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When Madonna calls at six in the morning, although she tries to sound like any one of the rest of my internationally famous and concerned pop star friends, I can tell it is yet another of her passive-aggressive attempts at getting a jab in. She is aware of how much I have been working lately and calls to remind me that "All work and no play makes Dick a dull boy." How she revels in quoting herself off of the Tracy soundtrack. Then, feigning concern over the time difference between her country of adopted intonation and that of her language acquisition's origin, "Oh dear, did I wake you? I completely forgot about the time difference. I'm sorry..."
I interrupt and tell her that it is not a problem, that she could not have woken me as I have not yet gone to bed. "Don't cry for me om shanti, om shanti, quack, quack, quack and all that. Goodbye!"
As I put the phone down, Valentino parts the mosquito net he has set up around the hookah in the middle of the room. He cheerfully pats one of the many genuine indigenous Guatemalan throw pillows atop which we have been sodomizing each other, and motions for me to come inside.
Valentino, as you already know, is a gay romantic interest from a previous decade. All the more reason, perhaps, for you to think it odd to find us cavorting together again this hot Sonoran morning.
You know the story of our meeting due to a muffin mix up at the cafe of the Golden Gate branch of the YMCA in San Francisco's swank Lower Knob neighborhood. And you have patiently listened time and again as I relate the details of Valentino's shady, though chemically sound, work with political action committees and multi-level marketing schemes along the river banks in Sacramento.
You did not take sides when I told you of how after what began as a week of intimate bliss and spiritual discovery in Mexico City, we had our final falling out when the mescaline wore off and we found ourselves in a bitter dispute over the hypothetical ownership of Mario Lanza's dental records, and I want you to know I appreciate it.
You are quite aware too, that later that day when we kissed goodbye at the airport, perhaps sensing that "ours" had run "its" course, we both wept as he whispered in my ear the refrain to a Whitney Houston song popular at the time, and I immediately felt as though I could not breathe, knowing then and there that one of us had to put a stop to the madness. I also know that you know that when I phoned him a week later to break things off, I felt guilty because it was a hurried and cold gesture made as I was rushing to meet with themustachioed director of the language school where I was an English instructor.
And since this story always ends with you asking me to please not tell you about how the director, an intimidatingly quiet and extremely superstitious man with a keychain bearing the inscription come lo que sea, insisted I meet him for tongue tacos each week, I will not recount any of these things to you again.
Did you know, though, that I lost twenty pounds that year without even trying? It is true.
Anyhow, given our past, it must have seemed queer to anyone, not just the people who know us as well as those who pretend not to know us, to see Valentino and I there together in that Tucson crosswalk, so far from anyplace in our past and yet so close to each other's person, laughing as we recalled our favorite Flying Nun episodes.
You know, standing there in that very same favorite Jane Olivor concert tee of his he always wears when he travels, he looked just as he did when I last saw him some nine years before, except more aged and no longer encumbered with the worries he used to have about his thinning hair. He looked at peace with it all, and that counts for so much.
Besides, who am I to talk? I mean, I was bicycling home from the gym myself and must have been somewhat disproportionately pumped and breathlessly ruddy, and my hair, which is probably too thick to be practical in this clime, was matted and dripping with perspiration. So it is not as if I think time has been any less kind to me.
I wake with enthusiasm for the 48 hours worth of personal growth and play I am optimistic I can fit into the 24 of my day off. The folly of thinking I can (or even want) "to have it all" in such a time frame becomes apparent when both the coffee and blueberry smoothie are ready at exactly the same moment, and Pitta and Kapha, those Ayurvedic flygirls I do so enjoy freaking with, sassily explain this is one performance they ain't into.
There are many ways a houseboy goes above and beyond the call of duty each and every day to demonstrate his commitment to civic minded domestic enthusiasm. For example: I like making the rounds each night to be certain all the alarm clocks are tuned to Spanish language Christian radio with the volume turned up loud so that everyone in the house wakes with a healthy and thoroughly disorienting fear of God. I also go the extra mile by documenting any and all mentions of Coca Cola products in the media. Then there is being certain there are plenty of brand name mountain breeze scented dryer sheets around. Well, actually, that one is clearly stated in my employment agreement. Finally, there is always more polishing, dusting and wiping things.
