Sweet Gregory: Part Three, The 59th Street Bridge – 2001

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Gregory is perplexed, and sort of chasing me up the hill. I’m not running, but it’s a steep climb and I’m race-walking. I don’t understand my powers yet -I can’t control them. In the years to come, I will learn that if emotionally triggered, or feeling slightly manic, raising my heart rate isn’t a good idea. Bad things happen when I do that.

Sweet Gregory is trailing behind me on the 59th Street Bridge. I am race-walking us to Queens. A mean plan has sprung up in my young mind.  I’m going to make him walk me all the way home, then tell him to get back on the subway. I’m not going to sleep with him tonight, or any other night. He’s changing, and I don’t recognize him at all any more.

Which is fine. I don’t recognize myself, either.

A racing heart sits inside an awful, jealous, mean, petty version of myself. The quickening pulse thrums out my eardrums. Mania starts to rise; I’m too young to realize its power. Too young to know that if I let the mania swell too fully inside me, I can unleash a terrible force, Like Father, when he built Asteroid M. But, my powers are yet undefined. It’s 2001, and I don’t even know much about myself. All I know is that I’m different than other folks, and that I have to hide it.

An arctic, icy blast lights up behind my eyes. I pick up the pace. Gregory complains.

Hey! Why are you walking so fast? It’s the middle of the night! What’s the rush?

I’m so busy these days Sweet Gregory! I have a rehearsal tomorrow and an audition!

You said you weren’t rehearsing until Friday?

It’s another project, duh! I said I was busy! Keep up!

I don’t want Sweet Gregory to keep up. I want him to lag behind me forever, but his voice has developed two decades in the last nine months. He’s coming into his full power, and I don’t even know what my power is yet! It isn’t fair. He’s a spoiled brat from a wealthy family. That’s not who the arts should be for! The arts are for real artists who had to struggle to get where they are, not for pampered babies whose families paid for their every whim.

(No, that’s not true, another voice in my head suggests. The arts are also a place the rich place their black sheep family members. Their broken. The sociopaths that don’t have a flair for business.)

I think of the improv classes I’m taking. How I had to scrape money together at the end of the month for rent, how I kept taking classes. I think of the regional and Off-Off-Broadway musicals, sometimes for little or no money at all, just to get a chance to get some free voice practice in. Ice crystals form behind my eyes. A bluish-white whisper floats from my mouth. Sweet Gregory is confused. He notices a change in me, but he can’t place it. He’s out of breath. We keep rushing. He stumbles, but I don’t pause to help him, I race out front.

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Come on! I have to get up early tomorrow, I say.

Gregory puffs and huffs behind me. Good luck with that golden voice, I think to myself. Maybe I’ll stick around and wear you out, Sweet, Sweet Gregory?  Maybe, I’ll just keep you tired your whole life, so you can’t sing…

I sense something preternatural near me. A flash in my mind – two unctuous, undulating eels, twisting in East River silt, rutting up tree roots, sliding past rusting cans.

My third eye pops open. I’m linked now, with the two gargantuan eels. This happens sometimes when my powers take over. They link to whatever animals nearby that can use their base instincts to fuel my agenda. Most of the time it’s just birds, but sometimes it’s uglier animals, depending on now insipid I feel inside when the mania triggers. The third eye swells. My skin is gooseflesh. I pause. Blue white light.

Lead him to the top of the bridge, the eels whisper, I am two places at once. I am standing on the Queensborough Bridge with Sweet Gregory, and I’m cold, submerged in the inky water of the East River, amongst flotsam and jetsam, amongst moss and fishes, and discarded needles, river rocks, and sharper stones.  Algae, particulate, brown earthy life, and two self-satisfied, overgrown, fear-driven eels.

Gregory catches up. Thank God you came to your senses!

I didn’t. And you thank God, Gregory! I don’t believe in your Catholic God who speaks an infallible voice through a man called the Pope. I don’t believe any of it!

It’s okay! It’s just religion! We don’t have to agree! Michael, what’s the matter with you tonight? You sang really well, back there! You’re funny! You know that funny people don’t have to learn to sing all that well? Think about all the character actors who make it on Broadway, just croaking out one song a night! It’s the dream job! Full salary for one fun song, and a few lines in the second act! Are you jealous?

Am I what???

Are you jealous of me?

Poison flows through my veins. Hatred pumped so quickly by my heart, fluttering and pounding away – endless pounding in my very soul – pounding deep into my core. Fuck you, Gregory – I’m not jealous. I feel sorry for you!

Michael…

I didn’t stop so you could catch up, Gregory. I stopped so you could have a fair start. We’re racing to the top of the bridge. I feel my tongue splitting in twain as I say this. My tongue silver, my words, quick.  I shift eye contact – right, left, right, left, right, left. Like a swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock. Eye to eye, I press into his mind, a bit, gently, I enter him. It’s easy. He doesn’t even know he has a third eye.

Race me up to the top!

Gregory looks uneasy, stunned, then his eyes glaze over, fuzzy, and he smirks.

