June Gloom

This is almost five years old. Three people have ever read it. Never expected to actually put it out, but with the weather every morning I can’t help but think of it. Enjoy. Or not.

“We may as well be in fucking Ohio,” Robby complained.

It had been six straight days of clouds and temperatures in the low to mid 70’s.  It was by no means appropriate for the season, at least not to this extent.  Hollywood’s degenerate social drones kept suggesting that the weather was evidence proving or disproving the existence of global warming, depending on their political sway.

Six days worth of Robby’s incantations had done nothing to persuade the sun gods that Los Angeles was again deserving of their presence and the gifts of their good graces.  He had reached Apollo’s secretary who was continually resorting to the clearly false claim that he was away on business in Palm Springs or Las Vegas and that he’d be back in Los Angeles when he damn well felt like it.

“It doesn’t have to be sunny all the time, Robby.  I like it when it’s cloudy sometimes.  I get sick of it always being the same.  It’s nice for a change of pace every once in a while,” Amber intoned.

“No, it’s not.  If I wanted shitty weather I would have stayed in New York.  This sucks.  And even if you like it sometimes, there’s no reason you need it six days in a row,” was the retort.

“Stop being a baby, Robby.  It’ll be nice again on Tuesday and you’ll forget about a few cloudy days.”

Over the past few weeks their relationship had changed.  The shimmer and polish of the initial five and a half months had been scuffed more than once by trivial disagreements, not so friendly outside opinions, and the sort of passive advancement of a general boredom that both parties had just come to take for granted in their relationships.  It seemed to have become customary that the definition of “relationship” had been skewed by the pressures of the surrounding urban materialism and the societal norm that bigger was better, newer was better, and “better” was better, and that the expected life span of “true love”, even represented in dog years was markedly shorter than the fads that plagued Hollywood in various forms, from trucker hats to the furry Australian boots that girls mistakenly thought to wear in conjunction with mini-skirts.

The life span seemed roughly equivalent to that of a field mouse, which Robby knew to be short and trivial, growing up in the country where his family’s cats regularly shortened the lives of any rodent within a mile radius who made the mistake of showing themselves in public.  And like Robby’s favorite cat, the Gen-Y’s assumed the carnal tradition of carrying their most recent kill to the awaiting doorstep, wearing the carcass of their past relationship as a banner, a medal, a Purple Heart which preemptively explained the cause of all their personal damage and a warning that eventually their scars would show with the constant threat of reopening.

When they met it became quickly apparent that it was ordained, by some divine province, that the two would attempt to fill all of the voids in each other’s emotional outlook and daily routine.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, a few dates, a few emails, a few phone calls, the initial premonition became cemented and agreed upon and a happy couple was formed.  He was a source of intelligence, humor, and stability.  She was good natured, easy company and her beauty was so natural and effortless that it even made Robby look good – she was beautiful in a way that made people appreciate Robby’s taste in women.

Amber spent the morning complaining that Robby would never go hiking with her between sips of green tea with two Splendas and too much soymilk.

“That’s what your friends are for,” he said.  To Robby, this couldn’t have been more obvious or true.  In his mind, there was no reason a guy needed to go hiking unless he thinks that walking around with his shirt off complimenting girls on their dogs is a subtle pick-up strategy, as “hiking” in LA was essentially going to the gym – outdoors – and was more a social activity than a fitness one.

“Why don’t you ever want to be outside?  It’s good for you to get fresh air,” Amber intoned.

“We’re in Los Angeles, Amber.  With the smog, I might as well go running in a parking garage.”   Robby had gone through this conversation a number of times by now and it never got any more interesting, the ending never changed.

“You’re so crabby lately.  I think you could use some sun and get your, um…what’s that chemical?” she inquired.

“What chemical?”

“The one that the sun makes in your body.  The hormone – the one that makes you happy.  Melatonin!”

“Serotonin,” Robby corrected.

