The emotional danger I craved came from an abiding attachment, nay an addiction, to smart women. It’s a smart man who realizes that it’s far better to find the punishment that fits his crime than to settle for someone else making it up for him. As I was finding out, the search, was not rewarding because most smart women seemed to prefer insensitive and crass men. And why was this? because such men were tractable and non-threatening. Even the most chauvinist pig was preferable to a smart man. Who knew what a smart man might do, how he might act? No smart woman I knew would consciously complicate her life with some charmingly unpredictable rogue elephant of a boyfriend. Who, after a day of corporate stone killing, needed that?
No, smart women weren’t looking for emotional danger the way I was. They’d already figured out how to navigate through a sea of dullards without going mad. Of course, I didn’t like being treated like an environmental sculpture with a set of balls, but then again, women hadn’t exactly enjoyed being classified by mammary size either. For me the brave new world of self-interest and career neatly mirrored the changes wrought in the culture’s music producing an aural wasteland of horrifying proportions.
Thus the answer to my own personal dilemma lay in the spiritual realm, and I plunged enthusiastically into a cram course in the occult, into ESP, white magic, Tarot, theoretical physics, sacred geometry, Jungian synchronicities, palm reading, and astrology, the whole catastrophe. Through study, I was determined to break through and find enlightenment.
It was one thing to know the ultimate meaning of things, of one’s purpose on the planet, but what did one do about the occasional urgings of the flesh? Those long dark nights of the soul can be lonely. So I talked to a friend who was a little farther along on the Path than I, and she advised me to come to one of her classes in psychic development. Naturally I already knew that the bluish metaphysical funk I found myself in was entirely due to the unbalancing of my own interior forces, but perhaps, I reasoned, this class would offer me a further key to the enlightenment I so desperately sought and there was Maureen.
Her rich mellifluous laugh intrigued me the moment I entered my friend’s apartment. Surely, whoever owned such a giggle could cause a circle of stones to dance. Maureen, the giggle’s owner, was a be-freckled blonde with a frosty blue gaze, a small nose, and slightly bucked teeth, and she radiated an easy charm which immediately overwhelmed me. On the break, I approached her and after class I walked her back to her apartment, a small East Side sublet decorated in modified San Francisco Art Nouveau, circa 1966. She had an extensive paperback occult library, a substantial stock of late 60’s and early 7O’s rock and jazz, and the mandatory scented candles.
Maureen didn’t have to be the Amazing Kreskin to see my metaphysical predicament and soon after our tea and a joint, we found ourselves in bed. If straight sex was any indication of spiritual development, I’d obviously blundered into my nirvana. Not only did Maureen have the most perfect body I’d ever experienced, but she possessed an astonishing capacity to rouse me to sheer heights of sexual ecstasy like Shiva’s double.
After that, we began going out irregularly since anything else was impossible because of her work schedule. “Going out” was a misnomer since most evenings we never even made it to the door of our apartments. God, we must have tried every position in the Kama Sutra cookbook, and nary a sign of fatigue for hours on end. Of course I was hooked, and with a woman who was also on the Path to enlightenment. What better companion could I have?
But as I grew to know Maureen better in our regular irregular encounters, certain other elements of her personality revealed themselves. Really it was my fault for thinking I could have a relationship with one so ethereal, that I was the only one who also viewed her as some exotic psychic/sexual sweet. Eventually I learned that Maureen was the ultimate space cookie to whom all sorts of Psychic waifs gravitated (myself included). She’d go to the park after work for spiritual refreshment and run into soul-mates with whom she just had to forge a connection type-of-thing. In New York City that was a dangerous proposition, but then again, somehow she seemed to be protected by a sort of invisible spiritual shield, or maybe spiritual naivete, I was never quite which.
Of course THAT couldn’t last, and we drifted apart. She stopped showing up for class, was never home when I phoned, etc. Besides, we were covered under the old hippie neologism that said ” Whatever was, was; whatever wasn’t supposed to happen, didn’t.” Either way the cookie crumbled, no one was hurt, no broken bones and no scars. She was a dream I needed to believe in to get over my sickness unto spiritual death, and I continued on the Path, The friend who held the classes convinced me to join a Spiritualist Church. Why not? I was working as a ghost writer, and now it was time to perfect my craft. The highlight of our group’s activity was Institute, a week-long retreat in the Kentucky mountain countryside with other Spiritualist groups from all over the country. The days were taken up by intensive classes in various aspects of the occult, from Tarot to white witchcraft to mediumship to meditation and all points in between. The atmosphere was conducive, the food ample, and the air bracing.
