To: Stacey Marchenkova
Sent: Sunday July 8th 1999, 14:54 PM
Subject: Pancake thank you
Good Afternoon Stacey, thank you so much for the Pancakes. It was lovely.
Elsa is still sleeping when I got home. I did get a grumble that she hoped I had a nice time, though.
As it happened it was nice just hanging with you. We haven’t done it in ages. There always seems to be other people around. Not that I’m complaining. It’s just you’re so damn popular, girl.
Funny to see Marcus’s flat again - towels, bath mat, large framed and ironically expensive Posters that drip with Soviet aesthetics. I mean, jeez, who knew that Lenin was so expensive.
Anwyay – odd to see the flat again and man, it was a weird week I spent with Marcus last year.
And as promised - this is what happened that set me on Marcus’ couch. Reliving it earlier would have certainly ruined the pancakes.
So; it started with a girl. I mean it always starts with a girl, right?
See, I’d just split up with this girl. Her name was Therese. We’d been seeing each other since high school and had just started living together.
She was smart, sweet with a very strange best friend.
His name was Russell. He was a complete attention seeker. He was this wannabe actor with a passive father who raised Greyhounds and a domineering mother who looked like Elizabeth Taylor.
Fortunately Russell was amusing. But he was very possessive over Therese. They’d known each other since primary school and they often declared arrogantly that they were best friends to strangers. Russell sent Therese her first ever Valentine’s card and Therese had seen Russell naked “accidentally” on at least two occasions.
Strangely I knew and trusted their physical intimacy. He would often ask her to sit on his lap, braid her hair and pinch and grab her. He liked to gently bite her eyebrow and she often held his hand when we all watched a scary movie.
And I have to stress, it wasn’t romantic. Really, it wasn’t romantic.
Six months ago, he came out and it all made sense. He felt because of his choice, he had the right to be overtly physical with her. He felt he had the right to own her as sex was never going to get in the way.
And he worked it. Boy did he work it.
He made her laugh more than I did.
He was allowed to show more public affection than I did.
They shared secrets.
One night around November of last year, Therese and Russell went to Sydney for a trip to see another one of their tight-knit friends. They’d been planning this trip for ages. They saved up, caught the train and stayed with their mutual friend in her share house in Darlinghurst; 6 bedrooms - near the Taxi Club, from memory.
I was not invited to join them.
Russell had stressed that this was a Therese and Russell trip. He didn’t think I’d fit in with their Sydney friends and besides we were all getting that little bit older and this might be the last chance they had to share some quality time together.
After they went I spoke to her on the phone. She said she missed me and really wished I was there. She was certain her friend wouldn’t mind either. There was a couch in the living room big enough for two.
As she was talking I could here Russell in the background, holding court and making people laugh. He even interrupted our call pretending to be an operator demanding that the line was free in case of emergencies and witty banter.
The following day I bought a train ticket and went to Sydney to see Therese.
This really annoyed Russell.
The first night I got to Sydney, Russell had organised a dinner for Therese and some other friends.
I was not invited.
Therese thought it was poor form. But Russell said he had already bought the ingredients and there wasn’t enough food for me too.
So I spent my first night in Sydney, alone, waiting for their dinner to be over. I roamed around Circular Key, trying to make friends with the Buskers and counting the boats on the harbour.
Finally I went back to the Darlinghurst home around midnight.
The dinner had wrapped up and Russell was dressed as an old woman. The Old Woman was Therese’s long lost Aunt Maxine (one of Russell’s many characters. He liked to pretend to be other people.)
As Maxine, Russell wore this second hand lavender dress. He had this grey wig and custom made false teeth (from his Brother Dentist) that made him slur. His false breasts, made from stitched-in gym socks, rested on his hips. His heavy fabric pearl coloured tights had multiple ladders.
But all this design was nothing to the spirit of Aunt Maxine.
Aunt Maxine was filthy. And this night in Darlinghust was no exception.
Aunt Amaxine was on a roll, discussing the importance of genital hygiene and recalling bogus story’s of Therese’s lack of maintenance.
