Him: Are you busy? Are you around?
Me: Yeah. I’m here. I’m around. I just got back from a writer’s meeting with my team. What’s up?
Him: I just saw The Normal Heart on Broadway.
Me: Are you crying? Oh. Larry Kramer’s play. Right?
Him: Yeah. It was so moving and so real, and it’s so real. They still have AIDS, Michael. People are still dying of AIDS.
Me: I know. And nobody wants to talk about it. And everyone wants to spread this feel good message about how HIV is livable and more like an annoyance than a disease. And that’s true for some people. But it’s still killing some people too. A lot of people.
Him: They don’t write plays like that anymore, huh?
Me: No. Now it’s all about sexy teenagers who wanna doink each other, or alienated middle-aged people who have secret angers and hatreds brewing under their polite veneers. They used to write plays that pulled your heart out and stomped on it. Now they mis-cast things with television stars and turn romantic comedies into musicals.
(Pause. He starts to cry again.)
Him: Oh, no. OH. NO. It’s so short. It’s too short. Life is so short and everyone is holding on by a thread.
Me: You’re right. That’s true. And it’s precious. And we have to fight for it sometimes. And people are beautiful, but they say ugly things, and they hate themselves, and they hate you for loving yourself.
Him: I don’t know about all that. I’ve been crying for an hour. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’m lonely.
Me: You are. You’re lonely, and beautiful. My God, you’re beautiful. I knew the very first time I set eyes on you that I was looking at an exceptional human being. You’re kind, and big-hearted. There is nothing inside you except a bright light that everyone can see. Everyone sees it.
Him: Not everyone.
Me: Everyone. The people who don’t get you still see the light, but they are jealous of it. You are lovely. And you are very much loved. And you’re kind. And you are my brother. I love you. Remember those Korean tourists at the bar? I introduced you to them.
Me: I told them: ‘Speak of Koreans. I’m about to introduce you to the most beautiful Korean on the planet. Please keep your tongue in your mouth and guard your heart carefully.’
Him: You’re weird and nice – and that’s not true.
Me: It was true. In that moment it was true. And they agreed with me. I think you’re the most beautiful guy.
Him: Thank you. I’m still crying.
Me: Are you going to Five Napkin Burger?
Me: Man. Five Napkin Burger is your middle name. Are you going with friends?
Him: No. I’m not good at this. I’m not good at being lonely, and yet I feel like I need to be alone.
Me: It gets easier. Lonely gets easier. If I was there I would give you a big creepy hug.
Him: Hahahaha!! You would. You’d give me a creepy hug and say nice things.
Me: I’m a nice guy weirdo creep sweetheart. It’s how I roll.
Him: I’m glad I know you.
Me: I’m very grateful to know you too. Can I say one more thing?
Me: Don’t get mad.
(a long pause)
Me: I’m 99% sure there’s no God. I can’t prove it, but I don’t believe there’s a God. At least, not like the one they write about in Bibles and Korans and Torahs.
Him: I think there’s a God.
Me: I know you do. And I don’t. But. If. If there was a God. If there is a God. I KNOW FOR A FACT she loves the shit out of you. She does. She loves you.
Him: Hahahaha. She’s a girl, you think?
Me: No. I think She’s you and me. I think God is you and me, darling. God is the good things we can see in each other, and the beauty we can share with the world. That’s it. That’s all that God is. Wear a condom.
Him: I will. I do. (pause) I’m going to eat Five Napkin Burger.
Me: I wish you lived in Brooklyn.
Him: Me too.
Me: One more thing…
If you can. Just if you can. If you have the extra money. Okay?