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imaginary girlfriends [May. 5th, 2010|02:40 pm]
     We argue about imaginary people, the ones I write about. She finds the stories written down on the back of sales sheets from my job. It really puts June in a rage to see that I have written anything about another woman, regardless of whether or not she’s imaginary.
     "I don't know why you have to keep doing the same tired old routines about the same tired old stereotypes. You always write women into being these beautiful crazy demons, or absolute angels, there is middle ground you know, and real women don’t live at these extremes that you think are so funny and true. Your ancient archetypes are old hat."
     She finds the stories though, usually in my binder of sales sheets, and she holds them up as though it’s some other womans clothes she has found in my bedroom.
     "Who the fuck is this? WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU WORD FUCKING IN THIS STORY? If I ever find another woman on paper in here, it’s going to be a hell storm of rage on your life. I will felonize on your body."
     Occasionally, June will prove my theories extremely right. I think its got something to do with the fact that you should never date a woman who has a month for a name. It gives them unnatural powers, maybe from nature, perhaps that would make them natural, I’m not sure.
     I had to start hiding the stories, hiding the fact that I was writing, hiding the fact that I was cheating with imaginary women in stories. I put the stories everywhere, in my pillow, in my sock drawers, folded up into my wallet next to my bus pass. One hot afternoon, I was riding the bus back from Boca in Florida, and I saw a section of my story on the bus floor, next to the thrown away bus passes. A week later I was doing laundry when I found a washed out page folded into four creases in the dryer, barely readable, dried up like a jellyfish in the sun.
     June started coming by less and less. I had been hiding a decent set of writing, hidden in the tape slot of my V.C.R, pressed up against the Sony logo. I felt this story was certainly worth reading. I bundled up it all up and sent it with little editing to a literary magazine here in Florida called “Closer”, that I was fairly certain no one read. I was actually glad to be rid of it. I kept fearing that for some reason, June would reach into my VCR and pull it out, scissor it in the air like a flying blender and burn the pieces with the venom in her fingers. There are few things more dangerous than a woman justified in her anger, even its malice against people that aren’t real, that makes it more dangerous, imaginary girlfriends tend to side against you too.
     June called me three weeks later to tell me that she had something incredible to tell me. For a girl who lived in angelic fits of joy and misery, excitement was the one thing that scared me the most. It could mean anything. I could be fending against a verbal onslaught or painting roses on ceramic bowls with her. Excitement in June was unpredictable, I usually kept band aids and paint brushes in the same drawer, in case of one or the other, or maybe both.
     She flew into my room twenty minutes later; speaking in jagged tears, shaking a few pages of loosely bounded pages together, her yelling was incomprehensible. But the embers in her eyes were scalding with disbelief.
     "It’s really something, Will. The raw deal, this is how you should be doing it. This guy makes no phony delays like your writing; you could learn a real angle if you wrote like this Dixie Alexander guy."
    Maybe I didn't tell you how careful I had been. I sent in the story with a pen name, to hide my identity in case she somehow read it, if it was somehow published, to protect myself. The pen name I used was Dixie Alexander.
     June was still winding through how much she liked this short story she had found in the "Closer" literary magazine.
     "... he approaches it in a such a fresh angle will, you could really learn from this writer", she started pointing out the lines I had written only three weeks ago.
     The lines of the story seemed a little different to me then, but I knew I had written them.
     "Will, you should try this style, or at least talk to this guy; he could maybe give you the secret.”
     “Yea”, I said, “I can't wait to meet him"
     My VCR stopped working two days later. When June came over again, she told me that "Closer" was publishing her new favorite author, Dixie Alexander, in a series. The same story scanned out across the next three issues. I was glad to hear that my story was going to make it somewhere, even if it meant hiding the fact that I wrote it. It was all becoming part of the routine, imaginary girlfriends, imaginary writers, writing about the arguments he has with his dame, April, that’s the name I gave her in the story, and publishing them in some magazine he thought only pretend people would read.
     I did myself a favor, and picked up the next issue of "Closer” when it came out the next day. I found a free copy on the floor at the laundromat; it looked like it had been through at least one spin cycle.
     I took out my red pen, and started marking the lines that I thought could have been written better. I felt a little tense post editing my own story with a red pen, but I started seeing literary holes in my writing. I was red deep in editing the already published story when June came through my door again. She had the same story in her hands, the same troubling excitement, and the same unpredictable inertia.
     "So has the full on jealousy settled in you yet? If it has I understand, it used to be you Will, but this guy has the edge I want. I’m going to go to incredible lengths to meet him. It’s so strange he’s writing this character April, I feel like he knows me, I’m just like that character! I wonder what he will think when he discovers that there is a girl like that around. He doesn’t just have to write about her, when he could meet her face to face, he will probably fall in love with me."
