Out of Control “Showrooms of Perfection”

8 07 2011


Finally, about a month later, they have a bed for Peter at Impact. I pack him into the car and get on the 110 Fwy. He is very quiet and looks very unhappy – I know the feeling; I know how it feels to get dropped off at rehab, the hopelessness, the fear and ambivalence to leave your best and most reliable friend behind. As if he was a child, I buckle him into the seatbelt and he just sits there, gloomy and sad.

Suddenly, in the middle lane of the 110, he rips the car door open and leans out. I swerve and try to pull him back inside, but we are going 65 and I barely manage to hold on to his shirt as he leans out farther and farther.

“What the hell are you doing?” I scream at his dangerously bent over shell off a once vibrant man.

“I might as well die,” he whispers. When the fuck did he unbuckle his seatbelt?

We are in the middle lane of the tight 110 Fwy with cars whooshing by on both sides of us. He’s really gonna jump out.

With a sudden jolt of strength, the kind of adrenaline energy that allows a mother to lift a car off her trapped child, I pull him back and slam the door shut – all the while keeping the car in a straight line.

“What the fuck was that about? Put your seatbelt on. Now!” I bark. Now that the moment is over, I feel my nerves scramble and my whole body trembles. But I’m not gonna let him see this.

“You fucking asshole. After all the shit you put me through, you want to kill yourself in front of me? Get a grip”

He leans back in his seat, his face a white and haggard mask. I can barely hear his mumbling.

“I can’t live with what I’ve done to you. You’re better off without me”

“Bullshit. I love you. Don’t you dare to do anything like that again. I should have put you in the back seat with the child safety lock.”

“I am so sorry” he stammers and I put my hand on his thigh.

“It’s going to be Okay, baby. You know the deal, a few days of misery and then you’ll be so glad to be off this shit, not having to hassle anymore, being human again.” I’m still shaking, but by now we are almost there.

I drop him off at Impact, fill out sheets and sheets of paperwork and get to say one last good-bye to him. I’m so sad; I can barely get out without bawling. I really love this man and don’t want to be without him. But at the same time, knowing that he is safe now, without a loaded gun in his truck and the always possible overdose, I feel relieve wash over me like a shot of heroin when I slam the door of my car and get the hell out of there.

Back at the loft, my three employees – two Spanish seamstresses who pretend not to speak or understand English and a cutter, Loretta, one of my AA friends pretend that they don’t know that I have just dropped my charming and always friendly husband off at rehab.

Loretta knows what’s going on. She was the one who caught him stealing my checkbook when I allowed him to take a shower. There is no point hiding from her and the seamstresses know too. I can tell from their concerned faces and I do understand the word “loca”.

By the time, they finally leave at 4 pm; I can barely wait to close the door behind them.

“Do you want to talk?” Loretta asks after the seamstresses have packed up their lunch utensils and run off to catch the bus.

I know I need to talk. I’m totally confused about what I feel. But I know what I need more right now: a trip to the insanely expensive Japanese shopping center a few blocks away.

“No. Not today. I need to lie down. But thank you, Loretta” I lie.

“You know you can call me anytime and I’ll see you tonight at the meeting. Take it easy, promise?” her concern is real and I feel like a traitor and cheater when I turn around, rubbing my eyes and pretend to be on my way to our bedroom.

Fucking bitch, leave! Or I’ll have to grab you and throw your fat ass out. Get out of my face, you overly concerned gossip cunt. I need to be alone, can’t you see that?

“See you tonight. And thanks for everything.” I manage to say as I disappear behind the quilted room divider that separates my workspace from our private isle of comfort.

I count to twenty and then I’m off. With my purse, stuffed with cash and my naked legs inside rough combat boots, I rush down the stairs and hop in my car.

As soon as I enter the Japanese market, the usual shame creeps up inside me. Compared to American Markets where big people load their carts with junk and sodas, the shopping women here are all Asian, thin and thoughtful, their carts light with fish and carefully selected vegetables.

