to tuck or not tuck
Saturday, September 9 2000
Starting sometime in the morning, I was at Kim's Venice Beach apartment all day, continuing with the seemingly endless process of setting up her computer system for the impending launch of the streaming Bathtubgirl.com webcast. First there was the matter of getting the video drivers installed (rapid success!) then there was the onboard winmodem that needed enabling (much slower success - this required a web search for the part number of a chip on the motherboard).
At a certain point I realized that the best way to make it so that the webcams' cords would reach the bathroom was to place the computer on a shelf outside the bathroom and run the USB cable through a hole drilled in the wall. This necessitated first a trip to the local mom & pop hardware store on Lincoln, then a more ambitious trip to the Home Depot down south of where the streets are named after tropical islands. In this region there's a remarkably undeveloped swath of lowlands on either side of a wide, ruler-straight concrete-bedded river (the most common sort of river in Los Angeles). But civilization is never far away; this anomalous band of building-free land is overlooked by condo-festooned bluffs. The lowlands, as it turned out, are in the process of having their wetlands "restored." This means, I take it, that once there were wetlands here, but those wetlands were removed, but now they're somehow being artificially re-installed, not by the slow careful hand of nature, but by the quick and calculated hand of civil engineers. Lots of luck boys.
As one might expect, getting a slab of laminated particle board shelving from Home Depot is best not undertaken on a Saturday. The place was a zoo, not too different from Fry's Electronics. When I saw the shelves stacked with boxes teetering 20 feet over my head, I wondered what would happen here should the next big Los Angeles earthquake decide to happen on a Saturday afternoon.
Kim's new life drama in Venice features a mix of new and old supporting characters. First of all, there's Diana the hopelessly naïve folk musician/tantric greenhorn, the girl whom Kim had to "babysit" one weekend back in April when we were staying at Dr. Corynn@ Clarke's place in Mar Vista. Diana has actually moved in with Kim and is helping out with the the frightfully expensive rent. She's a sweet girl, but she has a way of asking embarrassingly naïve questions such as "why is there so much suffering in the world?" She also has weird obsessions that she blockheadedly forces others to endure. Today, for example, this involved her repeatedly playing a Dead Can Dancesque song over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. This included a little stunt where she called friends and played the song, the entire thing, into the phone for them, thus making it impossible for us to test the modem.
But mixed in with these liabilities, Diana definitely has a few remarkable talents. She has an absolutely beautiful singing voice, and she has a wide repertoire of songs she can play on guitar upon command. What's more, Diana is a cute girl with what Beth would probably term "boyish charms." Perhaps Kim can have Diana spell her in the bathtub when the Bathtubgirl webcast gets going in ernest.
Then there's Maria. She's a sultry Spanish girl who is helping Kim with the more commercial aspects of the pre-IPO Bathtubgirl venture. Before she came over today, Kim said "you're in for a treat," referring to Maria's incredible Latin beauty. And yes, it's true, Maria is one hot firecracker. In addition to her more obvious feminine virtues (a pair of which are reportedly artificial), I especially like the smattering of dark freckles on her face.
From across the room, as Kim and Maria worked on their bath product recipes and I toiled with Kim's new computer, Maria kept expressing concern with my homespun haircut. Finally she'd had enough, went and fetched a pair of scissors and snipped off some of the more egregious pieces. "It's sort of a sissy haircut, but it looks better now," Maria proclaimed. (Perhaps in her Latin homeland, the sissyness of a haircut is still calculated by taking the inverse of its mulletatiousness.)
As I continued working in my semi-oblivious shell, Maria and Kim did some quality assurance on one of their new secret recipes. This involved both of them alternately getting naked and soaking in the bath, a task that, owing to my presence, they undertook in the manner of tittering schoolgirls.
An occasional recurrent theme of the day was a guy named Jamie from a site called Urbanpill.com. He's that streaming media producer whom Kim and I visited a few weeks back, a guy whom I labeled (somewhat jokingly) as "Showerboy." Well, it turns out that this Jamie character is all about presumptively staking his claim to "real estate" on the web. With any combination of words that catch his fancy, he immediately turns around and registers the domain name. He's registered something like 100 domain names to date, including such transparently capitalist ones as Veniceundergroundparking.com. The moment he learned of Kim's registration of Bathtubgirl.com, he went and registered Showerboy.com. More recently he registered Bathtubgirlz.com, which today led to much conversation in which Kim mocked him with exaggerated pronunciation of the "z." I mean, compared to Bathtubgirl.com and Bathtubgirls.com (both owned by Kim), Bathtubgirlz.com comes off as a cheeseball fly-by-night. Would you install software written by MicroZoft.com?
The final quandary of the evening came with my attempt to get all Kim's identities working on the Outlook Express installation I'd put on her new computer. For some reason the password which we knew to be correct wasn't working on any of the alternate identities. I wasted hours trying to figure out the problem, and I eventually just gave up.
By this time a guy named Chris had shown up. He owns a camera store in Venice and evidently he's rather well-to-do. Anyway, in my absence, he has taken on the role of Kim's suitor. He's doing everything by the book, and there's no reason he should fail in his ultimate quest. He takes Kim out to fancy restaurants, invites her to accompany him on trips to Europe, and offers her discounts and freebies at his camera shop. Tonight, though, when he made the overly chivalrous comment "I didn't think girls ever had to pay for their drinks," I came back with a defiant, "Well, it used to be that Kim had to pay for both her drinks and my drinks!"
