nos

February 4, 2012

There are two things I will always remember about my grandfather: he always wore red pullovers, and he had an extraordinarily specific scent to his presence. The scent closely resembled shaving cream but was entirely more distinct, and it drenched those pullovers.

They say scent triggers the strongest associations in the brain. When Pop Pop died, all my mom wanted was one of his red pullovers. It was her inheritance, what she was left. I was young then, so I found it curious that in the following years, there would be moments in which I became spontaneously and utterly overwhelmed by Pop Pop’s scent. I wasn’t actually smelling him of course–it was some cerebral sense. But when it came, I’d be overcome by memories–more emotional than circumstantial. These instances would simply erupt. Sometimes the scent would bring me great comfort and euphoria. Then other times, it would be immobilizing. My mom used to tell little-me that it was his way of saying he missed me.

I was sitting at the movies today with a friend, and despite the total sensory overload that is Transformers, that inexplicable sense kicked in. But this time I smelled The Writer–his raw, oppressive scent. It’d been weeks since I longed for him, but all of a sudden I was sick in my seat, so instantly nauseous that I thought I’d have to run out. My stomach settled, but my nerves didn’t. That’s when I realized: he doesn’t miss me. Not at all. I wonder why it took me so long to figure that out.

As it turns out, the red pullover isn’t as cozy as it looked when I was growing up. But that’s not its function, not anymore.

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It’s Not Enough

January 30, 2012

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” -Marilyn Monroe

What is that noise? I think to myself. I decide it sounds like a car alarm and then realize I’m still asleep. I awaken to discover that it is in fact a car alarm. Pulling my comforter all the way over my head, I roll over. And up. There’s an incline on my bed. I’ve piled clothes and bags and pillows on the empty half. A few nights ago, I discovered a little trick based on the supposition that it’s harder to be lonely when there’s no empty space. It worked for the first few nights, but as many Grindr users know, tricks are fleeting.

Rubbing my eyes, I reach over and dislodge my computer from the small mountain of junk beside me. I’ve received precisely three emails from The Writer and zero calls or texts since the premiere party. I secretly hoped that he might show up out of stubbornness as some valiant apologetic gesture. But wishes like that are stupid, and wanting someone to be who they are not is doubly so. Checking my email, I see I’ve received a fourth message. His emails are slightly desperate pleas of forgiveness disguised as attention: “These outline notes are great.” “We should get lunch some time.” “I started reading your script.” The one I wrote on my birthday. Truthfully, I’m dying to know what he thinks. It’s the first completed piece of mine he’s read. This morning, I decide to cut him (and myself) a break. Besides, a free meal sounds pretty nice to this unemployed homo. Read the rest of this entry »


Birthday Bashed

January 24, 2012

“And I’m up while the dawn is breaking, even though my heart is aching. I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians.” –Elvis Costello

A couple days later, it’s my birthday. I get up early and take my friends to the bus station. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?” They ask. They’re leaving for San Diego this morning. “I would,” I tell them again, “but I don’t have the money, and I really want to look for a job.” But mostly, today, I want to get my head on straight and that means getting some work done.

After sitting in traffic for an hour, I arrive home and finish putting notes on the movie outline that I’ve been working on with The Writer. I email it to him before sending him a text, announcing that I had done so, along with an invitation to write with me this afternoon. Feeling highly productive, I continue on my writing streak and decide that today I will finish another script I’ve been working on, inspired by my college years.

After two hours, the nagging sensation from being ignored strikes my last nerve, and I can’t take it anymore. Why is he ignoring me? Doesn’t he realize it’s my birthday? A sliver of me is furious, but I bury that temperament as I dial him. The phone rings. And rings, and rings. I can feel my blood pressure rise as my call is about to go to voicemail—except he picks up at the last moment. “Hey, you.”

