|Here's a poem I like. I found it in a secondhand Charles Bukowski book.|
|Not been on one of these.|
Jesus and I were in a Spanish lit class together, a mixed graduate and undergraduate class on Medieval morality tales. I fucking loved it, and wrote papers in Spanish with the word "demystification" in them a lot, because that word is pretty much the same in Spanish and English, and I love stories where the veil drops.
Most of the graduate students were Spanish native speakers, and most of the undergraduates weren't. In retrospect, I realize this must have been hell on the teacher. He was British and spoke with a Castilian accent I wouldn't have understood if he'd been a Spanish native speaker. Most of our Spanish teachers were from Latin America and I never learned Spain Spanish.
Jesus, in between talking too much in the lectures, made his interest in me clear with huge, brown, heavy-lashed eyes. He had a beard and thick lips and white, hairy skin. He was skinny. His hairline had begun to recede and he wore a thin ponytail.
|Who am I kidding? I'm pretentious as shit.|
He banged on about poetry a lot. By instinct, I knew this kind of talk was pretentious bullshit but maybe because he was Chilean and a foreigner besides, I cut him some slack. Maybe also because I was in college and putting up with people's pretentious bullshit is just something I was used to doing.
Like many universities, my university often sponsored political dissidents out of whatever danger they were in at home, and gave them jobs as professors. Many of the South Americans and Eastern European professors of a certain age had lived through some sort of horror or other. One guy, who'd made it all the way to some Argentine death camp before the Red Cross was able to find him and smuggle him out somehow, went around campus every morning spreading wodges of peanut butter on the trees for the squirrels.
|In the UK, they hate the non-native grey ones.|
Because it was Eugene, a lot of students bitched loudly about this, claiming that feeding the squirrels was helping the destructive non-native brown squirrels push out the population of native grey squirrels. Like many things in Eugene, this was one of the stupidest things I'd ever heard. People there also bitched that non-native Canadian weed was putting our good local growers out of business.
Despite the protests, the peanut butter was there every morning.
|But I get why dudes want to be him.|
It can be said that I have the worst taste in men ever.
The first time Jesus and I slept together, we were at his house and he was helping me find something on the Internet, which was brand new and I didn't have it at home. A teacher had assigned some readings online, but we couldn't find them. This was a common occurrence with early-days Internet, when it took like 5 minutes just to log on with the dial-up modem that made cool sounds. The search engine of choice was Web Crawler. At the time, I didn't see much of a future for the Internet except maybe to annoy me.
|I resisted the Internet for years.|
Jesus used some line about being cold and low blood pressure, and we went to bed from there. I knew it was a line. I couldn't decide if it was one of the stupidest lines I'd even heard, or if it was a little bit charming. The sex was okay, but all the different kinds of hair were off-putting. Or hot. I still hadn't figured out if he was hot or repulsive.
I still think about that sometimes. I was nothing like a dove, ever.
One day, Jesus suggested we go on a road trip to San Francisco to interview Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It sounded like a good idea so I went. Pretty much the whole reason I'd moved to Eugene in the first place was to hang out with Ken Kesey, but that totally didn't happen.
Early on in the road trip, like before we were all the way out of Eugene, it occurred to me that I disliked Jesus intensely. He didn't understand American road markings, and kept getting off on exits by accident. If I'd liked him, it would have been an amusing adventure. But it was pissing me off, and I had already started being put off by the smell of him.
Have I written about this before? It seems like I have. Oh well. I guess I need to make it go away again.
Somewhere in the middle of California, we stopped for gas and he didn't know how to pump gas. I've never even learned to drive, let alone pump gas. It was after dark and the Vietnamese attendant refused to come out of his bullet-proof glass hut to show us how. I figured the gas pump out while Jesus watched uselessly and I only squirted a little bit of gas on the ground.
He had a friend in Sonoma, a Chilean dissident professor who'd been rescued by Sonoma State. This guy's apartment was full of grad students and professors and everyone was speaking Spanish that I mostly didn't understand. Sitting around the kitchen table, Jesus wanted to talk about poetry. He started going on about how he wrote his poems in coa, a Chilean argot. His friend didn't give a shit and tried to shut him up. Then he looked at me just as I rolled my eyes, and smiled at me. He made us some herbal tea that was the best I'd ever had, but he refused to share the recipe. That was weird.
|I wanted to feel like I was in this song.|
Jesus and I slept under some blankets on the floor. He wanted to have sex and so we did. I used every trick I knew to make it finish faster and closed my eyes and swore I would never have sex with Jesus again and I didn't after that.
The next place we went was Oakland. Jesus had a friend there who lived in one of the newly-renovated industrial lofts that are now super expensive, but at the time pretty much all of Oakland was less than savory. When we neared Oakland, Jesus mentioned that this friend didn't know we were coming. It was late. He said that in Chile you can just drop in unannounced to stay with friends whenever you want. I told him that in the US people didn't really do that, and suggested we call the guy to make sure he was home. We found a pay phone to tell the guy we were coming. He was a bit put out, but gave us directions to his house.
Through clenched teeth, I started telling Jesus to turn around and get the fuck out of there. The guys were coming towards the car, reaching at their backs and sides and carrying empty bottles. Jesus was making fun of me for being scared. I told him I'd discuss it with him as soon as we got out of that neighborhood.
|LE thinks Chile is too thin to be a country.|
Back on the main road, Jesus accused me of being afraid of black people. I assured him it was more drunk people in projects swearing at us with empty bottles and reaching for guns, real or pretend, that I was afraid of. Jesus wondered why there would be a dangerous neighborhood in the middle of the city, because in Chile it was only on the outskirts that you had to be careful.
His friend was a painter, more a friend of a friend, really, who put us up nicely even though it was almost midnight. He made some instant Trader Joe's rice or beans for us and it was good. The renovated loft was enormous and gorgeous and this guy had clearly had a lot of fun defining spaces and levels in what was little more than an enormous square with 20-foot ceilings and exposed pipes and ventilation. It was one of the coolest houses I've ever seen in my life.
On the way to see Lawrence Ferlinghetti the next morning, I asked what time we were supposed to meet him. Jesus didn't have an appointment. In Chile, poets are, of course, happy to grant each other interviews at any old time. At this point, I was sick to death of Chile and pretty much reconciled to the fact that I wasn't going to meet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but at least we were heading into the city. I hadn't been there for awhile. The smell of it was good.
At City Lights, I was in charge of doing the speaking. I asked the woman there if this Chilean poet I was with could please interview Lawrence Ferlinghetti. She asked if we had an appointment. I said we didn't, but that this guy had come all the way from Chile. She didn't care. I understood.
I also don't remember how, exactly, the thing with Jesus ended after that, or even if it was awkward somehow continuing to be in the same Spanish lit class with him. I still don't much like poetry, except sometimes I do. I thought about going to Chile, but I never did. I never met Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I don't even like his writing all that much, but still. It would have been cool.
There are lots of things I've never done.
|I regret those things a lot more than the things I have done.|