John Olds

Katie Vane

Continued from the 2017 Issue landing page

            Only what he’s really saying is, I want to fuck you again, but first dumplings. 

I’m not stupid.  First time was like four months ago.  And he’s a good kisser, and pretty good at everything else.  Only there was that whole thing about him having a girlfriend.  Tiffany.  Whoops, oh yeah, forgot to mention that.

But it’s John Olds.  And maybe Russell’s broken up with that bitch by now.

            So dinner.  I’m in this open back rag & bone top, Camuto lace-up sandals, maxed out my Chase card, oh well.  Classing it up.  And a little oolong perfume, smelling pretty classy, feeling pretty classy.

Russell’s looking classy, too.  Gray Varvatos v-neck, jeans, and these Red Wing boots.  They’re like this warm red-brown, leather laces.  Like half hipster, half mountain man.  And I’m not usually into that stuff, but it works for him.  I don’t know why for him, but OK.

So he meets me on Canal Street to make sure I can find the place, right.  Like I’m some country bumpkin.  But the place is a little hard to find, sort of tucked away down this little street in Chinatown, no name out front except in Chinese, and I don’t read Chinese.  A little Korean, thank you very much.  So anyhow Russell takes me in.  Through this skinny bar with like a million beautiful thirty-somethings crammed in, down these steps into the dining room.

This place is like made for Instagram.  It’s huge for Manhattan, like fifteen tables, but dim lighting.  Black booth seats along the walls, a huge mirror that’s like gold-tinted, potted palms.  The tables are white stone, could even be marble, I don’t know.  Candles on every one.

And there’s John Olds.  Standing up at the furthest booth, waving at us.  It’s not that I’m into celebrity, I mean I grew up in L.A., but still.  This guy’s an actual working artist.  And he’s kind of cute, too, cuter than I thought from magazine pictures.  He’s got this sort of mad scientist look, like messy hair, moth holes in his sweater, white button-up shirt.  He’s a little dumpy, but he’s got these puppy dog eyes.  Cute.

But he’s brought his girlfriend I didn’t know about, Jennifer.  My age of course.  Asian too, so maybe he and Russell have the same fetish.  Except she’s got this beautiful coffee and cream skin, maybe Filipino.  She doesn’t stand up or wave, so I’m like, hello, another bitch I didn’t know about?  But turns out she’s really sweet.  Gives Russell this big hug, like they’re buddies.  Then she’s giving me a hug even though we’re just meeting.  She’s got these thigh-high suede boots.  Loose black dress, can’t tell what label, so I’m guessing it came off the rack in SoHo.  Out-classing my class.

But she’s sweet.  Way too pretty, come on.  But we’ve known each other like thirty seconds and she’s telling me I can come early and have a private tour of the gallery next week.  Turns out she’s the niece of John’s publicist.  She works for his P.R. firm, too, hello nepotism, and she’s repping some Argentinian guy who’s bringing back cubism.  Yeah, I wish I could afford a publicist so I could bring back cubism, too.  Still I’m like, Wow, OK, I’d love to come by.

            So we all sit down at the booth.  And I’m with Russell, Jennifer’s across from us cozied up to John, and there’s supposed to be some other friend meeting up with us, but they never come.  Anyhow we’re like the youngest people in the place, and Jennifer’s telling me who everyone is.  There’s the president of Sotheby’s.  There’s the producer of that new reality show.  Old money, new money.  Not like they’re going to kick me out the door, then.

            Anyhow we order like two bottles of wine to start, and the waiter pours them in these perfect tall glasses, and that sound.  I’m looking around like, wow.  The light’s dim and warm.  There’s this funky sculpture on one of the walls, like this caterpillar made out of interlocking metal plates.  Of course the food costs fifty bucks a course, which no one mentioned to me before dinner.  And Russell keeps leaning over and telling me the price of everything.  Turns out this is John’s favorite spot.

So we start with these oysters.  It’s ten kinds of gross inside a shell, but spicy, too.  Russell’s like, These textures are just amazing.  The layers of flavor, amazing!  Such a kiss-up.  Then he leans in real close, breathing in my ear, and he’s like, That’s thirty five bucks worth of oysters right there.

Then there’s this roasted duck and jellyfish and pig’s ear salad, and these fat, house-made rice noodles in this gorgeous handmade bowl, and I’m getting into it.  Actually I hate to say it, but it’s the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten.

