When one has to an important decision to make, exactly how much significance should he place upon (a) two path-crossing black cats, and (b) a swooping seagull with beady, menacing eyes?
The Acela Express train:
Businessman One: The only problem with subscribing to Sports Illustrated is that three days later, I’m looking for another magazine. I’m digging around for catalogs, whatever, anything to read.
Businessman Two: But what about that Swimsuit Issue, eh?
Businessman One: Aw, man, I don’t even read the Swimsuit Issue. I don’t even look at it.
Businessman Two: Wha-?
Businessman One: All those bodies look like they were grown in a . . . hermetically . . . sealed . . . farm . . . somewhere in Texas.
Later, after they disembarked, a woman reminiscent of Florence Jean Castlebury (from “Alice”) and a Filipina woman took their seats. “You have the biggest Asian business association in America,” Flo repeated time and again. The Filipina woman nodded, seemingly not confident of this, but I was in nonetheless in awe to be in the presence of both Florence Jean Castlebury and a representative of what might possibly have been the biggest Asian business association in America.
Last night, Faustus invited Rob and me out to see a movie called Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, the Valuable Life Lesson of which appeared to be that one can prevail by lying and stealing, as long as it is done with a smile and not a sneer. While the film was enjoyable at the time, it was a narrative disaster that proved so unmemorable that five minutes after we arrived home, we forgot we had left the apartment at all.
A compendium of labels placed upon Ms. Goblin Foo Uvula in the past week:
You Little Weasel
Licky McLickerson, Mayoress of Lickyville
Pretty, Pretty Princess
Of course, Rob was brilliant, as were his friends Jonathan and Lisa, who helped him out by singing some of his songs. As was I for being in the audience. It is always a bit awkward for me to attend things like this because the show-business crowd is so self-involved and insecure that people from outside that realm do not quite show up on their radar, and I am not one to beat people over the head to get into a conversation about things that have nothing to do with me. Jonathan was an angel to recognize my quandary and initiate a discussion about Macromedia Flash, a complicated piece of animation software that we are both trying to teach ourselves. And, of course, hearing Rob sing was a rare delight that transcended any minor discomfiture I might have felt. I was unspeakably proud of him.
You see, I went to the therapist today, and she had me discuss my emotions. Ridiculous things, usually, but I am under doctor’s orders to accept and embrace mine. Nonsensical, but true. I suppose it really is for my own good, but I question the effectiveness of therapy for me when everyone around me is crazier than I am.
When I was a kid, I used to go to the playground, get the miniature carousel spinning fast enough to break free from the space-time continuum, and then hop on and lie on my back in the center. The world disappeared into blurry streams of color until the contraption drifted to a stop, and, still enchanted, I staggered off to vomit in the bushes.
That’s how my life has felt for the past few months: an assiduous, all-consuming whirl of activity from which there has been little respite. Now, as things begin to decelerate, and I contemplate my first tentative steps on solid earth, it is time to survey the fallout.
The good news is that the shop I have been working on is gorgeous, and merchandise has been flying off the shelves. And I do not mean flying off the shelves in a spooky psychokinetic way, a detail that begs clarification given that the store is in Georgetown, home of The Exorcist. No, people are enthusiastically picking it up and purchasing it with cash or Visa or American Express. Then are then carrying it home in bags. Bags, I tell you.
The bad news is that I have lost contact with several friends, and every waking moment I am not working is permeated with guilt over not working, as well as whatever I would normally be feeling (which is anxiety about not working, a completely different animal).
But as I said, things are beginning to slow down.
Saturday evening, I showed Crash (who was in Washington for a convention) the fruits of my labor, and then we met Zenchick, who, as it happens, lives in my hometown of Baltimore. I only had time for a quick drink with my fellow bloggers, but it turned out to be time enough to establish a connection. It seems that my former acupuncturist is Zenchick’s current acupuncturist. We are siblings in acupuncture, or perhaps step-siblings. We are ships that pass in the night, which occasionally share an alternative health practitioner.
Sunday is notable for what I did not do. That morning, Crash and I (and Goblin) zipped back up to Manhattan on the Metroliner. MAK had off-handedly invited me to a “Sex and the City” party at Bob’s apartment, but he never followed up by sending me any details or directions. So instead of attending a “Sex and the City” party on Sunday night, I stayed home by myself and cried in the dark. Well, actually, the lights were on, and Rob was there, and we had a nice dinner of instant soup and peanut butter sandwiches.
But inside, I was crying.
Now pardon me while I stagger to the bushes.
