Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Baron explained. He'd recently seen a biography of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis on public television. One commentator explained, "First she married for love, then she married for money, and then she found companionship." Handsome John Fitzgerald Kennedy, though a rogue, was the love of her life. After his assasination, there was Aristotle Onassis, a marriage that assured she would want for nothing. And finally, from the mid-1970s until her death, she had Belgian financier Maurice Templesman.
Special Guy, though a rogue, was certainly the Love Of My Life So Far. And truly, what propelled me into the obvious mismatch with the Awful Ex was not his wealth--although he brough home about $20,000 a year more than me and had all this family money--but the fact that he was ten years my senior and when we met seemed to have figured out so much of the Rules of Life that had eluded me. Me with my unmade bed and sink full of a weeks worth of dirty dishes. That was then, definitely not now. See, I learned from him.
And I suppose what I've been looking for was another Jack Kennedy. When perhaps, what I should be looking for is a nice Maurice.
Although I guess that presupposes that my Maurice is also looking for a Maurice. That he's already cycled through his Jack and his Ari.
To be sure, I'm definitely open to another Jack. And I sure wouldn't mind an Ari. Especially if he had a hot tub and liked to travel. But the Baron's comment rings true. What would really do me the most good is a Maurice.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I'm Old now.
Up at the gay campgrouund this past weekend, there were like ten guys sitting around after dinner one night. And Man of Discipline mentioned Jimmy Sommerville.
And every other guy there was like, "Jimmy Sommer-who?"
If this was Logan's Run--and I'm betting none of youse know about that either, do you?--then it possibly would have been even more awkward.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I headed up on Friday afternoon, arriving at the gay campground in Northeastern Pennsylvania (not that one, the other one) around 4:30. After I stopped by the office and got all membershipped and registered up, I found my way to Man of Discipline's site. M.O.D. favors the site right across the path from the cabin with the showers and the latrine. That might sound icky, but believe me, it's not. The septic system is apprently top notch so there's no smell, just a constant parade of men entering the "cabin" a roof without walls, stripping down, and showering. Friday night, we joined friends of M.O.D.'s for dinner down the way, steak and baked potatoes. M.O.D.'s friends are are "permanent temporaries" (or maybe that's "temporary permanents"), so they are able to make lots of improvements to their site. And they sure have. In fact, one of the great things about the campground, and probably every other gay campground in the world, is that the gays just excel at that: all kinds of plantings and dramatic lighting and water features and such. It's kind of like a rustic PeeWee's Playhouse, only on the scale of an entire subdivision.
And speaking of other gay campgrounds, what a growth industry that is, huh? They're cropping up all over the country. And what a cool thing! Requiring little in the way of investment (a temporary permanent or permanent temporary site goes for about $40,000, or you can just pitch a tent in a field), it makes for a great gay getaway. It reminds me a lot of Fire Island, in that it's an answer to the question of "What would it be like if homosexuals owned the entire world?". The answer, of course, is Big Fun! The crowd showing up are a broad range from slumming sophisticated urbanites to local homos from East Yabip. And so, a nice way to pass the time is deciding whether "that guy over there" is a director of marketing who's doing that gay thing of aping blue collar workers, or a gay blue collar worker. (The actual blue collar workers don't really look "authentic," and that's the dead giveaway.)
And how cool is it that the gay campground phenomenon has doubtlessly infused new life into camper manufacturers! It's not a very heterosexual baby boomer thing to do, and I imagine their industry had been hurting. I wonder if they know that the gays are their new market? And gosh! How 1958 is that? "Let's head up to the campground for the weekend! We can go fishing in the lake! And they're having a volleyball tournement this weekend! And I can't wait to hang the new sling out under the pine trees!"
But it's a really friendly vibe--no matter how wasted you were last night, you have to say "Good morning!" on your way to the showers--but without being intrusively so as you might expect at a covered dish dinner at a Lutheran Church in Indiana.
Oh! And of course, there's lots of pastoral sex!
It turns out that Man of Discipline was the perfect camping companion. What he enjoys most is sitting on his little fold up canvas chair, watching the passerby. Just being really chill. That definitely worked for me. At one point, after we had a conversation along the following lines...
M.O.D.: Would you like to go up to the compound for the bonfire?
Me: Yeah. That would be nice.
(Both of us remain seated.)
M.O.D.: Or not.
Me: Maybe in a bit.
