Read I'm the One That I Want Online

Authors: Margaret Cho

Tags: #Humor, #General, #Biography & Autobiography, #Entertainment & Performing Arts, #Topic, #Relationships

I'm the One That I Want (8 page)

BOOK: I'm the One That I Want
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I called up Duncan in Berkeley one night and begged him to come into San Francisco and score some speed. He heard an urgency in my voice that frightened him. He wouldn’t do it. Because he didn’t, I realize now that he probably saved my life. He made me see that my hobby was turning into a full-fledged jones. I was mad at him then, but not anymore.

I was mad at Duncan again when he died. Guys like that are never supposed to die. They are supposed to stick it out to the bitter end, the last ones to leave the party.

Even though we had been out of touch for years, and were not on the best terms when we had drifted apart, the pain of his death struck me like a wrecking ball. I walked around flattened with grief. I missed the funeral because I had a gig and couldn’t get out of it in time. I regret that. I know he would have wanted me there.

For months, I dreamed of the long, blonde hair on his arms brushing against me, and when I woke up in the middle of the night, I could smell him. In my dreams, we still talk every so often, on a bad connection to the other side. He always says, “Wish you were here . . .”

Duncan had many different and unusual living situations: house-boats, squats, group houses. He always had a selection of interesting roommates who became a dating pool for me and my friends.

That’s how I met Bob, who was twenty-six. I was sixteen. Bob and I went out for almost a year. I can’t understand why I always had such bad taste in men. Maybe I valued myself so little that I felt any guy who was interested in me had to be my boyfriend, because beggars can’t be choosers or something ridiculous like that.

First of all, Bob was really short, about four inches shorter than me, and I’m not that tall. He also had a monkey body, really long arms and short legs. He was already balding and had a very small ass. He looked like a conservative insurance-salesman type, but not ugly. It was more like if Robert Redford was in a weird scientific experiment and accidentally started de-evolving, and then took the antidote that stopped him halfway to becoming an ape. In fact, that is exactly what he looked like.

Bob lived with Duncan and some hippies and anarchists in a communal house in Berkeley. He wore tie-dyed shirts and listened to bootleg tapes of Greatful Dead concerts for hours on end, but he was as uptight as could be. We’d smoke pot in his tiny Honda Civic, and the entire time he would be looking around, telling us to hurry, always saying, “Are you guys done? Jesus! Is that the cops?” After every hit he would go, “Okaaayyyy,” and start the car, like it was time to pack up and move on.

He wanted to be a hippie, but so much of the time he acted like an old man. I hated him the first time I spoke to him, but that didn’t stop me from practically moving into his apartment after the first date.

The first night he took me to a Japanese restaurant, and we ate tempura and udon and talked about Tina Turner. “She’s a deeply sexy woman,” he said. I did not disagree, but it made me uncomfortable right away. What did “deeply sexy” mean? Maybe it is something adults say. Maybe I was too young to understand. His apartment had just burned down, so I suggested that we go to the burned-out shell of the place and look around. I didn’t feel like talking to him anymore, so I thought if we went somewhere private, we’d just have sex and then I could go home. The keys still worked, even though the door was scorched black. The smell was unbelievable, charred wood and a sweet, mysterious, burned plastic under-stink. There was no electricity and we walked around using a lighter that would get too hot to use. In the dark, we managed to find the bed and got it on fast and furiously. It surprised me how little I felt when he touched me. My ex-boyfriend had excited me so much that I would almost faint whenever he did the slightest thing. Bob farted and then came. I cleaned up a little, using the toilet in the dark, and said I needed to go home. I wanted to get out of there. Not having anything else to say, no more sex to have, surrounded by the fire smell and the dripping water, it felt like the end of the world. I noticed later that every building Bob lived in seemed to burn down. I guess it was all the crack-heads around Lake Merritt, where he would rent those crappy apartments. Or maybe he was made of flint.

