The long wait is over. Let's jump right to the FAQs, 'kay?
How's the book?
It's really really good! Is it done yet? No. No, it's not done yet. But I've got some rally good stuff I've written. And, I feel that I've sort of exhausted myself on the subject. There's nothing more I can say. From my standpoint, it's definitive. Complete. Now, I just need to get like a graduate student to type up all my notes. Or... y'know... do that all myself. But I think it's all down hill from here. Thanks for your patience and forbearance in letting me have the time off.
Still loving my job. It's so great to be able to lose yourself in what you're doing for eight hours a day. However I'm feeling when I walk in the door, I just start screwing those drawer slides into the cabinets and it all just resolves itself into a pleasant hum of mindful activity.
Here's the Big Funny Moment At Work that you missed. Before the shop shut down for the winter break, my employer, Wuperior Soodcraft, hosted a Christmas Party for all of us.. There was a flyer posted next to the timeclock "inviting" us to come. (Like we had any choice. Missing it would have involved being AWOL from work that day.) So there we all are standing in line to punch out for lunch a few days before. I turn around to my co-workers standing behind me, point to the sign, and say, "Hey guys! Clothing Optional!" Gales of laughter.
Another Big Funny Moment At Work. If'n you want the guys building your new kitchen to think you're an ignoramus, make sure you get the finish 'distressed.' As in, hit with rocks (no, really) and chisels and such so it has a bunch of dents and dings in it. All in an attempt to make your gawdawful McMansion look like the drafty old barn has been in your family for generations rather than thrown up over the course of a weekend the previous winter. So one day, Nightingale is out there pounding on a cabinet with a rock (no, really) the two guys who built the cabinet and the sanders who sanded the cabinet down were watching, their faces showing expressions ranging from disapproval to disgust. I wander over and Nightingale explains to me, "My job today is to distress these cabinets." I offered to help, and I bent down so my face is just inches from the cabinet Nightingale's working on, and I shout, "Daddy drinks because you cry!!!" Gales of laughter ensued.
Currently, my Sir is less than loving being one of San Francisco's top non-profit executives. Having been one of New York City's top non-profit executives, I can commiserate. To get an idea of what he's going through, and what I went through, spend an entire day doing the following: whenever you make eye contact with somebody, ask them to give you $20. The guy at the deli. The woman behind you in line at the ATM. Your domestic partner. Your cat. At the end of the day, when you've fielded all those dry-mouthed-hard-swallow responses, and nobody is picking up when you call anymore, and the fact that you have only 68¢ to show for your efforts and that means you're a bad person, you'll have some idea of what it's like.
I do my utmost to offer my Sir consolation or at least distraction, but at thhe same time, I just have this deep down warm feeling stemming from the fact that I don't have to do that any more.
Back in December, Big and I spent an amazing weekend together. He had an errand to run in the middle of Pennsylvania. As in, out by Williamsport, home of the annual little league world series. I offered to drive. We spent a fun friday night at a kind of hairy hotel in Philadelphia (built over the bus station) (no, really), which included a night at the Bike Stop. Then, we headed up Broad Street to Beautiful Bucks County. I showed my Sir the Starbucks that is the frequent site of my phone calls to him, the building where I work that could be a location shot for The Molly Maguires, and we had a really great dinner at the Raven (no, really). Then, we continued up river, because our lodging for the evening was the reknowned Rainbow Mountain Resort in the heart of the Pocono Mountains.
Oh. My. God.
It deserves a trip. At least once. So you can say you did.
The Rainbow Mountain Resort is this sort of this lone gay outpost. The weekend before, they had hosted something their website called a "Bisexual Extravaganza" (I didn't have the stones to ask what that involved). The host was brimming over with salaciousness. The room was itsy bitsy. While the heat kicked on in the room, Big and I headed down to the bar. Earlier that day, on a shopping trip to I. Goldberg's (the place is not to be missed!), I had purchased these rockin' German military tank overalls and a gas mask. Big, who had been wondering what to get me for Christmas ("what do you get for the boy who denies himself nothing?") bought me this really cool looking gun metal gray parka. I briefly considered wearing all three of these for our trip down to thhe bar, but decided that the gas mask would make it hard to drink my beer. (So how much did you pay for your gas mask? I picked mine up for $20. And yes, it included the hose thing and the filter cannister thing.)
Silly me. I thought I'd be the most outrageously attired.
