Howl At The Moon
Yesterday, playing softball at the fields on Randall's Island, one of my teammates got all excited: "It's the parrots! It's the parrots!" he hollered, pointing overhead. Two birds, an almost irridescent green, swooped low in flight over the field then up into the trees.
He explained that they were feral green parrots, escaped from cages. Somehow these two, male and female, had found each other, and made a home on Randall's island.
Now, think about that. You're a parrot, right? You just got out of your cage, you're flying around in New York City. Your natural habitat, and all the other members of your species, are six thousand miles south of you. And yet, you manage to find a mate.
(The Ball Breakers, my team, won both games we played, and I did pretty well on the field, too.)
I was late getting up to NYC for softball, because the night before, I had a date with the guy from the hot tub at DogTopper and Zapper's First Saturday In July Dungeon Soirée. He made me dinner, a rare enough occurence. He lit candles all over his amazing apartment (an old elevator factory, overlooking the Ben Franklin Bridge and a stretch of I-95. I brought him some flowers--day lilies and lavender--that I cut from my garden.
And I came to learn that all this had been orchestrated.
He's been good friends with DogTopper and Zapper for several years. He's dated a long string of The Wrong Guys. Wrong Wrong Wrong. So apparently, he was complaining to DogTopper and Zapper, along the lines of, "Why can't I just meet a nice guy? Why is that so hard?"
And why is that so hard? Remember those feral parrots.
And DogTopper and Zapper thought of me.
And I, of course, have had my own problems meeting a nice guy, right? 2006 had been the Year Of Dating Furiously, and talking to the Baron von Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I joked that I could put together a video montage of so many Dates Gone Wrong, capturing the moment in each one when I would rather be anywhere else.
DogTopper and Zapper thought of me.
And they told him that they were having a party in a couple of weeks, and that I would be there, and that he should come.
That chance meeting in the hot tub last Saturday night? Apparently there wasn't much in the way of chance about it. It was preceeded by someone saying, "C'mon! Now's our chance!" when they saw me doffing my clothes and sliding into the water. And while hot tub guy and I sat and soaked, someone was apparently off in the nighttime shadows, shooing away interlopers.
So I'm sort of astonished at my incredible good fortune. And, I definitely owe Zapper and DogTopper a good bottle of wine.
I almost feel as though I've received absolutely difinitive proof of the existence of my Guardian Angel. One of the hardest things I've had to cope with out here in the Howling Wilderness has been the feeling of being alone. I mean, I'm not alone. I've got my dad, I've got my buddies from the porch of Starbucks, but more the feeling that nobody out there has a moment during the day when they're thinking of me fondly. That I'm forgotten out here. In my more morbid frames of mind, imagining my own funeral after some slight whiff of mortality, I wonder if there'd be anyone there. How would my friends in NYC hear about my untimely demise?
But... Well... Wrong wrong wrong. DogTopper and Zapper were thinking of me. Thinking that I was a Nice Guy. And just might be the One Good Man that their friend needed in his life.
After those particular beans were spilled--this guy is nothing if not upfront and guileless--the whole business of this being a 'first date' seemed almost perfunctory. What do I mean by that? I am pretty taken by him, and he seems pretty taken by me. He's open and receptive and affectionate, and I'm open and receptive and affectionate.
And he's such a great guy. Such a great guy. He's so handsome it's just ridiculous. And although the evening ended early, I'm given every reason to believe that in bed, he's a no-holds barred, up for anything, ferocious pig. (!) And he likes me. And I think he thinks I'm hot. And I can't help wondering if he's thinking the mirror image of what I'm thinking: what have I done to deserve this incredible good fortune?
Feral green parrots, swooping low over the ballfields on Randall's Island...
And here's another really cool thing.
One of the games I like to play with myself, and inside joke where I'm the only one on the inside, is posing the question, "Who's cooler? Vampires or werewolves?"
And everybody--and I mean everybody--is always like, "Vampires! Totally!"
