Can You Make Pasta When You’re Drunk?

October 6, 2010

[The couple is lying in bed, in their apartment in Bushwick. She is gluing beer bottles onto a birdhouse, the one about his bacchanalian lifestyle. He is reading My Dad Rocks. He looks up from the book and says:]

-How’s the birdhouse coming along?

[She stays focused on the birdhouse.]

-You know I don’t like to talk about my work until it’s finished. But for you I’ll make an exception. It’s coming along OK. It’s shaping up to be my most expensive piece yet. I just hope it sells.

[He leans over to take a look at it.]

-Why am I so fat in it?

-Because you’re bloated with beer. And it takes place in the future. Your drinking has become out of control and you’re fat from years of heavy boozing. See those circles under my eyes? Those are from all the sleepless years of being tortured by your disease and lying to friends about where you are and having to look after Little Ann even though you said you would. And I’m weary from your infidelities.

-When have I been unfaithful to you?

-You haven’t yet. But you will be. I know it. Ever since I was a teenager I’ve known that any man I would be with would cheat on me. I know it’s coming, so I won’t be too surprised or hurt when it happens. In fact, you might as well get it over with. Get out there and get your dick on. And then tell me about it. And I’ll make a series of birdhouses about you picking up NYU girls at Hey Jealousy by promising them they can work at your hotel that will never exist. And then the birdhouses will get some good press and I’ll make enough money to move out with Little Ann. And we’ll move to grown-up Brooklyn. I’m thinking Boerum Hill, but we’ll see what we can find.

-So what you’re saying is, you want to me to cheat on you so can make birdhouses about it and then eventually leave me?

-Essentially, yes. Ask any young artsy person and they’ll tell you they’re begging for shitty things to happen to them so they can make shitty art about it to make themselves feel better. The art may get them some attention and possibly attract someone new to fuck and then things will go badly with that person and they’ll make more shitty art about it. It’s a cycle: bad life event –> shitty art –> attention –> new person to fuck –> bad life event –> more shitty art. Look at Fleetwood Mac. Not that they’re shitty, but still, all their songs are about the shitty things they would do to each other.

-Why do you get Little Ann when we split up? I found him.

-The boy needs his mother.

-The boy needs to be put down like a sick animal. I don’t think he’ll ever grow up to be a functioning person. And he’s been drinking. The other day when I came home he was watching 60 Minutes and yelling Lunchable at Andy Rooney. And he reeked of gin. I asked him if he’d been drinking, not that he could even understand me, and he burped a gin-y burp in my face and yelled Lunchable again. He’s a sick animal, and he may be better off in a home or something.

-We’re not putting Little Ann in a home, and we’re not putting him down. He’s my son. He may not be your son anymore, but he’s still my son. He’ll like Boerum Hill. There’s more space for him to do whatever kids do – fly kites and chase squirrels and whatever – and there are more children there for him to pal around with. The only kids around here are in gangs, and they call him Boo Radley.

-There are not gangs around here. We live in White Bushwick. And what gang member would ever call someone Boo Radley?

-All I know is that we were walking home from dinner at Roberta’s and a kid, a black kid, called Little Ann Boo Radley. And Little Ann said, Who is that? And I told him that Boo Radley is a famous guitar player and that it’s cool to be called Boo Radley. What else could I say? He was pretty excited about it and started calling me Boo Radley too. He’s a sweet boy. He just needs love. And if you’re not willing to love him, then maybe we’d be better off without you.

-I do love him, but I think he might be better off in a home than in a playpen in our apartment. At least a home would have other messed up kids for him to befriend. They can commiserate together about their shitty parents and have adventures and stuff. The only adventures he has here are when he walks in on us humping and starts cheering like he’s at a horse race. You need start locking the door, by the way.

-It’s my responsibility to lock the door?

-I turn off the lights, you lock the door. I thought we went over this. Couples need to be teams, you know, and if someone isn’t doing their part, the whole production falls apart.

-Having sex with you is like filing my taxes. It’s not fun or spontaneous. It’s a process, with rules and procedures. You say, I turn off the light; you lock the door. And then it’s: I remove your bra while you kiss my arm and I touch your hair while you say something stupid like, I am in love with you, Ann Gibbard, and then you move toward the bed and I start taking off your belt but it’s always too tricky for me so you take over and shimmy out of your pants and then look at your limp dick and back at me and back at your dick and then back at me as if to say, Are you going to do something about this or should I do it myself?

