Saturday, January 25, 2003

Potential

I could write about my horrible date with candidate # 1, my jokes he didn’t have the courtesy to laugh to, or the Pad Thai he swallowed fork-full after fork-full, the noodles leaving red imprints around his mouth as he spoke about his childhood, boarding schools, and graduate work, all the while unaware of my obvious disinterest.

I could describe last night, the drinks I consumed before meeting a slightly-overweight Scottish man in a kilt who, in the city for a hair show and after complimenting on my, as he termed them, exquisite looks, urged me to follow him to his hotel room for a hair cut. I could detail how it felt to have my hair washed in a sink, drinking sour apple martinis, ashing into the toilet, as a group of Scottish hair dressers ordered up room service and informed me that such a cut would have ordinarily cost me six hundred dollars.

I could speak about what it’s like being the token American gay-trash guy in a group of accented Europeans.

Or maybe what it felt like to stumble my way back to bed at the early signs of daybreak again, silently cursing at myself and the sunlight that was slowly creeping beneath the blinds.

I could attempt to describe the feel of wood on my palms, or the way Marl and I sanded and stained shelves for our kitchen this afternoon, each mounted shelf being cause for a moment of silence, a step back, and a long let-going of a sigh of accomplishment.

I could even go into detail about my fourth and fifth Mtv has-been sighting in Berkeley, the clothes they wore, what they were eating—the gestures they made.

All of these things I had planned to write about in a concise, organized, and controlled manner. I had thought about the adjectives I would use to describe that or this feeling, the verbs that would indicate the most action—I had agreed that I would avoid too many hyphens.

But now, in my room, with all windows open and with the unexpected cool breeze letting itself in, I can't help but find all of it unimportant, stupid--not worthy of any detail. Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm just killing time, as if I was somehow permanently trapped in a dentist’s waiting room with nothing to occupy me but month old editions of Esquire.

Killing time has never been much of an issue for me; distractions, it seems, have always had a natural way of finding me, as if they were almost biological and that avoidance of any sort would be as immoral as abandoning one’s child.

What’s got me tonight, what’s got me thinking about the details of my life, the stuff that I could or could not go without, is not so much knowing that most of my waking hours are spent killing time but, instead, not knowing what it is I’m killing time for and what exactly is meant to follow after those hours have been spent.

Like waiting for a letter that’s never been sent or anticipating the end of the world, sweating the small stuff until the big bang, that postcard in the mailbox, has never felt so damn trivial.


Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Another Cosmo on my Tab Please

It's his smile that I think most about when in the presence of others. It's the way he laughed at my jokes while not understanding them but acknowledging that they were funny and that laughter was the proper response.

I get this way when I'm in a bar and, save for my rum and coke and few friends in proximity, feel lost and helplessly lonely. I guess thinking of my ex isn't as bad as calling him, though I'm guilty of both tonight.

I don't exactly know what it was. Was it that bastard who spilt beer on my shoes and laughed, concluding that they were too white anyway? Was it me sulking in the corner, thinking about those nights and the way he squirmed when I cornered him off and made him kiss me in that way he always hated: slowly and with meaning?

Or maybe it was the night sky, the way it told me that it was winter, that I was single, and that my bed would be cold...again?

Maybe falling back on memories isn't such a bad thing anyway. Maybe clinging onto a past that has long forgotten itself isn't as selfish as I had once thought. Sure it's irrational. Sure it's five hundred steps in the wrong direction. And sure it makes absolutely no sense why I'm still in love with a man who left me six months ago and never said goodbye.

But on nights like these, when my mind drifts to places we've been, 3am moments we've shared, sometimes, being unreasonable is the only thing that makes any sense anymore.

Monday, January 20, 2003

The fog that seems to have clustered itself around my apartment building like a colony of mushrooms has officially manhandled me into a state of gloom, and I've done nothing but sulk around in my sweats, shifting my weary body from couch to couch, bed to bed. I really should be more proactive, I say to myself on days like these, but I eventually surrender, play a Nora Jones mp3, and decide that I could possibly write a novel or construct a birdhouse out of toothpicks some other day.

