Friday, March 13, 2020

Ghosted


Isaac Rabinowitz had just broken my heart again. Enter Preston Hutchinson, the angry, white, chain smoking import from Dallas, Texas. Before moving to New York, Preston had toured Texas and even opened for Ralphie May. This meant he was a big deal in Texas, but like every other transplant hoping to make it in a big market he was relegated to the role of open micer.
Preston’s comedy was raw, edgy, and funny, easily eclipsing the competition, even the so called “pro” comedians with TV credits. To add to his appeal he was very good looking in that bad decision kind of way. The thought of talking to him produced sweat under my arm pits and butterflies in my stomach, so I just avoided it.
After about a month of playing the role of bashful schoolgirl, I found myself flyering for stage time with him at a watering hole that’s now closed. Preston was getting grief from Will, the producer, about his drinking. When we joined me on my corner I finally got the guts to introduce myself, hoping I wouldn’t puke on his shoes. Although it might not seem the case now, in those days I was extraordinarily shy. As I struggled to even say my name Preston stopped me, “You’re that girl with the Bride of Chuckie Doll!”
May Wilson thought this was just as funny as I did in case you are wondering. I laughed and said a ton of stupid things as Preston did make me weak in the knees. Then the show began, and I worried I blew it because I talk too much when nervous.
When May Wilson and I went up, we were marginal at best as most barker comics are. May will say she killed, I know we were substandard. Note, she will blame it on me.
Preston went up two comics after me, and killed it right away. Part way through his set he said, “Okay, Bride of Chuckie, I see you. Come and get me with your devil doll!” He then pointed back at me, leapt offstage, and then began to chase me around the room. I had no idea why this was happening, but I was having fun and the audience was dying with laughter.
After the show, Preston and I shared a cigarette as the late March night surrounded us, trying to warm up while still seeing our breath. Preston let me share his glove as I took a puff from his menthol pack. We talked about comedy, punchlines, and what a dick Will the producer was. When 1 AM hit, he walked me to the train and kissed me goodnight.
When the train brought me home, I dreamed nasty dreams where Preston and I had lots of wild monkey sex. Waking up, I had a serious case of the giggles. Just as I was about to walk on air, I saw Isaac Rabinowitz had texted me. Curses, could he sense I was happy? The text read, “Sorry about last week. I made a mistake and miss you. Can I have another chance?” DELETE. Sorry cowboy, there’s a new romantic obsession in town.
The next day, Preston and I crossed paths again in the same dingy watering hole for another show. He motioned for me to join him in the back of the room. Splitting a glass of Jack Daniels straight, we shot the breeze. Preston lamented that he was tired from working so much. When I asked where he worked he said he was a waiter at LaGuardia. I said, “Oh,” as I had never met anyone who worked as a waiter at the airport. I didn’t think anything about the response as the liquor was starting to hit my system.
Preston apparently viewed my response as an affront because he said,  “What, am I not good enough for you?” Shocked by his reaction, I quickly apologized puzzled as to what the hell had just happened.
All was quickly forgotten as we ordered another glass of whiskey and Preston chased it with a beer. After my substandard set, Preston was very encouraging, telling me I had the goods to go all the way. This was flattering as he is still one of the funniest people I have ever shared a stage with. It was nice to meet a guy who wasn’t threatened by my drive. After our second drink and shared cigarette, we went back to my place to hook up.
On the train ride back to my place Preston said, “I want to dress you up in a clown suit and kiss you all night long.”
I laughed, but Preston again didn’t find this funny. He said,  “I share my feelings and this is how you treat me!” He was near tears. Quickly I apologized again, puzzled as to what I had done. I shook it off, no one was perfect, right?
What happened between the sheets was hot. Then again, mentally unstable people are always top notch in that department. Laying around afterwards, Preston and I talked about people we had dated. While I didn’t want to talk about what wasn’t even a comparison, I mentioned Isaac. Preston told me his ex, who was ten years older than he was, pushed him to quit comedy and get married. When I called her a crazy bitch, Preston said, “Not really. We were living together and she was paying my bills.” I went to laugh hoping this was a joke, but Preston gave me the look, he was telling the truth.
