Don’t Say No

No title (I thought California)
Raymond Pettibon, No Title (I Thought California), 1989. Lithograph, 47 × 315 ⁄8". Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick is a great book to give as a gift to somebody you are hoping to sleep with. Explicit but subtle, its title contains two meanings, the first of which, despite appearances, is not aggressively sexual but in fact gentle and literary. And unlike flowers, which will die in a matter of days, I Love Dick can sit on a bookshelf for years, beguiling and suggestive.

The book is possessed of the kind of accidental greatness one associates not with practice and training and years of accumulated wisdom but with sudden and unpredictable bursts of inspiration, to be either ignored or obeyed. Kraus obeyed. Although technically a novel—“This is a work of fiction,” begins the familiar disclaimer—I Love Dick is in fact an almost historical record, meticulously assembled from primary sources, of Kraus’s romantic obsession with Dick Hebdige, the British structuralist critic, pursued at a time when both he and Kraus were in their fifties and living and working—Dick at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Kraus at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena—in Southern California.

The bulk of I Love Dick consists of the long, rambling letters an obsessed Kraus wrote and sent to Dick over the course of a year in the early 1990s, in which she describes to him, in extravagant detail, not only the suffering his indifference has caused her, but also the full run of her hopes and dreams, fears and regrets, beliefs, theories, ideas. For poor Dick—who remains silent until a single brief reply that ends the book—those mad letters must have come as an unwelcome intrusion into his structuralist life. But for the reader they are unbearably, morbidly fascinating, and none more so than the letter entitled “Add It Up,” in which Kraus describes what would turn out to be their only sexual encounter. After months of relentless pursuit, Dick finally gives in to Kraus’s desire to see him. It is hard to say, since Dick himself does not weigh in on the matter, just why he relented. After dinner, Kraus follows Dick back to his house in the Antelope Valley, an hour or more from Los Angeles, where they drink wine and smoke an opium joint one of Kraus’s friends has specially prepared for the occasion. Drunk and stoned, Kraus finally summons the courage to ask whether he wants to have sex with her. Drunk and stoned, Dick coolly replies: “I’m not uncomfortable with that idea.”

It’s not much of an answer, but after so many months, and so much desire, it is more than enough for Kraus. “This is how I understood the rules,” she writes, looking back on her bold inquiry, and Dick’s cool reply, and everything that happened afterward. “If you want something very badly, it’s okay to keep pursuing it until the other person tells you no. You said: I won’t say no.”

The next morning, Kraus and Dick have sex for a second time, but then, before she leaves, she asks if he wants to see her again before she goes back to New York. Kraus recounts Dick’s reply: “Well, actually I have a Friend (you somehow feminized the word) arriving for
the weekend.”

Kraus is crushed. She describes “the drive to Lake Casitas, the motel room, the Percocet, the scotch,” and a weekend of bitter tears. Perhaps more to the point, she feels betrayed. “If I’d known,” she tells Dick before she leaves, “I wouldn’t’ve stayed,” as though in sending Kraus away and hosting another, more important, woman for the weekend, Dick is somehow violating the terms of an unspoken contract, or ripping Kraus off. “I wouldn’t’ve stayed,” she tells him, the way a person might say that if she’d known the car would break down before she even got it home, she wouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

But whereas the dealer who sells a lemon is bound to refund the customer’s money, Dick does not, as he is quick to point out, owe Kraus anything, either legally or ethically. The reason—and by the time Kraus writes “Add It Up,” one suspects that she has figured this out on her own—lies precisely in the difference, or the distance, between saying yes and, as Kraus writes, not saying no.

To say yes is to be bound to the consequences implied by one’s actions, or to the terms set forth by the one who has made the request; to simply not say no is to act freely, without compromise. Because Dick simply did not say no, he was not bound to see Kraus again that weekend, although he had just had sex with her twice, nor was he bound not to have another, and perhaps more important, Friend coming to visit that afternoon, nor was he bound, given that such a Friend was coming to visit, to inform Kraus of this in advance. There was, for Dick, no implicit contract, but only the sex itself, which came and went—“The sex was nice,” Dick admits—leaving nothing in its wake.


