Thursday, March 30, 2006

Archeology

I went on a archeological expedition.

I went about digging up my past history armed with a camera and no map; I started with my room, went by way of the kitchen and ended up at my father's den. I wasn't sure what I'd find, but what I did either amused or disgusted me.

It started the day after I arrived at my parents' house, when I went into the bathroom and found a dusty, twenty year-old bottle of shampoo + conditioner in the shower stall.

I think it was a brand that my mother used when she still used to buy all my personal hygiene products--usually the cheapest brands on the shelf, you know, like Tide. I think she figured that since it worked on our grubby, dirty clothes, it should work just as well on our grubby, dirty bodies. It was years later when I found out that my face didn't have to burn every time I washed it.

As I grew older and started to become aware of my burgeoning sexuality, at age seven, I tried to make myself attractive to members of the same sex. Back then, it was hard to find sexy clothing for a seven year-old. These days, you can find a t-shirt for a two year-old that says "Slut."

Boys were easy. At that time, it wasn't too hard to do get their attention. All I had to do was let them play with my toys or video games, or dab a little peanut butter behind my ears. It was later that they became more sophisticated, when they grew up and gained maturity, around the age of 60, that I had to become more sneaky and practice my gay wiles. Dabbing peanut butter won't do anymore, I had to up my game. Cologne is too subtle. I needed something stronger, like a shovel, or a stick, something to bludgeon them with.

Growing up, I shared this bathroom with my twin brother Peter. I looked at all the stuff accumulating dust in the bathroom counter, the artifacts of our juvenilia.

I found an old toothbrush which I used to clean my white sneakers, sitting on the shelf. There was the old hairbrush that I used to carry in my back pocket when I was fourteen; my vintage cologne circa 1989; an old bottle of lube--wait--lube?

That wasn't mine, it must've been Peter's. It's really weird that it was just sitting right next to the sink, out in plain view. I wonder what my mother thinks of it? She must see it when she washes her hands. Maybe she uses it to moisturize?

When I became a teen, I started to become withdrawn, more introspective. I spent most of my time wrestling with my homosexuality; I did this primarily by jerking off.

I tried reading the bible to try to find some answers. I locked myself up in my room. I was afraid--afraid that people would find me with the bible. It was hard being known as "the fag," can you imagine how much worse it would be to be known as a "jesus freak?" I shuddered at the thought.

I had put up a "NO TRESSPASSING VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED" sign even though I had no idea then what "prosecuted" really meant. In my mind, it meant I would throw a huge tantrum.

The tape holding up that old sign is older than most of my cousins. Across the hall, my older brother Jon had also put up a sign. I think it worked better keeping people away than my sign. It said "Ewok Village."

I went on with my expedition.

In the kitchen, I found that the old refrigerator had decided to quit its job after thirty years. Instead of sending it off to the junkyard, my mother started to use it as a closet to store her tupperware and take-out containers that she re-uses to pack my brother Jon's lunches. I guess if the oven ever breaks down, it might end up in my parents' bedroom to store my dad's shirts.

Check out the Anchored Nomad's Refrigerator Project, you can find a picture of my fridge there.

The last place I went was my dad's den. His desk was overflowing with odds and ends, jars full of dried-up pens, orphaned keys, five empty eyeglass cases. An abacus and a calculator lay side-by-side on the table, a May-December romance.

I don't think my dad understands the concept of "neat," except maybe in the context of "scotch."

My mother sat behind my dad's desk and I, opposite her. We were chatting, laughing at my dad's disorganization when I found a twenty year-old unopened can of sour balls.

I asked my mother, "Seriously, is this the same can from when I was in high school? Why is this still here?"

My mother shrugged. "That's the one," she said.

The aluminum can let out a small whisper when I pulled the tab that sealed it. I took a whiff, smelling a heavy, thick sweetness.

I pushed the can towards my mother, daring her to eat it. "Eat it, eat it, eat it," I said repeatedly.