Yes, lots and lots of wiping.
Though perhaps the strongest statement is one a houseboy has the opportunity to make whenever the head of the local space exploration committee asks for a volunteer to accompany the neighborhood astronauts on their latest probe. That statement is of course “Let me pack a bag”.
I know that you are probably saying to yourself, “They shoot houseboys into outer space, oh do they? And monkeys fly out my water filter.” But it is true. In fact, as recently as Monday, there were houseboys cueing cds for Red Planet Day parties on Mars. Which just goes to show how far houseboys can come in space if given the chance. Why, it seems only yesterday we were hanging around on the International Space Station for incomprehensibly boring stretches of time without even cable television, waiting to let the realtor in.
It is much more civilized than that now. There is even digital satellite audio on most of the interplanetary jumps. If you ask me, though, that is a waste of money — save your money, houseboys! — since most seem to opt for total sedation for the duration of the trip.
Which reminds me that while there is a lot I could say about advances in space medicine, there is not room for that here so I will simply remind you that if you choose chemical stasis, be prepared. When your astronaut commander awakens you for re-entry, you will find yourself with a minimum of six months beard growth.
Bring clippers and lots of mouthwash.
This is the third quinceañera I have been to this year for this man and I am getting tired of it.
As you no doubt already know, a quinceañera is a traditional Mexican coming-of-age party celebrated on or around a girl’s fifteenth birthday. This is why it is all the more bizzare to be attending a succession of them honoring a forty-three-year-old quasi-libertarian environmentalist.
I think you know who I am talking about. Yes, I am in fact talking about our local Green Party power broker, our “Mr. Rules are bad unless made by me” himself.
Yes, I am talking about Mr. Thomas Ache, who lately is loco for all things Mexique. I suppose we can thank his involvement with Fondelio Doquera, his current gay lover from Hermosillo, for this newfound enthusiasm.
In addition to his monthly quinceañera, Mr. Ache has met with rebels in Chiapas, has begun using an Aztlan address, disciplines the dog with rolled up copies of La Jornada and though not actually learning any Spanish, he is successfully cultivating an accent. Fondelio, on the other hand, seems content to spend his free time at Park Place Mall and the Sprint store. I suppose one cannot argue that in the short time that they have been together they have not achieved a symbiosis most couples only dream of after eating pizza in their beds at night.
I wish the two much happiness, but I cannot help think Fondelio is yet another passing phase for Mr. Ache.
Thank you for letting me tell you this here because no one else seems to want to hear it.
You see, when Mr. Ache drunkenly exclaims, “Fondelio! TAY AW-MOH hos-stuh EL phone-doh, Fondelio!” most people interpret that as a somewhat jingoistic expression of complete love by a politician in a language he neither speaks nor pronounces very well, whereas I view it with a morphemic cynicism. I think Fondelio is an ironic name for the man’s latest well-hung grope.
I also cannot help but recall Mr. Ache’s involvement with a certain masseuse he met in Sedona, a certain Paolo Ovnis. Yes, you heard me correctly: Paolo Ovnis used to be a Sedona spa boy.
And you probably know him only as the director of the critically acclaimed 1999 film, Un Giorno Chiaro.
I do not blame you. I mean, who can forget the heartwarming story of the spaceman blinded in a collision with a military satellite and left behind on Earth while his fellow space travellers, in a state of animated suspension, hurtle through the solar system on a collision course with Uranus? I know I cannot. And how sad that to manage even the cruelest survival the spaceman must rely on the picaresque whims of the temp agency ladies. But what a happy turn of events when he finally meets one who is different, his own special lady, his Mandita, and because of her love learns to harness the destructive forces of evil and channels them into the destructive forces of good.
Well, you may remember it somewhat differently. That is okay. There are many interpretations. The point in the film I am specifically referring to is when his vision is restored and he builds a nuclear-powered castle on Antarctica.