Okay, he says, all Fairfield County, all bright and cheerful, but neutral underneath. It’s the tone of voice you might hear from someone who wants to talk about your problems endlessly, but offer no real solutions – it’s a classic politician’s voice – cheerful, smarmy. I’ve used my power to briefly create this moment, in order to make him chase me. It’s working. I feel in control again.

Okay? Ready, set, go!

He’s playing along now, and so am I. For a while I let us run neck and neck, but I’m a competitive swimmer, and I have been for more than a decade. Moreover, my mania will provide an adrenaline dump that usually lets me win a sprint. I’m fast. Gregory is taller than me but I pull away toward the top of the bridge. By the time I see his silhouette approaching, I’ve already climbed over the safety barrier. I’m perched at the apex of the bridge, with a slimy smile on my face. Two eels twisting inside my third eye. Two eels whisper to one another in the riverbed murk and muck, hundreds of feet below us.

Take it. Take him. We want a sacrifice. We need blood.

This takeover is unprecedented. I’ve approached animals before with my eye open, but I’ve never been hijacked like this. It terrifies me when my third eye opens on its own. I have to learn to control this. Go away! I’m shouting at the eels. Get out!

You asked us in! You can’t banish us until you grant a request. We require a sacrifice.

I don’t believe them. I think they’re lying. I clench my teeth; try to force my third eye closed. It moves a bit, then snaps back open. The eels giggle and hiss. Reflexively, I tighten my jaw again, and tear of a good sized chunk of my inner cheek.

We want blood… We need blood. We can’t get back on land unless you feed us. We’re trapped down here in the river.

Who are you?

We’re a little bit like you.

You are not like me.

No, not exactly. But we have powers like you. We could share.

I want you out.

We need blood, and we ain’t leaving.

Sweet Gregory approaches. He is red-faced and out of breath. Sweating through his Oxfords. He’s grinning.

Okay, okay, you win! Come down off there…

I’m not coming down, Sweet Gregory.

What? You’re nuts, come off it.

Come up here with me, Gregory.

Michael, I’m not coming up there. You could fall. If you fall you’ll die.

Gregory, life is about taking risks. That’s what I didn’t like about your song tonight. You sang it perfectly, but there wasn’t any risk in your voice. It sounded like you were doing something for the purpose of not being criticized, but it didn’t sound like you were pulling your own heart out. That song happens right before a character in the show leaves his home country to be with a foreign woman. You sang all the notes perfectly, but you didn’t tell the story.

Michael, I’m 22 years old. That role is written for a 40 year old man.

I want you to take a risk with me. Let’s jump into the river.

What?!?! No. Get down from there right now. This bridge is 350 feet tall, Michael. You’ll die if you jump.

I just read how someone jumped off last month and swam ashore.

Michael, did you also read that 70% of people who jump from this height, even into water, will die on impact? Because that’s an important part of the story, and I read the whole thing.

Make him join you, and push him in, the eels whisper to me, or, join him! We need blood to grow stronger – the more, the better. Both of you, strong bloods. Smells so good. Smells so powerful, crossing our river…

No.

Help us. We won’t let you die, if you deliver us Sweet Gregory’s head, like the head of John the Baptist. We can reward you! We can show you how to control your powers!

No.

You’re just like us, kiddo. Don’t you think we started off as people? Let us show you how to shape your own destiny. Let us unlock your power, and sip some for ourselves, to boot!

Brúttó. Þið tveir eruð ógeðslegir. Farðu úr huganum! Get out!

You’re the one who let us in. We require a blood sacrifice to leave. It’s simple. You can’t force us out until we get blood.

Gregory is nervous.  He can tell I’m considering jumping, now, in a real way. He can tell he has caught me on an evening where I’m so full of self-loathing, I feel like I have nothing left to lose. He can tell I’m dangerous, but he still loves me, a little, and he wants me to stop threatening to jump off the 59th Street Bridge.

Michael, please come down.

Gregory, why are you going into journalism?

Michael, I have to tell you – I’m up for a job as an editor.

You’re 22.

They really liked the articles I wrote for Show Music, and so it’s looking like I could be the editor of Next Magazine soon.

You’re an actor! You’re a great musical theater actor! That’s a local gay magazine that runs interviews with drag queens and has-been Broadway folks looking to rekindle something. Why would you leave the arts? Look – you can learn how to act better, but not everyone gets a voice like that, Gregory. Don’t waste it.

My father respects me now, Michael. It’s important to me. He doesn’t respect acting, as a career choice, but journalism! His son the editor? He respects it. What’s more, I can pay my rent doing it! I’m taking the job.

Bring him to us!

Gregory, come up here.

Yes!

No. I don’t want either of us to jump off a bridge tonight.

Just come up. I promise not to jump, or try to talk you into it. Just take the risk with me. Just hang off the side of the bridge! It’s fun.

Gregory comes up past the safety rail to sit with me on an iron girder.

Push him. Push him over, and we’ll show you how to REALLY use that third eye.

I push my tongue into the gash I bit into my cheek – a thick viscous iron taste. Blood. My third eye swells. Sing for me, I say. Sing another song for me, Sweet, Sweet Gregory. From Chess? The show you sang from at the cabaret bar?