She shook her head giggling. I kept at it until she took one and gingerly put it in her mouth.

I held my breath, not knowing whether she was going to start frothing at the mouth or throw up. I wasn't sure what I would do anyway, except that if she started throwing up, I'd take the can and offer some to my dad.

She frowned a bit but kept on sucking, trying to figure out whether it was still good. I wondered if she made the same face when she used to blow my dad. That was gross I know, but I had to go there. I was dying to know what the twenty year-old sour balls tasted like, whether it was anything like the taste of unwashed testicles.

Not able to wait any longer, I took one and put it in my mouth...



On the last day of my trip, as I packed up all my toiletries and my travel kit, I accidentally grabbed that old toothbrush. I realized my mistake and took it out. I was going to throw it into the trash, but I hesitated. I held on to that brittle, worn toothbrush for nearly a minute, debating. It's been here for fifteen years, I should throw it out, all this stuff out, everything here, these relics?

I slowly put it down. It will be here for another fifteen years.



I bid you to go on your own archeological expedition, find an object in your house--not a keepsake or a collectible--the oldest one you can find and tell us some of its history. Good digging!

-----


This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:

Part 1: The Long Way Home
Part 2: Starvation
Part 3: Fake Plastic Food
Part 4: My Old Room
Part 5: Autopilot
Part 6: Jetlag

Part 7: A Conversation with My Father
Part 8: Archeology
Part 9: A Conversation with My Mother
Part 10: Redeye
Part 11: I Carry Your Heart
Epilogue: Fun with Fake Poop



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Friday, March 24, 2006

A Conversation with My Father

My father pointed to the old computer sitting on his desk in the back office of his car repair shop.

"Hey hotshot," he told me, "why don't you use some of those computer skills you have and set-up an accounting system for the store?"

I looked skeptically at the computer. It was under a dusty, translucent plastic cover that was brittle and had small tears in places. The monitor casing looked jaundiced and yellow. The keyboard felt crunchy, clacking heavily as I pressed on it. A few keys stuck briefly before rising back up slowly like dough. The number 5 was unresponsive, like a tired hooker.

I turned it on. It had Windows 98 on it at least. I thought I may have had to work from a DOS prompt.

I wasn't really thinking that I could set-up an accounting system for my father. I was only here in the Philippines for a ten-day vacation. I figured I would putz around the house, do some light housework like replacing lightbulbs or filing my nails.

"Dad," I said, "there is no way I can set-up an accounting system in the few days I have left here."

"Why not?" He asked, "I sent you to college to study computers. You do this for a living for a big American corporation and you can't set this thing up for your old father's shop?"

"It's not that easy," I tried to say calmly, even though I was already losing my cool. "First you have to upgrade your computer, buy an accounting software, configure it and then learn how to use the system. Even if I set it up, you'll have to key in all the transactions."

My father had an idea that 'using a system' meant that all he had to do was turn on the computer and it will do everything for him. My sixty-three year-old father knows nothing about computers. He thinks all computers are like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Since it's 2006, he's probably thinking a computer can do just about anything short of sucking his cock.

"If you can't do it, then the computer is useless," He said curtly. "You may as well throw it away."

I felt stung. I felt like he was saying that I am useless, he may as well throw me away.

I hated that computer. I felt like my father held on to that old computer long enough just to use it in this conversation. I had an old ThighMaster in my room, couldn't he have used that as a metaphor instead? At least that was really useless.

I slowly burned. If I had some carrots and potatoes, we could have stew in a few hours.

On the TV in the corner of the office, a local newscaster reported that in the southern part of the Philippines, torrential rains caused a landslide to bury an entire village. In minutes, an elementary school filled with 250 children and their teachers were buried under boulder and rock and twenty feet of thick, heavy mud. 1,500 villagers were reported missing. The scene cuts to a couple of emergency rescue workers holding back a grieving woman from running into the muddy field where the village used to be.

