Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Asshole Factor: Part One of a Series

A client who has known me for almost five years,
(And by ‘known’ I mean conjugally and otherwise)
is refusing to go into the ‘other room’ until we sort out the latest mess I’m in.

(Throughout those five years, because he cares,
and probably because he likes to live a bit vicariously through me,
he has been aware of my many financial mishaps.)

He is now proclaiming, all of which are mostly my fault, but only do to my ‘Achilles Heel."
Unaware that I had one, he goes on to elaborate and clarifies:

"You think everyone in the world is like you and they’re just not, Geisha. When are you going to learn? They’re just not."

"What did I do wrong. Tell me. I look everything over. I try to anticipate every detail. What?"

"Actually you do. You do. Except for one thing. The same thing each time."

"Are you mad at me?"

"I’m not mad at you. Technically, it’s not even my business. I’m frustrated. I get scared for you. It’s probably none of my business."

"No. I like that you care. I do. It’s your business cause I tell you about it."

He sighs.

"So I have an Achilles Heel."

"You do."

"What is it?"
"Just what I said. You think the world sees things the way you do."


"The Asshole Factor."

"Okay. I don’t know if I would have phrased it that way, but yes. You fail to take into account the possibility of someone being an Asshole. T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted but there is still the loop-hole that some jerk is gonna screw you because he’s an Asshole and he can."


"Not every time."

"Every time."

"Not every time. Come on."

"What about that Photographer?’

"Who? Valentino? Okay. Yes. I didn’t plan on "the Asshole Factor" in that instance."
(You read about that one in an earlier blog.)

"And the Restaurant fiasco?"

"Oh Right. But how could I foresee that? The man pooped in front of me. If a man poops in front of you, you naturally assume he has nothing to hide."

"See, I would have closed the door on him in the first place."

"Whatever, but you have to admit, if someone starts taking a poo in front of you, he seems pretty open. Doesn’t he?’

"I don’t. You do."

He’s talking about Jerry Umberto.

The Asshole Factor: Part One.
Case: "Jerry Umberto".

I met Jerry, a tall, blonde, square-faced, dimpled-cheeked, retired South-paw Minor League Pitcher, now Investor and Marathon Runner at a bar while I was baby-sitting an alcoholic client.
As my Client throws darts, falls on the floor and splits the felt on the Billiard table, I sit on a high bar stool as Jerry, with unparalleled vibrancy, charmingly pulls cigarettes out from behind my ears and wows me with Magic tricks involving bar napkins.
Compared to my drunken client, Jerry is a Prince.
We exchange numbers and I leave, carrying my client on one shoulder out into the snowy night.

Jerry calls and we begin a relationship.
He doesn't know what I do for a living and curiously never asks.
He's Norwegian (and here’s a little known fact about Norwegian men: they tend to have enormous amounts of body hair—albeit blonde, but hairy all over none-the-less.)
As Jerry is quite vain, his habit is to shave the hair—everywhere. On his chest, his back, his upper arms. This would be okay except that when it grows back it's like the stubble of a wiry rat and leaves me with unusual and unexplainable scratch marks all over my body.

He calls at all hours of the day and evening and if I'm free, he shows up at my apartment, always on Roller Blades and always chock full of the energy of a toddler. I feel like an old lazy fat blimp in his company.

So why do I continue?
Because I too am vain. Jerry was possibly the best looking man I had ever seen.
And yes, just like I get down on men for falling for the stupid gorgeous models, I too fall prey.

And then we sleep together.
Let me preface this by saying that I have slept, (surprise!) with many, many, many many many, many many many many many many and even many men.

And of all the men that I have slept with, Jerry is the worst.
That is a long list to be on the bottom of.
And still I stay.
Because the morning after we slept together, Jerry went into my bathroom, with the New York Times and a cup of coffee and sat on my toilet with the door open, taking a poo and chatting lightly with me about the day’s topics.

Okay. You’re right. There are at least two ways to react.
One would be: EEEUUUUWWW!
And the other would be: Huh. He’s so open. So trusting. I never met anyone like this before.

Unfortunately, due to my Achilles Heel, I fell into the latter reaction.

A few weeks passed and I began to see sides of Jerry that I wasn’t so fond of.
Side One: every bar or restaurant or store in all of New York City, that we happened to go into together, there was a waitress, or a barmaid, or a clerk that gave Jerry a ‘hello’, which translated to: ‘so you didn’t call me and now this is your newest piece?’.
Side Two: every bar or restaurant or store in all of New York City that we happened to patronize together, Jerry would order and pay but in the meantime, eat most of my meal, drink most of my wine or use whatever it was we purchased. Without even asking.
Side Three: Jerry is always late. Not just a little late. But at least half-hour to an hour and a half late. Without a call. Nothing.
Side Four: Jerry is selfish and cheap. After spending the night at his million-dollar loft in Tri-be-ca, he walks me out into a blizzard. We kiss at the corner. His home is a twenty-dollar cab fare from mine. The subway is blocks away and my footwear is taken by surprise by the weather.

