Monday, October 29, 2007

Alive For Now

Well, I passed another birthday and nothing horrible happened. A few years ago, while doing a News Google search on myself around this time, I discovered I was dead. A man with my name in England (there are apparently many) was murdered, but nothing makes you more confident growing older than seeing yourself dead. This year, another Derek Hartley in England didn't die, but he was missing! I have been anxious for weeks hoping I would be found safe and alive, not dead in a ravine somewhere. Then, on Monday, he was found alive, starving, and somewhat mentally ill. Thin and crazy? Sure beats dead!

Originally, I had planned to join some of the gang from work at Six Flags today. And as much as I love a rollercoaster (and using my season pass), it just didn't feel like how I wanted to spend my birthday. Roommate works Sundays now and I shoved off any real birthday celebration plans to next Saturday when I wouldn't have to compete with Halloween. Being born three days before the notorious holiday, my mom has often joked that if I had been born three days later she would have named me Jack O'Lantern. Except I don't think she was kidding.

Last night, Roommate and I hauled our old selves down to Manhattan to see The Kingdom, which wasn't nearly as bad as the miserable box office and tepid reviews would have you believe. It was directed by actor turned director Peter Berg, whom I have had something of a slow burn crush on since Linda Fiorentino grudge fucked him in The Last Seduction. He was also quite frequently naked (especially for a ski movie) in his big break movie Aspen Extreme. If he could spend twenty minutes of that movie stark naked in the snow, I think the CW can find a few minutes for those Supernatural boys to shower off.

After the movie, we decided to take the late drunk train and have a quick drink before we left town. We wandered down to Barracuda, which was packed to the rafters with gays. It wasn't so crowded that Terry Goldman didn't find me. He kissed me and his lips tasted like strawberries, like he was wearing lip gloss made for a nine year old girl. But he tasted good, so who am I to complain? But we immediately decamped from the madness of Barracuda and made our way to the relative quiet of XES, somewhat around the corner.

During the summer, I forced Erik Rhodes and his fabulous boyfriend Danny to meet me there for a quick post-show drink. They live not far away and they thought I was joking at first that there was even a bar at that location since apparently their dog has crapped outside it a thousand times without them noticing it. Once inside, Danny still thought I was joking, but the upscale dankness and casual neighborhood vibe I think won him over. Then again, it was the last time we went to a bar together, so maybe he thinks my taste is permanently suspect.

While at XES, I had my usual Sex And The Beach after first checking my look in the mirror. I spent a few minutes staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, reviewing the merchandise and giving a buyer's assessment of the bill of sale. Not bad I thought, for something that has been in the bargain bin for so long. Mike and I parked on stools, transfixed by the horribleness of a shitty horror movie playing on the flat panel TV over the bar. We decided it was probably The Hills Have Eyes since it was terrible, just terrible, and neither of us had seen it before. The sound was muted so we had the distinct pleasure of reading the dialogue as it scrolled across the various dismembered performers. The screenwriter clearly loved movies, as the internal movie references were seemingly endless, and I wondered why, if he loved movies so much, that he had inflicted this particular piece of garbage on the world.

While wrapping up our drinks, a listener, who had recognized me, came over to wish me a happy birthday. This is extremely rare in NYC and, as has been the case in the past, he was originally from Miami but had recently moved to the area. He was very nice and I will be honest that it did make me feel good, almost like a real celebrity, on my birthday. But the drunk train was calling and we beat a hasty retreat.

Once home, I couldn't fall asleep. It was already several hours into my birthday and I considered just not sleeping at all for the entire 24 hours. I spent a fair amount of time wading through the seemingly endless birthday wishes emailed and posted to MySpace, corresponding with the adorable, argyle-loving Jackenroth, stars on his elbows and in his eyes as he awaits the upcoming season of Project Runway and texting at 4am with an ex-boyfriend actively sorting out his emotions after a break-up earlier in the evening. Then, I decided to watch Mrs. Miniver, which I had DVRed from TCM.

I haven't seen Miniver in 20 years but I had remembered it fondly. I was struck however by what a horrible performance Greer Garson gave in the movie. Her bizarre expression rarely changed and she seemed to be Acting with not just a capital A, but also with lights around it and a brass band. But you have to love MGM at the height of its power. There wasn't a close-up where she didn't look like a million bucks waiting for change. Teresa Wright was terrific and it seems crazy to me now that she could have been in three of the biggest classic movies of all time right in a row (Miniver, Shadow of a Doubt, Pride of the Yankees) and then had very little else to show for her career from then on out. The movie itself was a good story to watch on a birthday and in the midst of a war. An important reminder that life is short and at all turns unexpected, but there is still time in between bombing raids for a flower show or a little romance.

It was well after dawn that I finally threw in the towel and went to sleep. Promptly at 11am, my cell phone started to ring with calls and buzz with text messages. Wisely my mother waiting until 7pm to call. "I didn't wake you, did I?" I barely had the heart to tell her I was just up from a nap. Whatever. It's my birthday.

So what if I puttered around the house, hammering on the keys of the piano trying to learn "I'm Old Fashioned", trying to meet the neighbors by hand-delivering some misdirected mail (they weren't home), and grilling up dinner outside in a parka for likely the last time of the season? No one said you have to celebrate a birthday in only one way. I like being alone. And having the house to myself on a beautiful fall day to wander around in my underwear and eat ice cream was just what the doctor ordered.


AustinJoel said...

Oh Derek! I love your birthday and how it ended up. Nothing beats turning another year older than trying to play "I'm Old Fashioned" on the piano.

I too have the crush on Peter Berg. Mostly from meeting him years ago when I first reported to my current job where he, Billy Bob, and Tim McGraw were setting up a shot for Friday Night Lights right by where I unloaded my Jeep.

So close to meeting someone famous. Sort of like meeting you and Romaine at Six Flags, TX this year. Oh yeah!!

Happy belated birthday and glad you wound up being the other Derek Hartley rather than the UK version....this year. There's always next year.

Donnie v2.0 said...

That actually sounds like a wonderful b-day. And you're absolutely right - there's nothing that says you can't just fly solo. Glad you're not dead...again.