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.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

XES Farce

Conventional wisdom says that when you are having a hard time getting over someone, you should have sex with lots of hot people. It doesn't really work, but hot sex with hot people is always preferable to being depressed at home. Or so it would seem. It was not my intention to try out this theory last night, but when you wander down to Chelsea for drinks with the boys, these sorts of things are bound to happen.

It all started innocently enough with Judge David Young, who was in town to tape episodes of his hit daytime show, asking to hang out a bit this weekend. We both wanted to see The Women, despite our misgivings about updating a classic (and why Diane English instead of say Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron or even Elaine May). So I plotted an early show followed by dinner and then some drinks and invited my neighbor Clayton to join us.

We went to Kips Bay to see the film, which is J's old theatre before he moved to Brooklyn last month. He is right that it, among most Manhattan movie theatres, has a minimum of loud teen rowdiness and cell phone interruptions. Bargain basement expectations helped the medicine go down and we all ended up liking The Women overall (as I explained to David's husband Scott over the phone afterward, if you forget that it is a remake and don't spend the whole movie longing for Paulette Goddard to beat the stuffing out of Rosiland Russell in Reno, you will like it much better).

From there we decamped to the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea which was a new place for me (I am still trying to do new things), though I don't know how I feel about a restaurant that has a bouncer. This might explain why when I texted Matt Kelleher to tell him we were there for dinner he responded "God why?" The food was delicious and cheap, which are my two favorite things in a food item, but the atmosphere, especially in the basement party room where we were seated, had the feeling of a stripped down Chuck E. Cheese where the cardboard pizza and skeeball had been replaced with messy ribs and outlandish day-glo frozen cocktails.

After dinner, Clayton ran off to his previously set date to see a band perform and David and I wandered over to Barracuda. At ten p.m. it looked like a pre-Palin McCain rally, though I assured David that in an hour, it would be too crowded to move or breathe. Aside from a guy in a muscle tee basically masturbating at the urinal next to me, the most exciting thing to happen there was running once again into adorable Matt, from Tuesday's ill-fated adventure out at Bowery Bar. He was there with his co-worker Chip and the four of us had a great time, with me embarrassing myself once again with my completely inappropriate jokes comparing Caylee Anthony to a tire iron (I will spare you the sordid punchline).

David left around Midnight and then the rest of us parted ways soon afterward when Barracuda suddenly became unbearably hot. I think the air conditioning must have broken but that is always the way with that bar. In the summer, the a/c breaks or in the winter, the heat goes off, or a sewer pipe bursts and the whole thing smells like shit. Personally I think the owners like to close early so on nights when they think they have made enough money, they just wreak havoc on the environment and wait for the animals to migrate elsewhere.

To make a long blog posting short, I met up with Clayton at XES where he had landed after the band cancelled their show and while there met a hot but very drunk guy named Steven and his even more intoxicated roommate Brad, with whom Clayton had shared some previous dates. Even though he couldn't remember my name all four times I told him, Steven insisted that I go home with him. All the warning signs told me to leave with Clayton and return to the suburbs but a desire to assuage the overwhelming sadness I have with not being with J encouraged me into a harrowing cab ride out to the wilds of Brooklyn.

That Steven was cute with a hot body and lived in J's new neighborhood seemed like just the kind of revenge fuck that drunken four a.m. bragging phone calls are made for. But crossing the Williamsburg Bridge, Steven tossed the half full glass of vodka which he snuck out of the bar out the open window just barely missing my face and for a moment I seriously considered leaping out after it. Their cute apartment was in a terrifying neighborhood and I began plotting my escape, mapping in my head the fastest route on foot to the L train even before my shoes hit the pavement outside the apartment building.

Their mutual friend Davis came along, to sleep on the couch for some reason. Brad stripped down to his underwear and drunk dialed Clayton to come over and have sex with him. It didn't work much to my chagrin since I hoped it would make my eminent escape easier. Moments later, we all went to our separate sleeping arrangements and Steven started in on me in earnest. Steven likes it rough so in order to get me to force myself on him, he got quite violent with me. The story he told back at the bar about showing up at work once with a black eye suddenly became very clear, like my brain flooding with harsh fluorescent lighting. Finally I just decided that despite my intense irritation at that point as long as he had an orgasm he could fall asleep and I could get out of there. It took fucking forever, probably an hour, which was easily 58 minutes after I stopped trying to have an orgasm myself.

A little after six, with dawn creeping through the window and Brad snoring away throughout the apartment, I gathered my clothes and made my escape. While waiting on the hellish humid stinking L train platform I had a lot of time to think about everything. I miss J every single day, and it is like trying to catch your breath at high altitudes. It is exhausting and I just long for the ease of life before I climbed that mountain. But I just can't penetrate that wall of his that surrounds him, make him understand that my love for him is real and intense and permanent. In my mind's eye, his blue eyes starring back at me are as black as a moonless night, my journey into them perilous and fruitless . In both versions of The Women, Mary Haines stands her ground for L'Amore, L'Amore, but celluloid lives can't convey how lonely that stand truly is. And in my heart I know it will never work for me. There is no happy ending in my grudge match between the irresistible force and the immovable object. There is nothing in those robust eyes of his for me and there probably never will be.