Best of British

Day 6 of slackerdom.

Naturally I had intended to start keeping this journal on day one, but I fell so easily into this slacker life that I just couldnít be bothered.

I have given up adulthood- whether it be permanent or just a temporary situation remains to be seen. Because- I want to be a writer. Well, I suppose I am a writer, considering that I am, obviously, at the moment writing- what I mean to say is that I want to get paid for it. Naturally all my friends and relations think Iím insane. When you quit a perfectly decent job in catering and leave your perfectly sensible apartment in the suburbs of Los Angeles to move to San Francisco and live in damp smelly flat in a questionable neighborhood you will have to expect that sort of reaction. If you plan to forgo working and live off of borrowed money for 6 months or so you will have to expect lots of cursing and pleading and friendly advice. If give away all of your expensive Mexican pine furniture and most other worldly possessions to the St. Vincent De Paul, then you will have to expect threats of commitment. Especially when youíre 40. So fuck Ďem if they canít take a joke.

I have always wanted to be a writer, before I even knew what a writer was. I constantly had these little movies playing in my head, from the time I can remember anything I was making up little stories about my teddy bears, our dog, the pony who lived in the field across from our house. As I got older and started to read myself the stories changed and became about people, not only my family or the neighbors, but the guy who pumped our gas (after a day of wiping windshields he was really a sort of James Bond of the blue collar world, which Iím sure he would have been delighted to know), the check out woman at the grocery store, my dentist (he captured and ate small children as a hobby). Up until the time I encountered Ms. Halpin, my 9th grade guidance counselor, I was absolutely sure that I was going to write stories for a living. I have since come to realize that Ms. Halpin was a bitter, twisted old hag who had never had sex in her life, and I should have listened politely to her career advice, then left her office and promptly forgotten everything she said to me, but when youíre that age you really believe that these people are hired for these jobs because they know what theyíre doing. Mrs. Halpin convinced me that I was not going to be a modern day Jane Austin and that I should find a more practical means of support, so I chose my second love, cooking. It served me well for 25 years, so I guess I shouldnít complain.

But on my 40th birthday, after my friends Debbie and Jim had given me the expected torturous surprise party, I went back to my carefully decorated apartment, turned on the PC with the furtive air of someone pulling out a crack pipe, and started to work on one of the little stories that I wrote to amuse myself. And then it hit me. Mrs. Halpin was an idiot, and I was an even bigger idiot for still believing her after all these years. Hell, the woman was probably in her grave by now. I had no husband, only someone who could marginally be called a boyfriend, no kids, no mortgage. No ties except a few credit card bills and half of catering business that kept me in Martha Stewart bedding and Clinique products , but had netted me no savings so far. What ifÖI was to chuck it all and pursue that dream that had been there in the back of my psyche all these years, gathering dust and growing mold like your grandmotherís old bureau- the one everyone else thinks is butt ugly but you secretly love? Who would care, what could it hurt? And how could I let myself die without at least giving it a shot?

Surprisingly, my partner John took it rather well. He has always been the only one of my friends who understood my true hippy nature, and as I didnít expect him to buy me out (John has been as adult about saving money as myself) he was happy to let me trot off to the North for a few months and give his current boyfriend the job. I felt so bad about leaving him on the spur of the moment that I didnít ask for a penny, at the time it felt romantic and wild to try and live off of a few thousand borrowed dollars and stand out on the ledge. I thought it would make me try harder to get published. This last week I have started to think that itís only going to make me never want to see macaroni and cheese again. I also thought it would bring me good karma to give away my furniture rather than sell it. Damn, I could have gotten three hundred for the wardrobe alone. Iím a fool.

I rent this flat (I call it a flat, it makes me feel like Iím in Europe) from a former client, who took pity on me and let me have it fairly cheaply. He himself had a midlife crisis and left his wife of 30 years for a 23 year old girl and a Ferrari, I used to hate him for this until he offered to rent me this place for about half of what it should be costing me, damp and smelly though it is. This is Northbeach in San Francisco where a cardboard box costs 500 bucks a month, I get the flat for considerably less. The outside of the place looks lovely, an old Victorian, but the inside needs work, to put it kindly. I live in the attic flat, which means walking up and down three flights of dark and rather rickety stairs, and the lock on my door is quite temperamental, so Iím praying that I donít ever acquire a stalker. It would be very hard to get away from him.

