Thursday, May 21, 2009

"You're a bog, George ... a BOG ?!?!?!?!? Fix me another drink?"

The rumors of my arrest have been deftly avoided. Actually, the rumors stand as they may ... it is the reality of arrest which I avoid. The whole thing is generally legal - as the advice that staying out of jail is preferable to being in it came from an attorney, a bail bonds person, and at least one talking cat who appeared to me in a vision.

I should say that I was drowning my sorrows in a vat of vodka when the cat appeared to me, so perhaps he / she has somehow less authority than the other two, but who am I to judge?

In the time that I've been a fugitive from justice, I have developed a greater appreciation for freedom and the great many things the wide world has to offer. I avoid clubs, bars, and my favorite hipster haven like the plague itself, and I have suddenly become very fond of my womb-like bedroom - situated as it is away from windows, located in the very center of the house; my presence or absence at my father's house is impossible to discern, and that comes in handy when you are possessed of the very real possibility that the cops may come a-knockin'.

As it happens, my greatest aids and comfort in this complex little pas de deux with the system, other than the Czarina and the Great Prince - about whom I will explicate momentarily, has been the staffing service with which I've been registered for 4 years. A leader in the job placement world, and internationally known, I was eager to sign up with The Office years ago - fresh from college, newly degreed and ready to burst forth into the world. And like so many things in life to which I look forward and about which I am so optimistic, so innocently hopeful, they didn't do shit for me.

It was 2 years before I got anyone in the Office to return my phone calls, a full four years before they actually gave me an assignment. Even the charming, squeaky-voiced redhead office manager, Ryan, for whom my heart skips a beat and pants grow tight, has spurned my offers for coffee or a movie date. I think he once said, rather hesitantly - the second or third time I asked if he wanted to grab Starbuck's after work, "Well, I'm out of town this weekend ... but, you know where to find me. I'm always around ..." The words said 'maybe,' but the pinched smile and darting eyes said, 'I'm too polite to flatly turn you down.'

Ryan notwithstanding, over the past month or so, the Office has come through for me. I do have myriad skills, a few degrees under my belt, and at least a marginal knowledge of accounting principles (thank you, Czarina), so it was realistically only a matter of time before my assets started getting a little appreciation. The assignment that paid $15/hr., wherein I spent at least half my day catching up on celebrity gossip and the virtues of Go Fug Yourself, is over. The woman whose position I filled during her maternity leave returned last Monday. I spent the week there - working less and less each day - and was informed that my job was done at mid-day Friday.

I spent a lazy weekend avoiding the police that, thankfully, never came. I bided my time between barbecuing a 2" thick T-Bone steak (ribs, burgers, etc.) on an antique grill, luxuriated in the 10-person hot tub, and at some point, there was fishing.

As I mentioned once or twice before, the Czarina, the Great Prince (and their Stable Boy) have a landscaping business; actually, they have five or six businesses of various types that alternately provide a very comfortable income, which sustains the Winter Palace and our mutual bad habit(s) of being lush. It was for one of those jobs that we - like the odd family we form - piled into the royal work truck and road tripped our way to Marion, TX. I know nothing of Marion - except that, like most small towns in Texas, it is quaint ... and makes me vaguely nervous.

Oh, and the other thing I know is that there is a lovely home there, belonging to one of their clients. The place itself is impeccable - a contemporary ranch house with Matisse murals on upper walls, a sprawling pool, landscaping reminiscent of Babylon (a la the Czarina, most recently), and 20 acres of spare land, on which the man-made, professionally stocked lake sits. After the Great Prince made a minor repair of the pool, he and the Stable Boy went a-wadin', casting their lines to catch one of the large-mouth(ed) Bass that flitted occasionally just below the surface. It occurred to me - in the first hour of the fishing expedition - that the boys might have more luck just dipping a bucket into the water and waiting five minutes.

Moments later, the Great Prince landed a Bass.

the Czarina - being no great fan of fish - and the rest of us not big fans of cleaning fish, the rather large, wriggling thing was destined not for a plate but the royal Koi pond. A few months ago, in an effort to clean the pond, the Great Prince poured in a capful of bleach. The next morning, the four or five Koi that survived an assault by a very large 'coon - possibly the same one the Great Prince shot a few weeks ago - were belly up. So, it suddenly seemed apt, when heading to Marion, to restock the small, residential pond one 10 lbs. fish at a time.

