Manhattan Melodrama Circa ‘92

“Journals? Give me a break. Who’d want to read someone’s journals?”

—Me, two posts ago.


August 18, 1992

Bonnie and I saw Neil Diamond at Madison Square Garden the other night. Neither one of us can stand his music but she got free press seats so we went. I’ll see practically anyone for free.

Before the show we had dinner at Pete’s Tavern. She knows the owners so we didn’t have to pay for the drinks, thank God. We’re both broke. I ordered a veal chop and when the waitress set the plate down in front of me, a cockroach walked out from underneath it. He probably hitched a ride from the kitchen. Neither the waitress nor Bonnie saw it. I was worried that Bonnie was going to spot it and scream.

I watched it walk across the table and wished it out of eyesight. It crawled onto the pepper mill so I back-handed it to the floor. I made it look like a clumsy accident. Roaches are fast but I’m clever. $20 for a veal chop and I have to watch a fucking cockroach stroll across my table. I’m ruined for veal chops. I hallucinated it was a giant, upturned cockroach. I cut into its belly, extracted its guts and put it my mouth. The same thing happened to me at the Hard Rock Café over a slab of ribs. What the hell’s wrong with this town, anyway?

The waitress was a beautiful, olive-skinned Egyptian who I wanted to ravage right there on their roach-infested table. She’s married to the guy managing the joint so I kept the roach story to myself. I told Oswaldo and he couldn’t stop laughing, but I won’t repeat it to anyone else. [Note: The hell I won’t.] I paid for both meals and the cab ride to Madison Square Garden. I miss Dorothy if, for no other reason, she pulled her weight during the lean times.

Growing up, mom fed us a steady diet of Neil Diamond so I knew every lyric to every song. She had a live album called Hot August Night and it was a hot August night, so that’s a full circle. I took Jennifer to the Lone Star Café to see Robert Gordon last week and the two shows couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Diamond had a surprisingly complicated laser and light show and a killer sound system. Robert Gordon? Not so much. Just straight ahead, kick-ass rockabilly. At the end of the Diamond show, some guy ran up on stage to embrace him. It was kind of scary. He could have had a big knife and stabbed him in front of thousands of adoring fans. By the time the show started, Bonnie and I were loaded out of our minds. We kept a running commentary that criticized his clothes, hair, bland songs and over-zealous fans. We got a lot of dirty looks. Not our finest hour.

I stayed overnight at Bonnie’s. The doorman always gives me this “way-to-go” look that annoys the shit out of me. I had worked all day, then the meal with drinks and the long concert, so my expectation was that I’d fall asleep instantaneously. I laid down on the sofa and tried to understand CNN while she went to change. She came out in a plush, white terrycloth robe with a Four Seasons crest on it. I knew she wasn’t wearing anything underneath.

She sat next to me on the sofa and the next thing I knew I got a second wind. Older women are better. They know what they’re doing. Also, there was something about the robe. It made me woozy with desire. I threw her down onto the sofa in a not-very-delicate manner and tore it open. In one swift, smooth, fluid motion she unclasped my belt and unzipped. No fumbling around. Again…older women. Being so worked-up that you can’t be bothered to take your clothes off is kind of hot. I should’ve used the robe sash to tie her hands but I didn’t think about it until the next day.

We washed up, brushed our teeth, got under the covers and after some spirited encouragement from Bonnie, surprise, surprise. Once again, I grossly overestimated how tired I was. At one point I put a condom on and everything came to a screeching halt, as it always does when I do that. I wonder if Bonnie can still get pregnant? We went at it again the following morning and now I’m kind of raw. I won’t be able to abuse myself for a week. Our morning pillow talk was about AIDS and how we really should be more careful.

She made an incredible breakfast. I was watching and initially, it didn’t look like she knew what she was doing but everything turned out okay. She made French toast. She cut thick slices of bread from a loaf of challah and fried thick slices of honey cured bacon. She fried the bacon until it looked like blackened strips of ash. I thought she’d overcooked it but it was delicious. A good pot of hot coffee, too. We sat on her sofa and read the Sunday New York Times.

Jennifer told me she’s seeing some guy who’s 39, divorced and has two kids. Why would she get involved with some decrepit 39 year-old with kids?