Gregory clears his throat.

Now, sing, I say.

“What’s going on around me

Is barely making sense

I need some explanations fast

I see my present partner

In the imperfect tense”

Keep him singing!

“And I don’t see how we can last

I feel I need a change of cast

Maybe I’m on nobody’s side

And when he gives me reasons

To justify each move

They’re getting harder to believe

I know this can’t continue

I’ve still a lot to prove

There must be more I could achive

But I don’t have the nerve to leave

Everybody’s playing the game

But nobody’s rules are the same”

Push him over to us! You’ll be so powerful!

“Nobody’s on nobody’s side

Better learn to go it alone

Recognize you’re out on your own

Nobody’s on nobody’s side

The one I should not think of

Keeps rolling through my mind

And I don’t want to let that go

No lover’s ever faithful

No contract truly signed

There’s nothing certain left to know

And how the cracks begin to show”

Join us. We work for powerful gods. They will reward you for unlocking us from this watery prison.

“Never make a promise or plan

Take a little love when you can

Nobody’s on nobody’s side

Never stay too long in your bed

Never lose your heart, use your head

Nobody’s on nobody’s side

Never take a stranger’s advice

Never let a friend fool you twice

Nobody’s on nobody’s side”

I place my hand on Gregory’s back. I slide it down to the small of him.

I could push him. I could end both of us.

“Everybody’s playing the game

But nobody’s rules are the same

Nobody’s on nobody’s side

Never leave a moment too soon

Never waste a hot afternoon

Nobody’s on nobody’s side

Never stay a minute too long

Don’t forget the best will go wrong

Nobody’s on nobody’s side”

I bite open my cheek. The blood runs into my mouth. I grab Gregory’s thigh. I could easily throw us both into the river. It would be so simple.

“Never be the first to believe

Never be the last to deceive

Nobody’s on nobody’s side

Never make a promise or plan

Take a little love when you can

Nobody’s on nobody’s side”

I widen my third eye. I spit the blood down into the abyss. It falls 350 feet to the surface of the river.

NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? YOU FOOL!

Trance-like and slack bodied, I open a portal to Ragisland. I suck up the last notes of Gregory’s song into my Eye, immediately placing his voice inside a small, impish cherub statue a few miles south of my memory castle. I shoved the golden voice into the cracks in the little angel’s marble. The statue rests behind a waterfall, it makes a steady, constant sound vibration.

I’ve locked Gregory’s voice here, at the same moment as my blood sacrifice to those eels. Its mine now. I can always visit his voice. He won’t need it anymore, anyway.

I leave the waterfall, the statue, behind. In the cold spring, now, I thrust my fists into the water. I clench myself. My eyes turn opaque, translucent white icy blue. My jaw, slack, bluish white light from my mouth. The eels in my hands, squirming. I seize them. I’m ousting them from my memory castle. I take them to the portal, and fling them out of my mind, back into the East river to meet their oily bodies, rutting and churning up scrum.

The astral plane is closed, this portal sealed. The eels hiss and scream, and fight one another for the meager blood sacrifice I’ve offered. They wanted a five course meal, and I barely gave them a bite – but they got their blood.

This isn’t over, Michael Martin. We’re not going anywhere. We know who and what you are now. We have tasted you. We’ll never let this go.

Shut up, I hear myself say. You guys are real dicks. They slink off down the coast a bit

We climb down off the pylons. We’re back on the bridge. I tell Gregory to head back to Manhattan, but he insists on walking me to Queensborough Plaza to catch the 7 back to Manhattan. I feel affectionate toward Sweet Gregory again. I want to hold him and be naked with him again, but I can’t. Part of me doesn’t want to ruin the relationship I have right now (though it seems to be ruining itself). Part of me doesn’t want to corrupt him with my frantic, crazy, manic whatever-the-fuck is going on with me. My inner cheek is bleeding. I can’t control my third eye. I’m toxic right now. 

Gregory hugs me at the station before heading up the stairs.

I’m proud of you, I say, and I’m surprised that I mean it.

I’m more proud of you, Michael. I know you’ll eventually make a living doing theater, or at least being funny! You’re perfect for that. I just need to do this. I like the idea of making a living now, and having my Dad’s approval.

You’re a better person than I am, Sweet Gregory.

No, I’m not! I have flaws! You’re a great person!

No, I’m not, I say, and I kiss him on the cheek.

He hurries up the stairs, but then over his shoulder – Yes, Michael. You are a great person! You’re exceptional!

You are, I say! I’m not a great person! I’m barely even decent!

Gregory doesn’t hear me. He disappears into turnstiles, fluorescent lights, ancient carved up wooden benches. His silhouette is distinguishable, for a brief moment, behind the opaque, tagged-up, art-deco glass panel that NYC’s yesteryear forgot to update. Behind the glass, his shadow merges with a sea of others. I can no longer sense his strong blood.