Note: Slappy, as I dubbed him, has not been seen since. Whether it is that he is adapting to his new environment, or that Bass - being bottom dwellers are naturally shy - Slappy seems to prefer hiding beneath the fountain in the center of the pond, only emerging to enjoy a few bread-crumbs ... then retreating out of sight. Incidentally, Slappy is his stage name; I originally thought Bass-hole a more appropriate moniker.

I digress; back to the subject of working, and the Office, I am enjoying a temp. employee cliche, or several thereof. There was the three weeks long assignment that paid well and required little effort, of course - the start of all this. And then there was another recent job offer - $9.25/hr. that required a 128 mile daily commute and would only last 2 weeks. It entailed answering phones, and doing some basic records maintenance, at a small-town hospital I was not aware existed. I turned down the offer, which seemed to greatly dismay the young woman who called to offer it.

It occurs to me now, when did I become old enough to be indignant that the person calling with a horrible job offer is young enough to be my child?

Again, I digress, the very next morning, I received a call from the Office. Someone backed out of something, and I - having neither a life or any other prospects - am the go-to guy when such things occur. It was one of those classic ironies that seem largely to occur only to me. The offer this time was working the door at a job fair - the Diversity Job Fair. Diversity, in this instance, actually meant that the job fair was geared toward women. But, initially, I found myself amused that my black, gay, poor, over-educated and unemployed self was called upon to work the door at a diversity event.

The next event, tomorrow's, requires me to go a Home Depot warehouse to do inventory. I am counting lumber - siding, to be precise. Because the Office has a minimum hours clause in their contracts, I am getting paid for four hours of work, despite the fact that I am only allowed to be in the warehouse (and thus working) for one hour. I spoke to the company representative this morning, who observed, "Even if you do the most thorough count imaginable, you will likely be out of there in less than 30 minutes."

So, it seems the hallmark of my jobs is being well-dressed, smart enough to show up on time, and also to keep my mouth shut about the work I'm not required to do. There are perks to being over-educated, although job security is by no means one of them.

Thankfully, I at least get a few laughs here and there. When I arrived on the scene at the Diversity Job Fair, I found my co-worker quite easily. He was, of course, seated behind a table - collecting resumes, passing out the appropriate forms, and otherwise looking officious; and then there was the other thing. Although somewhere around his mid-40s, David V. - as he called himself - wore a suit (black pinstripe) that resembled something a black, Southern Baptist might wear to formal funeral - a jacket that fell to the knees, sequin trim on the lapels and pockets, wide-leg pants and square-toed shoes. I was vaguely reminded of both Elton John and Dorothy Zbornak, although the picture being completed by some very big hair, neither image quite fit.

David V.'s hair was Flock of Seagulls after male pattern baldness; he managed to avoid the dreaded comb-over, opting instead for the sort of teased-out height and flair that several drag queens I know would dub undignified. The streaks of gray were a touch of class, but it seemed more the result of not being able to afford a trip to the salon than it was a style choice. He was gay in that way that older men, raised by women, and who never had much luck (with anyone) are gay, i.e. he was nelly as the day is long but may well have been clinging to a closet door. His stories, and he told many, all began with, "Weeeeelllllllll .... to make a long story shhhhhhhoooooorrrrrrtttttt ..." insert impending irony and deep, Southern drawl.

I tuned the stories out, frankly, because I was too busy staring at the absurdly attractive men - many of them MBAs and CPAs who filtered into the crowd, clearly expecting more than they got. You know it's a sign of hard times when men who are presidents of their own companies show up at mid-day to make the rounds at a job fair, particularly one peopled by only eight companies - three of whom were the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Army.

Other than the impure thoughts I entertained about the adorable Coast Guard recruiter - who never stopped smiling and seemed two bricks shy of a shit-house, it was a lackluster event. He, the Coast Guard recruiter, possessed the lovable idiot quality we all find so endearing, and a body ... well, let's just say that navy blue never looked so naughty.