As a further example of his generosity, Chris ordered three pizzas (including a noble but ultimately tiresome vegan pie demanded by Diana's noble but tiresome idealism). He's an attractive young man and (unlike, say, me) knows how to tuck his shirt in, but Chris lacks a certain indescribable something necessary to bag a girl like Kim. Still, who knows, he might be in the process of fine-tuning his approach. A few days ago I asked Kim if she'd ever let him touch her panties and she gave an emphatic no. Perhaps Kim needs to be sent back to Ladylike School because today I couldn't help but notice that her panties were crotchless. "They're really comfortable!" she insisted when I inquired about them. She also chided me for being "such a little boy," saying "you can handle the panties but not the pussy." She's right, of course, I fully admit to my sexual development being hung up in a few pre-adolescent places. I think it makes things more interesting that way, but then again, I'd think my fetishes were more interesting than the alternative no matter what they were.
By the time Kim's suitor Chris dropped me off at my house, I was exhausted from a full day of computer work and carpentry. My housemate John was similarly weary, having jogged with Fernando 12 miles up and down the Pacific coast from Topanga Beach to Venice and back. Fernando, on the other hand, was a long way from through with the evening. He suddenly appeared with a pack of Iranians and Iraqis to whom I might start referring as "the Muslim Mafia." (West LA has a very strong middle eastern demographic component.) They're a fun-loving bunch, all eager to pick up chicks and perhaps, despite their faith, do a little drinking. I can't really tell where exactly Fernando falls in this Muslim scene; he's half Mexican and half Iranian. That's a pretty fucking wide cultural base to draw from. Anyway, Fernando and the boys had come to get us so we could partake in a bit of Saturday night frolic. Their plan was to go to a bar and do a little drinking, within the limits of Americanized Muslim propriety. John was adamant about not going. "I'm beat!" he pleaded. But Fernando and the boys were insistent. Finally John caved enough to put it all on me. If I wanted to go, he'd go, otherwise, he was too tired. By this point, however, I was laughing so hard from the Muslim/Latin-flavored male energy in the room that I felt fully energized. I wanted to go out and get the former girlfriend vibe out of my system. John was disappointed when he saw me caving so easily, but he vacillated a few times before definitely deciding not to go. So I went out with Fernando and the boys, even though I lacked my connection to their scene, my housemate John. This led Fernando to promise that the next time he called our house and got John, he'd ask for me and then "talk shit."
Instead of heading to a bar in Westwood as originally planned, we ended up at a dance club in Beverly Hills called "The Firm." One of the Iraqi guys knew a girl who was celebrating a birthday there tonight.
It was your typical Los Angeles dance club, I suppose, with lots of breast implants, nose jobs and fashionable clothes adorning the mostly 20-somethings who showed up. I felt decidedly out of place in this scene, especially when I looked down and beheld the black Vans tennis shoes I was wearing (the pair I'd bought two years ago for $6 at a thrift store in Hillcrest, San Diego). But no matter. Soon enough we were in the club and I was buying drinks to satisfy the rather weak demands of my homies. Once equipped with my own drink, I simply stood on the edge of the dance floor half-heartedly dancing to the music, which was exclusively late-70s disco and late-90s disco remixes.
"I love the way women move," Fernando shouted into my ear as he watched the girls shaking their booties on the dance floor. A couple of our Muslim Mafia chums went directly onto the dance floor and started doing some serious dance moves, sort of like a less-comic version of similar scenes from A Night at the Roxbury." Being reminded of that movie, I couldn't keep from chuckling to myself. Still, those guys ended up dancing fairly seriously with a couple of different chicks, while those of us on the sideline missed out entirely on girlie interaction.
But when I was settling up my bar tab, a girl standing next to me started chatting me up. She was terribly sweet and knew how to communicate with the alcoholic likes of me, even offering me a tequila shot that a friend had declined. She was telling me how nice the bartender was and what bitches the customers were for complaining about their drinks. So I let her suggest a tip when my tab finally arrived. Then, in a display of abandon that Kim would immediately identify for the crass showmanship that it was, I upped her recommendation by 25%. This girl had begun her conversation by asking if I was straight or gay, and she went on to automatically request my card and give me her number. (Owing to my work, I actually have cards now!). Evidently this girl is some sort of event organizer who is, like many new-to-LA transplants, "between things." She said she'd be sure to invite me to her next event, though they usually take place at gay venues. As I was leaving, I didn't know what else to do so I planted a clumsy kiss on her cheek. My homies, especially Fernando, had witnessed the whole thing. I hadn't really noticed through her sweetness, but I guess this chick hadn't been too ugly because Fernando was definitely impressed with the "way" I'd handled her. On the way home he admitted that women never spontaneously strike up conversations with him. I found this odd; Fernando is a very attractive guy and he usually looks like he has nothing much to do in the context of a dance club. Perhaps that's his problem; maybe he doesn't have a sufficiently alpha male vibe. But, as for me, I seem to regularly attract women with an interest in vaguely scruffy (but purposeful) alcoholics. Perhaps Fernando needs to stop tucking his shirt in.
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