The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
After I graduated from college, I hung around for a couple years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life before I came to an inevitable bad end; while I did this, I served as a resident advisor in a freshman dorm. This mainly involved listening to my students cry and organizing parties. This was most easily done by coordinating with the holidays: a Hallowe'en party in October, a Thanksgiving party in November. Come December, many of the RA groups arranged Secret Santa parties.
This is, for those of you raised by wolves, how Secret Santa works: members of a group gather and all write their names on pieces of paper, which they then put into a hat or bowl or similarly concave container. Everybody picks a name and, for X number of days before Christmas (or whatever date has been selected for the Secret Santa party), people leave anonymous gifts for the people whose names they've chosen. This all culminates in an event at which people try to guess who their anonymous benefactors have been during the previous days.
In any event, many resident advisors, aware that the demographic of the college was not uniformly Christian, came up with other names for the event so as not to marginalize or exclude students of other faiths. One RA did "Secret Snowflakes," which, while it did the trick, made me want to hurl. Another did "Secret Non-Denominational Holiday Gift Givers," which I must admit to liking; the problem was that it didn't take into account students who didn't traditionally celebrate any sort of winter holiday, denominational or no. Forcing them to be Secret Non-Denominational Holiday Gift Givers might marginalize or exclude them, which would defeat the purpose of renaming the event. Other RAs came up with other solutions, but none of them really worked for me.
So I decided that my group would do Secret Saturnalians.
Saturnalia was, for those of you raised by wolves, the ancient Roman holiday (celebrated on December 25) that eventually gave way to Christmas. I had a student from Hungary and another from Greece, but as my charges were all under the age of 19, it was a scientific impossibility that any of them could have been born in the Roman Empire before 391 A.D. (the year Emperor Theodosius outlawed the traditional pagan Roman religion). So by celebrating Saturnalia, my students would not only spread joy and goodwill throughout the group but also learn to appreciate a different cultural tradition. I didn't make them wear ancient Roman dress, but they did have to wander around wishing each other "io Saturnalia" (the traditional greeting), and I threw a party at the end. I wanted to make some traditional ancient Roman holiday snacks, but I couldn't find a single pet store willing to sell me a thousand larks once I told them I was going to cut out the larks' tongues and marinate them in red wine.
Yesterday I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 and learned what I already knew, that our country is ruled by liars and recidivists oh wait to be a recidivist you have to have stopped committing crimes at some point, and then I went over to E.S.'s place and watched NOW With Bill Moyers and learned about how Alan Greenspan is quite literally mortgaging our country's future and then I read the New York Times and learned that although the FCC won't tell anybody what words they're not allowed to say evidently "go fuck yourself" is totally fine so long as it's the vice president who says it to a senator who criticizes his blatant cronyism and so long as he feels better afterwards and then I wondered what I or any of us could possibly do about any of this, other than going out and getting a gun and shooting all the Republicans we know whoops I don't know any Republicans, since Antonin Scalia disenfranchised everybody in America or at least everybody in America that Katherine Harris hadn't already disenfranchised and I just thank God we live in the greatest democracy in the world; otherwise I might be worried.
Yesterday, E.S. and I went to Baltimore to visit David and his boyfriend. At one point during the visit, David and I were discussing how much better things would be if we ran the world. E.S. said, "I don't think that would be a good idea."
I asked him what he could possibly mean.
"I don't see any problem with David's running the world," he said. "Just you. You're too punitive and vengeful."
I fixed him with a gimlet eye and said, "Just you wait. You'll find out how punitive and vengeful I can be."
Then, head held high, I turned on my heel and tried to walk through a closed screen door.
The other day, I told E.S. I would do something. I don't actually remember what it is I told him I would do, but, whatever it was, he didn't believe me. I promised him. He still didn't believe me. "I swear on my mother's grave," I said.
Then I realized that this oath was utterly meaningless, as my mother, rather than being buried, donated her body to science, specifically to juvenile diabetes research. After giving up to researchers whatever secrets it held, it was cremated. Instead of a funeral, we had a memorial service at the state park that was one of my mother's favorite haunts.
We did want some sort of physical marker, though, of my mother's life and death, so we had a gazebo built in the park in her memory. That way, visitors to the park could rest on its very comfortable benches and in its shade, and even in death she could soothe weary souls.
Not wanting to trick E.S., I told him all this. "But the promise still holds," I said. "I swear on my mother's gazebo."
The problem is that "Gay Boyfriend" is the most brilliant thing I've ever heard, and it's entirely possible that, before Tuesday, I will die of anxiety that the audience will hate me because my song isn't as good.
If you want to take the chance that I won't die before Tuesday, or if you hold the correct belief that the fabulousness of the event will be unaffected by my death, you can get tickets here.
For several months, my brother (who is also my roommate) has been complaining that I knit things for everybody except him. Ignoring for the moment the fact that "everybody" is far too broad a term to use in this situation, as I have knit things for nowhere near the six billion plus people who inhabit the earth, he did have a point.
