The Lizard Lounge

The memoir excerpt below takes place just before my first pdoc lowered the dose of Stelazine to 2 mg.


Another moody winter arrived. Margot introduced me to her new boyfriend, Lizard, a strange Pisces. He was a perfectly cast grunge character who played bass in Cargo, a rock band that performed at SRO, a club on Bay Street.

I spent the weekends with her at his place because I had nothing better to do and nowhere else to go. We ordered in Mexican food—quesadillas and nachos—because we were too lazy to go to the store and get the provisions. He had enough beer in the fridge to outlast the next century.

In Lizard’s pad, everything new was old before it’s time: the slipcovers, the shabby worn arms of the overstuffed easy chairs, the going-down-behind-the-mystery surface of real life into the still waters of a placebo high.

They sat on the couch in front of the wall, and I sat on the chair under the window. Four milk crates topped with a mirror formed the coffee table. The living room had a disposable feeling.

Lizard liked to get high on weed, listening to Pink Floyd albums and spouting amber philosophies.

“Is that your favorite color?” he asked, pointing his Corona toward my purple shirt.

“Not exactly. I’m a red person.”

“It’s just a shirt,” I said, though I took care when I bought it. A shirt was never just a shirt to me: it reflected who I was—the face I presented to others. I felt that if I dressed in sharp fashion, people would think I was interesting and admire me.

“What face are you behind the face you show?” Lizard challenged.

“Excuse me?”

“You have a startling effect.” He stared at me.

He looked like a disheveled freak that you’d find riding a late-night bus. I ignored him and flipped absentmindedly through the pages of Mirabella, a women’s magazine.

“Let her be,” Margot said.

He finished the joint and placed another album on the turntable. She went to change into her kimono.

When the music was over, she said, “Later for you guys; I’m going to bed.”

At two in the morning, he crawled around looking, having forgotten where he stashed the Thai stick, and in the half-light of the kitchen, he was just another stoned Jesus working his jones like salvation.

“I kept it here, I know I did,” he muttered.

When he found the private reserve, it was rather skimpy. He was a daily pot smoker, and wouldn’t have enough left for tomorrow.

“That bum CR sold me out again.”

I continued to read the magazine as if he wasn’t there.

“Let’s knock on his door and make him pony up.”

Those stained clothes, the scruffy jeans; I didn’t know what Margot saw in him.

She walked in as if she wasn’t aware she came out of the bedroom.

“What are you saying? What are you saying?”

She continued: “It’s two in the morning and we’re not going to walk the street at this hour.”

Lizard: “Shit, what am I going to do?”

Margot: “You should have thought of that earlier.”

He waved his hands in the air. “Go find me a beer.”

My God, how did she stay in the relationship? The next thing I knew, she popped open a Heineken and poured it on his shirt. “Cool off.”

“Sick chick.”

“You know you like it that way.” She laughed. “Come to bed, darling.”

That was my cue to take solace in the spare bedroom. I was a night owl again. Too cold, I lay awake looking out the window to the backyard. It was three, four, and then five in the morning. You haven’t lived until you’ve made it to 3:00 a.m. eternal—when the sky is the silver-gray of a knife blade, and you feel that you’re the only one awake on earth.

Left of the Dial Amazon Page. It’s also available via special order at bookstores.

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