FRESH YARN presents:
Back in my glory days I dated this homeless guy for a while. To his credit and mine, he wasn't homeless when I met him, he was living in his car, but then his car broke down so we decided we were at that point in our relationship where we should move in together. He brought his bucket of clothes and some jumper cables over to my place and for a couple of months everything was great: I had hot sex on a regular basis from a guy that fulfilled my weird, adolescent, bad-boy fantasy and he had an address. My friends at the time were incredibly supportive. They weren't exactly squealing with joy, but they weren't asking me what the fuck I was thinking either. They just quietly watched on with an air that suggested, "If Jen's happy with the homeless guy, we're happy with the homeless guy."
I couldn't explain it to them, but my attraction to Jack was very clear to me. I have two brothers, both of whom hung out with kind of a rough crowd when we were in high school. They'd bring home these guys who had huge, dirty hands and things like naked women and beer logos tattooed on their arms. These were the guys of Molly Hatchet t-shirts with the sleeves cut off, filthy work boots, and bandanna headbands. They chain-smoked and pushed around skinny underclassmen for laughs. Basically they all had that certain, irresistible townie quality that rocked my spindly little pre-pubescent libido to its core.
I'd spend my afternoons lurking around the garage while they drank beers and worked on their cars in my mother's driveway, and I was invisible to them. I was a six foot tall bookworm with enough metal on my teeth to stop a bullet. Menstruation was a good three years in my future which meant there wasn't a breast in sight - I had the sexual prowess of a table saw and we all knew it. To them I was more like a thing than a girl, and to me they were repulsive morons, but for some reason incredibly sexy repulsive morons. I hated that I was hot for them, but none of it mattered anyway since there was no way in hell anything would have happened. It was as unlikely for any one of them to ask me out as it was for them to ask me what I was reading.
When I met Jack at a party ten years later it was like I'd been given a second chance. He instantly pushed my Unfulfilled Desire button and although one might hope I'd have moved on to bigger and better things by then, I was clearly still fifteen, still in the garage, still waiting. And Jack was the real deal: big, tall, tight jeans, crazy hair, face like a mug shot. He had everything those other guys had except he didn't drink and he spoke to me. I won't even go into the fact that the guy could burp the entire alphabet. So even though it turned out that we had nothing in common other than a love of shelter and a frightening knack for denial, I decided I had to have him.
I realize now that this relationship loudly illustrates a fact that holds true for most stupid relationships. Whatever the stupid thing is that you love about someone stupid when you first get together is usually the same stupid thing that breaks you up. For example, if you date a young guy because he fulfills some maternal instinct in you, he may eventually leave you for someone who isn't his mommy (or you'll leave him for someone who's ready to have a baby). If you date someone you're not really interested in who happens to have a buttload of money, you'll eventually dump him because all he has is money. If you date a homeless guy because you're suffering from severe arrested development and a need to be needed, you'll eventually kick him out because you'll grow up and want someone who can bring home some groceries every once in a while.
I was so far gone that I remained unfazed when it was revealed to me that Jack's address was 1983 Chevy Camaro Drive. The only part about it that upset me was realizing how hard it would be to track him down and snag him. It became my quest to sniff out his favorite places to park and I spent weeks driving around Albuquerque in search of his Camaro, but all my efforts were fruitless. I drove under bridges, around K Mart parking lots, through alleys, parks, and truck stops, but no luck. Where does a guy who lives in his car live?
Finally, a few weeks later, a friend of mine stopped by on her way home from work. "I saw that freak you have the hots for today," she said. "His car was broken down on Central so I gave him a ride to the gas station. Does he realize he's wearing a bandana on his head?" I tore down to the gas station and there he was, leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette, even hotter than I remembered him. His face lit up when he finally remembered who I was, which I took to mean he felt the same way I did. He explained that his car wouldn't be ready until tomorrow, maybe the day after, maybe never, and then he looked at me with big round eyes.
On our way back to my house the conversation was a little choppy. I blamed our lack of fluidity on my giddy excitement and my unquenchable lust for him. Any alarming thoughts about the fact that I really had no idea who the hell this guy was were quickly replaced by thoughts of him naked in my bed. He was cracking jokes and imitating various cartoon characters while I giggled and marveled at the fact that oh my god he is in my car! I tried a couple times to get to know him, to ask him questions about his life and his situation, and was met with answers like, "What's wrong with my car?! I'll tell you what's wrong with my car - it's the worst darn heap of scrap metal this side of tarnation!" said in the voice of Yosemite Sam. It was a rapport better suited for a kindergarten class, and one that didn't evolve the entire time I was with him, but due to my extraordinary shallowness I pretended it was adorable.
