A cockroach zoomed across our table top, on a beeline for the kitchen. We didn’t notice the cockroach. We were all focused on the extremely attractive, skinny yet rather pneumatic girl (picture the silent movie star Louise Brooks in a tight little sweater) who was dancing alone, a neat trick if you can get away with it, which she could.
Looking at old photos of The Scene, it kind of looks like a dump. Still, the frequent presence of Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter (sometimes together) and an epic 3-week stand by The Doors generated plenty of glamour. The Scene was a nightly after-hours —meaning 3 AM on— hangout for Hendrix and Buddy Miles and a few other musicians who were just getting off work. Sometimes, I got to tag along.
Although a bit old for me, probably pushing 25 or 26, the skinny girl was remarkably well-preserved. The music stopped.
She kept moving as though it hadn’t for a few beats, then swerved easily into a walk, slowly traversed the space between the dance floor and us, then sat next to me, pulled me closer and kissed me on the neck. What was going on? For verification, I reached up with a finger, felt my neck, and sure enough, it was indeed slightly damp. I glanced back at the various rock stars and musicians around the table, all busy not being interested. Jimi gazing upward, nonchalant, counting ceiling tiles.
Meanwhile, my brain was melting. One arm was still around my neck and the hand on the other arm was wandering all over the place. Sure I had been through high school, and some college, but this type of aggressive behavior, from a stranger, defied all my attempts at scientific analysis; I was not processing the situation well. In my experience, getting to this stage normally involved a lot more work. But in this case all I had done was sit there, just a big stiff, and getting more so. "Hey, cut it out," I didn't say.
After a few minutes of mostly one-sided making out, my new friend rose and tugged me along after her, towards the exit and onto 8th Avenue. I caught a fleeting glimpse of Jimi and the guys waving goodbye. A car was waiting and we tumbled in. Finally I turned and saw and eyes locked and she smiled and said, “Hi”. The car headed east, then north on 5th Avenue as the making out resumed, and I found myself getting into the spirit of things.
We disembarked and entered the lobby of an old hotel, which I later deduced was probably the Sherry-Netherland at Fifth and 59th. We hurried past the front desk from which clerks did not look up. The ride to the 16th floor gave us 45 seconds of privacy, during which the tight sweater popped off nicely, then we were out and down a hallway. By now were both sprinting, and topless.
It was big for a hotel room, more like a living room, and there were other rooms and a kitchen, or something like a kitchen. The furnishings were old and faded, mismatched fake antiques. The ceiling was all painted cherubs and tarnished gold leaf. There was a sort-of dining room with candles and silver set out, and in the kind-of bedroom, a canopy bed. Pretty romantic, but we were not being romantic. We were more like, hungry. We did regular sex, followed by inverted regular sex, then sideways upside-down sex, back-to-front sex, then sex like I had never even heard about. I would start to get tired and dozy, and then snap awake, charged with comically intense pleasure. At some point I just started laughing. The gurgley, deep chuckles that rolled out were not me laughing, but Santa Claus. Or maybe that bass singer in the Temptations or the guy who did Bluto’s voice in the Popeye cartoons.
I got to Mars four times, way past my limit, and to the moon at least ten. She was good for two that seemed genuine, or she was an awfully good faker. (She was.)
I finally crashed heavily to sleep. I remember waking up around 7 AM and watching her open a window. A pigeon flew in and landed on the back of a chair. She spoke to the pigeon: "Wukalukel... wukalukel." Pigeon talk, she said. I conked out again, and dreamed on.
March 1969, the next day
This was a rare event--- Jimi had arrived at the studio before me. He was on time, for a change, and I was late. He was sitting next to a little Fender Twin amplifier, noodling around on his Stratocaster guitar at low volume. This was, in itself, a rare event--- hearing him play that way. Beautiful.
The girl from the club and I had made a lot of progress in one night. We had started making plans.
I asked, "Can I meet you here tonight?"
"And the night after that? Etcetera?"
So—— that's plans, right? I'm not exaggerating at all, right?
I floated in through the control room door, held aloft by heart-shaped love bubbles. Jimi looked up at me and there was that big grin. “Um, how did it go?”
Oh. He knew something, something about the skinny girl that I didn’t. Just sitting there grinning. Then it hit me, all the little bubbles burst simultaneously, and I landed with a thud. What Jimi knew was that Kylie was a pro, a hooker, a doxy, a very expensive prostitute, and that he had hired her to pick me up in the club, and that she had already checked out of the hotel, and that her name wasn't even Kylie. It was the right moment for him to grip me by the shoulder in a big brother way, and explain; but now, suddenly, Jimi’s expression said enough. The other musicians filtered in with similar looks on their faces. They all knew, and were trying not to laugh too hard, too loud at the lame geek white kid with poor social skills who didn’t know anything about anything, who couldn’t even spot a hooker when he saw one.
Was it just a mean-spirited joke? I thought so then, and was fairly pissed off about it. But even so, somehow, a real bond had been created between us all.
People communicate in different ways. It only took me about 30 years to realize it.
Three hours passed and the session ended and everybody, the horn section first, filed out, kind of sideways glancing over at me as they passed. Not goofing and grinning any more. I think they caught on that the white geeky kid was not taking this well.
The studio emptied out, except for Buddy and Jimi.
"How much did she cost you? I'm paying you back."
"Hey don't be mad." This Jimi's all-purpose panacea, a multi-bladed jack knife, probably the one phrase that he used most often. It was a way of diminishing himself, defusing a situation, and avoiding conflict.
"Five thousand dollars," Buddy said, softly.
6B : SHOP MANUAL page 1: GAZINTAS AND GAZOUTAS
When I was about eight, I was watching my dad at his workbench in the basement of our old house in Rochester. He's threading a pipe into a coupler— it's a teachable moment. Says my dad, in explanation mode: "Ok, this pipe is called the Male, and the other piece is the Female."
"Gee Dad., why do they call them Male and Female?"
My father is clearly nonplussed at this. "Ah. I don't know!" He says awkwardly.
In all the years that followed, he never did answer the question, which probably accounts for some things.