...I recounted a bit of dialog from Waiting For Godot:
Gogo: We should do something! We should act?
Didi: What do you suggest?
Gogo: How about a short, blunt human pyramid?
"A short, blunt human pyramid" became our code words for, "let's continue sitting here doing nothing."
I had Faithful Companion with me since the boarding place failed. Luckily, Faithful Companion was a huge hit. As always, he makes friends wherever he goes.
(What's Faithful Companion's secret? It's easy! He's a handsome guy, but he's not very bright! Always a winning combination.)
On the way up, I bought this corkscrew thing that goes into the ground attached to a twenty foot long cable with a clicky thing that attaches to the collar at one end. This was perfect for Faithful Companion, who could do the things he does best: drink water, pee, watch bugs, and sleep.
We got to bed early on Friday night, turning in around 11:30. "Bed" was a mattress in a cantilevered compartment of Man Of Discipline's pop-up camper. And what a cool thing! The bed was way comfy, and M.O.D. and I slept soundly, curled around each other.
The next morning, of course, was The Big Day. Both of us were full of nervous energy and being anxious about everything Going Right. (This was made manifest by us sitting in our chairs without moving for a couple of hours when we got back from breakfast at M.O.D.'s friends site.)
Finally, M.O.D. turned to me and said, "Let's go for a walk in the woods."
And I got right up off my lawnchair.
I packed up the stuff I'd need, and we headed out into the forest. After we had walked about forty-five minutes, I lead us off the path and into the trees. There, I found a clearing in the middle of a stand of pines.
This would be the place.
I put the wrist restraints on Man Of Discipline and used rope to tie him arms akimbo between two oaks. (Don'ch'a love that phrase, "arms akimbo"? Back in the '80s, there was a gay artist collective called "boy with arms akimbo." So evocative.)
Man Of Discipline looked great strung up like that. He has a beeee-yooo-ti-ful back.
I started in with floggers, watching him redden up, but moved very quickly to whips. Y'see, M.O.D. isn't a big fan of getting flogged, but he loves getting whipped.
And man! Does he ever love getting whipped! I whipped him and whipped him and whipped him. Really letting him have it. At one point I commented, "Y'know, just for your information, at this point, the men I've whipped are usually screaming and crying."
"Really?" responded M.O.D., "Why would that be?"
He's pretty much whip proof. I whipped him for a good hour at least. Whipping him, mind you. That was after the preliminary flogging.
Whipping a man outside, strung up between two trees has long been a fantasy of mine. Like my chain bondage work, this was inspired by Hard Master, and australian man I'd like to meet someday. I heard that he attended Inferno once a few years before I did, and that he made a bad impression on several people I've talked to, but I have the utmost respect for the man's SM. Hard Master and I have "talked" several times on line. On his website, he has several pictures of men being whipped strung up, arms akimbo, facing some breathtakingly beautiful natural setting, like on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. (See what I mean about Hard Master as an SM practictioner? I'm going to whip you, but I'm also going to let you drink in the awesome splendor of God's Creation while I do that. Very cool!
Now, I don't know how far our clearing in the pine forest goes as far as "the awesome splendor of God's Creation," but regardless, Man Of Discipline likes getting whipped with his eyes covered. But I appreciated it! Whipping Man Of Discipline there in the woods was a huge treat for me!
Alas, next time I talk to Hard Master, I'll have to ask him about bugs. Man Of Discipline and I ended our scene not when he had enough whipping (I don't think that point will ever come), but when the bugs got too much for him.
Which was weird! He commented at one point how there he was getting whipped, but his mind kept focusing on, "Oh no! That mosquito is going to bite me!"
But all good things must come to an end, and that's not the last time I'll be whipping Man Of Discipline.
(Another thing about the clearing: I didn't quite have room enough to swing my longer whips, which would have provided a more intense ride for M.O.D. Next time... Next time...)
I spritzed him off with my little bottle of witch hazel and hydrogene peroxide (that's the real painful part!), and he put on his white tshirt I asked him to bring, which is now marked indelibly with his blood, a memento of the experience.
(Oh. A note on whipsmanship. When I saw that first red ruby appear--Man Of Discipline was giving me the gift of his blood!--I consciously tried to spread my hits around to other parts of his back. But I found this hard to do. My eyes were always drawn to the blood. I did end up getting a nice spread, but only with a lot of effort. Oh! And absolutely no wrapping, no hits over the kidneys, none on the neck. Every throw I made was true!)
