On the metro trip to Place Charles De Gaulle, SBX and I established what it meant to be a “partners-in-crime.” It was a curious yet quite revealing discussion. I proposed that a PIC would have their lover’s back no matter what; even it meant petty crimes and some jail time. SBX put down her fist and said she would never risk such behavior, especially since she is a responsible mother of two young girls. I could understand that, but I couldn’t understand not having the impulse to be an outlaw, no matter how fey the crime. Steel a candy bar, hop a locked fence, break a bottle, I’ve shared this relationship with a few of my pals in the past: the J51-Posse, Raf & Cooly C, JMRN, Bertozzi, Fingerman, Hueston, and ex-gal pals: Preston, Dawkins, Boo, Molly Tropp, Boolie, and now SBX – fer sure. I’ve been in many fistfights, smashed windows, set fires, cut myself with broken glass and knives for blood brother rituals, and even dove into the east river on a dare. Hmm. Maybe SBX had a point. Maybe I should rethink my PIC policy?
We exited the metro and came above ground to the wonderful Arc De Triomphe. Our conversation regarding the definitions of a “partner-in-crime” turned me sour and I sulked. SBX tried to rally me but to no avail. I was being a crap boyfriend, puttering and muttering in Paris. We walked over to The Eiffel Tower and it was as tall as it was packed with tourists. There was no way we were going to reach the top, nor the middle, unless we waited on the line to walk it and I wasn’t in the mood to climb. Besides, it was truly a sight to behold and I didn’t need to enter its belly to appreciate it. The sun broke through the gray clouds and SBX and I took pictures. This helped turn my frown upside down. Even though we weren’t kissing and, instead, questioning the pros & cons of relationships [and my head filled dizzy with thick mucous], the sunshine and SBX’s commitment to harmony swayed me to walk the dog. Or, at least hold the leash.
We walked down more fancy streets and found a Brasserie where I got a cappuccino and steak au poivre, and we wrote post cards. SBX’s favorite Madonna song, “Like a Prayer,” played in the background and I gave my parents a hint of what Paris was like before dropping the postcards into the mail box. We walked over a bridge and sat down together for a few minutes. Taking in each other’s safe silence. We walked over to the Louvre and SBX took me near the controversial glass pyramid that sat in the middle of the courtyard. It was an eyesore and had caused much grief, yet it sat there bold and defiant. Thousands of people swarmed the Louvre’s grounds. It was a party.
SBX wanted to shop for shoes; her Parisian tradition, and she found a great pair at Samaritain, a multi-level shopping center. Unfortunately, both our credit cards got rejected and the store managers never came correct, working out the glitch. Later, we would find out that the credit card companies were flagging our international purchases for fear of fraud and all the store had to do was make a single phone call to clear matters. This bothered me a lot. I purposely made little to no purchases of items I could score in America, and now we were being denied goods unique to France? Bad business practices, people. Ever the soldier, SBX found shirts at Kaokai but dealt with more credit card rejection hassle. Urk! Finally, Citibank came through and we left winners.
We walked through Les Halles to SBX’s old university pal, Sasha’s home. I met Sasha, and her soon-to-be ex-husband Fabrice [who only spoke French], and her two sons Lucas, and Benjamin [Fabrice was Ben’s father]. A holiday toast was made and SBX caught up with the family while I drew Lucas a quick Spider-Man sketch. Sasha, SBX, and I, split for our reservation at an authentic French restaurant called Villy. I started with a very rich foi grois, and for dinner ate a delicious beef with potatoes, with tres crème brule [vanilla, chocolate, caramel], for dessert. SBX and Sasha told old university tales and went through the ‘friends’ list. Sasha is going through her second divorce with Fabrice and her situation is similar to SBX’s: originally attracted to an alcoholic/bartender/restaurant owner, who plays the macho card when insecure yet needs to be pampered, never making good on his debts and promises. They had a lot in common and it was interesting to shed light. Sasha also revealed the plight of her brother, who is a 32-year old retard steadily going into decline, physically and socially. He drinks beer all the time, is getting more demanding than usual, is losing his teeth and, in hopes of scratching that mysterious itch in his pants, he makes inappropriate passes at his own sister! The conversation turning candid, I told Sasha about my brother Michael and how difficult it has been maintaining a relationship with him.