I walk the short distance back to my place in Long Island City. I stop worrying about the eels. I grind my tongue into my cheek and taste the blood already coagulating, already knitting itself together, patching my wound. The mania subsides.

I spend the wee hours of the morning in Ragisland, admiring a statue behind a waterfall. I’m listening to the vibratory hum of Tiny Gregory the Cherub mix with the sound of water showering down all around me, creating a shimmering barrier to hide us. 

I’m practicing turning my skin to diamond.

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The Heroin Addict’s Wife

I’m sorry I didn’t text you back. A walk sounded nice, and if I’m being honest the weather was absolutely perfect for it. Right after sunset. Right between the day’s heat and the night’s chill. I couldn’t really find the energy for it, somehow. At the time I was driving past a thick, imperious column of smoke on the 105 – a textile factory caught ablaze in Lynwood.

I spent the morning glued to Facebook – so many women coming forward with testimonials about assault, abuse, rampant misogyny in show business, and also a friend posted about National Coming Out Day in a poignant, cogent way. He used to capitulate to homophobic banter in an effort to hurry it along, to move past it with blushing self-consciousness, to bury it. The eye contact he would make with women afterward. Conspiratorial acknowledgement of a darker, unsaid truth between them. Mutual ill feelings creeping up spines – forcing laughter together at homophobic jokes or hyper-masculine energy that, unchallenged, goes way too far. A shameful, empty feeling as one contributes to one’s own subtle oppression. Awfulness.

I’ve been incommunicado and that’s nearly unforgivable. I was billing hours at Renata’s house. She, a budding, bubbling teenage girl, just coming into her own special, savage power. A bright light, affable, funny, outgoing. A charmer.

I would have answered your FaceTime request, but there was apocalyptic traffic today. Google maps showed a red line all the way past the downtown area, and I was suddenly overtaken with a taxing, almost leaden exhaustion. Nearly falling asleep at the wheel, I pulled off near Rosecrans into a 7/11 parking lot, parking in a sliver of shade beneath a billboard advertizing the Hustler Casino. Liz Flynt encouraging people to “Play Harder.”

I got the Snapchat ping – you sent me a short video, but I didn’t get a chance to look at it before it went away. 

The 7/11, the angry plume of smoke rising like a bomb blast, blotting out the distant horizon. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I eased the seat back. For a while I thought sleep would overtake me. Strange, absurd visions – fantasies played out before my darkened eyelids. I couldn’t let go of sweet Renata, of the sour smell she lives in. The rankness. Inky, dark, tar-like paths cut through her apartment’s wall-to-wall carpeting. Years of oily, dirty feet tracking filth – grinding it down. Let’s be honest, if you steam cleaned that carpet you’d regret it for a week – the smell would send folks running for the hills.

I got your follow-up text. I’ll read and respond, I promise.

Renata in my mind, bringing consciousness back. Padlocks on the doors, the colony of ants, unchecked, unfettered in the bathroom, the mini fridges in each of their rooms  guarding the spoils of their monthly CalFresh benefits. Her father, moaning and shouting in the next room, (Is he drunk; it’s the middle of the afternoon?!) unintelligible even to Renata herself. She doesn’t mind. She’s glowing.

She loves when I visit, she says; I remind her of The Great Gatsby.

I saw your shout out on Twitter and I blushed at the compliment, thank you. I owe you a few likes and maybe even a re-tweet –  it’s just at that particular moment I was reclining in the 7/11 parking lot and trying to nap during an early rush hour, and it all came over me at once. The reality of Renata’s situation. Her low probability of succeeding her way out. The generational poverty morass she was born into – a life lived next to the steaming churn of a factory down by the harbor. The lowness. The squalor.

Hot, salt tears splashed suddenly, my body wracked with spasms. A gasp. A stone sewn into my heart, my gut shook to pieces. The slow tick of the Toyota engine in the heat of the cracked asphalt parking lot.

Your WeChat message came through, darling, but I was baking in the desert sun, prosessing, purging. There was a time I prided myself on having “integrity of communication.” I responded to every email. Answered every single text. I’m sorry, but I’m just not that person anymore. That isn’t me. 

This afternoon, as Renata and I were trying to cobble together an outfit to wear to her job interview, there was a rapping at the window. A wizened, crone-like woman, seemingly carved out of driftwood, tapped away at the thin, sliding windowpane. Oh, Renata said, smiling with a shrug, that’s the heroin addict’s wife. She pays my dad 100 bucks a month to park her van in the back yard. She lives back there with her husband. Renata slid the window open. The heroin addict’s wife wanted to charge her iPad. 

I rejected all your calls and powered my phone down. I sobbed and squeezed out all of today’s terror into a compact Japanese car in a 7/11 parking lot.

Forgive me, I  whispered into my black, sleeping iPhone.

Forgive me, I haven’t been myself lately.

