The more time I spend around Buddhists and Jubus, the more fragments of dharma wisdom I retain. "Accept and then act" seems apt: "I accept that things may not be meant to be with Pamela Koeverts, so I'll turn my attention to another Naropan nubile instead."
One was already cued up.
The fourth floor's most delectable lodger technically isn't French, though her name unmistakably is. Simone-Reine de Jaham is stylish enough and conversant enough to easily pass for French. She's spent beaucoup time in the fabled land west of Germany which disavows French fries and French dressing. Therefore, I rationalized, she was French—or at least French enough for a specific purpose my ego had heavily invested in.
On the off chance you can't guess, the aristocratically named honeypot represented another chance to screw for the good ol' US of A. No doubt that's a base instinct, and a base instinct born out of human frailty at that. It's also true that my cock had never presented any previous signposts of patriotism. Those considerations aside, I had to agree with my "lower self" that trysting the night away with Mademoiselle de Jahame was a particularly mouthwatering prospect. As for my "higher self," that was an easy sell―not only was Simone Naropan, she was also a bona fide litérateur. It could easily justify the chase as either "a spiritual quest" or "an intellectual pursuit." Done deal.
She wasn't hard to track down. The cocksure strawberry blonde coquette could be spotted conspicuously prowling around the Boulderado watering holes—Le Bar, The Catacombs, and The Mezzanine Bar. She and her close friend Calliope live in 421. The poetry belles are, ahem, very close. Simone would go either way. Twice as much competition means sometimes nature needs twice as long to take its course. On the other hand, a certain amount of groundwork had already been, er, laid. We've had some amicable exchanges here and there, a little dry humping slow dancing at a party or two, but nothing like the gutteral groaning and gonad grinding—in between reading each other excerpts from the Romantic poets, of course—I'd started game planning.
Simone. Her name really got me going. I was already in Gallic mode, having worked my way through a little light summer reading―all three volumes of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. I substitute "Simone" for Proust's heroine (hero?) "Albertine" as I strategize another European fling. It occurs to me that a simple note, from one writer to another, might just do the trick.
Over a cappuccino in Le Bar, I play around with a pen, a notebook, and the sensual sobriquet. Simone. What a setup for alliteration! Simone. Semen. Semen in Simone. Simone amour. I'd barely lapped up the first few slurps of whitish foam when a brief but meaningful communiqué burst onto my mindscreen. There it was, visible in enormous text, as if skywritten in liquid smoke:
I want to hear you moan and moan
Ah, yes. That about covered it. Why go on and on?
I sign my succinct little effort, waltz over to the front desk, ask the clerk to drop it in Simone's box. Positive reinforcement came barely an hour later―a chance rendezvous in the hotel lobby. Simone congratulates me on my effort.
"Nice job. You said in ten words what would have taken Shakespeare or Poe at least a sonnet."
That's what she told me, or rather what she whispered in my ear as she sidled up against me, wrapping a shapely upper appendage around my waist. I thrilled as the tiniest atoms of exquisite spit settled against my inner ear canal. Hey, intimacy has to start somewhere.
"You're in!" Steven concluded, after I recounted the uplifting tale.
Talk about perfect timing. Boulder society, such as it is in a town full hippy dippy Celestial Tea sippers, has gone gaga over the gala opening of Northstar Recording Studios. The quintessential 80s Saturnalia is on tap for this very evening. Smart money says the glitzy bash is a cinch to surpass poetry parties for sheer, unadulterated decadence. That'll take some doing, but I know the players involved. Based on past efforts, those freakazoids could pull it off. They and their significant others have been grilling me about which "lucky lady" I'm planning to take. The present answer was "none," not that I'd admit it with a .45 pointed at my head. With all the exposure I have to beautiful women, I'm somehow hard-up for a date―and uncharacteristically anxious about it. If ever there was a party you'd want to make a grand entrance to, as opposed to playing cherchez la femme once you got there, this was it.
The note to Simone saves the day. Sure, she wants to go to the party.
"We'll make a lovely trio, won't we?"
Oh? Could I wait a few hours while she and Calliope ready themselves for the ball? Gee, let me think about it!
