b Papa Dog's Blog: Avenuu: An Appreciation

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Avenuu: An Appreciation

It doesn’t seem possible that more than twelve years have passed since I first met Avenuu. It seems just as unlikely that so much time has passed since I last saw her that I’ve never even met her three-year-old son. But there you go – that’s time, and that’s life, passing by without pause.

I met her the way I tended to meet women back then, which is to say I tried feebly to scam on her at a bar. Worse, she was only one of three pretty young thangs ten years my junior on whom I was trying simultaneously to scam. We were at Checkpoint Charlie’s, and I was shooting pool with L (who evaporated on me after one night of really good sex) and V (who quickly revealed herself to be an incredibly irritating waste of chromosomes). Avenuu, who was only watching the game, turned out to be the one I talked to most, and she seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying, no matter how drunk and obnoxious it became. She ended up being my best friend, but it wasn’t easy.

I waged a long and inglorious campaign to get Avenuu in bed with me. It lasted the whole time I lived in New Orleans and then continued after we both moved to the Bay Area. She wasn’t interested in that, but for whatever reason she was interested in being my friend, and somehow didn’t take too great offence when I’d say smoove things like “I’ve already got friends – I want to get laid.” Well, maybe not that exact phrase, but close enough to guarantee the same reaction. She didn’t put up with that shit. She’d get mad, we’d fight…but we always stayed friends.

Looking back now, I see clearly how schizophrenic my behaviour was. I’d veer from the avuncular to the lecherous in one conversation, like some horny drunken uncle bent on incest. I’d try to take care of her, then I’d try to take advantage of her. There was the thing with the water. Even back then, the tap water in New Orleans was unfit to drink; everyone stocked bottled water in their fridges. Avenuu and her roommate went through water very fast and were always running out. However much they’d buy, it would never be enough. I got in the habit of stopping at the store whenever I visited and bringing over a jug or two of water. “You don’t have to do that!” she’d say. “Yes I do,” I’d answer. “I worry you’re going to dehydrate.” I’d be just that sweet and then I’d get all bent out of shape when I didn’t get in her pants. Very confusing, even for me.

The year Avenuu moved to the Bay Area, she came with me to APE. That was back when it was still in San Jose, a long trip by public transit with plenty of time to run through our recurrent patterns of dysfunction. I don’t suppose it helped that we ran into my then-estranged wife (the Less Magnificent Spouse) and I got to wondering how come I hadn’t had a real relationship in seven years. I got into a snit with Avenuu about the usual subject, which really should have been dead and buried by then. She asked something like “Why can’t you be satisfied being friends?” and for the first time I asked myself. “Uh…yeah…why can’t I?” It made me think how good we’d been to each other and for each other over the years, and I really started to wonder why I remained so obsessed with adding a sexual component to this very good thing. I mean, shit, even Ambrose lets it go when he sees it isn’t going anywhere. I resolved then and there to stop trying to be a fuck buddy and start being a friend. I learned finally how to love a woman without sex.

If this were a major motion picture romantic comedy directed by Meathead, a montage would then follow, at the end of which we’d each come to realise that we’d been perfectly suited for each other all along, and live happily ever after. Meathead, of course, doesn’t direct the real world, so what we did instead was embark on what still stands as the closest, most intimate platonic friendship of my life. Though we lived on opposite sides of the Bay and only saw each other once a week, we were one another’s closest confidantes. We vetted one another’s lives. Avenuu was warring with her roommates and pining for New Orleans and I was in a bubble of loneliness and despair. I can’t say what I was to her, but I know at that time she was absolutely essential to me.

She went back to New Orleans and very soon after Mama Dog and I found each other, and here’s the main thing: what I went through with Avenuu made me fit to love Mama Dog properly. Avenuu insisted on me finding my better nature. She made me live up to the faith she had in me. She made me become the decent man that Mama Dog didn’t even know she was looking for.

So…today’s Avenuu’s birthday, and happy birthday, Avenuu. I hope you’re happy in your exile and are keeping well and hydrated. I miss talking the way we used to, and I can’t ever say how grateful I am that you made it possible for me to have the life I have now.


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