Monday, May 14, 2018

Girl Number Three

3 Dollar Sunday
I left the Uxi Duxi before the sun was down and began to head for the Wal-Mart on Gentilly Road, which, by the map looked about the same distance as the one on Tchoupitoulous, but was a straight shot rather than the maze of potholes along the way to the latter store.
She's been here!

I had my guitar and all my busking stuff on me, as well as my crescent wrench.
They had cheap, probably flimsy tubes for $4.44 (I love Wal-Mart's departure from the normal practice of rounding prices to the nearest whatever; if they can save you 12 cents on an item over another outlet's price then they will price it at at $8.68, for instance -I wish the Uxi Duxi had just raised their price on a shot of kratom from 3 dollars to $3.33 or something, instead of going up to the next buck; they are probably afraid of pennies in that scenario, though) and they had "heavy duty" tubes, guaranteed to be 80% thicker than regular tubes for $5.96 (there you go, again) and I decided to go with that tube, even though I was going to get the same 40 dollars for the bike regardless of how much money I put into it.
I did this because of having met Candy and liking her enough to not want her to get a flat tire.

Shortcut To The Past

Leaving the Gentilly Wal-Mart, I couldn't resist trying to find a shortcut to Lilly's house, where the candy red bike was being kept. I already knew the way that I had come in, and so why not try to cut some distance off by trying a different way back?

I saw Elesian Fields Road, which I knew eventually would wind its way over a bridge and to within 3 blocks of Lilly's house.

I took that way and eventually ran into St. Claude Street, which I knew turned into Rampart, which also ran within 3 blocks of Lilly's on the other side.

It was along that route that I came across the artwork in the picture. I had seen it before on the Facebook page of a girl that I was kind of almost "involved with" when I was 19 years old.

Rhonda Harris is her name. She is most notable as being an artist, and had one of her oil paintings hanging in the JFK Museum in Washington, D.C., or in Philadelphia...I can't remember...the name of the museum or the city..but...By the time she was 17.

Rhonda was what would now be called "bi-polar" and struggled emotionally, with fits of laughing being followed by bouts of crying, alternately.

A lot of guys would overlook such a thing based upon the beauty of Rhonda. She was the first "pretty enough to be a Playboy centerfold" girl who had come within 50 feet of me in my life, who wasn't holding a pole.

The fact was that Rhonda was in love with my best friend, Ted, a "prettyboy" drummer in a band at the time.

Prettyboy + 36 Years =
Her interest in me was largely connected to that obsession, no matter how ingenuous her approach to it was. We had a lot of 3 hour long phone conversations, leading her to wish that I had Ted's looks, or that he had my personality. We had a pretty intimate, platonic relationship.

I had my own baggage -didn't think I was worthy of such a gem, or was hearing the calling to where I am now, even then.

Having a wife and kids would most likely have obscured any dreams of ever becoming Street Musician Daniel, and I think I sensed that at a deeply subconscious level.

It was flattering to be seen with this knockout chick by my side, if only the people knew that we weren't having sex, though, but were rather having her crying on my shoulder about the way my friend Ted (right) just didn't think of her in "that" way (He noticed her beauty and its provocativeness to the eye, but was put off by her passionless lovemaking "She just lays there," I recall was his complaint).

I was thinking of her in "that" way, as I wrung tears out my tee shirts, and was quite smitten by her at one point.* I should have been crying, too, I suppose. If only I was Ted... but that's life -been going on forever, the girl needing something from a guy, just not sex...The guy who has this really hot friend, but they never "do" anything. A cliche, that.

A weasel-like high school "friend" of mine, Peter Dion, wound up stealing the girl from me, though. More on that in a minute...

Rhonda's artwork was pretty amazing, as per the picture shown; she "specialized" in buildings and other things that had faces, almost a caricaturist in that regard -a winking cottage, a crying skyscraper with the tears falling as rain upon goofy looking people on the street who are holding umbrellas with confused looks on their (the umbrella's) faces, type of thing...

Peter Dion

Peter Dion was a high school "friend" of mine whom I think used me as a measuring stick.

Like a person in a group of people at the starting line of a race, who looks around for someone who they see as being close to their equal. Then he thinks: "I'm gonna try to match myself against this guy. It will probably be an interesting race between us; neither one of us is gonna win the whole thing, those Kenyans are freaks, but this will make it interesting."

