The Hometown Heartbreaker

Dear Saturday Night,

Almost a year after living in Los Angeles on the evening of April 19, 2016, I found myself idly looking through Facebook’s “People you may know” list one night as I lay in my bed with the portable air conditioner on blast. I still can’t believe how facebook is so damn smart to know who I may know. Half of the time there are people whom I’ve only had a quick phone conversation with after matching on Tinder… or worse, slept with thereafter. (Zuckerbgerg, how DO YOU KNOW?) So anyway, I come across someone from good old home. Let’s call him Grease Fingers (I’ll explain why later). We had two things besides growing up in a pathetic part of Pennsylvania: I went to college with his younger brother, and I had, also ehm, entertained one of his friends for a night in a girlfriend’s hot tub. But this was circa 2008, so that doesn’t even count. Without much thought, I clicked the “Add as Friend” button. Immediately I got a message, “Dallas girl, eh?” (Dallas = Pennsylvania, not Texas, k?) Some witty banter later, we discovered we lived about a mile from each other within this ginormous metropolis and that he actually owns a shop fixing used motorcycles (non-Harley’s, by the way). During the course of our text-sation, Grease Fingers must have decided one of the following:

  1. I might be cool
  2. I could be funny
  3. I may even be a combination of the two
  4. I just look to get some dick on Facebook

Because, he asked me to come by the motorcycle shop the following day.

“We can have a beer,” he typed casually.

“You mean, a vodka soda,” I replied back. This face bloats from beer. I won’t stoop to that level to impress someone I haven’t met.

“Deal.”

So naturally, I cleared my schedule after work which was filled with nothing and “inked” this date right in on his terms. I mean, this wasn’t a date or something. I was just going to meet a new… friend? Motorcycle fixer? Hometown homie?

Then I did my homework. Recently broken up with a 3 + year relationship with a very plain Jane blonde as depicted by the facebook photos that had never been deleted.

“Yeah, she was cheatin’ on him or some shit back around the holidays,” my college friend Jack told me, who also happened to know him. I called him on the way to meet my coworker for lunch, which was going to be the finale of my excruciating four hour work day. Hey, if the publishing idiots were paying me a crap $500 + commissions a week, who had the audacity to tell me to work a full day? (This job was for a publishing company. Again, this company remains anonymous.)

Jack was friends with Grease Finger’s brother in college. Anyways. My stomach did a slight lurch, although I didn’t know why. I didn’t even know this guy. I’d just seen some facebook photos of a guy wearing jeans, a white t-shirt and long hair, longer than my own hair. He certainly beat to the beat of his own drum as there were photos of him wearing a bird’s beak on his nose reading a book to a child, or sitting blindedfolded with a cigarette in his mouth. Clearly someone in his life was some sort of aspiring photographer or everyone he surrounded himself with did a lot of drugs and did weird shit. Probably the latter.

I pondered all of this with Renee at lunch, who studied his facebook photos. “He looks wild, be careful,” she told me. Go figure. God forbid I find myself a nice, khaki pants wearing financial planner with a pocket protector.

I left lunch, took a second run around the beach, did my laundry, and of course, straightened my hair. Grease Fingers had told me to come by the shop around 6:00, so at approximately 5:47, I told him I was calling an uber. I texted my girlfriend Ally about four outfit versions, because she had also met him years ago as well through an ex-boyfriend. “Be really casual, Jay. Like, no heels. He is not a heels guy.” Ugh. Whatever, I didn’t know this guy, it wasn’t a date, why did I even care what I looked like? I settled on skinny jeans, wedge sandals, and a loose black tank top if you care. It was about as casual as I could get before throwing on sweatpants.

My uber pulled up to an address which was a barber shop on Lincoln Ave. Barber shop? I walked in, clearly confused. A hair dresser looked at me and said, “Looking for the bike shop?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s in the back,” he pointed to the back of the barber shop which when I looked up, realized was only divided by some plywood. Not really sure of what the hell I was getting into on this April 20th, I walked over the plywood, when I saw a guy wearing old jeans low on his waist with a dirty white t-shirt. He made the 10 foot trek towards me and leaned back as he stuck out his hand.

