The Orchid Man

in the tv series ‘twin peaks’ there is a character who grows orchids in his house, which he never leaves, because he is agoraphobic. donna, who has taken over her dead friend laura’s meals on wheels route, meets the orchid man and discovers that laura was friends with him. donna slowly and painfully gains his trust, and finally he gives her laura’s diaries.

then donna proceeds to ruin his trust and destroy his life, but that’s not part of my point.

angela and i were totally in love with the idea of the orchid man– a sweet, sensitive man whose trust must be slowly, painfully, and carefully gained. his fragile yet fascinating mind requires nurturing and kindness. he was a variant on the Sickly Boy, another type we found oddly appealing.

now, surely, at my lofty age, i have outgrown my attraction for the Orchid Man? hm. maybe not entirely, although i have to admit that i also find him a little bit sad and tiresome. leave the fucking house already, dude. but of course, the original Orchid Man lead a very rich life, through his books and his orchids.

now just imagine if the Orchid Man had had the internet– he could have charmed women from afar with beautifully written emails, and photos of his orchids, rife with sexual metaphor. or perhaps the emails alone would have contained powerful enough metaphors to get the job done.

shoe boy, shoe girl

this evening, sarah met me at the untidy museum to give me her opinion on those black lace up boots that i’ve been eyeing (ok, coveting) for like two years now.

i got there first, and wandered through the store. drawn, as always, to the vintage shoe section– the one place in the store where i know i can always find my size– i picked up a pair of very cute pink heels and then noticed that there was someone else in the section with me, a little ways away.

yep. hat wearing coffee shop boy. trying on a pair of shoes.

i felt embarassed. don’t ask me to explain that, but i felt self-conscious about trying on those boots anyway, and i didn’t want to have an audience. i put the pink shoes down quickly and walked away to the back of the store. you know, to hide.

the pink haired girl who works there– well, one of them– asked if she could help me so i asked her if she could find my size in the boots. amazingly, they did have them, and she flounced up the length of the store to the sofa in the front, which is actually a pretty cozy little place to try on shoes.

so i put the first one on, and sure enough, the calves were too small. i guess that’s just the way fluevog makes them– but i just don’t know if i can go through the stretching ordeal again with another pair. and even though they are discounted, i don’t need to spend my money on boots. i have boots. i should wear the boots i have.

sarah got there just as i’d taken off the one boot. the girl brought me another style that looked to have wider calves, and as i was trying those on, hat boy walked by me and we looked at each other and he gave me a little smile.

those boots didn’t fit, either, of course.


today i received correspondence from two somewhat promising personals boys, who i suppose i can refer to as scooter boy and supercute geeky boy.


my “horoscope”: for this week says:

bq. “They say it’s best for you to play the field, enjoy the company of whomever you want to spend time with, make no promises, and use protection and breath mints.”

is that extra foam for me, or do you just really like your job?

“I think you just really like having a boyfriend.” That was one of the things c. said to me when he was breaking up with me.

at the time, i felt like he’d _gotten_ me. i was found out– my dirty secret. _yes, i just like having a boyfriend._ how awful of me.

i’ve had a couple of years to think on it, though, and i realize the correct answer to that statement is actually, “so what?” i mean, almost everyone wants to be coupled up by the time they hit their thirties. sure, there are exceptions, but in general, we’re pushed by forces greater than ourselves to pair up. as d. once pointed out to me, billions of years of evolution have bred the coupling instinct.

so yeah. i like having a boyfriend.

when i was in my twenties, i was aware that a game of musical chairs was being played. people my age were busily hooking up with everyone who would have them in an effort to locate someone compatible for coupling. of course, that wasn’t always the stated goal, but scratch the surface, ask a question or two about where someone saw themself in the future, and the couple thing was there.

the couple thing was there in my mind, too, but i wasn’t very adroit at the game of musical chairs. in retrospect, it’s easy to see that i could have done something about that, but i can also see that i made the choices i made for a reason. i think i was hiding.

