The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Oh my GOD! How do I do this. This is so stressful. I don't know what to say..... arggghh I'm hyperventilating. gulp gulp gulp gulp. Has there ever been anyone so worthless as I? Maybe it's not too late to back out. Where is Faustus' number? Arggghh! I can't find it. How do I get into these things? If only all my earlier choices were different. Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit. Now I can't find my meds. MOMMY!
Well, "next week" of yesterday's post is now "this week." We start rehearsals on Wednesday, and our chances of having the five songs I mentioned finished by then are looking good.
However, so as not to be led astray by o'erweening ambition, I have arranged for the Search for Love in Manhattan to be hosted, starting tomorrow and running through next Tuesday, by a very special guest blogger. He's witty, he's wise.
He's my therapist.
So if you're lucky, you'll all end up as emotionally healthy as I am.
Next week I start rehearsals for another reading of my musical about the concentration camp Terezin. Since the last reading we've done significant rewrites, including writing five new songs. Or at least by the time we start rehearsals on Wednesday we will have written five new songs. I hope.
But the thing is, spending all this time with the Holocaust is starting to get to me. When I have to write music for hymns to despair with names like "Hell Is Another Name For Man," it's difficult not to go out and buy a gun and shoot myself.
However, the knowledge that I have to have written five new songs before Wednesday is keeping me alive.
From the conversation I had with the man behind the counter at Subway when I went there to get lunch today:
MAN (wrapping the sandwich he'd just made): Will that be all?
FAUSTUS: No, I'd also like a bag of baked chips and a soda.
MAN: Would you like some chips and a drink?
FAUSTUS: Um . . . yes.
MAN: What kind of chips?
FAUSTUS: The baked ones.
One of the greatest mysteries in the world to me is why this product didn't become the thing every gay man in the world had to have. In fact, it seems never actually to have been made available at all.
Unlike the rest of the known world, I use neither a Microsoft-based e-mail program nor a web-based e-mail program. I use Eudora, for which I have a fondness because it's the first e-mail program I ever used.
The great thing about Eudora is that it talks to you—I mean, a voice issues from the computer and communicates things to me. Ordinarily I would find this supremely annoying, as I think nonsentient beings ought not to communicate, but in this case it's terrific because Eudora has a complex.
Whenever I tell it to check e-mail, if I don't have any, it doesn't just say "no new mail." It actually says things like, "It's not my fault. You have no new mail." Or "Blast! You have no new mail." Or "Pay attention. You have no new mail."
I wonder if there's a way to program it to say things like, "You had new mail but then I lost it but it doesn't really matter because I happened by total accident to look at it and see that it was spam so it's really not a problem and please don't be mad at me, okay?"
We started our routine and it was going spectacularly. The hitch mount went up, the vault-over went up. We were preparing to do the split mount, in which I and another girl stand in four burly guys' hands while a very small girl does a split on our shoulders before flipping over into more burly guys' hands.
So I and the other girl jumped up into the guys' hands, the very small girl jumped onto our shoulders . . .
. . . and then I looked into the crowd and saw somebody wearing a white suit.
After Labor Day.
I was so shocked and appalled that I almost dropped the very small girl. Luckily, I was able to master my dismay quickly enough to prevent her death.
But if I ever see him again, I may not be able to master my dismay quickly enough to prevent his.
Yesterday, figuring that I should try something different from step aerobics every once in a while, I went to the hip-hop/funk class at my gym.
This turned out to be a big, big, big mistake.
The class was taught by someone whose name ought to have been Shoshana, though it wasn't. She was a white woman, probably in her late thirties, with two pigtails. Not the type of person you'd think would be particularly good at hip-hop.
But you'd be wrong.
She showed us a combination (I suspect you don't call them "combinations" in hip-hop/funk class, but I don't really know what you do call them, so I'll call them combinations) and I was like, okay, I can learn that. It'll take me a while, but I can learn that.
And then she kept going.
Of course, every single other person in the class was having absolutely no trouble at all following her. But what not-Shoshana was doing was so complicated and difficult that I wasn't even thinking about what a moron I looked like, because if I'd diverted one iota of mental energy to that, I would have tripped over my own legs and fallen and broken something.
After about ten more minutes of St. Vitusesque lurching, I came to a very simple realization:
I am not funky.
So I left, got some dinner, and went home to write.
