My pal Riff Raff, whose given name is not that, has proven over the years to be an interesting character study.
As you might have guessed, he took his nickname from Rocky Horror Picture Show, which he saw for the first time when I introduced him to it in ’77 or ’78. Well, he didn’t so much take it as it was given to him. I started it by calling him Riff Raff after he developed a habit of saying, mimicking the character, “It’s astounding”, and less often though always hilariously because of his great sense of comedic timing, “Madness… takes its toll”. Ah, those crazy high school days. Riff got drug into my legendary life and thought it was really very cool. I always liked Monday mornings because that was when I’d find out what I’d done over the weekend. The legends were sometimes based on fact, but only to the extent that the infamous Disney flick is about a guy who had a horse. Riff had great fun with that, because even many of those who’d known him since elementary school didn’t associate his nickname with his person. All we had to do was disappear (or remain out of sight) for the weekend and the stories would build themselves. If you wanted a party to be a success, just tell everyone that Riff Raff would be there.
It was great fun to be there when someone would tell us about what we’d done, not taking the hint that the guy was the legendary Riff Raff even when he’d grin and say, “That’s astounding” in his best imitation of Richard O’Brien. When pressed, I usually said something along the lines of, “Y’know, I don’t remember even being there”. It was interesting how it went from Riff Raff being exceedingly cool for hanging out with me, to me being just that much cooler for hanging out with him — because he was an enigma. Everyone knew of him, but few knew that he was the guy they saw every day.
The glory days ended when Riff joined the Navy after hight school, and later, I joined the Air Force. He had trouble in the Navy, trying to continue the Riff Raff legend — he got busted a lot, and four years later he wasn’t eligible for reenlistment. I don’t know that he wanted to reenlist, but he was certainly choked that it wasn’t an option. I was selected for reenlistment in the Air Force, but told ’em in very certain terms that I had no interest. In military circles when you refer to “the bullshit”, everyone knows precisely which bullshit you’re referring to.
In ’83, he was out and I was home on leave, and he married a skanky chick he’d once had a thing with whom we all went to high school with and knew more about than she’s likely ever to tell her kids. I advised against it, as he was just lonely and she was just looking for a way out of her parents’ house… but I was the best man of sorts at the courthouse. I stood there and signed the marriage certificate as a witness, anyway. Later, at the so-called reception, he disappeared. I found him at a nearby schoolyard being depressed. With good reason, really. They never even lived together, and some months later got the sham annulled.
Back in our hometown again after I was free of the USAF in 1984, we reunited and had some large times. Then he hit some low times… I’d turned him on to the high quality Peruvian marching powder for which I had a reliable connection, and he liked it so much that he got to buying his own from random local bottom feeders who were selling shit cut with what we then called crank: crystal meth. The crank hooked him, the poor stupid bastard. After about a year when I realized that I’d bought the equivalent of a new car’s worth of cocaine I decided that it was time to call it quits, but he wasn’t ready for that yet so I didn’t see all that much of him when I no longer had free coke for him. Not, anyway, until the day he called me to help him move his shit out of a cut rate apartment in a seedy part of Los Angeles County — he had to cut out because he was deep into a dealer who wasn’t going to wait around any more to get paid for all he’d fronted. Riff still wants me to return to him all the things I bought from him when he was hard up for cash to get just one more quarter (of a gram, that is). But he’s not so eager to pay me back what I gave him for those things, so what I haven’t discarded or given away is still here. I didn’t want to buy those things from him, always counseled him that it was time to give the shit up, but he kept on and kept on, and it was easier to throw a few bucks at him than to listen to his begging and whining. He did eventually clean up, and he doesn’t hold it against me that he went that way because I always counseled against it.
He ended up living at his parents’ house, and quite often running around with some random babe or other who had a dumpy ass friend… they’d randomly show up at my house, trying to fix me up with Miss Dumpy Ass Of The Year. Sometimes I’d go along just to end the whining and begging, and I got some fun stories out of it. There was an in-ground jacuzzi at his parents’ house… I never compromised myself with the dumpy ass friends or the random babes, but the stories, all true, are good ones. Most of ’em, anyway.
