This week's essay is actually from 2 summers ago.  A time when my friend Cindy was desperately to make me more social. I like it because it will repulse the others in my class and that has become a sort of goal for me….

Cindy and I went to a bar the other night so that she could catch
me up on her life and hopefully mold mine into something more like
other hominids.

I hadn't seen her in a week. She likes me to know everything.
Things she can't tell her other friends.

"I bought a guitar off of ebay. $600. My water heater does
not heat water, so I can only take 15 second showers. I use
antibacterial wipes on odd days. I can't afford a new hot water
heater, but I can afford a guitar."

Cindy stared at me, willing me to disagree.

"Cheers!" I toasted. "Who needs hot water when you
can play music badly."

Actually she will get a new hot water heater. Her father probably
has 50 of them in his barn, along with every other artifact of the
industrial age, several specimens for each decade, in all stages of
historic disrepair. She'll end up with a steam powered hot water
heater. It will need a locomotive to fuel it, but it will be

"I am still dating Doug." she tells me next.


Doug's not a bad guy. He is employed, nice enough without seeming
too medicated, she's getting laid on a regular basis…sort of….
the only down side is his weird obsession with my husband.

"He'd like to get to know Eric," Cindy says. "He
thinks, actually, that he already does know him. That they are

I shrug. Many people think they know Eric. There are actually 2
Erics: The two dimensional Eric, created by the media briefly years
ago, but which everyone in our business “knows” from interviews
and video footage, books and television. And Eric who occupies his
cold winter months picking up dog shit and vacuuming, playing hockey
and buying us tickets to really bad concerts…like QUEENSRYCHE. He
could use a new friend.

Doug listens to lesbian music, the Indigo Girls and Annie
Defranco. So in addition to other differences, they have probably
never shared a moshpit.

And music is important. It separates us from the beasts. usually.

Cindy begins explaining how she and her other friends are going to
get together every week and play their new instruments together. I
immediately picture 6 guitars and a flute, and I shudder.

"Naturally, you are invited to join us," she smiles

slip out. "I mean, 'No thank you',"

She then accuses me of not liking women. Of not giving them a
chance. She forgets that every other time we speak, she talks about
how much she detests each of these women, together and separately,

"So and so is such a whiner/manipulator/fucking baby…I only
like her husband…."

"I wish {insert man here} would hurry up and dump {wife,
probably flute player}. I wouldn't mind dating him…"

I do not have many women friends. Part of this is that I just tend
to do a lot of things on my own. Like running and riding my bike…
and drinking and cringing in corners. Skulking. Judging.

Part of it is that I am INTIMIDATED by women. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND
THEM. Don't know what to SAY TO THEM…

I grew up around men, with brothers and their friends. Girls
always hated me. Seriously. I fear them and their tasteful

MEN think I'm funny. Women think I'm strange. The odd woman, such
as Cindy, is funny right back. I've yet to say anything around these
Normal Women that hasn't been met with the sort of perplexed
brow-furrowing that usually proceeds a scabies diagnosis.

What should we talk about? Food? Appliances? Why I don't tweeze?

Cindy and I talk about the sex she is having with Doug.

I think other women talk about this stuff and for a moment I feel
hope. It quickly vaporizes as my eyes drift to the table next to ours
and meet the polar cap stare of a disapproving woman. She scowls and
looks pointedly away.

Cindy details an odd intercourse that is morphing each time into
including more of him and less of her…she's become almost
unnecessary. Except that she brings wine and shuts the door when she

We talk about fornication some more because it is making the 24
karat overly perfumed woman next to us actually twitch. She is
staring frigid daggers from us to her wistful husband. I believe that
they've moved from California to Idaho because she thinks that most
of the sex that she finds especially distasteful is illegal here. Her
husband, too, believes that Jesus cries over the blowjob and anal gay
sex, but that just fuels his fantasies. Hot hot Jesus…

Our waiter, who is my daughter's age, cute, and has taken to
sitting with us and trashing his other patrons, within their earshot,
agrees that they are from California and that her vagina should,
indeed, be at home in the desert. We love him.

"I want his phone number," Cindy says, when he leaves to
fetch us another drink. "I'm going to get it."

"Please God no. He is a child." I say.

It's getting late. I want to go home. We pay, Cindy slips the
man/child her number, gets his email address, mother's maiden name,
hair sample.  He begins to look frightened when she asks when he "gets
off".  I drag her away.

"You have to be in our band. You need more friends…"
Cindy says, her hand on my shoulder. It is dirty.

"What sort of instrument would you like to play?" she
asks, already mentally on ebay buying it.

"The only way I would consider being in your all woman band
is if I could play the violin."

"Do you play the violin?" she asks with great

"Not at all." I answer. But I know that the noises I
could produce with one, without talent or practice, training or
inclination, would be perfect for me in this situation.

I think frequent bathing is the other thing that separates us from
the beasts and I tell her this.

"Hot baths," I clarify, gently taking her hand from my
shoulder and placing it in her water glass. "A monkey can play a
stringed instrument badly with friends…."