Like Eskimos and snow, Sonorans have forty words for beer. And ice plays a big role in daily life.
All contemporary documentary photography of young men in North America is deficient in that it can’t depict the prominent role body spray plays in their scene.
A lifetime of excuses.
I blame the guy at the gas station and the sophmore in the dorm. Then the Mormons. After that I blame my grandmother and the phonics box-set. The Mountain Bell activity book didn't help either. Nor did the chocolate cake and bare feet on the elephant slide in Pioneer Park. Sand and blood everywhere. I don't know whose fault the crayon incident was. The thing at naptime though I blame on irrigation day and the neighbor who always mowed his lawn without a shirt on. I'm still unclear about my brothers and me in nothing but underwear up in the fig tree and later eating pork chops in front of the television and wondering why we were so itchy. Now tell me: Whose fault was that? Please don't let me forget to include Ben Gazzara, shag carpet tiles, bunk beds and a genuine simulated wood-grain cabinet. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Not long after that, I blame my nine-year-old stepsister and her ulcer and their combined obsession with Patty Hearst.
Consider, if you will, Abraham Lincoln and the theory of elasticity.
I do, of course, blame the dog that bit me and hold personally responsible the sheriff of Tombstone and Radio Shack nine-volt-batteries. The first one is free, but they know you'll be back. Of course you will because the 99-in-1 kit is in on it too. I blame model helicopters, flammable glue and roadside firecracker stands. I blame girls with Now-and-Later candy bars and abandoned lots and Hustler magazine. Paul Barresi. The cheap pendants from the mall had nothing to do with it, but Karla and Chad and the Western Auto cassette recorder they saw before I did at the swap meet? Definitely. As did the back room at Spencer Gifts.
I blame Reddington Pass, Madera and Sabino Canyons, Boy Scout camp, "bug juice", the M-80 (along with whoever lit it) and the asshole Park Ranger. After that, it's the Space Shuttle on the back of a TWA jet on a runway in Utah that is most responsible. Then I blame Timex-Sinclair, Tandy, and the DEC-10. But not Commodore. I'd like to say I blame punch cards, but I was out that day. Probably home feverish and reading Penthouse Forum. The one thing unrelated to the other.
While I'd like to present evidence against the drama club, the gymnastics team, and my art professor, it would all be hearsay because I was never around long enough. Instead, allow me to present my case against the yearbook staff and Advanced Darkroom Technique — it's a solid one.
The jury is still out on the latch-hook rug kit, but Kraftwerk and Soft Cell all but confessed, as did the German exchange student and the bottle of Lubriderm. After that, I'd like to meet in the judge's chambers with fisticuffs and room service ramekins, pig poppers (something I'd never even heard of yet) tanning butter and a loaded handgun.
When that's done, I'll blame a man on a train, the doctor he shared an apartment with and the merchant marine who often stopped by. I'll call him Pepe. Yes, Pepe. Anyhow, the couple's cat died that week, so it was probably very sick and therefore I'll assume too weak to be anything but uninvolved. However, I am afraid the Mazda Z car and the Polaroid camera in the glove compartment will have to be impounded. Indefinitely. I also blame Carlos Fuentes and public transportation, both of which were in cahoots with the Diego Rivera mural at the time, along with an entire poker hand of twenty-five cent playing-card themed coffee cups. Oh, it's true.
Then, as much as I know you don't like to think about it, but someone is going to have to reckon with the many pots of potato lentil soup.
Eventually, I'll also get around to blaming: the government, Netscape, Apple, the Jesuits, Carmen Maura and Ricardo Cucamonga. But not for a while yet.
I apologize if it's embarrassing to be sitting here with me as I make loud, wet sucking noises with this straw and tear desperately at the thin sheet of plastic protecting the frosty contents of my Lollicup. I also know I must look like some orally-fixated six-foot-three Disney racoon who has just discovered salmon-flavored bubble tea. Gosh darnit, however, this is my first time and I'll have you know those li'l tapioca pearls are playing powerball in my mouth and damned if they are not just as flavorful as I am not proud.
