Photograph by Emily Wolfer
JEREMY AND BARBARA KINCAID'S HOUSE
by Laura Jane Faulds
They’re mediocre people, and you can smell they own a cat. The cat’s their baby. They’re married.
I had an affair with Jeremy two months ago. I liked him a lot, he was cool and a technically-skilled guitar player and really seemed to “get” me, but, you know, he was married, and you have to have more self-respect than that because you have to. You just have to.
Issue #30 soundtrack: Easy Lover "End of the Season"
I hated not being a famous writer because it made it seem like I didn’t care about my life. I hated being twenty-five because I knew I wasn’t as good of a writer as I’d be when I was fifty, and I didn’t care about my job-job -- which was dressing baby mannequins at a BabyGap -- and I smoked a lot of pot all the time. Before I left for walks around the city, I’d tell my roommate that I was gonna go figure my whole life out, and when I came home he’d ask, “Did you figure your whole life out?” and I’d say “Yes.” I’d smoke a joint and make my entire iPod shuffle the Beatles, and as soon as I got high I became completely disengaged from the language surrounding the problems I’d meant to solve, so I guess that was a “sign.” Maybe everything was in perfect order after all. I bought a fountain Diet Coke at the 7-11, and I got scared that maybe the 7-11 employee was lazy or mean-spirited and instead of Diet Coke syrup he’d used regular, and I was drinking all these empty calories for nothing. They didn’t even get me drunk.
At the foot of the staircase are three pairs of Adidas Gazelles decaying incrementally. Two pairs have green piping, and one is all in white. Barbara wears kitten-heeled Mary Janes, Aerosoles Mary Janes with tacky faux wing-tip details in colours like “merlot.” Barbara has agoraphobia. Her “Activities” on Facebook is:
God understands our prayers even when we can’t find the words to say them. Press like if you agree =)
And I wonder what she prayed about. I wonder if she prayed that her husband might stop fucking a sexy twenty-five year old behind her back. Being the sexy twenty-five year old, all I could think of was how sad it was that she didn’t understand how Facebook worked. And I thought it was lame that she pressed “Like” because she agreed, to think of her sitting there that day and thinking, “Yes. I do agree with that,” and I wished she could know what a terrible idea it was to add me as a Facebook friend; I wished she could know that I gallivanted around the city popping into all my cool friends’ stores and apartments, announcing that the dude I’m fucking’s wife added me as a Facebook friend, let’s look at her Facebook profile, and we’d make fun of it. Greta and I had a joke where she’d say, “Jeremy and Barbara Kincaid! My parents’ friends, The Kincaids! Jeremy and Barbara,” and I’d say, “She just haaaaad to be named Barbara, didn’t she?” and everyone understood. She just had to be named Barbara, didn’t she?
They make you take your shoes off in the hallway because they’re super-Canadian and they care about it. They’re from Manitoba, which reminds me of a Klondike bar: brown on top of white, dirt on top of snow. Barbara went home to Manitoba at the beginning of Februrary, and Jeremy invited me out to see his band play. There was supposed to be a blizzard that night, but it only snowed the regular way. On Twitter, everybody tried to think up clever names for the blizzard; the clear favourite was #SnowtoriousBIG. I joked that we should call it #Snowpy, like Snoopy. I liked the word Snowpy; it reminded me of “snow pea.” And Snoopy! God, I fucking love Snoopy. He’s so cute and chill.
Jeremy said: “It’s nice to actually see you, like, not on Facebook!” and I hugged him in a way you’re not supposed to hug a married man. I said “Yeah...” “This is what it’s like” as I grazed my hand up and down his back, because that’s just the kind of woman I grew up to be! We got so drunk he couldn’t stand, he was leaning against the ATM machine and I said “It’s funny how you’re just, like, leaning against the ATM machine. Cool posish,” like, short for position, and then I corrected myself and said “Oh, sorry, ATM. Just ATM. The M in ATM is for machine. The word “machine” in that sentence was redundant.”
He put his arm around the ATM like they were buddy-old-pals who went fishing together and this was a picture of Jeremy and ATM bro-ing out, ATM holding up the hugest trout they ever caught, Jem is grinning his big crow’s feet grin, and you pretend that the sun is a hole in the sky. It’s that clear of a day. The photograph would’ve been taken by Barbara, and Barbara would’ve posted it to Facebook under “Mobile Uploads” from iPhone immediately, and I would’ve looked at it at nine in the morning after coming home from working an overnight shift of dressing baby mannequins, coming down from caffeine pills, and it would have made me sad. But instead my life worked out for once, and that picture was only a digressive fantasy. He said “Yeah, it’s my.... you know, kidney buddy,” and I said I didn’t know, and he smiled and said “My dialysis buddy!” and I leaned in and kissed him because nobody in the ballroom knew us both, and we were safe. We both wore ugly red parkas.