-3

Letters

2013-04-30 16.00.12

We are commenting on this blog post: https://piefolk.net/2012/01/12/rice-queen/

This blog post gives an introduction to the “rice queen” term and identity, which is used predominantly to describe white gay men who are primarily attracted to Asian men. The blog post outlines a conversation that Michael Martin has with an older fellow, and illuminates the problematic that exists in the fetishization that is inherent with the “rice queen” moniker. The fellow that Michael converses with frequently reduces entire national and racialized identities into a few characteristics, and denies the complexities that these folks have as human beings. Additionally, Michael Martin comments on the imperial aspects of what many “rice queens” do: travel to Asia in search of cheap sex workers.

In this blog post, Michael does nothing to combat the overt racism that his conversation partner is spewing, but rather voices his discomfort with the rampant racism being perpetuated in the conversation. Though the blog post breaches the “rice queen” topic and label, Michael does not begin to implicate his admitted dominant attraction to Asian men in this system. He seeks not to deconstruct his own location in a racial hierarchy and the imbalance of power in his own relationships with Asian men, but merely frames the fellow whom he is having the conversation with as the evil person, and upholds himself as the one that recognizes and stands against racism.

This blog post speaks to the fetishization of coloured and racialized bodies, which, while deemed disgusting, undesirable and ugly by dominant white society, is also positioned as being for the purpose of white sexual consumption when it is so desired. 

Anonymous 

Hi. Thanks for writing. “We” who? Are you the Borg or something? Also, why would you refer to me in the third person? Creepy. Okay:

I don’t think it’s my job to combat racism in America, but I do write about things that happen to me. Conversations I have, etc.

I’m not responsible for racism in the gay community, or in the world at large. I have a blog that is well attended, and I do my best to remind gay people to play nice with each other. Ultimately, however, the blog is just my outlet to process my own feelings of alienation. I’m a member of an oppressed minority who has not yet garnered its civil rights. Let me say that again. Gay people have not yet garnered legal equality in the United States. That makes us (and trans, or gender queer people) the bottom rung of the civil rights ladder. If I feel like processing an awkward, but polite conversation I had with an older person from a more racist generation – that’s what I’ll do. And I’ll do it online to call attention to the issue.

I am not ‘required’ to start a shouting match with an old gay man who just wants to cuddle with someone on a Friday night. I have respect for people, even racist people. If anything, I’m interested in hearing his perspective, because it’s so foreign to me. It makes me feel good that society might be slightly different now than when he was my age.

I’m not interested in ‘getting my head in the right place,’ if that means people from one oppressed minority are attacking people from another oppressed minority. I don’t quite think I deserve a kick in the nuts for talking about racial politics on my blog. I think calling attention to the issue is valuable for its own sake, and I won’t change my format or apologize.

People seem to be uncomfortable that I’m eroticizing Asian men on my blog. Too bad. It’s about time we as a society started looking at Asian men as sex symbols. There are very few Asian male sex symbols in the media today, though things are slowly changing. I don’t think I’m helping make great strides in racial politics, but then again I’m just a comic. I say what’s on my mind and some people listen. I’m grateful, and on a good day, humble.

I do think it would be useful if you folks went after straight white people, instead of a working class gay guy, but that’s your prerogative. Enjoy complaining to your friends about my blog, and as always, thanks for reading!

Michael

2013-04-30 15.31.19

Thanks Old Faggot – Part Two

Him: So tell me a little about yourself?

Me: What do you want to know?

Him: Well, why do you meet people online who are clearly lying about their age?

Me: Well. I write about it. I had a string of painful, awkward dates about a year and a half ago, and I started writing about it. People starting reading. Now, when I come across someone online who seems angry, self important, or blatantly deceptive -no offense…

Him: None taken…

Me: Instead of ignoring or blocking those people, I go out with them and write about my experiences with them.

Him: I’m not sure I like that.

Me: I’m not sure I asked for your approval.

Him: That’s why. That’s why I don’t like it.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: You’re being glib. Sarcastic.

Me: Do you think?

Him: I do. I think it’s a real problem with your generation. You roll your eyes at everything and you’re terrified of any sort of genuine human interaction.

Me: Doesn’t this particular interaction – me sitting with you on this park bench – prove your theory wrong? Isn’t this a genuine human interaction?

Him: Well it would be, except you have the ulterior motive of wanting material for your blog.

Me: And you have the ulterior motive of wanting to sleep with me.

Him: No I don’t.

Me: Come home with me and give me a blowjob.

Him: Okay.

Me: SEE!

Him: Okay fine, I concede that you’re right about that. But where did you meet me?

Me: On Grindr.

Him: Exactly! A site for guys to meet each other because they want to hook up…

Me: So?

Him: So – who’s worse? Me, the horny, dishonest old man?? Or you, the good-looking young liar?

Me: Jeez, Old Faggot – can’t we BOTH be awful people?

Him: HAHA. We can…

Me: And thanks for the compliments. You’re a handsome guy yourself.

Him: Thanks, can I put my hand in your lap?

Me: Twenty years ago you can.

Him: What an asshole.

(pause)

Him: So why?

Me: Why what?

Him: Why put yourself in these awful situations? What do you gain from it?

Me: I don’t know. I like writing about things that are true

Him: Don’t give me that horseshit. You’re being sarcastic.

Me: I’m not! I’m just saying it sarcastically!

