What a fucking day. week. month. Whatever, at this point…What *is* time, anyway?
I’ve had a hard time this week. This whole thing is taking a psychological toll on me. From talking to a couple of other people, it seems that I may not be alone in this. We made it through a month of isolation, and then the announcement that this will be going on for at least another month…Just all of the unknowns and uncertainty and general weirdness make it depressing as hell. This week I have had a lot of trouble sleeping and keeping a schedule. On Wednesday I meant to go to bed early, but ended up getting a second wind and talking with a west coast friend, and before I knew it, it was the middle of the night – so in order to not oversleep if my boss called Thursday I pulled an all nighter and stayed awake all day Thursday. By 6pm I was dead tired, took a shower and went to bed. It was hard to get to sleep even though I was exhaused, and when I started drifting off, I was getting into weird dreams I didn’t like. I kept waking myself up trying to start over and not dream weird shit. I wouldn’t say they are nightmares exactly, but all of my dreams now deal with some kind of confinement or being held captive. They are unsettling. I had worried that by going to bed so early I would wake up at like 2am, but that didn’t really happen. I woke up a couple of times, but managed to sleep for almost 16 hours! Which seems unhealthy – but, I am a big fan of sleep, I have nowhere to go now, and I normally love dreaming. Not so much lately, but right now the fact that my dreams are so unsettling indicates to me that my brain is working things out in my subconscious, and I think that is a good thing.
Anyhow, I woke up this morning around 10am, and the first thing I see is a post on Facebook that says “Please don’t use Lysol to cure Coronavirus”. ‘Hmm, that’s weird. Why would someone say that?’ I wondered. Then I scrolled down and all my feed seemed to have in it was memes about ingesting disinfectants and drinking bleach. I switched to the news and saw footage of our goddamn PRESIDENT saying to a medical expert that perhaps we ought to look into using disinfectants to clean the lungs to wipe out the virus.
To be honest, I’m still not completely convinced that I am not in a medically induced coma having caught the virus and this is my alternate reality. I’d almost prefer my messed up dreams right now.
But at least the absolute ridiculousness of this caught on like wildfire, and today Trump just shut up and cut his briefing short without the rambling Q&A. (Not that I ever watch it, but it was reported as such). I would say he just completely shitcanned his presidency, but I think that pretty regularly, and nothing seems to stick. But Jesus, this one…….
And fucking FINALLY they are not allowing him to rant on, or maybe he is too embarrassed to today. He’ll probably be back at it Monday though.
My friends who live nearby dropped by to deliver me a hamburger (the first not home cooked food I’ve had in a month and a half) as well as deliver their annual offering of the black petunia:
Like that professional backdrop fashioned from a paper towel? Anyhow, it was really nice. The flower was a sense of normalcy and tradition, the food was such a welcome change, and it was nice to see people. We DID keep at a distance. We shot the shit in the completely sterile air bnb apartment for a bit seated several feet apart. Hands were washed! It really did brighten my day. I needed some tiny shred of normalcy for a change.
And now, I am going to attempt to tell the story of the Bee Pollen Man. Also, please let me know if you think I over-reacted in my terror, I’m genuinely curious:
Immediately after turning 18, I moved to Portland, Oregon from a smaller town a couple of hours away. I did know a few people living in Portland, but we didn’t regularly keep I touch or hang out, so it was pretty much starting in a new city without knowing anybody else. And I kind of wanted it that way too – I liked the idea of just starting completely fresh and making my new life completely my own, not influenced by other people I knew.
It may seem a little strange to compare those first few months in Portland to this current day quarantine time, as I was going to work and had full freedom to go out and do whatever I wanted, but in a way, it was similar. I didn’t know anyone, so I had nowhere to go and didn’t have any friends, and I spent a lot of time in my incredibly shitty little first apartment. (and MAN, that apartment WAS shitty, but that is a different story for a different time).
The internet and cell phones did not exist at that time. (yep, I’m super old!) So I spent most of my time just reading books. I remember at this time I had just finished an Ann Rice novel, Queen of the Damned, and I was working my way through a Henry Miller novel, Tropic of Cancer.