I came with absolutely no expectations of companionship but while registering for classes I was overwhelmed by Candace, a petite blonde with a mischievous air and wonderfully long legs. It took me less than a day to chat her up, and we were inseparable for the remainder of the week. When Institute was over, I was heart broken and returned to Manhattan drained and depressed. Here I had finally met a lovely woman in the spiritual realm who wasn’t a complete space cookie, and she was gone for good, I supposed,
Four hours after I returned she. She was in Manhattan, having hitched in with some friends, could I pick her up? She was leaving for Virginia in a few days.
The next four days were heaven. Here was a woman who had definite accomplishments in the real world, a PhD in Sociology, a small business entrepreneur with a thriving mail order operation, a part-time astrologer and family counselor. I felt at peace for the first time in years, totally serene and composed. Perhaps my long search was at an end, and there’d be no more craziness, just infinite calm. After she left, I floated off into the astral sunset with all my imaginings. No longer would I have to contend with semi-rabid career women punished by dreams of success, or speed demons fed off the heavy metal beat. Hello, spiritual awareness, serenity and beauty, God knows, I deserved it.
I began writing long letters to her immediately for I was inspired. She answered in a small neat hand on lined notepaper printed with her name, or on the blank sides of Hallmark cards. To key in my astral-traveling soul, she included samples of her house wallpaper, so I’d have an idea of her home environment. It was a bit too flowery for my tastes, but then again, how many women did I know who owned homes, much less decorated them? She confided that Rod McKuen had gotten her through some bad times in college an admission which made me inwardly gag, but maybe, I rationalized desperately, perhaps his poems weren’t all that bad, if SHE had been helped thereby.
Finally, I visited her in Louisiana and yes, her taste was a little too flowery but I said nothing to her, thinking everyone has individual tastes, no one’s perfect, especially me. Four months later she showed up with five suitcases and twenty pairs of shoes to play house for a few weeks. Business made this visit brief. The next part of the plan was easy, she’d return to Ocean Beach, sell her house, then come back for good. Meanwhile, would I mind if she forwarded her mail? No problem.
I didn’t want her to leave again, not when I was having such a good time, Don’t worry, darling’, we’ll meet in our dreams, we’ll be together in the spirit, she assured me. Well, the spirit wasn’t exactly what I needed now. Now it was going on for three months and her house was still sitting unsold Don’t worry, dear, be patient, everything will be given if your spirit is willing.
And I believed, Lord, how I believed.
The situation stabilized: she stayed down South, I remained in New York, running up my phone bill and caretaking her closetfull of clothes and shoes. My entire life was on hold, put off indefinitely for two or three week stretches, can’t you be patient, dear? she said. The phone calls became more strained, her letters less intimate, and the Hallmark cards plainer and barer. I always seemed to catch her in the middle of some mysterious business or on her way out the door when I called.
After five months of this, I visited her in Louisiana where she told me that the plan was still in force. The day after I left, she broke her ankle, so, of course, now she wasn’t going anywhere real soon, especially not to a place where one mostly walked.
Institute rolled around again, marking a year of our relationship, but it was a fun house mirror image of the year before. I basted myself in a metaphysical funk as Candace was distant and unresponsive.The classes were boring, teachers unenlightened. To hell with this spiritual syrup, who was I really kidding?
When the inevitable Dear John arrived a few weeks later, I was non-pulsed. How could I be I be angry with a wraith, a stillborn dream. Candace, I rationalized, had been softening me up for months with those Hallmark cards, those “accidental” turns of Fate which kept us apart. I just hadn’t been willing to read the signs correctly, or even see them in the first place.
Of course I was lying to myself. I bled, I gushed in fact, but the wounds were ethereal, the stuff of spiritual relationships. No wonder they possessed such charm for New Age types, the macrobiotic munchkins who shopped around in the metaphysical supermarkets from Morocco to Madras to Maui to Marin, spiritual love was a little like tofu, just a bit of a dream. It was easy for Candace and me to love each other under those circumstances, to stage our nocturnal etheric visitations because no real-time investment was ever required or demanded.
It wasn’t the spiritual love Not that spiritual love was possible, but somehow it seems to work only with someone in college, and you both had to be virgins. Spiritual love is a little like falling in love with a beautiful mute woman: There’s always the danger she’d learn how to speak and sound like a stevedore. Men are capable of talking themselves into believing anything, especially about a beautiful mute woman too.
So, maybe I am crazy after all, I, and not the women I’ve known. If I weren’t addicted to crazy ladies, I’d probably live longer with the good girl I should have but can’t stand. A good woman or a smart one has always been my choice. The good ones bore me, but though the smart ones hurt me, but also give me insight and the little white scars by which to remember them.
Let other men settle for the predictable, they don’t know what
life’s about. I may jangle a bit when I walk, and the rain makes my
joints ache, but it’s a burden I’ll gladly bear. Besides, there’s a
whole world of crazy ladies waiting to be discovered.