Head Like a Hole

In the morning when he discovered I was wrapped around him on the floor, Ziggy made a happy noise.

“Why are you sleeping on the floor?” My voice was rough, like I’d been drinking heavily even though I hadn’t drunk anything at all.

He snuggled back against me. “Something made a noise and I was scared to sleep alone,” he said, but in that Ziggy way I had learned meant it wasn’t exactly true. It might have been true-enough or metaphorically true or emotionally true, even if it wasn’t literally true.

“That’s the Ziggy answer,” I said, pressing my forehead to his spine where the tattoo that represented my initial was. I felt almost lightheaded seeing it, remembering it, feeling the significance of it. “Can you give me a Daron-compatible answer?”

“It just felt wrong to be in there with you in here.” A nervous lilt came into his voice. “I…I figured if you were already asleep you wouldn’t mind?”

“I’m not…accusing you of encroaching on my space. I literally just want to understand you.”

He nodded. “It just felt wrong.”

I kissed him on the tattoo. “Okay.” It made sense enough.

I dragged myself into a sitting position. One shoulder was stiff, two of my fingers were tingly, and my neck hurt because I hadn’t brought a pillow with me when I’d joined him on the floor. It was like my body was reflecting how out of kilter my emotions were right then.

He didn’t seem as stiff as me as he sat up and yawned. Maybe Ziggy always looked more elegant and swan-like than me. “Pop Tart?”

My stomach rebelled against the idea of food in the morning but drinking coffee on an empty stomach was worse. And I was going to need some coffee to get my brain sharp enough to figure out what the fuck was going on. “Share one with me?”

“Okay.” He slipped away to the kitchen while I got slowly to my feet. I was still in yesterday’s clothes, that’s how out of it I had been. No wonder I was stiff. I don’t recommend jeans for sleeping in.

I dug clean clothes out of my bag but hadn’t put them on yet when he brought the Pop Tart–strawberry frosted–on a napkin. I’d heard the bell of the microwave go “ding” so I knew he’d nuked it enough to warm up the filling. He broke it in half and we sat side by side on the love seat eating it. I licked the crumbs off my fingers.

“Coffee?” he chirped.

“Ziggy,” I said, because now it was really starting to sound like one of those walking-on-eggshells situations and I just hate those. Hate. “Stop it.”

He let out a sigh. “Which thing am I supposed to stop?”

“Treating me like a weird houseguest who needs to be handled with kid gloves.” I turned my head to look at him. “Or is that the point? Reminding me I don’t live here?”

He blinked. “What? No!”

“Am I misremembering it? I think I told you when we first started rehearsals I didn’t want to take for granted that I could just move in with you for the duration.”

He thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, I remember. And I told you not to be ridiculous.”

“You told me you wanted me here.”

He winced. “And you weren’t being so ridiculous. You were actually being impressively forward-looking.”

The Pop Tart was not sitting well. I swallowed. “I think last night was probably exactly what I was trying to avoid without coming out and saying that was what I was trying to avoid.”

“Yeah. I…am having trouble wrapping my head around you being more on top of it than me.” Ziggy hunched a little. “I mean, I liked the feeling of you moving in. I wanted you to feel like you could come and go anytime.”

“And if I hadn’t showed up when you didn’t expect me…I’d still think that I could. But I know better now, I guess?” Right? Was that the lesson here?

“I really really thought when you said Monday, you meant Monday.” He pressed his fingers to his temples. “That seemed really clear and unambiguous.”

“And that’s my fault,” I said. “For not knowing what day it was or being more obvious that I actually meant arriving the night before.”

Ziggy cupped his chin. “You’re not good with days of the week, it’s true.”

“Can I make my own damn coffee even if I can’t come and go anytime?”

“Sure.”

We decamped to the kitchen and I ended up making coffee the old-Daron way, i.e. with lots of milk and sugar. In fact I think I used whipping cream. Ziggy had some, too.

“Better?” he asked, when I had gotten most of the way through the extra-large mug.

“Yeah. I suppose I should’ve just waited until after having coffee to even start this conversation.” We sat in the windowsill like two windblown birds. “Anyway. The day of the week thing is my fuckup.”

“Me not accounting for your bad planning skills is my fuckup,” Ziggy said, saluting me with the mug. “I suppose it was bound to happen some time.”

I nodded. So we had apparently come to the mutual conclusion that I should not try to waltz into Ziggy’s space without making sure it was okay first…? Which was good? But had we sidestepped the actual issue at hand? I felt like “the issue” kept slipping away from me, like I couldn’t even get a handle on what it was.

Then he asked the same question he’d asked the night before. “Are you mad?” And this time instead of hearing fear in the question I heard a kind of yearning.

“Do you want me to be?’

“No! Don’t be ridiculous.”

