Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fat Mattress

Various and sundry friends, casual acquaintances, 2 guys I screwed, and occasional strangers tend to comment how nice it must be to sleep in, to have time to do whatever I wish, how very nice it must be to read all day ... and, frankly, though boredom, tedium, malaise, and ennui are my words of the day(s), it is. I do enjoy reading. I am becoming extremely well-acquainted with the prison rape story-line on "General Hospital" and developed more than a reasonable interest in the half-hour soap, "The Bold and the Beautiful."

My trips to the local library swelled from once or twice per week to daily meandering to the unfortunate branch on the East side, the very media-friendly Central Library - where I actually managed to find 5 copies of Gogol's The Overcoat, or my favorite (home) branch, Landa - another local institution, like the McNay, built within, and from, a long-dead socialite's palatial home. I seldom speak to anyone, tend to have books on hold and usually know exactly where to find whatever else I'm seeking (mysteries, mostly - lots of mysteries). My computer's old and thus not wireless, so I don't even spend the lingering hours pretentiously tending to my great American novel. Essentially, the libraries provide me a place to go - not my own bedroom - without TV but with air conditioning.

And then there's the sex.

I was reading the dust-jacket of a book on Michelle Obama, in the political biographies new books section at Central, when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. The homeless-looking man, with a laptop case, and scraggly hair, who I'd seen earlier in the stacks, stood at the end of the aisle - his fly down and his erect penis hanging out ... and waving at me. He seemed quite proud of himself, as men with hard-ons tend to be; I would imagine he was less than thrilled that I finished reading the dust-jacket and wandered off to validate my parking ticket. Perhaps as a hormonal teenager, I would have enjoyed - or rather he would have enjoyed - my appropriately porn star reaction ... but, at 30, and minus a drink first, I was non-plussed.

Meanwhile, the Frenemy is presently stalking 'truck full of Mexicans' - a designation given to at least three separate listings in his BlackBerry. Tori has been on a roll of late, if one considers 6 tree trimmers a roll, but that was last weekend. In anticipation of this weekend's newfound freedom (unemployment - and the unemployment checks that accompany it), the transexsite I've come to think of as Fat Mattress went to get her nails done and acquire a new wrap - something along the lines of a pashmina, only cheaper and for the express purpose of hiding her hairy back. This being summer, there were no wraps at Wal-Mart, only scarves - all deemed too small for Fat Mattress' purposes; in jest, I suggested a chenille throw. She was nicely sold on the idea, but there were none of those around either - this is, after all, summer in South Texas. Eventually, a trip to a fabric store yielded the necessary item - 5 feet of polyester, vaguely floral and two shades shy of Blanche Devereaux; I looked on in some horror as Fat Mattress nee the Frenemy preened and tried to fold, drape, swaddle and wrap his new wrap as it blew in the wind in the Brooks City-Base parking lot.

He never needs a drink first. I am (so) often non-plussed... but the stories just keep coming.

Mark

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ghost(s) in the Machine

As a Southerner of a certain age - a comfortable place between 30 and 60-somethin' - I am accustomed to death, tragedy, and very efficiently turning funerals into family reunions, since all the same players are involved. And we eat fried chicken and watermelon on both occasions.

I was not aware we had a Gladys in the family, but then I was not aware we had an Aurelius in the family either, until he was in the family plot. Aurelius died a year or so ago, and the very long funeral in the very small church with the choir consisting of three very large black women marked the last time all the surviving Hardemans (and our kin) were in the same county, bathed, and dressed up. There is a long line of country in my adopted blood.

the Old Black Man just opened my door to inform me that Gladys, whom he thinks I should remember because I met her briefly, when I was 2, is dead. She attended Aurelius' funeral and was "the old woman hunched over sitting at the back ..." Given that Gladys was "just over a hundred years old" I am somehow not surprised.

Neither my father or my cousin will attend the funeral this Saturday, in Luling - our family seat. I suppose it is the thing about being a certain age that one gets my invitations to funerals than parties - though again, the line tends to blur at this stage. Another relation graduates from high school this weekend, which is still a big deal in my family ... but which we not be attending either.

It occurs to me, given that the Old Black Man is the last of his line, and given that all of his brothers and sisters who preceded him to the great hereafter were in their 90s or so, that my father probably has a good decade left in him. I've noted before that he cannot seem to quite get when things stop working, which usually leads to some very interesting conversations.

Of the ceiling fan in his bedroom, which stopped working shortly after our first 90 degree day - in early March - my father's simple solution, a can of WD-40 and me on a footstool trying to aim a needle nozzle into the fan motor. I considered this unlikely and slightly dangerous maneuver right up to the point when he mentioned that the fan worked for five minutes the night before - shortly before it stopped working, started smoking and shot sparks onto his bedspread. This bore too close a resemblance to the ceiling fan I helped him install a few years ago, when he forgot to switch off the circuit breaker. In that instance, sparks flew and I was thrown from a ladder.

I have sense declined to install ceiling fans when he is in the room and have informed him that there is no point in trying to fix the two broken fans (in the kitchen and his bedroom), each of which is around my age.

Money's tight, and it is 87 degrees in my house, so my father's solution is quite similar to his solution for not knowing how to operate the cordless phone - a very long cord. the Old Black Man bought a 50' telephone cord and carried a rotary dial princess phone from room to room, until - that is - I showed him where the talk button was and how to properly hang up the old and large but perfectly serviceable handset. In this case, Dad strung together two extension cords and drags a floor fan from room to room - causing me some mild consternation as I occasionally leave my room and trip over the cord running down the parquet floors in the narrow hallways between our rooms. And given Dad's tendency to turn off lights even when he is still in the room, I sometimes walk into the fan when going to the kitchen. At some point, one of us will have the spare few hundred dollars to install the HVAC unit that fell off the back of a truck, but at this point the only options appear to be the constant and sometimes comforting cacophony of fans going full speed ... and the not so comfortable roll of a bead of sweat down my back.

Mark

Night of the Trans-sexsite, a Moral Tale

the Frenemy came by the other day - begging for food and with a fresh story - and the faint stain of the previous night's Revlon - on his lips. He prefers to tell his tales over a cold, fast-food cup of Dr. Pepper, so I got into his new car for the first time since the test drive. True to form - and function - the passenger seat was fully reclined and upon the seat, a lube stain ... and beneath it, a cucumber. I was seconds away from asking a question the Good Lord knows I did not want answered; unfortunately, upon catching sight of my raised eyebrow, the Frenemy gleefully launched into a night's tale.

Tori discovered a halfway house, somewhere in the endless reaches of the West side. And between the bad lighting, and the fact that these men haven't seen a woman in nigh-on 5 to 10, the one 'woman' sex show into which Tori launched herself apparently got them going. Fellating a vegetable is not exactly my idea of a good time, but I stopped the story when the subject came 'round to the topic of insertion.

I was low on cash two weeks ago, so when the Frenemy offered to buy me a martini and a pack of cigarettes, I agreed to split his wig ... well, cut it down anyway. Owing to the types of activities in which he engages, the ill effects of spilled beer, spit, et al. on synthetic hair-pieces, and the fact that once done, Tori kicks off her heels and her hair into one small corner of a good-sized walk-in closet, his red wig is a hot mess.

I soaked it in the kitchen sink, in a solution of tepid water and Fabuloso, and lieu of a Styrofoam wig-stand, donned the unfortunate mop myself, whereupon - armed with kitchen shears (the sort with which one cuts through chicken bones) - I cut it down and combed it out into something that fell short of the Raquel Welch wig-line but came in just ahead of a Halloween head of hair.

I was out of the room when the Frenemy retrieved the kitchen shears to cut the crotch from his dollar store pantyhose, but I reappeared long enough to suggest that he shave his shoulders - which looked a bit wrong outside the spaghetti straps of his leopard print slip. The solution he suggested was low lighting and a paisley wrap procured from his mother - a heretofore seldom discussed holy roller who blessed his (short-lived) union with a part-time drag queen crack hooker but still believes that I am my own twin brother.

