As of July 1st, I will officially be moving ou of The Catty Real World. I really like Dr. O, and Evangelical seems like a really nice guy, but once again I came back home early from a trip out of town to find someone other than me in my room, and that's not fucken cool whether FOOD is included in the rent or not. He also left me a note that my room smells like smoke. It does. I, however, don't smoke, so he probably had one of his young Asian friends set up in my room while I was gone, and said person smoked in my fucken room. Hate hate hate. Hate hate hate. But what do you expect from a 62 year old fag who spends all his money seducing young Asian boys with no self-esteem over The Internet. "I hear what you're saying, and I do love you (fill in name of the week here) but Malaysia is so far away. If I can go there and be with you, I will, but if I can't I have to move on. No. No, I love you. Of course I love you, you're very special to me. But I need space." And apparently The Pacific Ocean isn't space enough.
I woke up to a note telling me that Landlord and I "need to talk", meaning, he finally found someone willing to pay more rent for my room, than I'm willing to. He lowered the rent for me because nobody wants the tiny little room that I'm currently inhabiting. But, not being in the mood to talk with him, I just left a note that said "July 1st, I'll be moving out."
The most boring date in the world would have to take place in a museum. It's a Saturday afternoon, and a singer and an author, each with a penchant for witty one liners, are too tired to come up with anything funnier than a yawn. Due to a diabolical scheme by the MBTA to throw off their chemistry, they both arrive late. Author arrives first, sits on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts, and writes fanmail to a person he doesn't respect. When Singer shows up, full of sunshine and apologies, Author smiles, and the two head into the lobby.
There are more Greek Gods and heroes on the ceiling than Author could fall in love with in a week. Singer knows them all by name, and what errands they've run. He mentions he's an art snob, and when Author mentions something about not remembering which face goes with which psychological disorder, Singer says only "Tragic."
Tragic is the word of the day. The haircut of a passing off-white trash boy is tragic, as is his outfit. Author's inability to tell Picasso from...someone who clearly isn't Picasso is tragic. The lack of one liners during the date is tragic, as are certain works by William Shakespeare. When enough hours pass, that the only thing either guy can say of an entire hallway of paintings is "flowers," the date has turned tragic, and it's time to go home. First, they spend some quality time on one of the hard benches trying to be catty about the passing tourists, but only managing to sound like Lemurs: docile, vegetarian, and endangered.
The day grows more tragic by the moment.
On his way to the date, Author is accosted by a solatic, a crazy person who's affected by the sun. This is the first day of sun in over and a week, and this particular crazy lady has decided to take some public transportation, armed with some red, white, and blue flowers, and her mole. Author is sitting innocently on a bench, one of the few things he can manage to do innocently. He has his headphones on, and is writing a love note to someone he doesn't even like. As his pen spits out the phrase "penguin lust", solatic places a blue carnation on Author's book. He looks up at her.
"This is for you." She says.
He smiles, and says thank you.
"I just ask for a small donation to The Memorial Day Fund."
While this pisses Author off, he pulls his small wad of cash out of his pocket, and separates two ones from the pile to give her. She seizes his ten dollar bill, and says "This will do."
He does not let go of the ten. Yanks it out of her hand, and stuffs it deep down in his pocket.
"Please sir. Think of the children. This is the time of year when they need remembrance, and gifts, and some of these kids don't get presents or stuffing or turkey. Orphans, sir. Ten dollars will get them meals for a week, and aren't the children worth just ten dollars?"
Author wants to smack the mole off her face. Memorial day is about remembering soldiers, and while most of them are too young to be fighting battles for the Republican Chickenhawks with yellow ribbons where their brains should be, none of them are actually children. And gifts, stuffing, and turkey, are from an entirely different holiday. If there's a food associated with Memorial Day, it's grilled hot dogs, or hamburgers. Author would tell this all to her, if he weren't afraid it would encourage her to keep pestering him.
"What's wrong with your face?" Solatic asks. "It's so ugly."
Here he is, on his way to the first date in three years that didn't call for lube, condoms, and pseudonyms, and some crazy bitch has Author worried that his face is covered in zits, shaving cream, blood, or postage stamps. With no impending mirrors between bench and date, he decides to interpret her comment as "You look mad now, and I want to fuck with you because I'm insane." This satisfies him. Almost.
