+J.M.J.+"Once You've Had Mecha…"
by "Matrix Refugee"
The "Orga having unusual assignation with Gigolo Joe" sort of "A.I." fanfiction may be slightly done to death (Is that possible…??), but after I penned (keyboarded?) the "Zenon Eyes" triptych, I just had to share, somewhat in essay form, the dang deliciously embarrassing dream that started it all. Again, I dedicate this to Laurie E. Smith, who is increasingly becoming my "A.I." fanfiction mentor, to fom4life, thanks for loaning me the VHS when it came out; and to "Political John", for kidding me about this one. This is to "Zenon Eyes" what Brian Aldiss's "Supertoys Last all Summer Long" is to "A.I."
I don't own "A.I" or the character of Joe (certainly NOT the Mecha!), which are the property of DreamWorks SKG, the late Stanley Kubrick, of Steven Spielberg, Warner Brothers, et al.
This won't make much bloody sense to you unless I start by saying I'm a virgin. The most I've ever done is cuddle with a good friend of mine. I've never even been kissed on the mouth, and I'm, as of this keyboarding, a few days shy of twenty-five years old; must be a record for this age.
But in my case, "virgin" does not mean "prude". That's red blood flowing my veins and there's plenty of testosterone in that blood. I get itchy thighs like everyone else, usually right around the fertile days of my cycle, of course, and the chance for a quick one has offered itself on more than one occasion. The most exasperating (and amusing) incident occurred when I was working in a grocery store bakery and one of the clerks used to pest me as a scrim for trying to get around me, but he had dated and ditched every girl in the store except me (every time you saw this guy, he had a new heartthrob; I was once tempted to ask him what his hourly rate was!) and since I was still recovering from a really messy broken engagement, I was definitely NOT interested in letting some gigolo grocery clerk play snooker with my already bruised heart. In my loneliness, I went through the torments of hell trying keep myself from resorting to the consolations afforded by the hired attentions of some young man of the oldest profession. The fear of sinning all but vanished before my desperation, but the fear of disease and of simply getting caught in the act somehow, kept me from following through with it.
What's this got to do with the dream? I'm getting to it.
Fast-forward about eight months, post "A.I" vanishing from the theatres before I got a chance to see it then, post 9/11 and the flipwits pesting Steven Spielberg to erase the half-submerged Twin Towers from the video version, post me losing my job, but pre-DVD release. I'm standing in a parking lot with my crazy friend Mark and a few friends of his after going to the movies (I think it was A Beautiful Mind.) before going to an Academy Awards party, when he starts dancing around. Nothing unusual there, he once sent my mother into gales of laughter when he did a "Snoopy" dance to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" on our driveway; at first I thought he was impersonating Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, but I noticed something odd, even machinelike about his movements and he had this goofy blank look on his usually mischievous face.
"Why are you doing that?" I asked innocently enough (I really said those words!).
He stopped short, tilting his head at an odd angle, and in a seductive drawl utterly unlike his usual boyish squeak, he replied, "'I don't know; it's just what I do." In his normal voice, he added, "That's from 'A.I.', in case you're wondering."
I had gotten curious about the film before when I read the press releases and all the (mostly scathing) reviews, but his antics/impersonation got me even more curious and if I was impatient for the DVD release, this little teaser made me even more interested.
Fast-forward several weeks. When the DVD of "A.I." finally came out, my computer (I have a DVD-ROM on it, so I won't tie up my parents' VCR) had decided to lock up solid (No, it didn't try eating spinach!), so I had to send it in to Gateway for repairs, which obliged me to wait…and wait…But it's good to have generous friends like Mark: He bought a copy of the VHS and let me borrow it. But event then, it took me a while to finally sit down and watch it: I was starting a vocational evaluation, plus I was working hard writing/revising my current magnum opus "The Magdalen Man", so finding the time to watch it was a challenge.
But at length, I watched it. I was not disappointed. The critics can snarl over it, the uninitiated can sneer at it: this, to me, is science fiction cinema at its most cerebral and most heartfelt. Kubrick supplied the brains, Spielberg gave it a heart; Kubrick gave it a certain amount of hormones (simulated ones, if nothing else), but Spielberg tempered them into civility without beating them into submission. I wouldn't want this film any other way.