All the more reason perhaps I am not ashamed to tell you that today is all about mercifully unequal parts foot cream and Krispy Kreme. It's true. Try it and you too can feel better from the bottom to the top.
Then again, today is also about tactfully outpacing the little old lady at the branch library in our undeclared, albeit blatant, race to the only restroom. She doesn't stand a chance.
Is it any wonder then that I should feel like a winner? No. I feel like a winner because I am a winner—and would be one even if she hadn't stopped at the water fountain.
Later though, the cosmos seem to shift and I do wonder what role karma—which I don't believe in—plays in my life when a gassy Korean woman sits next to me on the bus.
But not for long though because soon I'm thinking about how when Joe Millionaire picks me on his show, it would be easy to say something like I was happy just to be selected to be on the show in the first place and how it was nice getting a new pendant each week and how I'm still friends with some of the other girls, which I am not. And who knew I would even make it to the final two? Certainly not me! Why, I've never won anything in my life...and so on.
That would all be so silly though because I never lose anything and I always win everything, and as you and the rest of the world know from watching me each week, I understood the man and his show more than anyone. You know?
Some people thought of Evan and said: What a big dummy. Early on I decided that sort of attitude was a luxury I couldn't afford. Do you want to know what that's like? Well, it's like when Evan and I would go on a one-on-one date and I'd listen patiently to him while he talked and ate food off both our plates. Sometimes, I'd try to read his mind and for some reason it suddenly dawned on me that it was really all like when a new shopping center opens and they set up a money booth and use a fan to blow air and cash all around inside and you have to grab as much as you can. When I think about my special moments with Evan and all the thoughts that must have been in his head at those moments, I think Evan is just like one of those big plexiglass shopping center wind tunnels. Except without the cash.
Anyhow, now that it's all behind me and on days such as today when my friends are saying, "You keep spending so much time at that library people gonna think you homeless." I just think about how home is where the heart is and I tell them, "You know where to find me."
Trista is going to pick the dolphin. According to a NY Daily News' gossip column, when the show's star, Trista Rehn, was recently stopped by police for speeding in Los Angeles, sitting next to her was none other than the as-of-yet unnamed dolphin she was kissing on the January 22 episode of the show.
I dreamt an episode of Friends. Sadly, my favorite Friend, Phoebe, isn't in it as the storyline follows my least favorite Friend, Chandler, and the shenanigans that result when he is made floor emergency leader at his office. Basically, he discovers he's able to set the circuit box to shut off power to his floor for thirty minute increments while he takes naps. Soon, all hell is breaking loose when Chandler comes back from one pasta lunch after another, pushes the button, and dozes off with a stupid grin on his face. Meanwhile his disoriented co-workers try to find him so he can distribute the emergency flashlights, but he's conked out. It's a hoot, really. Upon waking, I regret that the dream episode doesn't also include two of the other Friends—specifically Joey and his clone—stuck in an elevator because then it would most certainly be a sex dream too. Oh well. When I recount the dream to the person I wake up with, he says Ross is his least favorite friend: "I hate Ross like you hate Chandler." He also says my dream sounds more like an episode of Seinfeld. Then we lay in bed watching television and listening to the rain until the I Love Lucy "Mink Coat of Confusion and Anniversary Subterfuge" episode ends and we look at the time and feel like lazy dogs who need to be fed.
Tip of the hat to Jeff. Read his Friends episode.
First thing in the morning, I wake from a dream in which my boss lectures me about my prostate. I conclude I must be under a lot of unusual stress at work lately.
Or is it just all the stress on my prostate of late?
Because I do not like taking chances in either of those areas, I immediatly schedule a session with my counselor at the EAP, telephone my physician for a thorough check-up, and fire off an email to Yusef:
If you ever fuck me that hard again, I'm calling the cops.
Recently, I turned thirty. In 1995, to be precise.
Something I like about getting older is that all young adults now look like sleek bisexual pop stars to me. And what is there not to like about living in a world full of people like that? Probably a lot, but at this point in my life I am so blinded by the jerky cascade of bright white light from flashguns firing, that I will be darned if I can see it as anything but a brilliant scheme.
I just love photography. Here, take my picture.
