The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Sunday, November 30, 2003
It was in seventh grade that I was first introduced to Latin. We started out with Marcus puellam amat and progressed through by the end of the year to Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, etc. Or perhaps it was in second year Latin that we first hit Caesar—this was almost twenty years ago, so my memory is a little bit vague.
At one point we were assigned a project about Greek or Roman history or art or architecture or culture. The exact parameters have escaped me by now but I do remember that we did this project in pairs, all of us except E.T., who, being the class loser, was naturally anathema as a project partner. If memory serves, he came in dressed as a Roman gladiator and demonstrated various combat techniques on a stuffed dummy; this was pretty successful as a Latin project but did nothing, alas, to raise his standing in the class hierarchy. W.E. and W.N. made a Greek temple out of garbage; rumor had it that there was a piece of cat poop inside. The fact that they flunked the project lends credence to the cat poop legend, but as the motivations of the powers that be are often shrouded in mystery, I’m not willing to stick my neck out for this one.
At any rate, I worked with C.O. for my project, which was more or less all my design: we made a working model of Tartarus, the classical version of hell, using Legos and Star Wars figures.
This involved a cardboard box on its side with a lot of wires and string and holes in the back. There was Obi-Wan Kenobi as Sisyphus, pushing a clay boulder up a posterboard mountain colored with brown marker. Whenever he neared the top, we would jerk the string attached to the boulder and let it fall back down the mountain; then Obi-Wan, by means of a wire wrapped around his waist and running through the back of the box, would follow forlornly down after it and start the whole thing up again. On the other side of the posterboard mountain was bound Han Solo as Prometheus, attended by some vultures (on wires) to eat his liver every morning. (Technically this was a concatenation of the punishments of Prometheus, who was bound to a mountain but who didn't actually end up in Tartarus and whose heart was eaten by an eagle, and Tityus, whose liver was eaten daily in Tartarus by vultures and snakes but who wasn't actually bound to a mountain, being spread rather over nine acres of land. But we couldn't spread Han Solo over nine acres, even to scale, so we figured we'd fudge it.) Princess Leia was a Danaid—there were 49 of them according to Greek myth, but even my extensive collection couldn’t produce that many women in the male-dominated mythos that was Star Wars—forced eternally (again by means of wires) to fill an ostensibly leaky jar made of Legos by means of an ostensibly leaky cup from the Lego Town House collection. Luke Skywalker was Ixion, turning forever on a burning wheel (also posterboard) as punishment for dallying with Hera. And Ice Planet Han Solo was Tantalus, always reaching up (pull the wire) for the fruit on the branches above him (pull the string attached to the twig) or down (push the wire) for the water in the pool below him (let go the string attached to the blue posterboard).
In hindsight, we should have had Darth Vader as Hades sitting on a throne above it all, but we were thirteen, so perhaps we can be forgiven.
Yesterday, before watching Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, we went to an actual movie theater to see an actual movie playing currently. This being western Maryland, our options were severely limited; we ended up going with Timeline, which turned out to be far worse than even our vivid imaginations could have prepared us for. The plot centered around a group of archeology students, each stupider than the last, who travel back in time to fourteenth century France to rescue their professor. At one point, one of them falls in love at first sight with a fourteenth century French woman; not unsurprisingly, his love is requited, and soon enough, they kiss.
And all I could think was She has never brushed her teeth IN HER ENTIRE LIFE.
Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Western Maryland with my dog, this man, his dog, and his boyfriend. I will be here for a week, during which I expect to do nothing but 1) eat and 2) give thanks that I live in a place not littered with signs informing me that Jesus paid my sin bill.
The first time I went out in costume for Hallowe'en was, I believe, at age five. My parents asked me what I wanted to go as, and I told them, "I want to be a witch."
Choosing to ignore the clear sign of incipient homosexuality, they procured a witch costume, complete with pointy black hat and broom; what they failed to understand, however, was that I had been speaking in terms of a life choice.
