Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Heart NY

I Heart NY
                I did it.  I did what I thought no true New Yorker would ever do.  Not ever.  I escaped from New York City.  For good?  Forever?  For now.  When I moved there in 2004 from Alabama, I never thought I’d last a year.  I went from an extended stay hotel with an Asian transvestite hooker named Jack as a neighbor to a studio in a fabulous high rise luxury doorman building to a basement in an octogenarian’s apartment in a rundown building in Greenwich Village.  All in just 10 very long months.  Once I settled into my apartment on East 19th Street a year later, I was set.  By that time, I had a nice-paying job, friends that I adored and a dysfunctional dating life that would make Carrie Bradshaw look sane.  (Keep in mind this was 2004 so “Sex and the City” was still a relevant cultural touchstone.)  And it only got better from there.  Each year I got nice raises and nicer bonuses, I met more people and more friends, and I actually fell in love for an extended, yet still too brief, period of time.  I was one of those people who would shame anyone who could possibly ever want to leave Manhattan.  My love affair with The City was passionate and fun and spontaneous and exciting and all-consuming.  Until it wasn’t.
                I have written before in this blog about my growing dissatisfaction with my “nice-paying job.”  And when it became too much, I saved some money and quit.  Needing a break from the glamour and glitz—not to mention the price tags—I decided in 2012 to move to Provincetown and work in the service industry.  Serving cocktails in skimpy bathing suits by the pool and concert halls at night, I was living the dream.  I met a host of crazy characters, had a few torrid summer flings, and basically took a vacation from the real world.  Since all vacations must end, mine eventually did.  And I went back to New York.  Turns out, sometimes you can’t go home again.  The city gave me the cold shoulder.  So I left again.  Back to Provincetown in the winter.  Everyone was jealous of my wintry bliss.  Wintry bliss, my ass.  It was brutal.  But it did cement many friendships that were once just summer flings.  Lifelong friendships at that.  So I stayed through a very long winter and another fabulous summer.
                Upon my arrival part deux in Manhattan, I was excited and optimistic that we could rekindle our love for each other and put the past behind us.  And for a while, it looked like that could happen.  Within two months, I got a job.  A job that I really liked with people that I really liked and admired.  Then the moves started.  For various and boring reasons, I was forced to move from apartment to apartment to apartment.  Within the course of one year, I moved five times.  I also wasn’t making the money I made before and couldn’t afford to do all the things I loved as I could before Provincetown.  It might have helped if I would have said “No thank you” to a bartender every once in a while.  Or pushed away from the bar a couple of hours earlier at night.  Because while I was gone, a phenomenon occurred.  Life did not stand still.  New York didn’t stop moving because I wasn’t there.  People moved on.  And for the first time, I found myself the only single person in my group of friends.  People don’t realize it, but New York can be incredibly lonely on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the spring.  But vino has a way of keeping me company.  And it kept me company a lot.
And then I decided to go.  I don’t even know if there was a straw that broke that camel’s back.  The decision just crept into my brain.  And life started to take shape again.  I got an offer in Provincetown.  A full time job that would afford me to live there.  I found a house.  And I said my goodbyes again to New York.  This time it felt more final.  I may go back someday.  I have learned over and over to never say never.  But for this time in my life, a new chapter had to be written.  I will, however, miss working in skimpy bathing suits by the pool.  But when I brought that up to my friend Kip, he said “Well does Speedo even make Depends?” 
 I’m not as young as I used to be and older than I ever intended to be. 
                In 2001, on the aforementioned cultural touchstone that will always be my cultural touchstone, Carrie Bradshaw, in voiceover, said the following:  “It was official.  A new season had begun.  Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate.  Without them, what would shape our lives?  Perhaps, if we never veered off course, we wouldn’t fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.  After all, seasons change.  So do cities.  People come into your life and people go.  But it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart.  And if you’re very lucky, a plane ride away.”
                So after over ten years, a hundred or so Broadway shows, a few too many bottles of vino, and too many disastrous blind dates to count, I bid a fond farewell to that helluva town.  Sometimes frustrating, sometimes inspiring, all the time interesting, New York was pretty damn good to me.  It was a fantastic decade, the best decade of my life…so far.  And to the friends I made for all those years, it wouldn’t have been the same without you.  You will always be in my heart.  And yes…just a plane ride away.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back In Business

           First there were blizzards, then cold, rainy spring days, then an onslaught of tourists and oppressive heat, then a lovely, peaceful fall.  Now, nine months later, I just moved back to New York City from Provincetown.  I didn’t write much over the summer.  Too busy schlepping cocktails and chasing boys, I guess.  So I’m trying to stretch my writing muscles again.  My writing teacher, Nancy Kelton, has long exalted the praises of making lists.  Not grocery lists or to-do lists.  But lists.  Humorous, poignant, or otherwise.  So to help me get back in the writers’ room and with props to Nancy, I give you two lists.  “What Provincetown Gave Me” and “What Provincetown Taught Me.”  And no…#1 on the first list is not “An STD.” 

