The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Sunday, October 30, 2005
There is a reason posting has been irregular of late.
I don't quite know how to say this. It will come as a shock to many, if not most, of you; it has certainly come as a shock to me. I considered trying to ease into the news, but all my efforts in that direction proved futile. So I'm just going to give it to you straight, as it were.
Last week, E.S. and I accidentally bought a dilapidated house in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with the intention of fixing it up ourselves.
I realize that the words "dilapidated," "Crown Heights," "Brooklyn," and "fixing it up ourselves" make no sense in a sentence part of whose subject is me. And yet they're absolutely true, every one.
(For those of you not familiar with New York City history, Crown Heights is the neighborhood in which, fourteen years ago, a Chasidic man struck and killed a black child with his car and in which, the next day, a mob of black people, enraged at the inadequate medical care the child had received, stabbed an Orthodox Jew to death.)
By "bought" I mean merely "signed a contract to buy"; our ultimate ownership of the house is by no means secure, contingent as it is upon our getting a mortgage, coming up with money for a down payment, and most importantly not recovering the minds we've obviously lost.
But once you see the house you will understand why I'm hoping we stay lunatics for just long enough to close (in real estate terms, this means "finish the deal"):
Every once in a while, when I start thinking there's no hope for humanity--this happens about every four seconds--I come across something like Dawn of the Knitted Dead and realize that there might in fact be a glimmer of the thing with feathers somewhere on earth.
Usually spam email impresses me with its creativity but not particularly with its insight or understanding.
Last week, however, I received a spam email with the subject heading "landlord cookie therapist." And I thought, my God, that is exactly what I need. The body of the message turned out to be indecipherable even with considerable mental effort, so eventually I gave up, trusting that no matter what was on offer it was probably not something that in the end would bring me true and lasting happiness.
And then yesterday I got a message ostensibly from one Existentialist Q. Narcissist.
And I thought, wait, how did I send myself an email without realizing it?
Today I had a lunch meeting with a producer and a collaborator. This wouldn't have been a problem except that I hadn't been aware it was going to be a lunch meeting rather than a regular meeting, so I had lunch beforehand. Then, when I got to the lunch meeting, in order not to offend the producer by telling her I'd already eaten lunch, I ate lunch again. Then, after I got home, I talked to a good friend and learned about another good friend's very well deserved career successes. This caused me to be consumed by jealousy and to cook and eat three cups of chocolate pudding.
Maybe I should have stayed in South Carolina. At least the weather was good there.
Thank God we are leaving this place tomorrow. Today I ate alligator, and E.S., after hearing the local accent, has developed a loathsome habit of calling me Darlin'. The fact that this is not a common endearment here is far outweighed in his system of priorities by the fact that it drives me mad. Mad enough, in fact, to eat alligator.
I am in South Carolina, in the city where I grew up. Yesterday, E.S. and I went to the plantation that my great-grandmother owned until she gave it to the state for a park. I dragged E.S. around until we found the tree I used to climb on as a child when we visited her. Unthinking, I clambered up it again, and E.S., knowing such an opportunity was unlikely to present itself to him twice, whipped out his camera and took a photograph of me smiling in a tree.
I'm considering threatening to withhold sex from him until he deletes the photograph, but I think he knows the value of what he has, and will call my bluff. And then where would I be?
Actually, it occurs to me that I could pretty easily throw the camera in the Atlantic Ocean. Then E.S. might withhold sex from me for a while, but eventually he'd break down.
It's really worth it, to prevent a photo that damning from entering circulation.
My computer comes back today. Apparently they were able to save most of my data. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the data I need is a proper subset of the data they were able to save. And, in the end, the price was slightly less astronomically high than I expected it would be. Not much, mind you--I still have to scrap my plan to buy a new computer--but at least I'll be able to eat something other than Top Ramen noodles for the next year.
And, now that my computer will be back, of course the first thing I'm doing is going with E.S. to South Carolina, where I'm from. It's entirely possible that he will meet my Uncle Bubba.
So if the world explodes between tomorrow and Thursday morning, when we're scheduled to return, you'll know why.
So until Wednesday my new dream in life--new as of three weeks ago--was to appear on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. I would be an absolutely terrible player on this show, you understand; as a team leader I would micromanage my project into oblivion, and as a member of the team I would make terrible entrepreneurial choices while secretly holding everyone else in contempt and disdain for their terrible entrepreneurial choices. I would be fired almost immediately.
Whereupon Martha Stewart would send me a handwritten letter, which would of course be the whole point of the exercise. The possession of such a document would be the pinnacle of my earthly existence; it wouldn't matter what happened to me afterwards, into what pits of despair I plummeted, because I would already have been made the happiest of men.
But then, Wednesday evening, something terrible happened, something that not only shattered my dream but also would have shaken the foundations of my belief in a just world if I harbored any such belief. At the end of the show, during Shawn's exit after being fired--an exit she accomplished with an extraordinary amount of aplomb, I thought, especially given her incredibly shoddy sales performance, although of course the wedding cake she'd had to pitch was so hideous I was secretly with her on that one--the last sentence of Martha Stewart's voiced-over letter was, "You, as you build your career, will find this business lesson to be valid and true." This is how I know Martha Stewart writes the letters herself; if her staff wrote them, they would have at least a soupçon of grace, but they do not.
As Shawn opened the door of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to go back out into the cold, cruel world, however, the camera cut back to Martha Stewart signing the letter she'd just read aloud to us. Something disturbing caught my eye, so I rewound my DVR and paused the image.
And yes, there it was. The actual last sentence of the letter read, "You, as you build career, will find this business lesson to be valid and true."
As you build career.
It's not so much that Martha Stewart made a mistake; I can accept that. I understand that even she, like the rest of us, is human and therefore fallible. I will go so far as to admit that I myself make a mistake every once in a great, great while. Nothing so gauche as "as you build career," mind you, but still, I do not judge her for the slip itself.
I judge her for letting us see it. That's what I don't understand. On the infinitesimally few occasions I have erred, eliminating both evidence and witnesses was so obvious a next step as to be beneath mentioning.
I guess that's the difference between Martha Stewart and me.
As soon as she realized what had happened--which she must have, if she made the change during the voice-over--why, oh, why did she not insist they reshoot the scene, and write the letter without the mistake? Why did she let all America witness her shame and degradation? Or, if the whole thing somehow slipped through her fingers, why are the papers not now filled with news of her suicide?
A pillar of strength has been toppled, and I'm going to go drink myself into a stupor.
Thank you all for your good wishes. Before even reading the comments, I decided to go with DriveSavers. I figured any company that rescues data for both MIT and Barbara Mandrell has to be worth going to; then I saw that it's discounting its services for people whose computers were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and that clinched it.
I do have a Mac, and, for the record, I scorn TekServe, as the one time I took my computer there it took over a month to get it back. I am now a faithful patron of Digital Society, which recommended DriveSavers to me in the first place.
Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the FedEx plane doesn't crash, shall we?
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.