We left the restaurant and started walking around the block. It's slightly difficult to walk with one's heart in one's throat, but somehow I managed. Eventually he said, "I like you. And I'm really attracted to you. But . . . what's going to be different this time?"
I started talking, stammering even more than I usually do when I'm nervous. I talked about the strong effect our conversation on Yom Kippur had had on me; I talked about my coming to see him in a new light; I talked about my understanding of what a blackguard I'd been. "I'm a different person than I was a year ago," I said.
"Okay," he said.
"I mean, you can think about it, you don't have to give me an answer now, or if your answer's no I completely understand and--"
"No, I mean, okay, I'll go out on a date with you."
Then I burst into tears.
Which was the first time I'd done that in front of him, despite having dated him for six months. So I was already doing better on the emotional honesty front, as bursting into tears is something I find myself having the urge to do at least twelve times every day, but I always bottle it up.
So we've seen each other a few times since then, and I've had a really nice time (except for when I herniated, though I suspect that, with some fudging, not having to go to the emergency room can be counted as having a really nice time). I'm excited and nervous and terrified and full of hope and doubt.
And with that, you're all current. So far, this story has no ending.
This is David with a bit of an emergency entry. Don’t worry . . . Faustus is fine, and I assume he will continue his suspenseful tale later today. Unless my strategically placed armies succeed in taking over this web log completely, in which case, my dog will be posting about her tea parties with her friends the nighttime squirrels. Which would you really prefer?
Anyway, those of you who read my own blog (and if you don’t, shame on you!) know that I have been searching for an assistant to help me out over the next couple of months. Today, I conducted some interviews, and when I asked one of the applicants if he had any questions, he allowed as to how he did.
“You don’t have a . . . sort of online diary thing, do you?” he asked tentatively.
“Well, yes,” I said, not sure where this was going. “Did you read it?”
“Some of it,” he said. I was worried that he had read the description I posted yesterday of the various resumes I had received, but in fact, he had read something else entirely.
Upon Googling my name, he was led not to everyone’s favorite Upside-down Hippopotamus, but to my guest entries here. And not aware that they were only guest entries, he assumed that this blog, The Search for Love in Manhattan, was my own. And he started reading the entries Faustus made, thinking they were mine.
“I was interested in what you wrote about attending the orgies,” said my prospective employee, “and when you talked about being in a porno movie.”
“Uh, that was not me, that was my good friend,” I said. I tried to explain the difference between Faustus’s blog and my own, but I don’t think he believed me.
So I guess what I’m trying to say here (without Faustus’s permission, as I could not get in touch with him in time to ask if I could post here today) is that if I am interviewing you tomorrow, and you were resourceful enough to find my web log entries here, that is probably a point in your favor. But please do not sit through the entire interview thinking that I am the one who is attending orgies and porn shoots, wondering (or hoping!) if your services are going to be required to help me organize either, because you will only be disappointed in the end.
Of course my first impulse was to leap immediately into the street, into the path of oncoming traffic, and hope that there was a Mack truck very, very close by.
Paralyzed by cold and horror and guilt and shame and wishing I'd never been born, however, my body refused to act on this impulse, and so instead I sat there in silence, staring at my lap because naturally I was about as capable of looking him in the face as I was of sprouting wings and flying to the moon. I'm sure only a minute or two went by, but it sure as hell felt like I remained mute for the length of all the Cretaceous Period plus half of the Tertiary Period before I spoke.
"I'm trying to figure out what to say that won't be meaningless," I said.
"Just say the truth," he said.
So I did.
And what followed was an extraordinary conversation about honesty and letting people in and fear and facing your emotions and telling other people what you really think. None of these things has ever been my forte. My M.O. is, in general, to tell people what I think they want to hear so that they won't despise me when they find out who I really am. But in this case, there was no escape route open, there were no evasive tactics I could employ. I had to talk about what I actually felt.