 

While I was attending graduate school at the University of Arizona in Tucson, I had a friend named Periel—a student, like me, in the creative writing program—and a girlfriend named Jessie, who lived in New York City. My plan all along was to finish school and move to New York to resume my life with Jessie, but then I found out, soon before my time in Tucson was up, that Jessie had been giving blow jobs to friends of friends in bedrooms at Brooklyn parties, and then we broke up, and just like that I found myself all alone in the Arizona desert with no plan at all. Enter Periel, whose own relationship had fallen apart that same spring, and who hatched a plan that included me. In September we would move together to Los Angeles, where her friend Scott Topper was going to be moving out of his one-bedroom apartment on Hayworth Avenue, and there the two of us, being after all writers, would write something—a movie, a TV show, a dirty limerick—and Periel would put her unique gifts, her charm and her social savvy and her excellent breasts, to work selling it, she promised, for a lot of money, money that would allow us to live the lives we wanted to live, whatever those lives might turn out to be.

Could I have taken her seriously when she proposed something so preposterous, so utterly unplanned a plan? I doubt it. It was ridiculous, absurd, more foolish than fanciful. But I signed on anyway. No doubt partly because I had no competing plan of my own—my future was a vacuum. Then, too, Periel’s scheme had a certain geographic elegance: my apartment in Tucson’s old barrio was a stone’s throw from the I-10, and our new apartment, on Hayworth Avenue in Los Angeles, was also, as it happened, a stone’s throw from the I-10—literally just down the road. But perhaps it is at least possible, as well, that I was hoping—or believing—that what would materialize between Periel and me, if we headed west to undertake a life together, in a one-bedroom apartment no less, would be the sort of relationship that would rescue me.

We moved two beds into the only bedroom of our little Hayworth Avenue apartment; pushed hers against the north wall and mine against the south, a six-inch gap between them. Then, absurd as it seems in retrospect, we embarked on the work we had supposedly come to Los Angeles to do. First we wrote a semi-pornographic comic screenplay entitled “Henry Plucker, Pregnant Man,” whose triumphant moment came when Magdalena, the “gender studies” professor who had inspired Henry to become a pregnant man in the first place, demonstrated how the baby would suckle its milk from the head of the penis of the father-to-be, ducking out of the frame and then returning a moment later with, as we wrote, “her mouth covered in a milky, white substance.” I would like to think that, not unlike Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick, “Henry Plucker” was possessed of a certain accidental genius, raw and uncompromising. It was promising enough that an agent by the name of Angela Chang-Kaplan—the daughter of Chinese immigrants, but married to a Jew—agreed to send it around on our behalf and gauge the response. Periel and I celebrated with a dinner we could not afford at an Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills, but ultimately “Henry Plucker” did not, as the saying goes, generate strong industry interest, and Chang-Kaplan cut us loose.

Undaunted, Periel contacted an old childhood friend who was making a living writing for a television show by the name of Greg the Bunny—“If that idiot can do it, so can we,” she said—and hooked us up with a junior agent at a Hollywood agency who suggested that our best bet would be to write a script, on spec, for a current TV show, which he could then shop around as an example of our work. The agent, a greasy young fellow who went by the name Hornstock, arranged to have us sent a video copy of the entire first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which I watched, three or six or eight times over—I lost count after the second time—documenting, on an enormous sketch pad, all of the twists and turns in the plot, so that we might write our script according to the same model.

With this structural framework in place, Periel and I spent an afternoon at a restaurant on Beverly Drive brainstorming content. I do not have a copy of what we finally produced, but two of its intertwined plotlines stand out in my mind. The first involved a misunderstanding between Larry and his maid, who had come to the mistaken conclusion that, in an attempt at innuendo, Larry had left semen-stained sheets for her to clean. The other plotline climaxed in a moment borrowed from our real life together. Some weeks earlier, we had driven up Fairfax Boulevard to a bar, long since shuttered up, that had a kind of urban tiki lounge type of vibe. As it turned out, nearly all of the patrons, at least on this particular night, were black, which left Periel and me, white and Jewish, as the odd man and woman out. So we sat in the dark at a table along one wall and drank our drinks while everyone looked at us as though we were out of place—because we were, I suppose—until a lanky black man, in his late twenties or early thirties, with his red baseball cap cocked and earrings gleaming when they caught some light in the darkness, approached me from behind. Bending forward to speak directly into my ear, so that Periel could not hear what he was saying, he asked, “Even though you’re here with this girl, if that girl over there” and he pointed to I knew not whom—“offered to suck your dick, would you let her?”