i’m not hiding anymore, but i find i lack some skills that i really wish i’d developed at a previous time in my life. like the ability to guess whether a particular guy a) has noticed me or b) is actually gay and/or has no interest in me. and c) the ability to do something about it if a) is true.

so this morning i walk into our favorite local coffee shop and am happily surprised to see my favorite coffee shop guy working. not the cute manager that all the girls liked (who doesn’t seem to be around anymore), but the one who always wears a hat.

a few weeks ago, he walked into the store while i was standing at the bar, stopped as he walked past me and said, “cool shoes”. i was wearing my wacky orange Born bowling shoes. and then he said, “are they Borns?” as i answered him, i had three simultanous thoughts: “wow, i feel really complimented,” “he really knows his shoes!” and, of course, “he _must_ be totally gay. but i hope he’s metrosexual instead…”

more recently, sitting in the coffeeshop working on a web site for a couple of hours, i realized that he has fucking awesome taste in music. it’s rare that someone can consistently delight me with their muiscal taste, these days; even rarer that they can surprise me as well, and drive me to google to figure out what it is they’re playing. sadly this just never happens on the local college radio stations anymore. but this guy was kicking my ass musically for about two hours straight and every time i walk into the shop when he’s there, there’s some great thing playing that i have to think about for a moment before i can make an id. (the thing that drove me to google, if you’re curious, was bowie’s first album, which it turns out i’d never heard. color me totally freaking impressed, and it was a great album all the way through, which bowie’s albums _never_ are.)

so this morning, he says, “good morning” in a way that _could_ mean he recognizes me and is happy to see me, or it could just mean he’s in a good mood.

now, making a latte _is_ a somewhat detailed process, but this morning the dance occuring behind the counter seemed more intricate than usual. he was _working_ on my latte. when he set it down next to the one he’d made just before mine, mine had a perfect swirl of brown through the white milk foam, which was extra thick and formed into two careful peaks. the previous one was peak-less and swirl-less. i felt special. we smiled at each other shyly.

obviously, i need to start talking to this guy about music. it’s the natural place to begin. except that he’s on the quiet side, and when i see him, i’m usually on the caffiene-deprived side. sadly this seems to be a deadly combination and my hit-or-miss ability to make conversation with near strangers crumples every time. the last time i was in there, i tried to say, “you always play the best music!” and the words just never came out of my mouth. it’s a safe enough place to start, much safer than, “can i have your number? oh, you’re gay _and_ you have a boyfriend? oh, oops!”

next time, dammit, i’ll be ready. and if he gives me foam peaks, i’ll thank him. they were cute. like little foam nipples.

the law of probability is on the side of the stars this week

my oddly on-target “em & lo horoscope:”:

bq. “To date, or not to date. That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous set ups, or to take arms against a sea of unwanted advances, and by opposing, end them…. Maybe you should just take a day trip to NYC and catch the free production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Delacorte Theatre before it ends this summer. That might help put things in perspective for you.”

so, who wants to go to NY with me for some lameass theater? oh, right, that probably wasn’t meant literally…

the boys of salisbury

the other day i hid my personals profile. i still go look, but i don’t show myself. i realized that i don’t have the mental energy or the time to invest in a new person. i can’t even keep up with my current friends.

i suppose that’s no different from a year and a half ago when i first re-entered the personals scene, but now i don’t feel like making time for boys at the expense of other things.

but, as i said, i still go look. the other day i thought to myself, “this is my porn.”

i was talking about porn with a friend recently. i’d decided that i must not understand it very well, because the announcement that a company is now going to start delivering porn to mobile phones is quite baffling for me. i have no doubt that there’s a market for it, but what would you do with that? am i hopelessly naive? would it really be that great to look at naked people while you’re out in public, or to be able to carry them with one wherever one went?