And it was wonderful.
To detail the actual feelings would be too soporific for even the most avid readers, and, besides, they're more or less contained in the narrative of this blog. So I'll summarize: ambivalent, cavalier, affectionate, all mixed up together.
It turns out that, about a month before the conversation I'm writing about, he'd seen somebody's profile on gay.com that had a link to that person's blog; that blog in turn had a link to mine. He realized it was me after about two seconds--so much for the pretense of anonymity here--and went back to read the archives from the time we were dating.
In the end, he said (I'm paraphrasing somewhat), "I understand why you did what you did. You were just out of a serious relationship; you should have had 'rebound' stamped on your forehead. What upset me was that you didn't tell me--I didn't have informed consent."
Finally, the cold made it impossible for us to continue the conversation, so we headed towards the subway. "At first I was furious," he said. "But now I feel like it's actually pretty funny."
"Give me a month to get there," I said. "Right now I just want to go home and throw myself out my window."
"Don't throw yourself out your window. You live on the second floor. You'll just hurt yourself."
The thing is that the next morning, when I woke up, I still felt great about having actually been honest in a difficult situation for once in my life. (I don't mean to imply that I'm a pathological liar--though I've told more than my share of untruths, I'm speaking here of emotional honesty.)
And then I started thinking, wait, what if it wasn't him who was the problem when we were going out?
What if it was me?
Could it be that my complete inability to let him in or trust him or show him any real part of myself or see any real part of him had something to do with why I felt it wasn't working?
He does, after all, fit all of my requirements: he's handsome, smart, funny, compassionate, stimulating, and a top. Furthermore, he's a med student, and he says things like, "I can't figure out whether I want to join Doctors Without Borders when I graduate or run a gay community health center."
In the days following The Conversation, we hung out more frequently than we ever had when we were dating--he said that he felt a lot better having gotten things off his chest--and I found myself wanting more and more to try again, if he'd even remotely consider such a thing, that is, given the cad I'd turned out to be on the last go-round. So, in fact, this post was about him.
Eventually I realized that the only thing to do was to ask him. I was completely ready for rejection--what sane person, after all, would want to stick his finger in that pencil sharpener again?--but held out a slim hope that he might not be sane.
So we went to the movies (this time it was Runaway Jury, the quality of which augured better for the subsequent conversation than Underworld had) and then to dinner. I sat through the whole dinner completely distracted and unfocused, wanting at every moment to speak and being unable to. If I can just get one word out, I thought, I will have committed myself and I can finish.
So finally I got out "There's," thereby committing myself, and followed it with "something I want to talk to you about."
"Okay," he said.
The silence that followed this exchange lasted for eras, not just periods, making the silence described at the beginning of this post seem positively infinitesimal. Staring at the table, because once again I couldn't look him in the face, I kept beginning:
"I . . . I wa-- . . . I . . ."
And finally, from some place hidden in the depths of my psyche, I found a store of courage previously hidden from me; having found that courage, I screwed it to the sticking place and said:
"I want to ask you out on a date."
He looked at me briefly without saying a word. Then he spoke:
Those of you who've been reading my blog since the beginning, as well as those of you who have joined late in the game but who have read back through the archives, may remember E.S., a man whom I dated for about six months before breaking up with him. He thought we were something serious and I thought we were something casual--so casual, in fact, that, while dating him, I slept with half of Manhattan, singly and in groups, on film and off, and blogged about it all. (Those of you curious to know the full backstory can peruse the archives from February through September of 2002; they're rather sparse, as I wasn't posting daily then. Those of you interested in the short version or a brief refresher can look here, here, here, and here.)
In any case, after we broke up, E.S. and I remained friends. He was in Boston for much of last school year, getting yet another graduate degree; he came back to New York in June. Upon his return, we started hanging out again, this time platonically. Every once in a while, I'd think, "Gee, maybe I made a mistake breaking up with him--he's a great guy, I have lots of fun hanging out with him," etc., etc., but I'd always return to knowing that I'd made the right decision.
