Thursday, January 8, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around...

Gina Ziggliano was like no other woman I had ever come across before. She was the first woman I saw in leathers, outside of Diana Rigg (on BBC’s “The Avengers), and the first to wear a tattoo almost 30 years before it would become a fashion statement. She was the first woman I ever knew to have four piercings in one ear. She also had the distinction of being the first woman I ever saw riding her own motorcycle — a chopped Harley Panhead covered in chrome.

Diana Rigg In The Avengers

Gina was a big girl, but perfectly proportioned. I once ran across her dancing in the street with some guy at a neighborhood block party, down in the old Marian section of Jersey City, when that part of town was almost solid Italian. A curbside stereo on a card table was blasting “Light My Fire” by the Doors and Gina was pivoting her hips around some lucky guy who looked like an ink-stained human muscle. They moved through the yellow circles of brightness, cast from the old streetlights, barely touching in the most sensual kind of public foreplay.

“Holy shit,” I remember thinking. “What kind of man gets that,” I said aloud.

“The kind that would kick the shit out of you if he caught you looking at her ass exactly the way you are looking at it now,” replied my friend Bob Pearson. “And then she might kick the shit out of you for good measure too.”

The word on the street was that Gina was good in a fight and had a mean left hook. The story going around was that some guy put his hand on her ass and she broke his arm. In my mind, I was flat on my back and Gina was riding me like that Harley.

“You never know how things could turn out,” I said.

Pearson mocked me with the cold laugh of a Jersey City street fighter. “I know how’d you’d turn out in this one.”

There were two reasons to attend college as an English literature major in 1974. The first was to go far beyond the standard prep school English literature courses and focus on the evolution, intricacies, and wonder of the written word from its its initial zenith at the pen of William Shakespeare, to its pinnacle at the hands of Mark Twain, to its understated perfection by Falkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald in the ‘30s.

The second was to get laid.

Since I already had a fairly deep understanding of Shakespeare and knew the significance of the round table at the Algonquin Hotel, the later was my primary concern. “Concern” probably isn’t the most accurate way to describe what had become an obsession for me. All of my friends had gotten well-laid en-route to college, or so they said. I was something of a late bloomer. Actually, I was more of a petrified bloomer. My greatest fear was that I would die without ever dipping Cupid’s arrow into the vermillion bullseye. A copper bracelet on my wrist carried the engraved legend, “If this man appears to fall into a coma or a seizure, please call a reasonably attractive hooker, not older than 24, at once.

Diana Rigg as "Emma Peel" in the Avengers..."

Most of my friends carried a condom in their wallet. I used to carry wire cutters in my back pocket to get through the treble hooks of a woman’s brassiere.

Worse... I panicked the first time I did get the hooter-guards off. It was amazing. There was this twanging sound, like a wire spring letting go under tension. The next thing I knew, I was in a three-dimensional Playboy pictorial. I felt like Oppenheimer looking at the first nuclear reaction.

“Wutzamatta,” said the kind debutante. “Aintcha never seen tits before?” My hesitation may have given me up. She was sweet enough to try and put my hand on one, but it was the hand holding the wire cutters and I think it gave her a scare. Or perhaps the wire cutters were cold.

That girl, a blind date arranged by my pal Bob, exited the car, commenting, “Pearson was right... You are fucking strange.”

But college was a fascinating place and a target-rich environment. I got involved with the campus television station and started getting my line of shit out over the air. I used this medium to insert my presence -- as a kind of public service comedy announcement -- to four dormitories and the student commons. It was at a party in one of the student lounges that I finally heard the magic words, “Hey... You’re the guy on TV.”

I traced the soft, magic voice that uttered this statement to a set of pouty lips that curved in a smile when I replied, “Yesssssssssssssssssssss,” rather like steam leaking out of a pipe. “That would be me.”

There were two things about this woman that I liked instantly: she was intensely pretty, and pretty intensely drunk. It is this second characteristic that added a good deal of pizzazz to anything I said that night. She hung on my every word for about an hour, and then uttered the response that I normally associate with the ejection seat warm-up.

“Give me your number... I’ll call you.... I have to go break-up now with some asshole. He came to this party to bad-mouth me.” I couldn't imagine doing such a thing to such a delightful person.

She called the next night and told me to pick her up. Two dates later, we were parked in one of the more notorious make-out spots on the Palisades Interstate Parkway (overlooking a reflection of the moon on the Hudson River, 400 feet below).

“You won’t need these,” she said, dropping my wire cutters out the open car window. She showed me a new kind of bra, one that had one simple hook, in the front.

I made up for years of frozen adolescence in the next six months. She was unbelievable. Anything I wanted to do... Whenever I wanted to do it... In the car... On her mother’s lawn... In a darkened classroom in school... On the dorm roof... On the fire escape... On my desk in the TV studio... On the way to a restaurant at the beginning of a date....We were halfway through the Kama Sutra three weeks after the first kiss. It was incredible. I started having visions of the coroner finding my shriveled body on a park bench. After feeling for the non-existent pulse, he turns to a cop and says, “This guy has been fucked to death.”

