March 17, 1980
St. Patrick’s Day.
I’ve started a new notebook – although not without a few false starts, tearing out pages I know I’ll regret losing, knowing somehow those few things I edit from these pages will be the things I miss most later,
So I begin again, an angel of the My Way Lounge in
Passaic, which haunts me
with its own history of too many desperate hours staring at go go girls,
feeling guilty about it.
Even as I jot this thought down, the dancer glares me from the stage, for writing instead of staring at her wondrous curves, or perhaps she wonders what it is I write – almost all of them do.
I’m here for my fatal dose of inspiration.
And depression since the dancers are hardly immune to this savagery of lust, many more wounded than the men like me who come here to get what we can’t get elsewhere in our lives, using these bodies without acknowledging that they’re more than moving parts.
These places – even this place which seems so innocent as compared to the flashy places up the street – are webs of deceit, designed to ensnare, not merely men overflowing with hormones, but the women, too.
We all hang pathetically on these sticky webs, waiting for something to devour us – not someone, something, since we are all spiders and flies, trading roles when we need to be one or the other.
Everybody is stuck here – even me.
Perhaps I’m more pathetic than all, coming here out of lust not just for the bodies, but the need to witness the pain.
Michael – who loves Rimbaud as if a direct blood relations – keeps harping on about purity of these places, and how lust and violence are real, stripped of all the pretentions that normal society creates.
He’s full of shit.
I admit the “real world” of everyday is loaded down with too many people wearing too many masks, seeking to claw their way to the top of pathetic little ant hills. But this place is just the same, with only different, maybe more simple masks. Nothing should be too complicated here. We all have these basic roles we play in order to draw attention to ourselves, the dancer who once did Broadway, who picks up tricks on the side for cocaine or company, the macho ex-cop who serves as the bar’s unofficial bodyguard, rising up with his rippling muscles any time someone gets too rowdy.
And then there are people like me, who don’t fit the usual stereotype, jotting down my thoughts and feelings and observations about everyone I meet, trying to make sense somehow this black hole of emotional turmoil most people do not care about except as the place on Main Street horny men go to when they have nothing else to do and no one else to care for them.
This place feels dark, even with all of its lights, as if the lights that glow create deeper shadows that swallow whole lives, and the more I try to illuminate it, the darker it seems to get, swallowing my notebook, my pen, my arm, even me.
After a few drinks, I’m as swollen with desire as the next man, playing my role as an intellectual snob, acting by not acting like I’m better than everybody else, when I’m not.
My logic, my reason, my so-called intellectual aims run hot and cold with the weather of my hormones, and life for me is always this desperate balance of maintaining control over that animal side – mind of what? – when if I was as real as Michael claims people are down here, I would simply let myself go, using and abusing the way most of the men do here, making my bid for the night on the dancer I am attracted to with the hopes that she will accept.
The problem is that until I am very drunk, I can’t help but see the wounds in their eyes, even when they laugh with me or at me, even when they give me the cold shoulder that does everything to stir the coals up in me, and by the time I am drunk enough to ignore their pain in the aim to satisfy my own, they have accepted someone else’s offer, and I stumble out into the night with my notebook for company.