It could just be the months without sex talking, and I am sure it is, but my hormones have been out of whack of late. Other than the sex dream where Sean suddenly appeared, I can say that I've lost both my train of thought and track of time thinking happy thoughts about every man I see.

My recent return to Incarnate Word does me no small favors. The eye candy there abounds, and it is with a seemingly obscene unconscious abandon that all those 20-somethings run around in basketball shorts and no shirts. Cruel and unusual temptation ...

My lawyer, or was it the cat(?), recommended that I secure a job and return to school - that the likelihood of my being arrested and held is slightly lessened by having something more to lose than simple freedom. It is however true that I planned to enroll in summer classes anyway, but the additional incentive didn't hurt.

I am taking a course aimlessly named, "Media Convergence," taught - as the program director commented, "by a man who apparently wrote an article in the paper, and is now somehow an expert ..." It could be 10 weeks of low academic standards and weak support, but it may offer - if nothing else - a diversion from reading, masturbation, and "Murder, She Wrote" reruns. The other course, taught by said program director, is "American Cinema." Our first assignment, a 2 page paper, is on the subject of your favorite movie.

I spend whole weekends lying between the Czarina and the Great Prince in their big, comfy bed - two dogs, a cat, and the occasional spilled cocktail in the midst - watching the very best movies. I immediately thought of the Czarina when I got the assignment, and I thought of my favorite writer. I think - inevitably - despite the Bette Davis films, the Joan Crawford dramas, despite Cukor's "The Women" and myriad musicals I've seen one time too many, that it all comes back to Tennessee Williams - "Cat on a Hot, Tin Roof" or "A Streetcar Named Desire," or maybe it's just Elizabeth Taylor films ... "Cleopatra," "A Place in the Sun," "Taming of the Shrew," "Butterfield 8," or the film about which I think I'll write my paper, "Whose Afraid of Virgina Woolf?"

When it comes right down to it, you cannot beat a simple story - unbridled animosity co-mingled with deep and unabiding affection(s), booze, adultery, more booze, and marauding off into the dark New England night. It's everything I've ever wanted ...


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

... pay phones are hard(er) to find ...

In the absence of my darling, much-beloved, and oft-used cell phone, I am approaching life from a different perspective – one that requires carrying quarters and being well aware of my surroundings. It is only in certain parts of town – my father’s area among them – that one even finds pay phones these days, and only occasionally does one find those that are actually working.

My cell phone is, amusingly, still working; however, where it is working in not entirely clear. It was a dark, clear night – a young man in a tuxedo, a very cold room, and absolutely no good can come from the rest of the story, save that I am now convinced it is a mad, MADD, mad, mad world …

the Czarina and the Great Prince came to my rescue; humiliation is so often its own best lesson.

Ova the Top and Daddy are adorable – precisely what I expected, if less horny (at least in public) than anticipated. We all rendezvoused at the winter palace, ostensibly for a haircut (Ova was having a big hair month) and a meet-and-greet. I met Daddy – appropriately – bent over; he was taking a picture of a rare flower in the garden, but the jokes were readily apparent. And the view was lovely.

Ellen was ready to provide aid and comfort last night, the extent of which was friendly advice, legal tips, and a browse through the weird, wide web. We lighted on – a blog devoted entirely to mocking / analyzing the pictures (naked and otherwise, sometimes taken with dogs, cats, pet lizards, lawn furniture in creative uses, and even dead pheasants) men post on Craig’s List in effort of, well, anything and everything – from true love to kick-stand operator. It is amazing, speaking of how far men go to score, how distracting the background of a photo can turn out to be – even with an engorged dick in the foreground. One such blog entry featured a happy, naked frat boy tapping a keg, and himself … but both Ellen and I focused not on the hot, naked drunk guy but on the toaster oven (top-of-the-line … 30 years ago) in the background. It was such a fire hazard that both of us found ourselves staring at it in mild awe. In another picture, the satin sheets and waterbed prompted not only a discussion of how the guy obviously hadn’t changed his routine since the ‘80s, but also a whole conversation about how some senior groups advocate satin sheets and satin pajamas for senior with difficulty getting into and out of bed.

