The Search for Love in Manhattan
A gay odyssey of neurosis


Monday, March 31, 2003

It is I, Faustus. I have returned.

The talk at Columbia went smashingly, and while there are still two songs to be written for the cabaret that opens a week from tomorrow, we've started rehearsals and they, too, are going smashingly. So those of you who live in or around New York are invited to my show, "Spontaneous Combustion: In Which Our Heroes Realize That It's Okay to Be a Completely Neurotic Homosexual so Long as You Don't Run Out of Hair Product."

Here is the relevant information:

When: Tuesday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Upstairs@Red, 356 West 44th St., between 8th and 9th
How Much: $15 cover + 2 drink minimum OR $35 prix fixe dinner and show
Tickets: call SmartTix at 212.868.4444 or go to www.genesiusguild.com

I promise the show will be very funny and entertaining. Plus, if you are reading this and think you might want to date me but aren't sure because you have no idea what I look like, this is your chance to find out from the relative safety of anonymity.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:28 PM |


Sunday, March 30, 2003

Faustus is still out of it. More ramblings from David about Dreamcatcher, with its vaginas dentatae. What is it with straight men and the fear of emasculation? Here we have worms from outer space, shaped like the female sexual organ with wicked fangs, biting off men's genitalia, penetrating their rectums, causing men to become "pregnant" with alien life forms. Then the army flies in and tries to blow up the aliens with neato helicopters. The movie is a festival of gynophobia and homophobia, with masculine soldiers there to save the day and validate our concept of manhood. It could not have been timed better, considering current events. I beat my head against the walls, trying to figure out the "thinking" of the Bush Administration, to separate the outright lies from mere twisted truths about why they felt it necessary to begin World War Three at this point in time. But maybe it all comes down to straight men lashing out because someone came and knocked down their big phallic buildings.

Perhaps if the Saudi terrorists had targeted the Jefferson Memorial instead, we would not be in this mess.

posted by Gil | 10:11 AM |


Friday, March 28, 2003

Faustus is still otherwise occupied, so here I am. Last night, my boyfriend Rob suggested we see one of the worst movies ever made. Well, actually, he said, "Do you want to see Dreamcatcher?" but the result was the same. We saw what one reviewer said should have been titled Anal Worms from Space at the 9:15 showing.

As near as I can figure (and I read the book), Dreamcatcher is about four fart-joke-telling guys (who, by the way, are psychic), who end up getting attacked by alien creatures that resemble nothing so much as vaginas with row upon row of pointy teeth. One of these men, nicknamed "Beaver," says "Fuck me, Freddy" a lot. I believe he is also the one who, at one point, instructs one of his friends to "bite" his "bag."

No wonder the vaginas kill him first.

There is a connection between this film and the sociopolitical climate in post-September Eleventh America, but I do not feel like discussing it.

posted by Gil | 11:55 AM |


Thursday, March 27, 2003

Faustus has asked me to guest blog for an unspecified amount of time so that he may make progress on those numerous obligations he mentioned. In continuing his occasional theme of remarking upon lapses in grammar, I will discuss today something that happened in my youth in Silver Spring, Maryland.

In my youth in Silver Spring, Maryland, I lived near two brothers, one of whom was around my age, and the other of whom was considerably older but mentally retarded (is there a nicer term for that now?). I was playing Atari with the younger brother in their living room when their mother came in, distraught because she had asked the older brother, Paul, to sign his grandmother's birthday card, and he had signed it "Paul B.," as he did in school.

Naturally, I was horrified, not because he had written "Paul B.," but because he had actually written "Paul b.," with a lower-case last initial. To me, that was the true drama of the situation. So while the mother worried that she did not have enough time to purchase a new card, I suggested that she simply take the crayon Paul had used to sign it and complete the "B" by drawing in its upper arc. Then it would be grammatical. The lower-case "b" assaulting every nerve fiber in my young body, I bravely volunteered to do this myself if she did not feel up to it.