Update: If you are in New York, don’t forget to come see Rob’s performance at the Duplex tonight! Scroll down for details.
This is the second of at least two posts for today. Scroll down to read about an encounter with my grandfather.
To all of you lucky duckies who will be in New York City on Monday night: now you have something to do. My boyfriend, Rob, is performing in a cabaret at the Duplex. Not only will you be able to hear some of his wonderful songs, he will actually sing one of them himself, something he NEVER does these days.
The information follows. Please come and cheer him on!
“NEW YORK – The Storefront has announced plans for a fourth round of their critically-acclaimed and award-winning NEW MONDAYS series, featuring the works of composers both legendary and up-and-coming. Each Monday, three songwriters will gather to debut three or four of their new compositions in front of a live audience. Some of the composers will perform the material themselves, some will be accompanied by accomplished vocalists from the worlds of theatre and cabaret. The series will run Mondays, February 2 through March 1 at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre (61 Christopher St). There is a $12 cover, and a two-drink minimum. All performances begin at 7pm. For reservations, please call 212.255.5438. The press is invited to all presentations. For press reservations, please call 212.989.3015, or e-mail email@example.com.
“February 23: Bill Russell (Side Show, Elegies…, Pageant), Clare Cooper, Rob Hartmann”
Note that this is the first of two or three posts for today. I am not sure to what you owe this web-logging bonanza, but you can thank your lucky stars for it. Ha ha.
I had just gotten some clothes out of the dryer and was folding them on the kitchen table where my grandfather was eating a bowl of Cheerios. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Folding my laundry,” I said.
“That’s women’s work,” he said.
“Find me a woman, and I’ll hand it off,” I said.
“Good boy,” he said. I hate folding laundry, so I would have turned it over to a wild bandicoot if it could correctly match the socks, but I get further with my grandfather if I just play along with whatever is going through his octogenarian head. He stared at me for a few seconds and said, “Who does the cooking, you or your, uh, friend?”
I did not bat an eye, but that was an historic moment: the first time my grandfather alluded to Rob as someone with whom I share a home and familiar domestic chores. “He does,” I said. “I can’t cook.”
“I can’t, either,” he said.
He then spent a half hour telling stories of how he mistreated his Japanese prisoners of war during World War Two.
I bought Goblin a stylish carrying bag that is so effective at cloaking her presence that, on Wednesday, I was able to smuggle her aboard the Metroliner. Dogs are not typically allowed on Amtrak, a nonsensical prohibition considering that the typical passengers-overweight businessmen who bellow and howl into cellphones-are far more intrusive than any dog could ever be, even if it were gnawing on my face.
The good news is that am now able to take her everywhere I go. The bad news is that, when I do so, it appears as if I am having earnest conversations with my gym bag.
Speaking of conversation, it has been asserted by some that the advent of television and other modern media are killing that traditional art. It is clear that those people do not listen to morning drive-time radio, every station of which is based upon the model of endless chatter among a group of wacky baboons who are overly impressed with themselves. While trapped in a two-hour morning commute yesterday, I scanned the dial like an obsessive Lieutenant Uhura, looking for actual music. Instead, there was only station after station of moronic giggling; the only thing that appeared to separate them is what the giggling was about. I felt as if I were reenacting the last scene of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the woman ran around and around trying to find another normal human.
She failed spectacularly.
At least I have my bag to talk to.
Due to lingering illness and the transformation of my work into an inescapable hamster wheel, my writing here will no doubt be light for the next few days.
This is not to say I will leave you high and dry. I am no Marie Antoinette, secure in my fortress, tossing off a flippant Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. (Truth be known, I am more of a Joan Crawford I-can-handle-the-socks kind of boy.)
Today, instead of laboring over something new, I will leave you with something rather old. Recently, the guests at my friend Lauri’s baby shower were asked to contribute a page to a bedtime-story book for her new daughter. I had my mother scrounge up the first story I ever typed on the computer. Generous soul that I was, I did it for my little brother, who for some reason insisted upon referring to himself as “Baby Bear.” I would not normally be one to encourage such a thing, but I suppose that one’s resolve is not quite fully developed when one is six years old.
So without further ado, after a quick cut-and-paste, I present it to you here. Mortification has never been so simple. Thank you, Macintosh!
Written and typed by David M.
Baby Bear was walking through his house in Feb. one day when out of his room an elf appeared.
Who are you? asked Baby Bear.
I am the Birthday elf. said the elf.
Is it my birthday again? asked Baby Bear.