A pound of foundation, daintily applied with a makeup wedge, several layers of blue eye shadow, and a lipstick three shades too pink for his skin tone later, Tori slipped into Carlos Santana leopard print heels and clomp-clomp-clomped into the living room, where she sat on the couch, not unlike a linebacker, and returned phone calls (in falsetto) while waiting to leave the house under the protective cover of sunset.

Perhaps it was the blue eye shadow, or the fact that sex show involving a cucumber is a one-night only performance, but that night - when Tori got to the halfway house the result was not lust ... but laughter.

He wanted sympathy ... but again, all he got was laughter.

Mark


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

St. Francis ... and a S-I-S-S-Y

The Southern faggot writing is an acquired taste. I am both lucky and happy that a lot of people have taken to the unique flavor. Queens from Mobile to Tupelo, Jackson to San Antone - myself included - feel the pull of pen to pad, or whatever the apt digital equivalent may be. It is amazing how easily one can convey a drawl and a raised eyebrow with the mere flick of a wrist and a peculiar, yet familiar, turn of phrase.

I am reading Kevin Sessums' Mississippi Sissy, and the magic started early, and sanguine - with a bludgeoned head on a not-so-fresh white pillow. A sissy in the South loses his father, his mother, and his virtue - roughly in that order, and lives to tell about it.

They say, in AA, that if you listen long enough - sitting in a meeting - you will eventually hear your story, many times over. I have never had that pleasure, or felt that connection. Mississippi Sissy is not an AA meeting, but I felt the connection five pages in. Maybe it was the very sense of being "other(ed)," a fancy, grad school term, parentheses included, for sticking out like a sore thumb, occasionally also interpreted as 'black-sheep-itis.'

Little Kevin sits with his mother, a woman who will be dead sooner than he knows or understands, and she talks to him about the magic of language; of a certain, familiar word, she observed:
"I know people call you a sissy. I know Daddy did a lot of the time, God rest his soul. Even I've called you that in my own way when I'm beside myself ..." She handed me her pen and a piece of her stationery. "Write it down. Write down that word. S-I-S-S-Y ... Now, whenever anybody calls you that again you remember how pretty that looks on there. Look at the muscles those S's have. Look at the arms on that Y. Look at the backbone that lone I has. What posture. What presence. See how proud that I is to stand there in front of you."
Because my parents were older - in their 60s when I was born - I heard that word, 'sissy,' often enough. My father called me a sissy, and threatened to out me to my third grade class. He beat me for having Barbies, and gave me that look that ambled about between disappointment and white-hot rage that I continued to walk 'funny' and talk 'that way.' It was a kinder, gentler time than when the kids in high school called me joto ... faggot.

I like to believe, thinking on it now, that had my mother lived that long she would have sat me down and pointed out the defensive posture of 'F-A-G-G-O-T.' She would have called upon words like 'fierce' and 'tenacious,' perhaps even working in that the "g's" in faggot can be alternate plays on gregarious - which describes the nature of so many gays, and the onomatopoetic 'grrr ...' that involves both whimsy and strength (and is a not-so-subtle nod to the Bear community, might I add).

Of the word epiphany - sounded out by a Baptist preacher on a Sunday morning, when Kevin asked after its meaning - his grandmother responded, "Oh honey, that's a pretty name for a little nigger girl." And it fits, no? In every Southern novel, and most of the memoirs - in addition to the lilting accents and the strange cadence of Southern life - a strong, black woman provides food and wisdom through her very presence, and the occasional "come to Jesus" meeting. So, why shouldn't an epiphany be a little black girl?

I wrote a paper once, "Face-Down in the Dirt," which comes to mind now, a little bit because I am thinking of returning to graduate school - to literature and its study, because I have never been good at much of anything else, and also because of all the music in this Sissy book. "Face-Down in the Dirt" was an eco-feminist read of Southern women writing; it was music and magic. I created something in it I think I dubbed "Black (magic) mysticism," a black answer to the very Latin experience of magical realism. I set up the idea that black women - by virtue of their socio-economic, historic, and gender statuses have a physical and personal relationship with the earth, with dirt. It attached both a romantic and an essential association to the crush of grinding poverty. Dirt floors seem less hellish somehow when one can be literally recharged by them remade in the image and power of pulchritude, find solace and comforts in the mud between your toes - which is, after all, the color of your skin anyway.

And then maybe it's more than just the book weighing on my mind. It's unemployment and going back to school. It's boredom - swollen to the point of ennui - mingled with the need for a smart cocktail. And it is sweating through the sheets. The HVAC unit that fell off the back of a truck somewhere is still sitting in the den. There's no money to install it, and there's no window in my bedroom. It's 80 degrees tonight, inside, and my T-shirt cotton sheets don't breathe the way they should.

I am aware of my fat, my thick thighs and the scars on my chest where a cosmetic surgeon removed 17 lbs. of flesh. I am aware of my skin, its dark color, because it shines with sweat and oil. I am aware of my smell, a not unpleasant warmth that puts me in mind of summertime. For better or worse. It is humid in my bed. And I feel the South around me tonight.

I met with a counselor today, part of the editing process after the photo-shoot, 120 days of therapy and group meetings. It doesn't work like therapy, but it is the best one can get on county funding. The woman with whom I spoke today listened to my stories and asked smart questions - including the question, "Were you addicted to selling [drugs]?"

She listened, which is more than I can say for the other people I met over the past 14 weeks. And she offered advice, which is "not part of a therapist's job, but seems fitting ..."; she suggested I find a church, and I managed not to roll my eyes this time around. Maybe that's what all this Southern talk is leading up to, or the place from which it comes; it is a big ol' mess of serendipity that pus my considerable black ass on a hard, wooden pew ... and reminds me of the lyric and vibrant thing that happens in church and nowhere else in the world.

Maybe I'm supposed to further block out those Sunday school memories, replacing them with becoming a 30-something choir-boy ... and meeting a nice church-going man, who appreciates my very Southern charm(s). And who has air-conditioning.

Mark

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saturday Night's Alright for Dancin'

Saturday started with a bang - in the form of a gun-toting hairy Mexican straight boy in a pink lace thong. The gun - a .357 Magnum - was hidden under his mattress. The thong hidden in a rolled up sock. Carlos was a dear - a good kisser who demonstrated other outstanding oral abilities. Straight boys, in my experience, often demonstrate such talents - and tend very often to throw their legs in the air.

I passed a lovely afternoon with panties, inter-racial porn, and a Smith & Wesson. And then, as things tend to go with me, hilarity ensued. The phone rang a few times while Carlos and I were engaging in some slap and tickle, and he appropriately ignored it. Of course, when he did answer, it was his best friend - a friend, mind you, whose pregnant girlfriend he is screwing. The guy was outside, in the driveway, and this posed the usual obvious problems, not the least of which was that Carlos had to get me out of the house without being seen.

That whole straight boy thing.

After a few ideas to distract the friend in the driveway failed, the back-up plan involved a window. And a wall. I dropped out of the bathroom window and scaled a small wall in order to bypass the driveway and circle the block to get to my car.

Carlos sent me on my way with a passionate kiss ... and a boost to the window.


Saturday night - fresh from the ego boost that I can comfortably fit through a bathroom window - and into my skinny jeans - I met the City Coucilman for a drink. It was crowded at Pegasus - not unusual for a Saturday night, but running into Mount Gay colored the evening.

I think it was magenta. Or possibly chartreuse. He was there with his new boyfriend, a young Hispanic - one of the Frenemy's many conquests. And seemingly my polar opposite. I would love to say that hte conversation - when I downed a martini and approached him - was witty, urbane ... the stuff of which Hepburn and Cary Grant were made.