All around me, people stared at the TV set, horrified at the tragedy. I was horrified too, I'm sure, but it was buried under an overwhelming numbness.



-----

My father once taught me to Walk Like a Man

This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:

Part 1: The Long Way Home
Part 2: Starvation
Part 3: Fake Plastic Food
Part 4: My Old Room
Part 5: Autopilot
Part 6: Jetlag

Part 7: A Conversation with My Father
Part 8: Archeology
Part 9: A Conversation with My Mother
Part 10: Redeye
Part 11: I Carry Your Heart
Epilogue: Fun with Fake Poop

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Special Dispensation

I can never date Kevin.

Beside the fact that I am already in a committed relationship, I can never date him because he's my friend Matt's ex-boyfriend and you can never, ever date your friends' exes. I could never date Kevin unless I stopped being friends with Matt, which highly unlikely because he's such a dear friend, he's funny and smart and he owes me four hundred dollars from our trip to New York last year. We will be friends until the very end or until closing time, whichever is sooner.

So alas, this must remain a fantasy...until Matt moves to another state, in which I can date Kevin but I would not be able to tell Matt about it. I would have to lie every time I talked to Matt on the phone, which shouldn't be too hard because I lie to mother on the phone all the time about my "roommates." My mother must've thought that I was very picky because I changed "roommates" just about every six months.

The only other way I could date Kevin is if Matt gave me a special dispensation, just like the Catholic Church allowing the devout to have corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick's Day, which sometimes fell during Lent, when eating any meat is prohibited. I often wondered if there was any way around this prohibition, whether I could just lick a pork chop or something. I mean, I am not swallowing it or anything. I hoped this was ok because I plan to keep on sucking my boyfriend's cock during this holy time.

Besides, this rule is pretty murky, like what constitutes friendship? Do they have to be within the core group of a gay man's circle, the friends you go shopping with, have brunch with, the ones who buy you drinks without expecting you to buy the next round? Yeah, I don't have one of those. I tried not buying a round of beers one night and I got bitched up really bad.

If it were just a friend that you air-kissed rather than give an honest-to-goodness hug, is it alright for me to date his exes? I wish it was more straight-forward, you know, like cheating on your boyfriend. At least then there are no rules; you can fuck anybody your boyfriend knows.

I mean, a good circle of friends is really hard to find, so you must understand me. For the longest time, the only circle I had was the one where we all sat around and jerked each other off, which was nice, but it made going to the movies awkward; somebody was going to have to sit at one end and have no one jerking him off.

Ah but Kevin, Kevin, Kevin, you six-foot-five hunk of Irish beef, you make my pulse race, you make the veins pop from my temples. When I see you, my knees get weak and sink to the floor, which is great because it would put me at eye-level to your crotch when the time is right.

The only thing I could think of that wouldn't make me into an asshole is to date my friend Matt and then break-up with him. I would make a clean break of it so that I don't feel obligated to follow this 'no dating ex-boyfriends' rule. Because if Matt were an ex-boyfriend, then I have free range to be a complete jerk to him.

Is it worth it though? Is it worth the price of my friendship with Matt? I guess I'll never find out, unless Matt doesn't pay me my four hundred dollars by next week.


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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jetlag

I have not taken a shit for four straight days.

The eighteen hour flight crossing the Pacific Ocean must've messed up more than my internal clock. I am not sure how this is possible because I have been eating non-stop ever since I walked off the plane. My father has been cooking up full breakfast, a full lunch and a full guilt trip every night.

I have been trying to come up with a word for this. "Shitlag" seems inadequate, but it's all I can come up with. I need something more sophisticated, something that can travel well, cross cultural boundaries. I want it to be the new catchphrase among the jet set. I want Paris Hilton to have the right word to use when she has this temporary irregularity.

