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.

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Letters

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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

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Letters

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Hey Michael, 

I’m the guy from Duke University/UCB that you talked to on Friday at the Blue Boar. Since talking to you I’ve followed your advice by not fucking anybody in the comedy world and so far it’s going great. It was fun hearing gossip and an honest perspective about UCB, and I’d love to pick your brain again about how one goes about turning comedy and song writing into a career.

Rick

Hey Rick,

It was fun talking to you, too.

So, yeah, don’t fuck any comics. I’ve watched a few of my friends date themselves out of career options when relationships with other comics go bad. One friend in particular springs to mind. She’d had so many failed relationships with UCB comics that there were few teams at the NYC theater who would have her perform with them. Politics, politics…  She’s still successful in her own right, but for my money I’d do it differently.

Aside from that, my only other advice is keep going. And, don’t just improvise. Write jokes. Write sketches. Write pilots and spec scripts. You never know when you’ll meet the person who can put your script in the right hands. Also, just keep writing and performing as much as possible. That sounds cliche but it’s true. Keep at it.

I hope this helps, and please invite me to your shows?

Michael

Dear Michael,

 
You may not remember, but about two and a half years ago, I wrote you about being in the closet at the Naval Academy. I just wanted to say thank you so much for the advice you gave me to stick it out. Soon after you posted your response, I started to come out and the response was mixed but mostly good. My last two years at school were much better since I wasn’t worried about people finding out about my sexuality and I actually found a great group of friends who were either out or in the process of coming out. This past May, my boyfriend and I graduated from Annapolis and started our careers as officers. I am so glad that I decided to stay and just wanted to again say thanks for helping me make that decision.
 
Sincerely,
Brad
Thanks, Brad.
It isn’t very frequent I get a follow up from one of my advice letters, and it’s nice to know I didn’t steer you in a disastrous direction. You and your boyfriend sound totally adorable and everyone in the world must be jealous when you two arrive at a military function in dress uniforms, holding hands. In fact, I’m picturing that right now, and I’m wondering if you two would like to come photograph for the blog in uniform?
Thanks for coming out of the closet. It’s important we stay visible, since the world needs positive gay role models. You boys are an inspiration.
xo
Michael
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More Colby Keller

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adam gardiner

Me: Talk about overcoming shame about your body?

Him: Eventually you realize [porn] is not having sex with someone you want to have sex with. It’s a job. It took me a while to get past those anxieties. Now it’s like, maybe I’m concerned with how my body is positioned for the camera.

Me: (to the photographer) Adam, speak to this. A model must be both aware and unaware of their body at the same time. True or False?

The Photographer: Yeah, but it’s about their generosity too. Of spirit and the quality of person that they are. It’s not about looks. When you’re good at it it’s because something generous about yourself translates. There’s something shared that you experience in the person. Caught in a moment. That’s the engaging part of a photograph.

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Him: I think you really have to let go, and that’s a difficult thing to do.

Me: You shoot high fashion right?

The Photographer: I shoot – I don’t call it high fashion, but I do shoot highly commercial work. The thing that I became really good at was always photographing somebody in a way that they were flattered by, and kind of built them up and made them feel better. Somebody said that I try to look at people the way they would look in the eyes of someone in love with [the subject]. I’ve been very lucky.

Me: There was a moment in the shoot where you made us switch aprons. What was that about?

Him: Just to reassert myself as the alpha male.

(laughter)

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Me: That’s the thing about being gay that I love. There can be four gays in a room and we know that each of us will have our moment to be alpha. With straight guys that would end up as a fight. It wouldn’t – there’s always one guy in a group of straight guys who’s a dick but ‘that’s his thing.’ Straight guys have that issue because they can’t [have sex with] each other. I wish they could! Wouldn’t they be perfect?

(laughter)

Him: Some of them do.

Me: How did you come to pornography?

Him: I just graduated college and curious and had trouble finding a job. I submitted pictures one night thinking they would tell me no, and they said yes. I felt like I had to do it, because it had happened.

Me: Just to let everyone know, he’s getting a hug from his boyfriend right now.

Him: You know, like when you’re afraid of heights and you climb a mountain. I had to do it.  I had to push myself to that point.

Me: Why did you like to do it? Because you like to push buttons. You like to fuck with your mom and dad.

Him: No! It’s not about that. I like to fuck with my self, and challenge myself.

Me: Would you agree Karl Marx?

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His Boyfriend: Oh of course. He hates nostalgia, and sitting on his laurels intellectually. He’s always looking for something new. He’s so focused on challenging himself artistically and intellectually. That’s why I fell in love with him. He’s so good at working against it. Entropy is always the enemy.

