President Clinton: My Hero

Written by Jonathan Ames on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.



First off,
the loose end that needs tying has to do with the orgy I tried to attend the
last week of August. As some of you may recall, I did not gain access to the
orgy because I did not bring a woman with me. I tried in vain to pass off my
friend who wears a prosthetic vagina as a substitute woman, but this was a doomed
maneuver. But the column that recounted this defeat at the orgy’s door
(well, actually the vestibule) did end with a ray of hope–I reported that
there would be another orgy on Sept. 18 and I implied that a second attempt
would be made to storm that decadent fortress.


Well, the
18th came, and sure enough through the perverted channels through which such
information is disseminated, I learned that the orgy was switching locations–to
stay ahead of the vice squad?–from its West Village setting to a Wall Street
hotel. The precision information I received included the suite number one was
to give the desk clerk and that entry to the orgy would only take place between
10 and 10:45 p.m.; also, the same rules were in effect as with the first orgy:
$60 per couple, single women allowed (for $30), single men not allowed, bring
your own towel, condoms provided.


I bring
all this up because many people–friends, acquaintances and strangers (but
no relatives, thankfully)–contacted me about the orgy; I received letters,
e-mails and phone calls. This orgy issue really seemed to strike a nerve. Quite
a few friends teased me–"I know where you’ll be on the 18th"
was a frequent remark. And all sorts of people–many of whom I wouldn’t
suspect of being fans of group sex–were asking me if I could get them into
the orgy; if I would write them a letter of recommendation so to speak. These
people I stalled. I don’t like to be a bad influence. It’s bad enough
that I have influence over myself.


Then after
the 18th came and went, everyone was asking: What happened? Did you go to the
orgy?


Well, I
have to report that I let a lot of people down: I did not make the slightest
effort to attend this second gathering of group fornication. My new hobby and
passion, boxing, which for the moment has replaced my lifelong fascination with
all forms of sexual congress, took precedent on the night of the 18th–I
watched the somewhat disappointing De La Hoya and Trinidad fight. And although
the fight lacked excitement, it was instructive since I am currently
a student of the sweet science of bruising in preparation for my own boxing
match to be held on Nov. 10.


I do hope
to keep boxing after my big fight, but I will also probably get back to my old
studies: the sick science of cruising. And so if there’s another orgy planned
for late November or December, I’ll make a valiant effort to attend, experience,
survive and bear witness. I will then file a full report for all the people
who count on me to provide firsthand handjob accounts of things that most decent
people are sane enough not to attempt, though these same decent people are the
ones hounding me for the lascivious details. But there’s nothing new in
that statement. Most people like to keep things at a safe distance, but, nonetheless,
they are curious and voyeuristic, especially when it comes to sex. And then
there are those of us–I’m referring to myself here–who are nearsighted,
so to speak, and need to be right on top of things or on top of someone to fully
appreciate them. So it all works out. The sexually sane people need a liaison
to the sexually insane. And that’s me, that’s where I fit in. A man
behind the lines. A kind of erotic war correspondent.


Pressing
on with my column housecleaning, I need to forgo the current events of my humble
life and keep dealing with the past and in so doing discuss my August trip to
Martha’s Vineyard. My vacation there happened to coincide with the President’s,
and an obvious conclusion can be drawn from our being in the same place at the
same time: Libidinous men think alike. And naturally two such similar individuals
were destined to cross paths.


When I arrived
on the island I was met by my friends at the ferry and then taken to the house
where we were staying, which was very generously being lent to us through a
friend of a friend. The house was deep in the woods of the town of Chilmark,
which is in the quieter, less developed and more exclusive part of the island.
When I saw the place, it reminded me of a cabin I had stayed in 14 years before
when I last visited Martha’s Vineyard. At that time, I had lucked into
the free use of a cabin for 10 days, and during that sojourn I had a very sweet
love affair with a beautiful girl who lived nearby. Now the house I was staying
in 14 years later was not a cabin, but it looked as if it could have been expanded
upon.


Unfortunately,
I was unable to remember the exact address of the cabin, but I knew it was in
Chilmark, so I was in the right town. But I couldn’t easily solve
the mystery of my deja vu because the man who had lent me the cabin so many
summers before had since died and the current owners of the house were not readily
available. It was frustrating to feel like I had been there before but that
I couldn’t prove it.


