and spitting us out.
1 PM Thurs 20 Jan 78 Excellent morning lying in bed reading Byron. It would
be lovely to be rich – it would not be lovely to be Byron.
HAVING SEX WITH LORD BYRON
“Or, if you can’t have love, you can always have relatives”
Lord Byron took his lady on the sofa
Before the wedding dinner;
He considered sex a “hostile act” and
Liked to get it over with.
Afterwards both parties sued for rape.
“Poor me”, quoth his lordship,
“Nobody’s been so ravished since the Trojan War.”
Some truth there was; the stampede
Of countesses was considerable.
This poet who fell upon chambermaids
Like a “thunderbolt”
Confounded all by falling in love with
Foolish Gussie, his half-sister.
Ain’t that the way;
Perhaps the wealthy
Overwhelmed by choice, cherish
That forced card.
Another deeply rooted legacy of R’s is that I now expect others to
constantly lie (to themselves, above all) about their motivations.
You can only judge by what they actually do which throws all planning
into the crapper and means you’re stuck with a lot of confused, open
mouthed standing around waiting for disaster. I don’t make promises
either – I just don’t say anything – which fact apparently caused me to
assume I’d really enjoy a relationship with a totally nonverbal type like J.
Turns out: noooooooo. I torture myself about what he must be thinking
and feeling which – let’s face it – may not be much. Wish my royalties
would arrive – I’ve spent them over in my mind a thousand different ways.
Can’t do anything about island property, travel, car, or self-publicity without them. Capital expenditures, all. I am making dinner for A at four thirty to
hear all about her first day of classes – then I go to work. Love driving
down the highway with the other “night shifters” – I always think I can
pick them out. Our special sense of purpose makes us different.
Sunday 24 Jan 78 7:30 PM Read Popcorn Venus, saw Julia, so alternately
depressed and cheered by turns. Thinking a lot about “impure relationships”.
How innocent to assume those are the ones with certain kinds of sex
in them. In actuality, it is more the hostage taking mentality that is to be
feared. Can one just “Glance in” so to speak and then hustle the hell out?
I’ve been so scared off, I am having a non-relationship.
When Jervaze is not in my bed, it’s as if he never existed. Would I surprised
if I found out he had some secret life? Hell no, I’d be encouraged. I think
the truth is he watches football alone, gets drunk, sleeps and works –
that’s all he does. I liked Julia because I am interested in the question
of what repressed sexuality does to relationships – does it change them?
Seems it would have to. Well, you can fool some of the people… Starting
to re-think Courtney. Worst novel ever written? If so, what can I do
about it? Is it too late? Tell it from the cat’s point of view – something
radical like that. Write it in blank verse like Spoon River Anthology.
Jervaze is mystified that I read by choice. A says “Don’t you get it?
He’s a mud puppy.” What can I say? I’m such a sucker for male beauty.
Mon. 23 Jan 78 Enraptured by biography of John O’Hara. Starts brilliantly,
describing his study at the time of his death – framed awards, Cape Cod
lighters, bound diaries. Everything just “perfect” the way poor F. Scott
always dreamed. The novels were steppingstones to the study, not
the other way around! I am feeling alienated from my study at the moment.
Have decided that my typewriter table – a board atop a wine rack – is all
wrong. A and I went to Hechinger’s and studied several “office systems”.
Plastic cubes $70 even for a looksee. I’ve set my heart on satinwood so
I guess next stop antique stores. What would an antique typing table
look like? A dressing table is the right height? Sans mirror? Wouldn’t
want to look at oneself while working! First step to madness!
When I work without interruption, time vanishes. Maybe
it’s like riding without spurs: you become the horse (one’s deepest self).
J. showed up Sun night. We drank sherry, played cards. He is getting to
like sherry, which I’m afraid, is my fault. Someone needs to go on the
wagon and I don’t want it to be me. Heard via the rumor mill that R broke
his leg skiing! Ha ha! Did he get insurance for that? Maybe he wasn’t
kidding and he was trying to kill himself. I just don’t understand people
like that. He approaches everything as “it’s you or me” so the mountain
let him have it although frankly I’m surprised it wasn’t someone else’s leg
that got broken. Maybe he killed the other guy. Sent him a card – he’s
“recuperating” at his parents’ house on a steady diet of Italian food.