But from the moment Joe's (Jude Law's) fluorescent green eyes lit up the screen, I was really hooked. (To be fair, I think Haley Joel Osment is a great actor and a darn cute young man [There's no other term for him; he's too good an actor to be called a kid], but I don't usually admit to it for fear of being thought weird. I could get away with this if only I were half my age.) I mean mouth dropping, cheeks burning, heart pounding hooked! The perverse part of me wanted to be in Patricia's shoes. And being the good Catholic girl that I am, I had to withdraw part of my consciousness; but the hot pleasant little tingles in certain areas of my flesh kept reminding me of what I'm made of.
Of course this only gave me more fodder for fanfictions, these crazy little distractions from my duty to write the Great American Catholic/Science Fiction Novel (GAC/SFN, pronounced "gack-sfin"), but even then I had trouble starting. But I knew I wanted to write something starring a certain green-eyed love machine (!).
Perhaps the reason why I got stuck starting had a lot to do with my own silly inhibitions. For starters, I am ("I WAS!") terrified of robots, and it has nothing to do with any Matrix-inspired rebelling against AI's. These strange metal mockeries of mankind have always given me the creeps, and it gets worse when they resemble us so much you could confuse the two. In that respect, I suppose I'm like Monica early on in the film. And secondly, I had a somewhat lengthy theological discussion via e-mail with another friend regarding the whole idea of having sex with robots (yes, a certain charming Mecha got involved, briefly); we'd come to the conclusion that it would basically amount to a form of masturbation.
I often get my best story/character ideas from dreams I've had. I must have been thinking about my fanfiction quandary as I fell asleep the Friday night after I watched "A.I."…
I dreamt I was, as I always do when I'm writing, reclining on my bed, reading over the notebooks of "The Magdalen Man", my answer to the GAC/SFN, which tells the life story of a struggling young actor in the early 21st century trying to make something of himself even when he falls flat on his face and who ends up having to pay his way through acting school by, in his words, "working as, shall we call it an escort?" I heard no other sound but the tacking of my alarm clock and the scratch of the pencil on the paper, drowning out the usual night noises. Inspiration had got hold of me so that I saw nothing but the lined paper in front of me.
Something pricked my awareness: movement, a presence, a low white noise like the drone of a computer CPU, only felt rather than heard. I did not look up; the urge was on me now, and I refused to let my usual difficulty blocking out external stimuli disturb me now that my creativity was red-hot.
"Your writings show excellence. And yet, you have a polite disregard for that age-old advice to young writers 'Write what you know'," said a gentle, ironical man's voice.
My ears turned outward. It seemed at first the critic in my head had moved outside my skull and decided to get funny by speaking in a British accent, so I did what I usually do with the critic: disarm it with humor.
"If that were the case, then only detectives could write murder mysteries, only former cowhands and gunslingers could write westerns, only former CIA agents could write spy thrillers, and the science fiction stories would get written only by aliens or robots—"
That's when I looked up….
Into a pair of green eyes nearly the color of the green LED on a computer power switch, eyes that looked at me sidewise over the top of my pad, half amused, half intent, with a touch of vacuousness underlying the expression.
He sat at my feet on the side of the bed. He leaned over and put his hand on my pad, pushing it into my lap. I let my gaze pull back and take it all in: the anthracite black hair slicked back so well it seemed all of a piece, the almost painfully beautiful, perfect, tapered face as exquisitely carved as the face of a Greek statue; the trim but sensuous lines of his body, tastefully visible under his close-cut garments. A shiver of fear and delight started in the nape of my neck and ran down my spine and along the trunk nerves of my arms and legs.
Hey, Joe, whaddya know? I thought. But I finally found my voice. "What are you doing in my bedroom?!" I demanded.
He glanced at the notebook under his hand and looked at me. "To guess from your writing, it would appear I am supposed to help you with your writing. You lack some crucial experiences."
I tugged the notebook out from under his hand and backed away from him until I felt the footboard dig into my lower back. "Thanks, but I don't need your help."
He smiled shrewdly. "I beg to differ with you…Renee, is it?"
"How did you find that out?"
"I saw your name on the byline of your manuscript."
I tried to tear my gaze from him. Looking at him made my eyes feel so good they were almost in pain. "Well, I beg to differ with you, too. I've had some experience; I was engaged to be married."
He found my face and regarded me in silence for a moment. "And this experience brought you pain? There is a troubled look in your eyes."