Such a triumph of the humanoid spirit.
Anyhow, Paolo strung Mr. Ache along for months until enough favors had been called in and the film had a producer. Then, Paolo headed straight for the airport where he phoned a pained Tommy Ache to explain that although the film was set in Winslow, it would be impossible to imbue Northern Arizona with a European sensibility without filming the picture in Milan.
No use denying that.
Anyhow, as I sit here bored out of my skull and wishing I had my camera with me but deciding — as I watch Mr. Ache change into a new dress, and Fondelio argues with his mother on one cell phone and the caterer on the other, and the children take turns making snow angels in the enormous cake — I cannot think of what I would photograph if I did have it.
At Starbucks I notice I am talking to myself. My tongue hits the back of my teeth and my jaw moves and I am practicing my excuses for being at Starbucks should I run into anyone I know there. Which is just silly because I for one love Starbucks and, of course, what are they doing there? I hope it is not for the coffee, which if it were a wine would certainly carry the words "aged in burnt oak" on the label. Perhaps it is for the creamy espresso drinks that are impressively unpleasant due to their excess sweetness. That would at least not make sense.
No, I love Starbucks because it is clean and overpriced. What more could anyone ask for?
Anyhow, my excuse is the truth, so my mumbling goes something like this: "I am here for the sale on Swing Out Sister, Matt Bianco and Basia compilations that will so pleasantly complement the mood of an upcoming To The Stormy Weather party at the Manor."
These parties are something some of the more socially conscious houses in the area host throughout the summer to raise money to buy kites for the at-risk youth often found in our balmy city's many beautiful parks. Granted, it is the smallest of gestures and I think if one is to be honest, the partygoers get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of the process in the end than the teens. For these kids I think it is, more than anything, a valuable educational experience since the kites are distributed in mid-August when this region is in the throes of monsoon season. But enough. Who am I to judge which is more enjoyable — an open bar or first hand knowledge of the often fatal dangers of lightning?
I find only one compact disc, which is mostly Enya. It costs only $7.99 though, so I figure why not? At the counter I order a capuccino and a biscotti and pay my $29.76. While I am sprinkling nutmeg on it, the counter person says, "Hey, look at me, I'm a mime." Then I watch as she points to the pale head of foam, circles a finger above the sparse sprinkling of brown spice atop the the beverage, cocks her head, opens her eyes widely behind her black plastic eyeglasses, points at me and hisses like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It is odd behavior. What does it mean? I know only that if she were a mime, I would not tip her. Then again, I do not ever tip her as a counter person either.
Who can understand why people do the things they do?
I find a table out on the patio and am pleasantly surprised to see that just beyond the tiny stucco wall separating the shopping plaza from Tucson's forbidden zone or "sidewalk" as most locals refer to it, is Van Dale and his paints. "Van Dale!" I shout. He gives me his trademark thumbs up and I try to admire his work. Not that it is an effort to admire his work so long as you are not paying the deductible, but it is a blustery day and the excess spray paint is blowing all over the place. Some poor schmuck's Lexus.
I look closer and in spite of the distraction of the very loud and very academic conversation nearby, the volume of which shakes the very foundation of the franchise with what I garner are the tenets of a discipline I imagine is called Empowerment Studies, I am able to see that what Van Dale has painted is a beautiful rendition of the forty-four First Ladies of the United States of America.
Proudly realizing that this is also the nation I am enjoying my coffee and cookie in, I feel a sudden rush of clarity and giggle. Hillary and Barbara. I remember the refreshing details and laughter of the morning's pillow talk with the Puerto Rican who had never heard of Gilda Radner, much less Rosanne Rosannadanna. Nancy and Rosalynn. At last, focus! I stare even deeper into the spray of colors and nod my head to the rhythmic clack of the ball in the can of paint. The tempo practically breaks my neck! I squint a bit and suddenly I swear I am looking at a hologram of dolphins and Jesus. There you are, Betty.
Life is good. But only for a minute because reviewing my shopping list, I have no idea what "tahini bikini" could mean.
Musical selections for today's Panchesario courtesy Bertelsmann Paint & Hardware.
