I host a GLAAD Award-winning radio show on Sirius XM Radio called "Derek and Romaine". I wrote a book (finally). I star in a video podcast called "The So Real Life" on iTunes. I watch a lot of TV. I drink with my friends. I travel all the time. This is my life.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Life is really unexpected. You just never know what is going to happen. This is why my new obsession is Doomsday Preppers, the show where ordinary people hoard a decade’s worth of food in their basement in the unlikely event of a water landing. Even today, I was crossing Sixth Avenue at 48th Street and an SUV was driving the wrong way toward me, right past the cops permanently stationed by their cars outside Fox News. Always ready to channel Albert Finney in The Dresser, a movie I have never seen, I stood in front of her car and simply lifted my hand. She slowed to a stop and gave me a funny look and I showed her the error of her ways by merely gesturing back past her. Seconds later, she was completing a U-Turn and we were both on our merry way. The cops didn’t even bother getting in their cars and chasing her. That’s New York. And if you are going to freak out at every little thing, don’t come here.
I was making a rare Saturday night appearance in the city for back to back birthday celebrations. It is also Mike’s birthday on Sunday but he doesn’t feel like celebrating this year even though now that we have our glorious new coffee station in the kitchen, amazing new bathroom and showstopping fireplace, there is every reason to rejoice! I even upgraded the shelves in the closets so our own doomsday prepping won’t look as sloppy as that girl in Houston who plans to shoot her kittens in the head when we run out of oil.
First stop was The Tenth Rail down on 10th Avenue and 33rd Street. The neighborhood is so sketchy, the highlight is the well-traveled drive through McDonald’s next door from which the pernicious glare of the fluorescent lighting is a vision direct from the worst nightmares of the Dowager Countess, minus the gaiety. Perhaps they should rename the place The Seventh Circle, although we were really only there for the Third. As the strangers streamed into the empty bar from the street, each entered with a bewildered look on their face. “I took the M-11 bus!” one woman declared incredulously. I would have been less surprised (or concerned for her safety) if she had said she took an M-16.
Ryan White was there with a veritable Noah’s Ark of hot gay couples. Kipling insists that the sins ye do by two and two ye must pay for one by one, but like me, he was just jealous! Jeffrey was there of course, with Blair, standing at right angles. But Jeffrey made his way to me through the crowd of well-wishers. “Did you bring me Twizzlers?” he asked, a naughty gleam in his eye. Of course I did! A package for him and a package for Ryan, the birthday boy. As he ripped the Twizzlers open, he explained to the assembled guests the meaning, but they can read that for themselves.
The internet gives us the ability to never forget meeting someone in the back of a taxi, or insulting a hot drunk guy by the bathroom at The Park, or even to not allow you to finish dinner without finding out Whitney Houston gave up the ghost. It is a sad and terrible tragedy but I have to admit “she was only 48?!” was my first thought when I saw The Times headline flash on my phone. As if on cue, moments later, the air in Manhattan filled with snow flurries, briefly blanketing the streets in a fine dusting of white powder. Later at Bartini, no doubt to honor her memory, I saw a series of random gay guys pass each other drugs outside the bathroom and then lock themselves inside to grieve in their own way.
Ryan and his birthday party posse overwhelmed poor Tenth Rail. We ordered but the food was very slow and in a New York tradition, it didn’t matter what you requested, you were getting (eventually) whatever they brought you. I admit though the beer-battered shrimp and spicy dipping sauce were so good that I joked that I wanted to grind them up and snort them in the bathroom, but then our phones blew up with the news that Houston no longer has a problem and it just got awkward. It’s not right, but it’s okay.
There were too many people at dinner to tell you about them all, and I promised Jamie (who regaled us with all sorts of sex stories that I am sure she doesn’t want repeated next to a hyperlink to her LinkedIn profile) that her anonymity would be protected. But I will just give you some highlights. One of the bartenders was a sexy lady in a slinky red dress but she was kind of off in a way. She was giving us a crazy slutty vibe but also like she had survived (nearly intact) a swift whack in the head with a tire iron. So basically, she is like every hot gay guy I have ever met. Speaking of hot gay guys, ignoring the obvious with Ryan, Blair and Jeffrey, whose arms could be their own category on Jeopardy (because when you see them, you have a hard time remembering the question), I will just tell you about Blake and Ehren.
