Relationships, part 4: The Make-Up Artist

I was driving from work to a lunch destination today, forced to take the highway, contemplating how to navigate the rest of this story and not sure at all how to go about it.

It was a picturesque day. Before me lay a stretch of deep green mountain range, its soft round peaks kissing the underbelly of a cloud-dappled sky, thick with gray at the base and the promise of rain, then building straight up into the air in their own vertical peaks of brilliant white before merging into a shower of blue sky. It was a dazzling vision, and I took a mental picture of it because it will be gone soon. Soon the drought will come. Soon it will steal the moisture, the growth and the color. Nothing lasts forever.

I didn’t take many mental pictures back then – five years ago when I knew these people that left my life abruptly. I took a few but they had to be unusual to really make an imprint in my mind. The rambling, drunken ex-marine off Wall Street that caught his wife in the act of infidelity, two weeks with the coked-out Dutchman that convinced me to never ever visit France again with anyone other than myself, the wild-haired and trembling man that knocked on my hotel door in the middle of a cold and rainy night wanting me to burn him with cigarettes. The landscape of my mind is not that different from the mountains of Southern California. For the most part, the earth is charred. It takes an especially striking scene to snap my attention into focus.

I’m not sure there’s much more I can say, really. I don’t have those kinds of pictures with “Damien”, the make-up artist. Besides, almost everything he said to me he followed with, “Don’t tell anyone!” He knew I wrote a lot in my spare time, so it’s not surprising. He was a gifted storyteller and artist, and I thought we were friends because we seemed to get along so well, but I was only a replacement friend when Raven stopped giving him money. She hired him on her sets, and they spent time together away from work, but then she loaned him a very large sum of money with his promise of “millions” in return, and when it wasn’t returned, any of it, in over a year, she became catty and he resented her for it. No amount of wholesome advice can dampen the fury between a woman whose god is money, and a social climber who has used her and her money to rise in the ranks of royalty. My humble background is limited in such a situation. I am of no help.

We had both stopped talking to Raven altogether. I should have talked to her. I should have shared my mind with her, but I didn’t know how. I just wanted peace. I don’t like confrontation. I was raised in a house full of loud and obnoxious people. I learned to retreat, to run away from home, to escape without a word because it seemed the easiest way to shed the chaos. I hadn’t yet learned that when you do that and get no closure, the chaos follows you, taking up space in your mind.

Damien borrowed money from me but he always paid it back. I didn’t mind. I had money while I was working, so it didn’t seem like a big deal, but that changed when I met Doug. Doug and I both eventually found ourselves going through similar transitional phases and we lost almost everything.

We also got serious pretty fast. I knew it when I didn’t want to fly out to see a customer for the weekend. I had already taken half the money, so I had to go, but I didn’t want to. He didn’t want me to, either. When I returned, anxious to hear his voice, he sounded distant and disillusioned. It killed him to endure an entire weekend of my being gone, with another man, not knowing if I was okay. He felt betrayed, even though he knew what my job was, even though we hadn’t made any promises. My feelings for him made me angry. I was used to being alone. The isolation cradled me. I didn’t want to need anyone. I didn’t want to be around anyone for too long, until I met him. We’d spend entire weekends together, rolling around in bed, making love, haunting the local eateries around West Hollywood. It was effortless to be with him. Nothing like the extreme discomfort and uncertainty I felt with Stephan. He was just my speed; a Midwestern boy with manners and a motorcycle.  I knew I loved him on a Sunday morning.

We had spent all morning rustling beneath the covers on an overcast day. Soft rays of light spilled through the beige canvas drapes and reflected off the bare white walls of his bedroom. It was definitely a bachelor’s bedroom – sparsely furnished save for one dresser, a dragon statue holding a light orb in its taloned claws and one side table framing the prized centerpiece, a large king-sized bed. He lay next to me, glistening with sweat, worn and glowing, his chestnut hair spilling out around his face. I clicked off a picture of him with his own little point-and-shoot camera. “I’m hungry,” I groaned, not wanting to get out of bed. “Let’s go get something to eat,” he said, pushing back a strand of hair from my face, smiling.

We heaved ourselves up and dressed. I had none of my own clothes, so I slipped on a pair of his jeans, a red sleeveless sweatshirt and one of his baseball caps and we walked a few blocks down the street off Sunset to Frankie & Johnny’s Pizza.

There was only one other patron sitting nearby in the long rectangular pizzeria, a lone man eating quietly. A bored waitress with multicolored hair took our order and then retreated back to her station behind the register. As we waited for our food, the soulful strains of Wild Horses by The Stones began playing from the sound system. The pizza came and as we sat there, Doug’s head framed by disabled storefront neon beer signs and sunlight, his cotton shirt and worn Levi’s hugging my skin, staring into his gray-green eyes while that song played, I knew I loved him. I didn’t know how much, yet, but I knew.

Damien was not pleased when I insinuated that I might quit my job. In fact, he instructed me to continue working and even constructed what I should say to Doug to explain why I had to keep working. It was stunning, and I didn’t understand why pursuing love with someone who didn’t want me to be with anyone else sexually was a bad thing. Doug is old-fashioned that way and I happened to be okay with it. I couldn’t figure Damien’s angle until he slowly gravitated back to Raven – a renewed, consistent source of money. I’d love to be wrong about any of this. I was so confused and angry by the way things died that I couldn’t even talk about it without losing my temper entirely for well over a year. Damien borrowed a thousand dollars from me, promising to pay it back the next week and then disappeared. When he finally called me months later he was distant and strange. He told an elaborate story about running off to Europe, getting stranded there, Raven bailing him out and bringing him back home safely. Six months of catching up and not one question about how I was doing. He had no idea that I was completely broke and considering pawning my jewelry to pay for my car insurance. Then he got busy and hung up.

