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.