I thought it over.

“I suppose that would depend on the situation,” I said.

“No, no, no, no,” he said into my ear. “Forget about the situation. I’m asking you a simple question right now. You’re here with this girl right here, but if that girl right over there offered to suck your dick, would you or wouldn’t you let her?”

“Listen,” I said. “I can’t answer that question without knowing—”

He was having none of my indecision. Now he stood up and said in a louder voice, so that Periel could hear it from across the table, “Say yes. You know you would so say yes. Say yes. Say yes. Just say yes!”

I wasn’t even sure which “girl over there” he was talking about,
but the fury of his exhortations overwhelmed me. “Yes,” I said. “Fine. Yes. Yes.”

My interrogator celebrated a triumph the nature of which I did not understand. He grabbed me by the hand and, holding it above my head and shaking it, as though I’d just come in first in a race, shouted over and over again, “You my nigga! You my nigga!” Then he retreated to the corner of the bar from which he had come, and that was that, except that the moment felt somehow appropriate to what Curb Your Enthusiasm seemed to have going on, and though I do not recall the twists and turns by which our own script arrived at a similar moment, I do remember that in the climactic moment, a young black man, similar to the man I have described above, grasped a culturally disoriented Larry David by the hand and shouted, six or eight times in succession, “You my nigga!”

I canceled the trip home I had planned for Thanksgiving so that we could finish our script. We did not hear from the agent, Hornstock, after we sent it to him, but it seems worth noting that one of the most talked-about moments in the subsequent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm came when a young black man—a rapper—with whom Larry David finds himself at a backyard barbecue, during an exchange having largely to do with oral sex, grasps a culturally disoriented Larry by the hand and shouts, “You my nigga!”

So I’m not saying anything at all about that. I’m just saying that, for whatever it’s worth, this is a true story. And also that, for Periel and me, it wasn’t worth anything at all, which is too bad if you think about it.

More to the point is the error made by the fellow at the tiki lounge when he whispered into my ear the hypothetical dilemma that—for him—had only one legitimate resolution. I was there with Periel, but I was not, as he had assumed, there with her. She was no impediment to my getting a blow job from that girl over there. We had been in LA for months now, were together almost constantly, but the six inches of space between our beds might as well have been a valley, a canyon, the void itself. We went to bed every night at the same time, she in her bed and I in mine with pillows propped behind our heads, matching book lights clipped to the binding of our books as we read, or else we lay in the dark inventing screenplays she would never sell (for instance, a biopic that would shift back and forth between the life stories of Harry Houdini and Liberace, both of whom were born in my own home state of Wisconsin) and imagining what we would do with the money if she did (matching Mercedes SUVs, hers black and mine silver). Not once, in all of the nights we spent together, had either of us crossed into the other’s bed, even though it would have been so easy to do, and each passing night made it seem less likely that either of us ever would.

In that context, the proximity of her body—warmth, breath—made only that much more palpable my own celibate solitude. Thanksgiving came and then Hanukah and Christmas and then it was a new year; never once did I spend the night elsewhere, with somebody else, and neither did she. Why—why didn’t one of us cross over? Why didn’t one of us say yes, strongly enough that the other would not say no? I don’t know. Or, I didn’t know. I thought—well, I don’t know what I thought. I thought the time wasn’t quite right. I thought I was being mature and patient and polite. I thought that if I waited long enough, something would have to happen.


This, more or less, is the point at which Michael T comes into the picture. For reasons that will quickly become obvious, it would not be appropriate to use his real name here, but that’s fine, because I don’t know his real name. Just the name under which he performed as a nightclub drag queen: Michael T.

When Periel hatched her plan for the two of us to move to Los Angeles and make it big as writers, she did so in part because her childhood friend Philippe was already living there, hoping to make it big as an actor. Michael T was Philippe’s friend. He was also a founding member of, and regular performer at, the New York City nightclub party Motherfucker—of which I had never heard—and he had flown, or been flown, from New York to Los Angeles to perform at two Los Angeles nightclub parties, one on the Friday night he arrived, at the El Rey theater on Wilshire, and the other, at a less spectacular location, on the following Monday.