“Right.  Serotonin,” she continued.  “I think you could probably use some more of that and maybe you’d be a little happier. “

“It’s not even sunny!  Can we stop talking about this?” he moaned.  “I’m going to the gym anyway.  It’s better exercise, and the gym is good for your mood too.  And I’m happy anyway, so let’s just drop it.”

“Fine,” she sulked.  “I’m gonna go.  I have a job in Manhattan Beach at five.”

“Styling or promo?”

Amber had two “jobs”.  She was an aspiring wardrobe stylist who was aiming to outfit the rich and famous for glossy photo spreads in Comso and V and Vanity Fair, and talk about Annie and David like they’re friends of hers.  She figured that should could at least try to be a personal shopper at some point along the way so she could spend her days on Rodeo and Melrose and the downtown showrooms spending other people’s money while enhancing her own inflated vision of her taste and status.  But to her dismay, the bills were being paid by working bar promos for Coors Light and Hypnotiq and Jaegermeister, serving shots and worthless, branded trinkets to drunk buffoons in sports bars who spent their time during commercials staring at her amazing ass, if and when they weren’t trying to grab it.  They’d ask for her number and then ask where her boyfriend was if she really had one and how long they’d been together and whether or not she was happy, and then try to encourage her that she could do better from beneath the brim of their white “Cocks” hat and behind their rhinestone plagued t-shirt.  The worst of them would get smashed and begin restoring their own self-confidence by tearing hers down via attacks on her less than remarkable employment status.  The best of them would go home with her number, which she justified by convincing herself that they would be able to help her get work or that they probably just wanted to be friends and that Robby probably flirted a lot at work and that giving her number out didn’t mean anything, really, anyway.

Robby had been working as a waiter for the majority of his time in California.  He moved to Los Angeles to sing in a band that stuck around for all of six months, and saying that he was a singer had begun to sound as ridiculous to Robby as all of the LA orphans claiming ‘actor’ status when they had no manager, no bookings, no credits, and no classes.  Each time he mentioned it, it felt less sincere than the last time.  The number of days between now and when it was true were increasing and the refrain had grown weary and lacked the confidence when spoken that such a claim would possess if it were true.  A former rock singer who was waiting tables and not singing wasn’t really a rock singer.  He was a waiter.  The fact that he had turned down a full scholarship to Georgetown Law School, while he never regretted the decision, only served to sharpen the increasingly negative self-image that Robby had felt piling up on him as a result of the glamour and excess of the Angeleno lifestyle.  After serving four years in the Northeastern bloc of liberal arts colleges, trying to stay socially and financially viable with the khaki set of white-bread preps with whom he had almost nothing in common, he found himself doing the same with the star struck wannabes, BMW babies, and trust fund socialites with their pool parties and coke habits.  Running for salt shakers upon the request of those same people didn’t make it any easier, but Robby’s good looks and quick wit made him at least minimally suitable to stay in decent social graces with those whom he was nearly certain were looking at him with disdain.  There’s nothing in Los Angeles that is less attractive or more worthwhile then genuinely trying and Robby knew that things were slowly getting better.

Robby had a far different appeal, socially speaking, outside of the restaurant, where he was frequently seen gallivanting between A-list Hollywood castles, moving fluidly beyond the velvet-rope moats in the entourages of multiple young notable actors.  He regularly baffled impatient club-goers as he shot straight past them in entrance lines, when forty-five minutes earlier he was pacing quickly through the restaurant to bring them more grated cheese.  He was vicariously famous – he enjoyed the benefits of being “somebody” without actually being anyone.  Press lines, pictures, and reputations were of no concern – he was below the radar for those sorts of things.  But the pack he ran with was a free pass for just about everything in Hollywood, that is, until whatever gorgeous girl he sparked up conversation with at the bar asked him what he did or drove or wanted to do or who he knew.  That’s when the system broke down, the carriage reverted to pumpkin status and Robby was a waiter again.  With rare exception, Robby’s honest answers had the power to reverse the Earth’s magnetic fields and send the young social climber into a quick half-pirouette, propelling her toward her next target.