Me: Entropy is always the enemy and it always wins eventually. So we have to fight it.

His Boyfriend: While we’re here we have to fight it, but he’s a great person to ride behind, because he’s constantly pushing against it.

Me: I fucking love that.

To be continued…

More Colby Keller here.

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The Narrator

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Hey fags.

I directed a show at The Magnet Theater.

It’s part of the Director’s Series. Once a month they ask a seasoned comic to direct a show on Thursday nights. December is going to be my month. Shows will be tonight, the 13th and the 27th. Tickets are 7 dollars.

Here’s some pretentious shit I pulled out of my ass for the Magnet blog:

“Rather than doing an improvised musical, we’re doing a musical that is improvised. This means that we’re going for compelling stories with high stakes emotional conflicts to underwrite our funny moments. Audiences should expect a wild ride. Certainly there will be laughter. Possibly there will be tears, and definitely one actor will be in the driver’s seat calling the shots for a completely realized musical narrative.”

What an asshole, right? At least the cast is good. Not only are they hilarious (duh, I taught them) but they’re all damn good actors. Come check it out. I’m proud of the work we did. Jerks.

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The Ficus is Dead – Part Three

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Me: Yeah. And the definition of a nice Thanksgiving is one where I don’t show up and ruin things. So yeah, I didn’t speak to you after that, because you proved to me that you don’t care about me anymore. I decided right then that I wasn’t going to reach out to you again, until you reached out first. Ha. I guess you called my bluff! Cause a year has gone by and you didn’t even know I was hurting over it. But it doesn’t matter anymore because the ficus is dead. It’s dead and it’s not ever, ever coming back and you don’t get to know about that!

(pause)

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Me: You run away from everything.

Him: You. Left. Me.

Me: You left me a long time before that for your drunk ass writer friends.

Him: You wanted me to be a writer!

Me: NOW YOU ARE ONE. Are you happy?

Him: Yes, Michael. I am. I’m very happy, actually.  I love my house, and I love my car and I love my boyfriend. And you’re passive aggressive, but I love you too. I just can’t be around you all the time anymore, or maybe even at all. AND I DON’T OWE IT TO YOU TO EXPLAIN WHY.

Me: That’s fine! But I don’t owe it to you to tell you when the ficus dies.

Him: That was a metaphor for us!

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Me: It still IS. Our relationship, and I mean our friendship – died. It died in the past year as you turned your back on me and slowly cut me out of our circle of friends. Have you ever seen August Osage County?

Him: No. Why?

Me: Tracy Letts writes a line for one of the characters, about how people are always complaining that America is dying, but the truth of the matter is that America died a long time ago, while Americans were focused on other things. Curling irons. New Cars. Televisions. I’m paraphrasing.

Him: So?

Me: So that’s us. We’re the ficus. It’s dead, and you didn’t even know it was dying. And because of that you don’t get to deserve to know.

Him: Do you see how passive aggressive you are?

Me: You don’t know the half of it. Talk about passive aggressive – you’re imaginary!

Him: What?

Me: I’m making you up. I’m not really saying this to you. This is just what I wish I could say to you. You’re a fantasy Carson.

Him: GOD YOU’RE SO…

Me: Passive aggressive? Maybe you’re right, but at least I’m real, and you’re not, so haha. Anyway, you got all our friends in the breakup so you can console yourself with that.

Him: Hm. Well. In that case…

Me: Yes?

Him: Since I’m a fantasy Carson, I can’t get a hangover. Should we have another beer. Talk this out some more?

Me: I go in circles with this, but I always wind up forgiving you.

Him: Aw you’re sweet. Do you forgive yourself?

Me: I’m starting to. It’s hard. That’s the hardest thing.

Him: Oh, shit, sweetie – I just realized.

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Me: What?

Him: Jason’s coming back with cigarettes.

Me: No he isn’t. This is my fantasy and he doesn’t exist.

Him: Oh no! I love him though. Plus I really wanted a cigarette.

Me: You mean like the cigarette you have in your hand right now?

Him: Oh wow. You can do that?

Me: It’s my fantasy.

Him: That’s neat. But why not just make a version of me that doesn’t crave cigarettes?

Me: Because I like your flaws sometimes.

Him: Why?

(long pause)

Me: Because I love you. What are you drinking?

Him: Stella.

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Me: I’ll go to the bar and get two Stellas then.

Him: I’ll be here when you get back.

Me: No, you won’t.

Him: What? Why?

Me: Because it’s my fantasy. And because the ficus is dead.

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