Chapter Three

Cold Turkey

Friday, January 11 2008.


I think I'm in love with my pillow. Each morning it greets me without fail. Each night it soothes my head and watches over me as I sleep. I've stared at this pillow for years. We go a long way back. Back to the days of Lauren Fitzgerald. Lauren was amazing. She probably still is. We didn't drift apart so much as I became the dam that held her back so I did the right thing. I let her free. I let her touch her sky while mine closed in on me. I don't miss her anymore. I miss the feelings we had. In some way, deep down inside I still love her. It's not that college kind of ‘force your way through a crowd to get to her’ love; it's the ‘I hope she's doing well’ love. A lot of what she showed me about myself has been left to the ravages of time. I still send a card each Christmas. I've never gotten one for Hanukkah but I don't really expect one.

Who am I? I'm not sure that's the right question. My question would be what am I? What have I become? I guess the answer is only a few days away once my system detoxes and my mind opens for business again. I hope I'll find a good person again. I suppose I'm like a mom and pops business. I've been around for ages and everyone thinks they know Robert Eisner but if you ask them who I am I don't think too many would answer right away. Most would probably say something like: ‘he's a producer’. That's not me, that's my job. Who am I? I'm the son of a carpenter but I'm not the messiah. I'm a high school graduate with a college degree. I like to cook. I like to impress with my culinary skills to hide the fact that Paxil has robbed me of an emotional response to most things in my life. I'm sure all those dates were good women but they can't all have been with the wrong person. Maybe they were. Maybe I was the wrong person. That's why I'm not going to take any antidepressants anymore. I want to feel. Too long have small white pills organized my opinions, randomized my train of thought, censoring those that were deemed extravagant. I hate swearing. If you can’t think of a better way to say it, don’t.

I can see it. That white pill jar. It's on my bedside table. That small round piece of plastic, that plastic prison whose inmates have held me back for so long. I have to take back control. That pill jar has become my flagship of apathy. When our paths crossed I ceased to care. The world outside didn’t matter anymore. They got me. Like the drone I have become I cannot survive without the mother’s milk. I am one of the clan, one of the famous forty five, and our membership is tripling each decade.

Today I have a meeting. Nothing major just a one on one with Joel Katz at Television City. That goddamn network. They never do anything ahead of time. Always at the last minute. Reactionary. Blind-sided. Joel's a great guy; a small guy with a great smile. I thought he was gay at first but then I found out he's married with kids and uses his feminine side to charm both his clients and enemies. That's his best attorney tool. His girly good looks. No one takes him seriously; how could they? How could a five-foot-four faggot possibly win in court? Well he does. He's often told me how he has all the secrets of Hollywood in his files. The things no one wants to get out. The things that could stop business for the country’s largest television network. He's a facilitator. He makes things happen and he makes things disappear. He smiles, constantly. Probably because he knows the truth behind the rumor; the rumor he probably started to serve as a smoke screen.

Apparently Joel's secretary left him a voicemail at seven thirty while he was still home eating breakfast. Like he said in the message he woke me up with.

“What the fuck! What's so important she has to call so early? I was out all damn night! Hey Rudy came through. I don’t know what you’re getting into but play safe buddy. Play safe. As for work; I don't know what's going on but I wouldn't put anything past those assholes!” The message ended. The beep rang out in the apartment from my living room to me, still cocooned in bed. I've always agreed with Joel, not because one day I might need his services but because he's my friend. Bedsides we're not curing cancer, we make daytime television that keeps the brain-dead voting masses in their vegetative state.

All the time they'll be there: my small white pills. Just in case. They'll be safe in their white box and shoved deep in a pocket. Just in case. If things get too much; if that happens I'll postpone. I'll go cold turkey some other time. I wonder if I'll get my sex drive back. I hope so. I look cool. I smell cool but I feel nothing. I find it hard to stomach that one sixth of pre-pubescent children will never know the true emotions that course through your system when you are erotically charged. With the future mapped out for these poor kids the very fundamental element that makes our world what it is, sex and love making, the very thing everyone is searching for; the intimate touch of another caring human, will be stripped down to nothing but a mechanical impulse. Even better is the main side effect of putting kids on such magic medicine. Suicidal tendencies. On their way to fix us they push us to the brink first. Slowly the men in gray suits have built a wall around us without anyone realizing. I just smile. All the fucking time. Smile smile smile.

Every morning I do the same ritual. I lay in bed staring into the pillows and try to think affirming thoughts.