Thurs 26 Jan 78 J came in the Plush Palace last night and I talked to him
until Eddy got restive. Turns out he has horrendous financial problems,
including hospital bills for a kidney complaint. Probably will have to sell
his car even though it is a part of him like his cowboy hat. I was feeling
carefree and immortal and suggested he move in with me – he’s thinking
about it. Now of course I’m aghast. What if I gave him A’s room and he
started bringing girls home? I could listen to them making love for hours
and hours and hours – no one ever coming. Would I be jealous or would
I feel sorry for her? See, this relationship is complex – I am wanting to
run like hell or place an ad for “Needed: Goal oriented individual – good
at sex – not too inflexible.“ Hopeless. They have to get stiff and then
hang loose at just the right times – “Impeccable timing”? A tall order, I know.
Today I had trip to the dentist and letter from Mom –
trip to the dentist was easier. (He told me I have a “runner’s heart”.
Did not tell him I was a dancer. Said I was a walker. True – since 10
mos old.) Mom says that if I really loved her I’d get a decent job. She a
nd Dad offered to give me money so I don’t have to dance. Respectful
endowment of course would be great. Unfortunately, they only mean,
“till I get over my sickness.”
Happy to turn ‘em down flat. Mom keeps saying a
feminist wouldn’t allow men to look at her in a sexual way. This is my
mother of the “Marilyn Monroe dress” (still hers and Dad’s favorite.) My
mother who has always turned heads and received accolades as a major
beauty, with drunken men pawing her in European restaurants, dazed
Arab men following her down the beach, stoned college professors
slobbering over her at parties. All “her fault” apparently!! It’s a critical
component of hers and Dad’s relationship that he “captured” such a “prize”.
But all this must remain unsaid or “someone” will boo-hoo.
Who would bother to deny the roles of biology and
acculturation? I’d like to live off my writing – but it is rapidly becoming
apparent that to do that you have to write to “their” taste. And they have
such bad taste! Plus, I find I covet anonymity. In spite of my profession of
“being stared at”, I feel like I am the observer. It’s a heady sense of power.
This is theatre, after all. They may think they sit in darkness, but I can still
Off to visit R and his broken leg. Took him cookies and
magazines – cookies I did NOT bake myself. I wondered if I would end
up telling him about J – flirted with the idea – he would be scared to death
if he ever caught sight of that beautiful, beautiful man. That’s what J is best at.
But I would be doing it to hurt him and since he has always accused me of doing everything to hurt him (being born on an island, going to a prep school, losing my virginity to someone else, writing) it seems as if actually doing it I would
be “giving in” to his worldview. I must remain a refusenik. In the end he
never asked me about myself; but talked incessantly about him. Trying to
impress me, like on a first date.
Looking back on it I think he’s just trying to stoke any hots
I may still have for him. He’s never bought into his own “friendship bullshit”;
he doesn’t even believe it about same sex friends. The universe is
fundamentally competitive and we’re all crabs in a barrel trying to step
on each other’s heads to get a better view. Eat or be eaten, baby! He
made allusions to the fact that “you” only value things you work hard for
… or things you’ve lost. Ha ha – zinger! A grenade lobbed at me.
The visit left me feeling uncomfortable – frustrated –
vaguely “one down” but unable to put my finger on it. From the way
his sisters treated me I have a horrible feeling he tells people I was the
love of his life but wouldn’t give up my selfishly immoral lifestyle. That’s
what he would do, the bastard, act like he was the victimized one. I hope
his leg heals crooked.
Probably a good thing I didn’t mention Jervaze – he looks
so good but he’s totally non-nutritious and collapses like a creampuff on
scrutiny. We’d have to live in Alabama – he’s made that very clear. I can’t
even imagine him having a conversation with another person in front of me.
He has no family pictures. I’d drop in on him at work just to catch a glimpse
of him interacting with humans but it’s the Pentagon !!! They wouldn’t let
me in. He’s only a repairman, too, so he probably has a completely fictitious
Still working on Waugh’s diaries. Hard to avoid the
conclusion that he became Catholic in order to avoid giving up his pride.
Just another elegantly exclusive men’s club. Anything to get out of “becoming
human”. You know. The way Jesus did.
Almost midnight – last costume change of the evening. Pink
and black lace, pink gladioli in my hair. Black tassels, the works. Gentleman
Jim – now a magnate with a string of clubs – was in earlier – I was dancing my absolute best – wild applause – the crowd was chanting my name.
I went to find him to ask him for a raise he was gone. Next time.
