Friday, December 23, 2011

He Was Born With a Heart Two Sizes Too Small

It's damned near Christmas, and - give or take a little misplaced optimism - I am a tad shy of Christmas spirit. I am light of merry, and bereft of cheer. I am, however, Southern and thus possessed of a certain natural grace and wit, capable of making even my most bitter moments into a source of mirth and good humor.

Vodka helps.

So, I put on my best Southern the other day when one of my father's exes, a woman for whom I never particularly cared, and who at one time scandalized even me, called to say hello. My father dated her aunt, who I adored - until she suffered a  stroke, at which time the Old Black Man moved on to Mel. He also briefly dated Mel's mother - once Mel's father died, or at least when he was real sickly.

In any event, I was wandering in and out of the kitchen, frying bacon-wrapped egg rolls, and doing laundry - so I only caught snippets of the conversation. There was definitely flirting going on. I recognized the signs - the Old Black Man was sitting up, something he seldom does these days. He was smiling, and he was laughing with that hyperbolic 'hee-hee-hee' Morgan Freeman used in "Driving Miss Daisy," the one that's halfway between a guffaw and a donkey getting branded.

I recognized it as flirting, and yet the words were coming out all wrong - which is not to suggest he was slurring, though at nearly 90, with a regular supply of Vicodin, and a sharecropper's drawl, who could discern a slur from a Sunday morning come-to-Jesus? My father was somehow turning a conversation about sons in prisons, arthritis, and dementia into a grand ol' time.

Perhaps it was that that conversation went so swimmingly that has me twisting a lemon in the sweet tea of life. The next night, Sunday, I begged out of a family function to go tie one on with my plus one - a sweet, dapper man of a certain age (50-something, since you asked nicely) with whom I've been keeping company since before I went to rehab - either time.

We met his friends - all younger, thinner, and more gainfully employed than either of us. Hipsters are always good for a laugh, and a cheap thrill - which is how I wound up seeing the penis, and prodigious bush, of a recent college grad who, I'm fairly sure, had been drunk since Spring Break. And my plus one tried to fix me up with the only other gay guy in the room, a pale and bird-like fellow with a Jew-fro.

That Jew-fro and my plus one nearly dated sometime ago, but for mixed signals - not lack of trying - put a mild damper on things. Things were downright moist when, after Jew-fro and I exchanged numbers, my plus one voiced his thoughts on trying to make something happen with Jew-fro. And they went to monsoon when Jew-fro returned neither my text, that evening, or my call - two days later. We haven't spoken since we met.

And maybe I was thinking about that lack of attention when I gave my number to a Polish fellow from group therapy. He does have the general appearance of someone who used to have a twitch, and possibly a nervous tic - and yet he has the pale, half-dead look that sets my heart to beating. At this point, a person who twitches and has not one but two fast-food jobs seems less like an ill fit and more like a damned good Thursday evening.

The holidays make me all misty. Bah humbug.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


My posts are growing fewer and farther between - partially because I find myself at a loss for words, and also because - as the old saying goes, "if you ain't got nothin' nice to say, you might as well hold your tongue ..."

For the past few weeks, I danced between - 'oh, thank G-d nothing too ridiculous happened this week' - and 'Please, G-d, just get me through this week.' There has been nothing nice to speak of.

My father had major surgery and was briefly in a nursing home, which gave me an unceasing peace, several nights of damned good sleep, and three glorious half-hours with a 21 year old whose name - Wally - made me giggle, but whose parts and labor made me a very happy homo indeed.

There was even a tryst with a man whose kisses made me weak, and whose story about gunning down an 8 year old suicide bomber left me wrecked. He has PTSD - and just maybe that explains not returning my calls, or maybe it's that he's straight. He just forgets every third or fourth weekend of the month.

I think I forgot what it's like to be kissed - as Rhett Butler once said, "often ... and by somebody who knows how." He kissed me, and I had this vague memory of what it felt like to be liked and cared for, considered interesting and capable of complex, secret, happy things.