Periel went with Philippe to the Friday night party, and I stayed home alone, because I did not want to stay out late or spend money, and home alone I did what I did a lot that year, and that autumn in particular, which was watch one of the films of Eric Rohmer. Rohmer’s films, most of them situational dramas and comedies having to do with one romantic conundrum or another, proceed at the pace of a lazy Sunday, and have the rather comforting tendency to bore you even as they hopelessly entangle you in the hopeless entanglements of their characters. So you are bored by the film, in a way, but at the same time completely captured, and the result is a sort of relaxing anxiety, a soothing tension. That year, and that autumn in particular, I would watch a Rohmer film while I ate lunch, until I was finished, or in the evening, until it was time for bed, and then leave the rest for later, glad that I had something to look forward to.

On the night of Michael T’s performance at the El Rey on Wilshire, I dozed off on the couch somewhere past halfway through Rohmer’s A Good Marriage, about a twenty-something girl—played by a young actress who would go on to become one of Rohmer’s perennial favorites—who decides, after walking out on a painter who refuses to commit, that she absolutely wants to get married, and thus undertakes the backward labor of finding a suitable husband to match her desire. When I woke, what I noticed first was the bright overhead light and the blue television screen with a single white line moving across it, from top to bottom. What I noticed next was that my shirt had been pushed up around my nipples, and a transvestite was kneeling beside the couch, lightly caressing my bare stomach. This was Michael T. “My God,” he was saying when I came to my senses. “He’s gorgeous.”

Above me, leaning forward slightly with the overhead light bulb bright behind them, Periel and Philippe looked like two surgeons waiting to start an operation, but they were only laughing, no scalpels in sight, and Periel was saying, “He’s really something, isn’t he? Quite a piece of work.”

She was talking about me, but she could just as well have been talking about Michael T: with feathered black hair tucked behind his ears, an androgynous grey suit over a maroon blouse, glittering lip gloss, nail polish on paste-on nails, and all the rest, he looked like I would imagine Sophia Loren to have looked if instead of being Sophia Loren she had been a man who bought women’s clothes at bargain warehouse stores and makeup at her local CVS. He was really monstrous, but he was caressing me with a tenderness I had not experienced in a long time—handling me the way one handles a porcelain doll, a precious memory, a secret desire. So instead of sitting up with a start, I yawned, and feigned a moment’s disorientation, and exaggerated my surprise at realizing that Periel and Philippe were standing above me, and only then, with even more feigned surprise, directed my attention to the fingertips, fake nails and all, that made their way lovingly across my torso and back, and the man dressed as a woman to whom they were attached, at which point I sat up, shook my head like I was still trying to shake free of sleep, and said, “Whoa, whoa, what’s happening here? Hold on just one second, here.”


I’m not a homosexual, as it happens, although around that time I might not have minded if I had been. My contact with the twenty-something gay community in Los Angeles had mostly been by way of Periel, through Philippe, but from what I’d gathered they seemed to have a lot of fun, and also a lot of sex, whereas I was having little of the former and exactly none of the latter. But even though I wasn’t gay, and seemed unlikely to become so, I enjoyed having somebody dote on me.

Saturday night the four of us went out. Michael T, though he still had the feathered hair and some light makeup, passed on the bargain-basement Sophia Loren clothes in favor of a “butch” outfit, as he described it: blue jeans and a lumberjack shirt left open over a white T-shirt. At a bar east of Vermont on Melrose Avenue, he stared at me and waited for me to look back. When I did, he offered to buy me a drink, and I accepted. Budweiser. When he returned from the bar he switched seats with Periel, so that he was sitting beside me while I drank it, which seemed only right. I was wearing a pair of motorcycle boots to which he began to pay particular attention. He asked me if they were leather, which they were. He asked me if they were new, which they were not. He asked me what size they were: Eleven and a half, I told him, exaggerating by a half size. He reached beneath the table of our red vinyl booth and touched me where the top of my boot opened around my calf, and I moved my leg out of the way and said, “Hey, now, none of that.” He complied, but his hand brushed the inside of my knee on its way back out from under the table.

In the car on the way home Periel said to me, “Now you know what it’s like to be a woman.”

“Easy,” I said. “And cheap. He paid for all my beers.”

“I think he’s really into you,” she said.

