Gordon, You're Not a Yak BoyA couple of days ago, I was rummaging through some of my old stuff, looking for buttons. My daughter was jealous of her younger sister because their older sister gave her a bunch of buttons (the kind with sharp implements on the back, not the kind that keeps blouses nice and modest), and my daughter really, really wanted buttons, too. Well, back in the day, I was a button-wearer myself, amassed quite a collection, including vintage “It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature” type buttons, many punk buttons such as Dead Kennedys’“To Drunk To Fuck (sic), Sex Pistols, Bowie, and assorted S&M-type slogans (“Lick My Boots, You Little Worm), as well as a variety of buttons that an old boyfriend made for me. Stupid buttons that he made for me. Buttons with pictures of old ladies sniffing men’s armpits, roses flying through the air for no apparent reason, teddy bears, space scenery, and one that reads “L.L. Howe (my “pen name” at that time) Queen of the Universe" (I referred to myself as “Queen of the Universe” until I got married and had children -- now I’m just One Whipped Mother).
My daughter was delighted when I found my button collection, but I wouldn’t allow her to have the filthy punk and S&M buttons, of course.
So I found the buttons, and along with those buttons, I also found some tapes that I forgot I had. They were unmarked for the most part, and I couldn’t wait to hear what was on those mysterious cassettes. I knew, however, that the listening had to be done in private, because, well, these were tapes that belonged to the Queen of the Universe, not Ms. Lori, and ol’ Queenie was a bit of a wild woman, dig? I had no idea how mortifying a listening experience was in store for me.
Some of the tapes were bad quality recordings of music, many of the late eighties’ artists forgotten, my choices perplexing -- “…And she said, she said…” ; “Bet your life on a silver ball, spinning ‘round the wheel…”; “Don‘t close your eyes, don‘t close your eeeyyyyessss…“
My “confused rock-chick” period. Recently having grown out my hair from my punk period, and realizing that guys like girls with long hair and high, brick-like ledges over their foreheads instead of high, brick-like Mohawks (not to mention the fact that employers also preferred the ledge over the Mohawk), I gave it all I had during that transitional time. I even wore skin-tight jeans with zippers at the ankles, God love me.
Appalled yet intrigued, I couldn’t resist investigating further, breathlessly popped in the next cassette as gooey waves of nostalgia bubbled through my old soul. Did I have Winger saved for posterity, too? Slayer? Are there recording of me signing along with Fine Young Cannibals? I could almost smell the CK One, the AquaNet, feel my hair lift at the roots, forming a hideous, brick-like ledge over my forehead. Turns out that, no, there was no Slayer, no Fine Young Cannibals -- that would’ve been a relatively sweet find, a nice, albeit cheesy find. What I found instead was so humiliating, so excruciatingly unbearable to listen to, I just about cried. Okay, I did cry.
“Gordon?” [Spoken with obviously intoxicated slur]
“Gordon, do you know about the wild mountain yaks of Montana? They’re huge, Gordon, really huge. Six foot by five, is what I heard Can you imagine the size of their penises, Gordon? Can you? I can. I’m guessing that a wild mountain yak’s penis would measure, oh, maybe thirteen, fifteen inches in length.”
“That’s pretty big, Gordon.”
“You suck that, Gordon.”
“I hope you enjoy sucking that wild mountain yak penis, Gordon, because I’m gonna enjoy myself tonight, too.”
“Good bye, yak boy.”
[Muffled laughter, clearly male, high-pitched cackle, clearly me]
The above transcript is taken from Gordon’s incoming phone messages, and why I have this in my tape collection is a true mystery. This aural horror wasn’t recorded late in our relationship, either -- this was early on, before we got engaged. We’d broken up the day of the recording (my fault), and I guess I felt like tormenting poor Gordon.
I was always tormenting poor Gordon. Gordon didn’t deserve that. Gordon was a handsome, loving, sweet man. But Gordon also had the supreme luck of meeting me just as I was entering my “confused rock chick having many nervous breakdowns” period, and he, unfortunately, became my whipping boy. I would estimate that I experienced three or four breakdowns during our relationship, a culmination of the nightmare that was my life before him. He was a patient and dear young man, and I, to put it bluntly, was a crazy bitch with fresh wounds. He helped heal some of them, though I doubt he knew that at the time. He did help heal me, and I’ll forever be grateful to him. I’m sure if Lar, my husband, knew what Gordon went through in order to help me become the person I am today, he’d be grateful too. I met Lar shortly after my and Gordon’s final breakup.
The guilt I feel, however, is tremendous, even after sixteen years. I was too scarred and too young and too into myself to apologize for the hell I inflicted upon that man. The last time I spoke with Gordon was when he called me one night -- it was midnight -- and he’d sounded very sad, like he missed me. My heart swelled when I heard his voice because I still loved him. But I was engaged to Lar, the wedding date set, my dress picked out. I loved Lar more than I thought it possible to love any human being. I honestly believe it wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for Gordon. And Gordon, though taken aback by my engagement, seemed truly happy for me. That’s the kind of man he was.
So I’m going to say now what I should’ve said then:
Thank you, Gordon. I’m so sorry.