What happens in a Winnebago: part the second

Continued from previous

I sat down at their table, bold and brazen. (At least, I hope that’s the impression I gave.) By way of introduction, I ventured, “So, tell me your names and about yourselves.”

I get the story: friends from Nevada, traveling and doing legwork in support of Proposition 8. We make introductions but I focus on the blonde boy’s name alone. Initially, I sense he’s amused by my presence. To get a shot with him, I need to charm his friends; I have to win the group over and get in their good graces.  It’s only fair–I took the group by surprise so it’s my job to carry the conversation and offer my wit. And if I do say so, I did my job well. One of them even remarked upon it: “You are really good at making conversation, you know that?”

Why, thank you, I guess.

I discover my target is an English teacher in Nevada (swoon) and an aspiring writer. We chat about books and literature, his writing, and teaching. I find out his buddies work in the coal mines… and I genuinely was shocked that coal mining still exists in this country. Moreover, in Nevada it is fairly common for high school and college age students to work there as a first job. Not to be ignorant, but I had just assumed the U.S. had mined all of our nation’s coal decades ago and sourced these essential minerals abroad. An eye-opener, to say the least.

They are finishing up the last of their pitcher around this time and, being gentleman, offer to me some. I don’t have a glass so, being the classy lady I am, I grab the pitcher and sip right out of it. It was a ballsy move, but I knew I had to prove I was chill to roll with them the rest of the night.

It did the trick. They laughed, and my blonde-haired man offered me his pint glass to share. They said they were going to go next door for pizza and invited me along. I agreed, and told them I’d meet them outside the bar after I closed my tab.

Arriving at the bar, I see one of my friends taking shots with the Irish gentleman. She yanks me over and demands, “take a shot with us!” She’s a little blitzed, but enough in control that I don’t need to worry. I’ve got higher pursuits, so I decline the shot and share a little that I’ve learned about my target.

“So, ya’gonna sleep wit’him?” slurs the Irishman.

“I don’t know, we’re going next door for pizza. Hey —, I’ll text you and let you know if I need a ride home.”

When I step outside, I look up and down the block but can’t see them. Shit. I worry they took the opportunity and left, that my English teacher wasn’t interested in me at all and was just playing along or being polite. I check the pizza joint next door, to no avail. I wander back inside the bar, deciding to use the bathroom and then check again before giving up completely.

My friend spies me exiting the restroom and yanks me aside. “What happened? Thought you were going with those guys?”

“I couldn’t find them. Think they ditched.”

“Damn! He was hot though. Come drink with us then, — is pissed at one of the French guys. He knows her cousin and said something weird so we’ll probably leave soon.”

“Nah, I’m going to check outside one more time. Hopefully I just missed them.”

When I step outside again, the trio shouts and waves me down outside the pizza joint. “Where’d you go? We thought we lost you,” they ask.

Thank god. I relax a little, my fears unfounded. “Ladies,” I say by way of explanation.

We go inside, they order slices and we wedge into a corner table with stools. Loud hip hop mingles with revolving noise of drunk customers and street-side shouts. I have to lean in closer to the my blonde-haired boy to talk to him, and during conversation catch myself resting a hand on his knee. He doesn’t move away. Our conversation turns to his teaching, and he shares that his favorite work is The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

He pulls out a book from his messenger bag and hands it to me. “I always carry The Raven with me. I have it memorized, I re-read it constantly.”

His friends laugh and tease him, “We’re sick of it! It goes everywhere he does.”

Throwing our greasy paper plates away, we head back to the street. I ask him why he loves that poem so much–why The Raven of all the stories by dead white men in the canon of literature? He seems affronted by the question at first, but then I see this shine to his eyes and notice the steadiness of his hand as he takes the book back from me.

He opens a page, and he begins to recite.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door –
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this and nothing more.”

I can’t help but gape at him: in the middle of the sidewalk on Pine St, as young people pass him by and linger outside bars and hot dog stands and food trucks, this beautiful man is reciting poetry. To me. Holy fuckballs.

