Thursday, February 26, 2004

Did I?

While sitting with Brian on the couch, he sniffs the air, turns to me and asks, "Did you fart or did I?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

When I Grow Up

I get turned on by people carrying guitar cases. Not the soft ones that you carry like a backpack, but the hard cases, preferably visibly scuffed, well-traveled. The kind of guitar case that says, "Here I am, give me a wide berth, unless you want my nose in your ass." Arrogantly, it takes up space in the aisle of a train or commands a seat on a bus. In the hierarchy of instrument cases, it is supreme. It has heft, a sensual shape--not impotent like a clarinet's or anonymous like a trumpet's.

Carrying a guitar case imbues its owner a sense of purpose: this man is going somewhere. When I go to my guitar classes at OldTown, I will park a couple of blocks away to give myself more ground to cover, more time to perfect my broody gaze, my sullen walk. Not content with my weekly jaunt, I would take my guitar and take a walk around the block a few times. I would hang out at the bus stop. I would set the case down and peer thoughtfully into store windows.

When I first learned to play guitar, I couldn't get enough of it. The last time this happened, the instrument involved was not made of wood. Hmmmn, maybe on second thought, it was.


In those days, I played a lot of Oasis. "Don't Look Back in Anger," "Wonderwall," "Champagne Supernova" all involved the same six basic chords. And what I couldn't play, I faked. A few more months of lessons, I learned enough to play songs by the Indigo Girls, Barenaked Ladies and Sheryl Crow. But I still consider myself a novice. I have not mastered the "barre" chords where it's like you are holding down six strings with one hand. It's very frustrating.

There is a young man, maybe about eighteen, who occasionally plays his guitar at the corner of Diversey and Clark, right outside my gym. The guitar is strapped over his shoulder, its case, open, a couple of feet in front. A empty plastic milk crate sits right beside him. I want to be this boy who sings like a young Eddie Vedder and plays like a wet dream. Or maybe I just want to get into his frayed corduroy pants? Or wear his ratty green Kiwanis t-shirt. I don't know, it's all very confusing.

When I grow up, I want to be this boy with his guitar on the corner. That doesn't sound right, he's over a decade younger than me. Am I already grown up? When you're in your thirties, can you still say "when I grow up, I want to be..." Or is all my growin' done?

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross Al Pacino asks, "What is our life? Our life is looking forward, or it's looking back. That's it. That's our life. Where's the moment?"

When is the moment when we arrive? I don't know, but I will be carrying my guitar case.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Blue Pencil

It feels good to wield a blue pencil, ennit? The power to tear people down, pronounce their feelings and thoughts ridiculous, reduced to a treacle. It is inevitable that some people will not like what I write. Most of the time, I don't like what I write.

I write it anyway. It has been a lifesaver, a little sweet diversion through these days of unemployment. I write because I like the process of writing, the words formed from synapses of the brain traveling down the nervous system, to the tips of my fingers, then making that jump to a keyboard and a screen.

One unfortunate reader had been so incensed that I have written such trite passages that he wrote an entry in my guestbook, crowing of his intent to blue pencil me into oblivion. When I deleted it, he returned and decried my deletion of the original malevolent entry, contemptuous of my lack of mettle to withstand his challenge. I am not sure why he felt that I should leave it up. When you have a rabid dog in your house, you don't just sit there and drink tea, do you?

I guess he has been having an extra bad day at the office that he felt compelled to complain that I wasted his time reading my unfortunate prose when he could be doing something productive like surfing porn. Maybe his boss told him that he needed to sharpen his blue pencil on literary low-lives like me because he's not ready to edit a real manuscript.

Ok, I get it; I am not a million-selling author. If you're reading this, Mr. Guestbook, I would encourage you to move on with your life already, but I suspect you won't. You're like me: easily riled up, quixotic, impetuous. I spent two days spamming Celine after she kept putting meaningless Portuguese quotations in my comments. It was futile, she didn't know any English. But you, you got to me. You got me to write this post. Bet you're itching to blue pencil this comma right here,

If I had a blue pencil, Anne Rice would not have a career. After reading ten-odd books filled with excessively florid passages, I think that I have had enough. Never has there been such swooning over blood flowing than a group of Tampax executives.

If I had a blue pencil, I would remove entire periods from my memory, events from which I physically flinch when I remember them.

If I had a blue pencil, I would tell my friend Julie Harris that I am sorry for hurting her, for writing that damn e-mail, the one she wept over.

Where were you when I could have used your blue pencil?

Monday, February 16, 2004


I guess I have been lucky, life has been pretty much smooth sailing. Occasionally, someone will surface, a spurned lover or parole officer. A fly in the ointment, easily remedied. "Be Prepared," advises that old boy scout adage: bring rope, matches, bail money.

My mom warned me that good times will not last forever, that a fool and his money are the best for a sugar daddy. I heeded that advice, saving for the rainy day. I saved every coin I found in the church donation basket. For money I walked dogs and pinched penises. Nipples too, for $20 extra.

Champagne and caviar are fine, but learn to enjoy beer and ramen as well. It ain't gonna be cinnamon and apple pies all the time. The next jellybean from Bertie Bott's could be spinach, sardine, earwax--and no parmesan cheese to make Caesar's salad.

