The sun rose above the night’s chaos on the third day of a meth bender. B and I had listened to every CD we owned prior to playing frisbee with them. My usually neat writing room seemed evidence of a natural disaster, all paintings and poems created in previous days destroyed by slashing and crumbling. A pair of my panties hung from the ceiling fan.
Yet a new day felt promising. As light shimmied through the blinds and birds chirped their summer melodies, B and I hit some tweaked out peak of crazy where we could only communicate in song. Between his tone deafness and my voice training that ended in eighth grade, we sounded like a drunk and a Disney Princess.
At first the songs were pretty basic. “Jen, let’s do more speed,” B sang. Our plan was to do meth for a couple days to help him withdraw from alcohol while I got off of heroin.
“Okay, where did you hide the needle?” I sang, my pitch perfect for Ariel or Belle.
Addiction is a problem of more. I’m not just referring to the meth here. Our simple song correspondence wasn’t enough. Somehow we transitioned to Grease. I printed out the lyrics to You’re the One That I Want and we listened to it on the computer so that we could practice our lines. We sang and sang and sang, then did more speed. Our drugs of choice seemed chapters behind us. We were free and focused on our music careers.
“I got an idea,” I sang, which is never a good thing when you have been up for at least 72 hours. “Let’s watch the actual video so we can really get into character and I can do the blocking.” I had taken a few theater courses in college and felt confident in my directorial skills. Though this was in the early years of our relationship, B knew me well enough to trust my creative instincts.
It took at least an hour to set the writing room up as an outside carnival. B kicked all the trash into the hallway while I used duct tape on the carpet to mark where each of us was to stand and move during the song. I found an online audio of just the music. We went through our blocking and memorized our lines, taking short breaks to kiss each other. We were always so in love.
The debut performance was just about to begin when we simultaneously realized that we were not in costume. I ran to our bedroom closet to find black capris and a tight shirt. I peeled my clothes off and squeezed my butt into pants two sizes too small. I remember a moment when I was on my bed zipping the pants and cursing, my pugs Telemachus and Edith looking at me like they didn’t know who I was. When I returned to our makeshift setting, B was already in place, wearing a black t-shirt and skinny jeans, his hair greased up with what I would later come to find out was Vaseline.
I hit play and took my place. The music moved through my veins as fast as the meth. I was thinking that this was the most fun I had ever had until B missed his opening line. My joy halted like a semi about to hit a group of newborns. I stopped the music. “Danny, hello. What the fuck?”
“You look really hot in those pants, Jen,” he said so sweetly that I almost let him get away with the mistake.
“Thank you, but I’m not Jen. I’m Sandy. Staying in character is vital. When Viggo Mortensen filmed The Lord of the Rings movies he slept with his sword for months. You are Danny and I am Sandy.” I started the song over.
“Thanks coach,” B said, just before he belched out like a dying whale, “I got chills…” I felt embarrassed for him, but I went with it until right after the electrifying part when he leaned in to kiss me.
“Stop the music. There is no kiss here. I may be dressed like this, but our friends are around and I’m a good girl.” I could feel sweat drops of irritation on the top of my nose.
“Oh no, I’m the asshole for doing some improv.” He started the song over and so that I would have my opportunity to shine, I ignored his voice and ridiculous moves and focused on my own part. My performance started out Tony worthy. I nailed everything from putting the prop cigarette out just in time to say, while pushing him away with my foot, “You better shape up.” I turned to sexily strut away, “Cause I need a man.” And that’s when B smacked my ass and started grinding on me.
I pushed him away and walked over to the chaise to sit down and put my head in my hands. The music was still playing. “What’s your problem now, Olivia Newton John,” B said with the sarcasm of a teenage boy.
I looked up at him, the most beautiful, shit starting man in the world. “What’s my problem? What’s my fucking problem?” He had a serpent smile on his face. “You are the problem, R Kelly.”
This is how meth always went for us. We were perfect and then one of us decided to lose our sense of humor. “Oh, my Jennifer, how clever you are. You should probably quit your teaching gig and become a junkie comedian.”
He walked over and unplugged the speakers from the computer. I needed him to understand. “What is it that you don’t comprehend about this musical? We’ve watched the original video fifteen fucking times. You are the smartest person I know. Clearly Danny does not smack Sandy’s ass. She’s in charge and he’s chasing her for most of the song.” B wasn’t listening to a word that I said.
“I’m going to smoke,” he said. “You ruin everything.” When he walked out of the door I knew he was leaving to get alcohol. I waited to hear the door slam, grabbed my phone and called Shorty to bring me some heroin. B and I would have to get sober another day.