Just another site

Month: July, 2012


I had this job in college where I brought A/V equipment to different classes. Our boss was this real easygoing guy, another student. He was like the wise-cracking, disheveled teacher from Welcome Back, Kotter. At one point I started buying pot from his roommate, and he pulled me aside at work and made me swear I’d keep all that on the down low, or whatever we called it those days. It was such a motley crew of us at that job. I guess our common skill set amounted to not having classes at night and being able to schlep around TV’s and VCR’s precariously mounted onto rolling racks over the city streets and sidewalks. We’d get to a classroom and connect everything quickly while the professor stood awkwardly and the early students glared at us absently the way you do at workers. I met P at that job. He was in grad school for acting. He always made us play this game called “Name ten major black film actors in one minute go!” and then he’d shake his head disapprovingly while we stuttered to come up with anything beyond Denzel Washington or Sydney Poitier. I liked him a lot and I wanted him to think I was cool and hip to his struggles as a black actor. He was so pissed about racism in Hollywood. I totally agreed, and was embarrassed by my own inability to come up with more than four or five names under pressure, if that many, but we all know racism’s pernicious and timed games are even more so. He went on to become famous for a while and kept showing up in those barbershop movies. I never saw them so I can’t speak to their quality but I couldn’t help but wonder if he really needed an MFA to star in them. After I left school my friend E went on a date with him and she told me he had a small dick but of course you never know what people consider normal or big so what should you picture.

One night I was walking home from work it must have been spring because I remember it was already warm. I was on the south side of the street and I saw a crowd forming outside the window at a café. Curious, I pushed my way to the front of the group and saw her inside standing in front of a small rapt crowd, just her and her guitar. It was a really special moment, like suddenly I thought ok this is the payoff for living in this neighborhood in that shithole apartment. She was so young and beautiful, with the shaved head the whole thing. God that voice, she could really stop time and air with it, that pure cord of tone that poured out of her mouth and filled the room like water. I was transfixed, as if at a museum with the storefront glass this small shield between my suspended adoration and her elfin magic.

After the impromptu mini-concert, I pushed my way into the café and waited to speak to her. Unbelievably enough, she did and I stammered and said hello and gushed of course. I had gone to a rummage shop earlier that day and bought old photographs – like a good little bohemian kid – and asked her to sign the back of one for my friend K who was still gay then. S said Oh I love these I collect them, too. She was trying to normalize the moment between us I think but I had no tools for this kind of interaction so I probably just kept sputtering nervously. I don’t know what to make of everything that’s happened to her since. I mean, sure, you could just say “Car Wreck,” but that’s the easy way out. Nobody really knows what somebody else’s crazy feels like.


He keeps coming up in different conversations in different places, but I’ve only seen him in person once, which was way long ago when I was still waiting tables at the cocaine/alcoholic factory. Often I can remember the night of the week that I saw famous people because my schedule was fairly consistent – Sunday was usually the quietest night so I remember those the best – but I can’t be sure of the night I saw him. Funny to think that he was even famous by then. He was sitting in a small booth facing someone whose back was to me. He had bleached hair! That took me by surprise. It wasn’t one of my tables so anything I saw was just incidental, on my way to serving fifteen cosmos to a table of Russians probably. There was that other night that I was rushing – we were packed – and I went to make an espresso and as I pulled the coffee lever out of the machine steaming hot grounds splattered across my neck, shirt and the wall behind me. I zombied my way to the bar to ask for ice. Fortunately the bartender J identified what was happening better than I did – You’re in shock, he said and got me to lie down with some ice on my neck in the manager’s office. Maybe I was shaking or something. I definitely wouldn’t have thought to take a break if someone else hadn’t taken charge of the situation. E, the manager, sympathized with me for about five minutes then offered me two shots of whiskey and said I need you back on the floor. You have ten tables. Ever ready to prove my worth as a cocaine-addled waiter, I hurried back to work. I could have sued.

Anyway there he was facing me whenever I passed. Glittery eyes, that bleached blonde hair, a monochromatic sweater. Handsome. More striking than you’d think, but this was the 90’s after all. Everyone was younger then. But the biggest surprise was that he was super faggy looking. I thought oh my god he’s gay! I was somehow sure of it. He was there with a guy! What further proof was needed? I thought, wow I really have the scoop now. What I was planning to do with this priceless information I’ll never know. Then, as now, my resolve was minuscule, minutes long at most, and any desire to tip off some gossip columnist was quickly tempered by my strong Catholic-upbringing’s sense of restraint. I’d never become devious, no matter how many drugs I took. Eventually he got up to leave and he had this little gorilla body, short and powerful, muscular it seemed but definitely apelike. Eyes ready to kill or something. Maybe he was high too, oh god everyone was at that place.

