“The below is an excerpt of a forthcoming novella. It’s autobiographical fiction (with the emphasis on fiction). Book forthcoming in Spring 2013, the first from elephant journal press.”
“Feeling love is easy. Being genuinely in love takes balls. Most people aren’t up to it.” ~ Dr. Willard Evans
For more chapters.
They continued to actively smother the awkward boredom that comes with immature love.
They covered their raw hearts over with the usual things that beautiful-young-people-with-enough-or-more-than-enough-money-not-to-have-to-deal-with-reality do: they laptopped, they went out, they traveled, they talked loudly, they went to shows and got fucked up, they ate out and gossiped and drank more, they had sex again and again and again and again until sex was about as exciting as cleaning out the compost container on your countertop.
They planned out their love affair in a way that made for good sharing of photos on Facebook. “Here’s us looking happy on a fourteener!” With her SUV cropped just out of view down in the parking lot.
But infatuation is to love as shooting free throws is to playing basketball: eventually you got it down and you want to do the real thing: you want to play ball.
They both had that feeling of love—but Eco Boy was slightly less perfect and slightly more eager to be slightly genuine, occasionally. He wanted in the game. And as the endorphins or oxytocin faded, Eco Boy felt increasingly nervous. He wanted to say sweet, uncool things to her about how, like, he felt…and stuff. But feeling made him feel vulnerable, and he didn’t want to be the first to give the secret away:
I’m a sucker, I actually have feelings…that kind of thing.
Meanwhile, word on the street was
yah man they’re totally in love, I hear
yeah they’re into each other crazy: I haven’t seen him solo in weeks, all they do is fuck I hear, hahah
No one really cared about Eco Boy or Yoga Girl. They both could die in a tragic car accident and the local paper wouldn’t even report it. People would text each other about it for a few days, and then go on with their lives.
Eco Boy and Yoga Girl were both useless, selfish, stupid, materialistic, immature, unaware living embodiments of first world privilege.
Love is a luxury, after all, and they were in love, and since they had nothing else to do, they acted the part.
Eco Boy sat in Yoga Girl’s perfectly sterile, safely tasteful, too-hot apartment. It looked like a 3D DWR catalog, only cleaner. The wifi lights blinked green at them: go, go, go. A car alarm sounded in the distance, then a dog. It was 9 p.m., and they were just back from an early dinner at a yellow-lit, overrpriced, foodie, pretentious, incompetent see-and-be-seen restaurant where he spent $28 bucks on scotch for himself. It wasn’t just any old whiskey: it was peaty, smokey Talisker with “one ice cube, please”—as it happened the ice cube was round, chiseled—and huge enough to fill the glass. A savvy hipster rip-off.
Now, they didn’t know what to do. No one was around to perform for, and it was too hot to cuddle and watch Girls, which is what all the cool girls were watching.
They’d had so much sex, sex, sex he was bored of her beautiful body, bored of her beautiful skin, bored of the small crook in her perfect nose, bored of her eyelashes curling up, bored of her meowing moaning whining as he moved his tides up and down her sighing moonlit shore, bored of this whole love affair thing. He was spent and his lust was gone and she knew it, and probably felt the same way.
She came out of the bathroom; she’d just showered and was naked except for her red American Apparel underoos. She hadn’t toweled off—it was too hot.
“Mind if I shower?” he asked? He got up without waiting for an answer.
Her shower had that white dime tile, and a faucet that dropped down from out of the ceiling…as a tall boy, he loved it. Everything was still foggy and the water was already warm. He showered, used her damp towel that smelled like a meadow out of a drug commercial with thirty seconds of legal language read quickly at the end, and hung it back up. He didn’t redress, beyond his blue American Apparel underoos and his “necklace,” a string with keys and a coin on it, and didn’t towel off much—it was too fucking hot.
He returned to the living room and got his laptop and curled up on one side of the big camel couch.
