11 International Relations
Sunup found me ... wracking my brain for just the right word to describe my carefree frame of mind. At one with time and space? Close, but too scientific sounding and it's a phrase. Euphoric? Implies a temporary sugar rush, not quite it. In a state of ... just what kind of state was I in? Whatever it was, I couldn't quite put my finger on, I had the distinct impression that, without even trying, I'd attained a spiritual goal that others desperately strive to reach. Was Ösel Tendzin's prophecy actually coming true? No. It couldn't be. Could it?
Still trying to put a name on a feeling, I sifted through all the bits and pieces of pidgin Buddhism I'd assimilated. For instance, I'd overheard students discussing Rinpoche's philosophy that "sacred sexuality" was a "portal" to "transcendence." Transcendence came pretty close―but it implies overcoming some obstacle or other. Then it came to me: the most accurate term for my present state of mind that I could retrieve from my slender trove of Buddhist-speak was "satori." Ah, yes. Sa-tor-i. The syllables roll off the tongue melodically, like "Shang-ri-La." From what I could tell, the state of satori implies human longing alchemized into the desired form. I'd longed to be a man of the world. Now I was a man of the world. Certainly, "I attained a state of satori last night," has a much more tantric ring to it than, "I got my rocks off last night."
If it seems like I'm about to chronicle a startling transformation from unenlighted blade to spiritual being, well, let me assure you my oftentimes pesky human ego wasn't in free fall—not just yet. It was alive and kicking. And no way was it going to sit idly by while my conscious mind dwelled on threatening subjects like satori. If I was gonna go all Buddhist, I wouldn't need my ego around any more, now would I? It wasn't going down without a fight. In fact it injected itself into the very next thought: "Yeah, I'm a pretty cool dude to have nailed two smoking hot babes, and yeah, I'm kinda studly at that." I was back in familiar territory, wallowing in my own magnificence. Or I was until evidence of the polar opposite appeared, incarnated in human form—Pamela, relishing a plate of blueberry blintzes at The New York Deli. My potato pancakes joined her blueberry blintzes.
I'll spare you my first few awkward mumbles and cut to her big news: Dutch television wants Pamela to interview the great Burroughs his own self.
"Do you actually know him?"
"I oughta actually know him. He's my next door neighbor," I respond matter-of-factly, as if I'd seen him mowing the lawn, wielding the weed-whacker, sucking down Rheingolds. I resisted the temptation to tell her she'd have known that if she ever dropped by.
"Could you ask him for me?"
Pause. Weighing the possible rejoinders. I'd been arranging celebrity interviews for three years. That wasn't why I hesitated. Being a bit miffed about the non-encounter after the non-dance was. Turning her down would get me nowhere. Saying yes kept open the possibility I'd be rewarded for my effort. Things could still go somewhere.
"Oh, sure. No problem."
Still hoping against hope to erase my previous failing, I went on to hint that performing a favor of that magnitude might take some persuasion. By some miracle she agrees.
Somewhere was a pristine alpine meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park, forty-five minutes away on the Peak to Peak Highway via mom van. We spread out a picnic blanket alongside a gurgling stream. Boulders and bushes hide our "naked lunch" from prying eyes. The stirring sounds of elk bugling emitted from a copse of aspens relay the call of the wild. Marmots make like meerkats, peering around on their hind legs, sniffing around in the midst of vivid displays of wildflowers—Scarlet Paintbrush, Alpine Yarrow, varying hues of Columbine. Iridescent hummingbirds flit from flower to flower, extracting precious nectar. The hornier ones treat us to dive bombing displays—a highlight of their bizarre mating ritual. Hawks and eagles drift on the thermals. We feed each other plump ripe peaches and chocolate strawberries, licking each other's fingers as we go. If I'm not getting the point across, the aphrodesia quotient could raise the prick of a dying man.
Another try at warming international relations. I'm horizontal. Pamela's vertical. Nothing doing. Argh! It appeared that, post-prophecy, anything I envisioned I really could achieve―except for the desired detente with The Netherlands.
Back at Beat Central, tail between my legs, I still held up my end of the bargain. That took some delicacy. "Approachable" was an adjective that applied to every Beat figure except the irascible one next door. Despite our close proximity, we'd never exchanged word one. I just mentioned that I was used to arranging celebrity interviews, as if arranging one with Burroughs wasn't the slightest bit intimidating. Well, those interviews had always been arranged through an intermediary, a manager or a publicist. Not this time.
When I finally work up the nerve to intercede on Pamela's behalf, Burroughs opts for the modesty bit.
"Why would she want to interview me?" he intones, as if he dipped ice cream cones at Dairy Queen for a living. He wasn't going to roll over. However, I was prepared for resistance. I delivered the following response as if I hadn't rehearsed it twenty times:
"Because you're the only heir to an adding machine fortune who may have accidentally put a .38 slug into his wife's forehead playing William Tell in Mexico City in 1951 that they know about in the land of tulipshows. It might also have something to do with the fact you're the faggot who wrote Junkie."
I rattled that off so cheerfully that he couldn't possibly take offense. It had the desired effect.
"Okay then," he succumbed. So much for resistance. Like I really believe "Bill" was completely disinterested in adulation. Whatever.
Darned if a few days later I didn't hear some commotion out in the hall. I opened the door to investigate. Lo and behold, a Dutch film crew is setting up some serious-looking lights and cameras. The little street clown has taken on a professional persona, in a cute pantsuit and heels. An attendant is making her up. They disappear inside 507. Later on, I learn that the interview went really well—not that any further chances for redemption would be coming my way as a result.