And we’re talking about Jennifer’s artist.  Jennifer this, Jennifer that.  Come on.  Did I come here to meet Jennifer?  But John’s cracking jokes about this artist, putting on his accent and everything.  And Jennifer’s got this short, husky laugh.  Sexy.  Yeah I’d laugh all the time if I laughed like that.  Fake lashes though, I can tell, not like trashy, but the high class version. 

Anyway John’s like, I do not know why my paintings have become so large! It must be the subject is making them larger!

He’s looking down at his crotch, and Jennifer rolls her eyes and she’s like, Adriano’s done these gorgeous topography paintings, this whole series inspired by maps of Buenos Aires.  Breaking the city down into angles.  They’re really dark, really beautiful.  But they’re just enormous.  The gallery is having trouble placing them on the walls so they don’t overwhelm each other.

Russell’s like, And I mean that’s perfect, isn’t it?  These paintings are cities growing into abstraction.  So genius.

Then all of a sudden John’s leaning into his noodle bowl and asking me, Hey so how do you know Russell anyhow?

And Russell’s like, We met at RISD.  She was blowing everyone else out of the water.

John’s like, Oh, blowing. 

Such a teenager.  But he’s smiling at me, this just between us smile.  And I’m getting into it. 

I’m like, Yeah, you know I kind of loathed Russell when I met him.

Russell’s like, What?  He does his forced laugh.  Like uh oh, we’ve

gone off script.

I’m like, I haven’t told you that?

So then I tell John how I met Russell.  When I’m done I look at him.  I give his hand a good squeeze.  I’m like, But Russell I love you now.  Now I love you, but come on, you were a bit of a tool.

Russell’s like, OK.  Pushing back his chair, laughing down into his plate.  Like, can I be excused?

            But I’ve got John’s attention now, he’s half lying on the table, staring at me.  He’s like, That’s so great.  That’s wonderful.  Then he’s like, Has Russell told you how me and Jennifer met? 

Jennifer’s shaking her head.  But she’s got this half smile, like really, do it.

            John’s like, She was down at Sacher Gallery for a show one of her artists was putting on.  So I was coming in, checking out the space, and I see her.  And I was like whoa, who is this woman?  I hadn’t met her yet.  I had no idea she’s Bill’s niece.  So the next day I call the gallery and I sweet talk them into giving me her number.  And I call her at the office, by now I know where she works, and I tell her, this is John Olds, I came by yesterday, my show’s going up there in a few months.  Then I tell her, I’d like you to do something.  I’d like you to take off your pants and sit on the copy machine and make some copies for me.

This is totally disgusting, but I love it.  I don’t know, it’s different actually hearing it from one of them.  Like all of a sudden I get how this can be sexy.

So Jennifer’s leaning into me and she’s like, I made fifteen copies.  John was cute.

And John’s mouth is kind of hanging open.  And he props his arm up on the back of the booth.  He’s pushed up his sleeves and he’s got these manly, hairy arms.

And let’s be honest.  I’d totally do pervy stuff like that if I could get away with it.  It’s hot.  They’re hot together.

So wine and more wine.  We’ve switched to this rosé, which I think is kind of girlie, but it’s delicious.  John’s telling us about smoking pot with Woody Harrelson.  Well actually John’s like, I don’t smoke, just Woody smokes, but I mean I appreciate smoking, I do, I just don’t do it myself.

Whatever.  So he’s talking.  And he lifts up his bowl to drink the last of this amazing noodle broth.  And this thread of broth spills down.  It’s this liquid gold thread.  It’s beautiful.  It’s one of those things, like I know I’m going to paint it.  I’m gonna go home tanked and finally take out the oils after fucking five months and paint that gold thread.  Dark palette, a lavender blob over there that’s the Norwegian fashion designer, or whatever.  Diffuse light, like where’s it coming from, or maybe it’s coming from the bowl, that’ll be pale yellow, I’ll harden the edges a little though, and then this gold thread with some black in it, like a black core to it, and I’ll let it spread out if it needs to, but that’s going to be the movement in the piece.  That’s going to be the thing that pulls the eye.

 And I was really happy, you know.  Thinking about the painting.  It felt good.  First time in five fucking months.  Seriously.

So we kill the wine and John’s like, Let’s all go back to Jennifer’s place, and Jennifer’s like, Yeah, come, I’ve got to make a blackberry pie for John’s mom, you can keep me company.