Because the two events overlap this year, there has been some confusion as to what point in time the Clean Air Fiesta ends and the meticulously ritualized 37th annual celebration of the occasion of my birth or so called "birthday" begins.
This is understandable and unacceptable. Fortunately, the distinction is one that is easily made.
Whereas the Clean Air Fiesta began on March 22 and ends tomorrow, my birthday or "Panchesario" as it is known throughout much of the Southern part of the Western hemisphere, commences today after I consume my first Nutmeg Cubano at approximately 8:20 in the morning and culminates as the sun rises on the thirty-first day following my birthday, approximately right about the time it is getting light out on the morning of April 37th.
Numerologists and mathematicians take note of the unique numerical coincidence this year.
Unfortunately, it is now a little late to do much of anything for the Clean Air Fiesta. After all, Ride the Bus For Free Day was Thursday. Did you miss it? If so, I am deeply saddened.
No, not much to do now other than load the unused Clean Air Fiesta charcol briquettes and aerosol bug repellant into the car and fight the traffic home.
There is, however, still plenty of time to do something for Panchesario.
This year in lieu of the traditionally expensive travel packages and Dirk Yates videos that oft come my way and result in me doing the same, I am asking that second-hand sunglasses be sent to me here.
Tucson AZ 85717
Please note that by second-hand, I do not mean shoplifted. I realize that things are tight this year, but if you were to steal and get caught and go to prison I would at first wonder where you had gone and then when I found out you were in prison I would not come visit you. Not even conjugally. And when you got out, I probably would not want to pursue things any further either. And if while in the big house you got really buff and managed not to lose too many teeth? Well, I do not even want to say how I would respond then.
Besides, I am not able to condone shoplifting because it is wrong and probably bad for your self-esteem in some way. I know because I once shoplifted a tube of mascara I was too embarrassed to buy and while I will not lie and say I felt more than a little guilty about it afterward, I definitely ended up feeling like less of a man because of my actions.
Catch you later baby, I gotta split.
I waited forty minutes and when you did not show, I got a to go cup for my chai and went.
I want you to know I now have no hard feelings for you and I will always cherish all the flattering things you said on the telephone.
I especially took to heart the comment about me starching your pancho.
ps. Please do not be alarmed if you get a phone call at work from some hippie kids. I gave them the number and told them you sell kick ass "essential oils" real cheap.
Actually, that day we were not really supposed to be going to the local shrine, El Tiradito, which in English means either The Little Outcast or The Tiny Throwaway.
Myself, I am inclined to go with the first translation, as most of the shrines I have visited would leave one to believe these shriners, they throw away nothing.
We were, in fact, supposed to be touring a tortilla factory in Barrio Yúpi, but when we could not find it we got hungry and started cursing at each other. Well, I should say, we started cursing at each other even more than we usually do. We gave up on the tortilla factory which probably was not even open anyway because anything of any cultural importance in this town seems to be closed on Monday and guess which day of the week it was? Bingo!
As much as I love Tucson, I often lament that if I lived in a more cosmopolitan setting, all the museums and such would be open on that most manic of weekdays. Oh, I just know it. C'est la vie.
Which is the name of a French sleep aid.
Anyhow, we ended up at a restaurant, El Minuto, which I believe in English means The Small Toe, and each and every one of us made certain to tell our waitress the sad story of how we had ventured downtown to learn where tortillas come from, only to end up lost and hungry, with precious little time before we had to be over to the WEBE to resume our afternoon tasks. As we were leaving, sucking on minty toothpicks and chomping down tiny York patties that I am not certain a certain driver actually paid for or not regardless of what he says, the waitress suggested we walk just beyond the parking lot and visit the El Tiradito Wishing Shrine.
"I am certain you will like it," she said. "It is dedicated to sinners."
I suppose she was right. It was a fascinating story. But as with many places where candles are burned and prayers are said, there was an awful lot of waxy buildup.