But there were no bon mots, and while I did have a lit cigarette, there was by no means a spark or any fire(works); Mount Gay was cool, dismissive, and I wished him a good night ... and a Happy FIESTA.

And then I met someone. He sidled up to the bar ... or was it a drunken meandering? We struck up a conversation too many drinks prevents me from recalling, and then he stuck his hand down my pants. Somewhere between learning his name and recording his number in my phone, he informed me he was a bottom - and set about showing me.

The resulting hard-on somehow found its way out of my pants but was safely in his surprisingly strong, warm hand.

I wandered off - possibly out of fear the rest of my clothes would come off, and partially because I was quite tipsy.

I am optimistic that a drunken hand-job could lead to wedding bells ... or at least drunken sex. He is terribly cute and seems to be smart ... and then there is something intriguing about a man less than five feet tall. He could be my pocket gay.

Mark

Country Music and Castigation

I had a dream involving my mother. I have no idea what it was about ... as it came and went as spirits tend to do. Whether I was comforted or disturbed, I cannot say either; it was a whisper in the midst of noise.

Life is noisy of late - a clamor of depression, frustration, and uploading country music to my computer. In the absence of blues LPs, country fills a void - a boozing, lonely, wife-beating, deer hunting, coon hound having void.

I have been remiss in my reading of late - choosing drunken sex and time with the guy I was THEN seeing over gay murder mysteries. I feel their call. A Habit for Death - about a nun serial killer in a Catholic boys' school suddenly seems more powerful than a dirty martini.

I've got a killer to catch ... Sister Clarissa Darling must be avenged ...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A dream ... again

I fell asleep watching National Geographic; consequently - coupled with drugs, alcohol, and something akin to sexual exhaustion - I had the strangest dream.

It began at an anniversary party - my own. I think it was our 60th, and it was futuristic, in that way that the not-so-distant future is often portrayed, something like "Minority Report" or the flash(ing) forward at the end of the final episode of "Six Feet Under." I was silver and distinguished - slimmer than I expected - in a very expensive suit.

I was married to Apollo Ono, and it was somewhere around that time I realized that that the flash-backs began.

Evan Lycasek figures in somehow - I think as my nemesis, and as a competitor for Ono's affections.

We were well-traveled - Apollo and I; there were scenes in jungles, sweating and running from tribes - with torches. I distinctly recall a ritual - our wedding(?) - wherein heated rods were pushed through our abdomens. If the poker missed your vital organs, and you survive the pain, and the risks of infection, you were bonded for life [politics-schmolitics; that's (gay) marriage]. Someone may have wound up paralyzed ... that part escapes me.

There was abundant ass play, a blood-letting (blessing) in honor of our marriage, and I think robots got involved somehow.

Making out on a mountain-top, at dawn ... felt like being the first men (note: Adam and Steve jokes), and the first to discover love (or, more aptly, LOVE). It was a waking dream, where I saw things happening and could gently shift the course. I mostly shifted the course of things into Apollo's pants ... and once, out of the path of a lion.

I think I also hooked Lycasek up with Johnny Weir ... or Clay Aiken.

I don't recall how the dream ended, save that I rolled over to check the time and fell back into some cute, absurd moment.

I was happy.

It was 6:30AM - and Rough Trade called ... wistful, apologetic, and set some things atwitter ...

Mark

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Technology is NOT my friend ...

I am beginning to doubt that technology is here for me. I am this close to believing that technology is not my friend. My beloved Apple laptop - the basic black PowerBook a la Carrie Bradshaw - is no longer working. My netbook is infected with some sort of Trojan Horse, one which seems to particularly dislike Google Chrome.

My cheap but attractive Sprint cell phone occasionally misplaces the who, and even the what, of my text messages, and neither adam4adam nor gay.com seem willing or able to deliver eligible men to my eager inbox.

And while I am an avid devotee of texting and email, even those handy forms of expression occasionally betray me. Mount Gay - when he grew a pair and decided to assert himself, against me and out of our relationship - did so via a text. It was not as succinct as the Post-It note break-up on "Sex & the City," but it got the job done.

So, yesterday, having applied for food stamps and keeping the Frenemy company, I came home with a new crop of library books and turned on my netbook. My email client loaded, and I felt the same anticipation one feels as a child receiving his first pieces of mail.

My optimism is alive and well; every day I look at my email - expecting a job offer, new messages via facebook, or something cheery from one of the law schools or graduate programs to which I applied. So, yesterday, when I saw something from the University of North Dakota (UND), I was halfway to giddy before I started reading. It was a no, for the record.

My fear that if the first letter was a rejection, the rest might be as well is silly, but a fear or concern echoed by pretty much anyone embroiled in the application process. I don't know what the other letters will say, or when they might come. It is true, though, that UND was the only school I could actually afford to attend - so, whatever the answer, I will probably not be a lawyer anytime soon.

Maybe the world has too many lawyers.

Back-up plans include accounting and renting myself out as a gay man with taste (a.k.a. a hair-dresser). Part of me wants to play it safe - continue along the course of academia and stable jobs. The other part wants to have a Bravo reality show - to operate within a series of cliches ... fabulous fag with shears, bedazzled jeans, and an amazing ability to sound deep about shallow things.

Mark

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gay Pimp Daddy

While it is so often said that some things never change ... and while many of us are exceedingly glad that that is not the case ... it is true that some people, by sheer happenstance of living longer than expected, approach life in a whole new way over 80. My father is among those very interesting souls, and at 85, he's adapted to a life of crime.

I would say that it was my bad influence, having been a drug dealer and gone to jail a time or two (before the photo-shoot), but I have had family in jail or prison for generations. Given the number of unregistered guns, the rounds of ammo in the antique trunk, and the small flask of Seagram's "cold medicine" in the cereal cabinet in the kitchen, I somehow doubt that anything I could contribute would even raise an eyebrow.

the Old Black Man's been around the block ...

And I say this because I just took delivery of an HVAC unit - new, in a box, with no serial number. While the average household HVAC unit costs somewhere around $3,000, my father paid $800. A black man with no last name - using someone else's (broken) Cricket phone, in a late-model Suburban, pulled into the driveway, rolled it into the den, and told me to call him back when we were ready to install the unit. He has a friend who "can make somethin' happen ..."

I was this close to asking him if he happened to have some groceries that also happened to fall off the back of a truck. The black man with no last name showed up 8 hours late to deliver the unit, and - owing to there being no food in the house - I was hungry and otherwise not having the best day. We exchanged no more than 5 words. Then again, these sorts of deals do not typically involve a lot of small talk.

I have fond memories, or memories at least, of a time when I was not hungry, was not lonely (or alone), and when I was engaged in my own shady dealings, not facilitating my father's. I am reminded as well of high school, when the Old Black Man had four girlfriends, and I was sitting home alone on any given night - answering the phone and making excuses. It is not good for one's ego when your septuagenarian father is getting WAY more play than you ... and then again, he still is.

Perhaps that makes him a pimp - the big man with the money and the name for whom I am attache; I thought this as I was cutting his hair last night, and trimming the strands in his ears. This, mind you was shortly after Project Monday - wherein I planted the entire front yard, installed a door, and moved a dining room table.

It is a colossal let-down that I own so very much polyester and yet cannot make it past the lackey stage.

Mark


On the DL in the DMZ

As it happens, boredom and great heaping lots of time on my hands, coupled with the Internet(s) and the inability to leave the house, inspired some virtual globe-trotting. This started as a simple social experiment; as I cannot seem to either get laid, or even engage in conversation, in local chat rooms, I started visiting the rooms of the two places I hope to live while attending law school - Grand Forks, ND and South Royalton, VT.

