AS 18: Skipping the Whole Courtship Thing

American Splendor scene #18 (44:33 to 49:07) — Harvey takes Joyce to his apartment, where it is abundantly clear that he has a “serious problem with cleanliness.” Joyce shrugs if off, and they sit down on the couch and begin to get… intimate. Suddenly Joyce is overcome with a bout of nausea and vomiting. A concerned Harvey offers her chamomile tea. Charmed, Joyce suggests they “skip the whole courtship thing and get married”!

An extended discussion of disgusting living situations, dirty dishes, cockroaches, cats and their status as “gods,” and the sacrifices people make when moving in together (and in relationships in general). Topped off by the story of Dino’s NSFW adventures on and the time he almost became the “diddle to her fiddle.”

Shout-outs to Val Mayerik, Gary Dumm, WD-40, The Quitter, Josh’s brother-in-law (one of them), the Dianoga from Star Wars, Star Wars Minute, SPX, Neil Young’s “A Man Needs a Maid”, Harvey’s metal plant, flea markets, Jake Elsas and Jake’s cat Flotsam, Virginia Woolf (“A Room of Her Own”), A Few Perfect Hours, Friends, Tinder, blackouts, Black Kiss, Gina Cole, Trip City, Sentient Brooklyn, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

Episode Notes

This is Dino’s story, “Face 2 Face,” originally published in Overflow magazine in the summer of 2011…


Copyright ©2011 Dean Haspiel

In 1997, I was 30 years old and made single when my girlfriend broke up with me over the phone while visiting her mother in the midwest. We lived together but it was her apartment. So, I switched boroughs from Alphabet City to Carroll Gardens and I put my dick in a drawer. I was working part-time as a file clerk at an investment bank company in midtown Manhattan and I was a wreck. I’d spend half of my office hours scribbling comic book stories on scrap paper to fully realize at home and, when I wasn’t feeling creative, I was feeling morbid and lonely. 

Cyber-dating was embryonic but was steadily becoming popular and piqued obvious interests. So, I took my dick back out of the drawer, sparked a profile on a dating website, and added my avatar to the deluge of digital cattle looking for love. Within weeks, I was juggling prospects and I was up to my elbows in strange. After a few months of sexual conquests and primordial decadence, I declared there was no real love to be found online and I decided to take a break. I was about to hide my profile when a mysterious girl started to court me. Her profile picture brandished a pair of rose-colored eye-shades and nothing else, but I got sucked into her seduction, anyway. After a compelling week of back-and-forth, I gave her my phone number and waited for her to call me. It was late on a Friday night. I should have been at my local bar sniffing out candidates face to face rather than making bedroom eyes with the promises of text-based woo.

The phone rang and we got candid quick. Something about her made me spill beans and within minutes I was pouring out my heart. I broke every “first date” rule and became a river of too much information as I went into a sonnet of how much I missed my ex-girlfriend. I must have delivered one long miserable sentence that took ten minutes to expound before I took a gasp of fresh air. And, that’s when I noticed the phone line was dead. The ominous hum of a dial tone. She’d hung up on me. 

Or, so I thought. Turns out my neighborhood suffered a short black out and cut me off. A half-hour later the phone rang. It was her. She’d been listening intently to my story of love and hate when the phone died and had been trying to call me back. Before I could apologize for my self-involved monologue she threw the gauntlet down and said, “Face to face”? I looked at the clock. It was almost two in the morning. I said, “Sure.”

A short while later my doorbell buzzed and I was greeted by a squat woman wearing black leather, sporting four-color animation character tattoos on her neck, and wore a fake Mohawk slicked together by hair gel but not fully committed to shaving the sides of her head. She looked like someone who answered the phones at her father’s law firm in Connecticut during the week and pretended to be a punk rocker sleeping on Avenue A in the east village, pouring 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor onto the street to “the brothers who can be with us,” with all the other trust fund kids on weekends. Not to judge too harshly but I wondered what I’d let into my home.

She walked into my bedroom, sat on the bed, and dove into an oral checklist of what she liked and didn’t like. A parade of exhibitionism and fetishism that culminated in one particular tale of voyeurism that sent shock waves up my spine. She had recently encountered an underground sex cult that was hosted in a small theater. Ticket buyers watched as a naked man was brought onto the stage. He was stretched out on a table. Directly above the table was a thin metal frame hanging from the ceiling. Another man came out in a dark red robe with a wooden box. He was the Master. His box was filled with pins and needles. The master would dominate the naked man by sticking needles through his skin and stringing the needles up onto the metal frame. Once the man’s body was fully attached to the metal frame by needles and strings, the master would play him like a human harp. The man’s audible pain created a symphony of moans and groans as audience members masturbated to his song. 

I felt fatigue. It may have been a psychological defense mechanism but I suddenly grew very tired. I became exponentially exhausted as my eyelids flickered with drowsiness. Had she slipped me a drug? Would she soon be digging needles into my comatose body and play me like a musical instrument? No. Not possible. We hadn’t drunk anything nor had we touched and I didn’t allow smoking in my home. Maybe I’d reached the apex of human fear and confusion and was shutting down into some sort of protective sleep cocoon? I don’t know. I just knew that I had to surrender to my unconsciousness and I politely asked the woman to leave. She was disappointed yet filled with neurotic energy, perhaps reliving the moment in the sex cult theater put her in a heightened state, but I was not to become the diddle for her fiddle.

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