My mother was classically beautiful. Her looks were the embodiment of a nice girl. Freely smiling in every picture, exposing her perfect teeth and optimism. She had big, bright eyes that sparkled with charm. But underneath was something completely different. There was an ugliness. A hatred towards herself. It was so loud she escaped to heroin, abusive men, and excessive spending to silence her demons. She endured an overwhelming emptiness, but nothing could possibly fill the void within. She was never able to love herself, and that torment eventually led to her drug related murder. People have mentioned to me that I look so much like my mother. I especially have her eyes. But do I have everything beneath as well?
I adjusted my red framed glasses as I was sitting at the bar. I was 3 drinks in and was feeling the warmth of the booze rushing through my body. The more I drank, the sexier, hornier, and sassier I got. Alcohol always brought me to my true self. I felt liberated when things got blurrier. I was not hurting over Sal anymore. Sal, who?
But who was I kidding? There was always this underlining sadness that was with me like an unwanted guest. I could ignore that fucker as much as I wanted, but it had perfect attendance no matter what I did or where I went. It’s like we became family, me and sadness. Annnnd let’s face it, family means you’re basically fucked, right? You’re stuck with these people and this place called home. There’s no escape. These are the cards you’ve been given. Deal with it.
I took a hefty sip of cheap merlot. I could taste the sugary hangover I was going to have. MMMMMMMM. I didn’t care. At this point I felt like shit. So it’ll just be shit on top of shit. Didn’t make a difference to me. Everything is shit anyway.
“Oh hey, Dixie.” Ben tapped me on the shoulder.
“Listen. About last night, I’m sorry I took things too far. I know you’re in a relationship—“
“—Was. I was in a relationship last night. Well, up until 11 am today when…um…We decided to break up.”
Ben smiled and then unsmiled.
“I’m sorry. Wow. He’s an idiot. I’m really sorry.”
Ben seemed genuine behind his hipster-fake glasses. How ironic?
Ben was a weird one. He was like a 31 year old Filipino Woody Allen who walked with a limp. He came across as a dork with the non-prescription glasses and his nervous, trying-to-please-you vibe. But I had learned the hard way, that it was a facade. We had dated for 7 months last year. He had pursued me the Los Angeles way- asking me to be in his web-series. Then one thing led to the next which resulted in us fucking which turned into a relationship. As if I didn’t have a say in any of this. But that’s how I saw life. Life happens to you and you just take it.
“Thanks,” I said dryly.
I hope he wasn’t feeling sorry for me. I didn’t want to give him that power. I adjusted my posture, and looked around the room, pretending to be really annoyed by his presence.
Ben began to talk. Flailing his arms and touching his forehead. He seemed flustered.
“Listen. It’s destiny that you’re here. And I’m here. I had no idea you’d be at the Dresden tonight…”
I squinted my eyes suspiciously. He knew Betsy. He knew that I hung out here a lot.
“—Really! How was I suppose to know that you ended your relationship with that fat guy?”
I rolled my eyes. He’s calling Sal, fat? Ben was 5’6 and walked with a limp. He was so insecure and judgmental…like me. We did have that in common. Fine.
“Listen, I love you Dixie. I will do anything for us to be together again. We make the perfect couple.”
I sighed. No we do not.
“And I know you need money. I can give you money.”
I was confused. It’s not like Ben was rich at all. He had just gotten a new job. He was a freelance editor.
I looked at him like what the fuck are you talking about, dude? But please continue…
“I know it’s not a lot, but I can give you 700 dollars a month if you’re my girlfriend again. But like…you’d have to be with me. We’d have to get back together. I’ll even edit your reel.”
His desperation touched my g-spot and my heart opened. He was touching that longing of being wanted and desired that I’ve been chasing ever since well the beginning- when my mother got murdered when I was a baby and my dad choose to obsess and fuck other woman than give me the attention that I deserved. Perhaps that was the same yearning that my mother craved as well. I think it was. A desperate urge to be loved. We were both driven by the same pain. And when someone or something alleviated it- fuck, it felt really good. Ben was stroking it alright.
“So please. You can send me your footage tomorrow and I’ll start on it. I can also pay you. I just don’t have cash now. I need to stop by Chase. But please, Dixie. I want to do this.”
I looked down at the floor and took in Ben’s plea. I was quickly reminded that I was also drunk. I picked a spot to stare at so I could ground myself and figure out what to say. I gazed at some early 20s woman’s purse on the floor. It was vintage and ugly. She probably got it a thrift store and thought she was so cool for sporting a hideous white purse.
I shook my head, waking myself up. Ben was staring at me like a pathetic puppy waiting for my response. Now how easy would it have been to say…no? But I didn’t. I needed to be loved. Or whatever Ben was offering.
“Okay,” I said quietly. I looked away from the lame purse into his eyes.
He kissed me, but our glasses got in the way. Clink. We both laughed. He held my head between his eyes.
“Thank you, Dixie. You will not regret this. I promise to pay you every month.”
In a way, I felt like I was preserving a ritual I was sharing with my mother when I said yes.