What If There’s Nothing Wrong?

photos by eryc perez de tagle

Me: So? What’s the spice?

Him: Paprika.

Me:  You’re right.

Him: Smoked paprika from Spain.

Me: Yes. Wow!

Him: Yes. Of course. You were expecting me not to get it?

Me: I guess? I… No. I dunno.

Him: I lived in Spain for two years. I can tell paprika.

Me: I like that.

Him: I feel like I should be doing something.

Me: Don’t worry about it. Sit. Relax. There’s beer. Want another beer?

Him: No. I cant. I can’t take your beer. I shouldn’t – I’m exhausted.

Me: Oh no. Really?

Him: Not totally exhausted. Just. I want to nap. Can I take a nap?

Me: What?

Him: That’s weird right? If I take a nap while you cook?

Me: Maybe…

Him: Oh, no. Forget I brought it up.

Me: What?

Him: Now it’s gone wrong. I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.

Me: You can totally take a nap if you want to…

Him: NO. You probably want me to leave, right? You can just tell me. I like it when people are straightforward.

Me: What? No. Hey. Have another beer. Do you… Can I hug you?

Him: Okay.

(we hug)

Me: I’m glad you’re here. Are you hungry?

Him: Yes! I’m getting there. I could be hungry. I’m hungry. Yes.

Me: Great. Pick at this while you wait for dinner.

Him: This is good. I like ham.

Me: You can totally take a short nap if you want.

Him: No. I’m sorry I brought it up. I’m ADD, I think. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Me: It’s okay. We’ll eat soon. You don’t have to stay all night.

Him: Why. You don’t want me to stay?

Me: No. I mean yes. I mean… You said you were exhausted.

Him: Hey. I need to use the bathroom again. Can I?

Me: You don’t have to ask. Go ahead.

Him: Sorry, I just broke the seal.

Me: What? Oh. The urination seal!

Him: Yeah. You never heard that?

Me: No, I did. It just took me a second. I didn’t know ‘the seal’ meant urination. For a second.

Him: I never heard of the ‘Urination Seal.’

Me: I was just clarifying.

Him: Well that’s not a thing.

Me: I… You’re right. But I get it.

(pause. he goes to the bathroom)

Me: Even so.

Him: What?

Me: Even so. What are you doing? When you break the seal?

Him: Pissing.

Me: So it kind of is the Urination Seal. Right? If we’re to be clear?

Him: That’s not a thing. Breaking the Urination Seal isn’t a thing.

Me: Okay.

(pause. he comes back from the restroom.)

Him: You should water that plant.

Me: Should I?

Him: Yeah, it looks sick.

Me: I watered it yesterday.

Him: Really? It looks sick.

Me: It’s doing fine.

(pause)

Me: Wanna try the pulled pork?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Do you like it?

Him: Yeah. It’s good.

Me: Thanks.

Him: You’re acting weird.

Me: I am?

Him: I dunno. I’m here. I don’t know you. You could be a serial killer. You’re cooking food.

Me: I’m going to serve us dinner.

Him: I know but… You’re making me feel bad.

Me: What?

Him: I’m not doing anything. I feel like I should be helping. Or taking a nap.

Me: That’s the second time you mentioned… Do you wanna go to sleep for a sec?

Him: No. I just say what’s on my mind. I think I’m ADD.  I’m trying to fix what’s wrong with me.

Me: What’s wrong with you?

Him: That’s what we’re trying to fix. Me and my psychologist. Once I fix myself they’ll be no stopping me. I don’t like the lighting in here, by the way…

Me: Really?

Him: Yeah. I don’t like it. Too controlled.

Me: So much of life is about carefully controlled lighting.

Him: That’s ridiculous.

Me: Is it?

Him: NO.  I don’t know why I’m saying that. It’s not. You’re not weird or ridiculous. I don’t know why I’m imploding right now. Something’s off. I think I’m really ADD. I’m going to find out what’s wrong with me.

Me: What if it’s nothing?

Him: What?

Me: What if there’s nothing wrong with you?

Him: What do you mean?

Me: What if you’re just great how you are?

Him: Huh?

Me: What if there’s nothing wrong with you? Sorry. Maybe you’re ADD, that’s true. But what if you’re okay, even though you’re ADD? What if your attention span is exactly as long as your evolution in the world has taught it to be? What if your own experience isn’t flawed? What if you’re unique and deserve respect? What if the rest of the world is totally fucked and you’re okay? What then?