My neighbors are quiet, anyway. Thereís an Asian girl who lives on the ground floor left, named bizarrely Katie McKenna, and an older fellow next to her, Mr. Pearson. Mr. Pearson always makes me feel, when I have met him in the foyer, that I have either done, or am about to do, something illegal. On the second floor apartment live two young guys, evidently, who have been away since I moved in. I am hoping with all my heart that they are a nice quiet gay couple who will not play loud music or have screaming raucous sex which will disturb my concentration. During my short conversations with Katie I have not had the nerve to ask about them.

Day 6 of slackerdom- aka my starving artiste period- where I am to write the Great American Novel. So far all Iíve written is this.

Day 7 of slackerdom.

Oh look, I am writing two days in a row. I think I will reward myself with a trip to the corner coffee house later.

Day 8 of slackerdom.

I rewarded myself rather prematurely yesterday, I think. After staring at the screen for 20 minutes I gave up and went to the coffeehouse anyway, and stayed there until it was time for dinner. I was so depressed that I hadnít written anything yet that I took myself out to dinner and then stopped in a bar for a couple of beers after, came home and passed out on the sofa. I awoke at about 3 in the morning and heard some very disturbing sounds coming from behind the walls- I think I either have rats or mutant cockroaches. Iím not sure which Iím hoping for.

I canít write a damned thing, and everything Iíve written already is a piece of crap. I donít know what I was thinking for crying out loud, I need my goddam head examined. Maybe I will call John tomorrow and get my job back.

Oh hell, someoneís at the door.

Day 9 of slackerdom.

Met the other neighbors yesterday. When I opened the door there was this.. visionÖ standing on the other side. I donít know how else to put it. A young guy, 25 I found out, tall, dark hair, eyes like large pools of melted dark chocolateÖoh crap that stinks but you get the point. Heís exceedingly screwable, and also nice. Also undoubtedly gay, since he lives with another vision, this one also dark haired but stocky whereas vision number one is lanky, and a bit shorter. Their names are Stephen and Kev, and theyíre from London. As if the looks werenít enough to kill you they also have the accent.

"Hello!" he said cheerfully when I finally managed to get the lock undone and opened the door. "You could use a bit of WD40 on that lock, I think."
"Uh- yeah."
"I'm Stephen, this is Kev," vision number 2 peeked out from behind him, gave me a big grin, a wave, and a wink.
"Hello." We all looked at each other, and I began to feel something was expected of me.
"Oh! I'm Jo." My days of being a hermit had put me desperately out of touch with my social skills.
"We live downstairs, just under you. Well, we've been away and only just got back today, Mr. Pearson told us you had moved in so we wanted to come up and say hi."
I was amazed by the last part of this speech. "Mr. Pearson talks to you?" I said. They laughed.
"Sometimes, although it took a while." Stephen answered.
"Would you like to come down for a drink?" Kev asked. I immediately began to panic. Good Lord, what would I possibly have to say to these two- children? Foreign children at that. My fear must have shown all too clearly on my face.
"I can tell you're going to say no," Stephen said, staring at me with those Godiva eyes "so forget that we even asked. As of this moment consider yourself kidnapped."
"Bloody right, we won't take no for an answer."

So that's how I ended up sitting here this morning with a pounding hangover like I haven't had for almost 20 years, wearing a Manchester United soccer shirt (pardon me, football jersey) and without my shoes. I don't remember much past the 5th shot of tequila. I sure do like those shoes though, I hope I didn't eat them or something.

Day 12 of slackerdom-

Haven't written for a couple of days. I've started working on something, I hesitate to call it a book, but there's more than one line and it all appears to make sense when I read it back. Tread lightly lest the spell be broken.

I've been spending my evenings downstairs with Stephen and Kev. They are really lovely boys, very sweet. Good manners. Witty and, dare I say it- charming. They can both tell a dirty joke like nobody's business. The fact that they both have asses as hard and (I am assuming) as smooth as marble statues is just a bonus. I can't for the life of me fathom why they want to spend so much time with an old lady like myself but who am I to argue with a kind and giving universe, being around them is like getting to stand in the middle of Tiffany's all day and gaze at the diamonds. You know you can't afford anything and it would all only look silly on you anyway, but what the hell, it's fun to look.

