iván BRAVE


Excerpt from “Ojos de Malaquita”

19 May 2019
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I’ve realized that there is no point in occulting any more on this page, or any page really. After all, I can always delete the extremes, though I’ll try not to. Yeah. This’ll be the only fully autobiographical work I’ll write. The truest to the details. But for that reason, I do not intend on making any of this public. If you are reading—this—line then I am either dead, or have stopped giving a fuck. Which, oddly enough for the writer, is the same thing: as soon as the writer loses touch with what matters in life, it’s over. I don’t know what or where or how this piece will come about, at least not yet, on this first draft, but if you are patient with me, then I believe you will gain some sort of benefit from my personal experience. This book deals with as many of the women in my life as I can remember, and the subsequent realizations from it. Why dedicate an entire book to the women in my life? I don’t know. Ask Venus. This book is for her. I suppose the only way to move about the cabin is for me to illustrate a few charts and for us to dive in and out of them like the pools in the first Narnia book. There have been, as of today the 20th of January 2016, only five women I have loved. I say I’ve loved them all, though they’ve each been a different flavor of love, I feel, and they’ve all treated me differently and we’ve all grown apart by now. In reverse order: the Lady of the Flat Irons; la muchacha con ojos de malaquita; the woman Nicci Wild; Miss AM, the one that got away; and KW, my first. In between and before these gals, I’ve shared many a bed, many a rough handjob, and many a heartbreak with dozens of female creatures that ranged from the unplugged night stands, to the well-intentioned hoes, to the amputated vampires, and to the poor flies, victims of the semen crusted spider web known as my life. As I unpack my mind, remember this is only an exercise, because I am stuck on the current project I started two weeks ago about Ana… my only hope is to clean out the closet, so more interesting characters than the boring real ones can play hide and seek with my computer monitor . . .


Last night Henry Miller visited me in a dream. I explained to him how I was stuck on my novel. He leaned back, with his sad eyes lost in a world of sorrow he would never understand, and with the twinkle of wisdom he asked: “Is your main character boring?” The answer was yes. And without replying I woke up this morning and knew what I had to do. So here I am. Running around in circles, around a park filled with shirtless fags and horny dogs, around women—the idea of women, my only obsession, my only desire—around my manuscripts, around you. I look to my right and I see the eight Vanidades fashion magazines I have propped up on a living room chair like a shrine in my grandmother’s apartment in Buenos Aires. Why, the covers are beautifully photoshopped faces and busts all eyeing me with their sexy reojo—aren’t they pretty in profile? Yes. In a sense this ramble I’ve started, whose preamble I can’t seem to find the exit out from, is another shrine, a sanctuary, some edifice to the trials and errors of my life. Ok. Let us begin . . .


