Naïveté, Like Nitrous

I cannot be that person anymore. The opportunity is lost, or maybe missed. I took a wrong turn somewhere down the path that might have sustained me as “a decent human being” my whole life long. It happened, like all fall from graces, in Los Angeles. When you go to “the big city” for the first time disarmed with the unbridled naïveté of a suburbanite filled with the hope that can only come from having never been exposed to the things so frankly discussed in The Velvet Underground songs, the innocence you once did not realize was a commodity, the key to sustaining your aura of benevolence–the very thing that draws vultures and villains to you in the first place–starts to get worn down. And naïveté is like nitrous, bound to lead to an explosion in your very face before you realize how much you’ve miscalculated the correct formula essential to remaining pure. I guess I now know that formula is: sequestering + minimal human interaction = not turning into a cunt rag capable of all manner of moral reprehensibility.

My purity started to wane, clichely, after losing my virginity in the Beverly Hills mansion of a producer I thought was genuinely interested in pushing my screenplay into the right hands. As it turned out, he was only interested in pushing his penis into me. I suppose there’s no good way to lose your virginity, just as there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s. But I do feel it could have been slightly less colored by sleaze. His wood-paneled four-poster bed and black Versace briefs will crop into my mind every now and again, when I bother to remember where it all might have started to go wrong. It was inevitable that I should end up as a “lounge singer” in Las Vegas. The kind that also happens to disrobe during the performance. But every now and again, when the spotlight is blinding me, searing my corneas to the point where I see red then black, I think of the girl I was, and might have remained if I had just stayed in the protective bubble my parents had manufactured so carefully, only for me to puncture it so severely.

They say it’s only natural, of course, to break free from the carefully curated realm your progenitors sheltered you in. But I think I ran too far away from the realm, and fell into one of the Lynchian Black Lodge persuasion. And for all girls, the drop into this hole begins with their own vaginal hole. Sex still equals sin for a “lady,” after all. And especially when had in mass quantities, which is precisely the slope I slipped down after the producer that wouldn’t produce. At least not my movie. After he had fucked my body a few more times, he finally felt obliged to tell me, “I see this more as a novel. I can give you the information of a literary agent I know in New York.” I think it was especially in that split second that something in me turned black, this nauseous feeling in my stomach that made me apprehend that to trust anyone freely at or all was to surrender to the spasm of pain that you could not control. I prefer to control my pain, self-inflict it as opposed to giving someone else (usually a man) that power. So I decided, right then as he told me that I was not “viable as a screenwriter” over breakfast served by his Cantonese maid (this was also 1992, when Wayne’s World made this ethnicity vaguely “sought after” by white men thanks to Tia Carrere as Cassandra, even though Carrere is Hawaiian. But Hollywood cares not for ethnic specificity), that I would never let another person manipulate my emotions. That I would, instead, be the one to manipulate those of others. It was then that I could intuit the chasm between the innocent I was and the knave I would permanently become forming. I cursed Leonard Cohen in that instant for his false claim of, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” There was to be no light getting into my dimension heretofore. And from that day forward, I never looked back on the trusting, pure spirit that entered L.A. only to leave it for Vegas a chaff of that human who might have had the potential to do something better, more meaningful with her life. I don’t necessarily mean the expected tropes of “having a family” and perpetuating the vicious cycle of both “womanhood” and humanity. But, oh I don’t know, to have pursued some sort of cause that might have made me feel more connected to the world around me and the people in it. But no, I am severed from society, dissociated from everything except my dissonance. So I sing. For men and their mistresses, though sometimes they are with their wives. And sometimes, when they come backstage, I give them an extended show while their mistress or wife waits at the bar. A woman can’t survive on the money from topless lounge gigs alone.

So I escalated my scabrousness in the City of Sin, only occasionally recognizing myself in the mirror, always assuming I would see something more akin to the Dorian Gray painting than my semi-still attractive exterior. I painted my eyelids, daubed my lips with gloss and misted myself with perfume. The accoutrements of complicity with the illusion of the city as a place of “glitz,” helping me to fool the transgressors of Vegas that I might actually be better than them. That I might be on some sort of higher ground when, in fact, every day, a sinkhole led me deeper toward the depths of hell.

It was waking up one morning amid several dead bodies in the hotel room of a gangster who had taken a liking to my show that I had to acknowledge just how numb I had become. Rather than gasping or even thinking about calling the police, I turned to Lenny, who was poised to see how I would react to what he had done. I knew how I behaved would be a matter of life or death. So I laughed gleefully, as though I was endlessly pleased and impressed with what he had done, with the extent of his power and masculinity. My intuition in so doing had been correct, and Lenny led me to his bed, aroused by my receptivity to murder as we fornicated among the corpses. Soon after, I guess you could say I became his moll.

So yes, I’ve come a long way from that smiling suburbanite who once found simple joys in going to the mall and writing what I then thought was angsty poetry in my collaged with pop culture images wall. I’ve “evolved.” I’ve killed, I’ve stolen, I’ve lied, I’ve cheated. I’ve done whatever I felt was necessary to get to my next point in life. My next metamorphosis into a worse version of myself.

Two roads diverged in Los Angeles and sadly I could not travel the one that wouldn’t transform me into an amoral monster.

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