Friday, July 10, 2009

Ramblings to Piano Music

I wrote this, not too long ago, on a friends facebook wall. It was something I couldn't resist writing, after I couldn't resist trolling through pictures of his little brother, who I used to shamelessly flirt with, much to my friend's discomfort. The little brother, as it happens, didn't seem to mind so much--they share this, the brothers: the same pleasure in being the object of attention.

So, to continue the trend of making my friend squirm a little, I wrote the following:

"If you look at the photos featuring your little brother, you will perhaps be surprised to know he is "an orphan boy looking for a daddy"--at least according to the gay hanky code, which is near scripture for some. Also, his friend, the one who stuck a steering-wheel through his ear, is a bondage top. Both of these seem to make sense.

Like a good a Westchester hipster I had no idea about the GHC, and when I went out one night with my red hanky in my back left pocket I had no idea what I was getting into. A man, burly, lots of chest hair, sidled over to me and after buying me a drink bluntly stated he wanted me elbow deep in his ass. I nearly choked on my gin and tonic.
It was Zachary, of course, who explained, once he stopped laughing, the intricacies of the gay hanky code. Apparently I was advertising my desire to fist fuck. Left pocket means dominant, right mean submissive and there are fetishes for just about every color and design you could imagine.
Just thought I'd share ;-)"


J. is still on tour, but then, I knew that. He'll be back soon--Sunday, in fact. I probably won't see him until Monday, which is fine. I'm not working then anyway, and I don't think he works Monday nights. Plus, it will give me ample time to get rid of this pesky chest cold that has oddly enough revived my asthmatic inclinations. Last night, on my way to teach my class, I smoked a cigarette to pass the time it takes to walk from where I get off the bus to the train station but two drags in I began to feel the once so very familiar tightness in my chest and the dry rasping each breath elicited. As if to appease my offended lungs I promptly threw down the cigarette, which killed me to do, but which also should have made my sacrifice all the more appealing to my lungs: see, I'm doing this for you! I entreated them. They would have none of it, and for the next six hours I would gasp my way through a lecture on racism, imperialism, and bureaucracy, and two long train rides.


You don't realize how easy it is to breathe until it suddenly ceases to be easy. It hurts after a while, to conscientiously draw oxygen through swollen bronchus stems. This morning the muscles around my ribs were tender and when I coughed up an ungodly colored wad of phlegm I winced and gasped for air, which made me suck this same globule of pre-cancerous toxin back into my lungs, causing me to choke, and thus cough even harder. I felt like I was going to die. But my dignity refused to allow me to die such an ignoble death. "Up and Coming Scholar Dies: Officials Determine Cause of Death, A Lugie". Still, I started to consider, for the first time with any seriousness, quitting smoking. I'm getting too old for this, I even said, and then, horrified at myself for such a confession, I peered into the mirror seeking out my youth. It was still there, but maybe because of the fever and the puffiness under my eyes from the troubled sleep I'd barely gotten, it was harder to find. Illness always reminds me of my mortality. I read somewhere when I was younger that some famous composer had died from pneumonia, and I when I got it for the second time I was sure I was going to die. How could a genius like this composer, with the fortitude of his music, be weaker that me? I was doomed. This was, of course, long before the nearly monthly bouts of bronchitis I would get in college in the late Winter months. The little Korean doctor that worked at the clinic would tisk-tisk me whenever she saw me, and ask, "When will you quit smoking?" Then she would give me handfuls of free medication and with a sweet, maternal smile would send me back home, where I would make tea, sit at my laptop, light a cigarette, and return to work on a term paper.