Before the Lady of the Flatirons, before KW, there existed the dormant sexuality that wraps every male’s genitals in an ice pack bandage until the heat of that first successful masturbation produces the shotgun effect on his bedsheets. I am lucky, I suppose, because I clearly remember the very first sexual attraction towards a woman. And I wouldn’t even call it sexual, so much as primordial, as basic, as molecular. I was in kindergarten. My younger brother was in preschool, a catholic asylum. I’m in the car with mama, driving through the preschool’s carpool lane, and I look out the passenger side window and see my brother being walked to our car by a fat round boulder of a woman, must have been his teacher. Her chipmunk cheeks and cartoonish appearance ignited the flame that still burns the rubber tires of my loins today, because staring at that woman hold my brother’s hand, watching her big fat cheeks greet my mother, gazing deeply into the end of her spine hidden between her fat buns inspired the First Image: opening the door, running out towards her, and jumping on her back. A cute and innocent drive, but as clear and revealing as a low cut shirt. I wanted to maul her, jump on her back, attack her… I didn’t know why, and I didn’t think about it until much later. Also during those early development years, between balancing multiple languages, multiple sexual organs, right around the time I figured I didn’t like vegetables anymore, papá takes bro and I to a comic book store—the coolest in all of Houston: Third Planet. It was a young boy’s wet dream, expensive comic book action figures, hundreds of trinkets, magazines, books, movies, nerds in costumes, alien-looking punks, and intergalactic, foreign film sci-fi soundtrack music, damn it was the coolest place any six year old could be in. I remember once, on a Saturday, the three of us are at the store and my brother gets an Aqua-man action figure—his favorite super hero. And I get a Superman costume. At the cashier, while the bald geek behind the counter dressed as Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons checks us out, I sift through a stack of magazines. At the very bottom, under a pile of innocent Silver Surfer oldies, I see the most haunting image: the drawing of a tall blonde, in short-shorts and low-cut shirt, having her clothes pulled apart by two dark silhouetted men with neon-green filled syringes about to inject her with “something.” I stared at the image for a long time. It wouldn’t go away. So sinister. What were they doing to her? What was the neon green stuff? How long had she been crying? As soon as we got home, I ran to the restroom and sat on the toilet seat, mesmerized, hypnotized, still high off that image of what must have been comic book rape. I pulled my pants down and noticed my first rager. I don’t mean boner; I mean throbbing, uncontrollable, not fun rager. I squeezed it, didn’t do anything. I slapped it on the walls. Didn’t do anything. I couldn’t get rid of it, or of that comic woman image. Cartoons had that effect on me. Much before the hentai phase of my development, I already knew what it felt like to crave a princess Zelda, or a naked Samus, or a naked Roll from Megaman 64. Probably the biggest non-flesh woman that left an impression on me was the girl from Johnny Quest, the new ones. In particular episode (don’t remember which) when the girl, Jessie, and Johnny enter a virtual reality. The episode ends with Johnny being sucked into a vortex and Jessie saving him by turning into a giant computer animation. My love of big women began here, I believe… For a long time, on those lonely top-bunk nights, images of giant women’s rolling limbs lulled my young and horny mind to bed. My earliest fantasies are of me shrinking to the size of a hand, and hugging a giant woman’s breast. But enough of the fantasies . . .


