Monday, July 12, 2004

Young, virile, talented.... and neurotic...

This weekend started with broken backs and broken toilets and ended with the new love in my life.

Friday night, started when I left work thinking, "Oh, God. Another night of arguing with Vicky." I didn't think I could take it. I was sure where it was heading - her name was DeAnna Caudillo and the play was Atheists. As much as I could use a new play and another one like Atheists, I didn't want one on the back of what is quickly becoming "Ken & Vicky". (See "Ken & Rosa", circa 1988-2000.) I'm liking the "Ken & Vicky" thing... a lot.

I had more immediate problems anyway. My toilet was broken. I went to the manager's office, filled out a form for repairs, and headed to Vicky's.

Instead of fighting, I brought a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and we watched "Lost In Translation"... and then we argued. This time, my fault. Vicky wasn't appreciating the movie as I would have wanted her to. You see, I'm one of those people who sits and watches quietly as to not miss a nuance. Vicky, on the other hand, was talking. Let's face it. It wasn't her cup of tea as much as it was my movable feast. And as much as I wanted to pound my head into the ground, it soon became incredibly clear that I was being a horse's ass. So she doesn't like the same movies or in the same way as I do - face it Ken. She's not YOU! Thank God! And it was at the point that the bickering became laughing and kissing and just in time, anyway, because her back was really hurting her.

Vicky was in a car accident some years back, which brings on back pain. By Saturday morning, she was in agony. I told her I'd be right over. Right over, she asked. And therein lay another joke. You see, I've learned she likes assertive men and she's learned... well, I'm a wuss. So when I decided I was going to be assertive and she wasn't expecting it, I had to explain to her how I was going to bring her pills for her back (someone had whiplash just last year) and then take care of her... and then hung up before she could say anything else.

Before I left, I went to the apartment manager's office. My toilet was still broken. I filled out another form for repair - and was off.

Less than an hour later, I showed up with pills (no, Sean, not Viagra), Diet Coke (her fave), and books for reading. "You didn't need to come over," she said.

"Your dog will need to go out to pee. You may need water or something. I took these pills last year and I know what they do. They'll have you flat on your back and passed out in a few minutes. Trust me."

Surely, you know what didn't happen by now, right? She took the pills, cleaned her kitchen, did her laundry, cleaned her bathroom, watched TV... and then thought she was feeling a little tired. It was either the pills or all the housework. Of course, once she was out, she was OUT. It was early evening before she got up again, actually feeling a little better. (Thank you. Thank you.)

That night, we went to Durty Nelly's for karaoke with Robert and Glenda. Robert was in "Something to Hide" with me, so I fully expected him to tell Vicky how talented I was ... you know, while I was away from the table or something. It was also a chance, since they had karaoke, for me to wow her with my singing voice.

First song, "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas. I sang the first line, "EYEYEall the leaves are brown," screeching like an alarm. (Knew I should have warmed up.) Second song: "Desire" by U2 - my performance of this song has WOWed women around the globe and brought them to their knees. (Remember when I ruled the world for a few days last summer?)

... Nothing.

The final song was a fluke. A wedding party came in and started to do party songs, fun songs, happy songs.

I'd put in "Tears in Heaven" by Clapton. Hell with it, I thought, I'm bombing anyway. I'll do it.

She liked it.


So, by my calculations, that was a full day without neurosis... without much neurosis...

That was to end.

We had blueberry pancakes at her place the next morning. Blueberry pancakes.

"What do you miss most about Rosa," Tim had once asked me.

My reply? "Her pancakes."

And so, I ate pancakes... you know... just like Rosa used to make.

I know there are people reading this and cringing. "What are you doing?" you're screaming at the screen. "Vicky's going to read this!!!!" I know. And there's no way to explain this so just take my word for it: she's cool. She knows how terrified I am of making the same mistake twice. She knows how serious I feel about her.

When I eat Vicky's pancakes and think about Rosa, it is NOT in the sense that I wish they were Rosa's - just like how both of them have lips but I never wish I was kissing Rosa's when I kiss Vicky. So, what goes through my head? That terrible sense of how little I deserve this. That awful insistence that, having failed once, I do not deserve another chance. And I think the worst part is that, now that Vicky is in my life, I can't help but feel stupid for all the suffering I went through after Rosa. It's almost as if someone is saying, "You thought Rosa was cool? Wait until you see Vicky!" while at the same time they're saying, "You thought Rosa hurt you?... You ain't seen nothing yet."

And so I ate bite after bite of these incredibly tasty blueberry pancakes (and tried not to put too much syrup on them so I didn't look like I was nine years old) as I choked back self-loathing and regret and a tidal wave of emotions... which I guess just goes to show you that nothing will stop me from eating.