I’m knocked on my ass—so much for being vicious. “Hi,” I say. From the noise patterns of the call, I can tell he’s in the car. And from his tone, I can tell someone is with him. “What’s going on?” He asks. “I was just going to see if you wanted to get lunch and maybe write.” The feeling I have while waiting for his response is akin to the butterflies that come with an intimidating job interview. “I’m actually on my way to lunch right now. Actually, can I call you later?” Actually, I have no air left. “Shah,” I answer, unsure of which word I am trying to gasp out. BEEP BEEP BEEP.

So that’s it. I’m all alone 1:30 in the afternoon on my birthday, and that how the remaining ten and a half hours are looking. This is good though. I wanted to be productive. Loneliness and productivity are great lovers, so I take out a concentration pill, cut it in half and swallow. I examine the remaining half of the pill and think, Fuck it, before swallowing that part, too.

*     *     *

Hours later, I’m around page 42 when it starts to bother me again. He didn’t even acknowledge that it’s my birthday. I decide to call again. “Hey,” I say a bit more aggressively when he answers the phone. Now I’m feeling (and probably sounding) slightly desperate. But it’s my birthday. I can do whatever I want, right? Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Not My Party But I’ll Cry If I Want To, Part 3

August 28, 2011

On The Car Ride Down

“You cry, but you endanger nothing in yourself. It’s like the idea of crying when you do it. Or the idea of love.” -Angels in America

The next morning, I wake up feeling a little Zombie like. I can’t manage to stay out of bed, and at 1:30, I remember I have to go to Sunday Funday. I assume The Writer will be there but have neither the critical nor emotional faculties to even deal with his presence, so I bite another xanax in half and swallow part, slipping the other half in my pocket.

When I pull up to Noah’s house, I realize a couple of problems. First, there are only four cars on the street. The second, none of them belong to Clark. Luckily, my janky ass car isn’t spotted by anyone. So naturally, I drive away. I don’t even pretend to pretend to think I can hold a conversation with a couple of strangers right now. Driving through the hills, however, is wonderfully calming. Except when a car comes speeding around a bend and there’s about two inches between me, it, and certain death.

After my daily dose of near-death, I need a little grace, a little soothing; I call Ann, one my dear friend from New York. We haven’t been keeping up like we should, but she remembers most of the boy details from my visit. “Listen poodle, do what’s good for you. You know what that is. And if he doesn’t want something, you can’t force it on him. These things have to work themselves out…” My phone keeps cutting out. The Hollywood hills have notoriously poor reception. I call her back, but we’re cut off again almost immediately. She didn’t say what I wanted to hear, but she did say the truth. And this talk with The Writer is for me, not him. That’s why I’m the one initiating it. I just hope I don’t do something embarrassing like faint and fall into Noah’s pool or walk into a giant window…again. That would suck.

I sit, parked in front of some random house for five more minutes. Some yard-workers look at me, and I realize how pathetic this is. I put my car in drive and take my foot off the brake. The wheels roll backward as I slide down the hill a bit before slamming on the gas and narrowly dodge a mailbox. I’m pretty sure I hit a garbage can, but it didn’t fall over, so I’m going to say it doesn’t count. Did I mention I’m not the best driver? I plug in my iPod and blast “Who’s That Chick” by David Guetta and Rihanna. “Who’s that chick? Who’s that chick?” I sing shaking my shoulders and dancing. “I’m that chick!” I yell at the top of my lungs, cruising back toward Noah’s.

I park behind the line of expensive cars, and pump myself up. Normally, I’d feel ridiculous, but…really no I wouldn’t. I have no more shame. Who’s gonna stop me? No one. I bounce on my heels and roll my shoulders then launch myself up Noah’s driveway with a hip little strut, which would probably look better if I actually had an ass. I decide to tone it down a tad when I reach the house. Taking off my sunglasses, I spread my arms and yell, “the party has arrived!” Noah and the half dozen guys I don’t recognize look at me blankly. Me…cuz I’m the party. An exceptional start to an awkward Read the rest of this entry »


