Memories of Maggie
The following was first posted to my livejournal on September 12, 2007. It is not fiction, but memoir, as true as I can make it while at the same time attempting to make of Truth something approaching a narrative. I have changed names and have probably conflated one or two incidents into another. It's too soon to be sure, but as of this typing, I think I have done so successfully.
The quoted lyrics are, of course, from Simon and Garfunkle's haunting song, "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her", a piece of music that "Maggie Majeure" was instrumental in teaching me to properly hear it.
Memories of Maggie
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline
Of smoky burgundy
Softer than the rain
The last time I slept with Maggie was at my apartment in Ottawa, when she and I shared my double-bed with her Idiot Room-mate. That was a full two or three years after she had asked me if I wanted to "go out" with her and I had said, "Oh yes!", and nevermind that she was already involved with 2 other men.
Maggie Majeure was beautiful, was sophisticated, was smart and for a few of my teenage years I had counted her among my very closest friends.
I too was smart, but I was by no means sophisticated (it was not I who could claim to have spent a night with Kate Bush!) and I had no illusions that my appearance ranked me among the beautiful - I was short, I was chubby and I had the fashion sense of the stereotypical aspiring writing in his early 20s: essentially, none. I wasn't even nerdy, I was just sloppy, wearing more or less whatever happened to come my way.
In retrospect and from a fashion magazine or Hollywood point of view, I suppose that even Maggie was not, in "fact", beautiful, but only pretty. She was too short; her belly was soft and round, not hard and flat; her blue eyes sat a little too close together, her nose was too upturned and not quite long enough; her breasts not quite so firm nor as perky, her nipples too small, to meet the official standards of the day.
But she didn't aspire to standards. Sexy in her self, her style was bohemian/funky: no make-up; long flowing skirts, bright and multi-coloured; loose and layered tops; flat-bottomed boots, not heels. Though I think she dabbled a little in acting, she aspired to poetry, not performance. A brown-haired sprite, comfortable in her skin, but not a bomb-shell.
Three years before that night in Ottawa, I was living in Toronto, having recently returned following a disastrous year in Montreal and a surprising subsequent 16-week stint working for CBC Radio in Sudbury, where I learned to telephone strangers and interview them; to write scripts and edit tape - my first "real" job.
I'd moved back to Toronto and into a house with some friends - a decrepit old place on Stafford Street, north of King, where the roof sagged and potatoes froze in the kitchen cupboards in winter. We had thrown of a party - one of many, for we were still young then - and to my delighted surprise, Maggie had come to it.
I was 23 years old, Maggie perhaps a year or two younger. We had become friends in high school, close friends. We spent a lot of time together, even once hitching to her parents' home in Ottawa and taking a side-trip to Montreal. I loved her then, and wanted nothing more than to touch her, to kiss her, but never made a move - I was too afraid of hearing "no" to dare the chance of hearing "yes". Eventually, I did send her a long, type-written letter telling her how I felt and she had had the courage to face me over bad food at the old Fran's Restaurant on College Street to tell me that, no, her feelings for me were not of the same order as mine were for her.
And, after I knit together the broken bits of my heart, we managed to stay friends, though not quite with the same intimacy we had once shared.
And now here we were, together again.
We'd found a quiet spot in the back yard. We told each other the stories of our lives, we laughed and we drank and we smoked and we laughed some more.
And our knees bumped and our hands brushed and presently we found ourselves facing each other on the futon in my room, candles offering a warm, wavering light.
And she pulled from her purse a copy of Allen Ginsbergs collected poems and read to me his "Howl".
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ...
Her eyes watered and her full lips trembled, and she made of that angry lament a meaningful elegy for a time neither of us had known.
And after that sublime reading from that battered and broken-backed paperback, I kissed her or she kissed me - I don't remember how it began.
But soon, she was on her back and I lay atop her. Our lips locked, our tongues met. Our hands explored the flesh beneath our suddenly-constricting clothes.
She told me that I kissed well and I, embarrassed and proud - in truth, infinitely pleased! - confessed to having had some practice and also credited a scene from John_Irving's wonderful novel, Hotel New Hampshire.
We laughed at that and we kissed some more. I undid her diaphanous blouse and at some point raised her arms so I could remove it completely. Her skin was warm and smooth and soft, her breasts small, firm fleshy delights under my hands. I took her nipples in my mouth like a grateful supplicant. I was a bee set loose among the richest clover; a lost child suddenly re-united with its mother; a man in the arms of a long-lost friend whom I had once loved desperately, and who I desperately wanted to love again. And of course, I desperately wanted Maggie to love me too.
Your cheeks flushed with the night
We walked on frosted fields
Of juniper and lamplight
I held your hand
Maybe that's why it went wrong. Not so much because I wanted her to love me too, but because of loneliness, my desperation, my gratitude - all that makes for a heavy burden for a new lover to carry.
Or maybe not. Maggie never said and I can't ask her now. At last report I had of her - a decade ago now - said was said to be seeing a therapist and had followed that worthy's advice to cut all ties with people from her past.
But that night, we were together. We kissed and touched each other, and when I realized she was half-naked beneath me while I had yet to remove even my jean-jacket, I stopped for a moment the touching and the kissing and and I shrugged off that jacket and Maggie undid my shirt-buttons and we helped each other remove what remained of the rest of our clothing and we found ourselves as one in nakedness.