What Provincetown Gave Me 

  1. The ability to appreciate time…in the winter, there’s a lot of it.
  2. The ability to waste time…random sex and a bottle of wine can take a long time to finish.
  3. A mad abandon of the real world.
  4. An appreciation for the real world.
  5. The generosity of strangers.
  6. New friendships.
  7. Dinners with friends.
  8. Movies with friends.
  9. Blackouts with friends.
  10. A newfound love for Dancing With The Stars—what else is there to do on a Monday night in Provincetown in the winter?
  11. A newfound love for springtime.
  12. A newfound love for summertime and tourists.
  13. And a better appreciation for autumn and the quiet.
  14. Respect for Mother Nature…three blizzards in three weeks can wreak havoc on one’s mental stability.
  15. Respect for Mother Nature in a different way…the Dick Dock can be quite dangerous during high tide.
  16. Balance and creativity…you’d be surprised how the gays can come up with uniquely creative ways to have oral sex under the Dick Dock during high tide.
  17. Community theatre.
  18. Local talent shows.
  19. Small town drama.
  20. Long Sunday brunches at a bar overlooking the bay.
  21. Bartenders with liberal pours.
  22. Bayside Betsy’s and all the craziness that can ensue.
  23. The Little Bar and all the crazies that roll in.
  24. Stars! I even checked Barbra Streisand’s sister into our hotel.
  25. Awkward silences.  I told her how much I enjoyed seeing her onstage in Streisand’s concert last year in Brooklyn.  Her response:  “I wasn’t there.”  Ouch.
  26. The ability to walk down Commercial Street in the middle of winter and not see a single solitary soul.
  27. And then in the summer to walk down the same street and have no less than fifteen different people yell out, “Hey Craig!”. 
  28. Solitude.
  29. Community.
  30. Home. 
What Provincetown Taught Me 

  1. Look up…you may miss the full moon.
  2. Look up again…you can actually see the stars there.
  3. Look both ways…even in Provincetown, you can get hit by a lesbian on a bike.
  4. Turn around and cruise that hot guy on the street…he may be cruising too.
  5. Order another vodka if the hot guy at the end of the bar is staring at you.
  6. Don’t finish that last vodka if you can’t feel your feet.
  7. Men can be jerks everywhere, not just in New York City.
  8. The jerks are easier to spot in Provincetown…there’s not a lot to hide behind.
  9. Sex in the gym is inevitable…no matter where you live.
  10. I don’t like to cook.
  11. When I try to cook, I always burn the garlic.
  12. I don’t know how to turn off the smoke alarm after trying to cook. (Don’t worry, Ray and Jerry—only the garlic was burned)
  13. Make friends who like to cook.
  14. Life is painfully short…I learned that two men I went out with in the past died at the beginning of the year, so—
  15. Don’t sweat the small shit.
  16. And don’t sit around waiting on a dream to come true, because more often than not, the more you sit, the harder it is to get up.
  17. Who knew that a fifteen minute trip out of town to Wendy’s could make a winter week suddenly so much better?
  18. A dank, dark bar is not the place to solve your problems in the middle of the week in the middle of winter.
  19. Yet sometimes, a dank, dark bar is just the right place to solve your problems in the middle of the week in the middle of winter…if you have the right bartender.
  20. Working on the beach certainly helps, but work can suck anywhere at anytime.
  21. Writing is easy.
  22. Sitting down to write is hard.  Nothing sucks more than the blank screen…
  23. Except self-doubt.
  24. Immerse yourself in life.
  25. Don’t let life immerse you.
  26. New friendships can be cultivated at any age.
  27. Old friends slip away.
  28. New friends slip away.
  29. But lifelong friends stay forever…
  30. Just look the other way when you run into them at the Dick Dock.

Friday, April 12, 2013

One Singular Sensation

            I was in New York City last week for the first time as a tourist since 2000.  And I forgot just how exciting it can be.  Central Park, museums, Broadway, sexy men.  They’re all there.  I also forgot just how exciting it is to live there.  I had only been away for two months, but absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.  It brought up a lot of memories.  A lot of firsts.