Halloween 1997, second grade. All the students in my class were asked to wear their costume to class, luckily I had my Superman outfit, cape, emblem and all. Free day, apparently, with my classmates paired up playing board games, drawing, gluing macaroni to construction paper, et cetera. For some reason I found myself alone, fashioning my own board game that involved drawing cut-out color-coded cards that each signaled a certain number of advances along the board. The game didn’t make sense, but inventing it kept me busy. “Excuse me, class?” my teacher announced in her calm, undergraduate manner. “We have a new student today…” her name was Francis. The entire class, in awe, quiets down, no clap twice necessary. Everyone was entranced with the natural, real, round Princess Leia brunette buns walking in through the door. The teacher looked around. “Iván,” she called out. I must have been silent, or accepting, because the next thing I knew Francis sat next to me and played my own game with me. From that day forward, in second grade, till eighth, I had a heavy crush on her. My first crush ever. She treated me kindly—even after she made other friends, she brought up how I had taken her in, introduced her to the classmates that first day. During recess, she’d play tag with me and the boys. During choir, she’d get the lead roles. After school, she’d invite me to her birthday parties at Discovery Zone, and I would never go, too shy and too nervous. Why? I don’t know. Twice I buffooned myself with her. The first was during a reading of The Cricket in Time Square. During a reading, I close my eyes to imagine the characters—also, we had just eaten—and next thing I know, I’m opening my eyes, WHAM! I had fallen backwards, and whose lap caught my head? Francis’s. Her face shone shock. And mine shame. I rolled forward and wiped the blushed drool off my chin and caught back up with the story. The second time I embarrassed myself was a week later when the teacher read a mystery novel about a hotel and the cardinal coordinates when the exact same narcoleptic attack routed my poor body. Shame. I never made a move, only watched, as Fran became the first girl in our cluster to develop through those first steps into womanhood. She drove the boys crazy; she drove them outward, to express themselves, to man up. But, for me, Francis drove me inward, introspective and eventually I gave up on her and all women in fifth grade after finding out she started dating a fifth grade soccer player. The first relationship I’d ever heard of happened to be her. In sixth and seventh grade we were part of Odyssey of the Mind, but I played it real cool and never confessed my attraction for her. I worked hard on our projects and together we took the team to World, the highest tournament level, twice. (Side story: the first “note” ever passed to me was by Zaza in sixth-grade English class. Hated the class. Hated the teacher, some raggedy old hag who would rather point out my grammar mistakes, than encourage vocabulary; would rather reprimand me for looking up at the board too often when copying down a sentence, than work on my memorization, or focus on my handwriting. Bitch was the one who tattled-taled on my project once: ok, it’s a bit fucked up, but basically we were supposed to pick a verb and conjugate it, coming up with sentences that used the conjugation. The nerd next to me chose “Destroy.” Which I thought was funny and clever. So I chose a less funny and less clever word to out-shock him: “Kill.” Well. Guess who got sent to the assistant principal that afternoon? But back to Zaza, during a movie day—believe we were watching The Secret Garden—Zaza, a huge sea-lioness of a creature, passes me a note. Reads: “Hi, Evon. Want to be my boyfriend?” Past the typo and shy approach, I noticed two boxes. A “Yes,” and a “No.” Without looking, and with as much tact as an 11 year old could muster, I drew a third box and checked it in sharpie: “Maybe.” Zaza cried. I shrugged my shoulders. During carpool, Fran reproached me. “Why don’t you want to date Za?” I don’t remember what I said, but for sure I know I didn’t bring up Zaza’s childhood obesity, or the fact that my heart belonged to the one asking the question. “Well,” Fran replied. “When Gabriel asked me out I didn’t want to date him, but now we’re happy.” Fate was cruel. Love was cruel. Middle school sucked.) Eighth grade’s last day, eighth grade’s last class: I handed my year book to the crush of my life. I had made sure to look cool and ask as many friends to sign my book so she would have to find her own room in the back pages, which of course I had left her. When Fran handed me the book, I tucked the sucker in my bag and waited till I got home. Holding that book on the bus was like holding on to… I don’t know… but I could feel sweat pouring out from those back pages. They were sweating, bleeding, exploding. I opened them up in my bedroom closet. I’m looking at it right now, says, with a heart under the exclamations: “Hey, Ivan! Well it was really nice to be w/ you in OM. You were a great elephant & ice cream man! teehee! Well hope you have fun @ your H.S. take care & do well in school! <3 F. If you want #…” I never did call. And that’s the end of that . . .


Once, during a new moon eleven years later, I had convinced my brother’s roommate S-something to drive us out to Mt Bonnell in Austin at five in the morning. We were both drunk and I figured if I only pinned her to a rock after pointing out constellations over her med-school eyes, I could squeeze a nut between her soccer legs. We got to the top, rolled around, made out, but when it came down to it, she froze up. Not being a man to fuck a tree trunk, I shook her. She smiled, then frowned. I went back to kiss her between her small breasts. Not sure why I was into her. Then back up to her mouth. She evaded me. Once, twice. “What’s up?” I asked. “You are just like your brother,” she said. “You want what you can get.” It didn’t make any sense at the time, but it was some catchy shit and I rolled her dusty spine off the rock and wrote her words down immediately into my moleskin. “If you don’t wanna do it,” I said, closing my book, “then let’s go.” We went to UT campus that night, but that doesn’t matter. What had struck me forever was her phrase: “You want what you can get.” What the shit. On first glance, shouldn’t we all want what we can get? Why would you want what you can’t get? Sounds like some immature bullshit, like being in love with someone who doesn’t want you, or like not wanting to step on dog shit with your bare foot and going for it anyway. Opposite day, S, if only you knew, sometimes I did want what I couldn’t have. Hell, for a long time I couldn’t seem to like a single person who was right for me. There was my best friend in fourth grade, the cool as hell AC, who besides teaching me how to use a DVD player in 2000 (skipping chapters through his copy of Gladiator), we would walk to the park near my parents’ house and stare at jogger’s jostling jugs. But when we were at his house, I would chat with his mom, a single named Sue. Sue wouldn’t cook for us. She would order Domino’s pizza. And I believe it was somewhere between eating my friend’s left over pepperonis and dunking warm chewy cinna-stix into a steaming pack of white icing, that I fell for Sue. But what could I do? Nothing. I just liked how kind and motherly she was. Her wallowing eyes, her áspera skin, cheap clothes, marks of a single, working-class woman looking for her next husband, always in heat, yet kind, like a witch, or a rookie at the established brothel in a small town. Yes, Sue: the first dream I cried in was with you. You wrapped your dry arms around me in a phantasmagoric make-believe world inspired by Playstation’s Spyro games and confessed to having lost your son’s brother in a car accident. You were crying and I couldn’t do anything about it… so I cried with you. But yes. “You want what you can get.” Not then, not ever . . .