Yesterday Stephen came up around five to ask me down for dinner and caught me writing. He saw the PC on and said, "Ah- computer work. I wondered what it was you did, you never seem to leave the flat." I hurriedly moved to shut the thing off before he could read anything on the screen.
"Oh well, yeah. I suppose it's computer work of a sort." I answered, feeling more shy than I had since I was in junior high.
"I don't want to intrude, I'm sorry. I'm just, curious. You never say much about yourself. And we British are supposed to be reserved," he joked, nudging me playfully with his elbow.
"Oh, Hell, it's just a midlife crisis, you know. You'll find out all about that someday. I've run away from home and I'm trying to be a writer." I waited for the look of disbelief, amusement, horror.
"That's brilliant. I hope it works out for you."
Well, I suppose the young do accept these things more easily. Stephen and Kev were both students at Berkeley, studying God knows what. Studying the effects of alcohol on young English men in North American cities, so it appeared.
"Thanks," I said to him. And I meant it.
"Maybe you'll put me in one of your stories, eh?" he grinned. "Some kinky sex would be nice."
Now that put a picture in my head, a rather disturbing one. Stephen and Kev and myself in between them. I think my long dead libido may be resurrecting itself. Pity they're gay, although I think my chances with either one of them might be the same if they weren't., 16 of slackerdom.

Had to think for a minute there. God, this week has been weird. Not at all what I had pictured as my hermit's life of writing. I seem to have become an honorary lad now, somehow, and my social life has picked up with a vengeance, although, strangely, I seem to be doing more writing as well, in between the drinking and sleeping it off.

We've had a full week, the boys and myself. Friday night they talked me into going to this club with them, down in SoMa. Now, even in my youth I was what would be considered pretty conservative, even though I was a teenager in the days of punk and thrash metal bands, my look always tended to be more Annie Hall than Sid and Nancy, and my friends tended to be the honor roll type. During my 20s and 30s I was somewhat consumed with work and acquiring all the outward trappings of success that I am ashamed to say that the counter culture of America was something that I saw on the cover of Interview magazine when I moved it aside to pick up People. So to say that Friday night was an eye-opener would be rather an understatement. Because this was not only alternative, but alternative in San Francisco. Be afraid.

I had already agreed to go out with them, so I thought back to the Irish pub where we had already been a couple of times and had a loud and enjoyable evening singing along to Garth Brooks songs with a bunch of drunken illegal Irish immigrants. But when Kev answered the door he was wearing a suit, and I noticed that Stephen, lurking in the background, was wearing one as well.
"Whoa- you didn't tell me it was a dress up evening," I said.
"Hey, Friday night," Stephen said, "it's the big night out isn't it? Date night."
"Well, I don't have a date, do I?"
"Hell, neither do we- we'll be each other's dates. Unless any of us get lucky tonight, then all bets are off." Kev smiled his sweetly naughty smile and winked at me.
"Oh, I guess I misunderstood, I thought you two were a couple."
"What?" Stephen said, "You thought we were gay?" The two of them laughed.
"You're not?"
Kev shook his head and furrowed his brow at Steve. "I told you everyone thinks we're queer, mate."
"Yeah, well I told you that earring was a bad idea. You never listen."
I hadn't felt so embarrassed since I had asked a client when the remodeling on her kitchen would be finished and she fixed me with a stony stare and said "What remodeling?"
"I-I-I'm really sorry," I stammered, "It's just that, it is San Francisco."
"Not a bother," Kev assured me, "but it does explain a few things." I saw an odd look pass between the two boys.
"Well, shall we?" Stephen said, "They might run out of beer or something, you know."
"Where are we going? I don't think I'm dressed appropriately."
"You look fine," Stephen said. "Here, just unbutton your cardy and push your tits up a bit." And to my amazement he unbuttoned the top buttons of my tasteful angora cardigan and yanked it down until I was showing as much cleavage as a wench at the Renaissance Faire.
"Here- mess your hair up a bit," Kev added and proceeded to do just that. I was afraid to even bother looking in the mirror at myself. The expression 'mutton dressed as lamb' came immediately to mind.
So began my trip through the Looking Glass.

