"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves." Ludwig Wittgenstein

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Already Too Late

Buck arrived one minute early for his second date with Jackie. He did so because he was almost certain that Jackie was a stickler for punctuality. There wasn’t anything in particular about Jackie’s behavior, nor anything that she had said on their first date, that would have suggested this to Buck, but he just had a gut feeling that despite her apparent devil-may-care attitude toward the world and everything in it, that Jackie was nevertheless a woman who was intolerant of tardiness.

As he rang Jackie’s front door bell and she opened the door, Jackie matter-of-factly greeted her date with, “Buck…I like men who are on time. It’s a sign that they have an appreciation of the important things in life.”

Buck leaned into the doorway, as if to enter, but as he did, Jackie interrupted, “Shouldn’t we be on our way?”

As he responded, “Yes, of course, we wouldn’t want to be late,” Buck couldn’t help thinking, especially in regard to Jackie, But I have a feeling that we already are.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Clothes Make the Man

It was the annual Holiday party at Beautiful Nightmare studios. The entire staff attended, including both of the company’s chauffeurs. Richard hadn’t seen so many beautiful women assembled in one place, since he’d last received the Victoria’s Secret catalog, which was addressed, not to him, but to “Resident” care of his address.

Tonight, one of the beautiful young women who floated about the room, was eying him from afar, or so he thought. At first he imagined it was because she was attracted to his rugged good looks, but it turned out that when he finally got up enough nerve to ask her if she would like a drink from the open bar, she had said, “I just love men in uniform.” Sadly, he had left his chauffeur’s cap on Lola’s couch the previous evening, when Lola had informed him that the last thing she wanted to do on earth was to attend a major studio party with a man who wore a chauffeur’s uniform, even if the man looked like George Clooney--which, she quickly added, "Richard you do not."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Diamonds and Snow

On the day of Christmas eve, Lola walked alone, along the empty beach in Santa Monica. It was 78 degrees, and the bright warmth made her feel like she was living in unreal world, where the temperature was completely incongruous with the winter season. As much as she liked LA—its exotic sprawl and its indistinct, cement ugliness—Lola missed Boston and the paper-white snow that she knew today would be blanketing her hometown.

As her bare feet tread along the warm sand, she recalled Boston’s sharply cold winters, and how as a child, she loved wearing layers upon layers of clothes---not just to keep her warm, but to protect her from something… something vague and undefined in the world. She recalled how her layers of childhood coats and sweaters and mufflers made her feel like she was wearing the protective armor of a Medieval knight---how she felt metal plated and impenetrable.

Turning now, to look at the sparkling gray green-waves as they charged toward shore, Lola found that she missed the sight of freshly fallen Christmas snow, which, as she remembered it, would shine more brilliantly than the diamonds in the crown of any fairytale queen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Must be the Place

Richard drove the drunken, well dressed, man home. His passenger appeared so drunk that he couldn’t tell Richard which city he lived in. He kept repeating “San Vicente, San Vicente, San Vicente,…I’ll tell you the house when I see it.”

Nonetheless, Richard pointed the Lincoln Town Car down San Vicente Blvd, in Santa Monica, and eventually passed a huge mansion that looked more like a Modern Art museum than a home, as the man yelled, “Stop, Stop, that’s it.”

As he pulled the limousine to an abrupt halt, the man, a movie producer Richard had never before chauffeured home, threw open the door, stumbled out of the back seat, and began to make his way up the long driveway toward the house. But not before he had turned around, reached into his suit coat pocket and extracted a wad of thousand dollar bills which he happily tossed toward Richard, who, with the front passenger-side window rolled down, leaned over and yelled to his inebriated benefactor, “Are you sure this is the place?”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Lola was not feeling sexy, she was feeling like cement in a cement mixer. Gray and rigidly indifferent to the world. She was certain Richard would call.

At home, Richard was only half-aware that as he picked up the phone, he was mentally humming an old song by the Georgia Satellites,

“I got a little change in my pocket going jingle lingle ling want to call you on the telephone baby I give you a ring, but each time we talk I get the same old thing, always no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding ring. My honey my baby don't put my love upon no shelf. She said don't give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself .”