It felt like there was a secret passing between us that no one else in the whole world got to know - that even other people, who'd each and all shared kisses with each of us still could neither know nor get what our kisses were, what they contained or conveyed.

In other words, it was good.

And that, I think, is part of the problem. This recent crop of great sex - harvested - is just a memory. Wally, in an ambitious moment, got a little carried away and managed to injure himself. The last time I saw him, he fell off my penis and stumbled out the door - hunched over and promising to try again next time.

The Soldier, on the other hand, left with a bang, not a whimper - when - after rejecting me, for a tranny hooker he was attempting to do in my bed - I threw him, his pants, and his hooker with the five o'clock shadow, out at 4AM.

The end of the affair, unceremonious though it was, was still more interesting and, arguably, appropriate than the one-week-before-Valentine's-Day text message that ended my one and only relationship, to-date.

So why, upon seeing my ex, Mount Gay, do I fondly recall the way we slept together - spooning, a tangle of his long, skinny legs, and my short, thick ones? Why do I remember the breakfasts in bed and the naked bacon frying, or the duck a l'orange?

the Frenemy met with an attorney yesterday - jumping on the bandwagon of an idea I had, in response to the news my wages are being garnished - because my $100,000+ in student loans are in default. The decision, or option, is bankruptcy, and the idea - at least in the case of filing Chapter 7, is a complete restart.

Given that I work in IT, I really should have considered this sooner. CTRL+ALT+DEL is the first line of defense solution to nearly every problem I encounter. For better or worse, sometimes, our phones, laptops, and PCs need to be reset.

So, why shouldn't it be the same for our daily lives? I realize it's drastic, or seems drastic - but I'm not necessarily talking about the rehabilitative effects of a near-death experience. I do not suggest jumping off a bridge; however, in the face of a hot mess, maybe it is best to find the necessary combination of buttons (e.g. therapy, prayer, cocktails, or moving cross-country) to take us not forward to a future free of trouble, which will never exist, but instead back - to a time, say two weeks hence, before that Trojan horse virus, or wage garnishment letter. Take me back to a kindler, gentler two weeks ago, knowing what I know now ... and watch me shine?

Maybe not shine - but at least manage to open my email and buy some shoes online without a complete breakdown. Maybe the Frenemy went back to his barely legal, bipolar, bisexual, bed-wetting beau, precisely because of those idle thoughts about the times - between restraining orders - when their love was golden. Maybe that's why Mount Gay smelled so good last night.

When we were together, the Czarina was still alive, I had only been to rehab once, and I wasn't blogging in IT metaphors.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If the lawd is willing, and the creek don't rise ...

Writing something down is like a conversation with an old friend – a friend who listens and has the good sense to raise an eyebrow, sip a cocktail, and shut the hell up until I’m done talkin’. Those kinds of friends are hard to come by these days, especially here in the South – where one is generally expected to say things like, “oh, sugar …”, “Honey, no …”, and the all-purpose, ever-versatile, and inimitable put-down “Bless her heart …”

That said, I had more than my fair share of bless her heart moments these past few weeks, and those are to blame for my mysterious absence from the Internet and/or the lives of my nearest, my dearest, my cousins, and the Frenemy. It started with the Old Black Man – who is 87 years young, and who I yesterday declared senile and poor – as a means of getting a free window unit air conditioner from the City of San Antonio, or the County of Bexar; frankly, I forget who it was I was calling, but somebody at least halfway believes my father’s plum crazy – and that is almost all the validation I need right about now.

My father is dying – although he seems to be doing it very slowly. He is not all there, but he’s not all gone – and I am not entirely sure how there he was to begin with, so it’s especially difficult to figure out how gone he is now. As I told the lady on the phone yesterday, “He’s 87 years old, dropped out of a one-room school-house, where they still used slate tablets, in the 7th grade, and has had two heart attacks in the past year and a car accident in the past month. Isn’t mentally impaired a given?” We decided he’s mildly losing his mind – for the record.

