i was in my d'agostino's. a few minutes ago. restocking my completely hopeless bachelor's apartment. which means milk, bananas, eggs, and some cinammon rolls. which means stuff i'm liable to eat before the sun comes up.
as i was sleeping my way through the line, i decided to talk to my cashier. she's young, black, cute, and very nice. i asked her what was wrong with the registers' debit card system; it's been down for a month or two, and it's inconvenient not to be able to get cash back at my favorite ATM, the grocery store. she drawled, solemnly:
"well, sir, it's currently in sass-mode, and it works when it feels like it."
her sincerity made me laugh, and she shared and laughed too, and as i walked out the door, the disaster that was my christmas trip to ohio melted away. i fucking love this motley town.
we continued. we enumerated the ways in which this place was deficient. it became a sport, not of maliciousness, but of comic detail. some of these details were to be savored because they were easily pointed out in the crowd, visible only when the words were given them.
"why is there this pattern of guys wearing dark fabrics with glitter?" he asked. i'd not noticed it: sparkly lights tend to render everything a-glitter to my eyes when i am without my glasses: the edges of cocktail glasses, the edges of eyeglasses, all the eyes and lips of all the people, and the surfaces of leather clothing, brushed denim, corduroy, satin, and ultrasuede. but indeed, there were a number of people in dark t-shirts that had glitter in or on them.
yet equally lovely points were the ones we would fabricate, the ones plausibly real. even though they had no basis in fact, the reality that enveloped us seemed to imply that these possibilities we created were also unequivocally true. it was as if were were pointing out the gaps in reality, the place holders for other truths that simply happened to be absent that evening. "the DJ has sex packets but he's not allowed to play it, so he's playing techno-lounge that samples 'freaks of the industry'" i said. it sounded more brilliant on our third cocktail.
what i savored most at these little attempts at cleverness was that they travelled on his lips and gaze, and mine, and that there was some immortal grace about them when we were talking, lending our speeches and our little touches a grandeur they would not have otherwise had. the subjects of our conversation were slowly becoming our own creations, as if we could fabricate the rest of the bar through our words, and spread that creation to the sidewalk, to avenue a itself, and all its bars, and all the bars and avenues in the east village, and the streets, until our routine had extended to the rest of manhattan, and its sisters, the boroughs, birthing our entire city by talking long enough. i had never so easily slipped into these little routines with a stranger.
yet i resisted the urge to register my surprise, and let those words stay buried under the rest of our conversation. it is true i did not want to interrupt our flow, but there was another reason. i wanted to point out another possibility wrought by the sudden agelessness we had bestowed upon ourselves: that he and i had known each other for a very long time. that instead of connecting our separate years of experiences, with our words, over the course of a single hour, it seemed to me equally possible that he and i had traversed these experiences together, and were now simply creating gilded-frame reminisces of them, petit-fours for a little party snack.
but how unfamiliar could he be? our little talking flowed so easily, even more easily than some of my oldest friends. my dearest friends and i have exhausted many topics, and at the same time grown tired of sparring with each other, fully ready for the rejoinders that follow. but aaron appeared to have an inexhaustible supply of things to talk about, even though he was able to anticipate what i was going to say.
i said "you know this place used to be really great. i don't want to sound like someone who is looking for new york in the past, as if because it's gone it was better, but there is really nothing like no-tell motel. or velvet, when foxy was here. and i haven't had fun like i did at 1984 when it was at crowbar. 1984 was never the same after that."
suddenly, he pulled his ear away from my lips, so he could look at my face. his gaze became more intent, as if trying to discern if i was actually in front of him, saying these words. he quickly leaned forward. "you see darling i have a problem. since you know so much, i want to tell you i do too. i can tell you you are one of the hunkiest, intelligent, fuckable men i've ever met, but you probably will think it's trite because you've heard it so much. i can tell you i know exactly how you'd like me to lift your ankles off the ground and do you, right here in the bar, but that might be too forward." he licked my ear. "i also know you'd like me to take you home tonight and be your little daddy, but you probably find the father/son role playing run-of-the-mill, even though it still entertains you. i know what you want, chad, but it's useless knowledge, because you're the only person who can say what you want."