"It wasn't the best experience, but I learned from it."
"What did you learn from this experience? To fear love? To fear loving?" There was compassion alongside the irony in his tone, his words a caress that brushed a scabbed wound, bringing pain, but bringing comfort.
"No, I just learned not to jump into things so quickly," I replied, hoping to put him off. More irony: the physical part of my nature disregarded with what reason was trying to tell me and prepared itself to receive. I could feel lubrication sensations along with the fire kindling down below; I've felt this only once before.
"But you are still experiencing the pain. Of loss? Of loneliness?"
"Yes," I admitted.
"Perhaps there is only one way to free you from the pain memories of these bad experiences. That way is to replace them with good experiences. As your old saying goes, 'A new love sends the old love flying out the window'."
He had to use one of the cardinal rules of medieval courtly love to get around me, didn't he? "I thought of that myself. I don't need any prompting," I replied. Anything to stall the inevitable, my reason argued, but my body objected.
"Then why do you deny yourself something you know your heart longs for?"
"Because…no one's reciprocated when I offered my heart to them, okay? I was down on my knees to one guy, offering him my heart, but he wouldn't even regard it."
He leaned in closer to me. "That may be another reason why I was sent here: so you could have someone to reciprocate to you longings, your loneliness, to dispel the pain that plagues your spirit."
I started saying "Please don't make love to me", but I bit my tongue on this.
Next thing I knew I had taken off my wire-rimmed glasses and set them aside with my pad on the crate I use for a bookcase/nightstand, and lifted my gaze to his. The blood pounded in my temples and I knew I was blushing. All over. Up to the roots of my hair and down my chest. He caressed my face with the outside of his fingers…so natural, so soft-skinned yet so firm…so real. I wondered if any man's hand would feel so wonderful.
I let out a little gasp, but it came out sounding like a sob.
"Let go of that feeling and you can escape it," he said.
I think I edged closer at that point. His hand ran down my face to my neck, then caressed my jaw-length hair, sending warm, tingling tendrils of delight through my scalp. I let go at that point: I started crying. He put his arms about me and drew me onto his knees, a gesture at once innocent and romantic. He tilted my face up to his and kissed away the teardrops on my face.
"This is what love feels like," he said, looking into my eyes when they had cleared. "This is what real love feels like. Consider yourself lucky and blessed that your first embrace will bring you no pain, only joy." He gently lowered me onto my back, leaning over me. "You deserve to experience this joy. You deserve…"
"You," I breathed as he leaned over me, covering me completely. I let my hands hold his head, my fingers sinking into his dense black hair, feeling, yes, the separate soft fibers that made up what had only looked so sleekly solid. I had little idea what to expect, but the hot, masculine scent that emanated from his perfect skin felt just right as it washed through my nasal passages, purging the phlegm that my allergies had deposited there.
The images and sensations start to fragment after this—maybe because my better nature would rather that they did. I remember his fingers working open the front of my button-down blouse and my embarrassment at my scrawniness and my acne-blotched skin. I'm twenty-five, but I have the bust of a twelve year old, despite my having hips worthy of Natalie Portman or Carrie-Anne Moss. I may have said as much to him, letting loose my embarrassment.
"Your imperfection only makes you more interesting," he replied, unfazed.
"But next to you I-I look awful; y-you-you're perfect!" I sputtered.
He laid a finger on my lips. "Then enjoy the perfection you can see and disregard that which you cannot see. To me, with me, you shall be perfect."
I recall a glimpse of his Adonis-like form backlit, freed of its garments, but everything fades after that.
I woke up to mid-spring early morning mist on my windowpane, myself shivering and alone under my blankets. I lay there at once blissfully saddened that the dream had ended and embarrassed at my own runaway imagination. Finally I had to jump out of bed and run to the washroom to douse myself with cold water.
Later that weekend I was out with Mark and some friends of his to see the new "Spiderman" movie. On the way back, Mark asked me, since I was the only one in the car with two x chromosomes (read: "female") what I thought about Tobey Maguire. I admitted he was darn cute beneath his mask, but that I was currently dead gone on a certain Jude Law character in a certain much-maligned android flick. I even made the mild blunder of admitting to having had the embarrassing dream.
"What kind of embarrassing dream?" asked Mark's friend John, who was sitting next to me in the back seat.