No, but I was all tied up on your birthday.
come with me to birthday land.
Poof! they were gone. When they were in a strange place with lollypop trees and koolaid rivers and lakes. Go anywhere you want but be back by 5 o’clock!
O.K. Baby Bear said running into a field of lollypop trees.
He walked round awhile only stopping to lick a lollypop tree. It was 4:30 when he saw that he was lost.
Suddenly the elf appeared and took him home and when he got there he saw a hole lot of presents on his bed, he opened them and this is what he got
star wars stiff
and a flash light.
And we’re back.
Some of you may have speculated that I was lost in a days-long swoon over the discovery that American democracy, increasingly vanishing at the polls, has been reincarnated with gusto in the form of “American Idol.” While it is true that this phenomenon preoccupies me to no end, the truth is that I have spent the past week in a state of both extraordinary activity and extraordinary illness, leaving me in a condition that brings to mind my mother’s notorious self-diagnosis of being simultaneously sick and tired. “I am sick and tired of this!” she would shriek when confronted with the antics of her five raucous sons and the swirl of troublemaking friends, mischievous pets, and other youthful disasters we trailed in our wake. How she survived for so many years without turning to the bottle I cannot even begin to speculate; we took sick days from school as often as it was possible to hoodwink her into it, but there was never a provision for her sick-and-tired days.
“I am sick and tired of this!” As soon as we heard it, my brothers and I would scatter to the winds. Later, we would learn to adapt this declaration to our own nefarious purposes. “I’m tired of him!” became our irreproachable excuse for beating each other to a pulp, and “I’m tired of you!” was either a war cry or a pretext for walking away from a fight without admitting defeat, depending upon the occasion. The “sick” was lost in the shuffle, but it turned out to be infectious among our large family.
Now, lying in the home I came of age in, I am sick and tired once again, although this time the rebellion of my body is the result of productive and valuable work. Here, with the earsplitting sounds of construction, dogs barking, Fox News blaring, babies crying, phones ringing off the hook, flocks of honking geese streaming by, and people screaming to make themselves heard from distant corners of the house, I am amongst pure chaos once again. At least I can recover my nerves through the realization that, this time, I am not the cause of it.
A few days ago, I learned about something called “American Idol.” From what I can determine, and correct me if I am wrong, this is a television program on which untalented singers perform for unkind judges. Those who endure that experience move on to compete against each other, the judges in the new round being average Americans who pay money to phone in their vote. The winner gets a record contract.
You could knock me over with a feather. How long has this nonsense been going on?
One of my sisters-in-law had a baby in December, and another delivered hers a few days ago. I just returned from a baby shower for my friend Lauri, which another friend (and former “sister-in-law”), Margaret, attended with her own infant.
What is it about babies? They are suddenly turning up everywhere, like the birds in The Birds, although with considerably more accessories. Lauri received enough supplies to outfit an army, assuming it was an army of toddling girls. Other mothers showed up, like overburdened sherpas, lugging their offspring and bags bulging with diapers, bottles, wardrobe for all seasons, and every toy ever known to occupy the child’s attention, if only for a split second.
At the baby shower, Rob and I befriended another gay couple, Bill and Eric, who were talking adoption. When that topic arises, I always reflect on the thankless task of raising my dog. Inspired by the infant fashion festival, we went home, retrieved our little Boston terrier, and visited the dog clothier. You may recall that the animal psychic we consulted reported that Goblin wanted to pick out her own outfit. She chose a red ensemble: a sleek coat and a pretty collar with flowers on it. The whole thing cost more than my last outfit, but anything for our little bat-eared beauty queen.
I have always maintained that I do not have enough patience for babies, and that they should be neither seen nor heard from until they graduate from high school. Goblin, however, whose obstinate puppyhood transformed my already-traumatized nerves into guitar strings, has been good practice for the breeding instincts of my family and friends.
If I could only remember to stop calling their children by my dog’s name, we’ll be good to go.
It may be difficult to believe given the embittered old agnostic I have become, but when I was very young, I enjoyed going to church. This had little to do with matters liturgical and much to do with the Freshen Up gum my grandmother distributed when she met us there. My family always sat in one of the front pews, an incomprehensible choice considering how rowdy my brothers and I were-but at least I can boast that all eyes were on me when I whipped out the hand-made guitar my father had fashioned out of plywood, electrical wire, and bright blue paint. In its short-lived heyday, I would accompany the folk group with an apocalyptic twang that rattled the stained-glass windows and made the plaster saints weep with despair. Later, after I learned how to read, I occupied myself by fact-checking the hymnals.