Back at the campsite, Man Of Discipline was exuberant and flying on endorphins. So, of course, we marked this by sitting in our lawnchairs watching people walk by. For a few hours. M.O.D. decided that he wanted a nap ("remember to sleep on your stomach!" I said) and I opted for a trip to the compound to sit in the hot tub.
Yes, the gay campground has a hot tub!
I sat there for about an hour ("Do not exceed 2-3 minutes in the hot tub!" Who thought that up?) I also had a couple of hot dogs, then headed back to the campsite to check on Faithful Companion and Man Of Discipline.
On the way back, I ran into hot tub guy. Who totally gave me a pointed brush off. Danged if I know why. Although I can surmise. Suffice it to say it's nothing I did to him, but I think he might be feeling bad about something he did to himself with me there. Or something. Whatever. Regardless, I certainly bear him no ill will. However he wants to play it is cool with me. But I'll continue to treat him with kindness and generosity.
Man Of Discipline and I spent a peaceful afternoon together. Many a short, blunt human pyramid was considered and discarded. We again had dinner with his friends, this time joined by a pair of women from Georgia. As in, the country, not the state. I mentioned that when I was in Moscow, one of the best meals I had was at a Georgian restaurant, and conversation was off to the races. And dinner, of courese, was wonderful.
See? That's how the gays do it, whether on Fire Island or that gay campground in Northeastern Pennsylvania. (Not that gay campground, the other one.) Spend your day as you will, and have great conversation over dinner that goes on and on. So perfect.)
With Man Of Discipline and I, conversation continued after dinner. It was pretty sweet. Sitting in our lawnchairs, Faithful Companion napping or fussing about some issue known only to himself, the flames of the fire dancing, men wandering the paths of the campground, smiling "hello" as they passed us.
Again, we were in bed around 11 p.m.
After another good night's sleep, we got up, showered, and then while I went and bought us some cranberry juice at the company store, Man Of Discipline fixed us a nice breakfast of bacon, eggs, and french toast. I did the dishes, took Faithful Companion for a last walk, and then hit the road.
Here, back home, it's a beautiful warm Spring day. From now until dinner, I'll be out on the porch, reading through the Sunday Times and drinking iced tea.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
But I'm not and I never have been a big fan of a meager income. (Interestingly though, the bi-weekly checks I get from Unemployment are bigger than what I made working really hard at Wuperior Soodcraft.)
So on that basis alone, I am eager to get a job.
Been sending out the resumés, but no bites yet. Even from positions for which I'm well qualified, which always leaves me a little puzzled, but I don't let it get to me. If there's a reason they don't like me ("Aaaiiiieeee!!! He used to work with addicts!!!" or "Aaaiiiieeee!!! The politician he worked for was a Democrat!!!" or "Aaaiiieeee!!! He's from New York City!!!") then it's probably best I don't go and work there, right?
But a few months ago, the Mayor of Doylestown, a buddy of mine from Starbucks, mentioned that the school where his business partner sent her daughter was looking for some help raising money and I should get in touch with them.
So I did.
I met with the administrative team at the school. And liked the place a lot. They're going through this whole reorganization process, and taking their sweet time about it. Which is cool. My unemployment runs through August, so I'm not feeling all urgent yet.
But tonight, I was invited to attend a meeting to "observe" the Board of Trustees of the place.
Just got back from that.
It was really cool.
I'm doing my best to approach the situation with equanimity. Don't want to get my hopes up and have them dashed.
But I'd really like to work there.
It's verrrrry Bucks County. Not the Bucks County of McMansions and Lexus' with "W '04" bumper stickers. But rather, the Bucks County best summed up by a notice I read years ago on the bulletin board over the fixin's bar at Dilly's, this great hot dog and soft ice cream place in Centre Bridge, PA, on the river a few miles north of New Hope. (Don't miss Dilly's on your next trip, and by all means get a coffee milk shake. They're amazing. You'll never have better.) The notice read: "Wanted: Someone to care for my three feline companions for a period of four to six months while I travel around visiting organic farming communities before choosing an organic farming community to relocate to."
I'm pretty sure that's verbatim. That tortured syntax stuck in my mind.
That's the Bucks County I'm talking about!
What I used to refer to when I was a snide teenager as "The Land Of The Dog In The Back Of The Pick Up Truck."
