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Cinema

DREAM

"Nothing worth doing is every easy," my father used to volley at me, in between puffs on his pipe, "You need to realize that approaching everything from laziness is going to get you nowhere fast." Forty-two years later, and that conversation plays in my head like it happened this afternoon. My mind will play a litany of failures - and these uninvited reminiscences happen right before slumber. Terrible romantic breakup conversations played like I am experiencing them for the first time. The moment I realized the military had caught on to the fact I loved men is a favorite of this particular cinema of my mind.

I read about people plagued with nightmares and terrors - or worst yet, never being able to get to sleep in the first place. That is never my problem, just getting there. Lately, I have started talking to these apparitions - 'that's enough now' I'll say sternly. So far, nobody has dared talk back.
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malaise

MALAISE

It was a strange kind of cool October morning. As Big Ben chimed 6am so proudly across the Thames, you could almost see the fog part as the sound waves collided across the hazy morning malaise. I had been daydreaming, but the sounds of the chime brought me back to focus. Daydreaming is an interesting thing, isn’t it? A doctor would tell you that daydreaming is stimulus independent thought, or a Buddhist might say it is thought about something other than events that originate from the present moment, away from mindfulness.

In common speech, fantasies and daydream, the stuff of mind wandering. It occurred to me now that daydreaming was perhaps a glimpse into something else entirely. The corporeal mind only able to process so much of it. Completely clear to me in a sudden rush of insight. I held grandpa’s hand and looked up at him smiling as we walked through the square. He’d been gone for ten years now - and now so was I.
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Quiet

QUIET

You could hear the afternoon rains echo in from the alley behind the theater. Curses in French from the house master echoed in when people would linger, letting the offensive humidity in from the outside.

The strange dust of the old playhouse frolicked in the softly lit stage. After an hour of unremarkable college students churning through grossly under-prepared auditions, I was growing impatient.

"Next please," the stage manager grunted methodically.

She shuffled into the light and began. She stood rather plainly. Young shoulders slightly slumped, wearing a humble white blouse and black trousers that tapered to ridiculously small ankles and feet. She looked up at me past the light and began with no cue.

"Where would You have me go? What would You have me do? What would You have me say, and to whom?," she asked me. She read her lines in a disarmingly quiet, but defiant and confident voice, "Who would you have me become?"

I knew immediately who.

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;

" 'ere in ze gym south of mar kette - is the cruisehr, " he spoke with a hushed horrible fake Jacques Cousteau accent, " 'eh does two reps out on ze floor and zen reuturhns to ze showehr 'oom to zee if anyone is hot enough. Notess how 'e grunts at you if 'eh tinks you are worth of his sexyehness." He paused for a moment as a large muscular bodybuilder passed him, naked, returning from the showers.

"Witness the animal savehgree of the gym lockehrroom."" he continued quietly narrating to the amusement of his work out partner. The cruiser let out a soft grunt and a woof in the direction of the man returning from the shower. "Really girl," the naked man said, whipping around, and then pointing at the cruiser, "You need to catch the clue bus, this isn't the baths, let us dress in peace, without you hovering over us like Kirstie Alley at the Sizzler buffet, Jesus Christ." The cruiser nonchalantly walked past everyone and back out onto the floor of the gym. "Defehted, z'cruisehr 'eturns to the flohr of the gym, perhaps on 'es next pass he will be ore successful."
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Come Sunday

99

"Whatchya doin'?"

"Watching the Superbowl!"

"You warned me when we met that you would always be the butch one, and you've never proved me wrong."

"It is really excellent, close game so far!"

"Who are you rooting for?"

"I love rhetorical questions."

"No seriously, I have no idea who is playing."

“Philadelphia and New England"

"Ah, well, then I guess you are rooting for Philly.”

"That would be correct!"

"So should I root for New England just to make sure the testosterone is even in the house tonight?"

"So how about a wager?"

"A wager?"