This was not your Mel Gibson Catholicism. Sunday School was a whimsical catechism of art projects and interpretive dance. We were taught that Jesus was our best friend who sometimes disguised himself as a fluffy lamb; I was in seventh grade before I knew what a monk was, and the alerts about priests who might touch you in a bathing-suit place came long after my eighth-grade retreat with the overly huggy deacon who enjoyed walking around naked after a shower.
The result of all this was an engaging but fanciful mythology that began to fade from my mind with the disenfranchisement of Santa Claus, was further eclipsed when we studied the sexier Roman pantheon in school, and finally burst like a soap bubble the first time I saw a “God Hates Fags” counter-demonstration at a gay rights march.
I occasionally miss my naïve youth, before the cynicism filled my mind with an echoing ring that drowned out the church bells, and I would still believe anything I was told. I try to recapture it some nights as I drift off to sleep.
It tastes like Freshen Up gum.
Things that happened this week:
1. Rob picked out some sugar-free ice cream sandwiches that taste like ice-cream-sandwich-flavored sawdust. The ice cream bars I picked out melted before we got home.
2. My therapist observed that I have feelings of superiority to humanity in general. This is neither news nor strictly true. I do, however, feel vastly more evolved than the fifty percent of Americans who think that President Sanctimonious Chimpanzee is doing a good job. This is significant, considering that I do not often have a high opinion of myself.
3. We watched the “Bewitched” in which it was revealed that the Loch Ness Monster was really a warlock who was transformed by Serena for being too pesty.
4. Goblin chased some squirrels, ripped the stuffing out of her new toy raccoon, and devoured a used popsicle stick she found on the floor.
That is all.
During the heady days of the New Economy, when I was the art director at an Internet company near Washington, D.C., I was forced to park my car in a garage located about a half mile from my office. Every morning, frazzled from a largely stationary rush hour on the Beltway, I would rollerblade down Wisconsin Avenue to the local Starbucks, where I ordered a hot chocolate (this was before I liked tea; I have never liked coffee). Clutching a steaming cup, I would glide into work, the epitome of a Generation X-er, and begin my day.
A woman named Michelle worked in the programming department across the aisle from me, and she was really cool. She had a gang of friends that she called her peeps, with whom she communicated in an arcane lingo based upon old “Brady Bunch” episodes. I wanted to be one of Michelle’s peeps more than anything, but there was a lot of tetchiness between the programming and art departments because of our bosses’ animosity toward each other. Finally, in a diplomatic triumph that made Otto von Bismarck’s Triple Alliance look like a bunch of kids playing jacks, I was awarded peephood on a provisional basis. The catch: I had to launch an immediate and extended boycott against Starbucks, whose lackadaisical employees had annoyed Michelle one too many times.
Naturally, I complied. And though my badge of peephood was tarnished with my second-class status, I endured the lack of daily hot chocolate with equanimity. It was a personal sacrifice for the good of all the peeps, a cross I was happy to bear.
Until the day, a month later, I saw Michelle and one of her favored peeps come into the building, giggling and sipping Venti Café Mochas. I leapt up to confront them, to make them answer for their lack of resolve. What about the boycott? What about unity among the peeps?
“Oh, I forgot all about that,” said Michelle. “We’ve been going to Starbucks again for weeks.”
“But . . . ,” I stammered, “but . . . but . . . .”
And then, because I dared to question her, Michelle revoked my peepness on the spot. It was a crushing blow, unrivaled by getting laid off from my job the following week. The Tech Bubble was not the only thing that burst that cold November.
And hot chocolate has not tasted the same since.
I am not going to write about seeing Caroline, or Change again with MAK. I am not going to write again about the honesty of its furious power, about the depths of rage and agony lurking just below the surface of two innocuous Louisiana families united by a washing machine, a clothes dryer, a bleach cup, and the omnipresent moon. I especially will not write about seeing Tim Robbins during intermission while eating a sinfully enormous double-fudge brownie with the mass of a moist cinder block.
Instead, I have a question.
What mobile phone company do you use, and do you like it?
I am going to change providers because I am unhappy with my service, but the problem is that I don’t know anyone who loves their mobile phone company. In fact, just about everyone I know hates their service and cannot wait for their contract to end so they can switch.
One would think that a truly reliable and inexpensive provider could sweep in and dominate the market in an instant, but instead, as always, we are held hostage by a pantheon of squabbling bunglers.
So . . . anyone have a recommendation? A horror story? Let it all out in the comments area below.