He sees her again on his way home. He thinks of some things to say to her, and some things to throw at her, should she reapproach. She, wisely, does not.
He spends the next day trying to get out of third person. Author is such a pretentious name. I make plans to go to a poetry slam, which can only be nearly as boring as a museum. It is. The highlight of the night is a talented, drunk girl who has written a poem in response to my poem about bad poems. Eventually, all poetry will be about poems about other poems. The art form is on life support, and someone keeps kicking at the plug. After I've won the slam, the world's hottest slam singer gives his hottest performance in a couple of years. I'm starting to get drunk because Already Drunk Girl is buying me whiskey drinks. I'm not going to catch up with her, though. She's won $50 in Sacajawea coins, and has already spent most of that on whiskey and beer. She writes a love note, folds it into a paper airplane, and floats it to the stage. It hits a bewildered spectator who opens it up, reads it, and then gapes at me, as though I were hitting on him. He doesn't believe me when I point to Drunk Girl, and during the break starts a conversation about the guys he'd fuck. "I'd fuck Axel." He says. "But only for the story. It's like Justin Timberlake. Fucking him would lead to me getting to fuck girls. Of course, I'd have to wear gloves, and a raincoat, cause that poet is a grimy little fucker."
I wouldn't fuck Axel with a dildo and a radiation suit.
"You, I'd fuck." He says. "But I know you're a top, and I'm not into that."
Of course he's not. The only people into me are drunk girls and underage boys.
I duck out of the reading before the hack who is currently going by "His Holiness, The Righteous and Powerful Van Tyll of Boston" can maim the mic. I am greeted by another passive aggressive note on my door. I'm $1.50 behind on the rent. One dollar and fifty cents. A buck and a half. I leave a stack of pennies, dimes, and nickels in front of Landlord's door.
There are three messages in my voice mail. One Mom, one female, and one male asking for a favor that doesn't include the prefix "sexual". Tragic.
Sometimes, no matter how badly you want to fuck a guy, you really have to pee first. It's important in these situations that you put your bladder's interests before your testicles, even if it means an extra minute and a half of not yet fucking. I know this, but I am drunk, and Eric looks so cute in his boxer briefs. Surely I can wait a few minutes an hour or two.
This is the first guy in months I've been close to doing anything with. I haven't seen My Future Fry Cook in ages, I don't feel like meeting new people, and I feel like MAMIP is on another planet, even when we're sitting next to each other at the bar. So how can I waste precious naked time peeing?
"I'm sooooo hot." He says. He's not being arrogant or narcissistic. Yes, he is good looking, but I'm fairly sure he means, it's eighty fucken degrees. I turn on the air conditioner. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh."
I slide next to him on the bed. This is no small feat. My bed is the size of a pencil case. Eric and I are Sharpies. If we end up fucking, there's going to have to be floor involved.
I hate this house. I hate Landlord. I hate that my room is the size of a Pistachio shell. I hate that my room smells like smoke. I hate this place so much that, in the six months I've lived here, only Celeste, Goth Girl, and Dmitri have ever seen the inside of it. Until tonight, the closest I've come to having sex is hearing my cute straight roommate moaning a little too loudly in the other room. But tonight I say fuck this house, and fuck Eric, too, but for entirely different reasons.
I liked Eric immediately when we met. I don't remember where that was, or why I liked him, but when I found his phone number on a post-it note in my drawer of doom I immediately thought "Oh cool, it's my friend Eric, the poet, I should call him." Only, when Eric picked up the phone I realized Eric wasn't my friend Eric at all but an entirely different Eric.
"Hey, Safey. I didn't think you were going to call me again. How are you?"
"Well, I, uh, lost your number for a while. Sorry."
I now like Eric because he doesn't small talk, he doesn't care that I have no idea who he is, and he's lying almost naked on my bed. Right. Stop the extemporaneous narration, nearly naked guy next to me on bed.
I am not nearly naked, and that needs to be fixed. The problem is, I am a freeballer, so there's no nearly naked me unless I add boxers after I subtract pants. I should go downstairs, pee, change into my boxers and come back upstairs.
"I'm thirsty." Eric says.
I go downstairs to get juice, change into my boxers, and pee. Unfortunately, someone is in the shower when I get downstairs. I get the juice, drop trou in the kitchen, pick up different trou in the kitchen, and run back upstairs, leaving my jeans in the laundry room. We each down some juice, and start making out.
