CRANE: I had a strange encounter at a Vermin on the Mount reading when I saw a tall guy in the audience wearing an unbelievably awesome black t-shirt with Fassbinder written in Metallica font. I approached him. “I’m going to have to rip that t-shirt off you and steal it,” I said. He turned around. “Oh hey,” he said warmly as though he knew me. Then I recognized his mouth, but it looked different. The last time I saw that mouth, it was crammed with a ball gag that held a dainty metal shelf, where a pint glass sat, full of Pellegrino for me. I remembered that for months after his girlfriend hired me to add spice to their date, he became “baby monitor birthday boy.” And although it’s not that unusual to spot sensual massage clients pushing shopping carts in Trader Joe’s or munching a cookie at an AA meeting, it was weird to see baby monitor birthday boy at Vermin on the Mount, because I couldn’t just smile vaguely and walk into the parking lot and giggle with Patrick. I had to be discreet. VOTM is an intimate setting and the writers and crowd members are usually my friends, so my social/intimacy/work wires were crossed and I suddenly didn’t know how to act. I may have muttered, “How are you?” I probably turned bright red. We may have hugged. I can’t remember, which is what happens when I’m anxious. I do remember J. Ryan Stradal’s animated reading that was enhanced with excellent flash cards of furniture that he held up while reading. His reading was enhanced further by me flashing back on the night with baby monitor birthday boy and his girlfriend. I remembered opening all of his birthday presents and eating all of his birthday cake in front of him while he held my sparkling water in his mouth shelf. When he crawled away on his knees, I recalled the tassel tails on his festive butt plug wriggling like cooked spaghetti. Later, in the restaurant, his girlfriend forced him to sit at a table in the corner, away from us while we sent over only food he hated: olives and liver and truffle oil drenched bread and afterwards, back at the apartment in a dark bedroom that seemed surprisingly plain, she and I had loud sex next to a small receiver. Our static sex sounds traveled to his hogtied position on the couch next to the baby monitor. I forgot all about the Fassbinder t-shirt.
ANTONIA CRANE is the only person from Humboldt
County who doesn’t smoke pot. Her
work can be found or is forthcoming in Akashic:
The Heroin Chronicles (edited by
Jerry Stahl), The Rumpus, Black Clock, Slake, PANK, The Los Angeles Review, ZYZZYVA and other places.
She wrote a memoir about her mother’s illness and the sex industry, Spent. She teaches creative writing to
incarcerated teenagers in Los Angeles.
Come see Antonia read at 3rd Space in San Diego on Saturday October 20 at 6pm.