I was remembering this open mic I went to about a year ago, to watch an old friend who was visiting from out of town do a feature. Once upon a time, he was an important figure in the LA and OC poetry communities, and his return always seems to bring folks out of the woodwork.

The reading was at a small coffee shop (you know, the kind that was a dime a dozen in 1994, but is now part of a dying breed). It had been years since I went to a reading, I was nervous just being there. But as I saw some familiar figures, I relaxed. I sat at the table with my chum and enjoyed catching up before the performances began.

During the host’s warmup, someone entered through the back door. I looked to see the latecomer and was met by another face from the past. The curly-haired boy ambled over to a table just in front of me, sat down, and plugged his laptop into the wall. He turned around and asked if I could see ok. I recognized him, but clearly he didn’t remember me. Granted, I had lost a bit of weight, changed my hair, my clothes—I did look different. But he really had no idea.

As the reading wore on, I found myself distracted by his presence. The performer’s words became background noise, as I lost myself in a memory I had long-forgotten.1


About five years earlier, I had met this guy—a local ‘slam’ poet I’ll call Isaac—at an open mic in Hollywood. He was clever and funny, a total nerd in my favorite way. Mustering all the courage I had, I approached him after one reading and told him I thought as much. He was polite, and receptive. That was all.

A few months later, I befriended a poet from Washington over the internet. We struck up a correspondence, and decided that we’d have to hang out after one of the features during his upcoming tour.

I met him before a show in Silverlake and we sat at a table having cocktails. Poets who knew him trickled in and said hello, and two sat with us. One of them happened to be Isaac. He became much friendlier suddenly. In fact, his interest made me almost uncomfortable.

After the reading, he invited us to all come back to his neighborhood for late night French fries at Fred 62. I couldn’t think of the last person I’d met that I found so charming. He kept me laughing, and at the end of the night he asked for my phone number. We made a date for the following weekend.

When I met him at his apartment2, I noticed how sterile everything looked. White walls, white carpet, fluorescent kitchen light. He offered me a beer and I sipped it while he gave me a brief tour. His bedroom was furnished with a futon mattress on the floor and a couple of crates turned over for nightstands. The living room had a big screen TV and an oversized chair, something like a chaise lounge.

He suggested we take his Scrabble game to the coffee shop down the street and have a match to see who the greater wordsmith was. After three rounds undefeated, it was clear that I had it all over him in this regard. While finishing up my tea, I learned that he planned to go on the road with a slam team for nationals in a few weeks. We walked back to his building and he invited me up. I agreed3. He showed me a set of shot glasses that had been made in a limited edition and sold by my favorite band. And then Isaac said, Oh wouldn’t it be fun, to have a shot with them?4

Several fun shots later he put on a movie and sat in the chair, inviting me to join him. I sat, practically on his lap, and told him, Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing for one second. This chair is hardly big enough for two and you knew it.

Fine, he countered. Then we should just get to business. Isaac kissed me as we stood up, and walked me backwards into his room, to the futon on the carpet. He laid me on my stomach and licked my back from the base of my spine to the nape of my neck. He asked me if I would “kiss it,” for him and I did. Then he was done, and it was over.

When he walked me out, I was giddy. I asked when I’d be able to see him again.5 He opened my car door—He said he wasn’t sure, because of the nationals and—Well, they were so close, he probably wouldn’t have much time to hang out before then.

Ok then, I asked, perhaps when he got back? He looked at the ground as he stood on the other side of the door—Well, that was so far, and who knew what would happen before then?

Everything was too close or too far, so I just said goodbye.

A few months later, I stopped attending poetry readings. And in five years, I hadn’t heard a single word from or about him until he walked into that coffee shop.

The reading ended and my visiting friend chatted with the poets. He began to introduce us, “This is Isaac. Have you two met?”

Isaac looked at me, “I don’t think so…but…”

“You know me. You definitely know me,” I raised an eyebrow as he began to squirm.

“Oh, yes!” he smiled stiffly. He looked like someone had unexpectedly jammed a finger up his ass. “I remember you, you’re the girl…” I watched his face and smiled at his obvious discomfort as he searched for a way to finish that sentence other than, the girl I asked to suck my dick after a game of Scrabble, then never called again. Eventually, he made the connection he needed. “You’re the girl with the Tiara poem.”

“Yes, that’s me alright. Isn’t it a small world?”

1Yes, this is the wavy-line flashback part of the story. I know it’s trite.
2My first mistake. I have since learned not to volunteer to enter the den of my predator.
3My second mistake. I have since learned that an invitation to ‘come up just for a minute’ means ‘come up just for a minute…of mediocre foreplay’
4My third, fourth, and fifth mistakes.
5My final mistake. Showing a genuine interest in someone, and asking a guy I’d just been intimate whether I’d see him again. Silly girl.