"Who's a pretty baby? You are! You are!"
Blake was just a pretty baby and not like that weird baby with a goatee that dances with sexy ladies in that new commercial that gives me the creeps. He has a face like an angel and an insane body. He is probably 23 which is infuriating for me not because I am not 23 but because when I was 23 no one looked like that. I promise you, when I was in high school, if someone sixteen had looked like Taylor Lautner, it would have been on the news. “Local teen has crazy hot body. Film at eleven.” These days, if your summer job isn’t standing shirtless in the doorway of Abercrombie & Fitch, you don’t exist. So I wish him the best of luck on Mount Olympus. Don’t mind the fall.
At our table, ADD Jeff and I were surrounded by people who all knew Ryan from Beijing and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel left out of the pacific rim job they all got to experience. At one point, Jamie turned to adorable Ehren and asked, “Did you ever meet Big Mike?” and I turned to Brandon and said, “Please tell me Big Mike was like 5’8”.” I had a lot of zingy one-liners tonight. When someone asked how Whitney Houston died, I got to drag out that old Golden Girls chestnut, “Well, she wasn’t fighting an oil rig fire.” And later when I lamented that Zsa Zsa Gabor was still alive, I said that she fell out of bed last year while watching Jeopardy, which is the leading cause of death for people over the age of 150.
But let’s talk about Ehren. He is cute as a button and didn’t his boyfriend know it. No doubt sensing the lurking interest from across the table where Jeff and I were waiting to pounce, their PDA went from casually sitting near each other to full-on “get a room you two” by the time the birthday cake was passed around. It’s fine. If I am going to pay for a sin later, I’d rather have it be two slices of cake instead of just another piece of candy, no matter how delicious it may look wrapped in a sweater.
After dinner, Jeff and I rode in the taxi with Ryan and Blake, who I introduced myself to again because I didn’t remember shaking his hand a few hours earlier. Jenna Maroney is right. The meanest thing you can say to someone you have already met is “nice to meet you.” He was so taken aback, almost wounded, and rightly so. He is very memorable. I wish I could say the same about Bartini which is small and was filled with people who smell. I whined to ADD Jeff that “It’s like going to someone’s apartment,” right up to and included the drug use in the bathroom. We stayed for a single drink and a Whitney Houston song, before walking up to Flaming Saddles, the country bar on 9th and 53rd to celebrate Erik’s birthday.
“Is it called Blazing Saddles?” Jeff asked, trying to look it up on his iPhone. “No. They’d be sued by Mel Brooks if they did.” As it is, they should be sued for impersonating a country bar. I know finding hot bartenders who can dance is hard, but I still don’t understand how they can’t seem to hire either hot bartenders who can’t dance or even ugly bartenders who can. It’s like on Broadway where there are dancers with voice and singers who move. At Flaming Saddles, they have the equivalent of voices who move. The bartenders are not hot and they can’t dance, even with Oklahoma playing on the TV screen to provide helpful tips. We sat through a Whitney Houston tribute song there as well, but the people next to us were singing it so gleefully I don’t think they had heard the news.
As it happened, I didn’t have much time left for confrontations or condolences. I spent so much of the evening demanding that Adam watch Doomsday Preppers that I almost missed my train. As I walked across town bundled snugly in my beloved red plaid from LL Bean, my overgrown mane whirled in the winds that blow between the worlds. My hair is in desperate need of a trim, just like it was that first night with Ryan, but I don't care. I am reveling in the beauty of the night. This winter has been spectacular. And even though I over-prepped by buying a more intense winter coat than I need, I am glad as I face the world of oncoming traffic, that I am ready for whatever comes my way.