In this house we believe dog prozac works on humans and sitting in one “Italian Restaurant and Bar” can sit you in every Italian restaurant in the world and the world may be hole sized but it’s only sphere deep. I want to be in an Italian restaurant and bar because some girl sleepwalked into my room like I used to go everywhere, always. But that won’t happen for years. I’m 31 but I’m still 22 and I’m in the little version of Italy and I can’t remember how I got here.
The trick to controlling your dreams is to realize you’re dreaming. The trick to realizing you’re dreaming is to not remember how you got there. But I walked right through the doorway like a ring, like a glory hole, like the kind of love you don’t have to wear a ring about. Tourists, white jeans, the same line every time, “Food! Food! Are you looking for food or just me, glorious?” I say, “Please sir, can I have some more?” But New York has too much culture not to take everything at face value so instead of getting confused he just ignores me.
Back home, Dr. Oz is running for Senate. The way other celebrities do after they’ve decided they are right, they have no other choice, that people have known them forever. But we’re too far left to have to be anything anymore, even right. You, or perhaps you’re just my boyfriend now, said maybe the difference between feeling real and not feeling real is just that we used to dance in some theater inside because we were alone, but now we just sign up for dance classes and won’t ever go. I said something about how I’ve always been nothing and you said “Let's get creative” which in our world means, “Let's stay together.” Your face changes so fast that some joke about castles made of glass or how money is like shit in a sewer... It’s not. Shit becomes one thing, money is like the new picture of all the stars, clearer than ever, distinct and separate, and we all pretend to have any feelings about them.
Dr. Oz is running for senate even after what he did to Shelley Duvall, broadcast how The Magical Mystery Theater maybe just looked like her world now. I dressed up as Shelley Duvall for Halloween. My costume was just saying, “Hi, I’m Shelley Duvall.” I was lazy from being in my own world. I’m loyal from my dog’s prozac.
In this “Italian Restaurant and Bar” I tell a man I’m scared. Of the country’s middle, specifically. He says to hold my fear with God. “It’s about always holding him and sharing him. Like the Mormons. The Mormons are beautiful” I say no. That, “Mormonism is built for a remote environment and cannot function in a missionary way in larger places. With all the drug abuse and sexual misconduct charges and how Black people were sent to Hell first....”
He just waves his hands and says God is above all that. “You’re down here and God is way up there.” I say more things again. Then I ask why God can’t be in your heart while also engaging, in a way that makes the world more like its spiritual undercurrent if nothing else. But I wonder why I can’t dance when I sign up for classes. They are supposed to make you better.
He’s obtuse. “God is love.” I ask him about Gay people. I repeat myself. He’s learned to love his gay friends for ten years. They were tricked. God sent down two angels and said no, take my daughters instead, do all these horrible things to them instead. I ask him what he believes, not what the bible says. He says it’s like raping angels. I say I’m going to the bathroom.
In the hallway the boys cut lines on one boy’s holographic sunglasses and the others take off their own using the ear stems to snort the piles. This is the only time they see each other's eyes. A man who looks like one of the Angels in America stands by the bathroom. The magazines aren’t reclaiming beauty anymore. I just look at his face. He says, “You were talking to my friend.”
“You mean your friend who was explaining the biblical rationale for homophobia?”
He doubles, laughing.
“Oh you really went deep with him.” He asks if I saw that his friend was all alone up there. He says solitude is the only way he can relate to himself too. I say “Just because people give life meaning doesn’t mean they’re not a distraction.” He says I look too young to know that. I have my whole life ahead of me. I should get more naive.
“Yeah, I think that’s fucking me up.”
He asks me if I think I’m a genius and I pause.
He doubles. “Well do you?”
“I think I’m better at tricking people into believing I am than most people, and that's all that really matters anymore.” Diplomatic. What is a nice young girl like you doing in a place like this? Hi, I’m Shelley Duvall.
He considers this. “So it’s more of a delusion of grandeur.”
“Wait, wait, are we talking about my delusions of grandeur or my delusions of the end of the world?” There are four or eight of him now. I say, “The world has already ended. Six, no not six years…”
“We are in agreement”
“Eight years ago instead of pictures of the concept, meaning itself was corrupted.”
“And this explains what?”
“I figure if the world is all projections of meaning on a false idol, what can’t it be me.”
He considers this gravely. “And you live near here?”
He suggests we go there and not be too serious. I’m loyal but I’d rather have a friend who lies to himself. There would be less space for him to lie to me.
He walks outside to hail a cab while I pay my dues and his friend, a missionary sent to the little Italy, reappears, and asks me for a hug. The missionary might preach to an empty theater, but he cries there too.
In the cab I wonder if our escort can recline all the way or if he’s blocked by the one way glass for prisoners and dogs. We pass by cars with bumper stickers reading “I’d rather be HERE NOW” and bigger cars that say “I’d rather be fishing”, with people inside who are HERE NOW enough to wish they were somewhere else. It’s all just the difference between reaching out at grabbing, between meaning it and having no other choice. I tell him to just pull over.
Dr. Oz can’t win. In this house we believe me when my pants are unzipped. I click my heels together. It feels good like an oil twister in water. I’ve been rescued from every “Italian Restaurant and Bar” in Kansas. His head looks like the side of a mugshot the wall sees. I’m beautiful from my dog's pills. I’m beautiful when I imagine what his faces looks like instead of learning how they feel.
When I get home you are walking in a circle trampling down the carpet to prepare it as a bed. That man was just another scarecrow in a field but I won’t miss him most of all. My boyfriend takes my face in his hands and I know you’re inside him, asleep again.
But you say something that reminds me all men do not know each other. That the inside of one man’s mouth can not sit you inside the mouth of every man in the world. In this house we still believe. You say something or other while your face gets so clear that it reminds me of a high quality picture of the stars and other things that actually mean something too... and I can’t remember what it is.
You can find Skylar in NYC.