"Sure, if you leave me alone and let me watch football and Philadelphia wins, you get a blowjob. But if New England wins, you get a blowjob. How about that?"

"Don't think I don't see what you are doing here."

"You married me because I'm butch, not because I'm subtle."

*smooch* "Enjoy the game!"

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Rand McNallly

L

Forty years in finance had been done. Dutifully, exactly - like a scarlet-lettered penance - and the rest of his life suddenly lay ahead of him.

He spent the first chunk of his retirement on a retrofitted volkswagen bus which he'd meticulously detailed out. A mobile home, a gourmet stove, a safe, a soft mattress, and a special shelf for a particularly tattered Rand McNally road atlas. He remembered coming home with that road atlas as a senior in college - his sails filled with dreams which parental and professional expectations quickly deflated. A few months before his retirement date, it seemed to just appear out of the stacks of useless crap, boxes of travel guides. Ever year he'd said --- "this year I'll save starting on January first and I'll go to....."

The list was endless - Alaska, Belize, Machu Picchu, Haiti, Rome, Bergen, Istanbul, Mumbai. A bitter divorce, and 42 years later, here the Rand McNally sat in front of him like a patient old friend. He opened the front cover and inside was a yellowed, torn out page from a book with the tell-tale signs of 1970s lime colored highlighter.

"Be rather the Mungo Park, the Lewis and Clark and Frobisher, of your own streams and oceans; explore your own higher latitudes . . . Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice." - Page 343 - Walden - Henry David Thoreau

The man was a vault of stories and adventures. Towering over everyone in Buddhist monasteries in Vietnam, falling in love - like everyone does - with an Australian sailor from Melbourne; and having his heart broken - like everyone does. Riding out a typhoon in Pattaya Beach. Walking the Camino de Santiago on his 70th birthday. The young kid that talked him into shaving the sides of his head away. Crying in art galleries. Finding dark corners to share, lighted stages to dance upon. So many romances and lives later - I met him at a writer's workshop in New York.

I'd read his first book in college and fallen in love with the tenderness, the compassion of his words. That we'd meet over a chance encounter in a hotel bar?

I had not expected his overwhelming personal softness. He kissed me and - I had not expected to wake up the next morning under pressed sheets.

Hearing him softly whisper 'shhhhhhhhhhhhhh' as he moved in, incredibly strong and hard against me in the shyest light of morning.

We spent days making the crazy searing kind of love he'd so sadly daydreamed of behind a desk at Piers Brontley - the kind that which now, fifty years later, was setting our world on fire.

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Remembering Nicki

OIP

I'm not always completely clear on how exactly I chose her. or maybe she chose me. Nicki. and her sparkler. We’d met freshman year of college and fell in such love that school seemed to hardly matter. Held her on my shoulders as Prince serenaded to her. We’d stolen booze from my parents liquor cabinet and gone drunk camping, laughing into campfire light. So many stories - so many adventures. I'd bought her that ring with money my parents sent me to pay for a quarter of college. A year later I found myself in the U.S. Navy bringing Nicki's photograph out my wallet -- telling our stories. Worst of all was that Nicki didn't exist. An exaggerated cover for a terrified homosexual at sea with an army of angry heteronormative men. I laugh, now, thirty years later. Because Nicki would cock her said sideways and remind me softly what a horrible liar I had always been.

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Floor Show

JJ

"Fluffy Puppy, you're the one!," he sang to the little dog in the sink getting a bubble bath," The one that makes bathtime so much fun! Fluffy Puppy, joy of joys, When I squeeze you, you lick my face! Fluffy Puppy, you're my very best friend it's true, I find a little fellow who's cute and gray and fluffy, Rub a fluff fluffy, Fluffy Puppy you're so fine and I'm lucky that you're mine, Fluffy Puppy I'm awfully fond of you."

"Stay right there, Daddy's got a giant treat for you!" The dog stayed, and peered over the side of the sink as his Daddy returned with a thick light blue towel.