he pulled his face back, his tongue loose in his open mouth. he wanted me, and his look was redundantly saying that very clearly now. he had also had more cocktails than i. in fact, in the time we had been seated, the waitress had cleared a deer-path to our ottomans because of the amount he had consumed. i had only had three, enough to make the tongue lubricated, without having it slip out of my mouth. but i was still able to be physically astonished at his guesses, and i shook a little at his three lucky hits, guesses that were correct, wrapped with a bow, the final point, that apophasis was the only way to tell me he needed to hear more. i was unable to tell if reality itself had also been loosened by the cocktails, or if it was merely an apparition that time had wrapped around on itself, a trick of the smoke and glitter in this bar, a trick of his eyes and tongue.
he gave my leg a little squeeze with his. and fully unknown to him, he had given me the opportunity i had been looking for. i put my drink on the table, the cup shaking in my hand. i would attempt to surprise him again, and was worried he could anticipate it.
dropping the last physical distraction, i used my little ace in the hole. i put my hand on his wet shirt, on his chest, touching it the way his boyfriend had that may 1996, the one and only time i had been to crowbar, the time i had experienced my first gay crush, my first closeted love. it was six years ago to the month, and i intended to make it clear he was not the only one who could manipulate time, turn it on itself, the way a child puts two ends of a strip of paper together, only to paint them with glitter. i scratched his chest hairs, through the shirt, and he closed his eyes and inhaled, and i could feel a shivering growl forming in his middle. while he could not see, i leaned forward and put my tongue in his mouth, bit his lip, and let go, sitting back on my ottoman.
"that's what i want, dear aaron. let's go."
i want to write a song that is 101 seconds long
a song that is happy and techno
because techno, sure,
but also because happy is a very easy thing to achieve
for one hundred one seconds
and the rest of my album is seventy minutes and very sad
and scathing, destroying all my enemies (also known as my friend)
i, i, i wanna destroy you,
or just hurt you a little
always this time of year
i got shot down two years ago
and two before that
to the fucking week
and again tonight
crushing under the weight of complete indifference
yet another force like gravity
like a bench press that is fifty pounds too heavy for me
if i let it drop it will kill me
but i can strain to keep it in the air
like a friendly phone call
thanking me for my warm inscription.
head on a pillow, thinking some things, come here second pillow, come under my comfortor, you're not as hard as the man i'm thinking about, but you're the only thing in bed with me, i'll kiss your feathery neck, let me wrap my arms and legs around you, stretch out my leg muscles, sore from all the squats, and get everything warm under here, little thin layer of warm air, like a flattened sandwich, where the air is fresh from clean sheets and honey soap, little pod of safety, little me, big sea, big man, adrift around my little raft, come here big guy, onto the raft, under the green blanket, with my little tummy fur, it smells good because of the soap and the sweat, it tastes like dinner on christmas, sounds like the breeze in a field, looks like a candle's shadow, and feels like we, we, we.
the only thing better than hearing the news that gays have been included in civil rights protection is that as i was reading the article this morning, my mother emailed a link to it.
one of the most disappointing things about new york state has been the shameful inability to pass this legislation, despite being one of the first states to have it introduced into its legislature. i have nothing but applause for the Empire State Pride Agenda for their ability to politically pressure the governor and republican state senators. i have nothing but questions about the omission of transgendered folk, and fully expect that same Agenda to use equal resourcefulness to find ways of including them, either by including them in that law or finding legal precedent with the 'gender' anti-discrimination protection. but it would be disrespectful to those involved in the effort to pass these provisions to ignore the sustained effort of thirty-one years. after all, this first step lays the groundwork for many others.
for the moment i am proud to say i feel very full, because i am gay, and gay political forces have achieved something important in my home state, and because my professional and creative appetites rely on political adeptness: on the uses of compromise, the jockeying for favorable appearance, the propitious application of force, all in the service of turning good values into good society.