“I’m Grease Fingers,” he said, trying to hide the fact he was giving me the one over look. I let it pass. I’d check me out too.

Note: He did not actually introduce himself as Grease Fingers, he used his real name.

“Hi, It’s nice to meet you” I said, doing the same thing and shook his extended hand. He obviously worked on motorcycles, as his hands had that remnants of dirt and grease. I also tried to decide if he matched up to how he looked in photos, which was hard to do considering he looked different in each photo. The first thing I noticed after the half dirty hands was that he was wearing some sort of band aid thing over his nose. Had he gotten punched? Was he airing out some straggling cocaine? I had no idea. I decided not to ask.

“Come see the place.” It looked like any other mechanic-repair type shop would, plus a few collectibles of random artwork hanging on the walls. And then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a giant tank. A chill went down my spine as I realized that could only mean one thing.

“What’s in that tank?” I asked.

“Two snakes.”

“Oh my god,” I shook my head away from that thing. I can’t even deal with a photo of a snake, never mind the real creature mere feet away from me.

“I used to not like snakes either,” he told me. But then apparently, he met these little guys and fell in love.

“You said you wanted vodka, right?” he asked. I nodded. He grabbed a helmet and gave it to me.

“What?” I asked, confused. He walked out towards the back of the shop, where a collection of motorcycles sat waiting to be worked on.

“No place sells liquor within walking distance. Hop on,” he said and jumped on the bike.

I’ve never been on a motorcycle before, and now I’m standing with a helmet, expected to get on the back of a motorcycle with someone I met five minutes ago. I guess I had to be game.

“Can you help me with this?” I asked, trying to finagle with the strap and attempting to not look too pathetic. I tilted my chin up so he could maneuver the straps and prayed there weren’t any visible unplucked chin hairs.

“Alright, hop on,” he said as he pulled the strap tight. He started the engine and I knew it was do or die. So I decided to do, and if I died in the process, oh well. I climbed on like I was mounting a horse and grabbed his waist from behind, like I’ve seen in the movies. He didn’t flinch, so that must have been a good sign. He slowly rode through the back alley to the main road and veered through the traffic. Two sets of thoughts flashed through my head simultaneously:

Holy shit. I am on a motorcycle and if we fall, what the fuck was the stupid helmet thing going to do for my precious head?

Holy Shit. I’m on a motorcycle and this is just fucking awesome.

And five minutes later all the euphoria and fear ended when we pulled up to a small liquor store. I browsed the selection, doing my best to pretend like the candy didn’t exist even though at this point I was starving for something other than the lettuce and grilled chicken I had eaten at lunch, and grabbed a few bottles of club soda. At the cash register, I perused the bottles. Grease Fingers said, “I’ll pay if you pick out the small bottle.” Ew, he’s cheap?

“Okay, then,” I said and asked for the smaller version of a fifth of Skyy. Because, if I tried to ball out with some Goose or Kettel the kid would have probably left me there.

He paid and we hopped back on the motorcycle. I needed some of that vodka now. Two mini motorcycle rides and facing two snakes were making for quite the day. We got back to the shop and his two minions were still fiddling around with wrenches and other pieces of metal that I knew I’d never be able to wrap my head around. As much as I declare that I love to run away from the suit and tie world of corporate America, when you throw me into a loose world of hipsters and bikers, I clam up. Yes, I felt weird, so I reached for the vodka, making sure those snakes were out of sight, and asked for a cup. Grease Fingers actually got up and came back with a freshly cleaned bronze moscow mule mug. It was time for a heavy pour. Three drinks later, we were sitting in the tattered chairs around the work table next to each other reminiscing about dumb Pennsyltucky stuff and how cool we were for getting out. Maybe our knees were even touching. I stood up and realized how drunk I was getting when I announced I needed to use the lady’s room, or men’s room, or something. Sitting on the toilet seat, I observed the bathroom walls were covered with newspaper clippings of hot girls and a sign on the wall that read,

“Don’t do school, Eat your drugs, Stay in vegetables.”

“Do you guys eat around here?” I asked when I came back to the table. The two minions were still around, metaling away with different motorcycle parts. Anyone else might ask what they were doing, but let’s be honest. That shit would go right over my head so I didn’t even bother.