When I go to theme parks, my palms sweat when the rollercoaster is in sight. I often imagine myself being thrown out into the air, body slamming to the pavement. I am scared of heights, I prefer the level ground. I am swayed by friends, afraid to look silly. I get in, locking my forearms around the bars, hands clenched together, like a prayer.

I guess life is like a rollercoaster. We are thrust into the course the second we are born, the ticket bought, no choice in the matter. We could cry and whimper the whole way or learn to embrace the fear and uncertainty. You could miserably obsess about the love-of-your-life-asshole-on-again-off-again-boyfriend or break the cycle and leave yourself open for some real happiness. The circumstances don’t change, only your outlook.

Some days are fine, a hundred and twenty little concerns, other days, a barren expanse. For awhile I was euphoric, a second interview! I would be back in the workforce! I could replace my broken stapler! Two weeks later, no word. Then it's back to square one; the pasted-on smile, the monkey-suit, desperation in check. Like dating, employers are more likely to take you home if they don’t smell the Brut, the cologne of the perpetually rejected.

Here we are clinging to our seats, knuckles blue. Friends, loved ones in the cars, screaming, laughing at the top of their lungs. The wind is rushing, whipping the hair from your face, heart hanging in your throat. Here's the sky, here's the frozen air. Now, there’s the ground; now, there’s the turn--here it comes--

Monday, February 09, 2004

A Second Date

First dates are pretty straight forward; you ask for the guy’s name, his phone number and then you get out of his bed and get dressed.

Second dates are more treacherous; you get lulled into a false sense of security since he called you again to ask for his wallet back. You’ve already talked about the humdrum stuff like your childhood, your crazy Uncle Louie, the time you got caught shoplifting. You’ve already done your impressions of Ted Koppel, Howard Cossell, James Earl Jones; maybe it’s time to call in the big guns: Bea Arthur. Or maybe you can talk about the strange itching you’ve been having down there or is that too personal? It’s very nerve-wracking. Still, if you can only get past the second date, you could get to watch his premium cable for a couple of months.

Most people know by the second date whether there will be a third, a fourth or an orgy. By the second date you would know if the strange cologne, the two-inch “lucky” hair on his mole or the barking during orgasm really bothers you.

Hopefully, there is a mutual attraction. Nothing is more pitiful than liking someone more than they like you. If they like you more, then you get to call the shots. If you like them more, then they have to get a restraining order.

I got called in for a second interview for company “T,” a second date, if you will. They are a company that has gone through tough times in the dotcom bust, but are now upbeat in their prospects. After being unemployed for four months, I have had only 3 face-to-face interviews, and this is the only one that had asked me to come back for a second round. In the best economy, this is a job I may perhaps decline because it is located too far, the job too one-dimensional. Should I take the job if it is offered to me? Or take a chance hoping my finances will last until I find a more suitable one? Choosers may end up beggars.

Company “T” has informed me that I am one of the two finalists to whom they are going to make an offer. I feel like a beauty contestant onstage, clutching my fellow contestant’s hands, waiting for Bert Parks to announce the winner. Perhaps I am being hasty. I may end up being the first runner-up, left standing while the winner breaks away to walk down the aisle, to the swelling music of "There she is, Miss America…"

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Another Celeb Bares It

Not to be outdone by Miss Janet, Miss Piggy shows her assets:

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

SuperBowl of Love

I really don't like sports--there aren’t enough sequins in the uniforms. Someday, somebody will make a killing if they invent Viagra for limp wrists, the gay sports handicap. I really wish that there was a sport for making catty comments, and then American Idol would be like our SuperBowl. I would join that. The only sport I was any good at was the 50 yard dash from a gay basher.

huddle upI figured that since I am now an American, I should learn how to play football. So, I went to see a podiatrist*…and he told me to register at the Chicago MSA, the local gay sports league. Learning was easier than I thought. I already knew the "Bump and Run", the "handoff", the "sack". I guess you can learn about football from a porn video.

It was fun learning a new sport, but eventually I got tired of it. The quarterback was getting too needy. So, I decided to check out 12" softball; after all, I already had the dildo. However, it didn’t really work out. I decided I liked the balls to fit snugly in my hand.

balls in playWhen Brian suggested that we head over to the local gay bar, Roscoe's, to see "the Cats and the Pats", I thought he meant Patrick Swayze in an Andrew Lloyd Webber show. The bar already had quite a crowd when we got there. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was confused. The bar has video screens installed throughout the bar. For the SuperBowl party, they had a VJ play music videos in alternate screens while the game was on and then turn the music off so that we could watch the commercials. And FYI, they had a projection TV in the back for the hardcore sports fans. It was packed with lesbians. Even in our community, it is gender that separates us.

We had a good time. There were cheap drinks, cheap eats, some really cheap behavior. What more could you ask for in a Sunday afternoon? As I look around me, I see men meeting men, women meeting women, I realized that there is another sport going on here, where tight shirts are the uniform; the shy grin and eye contact, the strategy; and finding love, the goal.

I look over at Brian. He's cheering at the screen.

*yeah, ok, that was a groaner.