With the exception of the first night, I found that Bob was impotent as well as paranoid, but I wanted to get out of my parents’ house and Bob had an apartment in Oakland, so it was perfect. I would get depressed sitting in his apartment waiting for him to get off work at Shenanigan’s, so I’d smoke pot and go to the Chinese market and look at weird turtles and eat litchi nuts and sleep for hours in the middle of the day. I felt like an old woman, even though I was a kid.

I stayed in that apartment, stuck with Bob, until he decided that to get over his impotence problem, he needed to have sex with me and Trace at the same time. We had done tons of Ecstasy and the three of us were lying on Bob’s futon, tripping out of our minds. My eyes were not focusing properly, so everything in the room was blurry. The drugs were making my eyeballs shake, which wasn’t totally unpleasant, just hard to see. I focused on the blob next to me, and I realized that Bob and Trace were making out! I was alarmed, but so high I didn’t know what to do. I was kind of strangely flattered that my friend wanted to kiss my boyfriend. That made me like him more.

We went to sleep, but Bob never let it go. He kept talking “three-way! three-way! three-way!” like there was no tomorrow. It was just like that Albert Brooks sketch, where he has two female roommates and he keeps trying to get it on with them. Trace got freaked out. “Oh my God. No offense, but your boyfriend is totally gross. I am not having sex with him. I would do you in a second, but him—no way!” We laughed a lot about it, but inside, it hurt me to be in a relationship with someone so sleazy, and not only that, my best friend knew it.

“It’s my fantasy. I’ve always wanted to have sex with two girls at once. It’s my fantasy. It’s my fantasy.” He kept on, like I needed to hear that because it was his fantasy, I had to do something about it. “But I think that if we did it babe, babe, please, just one time, then I would be over the whole impotence thing. Please babe. Please. It’s my fantasy.”

His impotence
really annoying. I’d have to rub his dick, rub it and rub it so hard I thought that a genie was going to come out and grant me three wishes. The first one would have been “Get rid of this guy!” After rubbing it, it would get semi-hard and then I would have to shove it in me as fast as I could, so he wouldn’t lose his erection. There wasn’t time for a condom, forget that, because if I hesitated, even for a moment, it would go from semi-hard to semi-soft, and then downright spreadable. I would be reduced to trying to stuff it in me like a magician’s handkerchief.

There wasn’t that much to put in. Bob’s penis was infinitesimal, the smallest one I had ever seen. That doesn’t mean anything in general, I believe. The hottest guy I have ever been with was not terribly well endowed, but that never stopped him from satisfying me every time. It’s not the size of the penis, it is the size of the spirit and the size of the love that matters.

Bob was such an exercise in lack, his dick was practically an “innie.” I knew so little about men and sex and myself, and had been brought up with so few expectations from life, that lack felt comfortable and familiar.

Bob would try to move his baby thing back and forth inside me until it got hard again, with his tongue stuck out slightly and his forehead beaded with sweat and concentration. If we were very lucky, he would ejaculate thinly, leaving a tingly little pool of sticky whiteness that would harden on the polyester sheets. Usually, he would get frustrated in the middle of the pumping, and pull his softie out of me and pout. I’d have to spend the rest of the time comforting him, assuring him of his manhood, letting him know it was okay, that it didn’t matter, that I just liked being with him anyway. I gave him hugs and pep talks until I was blue in the face, and told him that worrying about it would cause only more stress. Bob had a problem with stress, and his hair fell out in handfuls because of it.

Our entire sex life became a project directed to and for the achievement of HIS ORGASM, which was the most important thing in the universe. I was so glad when he got off, that I would almost come with relief, but of course, I never did, and of course he never even tried. I think that is what makes me the most angry in retrospect. He never even tried. Not once. He lived in a world where everyone looked out for himself, and I desperately wanted to leave that planet.

He had borrowed $300 from me early in the relationship, and I wanted to get it back before I broke up with him, because I was afraid of never seeing that money again. It was a lot for me at the time, since I was still living with my parents. That money represented saved allowances dating back to 1979.

He kept insisting on the three-way, though, and one night I just had enough. When he was out working his shift at Shenanigan’s, Trace came over to his apartment and we packed all my stuff in boxes and ran into the night, laughing our asses off the entire time, thinking about his hair falling out the moment he realized that I had left him.