Next thing ya know, he’s hooked up with some barfly, a loud, obnoxious, bleached blonde skanky bitch some 15 years older. On the up side, she didn’t openly hate my guts. On the down side, after I separated from my second wife he went home from work on the day he got fired to find his wife and mine doing the nasty. Or so he says. He didn’t get any photos. It could very well be, though, as I wouldn’t put anything at all past my second wife, but on the other hand Riff really did love being legendary. Come to think of it, I was originally supposed to be best man at that wedding, too, but at the last minute one of his brothers whined about it and replaced me. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t so fond of Sharon The Barfly. I’d already learned the hard way about standing up for him when he was marrying some skank.
He met another woman, of some non-Anglo ethnicity that I can’t recall just now, and she hated my guts. With good reason: I didn’t dig that Riff was absolutely pussy whipped.
It’s kinda funny. The first time I ever heard the term, not knowing what it meant, I thought, “Sign me right the fuck up for that gig!”. It sounds pleasant enough if you don’t know what it means.
Anyway, one night at their apartment the conversation turned in just precisely the wrong way, and right there in front of everyone I said to him, “You know, man, I’m all for equality. I can dig it if the woman wears the pants half the time, I really can. But this chick is wearing your fucking dick, man, all the time, and it pains me to see you this way”. I wasn’t invited back over to their place after that.
They did come around a few days before my final escape from Southern California, and partook of the excellent meal I prepared. They left with a complete 55 gallon aquarium setup, everything but the water and fish. It was all very high end, with the killer diller power heads for the under-gravel filter, massive air pump, external power filter, the whole works. I sold it to them for sixty bucks though it was worth more than ten times that on the open market. It was my way of apologizing to my friend and his heinous cunt. It was just twenty-something years ago, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that he might get around to paying me for it some day.
He moved to some rural part of Arizona with that one, bought some property, and ended up walking away from the woman and the property a few years later. He didn’t want to fight with her, he said, so he left his investment in the property behind. His investment just happened to be the entire down payment and every mortgage payment ever made on the place…
Right about ten years ago, Amethyst and I with our two youngest kids (her son, my daughter) went to visit our old friend Riff Raff. He’d remarried, living in an ostensibly middle class neighborhood, managing an apartment complex. Well, his new wife does the management thing while he goes off to work each day. We found him to be the poster child for pussy whipped. It was just insane, the kind of whipped you’ve probably only ever seen in the movies. I mean, they have some kind of lap dog, a purebred terrier or some such, with bows in his hair and painted fucking nails, and when we went across the street to the liquor store the bitch barked at Riff that he had to take the thing for its walk. So off we go, out into the world, with this pampered animal on a pink leash. I asked Riff if he didn’t have another leash that wasn’t quite so pussy-whipped looking, and he explained that he’d bought one but the woman made him get rid of it. He didn’t say it, but it’s sure that she wanted the world to know that this apparition of a man was entirely vagina thrashed, beat down so thoroughly that he’d wear the fucking bow in his hair if she wanted him to.
When we were heading back to the apartment with the embarrassed little terrier on his pink leash, I pointed at that tattoo he had that said “RIff Raff”. Amethyst had put the “Riff” there when we were in high school, and he had the “Raff” added later when he was in the Navy. “Where’s that fucking guy?”, I asked, “Where’s the legendary Riff Raff who didn’t take shit from anyone, and wouldn’t ever eat some woman’s shit just to get between her thighs?”. “I don’t know”, he replied, “he’s just gone or in hiding or something. Let’s not talk about it”. And so we didn’t.
We got back into the apartment, full of middle-class-but-I-think-the-richies-have-shit-like-this furnishings, and we didn’t talk about it. We got into the half gallon of Jack Daniel’s that I’d just bought, and his collection of interesting tequilas. We had some dinner, with his wife putting on airs but not convincing anyone that she was of better breeding than any other apartment manager in an ostensibly middle class neighborhood. Later she would explain to us all that she found wine to be “more sophisticated” than hard liquor, despite her wine being cheap ass Sutter Home chardonnay. Ten bucks a gallon before taxes. More sophisticated.
I tried to talk to my old friend about various things, but all he knew was Nascar and his relationship with his wife. I’ve never been into watching some guys driving around in circles, and the woman regaled us with the story about how their relationship began when she caught him ogling her through binoculars as she lounged by the pool. “He was stalking me”, she said, “it was so cute”. It wasn’t stalking, bitch, it was fapping. Get a clue. My old best friend is a pathetic peeping dick stroker.
