Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ruthless and Unkind and A Wonderful Gift (The Zombie Fuck)

Let us join together and discuss openly what my friends and I have dubbed the Zombie Fuck. Understand that you may need to get past the words, Zombie Fuck. You may need to understand that a Zombie Fuck is more than just words, it’s a philosophy.

For those of you still left hideously in the dark, a Zombie Fuck is having sex with a man without him knowing about it, at all.

I’m not talking about The Fermata here (a brilliant novel). We don’t want to stop time and take a stranger’s clothes off, we want time to continue just as it is. We certainly don’t want to crouch in a hamper watching someone suck a black rubber dildo, no offense to Nicholson Baker or his (simply brilliant) character Arno Strine. I’m talking about zombie fucking. The man would, however, be in a sort of netherworld state. A place, as Dorothy of Kansas said, where there’s no trouble. He would have no remembrance of the event and the woman would also, if she so chooses, have no remembrance of the event. She should be able to walk away glowing, aerobicised, refreshed and yet at the same time psychically immaculate.

Is this ruthless and unkind? Yes. Does it flay all remaining shreds of conventional femininity we as a sex clutch to our Pilates-sculpted busom as we race toward a new day? Of course it does. Yet when we consider how men have historically behaved after having actually coupled with women, it’s tempting to believe that generally speaking and with few exceptions, the Zombie Fuck would perhaps be a better way to go.

Men of course would also like to utilize the Zombie Fuck, but theirs might be different; their egos might still want us to respond, or at least remember them. Women wouldn’t need to have the man remember or even necessarily respond. This will surprise those who believe that women desire sex for intimacy and cuddling and not for the sex itself. Maybe when a girl is seven; of course that raises another debate entirely. But that girl grows up, she experiences I’ll Call You a few times. Maybe she eventually gets married. Maybe she’s married now with a baby and a vice presidency and a parking space with her name on it. She wants a Zombie Fuck. She doesn’t want the memory of you, she doesn’t want have to deal with you later, she definitely does not want to marry you and have to pick up your socks. She just wants to be able to do it and walk away, like a really great manicure pedicure.

And yet, why the Zombie Fuck, when so many regular fucks are presumably available? The reasons are manifold, each more satisfying than the last.

Consider the Zombie Fuck, as a woman, whether you’re married or unmarried, a) you don’t get the Buyers Remorse thing, and, b) you don’t have to deal with the man’s reaction to having had you; i.e. him acting strange and beginning to lie about simply everything, including his name and the time. (Note to Gay Men: The Zombie Fuck is still a valuable commodity, for obvious reasons, the main one being you don’t have to deal with bullshit. Also, there are no condoms in Zombie Fuckland.)

It would seem a shame to stop here, so I will continue to share what my friends and I are thinking about in our spare moments. I will officially open the Pool of Truth. It’s adult swim time and I’m diving in here at the shallow end.

The fuck that got away; we call that the Lost Fuck. The man who didn’t quite have the courage, or conversely the man who had his eye on a blonde across the room who any fool could see would never do him in a million years. Those too religious, too nice to copulate. The wrenchingly beautiful college boys who are going to grow up to be Lutheran ministers and have two little girls and a wife resembling the woman in American Gothic.

The Lost Fuck can be also be the Premature Fuck.

The Premature Fuck is someone who was perhaps a bit too babyfaced or intoxicated or both, and so it didn’t turn out to be a positive sexual experience. Somebody who was a little nauseous or naïve, but you know had you waited they would have been seasoned, and it would have definitely been fantastic. But by the time they’re seasoned, you’re both irrevocably entwined with different people. It’s the wine you drank too early.

The Fuck With History is the man you had before and you liked it and you still would probably like it. Say he was a conceited putz but he was a decent fuck and you would like to zombie fuck him now. To return as the person you are now, and not give him unnecessary strokes, just enjoy yourself and leave him without a clue that you ever came back to slap down for a Fuck With History. So – to clarify -- a Fuck With History can still be a Zombie Fuck, and should be. Because a Fuck With History in real life is something that inevitably leads to a sad place called nostalgia and remembering with terrifying lucidity why it didn’t work out in the first place. It’s a Here Now History Fuck.

The Here Now History Fuck is the man that you had before whom you bring current and reunite with for a night but it’s not a regular fuck because its also a Fuck With History. Unfortunately, and this is why we don’t recommend it, with a Here Now History Fuck the odds are excellent that this man is going to commence lobbing the same odious spitballs as he did in the first place, or you are, and once is frankly enough for most of us. Also, the Here Now History Fuck often leads to the Dangerous High Risk Fuck. There’s a ton of paper work here, so bear with.

Dangerous High Risk Fucks are the rare men from the past (or major celebrities) whom you would cheerfully annihilate your life for. The ones were it to happen you would need to forfeit your marriage, your parents, your house, your precious stones -- your world as you know it would simply splatter against the side of the house next door. It’s Orlando Bloom showing up naked at your door saying, ‘I’m on my way to a shoot, but since I was in the neighborhood I thought I’d stop by and see if you wanted to have sex with me for around four hours.’ And you say Come in. Can I get you anything? Even though your husband is due home five minutes ago. Is in the next room.