but i find it entertaining to look at pictures of guys’ faces. you never see their bodies, really, so this isn’t porn in the sense that we usually think of it, ie, images for the purpose of sexual titallation. and of course, i am also curious about them as people. i guess it’s like what dreadlocks boy said to me once about his interest in the show “blind date”. he said something to the effect that it was sort of like having a lot of dates with a lot of different kinds of people, so it sort of expanded his dating range. looking at these pictures is like being around a lot of boys, but only in this very undemanding (and of course unfulfilling) way.

he and i had quite the conversations once upon a time, we did. the things he made me think about! it was pretty intense and yet… i never stopped being curious about him. i never felt like i really understood him. i liked him a lot, in fact i still do, but he was elusive in a very subtle way.

when we first started corresponding, he invited me to look at his web page and go exploring amongst his links. so i did. off his friend rob’s page, i found the board. the board is a web page where he and his friends from childhood– from salisbury– post little messages to each other. it’s how they stay in touch.

at first i read the board because i was very curious about _him._ it felt like stalking and i felt guilty, yet compelled. then it became fascinating in and of itself. like a mild little soap opera, i became interested in these people and their lives. i tried to fill in the gaps, the things they didn’t say out there where anyone could find them, or things said when they’d see each other in person. the board wasn’t for anyone but them so there was no mission statement, no “about” page. it was left to the reader to fill all of that in, like finding a bundle of letters written by people now dead.

now my friendship with dreadlocks boy has gotten kind of strange. we went on one date, and either i blew it somehow, or he wasn’t that into me, or it was all just a big misunderstanding, or we both screwed it up together, but however it happened, there was no second date, and it was never discussed.

when i got the westy, he said, “you’ll have to come to everybus”. he goes to everybus every year. he makes the t-shirts, actually. i wonder if he would really want to run into me there or if it would just be hopelessly weird?

but we continued to correspond. i stopped late last year, around christmas, but started again when i got the westy. he had a lot to do with my appreciation for vw camper vans. i just had to tell him about the westy.

at christmas i thought about trying to explain to him how i feel about him. it’s complicated. while i’ve long since accepted that nothing’s probably ever going to happen between him and i, still i think he’s great, and i think sometimes he doesn’t know that, or needs to hear it. but i couldn’t think of any way to say this to him while at the same time saying, “i’m not trying to get into your pants by saying this.”

when i look back on the trip i took to seattle, right before our date… when i re-read those mails, which i just did. well. the things he was saying to me! he made me think very seriously about Big Stuff, like kids, religion, marriage. i was sitting in a swanky hotel room in seattle, alone, giving serious thought for pretty much the first time in my life to the idea of having a kid, and whether i would want to. i still can’t really tell you the answer to that.

but we had our one date when i got back and then… just kept writing.


i was looking at ‘my porn’ the other day– the personals. i was looking through those same ads, the same guys over and over. most of them dull. most of them just put me to sleep.

i passed by one that i’d passed by a few times before.

and then i realized that it’s the guy who runs the board– rob. a friend about whom dreadlocks boy had once said to me, “i’ll have to introduce you to my friend sometime, he loves macs…” etc.

a part of me is curious about this guy in and of himself. he’s got this extra depth for me because i’ve been reading about his life for the last year. part of me is curious to meet one of these people who dreadlocks boy grew up with.

but my god, how weird would it be if i contacted him? and pretended i didn’t know who he was, through this very strange roundabout way? or came clean right at first, pleading him not to think i’m a stalker, a crazy bunny boiler?

and then i tried to look at his ad more objectively and i thought… “he doesn’t do anything for me, really.” i wouldn’t want to answer his ad, anyway.