Between the car accident, which left him unable to work – and made me the primary breadwinner, the brief fear that he had Pancreatic Cancer, the peptic ulcer that went undiagnosed until after the 2400 mg. Ibuprofen prescription nearly killed him, the gout, the edema, the hypertension, and the fact that – despite 32 years of barely uttering a word to me, and damned skippy never saying ‘I love you,’ now he won’t shut up. He talks constantly about how much pain he’s in, how bad the pain is, and what a failure I am – how I will never amount to anything, and how I am going to somehow screw up and lose the house, after I inherit it, after his eventual death.

It’s a gay old time at the ancestral home, let me tell you.

Thank the good Lord I have a job that takes me away from home for 10 – 14 hours per day; I include happy hour as part of my commute. I work within three blocks of a gay bar that employs two men I once slept with, and sells a mean rib-eye, with a baked potato, for $3.

Did I mention that this is Texas, and there is no AC in my aforementioned ancestral home? It was 94 in my bedroom last night, and I am beginning to feel like something from a Tennessee Williams production – not one of the sultry, interesting, preternaturally complex, hot leads … not Stella, or Stanley, or Maggie on a ‘Hot, Tin Roof’ … no, just one of those dirty, sweaty, hot, unhappy darkies – too tired to sing (and dance in the background), who just leads a worn-out ol’ horse off into the distance, to get shot, and made into glue and bars of laundry soap.

The window unit in the den stopped blowing a few days ago, and it was sadly so hot that I didn’t even notice. It had been so hot for so long that I considered the window unit a white noise machine that led to a $180 CPS bill but didn’t do a damned thing to make lying in bed any less wet.

But I did meet my mother – the biological one, who had me at 13, popped up at my high school graduation, and then disappeared for 14 years? Uh-huh, that one … she friended me on facebook, and once the shock and awe wore off, we met up. We had barbecue and talked about our childhoods – well, my childhood and those of the children she actually raised. It was not nearly as bitter an occasion as that might sound. Actually, it went quite well. I found her glamorous and interesting, witty and well-dressed – and then, like a long unseen grandmother, dropping a $5 bill into your birthday card – my mother slipped me some money as we were hugging goodbye outside Bill Miller. I questioned the quagmire that that money represented, for about five minutes or so … and then I remembered I had bills to pay and went on about my day.

Until I hit the wall … literally. One of the problems with driving my father’s car – a late-model Cavalier, with peeling paint and bald tires – is that my father is of that generation that believes it is a sign of how well-made a car is that it never requires maintenance, and so – in the 5 years he owned it – the Cavalier had none. No new tires, no brake job, no maintenance of any kind – save an oddly regular oil change. And when I slid into a wall, while slamming on my brakes to avoid a rush hour accident – two months ago, he blamed my being a bad driver. When I nearly slid into the back of an Escalade that stopped short on the highway, I blamed my answering a phone call on my iPhone, and even when one of the tires blew, and the guy at the tire shop suggested replacing all of the tires, because they were all “about as bad as the one that blew out,” I still had a general sense that it was my fault.

But on Saturday, having seen my mother, having had drinks with friends, and having had a veritable feast of really good food, I was in no mood for self-loathing. I was in no mood to go home either, which was why I was en route to Wal-Mart when someone cut in front of me, stopped short for a right turn and I hit the brakes and felt the car go out from under me. I hopped a curb, bounced across a small expanse of asphalt, slammed into a building, and came to a stop facing the wrong direction and with the engine, the AC, and Trinity’s jazz station still going at full steam. Somehow, it made sense for me to drive home – dragging my ass, the bumper, and a rear tire turned completely sideways.

I could go on … well, who am I kidding, I will go on … honey, have another cocktail; this is going to take a minute ...


