Oct 16, 2005

In the Maine

Lewiston-Auburn, LA, on Sunday: cold, gray, and leaves, the color of good mustard. I pass red lollypop daycare, the fourth degree wives club at the Knights of Columbus and a man outside the St. Marguerite d'Youville paviliion and emergency room, waiting, holding on to his cigarette for dear life. "Hello," is all he can muster. Then a paroxym of coughing.

Dylan and I go to The Slamma, restaurant and catering. Brochure says they deliver: "Driver tipping is appreciated (No tipping over the driver)." The building is painted in Zebra colors and patterns. Customers are dreary-eyed women, nuzzling coffee; men bent over, in the shadows of baseball caps, key chains on their belt loops.

At night, when down every street, in every window, in every darkened room TV screens are lit... at night, and not just on weekend nights, old ladies come in the Slamma, ladies beyond 65. Old ladies without their teeth and they don't care. They're often drunk. You gotta be living here. One of them, a Molly from out on East Street, wanders among the tables talking to the boys from college. "Anya you boys need a blow job?" she wants to know, her eyes going round and round, back and forth like coocoo birds on a clock. "No thanks," the boys say. But then one of them has a second thought. 'Hey, wait a minute. Check that." He's on his mobile to buds. They gotta come down and see this for real. "Any chance of a special on today?" he adds. "I might know somebody..... "

This Molly won't take American Express but she will take humiliation. Any word her way is credit.

The most fun you can ever have in Lewiston is to dream about fucking and drinking. But if you ever actually get to fuck or drink, the fun is already over.

We sit down in the Slamma. Chair upholstery's ripped. I get the Heart Attack Special ("if the food don't kill ya, the price will"). The price is $7.95. Dylan orders the Loaded Bull. Big fat-baby waitress rumbles by. "Hey, customer musta gone to restaurant and tipping school," she says to no one in particular, counting up pennies and dimes in her palm.

"Yea," says another waitress. "But did you tell 'em they gotta do it over and over and over?"

We look at the local paper, in the Sports section. Dylan scored two touchdowns, made a big time clutch catch, caught punts, had more yards than anyone on his team and played both ways. But he doesn't get a mention.

I'm thinking I'd forgotten America, the Sunday paper, fat waitresses, and the rigid, poor world of New England.

We go to the mall. I get a hair cut at Regis'. Blond fake marble, book shelves full of purple and gold shampoo bottles. Girl in long blonde hair tells me I'm hers. She doesn't look happy about it. You wanna take off that pullover, she says. I do, but when it's over my head, while in the blind, I hit one of the other hairdressers standing nearby.

"You like to hit women," the blonde says. "It's okay, I understand."

I laugh, she doesn't. It's not really a joke3. She gives me a shampoo. Her long blonde hair coming down like a tent, and I look up at her face but I can't see her in the dark of her tent. I tell her I would like her to go on for hours. She tells me that in beauty school she learned that she can look at someone's face and see people's masculine and feminine sides. Their shemaleness. She points out that my left eyebrow arches. And there is more gray on that side than the other.

She finishes, towels my head and gets me in the swivel chair. She goes back to her conversation with another dresser. "You gotta leave 'em sometimes otherwise smack 'em upside the head?" says the one I hit. She's got dark red hair, greased up and around, punked out, but her forehead is under big Betty Boop curls.

"Yea, I leave my man whenever I can," says the one I'm with.

Curls bends over to tell me, "I left mine four months ago."

"I bet that got his attention," I say.

"Now he wants to marry me. You think I should?"

"Why not."

"Yea, but I like the attention he gives me now. If I do it, he'll go back to what he is now."

"And that ain't good," says mine.

"No, it ain't good, but I got a kid."

"So," says mine. "You gotta kid. Everybody's got a kid." And then mine leans down and says, real slow, "actually... actually, he's a hell of a good man, a hell of a good father, and there' aren't a lot of those around these days."

"He's a good man. I guess I'll marry him. What else am I doing this weekend."

"You could," mine says. "Hey, we'll have a big party and then you can get divorced next weekend and we'll have another big party, and that's two weekends we won't have to worry about. Hey, I have an old dirty bottle of wine out in the garage...."