This seems like a great opportunity to add an obligatory brag photo of the time I was at the Tropic of Capricorn:
Don’t mind that though, the photo has nothing to do with the story…
Anyhow, yes, Henry Miller – if you aren’t familiar, he wrote a bunch of books mainly in the 60’s which were pretty much autobiographical, stream of consciousness – observations on life, I guess. His big thing seemed to be (or at least, what I got out of his books) meeting up with random people he encountered and just going with whatever. It seemed to work really well for him for the most part, he always had interesting observations and a philosophical spin. Kind of like, even when things turned out badly, he gained something from these weird, off the cuff adventures. He led a very storied life.
So that was my frame of mind and what had been influencing me when the Bee Pollen Man walked into the restaurant where I worked. The restaurant was a great place, but was cafeteria style, in that you walk in, order something from the grill, then take a tray and follow the line to the register. Along the way there was a salad station, some deserts, and at the end of the line you got your drink and paid. I was working the salad station that day. The line was busy, so the people in line had time to make small talk, etc. I asked him if he wanted any salad. He stared at me really intently. “Oh my gosh, what BRIGHT EYES YOU HAVE” he said. I said thanks and waved my hands around showcasing the salads. “DO YOU TAKE VITAMINS?” he asked? “uhhh…. I guess sometimes, I don’t know.” He kept remarking on my eyes and it got uncomfortable, but luckily the line was moving and he had to continue forward and I was super eager to offer someone else a salad. He paid and went off to find a seat.
He was approximately 50 years old. I have just found his website, which looks like it has not been updated since the mid 90’s, and this is probably about right, according to the brief bio he has on there. He was wearing this crazy hat, which I can only really describe as something one might wear on a safari, if they really wanted to make sure everyone else knew they were a tourist. He wore strange, baggy clothes leaning towards ‘hippy-ish’, and was not particularly attractive. I thought he was very strange.
20-30 minutes later after the line has died down completely, he comes back up to the counter. I said ” Can I get you some dessert, or something else?” and his response was “yes, YOU”.
I laughed very uneasily and nervously. “Oh. well, that’s definitely NOT on the menu, or for sale, but I can sell you this nice slice of rhubarb pie if you’d like.”…..He was not shaken. ” I’d like to take you to dinner”…… In a classic ME move, which is unfortunate, rather than just tell him to fuck off, I chose to avoid the situation “Uh, well, I have a ton of shit to do right now. I’ll think about it. Gotta go”, and ran off into the back room to hide, hoping he would never return.
That night I thought about how weird he was and wondered what he wanted. Was he asking me on a DATE? Or was he just some lonely weirdo? What was up with him? Even my coworkers had noticed the weird exchange and had wondered out loud. What would have happened had I said yes? What would Henry Miller do? (He would have said yes)
So, within a day or two, the guy walks in again. He asks me what kind of food I like. “Oh, I don’t know, I guess Italian”, I say. He hands me a Business Card. “The Pollen Man – Highest Vibrational Foods The Planetary System is Capable of Yielding” it says. It has a jester pictured on it, running around in the midst of an apparently freaky dance. ‘whoa’, I thought. He asked for my phone number in exchange. And I KNOW THIS IS HORRIBLE, but put on the spot, I didn’t know what else to do, and in an effort to get rid of him, again I just wrote it down and decided I would never answer my phone for the rest of my life. He left. Mission accomplished . God, in retrospect, I want to hit myself for being such a dumb ass. He didn’t come back to the restaurant, but he left MANY messages on my answering machine. Finally, one day I accidently picked up the phone when it rang. “Have you ever been to the Monte Carlo?” He asked. “No”. “Oh, you HAVE to go. It’s this old school Italian restaurant, and you really feel like you are transported back into the time of the Mob, Mafia etc.” He went on to describe it further, and it really did sound fabulous. At this time, with all of my Henry Miller reading, I was kind of like ‘well……it’s a free meal. I DO wonder what hanging out with this guy for an hour would be like. You never know, he might be really interesting. It for damn sure will be more interesting and less boring than sitting here without anything to do for another night’. So I totally caved, and agreed to go to the Monte Carlo with him a couple of nights later. In my mind this was absolutely not a DATE, and I wasn’t clear what it was to him. I was going just to see what the hell?. I did not see myself as any kind of sex object at that time, and I didn’t see why he was so interested in me to begin with, so it was just bizarre. I do believe I tried to outline that in my opinion this absolutely was not a date, however.