I had heard of the phenomenon, but I'd never actually seen it. And I get around. Y'see, among some straight men, most of whom seem to be big, burly blue collar guys, there's this fetish. They love nothing more in the world than to dress up in these frilly, pretty party dresses, complete with white stockings and mary janes. Think of the shit that Jon Benet Ramsey's psycho parents used to inflict upon her. Now picture a guy who delivers pianos for a living wearing an enormous version of that.
So there were two party girls at the Rainbow Mountain Resort pub that evening. From what I understand, these guys aren't gay. But they hang out in gay bars because the chances that folks are gonna point at them and holler things is less than it would be if they went to the local mall. They had a karaoke contest that night at the pub of the Rainbow Mountain Resort. (Naturally.) (Did you know that the guy who works the karaoke machine is referred to as a "KJ," as in "DJ" only with a "K" instead? Well now you do. And I thought you referred to him as an "Asshole.")
Mebbe you can see where this is going.
Big and I will forever have emblazoned in our minds the image of a 250 pound man wearing a pink party dress, white stockings, and mary janes singing "Just call me angel of the morning" in a base baritone.
But, for most of the time since I went on hiatus back in November, it's been all about missing Big, and Big missing me. Damn these meager five vacation days anyway.
How's your dad?
Yeah. Just 'okay.'
There was a meltdown. Sort of. Not of grand proportions or anything.
I forgot what exactly prompted it. (My therapist would probably phrase that as, 'you're blocking what exactly prompted it.') But it just seemed to me that I give and I give and I give. And then I'm asked to give some more. I make dinner. I clean up the kitchen. I fill up the wood box. I keep the fire going. I bring ice cream up from the freezer in the basement. I drop off letters to be mailed. I get the paper. I do his laundry. I clean his bathroom. I vacuum. I straighten. I write the Christmas cards. I change the lightbulbs. I do the shopping. I change the washer to stop the leaky faucet. And I have never, ever been thanked, or told that I'm appreciated for that.
My brother came up from Florida for Christmas, and it was great to be able to commiserate with him. Cuz oh yeah. He and his wife used to come over here, often at the drop of a hat, and do all kinds of crap for my father and step-mother. And not once was a thank you offered. Not once.
Resentment grew. I became terse and vaguely hostile. Every time I heard my father lumbering down the hall ("the lightbulb is burned out back here. Come change it for me?") I would just cringe.
But I made some changes. First off, I have given myself four years. I'm learning to be a cabinet maker. It's like going back to college. And college lasts four years. I'm not sure where I'll go or what I'll do in four years (well, three now), but I'm working towards that point. And secondly, I'm going to the gym. Religiously. It's something I do for me. I think of my home life as a second job. I work all day at Wuperior Soodcraft, then before I go home for the whole make-dinner-clean-up-fill-up-the-wookbox deal, I go to the gym. I spend as much time there as I need and want to. I enjoy the steam room. I shave my head.
And I heard this thing on public radio. It was an interview with Rachel Simon who had written a book called 'Riding The Bus With My Sister.' She describes how she took a year off from her life as a journalist to spend time with her developmentally disabled sister, Beth. Beth spends her days riding the buses in Philadelphia. One day, after what you might call 'an episode,' Rachel is talking to a bus driver. The bus driver, who knows Beth pretty well from having her as a passenger every day, tells her that when something like this happens, it's never about Beth, it's always about you.
It's never about my father. It's always about me.
My father is who he is. I have no control over who he is. I'd like to have a dad like the ones you see in LL Bean ads, resplendent in fleece vest, natty chinos, and mucklucks. But I don't.
But what I do have (some) control over is how I respond to this. I can go out under the night sky shake my fist at the stars, shaking with fury at the man. I can become an alcoholic. I can sink into a deep depression and not get out of bed. Whatever. It won't change my dad.
Or, I can just do what I have to do. Make dinner. Clean up the kitchen. Fill up the wood box. Tend the fire. Change the lightbulbs. All the rest of it. You gotta do what you gotta do, as they used to say on the Little Rascals.
"Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw the sand, one saw the stars." My grandmother used to say that. So when I go out under the nighttime sky, it's not to shake my fist in fury. Faithful Companion, the Great Fierce Hunter Of Field Mice, is there with me, and I let myself be filled with awe at the beauty of the stars, trying to pick out the constellations I know. Orion. Cassiopeia. Cephas. Pegasus. Ursa Major. Ursa Minor. Hydra.
