I have known for ages and ages that Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for homosexual acts following his unsuccessful libel suit against the Marquess of Queensberry, disapproving father of Alfred, Lord Douglas, Wilde's inamorato. The Marquess left a calling card for Wilde on February 18, 1895, on which he called Wilde a "posing Sodomite" (or perhaps accused him of "posing as a Sodomite"—the handwriting is unclear).
What I never knew until this very evening—why does no one tell me anything?—is that the Marquess of Queensberry didn't actually call Wilde a "posing Sodomite"; he called him a "posing Somdomite."
N.B.: I'm going to post three times today, in an attempt to make up for recent laxity. Though I may have difficulty doing so, given the depth of the swoon into which the subject of this post has sent me.
I was going to blog about the crazy man I sat next to on the subway today, but at cheerleading practice tonight I fell (vertically) on my head three times while doing back handsprings and I am too cranky and achy to formulate interesting prose.
Not infrequently, the theme song from Diff'rent Strokes gets stuck in my head. But somehow I always make a slight adjustment to the lyrics. When it comes to "it takes diff'rent strokes to move the world, yes, it does," I generally find myself humming/thinking "it takes diff'rent strokes to rule the world, yes, it does."
I'm not quite sure what this says about me but it can't be good.
I mean, there should be a rule, shouldn't there? That if you are in a relationship and you spend more than fifteen minutes with somebody of the appropriate sex and orientation and you don't know if he's in a relationship or not, you have to work the fact that you're attached into the conversation? So if you're, say, an aerobics instructor with a Ph.D. in physics, and one of your students asks you, say, if you want to go out for coffee, and you have a conversation for, say, an hour and a half, that student won't then leave the coffee date dreaming of, say, china patterns and matching puppies. Say.
I broke down and called him Saturday morning. He explained that he hadn't read the e-mail until the night before.
"I don't have a policy against dating people in my class," he said, "and I'm flattered, but I do have a policy against dating people when I'm already dating somebody."
I immediately burst into flames of self-loathing and despair.
"Oh," I said, and then realized that my voice had all the warmth and personality of someone just arisen from the tomb. I cleared my throat and tried again.
"OH!," I shrieked. "HE'S A LUCKY GUY!"
Now I have to figure out which of the following is true:
a) he's telling the truth, in which case I have to keep going to his step class forever in the hope that they break up;
b) he's lying in order to spare my feelings, and the real truth is that he would sooner rip out all his fingernails one by one than go out with me, in which case I can never go to his step class again because it would be humiliating; or
c) he's telling the truth, but even if he were single he would still sooner rip out all his fingernails one by one than go out with me, in which case I have no idea what to do.
He hasn't e-mailed back yet. I am shocked that my head has not exploded from the tension of waiting. I just hope to God I hear from him before I have to see him in step class tonight, because if I don't, I will be so distracted wondering what his answer is that I will be unable to do any of the steps and I will trip and fall and break my neck and die and it won't matter anyway.
"I had a really nice time hanging out with you earlier. I don't know if you have a policy against dating people in your classes. If you do, I understand--but if you don't, can I ask you out to dinner some time this weekend or next week?
"I'll see you in class on Friday in either case."
This both expresses my intentions clearly and gives him an easy out that allows us both to save face if, in fact, I was the only one swooning during the hour and a half we spent together yesterday.
I have yet to hear back from him. I am developing a sneaking suspicion that he is not an obsessive e-mail checker, which is not a good sign.
Because then he might actually be a healthy and well-adjusted person, and where would I be then?
Yesterday I started work on the closing number for the musical I'm writing about the concentration camp Terezin. My brilliant lyricist gave me a lyric that contained lines like:
And if the sun should blacken,
That would seem like justice.
In all the idiotic beauty of the world,
How do I find a way to live?
So after spending all day writing music that had to express definitively the meaning of the Holocaust, I went to cheerleading practice and jumped up and down and shouted "Here we go! Cheer loud! Cheer proud! The leader of the crowd!"