The mother, however, looked at me as if I were Dracula. She had not even noticed that the "b" was incorrect, nor was she interested in learning this; she was only concerned that its unnecessary presence (presumably, the boy's grandmother would know which Paul signed in red crayon without the helpful prompt of his last initial) would spoil the card. In the end, she decided it could not be helped, and she dropped it in the mailbox as I watched, seething over the uncorrected "b."

The incident haunts me to this day, twenty-three years later.

posted by Gil | 10:39 AM |


Wednesday, March 26, 2003

N.B.: I posted twice yesterday, in an attempt to make up for a lost day. At some point in the near future, I'll post twice again, and be completely caught up.

On April 4, 1996, the world suffered a tragic loss in the death of Larry LaPrise, known to all and sundry as the author of "The Hokey Pokey."

The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in . . . and then the trouble started.

Okay, I admit it, that's just about the stupidest thing ever, and probably you've already all seen it, but I never had and it made me laugh hysterically.

Of course, Larry LaPrise was only one of three men who held the copyright to "The Hokey Pokey" (the other two being Charles Macak and Tafit Baker), and the three of them almost certainly stole the song from somewhere else. (Earlier variants have shown up elsewhere, with names like "The Okey Cokey" and, alas, "The Hinkum Booby.")

But I couldn't quite figure out how to convey the accurate information and still maintain the integrity of the joke.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:18 PM |


Tuesday, March 25, 2003

N.B.: This is my second post for today, making up for missing a day a few weeks ago.

I am faced with a cruel dilemma.

I have an insane amount of work to do in virtually no time at all. I have a cabaret show of my songs opening in less than two weeks, and I still have all of the patter and two songs to write and rehearse. Also, I am presenting a paper at a conference at Columbia University on Friday. Don't ask me how this happened; it's a mystery to me. The conference is about writing and social justice, and the session I'm scheduled for is about writing outside the academy (which means writing if you don't have a Ph.D. but people want to read/hear/see what you write, as opposed to writing if you have a Ph.D. but nobody wants to read what you write except other people with Ph.D.s, who don't actually want to read it either but they have to). And of course not a word of that is written.

So my cruel dilemma is: do I go to sleep at a normal hour tonight and fall even further behind, bringing more stress into my life and risking failure at the conference and the cabaret, or do I consume large quantities of chocolate and caffeinated soda, thereby enabling myself to stay up late writing but also ensuring that I get fat?

God, it's so hard to be me.

posted by Faustus, MD | 8:51 PM |

Here is a picture of Alan Cumming, three gay cheerleaders, and my dog.



He called her a sweetheart.

I can die now.

posted by Faustus, MD | 12:23 AM |


Monday, March 24, 2003

For the next few days, not only will I be maintaining this blog, but I will also be guest blogging at Upside-down Hippopotamus and Troubled Diva. I'm not quite sure I'm up to the challenge, especially since I've had blogger's block lately and am consumed with worry that people will start finding my own blog boring and then stop reading me because they've come to hate me.

Wish me luck.

Unless you've come to hate me, in which case, is there anything I can do to win you back?

posted by Faustus, MD | 7:39 AM |


Sunday, March 23, 2003

N.B.: For the next few days, in addition to this blog, I'm going to be guest blogging at Upside-down Hippopotamus, so if you want even more of me, check me out there.

After getting home last night from the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo, I wasn't sure whether the seven hours I'd spent cheerleading counted as my cardio for the day, so I decided to go to the gym, just in case. Unfortunately, I decided this at 9:47, and my gym closes at 10:00. Since I'm trying really hard to make daily exercise a habit, I thought, okay, well, it's nice out, I'll just go jogging.

So I got dressed in my too-tight shorts, picked up my walkman, inserted the Best of Debbie Gibson CD I'd bought the day before for exercise purposes, and headed out the door to Riverside Park.

Where the strangest thing started happening.

