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Springtime for Goldstein

By Heather O’Neill

Outside it is spring, but inside the house all the umbrellas are broken and my boots are coming apart at the seams. You could fill the sunlight that comes in through the smeared windows in the one wine glass that hasn’t been broken over the winter.

Spring is the time to do things. It seems like everyone has taken out their urns and dumped them out the bedroom window yelling, “Gone but not forgotten.”

Inside the house we are watching a film that my friend made. It is of sea horses at the New York Aquarium. In the background, there is a sad narrator’s voice reciting a monologue from Porky’s.

All the tiles in the bathroom are different colors from where the plumbers broke through the wall. “What did I do to deserve this!”Goldstein screams.

Goldstein is reading a book from Russia that he claims makes no sense. It usually takes him two years to finish a paperback book. After a certain age almost everyone ends up in the remedial stream.

When he was little, Goldstein used to say that Def Leppard was his favorite band even though he had never heard them.

Goldstein says that it’s fun to close your eyes when you’re making popcorn. He puts his ear to the popper and imagines a hundred girls warming up to do the Flamenco.

We’re listening to Nina Simone. She sounds like a record player that has been unplugged but still continues to play for a few seconds, slowing down.

I regularly and seriously contemplated killing myself at ten years old. My dad used to threaten to come to school , walk right into class and smack me. I read too many books as a child. It spoiled me for a life of crime.

Goldstein buys a bottle of wine called The Cute Pigs. There is a picture on the label of two pigs wearing waistcoats making a toast. He plunks the bottle down on the table and yells that we’ve become too bourgeouis before I can even protest.

On the news someone is showing his hand covered in dog bites. Apparently he was bitten by a poodle names Fichon. The same story is playing on three different channels. “Lies. All lies and propaghanda!” Goldstein exclaims.

Goldstein is always yelling at me to write my will. I have written one on a piece of loose leaf that he says will never hold up in court.

Zuuzuu announces that her essay topics are too bourgeoius.

“You should charge your name to Valentine,” Goldstein says to me. “You remind me of the little kittens on the Valentine cards that I used to give to girls when I was little.” Goldstein says he used to play a game called postman. The girls lined up and he would deliver them each a kiss,

“Why do you have two bottles of wine in your purse?”

“Who are you to ask,” I say.

He has a mickey of vodka in the inside pocket of his jacket and one in the CD holder in his briefcase.

“I’m an alcoholic, sweetheart. But I’m worried about you.”

Then we giggle.

Whatever happened to the blue fake leather seats they used to have on these buses? And everyone wrote on them with markers. Hearts and joints and penises. Do you remember?

Goldstein is smoking these long brown Virginia Slims. He is putting jokes on pale blue cuecards with a tiny black marker for a lecture he is going to give in Amsterdam. They’re the type of cuecard that you find on salesmen who have hung themselves in motel rooms.

“Why don’t you visit a prostitute while you’re in Amsterdam?”

I imagine the prostitutes in their windows, like a row of dolls in boxes on the shelf at the store. Theyr’e bored and have short shirts that come out at the sides, like umbrellas. They yawn a lot and have curls like the girls in storybooks do. They have phone numbers written down on their hands in black pen. You can imagine that they were the kind of girls who were able to do a lot of tricks on the monkey bars. Goldstein confesses that he ‘s always been too high strung to be able to do anything with a prostitute. He almost cried after we first kissed.

He said when he first kissed me, he remembered a day at the beach drinking ginger ale out of a thermos. He tied his towel around his neck and it blew out behind him like a superhero’s cape.

Goldstein never travelled as a child. The only place his family went was to Plattsburg, New York– with a row of other families in station wagons from the suburbs. They were in a quest for the perfect walking shoe. On the way home they would toast themselves with glasses of milk they saved fiftteen cents on.

I don’t like photographs of myself. I prefer to remember the compliments of ex-boyfriends. A fifteen year old squeezing his body against mine on the fence. Snapshots ruin all that.

The air outside the apartment smells the way your hands do after you’ve been holding pennies.

Goldstein has six CDs with tunes from old music boxes playing. The more you stay inside, the more you define beauty as being made up of clockwork contraptions.

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