 Saturday morning, March 20th.
The first day of spring in suburban New Jersey.



snow3 snow4

Sure, it’s pretty…in DECEMBER. Enough, already.

95 thoughts on “Manhattan Melodrama Circa ‘92

    • Ironically, I listen now with a sort-of melancholy. This was the music of my mom.

      As always, I offer these journal entries unedited with the understanding that I wasn’t such a nice person then. I make no apologies.

      • I know exactly what you mean about the feelings when listening to the music of our parents’…the same for me. And I don’t see you as ‘not’ a nice person…I see you as finding your way, in your own way, in your own time. I envy you your journals…I wish I’d done the same. If only to see how far I’d come.

      • Look…I appreciate that but I was a bit of a pig. A cad, as it were. But I’m not down on myself for it. What does anyone know when they’re young? We’re all just trying to figure it out.

        The journals are a constant strain for me. I’m both delighted (click the memoir category) and horrified (I’ll never publish those entries). I’m scared to death my daughters will find them. Then what!? I’ll burn them up one day.

      • Life is a journey…there’s an original statement yeah? This journey is unique to each of us, full of wrong turns, u-turns, dirt roads, and dead ends. Though you may not want your daughters to visit those stops along the way, they will realize one day, during their own journeys, that you were on that road once yourself. They may even come to you when they reach a place they are not sure which way to turn. Right? I would challenge anyone to look back on theirs and not see the devil in the details. We’ve all had to make the choices along the way that led us to the places we are right now. Cad? Pig? Maybe…but you must have done something right somewhere…otherwise you wouldn’t give two hoots what anyone thought of your past…much less your girls. There are some things no one needs to see or know if there’s nothing to be learned from them, and those things stay in the vault no question. But that’s life and it matters more where we end up than where we began.

      • That was lovely. Thank you for it. I think I’d prefer they retain the sanitized version of dear old dad before the real stuff kicks in. Seriously, these journals are a constant worry. They’re in a bin in the basement. The whole torrid past is just one snooping session away!

      • I’m no expert…but I do think there is a reason you kept them then and keep them now. In time, that reason may reveal itself to you…but in the meantime, what you are doing by visiting the past this way, (for you it must, at times, feel like real time), is a pretty rare thing. For myself, it would go a long way in answering a lot of questions I have about myself, fill in the blanks I have of very bad times, but also, put me in touch with the person who (didn’t know she) had the strength to not just survive, but grow into the person she is today. Someone I never thought I’d ever be…and frankly, don’t know how I did. Journals like yours would be quite the learning experience for me, and I believe would answer a lot of questions for and about my family also. It’s a double edged sword without question…but one I feel worth unsheathing. Our kids never need to know the depth, just that we were once as confused and stupid and selfish as they were (are) and that it’s all part of growing up.

      • I actually think your journals are safer here than in your basement. Where do you think a kid will be tempted to snoop first – Dad’s stuff hidden in a basement or Dad’s public blog?

      • In this day and age? They’re going to conduct a Google search long before a basement search. I say there’s no safe place. Enjoy it while you can. One hit from my house that isn’t my wife or I and it all comes crashing down.

      • Somehow I missed this one in March, Mark. My dear wife Karen and I saw Neil Diamond the Saturday before Easter down in D.C. because it was on her bucket list, and you know what? At 74, his voice and his songs have weathered the decades way better than most things about me. That’s for freaking sure. We had a blast.

        If your daughters find the journals, fib the white lie and claim you were writing the Great American Novel back then. Save yourself some worry and grief, and them some shock and revulsion.

    • One of the biggest take-aways I get is how much fun I was having but didn’t realize it. I thought I was a miserable, lost soul—which I was—but it was also an awful lot of fun. If I pass along anything I’ve learned from these journals it’ll be to take stock in the day. Things can be pretty great without you realizing it. You could miss the whole parade!

      • And…THAT…is well worth it. The young miss SO much of the benefits of being young in the rush to ‘get’ there. I’m glad you see it now…still not easy to teach our kids to relish the day, but maybe you have a better chance from this position.

    • Have you ever had that happen? I was in a diner once having breakfast and there was a bug (not a roach) cooked into my potatoes. Do you know what I did? I pushed it to the side and finished my meal. I’m kind of a big baby now. I’d send it back.