"The most embarrassing kind: a sexual one," I admitted, blushing all over.
"I bet that makes you want to go to sleep at night," John insinuated. I made some remark about the irony of that statement, since at the height of my loneliness sleeping was the last thing I wanted to do since it made me lonelier.
To this, Mark added a variation on his Joe impersonation. "'Once you've had Mecha, you'll never want a "real" man'," said in a velvety seductive tone, then jerking his head to the left and flicking on the CD player.
But in a strange turn of events since the dream I haven't had any clawing, screaming, suffocating nocturnal attacks of loneliness and longing. I've felt miniscule twinges that soon went away, but not what I felt before. Maybe the All Mighty let me have this dream to let me know that yes, there is hope, there is someone out there for me.
On that note, supposedly, whoever you are, there are four or five other people in the world who strongly resemble you in appearance. Now if I could just find one of the other three or four guys out there who happen to strongly resemble Jude Law!
But it doesn't end there. My heart is divided. At one in the same time, my better nature wants me to run to a convent and purge myself of these images; but the other half of my nature is murmuring, "Hey, Joe, whaddya know? You were right!"
Fans of Laurie E. Smith's "A.I." fansite may have read the transcript of the Warner Brothers' "A.I." Message Board thread entitled "Would You Test-Drive Gigolo Joe?" My answer follows:
"Date and time, yadda, yadda, yadda"
Hoo boy! Now there's a TOUGH question. ;8^) I think this would happen: I'd hesitate, he'd use his charms and I'd give in; then, post coitum triste, in the words of the Roman poet, sadness follows on coupling: I'd be thinking "What did I just DO?!?!" I'm a committed virgin, but I'm no prude by any stretch of the imagination; sex and love are a big deal to me, especially because I haven't had any experiences to make my cynical or jaded. When I find the right guy and marry him, I won't have anyone to compare him to. But there is that lure of the forbidden which I constantly have to deal with.
Say I did have the opportunity. But there are the drawbacks. I doubt Joe's services come cheap: probably in the area of 250 to 300 Newbucks. And how to pull it off without getting caught?
The cheapest way might be to relocate to Rouge City and strike up a flirtatious friendship with said Mecha (I wrote about this kind of scenario in my fanfiction "Runnin' Loose on the Streets of Rouge City").
But in my case, maybe a better question is how far would I let myself go with the green-eyed beauty?
Snuggling on a cold, snowy morning (I live in New England).
Dancing the Argentinean tango (I bet this guy could out-tango even an Argentinean; and you wouldn't be able to slip a dime between us!).
Conversation, conversation, conversation (Finally I'd find someone who probably appreciates the finer things of art and literature as much as I do, but who probably won't act stuck up about it. A few words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Pablo Neruda or Gerald Stearns whispered in my ear are more likely to send me into orbit than anything else).
Lying in each other's arms in a sunlit meadow, just gazing into each other's faces, green eyes to dark brown ones, or just watching the clouds drift by overhead (What sort of subliminals are in this Enya song I'm listening to?! ;8^))
Some folk seem to read a lot of smutty stuff into Joe's persona, but he strikes me as being very innocent, even a little naïve in his own way (Could be that's why he and David hit it off so well, that and a simple case of opposites attracting). Takes one to spot one? In a way, it's the first time every time for him since he has to do a lot of heavy-duty self-adjusting to each customer to maximize her experience. Imagine how his processors would be scrabbling if he had to deal with a post-act reformer!
For that matter, I'd be the first to defend Joe against the Orga powers that be after Bevins frames him with the murder (Is it just my weird observation or did Spielberg lift this plot element from the early Richard Gere movie "American Gigolo"?). I'd even try to hide him, which would be one way to get him to yourself; now that I've said that, everyone will be making attempts on my life!
Trouble is all this talk is awakening stuff in my system that my higher nature would rather see held in check.
::Exit author, running, to take a COLD shower::
I hope this didn't sound too prudish in the end. Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a jumble of at times highly paradoxical emotions, often very much at odds with each other. Especially when love is involved. Or lover-Mechas.
Literary Easter Egg:
I had previously titled this, by turns, "Help! Help! There's a Mecha in my Bed!" or "Confessions of a Writer Obsessed with a 'Washing Machine with a Heart of Gold'". The latter refers to Jude Law's own humorous self-description of the character.