As Debbie Gibson sang "as real as it may seem, it was only in my dreams," bringing me back to those halcyon days in the 80s before I had any real problems, I looked around and saw that the park was deserted, which made sense, it being 10:00 on a Saturday night. So I stopped jogging and danced for half a second and started jogging again.

Let me hasten to assure you that I am not a dancer. I often feel so uncomfortable and graceless in my own body that I wonder if in fact I really belong there at all. But that half second of dancing, during which I'm positive I looked utterly ridiculous, felt wonderful. So I did it again, for a little longer.

By the time twenty minutes had gone by, I looked like a scene from a movie starring Kirsten Dunst or Reese Witherspoon--specifically, the scene in which the heroine decides she's going to turn her life around and there's a montage showing her having all sorts of fun while doing life-turning-around things, like playing air guitar with a mop as she cleans her heretofore filthy apartment, or collapsing in hysterical laughter as she misunderstands how to use the weights at the gym. Anyway, I looked like that. I was twirling around, jumping up onto benches and doing funky dance steps on them and jumping back off them, and singing along with "Electric Youth."

I looked like a moron and I don't remember the last time I felt so fucking good.

Except, of course, for the agonizing pain caused by a half hour of jogging.

There's got to be a way around that somehow.

posted by Faustus, MD | 10:22 PM |


Saturday, March 22, 2003

Today I was at the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo with the gay cheerleading squad. I jumped up and down and cheered and did stunts for seven hours. I am exhausted. Tomorrow I have several more hours to go, so I will conserve my strength and contain myself to one event that simply cannot go unremarked, which was that Robin Byrd was there. I'm not sure if those of you who don't live in New York are able to have the Robin Byrd experience; if not, know that she is a 47,000-year-old woman who hosts a show on public access television on which porn stars (gay or straight, depending on the evening and time) appear and dance and strip. Then she interviews them. At the end of the show, all the porn stars who have appeared on that episode sit in a semicircle and, while the closing music plays, Robin Byrd sucks on the nipples of the women and simulates oral sex with the men. It's truly a sight to behold.

Anyway, Robin Byrd was at the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo, introducing performers from the off-Broadway show Zanna, Don't (a theatrical experience I highly recommend), and she was clearly trashed out of her mind. She could barely pronounce words of more than one syllable, and words of more than two syllables were completely beyond her. She kept almost dropping the huge card on which her patter was printed, and she couldn't quite stand up straight. She was everything I might have hoped she would be and more.

I wonder if she'll be there tomorrow.

posted by Faustus, MD | 9:10 PM |


Friday, March 21, 2003

I wrote a post this morning about how stupid it is that the news media follow George Bush, Sr.'s lead in calling the president of Iraq by his first name even though they call the leaders of every other country by their last names, and how this was confirmation--as if anybody needed it--that the media never tell us anything the government doesn't want us to hear, but then I reread the post before publishing it and realized that it was too angry and bitter even for me. Which, as those of you who read me regularly might realize, is really saying something. This happens every time I try to talk about politics: first I get incredibly angry and bitter, and then I get depressed and eat ice cream. So, in the interest of maintaining my waifish figure, I deleted the post and went to the gym, where, for the first time, I ran into an old trick. (This was not, of course, the first time I'd run into an old trick; simply the first time I'd done so at the gym.)

I remembered his name (first and last, thank you--T.D.) and he remembered something sort of like my first name. The interesting thing about T.D. is that several months ago, after the first of our few trysts (he wasn't that good), we realized that he was the ex-boyfriend of a guy I was casually dating at the time who insisted on calling himself my boyfriend even though he wasn't he wasn't he wasn't (those of you who have been reading me for a while may remember him as E.S.). So this morning T.D. and I talked about E.S., and how I quit my job, and my cool headphones that filter out noise so that I can listen to music on the subway, and then he went to go do cardio and I went back to my weight lifting (pec flys, to be exact).