Each has its own unique charm, its own, different sort of hellacious winter, and a gay population smaller than my blog readership. Frequent forays into the actual city chat room yield only four chatters at a given time, and upon expanding my net to include the entire state of North Dakota (or Vermont), the figures leaped to 17 or so. I have never seen more than 22 people at any given time chatting in either state. This contrasts slightly with 500+ chatting (or cruising) presently in San Antonio.

Not to be deterred from my mission to meet and greet, I messaged the 34 (total) gay men available across two states, and four of them responded. One warned me that there are no gay bars ("...but there is a 'gay-friendly' bar in town ... I even kissed a guy I was on a date with once ..."); note, there are no gay bars in the entire state of North Dakota. The nearest is in the perhaps very aptly named Moorehead, MN., 90 miles away. And Winnipeg, Manitoba is just around the corner.

The gay student alliance at UND (the "Ten Percent Society") hosts a gay dance once-monthly, which incorporates a drag show and a DJ - or so I was told by another gay man from ND. Vermont has thus far declined comment, which leads me to believe that either everyone in South Royalton is absurdly busy with law school, or there are simply no gays in that cold, bedroom community of only 2,300 souls. That they are still thawing under layers of snow and maple syrup hardened into an impenetrable crust is simply too grievous (and funny) to consider.

But, as I am wont to do, I digress ... exploring Vermont and North Dakota, which I did in the course of four emails and a day of passing time got me, as we say in the South, "to thinkin' " about all the cities and towns and continents I have yet to visit. And so I visited - via the Internet(s) - Greece, Paris, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, the UAE, Afghanistan, Iraq, and both Koreas.

That I found black men there - and that they appeared to be doing well, getting laid, and could speak without using "nigga ..." or "holla" in sentences intrigued me no end. That there were gays there at all, and a room full of them with whom I could interact surprised me still more (at least in the case of Iraq and the two Koreas). It is not so much that I did not appreciate that my race extends all over the world, or that black men (especially in other parts of the world) do not all labor under some pre-established cultural or even aesthetic bias.

the Frenemy suggests it is merely about the look ... and the smell of black men that makes them ... us ... uh, me ... undesirable. I argue that a bias established by cultural perception, among other things a result of 250 - 400 years of slavery has a great deal to do with it. I argue that there is a reason why the charming black man I met in Dubai, raised in Italy, is accomplished, educated, and has neither social qualms nor an affinity for the ghetto, and yet every man in the Jackson, MS room has gold teeth and Fubu.

The effects of Apartheid on young black men in South Africa might serve to aid my argument(s), but I find that country - if only in the digital environment of adam4adam.com to be creepy, and its men - of various sizes, shapes, and races, to be something 'other' and off-putting. It's like "Children of the Corn," if Spike Lee directed.

And, as I said, the bigger shock, bigger than that a chunky black man not much different than me told me he was dating five men at present - two of whom were doctors (this was in Paris) - was the very open cruising among soldiers of various stripe in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were more gay men looking in Baghdad than there are in North Dakota and Vermont combined.

Is it the 'other' interpretation of Enduring Freedom, or just that - after 22 months in a war-zone no one cares who sucks whom so long as there is a smile and an occasional friendly embrace? The number of men whose web cams capture a tent and a helmet and a shirt-less comrade in the background is either funny or very sad.

the Frenemy is banging two or three men, if not more, who used to do me for free drugs. One of them said as much just last night, that the only reason he ever did anything with me was for the coke - something which, though suspected ... or understood ... still hurts to hear aloud. the Frenemy seemed only too happy to pass along that information just this morning.

I suppose as I am processing that particular kernel of truth, I think about the experience I gained just from a little late-night, Internet(s) globe-trotting. I am alone in San Antonio - apparently too black to merit a simple 'hello' in response to my message, too invisible to even get a thank you when I buy a round of drinks at a bar ... but I imagine there is still light in my eyes, that there is a still anticipation and hope and something stirring that believes the adage, "This too shall pass ..."

I have been saying that for a long, long time ... and it still ain't passing, which makes me think that either somebody lied, or I am meant to be a REAL late bloomer. I am channeling my mother as I type this, thinking about the light in her eyes.

I messaged a few guys in Kandahar, sent a simple 'hello' to a pale, white, blue-eyed American boy named "Al-Asad." He didn't respond, but I imagine that at that point - perhaps much like mine, for different reasons, he just needs someone to be nearby, and he needs to know he's not alone.

Mark

Pulling It Off ...

It is a beautiful day - one of the most beautiful I've seen in ages. We are comfortably in Spring. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and something that sounds strangely like an owl is hooting or cooing near my open front door. I am not near my open front door, mind you ... I am not wireless here at home, so I am tethered to an Ethernet cable in a room with no windows, and a small antique bed. That there is a TV, a stack of library books, and the sounds of these lovely, natural scenes ... well, it is enough for me for now. It feels as though I haven't left the house in days.

Come to think of it, I haven't.

Knob Bob
picked me up Friday, for what was to be if not a romantic weekend, certainly a horny one. I met Bob at a Valentine's Day threesome - an event in which I engaged, against my better judgment, in order to forget about being dumped 6 days earlier - via text message. The apartment smelled of gym socks, sex, and the Warm Vanilla Sugar lotion the host - the naked Negro - was using as lube, but I digress ...

So, Knob Bob came to collect me Friday afternoon - and there was a half-smile on his face, and a certain gleam in his eye. I gave him the tour of my family home, and off we went in his American car, for sex and something.

The something was the kicker.

Now, Knob Bob is the affable and diminutive fellow (5'2," 130 lbs.) who happens to doze off at inopportune moments. It isn't just that he nearly burns me with lit cigarettes every time he starts to drift and I am in the room. It is not the fear of dying in a burning bed. And, given how lacking my sex life, I can even deal with him referring to sex as "pokey-pokey" ... If anything, I can even deal with him dozing off during during blow-jobs - although deep-throat and snoring should never mix. It would be hard to explain that to the paramedics.

And speaking of things difficult to explain to medical professionals, we got back to Bob's and promptly had to leave again, to buy ice. Although I was having a margarita, the ice was not for my drink but rather his crotch. Apparently, in getting off the couch to come pick me up, Bob pulled something ... He was in tremendous pain, and I spent the rest of Friday, most of the night, and Saturday morning icing down my fuck buddy's privates. Needless to say, a good time was not had by all ... or any.

I wish that I could say I spent the rest of Saturday and at least part of Sunday in a drunken stupor ... the better by which to pass the interminable hours. But I was sober. Hiding in my room, reading, and exploring my chances of getting laid in Iraq.

Mark

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some days ... Really?!? ... Why even get out of bed?

The 50-something, black man next door, the one with the Jheri Curl and 6 teeth, with the oddly tight body and pierced nipple, came at me today - with a knife in his hand and a look of pride upon his face. It was daylight, and I had enough library books in my man-purse to lay out a prize-fighter, so rather than jump back in terror I smiled and nodded as he spoke at me.

It was a full minute before my ear adjusted to the particular patois he spoke, a Louisiana drawl coupled with the failures of the Mississippi school system, it sounded like - with the appropriate hacking of a pack a day smoker (or a crack habit - either way, all-too-familiar) - "Purt good now fa a ftty yar ol' mn, neh?" That is to say, "Pretty good for a fifty-year old man, huh?" He was talking, beaming proudly, and scratching his balls - with a steak knife in the hand raised toward me - about having finally done something about his yard.

This particular fifty-something black man is my neighbor, a man with three small, starving dogs, a son or nephew who walks up and down the street with clothes in his hands, piles of them, attempting to sell them to the neighbors or passing school-children. The fifty-year old rents the house next door, and more's the pity for its owner.

In the months he's occupied the house, the garage door was kicked in, driven through, and then removed altogether - leaving in its place - a gaping hole in the front facade of a pale pink '50s ranch house, and the view of a garage that has surely seen better days - what with the oil slick on the floor, the wall into which someone obviously drove once or twice, and (until last week's emergency repair) the smell of escaping gas.