…and into the foulness some sweetness.

today i had lunch with my high school boyfriend, “jason.”: we had not seen each other since 1986.

i think the best way to describe him would be _not shy._ in fact, he’s the opposite of shy. he’s not just talkative or friendly; he’s not shy about _anything._ and it’s way too easy to make him laugh with a geeky, dirty joke, which i have to admit i now enjoy.

there was something inexplicably comforting about being around him. you know how when you see a friend from long ago, sometimes you feel the exact same way you used to feel around them? i think there was a little bit of that going on, and surprisingly, it was a good thing.

he told me the story of calling me for the first time, and then the second time. i have no memory of any of this! he said the first time, it didn’t go so well. he characterized it as, “Um, hi. So, do you like, um, stuff?”

so the second time, he was prepared. he made a list of things to talk to me about. and then he said he’d wondered if he should make a list today, but he assured me he had not.

i told him it was very flattering to know that someone put that much thought into calling me.

crushes & boyfriends – post college

me oh let’s see, when last we left our herione, she had failed out of school _(and_ dropped out, all at once!), hadn’t been particularly lucky with the boys in school, anyway, so maybe that was just as well… took up residence with six of her former fellow students… started working at a movie theater… and discovered being out of school was surprisingly helpful in the guy department. you’d think it would be the other way around, really!

i can hardly keep them straight.

hasan, the beautiful-like-a-woman bisexual cellist who was in town for the summer for the eastern music festival; i was his first kiss.

evan evan, brother of my friend todd, in town for the summer. first, we were friends; then one night he confessed a secret to me about a sexual problem that he thought he had. that very evening i learned from personal experience that he actually _didn’t_ have this problem, but was convinced he did. fascinating. (that’s evan over there to the right.)

it was with evan that i first noticed a strange thing that would happen when i was making out with a guy. i’d feel like i was outside of my body, looking at what was happening like a bystander. i didn’t understand this very well at the time, but i thought it probably meant that something wasn’t right.

bry. bry walked into the theater one night wearing a top hat and carrying a cane. he had a big personality and it was so easy to talk to him. he and his friend came to visit me one night while i was on the air; somehow he got his friend to agree to go out in the pouring rain for cigarettes and then bry kissed me in the stacks. we only fooled around a couple of times; once at his friend’s house that night and then one day he just showed up at my place with a bottle of something in hand. i think he drank most of that bottle that night. the next morning he was throwing up blood and i didn’t know what the hell to do. just as i was screwing myself up to take him to the emergency room, he walked downstairs and announced that he was fine. i took him home, and i don’t think i ever saw him again.

crazy mike. i knew him from school. he had a brain chemical imbalance, a fairly profound one. he once told me that his brain behaved as if it was on acid all the time. one day he showed up at the theater with a couple of friends, for rocky horror. my shift was over before the movie, so i went in and joined them. somehow his medication was just right that day; he was clear, upbeat, you could talk to him. and my _god_ i thought he was sexy! in this total white trash kind of way. long hair and dirty jeans. the four of us wound up driving around greensboro on some kind of mission, mike and i in the back seat flirting like crazy and holding hands. we got lost, and i could have gotten us un-lost, but didn’t because i didn’t want the ride to ever end.

i saw mike a couple of years later when visiting school with a boyfriend. he was startled to learn that i had a boyfriend. “I thought you were _gay!!”_ he said he would have kissed me that night if he’d known otherwise.

ethan it was during this time that i met ethan. i met him on new year’s eve at a party in chapel hill. i spent that night in raleigh at my friend stacie’s house; ethan lived nearby, and he walked down after he got home and he and i talked all night until morning when i called my mom to come pick me up.

i don’t know how to talk about ethan without sounding like a big cheesey sap. in retrospect, it’s clear that we both really, _really_ wanted each other. crush doesn’t even begin to cover ethan. but at the same time, i was terrified of being really close to him. he’s autistic, mildly, but still. he rocks back and forth all the time. he has never learned to drive. being with him was simultaneously awkward, frightening, and deeply satisfying.

we wrote a lot of letters. i still have them, but they’re up in my mom’s attic. his letters would come scrawled on scraps of old paintings, applications for food stamps, or whatever was close at hand.

