Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Party Delayed Is Party Denied

I hadn’t heard from D-A-N in a couple of weeks. We had lunch at elmo, which I thought I had never been to before, until I arrived and like most places in the world, I had been there many times (including Perez Hilton’s 2005 birthday party) but hadn’t remembered. Then two weeks later, he returned from flight training in New Hampshire and invited me to a party. You know me, always ready to meet strangers; though I am trying, after seven years of living in New York, to expand my friend base to a more reasonable size. Read: more than three. But then D-A-N got sick and we rescheduled for our usual hangout at Bowery Bar on Tuesday night.

I arrived at 10:45 but D-A-N was running even later than I was. “You are probably used to that from me by now,” he told me when I saw him later, and as a chronically late person myself I was full of forgiveness. Fortunately, I ran into Charlie, scoping the place for hotties with his lawyer friend Evan. Charlie was lamenting that it wasn’t very crowded (“It’s like a Thursday here.”) which I chalked up to the plunging temperatures. Bowery Bar is a fair weather friend. As the crowd began to thicken like so much turkey gravy, Charlie noticed unhappily that all of the guys outside were smoking. I tried to explain that they were outside because they could smoke and it was too cold outside for anyone who didn’t need to be out there to be out there. My logic did not satisfy him in the least and he dismissed my explanation with a stern yet youthfully unlined expression. I turned my attention to Evan who was my kind of guy (which means he laughed at all my jokes). Charlie would occasionally wend back into the conversation with a query when he heard Evan laughing, but as you know, nothing improves a joke like explaining it. Even then, Charlie greeted my stories with the displeasure of possibly missing his future ex-husband just to hear my uneducated musings on depraved indifference as debated on Law & Order.

Mike arrived from work and soon Evan and Charlie slipped into the crowd in hopes of finding some non-smokers to attend to briefly but vigorously. At that moment, I spied Ben Harvey’s co-host Dave Rubin as he walked in. He saw me too and slowly made his way through the cluster of gay men to join me under the searing heat lamp for a brief conversation. There is just something about that Dave that makes me want to do dirty, oh so dirty, things to him. Most guys, I see them and like Dennis Hensley has often said, I just want to roll a ball back and forth on a floor or splash along the shore with them in an Amy Grant video circa 1990. But something about Dave, the intensity of his gaze, the firm brow, his sexuality so casual in its roughness, that makes me want to tear his clothes off and toss around like pudding wrestlers. His cadence and square jaw are straight out of Dashiell Hammett, and who in their right mind wouldn’t want to fuck the shit out of that?

The literal grilling under the heat lamp was too much for Dave and he had to return to his friends. I finally spotted D-A-N so we made our finally farewells and I headed back into the more temperate warmth of Bowery Bar. D-A-N was there with his usual cadre of friends. I liked Pedro the best because, like Evan, he laughed at my jokes. D-A-N was wearing a tight t-shirt as usual and cut his hair a bit shorter, although his dashing superman swirl is still intact. Hanging out with him in public is so difficult because he is always surrounded by a devoted fan base. He seems to be the homecoming king of Bowery Bar so it is hard not to feel like you are on the receiving line. Of course it was even worse for Mike, who ran quickly from the melee of muscles to find a nearby perch. So being a good friend, which I generally am not, I left D-A-N to his autograph signing and hung out with Mike.

We talked about the crowd and Mike related an overheard conversation from a balding 25 year old who had insisted to his friend that the guy cruising him was too old for him. “He thinks you are his age, that’s why!” I blurted out, Karen Walker spilling from me after only one rum and coke. I also spent a great deal of the evening making snide comments about all of the tweed caps that seem to be in fashion these days. Some of the highlights included: “Somebody loves Newsies!” and “Hey boy. Perchance have you the Saturday Evening Post?”

D-A-N wondered why I had wandered away so I told him I was trying to be a good friend to Mike. That caused him to decamp from his dark corner and drag his hot guy posse out into our neck of the woods. He tried to engage Mike in conversation but Mike was in Buckingham Palace guard mode and D-A-N was instantly thwarted. Really all D-A-N wanted to do was fucking dance, but Bowery Bar tossed a new set of banquets into the center of the room making unlawful gyrations even more difficult than usual. He tried to get me a drink but once again the evening was cut short by that pesky drunk train home. I love my new house upstate but what a kill joy it is to have to go home at 1am, even if it is a school night.