The follow
morning after my arrival, I drove to the Chilmark general store to get some
supplies. As I loaded up the car, I heard someone calling out with excitement,
"Jon! Jon! Jon!" I went by Jon for most of my life until I tried quitting
drinking for the first time 13 years ago at the tender age of 22, at which time
I asked people to call me by my full name. I guess I was seeking a new temperance-beverage-drinking
identity, and since then, whether actively dipsomaniacal or in tippling-remission,
I have gone by Jonathan. So whoever was beckoning me was someone from my distant
past, but because it had been so long since I was called by that shortened version
of my name I didn’t respond; I thought it must be for someone else. I got
in my car and started it up, but then I heard again this insistent plea of "Jon!
Jon! Jon!" and sensing that it was for me I got out of the car, and sprinting
toward me, like in a dream, was the lovely girl of 14 years before. She was
running because she thought I was about to drive off, and then when she saw
me get out of the car an embarrassed smile came to her face and she slowed to
a walk.


She had
hardly changed at all. Perhaps the posture was more severe–she was maybe
more conscious of her good figure and wanting to maintain it, and there were
a few lines around her mouth, but she was remarkably well-preserved. She was
looking closely at me as well and I was very aware of her gaze toward my bald
spot at the front of my head; her eyes went there the way a man’s eyes
go to a woman’s cleavage. Time had been less kind to me than to her; it
had stolen my hair. "I’m surprised you recognized me," I said,
sheepishly, self-loathingly.


"I
couldn’t forget those eyebrows," she said, referring to the albinish
lines of hair above my eyes. And I felt flattered: she remembered my eyebrows:
once long ago her face had been close to mine. We hesitated a moment and then
kissed each other’s cheeks in greeting. We were astonished, yet not too
astonished to see each other, which seems to be the nature of coincidences:
They are too much a part of the way things are; they always feel curiously
right.


Immediately
after our embrace, a tall, sturdy good-looking man approached with two small
children, a boy and a girl. My old flame was very much a wife and mother. I
shook hands with her husband, and then she and I rapidly exchanged information–our
headlines. I then told her where I was staying, and being a longtime summer
person on the island, she knew the house and informed me that in its previous
life, before significant expansion, it had been the cabin (the scene
of our youthful embraces…did the husband know? He seemed happy to shake my
hand) where I had stayed 14 years before!


All this
was deeply pleasing to me–the cabin, running into her–because I live
for coincidences. They briefly give to me the illusion or the hope that there’s
a pattern to my life, and if there’s a pattern then maybe I’m moving
toward some kind of destiny where it’s all explained.


At the moment,
of course, there’s no explanation for anything, but there is the
desire to keep recording data. So I’ll press on with jotting down the next
interesting thing that happened–interesting to me at least–on Martha’s
Vineyard. A few days after seeing my old heartthrob, I was brought along by
a lovely female friend to a cocktail party, and Spalding Gray was there, which
for me, since he’s one of my idols, was very exciting. He was on the island
because he was premiering his fantastic new show Morning, Noon and Night,
which I had just seen the previous evening.


I perform
a fair amount myself, storytelling specifically, and Gray, in my opinion, is
the master of this kind of theater. I’ve seen three different shows of
his over the years and each time I’ve been delighted and amused and captivated.
And ever since I first saw him (Swimming to Cambodia at Lincoln Center
in 1986), I’ve wanted to find out if he memorizes his pieces or if he just
knows his stories extremely well and tells them somewhat differently every show.
This is the technique I use and it has its benefits and its drawbacks: there’s
room for spontaneity and improvisation, but there’s often the dreadful
feeling that you came up with something the previous performance that was really
good but you couldn’t quite recreate it.


Anyway,
there he was at this cocktail party and I very much wanted to talk to him, but
I was afraid that I would suffer personality withdrawal, which is the usual
effect that people I admire have on me. Actually, if I think about it, in almost
all social settings my personality disappears. I’m not too bad one-on-one
and occasionally I do well at a dinner party, but for the most part if I’m
in a large group setting like a cocktail party I bore the hell out of people,
I bore the hell out of myself, and this problem of mine, I realize, doesn’t
bode well should I make it to that next orgy. No one will want to couple with
me if I’m psychotically dull.


