Friday, November 21, 2008

The Conor Role

Though merely a bright Cheshire cat smile of a crescent, the moon was huge tonight, looming over me as I drove up the big hill to my house. It was Cosmo's moon from Moonstruck and suddenly I was reminded that love doesn't make things perfect. It ruins everything. It breaks your heart. I have been trying not to think about love much these days (largely to no avail), but it was contaminating everything tonight at Manhattan's yearly high school gay mono makeout party known locally as Revel.

Revel is an annual charity event to raise money to help gay youth, which is attended by all the hottest and sexiest twenty and thirty-somethings in town. It is all a very worthy cause and a noble idea, just covered in two scoops of vanilla ice cream, a gooey layer of chocolate fudge, a sprinkling of crushed walnuts and topped with whipped cream. Though it is one sundae of a party for which the cherry is a distant memory for those in attendance.

This is one of the few gay musts that I do, and a rare chance for me to hobnob with the homos that I otherwise shun (before they have the chance to shun me, natch). Aside from dropping by Bowery Bar's notorious outdoor patio on the first warm Spring Tuesday of the year and the last balmy Autumn one before winter's chill forces everyone who is anyone to landlock above 14th street until the thaw, Revel is about it when it comes to gay caucus meetings where my vote is annually cast.

I had wanted Hottie Zach and Ronnie to attend, to aid in their quest to get connected in the gay social scene for which Revel is practically a wall socket, but they weren't there tonight. My neighbor Clayton did join me, however, and it was nice to have someone to pal around with. I had fully expected to see Matty, but I suppose I can deduce from his Facebook Mobile uploads that he was watching Survivor tonight with Charlie and couldn't make it. It is likely for the best since my favorite of his exes was there: Conor McGill

Much has been written in my blog about Conor already and you can expect plenty more where that came from. He looked adorable in a tiny bowtie with skulls and crossbones on it (solidarity for Somali pirates?). Conor assured me that it took him hours to get the tie right, after learning to do it on YouTube, and I think it was time well spent. I love Conor and I know between Ben Harvey and Matty, I am woefully in the minority on this one. But once again, I was charmed by his puppy dog eyes, magnetic silver sneakers and a drink in each hand. What can I say? I know what I like and I know everything will stay perfect between us as long as I only see him every few months and things never go further than a polite kiss on the cheek.

Conor was there with his friend Michael, a securities lawyer who didn't like that I wasn't saying much nor that I only work about four hours every day since he works almost twenty. "Just think of it this way," I told him, in a classic flirtation on my part that shows why no one ever wants to date me, "anytime you aren't working, I am!" In between kissing other guys, he drunkenly cajoled me into asking him out on a date. He must be a very good lawyer since it was all over before I even knew what was happening, and he billed me for the whole hour even though it only took about five minutes.

Bobby was there with some co-workers and his insanely hot friend Chris from San Francisco. Chris' adorable argyle print shirt was so tight on his taut frame it looked like it had been ironed onto his perfect torso by angels. Chris was drunk and grabby, which is always hot, but then he was drunk and grabby with everyone (including separately Clayton), which makes it less personally satisfying. But he is insanely hot, so naturally I am willing to let untold amounts of untoward behavior slide.

Ryan Newman was there with his friend Mike, whom I have met a dozen times and am always greeted by with the same granite expression of persistent annoyance. Ryan looked cute with his new short hair cut, according to him a much needed return to form. I think he looks good either way, but he didn't stay long enough to talk about more than his hair. Ryan and Mike were encircled by a cadre of all the people I saw at that Halloween party and election night and countless other times, but who all stare right through me uncomfortably as if I am a peasant child begging with Chiclets in hand in the midst of their otherwise fabulous Mexican vacation.

It was all for the best. At a certain point, the Madonna mashups and the makeouts and the mos were starting to get to me. There is only so much "A" gay someone from the suburbs can take before dinner moves up into their esophagus. When the others headed to the official after party at Mr. Black's or each other's apartments for awkward groping and dark fumblings, Clayton and I grabbed our coats and headed out into the night, on our way back to the middle of obscurity.

The forecast is for snow tomorrow. I really hope it doesn't. But as I looked down at the temperature reading in the car on my way home, it said 26 degrees. Smells like snow. I looked back up at the moon and saw the old Cheshire cat smiling back down at me. Beaming really. Winter is here, he smiled. And you can get as big as you want by telling people "eat me" but you are still in Wonderland no matter how much you try to leave it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Unwanted Attention

"This would be a great place for a party." I said in the Rouge Room in the basement of Paris Commune, a chic eatery in lower Manhattan. It would have been a bold suggestion if we weren't already there attending someone else's party. A self-centered asshole like me takes the unspoken "for me" at the end of every statement like that as a given but to casual listeners like Ben Harvey and Navy Man Joe it just came off as a little daft. Sadly, when it comes to words, I work in a volume business and that means the finer points get lost in the rush, which is something of a problem.