Monday, June 13, 2011

“Stark, Raving Girl Friday, Interrupted”

I had the initial appointment today to resume – court-ordered – group therapy. Who says you can’t go home again? It was like chatting with an old friend – who makes you pee in a cup before you leave. Really, I had this incredible sense of déjà vu. It seemed like only a year ago (this Friday) that I was biding my time, going through group therapy and pouring out my heart, my soul, my martini shaker … reflecting on a kinder, gentler time which I was, mercifully, far too drunk to actually remember.

The kindly fellow who did my intake was not unlike loving Uncle So-and-So, who came over when Daddy was working and Mama put on her cha-cha heels. I never had one, of course – ‘cause my mother was a good, decent Christian woman – who never wore cha-cha heels in broad daylight, but I have heard stories about the kind of men this man seemed to be. His snow-white hair was combed into a perfect, shellacked homage to the Czarina’s ancient frenemythe Fish-Man, whose wife owns “an entire peak in West Texas” and who has a penchant for the kinds of men who will either send you to heaven or send you to Heaven … if you know what I mean. I imagine, if I were a few years younger and a few years thinner, he might have asked me to put on a sailor suit and go fishing in his Dockers.

Other than the knowing glances and funny little, ‘just between us’ asides, it was a good reintroduction to what passes for DSM-IV these days. As if the problems of a lifetime – the myriad last straws that drove me to the bar (‘cause Lord only knows, I certainly wasn’t capable of driving myself …) – could be unbent by a few months of talking about how drugs are bad.

Drugs are terrible, but boredom, or misery, or whatever the hell else was going on in my head was far worse. They were temporary fixes, to be sure – but they were the only fixes available at the time, because I certainly couldn’t afford therapy before I was an addict, and – for that matter – what I receive these days hardly constitutes therapy. I am too poor to go crazy, and I really prefer the term ‘mad’ anyway. It’s more expressive.

So, I returned from my meeting with the Funny Uncle to find my boss back in the office and a mountain of work awaiting me. I have returned to the world of the working girl, and indeed – my office is 95% female. That probably explains why my boss – who is somewhere between hot and adorable – frequently finds himself playing the little brother with whom all of his heretofore unspecified sister’s friends flirt, or on whom they lavish smiles – in order to get free manual labor.

And it is then, somehow, fitting I am that guy’s girl Friday. He is - single-handedly - the IT department, so I should technically be classified an IT guy; however, given that I am not entirely sure what all those cables coming out of, and going into, that large metal thing in the middle of the room (I think it's called a server - just like that nice Latin boy the Czarina employed for a while) do, I am nobody's idea of IT.

I am getting accustomed to the swing of things, though. I discovered the break-room today, although I hear there is actually more than one. I passed a copier on the way to fix a computer the other day. And by fix, I mean that I installed Adobe Flash Player. I think the owner wanted to play “Angry Birds,” but I cannot be sure.

I have an office (space), but it is fairly small – a perfectly lovely side table – more commonly known as a night-stand – on which I have a laptop, a scanner, and when I sit at it, I have to put my legs in a drawer. I have moved up in the world, in that I have gone from a metal folding chair to a padded metal folding chair, which is actually very stylish. It's black. Which is beautiful, you know.

I really do enjoy what I do – mostly because it is not so unlike those halcyon days when I sat at the very feet of the Czarina Warrenina Joskes – hanging on her every bon mot and propping her up on her bar-stool. I was thinking of her today – as I was using a nail file to remove staples from some paperwork to be scanned. Adaptability, she would say, is key to success.

All I can say is that I am changin' all over the place – although I still feel like the same ol' me, most of the time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Project Mondays ain't what they used to be ...