It seems this proud, pierced man with Activator in his hair got, in his words, "the right mood swing ..." and decided to mow his lawn. The weeds were up to my knees - and crying out for raw meat - when I walked by earlier, so this was no small feat. Evidently in one hell of a manic state, the fifty-something not only mowed the lawn but edged it, too ... with a steak knife. A steak knife - one of those cheap things you pick up at Wal-Mart with a cheap black plastic hilt and a paper-thin, serrated blade.
It was covered in grass and mud and dirt, as well as the sweat, drool, tears, and curl activator of a half century old black man breathing heavily, wild-eyed, and scratching his nuts ...

I was on way back from a short day downtown when I came upon my neighbor in all his sweaty, knife-wielding glory.

On the bus ride back from downtown, I sat behind an unwed mother with a very loudly crying baby, and in front of a couple - one very black and the other somewhere between Halle Berry's color and the texture of a K-Mart weave - all of whom, save the baby - of course - were engaged in a conversation about the advantages of going to jail rather than be homeless; the words, "three hots and a cot ..." were bandied about, and I was on the verge of saying something - though I have no idea what that something might have been. Just then, the baby set off another ear-piercing shriek and I contemplated offering to breast-feed the damned thing myself.

Around that time, the familiar VIA robot voice announced my street coming up, and I dutifully rang the bell - considering whether to spend my last dollar on a can of soup at the 99 Cents store across the way. Perhaps, if I had, I would have somehow missed the knife-wielding black man - but then ... where's the fun in that?

Mark

Friday, March 12, 2010

I dreamed a dream ...

I dreamed a dream today... hellacious may it seem; everyone around me got beheaded. Quite extreme.  I was on my college campus. My high school friends were there. The Quarterback of the football team, my friend 'Miko, and the
choir. My father showed up with watermelon. My guidance counselor was first to die. 'Miko went out to save the Japanese, exchange students, by the way.

The Dean of Student Life was fat and happy, which seemed odd and yet okay. I don't where that came from, but the infomercial probably had some sway. I was never scared, but wondering how it'd play.

Out in old SA. There was a gay backlash, which also seemed to say fuck you very much my friend.

Kill, kill away.

In my dream, the gays held a block party, called "Kill, Kill Bang, Bang" ... I was impressed. I think.

The campus looked amazing, and there was a ballroom where the Joyce Building should be. The logic of gathering the entire campus in a glass atrium seems flawed in retrospect. That may have been what the four headless corpses were thinking when beheaded late at night. We awoke to the sounds of too quiet, menace, and someone snoring soundly. My father?

I woke up to four beheaded corpses - hanging from the chandelier.

Mark

Friday, February 26, 2010

(Extra)Ordinary People ... Don't Know Which Way to Turn ...

I am sure I've called my cousin many things before - occasionally by a name, or maybe out of her name - as the rap songs say. She was the relative, among the few who speak to me, who said ... "love the sinner, hate the sin ..."; but Blaire, as I call her now, is complex, and seventy, and some sort of rock for me. She is the last vestige of the matriarch in this very old, poor, black family where Southern and racist and talking-funny run together into some undefinable bull-shit that I think of as home.

I'm watching "Ordinary People," and Mary Tyler Moore's hard-pressed, cold mother figure makes me sad ... and reminds me of Blaire. Blaire was never thin, never the cool waif maintaining a hard-won social cool - acceptance and place. She was curvy, with long nails a big hair - a sort of Dolly Parton character but with a lot less money, and oh yeah ... not quite the same nail color. I always like Blaire's nails - when I was a kid. They were trashy but glamorous, and I am thinking that now as I admire patrician charm, i.e. the set of the aforementioned "Ordinary People."

It is a good weekend for reading, for all those endeavors best left indoors - and I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I've been dumped again - this time by a guy in whom I had a serious interest but of whom I could expect very little. We met only once. Or maybe it's that I find out my LSAT score - a great, determinative thing - on Monday, this coming Monday. Maybe it's the tone of love in the air again - how everyone's getting some and why I'm not ...

I don't think about it much, except when I want it and don't get it. But there was a certain fun in Mount Gay, by the way - I thought of this this morning, when I woke from a dream about the Crazy Russian, Dr. Bartender, the guy I was THEN seeing, et al.. Fuck - my love-life is a mess of complications, doubts and ...

I read something on a blog - a blog that looks at random texts and point out how crappy shit can be taken out of context. "Her vagina smelled like bad choices ..." and I can't help thinking that my sex / love life reeks of them - bad choices. And dope smoke. Bad choices and dope smoke. My life is not measured out in coffee spoons.

Blaire sent a care package - three cases of food, the sorts of which one picks up at church give-aways and soup kitchens. Old people food - as we call it, in casual circles. Corn flakes, 1% milk, brownies, and canned ham.

It is not so late on a Friday evening, and I'm thinkin' maybe I attach too much meaning to Friday nights. It's date night ... or a night to read a good book and watch the Oscar history run-down on Turner Classic Movies. The black man to whom I'm talking (is it really so very different to use that common phrase ... 'talking to ...'?) invited me out; it felt like a consolation. He's going out at 1AM, with a friend ... and invited me as an after-thought ... and I am so tired of being after-thought.

I take comfort in being thought at all, but that's a whole other line of thinking.

I am watching "Ordinary People," a film of which I've never seen the end. And I am feeling bored and alone tonight. Those are my primary triggers, by the way ... in active addiction - boredom and isolation, although tonight I don't feel either pushing me toward a crack pipe.

I miss Mount Gay right now - just because he was a man who wanted to be with me - not that I buy that he did, or that I miss him. I just miss having a man around, and he was nice. In his way.

That reminds me of Blaire, too - the statement that "he was nice - in his way." I don't recall much of Blaire's history, other than that there were two men, two babies' daddies, and that she was only married to one of them. I think it is very Southern (as we say) and all that that she regarded the man with whom she was involved as a nice man who came along. That is not the way of all second marriages / couplings - but something tells me that that was the way of hers.

And I find myself in that place - thinking that Mount Gay was 'at least' interesting, at least there, at least 6'6" and 170 lbs., a skinny white boy with a big dick and who professed to love me.

I think of my cousin in many ways, and as I go for that second helping of coconut cake in the fridge, I think of her as my rock, my friend, and someone who's been there before. She doesn't even know - I'm sure - that her love life has at least a lick of that same crap with which this tired queen is presently living.

Who knew?

Mark



Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Like Riding a Bike ...

the Frenemy's alter-ego, 'Victoria Anne Sanchez,' 'Tori', arose from her coma some time ago. Surely, that occasion was not so much a miracle as Marlena's possession by the devil, or Erica Kane getting away with murder; in other words, it was an awakening not even worthy of "Knot's Landing."

the Frenemy's soap opera recommenced inauspiciously when, after another break-up with the sex toy formerly known as Luscious, he pulled out his back-up dress, his emergency heels, and a wig of dubious origins - of a color that never occurred in nature - bought some press-on nails longer than his sexual history, and hit the nearest West side bar. He went out again this evening - and I anticipate a late night phone call filled with lascivious giggling and the purr(ing) growl of an alley-cat ... in heat.

But the heat is on, you see ... I spent Valentine's Day - post Mount Gay - at my first chocolate gang-bang. I found the men online, and drove the Frenemy's car 'cross town to the Medical Center - a haven for professional homosexuals and chocolate gang-bangs. I see this because I turned down the previous invitation to a similar event in the same area - possibly the same apartment complex.