"Do you have enough to get home?" he asks.

I look in my purse. I don’t.

He reaches into his jeans and pulls out a subway token. Then blows me a kiss, hunches his shoulders against the wind and runs back inside.

Jerry is entitled.
He has always been entitled.
He is the fair-haired, good-looking, luck-always-on-his-side child of the Universe.
And most beloved child of his mother.

Taking a trip out a family-gathering at his mother’s home in Long Island for his sister’s birthday,
in the car, on the way, I, of course, unexpectedly, get my period and need a Tampon ASAP.
Instead of parking close by in the Parking Garage,
(which would put a dent in his millions to the tune of about thirty dollars,)
he chooses to park seven blocks away.

From there, we trudge, or rather he gracefully glides and I trudge, blood running down my legs, on the icy snow to the house.

Upon arrival, he leaves me with the embarrassing task of asking his sister, who is still a stranger to me, for a Tampon, causing her much grief. Seems she was planning to announce her ‘new pregnancy’ at dinner and is now forced to proclaim it early, as she has no other reason for not having Tampons on hand.

After an eye-opening dinner where I witness the fawning of his mother over her Hamlet-esc son, Jerry leaves me alone with his family as he snores on the futon.
As he sleeps, and we all watch the prodigal son with adoration in our eyes, his sister says quite simply:

"I’m sorry you won’t be around. I like you. Don’t you like her?"

"I do too." Her husband replies.

Nervous laugh from me. "Why won’t I be around?"

The entire family passes around furtive, clubhouse looks to one another.

"I guess you don’t know Jerry too well."

"I think I do. We’ve been together a few months and things are going well so far."

More secretive glances.

"We like you. We hope it works out."

"Why wouldn’t it?"

"You’re the Flavor of the Month. Of the Months. Jerry doesn’t hold on to one person too long. Don’t worry. It’s nothing personal."

But I do stay around. Another Month goes by.
I am packing. Jerry is still sleeping in my bed after another night of putrid sex.
I had tried the night before to introduce him to some sensuality.
Half-way through, he gets bored, climbs on top of me and pounds me, as I brace myself on all four bed posts, until I’m a flattened hieroglyphic on the headboard.

I am off to LA for several months. Landed a role in a film.
Jerry thinks this is ‘so cool’. He likes the Rich and Famous. Wants to be one.
He tells me to get a big suite and rent a fancy car. He will join me in two days and pay for the upgrades when he arrives.
I do.

Two days pass.
No call from Jerry.
I leave him voicemail after voicemail telling him where I am and asking when his plane arrives so I can meet him.
No return call.
Finally I call his partner who hates me because I’m not a model and he feels Jerry could ‘do better’.
Oddly enough, he and his partner share the same birthday. Both Libra’s.

"Jerry’s not here."

"No. I know. I just wondered if you knew what flight he was on to LA cause I’m supposed to meet him at the airport.

"He’s not here. He’s not going to LA. He’s in Colorado."

"Colorado? For business? Did something come up?"


"Oh. Well he was supposed to come to LA. What’s he doing in Colorado?"

"Snow boarding.""He’s in Colorado snowboarding?"

"That’s what I said."

"Oh. Do you know if he’s coming to LA after that?"

"Not that I know of."

"Oh. Do you know if he has his cellphone with him because I’ve been leaving messages but—"

"Gotta go."

I’m not furious.
Okay I’m furious.
But not at first.
At first I’m suicidal.
I can’t understand what I must be, who I must be, that a man would do that to me.
I must be so completely and utterly worthless. Completely and utterly forgettable. Completely and utterly disposable, that this would be possible.
I am saved from self-destruction by the film. I get to act—poorly—but act none-the-less.
And, in a fluky moment, I even get to write a scene that gets used.
My artistic soul triumphs over the wailing woman.
I go home revived and ready for battle.

In the candle-lit soaring ceiling bar at Park Avalon where Jerry has fucked at least three barmaids as far as I can tell, we meet for a drink.
With me is a brown Macy’s shopping bag full of all his supplies left in my New York apartment—everything from his razor to his alarm clock.
I sip my wine and push the bag to his knee.

"Aw C’mon. Don’t be mad. Why are you mad?"

He has to ask?

"Jerry, you, you, and I was there, and you said, and then I was, UGH! Argh! Forget it. Forget it. If you have to ask. You know what? Just forget it. Here’s your stuff."

He takes my hand.