It becomes side action to the race: How do I feel? Do have much left in me? What was my time at the half-way point? How far ahead of me is the leader? And...Where's my buddy with the black and yellow sneakers?

Some guys run marathons with the primary goal of at least beating all the women who enter the race. "At least I beat all the women!" can boast the guy who came in with a time like 2 hours and 33 minutes.

Peter Dion befriended me, somehow, out of nowhere it seems, probably by looking around the high school class and deciding he was going to try to match himself against my accomplishments, and then began to keep tabs on me.

Pete: "What did you get on the Lit test?"

Me: "An 83."

Pete: "Oh, I got an 88, hmm hmm hmm," with a smug grin and suppressed giggle, inner satisfaction written all over his face, or:
Yeah, that's her style...

Pete: "Hmm, I only got a 77," with clenched fists and, not quite suppressed, anger and a slightly red face, type of thing.

When we ran track together, Peter found his niche astride me throughout the 3 miles, or whatever, that we might be running after school.

And, I would talk a lot as we ran, getting pretty philosophical, I recall now.

I was a pretty philosophical high school freshman, talking about changing the world, et al.

Pete was measuring himself against me, making sure that he could at least match my pace.

He would be saving his mad-dash-to-the-tape for when it counted. For when the eyes of all 45 members of each track team plus their coaching staff (nobody in the bleachers) were upon us. Then Pete might ruminate: "He talks a lot of good philosophy, but I just smoked his ass over the last tenth-mile!"

It may have been that Pete enjoyed close competition, knew he could never keep up with the leaders, and had chosen Daniel McKenna as his standard.

It might also have been the case that he had such low self esteem and was made so miserable by being bested by anyone that he had adjusted his goals from the pinnacle, downward, until he reached Daniel McKenna, somewhere in the middle. I was about a 75 on a scale of 100 as a runner (My best mile ever was a 5:03).

When the senior class was assembled for the annual ceremony of presenting awards to outstanding students, it was probably no accident that I found the seat to my left to be occupied by none other than a tight-lipped Peter Dion.

I had told him that I thought I might get the Physical Science trophy, as I had held an A average the whole year, and couldn't think of any obvious future rocket scientists among the rest of that class.

Peter could smell the "Literature" trophy, for similar reasons.

There never was a Physical Science trophy presented -skipped right over the category- as the instructor was averse to the distinguishing of any one student as being "above" the rest, as he explained later. I really didn't care. Though, I would have gotten it, I think. Pete.

There was a Literature trophy awarded, though.

It went to....the envelope please....Paul Grautski!

"Hmph, and didn't get your Physical Science award!" was out of Peter's mouth to me before "Grautski" had even stopped reverberating in the large auditorium.

I guess Pete had been hoping that I wouldn't get mine, but he would get his, so he could let loose with a year culminating suppressed giggle, and put me in my place, having taken 4 full years to do it.


When I started to hang around with Rhonda -this was a couple years after our graduation- Peter, from out of nowhere it seemed, soon found a niche beside me.

We knew a lot of the same people, of course, but Pete certainly hadn't met Rhonda through Ted, like I had, at least not directly. It had been by attending a party that Rhonda had thrown at her house on a night when her parents were away.

She had made sure, for one thing, that I was invited, and that Ted's sister, Betsy, and as many of his other friends were also, and this might have included Dion, -he may have gotten in just by being a classmate of Ted's, as she seemed to have been going for as many of them as she could get.

And, yes, that all worked, because Ted was there.

Dion was able to lay his eyes upon Rhonda at that time, up close, made up to the max and dressed to kill. He may even have gotten to see her sitting in the easy-chair in the living room crying at some point shortly after Ted had left.

But, it think it was the introduction of Daniel McKenna on the scene which was like a bugle call to Pete.

If he saw my car parked in front of her house, for instance, we would be joined by him just a knock on a door and a "Good evening, Mr. Harris, is Rhonda at home?" later.

He would enter her room, with the "I only got a 77" look on his face, dart his eyes at me, and would then proceed to unabashedly try to one-up me upon anything I said.

"Yeah, I got up at 5 this morning and ran my 5 mile coarse," I might say to Rhonda.

"I was up at 4, and ran 10 miles," would Peter then say, without missing a beat. It was comical.

"Our seats for the Cars show are in the 23rd row..."

"Mine are in the 12th row..." type of thing.

