By Seth Kushner
Still smarting over losing Jenny months earlier, I had recently taken to dating girls who resembled her. Girls of her “type.” Garland was beautiful and small and Asian, meeting my criteria, but it don’t work out. Happily, an Internet dating search quickly found me Asian Amy.
Asian Amy looked more like Jenny, my lost love, than even Garland did. In fact, when I first saw her at our assigned meeting place in Union Square, my pulse quickened because I thought Jenny was approaching me.
Asian Amy had a bit of an accent and was somewhat difficult to understand at times, which was strange because she’d lived in NYC since she was five. An example of her accent would be the way she pronounced the word ‘sure’. I would say, “Would you like to have Vietnamese food?” and she would say “Sho.”
Most of my first dates usually ended after the requisite dinner and/or drinks, so I expected this one to follow suit, but after dinner, Amy asked-
“What do you want to do next?”
We ended up playing pool, which I suck at, but she was no Minnesota Fatts, either. We played until the couple the next table started making out against the cue sticks. I decided they were probably on a first date too, but he, unlike me, had a way with the ladies.
“What do you want to do next?” she asked.
We ended up at a Karaoke bar in the East Village, where we rented a private room and sang cheesy songs together and to each other. Amy did a Chinese accented version of Radiohead’s Creep, and I totally butchered Coldplay’s Clocks. It was a good time.
For the entire night, I felt as though I was with Jenny. I couldn’t help it. Whenever I caught a peripheral glimpse of Amy, I was sure it was Jenny I was seeing. I knew this was unhealthy, but I really wanted to make out with her. But I resisted my carnal urges and, like a gentleman, dropped her home. I returned to my apartment at 3:30AM and masturbated myself to sleep.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about Amy, beyond lust. Our date ended up being an expensive night, as each activity added up. Regardless, I knew I wanted to see her again.
A week later, I went with Amy to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was determined to kiss her, and not make the same mistakes I make with the previous one of her “type,” Garland. I found myself back at the same atrium, on the same bench, and suffered the same failure.
Still a schmuck.
After dinner at a Mexican joint, where I made her order a margarita (which she barely drank) in hopes it would loosen her up, Amy wanted to do Karaoke again.
We took an elevator to the third floor of a non-descript office building in Korea-Town and when the doors opened, we found ourselves in a large silver room, which looked like a set from a Kubrick film. There was a bar on one side with a Karaoke machine and a young Asian guy singing Sweet Child o’ Mine. We crossed the room, passing the Asian Axel Rose and came to a reception desk, where stood two slutty looking Asian women in evening gowns, and I suspected they were probably much older than they appeared. One of them led us down a long silver hall to a private room with a couch, a TV, speakers and 2 microphones.
Amy and I took turns belting out tunes to each other. We did a duet of Take My Breath Away, from Top Gun. When we got to the cheesy line -“…Watching in slow motion as you turn to me and saaaay, take my breath away…“- I pretended I was Tom Cruise and turned to Jenny, uh, I mean Amy, to kiss her, but she turned away. I’m sure this never happened to Cruise.
After about an hour and a half we were done singing. Amy went to the ladies room, and I went to the counter to pay the madams. The bill came to $86. That’s right, $86. For a girl who refused to kiss me.
I paid the bill and met Amy in the lobby
“What do you want to do next?” she asked.
I had no idea. Maybe panhandle on the street so I could afford the rest of this date? Amy wanted to go bowling. At this rate I was going to need a night job. Or worse, a day job. I suggested we go to a bowling alley back in my neighborhood, thinking it would be cheaper. It was, but it was still $38. I suck at bowling almost as much as I suck at pool, but I was still better than Amy…so my male ego was satisfied.
Afterwards, Amy said she wanted to see my place, which in my experience, (limited as is may be) when a girl wants to “see your place” it usually means she was possibly interested in some sort of physical interaction. Finally.
I found myself on my couch watching TV and I had my arm around her. Encouraged by her desire to come over, and my home field advantage, I once again leaned in for a kiss, but when I got close, Amy backed away.
“What?” I asked simply.
“Do you have a mint?”
“Why, your breath is fine.”
“Yeah, but yours isn’t.”
“I have bad breath?”
“That’s impossible, I brushed my teeth.”
“Maybe you didn’t brush your tongue.”
Dammit, I didn’t brush my tongue. No one ever complained about my breath before. I quickly ran into my bathroom and brushed, flossed and rinsed with Listerine. I returned to the couch, where Amy was getting up to leave. Once again being a gentleman, (read: schmuck) I drove her home.
I felt ridiculous for not being able to make a smooth move on Amy and for having spent a small fortune on a girl who possibly had no interest in me beyond being squired around town by a shcmuck.
Let’s add up the expenses of the night, shall we:
Grand total: $206
Having a girl turn away when you try to kiss her: priceless.
I pulled up in front of her house and we hugged. Then she looked at me and leaned in and we kissed. Up close, with her face out-of-focus, she looked just like Jenny. It was brief, but it was a verifiable kiss and it was Amy who initiated it. That must have meant something, right?
A couple of days later I received the following email from her-
Sorry I haven’t called. I got your message late. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I like you as a friend.
Yeah, she’s a real poet.
I decided to write her off. I didn’t need more friends. But strangely, I kept hearing from her and she was insistent on wanting to hang out again. Did she change her mind?
One cold Saturday afternoon I went ice-skating with Asian Amy in Central Park. I was confused, and I needed to determine our “situation”. Neither of us could skate, but I was the steadier one, so she held on to me the whole time. It was all very snuggly. I had a good time and felt there was definitely chemistry between us.
Later, we climbed to the top of a rock formation in the park. We stood at the edge, with the skating rink below us and the trees and the nighttime Central Park West skyline before us, and we kissed. It would have been a true cinematic moment if not for the fact that I had coerced her.