So a little over a month ago, we made the terrible mistake of going to see Underworld, which I knew would be bad but which I didn't expect to be nearly as bad as it was. Furthermore, it was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, on which we traditionally fast from one sundown to the next. So I had to watch the damn thing without any candy or popcorn to distract me from its awfulness.
In any case, after the movie, we wandered around Union Square, talking about this and that, generally having a good time. Eventually I started getting cold, so I turned towards the subway. He said, "Actually, let's sit down for a while, 'cause there's something I want to talk to you about."
Now, there is absolutely nothing that strikes more terror into my heart than hearing the last nine words of that sentence. So I sat down, quivering now both from the cold and in anticipatory dread of whatever awful thing he was going to force me to deal with.
In the event, I wasn't quivering nearly enough.
Because what he said was, "I read your blog. All of it."
I spent the day today performing with the gay cheerleaders at the Gay Life Expo. During a break I saw James Getzlaff from Boy Meets Boy exploring the Expo with Jai Rodriguez from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
The realization that the boundaries of reality TV are so permeable almost caused me to faint on the spot.
Luckily I regained my senses before I had to go up in a half liberty as part of a wolf wall.
Several years ago I wrote a very short musical about a guy coming out to his mother. It was hysterically funny, if flawed, but as there are very few production opportunities for ten-minute musicals, it has been lying in the desk drawer gathering dust.
Here is a lyric from it, sung by the mother.
Some Playboys would be nice and
We'll sign you up for track.
We can throw away the Streisand.
We'll get the minister's advice and
Get you back.
Don't worry; you will heal.
If you feel
You're not okay,
You forgot some
Of the flotsam
You won't hang out with bikers.
You'll drive a Chevy van,
Stop your weekly trips to Riker's,
And throw those movies of Jeff Stryker's
In the can.
We'll hire you a whore
See this my way:
It might hurt, you
Know, but virtue
Stops the smarting
Darling, we can beat this.
Dreams can come true.
Doors will open to
You if you're hetero.
We can obsolete this.
In your soul,
This will be better, oh
You'll stay away from disco.
We'll dress you all in plaid.
I'll use lard instead of Crisco,
And we won't visit San Francisco
Or your dad.
We'll make this disappear;
You're not queer,
You are not gay.
'Cause you're not having drama,
And, besides, you don't tell mama;
You will not go to gay bars
And you'll pick up girls at Zabar's.
We'll change your chromosome, oh,
You don't have to be a homo!
On the course that
We'll be charting
It's the most problematic song in the piece, because it's not really funny so much as clever, and too clever by half, but still I kind of like it.
Oh, dear. This is very, very bad. Not only was yesterday's post a complete repeat of a post I already made, but it was a repeat of a post I made less than six months ago.
My friends have all gotten used to my telling the same stories over and over again, but I'm mortified to have revealed this character flaw to people with no first-hand knowledge of my virtues--such as they are--to balance the scales of judgment.
In my junior year of high school, I had a birthday party and invited my whole class. I got really excited and decorated the house and baked a terrific cake and planned lots of fun things for everybody to do.
Three people came.
I would have been absolutely fine with the whole thing—by which I mean that I would have been able to repress immediately and utterly the unmitigated horror of the event—if, upon my entrance into homeroom the next day, Mary Beth (a particularly vile and loathsome girl even by high school standards) hadn't turned around and said, "Hey, Faustus, heard you had a really bitchin' party last night!"
This was over thirteen years ago and I still have dreams about disemboweling her.
I am reminded of Lawrence of Arabia, who wrote, "All men dream: but not equally, Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."
On the one hand, surgery to correct my umbilical hernia would mean that I would never again have to go through two hours of agonizing pain such as I suffered last night.