Eventually, the absence of this typically foregone conclusion became the equivalent of receiving a love letter from Angelina Jolie herself, sealed with a lipstick-smudged kiss on the envelope.  When Amber slipped Robby her card one night while waiting for the valet at the Chateau Marmont, Robby accepted it without doubting her intentions, since her co-conspirator, Jamie, was already considered a regular “groupie” of Robby’s varying posses and by the transitive property of gossips, Amber must, therefore, know Robby’s story.

Though they hit it off from the first date, Robby and Amber agreed to wait four weeks to have sex, thereby making their relationship more “real”.  By the time the momentous occasion arose, they were so enraptured with one another, the sex was merely a physical formality of a union that had been consecrated emotionally weeks prior.  Amber had filled the holes in Robby’s ego that his job and his total lack of notoriety next to his friends had been digging for years.  Robby was, strangely, a beacon of stability for everyone but himself, and Amber saw and treasured this – she needed it – and Robby made it his mission to work harder on advancing her than he did at advancing himself.  In return, Amber made Robby feel confident and whole. She gave up, in full, her time, her emotions, and her body as Robby fed on all of these like a hyena that had spent weeks waiting for something to die.

“Promo,” Amber answered.

“Alright, babe.  Well, I’ll be out of work around eleven.  Are you coming over?” Robby asked, knowing the answer, but occasionally hoping for something different and wondering if this was the definition of insanity, vise-a-vie relationships.

The answer was always yes, if for nothing else, than to avoid having to explain a ‘no’.

The first time Amber had cheated on Robby, it was with Markus Stephens, the guitar player from the metro-sexual rock mega-band, Vampire Junkies.  Markus had promised her that she could style their upcoming photo spread in Rolling Stone, and had taken her out on a “dinner meeting” to discuss it.  That Markus’ brother, Stray, was an A-list actor, cemented the idea in Amber’s mind that this was a career move she couldn’t afford not to make, and that if Robby really loved her, he would surely understand and forgive her.  After two and a half glasses of fine Cabernet at Ago, Amber felt suitably lubricated for alleviating her guilt feelings with the excuse of intoxication, were Robby to ever find out.  The sex wasn’t particularly inspiring, between the burgeoning ulcer of conscience in her stomach lining and Markus’ continual distraction with his cell phone, which kept ringing to the tune of Gym Class Heroes’ “Cupid’s Chokehold” – “take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got”.  Amber knew that both of them were cheating, and the ring tone refrain of “she’s the only one I got” every two minutes only served to sharpen the feeling.  In a way, she felt doubly desirable, between the “celebrity” who was demanding her intimate company, and the fact that he was passing up his own “love” in favor of her, if only for a night.  But it was never just a night.  Markus would beckon her at his random discretion, but never before darkness fell, when his girlfriend was out of town and Amber would explain to Robby the next day that her phone must have died after she passed out with her cat, Bandit, after being completely exhausted from work.  Robby never doubted her honesty; she had revealed so much to him that he didn’t think it possible for her to hide anything.  Even after her dinners with her friend Traylor, the former reality star/pop-star-wannabe had lasted inappropriately late into the night, Robby never suspected anything and never presumed that her lack of sexual energy on those nights was in any way related to circumstances occurring beyond the walls of their own bedroom.  But Amber had made her bed the first time she moved outside her relationship with Robby, and knew that no matter how many other beds she ended up in, she could never get back to that initial purity with which they began.  This was business now.