Here I cannot help but once again point out the virtues of the Zombie Fuck. The cleanliness of it.

Finally I would suggest that the Zombie Fuck makes a wonderful gift. For a friend who is going through an ugly divorce, or someone who’s feeling a little depressed. You could pick out a Zombie Fuck for your best friend (Justin Timberlake), your son’s kindergarten teacher (Kevin Costner), even your own mother (Sean Connery). Something she would perhaps not buy for herself, but would enjoy nonetheless. It’s that rare delight, the gift that no one ever returns or jams into the back of their closet or rewraps and gives as a gift to someone else. Can you think of a better one? I’m sorry, I just can’t.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Take Courage

C S Lewis, childhood photo, date unknown

Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.
-- C.S. Lewis


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Split: A Memoir of Divorce" , a Library Journal Best Book of 2008


Library Journal's Best Books of 2008

Split: A Memoir of Divorce. Finnamore, Suzanne. Penguin Group (USA)

Best-selling novelist Finnamore (The Zygote Chronicles) never saw her divorce coming; to make sense of it, she dissects her once-broken heart with an astonishing calm and precision, breathing new life into a tramped genre. Fellow divorcées and connoisseurs of the English language will savor each exquisitely cut piece.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lucas Cranach And Happy Birthday, Mister Fox

who are you in this picture? it was mysteriously sent to be by a man turning 60 who said he was the fellow in the wheelbarrow far left. oh who am i kidding? that was no stranger, that was the brilliant nick fox, husband to fay weldon. i replied as well i could:

You must not pity me because my sixtieth year finds me still astonished. To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Telephones: An Instrument of Satan

I'm not sure when I realized I'd become a zealot for a cell-phone-only existence. Yet not long ago, bit by bit, I reasoned that functioning land lines, cordless phones or answering machines were wholly unnecessary; perhaps such obsequious devices were to be considered actual instruments of self-harm. All these multiple and clingy communication implements were just another way - like email- that crazy people could touch me.

I felt strongly that one reliably sketchy cell phone for a family of two was a perfect, sleek system. It worked well enough (from my viewpoint) until recently, when key persons in my life rose up into a small mob, insisting I arrange for a minimum of one phone to be functional in my life at all times.

Just one phone, they said, faces purple with religion.

I thought and I thought, and then I remembered the 1990 Sanyo Princess.

“Just in case”, I'd long ago retained one "real" landline phone, cached in my garage for Emergencies. It's a quaint, bone-white princess phone with all the modern conveniences of Touch Tone, but it isn't cordless. It's bloody crammed with cords. A vintage electronic, it has a very long cable that plugs right into the wall (!), whereupon something called a Dial Tone always happens; phone calls always go straight through, without going dead, dropping, crackling like an electrical storm, playing hard to get, or coyly dying just at the moment of urgent verbal consummation.

The Princess has a very ornate, curly white cord, which connects the phone itself to the base of the phone. It functions 100% of the time and it is always in plain sight, in the exact same place. Can you imagine? Its very availability and staunch reliance, of course, is what drove it into the garage in the first place. The Princess was too direct, too dangerous and too incriminating to those I was trying to avoid, which was often everyone.

Sadly for the Princess – and for those like me who enjoy frequent, unexpected or expected, passive aggressive and often permanent disconnections - it's not a cell phone, so it has no distorted audio, or go-dead tricks that cell phones delight in doing, at the 'worst possible moment'.

Princess is not a cordless phone, the inexplicable lemon-phone on a worldwide basis.It’s surely no mystery now that cordless phones were designed with profit margins, treachery and ineptitude as Job One. I have two cordless phones, unreliable and moody and useless by design. They need constant electrical charging to function at all - a fact exacerbated by the way they rarely rest in their cradle correctly. They proffer a wheezy, faint and buzzing connection, despite how much one frantically dashes around the house and yard and roof, changing channels. Possessing no cord, they're irresponsible gypsies, malevolent by nature, and are easily misplaced -- being the ideal shape and size to slide between couch cushions, disappear in any garage, drawer, hamper, room or patio, and wedge themselves uncannily into random crevices.

With the Princess I may take phone calls without the prescience of Caller ID, as well. In 2008, the all but extinct element of Surprise now has a home within my Princess phone. When the Princess phone rings, I can look straight at it and have no idea who is on the other line. It’s shocking. And, oddly enough, when the Princess rings forth like a regular old-fashioned telephone, it is also completely terrifying.

I don’t like to be shocked. More and more, I see surprises as a form of violence. But the Princess will surprise me in a shrill, insistent manner – she has her plastic white heart set on it. Childlike, I am once again at the mercy of the telephone, unless I turn the ringer off and leave the answering machine detached, which I have just had the foresight to do. The Princess rang once, last night at 8 32 PM; I didn’t know who it was, and the ring sounded like a scream. That was enough.