From my brother’s preschool teacher, to the cartoons, to Fran, to the hentai I devoured senselessly through middle school (senseless because I wasn’t jerking off yet), to Sue, it just seemed like I was destined to want unattainable women. So I closed off my sexuality. After deciding I wouldn’t call her, I walked into a closet and packed up all my pornographic images, stuffed them into an imagined suitcase and entered freshmen year of high school a total virgin. America had castrated me. I didn’t want to get married. I didn’t want to fall in love. I was fourteen. I was horny. I wanted to grab girls’ boobs, play tag, wear cool clothes, share a laugh. Lucky for me I didn’t grow up in a patriarchal, racist, or dull family, but I was definitely given too much freedom. And with that freedom, I never learned to ask for what I needed. I didn’t know how to gain a woman’s confidence. I didn’t know what they needed. I was the eldest child. “Terminá la tarea o limpiá la casa.” Those were my options before dinner. And after dinner I watched Nat Geo documentaries about the Roman Empire or aliens. Completely unprepared for contemporary reality. That, and I was a late bloomer—hadn’t had my first armpit hair till sophomore year, and lanky was my body. Safe to say my attraction for a woman and my chances of attaining her hadn’t coincided until Güera late freshmen year, not KW as you know. Güera was a kind and cool güera, which means whitey in Mexicano. The kind of gal who would hang with the emo kids, but listen to Mexican novella soundtracks. She would diss her own braces, but compliment yours. She’d get her school work done before the class was over, but continue on to next week’s assignment instead of talking to her friends. Easily I remember falling for her in Geometry class. Something about studying shapes and writing out theorems turned me on to the curves on her hips and to the stratagems of gaining her affection. I became good friends with the first gay man I knew, a gentlemen nicked-named Dre, who happened to be tight with Güera . “I’ve seen you two together,” he told me during lunch in the cafeteria, setting down a carton of chocolate milk, not whispering the following words: “Güera and you have chemistry . . .”


To this day I feel a deep rooted walnut of regret seated on the base chakra of my insecurities. Most, if not all, of my inability with women sprouted from this incident: rounding what was called the cafagymalockatorium of Carnegie Vanguard High School, I heard Güera cry. I had recognized the sound of her voice because for months then I had been listening to her in class, though her tears were a new smell. Just as I’m about to approach my locker I saw G with crimson bags under her eyes that poured vein-like streams of salt water. She was being cornered by two other students in my grade. The misfit duo, Jim Page and Rob Plant. All they did was talk about anime, draw in class and talk about guitar strings. They were the type of kids who wore brown monster hats and long sleeves in the spring months. Well, here they were, cornering G. I was fourteen. I didn’t know what they had done, or what they had said, but it was messed up. Paralysis struck me. Jim, lanky but tall, wide-chinned, turned his deep dark bully eyes to me and rumbled. “What are you doing?” The fucker had stolen the words out of my mouth. I had nothing to say. Then, Rob, his butt buddy, rolled up between us. Looking down at me, he said, “He’s minding his own business, that’s what”—spitting between his teeth as he spoke. Without even pushing me, I stumbled backwards. G couldn’t look at me. I couldn’t help but look at her. I backed away. I did. I backed away. I don’t know why. But the moment I turned around the crying and name calling continued. Now there is no hindsight. No going back. Nothing but shame. Damn. I am so ashamed. I am a pussy. And today there is nothing I crave more than to go back in time. It is one of the few regrets in my life. Because, now, all I do is talk about defending women’s honor, but no matter how hard I try, I will never be perfect, because I will always have failed G. The greatest irony of the event, and what seals the moment in an impenetrable wax, rendering it as unforgivable as it was unforgettable, is: I asked G out that same week, and she was more than happy to say yes. But day in and day out, all we ever did was message each other over Yahoo. We would send hearts and I love yous and te amos… typical high school stuff… only I never showed my affection for her in person, because she would still sit at the punk kids table with Jim and Rob. And eventually, after four weeks of me not being able to make a move in public, off the internet, face to face, save for one hand holding going up a staircase, which sent her into a spiral of shame, saying: “Oh God, no. Why now?” Güera—none of this ramble makes sense, I know—but Güera, that night, after school, called me during dinner to break up with me. “Why?” I asked while on my knees in the restroom. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.” I hugged the ceramic toilet bowl, then went back to eat. The next morning, before Geometry class, she mustered up the courage to tell me the truth. “I’m in love with Jim.” My freshmen year ended a few weeks later.