Whatever. D-A-N had plenty of men to keep him warm and I am sure if he started to dance hard enough, the crowd would make the space for him. No one likes to be the one to stand in the way of a hot guy having a good time. And speaking of hot guys, Conor was there too. He had friends with him as well (I only remember the names Michael and Eric because every gay is named Michael or Eric). But my time with him was oh so brief. Stationed close to the bar so his hand was never empty for long, I only saw him in passing on my way to the bar for a refill and off to the bathroom to complete the cycle. He is off to Boston for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and soon D-A-N is off to Boston to fly away for good. But in the meantime, we can pass like drunken ships in the night around the iceberg known as Bowery Bar. It is already too late in the season for that outdoor venue, so it is probably for the best that we are all packing it in for the time being. But why not one last drink?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jeopardy Hot

Sporty Spice (Cyd) and Dental Dan (Dan) had their annual autumn party tonight and I never miss it. Cyd and Dan are a dream couple, the kind of storybook relationship tailor-made for TV news profiles and conniving bitches hell bent on home-wrecking. After all, the only thing the gays love more than a hot man is someone else’s hot man. With Cyd and Dan, you get two for the price of one. Anyone wishing to break them up (pay attention Charlie) would be barking up the wrong tree, as they are as right for each other as any two people I have ever met. Plus, they are the perfect party hosts.

When I ran into Mark Levine at Therapy last month, my first instinct was to drag him to Cyd and Dan’s annual event. They know virtually every attractive thirty-something guy in Manhattan, and a new man on the scene is bound to find lifelong friendships and at least a few exes at the Autumn Party. I also endeavored to bring Ben Harvey because he had wanted to meet Mark after the tireless cheerleading I have done on his behalf, as well as Cyd and Dan, who he encountered briefly at my housewarming lounging in matching sweatshirts on Adirondack chairs in the back yard while basking in the afterglow of cheese-filled hot dogs.

Ben, Mark and I met up on a familiar corner in the heart of Chelsea before dashing through the forty degree weather. Despite my legendary reputation for shorts and t-shirts under all circumstances in Los Angeles, I don’t fuck around with the cold in New York. I arrived bundled up in my snow parka, looking like an arctic explorer. Ben looked adorable as always and deceptively dressed in light layers over thermals. Mark, still getting used to winter again, just threw on layer after layer until he seemed sufficiently protected from the elements. Once at the party Mark started stripping like Gypsy Rose Lee, which only served to endear him to everyone. By the time he left, he was down to just a clingy t-shirt and jeans.

As usual, their elegantly appointed apartment was packed wall-to-wall with sexy gay men. In the spirit of diversity, a sprinkling of women decorated the otherwise masculine turn out. Cyd and Dan had tirelessly decorated with genuinely adorable fall decorations, virtually invisible to the increasingly intoxicated homos struggling to make eye contact and work up the courage to talk to guys they had seen in the same apartment time and again, party after party. One of those men, Sebastian, cornered me in the kitchen to ask if I was the one who had left the clever response to the eVite in which I said I would be hanging out with Dan in the VIP Room (which in this case was the bedroom, for the Super Bowl party it’s the kitchen). Generally their parties are so crowded; I tend to gravitate to the least crowded location, which is often where I find Dan.

It was all going well until Cory walked in and turned out to be the most pleasant surprise of the night. I last saw Cory at the closing ceremonies for the AIDS Ride, where I was cheering on Chip Arndt. I have written before about his eyebrows and his granite forehead, but it has been so hard for me to fully describe him. I think his face most reminds me of that of the Statue of Liberty, the only national icon I share a birthday with (sorry Julia Roberts). I have always felt a certain kinship with the lady in the harbor and I guess it spills over to Cory. His Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard is just the icing on the intellectual cake.

We talked about life and politics (he is just about to move to DC to take a new job) and it was a total delight. By quite some measure the longest conversation we have ever had and it was as rich as I thought it might be. When talk turned to Jeopardy, he too had noticed Alex Trebek’s flirtation with one of the college contestants. I then introduced him to the concept of being “Jeopardy Hot” which is a man who is hot entirely in the context of being on Jeopardy. Outside the nerdy confines of the popular game show, he would just be of normal attractiveness. But when you watch geek after nerd doling out the questions, a Jeopardy Hot guy is a welcome sight. Mike and I use the subtle distinction of Hot and Jeopardy Hot in conversation all the time, as it comes in handy constantly.