Monday afternoon finds me traversing The Pueblo doing my usual Monday afternoon houseboy routine: Think delicatessens. Think cosmetics counters. Think coin-operated ponies. Think it strange that in the middle of it all, I order a large plate of sushi well-done, and perhaps both of us will think it no wonder this routine takes so long to complete each week.
At least we shall be on the same wavelength.
As I float about town, the soundtrack to Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 action film, Diva, drifting in from the speakers out on the deck through an open window for that "other room" effect I do so enjoy, I think how peculiar that a boy who wanted to grow up to be an astronaut, grew up to be a boy who pilots one of only four privately owned hovercraft licensed for both on and off road domestic servant use in Pima County.
As special as that might seem, at the moment I do not feel particularly special. You see, I am feeling tired and thinking it is probably just as well that I did not become an astronaut because I understand amphetamines are a standard component of first aid kits on spacecraft and on a day like this, well, I am the first to admit, I would be tempted.
Haggard I may be, but it is more of a Joe Walsh haggard than, say, a Keith Richards haggard.
Are you aware that Joe Walsh ran for President of the United States in 1980 and for Vice President in 1992? I look at pictures of the free-spirited and good-natured Mr. Walsh and think life really has been good to him so far. Except for the bit about not winning, because winning is one of the few things -- legal things -- a candidate must do to be remembered as a successful politician. And that perhaps is why I forget about the campaigns until typing his name into a search engine.
Anyhow, I suppose I mention it to underscore that this afternoon's fatigue, not unlike Joe Walsh's public life, is hardly devoid of ambition.
Which is why I am purchasing picture frames for Van Dale. Van Dale is another houseboy, albeit a recently houseless one. Yes, the current situation is touching us all whether we all want to be touched or not. Its reach extending even to the cushy historic sector where, until recently, Van Dale spent his free time listening to quebraditas, dancing carefree jigs, and painting found objects. You know, walls, parked cars, and such.
Regardless of the tableau he chooses, it always ends up looking fantastic. Which is precisely why I was not surprised to see some of his work in a local group show of group members.
I was, however, horrified.
Horrified with a capital gasp. And not because of the violent content typical in his work, but because rather than hanging his work, he tends to tack it up or just fasten it to the wall with old chewing gum.
I know what you are thinking, and you are wrong. He is not a conceptual artist. He is a talented illustrator and hopefully not one who will be angry at me for taking it upon myself to frame his work without purchasing it first. At least not any angrier than I was to see him displaying it in the way that he did.
Now if you will excuse me, I must file this Target gift receipt so that I can use it to embarrass him as well as part of some excuse to sue the pants off of him when he is rich and famous.
- Panchesco, the narrator
- Anton Adams, best friend and unrequitted romantic interest to Panchesco, houseboy to Thomas Ache, dabbler in state politics via the fragrant and gussied-up senators he calls friends
- Oxidio, a bisexual android, friend to Paco Rabanne
- Van Dale, disemployed domestic, talented illustrator and painter of found objects
- Donnie Horowitz, consistently ranked number-one houseboy based soley on his self-reported abilities as an ice dancer, brother to Kendra
- Magritte Torres, master of illusion, not a boy at all
Other Domestics and Staff Members
Ferdy Tang, dashing Sino-Dutch driver to Thomas Ache
Kendra Horowitz, au-pair, ice dancer, Joyce Carol Oates scholar, cook, toenail hydrotherapy specialist, sister to Donnie Horowitz
Leonor, an energetic cosmetologist, a licensed (and extremely popular) anesthesiologist
Fondelio Doquiera, Thomas Ache's personal secretary, a master of exageración
Winchell, Panchesco's bicycle, a candidate for gender reassignment, an admirer of Jasper and Phillipe
Sundry nameless hovercraft, helicopters, Osprey V-22's and World War II fighter planes
Thomas Ache, an attorney, chairman of the board of the West Eastern Blenman Elm Houseboy Organized Services (WEBEHOS), Tucson Green Party nabob, employer to Anton Adams, Fondelio Doquiera, Ferdy Tang, and in his own words: "Just another red-blooded heterosexual Libertarian" [with a penis fetish]