Of course the gay thing is untrue I mean it was just a momentary projection. It must have been the hair and I guess I was unaccustomed to seeing two young attractive men sitting together who weren’t fucking or about to. But like I said he keeps coming up this year in the most random ways. First there was my friend B telling me that of all the celebrities she has to handle he’s the biggest dick of them all, cuz he demands to be flown around on a Lear Jet all the time, among other things. And then P is having the total opposite experience with him because he’s helping him out with his career in multiple ways. And then I was in Sydney and someone had a picture of him all graffittied with make up on it, like a drag clown. I would see it whenever I walked back to my hotel from downtown. At first I crossed the street to get a closer look at it but eventually I found it creepy, so I would just stay on the other side, clocking it briefly as I passed.

Origin Myth

The first time I saw her it was right after running across the avenue, on my way to _______, hurrying of course because I wanted to get a good seat. Right as I walked in front of that long-running show’s theater she was there, walking towards me in the other direction. She was with a group but I only saw her. She was looking forward, head tilted down. From the brief side view I got as I passed her face looked flat, like someone had taken a regular face and pushed it back so that all of the features had to line up to the same level. A squashed moonpie face. She seemed unhappy, serious, maybe a little afraid even? I was worried. I wanted to stop and ask her, What’s going on? Is it your friends? Is it your career? Is it just the day? Yeah it IS kind of cold today. I could be your best friend, I thought. The one, the only one who understands. Or at least the only one who understands right now. I can see right into the center of you. I understand.

I really have to give the credit to her. I mean, she’s the one who started it all.

I thought about her again later. I remembered seeing her on a talk show and she was talking about sports. She came off as a good-natured, smart, a wry kind of gal. Someone you’d want at your football-viewing party. All the neighborhood guys would joke with her and secretly lust after her, not because she was so hot or anything but because she was so cool, so easy-going and able to keep up with the boys and their beer-drinking.

Months later I was in the organic food store near my apartment. It’s so overpriced but aren’t they all. I like this one because it’s small so you feel like you’re supporting “the local economy” though for all I know it’s owned by some massive corporation. Anyway we all know shopping is an act of attitude forming identity. I was jet lagged and therefore a bit manic. It always happens that way. Whenever I come back from an overseas trip I wake up super early the next day and make a list of resolutions in my head. I’m always going to wake up this early and be this productive. I’ll always start the day with meditation, bodywork, writing and shopping for the week. I’ll always have a list with me and I’ll always have great new ideas of little dishes I can make for myself and bring with me wherever I go in recycled plastic containers. I’ll always take advantage of this exciting city and its boutique food stores. I’ll go to the cheese shop and get to know the cheese, lovingly smelling each one because I care so fucking much about cheese. I’m part of the neighborhood! I’m friendly and I say hi to everyone and everyone loves my casual but distinctive style. My ability to color-coordinate puts a smile on everyone’s face.

I’d just picked up almond milk and was walking through the narrow aisle when I saw her. She looked taller this time, more confident, if maybe still a little cautious. Again she was intent on her pathway though I guess they have to be like that or else they’ll inadvertently catch other people’s eyes and then what. It was spring already but it was still cool so she had on this dark jacket, black skirt, black stockings and these low-heeled black leather boots with an overturned lip and a kind of slit down the back. Really good boots. Kind of a surprisingly fierce outfit for a Sunday morning food shop. She wasn’t wearing any make up and her skin was taut and there was the hint of a rash on her cheeks, a sheen to her overall complexion which made me think that maybe she uses Retin-A. I guess you can cover that shininess with powder. Still that weird profile but at least now she seemed sexier, more alluring. I played it cool as she passed, even though I wanted to say Hey you inspired me to start a blog, which is crazy because I hate blogs! but that just would have been creepy any way you slice it. As she walked away I took a longer look at her. That was when I really took in the boots and her height and her stockings. Of course I quickly looked her up online and realized that her career is doing just fine. She’s got like five movies coming out soon. I shouldn’t have worried about her at all.