Excerpt from “Licking Honey Off A Razor Blade” by Valerie Grimes
I sang along to Kid Rock’s newest release, ‘She wore blue jeans and a rosary, believed in God and believed in me…’ then I added as an explanation to my audience of one, “From the moment we met, I felt I was his angel.”
“How fucked up is that?” Diane asked. “You guys sound like a co-dependent country and western song. Can’t you see he is not interested in creating a normal life with you? He’s a bad boy; he looks scary. Don’t you see it? He has knife wounds in his chest for God’s sake.”
In his defense I suggested, “His Dad put those there.”
“Oh my God,” Diane said, “That is even worse. Do you really want to be with a man that came from that type of family environment?”
Still in defense mode, “I can help him. I can help him release his anger and fear, that is all he needs.” I felt my belly tighten.
“And if he doesn’t change after you help him with the anger? Then what, another year or two will have passed, you are getting close to 50 now. Too old to be making mistakes. Don’t you see how he is just another man that sucked you in? Don’t you see how he manipulates you?”
“No. No, I don’t. I love him. He is brilliant; he has a big heart and I see his potential. Besides sex is amazing.”
“Then just have sex and leave it at that,” advised Diane, but her comment fell on deaf ears.
Most of our time together was spent in his apartment where he felt safe, but it was State Fair time in Texas, and I really wanted to go. He reluctantly agreed. He never talked much or explained himself, but I could tell by the sound of his voice he wasn’t crazy about the idea.
When I got to his place he seemed drunk; I just didn’t realize how drunk. He drove us to Fair Park. On the way he had a few temper flare ups in traffic that frightened me a little, but after we parked that is where his duties ended. He staggered into the park. I had to buy the tickets. He didn’t want to ride the rides; he wasn’t hungry; he didn’t want to win me the oversized, cotton-candy colored bear, look at the animals in the stock show, or even see the new cars.
Basically, we were there less than an hour and most of that time we were buying beer or pissing it out.
I drove us back to his place, disappointed in the evening and told him it was the worst date I’ve ever been on. He replied with his soon-to-be-adorable and addicting crooked smile, “Good then we won’t have to do that again.” But rather than being upset, I found his honesty somewhat refreshing. For his own reasons, he didn’t like to be in public, but was trying to please me, so he drank to not feel the fear the public brings out in him.
Bars were public places too, but for some reason he wasn’t afraid to go into them.
While driving home from work several days later, I got a text message from one of those bars: ‘The person that last texted you left their phone at the The Lemmon Bar.’
No wonder I hadn’t heard from him. In the back of my mind I could feel myself getting jealous, wondering what had happened, who he had been with. He was so damned sexy, and I didn’t like it when he went out without me.
It was a very hot August in Texas, about 105 degrees at 6 PM. There was a brown haze hanging over the city. The cars looked sluggish. Everyone was worn out from the heat; it was now day 45 of over 100-degree heat. I felt sluggish too, so on the way home I decided I would not go see him that weekend as I needed to have some alone time, perhaps do a hike, or movie with Diane. But I did need to let him know where his phone was so I sent him an email. He rarely responds to email, but two minutes later, he sent a reply.
He wanted to go out. Could I come uptown? We could go get his phone have some drinks and go bowling, or to a movie. Bowling? A movie? Was this Salvador? He seemed so excited.
“Baby, I want to show you off. Come pick me up, and let’s go out.”
My email response, “No Sal, I’m staying here this weekend.” I felt my belly tightening and was glad he didn’t have his phone. I closed my laptop and resigned myself to staying home.
About an hour later the ring of my phone startled me as I had shifted into the comfort of my home space. Even though I knew who it was, I answered.
He announced, “I’m at The Lemmon Bar and wondering where you are. I want to be with my girl, meet me and let’s go out on a date, a real date.” I’m thinking, a real date would mean he would pick me up. But rationalized that here was this hot 35-year-old man wanting to be with me. So, even though I was tired, I dressed and got in my car to drive the twenty minutes to the bar.
As I parked my heartbeat quickened, at the thought of seeing him. I open the door to the darkened bar and spot him immediately. Sitting facing the door, wearing a v-neck white tee, jeans with holes, boots, and a backward Texas Rangers cap. He also wore that crooked smile. When he saw me, he got up quickly, rushed over picked me up, twirled me around then kissed me hard, “It is about time you got here to buy me a drink.”
I felt slapped. “What? Buy you a drink? You said this was a date, a real date.”
He laughed “Princess you know I don’t have any money. Come on let’s have a drink.”
Honestly I needed one, but something inside told me leave. Just as I was turning to leave, I noticed he had spotted a woman that he seemed to know and gave her a friendly nod. It stopped my departure, walked back to him and said, “What was that?”
I insisted, “The nod to that women, what does that mean?”
“Nothing, just saying hi to a pretty girl,” he said with a ‘shit eatin’ grin.
He had me. He knew I would not leave him knowing he had already spotted someone to take my place. After a few shots of Jack, we walked around West Village in the warm summer air, and then I followed him to his apartment for more Jack and a late night.
I sleep pretty well at his place in spite of the sounds of the busy intersection, which is so unlike my house in an older neighborhood where I’ve lived twenty-two years. The trees there are a source of protection from the sun in the summer and absorb the noise as well. My house is peaceful; his is not, but it is a perspective that reminds me of how much my own place had become more peaceful over the years. I drifted off and slept a few hours, then slid out of his bed and into the early morning, my favorite time, just before dawn.
In the new day’s light, I sat sipping tea regretting my choices, as I wrote in my journal, ‘I can’t believe I’m so stupid. He tricked me again. I feel like an idiot. Not only did I spend money, but I stayed up late, drank too much and now I don’t feel like running.’
Running used to be so important to me; it was my energy, my inspiration, and my strength. I am happier when I run. I wondered why I always allowed myself to give that part of myself away to him.
So in an effort to re-balance my life, later that day I confronted him.
“You’re a jerk, Sal, you treat me like crap, and I let you. “I deserve better. I’m done. Please don’t call me again.” I hung up, deleted his number from my phone, put my running shoes on and took off. I didn’t even go to my normal spot to run, just opened the front door and tore down my street to the road that led to the neighborhood park. Unfortunately, the music I ran to reminded me of him. I was distracted at first. Then I regained my focus and became that running machine, amazed at my incredible body and how it operated, even with the lack of sleep and the whiskey.
That ‘break up’ lasted about four days. He called and said he missed me. I missed him too. ‘Missed what?’ I thought, ‘the abuse, the lies, the expense, the sex?’ In my mind I knew what I missed, I missed his attention. So were officially ‘back on.’