N.B.: This is my first post of two today, after inexplicably forgetting to post on Sunday. Well, not inexplicably, as I spent six hours cheering my heart out at the AIDS Walk—those of you who said you'd sponsor me had better pony up; details to follow—but somewhat disconcerting nonetheless.
He e-mailed again. We're going out Wednesday. I hope this isn't indicative of a pattern, because then we'll have to put the wedding off until July, and I honestly don't know that I can wait that long.
So if on a Friday you ask a guy out for coffee for the following Tuesday and he says he'd like to get coffee but the next week is really bad because he has a friend in from out of town and final exams to grade but that he'd like to take a rain check but you're not sure if he means it or not and you see him again the next Friday and he says the upcoming week is much better and the best way to get in touch with him is to e-mail him but you're still not sure if he means it or not and you e-mail him at 7:44 that evening and he hasn't responded by 9:36 on Saturday evening and then you remember the horribly sad dream you had the night before that you were in love with an actor who kind of looks like this guy a little bit but in the dream he had become a monk and so he couldn't do anything with you but that didn't really matter because he wasn't in love with you anyway and then you check your e-mail again at 9:39 and the guy still hasn't responded, does it mean you'll be alone for the rest of your life?
My ne'er-do-well cousin has written a book that, within days of its publication, is the 78th most often purchased book at amazon.com. I find it almost impossible to believe that I share any genetic material with the author of this work, but we look enough alike that, unfortunately, there's no gainsaying the obvious, if disturbing, truth.
A collaborator of mine and I are working on a musical set in a temp agency just after September 11. She sent me the following lyric, for a scene in which a new applicant is being interviewed.
One day you wake up weird,
All meaning disappeared,
And everything you've feared
Is right beside you.
You thought that you could cope,
But then you find out, nope,
'Cause every smallest hope
Will be denied you.
All life ends, I have learned.
You're hot, and then you're burned,
And everything you've earned
Is dust and ashes.
We live like no one's heard
That every goal's absurd
And every dream deferred
Until it crashes.
I . . . I need to rate you on perkiness.
When I worked as the weekend supervisor at the music library of my college (oh, the power!) I had a boss, D.N., who was a very nice but very strange man. I got into the habit of encouraging him to leave early when I got there on Friday, which he usually did. We both found this a suitable arrangement and tended to stay out of each others' way.
Every once in a while, though, he would try to tell me something or explain something to me. The problem was that he would talk for ten minutes without saying anything at all, and then say exactly one thing. At first this was excruciating, but eventually I learned that, if I zoned out for most of his speech, my spider sense would alert me when he was about to say the one thing that he had been going for all along. Then I would zone back in, he would say the one thing, I would interrupt him and say, "Perfect, D., it's taken care of," and that would stop the whole thing.
This worked fine until one day he said, "Faustus, we need to dialogue vis-à-vis the barcoding project." (He actually talked like this.) So we went into his office, and he started talking. I zoned out and he talked and talked . . . and then he stopped talking and looked at me expectantly. Clearly he thought he had asked a question or stated something to which some sort of response on my part would be appropriate; in fact he had actually talked for fifteen minutes without saying a single thing.
I sat, staring at him in silence, as he waited for my response. I was in a precarious position. I could try to bluff my way out of it, but I had absolutely no idea as to the direction the bluff should go. If I said the wrong thing I might find later that I had agreed to rebarcode all the scores myself. But I clearly had to do something. My heart was in my throat and the tension was growing thicker by the second.
So I looked him in the eye and said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Then he talked for ten more minutes, he said the one thing, I told him it was taken care of, and he left early.
When I think about what a coward I am now, sometimes it helps to remember that I used to be brave.
