Bart Plantenga’s
Confessions of a Beer Mystic #20

It’s no wonder then, that I had to start whistling up for the key after Djuna changed the locks and refused to give me a new key. If Djuna liked the tune — “Mack The Knife” is one — she’d toss me the keys. If not I’d have to sleep elsewhere. Or I could just buzz her doorbell (the kind that looks like a nipple) all night. Which did me no good because she would just put on her headphones and turn the music up a notch. (I mean, I’m only 2 months behind in the rent.)

One night not long ago but before I met Nielle, I was wandering to kill the Friday night (I would sleep in the sun during the day — when it was safe) when I saw this guy coming up Ave. A, off 7th whistling a tune, a tune I knew, a tune I’d learned to whistle from Djuna, “Wie Mann Sich Bettet!” Oh sure, this guy knew Weill’s tune enough to whistle it but did he know Brecht’s words?! “You got to make use of the short time that is yours / A human being is not an animal / For, as you make your bed so must you lie / There’s nobody to cover you up there …” I mean, there he was coming toward me with a small bundle of clothes under his arm, dressed in MY clothes, clothes that she, Djuna had lent him from “MY” closet! I understand stuff fast but it takes a long time to explain it to me.

Nielle has a bed too and she does not get nauseous lying on her back. On nights when I can’t carry a tune (and some others too) she is my dream among brambles and hatchets.

“I remember my father in the garage, putting his hand on my shoulder and saying, ‘Hamsters sometimes eat their young. Its not something we can explain. It’s just something they do when threatened.’”

“And so what’s’at make Djuna, like star of ‘Invasion of the Killer Shrews?’” Nielle only acted jealous because she thought I was too used to it to go off it cold turkey.

As long as we don’t coagulate into a lump of bitter familiarity, an inert “us-molecule,” me and her could last like a “black and tan” Nick and Nora of the 90s. As long as I take her with me, half-cocked, hunting black eyes, she’s willing to play my #2 as a down payment on becoming my #1 in the (very near) future.

Nielle’s sexual apparatus works like the firing mechanism of a pistol — she is propulsive. She’s so hot that making love to her with pot holders on doesn’t help. This is how I describe it at work. Ben and Robert listen intently. When we chuckle, the bosses think we are laughing at their expense. I say, let them think that.

In her kitchenette, one oven mitt that hung from a hook was the head of an alligator. At night it devoured her “devil’s food breasts.” She liked games involving her breasts. She served me a sweaty glass of beer from the grip of her cleavage without spilling a drop. Doing the limbo. She’s from Antigua. But sometimes from “Jah-maica.” We laugh a lot. When she has an orgasm, the muscles in her arms and legs flex so intensely that they remain fixed there, right at the surface and you can’t even bend an arm or even wiggle a pinkie. The air perspires and she likes to show me the data files she has created with all my documented black eyes. The map of Manhattan showing the precise locations of all my “B-Es” however, is her crowning glory.

My heart still gets hurled like a horseshoe magnet, aorta over auricle, at this splendid face. Strange, this cosmos of beauty (how facial bones sculpt of skin something undeniable, like a silken scarf draped over dream) and how it still takes up tacks, rips up the carpet of my brain awed and deranged from the floor. I have to grab hold of things, things solid and grounded. Who/what I am can be measured, I guess, in direct relation to what happens to me.

“Dylan Thomas said, ‘I am lost in the metropolis with a rubber duck and a girl I cannot see pouring brandy into a tooth-glass.’” She quoted as we sit in the Linger, after watching the imprint of the wood grain from the pew — I mean booth — disappear from the tender underside of her arm. Then she sucked blood from my lip cut on the chipped rim of a stemmed extended tulip glass (which is perfect for heightening the elegance of a pilsner). Heightening a pilsner is the act that raises us out of ourselves.

“Where we put out lights we should place flowerpots filled with bright flowers.”

“Why not. Or narcissus.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“This will mark our black eyes as deliberate. It’ll make it a place of reflection. It will prevent our acts from being interpreted as vandalism.”

[“If the flower (uneven beerhead) is sufficiently beautiful, it will not quickly fade …” Michael Jackson. The New World Guide to Beer. Courage Books, Philadelphia, 1988.]

“You got something there. Except that costs bucks.”

“We can steal’m. Everyone must share in the beautification program. Besides it’ll give form to vision.”

The lights were bright and shivering outside. On the way to the pharmacy I asked Nielle, “What kind do you wanna get this time.”

“I dunno, let’s try something different.” She played along because for her life was a series of instants placed before us to amuse. I could be juvenile again. I could say stupid things and not feel stupid.