The protest was hollow somehow, though. “I’m not mad about this particular chick, no. Honestly? I’m still angrier about Janessa than this.” I drained the rest of what was in my mug. “This just brings that up. All that old fear and crap. Tell me you’re not, like, starting an ongoing thing with this woman?”

“You’d really be okay with it if it was just a one-night stand?”

“Yes? I think? Although it would be ideal to have some warning so I don’t walk in on it, I guess? Okay, no, that’s not even the right way to think about it. You don’t have to ask my permission to, to… have sex. This isn’t about sex.”

“Are you sure?” He pressed.

“I’m sure. It’s about what sex means, maybe.” I took the almost-full coffee mug out of his hands, drank some, and handed it back. “Have all the meaningless sex you want, Ziggy. The sex is not the issue. Us miscommunicating is the issue.”

“Okay.” He fidgeted on the ledge, as if he couldn’t quite find a comfortable place to sit. “And?”

“And…that’s as far as I’ve processed. How about you?”

“Me?”

“Yes, you, Ziggy. I’m not the only one processing my damn feelings here, you know.”

“I’ll try not to do it again.”

I stood up. “Stop acting like I’m scolding you for doing something wrong. I’m not.” It was beginning to filter into my brain that he felt guilty anyway, though. “Unless there’s more you haven’t told me and you think you should?”

He crossed his legs and handed me the mug to finish. “I told you it was really hard being apart from you.”

“You did. Were you trying to ask some kind of tacit permission to do something about it when you said that?”

“No. No no no. I just wanted you to know.” He waved his hands like he was trying to get me to slow down. Me. As if I were skipping ahead. “Yes, I got lonely. That wasn’t supposed to be a guilt trip or anything. I just wanted you to know I missed you.”

“I missed you, too.” Although I don’t think I missed him the same way. We still hadn’t figured out exactly what this conversation was about or where the disconnect was. I could feel the gears slipping. “Are we okay?”

“I am okay. Are you okay?”

“I am a little confused and off my feed still, but I don’t feel like a total freak case and, well, bottom line my feelings for you haven’t changed.” I felt almost superstitious not using the word love there, but it was like I didn’t want to overuse it, like it might diminish the actual emotion if saying the word stopped being as special. “I think I’m okay. But me being okay and you being okay doesn’t always add up to ‘us’ being okay.”

“True.” He rubbed his eyes. “Why don’t we check in about ‘us’ later today.”

“I have a feeling we’ll be checking in about a lot of things.”

“If you have that feeling, it’s undoubtedly a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

I decided I better make a list. There were too many little things not adding up.

But it was time for us to go to work at the other thing we did together beside be together.

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Comments 5

  1. G wrote:

    Yes, that was a not conversation. Make that list. And please really talk next time. I love you guys, but you need to get real with each other and stop guessing and wondering. It really feels like a faltering step and tiptoeing right now. I don’t want to be nervous for you. Both of you have big issues. Ziggy needs a list too. And please use it when you talk. God.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Maybe for you it wasn’t a conversation but I felt like for us it was way beyond what we used to do. Maybe it’s the conversation before the conversation, but that’s a necessary step.

    [Reply]

    G Reply:

    Of course that’s what I think too, Daron. I’ve said many times that I’m so happy (and impressed) that you and Ziggy have grown and are communicating instead of running. I am just anxious to see you have THE conversation so that it’s out there, in the open. And not just you two having a conversation, but coming out of it in a good place and with clear understandings and expectations that leave you both happy. I’m glad though that you both know there needs to be one and that it’s not something either of you are actively trying to avoid.

    I maybe psyched myself up too much for “the morning after” – I dreamed of charts, graphs, expert testimony, a PowerPoint presentation…

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Well, you know, things never go quite the way I expect either.

    More processing to come, I’m sure, in some form or another.

    [Reply]

    Posted 26 May 2016 at 9:22 am
  2. s wrote:

    I laughed when I saw the title for this one. Yeah.

    You’re really going to make us wait like twenty chapters to get all this sorted out, aren’t you…?

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Twenty?
    *looks at chapter number*
    *sees #731*
    You think we get *anything* accomplished in only 20 chapters around here?

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Touche.

    [Reply]

    Posted 26 May 2016 at 9:44 am
  3. sanders wrote:

    These things take time. The guidebook literally hasn’t been written yet and won’t be published until 1997 (Easton and Hardy’s The Ethical Slut). This is a good start toward figuring out what boundaries you both need, even if you’re not ready to state explicitly what those boundaries are.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    You really think this is a good start? I kind of agree with G that it sounds more like tiptoeing around the issues because they both know how volatile things can get and neither wants to cause an explosion. They both essentially fell asleep immediately and then started talking as soon as they woke up. Neither have processed a damn thing yet.