He continues on, unabashed. His voice rises and falls with the rhyme, picking up speed, escalating in volume. He’s planted himself firmly with the open book in his right hand. His eye darting periodically down to the pages, but I suspect holding it is just for show.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

There’s nothing for me to do but watch and listen, smiling broadly. His voice is loud enough now to attract attention, and I catch stares from nearby smokers. A few naive youths pass us on the street, jeering and snickering and cat-calling, but my Poet’s attention does not break. Enunciating the consonants and vowels, applying rhythm and tone from stanza to stanza, the recitation is theatrical. Shakespeare in the Park? No, I’ve got my own Poe on Pine. His devotion to the text is forceful, his cadence well-timed. He’s magnetic.

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never – nevermore.'”

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

By now, his voice cracks and breaks in places; the telltale signs of the spliff he smoked earlier. Nevertheless, he persists. He is going to recite the poem in its entirety and I am entranced despite myself. Who cares if he woos all his women this way? He’s a goddamn Casanova. He is a beautiful man but it’s his passion that creates a pull in my hips and a tightness in my throat.

I want to take Raven boy to bed.

To be continued…

What happens in a Winnebago: part the first

Oh, were I wish it true, dear readers. That in certain locations, operating under the magical law defining Bermuda’s triangle, some acts will never, ever, reveal themselves.

But I’m much too blunt–or honest?– for that.

The second time I had sex, it was in a Winnebago. Oh yes, I do have quite high standards for all the men with whom I copulate. In actuality, the whole Winnebago thing was a bit of an accident, and it has turned into quite the funny tale. It’s kind of my one story about fucking in a weird location. You know, some people have barn haylofts and mountain gondolas…. I have a brand-name RV. All in all, I like to think of it as one scenario (of many) in which I’m subconsciously making up for my late-blooming sex life. That is, since I didn’t get up to shenanigans typically partaken through the inexperience of youth, I am trying to make up for it quickly and comically as an adult. I suppose when you have serial one night stands these types of situations can arise. And when you throw in alcohol, plus a trio of vagabonds, shit is gonna get a little weird.  Thus, lucky man number two (whose first name I do remember thank you much) is fondly referred to as “Winnebago” among my girlfriends and close compadres. In private, however, I refer to him as the Poet or Raven boy, and for reasons which will soon be revealed.

The night of my second sexual encounter goes as follows: I’m out at one of my favorite tequila bars with two close girlfriends. We are sitting at a table off to the side of the bar, a good location to survey the people around us as happy hour dwindles and the evening crowd piles in. We are seated for only a few minutes when a group of men–business types– come over to strike up conversation. My friends find common ground with them when they discover that the suits are native French speakers; I presume one of the lads had overheard bits and pieces of our conversation, as my friends often slip in and out of French when a topic gets particularly personal and we don’t wish prying ears to overhear*. The three of us proceed to speak exclusively in French with the suits and, being the least fluent of the group, after a few minutes I have lost the topic at hand. Not one to be a wallflower, however, I find that amongst this well-groomed group of Frenchmen is a lone Irishman. And it is he with whom I make conversation–and thank god I did.

(*My friends are fluent, but I am not. My comprehension is quite high though, so if I pay close attention and the conversation is held at a relaxed pace I can keep up and contribute with a sentence or two where relevant!)

Sometimes, there are nights where my friends and I meet strangers and fun things happen. We aren’t always receptive to these interactions, but when they happen it’s like a sort of magic.  The night I met the Poet, my Raven boy, was a night of magic.

The Irishman is an older gentleman, easily in his 50s. He sits across the table from me and after two minutes of conversation I’m ready to be his best friend. See, I studied abroad for a brief time in Dublin and while I was there I fell in love with the country. Dublin is a gorgeous city, full of culture and pubs and literature (the study of which being the chief reason I lived there briefly). I absolutely want to go back and maybe perhaps live there again one day. But the country on the whole, Ireland’s geography and history and remarkable people and national identity, has a sacred place in my heart–and therefore my heart has a weakness for any man from it! Anyways, this Irishman is fascinating. Like many I had met before him, he knows how to spin a good yarn. He talks about his life, about leaving Ireland and moving to the States, then coming to Seattle and never wanting to leave. We talk about his profession and his passions. And somewhere along the way we land on the subject of attraction: why men and women are desirable and why; whether some features are universally attractive and what those are; whether one personality trait is inherently more desirable than another; etc. It’s a strange topic to discuss with a stranger, but in this particular bar I’ve had a number of such odd and surprisingly pleasant encounters. In fact the chief reason we frequent it so often is because of the type of nights we’ve had there, its central location and quirky atmosphere attracting a wide array of individuals whether native or recently relocated or visiting.