I tried to feel dirty and ashamed for a few moments, but then I glanced in the mirror and realized that the weight lifting had actually started to have an effect, and I forgot everything else in the wave of elated vanity that washed over me.

posted by Faustus, MD | 7:17 PM |


Thursday, March 20, 2003

So I was in therapy, talking with my therapist about my obsessive fear that if I'm not perfect in every way then everyone will hate me. He told an illuminating story about walking with a friend in Central Park and looking up at a tree that at some point in its long life had had a chunk taken out of it or been struck by lightning or something and had therefore grown in a really interesting way.

"The point," he said, "is that when something is imperfect or marred, it can grow with that fault into a thing of beauty. I mean, you don't look at a tree and go, 'Yuck!'"

And I was like, "Speak for yourself, buddy."

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:01 PM |


Wednesday, March 19, 2003

At cheerleading practice on Monday I threw my first real back handspring. That is to say, I've thrown them before and landed them, but I've always managed to bounce off my head in the process. Monday, my head didn't touch the floor.

And the moment was captured on film. Unfortunately, the digital camera was set so that the image was microscopically tiny; I've enlarged it very slightly, so there's a corresponding reduction in quality, but it should still give you an idea.

This is me doing a back handspring:



Apparently, now that the coach has seen me do this, he's going to make me do it many more times at the Gay Business Expo this weekend. If he figures out how to work his digital camera by then, I'll post the pictures.

I hope the expert gymnasts among you will refrain from judging my form too harshly.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:03 PM |


Tuesday, March 18, 2003

On July 14, 1980, my father sent the following letter to one of Charleston, South Carolina's two daily papers.

Even though you probably get lots of criticism, there are still some of us out here who stick up for you. Whenever my friends say, "Have you seen today's editorial? It's the dumbest thing they've ever printed," (which happens about every two days), I always read it and say, "No, it's not the dumbest thing they've ever printed."

Just thought you'd like to know.


They printed it the next day, under the headline "Faint Praise."

In 1996, I plagiaristically sent the same letter to my college's excuse for a newspaper. They, too, printed it the next day, but edited it so that it read, in part, "Have you seen today's [Name of Paper] editorial? It's the dumbest thing it's ever printed," thereby both ruining the joke and making me look like a stylistic barbarian.

O tempora! O mores!

posted by Faustus, MD | 10:21 PM |


Monday, March 17, 2003

Please forgive the extraordinary length of this post, which quotes, in full, the text of an article from Saturday's New York Times. I'm reprinting the article here rather than linking to it on the Times web site because after articles have been on that site for seven days you have to pay to access them, and what if somebody discovers this blog eight days from now and wants to read the article but is so impoverished he or she can't afford the $1.50 it takes to gain access?

And so, without further ado, "Fish Talks, Town Buzzes," by Corey Kilgannon.

EW SQUARE, N.Y., March 13 — And so it came to pass that a talking carp, shouting in Hebrew, shattered the calm of the New Square Fish Market and created what many here are calling a miracle.

Of course, others are calling it a Purim trick, a loopy tale worthy of Isaac Bashevis Singer or just a whopping fish story concocted by a couple of meshugenehs.

Whatever one calls it, the tale of the talking fish has spread in recent weeks throughout this tight-knit Rockland County community, populated by about 7,000 members of the Skver sect of Hasidim, and throughout the Hasidic world, inspiring heated debate, Talmudic discussions and derisive jokes.

The story goes that a 20-pound carp about to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner began speaking in Hebrew, shouting apocalyptic warnings and claiming to be the troubled soul of a revered community elder who recently died.

Many people here believe that it was God revealing himself that day to two fish cutters in the fish market, Zalmen Rosen, a 57-year-old Hasid with 11 children, and his co-worker Luis Nivelo, a 30-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant.

Some people say the story is as credible as the Bible's account of the burning bush. Others compare it to a U.F.O. sighting. But the story rapidly spread around the world from this town about 30 miles northwest of Manhattan, first through word of mouth, then through the Jewish press.

