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 ...


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