Sunday, July 13, 2008

Last Night On Earth

I live in two worlds. In one of them, I am an erstwhile homeowner, less handy than I think I am, toiling away at an ever growing stack of chores nestled in a quiet picture postcard version of suburbia. In the other world, I swirl in the heights of Manhattan gay social circles, hobnobbing with the sexiest and most famous members of the modern homo set. It would be an exaggeration to say that I have any real comfort in either one, but they both shares dueling sides of my personality. One assumes the quiet side will win out in the end, but in the meantime, the rowdy crowd is putting up a game fight.

I spent Saturday lifting sixty pound bags of gravel and sand, Ethel Merman blaring the opening lines of “Hostess with the Mostest” permanently looping through my head. I am building a patio in my backyard after watching a two minute video on About.com that made it look surprisingly easy. It isn’t hard, per se, but laying 108 tiles evenly and accurately is a duty I don’t have the constitutional aptitude for. I had hoped that roommate would help me out, but he threw his shoulder out and that is only half of his excuse. I think he is tired of my endless folly of half-finished home projects and it amuses him to see me struggle in a perpetual episode of I Love Lucy during the season they lived in Connecticut. If only Tallulah Bankhead was my neighbor! She wouldn’t be any help either, but at least she would be hilarious.

In the late afternoon, I ditched the soil and toil and hopped on a train down to Manhattan. I agreed to arrange a meeting between Ronnie, late of Make Me A Supermodel, and my friend Matthew Kelleher, arguably the most connected gay man in New York City, which frankly means the most connected gay man in the world. For some reason, Matty was in a sensitive mood on Saturday and when I would say compliments like that, he took it to mean I was implying he was a slut. It’s not OurChart.com, Matt! Matty was waiting for me outside the David Barton Gym where Ronnie was working out before our dinner. Matt and I debated the pros and cons of exercising at the most notorious gym in a most notorious neighborhood; while a parade of just stunning men stumbled in and out of the building.

While waiting, Erik Rhodes and former boyfriend Danny Dias walked down the street toward us. I had earlier sent Erik a text message inviting him to dinner, but he was already eating when he got it. They had just been working out themselves beforehand and joined our discussion about the perils of David Barton. They waited around wanting to meet Ronnie, but he was taking his sweet time and they ended up moving on to whatever else they were doing before Danny headed down to the Village to bartend. Finally Ronnie emerged and the three of us took off down the street looking for a dinner place. While we walked, Matt explained this day was the only day each year where the sunset could be seen directly down Manhattan cross streets and it was a perfect sunset for it too, casting a magical mood over the city as the light of the day dimmed across 23rd Street.

After walking down 8th Avenue through a sea of Matty devotees and Ronnie watchers, we settled into a cozy dinner at a French place that opened onto the street. Dinner was charming and Ronnie and Matty got along great. Ronnie actually seemed to enjoy us telling all the dusty old stories about how we know each other and the outrageous antics we got into in the intervening years. After dinner and looking for a place to cocktail, we eventually ended up on the patio of the Maritime Hotel. It was a warm night and the patio, upbeat with happy straight patrons and dotted with Chinese lanterns, ended up being the perfect nightcap to our low-key evening.

Ben Harvey joined us, along with the ever elusive Ryan, and then later, Hottie Zach dropped by. I tried to get Roommate to come since he was in the city too, but he begged off and headed home. It was too bad because it was finally an evening he would have enjoyed. Our tiny café table with six chairs jammed around it was a beehive of cheerful gay laughter and witty banter. It was just heaven for me. Shiny, happy people. Matty was wrecked about not having an iPhone, having accidentally dropped his into the sink at his gym the day before the new ones went on sale and crushing lines wound around the block day and night. Saturday was day two of the melee and day three without a phone with no hope of getting one in the foreseeable future. He was jonesing like Courtney Love and Amy Winehouse going cold turkey together on a dare. But otherwise he was having a good time.

The Maritime was magic but nothing is forever. We headed out with Ben Harvey and Ryan opting to head to the East Village to the bar that Danny Dias was working. “Tell Danny you know us!” we urged them with the hope of scoring a free drink by proxy. Ronnie pulled me, Matty and Zach off to someone’s apartment. The apartment was in the heart of Chelsea, across from ELMO, and no doubt an outrageous fortune despite its postage stamp qualities. The party quickly moved to the roof, which was spectacular. The four of us threw ourselves on the mercy of a giant outdoor canopy bed, like Stevie Nicks in an old Fleetwood Mac video. More drunken laughter ensued until once again, I made my hasty departure back to my other world.

I love fabulous rooftop parties in Manhattan, and pretty reality show contestants, and cocktails on hotel patios, but for me, it is like going to an amusement park. The rides and food are fun, but I couldn’t do it every day. I need quiet and simplicity. I need to feel the earth in my hands and the sun on my face, and the sense of accomplishment that can only come from building something solid. Connecting Matty to Ronnie and Ronnie to Zach is easy for me. It’s a great skill I have, and there is satisfaction there. But it is as satisfying as a funnel cake and a rollercoaster. A thrill, but if I did it every day, it would lose its appeal, the wonderment of it. So back I go to laying tiles. To gravel and sand. To reality, my other home.

1 comment:

Nate said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening Derek!! It's nice to know that this side of you does exist. I'm glad it's not all just who we hear on the radio. I wish that there were places like that here in Springfield, MO! We have one gay bar, a bar that is mainly a lesbian bar from what I hear, and a couple other places that come, & go quickly. God for the Bible Belt I guess! To be able to walk into a restaurant or hotel bar, and spend time with gay friends!!