Sell Out Man, Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten


E.M. Cioran wrote about how weak men depend upon a woman’s love to prop them up. Zev felt a distance between him and Amy and gradually he grew weaker. He detected a perturbation when he put his arm around her and tried to pull her in closer. He could tell that she didn’t love him as much anymore by the way he noticed the hair on her arm standing up when he got close to her. When she would smile at him it felt forced. There was something that felt like acting when they were together. Zev would try and forget about it.

There was a time when Amy was very in love with Zev. When they first met nine years ago Amy and Zev fell in love. Possibly it was love at first sight. Zev left the relationship he was in and Amy left the relationship she was in and immediately they were together. They tore apart their entire lives to be with one another. Amy thought Zev was the greatest person she had ever met. A true artist who was handsome, sexually deviant and kind. Once she saw his work she became his biggest fan and started writing various essays about his work and submitted her essays to various art and literary magazines and websites. Up until that point in Zev’s art career he didn’t have too many fans. He was a struggling artist. But Amy was a successful writer with a popular blog. She had several books published and wrote about everything from art, fashion, contemporary literature and women’s sexual liberation. The essays she wrote about Zev’s work brought him a greater audience.

Amy’s essays about Zev’s work were fervent and filled with enthusiasm. It was hard not to become a fan of Zev’s work and personality when reading her essays. In one essay she talked about the person Zev Bauhaus was. She called him a Mark Rothko of our time. She described him as a mysterious and anarchistic character. A person who didn’t care about the norms and petty preoccupations of society. He lingered in the shadows and stood on the outside. He chain smoked and read existential literature. He wore all black all the time and walked like a man mindful of each step. He was slow and calculated. Deviant and obscure. He was just the kind of artist our uptight and conformist culture needed.

Gallery owners started to contact Zev. More people visited his website. He started getting emails from people telling him they were a fan of his work. People wanted to talk with him and ask him questions. Various magazines and websites requested interviews. People had never wanted to talk to Zev Bauhaus before. He was obscure and unimportant. Just another artist contributing to the self-centered mass of unwanted creative detritus. But now people wanted his perspectives. They wanted to hear him talk. They wanted to display his paintings. Gradually the mystique created by Amy grew. Amy was very in love with Zev and any man who has the love and admiration of a woman like Amy is seen as possessing something all the rest of us are missing. Amy’s love made Zev Bauhaus a stronger man.

Amy was young and beautiful. The first year they knew one another they had sex all the time. Zev thought Amy was beautiful and sexually gifted and he wanted to share her with the few friends he had. A woman as beautiful and skilled as Amy needed to be shared. Zev always considered himself a good friend. They had threesomes with several of Zev’s friends. They would have his friends over to their apartment in Downtown LA. They would drink and do psychedelic drugs and spend the evenings having sex and talking. It was a liberated time in Zev and Amy’s life. Zev didn’t realize then that the sexually liberated woman he was helping Amy to become one would day turn on him.

After six months together Amy and Zev were married. Zev and Amy moved into their Silverlake home. Now that Zev was a married man living in an expensive home he had no choice but to pursue making money. He had serious responsibilities now. He was no longer and itinerant artist. He now had the pressures of domestic living weighing down upon him. As much as he didn’t want to he started taking opportunities being offered to him. He showed his work in various gallery shows all over the world. He gave interviews and he pretended to be enthusiastic about his work and the modern art world. He sold himself by being the kind of artist he was not. Several corporations contacted him for paintings. Rich people started buying his work. Facebook asked him to do a mural at their headquarters. Before Zev knew it he was making a lot of money and was in high demand. The art world was in love with Zev Bauhaus. A painter like no other. Zev was on top of the world and this made him uncomfortable. For the first time in his life everything was going well. He had a beautiful and intelligent woman completely devoted to him. He lived in a beautiful home. He had a lot of money in his bank account. His work was in high demand. As a result, he started getting panic attacks. He would run out of movie theaters and restaurants feeling like he couldn’t breathe. His anxiety grew. He knew that now he had a lot more to lose and he was convinced he would eventually lose it all.