            Like the first time I ever visited Manhattan.  It was August 1997.  I went with my friend Lindsy who was more traveled than I.  So basically when we walked out of Penn Station, I hid behind her.  Overwhelming was an understatement.  But I slowly gained my footing, and we had a trip of a lifetime.  I was young, naïve, and in the closet.  I had already done a little research and learned that the heart of gay life was in a place called Greenwich Village.  I pored through her travel guide and found a mixed piano bar called the Duplex.  We walked up to the bar and some flaming queen sashayed up beside us and looked at the bartender.
            “Can I have a COCK-tail?” he cooed.
            Lindsy dropped her drink, and I almost dropped my teeth. 
            We hit all the fantastic and trendy restaurants.  Hard Rock Café, TGI Friday’s, Planet Hollywood.  We were so culturally diverse that we chose to eat at the Motown Café.  I even got a chance to meet a Broadway dancer that I had seen on the Rosie O’Donnell Show.  He was in the same piano bar as we were one night.  I was standing on line for the restroom, and he walked out.
            “It’s all yours gorgeous,” he grinned.
            I was over the moon.  So my first trip to New York was also the first time I stalked a Broadway dancer.
            The first time I moved to New York City.  April 2001.  I had no job, nothing lined up, and didn’t know a soul.  I answered an ad on Rainbow Roommates and found myself living on the Upper West Side with a gay guy and a straight gal.  Mark and Valerie.  Mark and I butted heads immediately.  Basically, according to Valerie, because he wanted to sleep with me, but I didn’t return the feelings.  Valerie and I, however, got along like Will and Grace.  I think we bonded because, at the time, we were both wrecks.  She was going through a painful breakup, and I was looking for a job in a city I knew not a lot about.  I was emotionally unprepared for Manhattan and was terribly homesick.  I came home from a disastrous job interview one day around noon to find Valerie sitting in her nightgown on the couch drinking Corona.  The sun was shining brightly, so I naturally put on my banana-yellow swimming trunks, popped a Corona, and got drunk with Valerie on the fire escape. 
            The first guy I met was a cutie named Fernando.  He really was into me, but I was still a wreck.  I was drinking every night which gave me the blues everyday.  I spent the night with him at his apartment in Queens one night and found myself on the subway for my first rush hour the next morning.  It was hot and crowded and I was fighting nausea because of the liquor from the previous night.  I walked into our apartment, Valerie was still in her nightgown on the couch, the steam heat was on full blast, and I hurled in the bathroom.  I stopped seeing Fernando after he kept trying to hold my hand.  Gays don’t hold hands in public in the South.
            Two months later, with no job prospects and doing stupid things like going to see two Broadway shows a weekend, I threw in the towel and moved back to Alabama.
            The first time I moved to New York City and stayed.  August 2004.  My first year in Manhattan, I lived in an extended stay hotel where I had a transvestite neighbor named Jack.  I lived in Valerie’s vacant studio in Midtown where the young, cute doorman surprised me one night when I dragged my ass home around three in the morning.
            “Let me escort you to the elevator,” he offered.
            I was suspect.  No other doorman made such an offer.  We entered the elevator, and he turned to me.
            “I think you’re very attractive.”
            And with that, he dropped to his knees and blew me all the way up to the penthouse and all the way back down to the lobby and all the way back up to the penthouse and all the way back down to my floor.
            “Don’t think that’s going to happen every time I see you,” he smirked.
            “We’ll see,” I smirked back, just as the elevator door closed.
            It happened again every other Saturday.
            After Valerie’s studio, I lived in the basement of an octogenarian’s apartment.  Her name was Betty Davis, and I was crazy about her.  She always ate Lean Cuisines and made a mean whiskey stinger.  I was with her for about a month and then moved on.  Basically in my first year in New York, I moved six times before settling down with my friend Russell where I would live for the next five years.
            The first guy I dated in New York.  His name was Bruce.  He was the executive chef at the Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side.  We met at a quaint little bar called The Cock.  I was with my friend Bailey who was visiting from Birmingham.  The crowd was so tight and so randy at the Cock, it’s a wonder we didn’t get pregnant.  Bruce couldn’t make up his mind which one of us he wanted so he kept feeling our crotches.  Lucky for me, he mistook Bailey’s tiny asthma inhaler for his dick so I got the prize!  He had an old dog named Agnes who was knocking on death’s door.  Every time we had sex, Agnes would limp over to the bed and fart.  Ah romance. 
My first time at a full-on sex party.  Sponsored by party promoter, Daniel Nardicio, it was held at a darkened duplex apartment with a spiral staircase.  Mandatory clothes check, complimentary vodka.  After one too many complimentary vodkas and after stepping on a packet of lube, I went sailing down the spiral staircase on my ass and landed with a very loud thud.  I was mortified until a certain bandleader from a certain daytime talk show came over and offered me a hand.  So to speak.