It is not all pretty though. Something I truly dislike about getting older is the debilitating bouts of knuckle eczema. Knuckle eczema is a horrible affliction that can afflict anyone (with knuckles) and so far there is neither a cure nor a telethon for it. This is a shame, as I think a golden opportunity is being missed for a gaggle of stars, perhaps even divas, to sing a moving rendition of the "Work your fingers to the bone, whaddya get?" song. Only instead of answering, "bony fingers!" Nana Moskuri or Bono or anybody else with really cool glasses for that matter would pause and get emotional and then composing his or herself, blowing his or her now dripping nose with a facial tissue, he or she would finally once and for all end the horrible legacy of silence — both symbolically and audibly — by singing loud and proud into that microphone, "Work your fingers to the bone, whaddya get?" and then pause and whisper, "Knuckle eczema..."
Would that not be beautiful? Though obviously a cure would be even more so. Then I would not have to slather cortisone cream on my fingers every morning and look in the mirror and wonder what kind of vengeful god could single me (and all the other sufferers) out.
Punishment for a youthful indiscretion, perhaps? If so, I swear I did not know it was wrong at the time. Not even that explanation makes sense to me, however because I know, as now you do, that when I was young I was a Boy Scout. And like all Boy Scouts, I was good. A genuine and upright member in a community of fine young men. Oh, I am not going to gloss things over – there were shenanigans. No penetration though, so it hardly feels fair that I should suffer this fate now.
Are you listening, God? I hope so. And of course: Please, oh please, God won't you make these knuckles whole again?
Dear Dale Van Dale,
Today, on my day off, I am here in the bungalow soaking in a tub full of hot water and I am drowsy from all the Benadryl taken for the allergies that only last week I was gloating I never suffer from this time of year. How proud I was when I shared that trivia about myself with the other houseboys and guests of a Cubalse themed key party. How quickly things change! Kerchew.
Please note that I have scalded my alveolar ridge and uvula with the hot, hot, very hot alphabet soup I prepared for myself and am now stubbornly gulping down in spite of the pain. That is how hungry I am right now, Dale.
In the yard the sun is shining and the Masters' beast, Gershwin, is still reeling from an indignity suffered at the veterinarian earlier this morning. He takes it out on the peacocks, of course. Poor birds. Before today they could strut about the grounds blissfully ignorant of the knowledge that every dog has two anal glands. Nevermore.
In from the bedroom drift the faint sounds of the National Public Radio jazz affiliate, which I am often too lazy to turn off in the mornings. And this morning was no different. Whatsmore, perhaps because I am suffering from low-blood sugar at the moment, the melange of standards, current events and commentary only makes everything feel all the more insane.
If I am to understand correctly what I just heard, Diane Rehm is on a slow boat to China with Ella Fitzergerald and threatening to blow everyone up if the authorities try to interfere. What a confusing place this world is.
I digress. Where was I? Right. Drip, drip, drip.
Dale, I do not expect you to recognize me in the above photograph, but I do hope you will be understanding when I tell you the reason for that is because it has been a quarter-of-a-century since we saw each other last. Also, I am of course naked and neither my eyes nor pageant winning nose is visible. Sorry about that. I know how used to seeing my eyes you are, Dale. I know how you love them.
Dale, I am also trying to tell you that I am writing this letter to you not only naked from the bath, but also from some place very far away from your parents' cinder block home near Kennedy Park over on the Eastside. Yes, that is correct — that very same house where you were trying to teach me all your favorite numbers from The Wiz and Tommy — two films which to this day I still have not seen. In no small part because I am convinced that after enjoying your many reenactments of them, I think seeing the original productions would ruin it all for me.
Does that make sense? I hope so.
Also, I should add that to this day the only thing I really know about Ann-Margret other than she is an actress, is that since Tommy is something that happens at your house, you always get to be her. It is okay, Dale. No hard feelings. That is fine by me.
Okay Dale, I suppose what I am really trying to say here is that I am writing this letter to you from the future. Yes the future, where I have been meaning to tell you something for a long time.