This is the time of the evening Zombiehood sets in. J comes
in earlier and earlier – he asks me to come over, I don’t have to bring it up.
Made me promise to wake him. I told him I would be “merciless” with him.
He wanted to know “how merciless”. He is pretty cute. He wasn’t wearing
my ring – said he took it off at work because it was bothering him. Uh oh!
I can imagine. What an idiot I was to give it to him. Tips have been good
– I think I’ll buy a steak on my way over. He doesn’t eat well at all. I am
so hungry I have been stealing saltines from the kitchen.
No excitement here. Neither Gina nor Mary pregnant as
they thought. Both have flu. The new girl, Maggie, has been telling me
she’s got $35,000 in parking tickets. She is one of those see-through
thin girls who can’t dance at all – but has a great sense of humor. She
injects bute directly into her knees, as if she were a racehorse.
Mon 30 Jan 78 J and I were supposed to go out Sat night – I had the day
shift and he said he’d pick me up. I waited 20 mins before going to his apt.
There he was with a little blond beard on his chin – lying on the sofa very
depressed. Told me to go to the concert without him. By myself?
Wouldn’t that be fun! I was aghast – tried arguing with him – he said he
wasn’t leaving the apt. So I said I’d stay with him. Went out and bought
fish and chips and beer. We watched Sahara, then Saturday Night Live.
Pitiable. Made love in the shower. In the AM he refused to come out
to breakfast with me, and I really had to go home to the dogs. He gave
me a good hug when I left but do I want to drag this inert man through
all the stages of intimacy?
Called him today, he was very blue. Homesick as
always. Takes alcohol for depression! Can’t figure out whether to go
over there or leave him alone. I really need a better invitation – my choice
is to stay away. I don’t think he’s actually SUICIDAL although if he stopped
drinking, he might be. And how could I tell? He still has his car so he’s
either asking too much for it or he’s doing nothing about his problems.
I bet the latter’s the case. Reading The Letters of Charles Dickens in
conjunction with the Life. Decorated A’s old room with Dad’s old charts
– looks pretty good.
Dancing well – I can’t give a bad set. Remembering what
Devon said about skiing – the body does the right thing – if you “get out“
of its way. J came in – in a much better mood. (Some new “magic”
elixir, no doubt.) He must have called to get my schedule because I didn’t
tell him. Asked him if he wanted me to “drop by” after work – he said it
was “up to me”. I think the traditional male female role thing may be
reversed in our case. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of those
pretty guys who’s always been pursued and as a result he feels like a
“thing”. Never developed a self, so to speak. This is what comes of being
so hung up on beauty. But when I look at the assemblage of clowns,
predators and weirdos soliciting for my hand my heart fails me.
TWO LOVERS CONTEMPLATE THE SEAWRACK
He lost her
Spoke too soon
As men are wont
Affinity flew overhead
Danced with gulls
A jazz-mad snowflake.
Freighted by their inner logic
Fell to earth and lay
Prey to busy bristle-footed worms
Who tidily dismantle
Subject, verb & predicate;
Sucked out the sense and left
The elegiac bones to rot
Amid kelp-wigged rock & glass-rope sponge
Cheek by jowl with
Long dead fishermen’s wives
Punished now for ill-set dough and
Mouths agape in imitation of
The badly sutured wounds of childbirth.
Secrets told; corpses left to nourish
One season only; sharing space
With shattered petrels
Feathers spewed like pillow-stuffing
Frenzied passade of love-struck boys –
Strewn among the shavings of these once great ships
Built by hearts & backs of men
Who loved their daughters far too well
Losing them to sailors
Crueler than the great sea-god himself;
He who stirs our sleep these nights
With grief-crazed cries of loons
Casting on the waters for their
Lost forever now
As we are lost as
He lost her.
Wrote a difficult letter to Devon in which I answered
(long overdue) his about Gwynne and frankly (but with masterful subtlety)
went all out to make him jealous of J. Cheap of me, but I have to have
some fun. He started it: we are reduced to bragging about our dance cards.
I don’t think you can truly have a “passionate” relationship with a guy who
doesn’t want exclusivity because of then of necessity you’re required to hold
something back. Dad called, says he’s sending me more stock “for tax
reasons” (I.e. it’s really mine and they’re making him.) Then said in
a very depressed way, “I suppose you want to sell it.” I wanted to surprise
him by saying NO but that would leave me feeling manipulated so I said it
depends on my royalty statement (which it does.) Due in 3 weeks.