My grandfather was the noted writer Morley Callaghan, he who cavorted with Hemingway in Paris, not his son who cavorted with my mother. Grandpa told me that you should never let truth get in the way of a good story. Lying is the most human of endeavors. It’s what separates us from the animal kingdom. Nature is never deceitful. So why do we lie? Exaggerate? Invent? I believe that we lie to furnish this awful existence we have been thrown in with something more edifying than pain and suffering. We have outgrown reality. And if God is dead as any rational creature must admit then what other purpose do we have on earth but to entertain each other? Let us while away our last hours as amiably as possible. America’s gift to history is the late night talk show. The end of time arrives in one liners and snappy rejoinders. Did I say Morley Callaghan was my grandfather? I lied.
Did I tell you about the time I met the Beach Boys? It was l969. That does date me, doesn’t it? The Holiday Inn on Riverside Drive had just opened a few weeks earlier and me and Sandra, a college friend, decided to try out the bar, not that we normally cruised bars but everything new in Windsor had to he tried out at least once. Living in Windsor was like waiting for a bus in a bus terminal. Every time a bus pulled into the station you had to check it out, not because you thought it was your bus but because there was nothing else to do.
We were having a drink when Sandra noticed the Beach Boys and their retinue at a booth in the corner of the room. One of their roadies came over and asked us if we wanted to join them in a drink. We accepted. Brian Wilson, the sad genius of the group, sat across from me. He was so drunk that they lodged him between two of his brothers for support. While his brothers had these great tans, Brian was pale. He looked like the blood had been drained right out of him. A double order of drinks were placed in front of us. It was eerie. All these guys at the table staring at us in silence. They were in a hurry to get us drunk.
Sandra piped up. “What shall we talk about?”
“How about sex?” one of the roadies piped up.
I looked at Brian. His eyes were glazed over like he was buried alive inside his body.
“Wouldn’t you like to tell your friends that you slept with the Beach Boys?” one of the Wilson brothers added. I don’t know which brother it was. They all looked the same to me but I think it was the one who later drowned.
I leaned over the table and tapped on Brian’s forehead.
“Anyone home?” I asked.
Do you ever get the impression that someone is putting words in your mouth? Do you ever get the impression that you’re not communicating what you feel, that language conspires to misrepresent you, that someone else is writing your story? When the Indians first saw the camera they thought the photographer was stealing their soul. This is what truth is like. Truth is universal. Lying is personal. When you tell people what happened, the facts as they say, then you’re nothing more than a recorder. Your story is kidnapped. It’s like everyone else’s. You get up in the morning. You go to work or school, come home, eat, watch a little television, and go to bed. Everyone does that. A brief synopsis of life: you’re born, you die.
I went to a Lancer basketball game at St. Dens Hall one time. After the game a gang of us tripped on down to the Bridge House. The place was packed. I was sitting with a group of students at one table in the middle of the room. The table was filled with beer. The juke box was loud. Everyone talked at the same time. I was bored to death. This guy Miles was trying to hit on me. He was boring.
“I can hardly hear you,” Miles screamed in my ear.
“My mother killed herself!” I cried.
Miles mouth dropped.
“Jesus! That’s terrible!”
I looked away. A tear ran down my cheek, I struggled to my feet and fought my way out of the room. When Miles reached me outside I was leaning against a wall smoking a cigarette. I turned to Miles and smiled.
“Could we go back to your place?” I thought we could do some smoke. Maybe he’d have some records we could listen to. I wanted to get blitzed.
“I live with my parents,” he confessed.
I dropped my cigarette to the sidewalk and ground it out.
“Shit! This is so fucking boring! Take me home!”
“I don’t have a car,” he sighed.
I hate people who are deep. I prefer shallow surface types. They’re honest. What do intellectuals think about that is of any consequence? The university is filled with intellectuals whom no one has ever heard of and probably never will. Thinking is a grave dull minds bury themselves in. I consider someone intelligent who can make me laugh not someone who understands the Theory of Relativity. Think of all the time and effort intellectuals spent trying to understand how the sun revolved around the earth only to find out centuries later that they were wrong. Science is the continual project to discover how stupid we have been. That is not smart. Making money is never stupid. You always have something to show for your efforts.