Later that day, Vicky had to get skin cancer (read as "sit out and get a tan") and I had to check on the status of my toilet. Still broken. I went to the manager's office.

"Hi," the perky, painfully obese woman in the office said as I walked in, obviously forgetting that she'd seen me twice already that weekend. "What can I do for you?"

"My toilet is still broke."

"Oh? Did you tell anybody?"

"Yes. You. Twice this weekend."

"Oh? Did you fill out a form for repair?"

"Yes. With you. Twice this weekend."

"And nobody's come by?"

"No! That's why it's still broken! It's been broken all weekend! I haven't gone to the bathroom all weekend! I need my toilet fixed!"

Being an actor is great. I kept a straight face and everything as this incompetent (and let's not forget incomprehensibly dense) worker bee... elephant, made a quick call to maintenance. Just the right amount of rage of pathos, I thought.

I called Tim from my patio and, when I was done, my toilet was fixed.

... I'd like to thank the Academy...

Then, I went to Sean's for some pool. Ah, pool. What finer sport is there? Well, plenty, but I can kick Sean's ass at pool, so there you are. Later, Vicky joined us. Sean loved her as I knew he would. Sean couldn't join us for dinner, though, and Vicky and I went to Souplantation.

Okay, wanna hear how weird Vicky is? She's never been to Souplantation!!! Weird, I'm telling you. (I love weird.) Once she understood that you didn't go there for great food, but for inexpensive fairly decent food, I think she liked it. After, and stuffed, we went to Barnes and Nobles, gazing longingly at books we couldn't afford. We did the couples walk around the store - her walking and pulling me along from embrace to embrace - annoyingly lovey-dovey to all but ourselves - as we talked about books, and kids, and picked up a wedding planner book and talked about bet you can't guess.

She makes my head spin. She's so lovely and emotionally open and honest... and a lot of other things that would bump this Blog into a heavy "R" rating...

In the interests of discretion, however, I'll jump right to today and my first doctor's appointment in five years. Of course, I didn't want to go. Rosa's career in medicine and my career in suicide (one moderately successful and one quite the contrary) had kept me away from anyone who wanted me to live longer. With Vicky in my life, though, I tend to want to be around. On top of that, there's that ritual that comes with being in a relationship after 1979, the STD tests... and so I was at the doc's office. They took my temp, which came out to be 83 degrees... huh? 83?! The nurse just shrugged it off, though. Not to worry. I'm probably dead with a temp like that but whatever! (Honestly, I haven't a frikken clue.) My blood pressure was 128/82, just a little high but not catastrophic. They took some blood. They did an EKG. Then, the doctor - the WOMAN doctor asked me to disrobe for the next part. I knew what was coming. "MOON RIVER!" I didn't want that test. Not on the first date - I mean COME ON!

It's the immortal question: Would you prefer a female doctor or a male doctor doing that?

But she didn't do that. And I love her for that... until she does it, that is. (Stay tuned for when I avoid that office visit!) We wrapped up the visit and she told me I was perfectly healthy. Lungs sound good. BP's good. (No mention of the graveyard temp.) And my heart is very fit. "Very fit," I asked. "You have the heart of a 20 year old," she told me. Good, I thought. Knowing Vicky, I'll need it.

"Now, about STDs," she said, starting in on all the things they'd test for and... well, I lost track. Up until that point, I was sure all I'd get from those blood tests was an order to stop eating ice cream. The issue of STDs was a non-issue.

But wait... I started thinking about the people I'd had sex with... and started worrying...

But I've donated blood - they check for HIV in the blood.

Maybe... but HIV often cannot be detected for 10 years. You've had sex in the last 10 years. You could be infected. Infected! Infected!!!!

"Great. Okay. Thanks for your time," I said, rushing her out so I could put back on my clothes. My HIV infested clothes. In my HIV infested car. Driving back to my HIV infested home. To smoke an HIV infested cigarette.

Jesus, I thought. I've been incredibly safe and more cautious than a Buddhist monk - they won't find it.

They will. You're being tested for it. They'll find it.

It was obvious that the only way this dilemma would be solved would be to ignore it - and ignore it fast.

I called Vicky.

And she talked about going away for the weekend. Maybe in October. Maybe to Napa Valley. Maybe Sonoma.

Sure. Right. Sonoma. Where Tim used to live. Where Rosa and I would go... together...

And so ends our little story with proof positive that the blood test will come out positive when tested for neurosis. But as I told Vicky, I'm not going to let that stop us from our happiness together. I'll just do what I've been learning more and more to do and what I've been getting better and better at - telling it to shut the hell up.

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