After debating the complex reasons why men and women might be attracted to certain characteristics over others, the Irishman challenges me to survey the room and pick out the hottest guy in the bar. He’s argued that attraction is nature-based: women are attracted to men on the basis of their ability to provide. In our modern age, the ideal male provides security, financial and otherwise, to the female. The nature argument, in reductive terms, asserts the caveman’s skills as the hunter and the female’s as the gatherer. Conversely, I’ve argued for nurture-based attraction, with a dash of scientific rationale:  we are attracted to those who share characteristics we value (i.e. socially constructed heteronormative definitions of beauty and success) as well as those who are biologically appealing (along the lines of pheromones which match to create a more complete DNA profile). To demonstrate, the Irishman picks out the guy he believes best fits a nature-based argument in our modern context: an athletic, tall, blandly handsome guy seated at an adjacent table amongst three pretty women and two other athletic-looking guys, all roughly in their earlier twenties. The subject in question is cracking jokes and clearly holding court amongst his friends. He’s the hottest guys in the bar, argues my Irishman, “Because he’s sociable, confident, good-looking, and knows how to make women laugh. The women are responding to his body language, leaning towards him and flirting; the guys are sitting back, envying his confidence and letting him lead. He’s that guy everybody wants to be or be with.”

“No way,” I argue.  Taking a reductive route, I counter, “He looks like a douche! He thinks he’s the shit, but he’s not even engaged with his group–he keeps looking around the bar, checking out other people. Sure, he can get pretty girls to laugh at his jokes, but he’s not the hottest guy in the room.”

“Then who? Point him out.”

“Ok.” I take a moment to look around. In a corner booth just past the bros and biddies, beneath paintings of matadors and wrestlers, are a trio of guys in their mid to late twenties sharing a pitcher. They are just hanging out and talking, though no snippets of their conversation are audible from where I’m seated. Two of the guys, left and center in the booth, have brown hair and long beards. My impression is that they are disheveled, mountain-man types. The third guy seated on the right is the one who’s caught my attention, his curly blond hair partially covered by a beanie and his trimmed beard just the right measure of scruff.  He’s slouching a little in the booth as he talks to his friends, and I can see a bit of cream string tied around his right wrist as he rolls a cigarette between his fingers. I watch as he brings the paper to his mouth, licking the edge of the paper and sealing the joint shut. He doesn’t attract attention in the bar, but he’s attracted mine. Though I can’t say why, he strikes me as the type of guy you want around because he’s good and knows how to coax a smile. I feel a magnetism towards him: I see him, and I want to keep seeing him.

“That guy, there.” I point, quickly, and gesture with a nod of my head. “He’s the hottest guy in the room.”

“Are you kidding me? That guy in the corner? He looks like he’s stoned. He’s slouched in his seat, he’s not commanding the room. And he’s skinny.”

“No, definitely him. He’s slim, yes, but his body type is lean muscles, he’s strong and tall. See his hands? He’s deft. I don’t know, there’s something about his hands… his fingers are elegant. He’s quietly confident. He’s not commanding the room, but he’s enjoying himself and he’s not making a show of it. He looks intelligent, too.”

“You really think so? Then go talk to him.” The Irishman is daring me, and I know that winning the argument rests on how I respond.

What he doesn’t know is that I really, really like to win arguments and I rarely refuse a challenge.

“Ok. I will.”

I get up and make my way across the room. I stop in front of the booth, planting myself slightly to the left of the man I’ve selected. I smile and I make my move.

“Hi. My name’s Danielle. Can I join you guys?”

To be continued…

The Blushing Lush