Not every one appreciates it when you entertain them. I remember one evening in residence when a bunch of us girls were sitting around getting drunk. Marie, a girl from an upper class well heeled family whose wardrobe consisted of jeans and plaid shirts sat Buddha like on the bed. I knew something was coming my way when she butted out her cigarette then picked up the bottle.of wine and refilled all the styrofoam cups of the girls in the room. Here it comes, I said to myself.
“Why do you keep telling those stories?” Marie asked.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“Like the story you told me the first day you were in residence,” O’Hara cried. “That your step-father molested you and you couldn’t have children.”
I laughed. “Just having fun.”
“I wasn’t laughing,” O’Hara responded.
“And,” Marie added, “that story you told Miles Bancroft about your mother committing suicide. Sherry thinks you were trying to get Miles sympathy so that you could seduce him.”
“Don’t be silly,” I smiled, sipping my wine. “Miles isn’t my type. He’s too short.”
“You’re getting quite a reputation, Jacqueline. You aren’t Morley Callaghan’s granddaughter. All those stories about the Beach Boys…”
“I really met the Beach Boys…”
“But who can believe you, Jacqueline?”
I took a cigarette out of the pack on the window sill and lit one up.
“You know,” Marie added, “a girl that looks as good as you, Jacqueline, doesn’t have to lie to get attention. Guys would flock to you anyway.”
“You think so?”
“Absolutely!” Marie cried.
A tear came to my eye. I wiped it away.
“God,” I sniffled. “It’s so great to have friends like you. Someone to set a girl straight.”
O’Hara rolled off her chair onto the floor, laughing. They all started to laugh. I didn’t find it funny. I hate it when people see right through me.
Did I tell you about the time I met Frank Zappa? The Mothers of Invention were playing in Toronto at Massey Hall. Is the place really named after a tractor? I have a friend, Jack Sirdevan, who worked as an usher in the Hall. He brought me to Frank’s dressing room between shows. Frank was sitting in a chair, chain smoking, staring into space. Frank looked up at me with those surly wicked eyes. I told him I admired his music; a dumb remark but what else was I supposed to say?
“You know a lot about music?” Frank asked. Was he being sarcastic or just mean spirited?
“I know what I like,” I replied. “I like your sense of humor. Contemporary music is much too serious.”
Actually I couldn’t stand the Mothers’ music. It didn’t make any sense. Frank looked up at me, patted the chair beside him, and dismissed my friend Jack. I sat down. I was wearing a mini skirt, about eight inches above my knees and I could see his eyes drinking in my legs.
“This is so fucking boring,” Frank muttered, offering me a cigarette and then a light.
“Waiting?” I asked.
He nodded, than put his hand, the one with the cigarette between his fingers, on my knee.
“People spend half their lives in cues, waiting. Waiting for what?”
I smiled, and patted Frank’s hand, the one on my knee.
“I didn’t come back here Mr. Zappa to get fucked.”
Frank laughed, removed his hand, and leaned back in his chair.
“Why did you come back here?”
“I told you; I like your music.”
Frank blew some smoke rings.
“You’re a very beautiful girl. You want to go back to L.A. with me?”
Okay, it wasn’t Frank Zappa. But it was some rock star. Who can remember all these one hit head bashing heavy metal types? I don’t feel guilty for lying. It’s not like I killed anyone. I saw a photograph of Mussoline and his mistress after they had been executed, after the mob had their way with their corpses. Meat on a rope. Isn’t that what it all comes down to? All that pomp and arrogance and power and they end up like shishkebobs. All those awful pictures of bodies being ploughed into mass graves. It’s fascinating because they treat humanity like an infection of salmonella. What else are we?
I was once introduced to Charlie Manson by Carl Wilson at a party in L.A. He was funny. I’ll bet even Hitler cracked the odd joke. He certainly had the face for comedy. At the same party I met the Maharashi, a fat silly man with a tiny giggling voice. He told me in confidence that his mother had wanted him to become a dentist. All these celebrities had one thing in common. They were all full of bullshit. Not an honest person in the lot. Honest people are just so much furniture in this world. They don’t even get good speaking parts. History is written by liars about liars.
