It had been three months since I tumbled down the rabbit hole with my March Hare. In fact, it was the month of March and caught up in a whirlwind of caring and co-dependence, I had unwillingly become the Mad Hatter. I knew my own sanity was at stake and this episode should have been the finale.
Easter. My fellow tenants were throwing their yearly Easter party for the building and friends; a drop-in affair of Easter eggs and champagne. Being Catholic, and estranged from his family, James wanted to spend this Easter Sunday with me. And so, I invited him to join me for the pastel festivities in my building. A few hours later, he pulled up in his Porsche convertible, tanned, handsome with a bouquet of flowers for the hosts.
I proudly entered the party with my Cuban arm candy. Every head turned and as always, his charm sucked the energy out of the room – until he yanked me into the bathroom and closed the door with a worried look on his face. “Honey,” he purred, “I want to spend today with you but there’s this guy who’s been stalking me on a website and he wants to meet today.” Instead of looking for a toilet plunger to whack him across the head, I suggested he simply not reply to the guy. Due to the mercurial nature of whatever we were, and since our dynamic changed hourly, we weren’t “exclusive.” But James had wanted to spend the day with me and said, “Let’s leave the party and have a nice dinner, just you and me.” I told him, “It’s Easter Sunday and every restaurant will be booked.” But addicted to his smile, I left him alone at the party and went upstairs to phone around for a table for two. I spent a half hour on the phone and finally found a nice romantic restaurant in the neighborhood. When I returned to the party, James had invited 12 people to join us! It was easier to acquiesce than negotiate and so James and a dozen neighbors and strangers walked down the hill to an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.
Seated at a large outdoor table on the sidewalk, James ordered a $300 bottle of wine and handed me his American Express Gold Card whispering, “Honey, I’m paying for everybody. Here’s my card.” I refused to take his credit card telling him he was responsible for this latest turn of events. Then, he takes my hand and whispers that he had invited the online date he had never met to join us for dinner. At this point, I really didn’t care if Jesus, risen from the dead, joined us.
We all ordered and by the time my Tortellini arrived, so had James’ phantom date. The man’s eyes bulged at the sight of James with his arm around me and at what must have looked like the first and Last Supper. I actually felt sorry for the guy and removed James’ arm from around my neck. But when the man sat down and joined us, I stopped feeling sorry for him. If it was me, I would have left in a heartbeat. But who was I to judge being in a pseudo-relationship with a psycho-hottie whack-job? I had to pee, but knew if I left the table this guy would leap into my seat. I did. And he did. Next thing I knew, James asked me to step inside the restaurant.
James perched on a barstool and exclaimed, “What did you do? I wanted to be alone with you and you invited all these people to dinner?” My jaw hit the bar. “ME? YOU did this!” “Well get rid of them, I just want to be alone with you, hunnneee.” Then he stopped and said, “Oh. Wait. I like this song.” There wasn’t any music playing. Did Schizophrenia just get added to the list? Then he further charmed me with the words, “You know, I don’t know if this is going to work out. I could never introduce you to my family because you’re Jewish.” I wanted to order a drink just so I could splash it in his face. Instead, I ordered an end to the evening. When we returned to the sidewalk table, everybody was gone; except the tab that rivaled a month’s rent. James paid it with his American Express.
As we walked back up the hill to my apartment he said, “I don’t know how you put up with me.” I agreed and couldn’t wait to send him on his way. But then he said he would like to stay the night. He never stayed the night. And my co-dependent cuddle trigger went off with the chance to wake up with him in the morning. I said, “All right.” He responded, “Never mind. Think I’ll go home.”
As he climbed into his car, I asked, “Are you all right to drive? You’ve been drinking since noon.” “I’ll be fine,” and he hit the road. My exhaling rivaled the Santa Ana winds. But then it occurred to me that I shouldn’t have let him drive home after drinking all day. I phoned James in his car. He was almost home. I told him to call when he arrived. Never heard from him. Worry crept in, since suicide had been on his to-do list. I jumped into my car and drove to West Hollywood. I buzzed the intercom. No answer. Was he busy blow-drying his hair before sticking his head in the oven? I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in there with the phantom date. I drove home and went to bed, at least knowing I tried. The next morning brought more insanity….mine!
Easter Monday. I woke up still concerned about James. I phoned. He answered, mad at me for letting him drive home drunk, but he wanted to be held. I had a pitch meeting in the afternoon but offered to stop off at his place on the way. I believe it’s classic for a Borderline to twist things to make you think everything is your fault. It worked. I stopped off to buy an apologetic bouquet of flowers. I pulled up in front of James’ building – it was on fire!
So there I was running into a burning building with a bouquet of flowers. Now who’s the mental case? Firemen with hoses and axes were appearing and disappearing in the smoke and although the alarm was still dinging, a fireman said it was over and all right to enter.
James’ door was ajar and I entered his apartment where he was puttering around looking more handsome than ever in a tight white tee shirt and grey sweatpants. He started to ramble about last night. I shoved the bouquet in his face and slammed my hand against his mouth insisting, “Don’t talk. Just don’t talk. Don’t talk!” We collapsed into a long clutching hug of caring and confusion. James broke the hug and asked if I wanted to make love. I looked at my watch. I had a pitch meeting in 90 minutes. But one flash of that 100 megawatt smile and I melted faster than the furniture in the lobby. But with the clock ticking and the alarm bell clanging I had performance anxiety. I secretly popped a Viagra. Pretty soon, the only thing climaxing was anxiety punctuated with, ‘What am I doing?’ I told James I had to go and left. However, I had forgotten that it takes Viagra about an hour to kick in. An hour later, I’m at a pitch meeting standing in front of a couple of producers and…BOING!
A friend reminded me that I’m a dramatist and so I thrive on drama. True, I may be a nut magnet, but as I’ve grown older I’d rather pay to watch a drama than be embroiled in one. I had been aware of my self-inflicted spiral into nuttiness and learned that Borderline Personalities suck you into their drama, project and twist it to make you doubt your own sanity. I had willingly been caught up in the Hollywood fantasy that epitomized beauty and wealth on the outside and a steaming hot mess on the inside. After subsequent episodes of James’ crystal meth relapse, abandonment crises, tender poetry followed by insults and false accusations, plans and arrangements that always turned into chaos, I knew there was an expiry date to the insanity since I was soon leaving for my summer in Canada.
Being a dramatist, I wanted to bookend our “relationship” by taking James out for an expensive dinner. Instead, at the last minute, he changed our plans and our last date was an AA 12-step meeting. I was glad to accompany him and after the meeting I said, “James, I’m proud of you.” He replied, “I don’t need your support.” Taxi!
(Excerpted from, “Nut Magnet – An Autobiographical Assortment of Fruits and Nuts”)