I wanted to let you know that the reason I have not been over to your house after school lately is because my mom says she does not want me there when your parents are not home. At first I thought it was because of the afternoon when she came to pick me up and you and I acted out the crash scene from Mahogony for her. I think that bothered her. All the way home in the car she had an upset look on her face and we did not stop for Tastee-Freez. When I asked her what was the matter she said she thinks it is very odd an eleven-year-old boy memorizes every word to every scene and song in that movie. I know, I do not understand either, but when I asked her what was so bad about that, she did not answer.
I was wrong though. That is not the reason after all. My sister told me today that the real reason is my brother thinks you tried to drown him at your pool party. Is that the truth? Blood being thicker than water aside —Haha!— I refuse to believe it until you tell me otherwise. You have to admit though that you did react rather psychotically when Garrett picked him instead of you as his Chicken partner.
I am sorry for taking so long to write and send this to you, but the future is a frighteningly distracting place. Witness the one hundred channels on the television, which is sitting dangerously close to the tub. The station I am watching features a program with a heavyset hostess who grew up a poor, abused Christian girl but rose above it all to become a millionaire Christian woman who now draws on her wealth and life-experiences to better abuse others. I think we can both relate to that, no? Feeling as we do about the choking and eye-poke hazards of press-on nails.
Right now, in fact, this woman is interviewing a congressman about his recent travels in Central America, where he was supposedly doing fact-finding about regional Bezier curve techniques for some proposed vector based missile-guidance system to be built in his newly created Creative Class district. Although I do not know the slightest thing about politics, my understanding is that he returned from the trip with nothing to show for the time and money except for some elegantly rendered cocobolo carvings. Of phalluses. They are showing them on the TV now. Is that gross, or what?
Anyhow, knowing all of this about the future and why I have been out of touch these past twenty-six years or so, perhaps you will be able to forgive me the delay in writing and may even want to come visit sometime.
Two Fridays ago I am stepping off the bus after a trip to my dentist and I am greeted by the West Eastern Blenman Elm Dental Benefits coordinator, Geoffrey Cragmont. Yes, Cragmont that cheap bastard! I figure I am in big trouble, because it is rare he requires paperwork so soon after a routine cleaning. He launches right into interrogation mode, wanting to know what took me so long. I explain, “I missed the Tepotzlan-Mexico City Express, so it took me forty-six hours to make it home instead of the usual thirty-six.”
“Okay. Be more careful next time. Grab your things. We were supposed to meet Nebraska hours ago.”
“Nebraska, what is it!?”
“Horowitz won’t be going to California after all. Are you afraid of flying?”
Then I do what any grown man who has been on a Mexican bus drinking Fanta orange soda for two days straight only to find out he is a candidate for immediate transport to Houseboy Cheer Camp without even so much as the opportunity to go home first would do – I wet my pants.
Nebraska is, of course, the moniker of the man responsible for clearing domestic employees of the WEBEHOS and its affiliates for travel to award ceremonies, professional seminars, war zones, and summer camps. While he usually comes to Tucson (from where I do not know) a scant few times a year to meet with candidates and determine eligibility before replying via the courier pidgeons he so foxily nabs from Ferdy Tang’s coop, at my interview the only question he asks is, “Do you like Gary Numan?” When I answer, “Do I ever!” he tells me to get into his car and he drives me to the Pima Air & Space Museum. There, lit from behind with green laser beams and standing in front of a P-40 World War II fighter plane, Gary Numan (in leather) greets me with his signature phrase, “Where to, Tiger?”
Nebraska tells him where to go and three hours later I am under the rainbow-patterned spandex canopy in the makeshift Houseboy Cheer Camp reception area at the Mark Leno Volcano Visitors Center. I take a sip from the complimentary Kong Thong Tiki brand coconut flavored soy drink that comes with so many others in my welcome satchel and I feel, well, for lack of a better word friends, electric.