On the other hand, it would mean that I'd have to stay away from the gym for six weeks, during which time lack of exercise coupled with a natural tendency to despair would slowly but surely cause me to assume the shape of a sphere, at which point I would have to retreat entirely from all human interaction.
Then, of course, once I was a sphere the patch (or whatever it actually is) would pop out, and I'd have the hernia again.
I came very close to having to spend the night tonight in the emergency room, after a narrow brush with an umbilical hernia that became more and more excruciatingly painful as the evening went on. Luckily, I was at dinner with a friend in medical school, so we went back to his apartment, where I lay down and he told me how to perform a manual reduction, after which all was well again.
I wanted him to perform it himself, but he demurred.
I am working 10-6 for the next couple of weeks, assisting a composer during rehearsals of her show
This is the first time in a very, very, very long time that I have had anything even remotely resembling a full-time job with a regular schedule (as opposed to the patchwork of part-time and freelance work with which I currently keep body and soul together), and I'm so exhausted I want to die.
1. Their chocolate is much better than ours. Of course, I've known this for years and years, but when you're completely surrounded by good chocolate, you can hardly be expected not to think about it.
A very clear explanation for the superiority of English (and, for that matter, continental) chocolate can be found in The Emperors of Chocolate. I haven't read it in years, but, if memory serves, the story goes something like this: Milton Hershey was an early corporate spy in chocolate factories in Switzerland—shades of Willy Wonka!—and brought his knowledge of how to make chocolate to America with him; however, he tinkered with the method and made it his own (always a bad idea). The method he finally developed was one during which the milk actually spoiled ever so slightly. This became the standard taste of American chocolate: spoiled milk. (Aficionados all agree that this works supremely well when combined with the bitterness of almonds in such confections as the Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds and the Hershey's Kiss With Almonds, but not in other cases.)
2. Our street signage is better than theirs. In the amount of time I spent utterly lost at intersections, having to peer around corners at the sides of buildings to see whether I was actually on Cheltenham Road or Cromwell Grove or Crumpet Lane or somewhere else entirely, I could have both finished the pair of gloves I'm knitting and written a sequel to Moby-Dick.
3. This man is as smart, charming, and sexy as his blog suggests he is.
Hmm. Looking at the scorecard, I see it's England 2, USA 1.
It is I, Faustus. I have returned, only to find that I seem to have been nurturing a viper in my bosom. I'll take the high road for the moment and deal with the pretender later, as I have a question to ask:
If you leave the country and stay with the music director of your show and his partner and they foil all your attempts to be a helpful guest by tricking you out of doing the dishes or arranging the cushions back on the sofa or any of the other things that you as a good guest would sooner lose an arm than neglect to do, and then you sleep with them, and then the next morning after a delightful breakfast, when you go to wash the dishes they don't lift a finger to stop you, does that mean they thought you were bad in bed?
Emperor David here. I have been making a list all week of things I need to accomplish. You know: usurp Faustus, install my boyfriend as liege lord over Upside-down Hippopotamus, train Goblin as elite bodyguard . . . that sort of thing. In my imperial ambition, at least, things are going rather smoothly. It is the rest of my life that is overwhelming.
Drop off laundry, pick up laundry, go to the grocery store, go to the grocery store to get everything I forgot the first time, send invoices, pay bills, vote, write six pages of this, write three pages of that. These are the things that vex me. These are the things I can never seem to get done, the things that I transfer, unaltered, from one day of my to-do list to the next. They mount and compound, and before long, I am drowning.
But instead of worrying about them (or, god forbid, doing them), I will tell you a story. Gather close to your computer monitors, my precious angels, and read a true tale of suspense and terror.
Picture it: Towson, Maryland, a couple of years ago. My ex-boyfriend, Michael, and I took a visiting friend to visit one of the country’s smallest National Parks, the grounds of an old plantation. Though situated just yards from the Baltimore Beltway at the end of a residential road, to visit there is like entering another world.