Near the end of my college days, an editorial called "In Defense of Liberal Education" appeared in the campus paper. It contained sentences like "Diversity is in vogue wherever the many rule or wherever power belongs to the mediocre" and "Liberal education is anti-democratic, shunning what is vulgar and variegated in order to perfect the few best souls through intense study of the few great books." The editorial wrapped up as follows:
There is not enough space here to supply an adequate roadmap for a liberal education. But a good procrustean rule of thumb is to doubt everything modern, which means all philosophy, literature, art, and music less than 180 years old. . . . But wherever one begins, one must ultimately turn to the exceedingly difficult works of Plato and Aristotle. . . . The liberal education aims to produce the whole human being, who possesses everything of genuine worth, who lives in truth rather than ignorance, and whose soul has come to rest. . . . The word diversity . . . stems from the word divert, which means "to turn aside from a course or direction," "to distract," and "to amuse or entertain." Diversity is as false, fragmentary, and shallow as liberal education is true, whole, and deep. Let us not be diverted from what is good by what is fashionable.
I was going through some papers earlier today and found the letter I wrote in response to this, which the paper published:
The most surprising of the many errors in L.I.'s column is his careless derivation of the word "diversity," which is related far less to "divert" than it is to the Latin diversitas, "difference, disagreement." I am amazed that I. finds distasteful one of the most fundamental principles of liberal education—listening to those who disagree with you—but seems not to mind making public errors that could be avoided by spending two minutes with the Oxford English Dictionary. And I.'s injunction to "doubt . . . all philosophy, literature, art, and music less than 180 years old"—this includes, incidentally, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and every word published by Dickens—is simply bizarre.
Most upsetting, however, is I.'s definition of the aim of liberal education as the production of a "whole human being . . . whose soul has come to rest." I think an education that produced a soul at rest would be horrifying. A liberal education should produce a soul always in motion, always striving, always reaching—a soul trying every day to be better than it was the day before.
Maybe I. feels that Plato and Aristotle are sufficient weapons with which to battle the confusion of the modern world, but I for one lack his confidence. I have read Plato and Aristotle (in English and in Greek), and I still need all the help I can get. I hope I. will forgive me for including the work of women and minorities in my search for viewpoints that will challenge me rather than pat me on the back. I. has chosen Plato and Aristotle as the end of his liberal education. They are the beginning of mine.
If only I were still smart enough to be that vicious today.
Hey, look at me. I'm not asking you for anything. When I say I love you, it's not because I want you, or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are.
Now if only it had been me instead of Buffy hearing these words, and instead of Spike saying them it had been . . . um . . .
Oh, hell, I'd be on my back in two seconds for any man who said that to me and meant it.
N.B.: This is today's second post. I can stop any time, really, I can.
This afternoon I took my dog A. to the vet. Dr. L. gave her an almost completely clean bill of health. She is perfect in every way, said Dr. L., except that she needs to lose about a pound.
My dog is fat.
The good news is that this means I have a companion in my increasingly neurotic relationship with food and diet.
The bad news is that she doesn't speak, so endless obsessive conversations about carbohydrates and calories and exercising in the morning vs. at night—which are of course the greatest joy of an increasingly neurotic relationship with food and diet—will be few and far between.
N.B. This is the first post of two today, since I didn't get home last night in time to post. This is turning into a slippery slope. (I just typed "slippery slop" and almost let it stand because, well, you know.)
This is my very favorite word in the English language:
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines it as "the lowest degree of desire; imperfect or incomplete volition."
WordNet defines it as "1. a mere wish, unaccompanied by effort to obtain; 2: volition in its weakest form."
My friend N., though, from whom I learned the word, gave the best definition: "the desire to do something that isn't strong enough to make you actually get up off your ass and do it."
I have now added my brother's girlfriend to the list of women for whom I would consider turning straight. (The other two on it are Lena Olin and Queen Noor.)