The two men say they have each gotten hundreds of phone calls from Jews all over the world.

"Ah, enough already about the fish," Mr. Rosen said today at the shop, as he skinned a large carp. "I wish I never said anything about it. I'm getting so many calls every day, I've stopped answering. Israel, London, Miami, Brooklyn. They all want to hear about the talking fish."

Here then is the story, according to the two men, the only witnesses. Mr. Rosen, whose family owns the store, and Mr. Nivelo, who has worked at the shop for seven years, say that on Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. they were carving up carp.

Mr. Nivelo, who is not Jewish, lifted a live carp out of a box of iced-down fish and was about to club it in the head.

But the fish began speaking in Hebrew, according to the two men. Mr. Nivelo does not understand Hebrew, but the shock of a fish speaking any language, he said, forced him against the wall and down to the slimy wooden packing crates that cover the floor.

He looked around to see if the voice had come from the slop sink, the other room or the shop's cat. Then he ran into the front of the store screaming, "The fish is talking!" and pulled Mr. Rosen away from the phone.

"I screamed, `It's the devil! The devil is here!' " he recalled. "But Zalmen said to me, `You crazy, you a meshugeneh.' "

But Mr. Rosen said that when he approached the fish he heard it uttering warnings and commands in Hebrew.

"It said `Tzaruch shemirah' and `Hasof bah,' " he said, "which essentially means that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is near."

The fish commanded Mr. Rosen to pray and to study the Torah and identified itself as the soul of a local Hasidic man who died last year, childless. The man often bought carp at the shop for the Sabbath meals of poorer village residents.

Mr. Rosen panicked and tried to kill the fish with a machete-size knife. But the fish bucked so wildly that Mr. Rosen wound up cutting his own thumb and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The fish flopped off the counter and back into the carp box and was butchered by Mr. Nivelo and sold.

The story has been told and retold, and many Jews believe that the talking fish was a rare shimmer of God's spirit. Some call it a warning about the dangers of the impending war in Iraq.

"Two men do not dream the same dream," said Abraham Spitz, a New Square resident who stopped by the store this week. "It is very rare that God reminds people he exists in this modern world. But when he does, you cannot ignore it."

Others consider it as fictional as Tony Soprano's talking-fish dream in an episode of the "The Sopranos."

"Listen to what I'm telling you: Only children take this seriously," said Rabbi C. Meyer of the New Square Beth Din of Kashrus, which administers kosher-food rules. "This is like a U.F.O. story. I don't care if it is the talk of the town."

Whether hoax or historic event, it jibes with the belief of some Hasidic sects that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish.

Unnatural occurrences play a part in the mystical beliefs of members of the Skver sect. On the other hand, some skeptics note that the Jewish festival of Purim, which starts Monday night, is marked by merriment and pranks, which might be a less elevated explanation for the story.

Some community members are calling the two men an enlightened pair chosen to receive the message. Others have said that Mr. Nivelo may have been selected because he is not Jewish.

"If this was a story concocted by a bunch of Jewish guys, it might be suspect, but this Luis, or whatever his name is, he has no idea what this means," said Matisyahu Wolfberg, a local lawyer.

"If people say God talks to them, we recommend a psychiatrist, but this is different," said Mr. Wolfberg, sitting in his office with his black hat resting atop his computer terminal.

"This is one of those historical times when God reveals himself for a reason. It has sent spiritual shock waves throughout the Jewish community worldwide and will be talked about throughout the ages."

Zev Brenner, who last week broadcast a show about the fish on "Talk Line," his talk radio show on Jewish issues, on WMCA-AM (570) and WSNR-AM (620), said that the story has fascinated the religious community worldwide.

"I've gotten calls from all over asking `Did you hear about the fish?' " he said. "You can imagine, a talking fish has got people buzzing. This is going to be talked about for a long time to come, unless it's somehow verified as a hoax, which is hard to imagine, since the proof has been eaten up."