“Yeah, we can go somewhere and get something to eat,” Grease Fingers said. He gave the boys close-up instructions and I called us an uber to meet my friend Maya and her boyfriend at a dive bar that apparently Grease Fingers also frequented. As soon as we got there, I bugged the bartender for a menu. We agreed to split an order of quesadillas, sweet potato fries, and a california styled chicken salad. Meaning, I’d eat the salad and he’d eat the carbs. Maya and her boyfriend at the time, who sucks so he isn’t worth naming, were playing pool but stopped to meet Grease Fingers and say hi to me.

“What’s with the thing on your nose?” Maya immediately asked. Jesus Christ.  

“It helps me breathe better.” I can’t play sports so I watched from the sideline as they all shot pool. Without warning, Grease Fingers grabbed the stick and shot every solid in on the first try like it was no biggie. I was impressed.

Let’s fast forward to an hour or so later when we were really losing our coherence. “I know you slept with everyone in my brother’s fraternity,” he said to me as Maya and no-name boyfriend were playing that stupid hockey puck game. All that my brain was processing is that I was a slut and a “clackclackclack” of the puck and I wanted to scream. “What the fuck?” I asked, completely dumbfounded. Literally, I had slept with ONE fraternity brother. “I don’t care,” he said.

“Well, I do, that’s not true!”

“Jay, I don’t care, I wanted to meet you anyway…” We started bickering over the who said she said and Maya and no-name stopped their game and began staring at us.

“What the fuck is going on with you guys?” Maya asked.

“He’s accusing me of being a slut.” I wanted to leave. This was ridiculous.

“What?”

“Grease Fingers, your brother is full of shit, sorry. Even ask Jack.”

“I don’t care,” he kept saying. Who the hell brings this up the first time meeting someone? Even though as the night went on, I felt like I’d known him for years. And in a way, I had. Everyone from home is connected when we’re in unchartered territory like a city across the country. It’s just the way our town is.

Then the strangest thing happened. He tried to kiss me. I ducked away. “Come on, why won’t you kiss me?” he asked.

“You were just calling me a slut, and now you want me to kiss you?” I asked. I was disgusted. Then I kind felt turned on and I wanted to kiss him too for some reason.

“Please?” he asked, looking at me like a puppy. God I’m such a sucker.

“Maybe later,” I said trying to get back the upper hand. As long as I had something he wanted, I was good. That’s the same with any man though.

Maya pulled me aside. “How long have you guys known each other?” she asked. “Oh you know, since today.”

“What the fuck? You guys are fighting like you’ve known each other for years.”

“Yeah, I know, it’s weird.”

Twenty minutes later, Grease Fingers and I somehow decided to take a walk. We didn’t get very far, just a few feet from the bar.

“Let me kiss you,” he said looking at me with a tenderness he hadn’t shown when I arrived at the shop. Maybe it was just the alcohol softening him.

“Ugh, fine.” And there we were, two Pennsyltucky kids making out next to the parking lot of a Venice dive bar.

“Come home with me,” he said.

“No, I’m going home to my house,” I declared about 85% wasted and proud for standing my ground.

“Let come back with you.” Again, the puppy dog look.

“Ugh, fine.”

“Can you call the uber? My phone died.” Of course Grease Finger’s phone died.  

In lieu of my stupid vision of going home, sleeping fully clothed and spending the night cuddling and deep kissing, we were both mostly naked (I think my bra was still on or something stupid) and his face was buried not kissing my mouth, but my supremely wet vagina. “God, I really need to stop doing this… this meeting a guy and letting them rip my clothes off and go to town on me because I’m just a hornball,” I thought to myself as he swirled his tongue and pushed his fingers deep inside me. And then it happened. He slipped his pinky slowly into my butthole and OH MY GOD, all the sensations sent me wild. I was probably screaming so loud poor Jameth could hear me in ecstasy, but oh well. Of course at one point he wanted to have sex with me and I slammed my legs shut and adamantly declared “NO,” like the good little girl with morals I was clearly not emulating. And then we passed out. But hey, I kept my legs shut.