but in another moment, i am going to feel that the work is far from over. as mentioned, there are many questions to be answered, to ensure that we have not left out the very people who put this legislation into motion when they instigated some resistance at stonewall in 1969. and then there is the next: gay marriage. the older i get, and the more of my friends who get married if for no other reason than because it is the normal course of people's lives when they reach 36 and they are in love, the more it deeply hurts that this is not an opportunity i or my gay friends have. forget the practical unfairness behind not being in a legal relationship. but i receive such hope when i see that my catholic, PFLAG-going parents are fully behind this: i hope the catholic lobbyists and the others opposed understand that that challenge is not about a series of fights over what should be law, but an examination of what people believe is good, correct, and right.
why did you ask everybody to come over to your place, for one big party?
because daddy said so
because the boy's been good
because it's all dark corners
because we shaved each other
because he kneels
because these guys asked nicely
because he jumps when drunk
because love hurts
because i cleaned
because the demimonde asked nicely
because 2003 is the future
because i cleaned (oops)
because proust said so
because sparkling lights make you look good
because brooklyn is much too far
because i'm still single
because patrick stewart
because i was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.
[i love email]
[i love pregnant conversation]
[i love overlapping interest]
[i am sometimes consumed by correspondance, a fine distraction from work, blog, and sleep]
[in other words, the following is me discussing a new and amorous internet interest with my close friend, mingled with other topics]
Date: Wed Dec 11, 2002 12:37:57 PM America/New_York
To: minx’s friend
Subject: Re: your magic elf
> You are right, take it with a grain of salt,
> but go with it if it feels o.k.
exactly! why deny what you feel? we're adults, we know the risks.
> I'll leave the deep, probing examination to jennie.
> I’ll just ask him if he likes Babe and Proust.
actually, you and he will have a lot to talk about. the guys you like to hang out with alone will be a rich topic.
> You trusted me the moment you met me? Fool.
well, more like the weeks after i met you. but it happened pretty fast. in fact, it was my inability to not-trust you that convinced me to become friends with you a second time.
> I hope you are practicing your sword skills for next week.
actually, i'm knee-deep in phaser practice this week. swordplay will have to wait until saturday.
at this i nodded, and smiled. aaron's words had told me three things: that love is love even when it's not other kinds of love; that he was right; that he was drunk.
i looked at his face and briefly smiled with my teeth, an expression my mother had spent years behind the camera telling me to avoid because it makes me look silly, which it does, and i have since learned to keep hidden. so using it meant that i was so happy at what aaron was saying that for a few seconds i did not care to calibrate my face.
but i had no reply. unlike the way it might happen in a film, or a book, or even a short story, i do not always spontaneously say the right thing, because i am not always comfortable with what is being said. his words i found true, but i could not think of anything to say, except to repeat what he said, and i could not do this at all. his expression was one of waiting, smiling his non-smile of slightly softened but still-engaged gaze, which was only meant to be there until i kept the ball rolling. i opened my mouth, and made an upward tilt of my chin, as if i were about to project the next words, and my lips formed an opening vowel, such as an i, but there was nothing to follow that sound with, so the whole thing dried up.
i always fall in love too quickly, and, like the fact that we had previously met, i needed to keep this hidden from him as long as possible, so that he would not think that a few well-placed words would able to signal a universe of possibility in me. but the irony was that i'd thought about these possibilities off and on for over six years, thought about that time in crowbar when he'd shook my hand with disinterest before being swept away by his boyfriend, and i was left to watch the two of them the whole night, doing what i wanted to do with him, doing things i had never done before, but i had suddenly discovered were not the simple purvey of my dreams, but things men actually did together in bars. and that because of those many years, a span of time encompassing my entire gay life, of memory replaying desire, constructing it in all its forms, forming a road map from a pregnant intersection, attempting to complete the story in all its possible endings, i could easily say i knew all i wanted to know about him, that is i had thought about all the things i could possibly make up about him. but i wanted to discover whether he and his then-boyfriend had parted, just as my idea of aaron had already become useless in speaking to the real aaron. i wanted to sound the depth of his interest in me.
because i had discovered that he could infinitely surprise me, i wanted to really know him.
his gaze fell some, uncomfortable by my agreeing silence. i sipped my drink and kept looking at the bottles behind the bar, meeting his eyes here and there to let him know i was still with him. if you are to add what i would normally sip, between words, to what i was additionally sipping instead of words, you would calculate that i had finished my drink in record time. i tracked the bartender's bushy afro during the last finger of my cocktail and ordered new ones for us, again in place of what i should have said.