And if that happened, I wanted it on my tombstone. 

All she wanted was to be with me. All my life, I wanted a girlfriend who just wanted me. This one did. Exclusively. She was in the cafeteria waiting for me every day -- breakfast and lunch. She’d hang around the TV station. She came to my fencing meets. She’d bring me presents. She wanted to meet my friends. She wanted to hang out with us. She’d talk about her friends, though I never really met them. I didn’t mind.

The great band Jethro Tull had a song called “Bungle in the Jungle.” There is a line in the lyrics that goes, “He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.” Truer words were never spoken.

The first hint of trouble came when I was slated to go on a “boy’s weekend.” She didn’t like it. She offered to come. I declined.

“Pearson would have a fit,” I explained.

“Are there gonna be women there,” she asked. “Are you going to some strip joint? Why can’t I come? It’s because your friends don’t like me, isn’t it?” And thus it began. After three hours of debate based on North Korean interrogation logic, I resolved the matter through advanced relationship-building skills known to all 18-year-old men.

“Will you shut the fuck up,” I earnestly reasoned.

That was when she hit me. She delivered a roundhouse punch to my ear. There was this instantaneous numbing concussion and a ringing that lasted a half-hour. I was stunned, literally. I caught the rage boiling up in me, and she melted like butter. So did her clothes. What followed was one of the steamiest sexual episodes of my life.

But this became the pattern. Whenever she got pissed over something, she’d come out swinging. Then to make up, I could have any kind of sexual activity I wanted. The trouble was she’d started getting pissed over everything. Rare was the week when I didn’t get belted for some minute infraction. Now it had occurred to me to end this. But my memories of the previous 17-year sexual drought were a lot stronger. I found myself thinking, “suppose I never get laid again?”

I started hiding things from her. I had to sneak off to be with my buddies. I didn’t dare look at another woman on campus, let alone speak to one. There were women on the campus television station... So she wanted me to quit. If we went to a party, I had to sit with her, talk to her, and only her. 

The day came when I had had enough. I told her to keep her clothes on, that I had just come by to pull the life-support plug on our battered brain-dead relationship. Her response, “You think you can just walk away from me like this? Fuck you! I’m on you like glue, muthafucker.”

She followed me everyplace. And when I thought I had ditched her, she’d be waiting at my next class or event. Now all of this was long before the term “stalker” was popular in the press. It never occurred to me that she could be dangerous enough to do something like kill me. (This was a threat that would only come from women I actually married.) She must have hit me in the face about 250 times. My dad was the first to see the bruises and wondered if I was fighting. "Are you in some kind of trouble," he once asked. Years later, he told me he'd thought I'd crossed a bookie.

How could I tell him, or any of my friends, the truth?

But a big change was coming. I got my first writing job. I stopped hanging around on campus. I was about to buy my first motorcycle: a reddish purple Kawasaki triple. That’s when my de facto ex girlfriend kicked my persecution up a notch. She started showing up at the bars I used to drink in, leaving a new and exciting story at each watering hole. The tales were amazing... She was pregnant... She had money she owed me... She had stuff of mine... She wanted to go away for a week... Her life was in danger... Each time she’d go into a gin mill, somebody there would raise the alarm and call the joint I was really in. If she had suspected a conspiracy this time, she’d have been right.

Some dope told her about my bike and she started staking out the biker bars. Now while the H2 Kawasaki Triple was the fastest production bike of its day, you couldn’t just pull up to a biker bar and walk in. You’d be killed. The “triple” sounded like a leaf blower on steroids. It didn't come in black. And real Harley riders of the time would be more than happy to spit on it and me.

One of these bars was a joint called, “The Severed Head.” Pearson asked me to meet him there one night, but to park my bike “down the block,” so the other guys wouldn’t think he and I were gay or something. I complied, and was threading my way through the Harleys parked in front of the saloon when I heard the voice that made my blood run cold.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding... I heard you got a new bike... Have you got a biker slut waiting for you inside this place too?”

I turned, resigned to a huge and humiliating scene. My ex-girlfriend came running up and took a swing at me. My left arm rose in reflex action. Regrettably, I was holding my helmet in my left hand, and she hit that. But I leaned back on my right hand, which I used to steady myself by placing it on a royal Harley.

“You son of a bitch,” she screamed. This was pillow talk at the “Severed Head,” but it was loud enough on the street to draw attention. “I’ll fix your ass. You think you’re hot shit with a new bike? Do you think having a bike makes you a man?” With that, she grabbed the sissy bar of the Harley I was leaning on, and threw it to the ground.

I couldn’t believe I was looking at a magnificent, chopped Harley-Davidson pan head, covered with chrome, on its side. And that’s when Gina Ziggliano came out of the bar to see my de facto ex girlfriend kicking her bike, and scoring a million new scratches on the chrome each time the machine rocked on the pavement.

Gina beat the shit out of her. 

I left as Gina fired punches like a machine gun. I had no desire to be implicated in this scenario and found some convenient shadows to skulk through until I reached the Kawasaki. I heard the sound of a blouse ripping before I’d gone 50 feet. Pearson caught up to me as I fired up the machine.

