How many times did I travel around New England and beyond to conduct research for an essay and wish I had had a devoted lover to share the scenery with, someone who admired what I wrote and liked me a lot to boot? For instance, several months before I met Gillian I drove to the woods of Maine, to my maternal grandmother's cottage on a lake, the locale of my childhood summers, a place planted at my hub, in order to ignite my memory and write an essay about those bucolic days and what they meant to the Wordsworth I am. I brought along a woman I had gone to high school with, someone I had remet at the pharmacy in town after twenty-odd years: divorced, two kids, the face of a cover girl on a cloud but the mind of an amoeba, couldn't tell the difference between hearsay and heresy. I kept saying, "Look there, that's where I swam! And over there, that's where I caught a five-pound bass! And there, I chased a moose through the brush! And see, that window in the cottage there, that was my room!" But it didn't matter because she didn't care; we weren't invested in one another; she and her indifference wrecked the weekend for me, and I never wrote the piece about my youthful summers in the pine scent of Maine.
Gillian entered my world with all the force of a javelin hurled by Schwarzenegger in his prime — Pumping Iron, say — and nothing I saw was ever the same after that first night with her at the bazaar. You can read in various greeting cards courtesy of those saccharine quasi-scribes at Hallmark, or hear in the melodic yeah-yeah-yeah on an early Beatles record, about how love heightens, enhances, makes a home for misfits like you and me, but I never believed the baloney until I hit thirty-one head-on and discovered myself solitary. My being alone seemed a great crime, a slur against my humble good looks and the fame I had — minuscule, sure, but verifiable. One month I went on twelve dinner dates, nearly every one a tour de force of discomfort. Two or three were very effective exercises in pessimism and soul rape. Only after too many encounters with the fraudulent can one recognize the authentic. Gillian the javelin, my dream.
That lopsided bastard Marvin knew what he'd had, all right, but it's not my fault he couldn't accept defeat and welcome himself to the cruel world — women will leave you, cold and hard and all of a sudden; brothers and parents will die, some horribly. Gillian left him because he got too pushy; she had difficulty breathing within sight of his face. He wanted her sex three times a day, said he couldn't function without it, said it was like meth for a junkie. He needed to stuff his face between her thighs and keep it there for half an hour or more, inhaling deeply the soggy scent of her. Sometimes he insisted on watching her pee, his face above her lap. Other times, à la Napoleon and his queen, he demanded she not shower for days at a time so he could — yes, you're hearing me right — lick her clean. There are certain words a man cannot use with a woman, demand and insist being just two. If you are a male imbecile, jot that down.