My hands are getting so ragged. I used to have such lovely skin. Boys used to agree with anything I said, undergo any humiliation, laugh at any of my jokes, just for the opportunity to touch my skin. Brian used to go off like a firecracker as soon as my fingers touched his Johnson. He said it was my skin. Kevin told me that my pussy was like the lining of a mink coat. Men are so much more amusing when they are in a state of semi-arousal. I love it when they beg me to take it out. I like getting a guy angry, right on the edge of violence, then cooling him out, Men expect this kind of treatment from beautiful women. I love to see sweat running down a man’s temples, to see that look in his eyes of pleasure bordering on exhaustion. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have a man go off inside you at the same time as he is having a stroke. That would be such a high.
I met Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa one evening when I was skating down the canal. He was out alone. I fell and he helped me up. There was a look of such boyish promise in his eyes that I couldn’t help but speculate what he might be like in bed. After he helped me to a bench, we talked. Actually I did most of the talking and he the listening. We had been talking for some time when it began to snow, softly at first but soon it had built itself into a storm. We headed back to a nearby bridge for cover but somehow got separated. I think that in his dreams Pierre might still be out there now looking for me.
You don’t believe me. How can I always be in control in these stories? There was one boy who had complete control over me. He was so beautiful. I was sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch when a boy stepped up to the table. I looked up. Michael had a page boy haircut, pale milk skin, and the loveliest blue eyes. He was holding a lunch tray in his hands. He asked if he could join me. We introduced ourselves. Michael monopolized the conversation. He was like a drunk behind the wheel, his conversation winding back and forth over an assortment of topics, dropping one line of thought to start a new one, only to pick up the other line a few moments later. I found Michael exhausting and exhilarating at the same.
Michael was beautiful like my father. It used to drive my mother crazy that all the women were chasing him, to find out what gave his hair such body, how he kept his skin so smooth, what they could possibly do to keep their tummies so taut. It turned me on to see everyone watching Michael and I as we crossed the campus hand in hand, or lay on the grass in front of the administration building fondling each other. Michael was well read, everything from Nietzsche to Carlyle, Eliade to Ezra Pound. No matter the argument, no matter what the topic of conversation, Michael could sit down and hold his own. And his interests were so diversified, from opera to local politics, cubism to chile recipes. And Michael was a wonderful lover. He taught me how to draw out my orgasm, how to make it last for hours, and how to make the man in my life bless each moment between my legs. Michael was exhausting, never semed to need sleep, could hardly sit still to eat, but he had one major weakness. Michael hated to be bored.
Life was entertainment for Michael. When I slept over at Michael’s he would wait until his roommate, Tim, had bedded down before we made love. He would take me from behind while waving to Tim across the darkened room. It was humiliating. When I protested, he told me it was fun and that’s what sex was all about. And then he started taking pictures of me with his Polaroid. I felt awkward at first but Michael convinced me that I shouldn’t he ashamed of my body.
Michael was becoming increasingly bored and when he became bored he invented new ways to excite himself. One late night he went down on me between the rows of books on the top floor of the library. Another afternoon we did it in the men’s washroom of the Bridge House. And then one day he showed me his photo album, filled with naked girls he had slept with. I recognized my girl friend, Gail. I tried to tear the album out of his hands. He laughed. I hit him, punched and kicked him then broke down in tears. Michael kept laughing. And then, well the rest is too humiliating. After that Michael tired of me, he preferred drugs. As Michael experimented with more and different drugs, I found myself increasingly alone. Drugs did not interest me; they made me feel out of control. One day I came home and I found Michael on the can, a needle hanging out of his arm. He just sat there with this smirk on his face. A fly landed on his chin. He still smiled. It crawled along his lip and then up one nasal passage and out the other.
After Michael’s death I don’t remember much, just sitting here in this institution killing time, waiting for it all to end. I still like to think I have my looks. They treat us really well here. The food is excellent. Did I tell you that Princess Diana came to visit us last week?