Who Am I?

Here’s some stuff I wrote down for my writing workshop Sunday:

The mask I put on is that I am a decent law-abiding citizen who treats other people as he wants to be treated.

What I try to hide is my anxiety, fear, insecurity and predatory instincts (not towards children!). I try to hide how much most people disgust me. I don’t like dirty people, dumb people (who don’t realize they’re dumb), irresponsible people. I hate drunks and drug addicts. I hate people who take welfare instead of working. I hate people who take no care with their appearance. I hate people who don’t take into consideration the effect they have on others. I hate ice princesses who don’t talk to me and hot chicks who ignore me. I hate people who won’t get therapy when they need it. I hate people who lecture others about recycling and global warming. I hate prissy old women who want me to clean up my writing. I hate… manipulative…who still looks hot but hasn’t returned my emails and phone call.

I could go on for pages about the type of people I hate.

What do I find offensive? Nothing I can think of. Some actions are bad and evil and I hate those acts — and sometimes even the people who commit them — but taking offense is an emotional state and I try to work that stuff out with my therapist. I don’t use it as manipulation.

What is the gift I want to give myself with my writing? I want to crack open parts of my life I’ve shut down. I want to stretch beyond what is easy for me. I want to get into a state of flow. I want an adrenalin rush. I want to reconnect with my deepest purpose for living. I want to go beyond my action goals and to go down to the reasons I have those goals and to crack up and to face my motivations.

I feel uncomfortable with this assignment. It reminds me of John Bradshaw’s Healing the Wounded Inner Child Within TV specials.

What is the gift I want to give to others with my writing? I feel uncomfortable with this question because I’ve created a protected life where I can write what I want and I don’t have to take others into account. I guess I would like to be a good representative of Orthodox Jews but I am ambivalent about that. I just want to write up the world as I see it and not feel a responsibility to model Orthodox Judaism. I just want to feel responsible to the Truth.

When have I cracked up and gotten down to my deepest motivations? I remember returning to Los Angeles in 1994 — at age 27 — after six years largely spent in bed (because of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I had made a partial recovery from CFS and was thinking about returning to UCLA to finish my Economics degree.

Instead, I cracked up and pursued acting for 18 months. I had no success. It was a reckless thing to do. But I was strongly attracted to the sexually charged world of Hollywood. I liked going to acting classes and hooking up with girls even if I had to live out of my car for six months to afford this quest (I eventually moved in with a bloke I met at the Westwood Chabad in March of 1995 and I have not been homeless since).

So where did I hook up with girls? Sometimes in the back of my 1979 Datsun stationwagon.

It didn’t matter to me that the odds were astronomically against me making a living from acting. I felt like I had a new lease on life and I was ready to do some risky things.

I kinda liked the adventure of living out of my car (except for when I was sick, then it was just miserable). Just so long as I had a place to shower every day. I was down and out in Beverly Hills and I thought I’d get some great writing out of it one day.

Well, that’s partially bravado. I felt scared and weak much of the time, even desperate. I’m not good at navigating real life. I live in my head.

I had once read the advice that someone who recovers from CFS should do the opposite of what he was doing when he got sick.

Just before I got sick, I was studying hard at Sierra Community College in Rocklin, preparing to transfer to UCLA and to major in Economics.

Acting seemed to me like the opposite of Calculus.

I remembered a story I’d heard on NPR circa 1987. It was told by poet Andrei Codrescu. In his late teens, he apprenticed himself to a demanding stone mason. At the end of his arduous term, he said to his mentor, “So am I going to become a stone mason?”

“No,” said the man. “You’re going to become a writer.”

“But if you knew I was going to be a writer, why did you take me on as your apprentice?”

And the mentor said: “I thought the work would be good for your writing.”

Why is that wherever I go, whatever I choose to do, I am in the same socio-economic position. I have the same degree of popularity with girls. The same loneliness and uncoolness. I’ve always been the least cool of the cool crowd and the most cool of the uncool crowd. The only exceptions have been when someone in the cool crowd would shlep me along for months and years and on that borrowed functioning, I felt like I had stepped up in life. But then they died or moved or dropped me and I crashed down to earth.

I remember three women I slept with in the back of that Datsun station wagon.

One I met on a set. I broke Shabbos one afternoon in the fall of 1994 to work as an extra on a non-union production in Pasadena.

I hit on every attractive young woman on set that afternoon and got knocked back by everyone. (I later got a stern talking to on this score by the man — John* — who sent me out on the job.)

Near the end of the show, I turned my attention to the 46-year old woman extra, Paula*.

“You’ve got nice shoulders,” I said when she turned around to me at the crafts service table.

She smiled.

We started talking. She worked at a respectable charity. She lived with her boyfriend in Santa Monica. She was average-looking.

The show was over. I said goodbye. I got in my car and drove back to the West side, which is where I parked my car most nights.

I noticed this woman driving behind me. As the miles went by and she stayed close to my car, I figured she must like me.

On Mulholland Drive, I waved my hand out my window to her and pulled over. She parked behind me.

“Would you like to go for a walk on the beach?” I asked. I had no money to take her on a proper date.

“Sure,” she said.

So we went for a walk on the Venice beach. After a while, I reached out and took her hand. She didn’t resist. It was dark. The beach was almost deserted. The temperature must’ve been in the fifties.

We sat on a bench. I kissed her. She didn’t resist, so I pushed her down and clambered on top of her and made out with her.

She wasn’t resisting anything I was doing, so I became more adventurous and her sighs became more intense.

That’s when I decided I had to have her.

