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Month: March, 2012

Muscle Man

D and I were walking along the cement boardwalk, headed to the pier. It was cloudy and if you looked out to the ocean the water and the sky were striated into different shades of lavender, like a color study from the gods. It was beautiful. I could see a guy up the beach a little swinging from hanging metal rings, one to the other down the row, an urban Tarzan, and then I saw that there was a line of guys waiting to swing. Maybe it was a class. I was excited because I deduced that the pier was the one from The Lost Boys, one of my favorite movies ever. God when I was a kid I wanted to be part of a cool vampire clique so bad. In the 80s the vampires always wore the best clothes: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Wirth (my very favorite. I had a college friend who claimed her sister dated him and I shuddered. To think that he and I had shared the same carbon dioxide emissions from my friend’s mouth!). This other time during a summer vacation when I was sixteen my high school best friend and I came out to California for a couple weeks and we went to this amusement park where for like half an hour we befriended this pretty, creepy, prematurely sleazy-looking girl who point blank looked at us and said – I’m a vampire. She was so direct and confident about it that it seemed like it had to be true. That was the same trip where my friend got his ear pierced and then freaked out cuz he suspected he’d done it in the gay ear so he frantically called his mom to see which ear P had pierced in the yearbook cuz I guess P was the arbiter of heterosexuality and sure enough it was the other ear so my friend had his other ear pierced instead, all of which screamed that it wasn’t the right moment to come out of the closet to him.  Anyway I was way ahead of the vampire curve. Or maybe it’s just always been popular and now that I’m old I can finally see that.

Suddenly he walked by us, with two people on either side of him, a man and a woman. He’s tall. His skin was orange, a combination of makeup and tan. He was wearing a robe, some kind of Renaissance-y thing. It’s strange to think that a 70s surfer haircut relegates you to tv/films set in the middle ages or ancient Greece. His features are aggressively strong. These are my EYES, this is my NOSE, these are my CHEEKS. Not unnatural, but there’s a leathery battle against time going on in that face. His name eluded me; I don’t know that I’ve ever watched anything he’s done from start to finish. He was looking intently at the woman I think. They seemed to be his protectors, ushering him from his sudden arrival from another time to the comforts of a contemporary hotel bar. We walked further and saw that there was a shoot. All the rectangular lights and metal tripods and stuff that say We’re making something fake here. Further still there was a grip fumbling to wrap all of these metal and plastic stands in a burgundy velvet curtain. From a distance it looked like someone was trying to escape, or blind and lost in three square feet of space.

Except Sundays

It was “culture” day. I spent the afternoon with G going to the museum in the hills. It became pretty beautiful after I decided that I was into the architecture. Does this happen to you? – when you don’t really know about something you just emotionalize your relationship to it. I do it all the time. Bereft of any actual knowledge about architecture, I just feel my way through the experience, which is fine because everything’s a performance. Although I get sort of annoyed when you get to a building and you know you’re meant to go “Ooh!” right away. Congratulations, Mr. Architect! But then I always hate things right before I love them.

I don’t even know how it happened but I decided to go to a music show later in the evening at the fancy concert hall downtown. G couldn’t go cuz he had to work and I felt too lazy to try to lure someone else, so on the spot I decided that “I love seeing concerts by myself!” – that thing single and depressed people say about going to the movies. I called and they said I could get rush tickets, which sounded thrilling. So I showed up early but I couldn’t figure out where the fuck the box office was as I circumnavigated the torqued titanium monster of a building. The signage sucks, and it feels like the building is annoyed that people want to interact with it. It’s so stoic and unfriendly and I just wanted to scream at it – Help me, where’s the fucking box office! Finally I found it and then learned that I couldn’t get rush tix since I’m not a student or a senior. Wish they’d told me that on the phone. The rush lady shoved me off to another attendant and I got a ticket behind the orchestra even though I could tell from the seating chart that my sight lines were gonna be fucked by the grand piano. I could have just gotten a ticket for the other side, but yet again I practiced my habitual “make the wrong decision even though you know exactly what the right decision is but are too chickenshit to say it” shtick and got a seat behind the piano.

I had some time to kill and I remembered the good ramen place R and S had taken me to a couple of years ago in Little Tokyo so I headed over there while listening to a creepy story on the radio told in the first person about a guy who was molested as a kid and then confronted his abuser as an adult to talk about it, even though all he really wanted to do was just kill him. Parking was impossible, as usual. It’s all you do here: drive, park, drive, park, repeat. I want to make a t-shirt that says “I used to read but now I just drive.” Finally I found a spot and went through the whole “Do I have to pay or not on a Sunday?” mindfuck and then kept listening to the radio on my phone because I wanted to find out if the guy killed the guy or not (he didn’t). I went to the ramen place, where you put your name on a list and wait forever. Since I was by myself I thought it would be a breeze but these bitches were hardasses and stuck to the wait list order. I tried advocating for myself a couple of times – I’m just one person! – but no luck. I was getting hungrier and hungrier and the umami chunkiness of the ramen was this ever-thickening cloud in the air and my consciousness until it seemed like the answer to all of my life questions. Finally I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the show if I stayed so I gave the hostess a surly look as I harrumphed – I’m leaving! – and careened onto the sidewalk fully crazed and maniacally hungry. The idea that I wouldn’t be able to realize the promise of ramen was suddenly the most epic disappointment of the year. How would I re-organize my expectation around another flavor? I went back to the concert hall and rushed into their overpriced cafeteria, where I begrudgingly settled on an egg salad sandwich and lemonade. Boulders of disenchantment were tumbling inside me into a river of regret. I never make the right choices about seating, parking or dining establishments.

