My problem with relationships is I never end up with the women I really want, and the women I end up with always end up being trouble, even the ones who seem like the good ones. But something tells me that even if I had ended up with one of the ones I really wanted, they’d have all ended up being trouble, also. Maybe it’s me that’s trouble. Who knows? The one woman who seemed to break that mold somewhat was Janis. Oh, she was definitely trouble in some ways, but she never really broke my heart. And she was always honest with me.
Anyway, we had sex regularly over the next several months. Our relationship was basically talking about literature, listening to music, drinking lots of alcohol and smoking plenty of weed, and having lots of sex. She also loved finding ways to financially beat the system. I don’t think it was so much because she needed money; she came from a pretty well-off family from the DC suburbs. I think she just got a kick out of it.
There was one time when City Paper had those McDonald’s Monopoly pieces in them, and we went around the city taking them out of those free paper boxes. We took thousands of those pieces and collected all the free food winners. We ended up eating off those for weeks. Pretty good for a couple of college students who were sick of dorm food. This was before Super Size Me came out, mind you.
She also scalped tickets, and we often went to some good shows together. One show in particular was Morphine at the 9:30 Club in DC. I remember waiting outside with her while she waited to scalp the two extra tickets she got, the proceeds of which would buy us four tickets to our next show, and she’d do the same at that show, so it would basically amount to us getting paid money to go to free shows.
Morphine was an awesome show, with Mark Sandman playing bass and singing with Dana Colley on sax and Billy Conway on drums. Sandman would die a few years later of a heart attack while performing. It was an awesome show and I remember dancing right in front of Sandman with Janis through most of it while they played their dark, jazzy brand of rock. I also remember seeing dozens of girls throwing folded up papers, probably with phone numbers, onto the stage. This was long before my own personal experience with the drug that was the band’s namesake.
Janis also introduced me to the Jazz Communist Coffee House, a place where I’d meet many friends and do many poetry readings and music shows through the years. It was also the birthplace of the Emily’s Flame Poetry Workshop, a group that still gets together from time to time to write and share poetry. The times I went with Janis, it was just a non-descript coffee house and bookstore, though I think I vaguely remember maybe seeing a poetry reading with Louise Chambers and Jamie Hart, who’d go on to become a good friend of mine later (and whose cousin, now also a good friend, may just be reading this right now).
Janis and I had a lot of fun together through the end of my freshman year, but there’s one night with her that stands out in particular, though I remember very little of it. I do, however, remember the aftermath.
The night’s very hazy now, partially because my memory’s not so good anymore, partially because of all the drugs I was doing back then, and partially because I know for a fact that I blacked out at one point.
It all started the same way lots of my nights from that period started. Smoking weed with Janis and drinking, sometimes with my friends Nick and Buddha, sometimes my roommates, sometimes her friends Maggie (her roommate) and Rose, sometimes others. We’d drink and smoke and sometimes Janis and I would go out to that one bar where she could buy me drinks without me being carded. Who knows what the hell happened that night? I just know I got trashed out of my mind and blacked out.
When I came through, I was sprawled out naked on the floor in Janis’ dorm room. “You left the seat up again,” Janis said with a grin.
“You don’t want us to fall in the toilet, do you?” Maggie asked with a chuckle.
You always learn things from relationships. From this one, I learned not to leave the seat up after you pee if there are ladies present. I grew up with just an older brother and my mom never said anything. “Argh.” I ran into the bathroom, threw the seat up, and started vomiting. I’m sure I left it up and heard about it again.
On top of being sick and my head killing me, the usual hangover stuff, I had massive rug burn marks on my knees. “What the fuck?”
“Bye, love,” Maggie said to Janis on her way out. She winked at me. “Legendary.” And she shut the door and left.
I was sitting on the floor looking at my rug burnt knees. Janis was standing over me with a shit-eating grin on her face. “That was amazing. The best night of my life.”
“What the fuck?” My head was killing me, and my rug burn was burning. “What the fuckity fuck?”
“All night,” Janis said. “Hours and hours.”
I shook my head. “What did we do?”
“What do you think we did?” Janis asked.
I looked at my knees again. “I have no fucking clue. What happened?”
She sat in front of me, kissed me, and smiled. “It was amazing. That’s all you need to know.”