After three parties in a row as the last one left in Cyd and Dan’s apartment, I was adamant about not making it four. The party thinned out like hair in a Propecia ad and I hastily rounded up Cory, his friend Jeff, and Ben to continue our fun around the corner at Barracuda. Mark had already gone home, as had 95% of the partygoers, so I knew I had to strike while the iron was hot. Moments later, we were again packed like sardines in a sea of gay men, trying to get a drink at the bar. In between half listening to the hot 80s hits playing in the background (Major Tom, Neverending Story, Hazy Shade Of Winter), Cory and I continued our in-depth conversation about my favorite subject I never get to subject my radio audience to: politics.

Since Cory is from Iowa, I grilled him about the current political climate there. I am always curious about first-hand accounts and Cory was ambivalent about the candidates, a state of mind he also attributed to the rest of the state. I have been riveted to the debates and the tightness of the race, especially among the democrats. Unfortunately, Cory wasn’t able to resolve it for me before he ran home for the night. As usual, it was my cue to leave as well. The damned drunk train was calling again, as it always is. I left Ben in the capable hands of his cousin, who had met us all out at Barracuda, and dashed off into a cab to Grand Central. Two nights in a row of going out has taken its toll on me, and I can’t wait to climb into bed. It’s the weekend and a chilly one at that. I look forward to a party of one, relaxing in my living room, far from the roaring seas of gay men, the political fray of Washington and most importantly, the leering glances of Alex Trebek, where the only Hot I need to worry about is the heat from the crackling fire in the fireplace.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Judge And Jory

It seems like all Ben Harvey and I do is rendezvous at Vlada. We are like a bad sitcom. On TV, the characters always converge over and over in the same public locations, mostly because it’s just cheaper that way. But in life, we imitate art more than we would like to believe. Hence, another Thursday night spent at Vlada with Ben Harvey.

I love Ben, and not just because he looks like David Anders the actor who plays Adam/Takezo Kensei, the blond warrior from feudal Japan on NBC’s Heroes. It isn’t even because he also works in radio so he understands the crazy world I live in. We even have a shared love for Rosie O’Donnell’s brief but heavenly stint on The View. But that isn’t it either. I love Ben because he is like a delicious piece of blond peanut brittle: sweet and crackly and impossible to believe that anyone could be allergic to.

Our intention is always to catch up when we see each other, but it never works out that way. The distractions are legendary. Tonight, it was Jory, the hottest property tonight at Vlada. His form-fitting, wrinkle free heather grey t-shirt and low slung jeans casually draped over his exquisite body. His physical form said lifetime of athletic endeavors instead of the usual gay steroids plus too much gym time combination. His Roman nose and crisp haircut set off his model-perfect looks to a tee. He looked like a man. Not in a gay vs. straight way, or even in a masculine vs. feminine way. He just looked like the ideal embodiment of man in its purest form, like a paper doll ready to hang your fantasies on.

I saw Jory and immediately had no interest in him. A guy like that belongs on the arm of someone who is either: equally hot, famous, wealthy or some combination thereof. I could never think he was interested in me, and if we were together, neither would anyone who saw us. I did however think he was perfect for Ben. I am not even certain Ben was as convinced about him as I was. However, he has the wholesome and squeaky clean look that Ben seems to like, and the notorious matchmaker in me was dying to make some magic happen. But Jory couldn’t see past his own eye lashes. He made no eye contact with anyone outside his own small cadre of devoted admirers, and even then, seemed constantly waiting for a better offer to arrive.

Mike was also there tonight and on our walk to the train we openly mused about what it must be like to be someone like Jory. Mike thought he ignored people because after a while it is just so difficult getting hit on all the time. I thought he might be almost blind like my adorable former intern Patrick, who was exactly like Marilyn Monroe in “How To Marry A Millionaire.” He even asked me if his date was cute once at Bowery Bar (he wasn’t), and then politely made his escape into the crowd. If I was meeting him out, he would call me on my cell phone as he was walking in the door, so we could find each other. With his blindness and my inability to see through all the flashing distractions of a bar, we could otherwise be in the same nightclub for years without ever meeting again.