    • I wish I’d had a better appreciation because the seats were great. It just wasn’t in my head at the time. It’s not his fault. My mom pounded his music into me for years. I was glad to be rid of him. He’s playing in Brooklyn in a few months. It’s kind of a homecoming.

  1. “Journals? Give me a break. Who’d want to read someone’s journals?”

    me. Some beautiful spring pictures there as well. Thank you.

  2. Bonnie sounds great. I was a bit like you in that I’ve always fancied middleaged women, even when I was younger. They’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade and I really can’t be arsed with the coyness and silliness of younger girls. Well — ok, some younger girls. The woman I was absolutely consumed with desire over last year was 47 — and when I was 18 I lost my virginity to a 40-year-old.

    Er… I’ll stop now. This is your journal not mine 🙂

  3. Song sung blue, weeping like a willow! What’s not to like, man? I assume Bonnie was on the pill, but it’s still a feather in your cap that you squirted your jam into her donut. These days it would be tantamount to a marriage proposal.

    • Song sung blue, sleepin’ on my pillow.

      You heartless BASTARD. Thanks for nothing. How am I supposed to get that out of my head? Nice work.

      Funny, but I have no idea if she was on the pill or not. I was too self-absorbed to ask.

  4. Whenever you treat us to a trip on your time machine, you have the caveat that you were younger and feeling your way in the City….and none of us ever says “Whoa! this is too private, too much.” I’ve already told you what I think;do you need me to tell you again?
    Most of us (certainly the people I “know” in the cyber world) had interesting coming-of-age experiences.But not all of us kept such wonderful journals.
    And d’you know what I did with mine? Binned them. The memories are still in the attic, but sometimes I wish I could flip open an old book…
    Other times I think “Holy mother of God! Just as well those books are gone!” Names, you see.I’d hate anyone to know who did what with whom!

    • It’s a weird compulsion I have—posting these and yet fearing their being discovered. The problem is that people say such flattering things and, of course, I want more where that came from. I just hope there isn’t a price to pay for being so cavilear with my dirty past.

  5. You’re too funny yet hard on yourself in ways that I do not understand. You were at 22 years old, a cock-eyed snot nosed kid. That’s what I learned from my dad when he referred to a youngster that was full of himself. As others have written you were finding your way. All your past experiences made you into the man you are today and shaped you to be a good husband and father. Now I suspect that you might just be a tad over protective of your girls but I don’t know that for certain,

    Honestly has your wife seen these journals? And does she read your blog? You could put them in a special hiding place where your girls will not find them.

    • Being hard on myself is a skill that I sharpened to a fine point. I wish there was a way to monetize it.

      My wife reads my blog occasionally, but she never reads the journal entries. Something about listening to her husband prattle on about his past lovers doesn’t set well with her. Can you blame her?

  6. This is not in any way related to the post, but a couple of days ago I had been in a bar named after Charles Bukowski, and that made me (i hope, correctly) recall that you’re a fan of his work.
    Also, it was a kind of a bar where a cockroach wouldn’t look out of place at all.

      • I don’t know about the murals (may have been too immersed in the conversation), but there were Bukowski photos and quotes (I assume they are his) plastered on the wall. I also remember a steel-plated bathroom about the size of airplane lavatory.
        I didn’t even realize we had one bar named after him – we were looking for a place to eat around 11pm, and this was one of the few places that were open.

      • We’re taking the kids to Boston for a couple days during their spring break and I’m hoping to make a pilgrimage there. They have their church. It’s time I show them mine.

  7. I tried to Google my memories the other day, seriously, I was a bit under the weather. You are lucky that you took notes a long the way. I was far too pissed.

  8. You had me very worried when you said you went to a Niel Diamond concert. I breathed a sigh of relief when you said that you can’t stand his music and had more fun making fun of it/him while at said craponcert. Yeash don’t do that to me again. I don’t need a heart attack you know!

    Nice pics!

