Nurse the Hate: The Albany Incident
I don’t know how that Tiger Woods did it. I was never able to pull off relationships with two women at once, much less that kind of circus he had going. Who could keep all those lies and half-truths straight? Who has the energy? The amazing thing about that whole incident is that he was juggling all that nonsense AND playing the best golf on the planet. Even if I would have decided on that ill-fated course of action, I know I couldn’t have done it. The closest I ever came to that kind of a situation is laughable compared with Woods. And I still screwed it up.
In the early 1990s, I was dating this girl we'll call Mary. She was kinda crazy and possessive. For example, she used to want to kill the women I worked with because they were friendly with me. She threw a bottle at a girl that she thought was checking me out. One time a gun fell out of her purse when we were at a bar. I think I saw her in a porn movie once years later. It was like I was dating an extra character from the movie Pulp Fiction. She was “troubled”. I knew it really wasn’t right between us, but we had fun sometimes so I just sort of went with it. Hey, I was 25 or so, she was good looking, and it just seemed like a whole lot of unnecessary trouble to give her the “heave-ho” before some major incident took place.
Meanwhile, I was totally pining for this other girl. Let’s call her Jane. Prior to dating Mary, I had undertaken a lengthy campaign to lure Jane away from her out-of-the-country boyfriend, and won her over. I am still not really sure how I managed this feat, as she was way too attractive and interesting to have spent time with me. I was like the dorky guy in the 80s teen movie that got the girl. Jane was flaky and fun and totally unpredictable. I never knew what the hell was going to happen, but it was always intense. It was really clipping along. Then her boyfriend came home and I got cut out of the picture. Wham! I was o-u-t. Just like that. I was reeling.
I drank like I saw jilted lovers do in movies, and wrote some of the songs that wound up on “Off the Wagon”, “Fistful of Pesetas” and some of those early Cowslinger 7 inches. (Being crushed like a beer can was good for my “art”. Yippee!) After what seemed like a long period of time, which was in reality probably about 3 weeks, I started going out with Mary. To make matters worse, Jane would call every couple weeks or so and stoke the fires again. “Hey… I was thinking about you…” There were definitely some “mixed messages” coming from Jane. So I started thinking “Maybe I can get back with Jane. That would be awesome. You know…maybe I can get back with Jane, AND have fun with Mary in the meanwhile!”. It really seemed like a win/win proposition for me. And frankly, it was all about me in the early 90s. (Many would argue somewhat convincingly I maintain this policy today.)
So there I was in a suffocating relationship with Crazy Mary, scheming about how to get Jane back, when a friend of mine calls me with two tickets to see the Jerry Garcia Band in Albany NY the following weekend. I was really into going to see the show. I had never seen Garcia play out of the Dead, and I’m always up for a road trip. So, the question is who am I going to take to the show? I got a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach when I thought about taking Crazy Mary. I just don’t want to do that. I really wanted to go with Jane instead. She was going to be so much more fun…
I nervously make the call to Jane. After a brief sales job on Jane, she agrees to go and we conspire to head out Saturday morning to Albany. As friends. Just a couple of buddies going on a road trip. Nothing to see here officer… She tells her boyfriend God Knows What, and I tell Crazy Mary I’m going to see Jerry with this unreliable hippie buddy of mine that didn’t even have a phone or permanent address. The Plan appears airtight.
Saturday morning goes as planned. Jane and I have a whole adventure getting out to the concert, and we barely make it by showtime. We have a really great time, and then head out to find a hotel at the end of the night. The whole town has been overrun by the traveling deadhead hordes, and almost all the hotels are booked. After some real driving around and searching, I think I scored a room at someplace really classy like a Red Roof or Super 8. They have two rooms available. One has a double bed, and one has a king. Jane is out in the car watching me through the window while I try to check in at the reception desk. I whisper to the clerk, as if Jane could hear me from the car, “Gimme the king”…
We grab our bags and head up to the room. When we open the door, I pretend to be shocked to find the king sized bed. “Geez! He didn’t tell me that! Well, what can we do? It’s the last room. Better make the best of it.” She has fallen into my clutches… That’s when it happened.
We climb into bed, and Jane starts nuzzling me. Meanwhile, I am so overcome with guilt, I don’t do anything but sort of moan. Then Jane starts to kiss me, and run her hands all over me. All over me… get my drift? For some unknown reason, I still feel this misguided allegiance to Crazy Mary as I haven’t officially cut the cord on our relationship. I start trying to stop Jane. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this. I mean… I don’t know…” Jane responds by taking off her top, and rocking on top of me. She looks spectacular. Playboy Magazine spectacular. Cry your eyes out spectacular. The term “unfuckingbelievable” comes to mind.
I somehow managed not to have sex with Jane. I don’t remember what happened or how, but there was no sex. I was a fucking idiot. In the top three regrets in my life, this is one of them. I still look back in wonder at how I made that decision. What was I thinking? I hardly even liked Crazy Mary. It must be that damn Catholic upbringing that so enshrouded me with guilt that I was unable to do what ultimately would have been the right thing.
The next day we drive back to Cleveland. My stomach is upset and I feel like shit. (In retrospect, this must have been my body revolting against my own stupidity.) I dropped Jane off at her place without incident. I head across Lakewood to my apartment at the time, ready to regroup in the late Sunday dusk for another horrible work week. I park in the high rise parking lot and hit the elevator. I kind of give a sigh of relief as I walk down my hallway. The weekend essentially came off as planned. I went to the show with Jane. We had a good time. I didn’t cheat on Crazy Mary, and maintained my admittedly murky moral bearings. I was OK.
I walk into my apartment, put down my bag, flip the TV on and flop on the couch. I then notice the light is on in my bedroom is on. That’s odd. I walk down the short hall, and sitting on the floor is Crazy Mary staring ahead blankly like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. WHAT THE FUCK??? HOW THE FUCK DID SHE GET IN HERE??? SHE KNOWS!!! SHE KNOWS!!! HOW THE FUCK DOES SHE KNOW??? FUCK!!!
Crazy Mary had made a copy of my apartment key without my knowledge sometime in the prior weeks. While I was gone that weekend, she had done a total FBI search of my place top to bottom. She even went through the pockets of clothes in my closet looking for clues. She probably had carpet fibers analyzed. Remember, this is the very early 90s, so it’s pre-cell phone era. The only people that have those giant cell phones are guys like Gordon Gekko, Hugh Hefner, and maybe Reggie Jackson. Air time must have been $4000 a minute. When you are out of your house, you are unavailable. There is no way to call me, or my deadbeat hippie friend that was my alibi. How the fuck did she track down my whereabouts? How did she know? (It turned out she hit redial on my bedroom phone, where I had called Jane prior to leaving Saturday morning letting her know I was on my way. Damn. I was so very close.)
I spent the first hour or so listening to what a shitbag I was, and then the next hour shifting gears and being very honest in answering her questions. The downside of that honesty policy was I got hit a couple times. (If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question!) The upside was I finally had enough and tossed Crazy Mary out of my place for good. I even got that clandestine key back. The worst part was that she never believed I didn’t have sex with Jane. C’mon! If I’m going to be punished, shouldn’t I at least get to commit the crime?
I suppose we all have various skill sets. I know my limitations. I cannot hit a golf ball straight. I also do not possess the “eye of the tiger”. Keep it simple. Lesson learned.