Whatever the reason, Jory was in his own class and his own world at Vlada. In a way, it’s kind of a shame. Yes, Mike is probably right, it would be a burden to be so attractive. But if he didn’t want guys hitting on him, he would get fat and wear a loose-fitting sweatshirt with a stain on it, or take down that shirtless Facebook photo of himself strumming a guitar. No no. He likes the attention he draws and I am fairly certain that he was hoping Prince Charming might walk through the door and carry him away. Too many Disney movies I think. It’s the curse of the gay community: So many princesses in need of rescue and too few princes to ride in and save the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Down The Rabbit Hole

It seems like I am always running late. I don’t know why time consistently slips away from me, but the older I get, the more it seems to evaporate before my very eyes. Over the years, I have had jobs that have barely required me to show up at an office, let alone at a specific time. I used to joke during my years at America Online that I worked dry cleaning hours: In by ten, out by four! Even that was an improvement in structure after working from home for two years. Since coming to SIRIUS, I am required to physically remain in one place during very specific hours. This has been the hardest challenge for me. I just don’t know that it is in my nature to be on time.

I was watching a documentary a while ago about Marilyn Monroe, a woman notorious for being horrendously late. She apparently arrived at her last photo shoot before her death only two hours late, which was early for Marilyn. When she sang for President Kennedy, Peter Lawford introduced her as “the late Marilyn Monroe” an irony brought home weeks later when she died. During the shooting of “Some Like It Hot” a few years earlier, she was eight hours late to the set. Director Billy Wilder was exasperated but not surprised. “I got lost on the way to the studio,” she declared of the studio lot she had worked on for more than a decade. I figure as long as I am never that bad, I am money ahead.

Last night after the show, I had agreed to attend a Project Runway premiere party, hosted by my new friend Jack Mackenroth. The TV show started promptly at 10pm of course, which also happens to be the exact moment my radio show ends. So it was physically impossible for me to travel from my studio in midtown Manhattan to Greenwich Village is the blink of an eye. I warned in advance that I would be late, but even still. It just seems so like a diva to stroll in late for a live show. Especially when claiming your own celebrity as the excuse for such bad behavior. But it is the nature of the beast. It also happened to be the last day of work for our show producer Dan. I entreated everyone to not have the going away festivities on that night because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick around, so that is exactly when they scheduled them. So then I got to look like a complete douche running out on everyone. But when you live a story, I guess people around you want you to live it too. Consistency, however annoying, is more important than perfection.

The party was in a converted carriage house and I must say it was a delightful living space. NYC is the best place to go for unusual homes and I was most impressed by how simultaneously modern and antiquated the place was. When I arrived the door to the street was wide open and a hundred attractive men were squeezed into the upstairs watching a flat panel 70 inch screen on the wall. I made amazing time, arriving just 20 minutes into the show, but still, I was too late to mix, mingle, or talk to Jackenroth. I watched the show there (and again when I got home), and I am definitely looking forward to this season. However, I hated most of the clothes. Just blah. And Jack’s model walked like a lumberjack carrying an axe uphill. Jack’s dress was cute, a perfect Barbie ensemble, that I half expect closed in the back with a large metal snap at the neck. But then, Lumberjack Barbie started trudging down the runway and I thought he should have swapped out her sexy purse from with a nice redwood log.

While the show was going on, a cute guy named Ben started up a conversation with me. He was adorable with a rocking body and we seemed to be hitting it off. Then, Michael Lucas met my eye and started over toward me. “Do you know Michael?” I asked. Ben let out a declarative bleat and beat it on the lam. Michael was in rare form, air kisses and broken English filled the air like perfume. He lifted his shirt several times to show his amazing abs, which were quite impressive. It must be hard in the winter time to have a sensational body and have to hide it under so many layers. His abs popping out made me sad that I love ice cream more than physical perfection, but then I remembered that I get to eat ice cream and no one has to see me naked in order to have a career. It turns out that Michael and Ben had shared an awkward moment earlier in the evening when Michael introduced himself and Ben reminded him that Michael had fucked him three months ago. “I did not remember him, “Michael purred as he gazed at Ben’s perfectly formed back from across the room, “but then I saw his ass and it all came back to me.” I have to admit that Ben did have, in jeans, one of the most perfect asses I have ever seen. “He also has a huge cock” Michael assured me, his head nodding carefully in approval.