            The first time I made friends in New York.  A group of quirky queens with very different and distinct personalities.  It took awhile to be fully integrated into their group.  And sometimes, the disconnect could be a little painful.  My first summer in the city, they all went to Provincetown for a week.  They planned the entire trip right in front of me, but I did get a consolation prize.  I got to feed one of their cats!  Eventually, they accepted me, their “miracle from Alabama” as one called me.  And eventually, I was asked to join their vacations.  The group isn’t as tight as it used to be, but lucky for me, I’m still friends with all of them.  And they have been with me on all my other firsts in New York.
           The first time a date peed on my shoes.  The first time I dropped a dildo out of my suitcase on 8th Avenue in Chelsea.  The first time I got dumped via email.  The first time I got a shitty job and had to answer to an uneducated Puerto Rican hag.  The first time someone broke my heart.
            And better firsts.  The first time I fell in love.  The first time I went to Lincoln Center.  The first time I could afford…truly afford…a Broadway ticket.  The first time I went to Brooklyn.  The first time I went to Fire Island.  The first time New York felt like home.   My first Gay Pride.  My first solo apartment.  The first time I had sex with a porn star.  My first writing class.  My first acting class.  The first time I had sex with a porn star….it bears repeating.
            I just found summer housing here in Provincetown, so it looks like I’ll be here until September.  But I’ll be back.  Back to a city where firsts are around every corner, down every alley, in every Broadway theatre, every bar, every park.  And I’ll be ready with an open mind and an open heart.  Who knows?  Maybe the stars will align, and I’ll have that perfect job, that perfect apartment, and that perfect man.  All at the same time. 
            Doubtful.  But there’s a first time for everything.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Losing My Mind

           I just got back from a short trip to New York City.  A much needed short trip to New York City.  Because I had cabin fever.  Actually, it was more than cabin fever.  It was more akin to what mental patients must feel like when they are in solitary confinement at Bellevue.  The only difference is that I didn’t answer my own questions out loud.  But I did do a lot of pacing about.  I’m a big city kind of gal.  I like the lights, the glamour, the sexy investment bankers.  I knew the winter here would be very quiet.  I just didn’t know it was going to be silent.  I was alright the first couple of months.  But the last few weeks started to weigh heavily.  There was not a lot to do.  There was so little to do that I actually spent up to an hour and a half daily at the gym.  Let me reiterate.  An hour and a half.  Once more…an hour.  And a half.  For someone who basically gets his exercise by walking to McDonald’s or a bar, that is quite a feat.  And I only had sex once in the sauna.  Well, three times.  But they were only hand jobs that took three minutes tops. 
            The rest of my time has been spent writing…not as much as I would have liked but still.  So I have been writingish.   I have worked part-timeish at the hotel.  And I’ve drank.  Not ish.  I’ve drank.  Other cities have their own winter sports.  In Provincetown, at the end of the world, the winter sport is to belly up at the bar.  Any bar will do.  One just needs a sturdy grip and a friendly bartender with a liberal pour.  And usually in other cities, the nuts come out in the heat.  Here they are on full display in the freezing cold.  One guy walks up and down Commercial Street all day.  All damn day.  And every time I pass him (no, I don’t walk up and down the street all day…just part of the day), he asks me for a cigarette.  Another guy in town looks like he hasn’t bathed since last winter and has a laugh that would make a hyena cower. 
            Luckily, I have a certain cast of characters that keep me sane.  Ish.  There’s Peter, my friend and roommate from last summer.  We both have ample party skills.  Our first night as roommates, I fell through the door, and he fell through a window.  So compared to last summer, he has been quite subdued this winter.  Oh he’s had an occasional shirtless night at the dance club, but who hasn’t?  There’s Charles, a Southern gent who loves to talk about art and the theatre.  He also loves to talk religion and politics.  At a bar.  Which, unfortunately for some crazy queen, crescendoed into Charles throwing his very loud and very ugly wig into the parking lot.  There’s Mrs. A.  It was weeks before I knew his real name.  I just knew him as Mrs. A.  And still do.  He never wears long pants, always wears hip and oversized glasses, and smells like expensive cologne.  He also always wears orange and has calves that could crack walnuts.  There’s Dante, who is legally blind but can still spot a hot young buck from twenty paces. 
            All of us met basically at the “Cheers” of Provincetown, Bayside Betsy’s.  Which brings me to my two favorite bartenders.  There’s George, or Gladys as he’s called in some circles.  Beating around the bush is not his forte.  Just this past weekend, I walked in there with Magic Mike, a topic of a previous essay.  We sat down, he gave us our menus and said “So are you guys just friends or are you fucking?”  Magic Mike almost fell out of his chair.  Then there’s the grande dame of the bar, Nicholas.  Never one to mince words and never one to miss a beat, Nicholas has us all pegged.  And his one-liners are to die for.  I was talking about a romantic tryst one night.  Nick overheard.