    One statement I’m struggling with is Daron telling him to have all the *meaningless* sex he wants. Daron himself is in a meaningful relationship with Colin that borderlines love, but Ziggy can only have meaningless one night stands? Ziggy said it’s not about *fairness* and they obviously still have sooooooooo much to work out, but this just…bugs me. I just keep going back to it, probably because it’s not fair.

    One thing I have realized is that Daron and Ziggy are square pegs that won’t fit into the round holes of conformity, and it would be wise for all of us to stop trying to force them to.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    It takes a lot to be able to say “There’s a problem here,” even if you can’t define yet what exactly it is. Think about how many times these two haven’t even gotten that far, and just shut down with each other, especially Daron. Admitting, too, that Ziggy feels guilty and Daron’s not entirely sure he should, that he’s not sure whether what happened was “wrong” is another step in the right direction. Naming that the issue wasn’t the sex but miscommunication is a huge step, and they both acknowledge they mismanaged their expectations of each other.

    That is a lot of communication for these two, and a lot for a couple just beginning to define some polyamorous agreements, especially when they lack any kind of guide or tools to do so. They don’t even really have another poly couple or group to look to for advice, except possibly Bart and Michelle.

    Fairness isn’t a useful concept if it’s looking for a one to one equivalency between people in this circumstance. It’s more a question of does this feel fair to Daron, does that feel fair to Ziggy, is it a single thing that meets both of their needs? Those are the questions to ask rather than “if Daron can do X, does Ziggy get to do Y?” I’m going to go back to the kids example because I know it’s a framework we’re both familiar with. Kid A is crazy about animals and wants to go to the zoo. Kid B couldn’t care less about the zoo. Is it fair to take Kid A and leave B with a sitter, doing something else they enjoy? Yes. Now, obviously, you’d want to find some activity with Kid B on their own later, but that might be reading a book together, not necessarily a trip somewhere. In the end, both of them get their emotional needs met and do something they enjoy, even if the activities aren’t identical. Or, to make it about you and me, we have brunch and it’s awesome because we talk books and movies and everything else. I leave you sometimes and go hang out with my cousins up the street, we still talk about books, movies, and everything else, but they don’t need their body weight in bacon to go along with it for it to seem just as awesome. All of us get our needs met, it’s fair by the standards we each need individually, even though it’s not a matched situation overall.

    I just realized I basically made bacon into the equivalent of Daron potentially loving Colin while Ziggy doesn’t form emotional attachments. So, tl;dr version: bacon is love.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Colin can be the bacon, I’m the coffee, and Ziggy’s the jam. (I dunno who the toast is.)

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I have to say that, no, Daron, darlin’, you are not the coffee in my casting of DGC as brunch foods. That’s Bart, so mellow, lovely, and absolutely vital as to be able to go without mentioning, just assumed to be part of things. You’re more like crepes, seems easy at first glance but complicated as hell to actually get to the table, and requiring very exact handling. If we go by the brunch menu Stef and I tend to face on Sundays, Ziggy is the jerk chicken that simultaneously makes no sense at all and seems entirely reasonable to have alongside everything else, right up until you realize it’s like setting fire to one’s nerves.

    Colin is still the bacon, though.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    This.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    I think Daron is the scrambled eggs. VERY scrambled eggs.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    We also have to stop and remember these guys are, what 23 and 24ish now, and they were each other’s first semi-serious relationship, interrupted by that dude in Spain and Jonathan, neither of which were exactly functional. I raise their ages because I know I certainly didn’t know jackshit about having a functional relationship at that age, but, boy, did I ever think I had it all figured out. Now, I know you have to take it day by day, sometimes minute to minute to keep loving someone, and wanting to strangle them or yourself once in a while is a perfectly normal and passing feeling for most of us.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Normally I would agree completely with the first part of your statement but I think Daron sleeping in another room sent a loud and clear “something is wrong” message. So that one doesn’t count! I almost (like typed out and erased multiple times) added to my post yesterday that Ziggy should NOT apologize. Within the parameters, or lack of, of their relationship he did nothing wrong. It’s a positive that Daron recognized that. So was both admitting they fucked up.

    I think I followed your explanation and definitely agree with the conclusion that bacon is love. BUT I wholeheartedly disagree that Ziggy doesn’t form emotional attachments and therefore should be denied emotional relationships and only allowed one night stands. He loves being adored and the center of someone’s universe and I think he cares quite a bit for some of the women he’s been with. Maybe he doesn’t love them but I do think he has some attachment. I know it’s not about being fair but I can’t think of another way to express it than it doesn’t seem fair to Ziggy. I suck at this.

