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