But since I'm back in Berkeley, I've decided to shift my Getting a Decent Date pursuit into fourth gear in hopes that it might actually make me want to wash my face, fix my hair, and leave the almond-pecan pie in the fridge. Here are my prospects:

Candidate # 1: A 24 year old high school teacher with an appreciation for Shakespeare and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When put through the Angelo Litmus test, he scored an amazing 91%, mainly by professing a love for The Stones. We're set to have Thai food this weekend.

Candidate # 2: A 30 something year old accountant from San Francisco who has a fetish for outdoor sex. He maintains that an afternoon in the wild with him will prove to be nothing but delightful. Our relationship thus far has been strictly email-based.

Candidate # 3: Go-Go boy. He, of course, is most likely to captivate my heart, but I fear that I might have ruined our future together seeing that I called him late a few nights back and accused him of being a circuit boy. He refuted this, however, telling me that though he takes sex with girls lightly, sex with boys, for him, is on a more get-to-know-you basis. This information was both music to my ears and cause for hesitation. On one hand, this means that he has sex with girls like it was nobody’s business (hardly something to do a handstand for), but on the other hand, this increases my chances of getting into his pants if we were to, say, spend a lazy afternoon playing a friendly game of touch football or even bonding over a Raider's game.

What is it exactly that people do in-between the time lapse of “getting to know each other” and getting to intimately know each other? How does one refrain from inquiring about one’s preferred sexual position and inquire instead about one’s preference in music?

It seems that I had always hoped that getting into one’s pants was the impetus for the other relationship stuff to follow. It really should.

This whole talking about our childhoods and discovering which novels we’ve both read, as if Wuthering Heights was the cement that would seal us together in soul mate-hood like a shared birthday, can be really taxing at times.

If there’s such a thing as arranged gay marriages, would someone please hook me up?

Monday, January 13, 2003

It's been two days since I've been to the gym, and I want to hang myself.

To add to this, I've been reading A Farewell to Arms, which makes me want to do nothing but drink red wine, eat cheese, and gripe about the Austrians.

I'm at the point in the novel where Lieutenant Henry is about to make love to nurse Catherine Barkley, where she will most likely languidly brush your bangs from her brow and breathe out, "That was awfully nice," and he, in turn, getting into an undershirt and ordering up some Grappa, will respond, "Aren't you a gal?"

Sadly, this is how I've been spending my nights these days. I did, however, waste away over a hundred dollars at a club Friday night, running a tab on a continual flow of martinis and attempting to seduce straight men. Neither of which did me any good.

So until I leave for Berkeley this Thursday, I think it'll just be me, Ernest, and the bottles of Chianti I've been hoarding in my closet.

It's much safer this way for everyone.

Wallet and straight men included.


Saturday, January 11, 2003

While painting my mother's bathroom this afternoon, I had the most shocking revelation:

My mother is my ultimate faghag.

For instance, she's plump and heavy-chested, never gets laid, hates my boyfriends and any that might follow, and is always quick to call anytime there's a lamp or faucet in need of installment. Furthermore, as far as my memory travels, I can remember by mother prancing into my room at odd hours, a different pump on each foot, and silently cat walking in circles around my bed waiting for my judgment, my index finger poised sternly in the air as I deliberated. In addition, I fervently believe that were it for not my keen eye and comprehension of matching colors, my mother would have spent her years living marginalized among the poorly dressed, underbelly of the Greek Community.

After all, what IS a gay man’s purpose in life other than to assist in the straight woman’s continual struggle for societal advancement?

At any rate, I don't see how I will manage to persuade a woman who implants religious talismans in my sock drawer to wear such a label as “Faghag” with a sense of pride and dignity.