Here is mine for this month. Technically, it says it's from last month, but I'm going to pretend.
Stay at least 100 miles from any major city on the 14th day of the month. Evil forces may manifest massive destruction on that day. Avoid contact with obsessive cult members, paramilitary police and intelligence agents from any country during the month.
Set aside your long term goals and devote your energies to your mental health. Triple the doses of all medications you are currently taking for anxiety and depression. If your psychiatrist refuses to prescribe the pills you want, consider discontinuing the medications and switch to heroin.
A sick individual will assume your identity and commit multiple felonies. Authorities may try to prosecute you but eye witnesses will exonerate you once they see you are not the culprit. The impersonator is a person you are acquainted with who works for a large institution.
It's too late for me to get 100 miles away from Manhattan by tomorrow, so I'll just have to weather whatever massive destruction is manifested by the evil forces as best I can.
If I survive, I want to hire whoever wrote this as my personal astrologer.
People who talk at the theater should be taken out and shot like dogs.
People who talk at the theater and then get up to leave during the final moments of a show so as to beat the crush of people who will be leaving once the show is actually over should be simmered in oil and set on fire; the fire should then be put out and they should be left to linger for weeks, if not months, as infection ravages their bodies; then they should be drawn and quartered and, once dead, refused burial in hallowed ground.
One of the advantages of having a boyfriend who's about to start his residency in psychiatry is that I get to learn all sorts of terrific things about how society deals with crazy people.
For instance: the Secret Service keeps a list of crazy people who have threatened to kill the President of the United States. Then, whenever the President of the United States comes to town, the Secret Service sends a pair of agents to spend the day with each crazy person. They go to lunch, they go to the movies, maybe do a little shopping. Apparently the crazy people love this. "Oh, wow!" they say. "Stan and Joey are coming to town to take me out!"
Now that's a deal I'd love to be in on. Especially if Stan and Joey were hot.
The problem, of course, is that threatening to kill the President of the United States is a federal crime, and I'd have to be able to convince the authorities that I was crazy rather than criminal.
I'm going to truncate this post here, because the more I write, the more I fear a knock at my door followed by the entrance of anonymous men from the Department of Homeland "Security" and my inexplicable but permanent disappearance.
When I was five--I believe this was before the picket described in the "about me" section on the right-hand side of this page, but I can't be sure--I decided that my first name wasn't nearly glamorous enough, and I needed to change it.
Even at such a tender age, I was aware that "Daisy" (after my favorite character on The Dukes of Hazzard) wasn't a realistic option. But, after a day or two of careful consideration, I was able to narrow the list down to two choices, both of which seemed eminently suitable to me.
I then spent three days trying to figure out whether I should change my name to "Rainbow" or "Jehovah."
It was agonizing. "Rainbow" was certainly colorful and bright and joyous--all qualities I felt I possessed in spades--but it lacked the grandeur of "Jehovah." At the same time, "Jehovah," while it satisfied my secret feelings of omnipotence and superiority, might distance people from me in ways that "Rainbow" wouldn't. I briefly considered changing both my first and last names and becoming "Rainbow Jehovah," but somehow that seemed to be crossing a line.
In the end, unable to decide, I gave up and stuck with the name my parents had chosen.
I guess I could always use "Rainbow Jehovah" as a drag name, but, to be honest, I do really bad drag. So perhaps it's best to leave well enough alone.
In therapy yesterday, I was talking about various worries and anxieties we'd discussed a couple weeks ago, and how I was feeling better about some of them, or at least somewhat less tortured. My therapist said, "It sounds like you're working through these issues very well."
I said, "It's not so much that I'm working through them. It's more that I'm on a path, and whatever's on the path is there, and I'll just keep walking it."
"You sound dangerously close to enlightenment," he said.
Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while may remember that I participated in the Blogathon by writing 49 haiku about gay dating and sex.
Well, people seemed to like them, and they were easy enough to write, so I decided to write 20 more and try and get the group published as 69 Gay Haiku.
Eventually somebody at Random House decided he wanted to publish it. The only issue was that he wanted 110 haiku. I had no problem writing the extra haiku; it's just that 69 Gay Haiku is the only decent title I've ever come up with for anything. The current title of the book is Gay Haiku.
I would link to the haiku that I posted for the Blogathon, but I was contractually obligated to take them off the web site.
So, as I say, I feel no small sense of shame about this. However, the first part of my advance came yesterday, and, let me tell you, there's nothing that takes that shame away like being able to pay the collection agencies what you owe them.
Since Six Flags is in far-off New Jersey, we actually left New York the day before our afternoon there and spent the night at E.S.'s parents' house, which is about half an hour away from the park. After dinner, E.S.'s parents were talking about how aging affects memory. We had the following exchange:
E.S.'s father: "As you get older, the facts start to drop away but the wisdom you've learned from them stays with you." Me: "What if you never had any wisdom, only facts?" E.S.'s mother: "Then you're doomed."
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.