The first few months I lived in Portland I did not have a car, otherwise I would have driven myself . Instead, I offered to meet him, but he insisted on picking me up. I distinctly remember I did not give him my address, I just agreed to a time and told him a corner to pick me up on. I taped his business card inside my diary with a message to future readers to go after him if that was my last entry. So I get into his car. He is thrilled to see me and starts telling me his life story. He used to be an art major, did anatomical drawings, he was really interested in nutrition, and then art and nutrition somehow blended, and then he discovered bees or something like that, and blah, blah, blah……..on, and on, and on….He also spent at least ten minutes going off about how he was a master at martial arts, a black belt. He did not look like one at all. But he seemed to really want to drive that point home. He was incredibly animated and enthusiastic, and yet somehow mind numbingly boring. I deeply regretted having agreed to this. But hey, free fucking spaghetti, right?
We arrive at the Monte Carlo. He suggests we get wine. I feel kind of dumb and say “uh, I’m not old enough to drink wine. They will probably card me”. He still wants me to get the wine and try, but I shut it down. I didn’t want the embarrassment of being questioned about my age, and also didn’t want to get drunk around this guy. Eat the meal and go. (also, I’d like to say that I am not ordinarily a freeloader like this. I always pay my half and never pull this shit in current day, but this one time, I felt like the age difference merited me taking advantage of that. I mean, it seemed to me like he probably had something sketchy up his sleeve, so it seemed fair.)
Throughout the dinner all he did was brag about himself. How much money he had, how fabulous his house was, how he had a vast collection of bee related artifacts and the complete series of Blazer Championship glasses…..It was mind numbing. I cannot stand people that brag nonstop. Dinner was wrapping up, and I couldn’t wait to go home. God, I just wanted to go home and find some way to get someone to buy me some beers or get some pot to erase this night.
Maybe I mentioned that, I don’t know, all I know is right before the check arrived, he asked me if I smoked pot. Before I moved to Portland, I smoked a LOT of pot. Daily. But since the move, I had no connection, so I had not been able to regularly get stoned.
“Well…….I just happen to have a great connection. I have an ounce at home. You should come by, I’ll get you high. If you like it, I can get it for you on a regular basis.”
oh my god, the mental turmoil that ensued…
I REALLY wanted to get stoned. Not with him at all, but in general. And I REALLY wanted a go-to pot connection for future use. That alone would redeem the evening and make it worthwhile. And I will admit, I wanted to see his god damn bee collection.
I tell him that I have to work at the crack of dawn, but okay, I will go smoke pot with him briefly at his house and gawk at his bee artifacts. It’s a fairly short drive from the restaurant and we arrive. There is a freestanding garage or cottage on the property, and when we exit the car a man, fully naked, walks out to greet us. He and The Bee Pollen guy carry on a normal conversation. I am introduced, but do not shake his hand. We go inside, and he explains that is a tenant of his, he lives in the building out in the yard…. I can’t remember if the nudity was even explained whatsoever.
The first room upon entry is the kitchen. Bee Pollen guy really wants me to try his bee pollen, but I am so not into it…. He pulls a picture off of the wall and says “Look, this is a gift from Salvador Dali. I know him personally”….. I mean, it kind of looked like Dali’s style, but seriously, you just happen to have that hanging on a wall in your kitchen? And again with the bragging! I didn’t believe for a second it was a Salvador Dali original and told him so.
I tell him that time is of the essence, and I really need to get home soon, so let’s get on with the drugs! Finally, after the grand tour of his living room, he loads up a pipe and we smoke. Either it was great pot, or my tolerance was way down, but I was definitely feeling it. I checked out his bee stuff and then announced I had to leave. He said “Okay, but wait, not until you see my artwork!” Around this time, another strange tenant of his from upstairs popped her head out, then scurried back to where she came from. I could not tell if she was clothed.
So he takes me into this other room, his makeshift gym, and we look through his portfolio. It was a lot of collage stuff. I will give credit where due, it was fucking fantastic artwork. And I really do hate saying anything nice about this guy.