Evidently, the smoothness of satin – which makes sex so amusing (not to mention, risky) – also acts as an aid for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Aside from making satin PJs very unsexy, it also seems wrong-headed – as anyone who ever wore satin boxers and hopped into bed, only to go flying off the other side, would know.

The thought of Grandma breaking a hip while wearing satin pajama pants does tend to be creepy, no?

In any event, the idle nature of the activity … and the blog site … relaxed at least a bit of the tremendous tension I’ve felt since this weekend.

Also on hand – and scene was my darling high school senior and would-be something, Kenny. Give or take his age – graduating from high school this weekend – and that he is actually queenier than me, he seems a rather good fit.

Oh well, everything’s up in the air at the moment, so let’s just play the wait and see, shall we?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Don't forget the change ..."

the Frenemy is up to his old tricks – literally. While he is no longer buying things without telling me by way of my eBay account, a package came to my father’s house just the other day. Without telling me, and even though he has a post office box, Steven shipped his most recent eBay find to my front porch. And what was it? A very large, very short, black leather mini-skirt – from Old Navy. Clearly, the self-proclaimed “transexite” is ready to ride again.

Given that months ago, in an attempt to bury his slutty female alter-ego, he deposited the wig, the dresses, the size 12 heels and innumerable giant pairs of panties in my antique armoire, it somehow only seems fitting that additional accoutrement wind up at my house as well.

As usual, the Frenemy, proved to be the very picture of social (dis)grace. It started – as things so often do among the people I know – with drinks at a bar, Pegasus, I believe. Steven met up with an old friend, we shall call him “Piggy,” Piggy’s boyfriend, and new friends of theirs for a social evening. Apparently, the new couple were not exactly evenly matched – one being a 10 and the other somewhere around 6 ½ - and this fact prompted the Frenemy to comment, rather jealously – to the 6 ½, of course, “Wow … you’re really lucky to have him.” The offended 6 ½ asked him to repeat what he said, to clarify. Surely, no one would be so rude as to voice such a thing – although, in truth, the 6 ½ probably thinks this very thing himself on a regular basis. Steven repeated it, and the guy got upset. He went to Piggy, the Frenemy’s oldest (and dearest) friend, and Piggy then confronted the Frenemy on the subject of his frequent and recurring rudeness.

When the Frenemy called me to seek my opinion, I reminded him that some things are better left unsaid. I would have gone on to make a much bigger stink of it, but frankly – who cares? Steven was – at one point, for quite some time – my everyday. We spoke 10 or more times a day. We ran errands together groceries, laundry, the whole bit. I was thinking to myself that I did not recall when the shift occurred, when it was I reached the point where his very manner of speaking started leaving me cold, but that’s not true at all. I recall exactly.

It was some years ago, when the Frenemy wound up dating and (within 2 weeks) moving in with, the guy I was dating - Daniel. I am to this day sickened by the phrase both he and Daniel threw my way as some form of justification, “The heart knows no reason.” We started speaking again – after a year or two of comfortable silence – and I still hear the echo of that betrayal – and that wretched aphorism – in his voice in every call.

It is comforting – if you find comfort in such things – that some things never really change. And then, of course, some things do. the guy I’m seeing and I are no longer seeing each other … in any sense of the word. I ran into him yesterday when he stopped by Web House, which has for some time been the only way I ever saw him. That I had not been to Web in weeks accounted for the distance – at least the physical distance. He greeted me easily; we shared a tacit kiss, and there was a brief semblance of the old ‘us.’ It was short-lived. At some point in the course of the three or four drinks I served him while I was briefly tending bar, he opened up about his new ‘us.’

I should preface what I am about to say by noting that among the things not changed or changing is my uncanny ability to not only choose guys who have no interest in me, but who also unfortunately often become quite fond of each other. Thus, I have been damned on many, many, many occasions to standing on the side of the dance floor (or bath-house bunk bed, or my own bedroom – in one particularly unpleasant instance) watching while two (or more) of the men I’ve wanted suddenly very much want each other. It was one thing when Sean and Ova the Top threw me out of my own bed so that they could continue, uninterrupted, a marathon oral sex weekend. It was something else entirely when I learned yesterday that the guy I’m seeing is now involved with the guy I intended to go for next.