I knocked on a door reminiscent of the front door of a crack den I used to visit regularly ... and, as happened once or twice when I knocked on the door of that crack den, the door swung slowly open and a naked Negro was standing there with a wry smile. The naked Negro was the host of this chocolate bang, and he offered me Kool-Aid and bid me take off my clothes. The place smelled a bit of incense - with hints of Marlboro Reds and a gym sock you'd find beneath the bed of a 15 year old boy.

I was thinking thoughts about the size and shape of the naked Negro's very round butt when he strode away to introduce me to the second part of the party. Technically, it was a threesome at this point - and the fourth man didn't show up 'til half past four ... orgasms. Nonetheless, I could not think of a better - post bitter break-up - way to spend Valentine's, or VD - as my (single) friends and I call it.

There were, of course, some moments that fell flat - nearly, or actually ... like running out of lube and using Warm Vanilla Sugar on places Bath and Body Works should never go. Or banging the aforementioned naked Negro while he was busy texting ... while he continued texting.

And then there was the yoga.

It was something between Cirque du Soleil and a Bikram yoga class; the naked Negro showered, dressed in a red jock-strap, a neckerchief, and a beret - positioned himself in a head-stand - and turned on a club mix. For the next hour and a half, before unceremoniously throwing the three of us out, the naked Negro rolled, flipped, dipped, and stripped - tying himself up in the curtains and dancing his way out of the jock-strap and neckerchief, putting on what I could, at the time, only describe as a nude drag show.

Something good(?) came out of it, though. The 5'2," 40-something with whom I wound up spending the next two nights and a third, very warm and comfortable day has more than his share of charms. He is retired military - living on a comfortable income, which he appears to spend largely on non-perishables such as bottled water and the complete series of "Bewitched" and "Starsky & Hutch." His willingness to have sex is paralleled only by his oral skills - kissing and otherwise. But, as we know, there are always draw-backs - in this case, narcolepsy. It took me a full minute to realize that he was not actually being really generous but had instead fallen asleep on my penis. Mount Gay would not get out of bed. Knob Bob can't stay awake to finish the act.

It is a step up, right?

I find myself reflecting on a patronizing but hopelessly accurate statement the Frenemy makes regarding my recent romantic (and sexual) experiences - that I am new to dating, that these are 'training wheels' relationships ... and yet, though I am loathe to admit it, I cannot help thinking that the rusted bikes I'm riding now are just not quite the right fit.

Mark

Holy, Holy, Holy ...

the Old Black Man and I have the strangest interactions. Come to think of it, I suppose it is the case that since we have very few actual interactions, those interactions are rather strange simply in their rarity. Nonetheless, our interaction tonight was somewhat stranger than many before it - recently.

He opened my bedroom door - the only door in the house ever regularly closed - poking his head in as he is wont to do, and asked me to 'trim the hairs off the back o' [his] neck'. Last night, he peeked in to drop some random gossip on me ... and ask me to program his universal remote.

The gossip was rather interesting, so more on that in a moment.

He asked me to trim his hair, which is our standard 'bonding' ritual. It takes 15 minutes or so, but my father takes advantage of the fact that I am near him, awake, and often very conversational - if only because of the cosmetology training. the Old Black Man views it as an opportunity to inquire about my job prospects, my love life, the status of various friendships - the friends who've been around for a decade or more, and thus whose names he recalls. the Frenemy and Ellen are pretty much the only ones about whom he inquires. He views it as a chance to catch up with his often quiet and occasionally distant (gay) son ... and I find it an opportunity to talk with my father when he neither yells nor chides but simply listens. That I have sharp objects near his head and trim his ear hair probably has something to do with this fact - but I am not one to question the God's precious little gifts.

Speaking of which, my father is returning to the church. This is not to imply that he ever left the church. As I comment often, my mornings are filled with the 5AM chorale wonders of KCHL (Gospel 1480 AM), and my father typically returns home from church on Sunday to watch church on TV, listen to church on the radio, and sometimes play gospel records on the Hi-Fi. So, when he told me he was considering being an usher, I had to first search my mind for what that means in a Southern Baptist church, and ... when I assured myself there were no sacrificial chickens or speaking in tongues required ... I encouraged it.

It may be a short-term solution to getting him out of the house on the occasional Wednesday night and all-day Sunday, but it is also my hope that he will socialize as he has not done in some time. As Ellen and I discussed tonight, my 85-years old father looked and acted like someone half his age for such a long time that the happenstance of his suddenly having memory loss, suddenly forgetting where he's going, or driving straight in a turn-only lane (and narrowly avoiding an F350) strikes me particularly hard.

I haven't had to lie to a displaced girlfriend, make excuses for him being seen with another woman, or even had to cover for his being gone for the better part of a weekend in a long, long time. This is a man who - allegedly - cheated on my mother for 31 years of a 42 years marriage. Surely, his philandering days are not over. His cousin, Aurelius Bea, was still ogling neighbor-ladies until he was 101.

So, yes ... I encouraged my father to return to the church - ostensibly to get some action.


Mark

Friday, February 12, 2010

"At Last" ...

Pocket Communications - the local only cell phone provider preferred by drug dealers and the poverty stricken - knows something I didn't know. For one reason or another, Mount Gay's calls never showed up on my phone. I programmed his number, and his name appeared on my caller ID when he texted or called, but somehow his calls never registered in my call history. I should perhaps have registered this as a sign - a cosmic alert by way of Sprint PCS.

The LSAT went well last Saturday. It was five hours long, and involved two number two pencils, 127 multiple choice questions, and a two page essay writing sample. I finished the test before 2 in the afternoon, and I eagerly anticipated seeing my boyfriend - Mount Gay - who, having given his son $2,000 and sent him packing, was gay, gay, gay again - porn, a dildo, a rainbow ashtray, and a crack pipe came tumbling out of the closet in which they were hidden while Gay took a stab at being Dad.

And so too did Gay's ex-boyfriend. the Frenemy drove me out to Gay's place, somewhat grudgingly as I think the trip interfered with a gang-bang he had scheduled that afternoon. I made my way up the stairs to the condo, and found the door unlocked and encountered the usual sense of being at home - back in this familiar place where I willingly and less than willingly stayed for days on end, a place uniquely belonging to and created by my guy ... and a wall of smoke - the almost visible layer of atmosphere created by smoking indoors and a pack a day habit.

I doffed my jacket and was rounding the corner into his bedroom when I heard the cell phone jangling, saw my boyfriend reaching for his phone, and also that he was in bed ... with his ex. They were fully clothed, both in sweats and bundled up beneath the covers, and Gay's only response to the shocked look on my face was to pull back the covers, tell the ex to move over and pat the spot in bed beside him.

I crawled into bed for lack of any idea what better to do, and then chided myself for not doing something else - anything else. Gay was sick - very sick - feverish, whining and farting. I did not see an LSAT celebration or sex or romance in my future. A pizza. Gay's 60 year old fag hag. Robitussin. But neither sex nor romance.

The night went about as well as one might expect - given the whining, farting, and pizza - but I did get to see "Sweeney Todd." We went to bed, and Sunday morning started with pancakes in bed. I was bored, still fighting through the cloudy fog of the Xanax I popped in order to sleep through the night, and the day went by in a blur of laundry and old movies. I was in bed by 10, but up all night.

Monday, Gay went to work and left me alone in the smoke-filled room that is his fabulous '80s condo. the Frenemy - who is sometimes very helpful - suggested that I take a bus down to his apartment and pick up his spare car. Two hours later, I was mobile.

It was a faux pas, a slip of the tongue on his part, that got me wondering where his $700 tax refund went, why he was so sick, and just what went on the night before my LSAT. Friday night, Gay bought drugs ... lots of drugs ... and did them - alone, he says, though I had my doubts. The reason we couldn't go to dinner or otherwise celebrate the five hours long test I survived, and the metaphoric gateway to my future as a lawyer (and bon vivant) was because my man ODed.

