Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Life is a Banquet ..."

You know that moment in "Auntie Mame" when a bedraggled Agnes Gooch returns from a night out with Mame's ghost writer / bon vivant / gigolo; the response a newly knocked-up and wildly undone Gooch weakly replies to the apt question, 'what happened?' is an abashed and weak, "I lived ..." Queens and gentlemen, let me say that to my knowledge I neither married nor engaged in the requisite activities to wind up knocked up, but indeed I lived.

It all began with my first irresponsible act of 2009. Given that we're in the second month of '09, I'd say I'm not doing so badly, but I digress; last Thursday, by hook, crook, and begging, I managed to wrangle $1,396.92 out of Incarnate Word. I even got them to hand over the check rather than mailing it out - as is their policy. I promptly headed to the bank to cash it, grabbed sushi from the grocer down the street from the bank and had to run out to Stone Oak to pick up the Frenemy who had me running errands for him while he was at work. Mind you, errands consisted of running around with $1900 in cash going to several (not all) of his innumerable creditors to pay his $300 cell phone bill, nearly $300 light bill, etc. I marveled at how far beyond his means Steven lives, and then thought ever so lovingly of how much debt I'm in at present and promptly shut up on the subject.

My student loan debt alone is such that I could have purchased at least three very large Mercedes.

After a brief pause at Incarnate Word to write up a blog and send an apologetic email re. missing class, I missed class. Actually, I should say that I skipped class. I actually felt horrible about it (particularly as it was the class I really like), but I also had over a thousand dollars in my pocket and the option (finally) to buy food from some place other than a fast food establishment or street vendor.

As it happens, when I had the option to pay for dinner, I didn't have to. Since I was skipping class, the Frenemy decided it was a perfect evening to do "the audit." I have mentioned in previous letters, the audit is an annual tradition - born of Steven's indomitable spirit and unconscionable anal retentive-ness, and my ever-present desire for a good meal and a hearty laugh. We get together at something resembling a fine restaurant, order a lavish meal, and many glasses of wine, and Steven pulls out the 50 to 100 pages of the previous year's diary. It covers a little bit of everything - meals eaten, phone calls made or received, walks in the park, and days at work. It is also the absolute authority, once again by way of Steven's anal retentive record-keeping, on the Frenemy's sex life.

He keeps track of the number of partners he's had in the previous year (bragging rights, I suppose ...), and the purpose of our dinners is to tally up those numbers. This year he decided that we should break it up by gender. This does not mean that he sleeps with both men and women, of course; no, rather it means that he has sex as a man ... and as a woman. For the past decade or so, although she's had several different names, Steven has gotten all dolled up to go troll the West side bars - La Rancherita and Los Sombras - to give drunken cholos blow-jobs in his car or behind a convenient dumpster, occasionally in the bed of a big Ford truck or on the hood of a Chevy. When dressed for a weekend evening, Steven becomes the nympho-maniacal and overly rouged Victoria Ann Sanchez ... Tori.

It takes four razors, a bottle of Nair, a dollar store dress, Pay-less stilettos and an entire tube of lipstick to get her going, but much like the juggernaut, once she gets going neither rain nor sleet will keep her from her selected target(s). To that end, Tori seduced 104 men last year - a rather impressive number for a made-up person who exists only to satisfy base animal needs.

And then there is the Frenemy. Not to be undone by his alter-ego, Steven turned over a new leaf last year. Frequenting adam4adam.com and manhunt.net, not to mention the men 4 men section of Craig's List, Steven - while attempting to date five different men last year (among them, one of my favorite bartenders - and occasional friend with benefits - Sevi), and including the hustler / hooker / drug dealer / POZ twink with too much bronzer and not enough sense, Steven slept with 129 men (not including repeats)!

And for those of you keeping track, that brings his total number of sex partners for 2008 to a whopping 233! As several people who've heard the number remarked, "that's almost a man a day ..." To say the least, such numbers are impressive for someone who spent five months of last year in a relationship. Ironically, the person with whom he was involved was the one person he did not screw.

And on the subject of sex, I am still not having it. I am rather enjoying the celibacy; enforced or not, not having sex does give one time to evaluate what you really want ... and the bicep of my right arm is fabulous. My porn collection has expanded, naturally, to include both "Black N Large 3" and "Boys Misbehaving." I would make the usual comment about how porn should have better titles or writing, but first off that's not why one watches porn - for the intellectual stimulation, and second that's how we wind up with "I Know Who You Blew Last Summer," "Shaving Ryan's Privates," and that horrid but incredibly lavish "Pirates of the Carribean" porn I saw while browsing the Adult Video Megaplex last week.