And we found some condoms and - oh yes! - we made love.
Once, twice, three times or four - I can no longer recall the details of the acts of love themselves, only that they happened. And maybe that's just as well. I was plunged into the moment like a zoo-trapped animal suddenly returned to its natural habitat, joyous and blissfully unaware of all but unity of her body and of mine.
And at some point we fell asleep in one another's arms and awoke entwined still, warm and happy in the sun-dappled morning.
And when we woke, that crystal light streaming through my narrow window, we kissed some more and we fucked again and then, lying wasted together, Maggie suggested breakfast.
And so, an hour or so later, we found ourselves at Mars, seated in a diner right out of the 1950s, all stainless-steel stools along the bar and padded seats with working jukeboxes at the booths.
We ordered pancakes and sausages and coffees; the sunlight came free with the coffee refills and so did our furtive smiles and tentative finger-tip touches.
And so, our plates more or less clean and our refills steaming before us, our legs stretched out beneath the table, we faced each other. Hung-over, well-fucked, well-stuffed. It was then she asked that magic question: "Do you want to go out with me?"
And it was then that I answered (as how could I not?), "Yes! Oh yes!"
"But you do know I'm already involved with two other guys ..."
It was hard to tell if that last sentenced concluded with a period or a question-mark, but my hesitation didn't last long.
"I can try that," I said, even as I wondered, Can I be a member of a harem? Can I handle that? Well, why not? I'll hate myself if I don't at least try.
"Yes," I said again and I took her hand and gently squeezed it.
But "it" didn't work out after all.
Over the subsequent weeks, I phoned her a number of times and we got together three or four, twice spending an entire night together. Yet we never again made love.
In her small and cluttered basement room, we cuddled and eventually slept while, horny and terrified at the same time, I hoped that my roaming hands might somehow reignite the passion she had felt for me that night in my room.
There was no break-up - no angry scene nor a tearful one; no acknowledgment that the relationship she had proposed had been still-born. A quarter-century down the line, I know only that at some point not very long after that wonderful, post-coitial morning, I admitted to myself that there was no relationship.
I felt some sadness and frustration, but little or no anger; the relationship had been so evanescent there was nothing to be angry about.
And presently, Maggie moved to Ottawa. A year or so later, I did too, having decided to attend university - I didn't move to The Nation's Capital to chase my dreams of Maggie Majeure.
Still, I looked her up and found she lived only a dozen blocks away. She was happy to hear from me and we met got together at a local pub and were soon friends again, much as we had been way back when, in high school. Which is to say, the sexual tension was as one-sided as it had been before: I wanted Maggie, but Maggie gave no sign she wanted me.
But there was that confusing night a couple of years into my Ottawa stay at my apartment on Catherine Street, the one Maggie's friend Maryanne (another woman for whom I felt a one-sided love, but that's an indulgence for another day) bequeathed to me when she moved back in with her parents.
Maggie and her Idiot Room-mate (so-dubbed by Maggie, after said room-mate had chosen to pay the cable rather than the electric bill) had come over for drinks and talk.
And drink and talk we did, well into the wee hours of the morning. In the late hours of that morning, we arose to the sight of any number of beer bottles and a twenty-sixer of vodka, all empty.
Somehow, all that drink had seen all three of us to my double-bed, where of necessity we cuddled close, the room-mate on the outside, Maggie in the middle and I on the inside, back against the wall, Maggie's lovely ass pressed against my crotch.
Though I had by this time in my life actually had one "real" girlfriend, I was still by no means confident or skilled when it came to expressing Desire (and this time, the added complication of a third party in my bed - and the accompanying fantasy of a threesome that party entailed - served only to make the attainment of that Desire all the more unlikely). Once again, I let my hands do my talking, such was my understanding of foreplay.
And as had happened the last time we had been together, Maggie neither resisted nor encouraged my caresses. For a time, I took No Response as a Maybe, and let my hands roam free over her flesh, wandering the steppes of her belly, exploring the startling foothills of her breasts and the shocking summits of her nipples.
All that motion, all that touch must, I thought, have been as tangibly communicative as speech, but she was dumb to my overtures.
She never moved.
She must have known I touched her, must have felt the involuntary bulge of my cock straining against its denim prison against the gap between her legs.
But she never moved, and I at last gave up my efforts and finally turned to the wall.
In the morning, I tried tactile communication one last time. While the Idiot Room-Mate measured coffee at the kitchen counter and Maggie stood in the doorway, I approached her from behind and wrapped my arms around her, covered her breasts with my hands and brushed my lips against her neck. She covered my hands with hers, squeezed them momentarily and leaned back against me, then slipped from my grasp and took a chair at the kitchen table to await her coffee.
And that was the last time I touched Maggie Majeure with more than a comradely hug. It was one of the last times I saw her at all.
We never discussed the time we "went out", never spoke of that night in my small Ottawa bed.
Not so long after, I moved back to Toronto, we lost touch, and that was it. A seven or eight year chapter of our lives had ended, without climax, without closure. A sometimes complicated friendship ran it's course and, in the end, just stopped.
And felt you warm and near
I kissed your honey hair
With my grateful tears
Oh I love you, girl
Oh I love you