We took the cable cars down to Market Street, they were crowded with tourists and disgruntled locals at this time of the evening on a Friday. Stephen and Kev seemed know the conductor as well as quite a few of the passengers.
One of the latter was an attractive, although rather large woman dressed in an expensive business suit, and when she had disembarked at her corner I remarked to Stephen that she seemed a pleasant person.
"Oh yeah, Charlotte's sound as a pound. Funny, though- I had been chatting to her for a few months before I noticed her Adam's Apple."
That explained the large hands then.
We walked into this place off of Market that had no sign out front, no markings of any kind to tell you than it was even an occupied building, much less a club. There was a girl sitting in a folding chair just inside, next to a folding table with a cigar box smack in the middle of it. I felt like I had been transported back in time to one of my high school dances. She greeted the boys warmly and waived the entrance fee, gave me an accessing look and shooed us through the other door. When we entered the club I felt even more like I was at my Junior Prom- because inside it was the 70s.

To say it was not what I expected is mild. Instead of the acid house dance music I had expected, the speakers were blasting Abba's "Waterloo", and almost everywhere I looked were people in bell bottoms and platform shoes.

"Now I really feel like I'm not dressed appropriately!" I shouted above the music.
"Don't worry about it! Not everyone wears that crap," Kev shouted back, "you look brill! Look at us- we look like funeral directors."
He put his arm around me and gave me a hug. Stephen came back with three bottles of beer and handed me one.
"Abba- you have to love 'em!" he shouted.

Well, not really.

About an hour and 4 beers later I was starting to enjoy myself. I had even done the bump with a person wearing a Richard Nixon mask. Stephen and Kev had by now stripped off their jackets and were up in a cage, dirty dancing with one of the go-go girls, and I couldn't seem to stop laughing at this for some reason. I was dancing with a group of women, who were taking turns to spin and twirl me around the floor, and we all kept stealing glances above at the trio in the cage. When Stephen whipped his shirt off and tied it around his head I almost collapsed.
"You must have some fun with those little sweeties- don't suppose you'd go in for a full-fledged orgy?" one of the girls shouted in my ear.
"Oh- oh my God, it isn't like that!" I yelled back. "They're just my neighbors. Hell, I thought they were gay until a little while ago. I could be their mother!"
She grinned lasciviously, "Well, that can be a fun game too." I excused myself to go to the bathroom.

I had to practically step over some people making out in the hallway by the restrooms, and while I was waiting my turn in line outside the door, I felt hands on my arms and a warm damp body pressed up against my back.
"Now the people behind you, they have the right idea." Stephen breathed into my ear.
"Are you finished doing your John Travolta impression now?" I asked, slipping out of his grasp. I turned around, saw he still had his shirt wrapped around his head like a makeshift turban, and burst into a fit of giggles. "You're a loon, do you know that?"
He grinned at me. "Are you having a good time anyway?" he asked.
"Yes, I am. Although women keep hitting on me."
"Hey, if you decide to accept any of their offers, let me know- I would dearly love to watch." He winked suggestively and took his turn at the men's room, leaving me gawking in the hall.

I have fleeting memories of the rest of the night. I know that after a few more beers I got very brave and started telling everyone that I was a writer, and no one seemed to question it. Although I do have to keep in mind that there was one fella there who thought he was the Prince of Wales. Being about 6 foot 4, 250 pounds and quite black didn't seem to deter him from this idea. We had a long and serious conversation about whether or not his mother should step down and let him take the throne now. He seemed rather keen on the idea.

I'm still not sure how I got home, and when I woke up I knew I was not in my own bed before I even opened my eyes. I began to pray to all the Gods I had ever heard about that there was not a strange man lying next to me. Or even worse, a woman. I steeled myself and opened my eyes- no, no one else here. But I had no idea whose bed I was in, until I spotted the Union Jack thumbtacked to the wall, then I had an inkling. I heard a voice out in the living room, garbled, then a voice right outside the bedroom door.