Something tells me that she’d be more likely to do the Foxtrot in a “I’d rather share a needle with Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson” shirt than have “I’m not gay, But my son is!” embossed on her favorite coffee mug in rainbow print.

Sometimes, some things are better left un-embossed.


Wednesday, January 08, 2003

A Soliloquy

I love the gym.

I love the gym.

I love the gym.

(This reminds me of the time I tried to convince myself I wasn't an alcoholic.)

(It didn't work.)

Love the gym. Love the gym. Love the gym.

(I am Faye Dunaway with a wire hanger up my ass.)

Gym! Gym! Gym!

(Can't I just take Christina Aguilera's word for it, concluding that I am both externally and internally beautiful, spending my time instead finger painting?)

(I have a great personality?)

Fine. Fuck. I'm going.

(Help me.)

(Please.)

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Hamburger Hill in the Suburbs

I had the most frightful experience of my life the other day.

These past few weeks I've been taking to the gym every day in hopes of joining the ranks of Olympic water polo players, and I would have spent my usual two hours on the treadmill tonight were it not for my bad habit of not paying attention to business' hours of operation. This character flaw extends itself to the disregarding of warning labels on prescription drugs, the fine print located on the backside of my financial aid pamphlet, and all those other details no one in their right mind would dedicate a second to. At any rate, as it turns out, my gym closes at eight during the weekend. At a half past eight, I had no other choice. Fearing that I would become horribly obese if I were to skip out on a single work out, I jogged on the streets of Covina.

Everything was fine until my shoelace came undone. I kneeled, re-tied it, and, upon raising myself, I found myself eye to eye with a bona fide, fully adorned in fatigues, soldier equipped with both a semi-automatic and a large US flag resting on his shoulder.

"Had I done something to appease God, and had he, coming to his senses, finally agreed to answer my ultimate prayer?" I thought to myself as Mr. ROTC made his way in my direction with each thump of his 13-inch sized, black boots.

“How’s it going tonight?” He remarked in a very Willem Dafoe, circa Platoon years, voice.

But not knowing whether he (a) wanted to commence discourse about the escalating events in Iraq, (b) have sex with me, or (c) shoot me for not being as blatantly enthusiastic about the prospect of war as he was, all I could do was manage a muffled “Hello” and continue to work my way up Barranca Ave, all the while paying no attention to the jabbing pain in my abdomen.

Seeing a soldier may not be an altogether alarming sight, but there are three elements to this sighting that give it full “what the hell’s going on here?” status.

(1) Covina is a suburb that, save for a Marie Callenders, is void of anything in a ten mile radius, and I highly doubt that a craving for Lemon Meringue was the impetus for his outing that night.

(2) The flag was Wrigley Fields sized and, with exception of a parade, looked entirely odd and out of place held upright as it was.

(3) There was a GUN fastened around his shoulder!

A mile later, after I had convinced myself that Mr. ROTC was nothing but a mirage and had continued reciting my Must Look Good Naked mantra silently beneath my breath, I noticed a moving dark figure a block ahead. As I approached the moving figure in question, it become apparent to me that it was the soldier again, and he was running, toward me, with the flag flapping in the wind like excess arm fat.
I moved to my right to avoid inevitable collision, and he moved to his left, positioning us again like dueling partners. Moving to my left, he mirrored my movement and was again obstructing my intended path.

“Oh my god, a cryogenically preserved soldier from ‘nam has escaped and, bewildered by his sudden thawing, is going to kill me with one of those neck-snapping maneuvers”, I thought to myself before diving headfirst into some shrubbery, which was completely pointless because he, trained for grasslands combat, hunted me down like a wild boar and, using the butt of his pistol, preceded to bash in my face, my cries, “I’m not ASIAN!”, being all the while futile and an expense to my diminishing breath. . .

Or at least that’s what I expected to happen.

Instead, he moved out of my way yards before colliding and actually saluted me as if I were a member of the armed forces. Having seen An Officer and a Gentleman, and having imitated Richard Gere many a time, I returned the favor briskly.