    I remember having a strong, and at least partially wrong, sense of self when I was in my twenties. What’s funny is I met my hubby when I was only sixteen and had had enough bad relationships and seen what my parents and aunts and friends parents went through to know what I would and wouldn’t deal with. Not much has changed for me on that front 25 years later, even though I’m not the same person I was then.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    You do realize I never said he should be denied emotional attachments and only allowed one night stands, yes? I wouldn’t say that. I do think he doesn’t form lasting emotional connections through his one night stands. Either they already exist ala his time with Colin or they don’t happen past that moment where lust is the primary emotion.

    I wouldn’t advocate for any kind of relationship based on denying someone anything (unless we’re talking specific types of kinks).

    I think Daron may like the idea that Ziggy’s emotions in his hook ups are like flash paper, burning hot and fast and not leaving much of a mark. I don’t necessarily think that’s what actually happens for Ziggy, but I can see where it might be a comforting thought for Daron.

    Daron sleeping in the other room was a physical signal that something was wrong. Actually putting it into spoken words instead being passive-aggressive about it and refusing to either talk about it or acknowledge it even happened is a big step for them. So it does, too, count! :P

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Ok, no, you did not say that. You said the first part, Daron implied the second, I drew the faulty conclusion. A + B does not equal C.

    But, I think I’m getting to the root of why this is bothering me (Daron’s not the only one that needs time to process). I think Ziggy needs to have someone that adores him with him most all of the time. Daron is completely freaked the fuck out about Ziggy being in a relationship with someone else (example: Janessa. FWIW, it freaked me the fuck out, too). Daron is likely not going to be around all the time unless they manage to form a band together (unlikely at least until Ziggy’s contract is up). And I’m not even sure that Daron is ultimately enough for Ziggy given that Daron is no longer welcome to just show up whenever he wants (which implies to me that Ziggy is still at least partially the same Ziggy who said “Here’s where I’m supposed to say I would rather have spent the night with him, right? Except that would be a lie. I like my fun. But I wouldn’t mind spending the NEXT night with him, you know?”). Yes I know I said Ziggy was completely different, but maybe not as completely as I thought…

    So, if this is all about everyone having their needs met, I’m not seeing Ziggy having his needs met if Daron isn’t around and he’s only allowed to have meaningless one night stands. Maybe I’m reading Ziggy wrong, but I really think he wants more than just a nameless warm body in his bed. Not that he’s opposed to that from time to time, mind you, just that in the long run he wants more. You see? I agree that Daron may like the idea of one night stands being satisfactory to Ziggy, and Ziggy might even agree to that at first, but I’m not sure it’s true.

    I don’t think they had any choice but to talk about it when they woke up, so I’m still not giving you points for that one! :)

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    One thing I have realized is that Daron and Ziggy are square pegs that won’t fit into the round holes of conformity, and it would be wise for all of us to stop trying to force them to.

    That was pretty much the lesson I had to learn to stop being miserable overall. Like seriously life’s major lesson that’s it right there

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I thought you’d be amused by this T-shirt that came around in the load of wash I did before hitting the road this morning:
    1997 Ethical Slut T-Shirt
    I have this shirt because when Dossie and Janet were first compiling the advice in The Ethical Slut they wrote to a lot of their friends in the poly and BDSM communities and the pleasure activist/erotica writer communities (I’m in all of the above) to ask for our tips on how polyamory and non-traditional marriage and relationship structures worked in our own lives. As a thank you for contributing tips and advice Janet sent us all the pictured T-shirt. I’ve been using it as a nightshirt ever since. (Wow, that was TWENTY years ago…)

    I don’t have any memory of what advice I sent in, actually, but corwin and I are about to have our 25th anniversary, so we must be doing something right? What I do know is that what works for me and corwin is not what’s going to work for Daron and Ziggy because it really is about figuring out if you can meet each other’s needs and if you can’t, can those who can meet those needs do so without unraveling the bond between the primary relationship? That’s what our boys are trying to figure out–what relationship structure (possibly even monogamy–I don’t know yet) is going to work for them.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    I love that you don’t know where this is going yet! Makes all the questions and speculation even more interesting.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    The truth is even if I *thought* I knew how it was all going to turn out, I’d be wrong. Every time I’ve plotted a novel in advance I’ve ended up throwing out some major thing that looked reasonable in the proposal but live, in vitro, in action just did not work. As the saying goes, the map is not the territory. You have to actually do the hacking through the jungle to actually find out what’s there. These two have so much going on and there is a lot they don’t tell me until it actually hits the page. (Or which I don’t believe until I see it actually on the page.)

