"No, donut," he said. "It's the tv. I rented the Neil LaBute movie, Your Friends & Neighbors."
I stood up, went into the living room and turned the volume up. Jason Patric was sitting in a steam room with two other guys telling them the best sex he ever had was when he was 12 and raped a boy in his class. The camera was dollying in slow toward his face and he looked jaded and callous and cruel. I shut off the tv, went into the bedroom and lay down with my back to Paul.
"What is it, poundcake?" he said.
"That monologue kind of took me out of the mood."
"I can understand that." We lay there quietly for a long time and then we both got kind of listless. We were too weirded out for nookie but we didn't want to lie still either.
"Maybe we should do something," I said.
"I guess we could finish watching the movie." I knew it was sick but a part of me was curious about Jason Patric's loathsome character. I wanted to see how much more diabolical he could get. So Paul and I put on our clothes, sat on the couch and watched a lot of uptight white people be mean to each other and have bad sex. Jason Patric kicked a girl out of his apartment for getting her period on his high-thread-count sheets, Catherine Keener screamed at Ben Stiller for talking during the act and Nastassja Kinski was so needy and shrill I wanted to clock her. By the time the film was over I felt like showering for a week.
"Why do people watch that shit?" I said to Paul.
"I couldn't tell you," he said. "That movie missed me by a mile."
We took our clothes off and got into bed, but something about the film made us toss and turn. "Crumbcake?" he whispered.
"Yeah?" I said, turning to face him.
"What are you thinking about?"
"How depressing that movie was."
We blinked at each other and then he put his hand on my hip and a few minutes later we were knocking boots. I was quiet the whole time through. Usually I talk a great deal during sex, every minute practically, but that Keener monologue made me scared my verbosity was a turnoff. After a while I noticed Paul was being pretty quiet too. It's not like he usually talks a lot but this time he seemed miles away. From a physical perspective, though, we were both doing fine, so instead of suggesting we stop I stayed mum and a little while later we finished what we'd started.
"How was it?" I said, rolling onto my back.
"Weird," he said. "I hate that Neil LaBute."
"I do too!" I shouted. "He's ruining sex lives all over the country! Arthouse hipsters everywhere are paying nine bucks to see his movies, thinking he's the future of cinema, then going home and having strange and silent sex. He should be blacklisted."
"He really should."
Just then I felt something warm down below. It wasn't Paul's hand. I bolted out of the bed and ran to the bathroom. "What is it?" he called.
"Something came early and I don't have any supplies," I said, cowering. I was afraid I'd stained the bed and even though Paul's sheets have very low thread count I wondered if he might subconsciously turn assholic because of the film.
"Reach under the sink!" he said. I leaned over and opened the cabinet and there, right behind the Ajax, was a small green box of Super Absorbent Tampax Tampons.
"Why do you have those?" I said.
"Someone left them here." I knew they were his most recent ex-girlfriend's and at first it upset me to think of her lingering presence but then I decided to count myself lucky she'd left them behind. I plugged myself up and went back into the bedroom.
"Aren't you glad I had them?" he said.
"So glad," I said. "You're no Jason Patric. You're my menstrual hero."
"Anything for you, rumball," he said, nuzzling my nose.
Several weeks later I decided we should see Eyes Wide Shut. Although Francesca said it sucked and my brother called it "the worst movie ever made," I wanted to go so I could judge for myself which side of the banquet table Tom sat on.
The tickets were for the 11 o'clock show on a Saturday night. "I'll pick you up at 10," I told Paul on the phone. "Then we can grab a bite and get there early. Eyes Wide Shut is a popular flick and we want to be sure to get seats."
"Yes, babydoll," he said, sighing. He thinks I'm a nerd. When I went out with Novel Lover he was the nerdy one, but with Paul, I am. He always mocks me for wanting to get to places early and for reiterating our plans 10 times over, but it's important to be thorough and I don't care what he thinks.
I picked him up at 10 and we went to the Italian cafe by his apartment. We finished eating at 10:40 but it took another 10 minutes to get the check, and another five to figure out how much to tip. By the time we walked into the theater, at 11:01, the film had begun and almost every goddamn seat was taken. I scanned the room, spotted two empties way to the left in the third row, grabbed Paul's arm and raced him over. The angle was horrible?we had to turn our heads almost 45 degrees just to see the screen. Then I looked behind us and saw two empty seats. There was just enough room by the wall for us to slither through, but right as we planted our asses the girl next to us said, "These are saved." We grunted and headed back to our originals, but just as we were arriving, two Bridge and Tunnels snagged them from under our noses. So we slid in next to them, farther to the left than we were at the beginning, and had to angle our heads a million times more.
"We should have stayed where we were," said Paul. "Qui va a la chasse perd sa place." Paul's parents are French and sometimes he comes out with these weird quotes.