  9. So real and gritty Mark. Love it. I too sought out the older women – when I was 20 I had a girl friend who was 30. When 25, girl friend was 40. There are a few things that older women disagree on – they often (in my experience) prefer the finer things – like who the heck cares where the grapes were grown? , i just like the alcohol. Ha! They, of course, beg to differ. That aside, I was trucking in those years so I didn’t see a lot of them and they seemed to appreciate the “energy” of a younger man. That pretty much took up all our visiting time so the differences didn’t matter so much. When I settled down (32) it was with a woman of the same age. A lot easier that way.

    Ramblin’ Rose was one of my favs too when I was young(12-15). It was so funny because I had a cassette player and used to play it a lot. My Mum was rather prudish and she always frowned. I didn’t get it until I was much older and I heard the song one day and realized – for the first time – that it was about a prostitute. ha! To her credit, my Mum never said anything, just frowned.

    Cool photos Mark – very crisp and clear and ….cold…Brrrr. It hasn’t snowed more than a dusting around here for about 2 weeks but it has been cold. Just made it above freezing earlier this week – before that it was in the teens (F). Eagerly awaiting spring.

    Great post, as usual Mark, Thank you.

    • I didn’t specifically target older women and it’s not like there were that many. There was Bonnie and there was one other but beside that I think it was me chasing women my own age who pretty much ignored me. There wasn’t nearly as much drama with the two older women I went out with. That was kind of nice.

      I’m sure your mum knew that eventually you’d catch on to what Ramblin’ Rose was up to, along with a lot of other nonsense that wouldn’t occur to a 12-year old. Good for her for being somewhat liberal and protecting you from the truth.

      Thanks for stopping in and sharing, Paul. As always your, The King of Comments.

  10. In theory, and often in practice, the sex drive of a middle-years woman is pretty well aligned with that of an 18 year old boy. When i was aggressively free-range, after my divorce, i had several younger suitors – but my problem is that i found them completely uninteresting. Kids! Blech! Full of themselves, still thinking they can achieve something, thinking they are something special, just waiting to be discovered. They might be a good time in the sack, but for the love of DOG when they start to speak afterwards! i just want to put a pillow over their faces and be done with it.

    i like my men bitter, broken and thinking their best years are behind them. Those men think i’m hot and appreciate the hell out of me.

    • What a cruel joke to play on humanity; making our sexual peaks at such wildly different ages. You’d think they’d be in sync with one another, but no. Ah, well. We’re not in sync with so much else. Why should sex be any different?

      I can picture you smothering one of those guys with a pillow. I can!

      The pool of bitter, broken men will always be much greater than that of young, viral men. You’ve cast your net in the right pond.

    • I’m always the audience. Never the performer. So I get a big thrill when people tell me these posts are enjoyable. This idiot blog is my only artistic endeavor. Any potential embarrassment or regret is superseded by my need for attention and a compliment. Admittedly, not an ideal state of affairs.

  11. Hot August Night is just grand. Step-dad had it on vinyl, all creased with the record halo like a tin of chew in a back pocket. This reads beautifully. More, please.

    • That album and his Moods are considered to be his masterpieces. I just listened to Moods for the hell of it. I knew every song intimately but haven’t heard them for years. They still kind of laid there dead for me. It’s not my thing, even at this late stage of the game.

  12. Another great entry! (Snigger). The decrepit 39 year old made me laugh. A couple of months back I was contacted by a student film maker who wanted to see if I would like to have a part in a short film he was making. The scene was four “older” women chatting in a coffee shop, there were lines in there with the women saying things like “At our time of life, we know that every day we’re heading closer to god’s pearly gates”, so I questioned whether he was actually wanting older actresses as I was only 44, and he was like “Nope, 44 is fine!”. Ha! I remember those days of thinking anyone over 30 is completely past it.

    • Thank you, Vanessa-Jane. Is that what your friends call you in real life? All four syllables?

      I only WISH I was a decrepit 39 year old again. Without being specific, I can tell you that 39 is a long time ago. I can’t believe I was the one who typed those words. They came back to haunt me. Don’t they always?

      You should have given that student a good swift kick to show him a 44 year old can still be pretty spirited. Or slept with him. THAT’D have taught him something he wouldn’t forget.