“Isn’t it the ribbed green kind you like?” Even louder.

“Yeah, but I don’t like the TASTE. Let’s try the reservoir-tipped ones with the grape jelly time-release all-natural spermicide.”

“What kind do you usually get with your husband?”

“Boring flesh-colored.”

“Black flesh or pink flesh?”

“Grey fish flesh … OK, so mam, can I have a gross of the Martian green ribbed. Yea, a gross.” And as I paid she made as if to open my fly to be sure they would fit. “A gross, that’s the weekly recommended dosage, isn’t that right, mam?” The gross did indeed, go fast because she often became so impatient and riled up that she would end up biting through the condom, ripping it off, because she couldn’t stand to be so far away from my skin.

Her mind still allows her body to be a dreamscape. And when she flexes the wingtips of her scapula back it forms a voluptuous fissure, an alternate vagina which she urges me to explore with tongue and plum-headed glans — or tomorrow she might offer the inside of a Black Beauty tulip. And this is what she means by “poetry in motion.” Or she’ll take my scrotum firmly in hand and make the sound of a bullfrog as she squeezes.

“I always think of you as having this finger that’s a bottle opener. Like a sideshow attraction.” She drank the Pilsner Urquell with gusto and I devoured her burp like I was inhaling 125-year-old cognac or imagination or snails dipped in fresh mayo — as if each fetid moist molecule of her scent was tagged with mons and pheromones. I drank a Red Stripe from “her” Jamaica and spit several sips down the slender neck of Nielle. This is how we cross-bred. This is how we got in trouble in the Linger and other bars too. Affection in a bar is fine, so is a bit of muted passion but when the passion is full-blown and all over the place, a bar suddenly becomes a church or something.

The beach we go to is a dream of us in g-strings and no shoes. I dream of a dream that makes love to me. I encouraged her to read Kerouac’s Subterraneans to me out loud, pillow against the wall, my tongue tickling the vein that runs from hamstring to inner thigh along the sartorius muscle. She lets the crescent of musk melon fall into her lap. She is fruitful. The drops of nectar get caught in her profusion of pubic fur. Her voice full of resonance and proof — 151. (151 is also the pulse rate at the instant of orgasm.) “O dear, what a mess.”

One night she came in out of the breath of the dark rummy night, opened the paper and read aloud, “greedy aliens are stealing stars out of the eternal heavens … snuffing them out like light bulbs (her emphasis) … Something is snatching these stars out of our very own Milky Way like apples from a tree … A superintelligence with only one thing in mind — to suck the very life out of these stars. This is not only evil but potentially dangerous to the delicate harmony of the cosmos. It is speculated that alien cultures need the stars’ light and heat to survive …” And she looked at me, as Bonnie may have looked at Clyde, and thought this was evidence of my/our workings “woven into the cosmic scheme of existence” as she put it. I was flattered but also a bit frightened by the notion that she considered this some heavenly legitimization of my efforts. I ran my hand through her hair. She is in awe of me but pities me all the same for all the responsibility this awe places upon my shoulders.

Her hair is thick and dark like the sea at night. My hands get lost in 20 pounds of it. And I remembered me as kid with my red rake, in briers and brambles up to my knees. Stuck and earnest. So trusting of my father’s camera, squinting in the febrile bee-buzzing sunlight.

In the morning it’s a different day. She gives me a printout of the map. It shows patterns of black eye activity. Heavy concentration in the East Village, Soho, Tribeca. She circled areas in red that we should target more robustly.

It’s a Billy Holiday and I am blue. The sky — what there is of it — is grey and untrue on my way to work. I gung-ho it to be on time — a valiant failure. I smirk with the delicious perfume of Nielle’s inner thighs still pasted to my face as the boss, Leon Codger, lectures me on punctuality and honesty. This is an act and we all play our parts. He spins in his luxurious leatherette swivel chair. Little does he know how much the accountant, a savvy silver-haired old dame, has told me about how “irreplaceable” she is because of what she “knows” about this joint. She once said, “Some cook at home. I cook here. I’ve got all the books cooked.” Winkwink. I go to my position, ready to kill the body of the day.

And I am, by the next night, redeemed in the tug and strife between me and Djuna by the fact that something I do still eats away at Djuna. The mystery of why she would be jealous is entangled in the mystery of the human cell. She is jealous for no rational reason. Her body just gives her no alternative.

It’s been a year — or is it 3? — that we’ve been playing Top My Self-Abuse Martyrdom, an escalation as stupid as any follow-the-leader I’ve ever been involved in. But that’s the nature of cohabitation and inertia. And that is over with. It’s a new game now.