We walked on. I guided her up to a lifeguard station and we lay down and made out. I unbuttoned her pants.

She bolted up, removed her tampon, and threw it on the sand.

She assured me she was no longer bleeding.

After a while, I wanted to take her to the back of my car to complete the deed.

After I put up towels on all of my windows, I removed her pants and wasted no time with further foreplay.

“I feel like I’m in high school,” she said.

And it was good.

She was almost 20 years older than me but it was very good. It was comfortable and easy and she knew just what to do, unlike the virgin I’d been with a few months previous.

Over the next few days, I called her a couple of times and left a message on her voice mail. She never got back to me. I was surprised. I felt sure I was her little stud muffin.

Yikes, today she’d be 63.

Why did I hook up with so many 40-something women from 1994-1996? Because I could. They were the ones who responded to me. They were easy to deal with because we didn’t expect much from each other beyond the sex. I loved their enthusiasm and willingness to experiment in bed aka do what I wanted.

They didn’t push me to spend money on them. They were willing to mix it up with me in the back of my wagon. They weren’t as proud and as demanding as the young hotties I wanted to marry.

Every religion including my own (Judaism) holds that the place for sex is within marriage. I had no marriage prospects thanks to my poverty and ill health and various character flaws. Because I had no prospects, I felt like it was OK to play around to get me through the night.

I liked John and hung out a couple of times at his office. He told me he was staying out of SAG so he could do non-union work. He told me about a lead role he had in a recent movie that was shot in several versions including X-rated. He was a real actor and didn’t do any hardcore.

He told me about one girl he signed up to his casting service. She brought him videos of her various p*** movies. He rolled his eyes that such whores could think they could make it in Hollywood.

Another girl I made it with was an aspiring actress. I’ll call her Jane. Plain Jane. A Christian.

We started talking at a Christmas party at the home of Don Glut, the director of Dinosaur Valley Girls.

It was the end of 1994.

I hit on a lot of girls at the party. None successfully. Then I started talking with Jane.

We left the party together. We stood talking beside my Datsun. I tried to kiss her but she stopped me.

Frustrated, I invited her into my place.

My place at the time was a 1979 Toyota stationwagon. I’d been living it out of it for a few months. I figured a job would only hold me back from achieving my dreams.

We were standing beside my wagon and I was trying to hold her hand and she was pushing me away. So I invited her inside so that we could be on our own and not let bourgeois morality impinge upon our feelings.

I had the back seat down and all my possessions piled up in cardboard boxes along the sides. In the middle was my comfy duve and two pillows.

How could she resist?

We slid in.

I put up towels around all the windows so we could have privacy. Then we got under my duve and got cozy.

We were both religious in a traditional sense, so we didn’t just stampede to the clitoris like secular humanists do. Nor did we do oral.

(“Oral is moral” claims the dad in Big Love, but my religion teaches me otherwise.)

No, we just held each other like Christians United For Israel. Then we stroked each other. Then we clinched. Then we made out. Finally, I took her hand in mine and placed it in my pants.

Thank God the gasoline fumes weren’t too strong that night.

She said she was really good at handjobs, but before she’d give me one, she had to say a prayer to Jesus. She was worried about me. I said fine.

She prayed, “Dear Jesus, I’m here with Luke who’s very troubled. He’s been sick for a long time. He’s homeless. He’s left you behind. He’s in a new town where he doesn’t know anybody. He’s in pretty desperate shape. It’s in these tough times that we turn to you oh Lord. We know that a penitent and upright heart you will never despise. I want to invite you into Luke’s heart. I know you can do miracles. We acknowledge you and we love you and we commit ourselves to you, amen.”

Then she reached down and let her fingers work their magic.

Why are some women awesome at this and other women just suck?

The third woman on my hit list I met at Stephen S. Wise temple on a Friday night in August 1994. I’ll call her Carla. She was from Venezuela and she didn’t speak English (beyond a few words) and I didn’t speak Spanish (beyond a few phrases).

I’d just been dumped by the woman (Darla*) I’d been living with (on and off) for a few weeks. Every day for the next three months after this break-up, I broke into tears at least once (no other relationship has compelled me to cry more than a few times).

So, Friday night, I meet Carla and give her a ride home.

Saturday morning, I pick her up and take her to temple.

I see Darla at services. During the misheberach where they ask for names of people in need of healing, I ask Darla to say my name. She suggests that I ask someone who cares.

I cling to Carla inappropriately. Outside in the sun, I try to touch her big breasts.

“Es muy necessario,” I say.

Carla pushes my hands away. “No es necessario,” she says.

An old-fashioned gentleman, I obey her commands.

For the next few Shabbats, I pick up Carla and take her to temple. Then maybe we go off for a walk on the beach and then I park near the home she’s staying at in Bel Air and we make out and I take her home like a Victorian gentleman.

On our last night together as we’re making out in the back of my station wagon and I’m rubbing against her hard, she says, “Condom?”

Yes, indeed, I have one and away we go.

Very happy times. They’re a solace to me in my old age.

Carla had us exchange addresses so we could write but as she didn’t know much English, I didn’t see the point. And that was that.

In May of 1995, while I was driving Kanan Dunan road in Malibu in the rain on bald tires on my way to a one-on-one scene study with a gorgeous young actress, my car spun out and I went head first into a light pole and that was the end of my promiscuity.

Even though my next vehicle was a van, I gradually came to regard the mattress I kept in there as tacky and I discarded it soon after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

My last attempt at seduction on it was ended by the van’s intense gasoline fumes.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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