I've never understood the term making out. What is out, and what exactly are the ingredients that go into making it? Sure, saliva, tongues, lips, but those are the ingredients in kissing too. When does kissing become making out?
I think the shower stops, I should really go downstairs and pee, but my dick takes it upon itself to pop pout of my boxers and say hello to our new friend, Eric. Eric politely kisses him hello, and I am reminded of a great haiku by Joel Derfner:
Remember when I
said I disliked oral sex?
I meant just with you.
Eric is pretty good with his tongue. No Tommy, but adequate. I'm starting to really get into his rhythm when he stops, looks up at me and laughs. His laugh. Imagine a pig gets his hoof caught in a ceiling fan and spraining its (do pigs have ankles?) ankle. You put a cast on it, but whenever it steps on that ankle it makes that little squealing pig noise. This is Eric's laugh.
I want to ask him what's so funny, but I start laughing at his laughing, and he leans up to kiss me, and somehow the condom is on my dick and so is Eric's ass, and I no longer care what was so funny. I can only think "Yes" "Wow" "Dear Lord" and "I swear I've never met this guy before in my life, how did his phone number get into my drawer of doom? God I really have to clean that drawer out soon. I'm moving out in two weeks and I should really get a move on and, hey aren't I having sex right now? Yes, right there."
Andrew, I mean Eric, Whatever His Name Is is bouncing on me like I'm a Spider Man Hop Ball, and the pressure on my balls as he bounces is almost perfectly balanced with the pressure on my kidneys from the liter and a half of Cherry Coke I drank earlier combined with the juice we chugged pre-fuck. I envision my ejaculation blasting him across the room, followed immediately by a tidal wave of urine filling my Barbie Dream House sized room. This is the unsexiest thought ever, and while I hate to waste a condom "I'll be right back, I really have to pee."
Ha, Moment. I have not only killed you, I've chopped you into tiny pieces, and now I am on my way downstairs to piss on your grave.
When I get back upstairs Eric is asleep.
The phone is knocking on my bedroom door, upset that I've turned the ringer off. It passes me a note: "Hi. I am an Ellen Jamesian..." I crumple it up without reading the rest of it, and go back to sleep.
The phone is tickling my feet with its semi-erect antenna. I crack my knees, and curl into the fetal position.
"Can't you hear the phone ringing?" Landlord asks. It's not yet eleven o'clock, but I am passed out and what the fuck is Landlord doing in my room while I'm sleeping. "The phone is for you."
"I am asleep." I tell him.
"Are you going to get the phone?"
"It's not ringing."
While the phone was napping, I tore out its vocal chords.
"It's for you." He is a Mynah Bird.
"Fine. I'll answer it." I say, sitting up, the quilt shielding my naked body from the Landlord's vagabond eyes. "Ok." I say. "I'll get it."
He is a rabbit in headlights. Swaying with the cobra, but my cobra is hidden under the quilt.
"You can go now."
"Aren't you going to get it?" He asks, licking his lips.
"Yea. Thanks. Could you please get out of my room?"
X-Ray Tech moved out in March because Landlord has no sense of privacy. I've done my best to explain my boundaries: If you need to come into the room, knock. If no one answers, stay out. If I say "Come in," come in. If I don't, don't.
"It's just that the phone kept ringing and no one was answering it. It's for you."
"Yes." I say. "I get it. Phone for me. Please get out of my room so I can answer the phone."
The week Dr. O moved in, Landlord had scheduled his annual carpet cleaning but neglected to tell any of us until 5:30 that morning. I was still asleep when he knocked on my door, and, according to Dr. O, said "Carpet Cleaners are coming today."
My room was sorted piles of laundry, unstapled chapbook pages, two decks of playing cards arranged by numbers.
"Why didn't you clean your room?" He asked when I got home from work. "The carpet cleaner couldn't clean the carpet in there."
"Carpet cleaner?" I asked.
"I told you this morning that the carpet cleaners were coming and you responded." He said, leaning into me like an elderly queen making a point.
"I responded?" I asked.
"Yea." Dr. O said. "I think you said 'It's five o'clock in the fucken morning, what do you want?'."
Landlord squints at her. "Oh. Well, I didn't hear what he said, just that he responded."