            “I just want a fat guy to come over and make me pizza.”
            A customer playfully asked Nick’s ex one night what his issue was.  Nick overheard.
            “Have you got a pen and piece of paper?”
            Never misses a beat.
            This barnyard of characters is overseen by Bayside Betsy herself.  She runs her business with the savvy of a New York businessman, yet opens her restaurant up to local charities and wakes for local citizens.  So she’s basically like Donald Trump with a heart but no comb over. 
            So I’m getting by.  I got out of town last week for a trip to New York and came back to a different town.  The sun is out, the skies are blue, and more businesses are open.  There are people on the streets, this past weekend was packed, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I also found out this past weekend that my summer rental options have fallen through.  So now I’m forced to look for a place to live.  If you had told me this two weeks ago, I would have packed up and left immediately.  But a quick trip to New York and the awakening of spring in Provincetown made me realize I’m not done yet.  I want another amazing summer where I meet really interesting people and see amazing performances.  A summer where I work my ass off in a tight little bathing suit.  A summer where anything can happen.  That’s the thing about Provincetown.  It’s like a big old insane asylum. 
            It’s easy to get in.  But it’s hell to get out.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Magic Mike

             I was wrapped up in bed with Mike, bundled under the covers last weekend, when I glanced over at my nightstand.  On it…a bottle of lube, three condoms, and a can of bean dip.  Those three items were getting me through the blizzard.  And Mike wasn’t hurting either.  No heat.  No electricity.  No hot water.  Thankfully, we were generating our own brand of heat.  Mike, a friend with benefits, was visiting from Manhattan.  We’ve known each other for a few years.  We never really hung out a lot, unless it was horizontal.  So this was the first time we ever spent any length of time together, much less dinner and a whole weekend.  And I was pleasantly surprised.  When I rolled over and saw those three items, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“You have to write about that,” he said.  “Just change my name to Mike.”
             So his wish has been granted.  He got here on Thursday, and I assumed that it was just going to be a weekend of sex.  But when the temperature started dropping, my feelings started warming.  To my huge surprise.  We’ve been hooking up for a few years off and on, but this was different.  We were actually talking, actually having a conversation.  There was more passion, more intimacy, more laughs.  And when he left on Sunday, I was wistful and more than a little sad.  And then I began to get irrationally angry.  I began to question why no guy has ever stuck around long enough to know how I like my steak cooked.  And it’s not like I haven’t dated.  I’ve been to every type of restaurant with every type of cuisine.  I’ve been to movies and plays and ballets and museums and hikes and walks and coffees.  Hell, I’ve even been taken to Hooters.  But that was only because he had a coupon for their coconut shrimp.  So I’ve definitely tried.  It’s just that none seemed to take.
            My first boyfriend, Andy, was twenty-five.  I was only twenty-nine at the time, but we were decades apart.  Maturity wasn’t his strong suit.  I was physically attracted to him, and I thought his lack of social skills was charming.  But just that does not a relationship make.  We had a ball together though.  He was sexy and amusing and sweet.  He was also argumentative, manipulative, and somewhat of a slut.  But according to my therapist, I was needy and co-dependent.  So I dated him for about nine months.  However, the labor pains got too intense, so I broke up with him.  Then wanted him back.  Then broke up with him again.  Then wanted him back again.  Finally, he did me a favor and started dating some crack addict.  That was after he took me to Hooters.
I dated sporadically after that in Birmingham.  An older doctor who turned out to be married.  A winner of a guy who I dumped because I couldn’t handle the fact that he was black.  Ignorance tended to creep up on me in the South.
“You didn’t notice I was black when I asked you out?”
“It was dark in the bar,” was my attempt at humor.
It didn’t work.
            And back in New York, I’ve dated some doozies.  There was Michael the bartender who I met a few months after I moved there.  I was in Duane Reade on the afternoon of my first New Years’ Eve in the city.  I called and asked him to meet me later for a drink.  I didn’t know anyone else, and he knew it.
            “Don’t you have any other friends here?” he asked.
            That was the first and only time I’ve cried in the moisturizer aisle at Duane Reade.
            Then there was Adam who was in an open relationship.  I fell in love.  The entire time, he never told me he was leaving his boyfriend.  The entire time, I knew in my mind that he was going to leave his boyfriend.  Then he didn’t call me for two months.  So I naturally assumed the boyfriend won out.  I was right.
            And how can I forget the guy who dumped me via email, the guy who believed he was abducted by a UFO, and the guy who peed on my shoes?