Mr. Brenner said that the story is so well known that it has inspired a whole new genre of wedding jokes for Jewish comedians.

"The station had an advertiser, a gefilte fish manufacturer, who considered changing his slogan to `Our fish speaks for itself,' but decided people would be offended," he said.

As for Mr. Nivelo, a practicing Christian, he still believes the babbling carp was the devil. His wife told him he was crazy, and his 6-year-old daughter even laughs at him.

"I don't believe any of this Jewish stuff," he said. "But I heard that fish talk."

He said that Spanish-speaking rabbis have been calling his home every day and night asking him to recount the story.

"It's just a big headache for me," he added. "I pull my phone out of the wall at night. I don't sleep and I've lost weight."

Mr. Rosen said that he spoke to his wife, who was visiting Israel, and that she had already heard the story from someone else.

"My phone doesn't stop ringing," Mr. Rosen said. "Always interruptions, people coming in and taking their picture with me."

He paused and turned to Mr. Nivelo, who was cutting salmon for a customer.

"No, too big," he said. "She wants appetizer."

But the very best thing about the article was the caption that accompanied this picture.

"Luis Nivelo butchering a carp at the New Square Fish Market in New Square, N.Y., yesterday. There is no indication that it spoke to him."

I am going to turn this into a musical if it's the last thing I do.

posted by Faustus, MD | 5:55 PM |


Sunday, March 16, 2003

At one point during Friday night's dinner, the couple next to us called the waitress over.

"Why did you change the glass size on our cranberry juice refills?" asked the man in a voice dripping with accusation. "These glasses are smaller than the old ones."

The old ones were sitting on the table. They were shaped differently, it's true, but if they were bigger than the new ones it was by a nanoliter.

"They actually hold just as much," said the waitress. "The other ones are water glasses. But I'll bring you some juice in the water glasses."

After she left, the couple continued to talk about how appalled they were that the restaurant would try to cheat them like that. The waitress brought them new glasses of cranberry juice, and, to top it all off, told them she wasn't charging them for the juice. After the couple paid and left the table, I surreptitiously checked to see how much they had tipped her. It was a woefully insufficient amount, by any standards.

God, I hope she spit in those refills.

posted by Faustus, MD | 10:56 PM |


Saturday, March 15, 2003

Last night I saw Daredevil and then didn't have sex with my date even though he was totally hot and wanted to have sex. But he's a cheerleader, and he is looking for a relationship, and, while I am also looking for a relationship, I am not looking for a relationship with him, and when that's the dynamic between two people one of whom lifts the other one up in a standing position onto his shoulders and then supports him there, perhaps sex is best left out of the equation.

posted by Faustus, MD | 9:53 PM |


Friday, March 14, 2003

N.B.: Here is the entry I thought I posted yesterday. Evidently I was wrong. And now I am woefully backed up, since I have both Tuesday and Thursday to make up. I'm not quite sure how I'll manage this, but rest assured I will remedy the situation.

Last night, while catching up on blogs I read, I got to one that I have always secretly hated with a white-hot passion because I think it's funnier than mine.

Then I caught not one but two grammatical errors in recent posts.

This filled me with an ineffable, almost palpable joy. He may be funnier than I am, but he is guilty of both hypercorrection (he used "whomever" when he ought to have used "whoever") and a subject-verb-mood disagreement so egregious it could only have been committed by mistake or by a madman; either way, whether he's careless or insane, I win.

Sometimes I think I should try to stop being so insecure and petty.

Then I see somebody I'm jealous of fail in a completely insignificant way and think, no, it's too much fun to give up.

posted by Faustus, MD | 9:18 AM |


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Don't you love it when you look at somebody you've known for months and all of a sudden you realize he's totally hot?

And then he realizes you're totally hot?

And then, because the guy you like seems to have lost interest in you, you end up arranging to have dinner and go to the movies with him this coming Friday?