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    I’m finding that to be true the more I write this fanfiction story I’ve been working on forever. I have a very basic outline, and an even more basic end goal, but the meat of the story keeps changing on me. I’ve written a few chapters recently where the only thing I had in mind was how they were going to end up in the same room together, and was completely surprised by what ended up happening once they got there. I just let my mind unfocus and my fingers type and voila! I learned that from you, btw, so thanks. It’s more fun to write when you let the characters do what feels right for them.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Writing is ultimately about uncovering what’s in your subconscious and bringing it into the conscious mind when it hits the paper. Some people (they call them “plotters”) can bring more of it out in an intermediate step before writing the actual story or book, but the more of a plotter I try to be, the more my writing falls flat. I’ve learned to trust my subconscious and let it go where it’s going to: the story threads always end up coming together as if I plotted it out far in advance in great detail…some part of my brain is figuring it all out but I don’t find out until shortly before you guys do. :-)

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I love it! I have to excavate my room this weekend to find my copy of the book. I think I promised to bring it to brunch back in, oh, October, and it’s clearly time. I feel a little ridiculous every time I tell someone about it, but the book really was such a revolutionary, life-changing read for me. It’s amazing to think that, through your contribution to the book, your spirit touched my life that long ago and now our lives have led us here.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Is this some kind of six degrees of separation thing?

    I think you might have promised to bring the book in August, but who’s counting? BTW, I have to spay cats on June 5th, so we’ll need to work out a different time if you want to meet that weekend, unless you want to either 1) meet a little later and deal with me covered in powder and smelling like a weird combination of latex and tom cats, 2) meet a lot later and give me time to shower and possibly be too late for unlimited bacon, or 3) abandon unlimited bacon and meet somewhere else. :)

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Omg, switching gears for a second. Did you see the video of Johnny Depp surprising Pink on Jimmy Kimmel? Pink (like everyone else on the planet) has a crush on Johnny and gets all flustered. So fucking cute!

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I haven’t yet but I’ll look for it. I, for one, don’t have a crush on him. I think he’s gotten creepy and weird in his age. Oh, and the whole smacking his wife around thing.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    I think there’s a more recent edition, too. Dossie and Janet updated it and published it with a bigger publisher (here it is on Amazon) in 2009 and it reached a whole new generation. Amusing note about when it was published in the 90s, Janet told me the book had a surge in sales when the whole Monica Lewinsky thing was happening. Curious, no?

    [Reply]

    Posted 26 May 2016 at 11:07 am
  4. Bill Heath wrote:

    Daron,

    “Unless there’s more you haven’t told me and you think you should?”

    “You don’t have to ask my permission to, to… have sex. This isn’t about sex.” That directly contradicts an existing explicit agreement. What the fuck is the value of more explicit agreements if Z is going to ignore them and you’re going to decide they weren’t real?

    Ziggy:

    “I told you it was really hard being apart from you.”

    “You did. Were you trying to ask some kind of tacit permission to do something about it when you said that?”

    “No. No no no. I just wanted you to know.” He waved his hands like he was trying to get me to slow down. Me. As if I were skipping ahead. “Yes, I got lonely. That wasn’t supposed to be a guilt trip or anything. I just wanted you to know I missed you.”

    This is the most self-serving, evasive and manipulative horseshit you’ve ever dished out. First it’s Daron’s fault because he didn’t arrive when you expected him. Now you did it because you love him. I call bullshit in the extreme. You did it because you thought you could get away with it and, if caught, you could lie and manipulate your way out of it, and that was possible because you don’t love Daron the way you tell him you do.

    You evaded Daron’s question about “is there more” and turned it on him. That is reprehensible, despicable, and reminiscent of the old Ziggy we learned to dislike and mistrust. It displays massive indifference to Daron. And the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. If you love Daron, tell him so and start couples therapy. And keep your dick in your pants. Daron’s already told you he’s far more worried about your relationships with women than with other men. That’s obviously something else your self-centeredness and indifference to Daron has chosen to ignore as unimportant.

    You dealing with Daron questioning whether he still lives with you was cowardly. Right now I see you as a cowardly, manipulative, lying, and self-serving monster whose trip to India was a waste of time because he has not really grown since Chapter 57. “After all, it’s not as if I love you.”

    You either need to say that again to Daron, which I suspect is a truth you refuse to face, or tell Daron you want to begin to learn how to love him. And that starts with honesty. And THAT starts with being honest with yourself.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I dunno Bill but I’m not feeling particularly betrayed at this moment. No, I don’t know why–maybe I should. But I can only go with what I feel and not with what other people think I should feel, because that’s what failed to work for me for the previous 20+ years. I don’t figure things out quickly and I’m content to take my time to pick this one apart. Ziggy knows if I’m upset about something he may have to hear me gripe about it for years to come. But as Ziggy fuckups go, this one strikes me as nowhere near the worst. I think it’s that old saw of you can talk about things forever but how you draw them up on paper isn’t always how they’re going to work in the real world. Any agreement between us is a work in progress because ultimately that’s what it’s about, not our ideals or promises or contracts in a perfect world, but how it actually works in this world.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Daron, I encourage you to read serious papers on the nature of abusive relationships. Whether your unreliable reporter trait has led to your description of a classic abusive relationship I do not know. I do know that in a classic abusive relationship the abuser repeatedly oversteps boundaries, and the abused becomes an enabler by allowing it. In a classic abusive relationship the abuser repeatedly transfers responsibility to the abused, who accepts it. In a classic abusive relationship the abuser repeatedly lies, dissembles, diverts and manipulates, and the abuser becomes an enabler by allowing it. That is the current state of your relationship. And the first defense of it always comes from the abused.