And this school is definitely one of the remnants. I think I was the only person in the room not wearing Teva's and there were like twenty people there. (I, of course, was wearing boots.) They were kind, tolerant, smart, warm, and chatty.
On the ride there, I drove for ten miles along State Highway 32, better known as River Road. The phlox is in bloom this time of year. It's so beautiful. Imagine what it would be like if that was my commute every morning? The mountain and ancient farms on one side of me, the river on the other.
But after the open-to-the-public portion of the Board meeting was concluded and I was thanked for coming, I made my way down the hallway of the school, the walls decked with student art and such, and through the plate glass main doors.
And it hit me.
That sweet, humid nighttime air, full or chirping crickets, spring peepers, and croaking frogs.
When people complain about humidity, I have to remind myself that a lot of people don't like it. Growing up in a river town, warm weather = humidity. In fact, it's humid even in cold weather, but then we call it "damp." I remember when I was about twelve or so, the Baptist Church down in Point Pleasant had a sort of Sunday Night Lecture Series, mostly consisting of pastors from other Baptist Churches. It was folding chairs out on the lawn in the humid summer night, the fireflies coming out, the bats swooping over head. About a tenth of a mile away, through the trees, you can see the Mighty Delaware River, where the Baptists would sometimes baptize. I only saw it once or twice, a crowd of families, many of them in their sixties and seventies, out there in the river wearing white robes, the dunk, the singing of hymns. (When I saw the movie "The Handmaid's Tale" in which the hymn "Shall We Gather At The River?" figured prominently, I got chills.
Always always always, that still, heavy hot summer night air. Punctuated every now and then by a faint breeze, so sweet with wild flowers. And sometimes, those dramatic thunderstorms that, according to an old wives' tale, follow a river upstream. The skies darken, the wind picks up, you see the undersides of the leaves in the trees, and you know you're in for it.
Oh that Bucks County night.
And when I came out of the school, it hit me like a brickbat. I think I giggled excitedly all the way to my car, breathing deeply, just about drinking it in, letting all the memories flood my mind.
I'd really like to work at what we'll call The Hippie School. I think they need me. Someone to come in and make things run smoothely. Someone to tackle those tedious and time consuming projects that no one else wants to do. And, of course, someone to bring home the bacon, raising money for the place.
But, in a way, I think I need them.
(Oh. And another attractive thing about the place is that they'd probably be flexible with me attending Construction Management classes a couple of nights a week.)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
But I think that this astute observer said all that needs to be said.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
There I was lurking in my lair (the porch of Starbucks in Doylestown) and he walked right in.
With a buddy with him. I was sitting with a few Starbucks buddies of mine, Crossword John, the Mayor of Doylestown, and the Reverend Bill. The Mayor, who is heavily invested in letting people know how smart he was, tried to goad them into an argument about Iraq. But My Marine would have none of it. He replied, with that winning smile of his, that his job was to make sure that the Mayor and everybody else is free to feel and say whatever they want about Iraq. And summed up by saying, "It's a great country."
My Marine and his buddy seemlessly joined Doylestown Café Society, and we were all off to the races. Blah blah blah blah blah. My Marine's buddy grew up in Missouri. I recounted to him how I almost died canoeing on the Huzzah River in Southern Missouri, down in the Ozarks. My Marine, beguilingly, plied me with flattery: "Sounds like you've seen a lot of the world." And so, of course, there I was waxing rhapsodic about Moscow.
Also got some info about My Marine. Like his name and rank, and where he grew up (on a dairy farm in Upstate New York), and that he's 25 years old, married, and has a wife and three kids.
You were maybe hoping for a torrid affair?
But I can still enjoy jerking off thinking about how good My Marine would look subdued by handcuffs.
In fact, I'm recalling a short story by Dashiell Hammett I read, featuring the Continental Op. The setting is a small, corrupt town in the west, and all the characters are all cowboys. At one point, the Continental Op has two of the bad guys. He describes, in that inimitable prose, how he ties them, back to back, sitting on the ground.
I have no idea why that made such an impression on me, but damn, did it make an impression on me.
At some point in my life, I sure wouldn't mind tying up two cowboys, back to back, on the ground.
Or two marines.
Monday, May 21, 2007
I haven't been perfect in my adherence to this. Bruiser, the smokin' hot heavily tattooed man, sure got me off course, but it seemed that there was something going in both directions. Alas, that turned out not to be the case. But after that excitement subsided, I've found myself settling into a peaceful easy feeling with being single.