At some point in blogs past, I coined the term Project Monday, and much like my then-favorite Bravo reality show that inspired the name, every week some new drama accompanied the new challenge, and - also like that show - some queen was probably going to wind up in tears at some point in the episode.

the Old Black Man would casually announce that he was going to a) mow the lawn, b) trim the hedges, or c) build an addition to the house - requiring plumbing, electrical work, and immediate access to a fire extinguisher. I would pretend that I could ignore the subtle call-to-action and would, in fact, succeed for an hour or so of general TV viewing. Then, my father would ring the doorbell. Repeatedly. Until I wandered out to the front porch, to find some heretofore unseen piece of rusted machinery laid out on the sidewalk, my octogenarian father down on his knees, cradling the disassembled lawnmower motor in his lap - like the head of a fallen comrade in the Battle of Winter Grass.

the Old Black Man would invariably mumble and drawl some explanation of what he was trying to do, which it was then assumed I would do with relative ease - since he'd loosened it up for me already, and suddenly I am sitting on the sidewalk - with a wrench, a screwdriver, and no idea how the hell WD-40 magically makes everything better.

But that was then; two heart attacks later, the Old Black Man has to take his projects as they come, between spells of gout, occasional chest pains, and when it is not - as it is now - over a hundred degrees. It is Summer in South Texas; those moments are few and far between. His aegis egressed, to a certain preference for napping on the couch.

The vanity lights in my bathroom have been out for nearly a month, since shortly after I escaped Lindsay's clutches and returned from the kidnapping. Being (un)handy, and expecting things to be magically fixed when I turned my back, I said nothing about it - for two weeks. It was actually easier just to shower during the day, pee by memory (while listening for the sound of stream hitting pond), and shave in the kitchen. On a particularly dark night, while attempting to shave by indirect light from the hall, I decided to bring up the problem with Dad.

As I was dressing to go out - moments later - the Old Black Man opened my door and said simply, "I done fixed that light." I was surprised by the promptness, but not really - until I walked into the bathroom, looking forward to not peeing by Braille. There was light. Dad hung a bare bulb on an extension cord over the side of the vanity and plugged it into the outlet controlled by the light switch.

Admittedly, I am fond of indirect lighting ... but that's usually in the context of the subtle charm of the Hotel Valencia's V Bar lounge, not the effect created by this very hot, bare bulb dangling over plastic and 40 years old knotty pine paneling, e.g. "Blair Witch"... in hell. It smolders, and I look like I'm holding a flashlight under my chin when I shave.

If anything, my father busies himself with minor errands he can conduct from the couch - while ordering me around; in the past three weeks, I ordered DirecTV, met with plumbers we didn't hire, air conditioner repairmen we couldn't afford, and looked into changing our insurance service, cell phone carriers, and had to explain - twice - that the computer-generated voice telling him his car warranty is expiring soon (on a car we no longer own, mind you) is not his friend.

On the plus side, I'm fairly sure I'm in the top 2 on this particular reality TV, but I have the distinct feeling, I am not going to win.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are You My Daddy?, Or - What I Did Not Say

A man can amass a great many stories in the course of 90 days, and my stories include a furtive fling with a man named Rusty - who is five feet tall and reminded me, vaguely, of a hobbit ... but a hobbit that could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.

All things considered, there is little more to say about Rusty (except ... mmm ...) but there is plenty to say about Uncle Counselor - my primary counselor, who may or may not be my daddy. The truth is that Uncle Counselor reminds me of someone I once knew - an unpleasant memory of a rangy black man who used to come over to borrow money from my mother, Charles is my biological uncle, and also - probably - my biological father. So, when I sat across from an educated, recovering crack-head whose last name happens to be the my biological mother's (and father's) last name, I couldn't help thinking that serendipity is a mother-*****

I was fairly sure he was not my daddy, but after he told a story about - at 28 - meeting his half-brother, who was also a crack-head and, in fact, died of an overdose, in Fort Worth - where, I hear, Charles moved when he left San Antonio, I felt I was on to something. I never asked the question. Any questions. Some dogs need to lie, especially the ones you know to be sleeping.

If nothing else, what I learned in 9 months of rehab is that one has to pick one's battles. As battles go, don't fight with family - even if you're uncertain they actually are family; still better advice is to avoid drama with someone who has a hand in determining your freedom.