-What do you want, fireworks in bed? Should I pick up some sparklers for next time? Or food, maybe? Want to be one of those couple who fucks their leftovers? What can I say? It gets old after a while, fucking the same person. But it’s not like filling out taxes. It’s more like you’re a pasta chef. You have make the same exact pasta every day for your whole life. When you were a young apprentice, it was hard and fun and thrilling all at once. It was new. But after you’ve been making the same pasta for a few years, it becomes a bore. So you think about making other pastas, new and exciting pastas. But that will only get you in trouble with the owner because he doesn’t want new pasta. No one will eat it, and it would be a waste of ingredients. You would be fired, and your job is your life. You couldn’t imagine living without it. So you continue making the same old pasta, but you find ways to make it fun. You see how many pounds you can make in a day. You see if you can make it with only your left hand. You see if you can do it with your eyes closed. Can you make pasta when you’re drunk? Stoned? The nice part is, you don’t have to worry about anything else, only that one type of pasta you have to make for the rest of your life. And there’s no limit to the fun you can have with it. Maybe you can make into different shapes. Like stars. Or little dinosaurs.

[She enjoys this speech of his. She sets her birdhouse on the nightstand and says:]

-I wanna see what’s up with your little dinosaur.

[And she does. But he’s exhausted, so it’s a quick one. Afterwards, he continues reading and she continues working on the birdhouse. He says:]

-So you really want me to cheat on you for the sake of your shitty art?

-Yes. Honestly. But there have to be rules and procedures. I’m not setting you loose on all the sluts in the Northside. I know how you like sex rules, so let’s make cheating rules. 1. It can’t be anyone I know or anyone who is friends with one of my friends. That goes without saying. 2. She can’t be significantly more attractive than I am. She shouldn’t be gross, either. That would be embarrassing for our family. She should be in the middle. A girl who looks cute in a dark bar but when you sit next to her at brunch the afternoon after you wonder if she’s the same person you slept with. 3. This is the most important one. I need to be in the room. During.

-Wait. What?

-I don’t want you fucking behind my back. I want to be there. If you’re going to cheat, I’m going to be watching you. I’m not going to join in or anything. But I need to see it so I have an image burned into my brain for the shitty art I’m going to make about it. That’s the most important rule. If you break rule number 3., then Little Ann and I moving out.

-But you said you were moving out once I cheat on you anyway.

-We might move out, maybe we won’t, but we will for sure if you break rule number 3. Women can be fickle. If you haven’t learned to deal with that yet then I feel sorry for you.

-I don’t know if I could convince a girl to have sex with me while my girlfriend watches. She might be nervous. I might be nervous. It’s already nerve-racking enough to perform adequately with one person. Put another person in the mix and you’re asking for a panic attack.

-I could hide under the bed or in the closet so you wouldn’t see me. You wouldn’t even know I was there.

-This is getting too weird, even for me. How about this: I don’t cheat on you.

-Oh just think about it. It could be good for Us. It could make me want you more, seeing you with another woman.

-This is getting weird, man. Let’s just relax. Effing artists. Jesus H.

[He picks up My Dad Rocks and says:]

-OK, here’s an exceptionally awesome part. He’s talking about how his dad coins phrases. The chapter is called Shakespeare Dad. [he reads from the book] My dad is a wordsmith. He does the crossword every day and always corrects my mom when she uses incorrect grammar. He says this is one if the things she couldn’t stand about him when they were married. But he couldn’t help doing it because she would say the most idiotic things sometimes. He is such a wordsmith that he’s always coining new words and phrases. Ideas just come to him; he can’t help it. When he was in college he coined the acronym M.O.S.T. It’s something you can do with a girl. It stands for “make out, suck titties.” Here’s how you would use it: So you’re hanging out with your bros the morning after you had a wild night with a lady. One of them asks you, So, did you guys fuck last night or what? And you say, Nope, we just mosted for a while and called it a night. I was really tired. This means you made out with her and sucked her titties. Dad says it’s a great thing to do if you’re super-drunk. Or maybe the girl is kinda gnarly-looking. Say you see three girls at a bar and none of them are anything special, but one isn’t half bad. You’d say, If given the chance, I would most the shit out of that one. You can most in a bathroom. You can most a friend and it wouldn’t be as weird the next day if you had fucked her. Dad says mosting is the sex act of the ’90s: casual, fun and there’s little chance of spreading disease. Mosting: Get hip to it, Dad says.

[he sets the book down. She says:]

-I hate it when you read me that book.

-I hate to admit it, but I’m kinda into it now. And it’s fun to learn why Z is so fucked up. So. You wanna most or what?

-Fine. But we’re getting some sleep after we most.

-Fine.

[And they most. Little Ann quietly opens the door and watches them most.]

NEXT: She Says That Him Is Not Worth Talking About

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