Nobody’s perfect. More or less.


After Güera, my libido entered what I believe Freud coined the Latency Stage. I stopped giving a fuck about women. Not on a conscious level, but I couldn’t find any reason to go after them. All the women were busted at my school as far as I was concerned; and all I represented was a preheated geek as far as they were concerned; so we left each other empty handed pretty well. Speaking of hands, now that I think of it, the summer after freshmen year was the year I started masturbating. Latent, but masturbation, nevertheless. I had watched hentai porn for a few years, but for no other particular reason, than just simple, pure, clean curiosity. I recall once a punk asking me on the bleachers of my sixth-grade gym: “Do you watch porn?” and being struck hard by the question, actually answering the truth: “Hah, yeah, a little bit.” And his reply was, “Nah, I bet you don’t.” I never understood you, you punk-ass sk8ter boi, for that. Why ask me? Why don’t I forget? Today: One of those four seconds that you never forget. So yes, since my Tropic of Capricorn summer 2006 to today, my Tropic of Cancer summer 2016, I’ve had a strange relationship to auto-stimulation. Exactly ten years of touching myself, that’s longer than a lot of things I’ve done. “Come” to think of it, the only other things I’ve done for more than ten years are filling my lungs with breath and picking dry boogers from my nose. My first time: it had been a long night of Super Smash with my best friends and my brother in our bunkbed room. We had listened to Marilyn Manson, Elephunk, and Sean Paul. Lots of coca cola and sour patch kids. It makes my stomach ache just thinking about it. Anyway: my dick throbbed. Hard. Top bunk. Comforter. My greasy hand found its way down. The first few strokes stung as—one sec, background: for seven days I had tried with constant masturbatory determination to ejaculate to no end—as I in the literal sense of the verb turned my pubescent limb into raw meat. Numbness crept between the sheets. Nothing was working the way I had seen on the flash games. What did ejaculating feel like? An image of my architecture school summer program teacher “came” to mind right then. She was dressed in a doctor’s white coat. Soon as she asked me to lower my pants for a testie test, my eyes sprung open. I lost the image. Back to it. Stroked more furiously. Each stroke brought back Doctor Nuts. “Pull your pants down, Iván, again.” A light went off on the tip of my prick. I kept at it. The fish was hooked. The Doctor was there. Then she disappeared. But it didn’t matter, I had the real life tingle. Never in the last seven days of attempting manual overdrive had this occurred. Stroke, stroke. The feeling trickled down to the whole shaft. Faster, faster. Then, the clearest image of my fantasy flashed, the doctor slipping out half a pasty breast out of her coat and closing her eyes in disproportionate relationship to her mouth. Swoosh. I gasped, but the feeling was all gone. Disappointment, I remember, must have surged through me. But it didn’t. I was calm. I was sleepy. Did I? Did it? Figured tomorrow was another day to try. Wasn’t too upset, if only I knew. When I woke up, there were three glorious mustered colored stains on my white sheets. While the boys slept, I took off the sheets and chucked them in the dirty laundry pile. Of course, I never used them again—though a smile “came” over my face every time, in the linen closet, I saw those sheets.

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