The Only Bohemian I Knew

I used to have a bottle of Malibu rum that I used as a candle holder. Five different colors of wax were frozen on the sides of the white bottle. Itís the kind of thing that somebody 23 does, just because they can. Just a momento - like all those table top advertisements and menus we used to steal from coffee shops and fast food joints when we were 17. I never graduated to stealing road signs - but itís the same idea.  The bric-a-brac of youth collected in my room - layer upon layer of life lived and the totems to remind me.

So, I think I killed this rum bottle with her, one night when we were so desperate for mixed drinks that we bought a bottle of Malibu rum and a can of crushed pineapple. It was only then that she discovered that she didnít have a can opener in her apartment. So we stabbed the tin can lid with a knife and pried it open with a screwdriver. Then we mixed the coconut flavored rum and the juicy crushed pineapple into a tropical slurry that not only got you buzzed - but you had to chew it. If I remember correctly, it was awful but we pretended it tasted like one of those fantastic flaming Zombies they serve at the Chinese places. Blue fire and a ceramic volcano glass for 2.

She introduced me to Dead Can Dance, Sarah McLachlan and Liz Phair that night. At least I think it was that night. There were several such nights. It was between A & J, when I was looking for some place for my body and my lust to crash. She never gave in.

All of her furniture seemed low to the ground, except in the kitchen. Her boombox was on the floor next to the 70ís goldish couch that seemed to go all the way to the floor. She was the only real Bohemian I knew. She had a giant glass ashtray that always seemed filled with ash and butts. The kind of ashtray where youíd have to clear a spot before you could stub out your smoke. And it was the only one she had.

All of her furniture was found furniture, which seemed to match the nature of the apartment, with its patterned carpeting in the kitchen and woodgrain paneling in the rest of the house. Around her house, either on the walls or stacked in corners, were her dabbles in different kinds of artwork. There was a portrait of the Indigo Girls that always fascinated me. She seemed to try a little bit of everything. She knew the art was inside her and she was going to find it come hell or high water.

She was a foil to my perfect woman. Faux mousey. A completely self-aware and yet self-effacing sensuality. Cherokeesque hair and pink white skin. The only Bohemian I knew.

I believe that the night of the slurry-coladas ended when the black of night became that pre-dawn gray. I drove home with the dead Malibu rum bottle under my arm. It held candles for many years until, I believe, it broke during one move or another, its layers of wax breaking off in pieces like chocolate from a mold.

Maybe Iíll make a candle holder out of the Bardolino bottle Iím working through now. Or maybe the bottle of absinthe thatís almost gone. Little momentos reminding me of the artist and her little 70ís paneling palace. My Bohemian times. Nights of Marlboros and Malibu rum - looking inward from the edge.