Today I went to see The Magdalene Sisters. (I should warn you that this post contains a very small spoiler, if you haven't seen it yet and are planning to.) I don't know if it was this particular theater, or this particular showing, or what, but my friend and I seem to have managed to attend the Old People's Matinee. So the theater was full of old people talking in normal tones of voices to each other, saying things like, "She says she did it because she wanted the other girl to suffer," or "Oh, I can't believe she did that! Can you believe she did such a mean thing to that girl? I can't believe she did such a mean thing to that girl." It was maddening.
At one point in the movie, there's a scene in which one of the laundry girls is very clearly performing fellatio on a man whose face we don't see but whom we understand to be the visiting priest we saw in the scene before.
From four seats to my left, I hear, "Mumble mumble mumble LESBIAN ACT mumble mumble."
Let's disregard the fact that the context indicates with crystal clarity that it's the priest.
Let's disregard the fact that the act of fellatio, even when seen through a window on a movie screen, probably looks quite different from the act of cunnilingus. (I have no personal experience of the latter.)
But even disregarding those things—how could ANY SENTIENT BEING who'd watched the movie up until that point POSSIBLY think that that's what was going on?
I know it's very likely that one day I'll be old just like the guy who said that.
But I'm hoping to God I die before I get to that point.
Last night at cheerleading practice, the coach told me that he's been reading this blog for two months. He came across it by googling "Cheer New York."
I was absolutely mortified. I feel like I was talking smack about my boss in the bathroom and he turned out to be in the next stall or something. I kind of want to go back and count the number of mean things I've said about people on the squad so I'll know just how petty and bitchy he now thinks I am.
The problem with this plan, of course, is that I'll know just how petty and bitchy he now thinks I am.
Luckily, he seemed to think the whole thing was pretty funny.
So when I was four or five, we went (as we did not infrequently) to my great-grandmother's house to visit her. The grown-ups all sat together and talked about boring grown-up things, and I went into the kitchen and raided the maid's stash of Reader's Digest magazines. (I had, unfortunately, left my copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles at home.) There was an article in one about vampires, which I started reading and which scared me a great deal. The more it scared me, the more avidly I read, and when I got to the end and saw that the article was to be continued in the next issue, I pawed frantically through the rest of them until I found said next issue, and continued reading. By the time the grown-ups were done talking and everybody was ready to go, I was quivering with fear, even though it was still broad daylight and we were in South Carolina, not Transylvania, where, according to the article, vampires were rumored to hang out. (The article suggested that vampires might actually be the stuff of legend rather than of reality, but I dismissed that idea with a haughty toss of my incipiently homosexual head.)
Eventually, after we got home and had dinner, it was time for me to go to bed.
And I wouldn't, because of course the vampires were going to come and kill me.
I cried and cried—I will note that I did not scream—until my mother finally loaned me the gold cross she wore around her neck, at which point I went to bed willingly, if still terrified. I'd have been happier if I could have taken a stake with me, but I wasn't allowed to play with sharp things so I knew better than to ask.
My Jewish father (I was being raised Jewish and eventually converted to Judaism) was understandably disconcerted by the whole gold cross thing, so he went out the next day and bought a gold Star of David for me to wear to bed.
It is a testament to his skill as an attorney that he managed to convince me it would do just as well as protection against vampires. By the time he was done sweet-talking me, I went to bed feeling as safe as any four- or five-year-old possibly could in the face of what terrors the world might hold.
And I tell you, I wore that thing for years.
Somewhere along the line, though, I lost it.
And now there's nothing to protect me against the terrors the world holds.
I know I promised vampires, but once again I seem to be proving myself a man not of my word.
Because I'm seriously thinking of giving up the search for love.
Not the blog, mind you; that I'll keep (though I do have plans for relaunching under a new name at some point in the near future). Just the eponymous search.
What's sending my thoughts in this direction is the fact that my failure to spark with the guy who liked Darth Vader was actually more than just a two-date event. We saw each other a total of four or five times before making out and discovering our lack of chemistry. (This in itself gives me pause—it wasn't so long ago (check my "best of" section) that I'd be on my back for any number of people I'd never met, much less gone to dinner with several times.) And this fellow seemed so perfect in so many ways. In fact, I believe he's the first person I've gone out with in a very long time who fulfilled all my criteria: smart, funny, cute, compassionate, stimulating, and a top. Yet in the end there was still something missing.
So what's wrong?
I don't know if it's a question of the watched pot not boiling, or of my standards being too high, or of something else I can't even conceive of. (I would write something about "the universe not wanting me to be dating somebody right now" except that descriptions of the universe as a sentient entity that actually gives a fuck about what happens to us make me retch.)