This is all hypothetically speaking, of course.

But don't you love it when that happens?

posted by Faustus, MD | 10:25 PM |


Monday, March 10, 2003

I am in agony.

Today I went to gymnastics class, where I suffered my first ever sports injury. Then I worked out. Then I went to cheerleading practice.

My body hates me.

I guess maybe I shouldn't have taken the sentence "I'm going to get fit if it kills me" quite so literally.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:43 PM |


Sunday, March 09, 2003

When my ex N.T. and I first became exes a year and a half ago, we lived together for a month or so before he moved out. Since he had no real job, I'd been supporting him for a year and a half; when we broke up, we split the bank account in half. He couldn't completely cover his expenses for the rest of the month, so I lent him somewhere between three and four hundred dollars and told him to pay me back when he could, which I assumed would be never.

However, in the intervening time he has communicated on several occasions his desire to pay me back and his intention of doing so as soon as he's able, which I have assumed would be never.

Imagine my surprise last week when a check came in the mail for the full amount of what he owed me. I was pleased and proud of him in an I-still-hate-your-guts-but-maybe-you'll-amount-to-something-in-this-life-after-all kind of way. I whistled a happy tune and deposited the check.

It bounced.

Is there such a thing as karmic overdraft protection?

posted by Faustus, MD | 10:41 PM |


Saturday, March 08, 2003

Tonight I saw Little Fish, an off-Broadway musical starring (among others) Lea DeLaria.

Then I went with the gay cheerleaders to Henrietta Hudson's, a lesbian bar in the west village, for Spirit Night.

God, I love lesbians.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:33 PM |


Friday, March 07, 2003

I had a post all prepared for today, full of bitterness and rancor, and I was going to post it, but then I went to the movies and saw Zus & Zo at the Quad Cinema, and I seem temporarily to have lost the ability to be bitter and rancorous.

That's how good a movie it was. Funny, sad, moving, heartwarming, full of wonder and grace. Please go see it as soon as you can.

Tomorrow I'll be bitter and rancorous, I promise.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:42 PM |


Thursday, March 06, 2003

Am I the only one who weighs myself to figure out if I can eat dessert or not?

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:05 PM |


Wednesday, March 05, 2003

A year or two ago, I was having an e-mail discussion with a former student of mine. I mentioned that I had started to read Les Misérables and was finding it frightfully dull. She responded that I should keep on going, because they drink absinthe, and how can you not love people who drink absinthe?

So in December, when I was in Prague, where absinthe is legal (as opposed to here, where it seems to exist in a gray area), I picked up a bottle for her.

She came into New York today and we had lunch in celebration of her twentieth birthday tomorrow. By giving her the absinthe in person as opposed to mailing it to her, I feel certain I cut in half the number of state and federal laws I broke.

Then we got our fortune cookies, and somehow managed to end up with only one fortune between the two of us, so we decided it would apply to both of us. We read it, and it said, "You are never bitter, deceitful, or petty."

It might as well have said, "You do not require oxygen to stay alive."

Clearly the fortune was intended for the bottle of absinthe.

posted by Faustus, MD | 8:25 PM |


Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Last night I went to Duane Reade to get contact lens solution and, generously, a diet Sprite for my brother (who is also my roommate). The person in front of me in line somehow managed to make a request that required the only cashier on duty to disappear for what seemed like an eternity. While I waited, I picked up a box of orange Tic Tacs. I figured, okay, if each of these has half a calorie, then even if I eat the whole box right here and now I should be okay. So I did.

Then, when the cashier had returned after her eternity away, and after the person in front of me had made three or four more requests that, while annoyingly time-consuming, didn't require the cashier's further disappearance, I stepped up to the register and presented my contact solution, my diet Sprite, and my empty box of orange Tic Tacs.