And lied to me about it. He pulled back the covers again, and patted the spot beside him on the bed. I lay down there - again, wishing I had done something else - anything else. And so, that time, I did. I got up, got dressed, and got into the car I was very glad I borrowed. I drove back to my father's house at midnight.

The next morning, having had time, and the need, to process the weekend, I sent Mount Gay a text. I told him I was disappointed that he'd lied to me, and was not angry but hurt. He texted back that he was done - that he was a 43 year old man who didn't need to be nagged or questioned, and that we were done.

It took a moment to set in - that my relationship in name only, my first effort at being a couple ended with ignominy and a fucking, damned-ass text message. And then it was indeed done. I saw him yesterday - Mount Gay - for the sake of closure and pragmatism. He paid back the money he borrowed, and returned to me a box full of VHS porn and soul/blues music CDs.

Etta James' "At Last" does not seem quite appropriate here, but somehow damned right ...

Mark

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maybe this Time ...

I am a little past the point of believing - or is it accepting? - the notion that my relationship with Mount Gay is not for the beginner, or the faint of heart. It happens to be true that while my heart is brave and sure, I am very much a beginner at love - and do not do it very well.

So, what's his excuse?

There are no longer five teenage boys crashing in my lover's one-bedroom, 600 square feet apartment; there are two now ... but Gay's still not (out), the only bathroom in the apartment is still in his bedroom, and I still haven't gotten laid in over a month.

Mount Gay
doesn't listen - which used to apply only to my stories - details about my childhood, high school, or otherwise significant moments in my last 30 years, but I realize that it has more to do with denial on a grand scale.

I was trying to offer some advice last night, and got only: "Hey, I just need you to be positive and uplifting. I don't want to deal with reality right now ... Let me live in my fantasy." This is a fantasy world that includes not paying rent, or the light bill, and engaging in what I think will prove to be credit card fraud and some light embezzlement with his ex-boyfriend.

But delusion works both ways. Sometimes very conveniently. I had my first Valentine's Day date last year - though that date, with the guy I was THEN seeing, cost me a fortune in liquor and crack ... and pride. I do not intend to repeat the indulgence, but I also don't plan on spending the most romantically rigorous day of the year single. That the 14th coincides with Gay's tax refund, and that his son may be back in Louisiana by then, only sweeten the pot. We may actually leave the apartment - have dinner, drinks, a night on the town. It is a shame, as this must end, for it not to end well ... with a little flair ...

In other words, I have every intention of going out ... with a bang.

Mark

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Magical History Tour, or The Long Road Home

Riding with my father - the original Old Black Man - requires a certain relaxation of the rules of time and space. He is, among other things, 85 ... and driving a very small car. Between the whine of a tiny four cylinder engine in its efforts to accelerate onto a highway, or out of the path of an oncoming truck, and my father's tendency to move slowly, I find myself resorting to a childhood habit - pressing my nose as closely into a book as humanly possible.

In retrospect, I was a nerd who needed his books in order to get through a given day - two or three or more at times, some read simultaneously ... others just resting in my little bag, waiting their turn. And while that was true then, books now provide a different kind of solace. They keep me from grabbing the door handle, or otherwise demanding to take the wheel.

A month ago, when I was dressed to the nines and on the verge of vomiting, my father drove me to school so that I could take the LSAT - the (five hours) exam one takes when one is foolish enough to want to go to law school. I arrived five minutes late, and thus I didn't take the test. I am not planning on repeating that mistake - so, by hook or crook, I will be on time this Saturday.

But back to the subject of the long road home with the Old Black Man, my father gave me one of his classic tours Friday - down 37 to 90, to New Braunfels Ave., past side streets where I once bought crack, and the HEB where he used to work - three decades ago. We drove by the Driver's License office where I failed my driving test three times, down Military - past the Chuck E. Cheese where I had six birthday parties, and where I once peed on a man in a giant rat suit. He asked if I remembered each place, and I said - with a mix of surly and sad - that indeed I did. We drove past Southeast Baptist Hospital, where my mother died - 20 years ago ...

But the tour did not end there; for one reason, or several perhaps, my father started talking about Shoney's. We were just back in from the magical history tour, and my father brought it up while I was making breakfast - a microwavable assemblage of left-overs and some eggs. He said, "How long it been since you been out to Shoney?" And I duly maintained the cool, calm, collected voice that said "I don't want to go there ... but ah hell, this is parental bonding, right?" And so I said, "Would you like to go tonight? It has been a while."

Shoney's is the bane of my dietary existence - worse, somehow, than the Burger King menu my father brings home every day, a restaurant that does not serve wine or beer, a restaurant with a plush bear as its mascot that specializes in seafood buffets. Everything's fried, and the place stinks of mediocrity and the old ... not unlike Luby's, but with flavor and fat the levels of which could stop a heart at twenty paces. Assuming, that is, that anyone who eats at Shoney's could actually make it twenty paces. The seating is arranged, I noticed - once again - such that one need only walk about 18 steps - at most - to get to the fried shrimp, gumbo, cornbread or heavily ham-hocked green beans.

It is comfort food, from which I take little comfort. I think it has more to do with the lack of wine, or maybe just the lack of conversation. My father and I do not speak, except to note that the fried fish is good or bad, that the shrimp is plentiful, and to inquire if one of us is going to make another go 'round at the buffet.

We go to Shoney's once or twice every few months. It was much more often a few years ago - when we didn't get along nearly as well, but there was a lot more money to go around.

Things changed after my mother died - a thing I find myself coming back to tonight, again and again. Maybe it's that I just lost the Czarina, but then that doesn't really seem to cover it. We drove past Southeast Baptist, where my mother had the final stroke - the last of four. And then we sat at Shoney's, in a small two-seater booth, and I could not help recall that meal 20+ years ago.

My parents celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary at Shoney's, in 1988 - on New Year's Eve. And then, three hours later, my mother was gone. She didn't die, mind you, but instead had a stroke - the first of the aforementioned four. But she was gone that night - screaming and pissing herself and lost and gone.

But I don't think about that every time we dine there. Instead, I focus on the fact that I am with the Old Black Man, and that it's a nice thing we do together - part of a complex and sometimes ugly family history.

But then, aren't all family histories complex and sometimes ugly? Couldn't we just go to IHOP once in a while?

Mark

Monday, January 25, 2010

It is Complicated.

the Frenemy and I sat down for dinner Friday night - at Ounce, a rather lush and extravagant steak restaurant. The lights were low. The wine was divine. And three dirty martinis into the meal, I was knee deep in his sex life. We've done the audit for years now - getting together for an expensive meal and marvelous drinks while I go through a hard copy of the Frenemy's journal - counting off, with hash marks, the number of sex partners he enjoyed throughout the previous year. Repeat visitors don't count, and indeed there are not many of them. It's ego-stroking at its most puerile, but I am never one to pass up a free meal. The Angus filet, by the way, rare - was like butter.

the Frenemy stepped it up a notch - in more ways than one - this year. First, he went multi-media; the journal included pictures of all his numerous conquests - since nearly all of them came adam4adam.com. He included video stills as well, which inevitably produced a few embarassing moments as the waiter brought my salad and got a glimpse of a nearly full-page blow-job.

The number was no shocker, though it was also a step up from last year's 200+; in 2009, the Frenemy slept with 263 men - 81 of whom he met while cross-dressed, giving blow-jobs behind dumpsters in West side bar parking lots. The other 182 - including several men I was pursuing but he got to first - he came by honestly, via Craig's List, manhunt, and the aforementioned adam4adam.com.

