The last time I went to Six Flags was three years ago, with this man's boyfriend. Twenty minutes into the bus ride there, when I started talking about what roller coasters we should go on, he said, "Oh, I don't really like roller coasters."
"What?" I asked, dumbfounded. "Then why did you say yesterday that you thought going to Six Flags sounded like a great idea?"
"Well, I thought we'd do other stuff," he said.
"There isn't any other stuff. It's an amusement park."
In the end, we had a terrific time--we were able to find four or five rides he was glad to go on, and we ate lots of junk food, and we played Whack-A-Mole, which I won.
Fast forward to this past weekend. It was clear to me that E.S. wasn't nearly as excited about going to Six Flags as I was--a fact that mystified me--but, luckily, he had agreed to go simply to humor me, or, more likely, to shut me up, as I'd been begging him for about three months to go.
When we arrived, E.S. looked through the map of the park and said, "Oh, we have to go on Nitro." According to the map, Nitro is the largest steel roller coaster on the east coast. We wandered over to the Movietown section of the park and stood in the line for Nitro behind (and eventually in front of) a group of preteens. Those who were not wearing identical blue T-shirts with musical notes on the back were wearing identical white T-shirts with "Calvary Christian High School" on the front; I wasn't sure who to be more scared of.
But soon enough it didn't signify, as Nitro was far more terrifying than all the preteens put together. It starts by taking you slowly and creakily up a 230-foot ramp and then dropping you at an 85-degree angle almost to the ground. Then it goes on for another four minutes.
When the ride was over, a thoroughly terrified E.S., whose hands were shaking, said, "Did I tell you that I'm scared of heights?"
This explained his mystifying reluctance to go.
"That was too scary for me," he continued. "I think I'm too old for this."
A booth at the exit was selling photos of us; evidently, a strategically-placed camera had managed to capture our likenesses as we plunged to what our noradrenergic systems were convinced was our deaths. In the photo, E.S. looked handsome even filled with terror, and the preteens, whose noradrenergic systems were clearly far less gullible than ours, looked like they were having the time of their lives. I, on the other hand, had on my face a look of such grim concentration one might think the lens had caught me in the midst of performing a particularly complicated neurosurgery. E.S. wanted to buy a copy of the picture but I forbad him.
Then we found three or four more rides he was glad to go on, and we ate lots of junk food, and we played Whack-A-Mole, which I won.
Those of you who know me personally and/or intimately are aware that my housekeeping skills leave something to be desired. The less kind among you might say that the something to be desired is a wrecking ball, but then again you might choose instead to remember that discretion is the better part of valor, or at least, for those of you who know me intimately, that I was good in bed. For those of you who know me personally but not intimately, well, I'll just have to hope for the better part of valor thing.
In any case, even I will acknowledge that, when it comes to my apartment, I am not the neatest of men. This is a result of having too many books, too many papers, and only a velleity to do anything about it.
E.S., however, takes a less lackadaisical view of the whole thing. You may remember that in the past he has actually done something about the messiness of my apartment himself. Apparently, however, that was a one-time event, not to be repeated (or perhaps it was a Christmas gift and I can expect the same next December). In any case, he has been after me for weeks to clean my apartment. Every time the subject came up I would promise to do so, and, as evidence of my good faith, would pick up a piece of paper from the floor (making sure he saw me) and put it in the recycling box. Then I would blithely make my way through the obstacle course of books, papers, and dog toys to wherever my destination was.
Then, this morning, E.S. said he wasn't having sex with me until I cleaned the apartment.
Let me tell you, you could do brain surgery in this apartment now.
Actually, that's a lie, but the place is certainly cleaner than it was before his Lysistrata move. And, as subsequent events proved, brain-surgery clean wasn't necessary for him to lift the moratorium.
I have spent the last two months drowning in a maelstrom of anxiety and depression. This has interfered with any number of my regular activities. I haven't been to the gym in so long I'm beginning to fear being harpooned for my blubber when I walk down the street. There are friends I haven't called in so long they may actually have forgotten my name. I've taken a leave of absence from the cheerleading squad. And, worst of all in some ways, I've let this blog founder.
A couple weeks ago, I went on a new medication. And the maelstrom is calming down ever so slightly. But the problem is, getting back to my normal life still seems a task far too daunting to be contemplated, much less attempted. I've been to the gym a couple times in the last two weeks, and reminded a couple friends of my existence, and here I am posting.
The other day, E.S. and I saw a commercial for an upcoming NBC show called Next Action Hero. Instantly I realized that this whole "musical theater composer" thing had been a big mistake, and that my true calling was to be an action hero in Hollywood movies. After all, I learned how to do a back handspring at the age of 30; what feats of greater dexterity or stamina could possibly be required in an NBC movie called Hit Me?