As the evening progressed it became obvious that she reserved the right to pick the topics of conversation, and she wasn’t about to allow anyone to remind Riff that he was once a self-directed human being. Okay, maybe he wasn’t all that good at it, but that didn’t make it right for her to lead him around by the scar tissue where once his dick had been. I got to wondering if she didn’t have a strap-on that he knew too well from the receiving end of it. And it flat out pissed me right the fuck off.
It’s a guy thing, I guess. Piss me off and feed me drinks, and the social filter between my thoughts and my vocal chords takes a vacation. I reminded my old, dear friend of the large times we once had — and his horrible taste in women. Remember that chick with the dumpy ass friend? I didn’t want to say anything then, man, but when we were in the jacuzzi I had to keep pushing her feet out of my lap. Where did you find those bitches? Oh, and this other one, the one with the kid? She was on my answering machine every day for almost a month, man. I wanted to tell you about it, but you were so much in love that I just let her calls go to tape until she gave up. Fuck, dude. Oh, and the bitch you went to Arizona with? I figure she hated my guts because I might enable you to see just how pathetically pussy whipped you were. I’m so very glad you didn’t marry that one. What’s up with these bitches who either want to fuck me or kill me, man? Are you doing that shit on purpose?
I guess that’s why I haven’t heard from him ever since we left the next morning. I sent him a couple of email messages but he didn’t respond.
A dear old female friend asked about him some time later, and I gave her his email address. It was the last name of his favorite Nascar driver and his car number, followed by at AOL dot com. Of course. It was the only part of his life that was his by then. She told me later that his reply to an innocuous how-ya-doin’ message was that he’s married now so it’s not appropriate for him to have contact with her. I could almost understand it if they’d ever bumped uglies or even been flirtatious, but that never happened. They were never even close, and their only tie was through me. They might have interacted a dozen times, but it was probably half that. I’ve always moved in many circles and kept them all isolated — I was the only kid in chemistry class who showed up stoned, and one of just two or three who showed up loaded in astronomy class. What a hoot our astronomy teacher was, and ten times better with a buzz on! So while my dear old previously mentioned female friend and I were tight, she and Riff didn’t really know each other. Either he massaged his sausage over her far more than I ever suspected, or his old lady is about eleven thousand times too fucking jealous.
And, ya know, given that his “stalking” was “cute”, maybe he was milking the viper over my dear old foxy friend all those years ago, and has since copped to it to his old lady. But still, that’s no excuse. Riff it totally committed to the cunt that has whipped him and she’s no reason to be jealous because she’s accomplished her objective and obviously so.
I miss my old friend Riff, but he died in the early 1980’s. His carcass still walks the Earth, as far as I know, but he’s long gone from within it. I believe that if his carcass were dead his younger sister, at least, would have let me know. It’s reasonable to assume that his body still walks the Earth even if it’s as some kind of not-yet-undead, not really any different from any other pussy whipped man who does his eight hours as an automaton then six or eight more as the servant of some woman who doesn’t give a fuck who or what he is, or was, or could have been, as long as he pretends to be what she demands her “man” to be. As if there’s something manly about being… what’s the term? I wanted to look it up, but my brain grew tired (intoxicated?) before I got there. Anyway, it was something like “manbitch victim of The Matriarchy” or some such shit that my online pal FeignedAffections has unofficially trademarked. Man Bitch, and victim, certainly do fit. The poor fucking guy probably asks permission to scratch her ass when his itches. At least the dog can perceive that pink leash as tangible and something he might some day gnaw through to escape if he ever gets back the gumption that being neutered took away from him. Poor old Riff, his balls swing between his wife’s thighs even when she’s miles away.
For all of that, and as much as I hate her greasy guts for pussy whipping him, and as much as I disrespect him for choosing to be vagina thrashed, I don’t really hold either of them accountable for taking my old friend away from me. He was always looking for that arrangement — if it weren’t in his nature, he’d not have so consistently found those prehensile labia that could grasp his entire being. I can’t fault her, as he was looking for what she had to offer. Maybe he likes the back door strap-on action with no reach-around. It’s not for me to judge.
What I miss, I suppose, is the fantasy of Riff Raff. Once upon a time I thought I knew the guy underneath the legend, but as time went on I came to see that the guy I saw was just another sort of fantasy. He was then, as now, being what he thought was expected of him, and doing so to gain acceptance. I can’t miss my friend because I never really knew him — I knew only the persona he presented.
I know this, but I still sometimes wish that the friend I miss were the one I thought I knew behind the persona. He was pretty darn good.