With my blood sugar finally leveling out I went to my seat, which was pretty great after all. The usher started a conversation with me. He was socially awkward and formal, but young and charming nonetheless. I was quietly impressed that we were even talking. I told him I was checking out the city and he told me he loved living here but that he sees himself in another city also because he has a good head for business. I nodded like I understood. The concert hall made me think of Santa Fe. It’s all curved wood, romantic proportions and an unfortunate flower print pattern on the bench seats. But I like that it’s hippy new age and not stodgy like the classical houses in NYC. The first group went on and it was this dreamy, soft contemporary jazz and I thought – oh my hardcore experimental music friends would be horrified at me being here right now. I don’t think I had fully registered that it was a JAZZ concert and I was struck, again, by the thoughtless itinerary that I design for myself. But the music caught a curve of melancholy in me and I was crying in the aisle seat as I looked up beseechingly into the empty space below the bowed ceiling while the recessed walls slowly changed in hue from orange to green to red. What am I supposed to do with my life? I thought. Now, tomorrow, forever.

And then it was intermission and I went to the bathroom and on my way out I saw him, standing in the line of men waiting for urinals, with a hangdog expression as if he had just gotten off a long flight but maybe it’s just his face. He shuffled a bit from side to side the way you do when you really have to pee. I got tunnel vision and everyone around him disappeared into a fuzzy cloud as I quickly assessed all of the particulars. He’s short, a dirty blonde. I can’t remember what he was wearing. Maybe a jacket. Wow he really really looks like Truman Capote so of course he played him in that movie, which I never saw so can’t say if it’s good or not. When I went back to my seat I wondered if he’s a big new music fan and if he plays “interesting” music in his trailer or whatever and if the make-up people are like “Wtf is this?” and if maybe he sees that as part of his purpose or mission on the movie sets, to educate. And then I imagined him in a concert hall in London listening to some other music and I imagined him here and I imagined him having conversations about all of the concert halls he goes to and which one he likes best. Only later did it occur to me that since he was at that bathroom it meant he wasn’t in an orchestra seat and that made me wonder whether he: doesn’t have a lot of money, doesn’t like to spend it on fancy seats, or prefers just to sit on the side. I always assume they’re mega-rich but I know that isn’t true. My friend A just got a small part in a movie and he has to find his own sublet during the shoot, which is ridiculous since you know the star of the movie is being flown out on a fucking jet or something. Everything is so out of balance. T was sorta good in that movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but he had like three lines maybe? And anyway the real stars of the movie were the art direction and the slow moving camera. Sad and smoky.


K had gone to see if the line for ordering food had quieted down. We were catching up after not having seen each other in like fifteen years… no, more. I actually can’t remember the last time we saw each other. We’d walked from her cute apartment to the busy cafe. You’re supposed to order food first and then take the number to your table and wait for them to bring you the food. This tactic feels cheap, and more of a hassle for everyone, but it persists I guess. The line was too long so K’d had the idea of just sitting and waiting for it to die down. We took over a corner table that these two women were leaving. It felt renegade, we were doing things out of order! and I wondered if the busboys were going to bust us or what. I’m always nervous about the rules. The women had left a bowl of cold, uneaten fries and a half drunk Bloody Mary, all sleazy looking cuz the ice had melted. We joked about eating the fries but then of course I actually ate one. I can’t help myself. I told K – remember when we were young poor dancers going to school in New York and AR’s mother would come into town and take us all out to a fancy restaurant and we’d stuff ourselves silly? -Like camels eating for the whole week! K exclaimed, and laughed. I laughed, too, like it was all in the past but truth be told I’m always looking for the next free meal.

Anyway I was sitting there by myself for the moment and I looked through the trellis and there he was, looking intently at his friend, whose back was to me. He was with this group of guys and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen him as I’d walked in. I mean, it would have been the back of him but I’m really attracted to guys’ backs, jealous of them in fact. Especially of long, v-shaped, broad backs, which he has. Ok maybe not so broad. Anyway his friends were just a bunch of regular looking guys and now that I think about it they’d all turned and looked at me as I was walking in, maybe to protect him? Or see who would recognize them with him? Who knows. He was wearing a slate blue cotton t shirt and jeans. He was very tan, which concerned me of course because I thought well you’re really making it hard for the make up people aren’t you, having to make you look like the undead. I’ve heard he’s nice — he seems it. I’ve watched videos of him online where he’s pulling pranks and stuff. He came across as nice in Melancholia, even though I couldn’t really buy it that he’d go to all that trouble to marry that woman, in like, a fucking castle. She was such a mess, oh excuse me, an advertising “genius.”

His face was slightly wet, like he’d just done a misting spray. The whole thing was so unreal — I was peeking through the trellis for god’s sake — and it was almost as if he was looking right at me and he was so tan and moist, it felt like the right thing to do was just to lean in and lick his face. I realized he was speaking swedish to the guy and then that they all were. K came back and I pointed him out and she pretended to stretch and twist so she could see him. One other really good looking swedish guy arrived and they hugged and he joined them, sitting next to A and I thought wow what’s it like to be two ridiculously good looking people sitting next to each other. And then after a while the whole pack of them got up to leave – he put on a generic black cap – and I said to K, look it’s a whole entourage, that really happens. -It’s his Swedish Posse, K said and I said, that’s good, I’m going to write that down later.

And then that night, as I was lying, confused but satisfied, next to _______, I imagined I was looking right up into a nighttime snowfall. The small, white flakes raced out of the blackness as if out of an invisible shower head and fell around me in a perfect circle. I was just a face, no body, no ground, no clouds or stars either.