I did, interestingly enough, spend the night with the guy I'm seeing. I find myself using that phrase when referencing my dear(est), darling crack-head. We do not date. In fact, the closest thing we had to a date was going dutch at Taco-Cabana one morning after a drug binge that culminated with oral sex and falling off the couch. I am absurdly attracted to him, and although he calls what we have a friendship, we're all over each other when we get together - public or private, we just keep touching each other and otherwise being very couple-ish. It's a disgusting display, I'm sure, but it's nice to be that couple once in a while - even though we aren't a couple.

I still think fondly of that odd night - some time ago now, more than a year, less than two - when I was seeing both Rich and Mark, and I was in a that couple
circumstance with them both - in the same bar; I was holding Rich's hand while kissing Mark. Some moments you just can't revisit.

I was actually out with Sabra when I ran into Mark this last time. Sabra and I met up for dinner (pork plates at Broadway 50/50) and drinks (Web House). The conversation turned to silliness - talk of old friends from high school who now have wives, husbands, kids - including Sabra herself, who has three. Inevitably the conversation turned to Sabra's family, or rather to her marriage ... or rather, to her divorce.

Although my father, who attended Sabra's wedding, gave it 6 months, Sabra and Bobby lasted 10 years. None of us in the know ever thought it would end (without blood-shed), but relationships are full of surprises (and crap). Accordingly, when Bobby walked out one day he took the kids (her laptop and the washer and dryer), and then he moved in with Sabra's cousin - a bed-hopping common law married bottle blonde whose sole ambition in life seems still to be sleeping with the entire male population of whatever trailer park she's woken up in most recently.

When the relationship with his wife's cousin went south, i.e. when the cousin's common-law husband with the gun collection and felony assault history found out it was going on, Bobby returned to his wife - to cry on her shoulder. In the course of counseling him through his break-up, and in the midst of what was very nearly a very bitter divorce, they began having a torrid affair.

Somewhere in there he cried guiltily (and pitiably) about cheating on his wife's cousin, with his wife. There are a number of other very odd statements he's made over the past year or two this has all been going on, but - as Sabra observes very practically - "at least I'm getting laid regularly." Apparently, divorce has proved fabulous for their sex life.

Bobby was jealous that Sabra was out with me, although neither she nor I could quite figure out why that was the case. We eventually agreed that it was just his 30-something version of teen angst. It's sort of like an episode of "My So-Called Life," but I lose myself in that particular simile.

Meanwhile, I spent part of yesterday with Warren and Andrew. I always enjoy my time with them, and I think somehow that the chaos and drunkenness that define that house also explain the sense of comfort and home most everyone enjoys there. My father, eager to see my car, offered to drive me over to Warren's. I agreed and then spent the whole drive thinking about how my father would react to a drunken, slurring Czarina Warrenina Joskes descending the stairs naked and doing his best Norma Desmond.

I was tempted to let it happen, on the off chance that my father would lose some of his classic Southern polish and simply flip the fuck out. At the last minute, I decided that 84 is a bit too old for that particular experience. So, I had him drop me off. My car - the rather diva-esque 1979 Lincoln Town Coupe (in Wedgwood blue) - was in the driveway and upon entering the house, expecting neither chaos nor calm, I discovered something right in the middle. I had been there ten minutes, and was in fact upstairs in the office - writing up a sales receipt - when I was called upon to do someone's taxes.

The woman renting one of the boys' properties and a friend came by with paperwork in hand, ready for productivity. Warren was actually more ill than drunk, taken out by the same allergies that have very nearly kept me sober. I worked on Turbo Tax while Warren sneaked downstairs to fix a cocktail. There was a screaming match that ensued, the tax client was asking questions about tax laws, and I ran out of cigarettes. It was perhaps the very epitome of drama and yet I felt so perfectly at ease in all of it. Between Warren and myself, we got the client a nearly $7000 refund, and once they were gone and the house was empty (Andrew, I think, went off to buy another car), the Czarina and I took the car out for its maiden voyage. We went to a liquor store. Two handles of vodka - one hidden in the oven, for later - Warren and I sat and enjoyed a drink.

Sitting there, in that resplendent kitchen, the sun beaming down on us, a fat black cat and two happy little dogs running about, the gorgeous red of the dining room seeming so perfect in the afternoon light, I thought about peace. Amid all the drama of that day and other days, despite all the screaming and the drunken moments, Andrew's and Warren's relationship, their life, is the one most resembling what I want for myself someday ... a loving, old, ultimately happy union where life in all of its occasional ugliness is shared.

I am so tired of hearing that trite old maxim, "everything in time" ... or the patronizing, "Your time will come." After the first decade or so of wanting love that line got old. In truth, not everyone finds someone. I don't know that I will. I do know, though that I am enjoying a banquet. I live.

And from that life, more stories will come.


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