There we were. Cuddling together watching Factotum on the laptop. We cuddle together every night with a movie on the laptop – it’s a wonderful way to end the day. I kept thinking the story seemed familiar, but I’ve read a lot about down and out writers and seen a lot of movies about bums and bargirls. The guy’s name was Hank, he was reading his poetry, his voice was crusty. I decided this was somebody’s Kerouac film.
All of a sudden Hank starts scratching his balls – can’t believe I just wrote that. Really scratching his balls, and he starts fishing around in his pants and pulls out something – it had to be a bug. And then the scene shifts to a doctor’s office it turns out that Hank has crabs. The doctor writes him a prescription and tells him that he must NOT let the ointment stay on for more than 30 minutes. We’re back at Hank’s. He says forget that. Hank goops himself up and goes to bed.
My boyfriend says something like “He’s going to be sorry.” My eyes light up! I pause the movie. I lean over, look him in the eye, and say, “Did you have crabs?” And then I bug him until he tells me the story.
It’s a good story. It was during his hippie days when he was living with the Lots-o-Bucks Commune and Follies Review in Baltimore. I asked who was she? I asked did she live there? I asked did everyone in the house have the crabs? I asked was she your girlfriend? Was she everyone’s girlfriend? Anyone’s girlfriend? He had told me lots of stories about the Lots-o-Bucks Commune, but this was something new. My boyfriend had crabs. I kept probing: Did you leave the medication on too long? Did you ever get them again?
I wasn’t surprised that he had crabs. Once he left his family home and moved to downtown Baltimore he discovered a whole new world. He wasn’t that young. He had already finished a few years of law school and a stint in the reserves, he had been in and out of a first marriage founded on rebellion. He was doing photography and carpentry for a theater troupe. Divine was among his acquaintances. But I was surprised he had crabs. Whenever we talked about our sexual pasts he always led me to believe that he had a very innocent sexual history. This didn’t sound so innocent to me.
I was ecstatic with the discovery! But why hadn’t he told me this before? I know it was forty years ago but this was interesting. We do exchange tidbits about our romantic pasts. But somehow we’ve got enough common sense — mine acquired the hard way – to not tell too much of our pasts, and not to dwell too much on the other’s.
What else hasn’t he told me that would make me pop up with delight? What hasn’t he told me that would destroy me?
Of course, I’ve had so much fun with this new bit of information – I wish I could remember even two or three of the great lines I teased him with this morning. He’s such a sport. He even encouraged me write about it.
Anyway, back to the movie. It was Charles Bukowski. Of course. I realized it towards the end of the movie when his former landlady opens his mail and read a letter from Black Sparrow Press accepting one of his stories.
My boyfriend has said that he would rather hear a good story than a true one any day. It’s up to you decide. Love is wonderful.
Happy Valentine’s Day!