August 17, 2007

END OF SUMMER STORY-THON, Day 4 (more info on Story-Thon here)

Today's suggestion is from Marcela Mireles: "Dreams of nothing else"

“What’s the matter?” Mariah Carey says.

“I’m fine,” I say.

“You haven’t touched your onion rings,” Mariah Carey says.

“You want ‘em?” I hold out the greasy White Castle fry-box in her direction. She shakes her head “no.” I throw the onion rings in a bag with the rest of our trash and put it back on the floor of the limousine, and go back to staring out the window.

“The Brooklyn Bridge is my favorite of all the bridges,” Mariah says. We’re parked right next to it on the Brooklyn side. The Financial District sparkles. Slow jams thump quietly on the limo’s sound system. Mariah has told me explicitly that this is her “gettin’ busy” mix. She burned the CD herself and wrote “Gettin’ Busy” on it in black magic marker. I watched her do this in the office of her four-story apartment. Mariah Carey has a Dell.

It would be so easy. It would be too easy. It’s all been too easy.

Google hired me right out of college. This is back when they were the best kept secret in search engines, a couple years before they became ubiquitous. Then they exploded, and my stock options became insanely valuable. I cashed out at twenty-eight, a millionaire many times over. The rest of my life was ahead of me to invent and re-invent as I so chose. Entrepreneurship. Education. Philanthropy. My options were unlimited, almost overwhelmingly so.

I was so overwhelmed I decided to take a year off. Some people in positions similar to mine have bought an RV and tooled around the country visiting every baseball stadium. I don’t like baseball. I decided to buy a limousine, hire a driver, and spend a year trying to fuck all the R&B singers listed by Notorious BIG in his song “Just Playin’ (Dreams).”

I did it because I thought it would be hard. In fact, I was convinced it would be impossible. I am white, gangly, and very bookish. I have a hard time even with girls who are also white, gangly, and very bookish, so getting anywhere sexually with even one famous black R&B singer was inconceivable to me. It was inconceivable to Biggie, too: the whole song is about dreaming of having these women. But he was dead and I was alive, and I had money and a year so I figured I’d go to ridiculous lengths to insinuate myself in the lives and shortly thereafter the pants of several generations of R&B stars, and it wouldn’t work and I’d start teaching at some business school in January.

But here’s the thing: it worked. It was easy. I had crossed off two members of En Vogue and Regina Belle before I’d even hit the one-month mark. I criss-crossed LA in my limousine engineering introductions to these women whenever they were in town. I anticipated having to masquerade as a record producer or a Saudi prince to impress them, but I never got the chance. For the most part, they were just happy for the attention. They are no longer in the spotlight and some of them aren’t even singing anymore. Dawn from En Vogue sells real estate in the Valley. She showed me a model home and we ended up fooling around in the master bedroom. I never had a chance to say any of the brilliant lies I’d thought up. She told me she hates her husband.

Most of the older singers tour the country playing casinos and making appearances on Quiet Storm radio shows at three and four in the morning. Patti LaBelle was pimping her new gospel record when I caught up to her in Kansas City. I thought she would be a challenge because she’s so religious. I was wrong. I thought the same thing about Chaka Kahn, who has also gone gospel, but she just mumbled something about “sex bringing glory to God” during foreplay in her room at the Days Inn in Portland. You could tell she was happy to have groupies just like everybody else.

The next one, I kept thinking. The next one will turn me down flat. Raven-Symone? She’ll laugh in my face. She’s young and beautiful and sits atop a four-hundred million dollar media empire. She’ll call security and have me escorted out of wherever I may find her. I found her signing CDs at a Best Buy. She thought it was funny that I was there in line with a bunch of twelve-year-old girls. She should’ve found it weird, and I thought it was weird that she didn’t. I asked for her phone number. She laughed, which was reassuring. Finally one of these women was laughing in my face.

But then she gave it to me. Raven-Symone and I went on a date. When she found out I was rich, she lit up. We exchanged investment strategies all evening. We had sex on the second date. It was terrible.