Things started out well enough at Rocking Horse, a cozy restaurant in Chelsea where Matty and I finally were able to corner Ronnie and plot his future. I am, by nature, a meddlesome and nosy person, which drives Roommate to distraction as I dissect the personal lives of our neighbors while driving down the street with comments like "I wish Jennifer would sell that house of hers" and "I love her yard. She can't possibly hold down a job and spend so much time landscaping." Matty, as I have often posted, is the most connected person I know. Working in tandem we are like Wonder Twins, swooping down into the lives of the unsuspecting and molding their future like so much modeling clay. In Ronnie, we see a modern day Galatea, already armed with ambition, just waiting to be thrust in the right direction.

Ronnie swilled coffee like an overnight truck driver, worn out from his long and productive weekend in DC with the NGLCC, joining us for dinner direct from the airport, overnight bag in hand. Matty's handsome boyfriend Hanno and Ben Harvey rounded out our fivesome and we had a great time over margaritas and barely recognizable "Mexican" food. "What did you order?" asked Matty, gazing down at what appeared to be a very unappetizing pile of diarrhea in front of me. It was what turned out to be a very delicious hunk of pork on a bed of mashed plantains, but I must confess it did look suspiciously like something a plumber would pull out of a clogged drain.

After dinner, Ronnie raced home to his bed for what I assume was 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and Matty piped us down to the West Village for the birthday party of a friend whose name I instantly forgot. The friend was very sweet and fun, and all of his gay friends were pretty and diverse, like the Justice Department forcing A&F to acquire the United Colors of Benetton. Since they hadn't finished eating at the long Captain's table in the basement wine bar, we settled into polite conversation at a quiet table in the corner, and not so long after was joined by Joe, last seen stumbling home from Halloween.

In a self-referential move that would make Charlie Kaufman proud, talk quickly turned to this blog and the damage it has wrought since I started it almost two years ago. "Every time you write in your blog, someone gets hurt!" Matty chided me, not amused that his name and "ass eating" ended up in the same sentence last time, even though Bradford's blog is the first Google search result that comes up when you type them in together (should any weirdo ever want to make such a search). Joe was perfectly happy with his entry and his friends, upon discovering it, expressed their joy at sudden blog infamy, but Matty is right. My blog, despite my intentions to only portray things the way I see them and paint myself in a worse light than anyone else, often backfires. I have inadvertently outed people that I assumed were out and no doubt have made untold enemies along the way. I wouldn't have written about election night at all except that Hanno mentioned that night that his friends back in Osterreich liked the first entry he was in. Apparently, it is true that no good deed goes unpunished, or in this case, misinterpreted.

After a round of intense picture taking, Matty and Hanno headed home, and Ben and I left as well with every intention (emphasis added) to head straight home ourselves. We left Joe behind with a full glass of wine, and half-empty birthday party as well as charge over Matty's forgotten umbrella. Walking up eighth avenue, Ben suddenly got a text from Martin, whom he had forgotten he told to join us at Paris Commune. Martin said he was on his way there and in a moment of guilty panic we both decided not to snub Martin and meet him for a quick single drink at Barracuda. Immediately we thought we should invite Joe since we so hastily retreated from the last party but neither of us had his number. A modern gay Kobayashi Maru if ever there was one.

Barracuda smelled like the quite literal bowels of Hell but it was packed to the rafters anyway. Adorable Ryan Newman was there, showing off his sensational new short haircut. I wanted to go catch up with him, but while waiting for Martin to arrive, Ben mistakenly made casual eye contact with a deranged stranger in a houndstooth jacket. For the rest of my time there, we actively pivoted away from him only to have him counter our every move. Check. Check. Check. Then after Martin joined us and headed up to the bar to get a drink, it was Checkmate when he cornered Martin who was waiting helplessly for his cocktail. That was the end of the line for me. I had only stayed long enough to protect Ben from the clutches of this dubious letch, having failed at that, the drunk train awaited.

There is so much left unsaid out of an evening on the town. I leave many of the best scraps on the floor and sweep them out of my memory because I like my friends and I don't want to engender even more resentment. I am already someone that can be difficult to like and as Curtis once observed, "Sometimes when Derek is talking, it seems like he has no idea who he is talking to." In the case of this blog, the only person I am really talking to is myself. True, other people are able to listen, and I try to be mindful of that. But life is what it is. Sometimes it isn't pretty. And when you only have a few paragraphs to work with, you can see clearly that the Reader's Digest version of my life strips a lot of cartilage off the bone. And that can lead to some very painful moments as we move through everyday life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Elevate!