That doesn't quite express it. There's something more. Something deeper.
The Baron and I have always had this Bone of Contention. Often, when we're talking, and I start in on the "I met a guy..." riff, the Baron breathes a deep sigh. Sometimes he'll bite his tongue, but regardless, I know what's going through his mind. When he expresses it, it goes something like this: "Again and again and again you distract yourself with romance."
I respond hotly. Defensively. Always.
And my arguments are sound!
Like, what the hell would be so wrong if it worked out and I found somebody to share my life with? Or have a good summer with?
Like, distract myself? From my isolated life stuck here away from all my friends caring for my ungrateful father? Forgive me if I opt for distracting myself from that!
Like, you're just bitter because you haven't had so much success in the romance department.
But though it pains me to admit this, the Baron might--just might--have a point.
I play softball. I go to church. I look for a job. I'm trying to work out a way to go to school for a certificate in Construction Management. Today, I managed to fix my father's tractor and mowed the lawn (the grass was up to my knees), I weeded my perrenial bed and covered it with peat moss (it looks so good! although a little sparse). I enjoy sitting on the porch of Starbucks in Doylestown smoking cigars and reading the Times. This weekend, I'm heading up to a gay campground in upstate Pennsylvania (not that gay campground, the other one) to meet up with Man of Discipline and I'm gonna take him out to a nice, deserted place in the forest, string him arms akimbo between two trees, and whip him till he bleeds. And they have a hot tub up at the gay campground, and I love hot tubs.
Something is different. Something, something, something...
I feel it most when I go to bed at night.
There are three pillows on my bed. Two go under my head, and one lies next to me, and I wrap my arms around it. When I'm all hung up on some guy, the pillow gets the guy's name.
"'Night, Bruiser," I say, pulling the pillow closer. (Or hot tub guy, or Mr. Big Shot Hollywood Producer, or whoever.)
And I'll follow it up with some nice pillow talk, appropriate to whoever the pillow is that night. Something like, "Hey. You're a very hot boy. You're the hottest I've seen. Who owns you, boy?" To which the pillow replies, "You do, Sir!" "Yeah? You like that boy?" "I like that a lot, Sir."
That kind of thing.
But lately, my pillow is my pillow. I'm there, in my own bed, in my room, content to be alone. Appreciating the cool night air coming in through the window. I think back through the accomplishments of the day behind me and think about stuff I have to do tomorrow.
And it's all good.
Not saying I'm opposed to meeting a guy. To starting something even. But he'd have to work pretty hard.
Y'see, I have a rich, full life. A life that I love. And since I have things just the way I like them, like the perrenials in my bed in the front yard.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Not at the New York boys of Leather SKINS party at the 9th Avenue Saloon.
Not at Furball, the Bear party at Club 208 (a.k.a. the LGBT Community Center on 13th Street, which I've heard is a lot of fun.
Two games of softball today. Against two teams who have beaten us soundly earlier in the season. In chilly weather (and I left my warm overshirt at home), and at times, in a dreary drizzle.
And it was a total blast!
Okay. First game. Against the Bobcats, who are number one in the standings. In like the second or third inning, they had twenty runs to our ten. Did we lose heart? Were we discouraged? Did we decide that it was pretty much over for us?
We. Did. Not.
And we got fourteen runs in a single inning.
And after that, we managed to hold on to that lead and won the game.
Second game. Against the Dragons. (We kinda are not too fond of the manager of that team. He managed the team that had the wildly over-agressive player that unnecessarily crushed the shin bone of our manager, leaving him out of work for months afterwards and with a metal plate in his leg to this day. And back then, he was the Commissioner of the League, which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that despite popular outcry from almost every other team in the League, the offending player got a verrrrry un-harsh penalty.) They were ahead, we got in the runs to tie the game, then we managed to get and keep a lead.
Yay! We won both games! We're on a five game winning streak!
Go Ball Breakers!
And I was the catcher for both games!
This week, I was a lot more relaxed, squatting there in the dirt behind homeplate with the bats of the opposing teams whizzing inches over my head. And I did a much better job at catching and returning the balls the pitcher threw my way.
But in the second game--get this!--there was a kind of flukey play at homeplate. A runner decided to surprise all of us by running for home. The ball was thrown my way, and I caught it! (Okay, so I didn't tag the runner out, but I did catch a ball thrown my way, which doesn't always happen.)