Geoffery Cragmont, WEBEHOS dental benefits coordinator, a cheap bastard
Nebraska, much liked model-model with jurisdiction over western region houseboys
Gary Numan, often forgotten but never far-away superstar recording artist and charter flight fighter pilot
Petrocelli, newlywed public defender/homebuilder living in the Tucson foothills, eager to start a family, but currently spreading himself too thin fighting crime to accumulate a viable sperm count
Artists, Instructors, and Intelligentsia
Brain, number cruncher, hovercraft mechanic, friend to Panchesco
Travi, Southern California educator, will eventually patent a method for teaching Protestant nannies the subjunctive
Mombacho, see Momo Tombo
The Osmonds, the nice, albeit noisy, Mormon Family in the neighborhood
Paolo Ovnis, Milanese filmmaker, director of the critically acclaimed 1999 film, Un Giorno Chiaro
Aristotle, flatulent billionaire and self-made invalid, mentor to ambitious young people
The John Johns, cloned twins, created by a heretofore-unnamed pharmaceutical company to cash in on the perpetual and universal obsession with the Kennedy family
Sprint, Fondelio's wireless services provider
Yusef Geraldizaño, a funn buddy, any funn buddy
My Little Pony, a poodle dressed as a horse dressed as Farrah Fawcette with a Holly Golightly flare
Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup, a mainstay of creative cuisine the World over!
When we awoke on the ufo, the first thing that occurred to me was what horrible decorators the extraterrestrials were.
There were none of the carefully chosen color schemes that one might find on Kubrick's spaceships. No New Age dip-and-drape sculptings of cheesecloth into surfaces rendered in shimmering blues and soft white light that Spielberg might serve up. Definitely far and away from any nightmarish, though highly stylized, mechanorganic interiors that H.R. Giger could create.
Blade Runner did come to mind, but I quickly dismissed that idea since that film is not about aliens and even if it were, the craft we found ourselves held prisoners in would make even the most morose replicant grateful for a stint as building super for a housing project located in the manufacturing district of an ecologically doomed planet's capital city.
Frankly, the place reminded me of a dilapidated construction I shared with four slobs in college.
If I was going to rely on Cinema to make sense of this experience, I imagined I would have to rent Animal House when and if these creatures finished with us.
I do not care if I am embarrassing you. Or using your real name for that matter.
Yes, you Anton Adams!
You caught me completely off guard this afternoon at Albertsons. Well, now Albertsons-Osco of course, though I do not know why they had to complicate things. They already had a drugstore for goodness sake. Nobody wanted to shop at Osco before. Do they really think they can strongarm the houseboys and homemakers of Tucson, Arizona into going there now? I do not think so.
You know what I think it is like? I think it is like when some unspectacular journalist (you know who you are!) is given a guest commentary on the number one rated news show in southern Arizona in hopes of winning hearts and a weekend anchor position. Well, it does not fool anyone. At least not those of us who wash his car and walk his dogs and pick the weeds on his vacant and inherited properties. Say what you will about our loyalties to each other, but we domestics are tight with the dishes. Know what I mean? Everyone, everyone in this community at least, knows very well what is going on even if they cannot discuss it openly and keep their jobs at the same time. Do yourself a FAVOR and stop pretending just because this is Tucson nobody knows what CURRY is, okay?
So yes, that is what it is like at Albertsons now. For the love of God, now they do not even have manicotti shells. Six different lines of men’s hair coloring and not a single brand of manicotti shells. What is up with that? I am no expert on the ins and outs of sexism but this smells like reverse disemination to me. I would venture a guess that more men who shop there are looking for manicotti shells than Feria. Who is going to buy all of that hair coloring? Do you know, Anton?
And speaking of feathers, Jesus Christ, that place is Cock Central. Not the Official Name. Ha, ha! Handsome men everywhere. Which I suppose is why I was somewhat surprised by you today. Oh, it is not that I do not think you are attractive. Of course you are! But I suppose I thought you were someone else. Definitely not a case of distant beauty, but like that, but mistaken identity.