It turns out it wasn't my smoking itself that got me sick all the time, but the cat my ex and I had brought home from Florida one year--Oliver, we named him, for his olive eyes, but also after the Dickens character. When we broke up, she took the cat, and as if miraculously, my health improved. If I do get sick, it's a rarity that doesn't last more than a few days. I've not needed to go to a doctor in the last 2 year but once--not counting the frantic trip to Howard Brown over a hysteria induced false-positive bout of "syphilis". The whole experience was so terrifying that I swore off STD testing altogether, and only recently subjected myself to the anxiety of the procedure, for reasons already discussed. I realize that this makes me a rather irresponsible member of the gay community, where testing four times a year is the norm for sexually active people. I can't resign myself to the trauma of it all, however. I can't help but play out the worst-case scenarios in my head, and afterwards I am so exhausted the only thing I'm good for is a stiff drink and a nap. Ignorance may not be bliss, per se, but I can live with the fiction of perfect health, and thus far, at least, it's been a healthy fiction.

J. and I will get tested together at the end of the month, assuming that at the end of the month we are still having sex. Which I hope we are. He is rather delightful, and his presence in my life has been nothing short of radically wonderful and challenging. I'm proud of myself in new ways--familiar of course, like the texture of an expensive steak, but unique to this experience. My father can hear it in my voice when I talk about our time together and commented on it, which I appreciated, if for no other reason than this time last year he was sneering through the phone when I spoke of the German--having to defend my feelings for him, rather than simply share them.

J. is not the innocent, naive person I had fancied, and when I found out I was disappointed, hurt even, but ultimately nervous: he has done this before, just like me, the one night stands and all the games that go along with them. Whereas I thought I was could rely on his ignorance of the "Great Game," it turns out I didn't have such a safety net. This threw me into a sort of panic, to be honest. It made me re-think his initial invitation for sherbet, and it made me wonder if he wasn't still picking up boys. The German calmed me, somewhat, by saying: so, you have to trust him. I admitted that this was the case, and then immediately added: but that is terrifying! He chuckled and shook his head at me, but he's right. After all, I've played the scene enough myself, and J. knows as much--that couldn't have been very comforting for him. It never occurred to me, until I had to absorb his own history, how disconcerting such news can be. And yet, maybe, like me, he wants to actually have a relationship. I once said to acquaintances: I loathe the assumption that just because I can enjoy a one-night affair I'm incapable of fidelity. Yet, wasn't it this assumption I was succumbing to in those panic-stricken moments?

When he told me this I attempted to catch him in a lie, trying to get him to admit that his invitation for sherbet was in fact designed to be a one night thing. He scoffed at me like I was a child and said, We didn't even go into my apartment. Looking back on his response, I'm comforted. Even if it started that way, which I was fully prepared for when I set out that night, that's not how it ended, and his answer was a simple reminder of that simple fact. I want to make more of it that it is, to say: and this means he saw or heard or felt something in me that he thought he could hold onto for more than a night. And maybe I'm right to think that, as that night will have been almost a month ago. I think I can trust that, and even if I can't I force myself to believe it, which will have to do for now.

Still, I hate to think that part of inaugurating a relationship is getting tested together. It is wholly antithetical to every conception of intimacy I aspire to, and seems to confirm Foucault's insight into the ever increasing medicalization of sexuality. Perhaps I am foolish, but I'd like to think that if you are at risk of getting me sick you will care about me enough to let me know, and that you would trust me enough to not get disgusted and walk out. I have to wait until the end of the month to know with any certainty whether or not I'm at risk, though it is very unlikely given everything the very cute little hispanic clinician said when I rushed into the Center. Still, I care enough not to put J. at risk, and he appreciates that. Not that it has diminished or even inhibited our sex, which I appreciate. Were J. the Vegan, such a scenario would be impossible.