That the guy is openly crazy, a brilliant artist, well-endowed to apparently legendary proportions, and resembles Vincent Perez makes him endlessly desirable, at least in the sense that we all want the mysterious, artsy guy at one point or another. And he wants us all – the artsy guy in this case is bisexual, and the guy I’m seeing lamented that as he freely discussed his new love, and I poured another cocktail.

And sometimes things change and then go back from whence they came. the Straight Boyfriend returned to Web. He stormed out – dramatically – pulling his paintings off the wall and, defeated, spoke of absconding to Europe, away from the drama and trouble, the stress and difficulty. He may still go to Europe, but for now he is tending bar at my once and future favorite hipster haven.

the Crazy Russian is back as well. When last I heard, he was barred from entering his own bar, but he was there in all of his glory, still beleaguered – plagued by the dual dramas of his lover and his bad habit(s). He seems to have both in some sort of balance these days. the Mad Man kvetches but also manages to look the other way at all the right times.

It so often seems that the lies we tell ourselves are the only thing keeping so many of us at all sane.

The lies … and the laughter.

The other day, when the Czarina began a phone call by saying, “I was in the bedroom, and I heard my husband say ‘I need you downstairs … and bring the gun …’ ” I was halfway out the door before the next word.

the Czarina and the Great Prince, while not especially dramatic themselves, do tend to have occasional drama. And when a good Texas man calls for his gun, somethin’ is up. Or rather down. the Czarina Warrenina grabbed the .22 by the bedside table and descended the formal staircase loading a rifle. She met her husband on the back patio where he, a cigarette held in his lips and smoke curling near his eyes, put down his cocktail, picked up the gun, took aim, and fired. He fired again. And then again.

A ‘coon fell gracelessly (and dead) from a mile high Oak – landing not with a thud but a smash – annihilating a heavy, clay pot. Many amusing (and horrid) jokes were made about shooting a ‘coon – including having to clarify, in the second or third retelling of the tall tale, that the Great Prince shot a ‘coon, and no it was not the black guy next door.

The royals – the Czarina Warrenina Joskes (Empress of all the Russias, Queen of the Steppes, Keeper of the Faith, a Living and Breathing Deity who Has Deigned to Walk Among Us to Bring Us Grace and Beauty), the Great Prince, their tenant – the Viscount of the Car-port, and the Stable Boy – have been busy. Never afraid to get her hands dirty, the Czarina and her husband operate a landscaping company, a home repairs company, auto sales, auto repair, a garden planning and maintenance business, a tax prep business, bookkeeping, and they provide maintenance and management service to a number of duplexes and quad-plexes in and around the gayborhood. She and I also have a few money-making schemes in mind – schemes designed to extricate me from the cruel world of temp work, cubicles, and fluorescent lights.

While my weekends are oft spent relaxing at the Winter Palace, luxuriating in the hot tub and smoking meat on the bathtub sized pit in the backyard, I did not visit the palace this weekend.

Always on the cutting edge of fashion and disease trends, I operated under the impression this weekend that I contracted Swine Flu. It may have been the fever. Or the sweating. The cold sweats. The stomach aches. The shaking. And let’s not even get into how I finished a book – the last 50 pages of a book, mind you – while perched on the toilet. I am still having trouble speaking – my throat sufficiently sore that my already quiet voice has just today reached a level above whisper. I have consumed no solid food in three days, and only today actually feel what resembles hunger. I used the box of Kleenex in my cubicle and the boxes in three cubicles nearby.

In short, I am illin’. Blinding poverty prevents me from staying home to sleep this away, and while I am not exactly looking for a disease, it is occasionally nice to be in exclusive clubs … and a little pampering wouldn’t be so bad either.

It occurs to me that for better or worse, the light in my romantic darkness lies within the bird-like chest of an 18 year old high school senior, a mega-twink, who adores me … but is taken … and who lives in Massachusetts. The fabulous fairy is 6’4,” has a throaty voice not unlike Lauren Bacall’s and though he refuses to smell like patchouli, skips home-room and stays up past his bed-time to call me and smoke a blunt. Our conversations – peppered as they tend to be with cooing and adoration – happen most often while he is holding his breath.