(pause)

Him: So you started writing why?

Me: To process stuff. I was in a long relationship that ended. About a year went by with me being single. Then I started dating again. People were awful. Defensive. Petty. Small. I wanted to write about it. Kept me from getting depressed. After a while though, I started seeking out people because they seemed a little off. It got alienating. I don’t know exactly why I’ve kept doing it. I’m compelled to, somehow.

Him: Ugh.

Me: What?

Him: Just…  Your generation.

Me: What?

Him: You guys all feel shy, and alienated, and lonely, and yet you’re so very hyper-connected. It’s narcissistic. Everyone is squawking constantly, but nobody is listening. Nobody cares. And worse – you don’t just urgently need to communicate your awkwardness or your ironic detachment – you guys fetishize it.  

Me: I’m not sure I’d go that far.

Him: I would! What is an American Apparel ad, if not fetishizing awkwardness?

Me: Uh…  It’s…

Him: Or what about those movies by P.T. Anderson?

Me: … Boogie Nights?

Him: No, that’s a great film. I mean like Rushmore and the other one…

Me: Royal Tenenbaums?

Him: Ugh. Awful. So coy, and precious, and ironic…

Me: So you mean Wes Anderson.

Him: I guess. He’s all the things about your generation I don’t understand. He fetishizes that alienation you were talking about. He urges the rest of you to indulge in this glorification of the uncomfortable. Life doesn’t have to be so labored and ungraceful, you know. We used to just call it ‘going on a bad date,’ and it happened every once in a while, but we didn’t react by being glib or sarcastic on the next date. That was considered rude. We certainly didn’t write about it for the world to read.

Me: Okay fine. I get it. You don’t approve.

Him: I don’t.

Me: Well then don’t read.

Him: I certainly won’t.

(pause)

Me: You know. You spent a lot of time calling me indelicate. But that doesn’t explain why you think I’m interesting enough to sit here and waste the afternoon with. Stop looking at my dick. It’s nothing special.

Him: It looks pretty nice, through your pants.

Me: Thanks Old Faggot.

Him: Can I ask you one more question?

Me: Sure. But you have to wait until Part Three.

Him: Why?

Me: I rarely blog more than 800 words.

Him: Why?

Me: It’s self indulgent, Jerk.

FriDATE: I Love You

Him:  I love this place.

Me:  I know.  It’s gonna be hard, not having coffee here when you go back to Chicago, right?

Him:  I can’t believe I stayed here the whole five days.  I was supposed to play it cool, stay with friends a night or two…

(pause)

Me:  Oh.  No.

Him:  What?

Me:  Oh man.  Look at that couple that just walked in.

Him:  Do you know them?

Me:  Uh.  No.  But I can’t stand them.

Him:  I’m sorry? 

Me:  This happens to me only rarely.  Sometimes I decide that I don’t like someone based solely on observing them for an extended period of time.

Him:  OH!  Yeah, I think I know what you’re talking about.  What did these two do?

Me:  You know, I can’t say, exactly.  It’s just….  them.  I’ve seen them all over the neighborhood lately.  I’d never seen them before and then they started popping up everywhere, turning their noses up at things…

Him:  You’re talking about the Gay couple that just walked in?

Me:  Uh.  Yes…  Do you see anyone else snootily turning their noses up at everything?

Him:  Hm.  Good point.

Me:  Watch them.   They’ll be perfectly friendly, but they’ll have a snotty, snide air the whole time.  They’re even worse on the train, when they’re not on good behavior.

Him:  This is good behavior?

Me:  Apparently.  Look at the tall one.  He’s the worst.  The smaller one, the red head, would be okay on his own, but together they’re this big, palpable, Gay nuisance.

Him:  I agree.  The red head is simply beady-eyed, and untrustworthy.   But the taller one, he just oozes sarcasm and punishing Gay hipster irony. 

Me:  Yes.  Somebody was mean to him in high school, and now he’s making up for it by cunting all over younger, more impressionable art Fags.  Uh oh…

Him:  What?

Me:  It’s occurring to me that we’re as bad as them.  We’re being as judgmental as we imagine them to be.

Him:  Don’t say that!  We can’t be as awful as them.  We at least control our facial expressions.

Me:  True enough, the taller, more stork-like one walks around all day with a scrunched up scowl.

Him:  As if he’s constantly smelling bad cheese.

Me:  HA.  Exactly.

Him:  Safe to say, we don’t know them but we hate them.

Me:  Ha.  Okay.  Oh.

Him:  What?

Me:  Speaking of love and hate.

Him:  Yes?

Me:  Last night…  when i was boning you…

Him:  Oh no.  I thought you missed that! I thought you didn’t notice.

Me:  Uh.  People notice stuff like that.

Him:  DON’T.  It was a syntax error, if anything.

Me:  I think you mean scansion.  It didn’t scan the way you intended.

Him:  So embarrassing.  Why would you bring this up now?

Me:  Hey, it’s not every day that someone you’ve known for a week says ‘I love you,’ while you’re having sex.

Him:  I said:  “I love you inside me.”