Robby’s ego prevented him from ever assuming that Amber needed anything other than him, and his own solitary misstep was anchored steadfastly to his conscience, carrying the unbearable weight of letting himself down, as well as Amber. She was his angel and he could never assume that her actions could tend toward the gutter the way his did.  Before Amber had come into Robby’s life, he had longed for Chrissie Hyde, the statuesque blonde model with epic tits and a high-brow confidence that made Robby and everyone else feel naked in her shadow.  Between casual run-ins and reintroductions, Robby pined away for one chance at a moment alone with her, assuming that anything more was simply out of the question and well above his current station in life.  When he ended up in the midst of an hour-long fireside conversation about why Radiohead was the best band ever at Blake Weston’s house in the hills, time and space became one and nothing all at once, and Robby envisioned himself running through a field in a fantasyland that he owned and governed.  He was beyond reproach and beyond the rules.  Chrissie touched Robby’s hand as she asked him to drive her back to her place. She assured him it was only five minutes away.  Robby obliged and drove.  When she kissed him on the mouth and said goodnight, he couldn’t help asking for more.  Five minutes later, with his teeth on Chrissie’s left nipple and her hand down Robby’s pants, he vowed it would be his only trip to Fantasyland.  Chrissie sucked the guilt straight out of him and swallowed – Amber never went so far. Robby felt like god inside her and when she came a second time and rolled off of him, he turned on his side to examine her perspiring face for the final moments of his extravagant vacation.  As Robby’s head touched his pillow back at home, the scent of Amber’s shampoo shot through his nostrils and lingered somewhere between his lungs and heart.  He rose and showered and began convincing himself the night never happened.  Robby wasn’t familiar with any broad sense of happiness, only fleeting moments of joy – he lived for these – and was quite used to forgetting them and returning to serve out his sentence on the chain gang of a tedious life and he set out to do exactly that.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Amber replied. “I’ll come over.  Do you want me to?”

“Yeah, of course I do,” Robby strained.  It was always hard to reconcile their petty arguments with the desire to do it all again the next morning.

But they did do it the next morning and the one after and so on.  Like most people, the complacency of “good enough” had become their modus operandi. Robby couldn’t be the one to leave because he was busy still repenting from his night of carnal sin and he felt in some way that he owed it to Amber to be the best boyfriend ever.  He would take his secret to the grave so as to never let it harm Amber, or at the very least he’d do his best to overcompensate for his indiscretion and absolve his guilt.  Amber was in so far over her head that she couldn’t possibly get out without risking her reputation, her social status, and the only person in her life who genuinely knew her and cared.  People generally prefer to feel a little shitty all the time rather than feeling really shitty all at once, and Robby and Amber were no different.  They bickered about whether soymilk could spoil and where to go to dinner and why they never went on vacation.  Robby admonished her blatantly superficial friendships.  Amber found a way to blame Robby for the curves on the Pacific Coast Highway that were causing her car sickness on their way to Carmel for a “romantic” weekend.

When Chrissie Hyde let her drunk tongue slip one night at dinner with Markus Stephens about her romp with Robby, the whispers found their way back to Amber and she had her way out.  Robby’s attempts at reconciliation and efforts to assure Amber of her own desirability and perfection proved to be for naught.  If she were so perfect, she argued, then why would he ever need anyone else, even for a night?

On her date the next week with Tanner Jennings, one of the stars of the new “teen” drama on the CW, Amber talked about the weather and how she enjoyed the cloudy days sometimes, because “perfect” all the time gets, well, boring.

2 thoughts on “June Gloom

  1. “The life span seemed roughly equivalent to that of a field mouse, which Robby knew to be short and trivial, growing up in the country where his family’s cats regularly shortened the lives of any rodent within a mile radius who made the mistake of showing themselves in public. And like Robby’s favorite cat, the Gen-Y’s assumed the carnal tradition of carrying their most recent kill to the awaiting doorstep, wearing the carcass of their past relationship as a banner, a medal, a Purple Heart which preemptively explained the cause of all their personal damage and a warning that eventually their scars would show with the constant threat of reopening.”
    I love this

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