“Well,” I said. “That’s nice. But I think that’s about as far as I’m willing to go with Michael T, being that he’s a man and all.”

“You don’t know until you try,” Periel said. “It could be fun.”


And that might have been it, except that on Monday Periel wanted to go to Michael T’s second and final LA show, but because it was near Philippe’s apartment Philippe didn’t want to pick her up, which meant that Periel needed a driver. She didn’t, of course, put it that way. Instead she told me that Michael T was really, really hoping I would be there, that he’d told Philippe to tell her to tell me that, and that I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to, but at the same time, if I’d let him buy me three or four beers the other night and he wasn’t going to get anything out of it but the pleasure of buying me beers, the least I could do was show up for his performance. So off we went.

The performance—if you could call it that—took place as part of a nightclub party by the name of Miss Kitty’s at a bar on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood called The Parlor. I had never seen a drag queen perform before, but apparently drag queens, perhaps because the transgender getup is what’s really important, don’t actually feel compelled to do much of anything. A song played—I don’t recall what song, but it could have been Cher or Annie Lennox or Madonna—and, on a square stage not more than six inches off the beer-stained floor of The Parlor, Michael T did a little bit of dance-like gyrating, and lip-synched halfheartedly. Somebody paid to fly him from New York City to Los Angeles for this?

Periel, Philippe, and I sat stage right, on the stairs that led to the DJ booth, and clapped when the performance was finished. When Michael T came over, shiny with sweat and still out of breath from the dancing, I expected the Michael T from the previous Saturday, the one who’d solicitously bought me beers, but now, in full regalia—a tight black pantsuit and a pink blouse, heavy makeup and glittering lip gloss—and perhaps on a high from the adulation of the fifty or seventy-five club-goers who had bothered to watch, this was a much more intense, more direct Michael T. He did not offer to buy me a drink. Instead, he stood right in front me and said, “I want to lick your boots.”

Hadn’t expected that. I knew he had an interest in my boots, but I didn’t think he was actually interested in my boots. The boots, I thought—leather motorcycle boots, although I’d never been on a motorcycle in my life, and still haven’t—were a stand-in for my manhood, or my manliness, which was what interested him, being a homosexual man, or so I assumed. When he asked me about, and then marveled at, the size of my boots, I carried out the mental operation of replacing boots with penis, which was presumably why I’d exaggerated by a half size. But now he wasn’t asking to lick my penis; he was asking to lick my boots.

Why?

Thing is, if he’d asked to lick my penis, there is no way, not the slightest chance in hell, that I would have said yes. These were desperate times, and I was down on my luck, but I wasn’t anywhere close to letting a transvestite, or for that matter any man, lick my penis. But my boots—I said no, but it wasn’t an absolute, unequivocal, no-way-in-hell kind of no. And why should it have been? They were only boots. What did I care what he did to my boots, as long as he gave them back? And Michael T, noting my ambivalence, persisted, and Philippe and Periel, laughing, told me come on, it’ll be fine, he wants to lick your boots, let him lick your boots, and I said no again, and Michael T kept at me—he was on a mission now—and it went on like that for some time, and for some time I kept saying no. But it’s hard to say no—you disappoint the one who is asking, and you miss out on the pleasure of saying yes—and in the end it didn’t seem all that hard to have my boots licked, and so Michael T asked again, and Philippe and Periel went on encouraging me, and this time I didn’t say no, which was all Michael T needed.

Having never participated in a bootlicking before, I had certain misconceptions of what it might entail. I thought Michael T would get down on his knees right there in the middle of the bar, lick one boot—like a dog licking a friendly wrist—and then the other, and that would be the end of it. Instead I was swept out of the barroom and into a bathroom stall, where Michael T, who had by this point taken control of the situation with an authority I was powerless to challenge, told me to stand with my right foot, and boot, up on the toilet, while he knelt on the floor between me and the door of the stall and very carefully cuffed the leg of my jeans, one cuff at a time, until it was rolled above the top of my boot. Then he began not merely to lick my boot but to literally bathe, with pink tongue, every millimeter of my boot, beginning exactly where the sole met the leather and working his way, slowly and intensely, up to the top, where the leather made a wide circle around my calf. When he was finished, he said, “Other foot,” and I suppose I should have kept my mouth shut, but I didn’t want to have to walk back into the bar with my pants rolled up—what would the other patrons think?—and I also didn’t want to have to bend down right there and unroll them myself, so I asked him to do it for me instead.