      • No, nobody calls me Vanessa-Jane except in blog comments because it’s not really my name! Well, it’s my name but not my punctuation. Jane is just my middle name. When I took up acting again a few years ago, there was another actress out there called Vanessa Chapman so I decided to bring in my middle name and hyphen it just to be a bit different. So I then decided I would use that same name for any writing things I did, and so it made sense for my blog to be that too. I always find it surprising when bloggers call me Vanessa-Jane! (That was probably more of an explanation than you needed).

        I did do that film with the student and it was actually pretty good, we made it work!

      • They can call you Vee. Or they can call you Jay. Or they can call you Vee Jay. Or they can call you Hey-Hey. But they can’t call you Vanessa Chapman, because that name is TAKEN.

    • Hey, I remember you! How’ve you been? Nice to see you.

      The good news is that I’ve got a basement full of this stuff waiting to be mined. There’s more a click away in the memoir category. I’ll keep posting until I get into some sort of trouble, which is inevitable.

      • I have been good. I have been otherwise occupied, but will probably share some of that on my blog. lol It’s good to be hanging around again, and reading your ramblings. Can’t wait to see what other crazy antics you were up to in the 90’s!

  13. I’m beginning to think you may have been a gigolo… Young SWM seeks older women to shower with attention and pleasure, satisfaction is my guarantee, please call 555-DONG.

    • What I reveal here is a highlight reel. To think that my journals are hundreds of pages of this sort of thing is grossly inaccurate. But if that’s what you or anyone else wants to think I shouldn’t discourage you. Just don’t peek behind the curtain.

  14. Great photos. Your boatload missed Iowa by a mile. Wish we had gotten some of it. ‘Twas a relatively dry, open winter here in the land of hog confinements. Previous comments have addressed very well your spit and vinegar. Lots of courage there to bring that back. In my 60s here and growing ever more wistful. Your writing is a delight.

    • I don’t mind a boatload of snow but, Jesus, it’s spring. Enough already. Deprived of a white Christmas and now this. It hardly seems fair.

      Thank you for your kind words about my writing. The bulk of these journals is more vinegar then spit but I choose to save everyone from that unpleasantness. (For now. Heh.)

  15. I almost had to stop reading this. A freaking cockroach?! I would have walked out. Not much gets to me but I do not handle roaches, especially around my food.

    I’m not sure I could name a single Neil Diamond song – except maybe “Red Red Wine”, wasn’t that his? I was raised on the Beatles, ABBA, and Billy Joel.

    • Sad to report that in my 20+ years living in New York there were lots of roach encounters. Rats, too, in the subways. This ain’t the place to be if you’re squeamish.

      It’s interesting that you would name-check “Red Red Wine.” That was, indeed, a Neil diamond song but it was a hit for UB40. The Monkeys hit “I’m a Believer” was also written by Neil Diamond but he had plenty of hits on his own as well.

      • Yuck, rats in the subway aren’t my favorite, but I’m ok as long as they keep their distance. It WAS a shock when I visited NYC for the first time, because the metro in DC is consistently rat-free.

        “I’m a Believer” was a Neil Diamond song too?! My brother and I used to watch the Monkeys tv show growing up and that’s one of my favorites of theirs (or, Neil’s I guess).

      • They do! It’s disgusting. Carpet and public transportation do not mix. I doubt even New Yorkers would go that far. There is a rumor going around that the new metro cars (which were supposed to replace the old carpeted version by 2014, so naturally the timeline has been revised to an optimistic summer of 2016) are NYC-style with normal floors and plastic chairs. I hope they don’t attract rats.

  16. Hi Mark Well isn’t this an illustrious journal page that made its way to your blog! A little different side to the humorous Mark I’ve come to know, but then the cockroaches were funny – gross, but funny. I think you should tell us more about that robe sash, Mark – or is that supposed to be left up to the reader’s imagination? lol In ’92 I was finishing college in Madrid, Spain. Don’t have any journals, but I do have letters from all the friends I met there. Enjoyed your beautiful photos as well:)

  17. Gone are the days… I had those, too, but I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I didn’t write anything down. I honestly thought I could remember it all, but I was so fucking drunk all the time there’s just no way… and now here I am, with vague impressions that I had a good time… I won’t/can’t comment on the snowscapes, snow is long gone from here and I may just move my ass out of Canadaland before it returns. Here’s hoping. Christ, I like the sound of Bonnie… she sounds invigorating.

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