I wish I could say I learned these valuable lessons early in life, but the Old Black Man and I are not exactly the best of friends. Since he's damned near a hundred and has mellowed in his old age, to a refined and shrinking Southern gentleman - who still works 30 hours per week and carefully forgets that I'm gay, we reached a stalemate.

I forget, from time to time, about the time he held a hot iron near my head and said, after I came out to him at 13, "Stop it, or else ..." I forget about the time I refused to go to church - the first time, after a 15 year lifetime of going every Sunday. I refused to go because the preacher, the previous weekend, made Sunday's sermon all about the evils of homosexuality. So, my father and I had a fight. He cracked a belt at me, I threw the family Bible at him ... and then, because Timmy was barking incessantly, my father threw my French poodle at me. I ducked and the poodle bounced off a couch.

I don't recall how that one ended, but I haven't been back to that church in years.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rip Van 'Sleeping Beauty,' Or 'What You Doin' with My Winkle?'

It is as if I awoke from a truly miserable sleep – a mythic, unnatural sleep from which I awakened to find the world a miserable place, largely unchanged ... except in all the worst ways – except in the sense that my father is seemingly many years older, my house deteriorating as it never had before – as Beauty’s palace faded and disappeared beneath thorny vines, during her long years’ sleep.

There are no thorny vines, though the Old Black Man put chicken wire up on the front porch, wrapping bars and pass-throughs so that cats could not get in. My father hates cats. The chicken wire – rough and thin, rusted in places – snags my sweaters and tears at my shirts. It pokes out menacingly when cats, or those foolish enough to visit, attempt to come in ... and, given my very special allergy to Tetanus, threatens to kill me at every twist and turn.

I turn often, or am I twisting? I get myself out and about as often as I can, in the Old Black Man’s carriage – with the peeling paint and persistent, American-made whine. I get out often, and yet I run the risk of running into the wicked witches whetting whistles at all the usual haunts. Because I cannot seem to think of new places to go. Nor are there any.

the Frenemy and I wound up at a whistle-stop just the other day. I wanted to see if I could pull off ‘just one drink,’ and that Fat Mattress, largely reformed from her back-alley ways and attempting (shacking-up) bliss – give or take the restraining orders, wanted to sip, see and be seen. By way of the law of averages, of course we ran into someone he slept with ... but he wasn’t the only one.

Though I have neither been as carefree nor as energetic as the Frenemy, I have my share of former flings – a few of whom were fly-by-nights, and a few others who lingered – whether I wished them to do so – in my heart, or on my avocado green antique couch longer than they should have. And so it was that I was in mid-margarita when in walked the Hooker on my Couch, and his sugar daddy du jour. That last time I saw the Hooker, he was selling drugs and acting as a part-time hit-man for a heretofore unnamed mafia entity, who happen to think I ratted them out before absconding to the photo-shoot with Lindsay Lohan. He had the grace not to kill me, and he was still feeling gracious – apparently – when I ran into him the other day. He and his sugar daddy waved at me across the bar. We raised our glasses in a universal gesture of acknowledgement, and so that we could see that there were no weapons in anyone’s hands.

In accordance with the general rule of exes and bar etiquette (‘I was here first; you stay for one drink ... and then promptly leave and forget you ever saw me ...’), the Hooker on my Couch and friend beat a hasty retreat to the next new drug deal, and I kept looking for the bottom of my too-sweet margarita. So, it was only happenstance – and the Frenemy trying to convince me he was happy with his bed-wetting, bi-polar, bisexual beau by telling yet another ‘isn’t it cute how he ...’ story – that had me looking up when Mount Gay walked in.

I only managed one boyfriend in my 30 years. Some would see this as a failure. Some would see it an accident of fate. I tend to see it as a divine joke that my prince – far from charming – and I shared a mutual fondness for Ms. Lohan, and little else. My ex was in the closet, a rather impressive feat given that he is nearly 7’ tall, and his affection for me was based on a vague desire to recapture his long lost lust for the fat black man who molested him when he was 15. I nearly choked on my drink, but managed nonetheless to put on my best fairy-tale smile. We were civil, shared a lingering hug, adhered to the aforementioned etiquette – and both of us left that whistle-stop after the one drink and the obligatory glances from across a rather dead bar.

