The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
🎧 748: “What a thing . . .”
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🎧 748: “What a thing . . .”

What a Piece of Work I Am, Chapter 50 begins, read by the author
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50

“WHAT A THING TO ASK! Be yourself! Over the course of my little lifetime I had put a lot of effort into trying to become someone else. Myself was the last person I wanted to be. There wasn’t anything Denny could have asked me to do that would have been harder. I had no self. There was nothing at the heart of me.”
     “You’re being too hard on yourself,” I said.
     “Listen,” she said. There was an edge of anger in her voice. “When I said I had no self, I meant what I said. I had no self. Or if I did, it was a wretched little thing. Okay, I had a self. But not a self worth parading in front of people. Not the sort of self that you’d want to put on display. Not the sort of self that people would come and pay to see. Pay—a quarter. Oh, shit, I had forgotten that. It only cost a fucking quarter to come and see me in the beginning. And I didn’t think I was worth it.”
     “Oh, Ariane,” I said, “you were always worth it.”
     That brought laughter, even from Ariane herself.
     “You paid your little quarter many times, didn’t you?” she said to me. She faced the audience and, indicating me with a sweep of her hand, said, “My biggest fan—even when he was my littlest fan.”
     I stood and nodded my head, as in a bow.
     With a flip of the hand she indicated that I was to sit back down, and when I had she said, “But I was terrified, that first night. Denny finally saw it. I guess that when he saw me shaking he knew. So you know what he did?”
     “What?” I asked, playing my part, as she wanted me to.
     “He begged. He pleaded with me at first, and then he went right into begging. He got down on his knees—”
     Laughter. Ariane turned suddenly toward the audience, as if incredulous that they shouldn’t believe her.
     “I’m not kidding,” she said. “He got down on his knees, and he begged me. I didn’t pay much attention to the details of what he was saying, because I was so struck by the idea that he would beg me to do this. I’d had more than my share of guys begging me, you understand, but they were usually begging me to suck them or fuck them, and at the time I didn’t see any similarity between that and what Denny was asking me for.”
     She leaned forward, then glanced over her shoulder as if to be sure that she wasn’t being watched, and said, “Girls, believe me: there really is only one thing they’re after, and it doesn’t have all that much to do with you. It’s not so much that they want you: it’s that they want something from you. It’s more about them than about you. They want their pleasure, and they just want you to help them please themselves. In fact, sometimes I think they just want us to be there to see them get happy. We are just there to witness and validate their pleasure—”
     Applause. Stomping feet.
     “—the way you are here to witness and validate my life. When they want it—all of it—the pleasure, our assistance, our witness, and our validation—they will beg for it, but after they’ve had it—wham—they’re into the fridge looking for a beer.”
     Whoops and whistles.
     “Or they’re asleep!”
     From somewhere someone called out, “Right on, sister.”
     “Well, I wasn’t paying very much attention to the specifics of Denny’s begging because I had had an idea.
     “ ‘Denny!’ I said, interrupting him to give him the benefit of my inspiration. ‘Do me a favor.’ ”
     I got onto my knees to play the part of Denny, and said, “ ‘Anything.’ ”

[to be continued]

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The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The entire Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy, read by the author. "A masterpiece of American humor." Los Angeles Times