"What does that mean?"
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
"Don't talk dirty," I said, looking over toward the screen. Nicole Kidman was dancing with this cheesy gray-haired guy and the acting was so stiff I couldn't focus. Instead I began peering around the room in search of better seats. And there was so little leg room that my legs kept getting cramped so every 20 seconds I'd uncross them, then cross them again.
"Are you happy where we're sitting?" I finally whispered, hoping he'd say no so we could leave.
"Because I'm not."
"Muffin," he said tightly.
"You're giving me agita."
That stung. I'd never had a guy complain of agita before. It was such a low blow. I pouted, cracked my neck and watched the film. Overall I thought it was slow, awkward and scarily puritanical, but I didn't get really mad till halfway through. I'd enjoyed seeing Nicole's taut arched nips, I'd gotten a kick out of Leelee Sobieski's pubescent buds and I'd even gotten some pleasure out of the naked druggie chick. But by the time we got to the orgy scene I was aching for some dick. This scene had been more hyped than any other in the film. Surely Stan would show some shaft. I kept squinting during the pans for a glimpse of some stick but no matter how hard I looked, no heads were reared. It wasn't like I expected to see Cruise Cock, but I'd been hoping at the least some extras would display.
When the movie was over Paul said, "What did you think?"
"They didn't show any dick," I whined. "Didn't that bother you?"
"But don't you think equal-opportunity nudity is important?"
"No. You like watching dick. I like watching tits."
I sighed and we walked out of the theater. As soon as we got to his place we climbed right into bed. Despite the cock lack, something about the movie had fired me up. We lunged for each other fast and charged. We were so yuppie kink. So Manhattan married. We did a bad, bad thing. I knew he was probably thinking about the ivory-skinned, generic-looking chippies in the orgy scene but that was all right, because a few minutes in I started thinking about them too. I imagined I was one. And then Tom became Paul, approaching me in a corner, and finally, finally, I got some Dick.
"That was nice," said Paul, when it was over.
"Yeah," I said. "To hell with Neil. Long live Stanley."
"Long live Stanley," said Paul, and then we fell asleep.
As you might have gleaned, this is my last column for NYPress. I wrote my first story for the paper in May 1996, when I was 22, and began getting hate mail the following week. I was a temp then and I'd read "The Mail" each Wednesday on my lunch break, sob and bite my fist. But then I took a lesson from the hottest Jewish guy ever, Jesus, and learned to love my attackers. Not that all the mail was bad. Two Park Slope lesbians wrote me to say they were diehard fans, an anonymous male said he'd jerked off to a photo of me that ran in The New York Times and a young actor sent a headshot with all his vital statistics?and the words "I'm goyim"?printed neatly on the back.
In the end, though, it's you putzes I'll remember the most. The ones who wrote in week after week to lambaste every conceivable aspect of my person and pussy. Who rejoiced at each of my downfalls and booed each of my triumphs. Who never failed to call me skeaze and skag on the one or two occasions my photo appeared in these pages. I won't name you here, because it would gratify your spindly little limp inadequate egos, but you know who you are and I won't forget you. Friends come and go, but enemies are forever.
Over the course of the three-plus years of "Female Trouble," I've profiled many men (and women) who have brought me shame, heartache, misery and, once in a long while, love. Here are a few updates on where they are now:
YOUNG DIRECTOR is proud father to a one-month-old boy, BABY DIRECTOR. He and his fiancee BETH, Baby's mom, currently reside in a Tribeca loft and plan to marry in the fall.
MR. DIRECTOR, Young's dad, still lives in Boston, where he watches dirty films, lunches with New England glitterati and practices tasergun skills on his groundskeeper Kevin.
SOCIAL SATIRIST is working on a book, fighting his libidinous urges and mocking hypocrisy in very clever ways.
CALIFORNIA COCK moved to Los Angeles to be near his girlfriend and continues to labor in graphic design. He still doesn't know what Milton Berle looks like.
AUTEUR JEW has not read my novel and probably won't be directing the film version any time soon.
DEREK from the pilot recently landed a regular role on the new Barry Levinson cop show The Beat, and is looking for a one-bedroom apartment downtown.
COMIC CYNIC and I have not spoken since the Green Mountain Film Festival.
FRANCESCA is still my best friend, still smokes Camel Filters and is currently dating a very good egg.
NOVEL LOVER is enjoying great professional success. Although he recently began seeing someone new, he readily admits that he still has "some intimacy issues."
Despite the fact that PAUL remains my boyfriend, I still have a few intimacy issues myself. For example, we've been together more than five months and I'm terrified to pop the words for fear he might not say it back. Plus he's going out of town for two weeks to do some film work, and on top of that my therapist's on vacation till Labor Day so I can't work any of this crap out with her and?but enough about me.