“Well, I’d like to know.” If nothing else, I wanted to make sure I could do it again someday if it had been so amazing.
She changed the subject, probably to books and poetry or something, and we went to the cafeteria or whatever they call it in college for breakfast. I always tried to kill hangovers by eating. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t.
We sat with Maggie, Rose, Rose’s boyfriend Adam (I can’t remember his real name but hopefully that’s not it- if so, sorry Adam), and one or two other people I don’t remember. At breakfast, we always liked to play the penis game.
The penis game entailed each of us taking turns saying the word “penis,” but each person had to say it progressively louder than the last. Until the last person screams it at the top of their lungs and everyone in the cafeteria looks at them like they’re insane.
So, my memory isn’t great these days, like I said, but I distinctly remember getting a lot of interesting looks from Rose and Maggie during breakfast, and Janis was holding my hand a lot and cuddling and getting closer than usual it seemed.
Later that day, I was hanging out with Nick, my best friend since the fifth grade and partner in crime who happened to go to college with me my first time around. We were probably listening to The Rolling Stones and smoking weed like we did often. He grinned his sly grin. “So, Jerry. I heard some talk.”
“What about?” I was intrigued.
“We’ll, apparently you’re legendary.”
“What the fuck?”
He chuckled. “So, what all did you do?”
“I have no idea,” I said. “I blacked out the whole time.” Apparently, Janis’ suite mate, who was Buddha’s close friend and crush, had overheard something and now word had spread throughout the dorm building. Word of what, I had no idea. Nick assumed it was a size thing and that started a whole other rumor frenzy. Apparently now I was the sex symbol of our dorm building and what sucked was I had no idea why or how, and I’d never find out.
What I have learned over the years, though, and guys pay close attention to this (though I imagine most already know this if they've gotten laid a few times), is that you always put the woman first. Communicate, do what she likes and what she wants, and always make sure she has an orgasm before you do (unless of course you can hit the simultaneous/shared orgasm - more on that in another story). It’s a lot easier for you to have one than it is for her, so learn to hold it. Other than that, though, I still have no idea what happened that night. I guess maybe in some ways, it’s better that I don’t know.
So, I dated Janis through the rest of the semester, and we still dated for a little while after she graduated, but she got a DUI and that changed everything. She started going to AA meetings and then we had a “talk.” I remember we were sitting on a bench in the university courtyard, in front of the table where they were giving out free condoms.
“I think we should just be friends now,” she said, looking at the sidewalk. “I still love you and all, but we’re in different places in life.”
“Okay,” I said. “Can we still have sex?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
And that was that. We didn’t really talk after that. I wasn’t angry or even all that upset. I think she either found somebody in AA or decided since I was still a raging alcoholic and a druggy, it probably wasn’t in her best interest to associate with me anymore. She’s probably married and has kids now. I wouldn’t know. I never really looked her up.
It would be several years, almost a decade before I’d have my own DUI and life-changing moment, and it would be pretty much just as long before I’d have a significant girlfriend again. I’ll always remember Janis, though.
My grades were awful that semester between all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. My parents weren’t too happy, so they pulled me out of the dorms and made me live with them. I hated commuting, but I managed to make the best of it, visiting Nick and Buddha as much as possible, and later my friend Jimmy, who transferred over from some school in Ohio. Jimmy would go on to literally save my life a few times and he’s perhaps my closest friend now, but those are all stories for future entries. Anyway, even though I was commuting, I still managed to do plenty of drugs, and I started going to lots of raves. That was back when raves and electronic music were booming in the mid-nineties.
Still, commuting affected my relationships since I couldn’t spend as much time on campus as I had when I actually lived there, and I partially blame that as at least one reason why I didn’t have a girlfriend the rest of my time at that university. I’d transfer to another school after my sophomore year, one where I told my parents they had a better English department, but it was also a major party school, and I knew I’d be back in the dorms since it wasn’t right down the street from my parents’ house.
Next, though, I’ll go back to my freshman year a bit. My experiences with LSD are definitely worth writing about. I did way too much of it and would never recommend what I did to anyone as I’m probably legally insane now many times over, but it was a formative time in my life, especially when it came to my creativity and my development of my rebel soul and my countercultural lifestyle.