So it’s on twenty-something and sixth.  Posh.  All this dark wood paneling and a gigantic old mirror over the fireplace.  And Attila, that’s their little Yorkshire terrier, so cute, he’s trying to lick my face.  And Jennifer’s in the kitchen and John gets us all glasses of really good tequila.  It’s this amber yellow, and it burns.  Delicious.  Still I’m like, one more hour and I’m stumbling home to paint. 

But we’re practically chugging this tequila and John’s gone back to the kitchen and he’s getting frisky with Jennifer.  Putting his hand on her hip, biting her shoulder when she’s mixing the pie dough in this big ceramic bowl.

So Russell’s like, Hey let me show you around.

And I’m drunk, so OK.  I’m drunk and yeah, I’m horny as hell.  He’s the last guy I slept with, too.  Could be he broke up with her.  Could be we can get something going, you know, some mutual back scratching or what have you.  It could be hot to do that in John Old’s girlfriend’s house.

So he takes me up to the bedroom.  There’s one of John’s pieces on the wall, except I wouldn’t know it was John’s unless Russell told me.  It’s this huge wood burned portrait of a little girl, like one of those child brides from an old National Geographic.  The lines are this gold brown in the white plank of wood.  She’s got these big solemn eyes and flowers in her hair.  And I don’t know if I’m into it or what.  It’s like, the softer side of John.

Russell’s like, Yeah, John wanted something special for Jennifer’s bedroom.

Dim lighting, big dark wood wardrobe.  King sized-bed, mattress takes up like half the room.  Rumpled covers.

Russell’s like, Come check out this statue.

And there’s this goopy black paint statue of Attila the dog on the bedside table.   Life size and everything.  Looks like wet paint still, like dripping wax, but black.  Like a dog dipped in black wax.  There’s a violence to it I’m into.  Like you think about the dog inside.  Like the dog’s still stuck inside this hot wax.

Russell’s like, John made that for Jennifer’s birthday. 

But I’m thinking, enough about Jennifer and John.  Throw me down and fuck me on your boss’s girlfriend’s bed.

But Russell’s like, Hey, let’s check out the decks.  There’s two of them.

I start getting that feeling.  The I’m about to get fucked over feeling.  Like if he doesn’t throw me on the bed and take me now, he’s got something else in mind.  It’s not like I really, really wanted to fuck him.  But still.

So I’m like, OK, two decks in Manhattan, wow.

And there’s really two decks.  Crazy.  Amazing view of the city, all those soft orange windows floating in the dark.  And all of a sudden I’m like, OK, maybe I don’t want to fuck Russell.

So I’m like, You know what, thanks Russell.  This is beautiful. 

I even touch his arm.  Give it the good friend squeeze.  Not an I want to fuck you squeeze or anything.

But then Russell’s like, I really value your friendship.

Who talks like that?  I really value your friendship.

I’m like, Uh, thanks?

He’s like, It wasn’t right last time.  I still haven’t told Tiffany about it.  But I don’t want to make that same mistake again.

OK, great, so they’re still together.

But I’m like, Russell that was four months ago. 

Russell’s like, It’s important to me.  You’re special.  You’ve got talent.  I want to see you start putting yourself out there and really getting into it.

And I’m like, what does he expect me to do?  Kiss his Red Wing boots?  But I don’t know.  I could have given him a big Fuck You and left right then.  Instead I’m like, OK, well it’s better you said something.

Seriously, what’s wrong with me?  Like what a waste of a night, right, and I’m scared it’s killed my mood, and I just want to get back home in time to paint before I collapse.  Russell’s looking at me like maybe I’m about to have some kind of meltdown.

So I’m like, Whatever, man, let’s just go back down.

Russell’s like, Look, I’m your friend.  I’m worried about you.  You’ve been here a while, I’ve hardly heard from you.  And you haven’t been painting, right?

This is totally out of left field.

I’m like, Uh, how do you know that?

Turns out he’s been talking to our friends.  How’s she adjusting to the city?  How’s her work going?

So I’m like, OK, no, I haven’t been painting, thanks for asking.

He’s like, I wanted tonight to inspire you, you know.  I wanted you to really get a feel for what life can be like here.  If you make a connection with the city, if you just start talking to people.

Like I don’t know anything about the city?  I’ve been living here for five fucking months, I know something about it.  And I’m not a fucking hermit here, either.  I mean when I’m not working myself to death being a fucking barista.  I go out, I have a good time, I meet people.  Like who is he to judge me?  I mean seriously, he works hard as hell and he’s got talent and I can’t say it’s just luck he got hooked up with John, but yeah, some of it’s just luck, and hey, I’d love to find a fucking ad on craigslist to work with a renowned artist and get hired and become his right hand man in four fucking months.  I’d love that too.  But we can’t all be winners, Russell.