A Week In The Life of A New Yorker Come Home

July 7, 2011

Day 1: Ex

“I don’t have to exist outside this place.” -The xx

I’ve only seen The Writer once this week. I’m jet-setting to New York on the red eye tonight but before I go, we need to talk about this script that we’re allegedly writing together. True to form, he’s forgotten all of the above, so I call him and we decide to have lunch. I meet him at his house, where he’s writing in bed, wearing some silly white underwear. “I have a song I want to play for you before we go to lunch,” he says, pulling on some pants. I nod, sitting with my knees up on his bed. The opening chords are so lovely that I get goosebumps and pull my knees against my chest. “We can give it time, so much time…” the haunting voices chant, and I lie down, slowly turning on my stomach with my head facing the opposite wall. Then this line comes: “I can draw the line on the first date. I’ll let you cross it, let you take every line I’ve got,” and a fat refugee tear slides from my eye. I dry it with the pillow cover, careful to make sure he doesn’t notice. “You okay?” He asks when the song ends. I turn over, nod quietly, and we leave.

When we get back from lunch, I ask him if we can talk about our script ideas. “Let’s nap first,” he says kicking off his shoes. I climb in bed next to him and run my fingers through his hair. It feels right. “Hey, can you do me a favor?” He asks. “Sure,” I say softly. “I have this spasm in my back, would you mind massaging it? Pleeeeease.” I agree, and The Writer flips over so that I can straddle him. I go to work, knuckling about his lower spine. “Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh,” he groans exaggeratedly. “Down,” he directs me. “Down is your crack,” I inform him, but he shimmies his pants down, grabs my hand, and jams my finger into the meat of his left buttock. “Ow!” He complains. “You’re the one who did it,” I say guilt-free. “No, that’s where the spasm is. You have to jam into the knot. Hurt me.” So I do and continue to do so for another ten minutes. “My fingers hurt,” I tell him, climbing off. “K,” he responds, removed and drooling into his pillow. I wrap my hand around his side, pulling us together, and we lie together for a while until… “It’s so freaking bright in this room,” he says because it would actually kill him to not have something to complain about for more than ten minutes. Even if he’s supposed to be unconscious. “Come on,” he says getting up, and I follow him into his roommate’s room. Since his roommate travels internationally five days a week and usually spends weekends at his boyfriend’s, he’s almost never here; I live here more than he does. Perhaps this is what makes The Writer completely comfortable with climbing pants-less into his roommate’s bed with a boy. “My bed sucks. Do you think he’d switch rooms with me?” “Why would you want to do that? Your room is twice the size of his. Besides, there’s not enough space for your mountain range of crap.” He smacks my arm. “We’d leave all of the stuff where it is except like clothes…” “…and then after three seconds you’d find something that drives you crazy about this room.” “It would just be a trial for a few weeks. There’s so much less light that gets in here. I love that.” “You’re insane,” I tell him as his phone rings. He mutes it, letting it go to voicemail and tosses it next to us. Only it begins ringing again. I catch a glimpse of the screen–it’s his ex.

The Writer is clearly aggravated. “Hey,” he says failing in his attempt to cover up the irritation in his voice. I’ve been in this situation one too many times, but I do my best to politely pretend it doesn’t bother me or more accurately that I don’t find it incredibly rude. A few minutes later, I hear “I love you” come out of the receiver. “You too,” The Writer says almost begrudgingly.

“Sorry, it was Dalton,” he says. “I swear to god, he’s the most inconsiderate fucking person in the entire world. No, you know what? He doesn’t even live on this world.” “What happened?” I ask, although most of me doesn’t even want to hear about it. “So he moved in with this New York gay club owner, and he’s been living the hallway of this guy’s apartment. So this man invites boys over to fuck all night and day that he meets online, and they’ll just come in and think Dalton is the guy ’cause I guess they don’t even know what the guy looks like. Whatever. But now he’s moving out.” “That sounds awful,” I say putting all my feelings aside. “Is he still moving back to LA or staying in New York?” “He’s coming back to California supposedly. But right now he’s trying to find a friend to stay with,” The Writer answers. “How did he even get caught up in all of that?” I ask sincerely. “So after his whole modeling thing didn’t happen, my friend helped him get this job as a waiter at a nice restaurant where he was making good money. But he found out he could just get unemployment even though it was only half of what he was making, so he quit. Only, he can’t make rent.” “Why did he quit?” I ask, confused. “He did this same thing when he lived with me. When he was 19, I got him a job at my friend’s restaurant and three months later I came home when he was supposed to be at work. He told me that he was young, that he shouldn’t have to work, that he should just be enjoying life.” “Are you serious?” I ask. I’ve pretty consistently maintained two jobs at a time since I was 16 on top of a full time school load, so when people get into this kind of idiocy, it pisses me off. “The problem is,” The Writer continues, “he hasn’t been in New York long enough to qualify for unemployment, so he had to go through California and get all of this proof that he moved to New York in search of work that he couldn’t find here. Anyway, now his checks are being sent to my house because it’s his last permanent address, and he doesn’t know where he’s living, and I have to deposit them for him.”

