Hickey Monster

In another of my dastardly stories of mean and cruel behavior proving karma is certain pounce at any moment I’ll take you back to the spring 1993. It was a time of figuring things out for me. I had just moved back from Chicago working the morning shift at a non-chain coffee shop in the center of small city full of pretentious soccer moms, spoiled kids, and the human frailties that come along with the shallow collection of things. Sure it looks nice, I call it my home town in the right company, but I have never felt a full connection with the place.

During the “time of addiction” when I smoked a pack a day and drank a pot of coffee with ease, my pack of friends shared the same reckless behavior. On weekend nights we would drive downtown to Detroit and join in on a series of Rave’s. Popular music of the day, you may recall, was grunge and the pacific rock scene. But in Detroit electronica and house music were first being spun by hot young talent. These DJ’s would set up in abandoned warehouses downtown, which were in ample supply. Word would spread to the suburbs and people, like me and my group, would drive down in their parents Accords and mini vans. It was at one of these raves in the late spring that I met the Muppet Head.

Jon O brought her over and introduced her as one of his friends (Jon O should be mayor with the number of people he knows.) It turns out we worked only a block away from one another and she had been going to the competition for coffee.

The next Monday morning she strolled in a few minutes after six. This should have been the first clue. Who wakes up that early to drive fifteen minutes for a cup of coffee (besides me.) After some small talk and pissing off a few customers making them wait she gave me her number and we set plans for later in the week.

It was nothing really. We went for a glass of wine, walked around Royal Oak for a while, and then I walked her home. Simple, cheep, spent a little time getting to know her before taking another step.

She was a very nice girl. On a good day she may have been four foot eleven. Her skin was the white pale you would see in the past paintings of England before the renaissance. A few years out of style she wore her jet black hair short, just above the ears. I remember liking her hair. It brought out her dark doll like eyes. But the most striking feature of all was her mouth. For such a petite and tiny girl, her smile was huge starting right below each ear lobe and working across the face with two very kissable lips.

After that polite first evening we had decided to join some other friends at the taste of Detroit. Here are the things I remember from that day. It was hot. Hot in the city, sweaty, no shade to be found under the sun like a magnifying glass burning ants hot. We drank. Beer there was cheep and the cups were huge. I didn’t drive, she didn’t drive, so we drank. Then, well, like most stories of this nature, things become a bit fuzzy. Hot, drunk, and well, annoyed was the next stage. She was really getting on my nerves. For some reason she kept expecting me to be entertaining and funny. Instead I became more drunk and surly. I remember sitting on the curb and splitting an “onion blossom” having no idea what it was – a deep fried onion. Then she wanted to get a little make out action. Hot, drunk, surly, onion breath, and then public display of affection just put it over the top. I had one of the guys take us back to her place where my car was.

By the time we got to her place I was sober. She was still pretty wasted and insistent that I stay a while. So my buddy leaves us alone. I excuse myself and freshen up in the bathroom. She must have done the same somewhere else. We met on the couch and started to have some private fun.

Looking back now, I feel bad for this last part. We remained fully clothed for the happy fun time but, like a good massage therapist who will re-visit a certain spot to make sure a sore spot is taken care of, I did something similar to her neck.

Maybe an hour later we had gotten to small talk and excuses to leave. It was dark in her apartment. She walked me to the porch where we spent another half hour saying good-bye. I was sure to go back to the familiar spots from the last hours a few more times. Finally, I pried myself away from her.

Driving home in the family wagon it occurred to me that her smile was so big because of the placement of her jaw. Her mouth dropped like a Muppet, straight down with no nuance. And when she kissed, her mouth became a wet plunger; it just opened and covered a large portion of my face sucking. I decided that would be the last time we went out.

The next morning at the coffee shop we opened with very few customers coming in. By mid morning she walked in to grab a cup before opening the store she worked at. Maybe it was the way the morning sun filled the shop when she walked in, but she looked like an angelic vision at the door. By the time she made it to the counter and yesterday goggles were removed, I noticed she was wearing a blue 50’s silk scarf. I could also see the devil was in her eyes. With as stern a voice she could muster her disappointment in me was clear. Then she removed the scarf to show me the damage done. It looked like someone had taken a miniature bat from their last visit to Tiger Stadium and beat the hell out of her neck. Her pale white complexion didn’t help. It made the purple, browns, yellows, and blues of the hickey more pronounced.

Something inside me compelled me to reach out my finger to touch it. My hand had never been slapped so hard. She scolded me like a child while I stood in awe ignoring her every word. It reminded me of looking for faces in the bark of a tree as a child. The bruised blobs on her neck wanted to make sense, take shape, form an elderly woman at one angle, and a young beautiful woman with a hat in another aspect.

Finally she stopped talking. I didn’t know what to say except what I had been thinking ever since the hot, drunk, blossom onion, make out incident, “Maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.”
At the edge of her big brown eyes welled a few tears “Really? Over something so trivial like this?”

“Well,” I stalled for something better to say. “It just seems after going out twice that we really may not be, well look what I did to your poor neck.”

After seeing each other three more times in the next week she finally agreed that we were not very good for one another. I had no patience for her needy whines for attention and Muppet make out sessions and she didn’t have enough scarfs. Oh yeah - I made both sides match. Wouldn’t you?