Yoga Girl had opened her stickerless, newasthedaysheboughtit silver laptop Air and was curled up on the other side of the big camel couch like a stuckup cat. Once in awhile she’d
say something about someone,
“hah, didn’t know Mark and Lori were at it, again.”
or “Stupid shoes”
“these photos are so funny, you gotta see these man” (but she wouldn’t move, and neither would he)
“this was one of my best friends in college, she’s in Jamaica, she’s crazy”
Their feet cuddled—he curled up on his end of the couch, his stickered half-trashed laptop sitting on his uncomfortably warmed lap, his neck sharply leaning up against the hard arm of the camel-colored couch. (You pay extra to call something camel-colored: poor people just sit around getting fat on cream or khaki couches)
He half-heartedly scrolled through 150 Instagram photos, “liking” most of them. He had 1560 followers and wanted much more, not that there was any point.
He started going through Reddit, upvoting and downvoting and leaving four boring, insecure comments. He wanted more karma, not that it mattered, which was good, because he wasn’t getting any. He watched a bit of The Daily Show, sliding his overpriced oversized blogger’s headphones on. But the blue light was beginning to hurt his eyes, making him want to sleep. But it was too early to sleep, and too hot.
Life, even in a DWR catalog, sucked.
So he kept half-reading things, watching videos (flipping the fancy headphones over his ears when he did, flipping them down onto his neck when done).
After awhile he sighed, loudly.
“What,” she asked, without looking up. Her pale nose glowed blue in the laptop light.
“I don’t know. I’m sleepy, I guess.” It was 10, now, still too early for cool people to be sleepy. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t wanna read stuff online. I don’t care. Ever since I met you I don’t care about anything! I only care about you! You make me so happy.” He didn’t feel a thing.
She said, “That’s sweet,” and fidgeted, not making eye contact, still reading whatever she was reading on her laptop.
So he got his iPhone out and clicked around.
He was offended at her for not buying his happy bullshit and convincing him that he was happy, so he decided to pout.
She didn’t notice. She was busy tagging photos from a recent lawn party where she’d pretended to play croquet in a blue and white striped shirt that cost $200 bucks. The whole time he’d ignored her, he was fucking around by now she was sure of it. He’d stood off by a little creek talking with some hot girl and two hipstery guys wearing checked shirts and big glasses, with perfectly parted Don Draper hair, drinking beer after beer.
“I like hoppy,” he said. And he just about asked this girl out on a hike on Sunday and then remembered,
shit, I’m in love.
Yoga Girl had stared at him, repeatedly slowing up the half-assed croquet game. She was jealous without feeling anything. She knew. She frowned and wandered off from the game and looked for someone to flirt with, but everyone looked fat or old or un-interesting. Eco Boy, she smiled to herself, was the pick of the fucking litter. Tall, and dark-haired and hairy and imposing, in a sullen, heavy, Hemingway way. So she sat down and drank some water with lemon in it and stared at him like a mad cat.
Once he’d told her the secret to popularity at parties: “It’s easy: talk loud.”
That was it.
“If you’re loud, even if people can’t hear what you’re saying, they think you’re cool. You could be saying a bunch of bullshit—You could yell “I’m so lonely!” in a loud bar and no one will know what you’re saying, they’ll just hear you yelling and look at you across the crowd and nod: that guy’s cool. They’ll think you’re not shy or awkward like them, so they’ll put you up a notch. Be a peacock, you know? And you’ll be cool, and those who know better won’t say anything, usually.”
“What’s like a peacock?,” she’d asked, whenever this random memory had actually occurred. But she couldn’t remember what he’d said. She was busy wondering if TOMS were still cool. She figured they were.
Back in her DWR apartment.
She squinted her dark eyes XX and twirled her curly hair and frowned, and closed her silver laptop, and stared at him. “It’s fuuucking hot, Eco Boy. Wanna do something? We could watch a movie? Or fuck?”
“Sure,” he answered, in the middle of trying to read this article in the Times about FDR and Obama and some corporation. He wasn’t getting into it, but he loved FDR, and he loved Obama, and he felt like this was the kind of article that someone like someone he wanted to be should get into, so he kept rereading the first paragraph over and over again. But his mind was full of thoughts of…just, it was hot. Just, he was bored. Just, love was hard to keep going. Just, she seemed really jealous, all the time. Just, he’d be just as happy being on his own, doing his own stuff, in a way. He could always date random other amazing girls. Each girl was a world unto herself, it was like traveling.