Then I go back to the house. I bring in another load of firewood. I hit 'Start' on the dishwasher. I load up the fire with wood so it will keep burning overnight. I turn on the hall light and stick my head in and say 'goodnight' to my father.
How were the holidays?
My brother and his wife came up from Florida. We got together as a family to celebrate Christmas on Tuesday, December 21st. Now, my sister-in-law is a vegan. (You know how I feel about people with food issues.) I was making dinner for the four of us. She was bringing her tofurkey (gag), and I would leave the butter out of the sweet potatoes or something.
I like a challenge, and I decided to make an All Vegan Christmas Feast. The goal was Yummy And Tasty And Nothing On The Table That She Couldn't Eat.
So what did I make? Well, fettuccine en croque with white beans and red peppers sauced with roasted shallots and soy milk cream, a souffle of acorn squash and chestnuts with walnuts and sage, and red cabbage sautee with orange zest and anise.
Oh. My. God.
It totally rocked. It was really really good. And she and my brother deeply appreciated the gesture.
And it was great to have my brother around. We spent a lot of time together during the week he was here. Going to the gym. Having dinner. We're closer than we've ever been.
You've got to give to get. I guess that's the lesson there. My brother needed help with the packing and the moving, and I came through for him. And, when he and his wife were feeling the stress of The Move ("Why did you put the coffee maker in one box and the pot that goes with it in a different box???!!! It will take us weeks to find both of them!! And we won't have coffee during all that time!! What's the matter with you??? Are you Insane???!!"), I did my best to talk him through it ("You're both under a lot of pressure right now. It's a very stressful thing. But it will all be over. It has an end.")
On Christmas Day proper, my father and I drove over to spend the day with my sister-in-law's family. We'll refer to that clan as Not My Relatives. It can be really great spending a holiday with Not My Relatives. Like watching a natural disaster unfold but not being touched by it. Seeing a devastating avalanche from a helicopter. Watching a thunderstorm from the covered porch of your cabin. Not My Relatives featured a brother who is a diehard Rush Limbaugh dittohead. He opted to say the Grace, and when he segued into thanking the Almighty for the securing for our nation four more years of the kingship of Christ through the person of George W. Bush, I thought about walking out or standing up and turning my back and having this sort of long-suffering but dignified expression on my face. But hey, these people are Not My Relatives. And then there was the part where mom took my father's coat and threw it out in the back yard because it smelled like cigars (no, really). But, y'know, Not My Relatives.
But probably the best was New Years' Eve. I headed down to the Bike Stop. My pocket loaded up with some nice Romeo y Julieta maduros. The place was jumpin'. I spent the whole night chatting with guys I knew, exchanging best wishes for 2005. Standing around, talking, flirting, smoking cigars, drinking beer. I was glad to see them, they were glad to see me.
I haven't felt like this since the LURE closed on April 19th, 2003.
I found it. Community. A circle of brothers. The bonds of friendship with fellow leathermen. I'm home. I am at home here. I live here now. These are my people. I'm not alone out here in the hinterlands.
New Years' resolution?
I love New Years' resolutions! So here it is for 2005: Take care of business.
Y'see, there's these things that I've gotta do. Clear out the garage. Have the benign fistula taken off my dog's butt. Get to the dentist (I'm kinda gonna replace getting the tattoo work done with having my teeth worked on; the same thing when you think about it). Finances in check. Get to the gym. Take care of business. Just because I'm sleeping in my childhood bedroom doesn't mean that I can abnegate all of these adult responsibilities.
So that's what it's gonna be all about this year.
How was MAL?
Best. MAL. Ever.
From the moment I got there until I headed out Mass Ave to Rte. 50 to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to home, it was golden. Just absolutely golden. So many sweet moments in the lobby and the cigar tent. Just perfectly paced. I love and I am loved. I'm so secure in that. Every time I turned around it was to fall into the ever lovin' arms of a wonderful man who missed me and was so glad to see me, and who I loved missed, and was so glad to see.
That's as close as we get to come to heaven on this earth.
"Wow, great to see you! You look great!"
You hug, your body melts against his, his arms enfold you, you hold him, your eyes meet, all smiles, you kiss, with tongues. Geez, you think, he's such a great guy. You talk, touching. Catch up. What's been going on.
I am brought to life, redeemed, and sustained by the love of my brothers. (And sisters!)