What’s got me now is that if he wasn’t an cryogenically preserved soldier escapee or an overly zealous patriot just itching to get a good shot at the Muslims down the street, who the hell was he and what was he doing?

Even if he was a trailing guest of a military-themed gay sex party who, revitalized by a night of anal sex, crystal meth, and emphatic Yes Sirs!, decided to sprint home, I think I’ll stick to my mundane treadmill where I can monitor my caloric progress and leave the streets of Covina well enough alone.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Gay Man Out

Seeing that I was the only homosexual at the Ontario Convention Center last night drinking a make-shift apple martini poured in a Dixie cup and being generally bored out of my skull, I was asked by Father Dimitiri, our Greek Orthodox priest, to be in charge of the balloon dropping at midnight. Why he bestowed this honor upon me is a mystery considering that I haven't been seen in church for years and that there's been a rumor circulating within the Greek community that I sacrifice cats to Satan. Pity may as well have been his motive as I were a pitiful sight, sitting among the unwed, slightly overweight, Greek girls who were stuffing their faces in unison full of cheese cake.

At any rate, my duties included climbing on top some scaffold, waiting for my cue, and tugging on some wire in order for a heap of colorful balloons hoisted above in a net to gracefully descend onto the dance floor at the strike of midnight. Of course by that time I was already five makeshift martinis into the wind and, though I managed to somehow scale my post and acknowledge my cue, I found myself relentlessly tugging at the wire with no avail. Thirty some seconds after midnight, after everyone had exchanged their Happy New Years and blown their kazoos, and there were still no balloons twirling in the air like graceful ballerinas. The uneasiness in the hall was becoming as painfully obvious as Goldie Hawn's collagen lip injections. Glancing to my left, I noticed a look of disgust planted on my father's face, and my mother, not bearing the sight, had buried her face in her arms, her blond hair veiling her from her son's inadequacy.

So like any man in desperation would do, I jumped.

With the wire coiled around my elbow, I flung myself off the scaffold, sending down along with me those damn balloons. A brief applause filled the air and, after pealing myself from the floor, void of a helpful hand from a passerby I might add, I limped towards the bar where I was offered another makeshift martini by the bartender who had witnessed the entire affair. “On me,” he declared and gave me a quick nod as if he could somehow empathize with my plight.

Needless to say, I spent the remainder of the night hiding in the parking lot smoking and avoiding recognition as the "balloon guy". However, I was not alone in my shame. There among the cigarette smoke and parked Cadillac’s, I encountered the many other rejects ostracized by the Greek community: mainly, the non-Greek wives of Greek men and the morbidly obese. We gathered around each other like bathing seals generating body heat and consoled ourselves with declarations of our uniqueness the way groups of alcoholics justify their drinking. So what if some of them didn't know what a Greek salad was comprised of whereas the other half of them could ingest five of them in a matter of minutes? They understood me. Like soldiers maimed and disfigured during war and subsequently shunned by society, we shared a common language, a collective pain, and together we asserted our god-given right to exist.

So it was in this manner, in the company of Armenian women and candidates for tummy tucks, that I rang in the New Year. Sure I could have been wearing a midriff and swaying my hips to “Little Red Corvette” in West Hollywood, my eyes set on the timid nineteen year old in the corner who, from North Carolina, was visiting his more liberal and sexually flexible cousin, but would I have learned such a valuable lesson about acceptance? Were I not rubbing elbows with the outcasts, the Greek social lepers, would I have realized that even if I could not marry and procreate, could not roast a lamb or even be trusted with showering a dance floor with the fury of a thousand balloons, that there was, indeed, a place for people like me?

For people like me, the clumsy, the perpetually late, the ones knee-high in bad jokes, bad luck, and one too many drinks, finding appreciation is like finding value in a John Grisham novel, but knowing of its existence, like the momentary surge of vitality the dying experience before death, is the kind of hope I, we, are willing to pause for.