“He sounds…” “He’s a mess,” The Writer says. “But I feel bad for him. He’s never had real parents.” “Oh,” I say. “Yeah, like his mom didn’t know who his father was, but she was dating this guy, and she left them when Dalton was two. How fucked up is that? Leaving your two year old son. But this guy raised him for a few years and I guess was good to him, was like his dad. I don’t know, then he lived with his grandmother…” “And then he lived with you,” I think to myself. Even though he’s not quite a decade older, it’s always seemed to me that The Writer was kind of like a parent to his ex. More that he took care of him, than cared for him. I wonder if that’s how he feels toward me. But the comparisons definitely aren’t equal. They had something more tangible. Dalton is exactly a week older than me, which makes the difference in our journeys that much more contrasted. Although I haven’t met him, in many ways, I feel older than him. Much older. He hasn’t even started college yet. But then again, he was basically on his own at eighteen. Or two, depending on how you look at it.

“When he was twenty, he had a lot of freetime…because he wasn’t working. So he was on this whole kick to find his mom, and I was like ‘why do you want to find the woman who abandoned you?’ I hate her.” I don’t know if he really doesn’t understand, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was legitimately didn’t. “Have you met her?” I ask. “Yeah. He finally found her, and she has this new family–a husband and two kids. I guess I should kind of feel bad for her too. Like when Dalton went over one time, she made ‘spaghetti’ by which I mean she microwaved Ez-mac noodles and poured ketchup on them.” “How very Reagan.”

“But one time, she came to visit him here, and we went out to dinner. The check came and she just looked at me. Like she was waiting for me to take my wallet out. No intention of paying. So I sat there. We sat there for about twenty minutes before I finally just paid. How fucked up is that? You go to dinner with the son you abandoned, your 20 year old son. And you expect his 25 year old boyfriend to pay?” Wait! Those ages in no way add up. Yes, sadly, an age discrepancy is the only thing I’m taking away from this story. “I’m sorry, how old were you?” I laugh.  “Fine, maybe I was like 26,” he mumbles. “Uh huh. Maybe something like that,” I say rolling my eyes.

“I think you’d get along. Like each other. You and Dalton.” “Yeah? Why’s that?” I ask. “You’re both really smart, funny, sensitive.” “Yeah, I have a feeling he wouldn’t really like me too much,” I say in kind of a high, questiony voice.

When The Writer got back from Coachella, there was a Facebook interaction on his wall that went like this:

The Writer: Coachella was so awesome!

Bradley: jealous. i wanted to go.
Dalton: ^????

For those of you who don’t speak bitch, that last part translates to “Who is this little fucker, why is he talking to you, and why are you even Facebook friends with him?” Yes, I’m sure Dalton would just adore me.

“I need a vacation,” The Writer groans. “Then you should go,” I tell him. “My mom wants to go to Europe with me, but that’s not a vacation. That’s cruel and unusual. Being alone with her for more than a few hours would just be…ugh.” “What if your brother went with you?” “That’d be worse.” “Your dad?” I suggest. “Pure torture. The more of them, the greater the torture.” “So who would you go with?” “I don’t know.” He opens his laptop to start looking at destinations. “I want to go to Costa Rica. You should come,” he suggests. “Trust me, I would if I had the money.” “It’s only a few hundred dollars,” he says, which is nice except I’m about two weeks from being broke. “How about we work on this script, sell it, make some money, then we’ll talk.” So we do.