Also, go ahead and call me a Rules Girl, but I do not date other houseboys. You bitch! I didn’t mean to really call me a Rules Girl. Anyhow, there I was cutting through the cheeses on my way to the butcher block, my hands full of buttermilk and Crisco, thinking that the cook has once again mixed up this and last weeks’ menus, knowing there is no way these are the real ingredients for Oprah’s Un-fried Chicken and I cannot help but notice this gorgeous young man with jet black hair eyeing the sirloin. How long was it that you knew I was appraising your counterfeit Prada belt buckle when I finally looked up and realized it was you? Wait. Don’t tell me. Now I’m the one who is embarrassed because I think you of all people in this Tonka Toy town can tell that when I get turned on by a sight like another houseboy poking around at his master’s dinner meat, the first thing I do is undress myself with his eyes. In this case, it was your big black eyes, like two burnt out fuses, the cause of a devastating and hot fire that ruins me for insurance purposes.
And I guess you caught me doing it this time, Fire Marshall Anton!
Anyhow, with you I am prepared to break all the rules. To be honest, ever since the first day I saw you there at the West-Eastern Blenman Elm Houseboy Organized Services, Inc. benefits package briefing, I have harbored secret love fantasies in the back of my head about us. Imagining what our homosexual union recognition ceremony will be like. I know how you hate the term gay marriage. Well, me too! Yet another reason perhaps that we were made for one another.
Today must be our lucky day. I am more than happy to drive you home because it is raining and that tightwad lawyer boss of yours claims that if people are going to take his Green Party bid seriously, everyone in his employ has to start riding bikes. As if this were Holland. Or China. He is lucky it is not, because if that were the case that hunky driver of his, Ferdy Tang, might just take that speech to heart one of these days and show up on a tandem. Oops, did I say driver? I meant boyfriend.
And the thing about his not drinking any Scotch that is not organic and expecting you to find such a thing—who ever heard of such a thing? With the few beads he gives you to shop with… Well, what a freak. I know of a bottle that won’t be missed at our house though and I think it’s just as well because I feel as if you and I, I mean we still have a lot to talk about.
Sir, I may not be twenty-one. I may not be able to drink in your bar, but I’ll be damned if I don’t drive others to drink, and if you know your business, that’s all you should care about. If you hire me, I may not be the prettiest boy in your club either, but I sure am pretty and nobody looks at my face anyway so why should you? And while I may not look like a big guy, mister, I assure you that all of this—it’s muscle.
But you know what? I know you care about all those things, but I don’t care about a one of them. Not at all. All I care about is stripping. I was born to strip. People who know me say I was even born naked.
Well, of course they’re trying to flatter me, but you get the point. If I had anything to say about it, I’d say I was born in this thong. It’s leather, you know? And as much as I love stripping for you and everyone and most importantly for myself, this leather thong is as naked as I get. One more thing: if there is a part of my person’s anatomy where you see thong, that means no touching there. Understand? That’s the forbidden zone you damn dirty ape, so don’t even try. Nothing comes between me an my thong.
Yes, my thong has a name, and no I’m not telling you. Not cuz I’m not proud of it but because I respect its privacy just like it guards mine. See? We are a symbichotic team with a big tea and and extra lemon, just like the ladies like it.
I don’t have to tell you this. Any of this. This especially, but I’m gonna: I was almost a secret agent. Even had a special passport and ball point pen with a poison tip and 24 hour military style digital clock and I was learning to skydive already, but my thong couldn’t get a clearance. Not because it couldn’t make any mercenary double-spy give up the most sensitive of dirty war secrets, but because it couldn’t get a security clearance. You see, this thong is made of Argentinian leather, and it seems there’s a rule against that. You might as well know too that it’s the only damned leather I’ll wear. So screw ‘em. Screw ‘em all.