Rumor has it that Northstar is decked out as if Stanley Kubrick had hired the set designer from 2001: A Space Odyssey to see to it that Northstar's control room picks up where the Spaceship Discovery One's flight deck left off. It rang true cause it was true—I'd already seen it with my own eyes. Northstar's dashing carrot-topped proprietor, Alex Major, was the brother-in-law of Victor Levine, my Hebrew School buddy who had finagled himself a position as studio manager. Victor was part of the New Jersey crew who came out to visit Colorful Colorado and never left.
Major had already displayed a knack for blowing through other people's money. He tore through his father-in-law's $50,000 wedding gift in less than a month—one reason why bride Mary Levine is already hot and heavy with another music biz paramour. Seduced by Major's good looks and his enthusiastic sales pitch, blissfully unaware of his burgeoning career as a con man, some of Boulder's biggest drug dealers have been sweet-talked into laundering bucketfuls of cash through the glamorous enterprise.
Major's spiel emphasized that, by and large, A-room studios outfitted with holy-grail hit-making recording gear are rarely encountered anywhere in between the coasts. Makes sense—New York and Los Angeles are where most rock stars live and record. He reasons that some of those luminaries could be persuaded to tap into "rocky mountain high," a winsome feeling that John Denver sang so passionately about in his megahit. Turns out his intuition was dead on.
As fate would have it, manager-to-the-stars Jim Guercio had arrived at exactly the same conclusion. Unbeknownst to Major, Guercio's Caribou Ranch was opening simultaneously. Guercio was even more adept at fleecing his rockstar clients than Major was at separating drug dealers from their cash. There was one key difference: Caribou wasn't located in an alley behind a bakery in downtown Boulder. The deluxe log cabin enclave was situated in a pristine national forest nestled above the former mining town of Gold Hill. Depending on their mood of the moment, musicians could dive into their projects or dip in groupie-filled hot tubs, spending week after productive week closeted in a creative cocoon.
If Caribou's idyllic location wasn't already damaging enough for Northstar's prospects, Guercio's preexisting client list already included megastars Elton John, Supertramp, and Chicago—who would all record multi-platinum albums at his ranch. In contrast, Major's client list included, well, no one of any note. No one of any note included The Milkmen. Eventually, he got so hard up that he traded us an entire week's run of the place for a gram (the smallest sellable amount) of blow. The four productions that came out of that launched our career, just as Northstar faded out of existence.
But opening night anticipation is unaffected by flash forwards to future woes. Following two years of frenzied preparation, the studio is finally ready to unveil. One reason the townsfolk are in such a tizzy is that dress-up affairs are virtually unheard-of in the former cow town. So is the first VIP valet parking ever seen on Pearl Street. One valet, another member of our extended New Jersey clan, told me that he pocketed a grand from all the drug dealer tips.
For all my fretting about finding a suitable date, I now have two of them in tow. With Simone and Calliope on each arm, we really are quite the lovely trio as we make our "red carpet entrance." Crossing over the threshold, we discover the party's in full swing. Poetry parties, with hundreds of revelers crammed into 700-square foot townhouses, are depopulated in comparison. A mass of human bodies compressed into every nook and cranny wends its way past banquet tables laden with ice sculptures, rich red meats bleeding onto silver platters, crystal bowls brimming with crustaceans. I haven't seen opulence like this since cousin Roberta's wedding at Leonard's Of Great Neck.
Poppy gets lost in the maw of the crowd. On the custom mixing console―which took a team of engineering nerds two full years to design and assemble―Simone and I spell out each other's name in pricey Peruvian powder. This time I quit while I was ahead. The world class debauchery starts at Northstar and concludes in Anne Waldman's romantic corner suite. Simone is minding it while Anne reads in Göteborg. From first kiss to last quiver, I'm convinced the summer's preceding adventures have been a mere prelude, acclimatizing me for a stepped-up level of passion I had been previously unprepared to process.
It was hard to gauge whether Simone was a better actress or fuckstress. She poured everything she had into every scene. I responded in kind. The resulting give-and-take seemed far elevated from the free love romps I was accustomed to, not that those encounters weren't valuable life experience in their own beastly way. The introduction of another character in the second act was an unexpected plot device—fixated on Simone and not wanting to show up stag, I suppose I hadn't taken the "we'll make a lovely trio" line quite as literally as I might have. My bad. There were about 2 billion men on earth that night in 1980―none any luckier than me.
I saw Simone a couple of years later. Glowing.
"We had a lot of great times together, didn't we?"
"Simone, It was one night."
"Well, it was so good it seemed like a lot of nights."
I wished it had been a lot of nights.