"Bloody hell, Steve- you should see the size of my morning horn, it's almost a shame to waste it." I wasn't sure what a horn was but thought I could get the gist from the context. Then I heard Stephen's voice, close but quieter than Kev's.
"Would you shut your hole- you'll wake her up. Damn, that's a good one all right." I started to giggle.
I waited until I heard the shower go on and then furtively sneaked out of the bedroom door, I seemed to be fully clothed other than, once again, my shoes. I found Stephen lounging on the sofa, pillow and blanket neatly stacked at one end.
"Hey, there you are. Did you have a nice sleep?"
"Uh, yes- thanks for giving me your bed."
"Not a bit of it, you can do the same for me sometime. You just looked a bit sick to be left on your own."
"I didn't get sick did I?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Oh never mind, love- been there, done that. Would you like some brekkie?"
"No, no thanks. Do you know where my shoes are though?"
"Um, I believe you left them in the taxi, unfortunately."
"Oh. Shit. Well, I think I'll just be off now."
"Okay, fancy going out again tonight?"
My stomach heaved at the thought of ever having another alcoholic beverage.
"No, I think I'd better stay in tonight."
"All right then, maybe next week."

So there you have it, I seem to be living my second childhood, or at least adolescence, and I am going through shoes at an alarming rate.

DayÖoh hell forget it. It's been a while and I've lost count. I'm well into slackerdom by now.

My life has gone quite far from what I had expected it to be at this point and I've given up any pretense that I have control of it. I haven't talked to anyone in LA for weeks- I have even gone so far as to ignore the messages they've left on my answering machine because if they were worried about me before, if they knew what I was up to now they would undoubtedly stage an intervention. The good news is that I am almost 200 pages into my book and have now had the nerve to join a writer's group that meets at the coffee house around the corner. I've also dyed my hair red, another thing I've always wanted to do.

The day after I did it I ran into Stephen and Kev outside the building and they were suitably impressed.

"It looks hot." Kev professed.
"Yeah, it really does suit your personality better, fireball." Stephen grinned. Mr. Pearson came out of the front door just then and looked quizzically at me.
"What do you think of Jo's new image, Mr. Pearson? Don't you think it suits her?" Stephen asked.
The old man stared at me for a few moments, until I began to feel like some kind of exhibit, then he announced, "Yeah- she looks like Lucille Ball," and lumbered off down the street. When he was out of earshot we burst into fits of giggles.
"Lucille Ball? Holy shit, I think I'll change it back!"
"Hey, I think Lucille Ball was hot too!" Kev said, making us laugh even harder.

That evening I was working on my story when there was a knock at the door. I opened it to Stephen, who had that cheerful slightly stupid look of the mildly drunk.

"Want to come down for some dodgy lasagna in a bit?" he asked.
"Oh-sure, just give me about half an hour to finish up what I have going, okay?"
"God, I'm sorry I disturbed you,"
"No, that's okay, really- I have to eat anyway, I really appreciate the offer. I'll be up in a while."
"It's going well then?"
"Yes, I think it is."
"Well, I want the first autographed copy, and just for the laugh I want you to put 'To Stephen- thanks for all the lovely nights of passion.'"
I laughed at him. "Okay, I promise I will."
"I won't let you forget, you know," he said, with that devastating smile.

When I knocked on the boys' door I heard a shouted "Come in!" from inside and when I entered was surprised to find Kev in full mountain climbing gear in the middle of the living room.

"I'm really afraid to ask what's going on now." I said, keeping my distance.
"I've been learning to abseil, it's really brilliant, I was just showing Stephen."
"What's that when it's at home?" I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
"You know, flinging yourself off cliffs and such, with a rope attached, of course. I'm going to go out the window."
"Now? Do you really think that's a good idea?" I said.
"Sure, it'll be brill. Just watch me do it and I know you'll want to give it a go too."
He clanked over to the bay window, attached a series of hooks and clamps to the sill and then gingerly backed out. Stephen and I watched him drop slowly, heads together, until he was about halfway to the ground.
Then he stopped. He fiddled with the rope for a few moments and then called up, "Ah, lads- I seem to be stuck. You wouldn't haul me back up would you?"
Stephen and I looked at each other in mock indecision, and he said, "What do you think? Should we leave him out there?"
I nodded. "Yeah, for a bit anyway."
"Fancy a beer?" he asked, as we walked away from the open window. We could hear Kev out there shouting. "You lousy bastards, I'll get you back for this! Come on, lads, this is starting to hurt my bollocks, pull me up! Hey, I think I can climb back up itÖ"
Stephen stopped, looked at me, said- "Damn, back in a minute," and walked back to the window. He stuck his head out and grinned at Kev before pulling the window shut and locking it.