Now that my brother lives in Iowa [for many years], I rarely see him, much less, keep up. Mike got Juvenile Diabetes when he was 9-years old. He takes two insulin injections per day, and is currently on the sad path to going blind. He’s an alcoholic/drug addict in semi-recovery, cleans a bar for cash, lives on minimal disability checks, auctions vintage action figures and nostalgic ephemera on ebay, is best pals with the heavy-splatter-metal rock band SLIPKNOT [whom he baby-sit one of the members], and enjoys a basic and miserable life. I’ve never had much in common with my brother except that we’re blood and shared the same room growing up. My father was a madman with very deep demons. Still is. He would often explode with anger over the smallest incidents [most times, I don’t know why he got THAT mad] and charged the hall towards our room with the snap of his leather belt and balled up fists to beat us with. Whenever we would hear his scream and that terrifying march, those dreaded foot stomps, I would always turn towards Mike and he to me, and whoever would take the blame [often me], we would stare into each other’s eyes, reaching out and holding on, holding on to unflinching pupils, allowing witness to admonish the pain. At age 16, my mother would finally leave my father, moving to Brooklyn, and taking Mike with her. I would occasionally hang with him but not in the way we knew. Eventually, the bond would break. Mike would get mixed up with mafia, commit crimes, attempt suicide, and be sent to a halfway house in Iowa to cope with substance abuse. The handful of times I’ve seen Mike in the past decade has proven a challenge. I can’t bear to look at Mike’s haunted eyes. The very eyes I used to retreat to in times of critical stress -- the very eyes that saved me. The same eyes that are going blind -- perhaps to put to rest the abilities of what they have come to know.
With that out on the table, the end of dinner brought out Sasha’s naughty side as espressos and cognac were finger snapped, served, and duly imbibed. By 11:30PM we were buzzing. Farewell hugs were swapped and we sallied forth to catch the RER at Auber before the last train went to bed. We arrived back to Caroline’s @1AM and did final packing, setting the clock for a 6AM alarm. Ugh! Couldn’t sleep. SBX and I were shaking like crack addicts begging for rock. I managed to nod off for a few and awoke to SBX’s nocturnal stare. Then, she’d try to count sheep and I’d enjoy the curve of the moon. At one point, SBX did that thing she did once before in her dream state, taking me pleasantly by surprise. She wiggled her way back into me so that I had no choice but to “pull up to the bumper.” SBX was enormously frisky, willing, and waiting. I suppose our bodies are trained to respond to a specific series of signals, triggering call and response methods, no matter how tired the body is. For, I could not, would not attempt to ignore such carnal communication! Sly maneuvers switched into salacious sex and we got busy, Grace Jones stylee. Bed springs betrayed our stolen rawkus like cacti caught in Gabriel’s horn [again!]. This was 100%, uncut, pure desire at work at the Devil’s hand. Flowers and candy couldn’t insure this type of lovemaking!
Sleep anon, SBX got out of bed first. I hopped in the shower and a half hour later, we were hugging Caroline goodbye. Torston was kind enough to give us a lift to the metro and we wished him a happy new year. Hallelujah, it was New Year’s Eve! We took our dreaded day long journey back through Paris from Maisons Lefitte to the Gare Du Nord, hopped the 3-hour Eurostar trip through the Chunnel back to Waterloo, hitched the metro to Heathrow, and got on our airplane flight back to JFK in NYC, where we planned to drop off luggage, take a quick power nap, and join our ranks of American friends at INSANE parties to ring in 2003!