            There was a keeper or two in the bunch though.  Christopher the attorney for Miramax.  He had a great apartment.  A great job.  The sex was amazing.  And he knew Meryl Streep!  Alas, I always follow my heart.  And my heart still wanted Adam.  I was in the throes of missing him and accepting the fact that our relationship was over.  At my last meeting with Christopher, I told him I wanted to take it slow.
            “But I don’t want to take it slow.  I really like you, and I want to be with you.”
            “I just need some time.”
            “You’re just not as into me as I am into you.”
            There they were.  The words I’ve thought to myself in every single relationship I have ever been in.  And rarely had the guts to say out loud.  It pierced to think that I was causing someone else the angst that those words can bring.  But I was.
            Funny how when I start getting sentimental about men, the episode with Christopher is what I sometimes come back to.  Maybe because, if not for the timing, I would be hosting fabulous dinner parties and regaling Meryl with stories from the deep South.  But most likely it’s just the universe reminding me that love is not a guarantee like never finding a taxi in the rain.  That some things are just not meant to be.  And that dating is a two-way street.  Both people share the triumphs, and both people share the blame.
           A little while after I watched Mike drive away, I began to calm down again and laugh at myself for getting so irritated.  And it hit me.  The warm and fuzzy feelings I had all weekend weren’t all totally directed toward Mike.  Sure, a lot of it was.  I’m not one that can turn my feelings off when I’m having sex with the same guy five times a day.  But most of the warm and fuzzies were because it made me remember romance.  I had gotten so cynical in New York and was too satisfied with one-night stands and chasing guys who weren’t interested.  It was refreshing to be in close quarters with someone all weekend who wanted to be there too.  So the weekend reminded me that I do want romance, a relationship.  Sure, a one-night stand or two will come my way again.  But ultimately, that’s not what I want.  I want good old-fashioned romance with a good old-fashioned guy.  Who knew a blizzard and a weekend of sex would make me realize that?  They say Provincetown is magical in the winter.  Last weekend, though, was something else.
            So Mike…thanks for the magic.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

No One Is Alone

Having already finished “Guns” class and “Ass Blast”, I was halfway finished with the final leg of the torture trifecta that had become my exercise regime, “Six Pack Attack.”  Because a winning personality is not what stops gay men in their tracks in an overcrowded bar, I figured the triple combination of sculpted arms, a washboard stomach, and a firm butt would do it.  And just when I was about to throw the towel in—and my dumbbells at the instructor—I saw him.  I would later learn his name was Rick.  But at that moment, I just knew him as God.  Except I’m pretty sure that the God I was taught about in Sunday School didn’t wear muscle shirts.  I kept staring at him, totally forgetting where I was and what I was doing.  He was a giant, well over 6’4”.  At least two-hundred twenty pounds.  But built solid.  And one of the most handsome faces.  He caught me looking and smiled.  I immediately turned away but after a few seconds, I couldn’t help myself so I looked back.  He was still staring at me.  And smiling.  I smiled and caught a glance of myself in the mirror.  Shit! I was doing the wrong exercise. 
            Later after the foreplay known as gym, I was walking out of the locker room downstairs, which looked like a hotel spa.  I felt a tap on my shoulder.
            “Hi,” a masculine voice behind me said.
            I turned around.  It was him.
            “I’m Rick.  You are?”
            “Uh.  Craig.  Yeah, Craig.  And I usually can always keep up in class.  And I rarely ever notice anyone else around me because I try to be so focused on what I’m doing, because I try to take the gym very seriously, and…”  I stopped and thought better of my diatribe.
            His eyes sparkled.
            “Come here often?” I asked.
            And then I winced.
            “How about dinner?  My treat,” he replied.
            His treat?  That was all I needed to hear.
            The date was nice.  He took me to Pesce Trattoria, a rustic Italian restaurant in the Village.  Conversation was easy.  For him.  For me, it was a different story.  I just don’t do well with guys that look like models in Men’s Health magazine.  Color me insecure, but it’s hard to scarf down spaghetti and meatballs while talking about cardio.  But he was very pleasant and patient and quite sweet.  Even when I spilled my wine.  Thoughts were racing through my mind.  I felt like I was in high school all over again.  Except then it was dates with girls, and they were asking me for fashion tips.
            “What do you do for a living?” I got a grip and asked.
            “I’m an actor.  I’ve done some independent films.  Low-budget kind of stuff.  Next time at dinner, I’ll bring you a couple of DVD’s.”
            Well that was promising.  He already was planning a second date.  I must not have been such a dreadful bore after all.  And there was a bonus.  I’ve always wanted to be a star-fucker.  Here was my chance!