Some men do tend to inspire that. the Czarina once said, of the Great Prince, “when he smiles, it lights up my whole world …” I can only hope – as I have, admittedly, always hoped – that one of these odd, busy days, in the midst of all my drama and problems, that a little light will stumble into my world.


Monday, May 4, 2009

I dreamed a dream ...

I dreamed the strangest dream last night – made stranger by the dual facts that I remember the dream so vividly, and also that the participants in it were real, though the events were not – at least not as yet.

The beginning of the dream is a bit odd; I was driving some back-road or empty stretch of highway, both of which exist in abundance, but neither of which I ever travel. I was in my car – the long, powder-blue Lincoln with the 8-track player and the gas leak. I had to pee, and there was a rest stop a mile or so away. I pulled in.

I was surprised to see truckers and various old(er) men standing around in myriad shady spots – cruising (for sex), but more obviously than anyone ever does in real life (or so I think). I went into the men’s room, certain that someone would follow me, and also thinking that I would be really offended if someone did not.

I was at the urinal when I heard someone enter behind me, and decided – quickly – whether to walk away or take advantage of the opportunity for a little fun. I turned – my pants still undone, and the bright, young face with the brooding eyes met my gaze, then looked down to my open pants, and then dropped to his knees.

Things escalated from there – I pushed him against a wall, engaging him, then pulling him up to kiss me. We lingered there, in this very open and surprisingly clean road-side bathroom, devouring each other. He hitched down his athletic shorts, revealing his own very hard and happy member. I dropped to knees, taking him. He was vocal, receptive, his hand on the back of my head, his own head thrown back in a moan … and then I looked up to find Sean standing there.

He had walked into the bathroom – out of nowhere, dressed as always in a mix of Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole, looking elegant and beautiful, and superior. I paused to greet him, and then went back to the task at hand. He made a snide comment, but stood there – watching. I, once again, paused to offer a retort … and so it went with witty repartee for a few minutes before Sean turned to walk out. The boy – already forgotten – faded into the wall. I thanked him – as it seemed in order to do – and walked out behind Sean.

He stood in the grass, just outside the bathroom. I stopped a few feet from him, and we both stood there – uncertain of the next move or step.

I should say here that Sean is the former best friend with whom I have been, or had been, in love since the day we met, in high school – well over a decade ago. We had a bitter parting, when his addiction and my business led me to feel used, and him to use me. The last time I saw him, I was throwing him out of my apartment – along with the stranger, who resembled a frog, with whom he was partying that evening. It was the second night in a row when he’d shown up at my place with a stranger – after 2AM – to score drugs – and, at that, in an amount that was hardly even worth my time.

The dream lingers with me – not just because I can still, sitting in my cubicle now, hours later, feel and smell and taste the dream … but also because Sean was there. I have certainly thought of him – not often, but more than perhaps I should – since throwing him out. I miss him. I called his home once, spoke to his mother, but never received a call-back. Knowing him, he has gotten involved with someone and is essentially living with and being taken care of by this person; he is uninvolved in, the bars, and any other means by which I would typically run into him.

Out of touch but somehow still within reach – if only in my dreams.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fag Tuesday, or The Night of the Has-Beens and Never-Weres

Not that I am one for schadenfreunde; I harbor little or no ill will against those who wronged me, and it is not exactly true that Patton, or the general patronage at Cobalt wronged me, per se ... nonetheless, I recently discovered that my old home away from home (and business hub) was recently held up - at shotgun point!

I actually heard this the other day and dismissed it as idle gossip, or made-up, or something that no longer concerned me. Two out of three ain't bad; it does not concern me, and it is certainly rather idle gossip, but it was not exactly made up.

It was the night of the WEBB Party, and two males entered the bar with shot-guns, demanding everyone's jewelry, cash, and cell phones. They used a friend of mine's purse to hold their ill-gotten goodies, and then they left. They returned the day after that to pull the same exact stunt - hitting up what was possibly the same patronage (knowing that bar as I do).