Have I mentioned that Matty works in marketing? I should amend that. Matty is marketing. The living embodiment of presentation as commodity, promotion the coin of the realm. To say that I depend on Matt to connect me to gay life as we know it, I mean it like I depend on my lungs to breathe. And in the world of Matty's social largess, I am the fat welfare queen of Reagan's deepest recession-era nightmares.

As the club promoter of nothing less than the gay scene of Manhattan, clipboard guest list and critical judgment firmly in hand, I am his most pitiful charity case. I am a hopeless Eliza Doolittle in the fair hands of a very impatient Henry Higgins. Even as my public profile has risen, my game is hopelessly stalled in neutral. Even tonight when I assured him on my way out of Barracuda at the end of the evening that I would "step it up" he stamped me with his new idiom "Elevate!"

After the show, I joined Matty at Adam's apartment for an Obama victory party straight out of gay central casting. Adam and all of his subtly hunky friends were J. Crew catalog delicious (Gay Crew catalog, anyone?) and the elegant simplicity of his Chelsea apartment, courtesy the recent interior artistic stylings of Hanno, was the perfect background. It was the kind of cozy clean scene that convinces moderate Republican women that maybe the gays aren't so bad after all.

I always feel hopelessly out of place in environs like these, too thin in the arms, too thick around the middle and always too old. To assuage these and a million other feelings, I like to settle in with the friendliest person I can find or someone I already know. Charlie was there and the way he called out to me from across the spare living room, dotted with snappy gay couples locked together like freshly scrubbed Tetris pieces, said he was looking for the same thing. But maybe he just wanted another blog mention. Either way, mission accomplished. We watched Obama's stellar acceptance speech together while sharing the perfectly made cape cod that Matty had mixed for me in a red plastic party cup in Adam's airmail stamp of a kitchen.

The moment the speech ended was like 12:01am on New Year's Day and the place cleared out faster than the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. I found Matty in Adam's bedroom on the computer with party guest Gray, trying to use Facebook to find the phone number of a faint yet mutual acquaintance to no avail. All our futuristic technological endeavors should be like ideal children: well-behaved, passing through our lives almost unnoticed, and largely confined to the home where when things go wrong they can cause the least amount of trouble and anxiety in front of strangers. At a dead end for the next post-election party, everyone decided to decamp to the old reliable (Sarah) Barracuda for a cocktail.

There was high excitement as we headed down toward the bar and Matty suggested we cartwheel across Seventh Avenue. I was mortified at the thought of my hands touching the urine encrusted thoroughfare. "The street is filthy!" Matty turned to me and deadpanned, "Have you eaten an ass lately? I rest my case." I wasn't sure if the evening was blog-worthy until Matty released that pearl and sealed the deal. Then Gray insisted that I refer to him only as "Will" but since he never explained why, that isn't happening. Besides, Gray is a much better name, evocative, and it's why I instantly remembered him when we first met earlier because of his frequent appearance along with Matty in any number of Facebook photo galleries.

Once at Barracuda, Matty spied a hot young guy in a heather grey t-shirt walking behind me and then tried to shove my lumbering carcass into him. I shot him a dirty look. "You need to get laid!" he screamed at me, the word "laid" lingering in his open mouth for several seconds, which I assume was either to drown out the horrible singing contest in the backroom or to encourage lonely suitors in my vicinity to give me a second, yet scornful look. This started a brief exchange that ended with his immortal insistence that I "elevate!"

Matty is probably right. There is no point in my showing up in public if I am not even going to make an effort to publicize myself. There is no point in putting the goods on the shelf if your primary intention is to discourage the customers from buying. For a moment, I really thought he was on to something, but then that same hot young guy walked by and this time Matty shoved another friend of his into him. I turned to the friend who seemed as equally stunned as I had been and said, "I think Matty just wants us to sleep with the guys that he can't sleep with now that he is in a relationship."

He smiled, a broad knowing smile. "I think you are right."

Eh. In a way, I think we are both right.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mistaken Identities

Halloween night in NYC is just terrific. I don't know why I never noticed before. I suppose it is because I have pretty much skipped active participation in the downtown scene since I moved here from Los Angeles. Halloween in West Hollywood used to be fun, but then it became overwhelmed by people in plain clothes gawking and no one dressed up so much anymore. I blame my dear friend (and long-standing addiction) television for turning us into a nation of lookers instead of doers.