            At that moment, I think the wine kicked in because I became the star of the party.  I was finally able to keep my inhibitions at bay and talk like an adult.  I learned he is originally from Greece and wants to be the next Brad Pitt, without all the kids.  He learned that I’m originally from Alabama and that I want to be the next David Sedaris, only cuter.
            Before I knew it, two hours passed.  We said goodnight, and he gave me a nice long kiss.  A good kisser too.  The plusses were adding up fast.  By the time I got home, I received a text asking me out for dinner the following week.  I said a quick “thank you” to the inventors of “Ass Blast” and jumped in the shower.
            That was four years ago.  Last week, he killed himself.  I’m not sure how or why.  Our “relationship” only lasted a couple of weeks.  We had drinks one more time after that initial meeting.  And of course, two rounds of rough sex.  Great rough sex that sent me to the chiropractor.  And then we just sort of lost touch.  I’m not sure how or why of that either.  I’d see him around the city every once in a while.  We would smile and say hello, but that’s about it.  He was just so vibrant and alive, so this was a shock to say the least.  I still have his phone number programmed into my cell phone and an email from him in my inbox.  I think I’ll keep them.  It will make it a little harder to remember he’s not still working out in that gym in New York City.  I don’t know…and I’m glad I don’t know…how it feels to want to end your life.  To feel so dejected that you just give up hope.  Because sometimes, hope is all we’ve got. 
            So for the man who gave me four mind-numbing orgasms and a gigantic ego boost just by saying “Hi” at the gym…this one’s for him.  I’m sorry he didn’t find what he was looking for.  I’m sorry he didn’t reach out to anyone.  I’m sorry that he couldn’t see any light around him.  And I hope that wherever his soul is now…I hope he finds what he couldn’t find here on Earth.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You Could Drive A Person Crazy

My date was halfway through a story about the time he was abducted by a UFO when it suddenly hit me.  
Maybe I make bad choices with men.
 His name was George.  I met him at the Gym Bar in New York City and was immediately smitten.  He was a strapping handsome thing with a barrel chest and a head full of wavy salt and pepper hair.  Rugged features.  And a killer smile.  He also had a boyfriend.  A rotund Asian, a couple of decades younger than George.  My friends knew that I had a crush, so we basically barged into their conversation one Sunday at happy hour.  My friends Keith and Bill started it up with the usual pleasantries.  My friend Kip and I stayed back and summed up the boyfriend.  Turned out that George was some kind of former Army guy who routinely rescued families in Third World countries from various horrors like interment camps and killing fields.  Also turned out that the boyfriend and his family were rescued from an interment camp when he was a little boy.  Flash forward two decades when they start dating and realize that George was actually one of the soldiers who rescued him.  I thought the whole thing was bullshit bordering on Woody Allen-Soon Yi creepy, but my friends were captivated.  They talked for what seemed to be an eternity, but I didn’t get very much time with George.  After they left, I was still incredulous.
            “What an amazing story!  Don’t you think that’s an amazing story?” Kip asked.
            “Nope, it’s bullshit,” was my reply.
            “No, it’s not,” Bill defended.  “And I thought the boyfriend was nice.”
            “I wonder if he’s here illegally.”  I was nonplussed. 
            A month or so later, George came into Gym Bar by himself.  I was by myself, so I started up a conversation.  I learned that he was a former soldier in Special Forces, forty eight years old, and recently single.  I decided not to bring up the ex-boyfriend for fear of him launching into the Killing Fields story again.  We talked for another hour or so and planned to go on a date.  A movie followed by dinner.  Before he left, he gave me a very long, very wet kiss.  And that’s all it took.  I was in lust.
           I have a history of making stupid choices when it comes to men.  From being too available to making a fool of myself, it’s been a long list of doomed relationships.  The very first guy I had a one-night stand with was a bartender in Birmingham.  He spent the night, didn’t give me his number, and left the next morning.  I went into his bar the next night.
            “Um, I thought last night was really great.  And, um, I hope you did too.  Because…well…I was hoping we could go steady.”
            Lucky for me, no one else heard and even luckier, he was too sweet to laugh in my face.  The next guy did give me a phone number.  A disconnected one.  Then there was the super hot married attorney, the guy who would call in the middle of the night on cocaine fueled rants, the guy with the emotional intelligence of an ant, the raging alcoholic who pissed on my shoes, and the guy who collected dolls.  Not to mention Tommy the Crack Smoker who kissed me and blew crack smoke in my mouth.  I thought he was smoking marijuana.  Unfortunately, I was more naïve that I thought I was.  Fortunately, I didn’t inhale. 
            So I was excited about George.  He seemed to be…dare I say it…normal?  There were no external signs.  No clues that he was a weirdo or a psychopath or liked antique baby dolls.  And the next week, on a chilly wet evening, I met George at the movie theater on West 23rd Street in Chelsea.  He already had bought the tickets. 