Zev suspected that Amy could be cheating on him but he didn’t think much about it. He would have the thought and then immediately dismiss it. There was no way Amy could deceive him. He trusted her more than any person in the world. But Zev was growing older. He was past 40 now. He had to dye the gray from his hair. He moved slower and gradually became more burned out. He was negative most of the time and his misery grew like a cancerous tumor. The more successful he became the more unhappy he grew. But he assumed that Amy accepted these things about him. She was committed to him for the rest of their life together he assumed. Amy would tell Zev how much she loved him. She would tell him he was the love of her life and Zev would believe her.

But he started to feel like something fundamental was missing. The hugs and kisses gradually went away. The closeness he felt when next to her became more distant. Amy became angry more often when Zev would put his arm around her. The sound of Zev chewing food would torment Amy. The sound of his voice frustrated her. His misery was something she couldn’t find attractive. The sex was less and less often. Zev needed to do more and more perverted things with Amy and that frustrated her. She wasn’t as interested in the sex shows, sex clubs and swinger experiences as Zev was. But she pretended to be more interested than she was. She wanted to please Zev so she went along with it. She knew that Zev couldn’t be turned on by ordinary bedroom sex. He needed to take things a lot further. Amy wanted to stay in bed and watch Netflix. She wanted to have sex and then relax. But Zev needed to do all of these perverted things. He was never happy on a Friday or Saturday night unless they went on a sexual adventure. The more domestic Zev became, the more he needed strange sexual experiences. Amy felt like she was no longer good enough for him and began to look for men who made her feel like a queen.

Zev slept more and more in the other room or in his studio. He would go to bed angry. Sometimes he would pitch a tent in his backyard and sleep outside. He was feeling more and more alone. Amy was gone more often. She worked more and went out with friends. Zev didn’t like it when Amy had friends over to their home and Amy resented this about Zev. She wished he would be more social. Amy’s lack of interested in Zev made him feel more isolated. He felt less loved even though he wasn’t aware of it. Love is like an ice cube. It melts away when the heat between two people gets high. The immense love Zev once had from Amy was now dwindling to next to nothing. Amy tried to maintain the image of loving Zev just as much as she always did but it is impossible to hide true feelings. Human beings communicate at a level beyond words and pretense. We also communicate through feelings. Zev felt the absence of Amy as time went on.

Why did this always happen to him? Why did he always end up feeling this way in relationships? Zev wondered about these things. Zev tolerated not being loved and abandoned emotionally. He tolerated being less loved because he assumed this was what he deserved. He assumed that he intentionally would cause a woman to fall out of love with him by being mean and critical towards her. He was fearful of the intensity of a woman’s love and would gradually chip away at it. Zev was only able to feel desire and intimacy with a woman when she no longer was interested in him. When she was cold and distant. Then he could really love a woman because he was receiving the kind of treatment he felt like he deserved. Anger, frustration, deception, distance, repulsion and resentment were the kind of feelings he needed to feel to get closer to a woman. He had grown up with a father who made him feel terrible about himself. His mother had emotionally neglected him and sided with Zev’s destructive and mentally ill father. Zev’s father was a proud Bauhaus who had made lots of money. He was sadistic and mad and had to make Zev the terrible son in order to feel like a righteous man. As well respected and financially successful as Zev’s father was, he was the worst kind of abusive deviant. From a young age Zev learned how not to be loved. Amy’s distance and lack of connection felt normal to him. His depression and isolation was what he deserved for being the worthless person he felt like he was and he wore this depression and isolation as if it were normal. Meanwhile Amy was having the time of her life. Arthur was what she now wanted in a man. She was now invested in helping to build Arthur up as she let Zev down.

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