he’d find his way to greensboro a lot. he’d wind up at my house somehow, and stay over on the sofa in my room. one night he was there when i got home from my shift at the theater. i think there had been a party. i remember sitting on the sofa next to him, and he took my hand and held it. it was _so_ the thing i had wanted to happen.. but i was caught completely off guard, and terrified. i blew it. i bolted out of the room. i can’t tell you how incredibly i regret having done that. that was my only shot; he was so angry at me. the letters i got after that.. barely intelligible, but clearly my stupid panic decision wasn’t a popular one. fuck.

he’s married now. he lives in raleigh and has shown up at every freaking rock show i’ve been to since he got back. i still think he’s unbearably hot. it’s somehow comforting to me to see someone who has known me since i was 19 when i go out to rock shows. but we don’t have much to say to each other anymore.

crushes & boyfriends – college

in 1986, i was seventeen and left home to go to a small quaker college. my first or second day there, i met dbt. he was wearing a “wxyc”: t-shirt; i’d never met anyone before who listened to xyc unless i’d introduced them to the station. during high school, music was _everything,_ and xyc was my lifeline. seeing that shirt was enough to break me out of my usual painful shyness for a moment, and i started talking to him.

we became friends; he showed me his vw gti and then laid the smooch on me. a week or two later, he broke up with me in the nicest way possible. and then, most importantly, he encouraged me to become a dj, and trained me when i finally decided to.

and then college became a seemingly endless dry spell. i was even part of the “sexual desert walkers’ club”. i kid you not. this picture might serve to explain. ok, i was a little cuter before i shaved all my hair off.

the female members of the SDWC all lost their membership within the space of 24 hours. it was “serendipity”, the annual spring festival. i somehow hooked up with a swedish security guard. i tried to get him to speak swedish to me, which i discovered was quite sexy, but he didn’t seem to get it. in fact, he didn’t seem to be very comfortable with the whole situation. it didn’t go very far.

so for two years, that was it. i developed a bit of a complex over my lack of attractiveness, both physically and as a person. i decided that i must have a deep character flaw which prevented men from wanting to love me.

somewhere in the first semester of freshman year was james. oh my, this guy was some piece of work. he would lead me on, snuggle with me, tickle me, have deep provacative conversations with me… then tell me that he didn’t find me attractive. he claimed to be having an affair with his mother’s best friend. he said that they never kissed, because she didn’t want to fall in love with him. he’d tell me about how gorgeous my friend meg was, and what a crush he had on her. this guy was pretty much evil. didn’t do much for my confidence.

and i think in there somewhere was my one kiss with suk. i was home on a break, or something… we went to a movie with this girl who later stole a boyfriend away from me _while she was in spain,_ and suk and i were holding hands and touching each other’s arms all during the double feature (‘uforia’ and ‘repo man’ at the rialto). and then when i was dropping suk off at her house, and we were hugging goodbye, fiercely because she was going off to oberlin and our friendship was starting to end, she kisssed me, a big huge french kiss. and that was it, i think it was after that that she started to blow me off and i was angry at her and it was all bad. a couple of years later she told me that i was the only woman she’d been interested in in that way.

and then i dropped out of school, moved into a house with some of my college friends, and started working at a movie theater.

i developed a very interesting relationship with a security guard at a local car dealership. he worked nights; i’d pull all-night shifts at the radio station. he’d call me, bored, and we’d talk for hours while i was on the air. this guy was the only actual male nyphomaniac i’ve ever met (to my knowlege). he was really the real deal. he slept with every woman he met. he’d carried on with his best friend’s wife for years. ok, maybe he was full of crap, maybe he told me a bunch of lies.. but i believed him at the time, and looking back, i think i still do.

but hey, guess who he didn’t want to sleep with? there was one woman whose platonic friendship he valued so much that he didn’t want to ruin it with sex. i’ll give you one guess.

this did nothing to help my little complex.

crushes & boyfriends – senior year

senior year is big, blurry wash of friends, crushes, sexual identity-finding, and all kinds of heady adventures.

friends were crushes; crushes were make-out partners; friends were make-out partners… nothing was serious.

