Sunday, 3 June 2012

Up on the Roof (New York Stories 2)

   The best place to be in Manhattan, just as the song says, is up on the roof. Unless of course one lives in the Chrysler building, in which case you need Clark Kent’s number. I had my first experience of it at a party I was taken to by my ob/gyn’s son.
   Michael felt he owed it me because I had been so nice to his girlfriend Phyllis. He was a freshman wrestler. I know lots of girls have met fresh men with an eagerness to wrestle, but this was the real thing, Olympic sport, heavy work in an overheated gym to get the weight down, lots of ripped muscle and the unmistakeable odour of locker room liniment. I would have quite liked it myself but I have a preponderance to nosebleeds when my face hits the rubber (I’ll explain that sometime). 
   I accompanied Phyllis to visit Michael in hospital. She was in her senior year at Riverdale High. They were very much an Archie and Veronica couple if you know the cartoon. Michael was having his nose fixed. It wasn’t a cosmetic job, simply that the medics had to scrape away a lot of gristle from way up in his nostrils from a couple of previous breaks he’d had in the ring at high school. Lovely! Apparently the scar tissue was impeding his breathing.
   When we saw him she collapsed in tears. He looked like he’d been through ten rounds with Mike Tyson.  There was massive bruising, anything from purple to green to orange, from ear to ear, both eyes nearly shut and what we could see was bloodshot. The nose was wrapped for protection. It seemed the medics couldn’t re-break his nose to begin the op. So they had to keep banging away at him with a large rubber hammer.
   Michael was in an agony of pain, which his meds were doing little to alleviate, trying to put a brave face on it. His girlfriend didn’t stick around but retreated to the corridor. She could not even look at him! I chatted with him for some minutes, trying to cheer him up, but then he thought it best if I could spend the time with his girlfriend.
   The party, by way of a thank you, was at his shrink’s place in Greenwich Village, a dark and mysterious townhouse with the Rolling Stones playing on the sound system. Well at least it wasn’t The Kinks. In the smoke-filled gloom it was difficult at first to differentiate between the patients, the practitioner psychiatrists, the academics and ordinary peeps like me. The academics and the practitioners clung to each other in a peer group in the centre of the room seated around a long wooden coffee table strewn with bottles of red wine, overflowing ashtrays and an assortment of dildos, with the host’s large armchair presiding over one end. The patients and assorted hangers-on, glasses in hand, were relegated to stand up groupings around the periphery. But not me!  
After the introductions our host plied me with a stiff vodka and orange and insisted I sit by his side on the arm of his chair to share the experience. Occasionally his arm nonchalantly brushed against my thigh as he leaned forwards to concentrate on the arguments about gestalt therapy and electro-shock treatment. The practitioners spoke quietly, with authority, into their beards, while the be-spectacled academics pontificated more loudly as if they were showing off. It was a warm September night and I had chosen a tiny fuchsia tunic dress which I wore over a barely-there pair of shorts and flip-flops. My skin had benefitted from a few weekends of exposure in the Hamptons. I am sure the contact was as accidental as it was irregular.    
   I did enjoy the chat we had about onanism. I hadn’t realised men could be so profligate. I guess I was such a tidy, tidy type at the time. These days I don’t care where the sticky stuff goes as long as it doesn’t get lodged in my jacksie. A girl can’t be too careful! But at this party I was clearly an object of delight for the assembled guests and Michael beamed at me encouragingly from the far end of the room where he had engaged another recent arrival. I concluded that Biblical references had set the solace of masturbation back for centuries. And how, of course, the Puritan strain had held back from releasing the pleasure principle. It seemed the psychiatrists and academics were hell-bent on a massive cultural correction, not so much beating their breasts in enthusiasm as beating the, er, ecclesiastical member. I wondered out loud where that left women, so to speak. They were interested to know if I had experimented, and I assured them, trying my best not to blush, that I was with them in spirit if not fully hands on as it were. This seemed to amuse them and diverted their attention to hormone imbalance. Perched on the cushioned arm of the chair, with my legs demurely crossed and my host’s hand surreptitiously exploring the upper contours of my arse, I felt all too balanced myself, with little effort, and began to be bored with the assembly.
   My rescue was brought about by Michael and his friend, who it turned out was the flamboyant son of the British Ambassador to the UN, yet another patient.  He was tall, well built and garrulous, his hair flipped back in a matinee idol fold, which kept insisting that he run his hand playfully through it to keep it in position. He re-filled my glass and with barely a look at our host, pulled me up by the hand. A murmur of disappointment went through the assembly but he held up his other hand clutching a pack of Cool cigarettes, to insist on their complicit silence. He followed Michael, not letting go of me, to a door cut into a set of bookshelves and we were led to a narrow set of stairs which took us up to the roof. I was pleased to get away, to hear Mick Jagger a little less loud.
   The roof space was tiny between the tiles and we sat, the three of us, cosily close together, aware of the proximity of each other’s flesh, the darkness beyond, the still warm late summer night, and the sound of the city that never sleeps. There was not only the background white noise, the gentle on-going roar of distant traffic, but also the occasional spike of decibels with a trash can knocked over in a nearby alley, the odd uproar from a neighbourhood restaurant, and the insistent wail of police sirens. 
   The matinee idol offered me a cigarette which I refused and he laughed, suggesting I might want to smoke something a little more exotic. He nodded to Michael who waved a plastic bag in one hand and revealed a bottle of vodka in his other. They were well provisioned. From a cubbyhole he produced plastic cups and poured us neat vodkas while the son of the British Ambassador rolled a joint and expounded on the virtues of Jamaican weed. Ganga! His father’s previous posting had been Kingston where his son had been initiated into the twin pleasures of Bob Marley and the local cash crop. Here in New York it was easy for him to infiltrate the Jamaican locals via their UN delegation to procure some of their best homeland product.
   They insisted I try it and, after a couple of refusals, I thought what the hell and took a drag. Unlike Bill Clinton I inhaled and coughed so hard I spilt my vodka, an alcoholic onanism that Michael could not resist commenting on. The matinee idol patted me on the back while the wrestler refilled my cup. But between them they would not let go of the theme. After a second roll-up they both dropped their pants and, unaided by me, commenced jacking off over the parapet into the New York night sky, continuing a ludicrous character assassination of the party guests. Oh, yes, up on the roof, was where it all happened. Slurping my vodka I got to witness a healthy pair of cocks doing what came all too naturally, with the night music of New York City beamed up to us from beneath and Jagger’s murmurings insinuating from below. 


  1. No surprise I'm the first reader to have the courage to comment! I'm particularly impressed by 'unaided by me' in the final paragraph. Your presence alone was enough er, stimulation.
    'Write what you know,' indeed. We all have our areas of expertise. I even avoided the urge to point out what could, nay should, have been a quite spectacular euphemism - 'the wrestler refilled my cup.' A tale for another occasion, perhaps. What a splendidly uplifting reminiscence to brighten a dreary Sunday morning.

  2. I am very amused to see you continually teasing the reader and bringing out their fantasies and imagination. There seems a genuine talent for that.

    I also congratulate you on seeming to be the lead character in the narrative (which explains itself), but also that you give the illusion that you are willing the supporting cast members on, when in reality, it is their members that are wilfully exposed...