Maybe his philosophy was that I was just saying "anything" to try to impress Rhonda, and his response was to the effect of: "I can do that too!" (or, I can do that one more time than Daniel McKenna, at least).


The closer I appeared to be to this Beauty, the more Peter Dion seemed to surmise that if she could be interested in me, then....well, we were always kind of like equals, right?

All he needed was to keep pace with me, and then make his mad dash near the finish line.

And dash, he did!

Rhonda began to show me multi paged, handwritten love letters that she had received from him. One of them began something like: "George Bernard Shaw once said that a women's beauty is like...blah blah blah" I recall. But the letters were going to Rhonda's heart like daggers, I could see her buckling under them. That Shaw can bring it!

The citation of great writers, dogged determination, and the unremitting desire to finish ahead of Daniel McKenna at all costs eventually led to Rhonda Harris becoming Rhonda Harris Dion. I kind of feel responsible for anything that their children or grandchildren might do in that sense. Their marriage was consummated probably 2 years after I was forbidden to Rhonda.

I Am Out Of The Way

Rhonda had severed ties with me by 1984 (returning a cassette of my music that I had sent to her from Texas with "Return to sender" scrawled upon it in what looked suspiciously like Peter Dion's penmanship) in large part because the shrink that she was seeing (Our daughter cries for 10 minutes and then laughs for 10 minutes, Doctor, what do you charge for that?) condemned our relationship as being toxic to her; as she had been using me as a proxy to my friend Ted, and I guess it was decided that being around me was dredging up too many hurtful feelings within her.

She may have felt afraid when she was around me -afraid that I would tell her something like: "Ted met this Asian girl at Cathay Island, and they're going out tonight..."

She had come to my house and picked me up one night, and then showed me marks on her wrist where she had cut herself, and even showed me a puddle of blood on the floorboard of her Mustang, which was steamy and had a metallic smell inside it, as if to prove that it was blood.

She had done this, most assuredly, so that the news of it would reach Ted through his best friend, Daniel, and that that worthy would, I guess, realize the depth of her love for him (excuse the pun) and would start loving her back before she killed herself altogether.
My past has followed me down the river...

So, I somehow became taboo, ...Don't kill me, I'm only the messenger!... forbidden to her by her shrink (who, at one point tried to rape her on the couch, but that's another story. Of course he did, anyone who reads today's news might conclude that every guy has such a skeleton in his closet. A beautiful, troubled and vulnerable 19 year old laying on the couch of a gangling, awkward "academic" bookworm type of guy. What's professionalism got to do with it? But, again, that's another story).

For my part, I was ready to relinquish her to a guy who apparently wanted her more, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, and was willing to tell blatant lies to get her. My father may also have sat me down to have that little father to son "wrist slitting girls" talk, since he could see that I was ready for it.

Rhonda, gullible as she might have been, somehow bought Mr. Dion, hook line and sinker, telling me at one point: "I think that Peter could really change things..."

Yes, Peter Dion looked out at the world, and saw "change." OK, the back of the line is over by that tree, Pete, better get take your spot now, before Daniel jumps on it.

So, Peter was talking about changing the world, and Rhonda fell in love with him. I wonder how much of it was stuff he had gotten from me during our 3 mile jogs...


It was only a couple years ago that I became curious enough to Google Rhonda's name (I chuckled when I saw "Dion" appended to it...really?) and saw the drawing of the umbrella girl on her Facebook page.

Girl Number Three

Karrie Porras, my girlfriend of 2009 showed up here in New Orleans, out of nowhere. Xanna, my girlfriend of 2002, I saw flying a sign on Carrolton Street just a couple weeks ago, on the way back from the Guitar Center after Bobby had bought me a guitar a lot like the one that Xanna had given me as a birthday gift when I was dating her.

And now "Oh, my God, she's been here!" another piece of my past life has been drawn here (excuse the pun) as to a magnet.

I realize that New Orleans is a common destination for a lot of people, almost everybody winds up coming here at least once, but I never would have guessed, back in 1982, that 36 years after sitting in Rhonda's bedroom watching her draw, I would see one of her works while on my way to sell a bicycle to a trans-sexual named Candy.

*I posted a "Rhonda" video here about a year ago probably, with images of my artwork and random others as background -yup, same Rhonda.

1 comment:

alex carter said...

Sounds like this Dion guy took a bullet for you; he kept you from sticking your dick in crazy.