"Fresh from the dryer, my little puppy gets the best warm towel!" Daddy said as he started fluffing and drying. "Ha ha ha Ho ho ho, and a couple of tralalas. That's how we laugh the day away, in the merry old land of....... Fluffy Dogs, HA!, Buzz, buzz, buzz, Chirp, chirp, chirp and a couple of la-di-das-"

"When you are done fagging out, I need my butch husband to come out, again, and watch the football game."

"It's a good thing you're so darned handsome. You'll hurt Killer's feelings."

"Killer?," the husband said, addressing the little dog in the sink, "When Daddy is done with the floor show, you can come out to the living room and Pops 'll give you another stuffed toy to destroy."

Lifted out of the sink, the little dog let out a piercing enthusiastic bark and zipped off with Pops.

"Let's go kill something together. Grrrrrrr! Thatta boy!", Pops said, his voice and laughter trailing away into the house.

Daddy dried up the surrounding sink, mumbling under his breath, "in the merry old land of Oz....." He wiped his hands on the towel, then reached for the refrigerator door. He pulled out a jar of salsa, poured it into a bowl surrounded by tortilla chips. He knew this was part of the deal. He sighed and said it just like he'd practiced, "Roll, Tide!" and was off to join the boys in the living room.

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Glass of Scotch

SCOTCH

On Christmas Eve, I had killed someone. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment. I can still recall the sound of the glass of scotch in his hand breaking with his wrist. I can feel the swing upward with broken glass, and the smell of flesh being torn aside. He stepped back from me reaching for his throat, his eyes wide with the realization these were his last moments. “I am not sure what happens when you die, but I’m satisfied to stand here and watch you find out,” I said to him matter-of-factly. He involuntarily knelt. He was very intimate with fear at this point. Perhaps he realized there was nothing coming for him, the final realization that salvation is a mythological concept. I am not sure I saw that he had connected what he had done with what was happening to him. Conceit probably kept that from happening. All the more pitiful. When my child had come to me, confided in me what he had done, it was one of those admissions that blinds you when you first hear it – then once understanding happens, it binds you to it. My child with tears in his eyes – what had he done to deserve what had been done to him. Using faith as a shield, the man who had done this felt protected, felt immune, perhaps even justified. The moment happened and was over before I had much time to think about it. I thought about it a lot - particularly on the smooth wood floor face down, ears echoing the the click of the handcuffs and anklets. I sat emotionless in court – there was no reason to react to any of it. It was all true. My defense was simple, really, he’d never hurt anyone else again.

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mascara

She broke out the compact and started applying blush. Her trained hand moving with the weave of the commuter train. The same technique for the soft rose lipstick. Even the mascara was applied precisely despite the oscillating train car. “That is real skill,” said the man across the aisle. She looked over at the man. mid-thirties, strong cheek bones, and almost inhumanly perfect skin.

“Thank you,” she said politely.

Almost like a magician he presented his card, “I’m Marcel, and I run the makeup counter for Chanel at Macy’s. Come see me. We have some amazing new moisturizers and hypoallergenic blush. Really, you’ll thank me later.”

With that, his stop arrived and he got up and left the train.

The train continued as she read his card, ‘Marcel Thibadieu, Cosmetics Expert.” She tucked the card into her purse and went to check mail on her phone when the woman behind her tapped on her shoulder.

“All the ladies on the train go to Marcel. He’s amazing."

"I just hate how perfect his skin is," another woman volunteered, "I think it is completely unfair how beautiful he is. He makes it look effortless."

“Seriously. I used to hate makeup, but he makes it easy and my skin feels so much better,” said another woman down the car.

“His secret,” said the scruffy faced man from across the aisle, unexpectedly, in a deep gravelly voice,”is that Marcel is Imperial Empress Forty-Two. An amazing drag chanteuse. So he uses all the products himself, so he knows what works. If anyone understands how much hard work being beautiful is, it is Marcel.”
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