E.S. was somewhat dubious when I expressed to him my soul's new desire.
"Okay," he said. "Say this as if you were in an action movie: 'EVERYBODY TO THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BUS!'"
I assumed a very butch body position and shouted, "EVERYBODY TO THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BUS!"
We both agreed that I would be the best gay action hero in a gay action movie around.
The first time I spent the night at my ex-boyfriend N.T.'s parents' house, I thought I was going to die of an allergic reaction. Not a reaction, as one might guess with the benefit of hindsight, to N.T.'s toxic and dysfunctional presence in my life, but a reaction to the four cats that inhabited the house along with N.T.'s parents and his brother and a horde of dust mites. This was in the days before this woman cured me of my allergies, so I was really in bad shape from the moment I entered the house, much less got in bed. I tossed and turned and dripped and snorted and itched while N.T., Fate being as cruel as she is, slept peacefully beside me; eventually, I gave up and went to the only place I could find in the house that wasn't covered with dust-mite-containing bedding or carpeting: the bathroom floor. I spent a restive early morning in the arms of Morpheus, and then awoke, pretending to have slept soundly and happily and vowing inwardly never to return without a dozen prescriptions or perhaps a gas mask.
Fast forward several years. The feckless N.T. is no longer a part of my life; I have a much better boyfriend, who is much better in bed and has a real job to boot. This past Tuesday morning, E.S. had a job interview in New Jersey, so Monday we went to spend the night at his parents' house, which was both near the interview and blessedly free of cats and dust mites, not to mention controlling mothers. After a relaxing evening of working ourselves into rages over the current political state of this country and then watching the conclusion of the dreadful NBC miniseries 10.5, we all settled down to bed--E.S. and I in the guest room next to his parents' room.
And then the snoring started.
Now, I have been known to snore occasionally in my day. E.S. has his own pair of earplugs on my bedside table, in fact, for those occasions--few and far between, if I may speak in my own defense--on which my snoring becomes particularly intrusive.
E.S.'s father, however, blows me out of the water. In all other ways he is a delightful human being, but he snores as if Krakatoa were erupting from his nose.
I tried and tried to sleep. For a short time I even succeeded, but then at some hour between 3:00 and 4:00 I sat bolt upright, terrified that I and what few worldly possessions I'd brought with me were about to be buried under a flood of molten lava.
I got out of bed, careful not to wake E.S. up (something I've become good at, given how badly I've been sleeping lately), and went in search of another place in the house to sleep.
I tried the couch in the den. This was very comfortable, but, alas, did nothing to dispel the sound of volcanic apnea going on at the other end of the house.
I tried the office, which was quieter, but I feared that, in my restless sleep, I would accidentally unplug some vital piece of equipment upon which somebody's survival depended.
Which left, of course, only one place.
I slept on the bathroom floor.
They say that those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it, but believe me, I remember that night on N.T.'s parents' bathroom floor with vivid pain.
In general, on this blog, I use an algorithmically-derived set of initials to refer to people rather than full names, so as to protect the innocent (them) and the guilty (me). However, I will go so far as to reveal that my dog A. has a fairly normal name.
This was almost not the case. I got her with my ex-boyfriend N.T., and choosing a name for her was the second-most difficult trial we faced in our relationship, after picking a color to paint the bathroom, which process very nearly brought us to blows in the middle of Barnes & Noble. (He wanted, if memory serves, Majestic Violet, and I wanted Cleopatra's Gown. In the end we compromised and used both, in wide stripes, along with gold swirls and sheer fabric so that the bathroom looked like something out of 1,001 Arabian Nights.)
The problem with naming our dog was our respective histories with pets. I had grown up with a bichon frise (a small, white, fluffy breed of dog) that my family had, perversely, named Fang. (We were going to name him Horrible until we realized that we'd end up shortening it almost immediately to "Hor," and the thought of going around our conservative southern neighborhood telling people our Hor had run away and asking if they'd seen him didn't appeal to any of us.)
N.T., on the other hand, had grown up with cats with names like Aurora and Beautiful Music. Why I had decided to share my life with somebody who would name a cat Beautiful Music in the first place is, in the clear, harsh light of hindsight, quite beyond me, but at the time it seemed like the thing to do.
Our discussions about a name for A. would go something like this:
N.T.: How about "Lucinda"?
Me: How about "Mud"?
N.T.: How about "Aurelia"?
Me: How about "Three Hole Punch"?
We finally settled on the mutually agreeable but repulsive name "Cookie"; luckily, his controlling, overbearing mother convinced us to change our minds, and we found A.
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.