My admittedly quasi-suicidal drinking forays (where the purpose and result are sometimes confused), which I try to dress up as poetic lovelorn angst (like a “different” kind of music’s guitar solos), just don’t faze her anymore. Because afterall, does the earth ever have anything nice to say to those who dig the graves?

Besides, Djuna’s no half-cocked beer sap anymore. No sireee! She’s on a success trip now. A religion of holy ferocious clean. Ex-junkies really DO mutate into the shrillest of our saints.

She says things from her smile of shrapnel, “Jerks manufacture suffering to heroically play their art off of. Getting crowded up on the cross lately, ain’t it?” She may be right but her tone of voice has me rooting for the other side of right.

“Killer whales kill for pleasure — they’re the only animal besides man by the way.” I’m willing to point out.

So to get back at her I keep detailed notes of all my glorious — and exaggerated — infidelities. The diaries are calculatingly fictionalized and left lying about. Nielle becomes my “Lina.” The lunatic proximity and the jubilant convenience of some of these transgressions eat away at her. Some are supposed to be her close friends!

Not knowing the precise nature of my adventures also gets to her.

“‘Escargot d’entres jambes.’ Now who does that refer to?” She spit out quotes memorized from my journals while in the shower. “‘She was so hot she’d set off fire alarms whenever she walked near one!’ Gimme a fuggin’ break!”

She hates the time I spend on them. “‘She runs her tongue along the scrotal raphe, that tingling seam strung from anus across the scrotum.’ Whadda you dating proctologists?” Djuna detests not being in total control. I get clues from her voice. It gets infected with a quavering trill of jealous rage and that pleases me. That is the only song she sings I like.

If I show too much pleasure with my self-congratulating presence she may be provoked to pick up the very pen I had been using to describe her (in a fit of indiscreet generosity) and stab me in the arm with it like she did last week.

“I hope you get some kinda scrivener’s infection so that from now on every word you write will be an embarrassment, every sentence a mockery, every story a plagiarism …”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“Some people treat words like a gun full of blanks aimed at one’s skull. Is that a powder burn or just a sideburn? Ha Ha.”

“Laugh now, Djuna. I’ve already done 10 episodes. I’m gonna be syndicated, baby!”

“Please! Please tell me you’re just a bad dream crawling into bed next to me at night. People always writing junk down are bad lovers. Take the pen away from the writer, give’m a knife, see what he does then.”

I resented her calling me a mere writer — skywriter’d be more like it! I mean, before the lights started communicating with my inebriation organs writing was nothing more than scratching things down on paper. I scratched them down to assure myself that things happened to me. I scratched them down and then lost them. I also resented how far Djuna’s dreams had taken her away from me. And vice versa. And to answer the question that countless others had posed — why does she still want him in her place? — well, all I can say is that landlords being who they are and demanding the rents they do and getting them with little effort in New York certainly has a way of making people interact in ways they would not commonly desire. To live together was an expediency of survival. Neither of us could afford to live alone. Economics makes strange bedfellows!

“Heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a warmer body and have the rest of the universe remain unchanged. That’s the law, baby! 2nd law of thermodynamics — and relationships.”

“Call it a relationship. Kid yourself. To be fair to this ‘Lina,’ is she your lover or just a weapon to use against me? Or some fuckbag manufactured in the skeevy residues of your brain? I mean, everything rots, but I find nothing heroic about sleepin’ next to an embalmed corpse.”

“‘Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.’ Herman Melville said that.”

“Wait, I don’t get it. am I the sober cannibal or … Besides Melville, worked the Chelsea docks, disillusioned and he died poor and unappreciated.”

“No, yer the drunk Christian, with your motivational kits and your can-do mantras and your membership to the Jehovah’s fitness Center! I seen it all, all the signs of addiction.”

“When I hear your static I just tune in another station. What’re you lookin’ for anyway?”


“Well, you don’t have to look hard. Just look at yer life. If yer lookin’ for spare keys, don’t bother, I don’t keep any spares laying around.”

And later I puked in a secret place, a place where she couldn’t hear me. Vertigo is sometimes caused by increased fluid in the inner ear — the part housing the balance mechanisms. But there are still some who adhere to the notion that to lose your mind is to have gained, gained something in altitude!


to be continued – #1 #2 #3 #4 – #5 – #6 – #7 – #8 – #9 – #10 – #11 – #12 – #13 – #14 – #15 – #16 – #17 – #18 – #19

How to become a Beer Mystic – by Mike Golden


Bart Plantenga – is the world’s foremost Beer Mystic and authority on yodel-ay-ee-hoo!

Sharon Mesmer interviews the old Beer Mystic @
Confessions Of A Beer Mystic by Bart Plantenga

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