    I fully agree that a one-night stand, or maybe eleven separate one-night stands, will not be an existential threat to the relationship. You told Ziggy that he falls in love with everybody he fucks, and Ziggy agreed. No, he’s not going to fall in love eleven times with one-night stands. Any number of one-night stands – with the prior approval to which you both agreed (boundary) – is fine if it fits both of you. One or more continuing relatonships, which either have already accreted or will accrete an emotional or romantic element, will poison the relationship. One reason is that Ziggy will lie about it.

    When you visited Ziggy twice in the hotel in California – remember, you were back together then – you asked him where he was staying. He blew you off with his famous “It’s complicated.” That was a lie. It wasn’t complicated. He was engaged in a sexual and romantic relationship with Janessa, and while your visits were nice and all, they weren’t particilarly relevant. That was the truth.

    For it to work in this world requires you and Ziggy need to decide if you want to be in love with one another, or with unreal constructs. To be in love with one another first requires honesty and trust. After that, whatever actually works for the two of you is your business and no one else’s.

    If you believe Ziggy is honest and you should trust him, as your reporting seems to imply, you are setting both of you up for eventual disaster. And the one who will suffer the greatest will be Ziggy.

    [Reply]

    chris Reply:

    I never disliked or mistrusted Ziggy. I think sometimes we forget that Ziggy is primarily presented through Daron’s filter. Also, in addition to their age there is the considerations of where they are in time (early 90s) and relationship (how many actual days they’ve spent “together”).
    You can put open relationships on paper, agree and sign and be comfortable that everyone is on the same page (it’s right there in black and white)but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be confusion, insecurities and hurt feelings regardless of how sincere all the parties are or how much they love each other.
    I think Daron is trying to think through what upset him the most and if his feelings are valid, and if they are how to work with Ziggy to move past it.
    My heart hurts for both of them.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    I got irritated with Ziggy during the early time with the band because of his cavalier attitude toward participation.I began to dislike him when he tried to wrest control of the band during rehearsals. I liked him when he said “It’s not as though I love you …” because it was honeat and established a boundary.

    Dislike returned when he was fucking with Daron during performances. It intensified during the fling with Carynne. He interfered in Daron’s closest relationship, refused to use a condom, and fucked with Carynne’s mind. His “surprise” at being told he was fucking with her mind was disingenuous; he’s a manipulator and knows it. I’m allergic to intentional cruelty.

    The dislike lessened during the taxi ride in Toronto, but the mistrust was fairly well established. His is a fundamentally manipulative personality, and he treats the truth as one of many options.

    I felt sorry for Ziggy when he left for India. He and Daron had both been manipulated by Digger, who wished Daron ill. Ziggy was a victim. I really liked him during the talk in the park in New York, just wondered why he was trying to establish what both of them needed. When he decided what Daron needed and concluded he could buy him off with money (just as he had mama), I was far from fond of him.

    Until the last few posts I liked Ziggy and began to trust him. There were sufficient examples of manipulation and evasion that my trust was way behind my liking him. I don’t dislike Ziggy now, but my trust is near rock-bottom. He tried to blame Daron for discovering the one-night-stand which was clearly something which he had intended to keep a secret. He dissembled and deflected when Daron tried to find out if they still lived together (that one should have been a no-brainer “yes.”) He attempted to turn the blame to Daron, and he let Daron say it was his own fault. He dissembled and deflected when Daron asked “Is there more?”

    “You’d really be okay with it if it was just a one-night stand?” in Ziggy-speak deflects marvelously from the issue of whether Ziggy was screwing anything in sight, which could be tolerated, or whether Ziggy was getting romantically involved with a woman, Daron’s big fear. He made it all about this one incident, which was really Daron’s fault for showing up at the wrong time, and which Ziggy had done because he loved Daron and was lonely, and which might have happened sooner. In that single question Ziggy lied by omission, transferred blame to Daron, igored Daron’s concern about Ziggy and women, and admitted that this was hardly the first time he had done this, one-night-stand or romantic relationship.