Me:  You said ‘I love you,’ and then a long pause, and then you said,’ inside me.’

(long pause)

Me:  It’s okay.  I thought it was cute.  I was like ‘aw…  he’s having I love you fantasies.’

Him:  No, that’s not it.  It was feeling really good, and I meant to say I love you inside me, but in the middle of the sentence i got caught up in what was going on.  It was just a mistake.

Me:  Hey.  I am just breaking your balls.  I know it wasn’t a love confession.  If anything I thought it was cute.

Him:  Okay.   That’s good to know. 

(pause)

Him:  Oh, look at them now.  Looks like the storky one doesn’t like his pastry.

Me:  Oh NO!!  His Sunday afternoon is ruined!!

Him:  Whatever will he DO??

Me:  He’ll have to be content with his own sense of self satisfaction.  It will have to suffice.

Him:  Somehow, I think it will.

Me:  Hey, can I say something?

Him:  Okay.

Me:  I really love you.

(long pause)

Me:  When you make fun of people with me.

Him:  You’re such a jerk.

Me:  You’re right.  I am.

Saturdate:

(photo by Jack Slomovitz)

Him:  I’m sorry I’m late.

Me:  Stop it, you look gorgeous.

Him:  Ha.  Thanks.  So what’s your deal?

Me:  What?

Him:  Yeah, so you make these pies or what?

Me:  Oh.   My site.  Yeah, I make a lot of pies.  I got good at them and it’s taken me a lot of places.

Him: So, what?  If I start dating you you’ll just be obsessed with pie the whole time?  You’ll just bake pie and feed it to me?  I get to eat all the pie?  Where is it?  Did you bring pie here?

Me:  We’re taking a walk in the park in the middle of the day.

Him:  I’m joking, stupid.  I thought you said you do comedy?

Me:  Um. I do.

Him:  So?

(pause)

Me:  You’re a buyer for Macy’s?

Him:  Yeah, I decide what does and does not go into Macy’s.  I have so much power.  Just kidding.

Me:  I bet you have a certain amount of power.

Him:  Not really.

Me: Oh.  Okay.  Admittedly I don’t understand it.  So…

(pause)

Him:  So what is it?  I’m confused.  You’re giving me all these different stories here.

Me:  What’s what?  Huh?

Him:  You bake pies?

Me:  Is this a real conversation?

Him:  No, yes.  But you said you write music and do comedy.  But which is it?  Who am I talking to right now?

Me: Me?  My name is Michael?

Him:  But what do you…  which Michael am I speaking with?  The comic or the baker or the guitar player?

Me:  I don’t…  All of them?  None?  How am I supposed to address that?

Him:  I want to hear your music.  Is that your guitar?

Me:  No, this is a baritone ukulele.  I just came from practice.

Him:  Ukuleles are smaller than that.  That’s almost a guitar. 

Me:  Okay then, it’s a small guitar.  But the guy who sold it to me said it was a ukulele.

Him:  I want to hear a song.  Do you have a recording?

Me:  Yeah, there’s recordings of us singing, but I could just sing something for you now.  Nobody’s around.

Him:  Oh God no.  No.  I’d like to hear a recording.  Alone.

Me:  Alone?

Him:  Well, if it’s terrible, what am I supposed to say?

(pause)

Me:  Lie.

Him:  Lie?

Me:  Yeah.  If I play you a song, and it’s awful, you lie and say it’s great.

Him:  Why would I do that?

Me:  Because, we live in something called a society.  It doesn’t work unless we lie to people about certain things.

Him:  I’d rather hear a recording.

(pause)

Me:  I’d rather you did too.

Him: Ew!  You just said you don’t want to play for me anymore.

Me:  That’s correct.  That’s what I just said.

Him:  Ew.  You’re supposed to convince me that you’re good.

Me:  I am?

Him:  Yeah.  You’re supposed to convince me that you’re worth listening to.

(long pause)

Me:  I don’t think I am going to do that.

Him:  What??

Me:  Look at it from my perspective:  I meet a guy online.  He thinks I’m cute.  He invites me to meet him for a walk in the park.  I say yes.   When I get on the date he seems annoyed at my choice of professions.  He even fringes on ridicule.  Then he cringes at the thought of listening to a song that he, himself, asked about.  Then he challenges me to convince him that I’m not terrible before I sing to him, because he’s so incredibly sensitive!  He couldn’t possibly be called upon to dredge up a compliment for my shitty, shitty song….

Him: Ew.  You make me sound bad.

Me:  It gets worse.  You then try to make me sell myself to you, and convince you I’m not terrible, before you will deign to hear me play.

Him:  That’s your job as a performer.

Me:  My job as a performer is to perform.  I have put the work in.  I have written and re-written and performed.  And performed.  And you know what?  After more than a decade here in New York, it’s finally my job.

Him:  I guess you’re sensitive about that?

Me:  I guess I am.  Are you sensitive about your job?

Him:  Not at all.

Me:  Really?  It was a shitty line you sported this spring.

Him:  NO IT WAS NOT.

Me:  No.  It wasn’t.  But you just proved my point.

