Two Essays by Krystal Simpson
There are countless “Unattainables” walking among us. You’ll happen upon one when you aren’t looking, while your guard is down, and you will fall in love with him. They are able to inflict feelings of wild passion, uncertainty, desire, dependence, yearning, cravings, and complete emotional turbulence with their presence in your life. You’ll spend time falling in love over cheap beer in dirty hole-in-the-wall bars, or on the floor in an unfurnished apartment. You’ll always want more from them than they will sign on to give, and when you don’t get what you want, it will make you impatient and frustrated. You will pick useless fights over anything, when you really want to ask why they haven’t given you everything you wanted in an absolute commitment; a diamond ring, or what you really want, the truth, which always seems to be shrouded behind changing subjects and ambiguous excuses.
You’ll reason with yourself, saying, “He’s young. Why should I expect anything more? I should be happy just having someone to be with, right? I’m sure he’ll come around, I’m just moving too fast.” Even though when you think about it, you’ve been together for years. Although, you can’t actually bring yourself to count the time as “together,” since half of it was spent in a unspoken joint-custody agreement with another girl you have always secretly thought he loved more than you. And unlike yourself, the other girl was a mirror of his Unattainable—not ever really giving him anything in return, which of course kept him going back for more.
“She isn’t even cute,” you think to yourself as you cook him dinner, which was planned to be ready whenever he decided to stop by. “She would never cook him dinner,” you think as the knife slices through a carrot. You know the sugary things you do for him will be your imminent downfall, since Unattainables get used to favors and nice gestures quite easily. Soon they begin to look over them to the cold, emotionless girls with mousy brown hair, who they once fooled around with on that one night she needed someone to revenge-fuck.
What about all those nights with you, when it wasn’t about any kind of malicious revenge? All those wonderful times. How could he not love you more compared to that one-night stand that you’re certain he wishes would happen again. “She couldn’t be as warm as me,” you think to yourself as you add more spices to the pot. You have a sensitivity to spices, but you add them anyway because you know he likes it that way. You’re hoping that those extra grounds of cayenne pepper, onion, and garlic will be the ones that nudge him into commitment, and that those spices will be the thing that cements your relationship into steadfastness.
You wish you could have fallen for a nice guy, probably named something safe like William, John, or Thomas—not Billy, Willy, T.J. or Tommy, nothing shortened or with a nickname, but always a proper Thomas or William the Second, not a guy who wears jeans around the clock and doesn’t have a checking account. The John type would do romantic things for you, come home at 6:00 on the dot, would be able to recall the exact placement of each and every freckle on your body, and never ever look at another woman simply because he knew you were the best thing he had ever seen. You would iron their oxfords, pick out their ties, and they would keep your love safe within their hearts.
Better yet, you wish your Unattainable would suddenly turn into that guy, and at any moment would eagerly burst through the door with a fistful of daisies and rush over to your lips for a kiss that implied, “You’re the one.” You wish you could believe in forever, the kind that meant till the end when everything becomes dark, and even yet, he’ll continue to hold your hand. Not forever as it has come to be, which means I love you till I find someone better at the things I’ve decided are important, no matter how beautiful you looked in that lacy outfit, or how delicious your cooking, or how flat your stomach; the way you wait for me to arrive home, choose me over anything else, or love me as much as a human being is capable.
You know you do all those things flawlessly, but he will still find someone else, and he will love them, probably more than he loves you, at least for the time being. She’ll do the things you wouldn’t, and he’ll love her, share her toothbrush, sleep in her bed, kiss her forehead, and tell her all the things he told you, the same things he told the girls before you. And then he’ll tire of her too, and do it all over again.
The collective, they all tell you, “You’re beautiful, smart, and funny, you have a billion men falling at your feet just to be near you, it must be so easy,” and yet, you chose one of the Unattainables who would never love you they way you need, or want any of the same things you do. You know it, but it is something you haven’t come to terms with yet. It’s in there somewhere amongst the murky denial in your head. For now, you’ll continue writing love letters filled with grand intentions, taking snapshots, planning vacations, and making housing arrangements that will be put off when they roll around on the calendar because “the time just snuck up on him,” and you’ll call it love.
You don’t want to acknowledge that forever is an empty fixation, just like “I love you more than anything.” His photos will remain on your wall in hopes you’ve been worrying for nothing. And when he says, “Who knows where life will take us?” you know us doesn’t mean the two of you, it means each of you separately; you spending your life with a William or a Roger, forever wishing you could have found someone with the same passion you had for the Unattainable. He, continuing to float among a variety of bed sheets and tales of his life. You wish he would figure out sooner rather than later that you are where it’s at, but you know he isn’t capable of knowing that. You never want to ask him about tomorrow when he says how much you mean to him, because you know he doesn’t have an answer. The same way you never want to push your fights too far because you’re afraid he’ll walk out, and never return, because you and all your hopes and hang-ups are simply more than what he signed on for; no checking account, no complicated women.
You always wished for the courage to ask if you were better than all the others, you know—better? Meaning, “Tell me every detail, from every angle. I am a glutton for punishment, and that’s why I’m with you, to punish myself for always falling so deeply and devastatingly in love with people who always manage to take me for granted. The same people who could never support us, have a nice home, or want a family because they will never have a real job, so the money will always be tight, and they will always rely on their charm and good looks keeping them afloat with women who think its “cute” that they happen to be a “starving artist.” Why is it that in his light you feel the brightest? You rationalize all the lies away and sleep soundly for another night in the arms of a person who will eternally remain a stranger.
And when you looked over at him and replied, “Nothing is wrong,” the other day in the car, you had realized that maybe he never could be the one, and maybe, in fact, love doesn’t conquer all. Only in your foolish fantasy would that exist, along with the elegant china, hardwood floors, and a partner who wouldn’t leave at any given moment for any particular reason stated in the vast book of excuses one draws upon in a time of complete desperation to escape the life they never wanted to begin with. But instead you just answered, “Nothing is wrong. Nothing.”