“I feel so misrepresented by my ugly red parka!” I lamented, as he walked me home in Snowpy.
At the top of the staircase you turn left into the kitchen. The kitchen smells like the food they eat. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Barbara, a blonde fat angel, twirls around so fast that when Jeremy takes her picture, she looks like a conical shape, but everything behind her is in perfect focus. An orange-capped bottle of a generic brand seasoning called “Garlic Plus,” which he shook onto the eggs he made. I was looking through the freezer for ice, and I asked him, “Butter Tart Ice Cream?” and he said “Best new product of the year,” and offered me a bowl of it, but I wouldn’t eat it because I’m getting skinny again.
I know, maybe, my body is perfect. He said my eyes are fascinating and my breasts are “compelling” and he “adores” my “brain.” I posted my Facebook status as In the hazy malaise of these days it pays to get blazed while you laze so that both Jeremy and Barbara would know what a good writer I am and I started dreaming about smoking every night, picturing myself smoking, and rubbernecking the smell of cigarette smoke whenever I caught it. We’d lie in bed and talk about how bad we wanted cigarettes. He’d say “Other people are allowed to have them, but we aren’t,” and he kept me not smoking because I wanted to be with him.
I bought a pack of cigarettes on the day I binge-ate two bags of baby carrots and a jar of poppy seed dressing while looking at their wedding photos and made myself throw up and all my barf was black tiny polka-dotted orange, and when my Dad came home the whole apartment reeked of vomit. I was crying and told him I just broke up with my married boyfriend, and the cigarette was glorious, and I thought I’m never gonna be the type of person who plays my violin while the ship sinks, waiting to die.
Arthur Cohen and I have this in-joke that he’s Charlie Watts and I’m Keith Richards. The drawstring of my jacket was hanging into his wine glass and I said if it were real Keith, it would have been a scarf. Arthur went to the bathroom, and Jade touched my skin. “How do you get your skin to look like that?” she asked, “What do you do?” and I felt ashamed to admit I do nothing.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Like, literally, nothing?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I told her, “I don’t wash my face.”
She touched my face and it felt good to have my face touched. “It’s remarkable,” she remarked, “A completely smooth surface,” and I felt like saying, “But on the other hand, I do forty-five minutes of cardio every day and I’m still only average,” but instead I noticed Arthur Cohen walking back from the bathroom and I said, “Arthur Cohen’s the only person in the world who’s skin is better than mine is,” and we touched his face, and there were no bumps. There were zero bumps at all.
I said, “They made Arthur Cohen’s skin, and then they broke the skin mold,” and by the time Jeremy’s band was done playing, I was drunk enough to say the words, “Let’s be straight-up about this: you live with your wife, and I live with my father,” and he was drinking ginger ale. Nothing cool ever happens if I don’t do all the work myself and no one’s drinking beer, so I bought him a beer, and once he got drunk enough to buy it I informed him that “We’re not, like, the first people in all of human history to, like, get a hotel room,” and I passed him his beer, which he hadn’t been drinking, to make sure that he was drunk.
“Oh, my wife’s still in Manitoba,” he shrugged, swigging his backwash, and we walked back to Jeremy and Barbara Kincaid’s house in the second great snowstorm of that February, which nobody named anything because none of us saw it coming.
I stared at my blackish lips in their bathroom mirror and thought, “I am someone’s dream girl” as I rested my elbows on the peach marble and thought that if orange really is the colour of music, then the music they play must be dull here. There was a seashell-shaped soap and I rifled through their medicine cabinet. “She’s maybe not on birth control,” I noticed, or maybe she took her birth control to Manitoba, or maybe she was barren. I would eventually regain feeling in my lower left leg.
“Let’s just do it the regular way,” I’d whispered, and we made love while holding each other’s faces in our hands and staring. My head fit into his shoulder with no weird bones sticking out, and afterward I stared at my blackish lips in their bathroom mirror and walked back to their pale teal bedroom, the same milky yogurt aqua as your average mold or can of Lowenbrau, and I asked him, “Are you into any fucked up shit?” and he giggled.