I tried to join the laughter but as soon as Russell saw me he turned his improvisation in my direction.
Russell (as Aunt Maxine): And here’s a nice clean boy. He washes himself all the time. He’s so clean; I can’t smell him at all. It’s like he doesn’t exist. As if he’s not here. And I don’t trust it. He’s like an intruder.Everyone laughed. I even laughed trying to fit in.
But deep down I felt I was on the outside.
As the night went on, people dropped off, went to bed, went home. And soon it was only Russell, Therese and I. He had taken the wig off and his false teeth were floating in a small glass of Scotch.
Russell (as Russell): Well I’m going to brush my teeth. Are you coming Therese?There was an awkward moment. I wasn’t sure what was happening.
Russell: Dom, there’s your couch.And there it was. Russell and Therese had been sharing a bed and I was again not invited.
Later, on the couch and alone, I couldn’t sleep. I felt betrayed. Therese was my girlfriend. We should be spending the night together.
Soon I became obsessed. I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I crept upstairs to their room and carefully opened the door.
I could see them, lying in the bed together. They were spooning and Russell was snoring. I whispered to Therese that I needed to speak to her. She didn’t wake up. I whispered again, a little louder. She stirred.
Russell stirred too. He told me to fuck off. He was tired.
I skulked out of the room. But in the corridor, anger started to build. This wasn’t right.
I re-entered the bedroom. But before I could get a word out, Russell let me have it.
Russell: How dare you. I am trying to sleep. You know I can’t get back to sleep once I’ve woken up. What is wrong with you? Not only are you not welcome in this room, but you’re not welcome in this house.I looked over at Therese who was now sitting up.
Dom: What you do you think, Therese?Therese blinked.
Therese: I’ll sleep on the couch with you tomorrow, okay?
I nodded as this great sense of loss welled inside me. I knew I was never going to win. And as much as it hurt, I couldn’t be with her.
I turned and walked out of the room, offering a passing and final comment:
Dom: Okay.I went back downstairs and packed. I wrote a small two word note ‘gone home’ so they wouldn’t be worried and went into the kitchen. I stole some fruit from the fridge and quietly left the Darlinghurst house and walked to Central Station.
The next train to Brisbane was a few hours away; so I found a little nook near a 24 hour coffee shop and managed to get a couple of hours sleep.
A week later they returned.
Russell was bullyish as ever; demanded an apology for my dramatic and selfish behaviour. Not only did I impress myself on his friends; I also left without thanking them. Who did I think I was?
Russell: Also, Therese thinks it’s best if you don’t see each other anymore.I turned and walked away. But as I turned the corner, I realised I wasn’t thinking of Therese at all. I was only thinking of him.
Dom: Is this your decision or hers?
Russell: Hers of course. Who do you think I am?
I was in a relationship with Russell all along!
How did I fall for this?
I felt for Therese then. She had to break away from this guy too. I needed to see her and offer one final plea for our escape; perhaps the mountains; perhaps an island.
She didn’t listen. She just directed me to her room. My belongings where stacked neatly in the corner.
Therese: You can’t live here anymore.I left without saying another word.
Dom: You know that you need to get out of here too. Maybe not with me, but you still need to get out.
Therese: But I like it here.
I contacted Marcus. We’d recently connected at University over a mutual disregard for our film genre classes. I knew his parents owned the inner city apartment he was living in. And I knew it had a spare room because I’d stayed there a few months back when we watched the film I am Cuba together and got hopelessly drunk on Rum.
He let me stay until I got my feet back in the ground.
That was nice of him. We watched so many films that week. Mostly political in nature, though we did have one night where we watched some Ben Hecht written films and delighted at his subversive and comic disrespect for the American upper classes of the forties.
A week later, I bumped into Elsa and moved into her place.
So all said and done; it’s funny how our pancake breakfast made me think of this again.
And how much it seems in the past.
And how much I was hurt.
And how much I look forward to the future.
Oftenbark misses you already by the way.
PS Oftenbark thanks you for his reference. I’m not quite sure what he’s talking about :)