I also realize that in what seems like virtually no time at all, I have successfully achieved the mindset of the local houseboys, many of whom have been charged with greeting us out-of-towners. Which is to say, I can think of nothing save for who I will soon be bunking with.
to be continued…
Like most children, I was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Confused about what had just happened, I rationalized the experience as the sloppiest shampoo and cut I had ever received. The logical progression, of course, was that at an age many would consider innappropriate for such a thing (or simply outside of the realm of credulity), I requested to see what everything was like from behind. Then, while examining myself in a hand mirror, I decided I had blotchy skin and immediately demanded sunscreen and zorries. As I left the delivery room, I tipped the doctor. But only ten percent. You know, I still have that hand mirror. I collect the things. For some strange reason. Because we were a “showbiz” family, I think it will come as no surprise to you to find out that my first cosmetic surgery was performed not long after my first circumcision. However, because I am an ostentatiously discreet person, I have elected to use this space to announce my intention not to discuss which of my many plastic surgeries that was. In spite of my eventual uncanny linguistic ability (please see dossier entries: United Nations, Cuneiform, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors), I could sing from early on. If I wasn’t napping or nursing, I was singing. It is true. Tra, la, la? Yes, that was me. Perhaps it is for this reason that each week on the Andy Williams Show I was coated with mineral oil and placed in a radio-controlled, sequined walker and motored about conspicuously in front of the Osmond Brothers as a tiny shiny example of infantile gumption in the hopes that they too could better develop some of their own. Which, in fact if I understand correctly, they eventually did.
I am waking up this morning and like so many of late, Jude Law is here. He is splashing me from the deep end of the pool and saying, "You are complex. You are an enigma. I simply can't seem to get my head around you. It excites me, dammit!" Splash, splash.
His passions make him irrational and I sense responsibility now falls on my shoulders. If these delusions continue to float him and his inflatable Cecil my direction, I must be sure to have a towel ready.
Wow, it sure is hot in here. I am thinking I wish I had left the cooler on last night. It must be a hundred degrees already.
Now I am in the kitchen. I am making coffee and from the other room Steve Strange is going on about a train ride. Oh, Steven. I wonder if he ever did any songs about a supermarket pony ride. Fodder for tomorrow's snooze bar hop, perhaps.
I am looking at the blender in the sink. Van Dale was over for a rousing game of shuttlecock evening last and afterward he made one of his notoriously interesting ginger-berry protein frappes: One can ginger ale, one cup frozen berries. One cup nonfat yogurt. Eight ounces water-packed albacore tuna. Combine ingredients in blender, whip, add honey to taste.
I worry about him, you know? Specifically, I am pondering the implications of recent surveillance photos delivered via teletype indicating Van Dale and an unidentified accomplice (Modotti?) are not only mobile, but have been trespassing at housing development swimming pools and skinny dipping naked these summer nights. When I voice my concerns from the ham radio in the tool shed at the Mayor's office (don't ask), Van Dale replies in his piss poor morse code either not to worry because they are using sunscreen or not to worry because they have sworn off beans. I am not certain which. Both are good ideas that do not make any sense.
Now the coffee is ready and I am pouring the coffee and I desperately want to see my primary hair care provider— it is an emergency — and the triage nurse on the phone says, "Come on in." But now it is something like two-hundred degrees out. Probably more. It is so hot out, in fact, that one of our mountains has burst into flames! This explains why the air outside is thick with what I can only imagine is burning cabins, and the news is saying to postpone any unnecessary breathing until the five O'Clock broadcast.
I am cutting open the plastic that holds the tofu and its liquid spills across the cutting board and I am remembering a scene from a Mexican cooking film that was very high in sodium and I am thinking oh my. The water has broken on a brand new day.
As before, Barresi promises a hard spanking to any guest arriving even one minute outside of fashion. When I get to his place late in the afternoon, the Finley twins are already monopolizing the spent-uranium casing ping pong paddles, and my host is once again unable to make good on this promise. I join the other delinquent stragglers at the chips-and-dips table. We sip light beer and stare dejectedly at each other's toenails while pretending not to notice the cook, rusty spatula in hand, cursing the slow-to-thaw frozen beef patties he imports from Belgium every year because, "If anyone deserves it, it's you guys."
Soon I am sitting at the edge of the jacuzzi, rubbing sunscreen anyplace I can reach while hungry dogs lick at my nipples and no one pretends not to notice. Jealous mouths agape.
Mark my words, come Fourth of July, all the gang will be using mutton scented tanning butter.