"let's sit" he said, as soon at the new drinks came. his gaze steeled itself for the journey to the room with the uncomfortable ottomans. he had issued more of a command than a request, one that also said i'll watch out for you and i want to hear you say something when we get there.
i looked at the back of his head and saw the hair, buzzed to tiny strands of gray, flocking at the base of his skull, covering a muscular neck, folding over each other like interlocking spines of scissors. i was instantly shoved into his warm back by the influx of pansies looking to occupy our space at the bar, as if we had been the door to the stars on a ship, the barrier between vacuum and a place we can breathe in, transforming all of the personal affects in the conditioned space into debris by having them indifferently, violently, and silently sucked into space. i put my free hand on his lower back, wanting to touch it, but also not wanting to have my new drink spill over his back. i did not want to cool this heat from his back, no ice on the embers. the cold cocktail in my hand suddenly became my savior in thirst, the prize i had received for my annoyance, and a deadly acid that would dissolve the tenuous connection i had formed with this lovely and intense man.
in this new up-close position, as we shuffled ahead, my eyes were inches from the back of his head. i blew on the little hairs and softly said "sorry if i got ya there" he nodded slightly, turning his head to flash a quick smile and kept on parting the surf of drink-needing homos and their admirers. i held the cocktail as if it were gold. after all, lots of people also like to drink jack and coke.
after making our way along the first twenty feet of distance, we were still about ten feet from the crowded lounge. i gave up not-touching him, and simply put my frontside into this matching backside, and let my jeans touch his. he reached back with both hands and grabbed the sides of my thighs, pulling me into him a little more. i put my hand around his tummy, under his shirt, and put my thumb into his belly button. his abdomen was muscular, and hairy. i wiggled my thumb as we "walked".
with nothing else to do except stroke belly hairs and keep our jeans from parting, i began to think of songs i liked. the music was so shapeless that it became mute, ready to play what i was putting there in the air. and i was singing so many songs in my head that i spontaneously began to put the correct lyrics to a carelessly sampled under-beat of the "lounge" music.
I WILL BE KING
YOU WILL BE QUEEN
WILL DRIVE THEM AWAY
WE CAN BEAT THEM
JUST FOR ONE DAY
somehow, my careless quotation, sung more by the liquor i had chugged than anything else, seemed correct, although when i read it now, months later, it appears to be just as insouciant as using the bassline of that song as a sample for a song with no lyrics.
at the mouth of the room, around a low sliver of a table with a candle, was a set of too-big ottomans, the thing that passes as lounge furniture in this place, occupied by mike, his friends, and aaron's friends. aaron jumped onto one little clearing, snuggled between two people, and was facing an opposing open space. he looked up at me and smiled, opening his legs so i'd have room to sit across from him. the only place for me to go was between his legs, facing him. i jostled the standing folk around my target ottoman so that i could make a clean jump, knowing that my acrobatic skills, meager to begin with, had already been impaired by one cocktail too quickly consumed. i put my foot on one side of the ottoman, and attempted to leap over it to the other side. i was making an olympic jump of twenty six inches. my knee hit the back of one of the guys sitting on the ottoman, and i made an icarian fall onto aaron, half of my drink cascading onto the front of his shirt, clinging like melted wax, our limbs becoming a jumble of misplaced feet, fingers, and shoulders. he grinned a really wide grin, excited and mischievous. "i like getting wet!" he said as he guided my hips to my seat.
the only position for our legs was to sequence them, like the hairs on his neck, one, another, then the other, then the other other. the only place for our drinks was in our hands, and we both smiled at each other. his was okay, let's try this again mine was life is a great river, a ridiculous obstacle that we should really just build a bridge over, but i am also not afraid of getting wet.
"i fucking hate this bar" i said over the din.
"me too. i never come here."
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.