So I was
very aware of Spalding Gray’s movements around the room and I was wondering
if I’d have the courage to engage him in conversation and selfishly pose
to him the question I had been pondering for 13 years or if I would just chicken
out because I was afraid that my lack of personality would be too humiliating.
Then somehow in the choreography of the cocktail party–people escaping
from one mindless conversation to move on to the next or better yet to the bar
or cheese table–I ended up alongside the object of my admiration.


"I
saw your show the other night," I said. "It was very good." It
was a classically dull opening, but not beyond the pale.


"Thank
you," he said sincerely, and then he finished a cheese and cracker he was
eating.


"I’m
sorry to be a nuisance," I then said, plowing bravely forward, "but
I do a bit of performing, at PS 122," I said this knowing full well that
he workshops his pieces there, "and I sort of do what you do. I had a one-man
show there this winter called Oedipussy." He laughed. I had purposely
said the title of my show so that at least one non-boring thing would come out
of my mouth. "Well, anyway," I said, "I’ve always wondered,
if you don’t mind me asking, do you memorize your shows or do you tell
them differently each performance?"


There. I
had gotten it out. And what happened next was great. I finally got my answer:
He told me that he doesn’t memorize his pieces, and we ended up
having a brief but very good talk about his technique and I didn’t bore
him too badly. Eventually, of course, which is the nature of any cocktail party
conversation, we ran out of steam and he politely excused himself so that he
could make another visitation to the cheese table.


I was thrilled.
I hadn’t chickened out and I had spoken to the Mickey Mantle of storytelling.
I then asked my friend, who had brought me to the party, if we could go. I didn’t
want to risk reencountering Spalding Gray and wreck things by numbing him with
a second dose of Ames-dull.


So we left
the party and I was behind the wheel of our car, guiding us along the dark country
roads. Then we came to the four-way intersection by the Chilmark store, called
Beetlebung Corner, and there a motorcycle policeman suddenly pulled in front
of us and ordered me to stop. I did so, thinking I had committed some sort of
violation. But the policeman simply dismounted his bike and stood in the middle
of the road with a large orange flashlight, forbidding me to continue. Then
a car from the opposite direction approached and it too was stopped, and the
beams of its headlights flooded into our car.


"The
Clinton motorcade must be coming," I said to my friend and she agreed,
and I was very excited. I love Clinton. Whenever I get into trouble, I think
of him and it gives me strength. The problems he makes for himself with his
sexual behavior are much worse than mine, but he survives and this gives me
courage to face my small (by comparison) crises.


So we sat
in our car at Beetlebung Corner and then about half a dozen motorcycle policemen
passed us with great drama and flair at about 30 mph. They came from my left,
from the third fork of the intersection. Like an English citizen awaiting the
Queen, I rolled down my window and without thinking about it just started waving
in anticipation.


Clinton
then cruised by in a black SUV. He was in the backseat, on the right-hand side,
and he looked out his window and he saw me. I was illuminated by the car from
the opposite direction and he was also lit up by those headlights. His hair
was like a silver halo, his glasses were on the tip of his nose and his head
was handsome and enormous. He looked right at me, there was maybe 10 feet separating
us, and in that brief instant he seemed nice and a little bit lonely in that
backseat, like a kid being driven by his parents somewhere. I kept waving and
he waved back at me sweetly. And there was no one else he was waving to. My
friend sitting beside me was blocked by me and she wasn’t waving anyway,
and no other cars were stopped on our side of the dark road.


Then he
was gone. The whole encounter had been maybe three seconds long. But it was
like three seconds of very good, high-quality electric shock therapy. I began
to scream hysterically, happily, madly.


"Clinton
waved at ME! Looked at ME! Saw ME!" I almost had an epileptic fit. I was
banging the steering wheel, jumping in my seat. I probably almost activated
the air bag. "CLINTON SAW ME! THE MOST FAMOUS AND POWERFUL AND FLAWED MAN
IN THE WORLD WAVED AT ME!"


When we
got back home, I called all the Democrats I know and only got answering machines.
So I left messages all over the country, telling people that I had met my storytelling
role model, Spalding Gray, and then had been waved at by my sexually-troubled-but-survives-after-all
role model, the President. My numerous hyperbolic messages were probably very
annoying to listen to, but I couldn’t help it. I was all full of life and
energy. For me, seeing Clinton, I have to say, was not at all fatiguing.


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