we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. not sexually, usually– just hugging, hugging, hugging; holding hands and snuggling and that sort of stuff. gender was no issue; or rather, it was an issue of great interest. some of us turned out to be gay.. others just toyed with the idea. at the center of all the sexual identity exploration was “rocky horror.”: the content of the movie had a lot to do with it, but so did having a reason to stay out late on friday nights, having a meeting place for all the freaky kids, dark corners of the theater to make out in, and an opportunity to meet some of the freaky college kids, too.

so, let’s see… there was marsh, who i’d actually known for years, though not well. we were great friends, and actually are still in touch. i had a terrible crush on him for most of senior year, i guess. then there was groves; i had a terrible crush on him, too. there was suk, she was my best friend. there was some kind of weird vibe between us, too. and then there was george.

george started an animation club. we produced a very charming little hand-drawn animated film on super-8. fascinated with the film technology, i helped george shoot the film, so we spent a lot of time together.

for some reason, we were all reading the kinsey report, too. maybe george got us started on that. this is how really geeky people learn about sex, i guess. first we read up on the topic– get some good research under our belts. only then are we prepared to move on to real life experience.

the chronology is blurry, but i remember george asking me to the prom. i said no at first, on principle because i thought the prom was deeply wrong and lame. friends convinced me to go anyway, so i later said yes. (i only have a picture of me in the dress… no picture of me and george.)

the whole year we’d been working on this idea of a “lights out party”. a bunch of us would sneak out and gather in marsh’s room, turn out the lights and see what would happen. did we really think we’d have an orgy? no, of course not. we all hoped we’d hook up with that one person that we were really interested in.

and amazingly, we did it. groves wasn’t into it; maybe he was a little too mature for such silliness, or just a little more serious in the way he wanted to treat girls. though i think he stopped by before the lights actually went out. but george came by, and surprised the heck out of me. all i did was sit in his lap, and all he did was run his hands over me. but it was an incredible experience. i don’t even think we kissed.

then came prom. we spent maybe twenty minutes at the prom, then george took me to the most perfect make-out spot which he’d picked out and planned in advance. we had a nice time until he asked me if what he was doing was doing anything for me (it wasn’t) and… i answered honestly. oops. that was that. he didn’t want to touch me again after that.

we remained friends, and we’ve kept very loosely in touch; he wrote to me a year or two ago to say that he’d finally found a girl that “stuck”. george is a very odd person, and i’m sorry that i’ve failed to give any kind of flavor of who he is in this account. i just don’t know if george is someone i can summarize, but i can say that he’s remarkably intelligent, yet struggles with living in the real world.

i think it was that very night that marsh and i fooled around. after my disappointing and distressing experience with george (which also resulted in the _worst_ hickey i have _ever_ had, jesus), i felt the need to be with someone a little more in tune with me. so i called marsh, and snuck out, and went to his house, and climbed in his bed. that was the only time we did anything like that.

it wasn’t until later that things would happen with groves and with suk. that’ll have to be another entry, because there was one more person of note in my senior year. that was art decco.

at rocky horror, as previously stated, we met some freaky college kids. in particular, we met jeff jung. he fell for suk, and somehow she and i wound up spending a lot of time at his place, which was walking distance from the school. art was one of jeff’s roommates. he was a scrawny, pasty redhead; published a mostly political zine that i can’t remember the name of, and had this whole bookish anarchist vibe going on.

one night, jeff invited _all_ of us back to his place after rocky horror. he and art shared the basement. i somehow wound up climbing into art’s bed. we just made out… he wanted to go farther, but i didn’t, and he was nice enough about it. we did wind up having one of those weird situations where all he really wanted was someone to fool around with, but never said that; i wanted a boyfriend, and was jealous of jeff’s growing devotion to suk. so i stopped hanging out with him after i’d made a bit of a fool of myself over him, but he was always very sweet to me whenever i saw him after that.

art decco was of course not his real name. i remember his real name but there’s no need to mention it here.