But I’m like, OK.  I’m heading out.

He’s like, I care about you.

Oh, he cares about me.  Oh, OK.

I’m like, Great, thanks so much.

He’s like, You know, I didn’t treat you right, and I never really said sorry for that.

Aha.  Bingo.

He wants to repent.

He wants to kiss my feet, only he’s Russell, so he doesn’t know how to do it.

I’m like, Russell, kiss my ass.

So we go back down.

And that’s when I see the handcuffs on the living room chair. 

It’s funny, like I should have seen them first thing when I walked in the door. They’re just right there, cuffed to the back of the chair.  And I love it that they’re there.  Love it. 

So Russell starts chatting up Jennifer, she’s mixing the blackberries and sugar in this gigantic silver bowl, and I just catch John’s eye and give him this look.  I don’t know how I did it.  Like where it came from.  Then I go into the bathroom around the corner from the kitchen.

The crazy thing is, he follows me.  All of a sudden I’m in the bathroom with John Olds.  Salt and pepper puppy dog.  Only then he comes up to me and sticks his hand down my pants.  No hello how are you, just, boom.  Hand down the pants.  And it’s like the sexiest thing that’s ever happened to me.  I mean I’m up against the wall in this swank tiny bathroom, dark tile, mood lighting, and he’s fingering me.  I didn’t even know I was wet.  And he’s like this forty five year old man.  Forty three I guess.  And I’m so wet.  I mean, really. 

And he’s close, staring at me.  I can like smell the tequila and sugar and blackberries on his breath.

Oh man.  He’s good.  I don’t even know how many fingers he’s got in me when I come.  Like weak in the knees, oh my god, all of a sudden come.  Took five minutes, tops.  Still can’t believe it.

And he’s so focused it’s like he’s about to come too, and I want him to take off my pants and put me up on the sink and really fuck me.  But it’s like all of a sudden he’s done, boom again.  He just takes his hand out of my pants.

And I’m like going for his jeans, but he pushes in closer to me so I can’t get them unbuttoned.  Then he lifts up his hand and sniffs his fingers.  Classic, kinky stuff.  But I’m into it.  I’m like, sniff away, I don’t care.  Just put them back down my pants when you’re done. 

But here’s the kicker.  He finishes sniffing.  Then he backs off me and he wipes his hand on his pants.  Wipes his hand.  Wipes my come all over his pants.  And I don’t know.  I mean, what do you do with that?  Like I just got finger fucked by John Olds in the bathroom of his girlfriend’s apartment, and now he’s wiping my come on his pants and opening the door.  Doesn’t even look at me after he wipes his hand, just goes and opens the door.

And I don’t know.  I mean, I don’t know.  It’s not like we get caught.  I don’t think Russell or Jennifer knew at all.  Like I could of gone out there and sat down and eaten a slice of pie with all of them and just me and John would of known.  And I almost want to do that.  But I don’t.

I go home.  I mean I’m like, Great party, great time, thanks Russell, no you don’t have to walk me down, I’m fine.  And John’s like, Great to meet you.  Shakes my hand with that hand and everything.  And I’m pissed I guess, or something.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m still just hot from coming.  But I really wanted to scream right then.

And Jennifer’s like, Great meeting you, come by the gallery sometime this week, I’ll give you a tour.

And I’m like, Thanks, will do, good luck with the pie.  Goodnight, goodnight.

So I get home.  Two hours later on the fucking L.  Drunk.  Still got my one hundred and fifty bucks because John paid for dinner.  Yeah, I feel great about that.

Anyhow I get home.  And I don’t paint.  I’m like, stay up and get the oils mixed and paint some stupid line of soup broth, or just crash and sleep this whole night off?

So I just crash.  The end.

I mean I take a shower first, even though I’m like half asleep and I can barely stand, but I want a shower.  And I’m in the shower and I’m feeling like, fuck Russell and John and Jennifer, and their little dog, too.  I mean, fuck everyone is really how I’m feeling.  Fuck Tiffany, can’t forget her, and fuck those rich people in that rich fucking restaurant.  Fuck them all.  In fact, fuck every single living human being.  Fuck every person on planet fucking earth.  That’s really what I’m thinking.  And fuck me, too.