When I pull up with my filled to the rim shopping basket, I feel the eyes of the cashier on me. As she tallies up my selection of cookies, ice-cream, way overpriced imported Japanese jam, white bread, a pound of butter and three bags of strange looking chips, I breathe a silent thank-you for the fact that she doesn’t speak English and even if she did, her Japanese politeness would prevent her form comments I’ve heard way too often before:

Once in a fast food Chinese crap take-out place, the cashier who handled my order of four family sized boxes of Orange Chicken and Teriyaki Beef with two boxes of rice, looked at me and smiled: “You good eater” and giggled as she shoved my purchases across the counter.

“Me? Ha-ha. This is for a party” I replied, “Do I look like I could eat all this alone?”

“No. You small women. But good eater”

For good measure, she stuffed a handful of at least a dozen chopsticks into my bag.

If I didn’t need that stuff so badly, after waiting in line forever, I would have loved to slam all those boxes behind the counter and in her face. But of course, I didn’t. Instead, I slipped out of there as fast as I could, crossing this MSG poison hut off my list of possible binge score places.

Back in the loft, I spread my drugs out in front of me and tuck into hastily prepared sandwiches, dripping with jam and butter, stuffing myself with cookies while the toaster roasts more slices of bread. I can’t bear to wait for a second without filling my mouth with whatever I just bought. It doesn’t take long until I’m full. I vomit quickly into the toilet and when I’m done, I hear the familiar click of the toaster. Yay, more bread!

The phone rings and I let it go to the answering machine. With my mouth full, I listen to a message from a store that asks how soon I can deliver ten, no, even better, 20 more of my dresses. I’ll get back to that later.

I have a fashion magazine spread out where I eat and I read every article, every ad and every comment. When I get to the fashion section, I have to go puke again. The adrenaline rush that always follows the purge lasts just long enough to look at the gorgeous models in their gorgeous dresses, placed between props and creative back grounds, their long hair whirling and floating by an invisible wind machine. Some day soon, those dresses will be mine; I am convinced until my rush ebbs off. I turn the pages, impressed and dwarfed by the beauty and perfection of the shoot.

Dream on. Vogue doesn’t ever look at designs from LA and even if they did, I couldn’t hold a candle to this kind of polished and mercilessly shiny paradise.


Back to more toast. I flip through more fashion shoots without really looking and rest my mind on articles about Psychology and Art instead. Then I find a book I’ve just started to read, a difficult to read literary journey into a doomed stalker affair in England. As long as I eat, I can follow and appreciate the delicate and really smart literal spins and thoughts and I almost finish the book, when I realize that it is almost 8 pm – time for my AA meeting. Most of the food is gone anyway and I rush to get dressed, put on make-up and when I look in the mirror before storming out, I look skinny and pretty, normal, just like a successful fashion designer who has just worked all day and is ready to meet her friends.

I’m late to the meeting and soon, a biting hunger grasps my stomach. During the break, I assure everyone that Peter is safe, that I am so happy that he is finally at rehab and that, yes, it’s the disease….blablabla. I actually like all those people and that’s why I go, even though I know I’m not an alcoholic. I’ve tried Overeaters Anonymous, but compared to Silverlake and Hollywood AA, those meetings are pathetic and really uncool. There is nobody there I’d spend one extra minute with. No way.

After the break, I listen to the speaker for a few minutes, before I drift off into phantasies of Cool Whip and Cereal. I know that Ralphs is still open.

I spend another $50 on binge food and head home. By the time, everything is gone, it is 4.30 am. But I force myself to stuff every empty package and box, every evidence of my out-of-control addiction into a trash bag and take the elevator down to the parking lot with the dumpsters.

I wipe the table and counters, spray and scrub the toilet and fall exhausted into my bed. I don’t have the energy to wash my face, take my cloths off or brush my teeth.

I have to be up and be the confident boss of my company at 9 am and like every other day for the last year, I manage to do just that.



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