“Where’s your computer?” I asked, and he said it was in the basement, and I asked him if I could see the basement. I wanted to picture where he was sitting while he wrote me, and he led me downstairs. The basement was unfinished. I guess it counted as a “den.” He made some boring point about how the basement was the only place where he could get away from it all and I thought, “What about when you play your guitar, you stupid idiot. Shouldn’t that work too?" There was a washer and dryer and brown smoke light, and beneath the brown smoke light I imagined he heard the dull thump of laundry laundering as he typed out all eight reasons why Paul McCartney is his favourite Beatle and sent it proudly to the sexy twenty-five year old he was fucking behind his wife’s back. I remembered back to the first night I met him, when I knew his name was Jeremy but everyone called him “Jem,” like To Kill A Mockingbird, I said! But nobody remembered To Kill A Mockingbird well enough to remember Scout’s brother’s name and it wasn’t magical, and when I went to the bathroom he asked Helen if her friend Sam played music.
“No, Sam’s a writer,” she said, and he pretended to twist his wedding ring off his wedding ring finger and then he feigned throwing it over his shoulder, and he begged, “No! No! Don’t tell her!” but of course she told me because girls tell other girls everything.
And I wondered if it was a prophecy when he started signing his emails “Jem.” I figured I’d start calling him Jem once he left his wife for me, but for now I’d call him Jeremy.
“This table is disgusting!” I shrieked, and I knelt in front of the table. Jeremy knelt behind me; it had been no surprise to find out he was a “boxers man.” I hate boxers men. I hated everything about him, and his hair was so dirty, way too dirty for his age. It made me sad to think of how the only way he could ever get his rocks off was by procrastinating showering. "I can kill an entire day procrastinating showering," he told me, straight from the horse’s mouth, and I said “Yeah!” like I agreed because I didn’t want to make him feel gross or anything. I wondered what you’d have to do, or what you wouldn’t do, to make your mouth taste so awful. I have a pair of ripped-up Vans slip-ons that smell like a thousand summers, but otherwise my hair smells like strawberries and my mouth tastes like mouth. His mouth tasted a little bit Garlic Plus, and I arranged all the junk on the table into perfect piles of taxes and music and mail, threw all the trash in the trashcan, and he said, “Let’s get rid of this fucker!” and I said, “But you have to put a coat on!” and we zipped up our ugly red parkas and threw the table out into the snow and we broke all its legs off and we killed her.
“This is the most comfortable pillow ever,” I sighed, so he drew the drawstring on the laundry bag and sent me home the next morning with the pillow, a prize which smelled like the cat, his body, and how he’d gone down on me. I slept on that disgusting pillow every night for a week and every morning I woke up with my hair reeking of sex and I’d catch a whiff of it on the elliptical and catch a thrill. We had phone sex about the summer and on the next night, a Friday, Barbara added me as a Facebook friend. I started freaking out about it so I broke up with him via Facebook the following Monday. He called me nine times that night, which is when we started calling him Jeremy “Nine Missed Calls” Kincaid. He called me sixteen times the next night, and I sent him a text message saying Everything is fine! I’ll call you tomorrow, and when I called him tomorrow I said the words “Playing with fire” over and over until finally he said, “I hear you, Sam. I hear you loud and clear,” and I yelled, “Really? What did you hear, then?” and he said “That I shouldn’t... play with fire,” and we said maybe we’d run into each other on the street as he’s riding a bicycle and I was walking down it, like we used to, when our smiles were the purest any married man has ever smiled at a sexy twenty-five year old and back before we wrecked it. I said, “I know that will happen,” and I can’t wait until it does, and I hope I’m smoking a cigarette so he knows that I smoke again.
Jeremy was my “quitting smoking buddy.”
We don’t talk anymore. He liked a link I posted and I liked a joke he made, and I quit my job and moved out of my Dad’s apartment so easy, like that, an entire month of my life disappeared into one sentence. And as I walked to Helen’s on the dark and grim night after the dark and grim night her grandmother died, I looked at all the restaurants I’d never eat at, and when I got home that night, I listened to the Rolling Stones in the jacuzzi. I listened to Aftermath, by the Rolling Stones.
Laura Jane Faulds is a Toronto-based writer of French-Moroccan descent. Her writing has been published in Shelf Life, Maximum Rockandroll, N.E.E.T, and Chelsea magazines. Laura Jane is inspired by John Lennon, Brian Eno, sangria, apple bongs and the sky, and can be found online at laurajanefaulds.tumblr.com.
Emily Wolfer is a photographer and mixed-media artist living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, always on the lookout to collaborate with artists, musicians, writers and publications. She shoots obscure portraits, snoops inside others' homes, wanders through wild urban landscapes, and breaks out the video camera to create humor-infused stop-motion video shorts. Visit her online at emily-wolfer.com.
Easy Lover is Kali Holloway and Jeremy Wimmer, a two-piece, unsigned band from Brooklyn, New York. Their eponymously titled, self-released debut is due to come out in August 2011. Visit the band on Tumblr or Facebook.