Lola didn’t answer the ringing phone.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Anyone in Their Right Mind

Lola wanted to just come out and ask Jackie why she was sleeping with Richard? What did a successful therapist need from a failed comedian and former chicken rancher, anyway? What could Richard possibly do for her?

Instead, during her session, Lola restrained herself and started talking about her relationship with her father, but all the time she did so, she was picturing Richard and Jackie making love in Richard's limousine.

"My father didn’t like my mother that much, not in any romantic way. Anyone in their right mind could plainly see that.”

Father's Ghost

“Tell me,” Jackie probed, “what did you feel like when your mother committed suicide?”

“I don’t know, it was more than 20 years ago, I don’t remember, I was 12. I guess I felt awful… I mean I know I felt awful. Lola paused, and then abstractly observed, “I remember how dead the atmosphere of the house felt, and the way that my father walked through the rooms for years afterward, like he was a vacant ghost. He pretended that he was strong and stoic, and I know that he didn’t really love my mother, but he still felt like a shadow of something---like all the music of his life was over.”

“Yes Lola, but how did YOU feel?” Jackie insisted.


She had a lot of experience behind the counter. She knew diamonds, real and fake. She could tell instantly, by the way the customer walked, if they had money—real money--- or not. She didn’t even need to see their clothes or their shoes or the neatly arrayed piles of credit cards, they so often unfurled from leather wallets drawn from Prada purses. She could tell simply by the shopper’s carriage, their gait.

The moment Richard approached her to ask to see the diamonds in the less-than–five-thousand dollar range, the observant saleswoman smiled, because she knew Richard walked like a man who had more money, a lot more money, than five thousand dollars on him, in cash.

Nightmare Wedding

I do, Lola murmured in a dream voice that sounded as if she were mouthing the words of a military surrender. Then, as if jolted by 50,000 watts, she bolted upright, wide awake, in her bed. She felt sick to her stomach. Had it been the fish dinner, or was it the recurrent wedding nightmare?

She ran to the bathroom, and immediately vomited into the toilet.

Afterwards, with her terrycloth bathrobe wrapped around her like a life-jacket, she lay shivering on the cold, blue tile floor, and thought, Maybe I AM in love with Richard?

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It was eat or be eaten, Richard thought. It was time to act, not to think.

He carried Lola’s Christmas gift in a small, plastic bag, which was half-filled with clear water. She’s going to love this. I just love these little fish--- they’re so cute.

As he left the tropical fish store, Richard mused, Damn it, I should just go ahead and ask her to marry me. I would, in a heartbeat, if she wasn’t so damn snappy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Am the Eggman

It was a routine check-up, and thank goodness, Richard’s doctor gave him a clean bill of health. “You’re in excellent shape, Richard. The only concern I have is that your cholesterol is a little high, about 280mg/dl. What’s your diet like, these days?”

“Eggs for breakfast, eggs for lunch, eggs for dinner,” Richard proclaimed proudly, as if his egg diet were a sign of bravery.

“My God, Richard, why do you eat eggs three times a day?”

With his right index finger pointing to the three fingers on his left hand, which he held up in front of him, Richard tallied the reasons as he methodically recited, “I’m a bachelor, their easy to cook, and I really like eggs, goo goo, g’joob.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Queen's English

Because of his English parentage—his father was an English-born professor who taught history at UCLA and his mother a West-end Londoner who had scraped her way into the journalism profession and had written for the Guardian, before marrying Buck’s father and moving to LA---Buck had the faint accent of someone who sounded like they grew up in California, but who occasionally let slip a phrase in “the received pronunciation,” the Queen’s English.

Occasionally, while traveling, Buck had been mistaken for a Brit or in some cases, a Canadian. The latter mistake, on one occasion, had saved his life, when he had been on assignment in a region of the world where American journalists were universally thought to be agents of the CIA.

From time to time, Buck unconsciously let slip a word or a phrase that made him sound as if he were an announcer on the BBC. And oddly, he occasionally heard others speak, as if they too, were speaking to him with an English accent, when in fact they weren’t--he listened with an "English ear”

This would explain why, when he called Jackie to ask her for a second date—preferably one not involving auto theft----he wasn’t sure if Jackie had said, “I warned you” or if she had said, “I want you.”