And while all of that is very interesting, it's not really what people reading tabloids care about. All they care about is "Who is Mayer going out with now?"
Jessica Simpson was his first big tabloid-heavy romance. They got together in mid-2006 and went public at Christina Aguilera's New Year's Eve party and then they got swarmed. At first Mayer didn't think he could handle all the media heat – "I got so many tension headaches from magazine covers that it felt like a threat" – but stuck it out with her for just shy of a year. Then there's his latest, Jennifer Aniston, and it was the purest kind of celebrity relationship, almost every minute of it documented in one way or another. When it ended, Mayer held an impromptu press conference outside his New York gym in which he planned to flay himself alive for breaking up with Aniston – "I'm the asshole. I burned the American flag. I basically murdered an ideal." Instead, he came off like a jerk only interested in taking credit for the breakup. "I've never really gotten over it," he says. "It was one of the worst times of my life."
He still thinks about Aniston a lot, and in conversation her name pops up often.
"I met a girl one time in Vegas, her name was Dimples, and the 'S' in Dimples was a dollar sign," he's saying early one evening sitting outside at the Chateau Marmont hotel. "I have this weird feeling, a pride thing, for the people I've had relationships with. I still feel like I'm with them, in the sense that if I fucked Dimples, what does that say about someone like Jen? I feel like it's all connected. How could I ever cosmically relate these two people? What would I be saying to Jen, who I think is fucking fantastic, if I said to her, 'I don't dislike you. In fact, I like you extremely well. But I have to back out of this because it doesn't arc over the horizon. This is not where I see myself for the rest of my life, this is not my ideal destiny,' and then I see myself fucking Dimples? What does that say for my case?"
Then again, there is what he did last summer. At a hotel in Vegas, he saw some girls by the pool, one thing led to another, and they all wound up in bed together. "And you know what? It wasn't smarmy. It was awesome. And then, after that, when I went out that night, I had the greatest time ever, because I was depleted, had no libido left, didn't have to do any of those crazy Blue Steel looks. It was unbelievable."
A waiter shows up. Mayer orders chicken. But then he realizes he ate chicken yesterday. "Fuck the chicken," he says and calls out for spaghetti Bolognese. "I'll be honest with you," he says then. "All this weird shit about me? All this strangeness? I wouldn't have a music career without it. But I am at odds with myself. I have some presence of psychological damage from the past 36 months. I have not had a woman appear in my dreams sexually without a paparazzi in the dream too. I can't even have a wet dream without having to explain to someone who's grinding on me, 'We can't do this right now, because there's a guy over there taking pictures.'" He groans. "I don't know how much further I can do this before I'm a dead body on the side of the road. I mean, either I'm a total fucking nut case who can explain himself, or I'm really not crazy and I can explain myself. I don't know yet. But I'll be happy when I close out this life-partner thing. It's been a long time since I've felt attached. Think of how much mental capacity I'm using to meet the right person so I can stop giving a fuck about it."
He's on a real roll right now, caught up again in the workings of his own mind. At times like these, it's impossible to get a word in edgewise. It seems dangerous to even try. It's best just to let him go on, reserve judgment, realize that, above all else, he means well and is simply, in the end, only trying to find his way, as best he can.
"I don't care about anything other than energy," he goes on. "That's why people think, 'Is he bi? Is he that?' I've never slept with a man. But I get it. I've seen pictures of men on the Internet that are sexier than pictures of most women."
Has he ever felt it stir?
"Sure. Abso-fucking-lutely. You know when I didn't feel it stir? When I actually stood next to a real dude. When I walk in the locker room at the gym, I'm 100 percent straight as an arrow. But, look, because of all the porn I've watched, I'm now enamored with what I call 'the third kind.' It's not male, it's not female. It's a new creation by way of the hundreds of blow-job films I've seen. There's a new brand of dicks going around right now. It's a new dick. It's a superdick. This superdick is straight and one color, and it seeks to destroy the race of men before them.
"I have a hugely creative and visual relationship with things," he continues. "So what's my job going to be? Finding somebody to be the only person. Basically, what am I going to do with my imaginary headless, hung dudes without a hair on them or anything masculine about them? What am I going to do with those dicks when it comes time to find somebody? Do they go away? Do you find a woman who incorporates it? Do you love this woman so much you no longer need it? I'm like in Avatar. I'm a legless, dickless dude laying in a chamber, projecting myself in all ways. I'm this legless asshole—"
A few cute girls walk by. Mayer finally stops talking. He looks at them but that's all. "If I talk to them, I'm expressing an interest I'd be betraying if I saw someone else that I wanted to talk to more. It's too early in the evening, and they'd be a sidecar. Anyway, here's how tonight's going to go. After this, I'm going to go home, smoke weed, and play Modern Warfare 2. It's what I'm going to do all night." But then he tilts his nose into the air, says he's good with scents and would bet money that one of the girls is wearing a perfume called Child. "If you're wrong, you're an idiot. If you're right, you're like James Bond."
He turns to them. "Excuse me, can I be rude and ask you a question? Is somebody here wearing Child?"
Then, a blonde: "I am," she says. "Well done."
So, tonight he's like James Bond. Tomorrow, who knows?
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