Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blood Orange Crush

My body has been in full revolt for a week, since that ill-advised sandwich in Dallas that gave me food poisoning last Friday. Since then I have gone from queasy to sniffly with barely a moment's feeling of real wellness in between. I told myself that if I didn't feel better by today, I would skip doing the show and have a restful three-day weekend. But then I was feeling a bit better and Romaine beat me to the punch with her own sickness, leaving me alone to do the show tonight (with quick pinch hitter Cyd Zeigler from

Of course I had to come in anyway no matter what since Shaun McCarron was flying up from Florida to do the show and I couldn't cancel on him. Ironically enough, bad weather kept him from the show with a delayed flight and I didn't see him until hours later when he joined me at Eric Kuhn's party downtown. With Shaun coming up to Manhattan, I had sent Matty a text earlier in the day to alert him, and he suggested we join him at his friend Eric's place. Generally I hate going to the homes of strangers because it increases the likelihood that I will feel alienated and alone in a room of unknowns but for some mad reason I am still trying to do new things.

Original Jonathan joined me for the trip downtown after the show. It's been a while since our last adventure and I thought the fresh air of the subway would do him good. On the train, a homeless guy with two bass guitar cases did a bit of performance art/impromptu retail sales in front of us, though the slow dragging around of large black cases on the subway by a deranged, mumbling loner just brought out the Fringe paranoia in me and I became transfixed at the notion of the freaky, unexplained Hi-Def death that awaited us inside.

Emerging at the Broadway-Lafayette station, I could have sworn I saw J.'s friend James walking up the stairs in front of us. Impossible, I thought, since he lives in Baltimore and J moved to Brooklyn. I thought about calling out his name but fear that I was right made me turn in the opposite direction and dash to Eric's party. If it was James, J. was certain to be close at hand and I knew I wasn't ready to see him again now.

Eric is a gorgeous man with a truly beautiful apartment. The moment I saw his outrageous and stylish building, I knew this was not the party for me. His living room with its soaring ceilings and full length suicide windows had the sweeping cleanliness of Page 28 of a West Elm catalog. The whole railroad-style floor plan looked like the set of a hot new sitcom about New Yorkers who live in an apartment that might at first glance be mistaken for the lobby of a W Hotel. Not funny, per se, but I found his lack of a nightstand (his clock radio rested unceremoniously on the otherwise uncluttered floor) oddly charming. Also I couldn't place it at the time, but now in retrospect I realize that he looks a lot like D-A-N.

Matty was as adorable as ever, sweeping us into the kitchen and plying us with a truly staggering array of vodka choices. The mixers were all pale, down to the white cranberry juice, a fancy touch I greatly admired for its attempt at a stain-free party. Matty is an indefatigable publicist on my behalf which is always appreciated. "Derek is famous!" he would cry to any big-armed stranger there who would listen, never minding that insisting someone is famous is always guaranteed proof that they aren't. Though I can't fault him for trying.

Soon Matty's friend Brian joined in the fun and I was delighted to see him. Of all the people he knows, Brian is my favorite to flirt with. I have such a little boy crush on him, almost pre-sexual in it's middle school way. I just want to hold hands with him and make out a little and then be home by ten. Brian always seems very confused about how to handle me. We are similar in a way that we both insist that other people don't know what we are really like on the inside, but then we quickly squirt ink in the water and swim away if they make any attempt to get genuinely close. Maybe we are both afraid of getting hurt. And then my reason to be afraid walked in to the party.

J. arrived with James, who was in fact on the subway with us earlier, and two other friends that I vaguely met when they were quite drunk at J.'s birthday party some months ago but who really remember me only through the Facebook photos we inadvertently ended up together in. My stomach that was finally calm after a week of turmoil was churning again. We hadn't spoken in weeks or seen each other in even longer, though in the last couple of days J. has been inexplicably in the forefront of my mind. Maybe it was the impending Presidential debate or the new season of our shared love The Amazing Race. But whatever the reason, there he was.

I tried to do the fake small talk thing a bit, but he knew it was fake and rightly steered clear. What is there to say? Every minute without him in my life is like a living hell, and I will love him every day until the day I die. It is what I should have said the last time we talked but instead I just turned sullen and defeated about the whole thing and insisted I was fine when it was obvious I wasn't and that was that. And what difference does it make now? He saw my new super short haircut which I knew he would like but there was no smug satisfaction there for me. Only loneliness.

I wish I had his powers of compartmentalization. When it comes to emotions, he is like Martha Stewart organizing a junk drawer, all neat rows and P-touch labels, and I am the fool who pulls the drawer too quickly out of the wall causing everything to come crashing down on the floor. This is why flirting with Brian is so much better, and easier. I know each of our own insecurities and issues will keep us politely at bay, like a nice Oscar Wilde play, filled with witty banter and, that great 19th century expression: intrigues!

But what I feel for J. is just too real and dangerous, our fourth wall permanently shattered. He hugged me good bye and I held my breath. I didn't want the moment to linger for fear that I would hold on to it too much in my heart and I never wanted it to end. Didn't want to breathe in and risk the wonderful musk of Axe body spray he occasionally wears that always makes me think of him and hoped for a moment that he was wearing it so I could smell it all one last time. My gaze found the sidewalk as we said good night. All evening I couldn't look directly at him, like a solar eclipse, for fear of catching his eye, and then, all too quickly, he was across the street and gone.

Earlier Brian told me of a drink he had concocted with crushed ice, vodka and a splash of champagne. "I call it 'Blood Orange Crush'" he told me, named for the signature citrus added to the mix. The cocktail sounded light and summery and delicious, like my meaningless crush on him, even if the name of it had a ring of darkness about it. The darkness for me is the real crush of my love for J., an inescapable weight on us both, coursing through my veins, and forever on the rocks.


Anonymous said...

I love you Derek!
Shaun McCarron

BearlyAmusing said...

Axe? How 2006.

Anonymous said...

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.