I went to my parents’ house, and he called me in shock.

“Baby. Why, why are you doing this to us? I thought things were so good between us. What is it?”

“I don’t know what to say. I am sorry.”

Hearing his tiny, hurt voice over the phone made me instantly regret everything. I was scared that I would never make another man as sad again, and knowing that I had that power over Bob made me want to stay with him.

But as I was considering it, he got all mad and hung up on me. I started to laugh and cry at the same time. He was so ridiculous and dramatic, but it was exhilarating because it was being directed at me. I had never felt that I was the object of anyone’s desire, much less passionate rage. It was powerful and scary. The phone rang again and I picked it up. It was silent on the other end.

“Hello? Hello?”

No sound, or maybe just hair falling on the floor.

“Hello? Bob?”

“Who do you think it is, bitch?”

He hung up again.

This went on for quite a long time. He finally got tired of calling and hanging up, but I insisted on getting my money back from him, so we arranged to meet the following week, once things had cooled down a bit.

We met at the Chattanooga Café, a run-down old coffee house on Haight Street. Bob was late, and I was anxious. Finally, he walked in wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt and a brand new bald spot. I felt sorry for him, and knew that if I just said that I wanted him back, it would make everything so much more pleasant, but I didn’t want to do that, no matter how uncomfortable I was.

I always want to please people. I hate it when someone is mad at me. It is so frightening. I will bend over backward to make sure everything is okay. That is probably why I stayed in this relationship so long, because I knew that he’d be angry if I tried to leave. I never did learn my lesson. I’ve stayed this way my entire life. At least now I pay more attention to my own happiness, and try to remember that it comes first.

Bob smiled and said, “I’m not proud of my behavior.”

I was so relieved. He was apologizing to me!

“Oh, Bob, it’s okay. You had a right to be angry. I mean, it was all me. I am so sorry.”

“Oh, Baby, that is like sweet music to my ears. You don’t know how hard this has been. I miss you so bad.”

“I, I . . .” I didn’t miss him. I didn’t miss him. I was so happy without him . . . but I said it anyway.

“I miss you really bad, too.”

His face lit up even more.

“So when are you gonna come back? I mean, you don’t have to move back in right away. Maybe we should take it slow. Just see each other a few nights a week. Get to know each other again. It’s so wonderful. I knew that you wouldn’t let me down. I . . .”

“No. I can’t. I thought you understood. I’m not coming back. I don’t—I don’t want this. I don’t want this. I am so, so sorry. I never meant to hurt you, Bob. I just . . .”

He got sweaty looking at me. He was so mad I could see him getting red.

“Bob. Bob. Are you okay?”

After a small period of sweat and silence, he pulled out a wad of bills from his pocket. “That’s $300. You can count it if you don’t trust me.”

“Of course I trust you. Do you want something to drink?”

I searched for something to say to comfort him. I tried being playful.

“Why don’t you buy me a milk shake?”

He exploded.


I tried to stay calm, like it was totally normal for this prematurely middle-aged man to be screaming at me in the cafe. I got up and ordered a chocolate milk shake at the counter and brought it back to the table. My head was spinning with joy, as I felt the roll of bills in my pocket, hard and substantial. It felt like freedom, or at least the cash to buy it. I sipped the cold, creamy melted ice cream and held my breath.

Nobody said anything. Not for a long time.

Then suddenly, Bob got up and said, “FUCK YOU AND EVERYONE WHO LOOKS LIKE YOU!!!!!!!!”

He ran out of the café. I started to laugh and laugh, out of a sense of relief and gratitude and out of a strange sort of pride. I had, for once, stood up for myself and stuck to what I knew was best for me, even though I wanted to please Bob and not be the bad guy. I did not stop laughing for a long time. I couldn’t believe that Bob, who was a decade older than me, was so incredibly immature. I felt strong, self-reliant and capable. At sixteen, I felt well on my way to becoming a woman.

BOOK: I'm the One That I Want
8.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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