Him: I’m tired. Can I nap? Can I sleep while you cook dinner?

Me: Jesus. Please do.

SaturDATE

Him:  This bar is crowded.  Wow.

Me:  Yeah.  I remember when there used to be like, 60 people here, tops, on a Friday night.  It’s become a destination.  Or a bunch of Gays have moved to Williamsburg, maybe.

Him:  What about Williamsburg would attract a lot of gays?

Me:  Just a certain type of Gay, I guess.  Different types of Gays live in different neighborhoods, it seems…

Him:  Really?  I’m oblivious I guess.

Me:  Yeah, I think so.  You’ve got a pretty face, by the way.

Him:   A compliment.  I bet you say that to all the boys.

Me:  I do, yes.

(pause)

Him:  What?

Me:  I compliment boys, when I go on a date with them, yes.  At, least, if I want to try to kiss them later, I do.

Him:  That doesn’t make me feel special.

Me:  I know!  Imagine how I feel!  I told you you’re pretty and I was made to suffer for it.

Him:  I don’t want to feel like you’re just complimenting me because you’re going to try to kiss me later.  I don’t want to feel like there’s an agenda attached to it.

Me:  You’re right.  Next time I have a stray thought about you being attractive, I’ll keep it to myself.

(pause)

Him:  So, different Gays live in different neighborhoods?

Me:  That’s right.  I think so, at least.

Him:  Okay.  This is a fun game.  What kind of Gays live in Hell’s Kitchen?

Me:  Middle Management Gays, Chorus Boy Gays, and Fashion Fags.

Him:  Hm…  That explains the attitude.

Me:  Exactly.  To them, cunty is a sport.  If you’re not playing the cunty game, you’re not feeling well that day.  It’s a language that they speak.

Him:  I know.  I’m fluent.

Me:  Aren’t we all?  But do we have to choose to communicate that way?

Him:  Some of us think it’s fun.  Upper East Side?

Me:  Retired Journalist Homos, Antique Store Fags, Trust Fund Queers that don’t know how cool Tribeca is.

Him: West Village?

Me:  Graphic Design Homos, Young MTV Exec Pansies, Elderly Queers with Rent Control.

Him:  Williamsburg?

Me:  NYU Poofs, Wanna Be Art Fags, Assholes With Pie Blogs.

Him:  Ha.  You are an asshole.

Me:  Thanks.  You’re super charming.

Him:  Do you say that to all the boys?

Me:  Only when I’m lying.

(pause)

Him:  Bushwick?

Me:  Actual Art Fags, Small Business Owner Homos, Gay Bait with Bed Bugs.

Him:  Wow.  You’ve got it all figured out, huh?

Me:  Obviously not.  I’m a homo of a certain age, and I live next to a highway.

Him:  What do you DO for a living?

Me:  I waste other people’s time.

Him:  What? 

Me:  Just kidding.  I do comedy.  Which is frivolous.  It’s entertainment.  Which is a waste of time.

Him:  Oh I don’t think so.

Me:  Me neither.  I just like the way it sounds coming out of my mouth.  ‘I waste people’s time for a living.’  I love your hair.  You have amazing hair.

Him:  Gross, I haven’t washed it in a while.

Me:  Sorry.  You’re right.  Your hair is disgusting.

Him:  NO!  That’s not what I meant!

Me:  I know.  I’m just reacting to your sarcasm in a literal way.  It’s the only weapon people have against sarcasm.  I’m really sarcastic, and the only thing that penetrates that sarcasm is when people take it (faux) seriously.

Him: Really?

Me:  Drives me up a wall.  Maybe it’s the lighting in here, but man, your skin is wow.

Him:  Shut up.  I have a zit.

Me:  Third time.  That’s the third time.

Him:  Third time what?

Me:  Third time that I’ve complimented you and you’ve told me to shut up or rebuffed me in some way.

Him: Sorry.  I’m just not used to people going around giving compliments to each other.

Me: Not even on dates?

Him:  No.

Me:  That makes me sad.

(long pause)

Him:  Let’s just play our name game.

Me:  Okay.

Him:  What kind of Fags live in Gramercy?

Me:  Stephen Sondheim.