And on the subject of sex, I am still not having any. Mount Gay is still around, but unavailable. And the phrase 'it's complicated' leaps to mind. Two weeks ago, he told me - as he got home from work, and I was putting in the third load of laundry for the day - Gay got a phone call from his 18 year old son. He was planning on a road trip - to LA - with about $1200 in his pocket and a dream in his heart. Gay, who made his own such trip at around 19, freaked the fuck out ... and convinced the boy to instead come to San Antonio. Somehow, it seems, the other 4 teen boys agreed. So, Mount Gay - who's not out - gave me back all the gay porn I brought over, and was hurriedly hiding a pink T-shirt, a rainbow ashtray and various and sundry obviously gay items.

The kids didn't make it into town easily - or smartly. Gay initially refused to tell me what happened, and when he did, I understood. Five white teenage boys in a beat-up older model Lincoln driving into town with out of state plates after midnight ... who were smoking pot and drinking in the car ... got stopped, and three of them got arrested. Gay's son and another friend got to go back to his place that first night; he spent the next two days bailing out teenagers. For the past week and a half, Mount Gay's had 5 teenagers crashing in his one bedroom, 600 sq. ft. condo, and his son will be staying on indefinitely. His 13 year old son is coming to stay - permanently - this summer. As the Frenemy and I discuss often enough, I didn't sign on to be a stepmother, and I paired up with a gay man - not someone who needs to hide in a closet.

I picked him up on Saturday, after the memorial. I needed to see him, wanted to get laid, and thought I could give him a break from teenagers and parenting and not being gay. He spent the night with me - at my father's house, in my childhood room, with the mattress on the floor - so we wouldn't make noise. There was no need. We fought half the night, and I drove him home with only the sound of the Trinity jazz station to fill the void.

I am unsure what to feel about a relationship dying; since it is my own, I am a little more invested than when I told the Frenemy to dump his drug-addicted, POZ, bi-polar recent ex. I am little more invested than when Dr. Bartender asked for relationship advice regarding the guy for whom he dumped me.

I somehow thought my first boyfriend would be someone with whom I'd spend a few years, that he would love me, and that I would love him ... not that it would be easy, but that it would be worth it all. And this, my first time around, isn't.

Mark

Midnight in the Garden of the Great Prince

I had the strangest dream last night. I was at SATF - the site of my photo shoot with Lindsay Lohan - although it was much nicer than I remember it. It was still institutional. There were still fifty bunk beds, cold steel affairs, but the bedding was 1,000 thread count, and there were leather couches in the common room. And the men were naked. Beautiful and fresh and naked, give or take the occasional towel. It was rehab in a bath-house ... and I was enjoying the view.

Pocahontas was there, as were Ova the Top and Daddy, and Mount Gay. We had this great conversation going ... about the nature of addiction and the pleasure of being naked - getting to the root of our problems, something along the lines of a Greek symposium (without togas). I was about to say something when a very pretty man with delicate features and very long blond hair walked up. He hovered near Pocahontas, and I wondered only if they were going to have sex - which seemed to be moments, seconds away from happening ... and then I saw his tail.

I was not quite vestigial - more like a pronounced, and rather active, bouncy to-do, slightly left of his coccyx. Pocahontas was visibly disturbed, and I was just a little bit less disgusted ... but, of course, he wasn't standing naked in front of me. He turned toward me, and I saw both a very pronounced and pretty member ... and another tail, this one vestigial, on his chest, just south of his left nipple. It was a very odd deformity on an otherwise angelic, lovely man.

And then I woke up.

I have no idea from whence that dream came. I'd like to say it was some sort of manifestation resulting from having just memorialized my gay Dad ... but it probably had more to do with the large amount of vodka I drank the night.

the Czarina is gone; though he died on the 23rd of December - a full month ago - we were not able to have the memorial service until this past Saturday. All the best people were there ... and the Frenemy came, too. I sobbed openly as Warren's niece sang "Wayfaring Stranger" - a song about going home. Pastor Chuck voiced a meditation about going to be with the Lord, and I sobbed, the large lesbian beside me offered me her hand, and her ample bosom, as she held me like a child, and I cried and cried and cried.

The Winter Palace buzzed with decades of friends and stories, and the old stone house was resplendent. Thanks, almost entirely, to Pocahontas - so named because of a self-proclaimed Native American heritage, and his thick, waist-length, black hair. At nearly fifty, he still has the body of a 19 year old boy - which is perhaps part of the lure . the Great Prince has a new lady of the house. Pocahontas was there when a lot of vodka and a little Viagra inspired a night of freakin' and folly. The next day, he moved in - with two duffel bags and two dogs, both Chihuahuas.

My thoughts on the subject are somewhere between upset and indifference. Enmity may be in there somewhere, too; however, it is not my place to judge. As I observed some time ago - my tenure at the Palace is done. It's not the place it used to be, and I doubt it will ever be that place again. As I noted in the eulogy I wrote last week - the Czarina's death leaves a loud, large, loving (drunk) hole in all our lives. So, who am I to raise an eyebrow if the Great Prince needs a little comfort and someone to spoon.

Mark

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are You the Fairy that Comes When I Leave Failure Under My Pillow?

The subject line above comes from one of my favorite web-comics - Something Positive - and I think I waited for just this occasion to have something fitting with which to pair it. I only wish the something fitting were not my own romantic life.

So, first things first, I have a love life. I met Mount Gay nearly two months ago, when he picked me up from my winter job at the mall, took me back to his place, and proceeded to beguile me - by which I mean that he put on blues music, got me drunk, and put on a movie that happened to involve a lot of full-frontal nudity.

The second date was similar, give or take the movie.

And the third varied only in that each of us whispered, "I love you." It was tentative, sincere but frightening - big, scary words that bring comfort and joy.

And I kind of thought it was real; it felt so good to say it to someone, to feel it for someone, to be in love. I was on the heels of falling for a guy - Dr. Bartender - who didn't fall for me. I am still tingling with the stuff brought up with Dr. Bartender - the passion, the interest, the fire, the (ever so illusive) spark ... and with possibility. With Mount Gay things are more certain - easier, more comfortable; there's no fire, but there's warmth ... and that seems right.

And wrong, too.

The "I love you"s are qualified. He says, "I love you ... don't hurt me." "I love you ... but I'm scared." I love you ... you're gonna leave me." "I love you ... thank God, you're not Mexican."

Mount Gay's ex is an older, swarthy Latino - who actively screwed each and every one of Mount Gay's friends. He threw hissy fits, tended toward violence, and hit on me - in front of Mount Gay - the first time we met.

The "I love you"s are qualified, but they are real. Sincere.

And so are the problems. Mount Gay takes pills - Vicodin and Xanax; he sleeps whole weekends away, and he and I have yet to ever go out. Every date - there were three - and the meetings in the month we've been together took place in his apartment - a rather fabulous '80s condo, with 18' ceilings and Berber wall-to-wall. He has no car ... or rather, he shares a car with the aforementioned swarthy Latino - the penance for all the cheating, and because they were together five years.

Mount Gay's place is a sort of oasis - out in the Medical Center, far, far away from my father's house and the gay bars, and the Winter Palace - and when I get dropped off there, I have something to which I look forward. There's a man who adores me - who is cute and sweet. There is cooking. There are movies (lots of movies - he doesn't have cable). There are 1000 thread count sheets and all the appropriate materials for manicures, pedicures, and facials. Occasionally, sex too.

But Mount Gay was married. WAS. Over a decade ago ... and there are kids. Three of them. Our troubles didn't start with his kids, but maybe they will end there.

Last weekend, somewhere between cuddling in bed and qualified "I love you"s, Mount Gay informed me that his son - a skinny 18 year old from rural Louisiana who looks like his father - was coming to stay. Indefinitely.

Mount Gay is not out (of the closet).

Come to think of it, when I left his place the other day, he was in the closet - hiding the pink T-shirt that says 'versatile' and the rainbow ashtray. He gave me back all the porn, and when we kissed good-bye, as he sat there in tighty-whities, and a designer T-shirt, atop the Ralph Lauren duvet, it felt like farewell.

It felt like goodbye.

Mark