Moments later, lurid creep Baby Chic entered the party which caused Michael Lucas to bristle like he had just wandered into a smoldering dump. You may recall that Baby Chic tried to molest me and Ben Harvey at Vlada some months ago, while Ben was trying to make nice with Jonathan of the famous Biscuits and Bath Jonathans. I remembered Baby Chic’s clammy hands all too well and did everything in my power to escape his clutches. Michael and I parted company and I think he was more successful at getting away than I was since seconds later Baby Chic was grabbing my chest as I pushed my way through the kitchen. I was trying to meet Jack but his adoring fans had him completely surrounded and pinned up again the stove. He didn’t seem to mind at all.

Jack is so pretty, and as one of the contestants pointed out on Project Runway, he looks like a superhero. He seemed to be in his element last night, a gorgeous tipsy doll swirling through a glamorous party of attractive men and waif thin girl models. We chatted in the kitchen and he introduced me to the other contestants from the show. It was fun to meet all these people just at the beginning of fame, not after they had already been cast aside by the cruel fate of reality television. Jack also pointed out a beautiful blond model named Megan who had been on America’s Next Top Model, although during that reality stint, she was Meg, the rocker chick with the brown hair and bold-faced attitude. She was giving us full tilt Grace Kelly though as she slipped away from the crowd and down the stairs.

Unfortunately, my own time at the party was drawing short. Even though I am late all the time, the train home to the suburbs doesn’t wait for middling radio personalities, no matter what their reputations. So I made my good bye to Michael Lucas and to sexy Jack Mackenroth. I tried to say good night to Ben but I think my obvious friendship with Michael Lucas had tainted me for him. He was in the midst of a conversation about fisting with a sexy blond named Chris, who like me, had not had sex with Michael Lucas. Ben related a tale of fisting a guy once, pushing down, down, down, finally getting in up to his mid-forearm. “There is an artery right there and it sort of squeezes around your hand tight and you can feel their body. It’s so intense.” That was my cue to leave. I love intensity in life as much as the next person. But if I want to feel blood racing through an artery it’s because I am in a panicked dash through Grand Central Station trying to catch my train home to Normal Town, USA.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I'll Take Manhattan

I never look at the weather before I leave the house. It’s a terrible habit I picked up while living in Los Angeles. In LA, the weather just never changes. Today’s weather report in Hell: 72 degrees and sunny, just like every other day. Sure, there are a couple of rainy days in January. But just looking out the window you can tell what the weather will be like for at least the next 48 hours. Besides, everyone drives. So even if it does rain, everyone has an umbrella (along with a sweatshirt and rollerblades) in the trunk just for emergencies. In fact, the flat line weather is such a cliché in Southern California that Steve Martin made it a significant plot point in L.A. Story. It is for this reason that I was caught unawares by the rain in Manhattan tonight on my way home.

Earlier in the day, when I was frantically tearing the house apart looking for my iPod so I could rip Britney’s terrific new CD into it, I noticed my umbrella sitting on the sideboard in my dining room. It came into focus as if a piece of crucial evidence in a Hitchcock movie: a folded newspaper on a motel room nightstand, the flicker of a lighter in a pair of eyeglasses, and now my umbrella lying dormant under a window, a cloudy sky foreshadowing in the background. But I ignored the umbrella to pursue my missing MP3 player. It turns out the iPod was in my backpack all along, right where my umbrella had been until I tossed it out after wearily carrying it around for two unpredictably dry months.

Today I wore my favorite grey wool coat that I picked up last fall at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale. It is a short, fitted jacket that makes me feel like one of the Von Trapp boys in The Sound of Music, my tribute to Gwen Stefani and her “Wind It Up” video. Unfortunately only an old sheep dog smells worse wet than a wool coat. So I ran as quickly as I could through the rain, Britney’s ridiculously hot “Toy Soldier” song urging me along, as I wove a delicate race between umbrella-carrying tourists and the dangerously slippery metal grates strewn about the sidewalks like land mines waiting to fell the unsuspecting with their cruel slickness. Diagram that sentence, bitch!

Britney and Los Angeles were both on my mind as I ran from Rockefeller Center to Grand Central Station. Earlier in the day, Michelle Collins emailed me to let me know that she had quoted me on her Best Week Ever blog. Yesterday on the show, she was raving about Britney’s new album, although with the caveat that it was processed to the point that on some of the songs she sounds like Gwen Stefani. After hearing “Toy Soldier,” I said that it was as “processed as a Kraft single.” Michelle couldn’t believe that I made it up in the moment and expounded on the theory (even further in her blog entry about it), perfecting it for the audience. Her rabid enthusiasm drew me to the Virgin Megastore after the show last night to experience Britney’s collective Blackout for myself. And Michelle is right. It is good. Arguably, the best Britney album ever, especially given how utterly shitty most of her work is.