It is Christmas eve. I am in San Francisco, in the Castro, ordering a burrito (or “wrap” as they are now called) at one of the six million restaurants there. I order and they say it will be about five minutes. So I go outside and sit under a tree and look around at the other 599,999,999 restaurants and smoothie shops and I feel sad, thinking how magical the Castro was when I first visited San Francisco and thinking that now it’s like some huge food court at any suburban shopping mall. Where is all the activism? Where are the carefree drag queens with glittery cheeks and powdered mustaches running around dressed as nuns? Where is all the bad disco music? Indeed, where are the bottomless chaps!? All that remains of the old Castro, it seems at the moment, is the alcoholism and Walgreens. And even the Walgreens, drunk on its success, is reinventing itself. I start feeling bad about everything bad in the world. I feel so cynical. I start to doubt everything and for several minutes I even debate whether a burrito is going to satisfy *my* hunger. Yeah right! On my walkman I hear Desmond Tutu urging forgiveness. Can I find it in my heart to do that? It seems so hopeless I begin to weep. Boo hoo! I don’t want to go on feeling sorry for myself though, so I go inside and get a napkin, wipe my eyes and blow my nose and ask for my burrito. The employees look around for it and tell me that since I wasn’t there when it was ready they have donated it to the AIDS Foundation. They say they’ll make another. So I stand around waiting and ABBA walks in the door. Of course, everyone in the shop is going ga ga. However, there are only a few people in the shop, so the gaganess doesn’t ever reach a screeching level. Thank goodness. The boy behind the counter, when he stops laughing and turning to his co-workers and saying, “Ha, ha, ha! It’s Benny and Angetha and Bjorn and Anni-Frid, well, ha, ha, ha! It’s ABBA.” When he stops laughing and talking to his coworkers, he asks what the musical group has been up to. The bearded one answers in a Swedish accent that they’re working on some stuff that he thinks everyone is going to like very, very much. Agnetha turns to him and smiles and is about to say something when Patsy, the tall blonde lush from Absolutely Fabulous, walks in and snips, “Oh gawd, honestly, everywhere you go it’s more goddamned ABBA.” Benny laughs. Patsy laughs and she and Agnetha take each other’s hands and kiss the air next to each other’s cheeks and mutter things to each other but I can’t hear any of it. The boy at the counter asks if I’d like chips and salsa and I say yes and take my bag. ABBA is leaving too. Outside, the police, wearing sequined lavender uniforms with ridiculously large and shiny badges, have closed off the street to traffic. There’s a huge crowd gathered around a helicopter in front of the Castro theater. ABBA, all of a sudden wearing Ray-ban aviator style sunglasses, makes it’s way through the crowd and boards the helicopter. The two ABBA women start throwing condoms, bubble packets of lube, and colorful flyers to the cheering crowd. Benny on a megaphone is shouting, “Veee luv ju Zan Franzisco. Happee Holeedayz Zan Franzisco!” Come to zee Bjorn Again at zee Pleasuredome dis Zundee!” I look over toward the theater and Patsy is in the box office wearing a BASS name tag and processing charge cards. In the intersection at Market and Castro, a chorus of children with Rudolph noses and antlers is singing Chiquitita as the helicopter begins its ascent. The crowd below is smiling and waving and screaming back:
Am I the only one who would like to see a follow up film to Titanic? The story could go something like this: As Rose is being placed in a body bag for removal from the oil rig or whatever that thing was, Jack’s spirit revives her, spunky as ever, shouting from the spirit world, reminding her that she promised to never let go. She then jumps up onto the deck, and after a couple hours of flashbacks, and an emotion filled sunrise accompanied by the most beautiful music Enya has ever recorded, Rose dons a hard hat and joins the crew of divers searching for the Blue Saphire. She might as well, now that it really is at the bottom of the ocean. The fact that she had tossed it into the sea at the end of the first film could provide just the sort of existential tension and pondering that any good seven and a half hour sequel needs. At some point in the search, the sub becomes lodged in one of the majestic staterooms of the enormous luxury liner. With all lines of communication to the base severed and the little sub rapidly running out of oxygen the crew eventually becomes delirious, hallucinating their most golden Titanic memories. After a few hours of this, the water pressure crushes the tiny craft and its occupants into a ball no larger than an Irishman’s fist. Everyone except Rose that is! She makes a brave escape and returns to the surface, unharmed although a little out of breath.