“Better to have the story than the person,” Cameron “consoles” me, and I kind of want to punch him in the face. He really doesn’t seem to fathom that I would give up ten thousand potential story ideas to not feel this way anymore: yearning, yearning, always yearning. And I know it’s not about the person so much as not being able to have him. I’m like Lili Taylor as Corey in Say Anything always writing songs about Joe and how he lies. Not just when he cries, which he doesn’t, because you have to have empathy to cry, but when he opens his mouth at all–which is never to give head, mind you.
The point is, Cameron was or is or maybe never really could be a friend of Nathan’s, who was now, last I heard, living in Nashville. When I say “never really could be a friend of Nathan’s,” I mean it purely in the sense that Nathan didn’t keep friends once he couldn’t use them for something, whatever phase of his life he found them suitable for. So yeah, maybe Cameron was friends with Nathan, as much as Nathan can allow anyone to be friends with him. But, all in all, I would say that Nathan has no friends. And now, I’m left with the detritus of the many random folk whose acquaintance he made while we lived together in L.A. A place I feel strongly compelled to leave with each passing day as I can’t seem to drive down any of the streets without weeping.
I hadn’t seen Cameron since Nathan left town, kind of abruptly, like a husband who can’t take the sight of seeing his wife of twenty years for one more day without going batshit crazy. Except we were only together for four years. My mother warned me that if you pass the two and a half year mark of dating someone–especially living with someone–and they don’t propose, it’s never going to happen. As usual, she was right. She tends to be right a lot. It’s her profession as a prosecutor that adds to this ability. Anyway, my run-in with Cameron was at, of all places, an art gallery in Pasadena. The worst kind of art gallery. But I figured I could turn it into an excuse to see The Comedian at Laemmle’s Playhouse since no one else can ever be wrangled to see Robert De Niro continue to make bad film choices. We both knew Paola, an Italian artist from Perugia (don’t get her started on Amanda Knox), who was beginning to gain a bit of career traction in the city after finally threatening to leave it for good. As Paola was busy networking and Cameron was the only person I really knew, we, invariably started catching up. Though, in my case, nothing had changed and, in his, he had recently met a Thai girl who he jokingly assured me was, in fact, a girl that was planning to fly over soon so that they could get married. I wanted him to keep talking so that a spotlight on how little my existence had really altered wouldn’t make itself known to him–just in case it ever somehow got back to Nathan, who I imagined was living with someone new by now, maybe an aspiring country singer who he could glom onto a recording contract with using his lackluster guitar skills. Anything is possible when we’re talking good things happening to bad people.
After I downed a few more free glasses of wine, it was inevitable that Nathan would be mentioned, that I would express some bitterness about how it had all ended.
But Cameron, himself a mixed media artist, whatever that means anymore, tried to allay me by remarking, “See, I think that you having all this emotional pain to work out for the rest of your life is going to be really good for your art, really expand it.”
“Or, is it going to prompt me to harp on the same subject until I’m on my deathbed still bitching about how Nathan threw me over like a sack of bad potatoes?”
“Maybe a little bit of both?” Cameron offered with a hint of fear in his voice. I could see him search frantically for an out of this conversation, which had somehow managed to re-channel all of my rage for Nathan onto him. And then, of course, I couldn’t properly express my contempt for Nathan to Cameron lest it come across as me being an overwrought cunt or a pathetic such and such still thinking about something that was getting up to the plural version of year. Between the drinking and the suppression, which the former naturally tries to discourage, I suddenly found myself out of control of my actions, my arms reaching for Cameron’s neck, gripping tightly. It felt like I was watching it from the rafters rather than actually performing it myself. Did I mention performance art is my medium?
Before anyone managed to pull me away from Cameron, I kicked the shit out of him. Standing over his deflated body, I looked around at the other guests and apologized to Paola for making a spectacle. I then shrugged at Cameron and said, “Better to have the story than the reputation for civility.”