I will be in Britney’s adopted town of Los Angeles this weekend. I read on that she has a new Mercedes SUV, which is good to know. If I see one coming, I will pull over immediately, like when an ambulance is going by. I am in town for my high school reunion. It’s been just over twenty years since I walked out of that school for the last time. It is strange for me to be going back this week since it is also the twentieth anniversary of my lost virginity. What does one give as a gift for that anniversary? A shop-worn, empty box?

All I really care about is looking better than everyone else who comes to the reunion, which is the only reason to go. I remember Cindy Crawford bringing her House of Style crew to her ten year high school reunion and thinking that there is no finer revenge, or better use of a television crew. No doubt her former classmates ran around telling everyone what good friends they had been with the supermodel, only to have those lies ripped to shreds right there on TV for everyone to see. Cindy confronted all of the popular girls who had been so mean to her, and cornered the boys who had refused to ask her out. And she killed them with kindness, a brand of torture porn the makers of the Saw movies could only aspire to. People were more relaxed at the Nuremburg trials. Cindy is my hero.

I don’t have a camera crew to follow me around, nor do I have a TV show. It is unlikely that anyone in my suburban LA high school would be impressed with my lowly satellite radio career. It’s not like I am in the movies or something, as most of them doubtlessly are, even if it is below the line. Then again, I still look pretty good for my age, mostly the product of vanity, no kids, and lots of product. I have a cute suit to wear and I am approximately the same weight I was in high school. Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone from my school that I care to torment. I wouldn’t mind seeing the guy I lost my virginity to. And our pompous class president. Neither of them came to the ten year reunion. Oh well. At least I will get a meal out of it, and a long weekend in Los Angeles. I hope it doesn’t rain though. I already packed nothing but shorts and t-shirts, and true to form, I didn’t bother to check the weather.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gay Life Exposed

Yes, I am possibly the gayest person alive. But for me, being gay is something of a hobby. I enjoy it, but I like to think I can’t make a full time occupation out of it. Then again, it’s a little bit like being a die-hard Yankees fan. It doesn’t matter what career you may pursue, everyone assumes that most of your waking thoughts are about baseball. I wish there was a way to leave the unfinished puzzle of my gay life on a game table in the living room and run some errands unrelated and unfettered by the lack of resolution. After all, it will still be there when I get back. But as gay people, we are vertically integrated by not just our love of sex with men but also a desire to arrange flowers, listen to Judy Garland or declare someone too fat for that outfit. As much as you may want to quit, hide or sideline it, gay can pour from your pores like the smell of gin from a notorious alcoholic.

Apparently, for some people, gay isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life. And for them we have the Gay Life Expo. These kinds of expos are like speed dating between gay consumers and mainstream corporations. In each case, they are hoping to find perfection. But just like most speed dating rounds, what actually stands in front of you can often be very disappointing. For the gays: disappointment in the quality and diversity of the companies that bothered to show up. For the companies: wonder as to the location of these high end consumers demographers have been promising them for years. And if you ever want to dispel the myth of gays as fashion forward, articulate trendsetters, this is the weekend adventure for you! Other myths, such as gays being indiscriminant whoring drunks and lesbians being aggressively cheap and demanding of free items, remain woefully intact.

I wanted to go because I think it’s important for our company to crack into the NYC gay market in a substantial way. And a trade show seven weeks before Christmas is as good a place as any to plant the holiday gift seed. It was also a chance to spend some time hanging out with co-workers that I like (Jeremy Hovies, Keith Price) without the embarrassment of needing to be nice to the ones I don’t like, which I will have to do soon enough at the annual holiday party.

I had a short segment on the stage that I originally thought was just an opportunity to wave to the crowd and throw some free t-shirts to the lesbians. But when I was at the office thirty minutes before the show printing out the information, I noticed that I would instead be an emcee and be introducing some of the performers. This was not good news. Emceeing at a pride event is hard enough, but at least the crowd is drunk and excited. Performing at a trade show is like trying to sell real estate to death row inmates. The chairs are usually filled with people too lazy to walk the length of a convention center without needing to rest an hour for every ten booths they passed. I tried to encourage them to enter to win the free radio we were giving away, not more than ten feet from the closest chair but most of them preferred to stay in their seats and stare dead-eyed ahead. I don’t need a TV show now. I already know what it feels like when people watch you on TV, from the perspective of the television set itself.