The Writer likes my ideas but likes his better, which is honestly fine by me. I take some notes, and he assigns me to write a mini outline. I tell him I’ll work on it in New York, and he emails me another of his scripts to read–this one a TV pilot. “When am I going to read something you’ve written?” He asks. “Soon,” I promise.

I go home and pack, then head to the airport–Bradley drives me this time. By 11:30 PM, I’m in the air.

Day 2: Empire State Fuckery

“Sometimes I feel like being gay is a full-time job. Do straight people ever feel straight? There are moments when I feel extra gay…and I’m not even sure what that means.” –Ryan O’Connell

I don’t actually land in New York until 7 AM. I love everything about being home. I love that New Yorkers get off the plane in half the time it takes normal people. I love that they’re not afraid to shove past the obliviously slow. I love the air, it’s infectious ambiance. New York has a morose, quiet dawn. It’s a tiny sliver in time just as the night’s party dust has settled, as though the city is taking a deep inhale before it’s rhythmic launch into a new day.

Yes, I’m cracked out against the calm, having only slept three hours. Luckily, that’s my default New York state of mind. There’s no way I’m taking the subway into Manhattan–I’ve been away too goddam long, and I want to watch her as I come in across the bridge. This is the longest I’ve been away since I was seventeen. When I moved to L.A. I was fine with my decision to leave New York, but I was missing something. It was as though I’d lost my second heartbeat. But sometimes we must leave behind what we know and love in order to grow. All we can do is try our best and hope the future will be worth what we give up.

I hail a cab and when the driver asks me where I’m going, all I can say is “home.” When I finally arrive at my friend’s apartment, I fork over the fifty dollar fair. That’s when Ann comes running at me, screaming. She’s still in her pajamas and yesterday’s make up, so you know this is a special occasion. She never leaves her apartment unless she’s all done up. Period. I drop my bags and run at her too, then she jumps and I hug-catch her, her magnificent boobs cushioning the collision. “I missed you!” She shrieks. “I missed you too! And New York. God, did I miss New York.” I’m almost in tears. I can’t believe I ever left.

We walk to our old little hangover diner where I order half the menu and stuff my face while we catch up. Ann was my best friend in college. We were next door neighbors freshman year, and I essentially moved into her apartment sophomore year. Then, we studied abroad in Italy together for a semester. We were also out-of-our-fucking-minds insane for about 80% of that time. A nice euphemism we use to describe our sophomore year of college is “excessive.” During that time, I shirked as much responsibility as I could manage while still keeping up appearances, and we’d stay up doing drugs, drinking, dancing–everything under the sun–until the sun literally came up. Or as normal people call it, chipping away at our insanity. Ann’s crazy ex boyfriend and I even exchanged blowjobs one time, but she doesn’t like to talk about that. Not that it’s even close to our craziest stories, (mostly because both parties were sober at the time). But when we were being more “excessive,” we were known to have multi-partner bisexual relations, black-out crying sessions in the bathroom, wild dancing sessions, break-out Broadway performances in inappropriate locales, find needlessly creative new ways to abuse substances, old-fashioned binge drink, and even had an interesting celebrity extension or two. Those were the days.

I finish my multi-course breakfast food, and we walk back to Ann’s apartment. These days, she’s a bartender at a nice Italian restaurant and has to go to work, so I take a nap. When I get up, I walk around the city just taking it in. The lights, the energy, the people, the crazy. Again: how did I ever leave?