Shitlag is not constipation. It is simply the lack of an urge to take a dump. I have sat on the pot to see if I could get it going, but after fifteen minutes, all I got were dry farts. It is very unnerving. Like, tell me, what was the longest you have gone without taking a dump? It made me question everything, the Meaning of Life; the Existence of Heaven; whether it is BYOB in Hell.

On Day Three, while in a restaurant, I told my mother that the shit was imminent, we had to leave. I cannot possibly use a public toilet; the explosion could be dangerous, people could get caught in the fallout.

But when I got home, nothing came. A false contraction. I felt embarrassed. I wonder if this is what pregnant women feel like when they are sent home?

I wondered if during the flight over here, I had somehow achieved nirvana. My body has ascended to the next plane and is now efficiently converting all I consume directly into energy--I no longer had to do the two. The shit transforms into energy and the energy emanates from my body, bringing to the world peace, goodwill and an otherworldly fashion sense...


Day Five: The shit has landed. There goes world peace...


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This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:

Part 1: The Long Way Home
Part 2: Starvation
Part 3: Fake Plastic Food
Part 4: My Old Room
Part 5: Autopilot
Part 6: Jetlag

Part 7: A Conversation with My Father
Part 8: Archeology
Part 9: A Conversation with My Mother
Part 10: Redeye
Part 11: I Carry Your Heart
Epilogue: Fun with Fake Poop

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Autopilot

Is this how all marriages end up? Is this how a forty-year marriage looks like? Husband and wife yelling, arguing over the wrong brand dish detergent? As I watched my parents heatedly argue, I wondered how they manage to keep it up for so long. I would've bust a vein.

Even as they traded barbs, they were already preoccupied with something else. My father was sitting on the cracked faux leather couch reading the evening paper, mother at the dinner table eating and peeling shrimp. From the detergent, they moved on to other inconsequential topics: the peeling wallpaper, the stock market, my haircut. The fight was on autopilot.

I kept my head down as missiles flew overhead, it's only my second day here and I am back in the warzone like I never left. I steadily ate my dinner in silence, hoping to get out of the way as soon as possible. One word would engage me in the war, I'd have to choose sides; there is no Switzerland here. That would only bring about the wrath of both parents.

My father asked me a direct question. There was no avoiding it, congress can't save me now--except--possibly if I deploy the Nuclear Option: I could fart. However, I didn't think I could muster enough sulphur to summon one, so I belched loudly instead.

That distracted them, thank God.

I am almost positive that my parents didn't always argue like this, but I can't summon those memories. I thought hard, directing all my concentration on it, as if I were trying to pass a kidney stone. But I'm failing. It must be stored in a part of my brain that's been sealed off, blocking traumatic memories of the time when I wore espadrilles.

All I remember is that I hated the dinner table because it was like a prison cell and a clean plate, my only parole. Consequently, I can eat a plate of roast pork, mashed potatoes and a side of green beans in two minutes flat. I leave the dinner table, my mouth still chewing, full and bloated, a puffer fish warding off its enemies.

Comparatively, this tiff was a minor blip on the screen, a pebble on the road--it won't even last the weekend. It's not even close to being in the Top Ten Soap Operatic Moments of my life. There were no knives drawn; just a papercut with a twist of lemon.

I remember that night with the knife.

In a lull in their argument, my mother asked me how the stir-fried noodles were. Fine, I said curtly.

I was sulking, how mature of me. I refuse to have a conversation in the hundred decibel range. I am here for a ten-day vacation, the least my parents can do was pretend to be some other married couple, like Kirsten and Sandy on The O.C. Surely, they can do that for me?

My parents have been doing this so long, they don't realize it's already taken its toll. You’d think that after moving out fifteen years ago, the hard shell I've grown would be enough to withstand these fights. But my armor is useless here; it melts away like tanning butter, leaving carcinoma. Maybe I am just too soft. Maybe I am just a fag.

Maybe I am just a fucking faggot for fucking feeling like this.