            “We’re going to see ‘Paranormal Activity’”, he announced.  “I hope that’s alright.”
            Fuck no, it’s not alright!
            “Sure!  I love scary movies!”
            I loathe scary movies.  I was at a slumber party when I was eight years old, and my friends put on “Friday the 13th”.  I had to call my mother to come pick me up.  I was a senior in high school and went to see “The Silence of the Lambs.”  I slept on my brother’s floor for a week.  He was 14.  A friend of mine took me to see a little movie called “Scream” when I was 23.  It was brand new, and she heard it was funny.  I slept with my lights on for two weeks. 
            So I was not thrilled to be seeing this particular scary movie, partly because I already heard it was scary as hell and partly because I knew that my roommate wouldn’t let me sleep on his floor.  But the thought of cuddling up to George during the scary parts eased my mind a bit.  We got some popcorn and found seats.  I have decided that a lot of bone-dumb idiots go to scary movies.  So there was a lot of talking back to the screen around us.  And every time someone around us spoke out loud, George would tell them to shut-up.  And every time he did that, I cringed.  So by the end of the movie, George was wound up tighter than a drum, and my back was sore from cringing so hard.
            We decided to eat at Niso’s on 8th Avenue at their bar.  I knew the bartender and needed a cocktail after all that screaming and carrying on from the movie. 
            “I really enjoyed the movie,” I lied. 
            The bartender brought us our cocktails and a menu.
            “Yeah, me too.  It so reminded me of my entire life.”
            “Huh?”  I was perplexed.
            “Well, I’ve had a fair amount of paranormal activity around me for my whole life.  My childhood home was haunted.”
            I reached for my wine glass.  I had a sinking feeling I was going to need a quick refill.
            “Yep, haunted.  We think the ghost was the original owner and died unexpectedly in the house.  He would roam around at night and appear over my head holding a knife to my throat.”
            Yep, I’ll need a refill.
            “Then when I was in Special Forces and on the submarine, I had an affair with my bunkmate.  It was so hot until the ghost of one of my exes found out and started haunting me.  He would wake me up every night making noises.  Then I actually saw him one night, and he had a huge knife in his hand.  I woke up the next morning with a cut down my forearm.”
            What the fuck was an army guy doing on a submarine? 
            “I’m…um…wow…it’s just…”  All I could do was stammer.
            “Yeah, it’s so crazy.  By the time I was in my thirties, I would have the most violent dreams.”
            “Well, maybe those were all dreams?”
            “Oh no!  Those ghosts were very real.  I haven’t seen any ghosts in a really long time though.”
            Since your medication kicked in?
            “Oh well that’s a good thing at least,” I offered.
            “Yep but I still have violent dreams.  So violent that there were many nights when I would wake up in the middle of the night with my most recent ex, and I would be punching him in the face really hard.”
            I was horrified.
            “But it’s ok, it’s ok!  Because I was sleeping!”
            Nothing says I love you like a left hook while you’re asleep.
            “But the worst of all was the night I was abducted by a UFO.”
            I looked around for the Candid Camera.  Even the eavesdropping bartender was wide-eyed.
            “UFO?  You…were…abducted?  By a UFO?”
            “Yep, they took me up and did all kinds of tests on me.  But one thing that might interest you is that they don’t put the GPS chip in your shoulder like everybody thinks.  They have to put the GPS chip inside you so that they will always know where you are.  But no, they don’t put it in your shoulder.  They put it in your calf.  I’d show you my scar but I have jeans and boots on.”
            I looked at the bartender.  “Check!”
            “But we haven’t eaten, and you should probably eat.  You’ve had three glasses of wine in the past twenty minutes.”
            And since I’m passive-aggressive and because I get really horny when I’m tipsy, I stayed for dinner and a quick public makeout session.  While we kissed, I reached down and inspected his package.  Basically to see what I was going to be missing.  Apparently, the aliens not only performed testing, they also cut his dick in half. 
            We said our goodbyes, and I made my way across town to my apartment.  The evening had taken such a left turn into Crazytown I wasn’t even scared anymore about the movie.  And the evening was so bizarre I wasn’t even sad or upset about the apparent fact that I wouldn’t be dating him or marrying him like I planned.  So I learned a few things.  I learned that there aren’t always initial clues that a guy may be certifiable.  I learned that if I want to date in New York City…or life in general…that I will inevitably have to wade through a large share of toads on the road to my prince.  And most importantly, I learned that if I’m ever abducted by a UFO, I won’t have to wear shoulder pads to cover the scar.  But it also means I won’t be able to wear culottes.
            So it’s a win-win.