A week later I called him from my car, crying. The pawn shop would not pay enough for my diamond earrings, and I sat in front of the store unable to control my pain for having to call and remind him that I needed the thousand dollars back. I’ve been poor before, I’ve sat in welfare lines, but I didn’t feel that I should have had to call and beg back money that was mine. Of course, I could have guessed that that would happen. He still owed Raven money, but that money hadn’t been for him, it was borrowed for someone else, and one thousand dollars was nothing to either of them.

He answered the phone in a flurry of, “Oh, I’m so busy!” and, “I’m doing hair and make-up on three models right now!” I steadied myself between sobs and said, “I need that thousand dollars back. I’m sitting in front of a pawn shop. They won’t give me enough for my earrings and I have to pay my car insurance.” He laughed. I know now it was probably the kind of incredulous, nervous laughter that happens when you are in front of other people and don’t know exactly how to react, but it pierced me instantly. “Well, I’ll call you right back. I have to get through what I’m doing.” He never called me back.

I called him the next day and he didn’t answer his phone. He was doing to me what he’d done to Raven when she wanted her money back, so I left a pointed message. “I still need that money back. Maybe I should be asking your keeper for it?” He called back instantly and spat into my ear, “I cared about you! I loved you! You will get your money back!” I did. I got it back three days later in front of the Virgin Record Store on the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights. He stood in front of me and sneered and boasted about working for a man “who has more money than God!” He never knew me. Never knew me at all. If he had he would have known that talk of having money did not impress me. It was meant to make me feel embarrassed and belittled. I can’t believe I allowed someone that cheap to break my heart.

to be continued…

32630cookie-checkRelationships, part 4: The Make-Up Artist

Relationships, part 4: The Make-Up Artist

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10 Responses

  1. Your best yet, Julie. I look forward to each new part. Very insightful, and so easy to relate to. Keep em coming, sweetie!

  2. I have been thinking of an interesting possible blog for you Julie.:)
    It may seem an obvious topic, but I would like to have your insight into whether men and women can really be “best friends”.
    Having had the majority of my close friendships with women, it would be interesting to have another perspective.
    I am not entrely convinced men and women can be, as both sexes think and tend to act so differently. Men are from Mars, women from Venus sort of thing.

  3. Angel I’m gonna say yes but it’s a conditional yes.

    Many of my closest friends have been female, but in my experience it only works if theres no sexual interest on either part OR if both parties like being friends with benefits and don’t have any desire for it to develop into anything more exclusive.

    A female friend with whom I have never had any sexual interest, nor she for me, did the most unselfish thing anyone has ever done for me and the result literally saved my life.

    I’m going to write about it some day, it’s an amazing story.

    So in a word yes we can but there are things that facilitate it or thwart it just as with any friendship.

  4. Thank you, Hunter and Angel. 🙂

    I agree with Mike about the conditions surrounding male and female friendships, and I am also intrigued about the “life saving” portion of your experience, Mike. Please do write that post!

    I think it’s an interesting topic. There re so many angles to come from. I just wrote and rewrote this paragraph because I keep writing it all out right here. I’ll make my notes now! 😀

  5. Mike, Julie, I almost agree with you… almost. About the time I finished reading your comments, Lady H walked in the office. I asked her, “who’s your best friend?”. Without hesitation, she replied “you”. In most relationships, I would fully agree that it needs to be an “either/or” agreement. Either friends or lovers, but not both. In rare cases, it can be both. I never would have thought it until we met. Now, it’s been almost six years, and we still live, work, travel, and play together. Normally, I would need a break, some alone time, even from my closest friends. We’re practically together 24/7, and never get tired of it. And without a doubt, she’s my best friend… Sorry, Mike, you have to settle for a close second… *grin*

  6. It’s twu! It’s twu! Hunter is definitely my best friend. Let me explain my definition of that phrase, as there can be different requirements for everybody. My best friend is there when I need him, no matter what the reason or situation. My best friend listens to what I have to say, sympathizes when it’s appropriate, snuggles me when it’s time to, and even plays Devil’s Advocate when I ask. We spend alot of time together so he has to be funny, thoughtful, considerate and serious pretty much when I need him to be. Don’t get me wrong, I am FAR from high-maintenance and never really ask anything of him. He just knows what I need when I need it. AND….he needs me, too. Ours is truly a storybook relationship……..I have found my Prince Charming and my Best Friend, all rolled into one gorgeous package! How lucky is that?

  7. I will say this you guys have probably the best relationship I have ever encountered. No doubt y’all are made for each other and I’d never try to edge out Missy LOL

    But WTF is with the sawdust?

  8. I think that is the ultimate goal, for sure. I think it would make a great post because sometimes you want to be able to just be friends with someone, but in the end, you also want to be able to share everything with someone, and when we’re really connected, even just on a platonic level, it’s hard for us to not be curious about always taking it a step further to see just how much better the relationship can be. You guys are the exception when you should be the rule. I am very happy for you, too! Doug is definitely my best friend. Hmm… I love to hear a success story. 🙂

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