Him:  Hey, buddy…  my taste is superb.  You don’t just get this job i have randomly…

Me: Right.  And you don’t just get the one I have either.  So next time…

Have some fucking respect.

Jerk.

MonDATE

rendered by Alexis Millena

Him:  Why did you txt me?

Me:  We’ve been hanging out lately.  I saw on Facebook that you went out for Pride instead of studying.

Him:  Did you notice how I didn’t call you, even though I went out?

Me:  Yes.  That’s why I txted you.

Him:  Did you ever wonder that there might be a reason I didn’t tell you I was going out?

Me:  Sure.  You wanted to get blackout drunk and have sex with strangers.

Him:  That’s right.  And I didn’t want to see YOU.

Me:  Stop that.  We’ve been getting along very nicely.

Him:  I don’t care.  I want to punch you.  I don’t have to see you all the time if I don’t want to.  I don’t have to let you back into my life just because you decide it’s time for us to reconcile.

Me:  Are you on drugs? You’re the one who came here.

Him:  No.

Me:  How wasted are you?

(pause)

Him:  So here I am, okay?  HERE I AM.  You summoned me.  You txted me and I came right over, just like I ALWAYS do.

Me:  Don’t.  Don’t be like that.  We’ve been getting along.  Remember?  We had a good time at the movies.  You came to my party.  You’ve spent the night.

Him:  I hope you don’t think we’re having sex.  We’re not having sex.

Me:  I don’t care.  I just wanted to see you.  There’s a closeness between us.  A specialness.

Him:  I want to hit you.

Me:  Well I’m putting this knife away then.

(pause)

Him:  What’s different now?  What’s different?

Me:  I’m different.

Him:  Well I’m NOT.  I am the same.

Me:  No, you’re not.  People grow and change.  You’re different now.

Him:  That’s so arrogant of you.  You’re so completely arrogant.

Me:  It’s true.  What I said is true.  Also, I’m arrogant.  You’re right.

Him:  This has – we’ve already done this!  Twice.  I hang around you for a few months and then I put my heart on the line and you rip it out.

Me:  That’s not fair.  You approached me as I was going through a couple of failing relationships.  I was broken at the time.  I couldn’t give anyone anything.

Him:  And that’s different now?

Me:  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’ve been single now for almost a year.

Him:  What’s wrong with you?

Me:  I don’t know.  I’m broken right now.

Him:  Good.  SO AM I.

Me:  GOOD.  THEN WE ARE THE SAME.

(I hold him.  He struggles.)

Him:  Don’t.  Don’t you do this.  Why can’t you just leave it?  Why did you have to start bothering me again?

Me:  You don’t have another friend like me!  I am the only friend you have like this.  I’m the only one who is going to show up at your house in six months with a can of paint, a mop bucket and a broom.  I will FORCE you into adulthood.  I need you.  You have an incredible mind.  Incredible.  And you waste it away.  And that’s going to change.

Him:  People don’t have very much luck forcing me to do things.

Me:  I know the feeling.

(pause)

Him:  Go on a date with me.

Me:  Be my friend.

Him:  Go on a date with me.

Me:  No.

Him:  WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

Me:  Intimacy.  Closeness.  Specialness.  If you want to have sex, fine.  If not, that’s okay too.  I feel good when you’re around.  You brighten things up, and you’re very stimulating, intellectually.  Why can’t we enjoy what’s right in front of us, instead of focusing on the one thing we can’t have?

Him:  Do you want to go on a date with me?

Me:  Yes.

Him:  Will you go on a date with me?

Me:  No.

Him:  Why?

Me:  So many reasons.  Because one date will lead to seven dates which will lead to me ripping your heart out.  Because if I let myself fall in love with you I would force you to stop doing drugs and drinking all the damn time.  I’d make you get on a mortgage with me.  I’d make you adopt a kid.  All of those things terrify the shit out of you.  You’re not ready for that, and you know it.

(pause)

Him:  Can we just go to bed and hold each other?

Me:  Yes.  I would like that very much.

Him:  Michael.  I’m not like this.  I don’t let people affect me this way.  I’m the one who goes out and parties and does drugs and fucks three people in one night, and I’m not even ashamed of that.

Me:  I know.  And you’re also brilliant.  And I’m not willing to let that brilliance go.  You don’t believe this but you affect me too.

Him:  How do you know that it won’t self destruct and implode again?

Me:  I’m wiser now.  I don’t have to be right about everything.  I won’t let it happen again.

Him:  I will.  I’ll ruin it.  I’ll fly off the handle and ruin everything.

Me:  So be it.  I’ll let another year go by and approach you again.

Him:  I hate you, a little.  I’m angry at you.

Me:  No.  You’re angry at yourself. (pause)  And me, clearly.  But the drinking and drugs?  That’s you being angry at YOU.

Him:  Do you know what I did tonight?

Me:  Jerked off twice, got restless, went out, got wasted, fucked a twink?

Him:  That is accurate.  Yes.

Me: Why don’t you hold me for a second, till we get tired?

Him:  Fine.

Jerk.