Sunday, July 18, 2010
Enid comes clean
Back in college – way back in 1983 - I lived in an apartment complex called Alhambra Court. Central Columbus is a Mecca for these aging structures that are essentially two buildings that run from the street back to the alley at the back of the property. In the middle of the two buildings was a lawn that the front porches faced. While some of the courts are two story townhouses, Alhambra Court was comprised of 36 flats – each building have an equal number of first and second floor units, each with their own private front doors. Mine was a second floor unit so I shared a second story porch with a grad student in English, one Carmine DiBiase, making it easy for us to socialize.
It was my neighbor Carmine’s idea to throw a party and use both units. A doctoral student in the English Department, Carmine figured taht the party would be in his place and then if the bathroom got busy the guests could hop the low railing and use my bathroom. He would invite his friends and I would invite mine.
One of the people that Carmine and I invited was a woman named Enid who had left her husband and her two teenage sons in my home town, to pursue a college career. I would see Enid at one of the campus watering holes and we would talk. Carmine was mesmerized by her, in the poetic sense. She dressed like Annie Hall and she danced under no dancing signs while live bands played. And Carmine – a heterosexual who loved exotic women found Enid’s brand of craziness to be exactly that – exotic.
The night of the party I was at Carmine’s cutting up vegetables for the crudités when there was a horrific sound down stairs at my front door. It was Enid. She was drunk, very drunk. And she was shrieking at the top of her voice, demanding Chicken Divan.
So Carmine hauled her up the stairs and she continued to demand Chicken Divan, claiming that I had promised it to her. I assured her that I had never made so much of an offer – as I had never made the dish – but having downed “a half bottle-o-Jack” she was soused and it was a fools errand to argue.
She had begun to dance in a fashion that reminded me of Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, picking up he skirt and dipping and twirling to the music that Carmine was playing when she showed up. It was then, in one of the mid twirls that she saw “it” and direction of our evening took a turn for the worse: the bath tub.
All of the units of Alhambra Court featured claw foot bath tubs large enough for William Howard Taft, and when Enid saw the tub an audible gasp shattered the Maria Muldare mellow enveloping the room.
“Oh Darling Love!” cried Enid in utter ecstasy, “I so adore your bathtub!” She approached it in a reverent fashion, as if it were oracle that had just self generated. “May I come over sometime and bathe in it? It would be such a treat as I do so need to bathe and all I have is a shower!” she exclaimed as she clasped her hands to her bosom.
Carmine, always up for an exotic event, said “my God, but of course!”
Now the key words I heard were "May I come over sometime and bathe in it?". meaning that she could pick a date in the future and take her bath. Boy was I wrong, because what happened next was both unexpected, and truly shocking. With 30 guests due in 30 minutes, Enid began to disrobe. Her “sometime bath” had turned into an immediate need and within seconds I was treated to a flash of Enid’s vagina as she wiggled out of her clothing.
Now bear in mind, no pun intended, the only other up close and personal vagina I had ever seen was my mother’s on the way out into this world, and even then I was too upset for words - and spent some period of time screaming, so I am told. So when Enid flashed her vagina at me, without a care in the world on her part, it almost sent me off to the psychiatric ward. Of course, Carmine was simply enchanted by this moment Hollywoodlike scripting and enjoyed the show as much as I was appalled by it.
So I did what any newly out gay man would do – I want home to fret, and change clothing. I suppose if I smoked, I would have done that too. If I were Judy Garland, I would have taken some pills - but I'm not, so I didn't. Mind you I was young and this was the first big party that I had ever thrown, so for Enid to bathe at that moment meant chaos. I began to feel my (and not in the transitive sense) party was doomed.
Of course looking back on it, I was too young to have enjoyed the absurdity of the whole event. I mean, what gay man hasn't had a drunken woman in the bath tub when he’s about to the throw a party at sometime in his life? Turns out lots of gay men have drunk women in the bath tub at sometime or another, but this was a fact of life I would just have to learn on my own as it was covered in Homo Continuing Education. But my problem was that this was Enid, from my hometown, and she was old enough to be my mother. Had it been Audrey Hepburn, it would have been a different story. But this was ENID!
Well, after I changed, I went over to Carmine's and found Enid sobbing as her breasts were a bobbing. EVIDENTLY, this whole thing that set off the marathon drinking was that in one of Enid’s honors philosophy classes, there had been a discussion about whether or not man was born innocent and screwed things up on his own, or whether man was born with his fate sealed.
Either way, Enid was so overwhelmed at the futility of it all she began to drink, and when we cut the liquor off, then she needed another way to dull the pain. She decided to take a bath and return to the womb, so to speak. After about 25 minutes we were brave enough to hoist her out of the tube and hand her her clothes, which she put on sensing that something was about to begin.
With the worst behind us, the party could just go on and we would have a story to tell. That’s what we thought. We thought that with guests arriving that we could them watch her and we could have some fun. That’s what we thought.
About three hours into the party, my friend Sharon came over to me and said “Did you know someone was taking a bath?” I knew someone had taken a bath. But someone else was taking bath? Now? “And she’s weeping about the nature of mankind and its hopeless purpose.”
It was Enid. And she was very upset. And she was in the bathtub again. Her tears at this point were caused because a man we had not invited (and no idea who he was) had crashed the party, made goo-goo eyes at her, and rather than engage her in some intellectual exchange of ideas, instead leaned over and offered her a toke on a joint. Enid, the lover of life, the seeker of new experiences had encountered an experience that was too exotic for words and she needed to return to the womb.
"No one has ever asked me to smoke an illegal drug," she said as I sat on the toilet seat lid trying to get to the bottom of the issue at hand. In my sheltered life, no one had ever waved a joint in front of my face, and had they done so I would have declined and walked away. So that made two of us, but I wasn't Enid and I wasn't sobbing in the tub, either.
For the rest of the evening various people would go into the bathroom and chat with Enid. And at some point the plug was pulled on the drain because one of the guests was concerned that the poor woman’s lips were blue from lack of hot water as she kept draining the tank in the basement and it couldn’t keep up with her unrelenting demands. Someone got her dressed and a couple women who were PhD students said they would get her back to her honors dorm.
And that was the last that I saw Enid for many years as I tried to dodge her, and her irrational needs. I wasn’t equipped to deal with my own problems, let alone Enid's. And I was fairly successful for several years until one Saturday night when I was out with friends, one of which lived on the top floor of the Greystone Aprtments in the Short North.
Four stories high, and no elevator, we trudged up the metal fire escape one June Saturday evening and there was Enid, nude, sitting with a wooden bowl in her lap, filled with large buds of marijuana.
“Darling love!” She exclaimed upon seeing me. “How are you! I'm cleaning seeds from my buds. Let me get the pipe and we can pass it. We can remember the good times!” And into her apartment she went.
I didn’t wait – down the stairs I went, and at break neck speed. An Enid freaked by a joint was hard enough, but an Enid totally stoned and rambling on while opining about the nature of man and the world was an "exotic" expirience I was unprepared for. But it was the threat of her drifting off to take yet another bath, when some innocent new remark would upset her, that was an expirience that I was only able to endure once my life, my Darling Loves.