Later on, I meet Ann at her restaurant and order myself my second grand meal of the day, along with a fancy drink that she shakes up and garnishes. “Thanks, sugar,” I say with a giggle and slide a couple dollar bills in her cleavage. At close, we head to another area of the restaurant where I meet the rest of her co-workers, and we throw back a couple of drinks. Someone offers me a cigarette. I don’t really want it, but I can hardly pass up the opportunity to smoke inside a restaurant in post-Giuliani New York…so I indulge. Ann introduces me to her gay co-worker, and we head across the street to a trendy bar where they buy some drugs from a cute bartender. We probably drink close to $100 worth between the three of us, but Cute Bartender (cuter by the drink, I might add), only charges thirty. To show their gratitude, they tip $30–apparently this is a regular thing. Ann’s co-worker Tim tries to get me to go to the bathroom with him and get high, but like I said, those were the days. I pass. Tim gets a little pissy, and when he leaves for the bathroom, Ann asks if I’m interested in him. “No, not really,” I tell her. Once upon a time, I would’ve probably gone along with it or at least teased the idea. But his insecurities are showing, and they’re rather unflattering. And although I officially ended my vow of celibacy upon touch down on the JFK runway, I’m still kind of messed up about The Writer.

Read the rest of this entry »


I’ve Had A Little Bit Too Much

June 18, 2011

“You know what they say: You can’t teach a gay dog straight tricks.” -South Park

“I want to go out tonight,” The Writer says. “Oh my god, me too. I’ll be right over.” I’m in bed naked and most all my clothes are dirty, but I manage to scrounge up an outfit: uncomfortable underwear that are reserved expressly for planned slutty nights, mismatched socks, a deep purple v-neck from American Apparel, and hygienically questionable black jeans. Oh, and a big black coat because it’s randomly freezing tonight. Not cool L.A. I grab my stuff and rush out the door, blasting the radio in my car. I make it to The Writer’s in record time (I’m serious about this wanting to go out tonight thing,) and scamper up his front step. My face is glowing–not my typical expression upon arrival at his house. That is until I see who answers the door. It’s Trick Bradley, that vapid kid with the fake ID. “Hey…” I say, trying my best to pull the drooping grimace on my face up into a inauthentic smile. The Writer is right behind him and smiles at me. “Is that a ballerina shirt?” He asks me. I look down in the second it takes me to realize that he’s talking about the shirt I’m wearing. My head shoots up: “No! You are such an asshole.” “It’s not a bad thing,” he says defensively. “Bradley, do you think this looks like a ballerina shirt?” He looks away and shrugs. Whatever. L.A. people have no sense of fashion.

On our drive to the bar, The Writer and I discuss writing stuff, further muting Trick Bradley. Fortunately. Unfortunately, Trick Bradley can’t get into the bar. “This isn’t real,” the scruffy bouncer says. My initial reaction is shock that a guy that looks this dumb is able to identify such a forgery. My secondary reaction is insufferable annoyance that we’ve come all the way here only to be turned away. I don’t make eye contact with Trick Bradley because if I do, my facial reaction will be unpleasant to say the least. The Writer and I scoot in anyway, pretending not to know him, as to avoid any awkwardness with the bouncer.

Inside, we are greeted by a man I will refer to as Turtle. Turtle is probably in his early 40s and is “good” friends with Wolf. He also has a ridiculous reputation in that literally everyone in WeHo knows his (creepy) game. He’s incredibly insecure and super jealous. Also, he’s not particularly attractive. By which I mean I literally cannot think of single individual that I know who would hook up with him. Remarkably, a young cute-ish twink stands at his side loyally. He’s clearly from out of town. The pretext of why they might be together is beyond me. Until he goes on stage.

It’s karaoke night and the kid selects a cheesy Kelly Clarkson ballad to sing. The performance is propped up by his above average voice. This pisses me off. No one wants to hear/watch someone with relative talent get up on stage and sing some boring ass song about how you’re in love for the first time. Shoot me. Or at least buy me a drink. No, if we wanted to see that we’d watch American Idol. Karaoke is the sacred Japanese tradition of embracing the characteristics of an alcoholic for a night, shamelessly screeching out an epic tune to the point of butchery, and falling off stage when you go to take your bow. Everyone knows that. The Writer informs me that Turtle is a “music industry executive.” Turtle is definitely not a music industry executive. He’s a bottom feeder who lives in one-person apartment. But it would appear that this kid doesn’t know that. (The music executive part. It seem like he knows all about the apartment. More on that later.) As the song reaches it’s climax, The Writer gets a text from Bradley, and we regroup outside, deciding to make our way down the block to Stripper Circus.