-----

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This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:

Part 1: The Long Way Home
Part 2: Starvation
Part 3: Fake Plastic Food
Part 4: My Old Room
Part 5: Autopilot
Part 6: Jetlag

Part 7: A Conversation with My Father
Part 8: Archeology
Part 9: A Conversation with My Mother
Part 10: Redeye
Part 11: I Carry Your Heart
Epilogue: Fun with Fake Poop




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Thursday, March 02, 2006

My Old Room

This is my old room. It still smells the same: a little moist, the smell of floor wax and soap. The fluorescent light is harsh, harsher than I remember. In my own place, I use only incandescent bulbs; they soften my edges, my large pores, ready for my close-up at any moment and angle.

My old desk still has my high school photographs under its glass top. When I look at those old photographs, I feel a small grief for that young boy who has since lost his innocence and his twenty-six inch waist. They are both lost forever.

On the desk, my old stuff: pens, pencils, dictionaries were pushed to a dusty corner to make way for the tools used in my mother's new hobbies. There seems to be a small cottage industry going on in here: needlepoint, some quilting, a scrapbook of photos of my father and his mistress, taken by a private detective. The scrapbook was top-notch, I thought, artistic even, with very neat handwriting and the words "DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE" written over and over in blood-red ink.

A single twin-size bed is pushed against the wall. It used to be in the middle of the room. The mattress on the bed looks shrunken, like a dried-out starfish under the thin, worn fitted sheet. I sit on the edge. I can feel its crusty, hard edges--a day-old French bread--under my thighs.

The fitted sheet is blue, dotted occasionally by tiny, soft flowers; neutral enough for a boy (to my dismay). The sheets were the same ones from when I left home fifteen years ago. The wallpaper too--still the same green checkered pattern, slightly peeling in some places. It feels sticky to the touch, as if the adhesive under it seeped through.

I can't believe I ever slept in this bed, under these conditions. It's hard to believe there was a time when Egyptian cotton was but a dream; when pillow shams only belonged in fairy tales. How simple and austere, how very Little House on the Prairie.

When I moved to Chicago I didn't have enough room to fit all my personal belongings into the one old suitcase my mother gave me. I left a lot of things behind. I didn't know that it would be nearly a decade before my first trip back, otherwise, I would've been more careful and thrown away that can of Crisco in the nightstand--it got really funky.

I am wired from my long trans-Pacific flight. I am always tense in an airplane. I needed to relax, blank out my mind. I needed a drink. Or a porn movie.

What I wouldn't give for the sweet, tired bliss of a self-induced orgasm. I would be asleep in a minute. Jerking off is so underrated; it deserves an Academy Award or something. Ever notice how Oscar is holding on to long stick? I would often wake up in the morning, both hands on to my stick, just like Oscar.

There is a built-in drawer to one side of the bed. I pulled it open to see what was in there. Odd. It was empty. My mother must've cleaned it out. I tried to remember what was in there. It didn't matter--anything important would've been hidden away: under the loose floorboard, in the secret compartment I cut into the King James Bible.

The dresser is still in the same place though. I wondered. I pulled it forward. It feels heavy, I'm not sure why; no time to investigate.

Ah, it's still there. Taped behind the dresser, a manila envelop. I open it.

Inside was my old copy of Torso magazine. Jon Vincent was on the cover, remember him? Sexymotherfucker with a raunchy mouth?

"How about it," I murmured to my old bed, "what say we do it for old times sake?"

I reach for the Crisco.


-----


This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:

Part 1: The Long Way Home
Part 2: Starvation
Part 3: Fake Plastic Food
Part 4: My Old Room
Part 5: Autopilot
Part 6: Jetlag

Part 7: A Conversation with My Father
Part 8: Archeology
Part 9: A Conversation with My Mother
Part 10: Redeye
Part 11: I Carry Your Heart
Epilogue: Fun with Fake Poop





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