"C’mon (charming, dimpled smile) Big H. C’mon."

And that’s another thing I hated. He was always calling me ‘Big H" as in my last name.

Who calls a woman he’s romantic with, not only by their last name, or rather not even by their last name, but by the initial? There’s something bizarrely distancing about it.

Duh? Right? Took me long enough.

But it doesn’t end there.
Of course I vow never to speak to him again.
But Jerry is entitled, remember?
He can’t fathom that he is not wanted.
And so he calls.
He calls about three times a year. Just to ‘check-in’ I guess.

"Hey! Big ‘H’! It’s Jerr! What’s shakin’?"

"Hi Jerry. Not much. What about you?"

"I’m doing this—buying this—made millions on this—venturing into this—datin’ a model—she smokes but she got to stay thin so hey! So hey! Big H?"


"Wanted to ask you somethin’"


"You know so-and-so?" (One of my girlfriends who is now famous as an actress. Usually one who is tall and blonde.)

"Um-hmm.""Can you do an old friend a favor?"

"I don’t know. What’s the favor?"

"Can you tell her about me? Big entrepreneur. Rich. Good looking. Ex-Baseball Star. Speaks fluent Japanese."

"You want to be fixed up?"

God I hate him!
Never once apologized. Never once saw someone like me worth an apology. I’m not tall, blonde, a model, or famous.

"I’ll put in a word."

"Hey. Big H. You’re the best."

"No problem."

Years go by.
I have to go out to LA.
Jerry is living there.
By chance he calls a few weeks before my departure.
Offers me his extra room to stay in.
I have no where else to stay and the hotels are quite pricey.
I take him up on the offer.
The trip is amicable. We hardly bump into each other and I’m grateful for the hospitality.

Several months later, a call from Jerry asking for a reciprocal deal.
He’s coming to New York and needs to stay a night.
Unlike him, I have only one bedroom and one bed.
Unlike him, I have very little money and he can afford to stay at the Four Seasons if he wanted.
But I can’t turn him down as he was there for me.
He stays. We sleep in the same bed. Neither of us want intimacy and we don’t have it.
None-the-less, I lay there feeling gross and ugly the entire night, knowing I am not a model, waif-thin or blonde.
He takes his traditional, open-door poo.
This time I’m ready and take a photo.
We laugh and giggle.

The photo still sits on my mantle.

As he dresses, he tells me about a restaurant he and his partners are opening in San Francisco. His latest restaurant venture. It’s gonna make millions just like all the others he owns.
By the way, do I want a piece of it?

"How much is the investment?"

"Each share is $25,000."

"I can’t afford that."

"Big H. I hate to see you miss this ground floor opportunity. Know what I can do? My dad is going in on it but he can only afford half a share. Why don’t you take the other half—twelve thousand five."

"What if it doesn’t make money?"

"Hey. Big H. Have I ever failed?"

(He hasn’t.)

"And after the first year when profits roll in, you get your cut off the top and then bling bling bling, year after year, just collect the checks."

"Does it have a Prospectus?"

"Do this. Give me a check right now for the twelve five and I’ll leave the Prospectus with you. If you change your mind, just let me know."

And yes. I did.
I did.
The Restaurant was indeed successful as all Jerry’s ventures were,
And I never saw a dime.
Restaurants are cash businesses on the whole and at the end of the year, they manage to make the books read that there were no profits.

Five years later, at Christmas, my cellphone rings.
How he had the nerve to call me knowing he had taken such a huge sum of money from me, I will never understand.
Except filing it under ‘Jerry is Jerry.’
He is now married. To a model. They have a baby. Business is booming. When am I going to fly out and have a meal at ‘my’ restaurant?
I hang up the phone and call a Lawyer client of mine, promising him free sessions if he can tackle this.
I hear of the battle between he and Jerry through my client.
We win, although Jerry fights hard.
I spend two weeks repaying the Lawyer in a Horizontal barter.

I just didn’t bargain on that one little thing:
The Asshole Factor.

Stayed tuned for Parts Two and Three in Upcoming Episodes as The Achilles Heel of the Heroine continues to erode her financial stability and make us wonder how she got along this far all by her silly self.


At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having an open , caring heart and living by the golden rule are not bad, but good qualities. They need, however to be dosed with a healthy layer of care and cynicism (unfortunately)
A old sufi saying
"Trust in God
But tie your camel"
seems to be an age old response to the asshole factor. Another may be is to assume everyone new is an asshole till otherwise shown. Make them earn your love, respect and generosity. I have suffered from years from the same malady. The trick is to compensate for your openness with distrust, without becoming a miserable grouchy old bastard (like me) It's a delicate balancing act, but there are a lot of self-centered egotistical sociopaths out there. And unfortunately I draw them to me like moths to a candle


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