Aftermath:

The next morning,  he propped me up on my bathroom sink where he knelt down and went to town again, even though it was light and I had no clothes, so I felt supremely exposed and I wanted to die. After that, I told him his nose was going to smell like my vagina since it still had that stupid nose-strip thing on it. He later texted me and said, “My nose smells like you.” Days later, once I realized he wouldn’t be calling or texting regularly, I came to another conclusion: I had caught the worst STD of all. I caught feelings. For countless months, I agonized over when he would contact me, what other girls he was screwing, why he didn’t want to date me.

If I were to write this from a place of anger, I would rant about the money he asked me to borrow, my birthday he refused to acknowledge, the times he was supposed to spend time with me but instead bailed, the broken promises, the emptiness and sadness I felt when he would leave me after a night of two or three rounds of intense sex (I caved in about six weeks). At the end of July, after one rendezvous, I thought we were going to meet up after a concert he went to. Instead, I saw a photo of a screenshot of a text message with him and another girl flirting and talking all “I’m gonna smack your ass” dumb motorcycle hippie talk that is so stupid because hippies don’t even talk like that. I was so enraged I looked at Miguelita and said, “Fuck this kid. I’m going to run a marathon.” Two months later, I ran the Long Beach Marathon.

But I’m writing this from a place of acceptance. A month after I ran the marathon, he contacted me while my parents were in town. Instead of ignoring his texts and phone calls like I should have, I picked up and immediately called an uber when he invited me to the dive bar where our original first escapade took place. A couple drinks later, me telling some fat coke head that Grease Fingers was my fiance and bought me a cheap engagement ring, and watching the fat cokehead yell at his anorexic girlfriend, we ended up in an uber back to my apartment. And I let hell break loose. As he lay in my bed naked thinking he was about to get fucked, I diarehead out all my angst and pent up emotions. He stared at me with his mouth hung open. He’d never seen me stand on my own two feet and prove I have a backbone.

“Why would you want to be with someone like me, Jay? You’re beautiful, you’re smart. You know I love you.”

He loved me?

God that kid always knew what to say.

“Can you come lie down next to me now?” he asked. I was still standing in front of my bed this whole time delivering a theatrical monologue that could have been chronicled in some version of “Crazy White Girls” if it exists.

I changed out of my stupid skinny jeans and white top into an old life insurance t-shirt and $3 sweatpants from Wet Seal with holes everywhere and climbed into bed, snuggling into the little spoon position. He smelled like oil and metal but I didn’t care.

“Can we have sex now?” he asked after a few minutes. I thought about it. Yes reader, I know you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Ew, gross, no, he’s an asshole. You’re going to catch the Feelings STD again, after you’ve finally gotten over him.” And I was over him. I was also horny, so whatever. The next morning, he was still depressed over some shop bullshit, so he pulled out the coke the drug lord had supplied the night before and did a line on my kitchen table. It was 10am. He tried to pour himself a glass of wine but I explained it was my roommate’s, and not mine to give. Respecting other people’s food and drinks isn’t something he’s very skilled at. Once that summer he stuck his greasy paws in Miguelita’s box of cereal and tossed a handful into his mouth. She proclaimed his fingers as greasy, disgusting, and let him have the whole box to himself.

Standing in my Saturday morning uniform of spandex, a sports bra and my running shoes impatiently waiting to go on a run, I surveyed the scene and realized something. This was a tortured person. No one needs to snort lines of coke off my kitchen table at 10am. As a borderline alcoholic, I’ll accept the need for a glass of wine. He was in pain as he found out he may be losing his shop for whatever financial reasons. I felt sorry for him. I didn’t want to date him. I wanted him to just find peace with himself, just as I want to find peace with myself. Two tortured souls does not equal a harmonious partnership, even I know that.

But let’s not get carried away with my newfound wisdom. I still periodically drunkenly text him and call him to the point where he finally picks up the phone and says, “What, Jay?”

I’m telling you, I have some serious game.

As I finish writing this on May 13, 2017, Miguelita reminds me, “Hey, he asked to borrow a shitload of your money. Why don’t you just hit him back up to pay your taxes?”

And this is why you’re my best friend, Miguelita.

Grease Fingers, until we meet again.

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