    No, I do not trust Ziggy. He has reverted to manipulation, secrecy, lying flat-out or more often by implication, ignoring Daron’s concerns and needs, self-justification, making Daron accept blame where none is due him, and deflecting what he actually knows are Daron’s concerns. I can like him, but I do not trust him. I, too, am rooting for the relationship to succeed. Until Ziggy returns to some semblance of honesty and trust, the relationship is in real danger.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    You make it sound as if Daron laid down the law and Ziggy threw it in his face. Daron has not done that. Ever. He’s needed to for quite some time, but he has not. They have mentioned things and skirted the issue more times than I can count. He has said he was worried Ziggy would run off with a woman. Fucking some chick in his own bed is not, necessarily, running off with her. They need to figure out what is acceptable to each of them in the relationship, and then talk about it if/when an issue comes up.

    Also, Ziggy’s not the only one getting his dick wet when he feels the need, and without ‘permission.’ Daron fucked some guy from a bar when he was on tour with Nomad. He didn’t call Ziggy up to let him know or get his okay first, he just did it. That’s how their relationship has been working. It’s not sustainable. They both realize that now. They are young and kind of stupid boys, they have to be hit upside the head with something before they figure out it’s an issue.

    The things is THIS

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    The guy in the bar in New Mexico was before he and Ziggy talked in New York and made it explicit that that sex with others was Ok so long as permission had been granted. Daron violated nothing. Yes, that’s the way it was until the New York discussion. Since then the relationship has not been working the way it had, or so Daron thought.

    The prior permission discussion was not Daron laying down the law, it was Daron’s suggestion and Ziggy agreed. If he has changed his mind, wouldn’t it have been nice to know?

    Ziggy also gave Daron explicit permission to have sex with Colin. Daron tried to give Ziggy explicit permission to have sex with Janessa, but Ziggy said it doesn’t work that way. Fair enough. And Daron has been completely open with Ziggy about his Colin relationship.

    I would be against ever reducing to paper any agreed boundaries. That cheapens them. This one was oral and relied on honesty. I agree that Ziggy isn’t going to run off with Limelight Girl. That begs the question of Ziggy trying to make it all about this one fuck, and clearly implies there were more. Daron has now given Ziggy explicit permission to sleep around on one-night stands. He’s not denied Ziggy permission to engage in a sexual and romantic relationship with anyone but Daron.I think Daron (naively) believses Ziiggy will as permission for another emotional attachment that meets needs Daron can’t; good luck with that. Ziggy’s penchant for secrecy and deflection prevents us from knowing whether than has already happened, or is in the process of happening, or whether it might happen in the future and Ziggy will self-justify that it’s just the sex for which he had permission in advance. If he does so, I fully expect Daron to say yes, admit that it’s all his fault, and apologize to Ziggy. I’m pretty sure Ziggy expects exactly the same thing.

    They’ve correctly identified that the problem isn’t sex, it’s communication. Each is at fault, Daron because it takes him half of forever to process things, Ziggy because he relies on defection, deceptionm, half-truth and manipulation. Daron cannot rewire his brain in order to process things quicker, but he knows he needs to give it a try. Ziggy, though, CAN decide to reduce the deflection, deception, half truths and manipulation. But, why should he? It’s worked marvelously (for him) so far.

    My real concern here is for Ziggy, not Daron. If Ziggy humiliates Daron, makes him believe he is unloved, and kicks him to the curb, I think Daron will eventually recover. When Ziggy realizes what he has been doing and the cost, I’m afraid that the least harmful outcome would be a return to drugs.

    [Reply]

    Lenalena Reply:

    “That is reprehensible, despicable, and reminiscent of the old Ziggy we learned to dislike and mistrust.”

    I’d like to exclude myself from that ‘we’, because that is not how I feel at all. I don’t know why you are convinced that Daron is a more or less blameless victim of his upbringing, while you seem to think, on the other hand, that Ziggy is a full fledged master manipulator who is purposely destroying Daron through emotional abuse.

    Personally, I see Ziggy as just as much of a victim of his upbringing, only moderately self aware (but working on it) and flailing as much as any other early twenty-something desperate to make this relationship thing work. I think that’s a lot more likely scenario than Ziggy-the-heartless-abuser. Plus, I get to enjoy this story not so consumed by rage.

    Feel free to interpret the story however you want, of course. (But promise me that if you ever decide to read ‘In the Company of Shadows’ to keep that a secret from me. I don’t want to discuss the merits of Boyd’s character with you, I don’t think.)

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    Seconding the exclusion. I’ve never disliked Ziggy or particularly mistrusted him. Mostly I just wonder what on earth is going on in his head and I used to wonder who did such a number on him that he seemed to have very little sense of an authentic self. Now we know so much of that lies with his mother and the ambitions she pressed into him.