We only left him out there for about 15 minutes in the end. His cursing was getting progressively louder and filthier so we hauled him up before someone called the police. After he got the harness off and assured himself that his 'bits' weren't permanently damaged he took it in his good-natured stride and went off to the bar around the corner to recover from the fright. Stephen and I decided to stay in and have the lasagna instead of joining him. We were cleaning up the dishes when things got interesting.

I was standing at the sink washing while Stephen rinsed, he kept leaning in and accidentally touching me as he ran the dishes under the hot water. The food and the beer and now the pleasant smell of the dishwashing soap combined with the warm feeling of him brushing against my body had made me lazy and slow and almost sensuous. Everything around me had gotten that misty quality, like time had slowed down ever so slightly. Then our hands touched when he was taking a plate and a shiver ran up my arm- he carefully set the plate in the drainer and turned to me, putting his hands on my shoulders and looking at me intently. I didn't know how I managed it but I looked up into his eyes and slowly leaned in until I was pressed up against him, and then his lips were on mine, softly at first and then more urgent, and his arms were around me, pulling me hard against him. I slipped my hand under his shirt and felt the soft warm skin of his back. We kissed for what seemed like forever and when he finally took his lips from mine he bent and moved them across my neck.

"I want to feel your bare tits against me so bad," he whispered. I laughed at this.
"That's not a very romantic way to put that," I told him.
"Bugger romantic, I want you to tear my clothes off and shag me senseless," he said, and then kissed me again.
When we broke apart I asked, "Don't you think I'm a little too old for you?" but as I said it I was unbuttoning his shirt.
"You must be kidding, that's why I want to take you to bed, I know how randy you older women are." I stopped and searched his face, noticed the cheeky grin and decided he was teasing me.
"I just don't want you to expect too much, I am 40 years old you know. I have 40 year old parts."
"Shut up and take my clothes off," he said. So I did.

We didn't even make it to the bedroom, and the fear that Kev might come back at any moment and find us having wild sex on the living room rug only added to the excitement, let me tell you. I hadn't felt that kind of urgent passion for years, if ever. Probably never. On second reflection, almost certainly never. There's something about Stephen, an enthusiasm he brings to everything that is partly explained by his age and is partly just him. He's like a large and excitable puppy, only without the chewing up shoes and peeing on the floor. When I came it felt like a volcano erupting, it felt like all those dirty books I had read as a kid told you it was supposed to feel but it never did. He let himself go right after, and then we lay there, gasping and giggling like silly kids.

"My goodness, you certainly are energetic for an old one," he said, and I answered by biting him on the lips.

When Kev came in about an hour later we were sitting happily together on the sofa watching the TV. He was amazingly sober, for Kev, but still looking slightly askew. He stopped on his way into the kitchen, stared at us intently and said, "Buggering hell, you two did it, didn't you? Damn, I knew if I left you alone you'd end up shagging each other's brains out."
I stood up, walked over to him and kissed him square on the lips. He looked at me, confused.
"Does that mean I get a shag too?" I just laughed at him as I headed for the bedroom.

Gosh, I haven't written in here for ages, have I? So much for the joys of journaling.

I had my book launch today, in Barnes and Noble Downtown. We had a good enough crowd for a first novel, I think the erotic content of my book had a lot of people curious to come out and see what this old bat looked like who had the nerve to write about a wild affair with two younger men. Hopefully I'm not looking too much like Joan Collins these days.

Only a few of the people from my former life were invited, and even fewer came. John showed up, with his latest bit of fluff, and a couple of others, but it didn't bother me in the least. Katie from downstairs made it, and even Mr. Pearson was there, wearing a suit that smelled of cedar balls, and a great big Efferdent smile. I think he was hoping to get lucky. But the first two people in line were the two most important. They both looked edible, in their black funeral director suits, standing there holding out their copies to be signed, huge happy grins on their faces. I really couldn't have done this without them. I wrote almost identical inscriptions in their books, identical except for their names:

"Thanks for all the lovely nights of passion, ever so sincerely, Jo."

Tonight we're headed off to check out a new club across the bay, and then home to my big happy bed, where I'll sleep warm and content between them.

Slackerdom does have it's high points.

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