This one girl [Too Young Barista] was hot and super friendly to him. She had dark skin, light eyes, and…he couldn’t remember her hair color, it was reddish? Anyway she wore bright colors and high-waisted jeans and rode a bike with a big dorky helmet. She was hot. He’d love to ask her out…
He looked up, vaguely, his mind clouded, and saw Yoga Girl’s dark eyes brightly staring into his, lolling and rolling around in her head, without blinking.
“What the fuck!” he asked, unnerved. “You look kinda psycho,” he added, constructively.
“Fuck you,” she answered. “What the fuck are you thinking about.”
“It’s hot,” he half-bullshitted. He could feel a storm coming. Rain would be nice. Rain for hours.
“You seem bored with me; with us.”
“No no no, this is great. I just don’t wanna be reading on my laptop, I’m tired…I’m full, and I drank too much again, and it’s hot.”
“You drink too much.”
“No, I don’t. I drink one beer half the time, I’m a lightweight. I’m 200 pounds, man. I drink three or four beers, at most, at a party. My friends drink twice that. Tonight I had two shots of scotch if you don’t count the big fucking ice cubes.”
“You seem bored.”
“Well…” he kept seeing the truth, and walking away from it. “Fact is I’m in love with you, you know that—but I’m not good at love, it’s hard work, you know? And I don’t know where to go from here. I feel like I’m walking in the dark. I’m just…I don’t know, I’m just moody, is all. We have spent a lot of time together.” He had to say it, didn’t he? No, he probably didn’t. He needed to reread Art of War, he thought to himself.
Yoga Girl set her perfectly white teeth against one another and smiled at him, unkindly: “If you’re bored you can go. We can take a break.”
That made sense, he thought. “No, no!,” he said, half-heartedly. That would be awesome. That café girl was hot. That tall blonde girl with the straight hair was hot, too. “Things have been amazing I love you you know that I’ve never been so happy in my life it’s just a lot of one-on-one time, I don’t…I need…I have a lot of blogging work stuff piling up I need to deal with my life I haven’t been climbing I’m getting a fucking pot belly.”
“Drink less,” she offered, helpfully.
“Shut up about my drinking, please,” he grinned, in a belated effort to make it sound like a charming joke. He felt like arguing for reals, but figured he’d lose. Guys always lose arguments with bitches. “I don’t tell you to get on a bike, do I, when you’re driving your SUV every day, for like, five blocks. I don’t tell you to take short showers. I…”
“Yes, you do. And I am into that green stuff, totally. I wear American Apparel, and TOMs, and get our food at Whole Foods, and I bring my Fiji bottle around, and, um…turn off my wifi at night, now….”
“TOMs are made by children in Third World countries with toxic glue, then given to a kid in another country to other kids while the douchey owner poses for publicity photos. Being green isn’t how you shop, sweetey.”
“Mmm,” she said, her face lit up blue, again. She figured she could bat around this mouse, later. She was sharing up a Rumi quote. Rumi was awesome and everyone always reshared her shit and liked it and all she had to do was say something short and happy-sounding or even just make a smiley face with a wink: you know?! 😉 Didn’t matter if she was actually happy.
She wondered if she might get a chance to study with Rumi, some day. He must be the biggest gurus in the world—bigger than Deepak Chopra or Eggers Tollie or the Dalai Lama, or whatever.
He was sleepy. He folded his laptop, sat up and said: “I’m gonna go home, hon.” Better go home than lose this argument. There was no sex happening anyways.
He got dressed.
Her blue-lit face didn’t say anything.
“Okay? See you tomorrow?,” he said as he packed up his stuff.
“Are you going out with friends?”
He turned around. She was giving him that drunk crazy look again. “No…,” he said, shivering sightly…”I just said, I’m going home.”
“Yeah, of course.” He was shaking his head, now. She was beautiful but seriously insecure, possessive, always had to know everything and everyone he did.
He closed up his worn old messenger bag and stood up and leaned down and kissed her, on the forehead. She seemed pissed about that, too. He was outta here.
He could feel the storm, coming, and he wanted shelter. He walked out and unlocked his combo bike lock in the blue light of his iPhone, and got on, and yelled something loud and hopefully charming at her open window and and biked off, toward his place far, far away.
When he got home he locked his door and turned his phone off.