I may have been asleep for nearly a year, and things may have gone from mundane and mediocre to miserable and macabre, but my ex smelled like sex walking and got a promotion. He has a new car and a teenager. Talk about thorns.

the Frenemy says it’s normal that I wanted to know more. But then the Frenemy also thinks it perfectly normal to go through his beau’s phone and follow his tricks home. So, I take his concept of normal with a grain of salt, and yet I went to the next whistle-stop, where I knew Mount Gay would be – ostensibly to carry on a conversation. Mount Gay was moving on ... right there in public, with a man old enough to be my father, and there went my 'just one drink’ idea.

The overall evening was a blur – not because I was so drunk, but because it was like so many other evenings in the same spots. There are plans to revamp the enchanted forest that is the gayborhood, plans that include a wine bar, another dance club, and a wishing well where old queens will go to pretend they’re young princesses ... but Pegasus redux hasn’t happened yet, and that night was no different. I ran into a former customer who, on occasion, also lingered on my couch.

While I was dreaming, rumors mounted that I was dead; I may have mentioned this before, but the more I learn about my demise, the more intrigued I tend to be. I suppose death does that to people – well, assuming they’re not actually dead. A past paramour informed me that I was dead ... said that he’d heard from the Mad Man and the Crazy Russian that I died – in prison. Suicide. There was no word on exactly how – though I personally preferred the hanging theory, which – of course – indicated that I was ‘hung.’
But my former fling, who would surely agree that I was hung ... told me his side of the story, or what he heard. It seems I did not die in prison, but in a local crack den. Someone said he was sure I was dead, because he saw my body being carried out of said den. Someone else was equally certain, as he attended my funeral. I must find this yellow journalist and ask for pictures.

My sleep was miserable and my death merely a dramatic rumor; nonetheless, the world – though changed – is not all bad. Dragons have been slain, at least two or three witches are dead, and the Old Black Man went to a dance / fish fry this enchanted evening – leaving me to worry over both his sex life and his cholesterol, but giving me a damned good reason to smile.

And be jealous. I have not been to a ball in a month of Sundays, and while I was awakened by a prince – not all princes are charming. This one is – but his was a long-distance kiss, and in this modern kingdom, romance can blossom via Gmail – but doesn’t ‘happily ever after’ still require at least one slow dance, cheek-to-cheek?

Friday, May 6, 2011

While I was gone ...

While the last time I disappeared for a while was for the photo-shoot with Lindsay Lohan, this time around the hateful heifer kidnapped me. There I was, minding my own business, mourning the loss of the Czarina Warrenina Joskes - Keeper of the Faith, Queen of the Steppes, Empress of all the Russias - a Living and Breathing Deity Who Deigns to Walk Among Us to Bring Us Grace and Beauty, mourning her in appropriate fashion - hitting every bar in town, when all of a sudden, in the midst of some illicit activities with Leopold and Loaded, la Lohan came along and suckered me down her primrose path.

Now, admittedly, she only inspired me to be bad, rather than making me behave badly, but the damage was done - and my PO was none too pleased. All things considered, the kidnapping went smoothly. I was briefly in Bexar Co. jail, where they were staging "'Oz': the Reunion Special - a Gangsta Rap Musical," but after a limited run there, I took the show on the road - to San Diego, Texas and a little slice of heaven run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was like prison - replete with white uniforms and open-air toilets, but with counselors and an over-arching theme of recovery.

It is typically true that wherever I go, there I am ... and I say that not to be philosophical but to make the point that I am a bit much in a big city. I am a whirlwind of gay and wit, not unlike a Noel Coward production, and no one was putting on "Blithe Spirit" in San Diego, I assure you. It was just south of Hell, 105 degrees when I got there in August, with no air conditioning and a prison full of overweight Hispanic prison guards with small-town attitudes and a tendency to giggle when I walked into a room.