No. No no no no no no no no NO! Vampires... pales and wan, drifting around in the dark like titled nobility or untenured college Semiotics professors. Vampires indeed.
Capes? You think capes are cool? You're like, "Oh wow! Look at me! I'm wearing a cape? Aren't I cool?"
Werewolves are way cooler than vampires. There you are, going about the business of your life, but every 28 days, it's time. You take yourself away from people, off into the mountains somewhere, and get yourself ready. Before the moon even rises, you feel the bloodlust rising in you: You Want To Hunt. You Will Hunt.
The full moon rises.
Your clothes feel unbearably constricting, you shed them quickly, you transform. It's painful, your skin feels like it's on fire, your muscles ache and swell, your eyes burn, your throat feels raw as though you've been drinking lye. And the desire fills you, sweet innocent ol' you. The Beast that dwells deep in your heart--that you spend so much time and energy keeping confined and out of the way down there, looking appealingly up at the waiter and saying, "My steak is a little bit overdone, I like it rare, but I think it will be okay,"--well, it's time for The Beast to come out. He's in control now. He reigns. And He wants to Hunt.
And there you are, charging at top speed through some empty, desolate place, at top speed. Hunting. Searching for prey. Your senses are alive. You see every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, even in the dim milky moonlight. You smell, and the taste of everything you smell is in your mouth. Rabbits, deer, possum... You consider them and hope for something better. And then you pick up that great scent: man. Your back arches, your lungs, like bellows, force from your chest a wild howl that rings out in the night, striking terror in all who hear it. You have prey.
Some lonely park ranger. Some drifter. Some camper who decided to spend a few days off on his own, trying to make sense of the mess he's made of his life. From his scent, you can tell so much, his age, his life, his habits, his emotions, how sweet his meat is going to be. As you follow his scent, it grows stronger and stronger, giving you more information. It's intoxicating, his sweat, his spit, his piss... Stronger and stronger and stronger... Till the scents are fresh! Almost overpowering to your senses, and you learn a new piece of information, now, he's afraid. Fear escapes every pore of his body. He knows you're out there in the dark, hunting him, he knows now that he's prey.
Your pursuit becomes stealthy, you slow, your ears attune to the slightest sound... and sure enough, you can hear him, his labored breathing, as he whispers a prayer of desparation. Every movement of yours now is like ballet, slow, silent...
And then you see him, sitting against the trunk of a massive pine tree, his chest heaving, his eyes searching the darkness, his face a mask of terror.
You get nearer and nearer, closing in on him. Slowly, taking your time, you emerge from the underbrush... He sees you instantly, he screams, but it's too late. You spring, flying through the air, his throat is in your jaws, your teeth tear his flesh, and his scream is stifle. The taste of his blood fills your mouth, sweet, hot, quenching and satisfying. You feast on this man, your prey, pulling the muscles that served him so well in his life from his bones. His strength feeds you, because of his sacrifice, you grow stronger, and will live to hunt another night.
Not quite sated--stay lean, stay hungry--you are finished. You leave this carcase that was a man, licking his drying, sticky blood from your paws and your jaws. There, floating over the trees, is the full moon. Almost laughing, so happy, you raise your head, and sound forth with a howl of triumph. The night is yours.
And then, to your surprise, off in the distance, your howl is answered by another, low pitched, almost tentative, but rising, rising.
You answer. You get a reply. You mark the direction, and head towards it, stopping now and then to pierce the night with another howl of yours, and the other, the other one like you, is moving in your direction, the two of you get closer and closer...
Yeah. Werewolves. So much cooler than those effete vampires.
So this guy, he loves werewolves. At the gay campground where he has a cabin, for Hallowe'en a couple of years ago, he got himself a werewolf mask. He planned to run naked through the woods, on the periphery of the party, wearing the mask, watching, now and then giving a howl. But it was freezing cold that night. But he still has the mask.
I am astonished at my good fortune.
Tomorrow night, July 10th, is a full moon. Stay home. Lock your doors.