We took the tour of the manor house and then walked the grounds, eventually arriving at a cramped little building that had once housed slaves. A park ranger was stationed inside to answer questions, and as the only visitors at that moment, we got into a fascinating discussion about local history, a conversation from which I was quickly distracted.
I felt a strange energy in my hands, as if a static charge were dancing along my fingers and palms, shooting up my forearms. Along with that came another sensation, as if someone was tapping on my hands and ears. I paused and listened carefully because I felt very strongly as if someone wanted to tell me something, but the other conversation in the room was too loud. When we stepped outside into the sun, I noticed that every hair on my arms was standing straight up, a phenomenon that persisted, along with the strange voltage in my hands, until we were halfway back to the car. No one else had witnessed anything unusual, although I did call their attention to the fact that my hair was standing on end.
I have had other supernatural encounters, and this was probably not even the strangest (that distinction would probably go to the ghost of Lizzie Borden’s step-mother making up a bed with me and Rob in it), but it is on my mind today. I am just getting around to watching all of the “ghost hunting” shows TiVo recorded during Halloween week, and it seems as if a large number of them involve the spirits of American slaves, so it seems that what I felt was not so much otherworldly as trendy.
Possibly, industrious souls that they are, the slaves were trying to tell me to do my chores, something I was not any better at then than I am now. But somehow, I am hoping for a more momentous Message From Beyond than, “Don’t forget to buy toothpaste.”
This is David officially announcing that, in the spirit of Faustus’s trip to Britain, I have officially annexed The Search for Love in Manhattan into the fabulous empire of Upside-down Hippopotamus. Unlike most of England’s colonizing, this should be a rather bloodless transition, although I cannot predict how Faustus will react upon returning to find himself usurped. He tends to get unreasonably touchy about that sort of thing, but my fire-breathing Goblin should be up to the task of protecting me.
Over in my own web log (at which my boyfriend is currently guest-blogging while I consolidate power here), I have been reminiscing lately about my dorky early years (these are distinguishable from my dorky current years by the hair that has lately begun to sprout in some rather inappropriate bodily locations). Just today, I thought of another such episode.
Picture it: Eastern Junior High School, 1984. Tori Amos aficionados may recognize the name of her alma mater, although she was long gone by the time I made my awkward appearance on the scene (although we eventually attended divisions of the same university, come to think of it). One warm spring day, I shucked my Members Only jacket and, rather than carry it, tied it around my waist as I walked down the hall. At one point, I encountered a classmate named Melissa, who may or may not have been the prettiest girl in the school but was certainly in her own mind convinced she had attained that status.
“It’s so hot in here,” Melissa complained.
“Why don’t you take off your jacket and tie it around your waist, like me?” I suggested helpfully.
She gave me a once over. “Because I don’t want to look like a total nerd,” she said.
Ah, the good old days.
At least I can console myself with my realization that I have been leading a parallel lives with Tori Amos. My album will be on the charts any day now.
Even though I am a broken-link-posting dunderhead, the same requirements apply. You must bookmark my URL and visit it every day, without fail. If you have a blog of your own, you must link to me (as I will to you, if you drop me a line). These are the new rules of the Search for Love Kingdom, which I, as temporary regent, have decreed and will lovingly enforce with an iron fist clad in a silk glove, or possibly leather.
So, if there are no questions, we’ll begin.
While Faustus is shooting around London in the Tube, I must schlep around Manhattan in the Subway. Yesterday, I ventured out of the Upper West Side to have coffee in Chelsea with my friend Crash. It usually takes a team of wild horses to drag me out of my neighborhood, but yesterday, the 1 train was sufficient.
As we approached my destination, a young boy entered the car and began some sort of loud, ritualized chant about selling candy to pay for his school basketball uniforms. To be honest, since I don’t care for candy (or children), I did not pay much attention.