The lowest form of degradation came at the end of my set when Scott Nevins launched into his “game show” with the OutQ personalities playing along with “real people” from the audience. Scott, with his Groucho brows and pancake make-up projecting like Ethel Merman to the third balcony, took to the stage like a rat diving into a sewer. For the purposes of the game and a chance at some playful nastiness in my direction, he paired me with a genetic male cross of Ab Fab’s Edina Monsoon and Jodie Foster in Nell. He was wearing X-Ray goggles from the back of a 1970s comic book and a puffy white jacket with the entire NYC subway map printed on it, his native language that of Leeloo from The Fifth Element. It seemed from his insistent waving of a gay bar rag in my face that he was in the current issue of HX Magazine, photographed for Halloween in what I can only assume is his normal attire, and captioned as “Bee Bitch.” So the other hosts had actual contestants and I was paired with a lump of mashed potatoes. As I should have learned from the Faggot Feud with Richie Rich in 2004, never walk on a stage where someone else is controlling the mike. Point taken.

After the event, I decamped with the folks at HERE TV for dinner. Cutie pie Chris was there again, although in retrospect, I realize he was the only actual HERE person at the restaurant. At the Expo, I saw Josh, but he opted to head home after the long weekend and crash. Earlier from the stage, I saw Peter Stickles walking around, but he left before I was unshackled from the umpteenth just-so Judy impression emanating from little Scotty Nevins. I hope Peter didn’t see me, but as a performer, I am certain he would have sympathized with my plight. Lady in a cage!

So it was Chris for dinner and my friend Terry from Los Angeles. The other two were flirty Jimmy with sad eyes and a boyfriend in the steam room (unrelated) and adorable newcomer Jonathan, who was too young to appreciate my dusty early 80s references. Hey, did you know that Vic Morrow was named Rotary Club Man of the Year?

What? Too soon?

We went to Ariba Ariba, which in the absence of real Mexican food, will do in a pinch. Jonathan and I bonded over our mutual hatred of the sexy yet slow homos who were occupying our future table. Besides, we were in a hurry. I noticed in the midst of the football game playing on the TV over the bar that the Amazing Race was starting that night and I was fairly certain it wasn’t in the DVR at home. There were 3:34 minutes left in the third quarter which I gay-estimated was about an hour left in the game. With an hour of 60 Minutes sandwiched in between, I knew I had to leave as soon as the game ended to be home in time to not miss the start of the show.

It turns out Jonathan is as plugged in to politics as I am, and he is in the midst of reading The Nine, which I have been dying to pick up. I am such a Supreme Court junkie, I would call in sick to work just to watch a televised confirmation hearing. Then again, I would call in sick to eat a container of ice cream, so the threshold there is pretty low. And I was enjoying all of our banter until I looked up and noticed the football players touching each other inappropriately and CBS announcing the Play of the Day. In my head I heard the stopwatch ticking and Leslie Stahl, with her whipped cotton candy hair and dulcet tones, laying out her segment about famine in Africa, Lindsay Lohan or both, and I knew it was time to go.

As I raced home through the wooded splendor of the Saw Mill Parkway, the concrete monoliths of Manhattan in the rearview mirror, I took stock in the level of gay in my own gay life. Years ago, I left the ghetto behind. I loved my time in West Hollywood, but a body can only take so much abuse, and really that kind of stress testing is for the young. My existence now is suburban, surrounded on all sides by the known markers of heterosexual existence: soccer moms and RVs. And in the middle of it all, my little Cape Cod house, with the bay window and stocked bar in the basement. It’s as gay as a picnic basket, even without the bags of flower bulbs waiting on the window seat to be planted, carefully arranged by blooming season and chosen to resist the voracious dietary habits of the deer that cruise my yard like it’s The Ramble. In looking over the goods presented at the Gay Life Expo, I don’t think my life, as defined by their terms, is gay. Yes, I am fussy about my few precious elegant things, but I think that is borne more out of a desire for strict traditionalism and less about homosexuality. I’m old-fashioned, and I don’t mind it, as the song says. But given how unlike the rest of my family that is, I suppose I can lock that final piece in my gay life puzzle and consider it solved.