I made him something to eat and sat us down at the kitchen table so I could watch while he chewed. The guy wasn't exactly a conversational genius, and having me salivate over his every swallow clearly did nothing for his comfort level. He said in the voice of Butthead "uh, grilled cheese, uh huh, yum, cheese" and smiled at me appreciatively. I smiled back and ignored him, deciding instead to focus on more important things like what he'd look like after I cut the back of his mullet off and how I was going to get him to take a shower.
He wanted to smoke when he was done so we headed into the living room and I handed him a coffee mug to use as an ashtray. I never let anyone smoke in my house but since that's where the couch was, which I sat on, and since the couch is a gateway to the bed .I motioned for him to sit too, which he did not. He remained standing and looked out the window, making up voices for the birds hopping around in my driveway. For the first time all day a feeling of dread started to consume me. I'd just spent the entire afternoon inside a cartoon marathon with zero sign from him that my crush was mutual, or even remotely reciprocated. On top of that I began to worry that should he fall out of character and begin to speak like a three dimensional human being, we very possibly could have nothing to talk about. Yes, he was my demented fantasy man, but I knew deep down that I had to have something more to go on than just a nice pair of arms. As much as I fancied myself a frat boy, I couldn't get off on purely objectifying someone - I had to have some connection , no matter how small. And just to add to my fun the guy didn't drink at all, meaning that if I was going to chip through the wall of weirdness, I'd be left up to my own devices to do so. I was suddenly exhausted. I stopped acting like everything he said was hilarious and began to space out. My face was tired from forcing a dopey grin on it all day, and as I rubbed my cheeks I began to question if I wanted him to stick around. Then, with the speed of a guy about to lose a free place to stay, Jack was next to me on the couch.
"This is real nice of you Jen, you're a real nice lady. I'm just a little strapped here at the moment and you're a saint for helping me out." This he said in a gruff whisper, and although he didn't drink or do drugs, he spoke with the shell-shocked distance of someone who used to do it all way too much. He looked deep into my eyes, brushed some hair off my forehead, and something inside of me died for him. I saw before me a sensitive, damaged guy whose only crime was taking a few wrong turns here and there. I realized that while he may have looked like those friends of my brothers, he wasn't one of them at all. They were bullies and Jack was decent, appreciative, and kind, and I was gonna get him back on his feet no matter how much of my own life I had to flush down the toilet to do it.
Jack moved closer to me and put his hand on my thigh. I lifted my mouth up to kiss his but he bent down and started kissing me on the neck instead. I closed my eyes and ran my hand down his strong back, along his muscular arms, and found my way to his huge inner thigh. A pulse shot straight through to my crotch - I'd never felt anything so sexy in my life. I'd always dated poets and artists and other thoughtful types that I could flip over like rag dolls in an arm wrestle, but Jack was all man. His strong hard body had me instantly panting and crazed, yet through my horny fog I somehow managed to keep in sight what was really in front of me. "Let's get in the shower," I whispered in his ear as I stood up and took his hand. He may have been hot, but I was fully aware that my new love didn't quite have the hygiene options afforded to most people.
From that moment on Jack became a kept man and I, the rich, lonely lady who kept him. Everything being relative, this scenario actually wasn't too far off. Considering the sad state of the Albuquerque economy, the fact that my electricity was still on and my car was one of the few in my neighborhood not up on blocks, I was somewhat bourgeois . I was able to cover the three hundred dollar rent and second mouth to feed no sweat, and Jack and I co-existed in clueless dysfunction for about four months. Here's how it went: Jack gave me sex and a project far more interesting than my own life and I gave him sex and a place to live. He was so removed he barely participated in society, and I was so removed I pretended this wolfman was my boyfriend. He wouldn't hold my hand in public, and I tried to make him call me when he felt like spending the night on a bench somewhere rather than come home. We never kissed, we only fucked. He spoke in cartoon, I ignored it.
After a while the charade could go on no longer. As with any horrible drug addiction, my mind continued to rationalize my behavior until my body finally had to step in and put its foot down. My face started breaking out and I developed a backache that forced me to stand in the shape of a U. My skin took on this weird yellow hue and I had a cough that wouldn't go away. Eventually my friends started piping in, because even though Jen wouldn't admit it, Jen wasn't happy with the homeless guy anymore. I got concerned looks and lots of "are you sure everything's ok with you and Jack?" Hunched over with my hand on my back, I'd cough in their faces that I was fine.
day I was in the car with an old friend and we stopped at a red light,
right in front of the crosswalk, and who should cross in front of us but
my homeless boyfriend. He didn't see us so he just walked on by, and because
I was sitting there with someone who knew me so well I was forced to see
him through her eyes, rather than my own. And it was as if he was suddenly
larger than life, a living breathing projection of my own wilted self-image.
My friend was silent, but it was one of those loud, heavy silences that
said it all. Jack might as well have been pushing a shopping cart. I suddenly
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