The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Today, in what will certainly be a vain effort to vary my workout routine, I joined PUSH, a service that sends its members workout videos customized to their needs (as expressed in a series of questionnaires on the site). I signed up because one of the people doing the videos is the love of my life, Trainer Bob from The Biggest Loser. The monthly fee seemed quite low, especially in exchange for regular deliveries of DVDs on which Trainer Bob will undoubtedly say things like, "Faustus, I love you and can't live without you" and "Faustus, give me three more crunches and I will fuck you silly."
The PUSH multiple-choice questionnaires were remarkably detailed and surprisingly interesting, if less than perfectly grammatical. Naturally, they asked about height, weight, and current level of activity, but there were also questions like, "Love Life: Hitched/Separated/Divorced/Just Dating/Other" and "How would you describe your sense of humor? Good Clean Fun. Rated G./Clever bodily-function jokes=good./More mature.Risque is OK if smart./No holds Barred. NC-17." Among the options for "What cardio do you already do?" were "Sex with people I know" and "Sex with people I don't know." I answered all the questions as if I were not in a relationship, because of course the most important quality in a trainer is that he make me think I can sleep with him if I work hard enough, and if Trainer Bob knows I have a boyfriend he will quash that fantasy as quickly as possible. He's too honorable by half, but I don't mind. It's part of why he is my soul mate.
E.S., by the way, hates my crush on Trainer Bob. It became a bone of contention between us near the end of last season. Trainer Bob would appear on screen and I would say things like, "Trainer Bob is so great," my voice full of love, and E.S. would huff, "What are you doing here, then? Go marry Trainer Bob."
When I finished the questionnaires today, I got to the "My PUSHTrainer" section, in which I was asked if I wanted PUSH to assign me a trainer based on my profile or if I wanted to pick my own. The options were "Bob--tough love," "Jon--sweet and funny," and "Kristin--cute with no...". I was unable to manipulate the screen to reveal what it was Kristin had none of, though in my fantasy she is "Kristin--cute with nosferatu," but it didn't matter because I knew I was going to get Bob. I indicated that PUSH should assign me a trainer, supremely confident in the result.
And I got Jon.
I was appalled. I went to the "trainers" page on the site and clicked "to see Jon in Action!" He certainly seemed like a competent trainer, but he is not the love of my life. What if PUSH is right, though, and Trainer Bob and I are not truly suited for each other? I do not want videos on which Jon says things like, "Faustus, I love you and can't live without you" and "Faustus, give me three more crunches and I will fuck you silly," but that seems to be what I'm in for. I went back and unchecked "Sex with people I don't know," thinking that maybe Trainer Bob goes for the wholesome type, but it didn't make any difference. I even changed my sense of humor from "No holds Barred" to "Good Clean Fun," on the theory that perhaps Trainer Bob is a humorless romantic, which would be sad but tolerable given his abs. No dice.
I've decided to go with Jon for the first month and see what happens. Who knows? He might awaken fantasies in me I wasn't even aware I had, and prove to be my true love more thoroughly than Trainer Bob ever could. I could respond to his voice in ways my body wasn't even aware existed, and we could live together in blissful happiness for the rest of our days.
It is I, Faustus. I have returned. I'm glad to see that the person who writes more like me than I do has kept you entertained.
I was at Camp Camp, in Middle of Nowhere, Maine. The first day, I was practicing my routine for the aerobics classes I was going to teach, and when I went over to check the steps I had written down, I found some sticky spots on the paper. I racked my brain, trying to figure out which of the many sticky substances I'd packed could possibly have leaked in my bag on the way up, when I realized it was pine sap that had dripped from the tree above me.
I ran to call E.S. to come rescue me but there was no cell phone access so I had to stay the whole week.
The horrifying thing, of course, is that pine sap was nothing compared to what lay in store. By the end of my time I had both played softball and eaten a leaf I picked from a plant in the forest.
Actually, it turns out (according to E.S.) that the most effective way to lose weight is to suffer severe burns.
Since I never go to the beach as it is, I really have no need for an unscarred back. So I think I'll just find an open flame and lie down in it. E.S. will object if I tell him ahead of time, so I won't say anything about it. Then I'll show up at his apartment, burned and svelte again, and he will be thrilled.
I briefly considered having a brain injury, which is the second most effective way to lose weight. But, even though being thin is the most important thing in the world, more important than kindness and compassion and good shoes put together, I'd prefer not to risk damaging my rapier-like wit, especially with the option of third-degree burns open to me.
In other news, I'm leaving town on Friday to go to Camp Camp, a camp in Maine where gays and lesbians can reclaim the childhood summers that were ruined for them because they felt alienated from all the heterosexual children who surrounded them. In my absence, you'll be in the hands of a very special guest blogger. Some of you may remember the Great Blogalike Contest of 2004. (If you don't, go here for the contest rules, here for the entries, and here for the results.) The person writing my blog while I'm away is the winner of the Blogalike Contest, the person who beat me out in a contest to write like me. He'll be continuing in that tradition, posting as me, but under the moniker Fauxstus.