This was around August, and this is when I started getting really depressed. Raven-Symone was nine when Biggie mentioned her in “Dreams.” Sure it was gross, but it was a joke. Now she was twenty-one and more corporate and boring than anyone I’d known at Google. It was gross in an altogether different and more serious way.

Sade and I made love on the beach in Jamaica. I boned the two surviving members of TLC: Usher’s ex, and the other one. (For the record, she also thinks of herself as “the other one.”) I cuckolded Bobby Brown and then Whitney had me watch her kids while they went to the Source Awards. Tina Turner’s legs ARE great. I fucked them all and afterwards, every single one of them said something to the effect of “You look sad.” I guess a lifetime signing about heartache leaves you specially attuned to that sort of thing. It wasn’t heartache. It was disappointment, I guess. The world had been without Christopher Wallace for a long time, and now his dream was achievable by any schlub with too much internet money. “You look sad” was most affecting coming from Sade, who said it in French first.

December came around. Mariah Carey was the last one on the list. I was saving her for last because she seemed the least attainable, and the most likely to be exactly how Biggie said in the song. Of course Mariah Carey is gonna be kinda scary, I thought. Even if I get close to her, she at some point she will pull a knife on me or something and redeem this whole enterprise.

I went to see her sing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” for the Today Show in Rockefeller Center. Google’s Sergey Brin was a guest on the show that morning and I had him introduce us. Underneath the big Christmas tree, I asked Mariah Carey if she wanted to go out sometime and Mariah Carey said “sure.” That night, I picked her up at eight.

Now, instead of trying to manipulate my way into the sex that seemed to come so easy, I was trying to manipulate my way into a freakout or a diva moment. I was begging Mariah Carey to be kinda scary for one goddamn second. I showed up late. Instead of some exclusive club with no sign or a restaurant where Mario Batali comes to your table and personally serves you some new kind of fat he’s discovered, I took her to White Castle. I had watched her burn a CD called “Gettin’ Busy,” so I tried to act interested in getting anything but.

“Maybe we should make an early night of it,” Mariah Carey says. “You seem tired.”

“Very observant,” I say.

“I know about being tired,” Mariah says. “When you check yourself into a clinic for ‘exhaustion,’ they think it’s drugs, but sometimes it really is just exhaustion, and it’s way worse.”

“Mmm.” I say.

“There’s something about you,” Mariah says. “You seem very…I dunno…sad.”

“WHAT THE FUCK!” I yell. Joe, my driver, turns his head in the front seat but then thinks better of
it and turns back toward the view of the bridge. “WHY DOES EVERY FEMALE R&B SINGER IN AMERICA THINK I SEEM SAD? Why did you have to clean up and fucking re-invent yourself? Why did you have to become so fucking palatable? Why can’t anything ever be how I thought it was going to be back when I was sure I could never have it?”

Mariah looks at me with pity. It was her idea to come to Brooklyn, she likes the view. I just remembered Brooklyn is where Biggie is from. I felt like I was rubbing it in his face and that’s when I got quiet instead of actively confrontational.

“If you’re going to cry you should take off your glasses,” Mariah Carey says.

“I’m not gonna cry,” I say.

It’s quiet for a second. Mariah’s “Gettin’ Busy” mix is between songs. Then the next one starts up: “No Ordinary Love” by Sade. I start sobbing uncontrollably.

I cry into Mariah Carey’s lap in the back of my limousine while she strokes my hair and holds my glasses and says very nice, not-at-all-crazy things very quietly. We don’t end up having sex, but we might go out for coffee when she gets back from the European leg of her tour. It will be far into the new year, so if anything happens, it won’t count towards my goal.

Whitney keeps calling, wanting me to babysit. I don’t pick up.

You can still submit a suggestion of a word or phrase to dcpierson at gmail dot com with the word "suggestion" in the subject line! It really doesn't need to be longer than a word or phrase. I'll use the first thirty I receive in the order I get 'em.

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