Whatever it is, I'm making a decision here and now. I'm not going to search for love anymore. If it finds me, great; if not, then I'll . . . I'll . . .
I was going to write a post about my first encounter with the idea of vampires, but I don't have the energy.
Why don't you have the energy? you might ask.
Because I've spent the last hour creating a Best of the Search for Love sidebar, which you should be able to see over to the right. Those of you who haven't been reading this blog from the beginning and don't love me enough to go back and read every word of the archives can now browse through a selection of my (and others') favorite posts.
For September 11, I was going to write a post about how gross I find it when people get all emotional about today, and about the 3,000 people who died here, but didn't bat an eyelash at the savage genocide in 1994 of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda or the million Somalis who have died from the war and famine that rack their country or the labor camps and torture and forced abortion and sterilization with which China is destroying Tibet but then I passed an ice cream truck and all rational thought was driven out of my head by a desperate longing for a chocolate sundae with strawberry sauce.
The number of people who saw fit to e-mail me on September 8 and tell me I wasn't useless—keep in mind that these people didn't just leave comments, as the comment feature wasn't working at the time, but actually wrote e-mails—makes me think that my efforts to come across as someone who is not to be trifled with are not turning out as successful as one might hope.
Of course, there's nothing like your dad's coming to town and allowing himself to be talked into buying you a Massani leather jacket to make your feelings of fatness, age, and uselessness fade as if you had never been anything but svelte, nubile, and of inestimable value to everyone around you.
Thursday I went on a date with somebody I met through Planet Out. We were having dinner and talking about Star Wars. He said, "I was ten when I first saw that movie, and the first time Darth Vader came on screen, I thought, 'Now there's somebody I could really like a lot.'"
It became clear to me in that instant that we were meant to be together.
So I was very excited to go out with him again last night. We had dinner again, went book shopping, went book shopping at another place, and went back to his apartment, where we made out.
And there was no spark at all.
This guy is cute, smart, funny, stimulating, compassionate, and, one assumes, given that he responded to me after reading my profile, a top. And yet there was just nothing there.
Clearly I am going about this the wrong way.
Now, if somebody would just tell me what the right way is, I'd be all set.
In Handel's opera Scipione, the heroine, Berenice, sings:
Ahi! Non bastan
le mie pene
a farmi ancor?
Roughly translated, this means:
Ah! Are my sorrows
that others should come
to make me
In general, I feel this is an appropriate reaction to pretty much anything that happens in my life.
Today, for example, not only do I still not have internet access, but, when the electricians showed up at 9:00 to work on the wiring, they turned the electricity off, meaning that I spent the next several hours tearing my hair out trying to convince them to turn it back on so I could finish writing and then fax the music I needed to finish writing and then fax by this afternoon.
I should thank God for small favors, though, because the electricians seem to have come in the nick of time. Apparently it's sheer luck that my brother and I haven't died horribly in an electrical fire at some point during the last year. They took the cover off the fuse box and showed me the wiring inside; the wires were actually glowing.
I suppose that dying horribly in an electrical fire would fall under the category of other sorrows coming to make me unhappier still.
Please forgive my recent silence. I haven't had internet access in almost two days and I think I'm going to lose my mind. (I'm posting this during a brief break in the class I'm teaching at NYU, so I'm using their computers.)
Wish me luck and hope I don't return a raving lunatic.
With each passing year since I hit eighteen, my mental faculties have declined. As a child I enjoyed doing things like arguing in favor of debunked revisionist theories of history, like that the munitions manufacturers had been responsible for World War One ("Look! It's all right there in the Nye Commission report!"). Nowadays I read books with titles like Pawn of Prophecy or Enchanter's Endgame, and if I comprehend the headlines on the front page of the paper on my way to cheerleading practice it's a good day. Simultaneously, my brother—who was always the unintellectual, athletic one—is getting a Ph.D. in American history; our apartment is slowly but surely filling up with books with titles like Waterfront Workers of New Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics, 1863-1923.
However, the undergraduate musical theater writing class I co-teach at NYU is about to start again, and my co-teacher and I are substantially revising the syllabus, out of a desire to take a broader perspective. We're considering starting out with a class about the oldest origins of musical theater; that is to say, Dionysian ecstasies.
So earlier tonight I went out and bought Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music and am slowly but surely making my way through it.
And my God, I'd forgotten how wonderful it feels to think.
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.