I first read The Merchant of Venice when I was eight or nine, and I was appalled by it. (For those of you unfamiliar with this Shakespeare play, it's about a Jew (Shylock) who lends a Christian (Antonio) 3,000 ducats on the condition that if he doesn't repay it by the specified date, Shylock can take a pound of Antonio's flesh. Antonio fails to pay up, and Shylock is about to take his pound of flesh from around Antonio's heart, when a judge (who is really Antonio's friend's wife Portia in disguise, but that's not relevant here) tells Shylock he can take a pound of flesh but not a single drop of blood. Then Portia convicts Shylock of conspiring against a citizen, blah, blah, blah, and confiscates all his money but then says she'll give half of it back if Shylock converts to Christianity, which he does.)
In any case, it wasn't the rabid anti-Semitism that disturbed me; for some reason, I took no particular exception to this. No, what bothered me was the inconsistent portrayal of character. Shylock is incredibly clever and cunning throughout three and a half acts of this play and then turns into a bumbling idiot.
Because any fool with two brain cells to rub together would see that the way to get a pound of flesh without spilling any blood would be to scrape it off. While this wouldn't kill Antonio, which is of course the consummation most devoutly to be wished, it would be remarkably painful and, with any luck, leave scars.
So yesterday I told my brother and his girlfriend L. about this, and as soon as I had finished L. said, "Well, he could scrape it off or he could burn the flesh and then cut it out, and there wouldn't be any blood. That would be much more painful and much more likely to kill him."
Only loyalty to my brother is keeping me from turning straight in the face of such an awesome mind.
On Sunday, May 18, the gay cheerleading squad will be cheering for everybody who walks in the New York AIDS Walk to benefit Gay Men's Health Crisis. Though we won't be walking ourselves, we will be cheering our asses off, and so the organizers have said that we can get people to sponsor us.
So: if you are interested in sponsoring me for the AIDS Walk, e-mail me and let me know. I would like to promise you, in return, a photo of me doing a back handspring at the event, but since I still don't quite have control of my back handsprings perhaps I can just say that I hope to send those who sponsor me photos of me doing a back handspring at the event.
Unless you pledge a lot of money, in which case you get sex with me.
N.B.: This is the first post of two today, since either Blogger was having Issues last night or I am too incompetent to figure out how to work my computer.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for more than a few months will know that in the past year and a half I have been, shall we say, not ungenerous with my favors. This does not change the fact, however, that I am an incurable romantic when it comes to actual relationships. For years, whenever I fell in love with somebody, I would spend hours fantasizing about what our answering machine message would be.
"Hello. You've reached Faustus and Chad. We can't come to the phone right now, but leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can."
"Hi, this is Chad and Faustus. We're out, but we'll give you a call when we get back!"
Or, most revoltingly, this:
FAUSTUS: "Hey, there. This is Faustus."
CHAD: "And this is Chad."
FAUSTUS: "We're sorry we missed your call,"
CHAD: "but leave your name and number and we'll call you right back."
TOGETHER: "Thanks for calling!"
Eventually I moved in with a guy (my now-ex, N.T.) and for a while we actually had, God forgive me, a variation on the last example above. The problem, though—I mean aside from the nausea the message induced in everybody who heard it—was that our voices sounded almost exactly alike, which pretty much ruined the antiphonal effect.
The other problem was that N.T. was a cad who ripped my heart to shreds before grinding it into dust beneath his heel.
Now I fantasize about normal things like accidentally stowing away on a Navy submarine, or telling policemen I'd do anything to get out of a speeding ticket, or spacious apartments in the West Village with eat-in kitchens and southern exposure.
I am making a step aerobics class friend. I've now been to three classes that she was in, and we're having nice bonding-type moments. The thing is, though, that she's even newer to step than I am, and so knows the steps even less well than I do, and I'm worried she'll get discouraged and start going to step basics instead, and then I'll be taking step alone again, which wasn't so bad when I didn't realize what the alternative was, but which would be a crying shame now that I know how nice it is to have a step aerobics class friend.