I was most looking forward to Halloween night at my house in the suburbs. We took the night off from the show and finally I had a house in a neighborhood where I could decorate the yard and pass out candy to little kids in cute costumes. I sat there in my cowboy outfit for three hours waiting for a little more than a dozen kids to show up. I had been concerned I wouldn't have enough candy but after I waited an hour for the next batch of kids to come, I instituted a mandatory "take as much as you want" policy lest I get stuck eating my weight in Reese's peanut butter cups and fun size Kit Kat bars. As it was, I powered through at least ten pieces while waiting for the doorbell to ring.

At 8pm I said so long to suburbia and packed up my cowboy hat and duster and headed down to New York City. The train was filled with locals in costume and when it pulled into Grand Central Station suddenly it was like I had arrived at the party. Maybe it was because it was so unseasonably warm or because the holiday landed on a Friday or because the economy is so bad that everyone was desperate for something to take their minds off the misery, but it felt like the entire city had gone all out for the occasion.

I joined Matty and his adorable boyfriend Hanno at Joe's apartment, where the ex-Navy man managed to outfit the cute couple as well as himself and straight girl counterpart Erica in his leftover gear. Matty in a trim khaki suit, Hanno in fatigues, Joe in crisp dress blues and Erica in his dress shirt belted with black leggings. I told her she looked like a stripper. "I look like Pamela Anderson when she married Tommy Lee," she replied. I assured her that that was what I meant.

We cooled our heels at Joe's for a while, consuming champagne, and waiting for others to show up so we could move on to Josh and Chris' party a few blocks away. Finally two girls showed up dressed as an Olsen twin and Amy Winehouse and we ran off into the night. As we sojourned from Chelsea to the West Village, the streets were clogged with revelers, all dressed up with somewhere to go. The Maritime hotel overflowed with Asian flappers and the sidewalks were jammed with all manner of pop culture touchstone.

Outside of the party we ran into playwright Robert Harling who was just leaving, as well as a cute guy dressed as a riff on the woman who claimed someone carved a B in her face, although he had an MJ on his face which had to be laboriously explained to everyone who wasn't dyslexic. This is the trouble with a clever costume. Half the time no one knows what it is, and the other half think it is something else entirely. At Best Week Ever today, Michelle Collins showed up with a crazy wig dressed as Peg Bundy but was instantly mistaken for The Real Housewives Of Atlanta. It's an even bigger problem working in a pop culture crucible because your references have to be so of the moment they are practically predictions of the future.

Inside, it was a very typical gay party. There were four extremely hot shirtless guys in tight football pants dry humping each other, sloppy drunken dancing in the living room to Britney's "Womanizer" and the kitchen was so densely packed it's a wonder the more waifish guests weren't spontaneously expelled from the room like champagne corks every few minutes due to the mounting pressures. Josh and Chris were terrific and welcoming hosts though I spent most of the evening with Joe's girls, not knowing anyone else and being self conscious about what my cowboy hat had done to my hair.

I had really wanted to go to Ronnie's Halloween benefit or even the party that Brian Babst ran off to figuring that me in a cowboy costume might finally be the nudge he needs to make out with me in public. But by the time we got settled it was already too late for me to make it to a third location before the drunk train home. So I settled in to a steady diet of candy corn and cupcakes while trying to avoid all human contact. I danced a little. We escaped briefly upstairs to Mike's apartment (which we called the VIP room). And even capped off the evening on the rooftop deck. The night was cool and still fifty feet above the West Village and if a very drunk and tall Marilyn hadn't stumbled out to smoke, you might almost forget it was Halloween.

I left Matty and Hanno at the party and walked Joe back to his place. Joe's girls had long since departed for a straight bar because quite frankly they hadn't all dressed so slutty and frozen their asses off all night just to go home alone. Joe was so drunk he barely made it down the stairs to the street, let alone the ten blocks back to his place. Earlier at his apartment he had reminded me that we met some weeks ago at Eric's party but in typical fashion I had forgotten. My mind was on other things and another person that night. I tried to look at him there on the street, passing Ugly Betties and a Sarah Palin eating a hot dog, to see if I could conjure a hint of recognition.

As I passed a long sea of sexy kittens and naughty nurses, I thought about how difficult it would be to get my swollen feet out of my boots later after walking all the way back to Grand Central. They may have been made for walking but probably not for a mile or two over concrete. True, my very authentic cowboy drag (happily bought in Dallas, sadly made in China) did get a few catcalls from women and a nice "you look so Brokeback, I love it" from Matty, but it was hardly my only costume of the night. I have been in the same masquerade for months now, putting a happy mask over the man with the broken heart. And as fun as this holiday is, it just isn't the same alone.