Monday, March 12, 2007

Man Who Loves Stars


So perhaps things have sounded a little joyless around here lately.

I would like to tell you about the Man Who Loves Stars. A short name for him is crucial to some comic timing later, so we’re going to temporarily call him Mike.

We were living where there was camping. There was a lot of music there, too, and Mike plays in a band distinctive enough that to tell you more would compromise his anonymity and mine both, so I will say only that the music is the sound of fog in the morning and rather a lot of drinking, and when I hear it, it makes me want to shout.

(I'm starting to notice I have a thing for musicians)

I had known Mike in passing the year before, just to say hello to and admire his music and the sound of his band, and for him to admire my part in the event we were all part of. This year, he greeted me more heartily than I expected, but he radiated so much earnest good cheer that it didn’t feel like a come-on. For a couple of days, we came across each other in the non-public areas at about the same time, and I started anticipating him and making sure I looked attractively disheveled just before we happened on each other. There was flirting, and heavy-duty hugging, and when I told someone else that I was “flirting with Mike” and they thought – they were pretty sure – Mike had a wife, I asked him flat out in a group of friends:

“How’s your wife?”

(Surprised) “I’m not married.”

“Girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend right now.”

“Score!”

Because if you say something loudly and outrageously enough in front of enough people, you can get the message across without looking like a total slut to all your friends and colleagues. That Mandy, what a kidder.

Same day, I leave a note on the door of Mike’s trailer.

“Hey, I’m taking S to the airport tonight, but I’ll be back and starving around 8 if you’d like to grab some food. Or if you’re too tired, I totally understand! Call me –“

Around 8, I have realized Mike’s not going to call me, so I go get quality tapas at one of my favorite restaurants of all time. I have guacamole and lamb chops with stewed dried fruit and good bread and the Sunday New York Times, so I am not exactly bereft. Half-way through the arts section, the phone vibrates with a number from Mike’s state. I answer.

“Hi, this is Mike. You left a note on my door?”

“Yeah, how are you?”

“I’m good. What are you doing?”

“I’m having great Spanish food, at X’s. Fabulous place.”

“Oh. Um…I’m with Bandmate, and a couple of friends, and we’re going to Italian Chain if you want to join us.”

“That’s right across the parking lot from where I am – how ‘bout I stop by for dessert?”

And Mike finally comes out with why he’s been a little stammery and not very excited – “I’m sorry, I have to just admit it, I don’t know who you are.”

“I’m Mandy? From that group? I wear that outfit? You hugged me today?”

“Oh, yeah…I know who you are…but I’m still a little confused…”

I’m too much in a good mood, stuffed with good food, to be hurt. After all, we’ve been meeting a ton of people all day. I figure it’s worth the trek across 100 yards of asphalt to find out what the heck is going on.

At Italian Chain, they’re sitting in a booth: the bandmate, a hanger-on, Mike and a girl who’s clearly with Mike. Oops. We chat, innocuously. I say,

“So, Mike—“

And he says, “I’m Man Who Loves Stars. That’s Mike.”

And points at Bandmate - the guy I had evidently been talking to on the phone, the guy who it turns out lives behind the door I note-d, the guy who has barely met me and has no idea who I am, and is indeed, totally confused, even more so now that I have shown up and basically ignored him.

I’m in a good enough mood for it to be hilarious.

As we walk out of the restaurant, I’m momentarily with Man-who-isn’t-Mike, away from the girl. Man Who Loves Stars tells me that since we had that conversation this afternoon about him not having a girlfriend…the situation has changed. We laugh a little about me thinking he was Mike, and he says that when he found out about my leaving the note on Bandmate’s door after flirting so much with him, he thought, wow, “she has a lot of zest for life!” Ummm…I think “slutty” is the word I’d use…

In the parking lot, it is worked out that I drive Real Mike/Bandmate and the hanger-on back home, while Man Who Loves Stars and New Girlfriend have what’s clearly a Relationship Discussion in his car. Back at the ranch, I chat for awhile with Real Mike/Bandmate, while trying to decide if I should make a play for him (he is, indeed, married), return to my own bed, or go sleep with another lover, who is not exactly on pins and needles, but is wondering where I’m going to be tonight, which has been a bit of a bone of contention lately.

Man Who Loves Stars arrives. There’s chat. The New Girlfriend situation is weird, given that she’s 1) 10 years younger, though of legal age and 2) though of legal age, forbidden by her parents to stay out past 11.

!?!?

I finally wind up and head for the other lover’s place. I hug Man as far to the perimeter of the group as I can for maximum intimacy. I accidentally kick over his cup of wine, of course I’m wearing white pants. Over at the lover’s – not fifty yards away – I inspect the damage, tell the lover I need to rinse them out, step outside in my underwear. (Of course on purpose, what do you take me for?) Man Who Loves Stars comes over with a bottle of Evian he thinks I might want to drink. He asks if I’ll come have a cuddle. I tell him I’m sorry, I’ve already committed to sleeping somewhere else, then go inside and make my lover’s life a misery while I debate whether to leave again or not.

I stay.

There will be more to this story.

2 comments:

Tom Paine said...

Have I told you I play guitar?

Of course, after that story, maybe I should say "I don't know a tin whistles from a tin pot." It's a slut's perk to change her mind, but sheesh....

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