    I’m glad you’re also bringing up their ages. I keep coming back to that–we’re looking at two boys in their early 20s, and I say boys because they went from students to rock stars, trading one set of uncertain foundations for another. When exactly were they supposed to learn to be emotionally mature adults between playing gigs, getting blown up, touring with homophobes, struggling with mental illness in both of their cases, developing an addiction to pain killers, living with someone who truly was manipulative, effectively being held hostage in a rehab facility, losing a parent, getting typhoid (iirc, but whatever Ziggy’s illness in India was), being screwed by the label, filing lawsuits, coming to grips with their sexualities, and navigating the singular landmine of having Digger around for any length of time?

    We really should just be happy sometimes that they aren’t fetal and crying more often.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    sanders, you’re correct as usual. I’ve typed a reply three times and lost it in the ether.

    Yes, I like Ziggy, he’s had it rough, I still don’t trust him.

    My views only,based on clinical detachment, not rage; you have your own:

    Communication style is the problem. Daron is a literalist who believes what is said. Ziggy’s style is “convenience,” I want every possible interpretation available to me at all times so that, when I have to provide real meaning, I can pick one convenient to the moment. Literalism is hard-wired, convenience is learned behavior. Both are difficult to change.

    On one end of the spectrum, Daron can decide that nothing that Ziggy says has any firm meaning. That leaves him so unfulfilled that he ends the relationship. On the other end, Daron drills down for specificity, which often produces rage in the “convenience” communicator, who ends the relationship.

    Yes, there’s a third way. I WILL NOT describe it lest Daron decide I’m telling him how to feel and what to do (he will feel and do what he pleases), and lest the torches and pitchforks come out again when people decide I’m an asshole (correct, by the way) and am trying to tell them how to interpret the story, or ruining their enjoyment by offering my own interpretation.

    [Reply]

    Lenalena Reply:

    Are you sure it is clinical detachment? I’m not saying it is not, but I remember the last time I was personally posting a whole lot of fairly ranty relationship ‘analysis’ in the comments was during Vol 6 and the death throes of the relationship with Jonathan. In retrospect, there was a whole lot of projecting going on on my side.

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Lena, projection is difficult if not impossible to stop completely. I’m sure there’s some projection in there. I use the term “clinical detachment” advisedly as I practiced psychiatry.

    I see a pathology in the relationship, but I’ve suffered the identical excruciating pain in a relationship and am afraid of projection if I try to express my thoughts.

    The “literalist” versus “convenience” (it’s a term of my own art) conclusion is, I believe, sound. That does not make it right in a universe I did not create and do not know well. I treated too many couples in therapy not to recognize the patterns and the danger. One partner need specificity, the other needs the ability to redefine things on the fly, even if the new definition is diametrically opposed to the prior one. I saw that break apart nearly as many marriages as sexual infidelity and physical abuse combined.

    Often people talk about a “communication problem” as though that were it. I have reason to believe that this is superficial for most relationships. “The Five Love Languages” scratches the surface of a related issue. There are many dozens of kinds of commuication problems, so drilling down one level can be helpful. We seem to agree that there is a communication problem. Above, I’ve driled down one level and offered my impressions. It would be fascinating to read others’ impressions.

    Note to Comments Police: I simply do not rant, I may be incapable of it. I express my opinions, often quite strongly. And they are highly unlikely to match anyone else’s frame of reference precisely. As they say, “The opinions are those of the writer and do not reflect on yada yada yada.” I never intend for another reader to conclude I believe his/her interpretation is “wrong.” I never intend the characters to interpret my opinions as advice on how to proceed.

    One of the joys of this story is that there are probably more valid interpretations than readers.

    ctan Reply:

    Bill, I think you’re making the best analysis you can in light of BOTH your personal experience in manipulative relationships and what limited information you’re given both by the fact that Daron filters the narrative and also that Ziggy never tells the whole story about everything either (or when he does, it’s always later, after the fact…).

    And yes, there are always going to be multiple interpretations. They tell me in literature class that it’s not great literature unless that’s so. With these two, there’s no shortage of interpretations…even within their own minds.

    Posted 26 May 2016 at 1:35 pm
  5. s wrote:

    stupid computer does what it wants…

    The thing is THIS is what’s been working for them, so neither of them knew it was a problem until it was. We need to give them a chance to figure out what to do now.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    Young and stupid boys raised by hyper-manipulative and genuinely abusive parents. If they could feel like coming to blows with each other was acceptable (and I’m still upset about that), it’s not a stretch to think they’re going to be emotional fuckwits until the lessons to be better sink in deeper than they have so far. Think about how long it took for Daron to face that there were serious problems with Jonathan and articulate them, and then to extract himself from the situation. He’s miles ahead of that with Ziggy.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Agree wholeheartedly. Especially with the miles ahead. His efforts to process quicker are showing results.

    [Reply]

    Posted 27 May 2016 at 4:33 pm

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