Telephone conversations, it is safe to conclude, are vastly overrated. More than one telephone conversation has made me feel as if I needed a .12 guage rifle, or a foolproof suicide plan. The telephone is an instrument of Satan; there are plenty of telephones in Hell, on that we can rely. And they are all land lines.

The Genius Bar

Fate is cruel. I think we can all agree on this one thing, before I move on. Mostly cruel, especially when one considers withering illness, global politics, death and taxes -- all of which are as unavoidable as Fate, and are therefore part of Fate.

I, a writer and a single mother (one son, Pablo, ten), am at this moment sitting atop a barstool at the Genius Bar at my local Mac Store. (The Genius Bar. I wonder how much money someone made to think of that, instead of Customer Service. I'm thinking about a million dollars and a team of six creatives, two of whom were actively disengaged.) My laptop, an iBook G4, is cursed; it is a gypsy curse. It involves a great deal of mystery and importunate timing; that's how I know gypsies were involved. Gypsies or witches.

Within the past ten weeks, my laptop has had everything replaced; it was physically gone for a week in Memphis, Tennessee. And now it refuses to function, despite the fact that literally every part was replaced except the top cover and the plug.

A beige man with short dreads and a seasoned look is manning the Genius Bar. He checks his list of Genius Bar appointments and says,

"Is there a Bud?"

Buds do own computers. This in itself may well be information well worth the trip and time spent, which I am beginning to think may be in vain as far as my computer being fixed before I must pick up my son at school. Every minute the aura of the Genius Bar becomes more jagged; at exactly 2:55 PM, a gaggle of teenagers clutching iphones and ipods rush to the fore.

More people cluster worriedly around the Genius Bar, pressing me forward onto the counter. It's like that scene in It's a Wonderful Life when the Bailey Building and Loan bank is on a run and the whole town becomes an anxious sweaty mob grabbing for what's been promised them. And Jimmy Stewart is running around telling everyone to calm down. Just calm down.

Jimmy Stewart is not at the Genius Bar. He's dead (see: Fate).

Now the man next to me is drumming his fingers. Great, a finger drummer. Next I'll get a whistler. My mother used to attract dwarves with shopping carts. I swear to GOD.

Here comes Bud to the Genius Bar, and people look on him with envy and a kind of hatred. Bud told me earlier that he had an appointment; he came here and immediately signed on a computer for a 2:55 appointment. People named Bud are known to be practical. He doesn't even have his computer with him, that's how efficient Bud is. He has a list of questions.

When Bud told me this, much earlier, I sashayed to the row of computers and I made an appointment for 4:55 with the secret Apple Store clipboard man. I am gleeful. It may even be before then, he said.

Now it’s a good feeling, just sitting at the Genius Bar. They have wisely installed wide barstools. People are used to sitting at bars; bars are safe, bars are good. If you squint, it's a pub. Lots of time can go by inside bars without anything happening. Yes, bars and barstools are an excellent choice.

"Why do they make those little CDs if no one can USE them?" The customer, a man in black turtleneck, is angry. He has a problem they cannot solve. His whole system is out of date, like a dodo bird. He walks the walk of the dejected as he leaves.

So now we all know: it's not really the Genius Bar. It’s the Just Okay bar.

If this were a real Genius Bar, I would have arrived equipped with a list of questions, as did Bud. Let's say there's a limit of ten. Ten questions.

1. Why was I born?

2. What happens when you die? Is there a Hell or is there nothing. Within reason, I would prefer a Hell. Hell I could understand; I’ve waitressed for lunatics, written ads for panty shields, and experienced hours of labor contractions one right the fuck after the other. Nothingness, however, terrifies me. I want to still exist, even if it means Hell. (In real life, I tell my son that I believe in Heaven, but if I am wicked honest, I don't. I feel it has a high probability of being a publicity stunt.)

3. Why did my marriage really end?

4. Can time be moved backward? I'd like that option.

5. Do the people I hate know it? I want them to.

6. Do the people I irrationally love know it? How can I make some of them un-know it?

7. What's the square root of one million?

8. How many holes are there in an average colander?

9. Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?

10. Will I ever have another huge, death-defying love affair, or am I sentenced to an eventual Mojave celibacy, along with its accompanying sense of being a rock-person, and not a really thorough woman.

Meanwhile, back at the Genius Bar, they actually do fix my problem (or what you see now is only my Immediate Problem.) My Genius Bar man wears a plain black long sleeve shirt that may be Helmut Lang, and two very sleek, scientific looking necklaces around his neck; possibly the keys to the entire Mac universe. The key to my deliverance from evil.

Another customer, this one with a short cruel hairdo and big ass diamonds in her ears appears to my right. She bears a look of a nurse at an emergency ward, a mask of concerned fatigue. I sense she has not a computer glitch, but is afflicted with matters of life and death. No little SHIFT keys slightly loose, no slow connections, no -- everything in her vista is crashing into a meteor of destruction and heartache.

God. I’m done, and I am so glad to be free. And I alone was spared -- that's the feeling.

As I slip from my barstool I hear a full-grown man talking in a high, quavery voice.

"It's the blinking question mark." He's practically weeping.

The Genius Bar is open.