Back in the pod. Attempting to foil jetlag by getting up at 7am regardless of sleep slept. Made chicken soup last night b/c our souls were in need of soothing, and because apparently every person who stayed here while we were gone bought a bag of carrots and didn't eat any of them. In the end the soup became this tortilla soup that we used to make all the time when we had easy access to Herdez Ranchera sauce, because that's the easy way to make it. Last night's hard way wasn't too hard after all and pretty much worked.


As one sometimes does when they visit their parents, I ended up digging around through old pictures and assorted other memorabilia when we were stateside, and some of it will be showing up here rather than / in addition to just throwing it in the European version of the Nostalgia Box.

One of our first installments will be an edited version of an email I found from late 1999, sent from me to Mara. I had been in either Raleigh or Charlotte, North Carolina delivering a three-day "class" on some bogus technology that barely worked, and had gone up there the Friday before class started so I could prepare a classroom full of machines, which back in 1999 was a laborious and time-consuming thing to do, especially with technology that barely worked.

Anyway, I was staying at this hotel in a depressing location off the gigantic 12-lane highway, surrounded by strip malls and strip clubs. Saturday after starting some hours-long processes on my machines I went out to get some dinner and here's what happened. I was very glad to find this email b/c while much of the night was memorable, it was a bit like a dream in that I couldn't remember how it all started.


From: Mark
To: Mara
Subject: RE: Adventures In
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 12:58:23 -0800

So hey, how's it going (hand wave)...

Had a very strange night last night. One of those nights where while it's happening you can't believe how it will sound...

It starts out where i'm looking for something to eat, and there's this Japanese place right next to the hotel, so i go there. I'm sitting there for awhile i guess, having some sake and watching tv at the bar, and i'm hearing this conversation next to me between someone who introduces herself as Nefertiti and someone who introduces herself as what sounds like "Onnahh", but then she says, "no, Honor". Honor and Nefertiti. Hm. And they're talking about how more white dudes know who nefertiti is than the brothers do, etc.

To make a very long story somewhat shorter. Nefertiti takes off. Honor starts talking to me. Turns out they're dancers at "The Gentlemen's Club" next door. That's actually the name of it, no lie. She's an English major finishing college and has traveled around the US a bit and knows her movies and 80s music, so we end up having a lot to talk about. When i ask how old she is she says 5 years younger than Michael Jackson...i still don't know how old that is.

I mentioned something about "my wife" early on and she said that i didn't "look married", which sounds like it's supposed to be a compliment. She mentioned maybe going to see the Holyfield fight at the place where she worked cause she could get in free. And i asked how it was over there and she said kinda lame, depending on what kind of girls you like. And she asked if you were black (ha) and i described you, etc.

So she said well the place i work is mostly plastic girls, but i was thinking about meeting some friends of mine over at a black club, do you want to go? Danger, Will Robinson. At some point we'd also talked about getting high and so we knew we had that in common. So.....i said, unbelievably, after some quick moments of faulty reasoning and rationalization: sure.

About the wisdom of it all: she was friendly, talkative, but obviously unavailable. I had the appropriate initial suspicions about this being a setup: attractive, exotic woman picks up innocuous, obviously-employed computer nerd in bar next to corporate hotel, takes him off into the night for fun and adventure, which really means that he'll be thoroughly ambushed and relieved of his possessions. But then i didn't really get any fake or creepy vibes off her, or anything overtly sexual to be suspicious about, and Raleigh is not the most exciting city of all time, so maybe she was just bored, and we really did seem to be having fun. So i went.

We arrange to meet at the convenience store across the street. I buy a six-pack. She pulls up in a fantastic old huge car, dark green, who knows what it was, something American and previously luxurious. I get in, this is like 11pm and she whips out a hash pipe before the car is even moving. We smoke, and head for the other side of town. I should really tell this story in installments to heighten the suspense.

But i won't, because there's no big Hollywood 2nd act full of increasing drama or intrigue. Turns out we go to the "black club" she'd mentioned, which of course is a strip club out in the woods somewhere, and it's definitely not my usual territory: bars on the windows, metal detector at the door, bouncers the size of industrial appliances.

But it turns out they don't allow female customers anymore..."too many dramas" the doorman said. Everyone was very nice. So then we go back to civilization and meander unsuccessfully from bar to bar, and every place is either packed with angry Latino teens or closing, and we are h-i-g-h. 12am.

We end up at this thoroughly terrible sports bar, and the jock quotient suddenly makes me keenly aware that it looks like I have a rather beautiful black date, which would normally be awesome but remember this is the white side of town in semi-rural NC, late Saturday night. Turns out I'm just paranoid: she knows the manager, and we have some uneventful post-lastcall beers. Then we head back to the hotel, where, again, I am having a difficult time believing the way this story will sound.

We smoke some more and watch some TV, she lays on the bed, I'm sitting in the token chair, we're not saying a whole bunch, due to highness I believe. I am possibly being expected to do something interesting at this juncture, but I am ignoring it. We finish the six-pack, and then she takes off. I walk her to her car. 2am.

Funny things: she talked about meeting friends three or four times that night, but we never saw any of them. One other time she said she didn't have any friends. Anyway, it was extremely unexpected and a fun adventure, kind of just as if the same thing had happened with a guy. Except that if a guy had come up to my room at 2am i know he would've asked if he could give me head*. In some ways it was less weird b/c it was a girl. I think she was lonely and i looked safe.


*(Editor's note: in college, this guy we hung out with for a bit called "the Dogman" or possibly "the Dawgman" tried to pull this on me [unsuccessfully] in my dorm room one night after a poker game. A poker game. I totally did not see it coming at all, because the guy was this tiny tough-talking faux-hoodlum from Queens or another borough who just oozed machismo or at least bravado. Imagine Tony Soprano in the body of Michael Anthony Hall, but shorter. I politely declined, and emphasized how extremely fortunate he was to have chosen me rather than anyone else at that poker table because he could easily have been sailing out the 5th story window right now, etc. Anyway, from that point on I would never ever be surprised again by a sexual advance, regardless of the initiating gender.) 


I hope you're not worried or upset, b/c there's no reason to be. I felt safe the whole time and don't think i risked bodily harm at all, she was a good slow driver. I thought about you a lot during the whole thing, and wished you were here in Adventureland with me.

So, now i'm finishing installing my machines, after which i'm going to work on rewriting my stuff and take a big nap. And then write you again. What U say?

I miss your voice.



Klary Koopmans said...

thanks for a great story. But the line 'she was a good slow driver' made me laugh out loud and I don't do that very often when I'm reading.

MEM said...

thanks for reading, hope you were seeing the finished version, think i was still editing while you were reading.

re driving: there's nothing worse than getting stoned with someone you just met and finding out that they drive like a bank robber or a woman in labor...