I understand this. I don't care what you say, just say it. Whisper your confession, scream your dissatisfaction, murmur a non-sequitur, just fucken talk.
I don't deal well with silence. But these days, I'm dealing it face down, fifty-two card pick up style. And whether it's the two of hearts or the queen of spades, all silence looks the same from the back of the deck.
I've got to go. The phone isn't ringing.
It's been 2:18 for over a month now. I get up at 2:18. I sleep at 2:18. Life at Zuzu's is consistently 2:18.
The last time it was 2:17 was when Renee Francois, a French student (quel suprise), moved in. Renee has the peculiar habit of launching into showtunes during the midst of conversation:
"Hey, Francois, how's the new job?"
"It's good for my brain...I could while away the hours, consulting with the flowers..."
It's cute until you're trapped in a car with him for ten minutes.
"Is he gay?" Zuzu asked me.
"Either that or he's French."
It was still 2:18 when he moved out last weekend. One of his friends, a very Elvis Costelloish nerd, came over to help him move.
"Stop oogling my tenant's friends." Zuzu said.
"I'm not oogling." I said. "I've never oogled anyone in my life. I'm ogling. Check out his ass." And for once, I wasn't calling attention to my favorite boy part because of its shape, but because of what was in the back left pocket: a red bandanna.
"What does it mean?" She asked. I made a fist with my right hand, a small hole with my left, and then punched the right hand through it. We tried not to giggle everytime Costello walked down the stairs. "It could just be something else." Zuzu said, but the next time I saw Francois walk down the stairs I noticed the red bandanna in his right pocket. I had to go out back and laugh into my fist until the look of my fist grossed me out, which caused me to laugh even harder, then I was thinking the word "harder", and I was a snort away from hiccuping.
Shortly after Francois moved out, Zuzu adopted Pup Ratzinger, an impossibly cute (not miniature, thank God) dachshund who only barks when barked at, and has a nearly insurmountable fear of stairs. For some reason he reminds me of Dmitri.
Last night, while Zuzu was training Ratzinger, Landlord, Doctor O, Straight Roommate and I went out to a French Bistro to wish bon voyage to Straight Roommate, who will soon be replaced by an Evangelical Christian. I couldn't imagine why Landlord was inviting an Evangelical to live with us until I saw a picture of our future roommate. He's a Chinese guy in his early twenties. Landlord would invite Reverend Phelps to live with us if he looked remotely Asian. "Don't prejudge him because he's Christian." Landlord said when I rolled my eyes at his the picture he's brought with him.
"It's not that." I said. "Look at the banner he's standing under: Crusade for College Christianity? Crusade? No one in their right mind would combine the word Christian and Crusade these days unless they were trying to evoke negativity or violence. Why not just call it 'Kill a Campus Muslim for Jesus'?"
We argued semantics for a few minutes until the hot, obviously straight, Asian waiter took our order. I don't like American French Food. Pate disgusts me, and if I'm paying twenty dollars for an appetizer, it better suck my cock before I eat it.
Dr. O and I split an order of escargot in garlic butter that was amazing. Then, I had some lobster bisque. For $18 I got two tiny pieces of lobster in about an ounce of bisque. Next time, I pick the restaurant.
This whole week has been a series of papercuts with elaborate bandaids. No working computer means I spend more time Chez Zuzu, overindulging on homemade food and watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force with her son, Lot. Put some ice on it. Because yet another coworker was late, and I spilled coffee on myself, I had to skip a night out with a cute non-poetry-slam bisexual and his friends. Instead, I spent hours on the phone talking with cute friends in Iceland and California. Kiss it and make it better. I still haven't made it to the post office, and I have a ton of shit to send, so I go home and eat a half dozen macaroons I bought at the French restaurant. Bathe me in Bactine. Fuck papercuts, all of my problems are two tiny pieces of lobster in an ounce of bisque. People would kill for my problems.
Except Tuesday night.
Tuesday night was a six pound order of escargot sauteed in battery acid. Tuesday night was Reverand Phelps with automatic weapons. Instead of a papercut, Tuesday night was a guillotine. For the eleventh time in one day, I'd identified someone as the cutest person in the world. I watched him watch me watch him for ten minutes before he came to the counter to order some "Mode?"
No one has called me Mode since I was a camp counselor over ten years ago. "Grant?" I can't believe I was checking out one of my former kids, why he must only be...25...ok, I can believe it. I just forget that the "kids" I counseled were only three years younger than me. The chasm between 14 and 17 seems immense, but 25 and 28? Who cares?