Reynold (the other hooker on my couch - during the literally dark days in my old apartment) - who now also works at Club Unity [how do both my hooker ex-roommates end up in the same place, at the same time?!?] informed me that Club Unity was also hit. A few nights ago. In that case, it was a hostage situation. No one knew how to open the safe, so everyone waited ... everyone except the drag queen. During the (alleged) four hours wait, a small - and, I expect, badly dressed, drag queen wriggled out a small opening (bathroom window ... or just a hole in the wall?) and ran - high heels in hand, I'm sure - for help. Four hours with a laser scope trained at one's head is by no means pleasant. Of course, the story came from Reynold - whose tendency toward hyperbole borders on legendary.

All that notwithstanding, chil' - all I can say is that I am glad that my drug dealing, free-wheeling, bar-sitting days are largely behind me. It seems - at least for now - that small bars in this city are not safe. I can only hope that Web House benefits from the constant police attention and proximity to both Tycoon Flats and La Bikina. Otherwise, they may have to Hitler (the ill-named bar cat), or one of the high-heeled hipsters through a window.

I thought of all this - wrote the above - while sitting in a cubicle. If I have been quiet of late, it is because I am working again. One of the several staffing services to which I belong came through for me. They called Monday night to ask me to start a job Tuesday morning. I am filling in (for 3 weeks) for a woman on maternity leave, and - near as I can tell - I am there to add fabulous to the office.

My friend, Ellen, has - for years now - suggested I rent myself out as a gay man with taste, something that became a much more realistic option after the abundance of reality makeover shows, particularly "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," or pretty much anything on HGTV.

In any event, my job tasks thus far have been faxing employment verification documents, totaling the number of hours for which nurses would get paid in a special payroll run, stapling a whole mess of papers and arranging them neatly in various folders, and - at one amusing point - 'sprucing up' the cubicle across from me, so that Rose would have something pretty to which to come back. I am somewhere between a Girl Friday and a Fag Tuesday.

Of course, in this day and age, being fabulous pays off; my compatriots have accepted me into their fold. I was about to run to the printer / scanner / copier / fax, and accordingly turned in my chair to find a small, polyester rat staring up at me. One of my cubicle mates is the office prankster - inventing, as he calls it, "Fishesta Friday." I was about to ask what this was when a shrill scream and reluctant laughter pierced the office calm. Drew - being the good-natured frat boy / fisherman / bon vivant he is, put live goldfish in several people's water bottles. The rat, needless to say, belongs to him. When I saw it there on the floor on my first Friday morning, I knew I had arrived.

Ellen, when I texted her about the rat, replied, "Cute. Did you kiss it & name it Algernon?" I never liked that book, but I love that I have friends who happen to have a come-back for every odd event in my very odd life. And who generate it, come to think of it. On her own blog, Ellen published, "My mother just saw a rat running toward City Council chambers. The jokes write themselves."

Ellen was over last night. We made filet mignon and watched a movie. For better or worse, it turned into what we dubbed 'The Night of Has-Beens and Never-Weres." For a dollar, we rented "The Wrestler" - Mickey Rourke, himself the most recent come-back kid, played a washed up wrestler - in the Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper variety - bleached blond hair, heavy drug use, Day-glo tights and all.

With Marisa Tomei played his stripper (almost) girlfriend, and Evan Rachel Wood (Marilyn Manson's most recent main squeeze) as the lesbian daughter, things had more potential than substance. Nothing about the film failed, but only a few things worked.

We followed "The Wrestler" with "Bucked!" - a retrospective on bull-riders who had innumerable injuries and foibles - including a guy who broke his neck, one guy who dislocated his sternum (?), and one really beautiful redneck who had over 30 concussions! I marveled that he was still able to walk upright, let alone ride a bull. Before Ellen gathered her things to leave, we ran smack dab into an infomercial with Chuck Norris, Christie Brinkley, and Wesley Snipes before the tax evasion. It was a has-been trifecta.

My father has finally relented to having the air conditioner on, so as I bid Ellen good-night, fixed myself a cocktail, and crawled into bed with a good book, I knew that I would sleep well - beneath the covers - dreaming little dreams of reality TV, or some other such evil(s).