Personally, I consider it a gift that I can make people smile wherever I go, but I am less thrilled about it when, rather than smile and move along, they decide to tell me I'm going to burn in hell. And there was the sergeant who asked me if I was a plumber, in the free world ... because I "obviously like to handle pipes." And there was the female guard who said "you shake your ass more than I do ..." and referred to me as "girl" in front of a long line of prisoners, who then took it upon themselves to jeer, cat-call and do very rude things with their hands.

A few grievances later, the sergeant who said - of the way I walk - "You're here for treatment, not to look for love ..." got fired and the guard who called me girl got moved to a shift where I never had to see her. Three months into my 6 months stay in San Diego, I became the Program Director's personal assistant - a handy job that meant I got get out of groups, had limited access to a lot of power, and my days in an air-conditioned office, writing speeches and designing presentations while my boss played guitar and sang country songs.

This particular kidnapping was a two-phase process. The first phase was the gangsta rap musical in San Diego, but the contract called for another 3 months run in Houston - at a little theater/halfway house called Cheyenne, the Cheyenne Center.

A gangsta rap musical was a bit more fitting in Houston than it was in San Diego, but - as the Cheyenne Center banned radios and, in essence, all music - my plans to hoof it next to Lohan three nights a week went down the drain, and all I got was the lousy treatment.

The truth is that I had high hopes, when I got to H-town, of finding work and starting my life all over - sober and in a new location. Times are tough, even for a star with comeback plans ... and a hell of a resume. Give or take one job interview - to which I arrived an hour late, because of one bus arriving four minutes late, and the connecting bus being three minutes early - each bus only running once every hour, and the whole trip taking 138 minutes in the first place, I only managed to secure one interview in 90 days.

And, I should mention, that upon arriving to that interview - an hour late, I had to cross a rather large lawn to get into the building. The gardeners working to maintain this beautiful, enormous yard, couldn't have known I am allergic to fresh-cut grass, and yet I still recall the look of general bemusement on their faces when, my eyes watering, I fell into a ditch.

It was a small ditch, so I was only down for a minute or two before - brushing the grass from my facial hair and off my leather jacket - I emerged, some vestige of my pride still intact and ambled into Bank of America to get to my potential temp agency employer. Needless to say, I was not impressed. The woman I was there to see came out, asked me why I hadn't called (cell phones were also banned in Cheyenne), and was mentally rolling her eyes as I tried to offer an explanation - while picking an errant piece of grass off my Armani shirt. Ultimately, she said - rather kindly, "Why don't we reschedule? You can come back ... when you're more together."

But I didn't go back, which would perhaps suggest that I never got it together. In fact, my brethren at Cheyenne - who I lovingly referred to as the homeless, illiterate, and not quite right in the head - tended to get in a lot of trouble. It started with cussin'; the staff complained that too many people were walking around casually cussin', which was dubbed "disrespectful to the female staff." Apparently, the male staff were fine with it. And then there was the epidemic of sagging pants. None of us took any of this seriously, until someone got bitch-slapped in an AA meeting. Two back-hands later, Cheyenne locked us down - no phone, no job searching, and no movement.

I spent my last 5 weeks in Houston doing nothing productive, but the last 4 weeks I was in charge. The homeless, illiterate, and not quite right in the head elected me their leader, and between my micro-managing attention to detail, and yelling at damned near everyone, I got us off lock-down - effective the day after I left town.

After all the hard work, all the (proverbial) blood, sweat, and tears, I left Cheyenne with a messenger bag full of designer clothes, wearing four pairs of shoes, and with one word, "'Bye."

I crept back into San Antonio on Greyhound, 'round midnight. And while I can't say that I'm entirely happy to be home, I've certainly been worse places. I know one thing for sure, I ain't goin' nowhere with Lohan no mo'; that white girl is hateful.