“A bike is down and Gina Ziggliano is beating the shit out of some woman,” said Pearson. “ I didn’t see you there, but I knew you had something to do with it.”

Now I have never raised my hands to a woman. And I would never stand by and let some other guy raise his hands to a woman either. But this situation was so incredibly different. 

"What do you think we should do," I asked Pearson.

"I think you start this rice burner and get us away from ground zero as fast as possible," Bob said.

The Kawasaki triple was brand new and turned over on half a kick. I never heard from my ex-girlfriend again.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

21 comments:

John said...

Another instant classic. I was not offended in any way shape or form. Keep up the good work.

fasthair said...

Mr. Jack: If it wasn't for the fact I knew my ex was too young at this time I swear you were talking about us! I know you use F-bombs in your blog like I use shampoo in the shower. But would I be out of line if I used the C word to describe my ex?

Damn I didn't need to dig up those memories. Thanks for the great story none the less.

fasthair

BMW-Dick said...

Jack:
This is Riepe at his best -- a magnificent entertaining story interwoven with bits and pieces of the truth.
Loved it. Thanks,

Anonymous said...

I loved it !!! Fucking fantastic!

Cheers,
Ducdude

Charlie6 said...

Wow Jack, you sure lived a much more "interesting" life in college than I did....and I was shot at once! This was Miami, you understand.

dom

Tena said...

Can't...breathe...laughing...
too...hard... You have...such a way....in relationships...

bobskoot said...

Jack:

I see you had a very sheltered life, classic story never-the-less. Your writings are so "captivating" and filled with intense LUST.
If I ever get a chance to meet you face to face, I intend to replace your wire cutters. I would imagine that a replacement is in order.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobscoot:

I have learned to use my teeth now. Thank you for your kind offer, but I sort of grew out of the emergency wire cutter technique. These days, I just have to offer to pain the bahroom, or something.

Fondest regards, and thank you for writing in

Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

As Stiffie can tell you, the damnedest things have happened to me, and continue to happen to me. But the stuff that has happened to me on a motorcycle is priceless.

Thank you for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Like I said a couple of days ago, I had second thoughts about writing this piece in the first place. But this is pretty much how it happened. The witness list is getting scarce though. Bob Pearson died 15 years ago, after living a hard, fast, tough life. The "Severed Head" was actually another bar in Jersey City, but it really had a name like "The Bucket of Blood," and a lot of people would recognize it.

Gina Ziggliana (not her real name) was well-known in Jersey City. I ran into her not too long ago. She is still a knock-out in a way that is difficult to describe. The police responded to that incident outside the bar, but it was my understanding that no charges were pressed.

The woman who knocked over the motorcycle claimed she was the victim of a hoax and tried to blame the incident on an unknown caucasion male, who had apparently fled the scene, in a cloud of two-stroke smoke.

These things happen.

Thanks for writing in.

Jack

Jack Riepe said...

DucDude:

You're up next week as the guest contributer. Your story is as good as mine, an a lot cleaner.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dick:

You are too kind. See you at lunch on Friday. There is a small crowd coming to torture B. Curry.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Fasthair

I've heard from three guys who all said something similar. Either it's a small world or we all dated the same sisters. On the other hand, I've heard ftom several ladoes that they knew of more guys like this.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear John:

Aren't you kind to say so. Not everyone felt like you did. Somebody maled me a jock strap wrapped aropund a huge fish. That can't mean anything good.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jackl

Jon said...

I am sure it is a great post. . . but I never got past the first picture. Mmmm

Peace,

Jon

Anonymous said...

As a little old gray-haired grandmother, it was difficult for me to get past the naughty words and images, but I persevered -- You are so danged funny!

Happy New Year!

Granny2Wheels

mtlcowgirl said...

Dear Jack: I have a fashionable tattoo as well. It goes from my bellow button down to where there's a fork in the road. I got it at the Jewish General Hospital when I gave birth to a 10 lb. tumor. My surgical team ven named the thing: Jack. I kid you not. As Mack.

Keep well,

Karen

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Jon (Mr. Burt)

Diana Rigg doesn't look like that anymore. Then again, I am aging like a trout left on the bank by high water.

Thank you for writing in...
Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Granny2Wheels:

I didn't write one word in this story that you didn't hear me say -- up close and personal -- during the BuRP Rally. Do you remember that weekend? You offered me a lap dance in exchange for rolling papers.

Thank you for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear MTLCowgirl:

That is not a tattoo per se, but a scar you are talking about. My heart is covered with scar tissue from stilletto-heeled women kicking it around like a football.

I recentlty had a heart surgeon crack my chest and wrap my heart in barbed wire to discourage women from squeezing it to the breaking point. I had the same thing done to my testicles, but dicovered it was self-defeatimg.

Thank you for writing in.
Fondest regards,
Jack

mtlcowgirl said...

Dear Jack: It is too a tat. I paid dearly for it. The baby machine factory went down. I put up a playground, though.

I am delighted to hear that the barbed wire did not affect yours.

Much love,

Karen