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Saturday, May 22, 1999
By Paul Ford
A fiction which of course many readers wrote in about thinking I was a sick, crazy fuck, because people don't get it, no
On my 30th birthday I took myself out to dinner. I sat alone in a fine restaurant, with a bottle of wine and a broiled bluefish.
I wore a tie and my hair was neatly combed and gelled. "You are dining alone," said the waitress, trying to make it a question.
She had small breasts and a willowy frame. Her lips were full, but she had cowlike brown eyes, heavy-lidded. Some men find these eyes sensuous; I prefer eyes to be wide open, and blue or green, otherwise they look pornographic. Her hair was back, and she had wrinkles at her mouth.
I've been having fantasies for two years that the Neanderthals survived and they're our servants. I am the owner of a great house, and I have a young, mute Neanderthal woman who provides me with my physical needs. I've named her Lucy; she is savage.
When I was younger--I had some talent--I thought I would be a musician. I played classical guitar. I learned Spanish and thought about fast-moving fingers, chords, and tight instrumental scores; I took lessons from a professor at the Manhattan School.
I had complex dreams of success as a musician, but I saw that by dedicating myself to a career in the computer industry, where I had a ready position, I could make $100,000 by the time I was 30, nearly guaranteed. Studying guitar would yield only a collection of callouses on my fingers, and render me one of those hopeless men who is always striving and grasping at scraps of success: an overpriced studio demo, a job playing a large private party with senior members of the music industry in attendance, a meeting with some other, more famous musician who promises to hand a business card to someone else. They sell lessons from their walk-up apartments, advertising via photocopies with tear-off phone numbers, and they expect, twelve years of poverty into their work, that success will ring the doorbell some day soon and introduce herself.
The $100,000 came very suddenly when I was 28, actually much more if you add in stock. It's not as much money as I had imagined, and certainly I do not live in an extravagant way. I eat out every night, small restaurants near my small apartment, save much, and pay the rest to taxes. I will retire when I am 55.
For my first three years in the city, I would go home with a woman I met that night at a bar. I am not an unattractive man, and I was lonely. I would perform cunnilingus and then refuse her to touch me back. Then I would leave as soon as I could, happy to have satisfied someone but feeling disgusted by the smell on my fingers. I find the taste repulsively fascinating, the grunting and bucking. After those three years I discovered that at some level I hate women, that I cannot stand them, their odors and complaints, their relentless list of needs, the way they use sex to manipulate and control and rob, like oversized, greedy children. I have had three lovers since 1996, people who appeared suddenly in my life wanted something, a place to stay, someone to listen, or to listen themselves, but these things never end well. I am free and glad to be here, quiet among the clicking cutlery and plates and conversations. I can float; I can enjoy the taste of this flaking, buttery fish and asparagus, and a $50 bottle of wine, without trying to make a performance out of the meal.
At work I smile but do not tell jokes. Above and below my rank, they see me as a skilled and thoughtful man, and I dress crisply to keep a certain distance. It is important for a manager to be able to manage himself, so that is what I do; I do not lose myself in the drama of others, and I demand a certain respect. No one from work has ever seen my apartment, and I go out on some Thursday nights but leave before anyone is too drunk, to avoid the wasted energy and overbearing bacchanalian emotions. In the office, my quarterly reports glow. I earn my salary.