She rang up the contact solution and the diet Sprite. Then she got to the empty Tic Tac box and stopped cold. She looked at me as one might look at a person one suspects of being a dangerous lunatic and asked, "What is this?"

"It's a box of Tic Tacs," I said. "I got hungry waiting for you to come back so I ate them all."

It was as if I had confessed to eating my family.

"You're not supposed to eat these all at once! You're supposed to eat them two or three at a time!"

I was momentarily thrown off balance, but I quickly recovered my equilibrium.

"I did. I ate two. Then I ate three. Then I ate two more. Then I ate three more."

She expelled her breath in disgust, rang up the Tic Tacs, took my money, gave my change, handed me my receipt, and stapled my bag shut, all without saying another word.

The Rite Aid is a block further away but maybe it's worth it.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:16 PM |


Monday, March 03, 2003

Here is a lyric to a song I just finished. It's called "Backwards Day."

I stepped into the seven train this morning,
My hair just right, in perfect disarray.
I glanced across the aisle to see
A gorgeous man, eyes fixed on me.
When I looked back, he didn't look away.

He gazed at me through station after station.
His eyes were deep and blue and left no doubt.
I grabbed my courage, took the dare,
And asked him, "Why the sexy stare?"
He said, "Because your shirt's on inside-out."

Every day is Backwards Day in my life.
I run across the finish line going in the wrong direction,
Having stupid accidents, causing strife,
And sleeping through my subway stop,
Never making a connection
To the person that I want so much to be,
So instead I'm always stuck being me.

But fate was with me: once again I saw him.
At the pretzel cart, I got a second chance.
I caught his eye and flashed a smile,
Said, "Careful there, the hot dog's vile,"
Stepped forward, and spilled ketchup on his pants.

Every day is Backwards Day when you're me.
You're never really on the ball--just a step or two behind it,
Raising people's hackles accidentally.
The other day I realized how much easier I'd find it
If I turned into a pumpkin or a yam,
But instead I've got to stay who I am.

So why did he give me his number?
What the hell do I do with this card?
Is he a therapist looking for patients?
'Cause, if so, I'm irreparably marred.
I'm a giant, spectacular fuck-up
Who fits in like a foot in a glove.
I see people go forwards and crabs going sideways
But I'm just too backwards to love.

But . . . what if, when it's Backwards Day, that's okay?
And what if me the way I am is the me the Fates intended?
What if every lack I feel every day
Is not a lack at all, but rather leaves more room for something splendid
To appear and--oh, my God, that's him, one flight of stairs below.
Now don't hesitate, just go,
But this crowd is too damn slow,
So I'll just shove my way along
Through the people in the throng.
Hey, remember me? I--AAAAAAAAAAAH!

(Beat.)

Gosh, your arms are strong.

Thank God I don't really believe that part about me the way I am being the me the Fates intended. Otherwise I might start developing a sense of self-worth.

And who knows where that would lead me?

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:12 PM |


Sunday, March 02, 2003

Okay, you're having sex and you're about to have an orgasm, and you (very considerately) want to let your partner know, so that he can either join you in the experience or ask you to wait if he needs a little time to catch up (or, if you're beyond restraint, make sure you don't stain his sheets). So you say, "I'm coming!"

Why do you sound so surprised?

What, you weren't expecting this?

What is it about the experience of orgasm that makes us tell each other about it not only as if we had never done it before and were shocked and thrilled to find ourselves capable of it, but as if in fact no one had ever done it before and we were shocked and thrilled to find anyone capable of it, much less ourselves, and secretly proud that we were the first?

Do girls do this too?

posted by Faustus, MD | 10:03 PM |


Saturday, March 01, 2003

From Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay & Lesbian Russia, by David Tuller:

"It occurred to me that there might be a problem with Russia's AIDS efforts when I saw the safe-sex poster of a man chopping off his penis with a hatchet. This safe-sex strategy, advised the poster, guaranteed the safest sex of all."

Ouch.

posted by Faustus, MD | 11:36 PM |
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