Friday, April 1, 2011

There's No Fool Like An April Fool

Sometimes it is hard to tell the exact moment that things have stopped going your way. I think it is because it doesn’t happen all at once. Problems drip slowly out of a faucet of misery, though initially it is nothing you can’t handle. For the bold or na├»ve, it is easy to go about your routine until you turn around and realize that all hope is lost, as is any chance of getting back to it. I should have seen the signs earlier, but when it is April Fool’s Day, it is easy to become distracted.

It all started this morning at work. I am in Los Angeles doing the show for the week and this morning, I was hosting Frank DeCaro’s show instead of my own since Frank and his co-host Doria were doing my show with Romaine in Palm Springs for Dinah Shore weekend. The first hour was beset by technical problems that threw my guest host Dennis Hensley temporarily off his game, but they were all resolved pretty quickly so I thought nothing of it. By the end of the show, Dennis and I were pleased with the result.

I had a perfectly nice lunch with my friend Eric Mueller and went back to the hotel, where overcome by the heat and the early morning, I passed out for a nice long afternoon nap. While sleeping I missed several calls including one from my credit card company. Having been on the road for several days and racking up thousands in charges I assumed that I had tripped the fraud prevention warning and made a mental note to call them after dinner. No big deal. These things happen.

Had a great dinner with Cyd and Dan, who live out here now, and our mutual friend Andrew who is visiting from Fresno. The bill came and I was short on cash. I thought about just charging part of the bill to my card, but Dan floated me some money to cover the rest of the check while Andrew and I made plans to hit the town later in the evening. But when I got back to the hotel and called my credit card company, it quickly became apparent that my card number had been lifted at some point during my trip and a string of charges had been made. They would handle all that and send me a new card, but in the meantime, I had a looming hotel room bill and a rental car on that card. How was that supposed to work itself out?

My life started to feel like it was crashing in, but I told myself that money is just money. This has been a great week and just because one thing went wrong, it didn’t mean it was all going to hell. I rallied and pulled myself together and went down to the Abbey to meet Andrew. It was crowded with loud women in short skirts and I had trouble finding Andrew. Looking for someone in a crowded bar is impossible, so the best strategy is just to stand in one central place and wait for them to float around to you, which Andrew did. As we walked outside to meet up with my friend David Lux, a tour bus stopped outside the Abbey and dozens of tourists streamed out. The sidewalk was a nightmare but at least we avoided being in the bar with them.

David joined us on the corner and we wandered down to Hype. I am friends with the DJ Drew G who was spinning for his birthday. He assured me that Cameron at the door would let me in. David also knew the promoters so getting in should have been a breeze. But Cameron had evaporated, along with David’s pals, so it took some hard-nosed wrangling but we finally got into the club. It wasn’t packed by any means but for some reason I was a drink magnet. No one could walk past me without spilling a drink down my leg.

I said hello to Chi Chi La Rue who was standing there with Jake Shears. They went into a section of the bar called The Inn, while I wiped a Jack and Coke off my leg. I went over to talk to Drew and it was great to see him as well. I started to feel like maybe the evening was turning around, despite bathing in cocktails. So we decided to press our luck by leaving Hype and heading down to Eleven, a bar sandwiched between two of my old haunts (Revolver and Tango Grill), both now sadly gone.

Andrew walked off to explore Eleven while David and I made base camp upstairs. David ran into the rest of his big arm posse, which is what I call his group of friends at Eleven. I have seen them a few times now and all of them are in great shape with nice arms. But there was a tone of distress in the group tonight. I asked David if it was because there weren’t enough big arms around and I wondered if they needed a major arms shipment, like the Libyan rebels. One of his friends said I looked twenty-seven, which was the nicest thing anyone had said to me in at least 48 hours.

Since Andrew had been gone awhile, I started to get worried. This was his first foray into West Hollywood nightlife and this can be a sketchy town. I wandered out toward the patio, lingering on the step in the doorway to get the best possible view. Andrew was nowhere to be seen, but suddenly there in the corner, was the man I have loved. The man who doesn’t love me back. In an instant, my stomach was in knots. I wanted to flee. An already laughably awful evening had taken an unexpected turn and I was no longer amused. It was fifteen feet and about two dozen drunks that separated us, but it might as well have been a million miles. I wish it had been. There is no one I want to see less but hope will see me more. I wanted him to look up and spot me from across the patio but more than anything, I just wanted to go home. And not just back to my hotel, but home to New York.

I hurried back into the bar and went upstairs to tell David who was there. He could see instantly in my face that there would be no more fun had tonight. The well had been poisoned once and for all. I went back downstairs, heading for the door when I ran into Robert Ell. He surveyed the crowd, a drink in one hand, a clever bon mot on his lips. “This is the worst Carnival Cruise fun ship I have ever been on!” As I tried to make a polite getaway, he could see I was distressed and forced a dollar into my hand. He wanted me to tip the dancer on the bar. “It will make you feel better,” he assured me. But I knew he was wrong. The eagerness of the man on the bar, pulling his underwear down with a smile, was as false as LA itself.

David wanted me to leave by the side entrance but I knew I could go out the front sight unseen. This is my problem. Even though I can never see or find anyone I know in a bar with any level of certainty, I can always find this one man. And just as sure as I know I can find him, I know that I am invisible to him. No matter what he may have said or done in the past, it is crystal clear that in the here and now, he just doesn’t care. And no amount of my caring will pull the needle in my direction. It is time to face the music. The exit music. And this is my cue.

So it is back to the hotel to untangle my credit card woes. And after one more day, I can board that plane back to New York. In forty-eight hours, I will be sleeping in my own bed, far away from him and the other things about LA that I can't stand. I have other problems to tackle once I get there, but my life is complete there, and being away from here makes it easier to forget him the way he has so easily forgotten me. The birds are chirping, loud outside my hotel room window, even at this late hour. The traffic is heavy on the Boulevard. The world moves on and now so do I.


LDAH said...

Poor Derek

LDAH said...

I hope that you can find some inner peace someday soon. You seem to have a lot of good things going in your life but it is like all you do is complain. When I hear you on the radio rarely are you pleasant unless you have a guest that you are trying to impress and then you are syrupy nice. I cringe when you speak to some of the people that call in to your show because you get so impatient with them. I believe that there are enough "haters" that we in the gay community have to deal with so why would you add to it? We don't have to agree on everything but that doesn't mean one needs to shame others for their opinion. Open your heart Brother Man, let the good stuff in!! Daniel