So in class on Friday, I decided that I was going to be slightly more incompetent than usual, so that she would see that she wasn't the only one who was having trouble with the steps and would feel a bond with me and wouldn't get discouraged and start going to step basics instead. This was a brilliant idea, except for the fact that, as I mentioned yesterday, I'm in love with the instructor.
I know he's available, because the guy who teaches my 9:15 Saturday step aerobics class told me that he (6:00 Friday, not 9:15 Saturday) used to date the guy who teaches my 10:30 Wednesday step aerobics class but they broke up. Which leaves the field free and clear for me. (I would also be in love with 9:15 Saturday and 10:30 Wednesday, but the former is already taken and the latter is so clearly a bottom that there wouldn't be any point. Which is also encouraging, because if he was dating 6:00 Friday, that means 6:00 Friday must be a top.)
In any case, for a little while I stepped more incompetently than usual, so as to encourage my friend, but then I realized that looking even more like a moron than I usually do in step class wasn't going to do much for my chances with the instructor. So I switched tactics and started trying even harder than usual to do well, so as to erase in his mind the memory of my incompetence at the beginning of class. But then I looked over at my friend and realized this might cause me to lose her.
I spent the entire class in a state of near-panic, swinging schizophrenically from incompetence to (relatively) dazzling proficiency and back again. Between this and making sure I was moving in accordance with the eighteenth century precepts of correct stage movement (which I discuss here), I'm surprised I didn't have a nervous breakdown right then and there.
After class I asked him when else he taught, hoping to be able to go without my friend and not have to worry about it, but the only other classes he teaches are when I have cheerleading practice, so it's back to the drawing board.
I started a post about how I'm in love with the guy who teaches my step aerobics class on Fridays at 6:00, but I am so exhausted—for no good reason—that I just couldn't make it work. So I'll just confine myself to noting that, if I had any doubt at all that I had reached gay middle age when I turned 30 this January, the fact that I started moisturizing this week has removed it from my brain.
N.B.: This is my second post of two today, my first having been the result of a computer crash and a bout of insomnia. Note to self: do not drink caffeinated soda at 11:00 p.m.
The Westboro Baptist Church, home of Fred Phelps and God Hates Fags (I'm not linking to them because it's a revolting site—it lists, for one thing, the number of days Matthew Shepard and Dianne Whipple have been burning in hell), is planning a protest at Fred Rogers's memorial service in Pittsburgh this Saturday. A man named Brad McNaughton has had a terrific idea about what to do about it.
N.B.: This is my first post of two today, since every time I tried to post last night my computer crashed. I know Macs aren't supposed to do that, but there it is.
The very first letter I ever wrote in my entire life, when I was four, was to the Kellogg Company. We had a rule in my house that two out of every three boxes of cereal we bought had to be "good cereals;" only one could be a "bad cereal." A "good cereal" was one that didn't have sugar as one of the first three listed ingredients. This meant that most of the time we had to eat boring crap like Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes, and only occasionally could we get terrific stuff like Cookie Crisp.
Naturally I found this situation unacceptable, but I also knew that getting my parents to budge from their position on this issue was about as likely to happen as my suddenly developing an overwhelming desire to play with G.I. Joe figures. So I did the next best thing, which was asking my dad to take me to his office and, while there, typing a letter to the Kellogg Company asking why the cereals that tasted good had to have sugar as one of their first three listed ingredients. Couldn't they make some cereals that tasted really good but didn't have as much sugar in them? That way I could eat yummy cereal more often.
They responded by sending me several brochures and charts and graphs explaining all sorts of things about their cereals that I didn't understand at all. I suppose I might understand them now, but at the time I felt both awed to have received a Letter from a Company and bitterly disappointed that they didn't really answer my question.
When I was six, I picketed my house, hoping to be allowed to eat breakfast before getting dressed rather than after.
I marched back and forth in front of our front door, carrying a sign that said "BREKFAST FIRST DRESSED LATER."
My parents, being civil rights workers, didn't cross picket lines, and that was the only way into or out of our house,
so they were trapped there until they acceded to my demand.