Being Real with Steven Tyler
I’ll take you backstage and you can drink from my glass—from “Sweet Emotion”
Even the most valuable memories turn in your head over time—especially the ones you want to keep in your file forever, radiating the most vivid flashes of color, light, and sound sometimes appearing years later as if it were all a dream.
I have always been obsessed with rock musicians. In junior high school I scared my friends when I showed them a Queen live in concert video filmed in 1985. The sight of a mustachioed Freddie Mercury parading around the stage topless in spandex pants adorned with lightning bolts was far more than they could handle. Needless to say I was teased mercilessly. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t think Freddy was as amazing as I did.
The same thing happened with The Rolling Stones. I found their dirty rock-gypsy lifestyle extremely appealing. Especially their career in the late 60’s and early 70’s when they were literally exiles recording their most touching and provocative work. I was more interested in Keith Richards—a Glimmer twin and heroin addicted beauty. He was missing teeth and reality, sporting a haphazard haircut more riotous than Rod Stewart’s, bleached with stripes on both sides. With his common law wife Anita Pallenberg, they appeared to be the King and Queen of rock royalty.
When I was turned on to Aerosmith shortly thereafter, I was instantly in “Young Lust” with the lead singer, Steven Tyler—a hybrid of an old blues man and high-strung teenager. He was skinny, sexy, and had this amazing mouth that could have swallowed the world. But what I loved most was his voice, which had a giant range, and a beautiful, distinctive rasp. Of course my peers were appalled; “He’s ancient! You’re so disgusting!” I, of course, didn’t think so. He was such an outlaw to me—like the other rock men, he pushed boundaries, but Tyler seemed to go farther. His lyrics were poetic, but also raunchy, rough, and taboo—pushing the limits of the FCC.
There was just something about those rockers that was far more interesting than all the other Tom, Dick, and Larry’s of the world. None of those regular Joes had long hair, or wore ragged scarves and jewelry—and most of all, none of those regular Joes were musicians living just beyond the realm of the rules and of our reality. I worshiped those bohemians all through my teen years. When other kids my age were buying the newest hip-hop and R and B, I was an Exile on Main Street, on Permanent Vacation.
I’ve been trying to meet Steven Tyler for most of my adult life. When I lived in New York, I was always hoping to run into him in the village, or shopping in SOHO, but to no avail. The timing was always wrong. And I wasn’t trying for a Pamela Des Barres kind of encounter—not that there would be anything wrong with that, but I was more interested in absorbing some of the cool that Steven exudes, not trying to get some cheap action that probably would have been really great, but , you know, a bad idea.
Recently, by some daunting twist of fate, I was allowed access to Steven—but I wasn’t about to start counting chickens before I was backstage shaking hands. Only then would I start adding them up as they hatched.
After getting my extravagant “Artist Guest” passes, I found myself being led backstage by none other than Steven’s assistant, passing up the famous scarf-draped mic stand. After he sat me down on a couch outside Steven’s dressing room, I had to stand back up—this was not a time for sitting. Two seconds later his dressing room door flew open and the legendary voice screamed out my name, “Krystal, get in here.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me into his dressing room while kindly letting my boyfriend know, “Lee, you’ve lost her for good.”
Before I realized what was happening, I was on Steven Tyler’s couch in his dressing room surrounded by trunks of his famous clothing and belongings. When we properly shook hands, he gave me the first of many kisses on the cheek—also giving me the first of many petite heart attacks. Before long I was pressed up against a topless Tyler for the first of many photographs. It is a miracle that my face wasn’t contorted in some dumbfounded expression in all the photos we took. I was hiding my stupor well. Up close, his skin appears as lovely as a newborn’s, just as his demeanor is that of a teenager’s. He is more beautiful in person—radiating liveliness with every movement.
Over the course of our four hour visit, we spoke about my work, his work, his hair, my hair, food, drugs, tits, Hunter S. Thompson, the 60’s, Max’s Kansas City, and almost everything else. It was as if we both blurted out every thought that came into our heads to each other, and then went on to discuss it. When I happened to be sitting too far from his dressing room, he yelled, “What are you doing over there? Get in here!” And of course I obliged. He showed me his mini gym, and demonstrated how each machine works. He even made me use one, “C’mon, you’ll look sexy,” he teased cracking his striking Cheshire cat grin. I, of course, had to use the machine that he promised would make me sore—I did, and I ached for three days after playing on it. Every time I moved my arms—they burned, and I remembered. Many visitors came and went, while we remained. I even got a chance to sing the intro to “Eat the Rich” with him—a very odd dream of mine.
One of the finest moments came when he asked me to pick out his stage outfit for the night, a fashion dream I didn’t even know I had until realized. I got the infrequent chance to rifle through closets of floaty tops, trunks of studded jackets, and neatly hung tight pants—all things that belong to him. I was instantly attracted to a leopard print top that went perfectly with these orange suede bondage pants—they looked even better on him, complete with Dior sunglasses that were of epic proportion.
I felt like I had infiltrated the inner circle—as if at any moment I could blink and be somewhere completely different, because this was far too odd to be true. When Aerosmith had about five minutes till they were due on stage, I said my goodbyes to Steven, thanking him as sincerely as I knew how to do, which involved stumbling over every word I tried to say, and staring at my toes a lot. He replied with the best thing I had heard from someone of his caliber of fame and notoriety, “I just wanted to show you it was all real.” He thanked me, and gave me yet another kiss on the cheek.
Steven Tyler went above and beyond the call of duty to a fan who loves his words and music so much that it will always a part of my every day life.