Stripper Circus is kind of what it sounds like although Stripper Carnival would probably be a more apt name; strippers do their thing on platforms like in most of the other bars in WeHo, only at “Circus” there’s a gimmicky row of ridiculous carnival games, hosted by…well, guess! If you guessed strippers, you’re wrong. The answer we were looking for is drag queens! So I guess a truly accurate title for this “party” would be Carnival Game Queens or something like that. Regardless, Stripper Circus works like is this: you buy a drink, get a ticket, play the games, win shitty cheap booze, get drunker, lose the games because you can’t see straight, buy another drink so that you can play again. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Bradley manages to get in, but Stripper Circus is packed. Partially because there’s a spontaneous, limited open bar meaning I’m double-fisting whiskey cokes while some guy’s bulge dangles above my head like mistletoe. The Writer breaks through the pack, pulling me with him through the sea of gays. Bradley gets left behind. “I think we lost Trick Bradley,” I inform him once we’re in the clear. “Haha! You still call him that?” “You have like 3,000 facebook friends. If I don’t use your mnemonic devices, I’ll never remember anyone you introduce me to.” “Trick Bradley is a smart kid…” he starts, and I interrupt him with a chuckle. “…I’m sure he’ll figure it out.” We continue away from the chaos, when The Writer sees a big group of guys he knows, sitting at a table with a bottle of Grey Goose. He introduces me to a few of them–I immediately forget the names that I can actually hear. Then he sits down to chat. I’m left standing, holding my two drinks. Which very quickly become one drink. Another guy walks over and sits down next to the boy on the end. The new guy whispers something to the other, who turns to me. “What’s your name again?” He half yells. I remind him. “This is my boyfriend, Sam,” he tells me before turning back to Sam. I manage to make out what he says next. “He’s The Writer’s boyfriend.” I don’t correct him. Read the rest of this entry »


Deep Dark Core

June 8, 2011

“I’m not young enough to know everything.” –Oscar Wilde

Mickey Manley, the writer I met at the gay marriage benefit, invites me over to watch I Love You Phillip Morris. I arrive a little late and ring the doorbell.

Me: Holy shit, this house is incredible.
He: Do you want the tour?
Me: Sure.
He: Let’s go downstairs first, and I’ll show you around after the movie.
Me: Your house is seriously gorgeous.
He: Thank you. It was only half of this when I bought it. Everything took eight years.
Me: Seriously? What took so long?
He: Contractor and Designer got in a fight, it went to court, yadda yadda yadda. Half the rooms had one wall made of a plastic sheet.
Me: Were you still living here?
He: On and off. What would you like to drink? I’ve got white wine and vodka.
Me: I told you, I don’t drink hard liquor on school nights.
He: You were drinking at the benefit.
Me: One glass of white wine.
He: You were drinking something else when we met.
Me: Touché. Although in my defense, I had just walked into a window in front of hundreds of people.
He: Fair enough. How do you like the wine?
Me: I’m not a huge fan of white, but this is good.
He: I’m glad you like.
Me: So are we going to watch the movie? What’s it called again?
He: I Love You Phillip Morris. There’s no rush. Let’s talk for a bit.
Me: And what would you like to talk about, Mickey Manley?
He: Tell me about you.
Me: Why do you want to talk about me? I’m really rather dull.
He: I don’t believe that for a second.
Me: Alright, then ask me something.
He: Where did you go to school?
Me: New York.
He: Me too!
Me: What did you study?
He: Acting.
Me: Fascinating.
He: Are you mocking me?
Me: I wouldn’t dream of it.
He: Well, as you know, I’m a writer now. And director. And DJ.
Me: Now that is something interesting. How did you go from acting to writing to DJing?
He: Well, I have all of these records–thousands. So one day I just decided to go buy some equipment and experiment. And now I collect all of these random records. Which reminds me…
Me: What’s that?
He: This is my rotating art instillation. Every time I have guests over, I have them recreate it.