It's just as well that E.S. works in a psychiatric ward in a hospital, because he is actually mentally ill himself. Specifically, he has a fixed delusion that he and I are going to raise a child one day. I have done everything short of electroconvulsive therapy to convince him that this is never, ever, ever going to happen, but still he persists in talking about getting an apartment with space enough for a baby, what we might name a child, and so forth.
Last night's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition--it may in fact have been televised on another day but last night was when we watched it--was about a family whose six-year-old daughter was abducted years ago. They have never given up hope that she might one day return to them, and the new house that the Extreme Makeover crew built for them had a bedroom in it for her. I found it disturbing and beautiful at the same time but quickly went back to what I had been writing before the episode started; E.S., on the other hand, was lost in thought for long minutes after the final credits rolled, his eyes hooded and his expression inscrutable.
Then he turned to me and said, "Do you think if we adopted a child and then made it disappear mysteriously, we could get an extreme makeover?"
I laughed really hard for five minutes and then I told him that was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard him say.
Last night, E.S. and I watched Hooking Up, a new reality show in the Blind Date mold. The crew follows women as they go on dates with men they've met online. I do not care for the show, as I find the people tend either to humiliate themselves or to be skanky. Last night was no exception; a woman was out with a man she'd had a good first date with, but the second date was going nowhere fast. He was far too intense, getting far too close far too quickly. "I just feel a real connection with you," he said, "and it's clear to me you feel it too." He was attractive but it was just awful to watch. She was obviously unnerved, and in the end she let him down easy. Then E.S. and I had the following conversation:
E.S.: I dated him. I mean, not him specifically, but somebody who did that. FAUSTUS: And? E.S.: He was like, it would be great to keep getting closer to you, to get to know you better and better. And I was like, it would be great to stab you with this kitchen knife. FAUSTUS (excited): Wait. Did you think that at the time? Or is this just how you're putting it now? E.S.: I couldn't express it that way then. All I felt in the moment was that it was weird and creepy. FAUSTUS: Oh, my God, I'm rubbing off on you! I'm getting you to have violent thoughts and impulses! E.S. (defensive): I have violent thoughts and impulses all the time. FAUSTUS: Oh, yeah, like what? E.S.: Like some of my patients who are really sick--I just want to put them out of their misery. FAUSTUS: That doesn't count. E.S.: Not even if I do it by sawing their heads off? FAUSTUS (with eyes narrowed): Are they anaesthetized? E.S.: Of course not. What would be the point, if you couldn't hear their screams grow muffled as the blood gurgled into their tracheas? Pause. FAUSTUS: Oh, honey. I'm so proud of you.
Not long ago, I attended my first baseball game. The experience was frightening and yet ultimately satisfactory, if only for the mountains of sugar I consumed while I was there.
Tonight will mark a first of another kind, when I attend a bachelor party.
A heterosexual bachelor party.
Apparently, the strip club that is one of the evening's many destinations requires that its patrons wear pants and shoes. I'm up for the movie that is the first part of the celebration, the dinner that is the second part, and the drinking (or at least watching the drinking) that is the third part, but I may end up wearing shorts and flip-flops so that I have to bow out before I risk getting a lap dance.
I know it's hoping against hope to believe I live in a universe in which this might be possible, but did anybody record last Monday's episode of The View? And, if so, do you still have it? It's the one with the ex-gay guy on it.
If you do, please let me know. In exchange I can tell you the top-secret reason I'm looking for it.
Long gone are the days when I could offer free sex, but know at least that the impulse is still there.
A couple nights ago, E.S. and I went out to eat. I had my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with me, and put it under my chair.
About halfway through dinner, I heard a nearby voice say softly, "Excuse me? Excuse me, sir?" I paid it no attention until E.S. said, "Faustus, she's trying to get your attention," and indicated a girl sitting across from us at a table with her mother. The girl was staring longingly at my feet.
I was baffled and beginning to be somewhat disturbed, until the girl's mother said, "She's looking at the Harry Potter book. She wants me to get it for her."
The girl's eyes were so full of longing, of love, of the pain one feels when one is separated from one's heart's desire--even if by only a few feet--that I reached down and handed her the book. "Here, go ahead and take a look at it," I said. She accepted it reverently, as if it were a Gutenberg Bible. She caressed its cover, opened it to where I'd marked my place and read a few words, flipped around and read a few words elsewhere. "You should get it for her," I told the mother with a smile.
"She wants it," she replied, "but $30.00 is a lot of money."
"You could probably find it online at a heavy discount," said E.S.
The mother didn't quite seem to believe this, but after a moment she nodded. "I'll check it out," she said.
After a few more minutes, the girl got up from her table and returned my book. "I want it so bad," she said. "I'll get a job if I have to, so I can get the book." Her face was wracked with emotions so complex it would demean them to describe them here.
Eventually, E.S. and I paid our check and left. I almost gave her the book on the way out. I mean, if they were eating at that restaurant then the mother had $30.00 to spare, but the girl's performance was so committed and powerful I felt it deserved to be recognized. If not with an Oscar, then at least with a Harry Potter book.
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.