And... and... Oh man, this is soooo cool. You gotta here this.
So several weeks ago, on WorldLeathermen, I run across the profile of this guy with the handle Deputy Hunter. It turns out that he was part of the folks that brought us the Academy videos.
Longtime careful readers of SingleTails will recall that the only erotic video I've ever spent money on was made by the Academy. I love Academy videos. No fucking and sucking (what do I want to watch that for? I know how that works.), just men in uniforms handcuffing each other, beating on each other, throwing each other into cells. All with some thin make-it-up-as-you-go plot.
Well, it turns out that the man who was the mastermind of the Academy series is no longer with us. (Of Blessed Memory.) But Deputy Hunter and a couple of the other guys involved have started a new venture called Be Forced, Inc. I went to their website, and whilst tooling around there, I clicked on a link about how they were recruiting. There was this lengthy questionnaire to fill out. Things were going great with the questionnaire until I got to a question along the lines of, 'Do you have facial hair? Would you be willing to lose it?' Uh... that would be a Yes and a No. Dang. Be Forced is all about cops and military, and there ain't nobody in law enforcement or the armed forces with a stache like mine. Dang.
But then, a week or so before MAL, I got this email that Be Forced would be down at MAL meeting with potential recruits, and giving me a phone number to call.
I am so ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille!
I knew that my Friend and Former Landlord was going to be at MAL, and I thought that he might be interested in Be Forced as an investment opportunity. And what better way to show up for an audition than with a guy with his checkbook at your side? So, on Saturday afternoon, I met up with Friend and Former Landlord, we made the call, and went to meet up with the Be Forced Krew at their suite.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting them to be such nice guys. I mean, they were really great. Warm, friendly, open. Guys I'd like to hang with. So we smoked cigars and talked, I did my best to lay out what I thought I could offer. How I definitely wasn't in it for the money, but that what always impressed me about the Academy stuff was that the guys in the vids seemed to be having such a good time. I talked about my skills with the whip, and my chain bondage expertise, and how that it's not uncommon when I bottom for me to cry like a little bitch. And no, I wouldn't mind doing that on camera. Any of it.
After I had said my piece, I kinda turned things over to Friend and Former Landlord. Then the torture scene began, as Friend and Former Landlord began to pepper them with all those hard questions. They all retired to the next room to talk about the money end of the operation, while I stayed behind with some of the other potential recruits. (Also really good guys.)
Presently, the group returned. It seemed to me that things had gone pretty well.
So then, one of the Be Forced men says to me, "So you're pretty good with a whip, huh?"
"I am very good with a whip," I replied.
"I'd kinda like a taste of that," he says, and this beautiful man doffs his shirt, turns around, and presents to me this beautiful, broad, muscular back.
Better believe I jumped right the fuck in on that opportunity. Immediately, my whip was dancing across his back, teasing, connecting, moving in, holding back...
There was this weird thing though where half the guys in the room grabbed their cell phones...
"Who the fuck are they calling?" I wondered.
Silly me! Although I've always been an early adapter, my reduced financial circumstances seems to have made me a technological laggard. They were all getting video of me on their cell phones.
The man I was whipping asked for one really good one. And CRACK, I gave it to him. It left a beautiful, white hot stripe right in the middle of his bright red back.
So I think the audition went pretty well.
I would love to be in a Be Forced video. That would be such a blast. I sincerely hope they can find a role for me to take on.
And was that the highlight of the weekend? Close, but not quite. On Sunday night, hanging out in the lobby, I met this guy from LA. He was wearing a black tshirt that said 'Edge Play' in relatively small letters over his left pec. We started talking. And talking and talking and talking. Covering the waterfront. Especially those dangerous and dark areas that you'll find down there. I hadn't eaten, and I was keenly interested in taking care of that. We decided that room service at his hotel would probably be just what I needed.
And after dinner, there was dessert. For dessert, I decided to forgo the crème brûlée and opt instead for a mind-blowing edge play scene like I have never before experienced or imagined. Un. Be. Lievable. Wearing leather gloves, and armed only with fists and a trusty knife, we went hunting for the demons lurking down the dark corridors and passageways of the obscure recesses of each others subconscious minds. We passed off the role of pointman by exchanging the pair of gloves we had, and were at it unto the wee hours of the morning.
This SM thing? It really rocks.
...and so with that, I'll close. For now. SingleTails is back.