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Did you see it? The other guests were men who continue to love too much. Those men were in a place I used to be, and I felt sorry for them. I was the guest who went from loving too much to being loved too much. Everybody loves me. Because I know the issue from both sides, I am constantly asked for advice. People want to know how I did it. They want to know if I can recommend a therapist.
How much it will cost, how long it might take to recover. I worked things out on my own. And of course I did it to help people. I try and make an effort whenever I can. Growing up, my parents were so very into themselves that I got little love and attention. As a result, I would squeeze the life out of everyone I came into contact with. I would plan our futures. Everything we did together held meaning for me and would remain bright in my memory. When these boyfriends became frightened and backed away, I would hire detectives to follow them.
I would love my dates so much that I would become obsessed. I would dress like them, think like them, listen to the records they enjoyed. I would forget about me!
To make a long story short, I finally confronted my parents, who told me that they were only into themselves because they were afraid I might reject them if they loved me as intensely as they pretended to love themselves. They were hurting, too, and remarkably vulnerable. They always knew how special I was, that I had something extra, that I would eventually become a big celebrity who would belong to the entire world and not just to them.
And they were right. I turned my life around and got on with it. Did you see the show? Chuck Connors and Cyrus Vance were, in my opinion, just making an appearance in order to bolster their sagging careers. But not Patrick Buchanan.
Man, I used to think I had it bad! Patrick is a big crier. Chuck Connors said he used to shower his boyfriends with costly gifts. He tried to buy their love. Marshall if it were both his hands, one down there and the other gently at his throat. Bruce Springsteen is on the cover with whatshername, that flat-faced new wife of his, Patty Scholastica or Scoliosis — something like that.
I was the boss when Bruce and I were together. Tell her how Bruce groveled and begged for a commitment and how he behaved when I turned him down. Bruce took it hard and picked up these women on the rebound. I remember running into that last wife of his, the model, at a party. There are pictures of me tossing a pillow into his face, pretending to be caught during a playful spat.
You know that we can be real with one another because on the next page there I am standing on tiptoe planting a big kiss on his neck while Burgess Meredith, Bobby Packwood, and some other old queens are standing and applauding in the background.
The press is having a field day over the news of my relationship with Mike Tyson. We tried to keep it a secret, but for Mike and me there can be no privacy. He had started getting on my nerves a long time ago, before the People story, before our television special, even before that March of Dimes telethon. Charlton can be manipulative and possessive. It seems to have taken me a long time to realize that all along I was in love with the old Charlton Heston, the one who stood before the Primate Court of Justice in Planet of the Apes.
The one who had his loincloth stripped off by Dr. Zaus and who stood there naked but unafraid. Mike is very angry at Charlton right now — very, very angry. Let me say for the record that Mike Tyson, although he showers me with gifts, is not paying for my company.
I resent the rumors to the contrary. Mike and I are both wealthy, popular men. The public loves us and we love one another. This is a difficult concept for a lot of people to grasp, people who are perhaps envious of what Mike and I share. This was the case with Charlton Heston, who lost most of his money in a series of bad investments.
We would be happy living in a tent, cooking franks over an open fire on the plot of land we bought just outside Reno. Mike Tyson and I are that much in love. It is unfortunate that our celebrity status does not allow us to celebrate that love in public.
For the time being, Mike Tyson and I are lying low. Between the two of us, we could buy gold teeth for every man, woman, and child with the gums to accommodate them. It was late, and Mike had taken his teeth out for the evening.
Mike could sleep with his teeth in, but believe me, it was better with them out. We had just finished making very strenuous, very complete love when I reached for that glass of water and drank it down, teeth and all. It was unsettling. The problem was that Mike was planning to have those teeth set into a medallion of commitment for me.
But those teeth were special, his first real gold teeth. Those were the teeth that had torn into all of the exotic meals I had introduced him to. Those were the teeth I polished with my tongue on our first few dates, the teeth that hypnotized me across a candlelit table, the teeth that reflected the lovelight shining in my eyes.
That was a big part of our commitment ceremony. But it was the principle of the thing that got me down. I would have just as soon taken one of the many free kittens that had been offered to us.
Everyone wanted to give Mike and me kittens. I thought we might just take one of those, but Mike said no. I was used to the name and the connotations it carried in my mind. Besides, this was a relationship in which compromise was supposed to be the name of the game. Driving home from the pet store we started to argue. Mike said some pretty rough things and I responded tit for tat. He was driving like a trained seal, all over the road, and the constant swerving was making me sick to my stomach.
I turned around and told it to shut up, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mike raise his fist. I thought he was threatening another driver or rolling up the window. It all happened so fast. After he hit me, I got out of the car and walked. This time, though, I just walked away. Mike followed me.
He drove his car up onto the sidewalk, but I kept walking, pretending not to notice. Then Mike got out of the car and started begging, begging on his knees, and whimpering. I put my hand up to my eye, pretending to wipe away some of the blood, and then, boy, did I clip him! While he was unconscious, I let the kitten out of the car and sort of kicked her on her way, no problem. A puffy cat like that will have no problem finding someone to love her.
When he came to, Mike had forgotten the entire incident. That happens all the time — he forgets. You said you wanted to buy me a pony. We forgot about naming things, about anything but our relationship. We rode round and round the block on our pony, who groaned beneath the collective weight of our rich and overwhelming capacity for love and understanding. Mike Tyson started acting out and it got on my nerves. I can overlook an incident here and there, but Mike started pushing it.
For example, one night we were having dinner with Bill and Pat Buckley. We used to vacation together we all adore sailing , and I think we understand one another fairly well. Bill and Pat have one of those convenient marriages, an arrangement that allows them to pursue sexual relationships on the side with no hard feelings. I met Bill Buckley back when he was going with Redd Foxx, which was years ago.
Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays
We laugh at the unexpected or when a man or woman, oblivious to the dynamism of life, tries unsuccessfully to remain static in a fluid context. To say that Sedaris plays this material straight is to do it a disservice; deadpan is probably the more appropriate term. She wore, I remember, a skirt the size of a beer cozy, a short, furry jacket, and, on her face, enough rouge, eye shadow, and lipstick to paint our entire house, inside and out. Her voice was nothing special but she never allowed that fact to dampen her spirits. I watched as she stood before the mirror, brushing out her hair and challenging her reflection.
NPR storyteller Sedaris chronicles a society slightly removed from the mainstream and characters who don't quite fit in with the masses. Deadpan exaggeration gives this first collection a satirical edge. Distancing himself from both parents, Dale tries not to rock the boat while keeping some secrets to himself. These and nine other stories are followed by four essays. Four days of rigorous training on the eighth floor barely prepared him for the crowds, the Santas, and the unending barrage of questions. Throughout the collection, without slapping the reader in the face with a political diatribe, the author skewers our ridiculous fascination with other people's tedious everyday lives.