I am a wonderful person.

Today I will face the world and smile.

Today is a new day and I am one step closer to achieving my dream.

I am a unique and amazing person with a lot to offer.

It never works.

These mantras are a part of psychology called neuro-linguistic programming. NLP. Brainwashing. Killer salesmen use these techniques to make you believe you want the fabulous room addition they are offering. These arrogant assholes call themselves rainmakers. What's more, inside two hours on Thursday evening while you and your significant other sit around your kitchen table, beginning to wonder why you called them in the first place, they'll have you thinking you need the fucking room! Anyone who calls themselves a rainmaker deserves all the lambasting they get. I used to say the mantras to myself in the mirror after I had my daily ablutions but I kept getting cold. My mind used to wander. Now I just run them through my mind while I lay in bed. I sleep naked so standing in front of a mirror, staring at two hundred pounds of white sagging skin is not affirming no matter how you look at it.

I'm down to running them through my head now before I climb out of bed.

I am a wonderful person.

Today I will face the world and smile.

Today is a new day and I am one step closer to achieving my dream.

What's the point?

I put them at the back of my mind with the sheep I used to count each night before I became an addict. Lately the pressure of memory has become too much to bear. I am one of the lucky ones. I have insurance. I can afford the white hell. Some less fortunate than me cannot and there the spiral begins. The drug to end depression causes more depression. Forty five million citizens, fifteen percent of our nation, fall into the uninsured. A similar number are on Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. Maybe the chemicals should be praised as the new God since they teach us what we had was great. Like the paradox of humanity, our greed is driven by egotistical jealousy that makes us test ourselves. The one test all men strive for is to measure their greatness, and in so doing by the very nature of examination in order to determine how great something was it must first be destroyed before it can be fully comprehended. This cycle is the cross of humanity and we keep finding new ways to nail ourselves to it. I think I have tested myself enough. I need to examine what remains of my self; my life.

There is another reason I say my mantras in bed besides warmth and hidden cellulite; my best friend. My cock. For years now I have slept with the latest copy of Hustler under my pillow. Each morning, as the mantras begin to bore me, my hand usually slides up under the cotton to pull Larry Flynt's finest out.

Tits are wonderful. Men adore them, women check each other’s out and on a subconscious level homosexuals want them. No matter what you say we live in a matriarchal world. Boobs rule. I look at boobs every morning and wonder: why the fuck don't I get turned on anymore?

I remember jerking off when I was eleven. I used to walk in the back door of the house, ignoring my old man if he was home, and go straight to my room. Back then all I had to do was think about one of the girls from school; her white socks pushed down round her ankles and the hem of her pleated blue skirt barely halfway down her smooth thighs. Her pert young breasts tipping under her white blouse. M-mm! Fuck! School was good! I used to think about a girl for thirty seconds and get a boner. Before I knew what the deal was I worked things out for myself. I knew it felt good when I squeezed the end. That naturally developed into rolling my dick between my hands like I was trying to start a fire in my groin. Five minutes of furious fire starting and the explosion came. Now I get nothing. Not even when I wake up. I live in the hope that one day I'll be looking at some porn and have to adjust my jeans when I'll have an erection. Nonetheless I stroke myself under the covers every day. Who knows. Maybe something will trigger a relapse of my pubescent awakening. I like to pull back my foreskin and feel it slip over my head. That's as close to morning sex as I have been for a few years. Sad isn't it. I usually give it up as a bad job after I've read the jokes page. I try to gain something stimulating from my ritual.

My bed is warm and filled with my scent like a huge cotton womb to cradle me through the night. I have to get up. I have to go and see what is so amazingly fucking urgent that Joel had to call me so early. I watch my naked self in the mirror on the wall at the end of the hall as I walk to the bathroom. As I watch my penis bounce from side to side, engorged with blood, it's an impressive sight. Then as I pee the truth confronts me. I can't get aroused. The semi-on was only the result of my bladder holding back piss while I slept the required ten hours Paxil demands. Once my piss is finished so is my hard-on. This morning though I'm fighting back.

I'm twenty-four hours into my new self. Twenty four hours of no Paxil. Only a few days away from being a free man again. This morning I'm not using my carefully aimed stream of urine to push a cotton bud around the pan, I'm blasting a sea of small white pills. The last of my Paxil. I have made a decision. Today I go it alone.

Today it's time to be a man.

Today I learn who Robert Eisner is, learn who I am again.

Today I take control. Look out world, Bob's back!

This is my new mantra and it's already working.