“So, don’t you think we should kiss again?” I asked.
“Because I want to, don’t you?”
“I told you already…”
Again we kissed, and I attempted to go further, but she pulled away.
“What’s the story here?” I asked.
“I already told you.”
“Then why did you kiss me?”
“You asked me to.”
“But you wouldn’t have agreed if you didn’t want to.”
“I wanted to see how it was like.”
“So what did you think?”
“It was all right.”
“Well, you didn’t give me much of a chance.”
“Why do you want to kiss me so bad?”
“Because I’m attracted to you.”
“You act like a virgin. Are you a virgin?”
“You act like one.”
“Maybe you’re a virgin. Wait, are you?”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Ah-ha–that would explain everything.”
Amy never admitted to me if she was a virgin or not. But over dinner and pool, I continued to tease her about it.
Asian Amy paid for dinner this time, but only because I said something about my not being made out of money. I figured I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I didn’t need to impress.
Throughout the rest of the ‘date,’ I continued to feel there was something between us so when I dropped her home, I attempted to kiss her again.
“Don’t force me,” she said, turning her head away.
I stopped. I wasn’t going to be one of those guys. I couldn’t be one of those guys. I wasn’t Biff Tannen in the back of the car outside of the Enchantment Under The Sea dance. I felt like a jackass. As she was walking from my car to her house I rolled down the window and yelled after her.
“I’m sorry, I won’t do that again,” I said
I didn’t call Asian Amy again. I felt too ridiculous.
Jenny was beautiful. Garlic Garland and Asian Amy were attractive. Jenny was adventurous and sexual. The other two were not. The cloning process was clearly flawed. I’ll have to get the boys in R&D to work out the kinks.
Seeking out and dating girls who resembled my ex was not working out. Sure, I thought, there might be another beautiful Asian girl in my future, but I’d have to move on from the “type,” as I thought I had from Jenny herself months earlier.
I exited the comic store and as I stuffed my bag of goodies into the messenger bag slung over my shoulder, my Spidey-Sense tingled as I walked through the crowd of pedestrians on Broadway. I did a double-take and saw a girl walking the opposite direction. Long, silky dark hair – check. About 5’2” and thin – check.
I’d been fooled before, but this time, it had to be her. I could just tell. I began walking in the same direction, at first hesitantly. It could also possibly be Garland, or Asian Amy, or any other of the “type”, I reasoned. No, it was her, it had to be. I began walking faster, pushing through the people between her and I. “Excuse me….sorry…..excuse me….” What would I say to her? I didn’t know, but I began running.
Just as I was nearly upon her, she entered the glass doors of the Virgin Mega Store. I was about to follow, but I halted in my tracks. I stood there deciding my next move and someone bumped me, jostling me from my thoughts, and just like that I turned and walked back down Broadway. I felt a smile form on my mouth and I shook my head as I left the Megastore and my past behind me.
Read past installments of SCHMUCK and THE SCHMUCK DIARIES
Whenever Seth Kushner did anything foolish growing up, his mother would call him a “Schmuck,” that beloved Yiddish term of not-so-endearment. So, of course, it’s the title of his new comix semi-autobio on TRIP CITY, an online multimedia arts salon. Renowned for his The Brooklynites book and CulturePOP Photocomix, photographer and author Seth Kushner now throws his hat into the comics arena. SCHMUCK chronicles the period after his being dumped by a girlfriend, and the ensuing cascade of blind dates, Internet hook-ups, and comically tragic situations he endured with the hopes of finding “true love.”
SCHMUCK sheds a brutally honest light on 20-something relationships. Adam Kessler, our “hero,” is based on Kushner, ten years ago – a pop-culture-obsessed photographer torn between pleasing Mom by finding a “nice Jewish girl,” and figuring out what he really wants. His internal monologue is filled with the standard inane, perverted and self-deprecating thoughts we all have but are ashamed to admit. Meanwhile, his shit-talking, sex-obsessed Brooklyn boys stand by with their own, often wacky, advice.
Chapter One “Beer, Babes and Bowel Movements,” illustrated by Kevin Colden, (with “Photocomix” by Seth) debuted on Monday, January 9. From there, a new chapter will appear on TripCity.net every second Monday for one year. Every fourth Monday will see the release of a prose piece, “THE SCHMUCK DIARIES,” which will act as supplements to the comics. 2012 will see the release of 12 SCHMUCK comix and 12 SCHMUCK DIARIES.
SCHMUCK is an anthology series with different artists illustrating short “schmucky stories,” which can be read individually, or together to tell the complete narrative. Some upcoming SCHMUCK artists include; Sean Pryor (Pekar Project), Bobby Timony (Night Owls), Omar Angulo (Hurricane Wilma), Shamus Beyale (The Grimm Fairy Tales), Ryan Alexander-Tanner (To Teach), George Schall, (Dark Horse Presents) Nathan Schreiber (Power-Out), Leland Purvis (Resistance), Stephen DeStafano (Lucky in Love Book 1: A Poor Man’s History) and more TBA.
What to expect: heartbreak, diarrhea, painful STD removal, rejection, Kung-Fu, Natalie Portman, vomit, boobs, self-loathing, unkempt genital regions, sex with an ex, drunkenness, sexual dysfunction, depression, misogyny, and somehow, hope.
Influences on SCHMUCK include; Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, Alex Robinson’s Box Office Poison, Bob Fingerman’s Beg The Question, Dean Haspiel’s Street Code, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Curb Your Enthusiasm, works by Nick Hornby, Jonathan Ames, Woody Allen, Adrian Tomine, Jeffrey Brown, Chester Brown and Joe Matt.