I walked around the counter and hugged him. An act that would shock most of my friends who seem to think I wrap myself in barbed wire to keep people from touching me. "How've you been?"
"Better." He said. "I've been much better than today. My mom's here." He waved in the general direction of the hospital. "Breast cancer."
"I'm so sorry." I said.
"Oh, it's no big deal. It's just that this is the first time I've been back to Mass since the Bernard thing."
"Bernard thing?" I asked.
He gave me the Velociraptor Look. "You don't know? Oh my God, it must have been after you left. Do you want to go out for a drink after work? I'm buying."
I don't remember the last time I said no to that question.
For the next hour, I flashed through disjointed memories about my days as a camp counselor at Camp Davis. Nothing emotional, just a series of snapshots of people I'd forgotten. Bernard. Bernard was my nemesis. When I was an eleven year old camper, Bernard was a twenty year old counselor. He taught archery. All the cool boys got special permission to spend time with Bernard at the range, while the rest of us suffered through gymnastics or horseback. I was not cool, so I hated Bernard. The first year I was a counselor, Bernard was unemployed due to his mistakenly thinking he was more valuable to the camp then he was, so I got to work on the archery range with his assistant. Sure, the cool boys spent a lot of time hanging out with me, but so did the uncoordinated girls, the boys with lisps, and even the girls who smelled like their fathers' insecurities. When Bernard returned the next year, I was banished from archery, forced to teach swimming to the kids not cool enough for bows and arrows. At after work parties, Bernard shunned me, and spread the rumor that I was a fag. I wanted to shatter his smile into arrowheads.
Oddly enough, it was Bernard who offered the peace pipe. I was dragging a cooler down to a beach with a group of Irish friends when Bernard drove by in his black Jeep and blew the horn at me. "Hey Mode, I'm having a party at my house tonight. If you and your friends want to stop by, that'd be cool. Just bring some beer."
So a sixpack of Zima and a sunburn later, my friends and I were sitting on Bernard's porch, listening to the Black Crowes and mingling with some of my other coworkers. The night was fireworks with no calendric meaning. I stumbled into the kitchen for another Zima when Bernard grabbed me by the hair and said "Take your faggy ass friends and get the fuck out of my house."
The people around us supplied the "What the fuck?" for me.
"You come into my house, trash my living room, drink my beer, and..."
"What are you talking about?" his girlfriend of the week asked. "The living room is fine, and he brought the beer, remember?"
I ran out of the house before he could respond. I stopped on the porch and looked at my friends. "We have to leave. Now."
From that day forward, we spoke in scowls and glares. Then I grew up, took a real job and forgot all about him.
"He molested us." Grant said after our third shots of tequila.
"Fuck." Was the only thing to say.
"Didn't you ever wonder why it was only the cute boys? Why he called everyone he hated 'fag'?"
I hadn't. Then again, I'd been a naive 18 year old when I'd left.
"He made me hate myself for years. Then I found out he'd started messing around with my little brother and..." He took another shot. "It had to stop."
My tongue was granite, my eyes seized.
"There were so many of us...Jared ended up in jail for some hate crime thing. Brad still won't talk about it with anyone. And Ryan ended up killing himself."
Must not break shot glass in fist. Must not shake Grant until he sucks his story out of my brain to some place safer. Must not drive back east, find whatever cell Bernard is currently occupying and rip his balls out via his ear canal.
"Fucked up, huh?"
I heard nothing else until goodbye. A brief hug.
I gave him my phone number and told him to call me if he needed to blow off steam. I've spent enough time in hospitals this past year staring at white walls to know the loneliness of fluorescent lights.
"Sure." He said. "I'll probably come down and get coffee from you tomorrow. Mom might come with me. She'd shit if she knew you were here. You were one of her favorite counselors."
"That'd be great." I said.
I didn't see either of them on Wednesday. Thursday was my day off. Yesterday I took long breaks, and spent most of my non-break time reorganizing shelves. I'm staying at Zuzu's to avoid the temptation to answer the phone at my house. When I close my eyes I see a slideshow of kids with question mark eyes and closed mouths. I wish I'd been smart enough or strong enough to help them back then. Today, I'm thankful I'm out of earshot.