There are three shelves on the wall. Below it sit a stack of tiny flower paintings and a stack of records.

Me: What do I do?
He: Just arrange the records and paintings as you envision.
Me: Where did you get these?
He: The records are a strange spoken word genre that was popular among women of color in the 1970s.

The album covers range from psychedelic to nature to bare faces.

Me: Is it set to a beat? Like is it rhythmic?
He: It’s spoken word on top of music, but it’s just stories, so it’s not like rapping. But it’s incredible. They wail about everything from rape and social oppression to struggling to put together dinner before their husbands get home and disciplining their children. It’s a whole original medium. Like a lost art.
Me: I wish the world still had context for that kind of expression.
He: These paintings I bought for $3 at an antique store. Can you believe that?
Me: Really? There must be 50 of them. Isn’t it strange how someone can put so much time and effort into something and in the end it counts for so little?

Pause. I examine each and every album and painting individually.

He: They’re a little kitschy, but the juxtaposition with the albums is dynamite.
Me: There’s something sentimental about each.

There’s a longer pause. I start to make piles.

He: How are you sorting those?
Me: You’ll see.
He: I’ve never seen someone take such inventory. Usually, my guests just pick the first thing they like and throw it up on the wall.
Me: Should I hurry along?
He: No. By all means, I want to see where this is going.

Another longer pause. It’s been about ten minutes now, and I’ve seen every image at least twice. I grit my teeth and squint, looking at some.

He: I’m trying to figure out what you’re doing.

He sits and ponders, eyes scanning the rows.

He: I suppose I’ll just have to wait until you’ve finished.
Me: Yes, you will.

I put up the middle row first. It’s an African American woman. The picture is sepia except for a red apple, which she holds in front of her. I set two pictures on each side of the album.

He: Huh…

Next, I set another album, the cover of which has an old African American woman, on the top shelf, all the way to the right. I set two flower paintings next to it.

He: I honestly have no idea what you’re thinking.

Finally, I agonize over a final painting, but make my selection. I place a third album, this one with a young African American girl on the cover, all the way to the left and place three flower paintings next to it.

Me: What do you think?

He examines.

He: I like it.
Me: Just like it?
He: It’s the best I’ve ever seen!
Me: Do you get it?
He: I guess so…
Me: No, you don’t. Let me explain. Starting in the middle: this woman offers up an apple like Eve offering Adam the fruit of knowledge. Life is full of knowledge and temptation. Surrounding her, I selected paintings with four different colored backgrounds—life is diversity and a series of seasons.
He: Wow, you really did think this through.
Me: Yes. I did.

I return to my “installation.”

Me: The top row: This woman is tired, but with her exhaustion comes a sense of accomplishment. She has lived. I selected flowers with red backgrounds for this row because we burn through our beauty.
He: So what’s the meaning of the final row? I would guess, but I don’t think I can keep up.
Me:  The women are placed diagonally. Life moves in all directions. This young girl, eyes so wide, ready for the world. Raw. Beneath the rest, this is who she is. So full of potential and pure. I chose all paintings with blue backgrounds and white flowers to represent this. But deep inside of her, deep inside of them all, there is something else. Each of these flowers has a black pigmentation. In the center of their beautiful petals is a deep dark core. All of us has a deep dark core.
He: Is that so?
Me: Indeed it is.
He: Well, then. This is certainly the most profound version of the installation to date.
Me: I think you should keep it up forever.
He: Hopefully, the cleaning lady won’t change it around. She’s always moving stuff.
Me: Then she needs to go.
He: What? But she’s so good!
Me: It’s the way it is. Her or me.
He: I might have to go with her.
Me: I’m hurt.
He: But you can’t clean like she does.
Me: Says who?
He: Alright, but you’ll have to wear the uniform.
Me: I know of people in New York who are naked Read the rest of this entry »


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