I figured it was only a matter of time before Dennis developed an alcohol problem or bought a typewriter in order to be more like his new idol. Rather than doing either, though, Dennis decided that the thing to do was bring me to the apartment he and his friend kept (as a secret hideout from their wives) to prove exactly how much he was now like Bukowski: with some uniquely awful oral sex followed by a trip to a filthy hole-in-the-wall Dominican restaurant and a speech about how after great sex “one must eat meat in order to replenish one’s energy.” I refrained from telling him that a salad would be fine in this case and, once again, considered whether sugar-babying about was worth the annoyance.
I soon discovered that if there had been any hope for nice restaurants, shopping trips, and theater performances, all possibilities were dashed the minute I introduced Dennis to Women. His criteria for making decisions had suddenly become ‘What Would Bukowski Do?’ There was very little sex, but endless conversations about how many characteristics Dennis shared with his new favorite writer and countless exclamations about how some restaurant he was taking me to was exactly like something Bukowski would patronize.
It was obvious why Dennis would feel such an affinity for this writer. Here was a perfect justification for his late-life crisis, a license to be a dirty old man, even one who drank too much, yet it could still be “cool.”
After watching my mother survive breast cancer twice, I knew very well how devastating disease can be and how triumphant recovery is. I assume that a battle with testicular cancer is just as epic, if not more; not only is life on the line, but men are so very, very fond of their balls. And, although he never said it outright, it was clear that Dennis felt old. It wasn’t just his lusts that made him seek out younger women; he wanted me and all the girls before me to make him feel young again. He sought out common interests with something that can only be described as desperation, and when he encountered a total lack of common ground, he tried his damndest to create some. If he hadn’t been so irritating it would almost have been touching.