“What?” he said, and looked up at me from near the floor where, amidst bathroom filth, he knelt.

“I said roll down my pants,” I said.

His breathing accelerated. “Is that an order?”

“An order?”

He looked up at me.

“No,” I said awkwardly. “I was just—”

“Call me a name,” he said.

“What?”

“Call me a name,” he said. “Call me a bitch. Call me a slut. Call me a fucking bootlicking whore.”

“Listen,” I said. “I don’t think—”

“Slap me,” Michael T said.

“Slap you?”

“I’ll give you a choice,” he said. “You can either call me a name or you can slap me. It’s one or the other. You choose.”

“Listen,” I said, but Michael T had had more than enough. All at once, he grabbed me by the right wrist and, pulling hard and fast, slapped himself across the face with my right hand, open and flaccid. I felt the square jawbone—a man’s jawbone—and the caked makeup, slick with sweat.

Working over the second boot now, the left boot, his breathing became more agitated still, and now he did not just lick but kissed and sucked and suckled. He was not kneeling, now, but sort of lying forward on his belly, like a seal, with his legs behind him, jutting out of the stall, working his pelvis in semi-circles against the floor. Near the top of the boot, he moaned once and thrust his hips three times; then he went limp and still for a moment. A rivulet of saliva rolled down the side of my boot. Like a bead of sweat. Like a tear. Michael T stood, drawing the back of his hand across his damp forehead, and walked through the door of the stall, leaving me alone. When I came out, a moment later, after unrolling the left leg of my blue jeans, Periel and Philippe were hovering nervously near the bathroom door. I imagine that Michael T stalked past them without a word, as he abandoned me in that grimy stall without a word, leaving them to wonder what had become of me.

Ultimately, of course, nothing had become of me. I was fine. A little freaked out, but fine. For weeks, under street lamps and in the headlights of passing cars, the leather of my motorcycle boots shimmered from the glitter in Michael T’s lip gloss.


Much later, Philippe would tell me that Michael T, who was in his early thirties when I met him, still lived with his mother in the Lower East Side apartment in which he’d grown up, and would probably keep on living with her until one or the other of them died, and that Michael T, due to a crippling fear of contracting HIV, had not only never had sex but had never even gone so far as to touch another man’s penis. Thus the boot fetish was—more than mere fetish—a crafty way to achieve sexual satisfaction without putting himself at risk.

Until then, I’d assumed that Michael T’s craftiness was of a different kind: that he’d asked to lick my boots, instead of my penis, because he’d assessed the situation and figured out just how far he could fulfill his desire without me saying: No. But in fact what happened was more fortuitous. My boots were not some sort of compromise or clumsy replacement for what Michael T really wanted; they were exactly what Michael T wanted, or more precisely exactly that which, holed up in his strange life of self-imposed celibacy, he could allow himself to want. His good fortune—perhaps our good fortune—was that my boots were also exactly what I could allow him to have, which made us, at least for a little while on one particular night—and maybe without rescuing either one of us from the larger sorts of loneliness that engulfed us—perfectly compatible.


Months passed. Loveless months. Unsuccessful months. Periel and I did not sell a screenplay, or anything else. Nor did we sleep together. Periel made plans to spend the summer in her native New York, reprising lost love affairs. I found myself dreaming of Spain, and decided to reclaim my old summer job as a creative writing instructor for wealthy American high school students. I remember very clearly how we stood in the doorway of a bar on Fairfax Boulevard—not the tiki lounge, just a grungy beer bar—so that Periel could smoke a cigarette, and I remember how we looked one another in the eye and asked—I don’t remember who was asking and who was being asked, but the distinction didn’t much matter—whether we were going to come back in the fall and do it again. Things were looking a little bleak, after all. And do you know who walked by at just that moment, arm in arm with his beautiful young girlfriend?

Richard Lewis, that’s who. The comedian and actor who, believe it or not, appeared frequently on Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was a sign. Not such a glamorous sign, perhaps, but then we weren’t living such glamorous lives. Periel chucked her cigarette onto the sidewalk. “Fuck that,” she said. “We’re coming back.”

I nodded and put my hands in my pockets. She was right.

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