To welcome him home I want to enjoy a rather traditional date: dinner and a movie, Bruno, to be exact. It looks simply hilarious, and reviews have been favorable. An evening downtown, holding his hand as we walk to the theater, sitting next him and squeezing his arm when laughter isn't enough, and then a light meal to recount our favorite moments. I want to do something formal, that isn't in the early hours of morning, that allows us to be outside during the day, and walk home, maybe stopping for ice cream along the way, as the night enters twilight--my favorite moment of a days life. Part of this desire is to see myself in such a position, to be bold enough to hold his hand in front of the miserable mid-western tourists who slog down the Magnificent Mile like bloated cattle, gushing sweat as they stare up at buildings so tall! snapping photos. The sorts of people who can't tell the difference between art deco and chicago school architecture, and who would probably want to shield their children's eyes from the sight of two boys showing affection, seeing this as confirmation of the degeneracy of cities and proof that the podunk town they "hail from" is a bastion of decency and family values. I'm not scared of these people, but I've also never confronted them on this level, as a gay man with his boyfriend, only ever as an intellectual who can obliterate their feeble thoughts. I don't know what I would do if someone called us faggots. In Boystown I would hurl back an insult, if such a thing ever happened in Boystown. To say nothing would be to appear ashamed, but to say something might invite violence, and to only say something to J. would only seclude us in a little world of isolation. I suppose I should just, for once, ignore everyone else--and when I'm with him, that's not very hard to do.

The other half of this desire--and it is a three-halved desire, always a remainder--is to show him that gays can live a normal life, do what normal people do, like go to a movie and dinner, and that we don't need to be in Boystown to do so. J. said not so long ago that he wants kids, and I was surprised, mostly because, thanks in part to the Writer, I've come to see the global climate problem as part and parcel to over-population--the cumulative effects of capitalism--and view cunts like the "octomom" as profoundly unethical and malicious. It got worse: he wanted to get married, to a woman, make babies, and then, he said with a cynical chortle, get divorced because he would be a horrible husband. I was profoundly sad when he said this, mustering only an "oh..." The next morning, however, after sex brought him to a hands-free orgasm, in response to my astonishment and pleasure (and pride!), he said, "What? I'm a gay man: we like to get fucked in the ass."

I had a dream last night, it was a fevered dream, and I woke from it sweaty and cold, wherein I was holding a baby, my baby. I was bouncing it gently in my arms, its little hand wrapped around my pinky finger. There is a picture of me and my father in such a pose, and no doubt this dream was an embodiment of that scene. But I wasn't my father, and the infant wasn't me. It was something distinct, something wholly its own. And I was gazing at it with love and wonder. As he is now, J. would make a terrible father, and, indeed, I'm not wholly sure he sees his desire to reproduce in any sense other than the passage of genetics--the only use of an animal, he once said. Such thinking is too reductionistic for my taste, for what ultimately keeps me from wanting children is the fear that I would be a miserable failure at raising them, that they would loathe me by the time I was done with them. And, as a gay man, children are not expected of me, nor are they an immediate possibility. Adoption, sure, or a sister willing to be artificially inseminated with your lovers semen and bear your child, but all of that is wholly contingent and a rather arduous affair.

Though, I get ahead of myself--the dream aside. What I really want, when he comes back, is to have missed me, to say so, and to hold me tighter than he has thus far, as if our being apart was something he'd rather not repeat. That way I can do the same, which is what I really, really want.

2 comments:

grooveadam said...

"J. is not the innocent, naive person I had fancied, and when I found out I was disappointed, hurt even, but ultimately nervous: he has done this before, just like me, the one night stands and all the games that go along with them."

Oh how I have thought this about B.

I am happy to see your entries under the influence of a boyfriend. What I wanted from you before was some insight, even guidance, on my current relationship. Although I knew you were either withholding this from me intentionally or not capable of giving me the unbiased guidance I needed.

At least now I can read what you do in practice. However, I wouldn't mind a drink now that we are in more equal places. Our boyfriends could probably benefit from our hanging out again. Maybe we can tame these insecurities.

Palefire said...

A drink now and then would be good, I agree.

You misread me: It wasn't for lack of objectivity, nor from malicious withholding--rather, I was simply incapable.

All of this is on the fly--so the drinks will do me good, too :-D