The woman next to me, however, purchased something, and before she would release her vise grip on the dollar bill, she subjected him to a lecture about how he should not have to raise money for a school project by selling candy on the Subway. “Did you ask your principal to fund you?” she demanded. “You should march into your principal’s office and demand he buy your uniforms! You shouldn’t have to do this!” The boy, who couldn’t have been older than ten, gave her a blank stare until she sighed and let him go.
Even after he left, the woman was indignant. “They’re just teaching him to be a beggar!” she announced to the people around her. “That’s all he’s learning: how to be a beggar. Did you see how good he’s gotten at begging?”
I seem to recall reading somewhere that the whole “I’m selling candy to raise money for my uniform” spiel is a hoax, but even if it is true, what other option do these kids have? Are they really going to march into their principals’ offices and demand funding? My former roommate was a teacher in the New York City Public School system, and she had to pay for her own photocopies and teaching materials half the time. I would think that, if there were any spare dollars, these would be a greater priority than uniforms.
Anyway, I realize we have drifted from the topic of searching for love in Manhattan in favor of searching for available tax dollars in Manhattan. To get back on track, I will steer us over to the coffee with Crash, who showed me photos of naked rugby players and told me about the two erotic dreams he has had about me in recent days. As no one else in the history of the universe has ever had an erotic dream about me, I find this significant enough to crow about, although I shall perhaps refrain from doing so in a subway car.
All right, first things first. This is David. Faustus is away until Tuesday, and I’m in charge here now. Got that? Good. I run a tight ship, so here’s how this is going to work:
1) You all are going to go read my blog, Upside-down Hippopotamus. And not just today, but every day. Read it. Bookmark it. Live it.
2) Those of you with blogs of your own are going to link to my blog, Upside-down Hippopotamus. Do it. Now. (And drop me a line if you do, so I can return the favor.)
People . . . people . . . let’s get cracking! Chop chop! There’s no time to waste.
Now, on with the show:
Last night, Halloween, my boyfriend and I went to the movies and saw the new Charles Busch film, Die Mommie Die (Valuable Life Lesson: “Do not let your embittered wife give you a suppository, especially if she is really a man”). On the way into the theater, a man who turned out to be crazy and gay asked me if I was not cold.
“I said, ‘Aren’t you cold?’”
Now, it was a warm night, and I was even wearing a jacket, so I was anything but cold. “No.”
“I’m always cold,” he said. “I have no blood.”
“Maybe you’re a vampire,” I said. He seemed to consider this, so I continued. “Tonight would be your night to howl.”
“I howl every night,” said Crazy Gay Man.
Rob and I ended up sitting next to them, of course. I don’t know how that happened, since Rob actually saved the seats while I waited in line for snacks. I hadn’t eaten dinner, so I ordered a chicken finger/french fry combo meal and went to find him.
There he was, talking to Crazy Gay Man. I sat on the other side and was so intent on my meal that I was not paying very close attention to their conversation. At one point, I heard CGM say, “Have you been to those theaters where they serve meals? It’s awful. People sit there with chicken dinners in front of them. It’s the end of civilization as we know it.”
So there I sat, on the other side of my boyfriend, munching on the End of Civilization as We Know It. Just my luck that the last meal would be a nauseating pile of grease heated up in a movie theater snack bar’s microwave.
Ah well, at least “a lifetime on the hips” would not be such a daunting prospect.
Before the film began, Rob got up to get another drink, and CGM leaned over his seat and put his hand on my arm. “You know,” he said, staring into my eyes. “You’re very cute.”
I hid the chicken behind the armrest. “It’s dark in here,” I replied, waving my hand in front of your face. “You must not be able to see very well.”
“I can see cute.” He gave me a significant look.
I thought, at least you can't see my chicken dinner. I said, “Oh. Uh. Thanks.”
“I mean it. You are cute.” He squeezed my arm again.
I wished I could say the same, just to deflate the moment, but instead I said, “Well, bless your heart.”
Rob came back then, and took his seat between us. The movie began.
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.