The only thing to do after sweating it up in bed is to get some food. While we ate greasy diner food, Preston dropped the ultimate truth bomb, “Do you ever get a rush off of stealing something small, like a pack of gum?” That is when he told me he had not one but two shoplifting arrests, and gave me a small trinket he had stolen from a store in the airport. In law enforcement they call these clues, and Preston had been dropping them. Something told me to run out of there as I had just been given stolen property as a gift, but I was still stuck by being hit with his loser love wand that I stayed put. (Yes, they wanted to charge me as an adult). My spider senses told me not to accept the trinket and when I refused it, he told me he didn’t take it personally and wanted to buy me something nice when he had the money.
After he left, Preston kissed me goodbye and promised to call me but never did. At first I assumed he was busy and didn’t want to be “that girl.” A week later I saw him flyering, and when I tried to talk to him he was short, cold, and avoided me. When I saw him he was in the back of the room sharing a glass of whiskey with a rachet would be female comedian who had no punchlines but swore for shock.
The subway ride home was spent crying. One week before Preston had made me feel hot, now he made me feel cheap, dirty and used. What did I do? Was it not accepting the stolen trinket? It was stolen property for Godssakes! Was the rachet girl the one he wanted all along? Was I not pretty enough? Was he still in love with the woman who paid his rent? Granted, I knew I had dodged a firing squad but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Days later I made the decision to stop flyering with said show. Will, the producer, called me to give me inane notes and acted like it was some sacred duty to flyer for his shitty bar show. Plus I was visiting my family for two weeks and wouldn’t be around anyway. Then there was a move and a new job where I would no longer be available. While Preston wasn’t a factor in the decision, not seeing him would be a relief.
When I got back from the visit to my parents and was making my way through the airport, I saw Preston working at his waitering job. I waved, he ignored me. It hurt, but it was also a lesson that if I kept expecting him to act like a human he was only going to keep hurting me. I didn’t want to know why he did what he did and I no longer cared because figuring out someone who makes no sense was a waste of  time. That’s when I filed him under, “Jack Daniels: This Was All Your Fault.”
Of course Isaac texted me again wanting another chance, and I jumped right from the fire back into frying pan because I had to get burned one last time. After one last humiliation from Isaac, I found myself doing another shitty show in the same venue. Outside I heard Preston’s voice and felt as if the universe was mindfucking me again. It was getting late and I needed to get home.
Sneaking out, I tried to skulk past Preston when he said, “Bride of Chuckie, how have you been?” Before I could keep it short and exit he gave me a huge bear hug as if he hadn’t been a complete asshole and dogged me the way he did.
I was polite, telling him I was fine. That’s when he said, “You know, I had a great time with you. I want to hang out again, do you still have my number?”
“Yeah, we should totally hang out,” I said crossing my fingers behind my back, fighting off every nerve to tell him he was a useless fuckwad and loser. Part of me wanted to tell him to get tested for amnesia, but I marveled at the this straight, white, cis male who thought I should just fall to the ground and worship him. After giving him another hug, one which I wanted to strangle him really, I walked into the night. Before I got on the train I got my phone out and deleted his number. Maybe you ghosted me, but I am about to disappear yo ass! BAM!
Days later, I met Sean, the shitshow who would become my former fiancé, giving me 5 good standup minutes and a viral headline. While I lost track of Preston, I found out he was banned from the watering hole for his drinking problem and got fired from his job at LaGuardia for stealing. He moved with friends to LA to try to do comedy, but the drinking problem morphed into a drug problem, getting him kicked out of his apartment and living on Skid Row.
Ultimately, it was the same old girlfriend who put the burn on him to get married that ended up being his savior, driving to LA not only to rescue him but put him in rehab. She took him back to Texas where he got clean, they got married, and now have a 6 year old. Preston no longer does comedy, works at a car lot his wife’s brother owns, and his chain smoking angry white boy bod has been replaced by an out of shape dad bod. All that could have been mine.
I don’t hate Preston, but rather I pity him. To this day I will admit he is probably still a better comedian than I will ever be, but through bad decisions, addiction and self-defeat he squandered his gift and the opportunities he could have had. I truly hope he has found peace and happiness in his new life and is holding his demons at bay. While it hurt at the time, Preston did me a favor. If he stuck around, he would have only ruined my life. Getting ghosted sucks, but trust me, it’s always for the best.

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