Anyhow, at this point, I feel like I have sufficiently oohed and ahhed at his art, and again say I need to leave, work early and all. In the corner of the room is an exercise machine. “Have you heard of the soloflex?” he asks. The Soloflex was a fitness machine schlepped on TV commercials in the 90’s. “Well. this is a Soloflex”, he says. “Okay great, I’ve got to go”, I say. Then he starts explaining his whole fitness routine, and how he needs to stay fit because he is such a master in the martial arts and all of that shit. He gets on the machine and does a few ‘reps’. He is breathing out very heavily and moaning as he does these, as though he is going through intense physical exertion. I am completely fucking horrified. He gets up and says ” Give it a try yourself”. I mumble that I am not physically fit, and have no desire to do so. He is insistent. I say “Okay, I’ll try it out, and then you have to take me home”. He agrees and I get on the stupid soloflex. I am straddled over the bench and the exercise I an doing is where my arms come together bended at the elbows in front of me, and then I push the weights outwards, arms out to the side. It is as I am doing this, remembering his disgusting groans of exertion, that I realize there is no resistance at all on the machine, my arms easily move away from my body, and I am sitting there fully exposed with my arms and legs to the side. He did not want to test if I could move the weights at all, he wanted me in this position…
It was at this point that I completely started to freak out. The pot kicked in tenfold and my heart started racing. I had to get the fuck out of there. I demanded that we leave immediately. (I should also say that at this time I did not know Portland well enough to just run out and get my surroundings, I had a rough idea of where we were, but would have been completely lost at first). He seemed to kind of get my sense of urgency, but he wanted to show me one more room before we left. This one had mirrors everywhere. I do not even remember what the room was used for, I just remember the mirrors, even on the ceiling, and that was all I needed to know. I had to GET THE FUCK OUT. I practically ran out of that room and went to the kitchen by the door where we came in. He started looking for his keys. We were just about to leave, and he says to me “Ohhhhhh, you never tried my bee pollen! (edit – I think this was actually royal jelly) You can’t go until you try it!”. He opens up his fridge, and there are a million little jars in there. All filled with a milky white substance that looks like sperm. He takes one out, unscrews the lid, sticks his finger in, and in a grand gesture pulls out his finger with all of this mucousy stuff clinging to it, puts it in his mouth and slowly slides it out sayin “MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!”. Then he extends the jar to me and says “try some”..
Oh my fucking god…. I said no. absolutely not. He says he won’t drive me home until I try. I put just the tiniest dab on my finger and taste it. I don’t know what it tasted like, I am sure it was in fact bee pollen, but at that moment my head went into overdrive and I could literally feel my heart pounding in my head. I needed out of this situation right away.
We FINALLY get into the car and start driving . I feel a tinge of relief. On the way to his house, he had taken city streets, but I notice right away that he is now taking an on ramp to the freeway. As I am paying attention to this, he turns and says to me ” You know, one thing you should never, ever do, is get into a car with somebody you don’t know.”
I fucking lost my shit right then.
“You think I don’t know that????!!!! I have friend right now who is waiting for my call upon returning home. She has your name and your business card. I have a knife on me (which I did, but it was basically useless). If I don’t call her tonight, she will call the police. Look, I’m just an 18 year old girl and I had no idea what I was getting into here. I thought I’d just meet a new person to hang out with for an hour or two” I was shouting at him
He kind of snickered, which made me very, very angry.
I was watching where he was driving, and at least he was headed in the right direction. We sat in silence for a minute. Then he said ” You see, I knew there was something off about you. You aren’t like other people. There is something different about you, and it takes someone who is also different to see that.”
“Oh my god, what the fuck are you talking about??!!!”
It seemed to me like he was antagonizing me and TRYING to make himself extra creepy and scare me…..We were entering a bridge where he could go forward on the freeway or take an exit to the city. “Let me out of the car right now!” I yelled. “We are on a bridge, I can’t let you out here.” “Let me out at the foot of the bridge, this exit.” If he had not taken that exit, I would have jumped from the car. I was getting ready to, and really thought that was what was going to go down.
He looked at me like I was crazy, but he obliged. When he stopped the car, I jumped out like a swarm of bees was after me. Then he says “I had a nice evening…..would you like to go to BREAKFAST tomorrow?” he had a big grin on his face. I think I gave him the finger and told him to go fuck himself, and then I stumbled around downtown Portland with just – mind overload- for a bit and found my way home.
He tried calling several times, but I never answered. He stopped into the restaurant as well, but by then I had become friends with my coworkers and they let him know he was not welcome there.