     "He will probably be sucked into some kind of logical paradox and vanish like steam after a shower. June, I think you would do better to leave him alone. This Dixie guy, sounds like he already has a full plate with whatever he has going on. Most guys write about women, as a way to distance them from their lives, to trap them there, on the page, to put a bright finish on the little spurts of sanity and beauty they see in them. For some, it’s the safest way to be around women, real and imaginary, even though I usually get defeated by both. It's control, June, it’s the only way he can control anything. Do you understand?"
     "I understand that you wish you could write like him."
     "Please! I could care less, this guy has no style, and he thinks he’s so great. But all his words and stupid descriptions don’t amount to the writing on the back of my bus pass in quality. I’ve read through this story a few times, and it gets a little more tiring with every read. This is just some lonely emo kid in a terrifying beach city, who probably got burned out posting his stories on the internet and took a lucky swing on this magazine. He doesn’t know what I do; writers usually take a swing and butt it for an easy out. What the hell do you see in this writing anyways?"
     June arches her back a couple more degrees, stretching out her fingers, dressed in bi color clothes all calico, and says, "I don’t know Will, it’s the feeling, its the motion, the energy, its just there in a way, that I almost always got with you, but it’s just here, in an easier way to grasp at. You can't always explain why one man is better than another; sometimes these facts are simply true on principle."
     Sometimes, when women really dig on a guys’ writing style, they like the wrong things in my opinion. They love the lie, not the line.
     I punched my fist into my open hand, "I bet I could take him June." And I meant it; this Dixie was not going to take June from me,
     "You'd probably just knock yourself out, Will."
     I was going to have to change it up if I was going to keep her, what she said about principles really clawed at me, she doesn’t even know this guy. I kept trying to visualize him in my mind, and I dreamt that night of beating up my imaginary foe. I woke up with a headache.
     When June brought over the last issue in the series, I had just become too tired to fight it. I just decided that this man, this Dixie Alexander, was a better writer than me. I was insanely jealous that a person I didn’t even know could write like this. I really admired his style. But I never told this to June. His stories, about his make believe girlfriends, how they fought with his real girlfriend, I really felt for the guy, I think I understood what he was going through. But my pride would not let me really like his work.
     The more and more June brought over the issues, watching her eyes flutter with that naive summer style dream stare, I hated him more and more. I pointed out the phrases to her that struck me as half assed, lazily written, and clearly misogynistic. I told June that this guy probably just wrote like this to attract women. He did this stuff on purpose. I told her, don’t try to meet him. If she did she might become a successful writer.
     I had this theory, girls who like writers; they are usually painters or actresses. They read this kind of writing, like Dixie’s’, and they build up this idea in their head of what he is like. (She didn’t believe anything of what I said) They build up this idea, and then they meet him, he turns out to be ok at first , but over time he goes more and more crazy, gets drunk on his success as a writer, starts keeping little notes he thinks are golden gems of writing, hidden everywhere in his house. He starts to fade away.
     His new girlfriend gets really bent out about his new way, his new way of thinking; this is not the guy she thought she was going to end up dating. This girlfriend, I told her, usually goes on to write a best selling novel about character disintegration, half the time about the writer she decided to date. June didn’t really take any of this to be real or valid. I decided not to point out Sylvia Plath.
     "Will, every time I bring over another one of Dixie’s new stories, you always have so many theories, about how you’re a better writer, a better man, it’s always the same. You and your theories and how great a writer you are, a woman gets tired of your shit. Filled with hot air, but your bullshit is a balloon that doesn’t want to fly. You’re fading into something bad. If you could take a tip from his style, you’d see a little clearer. His writing reminds me of those weird optical illusion paintings, all the vertical lines that convey the illusion of depth."
     “I definitely need that.”
     It's hard for me to admit defeat, but it’s happened before. This Dixie was just a flash in my head. I couldn’t even make out his features in my mind, but I was convinced that if we ever met, I would talk to him. He might an all right guy to smoke a cig with. We‘d probably fight over the same girl, beat each other into blue bruises, then be lifelong friends after, sharing old stories of make believe girlfriends that we had known in the months of June and April. He would tell me his theory about women with months as names.
     I knew what June saw in him. I think she liked his intent, I think she felt that he was trying to change. These kinds of women, tend to a like a guy in some kind of turmoil. They liken themselves to a man on the hinges of a crowded disaster. A crowd of fake people will maul you just as quickly as a runaway lawnmower.
     I had to respect it too. She liked him because he was trying, really. She fell for him in full eventually. She told me she was going to the publishers’ office to find out who he was. We hugged and she left. I sat staring at my broken VCR. June chose him because I think he was trying to do something right, even if he couldn’t remember what it was.