Later, back at the Ty's, we toasted our success, the death of Jerry Falwell, and the Mets beating the Yankees yesterday. (And watched the early innings of the Mets beating the Yankees again today.)
It was just so sublime.
Except for the fact that catching is SUCH a workout! Up down up down up down up down up down up down up down bat run the bases up down up down up down up down up down up down up down up down up down up down up down up down up down bat run the bases...
If I continue as catcher, I'll have legs like trans-atlantic cables by the end of the season in August.
Already, my muscles are seizing up.
('bastian! I. Need. That. Hottub. BAD.)
I'm hoping to get to church tomorrow morning, but I wouldn't be surprised if when the alarm goes off, I find I'm unable to move and just lie there crying softly to myself.
Feeling pretty exhausted, and not quite sure what I would do with myself to stay warm and dry for six hours till the NYboL party got going at the 9th Avenue Saloon, I opted to head for home instead.
Besides, it was such a great day of softball, that nighttime activities, even a great NYboL party would be just guilding the lily.
And the additional exertion would probably kill me.
So it's bedtime for this Ball Breaker.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Joe Namath looks great. Ditto Dale Earnhardt, Sr. But one notable omission is former Seattle Mariners' right fielder Jay Buhner. Buhner's outrageous behavior endeared him to Seattlites, and to me.
Since SI seems to have forgotten Buhner, I'll post one of my favorite pics of him. This doesn't show off his great beard, but a Google search will help you out there. To get this one, you'd have to dig a little deeper.
Buhner is the guy in the jeans. I believe it was taken at the on-the-field ceremony honoring him at his retirement from MLB in front of a packed stadium.
Love that guy.
Who looked vaguely familiar.
I went in, grabbed my Rosie's, and as luck would have it, was right behind the strapping Marine at the check out counter.
And it was My Marine!
Last summer, I was having a slice at a pizza parlor. At the next table was a Marine and a sort of geekly looking kid. Over hearing their conversation, it was evident that the Marine worked at the local recruiting station, and the kid was a prospect. However unlikely. We got up to leave at about the same time, and the Marine stopped me and said, "Excuse me, Sir..."
(Like that didn't get my attention.)
I drank him in. His reddish-blond hair in a high-n-tight. Big blue eyes. Apple cheeks. Square jaw.
"Sir, that is a great tattoo you've got. That's really beautiful work. How far up your arm doesn't go?"
I love when I get asked that question. I pointed to my right ankle, "It starts here."
I love when I get asked that question, because the guy posing the question is then thinking about my body, wondering just how that tattoo gets from my right ankle to my left arm.
"That is awesome!" he declared, his face lighting up. While his prospect shifted his weight from foot to foot, the Marine and I talked about tattooing, the ink he had, the ink he wanted to get. The whole ethos of ink.
A few months later, I was enjoying First Friday in Doylestown, when somebody called me by name. I turned around, and there was my Marine, in full dress uniform again--I guess it's sort of advertising for his job--with a couple of Marine buddies.
Of course, I was enjoying a cigar.
So My Marine and I talked about cigars. And I told him about the Classic Cigar Parlor right there in town. And took him over there and got him set up with a nice maduro. I hung out with My Marine for a while, both of us smoking cigars.
And then I had to excuse myself so I could run home and jerk off thinking how that black and red tunic would set off white rope rendering him helpless and the look in his eyes flickering between anger at his helplessness and fear of the implications of that. He wouldn't be saying anything because of his duct tape gag. That camoflage duct tape.
So there was My Marine, ahead of me in line at the gas station/convenience store/Dunkin' Donuts in Doylestown.
"Hey! How's it going!" he greeted me with warmth.
I said hello, good to see you again, that kind of thing.
He put an energy drink down on the counter and fumbled in his pockets. "Aw heck," he said to the check out guy, "I'll be right back." And he made for the door, presumably to get money.
The clerk looked to me. I put down my Rosie's and got out my money. Then, inspired, I added, "And I'll get his, too."
His energy drink was $1.99. I saw him outside, coming towards the door. I picked up the energy drink and as he came in, I handed it to him.
"I got it," I told him.
"No way! Really?" he said, lighting up the room and my life with his smile.
"Sure thing," I answered. Then added, "Thanks for your service."
I bet he thought I was talking about his service to our country, and not the service he's done for my bringing some brightness to my pathetic little life.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Last time, Joe did the outlining from my left wrist up to my left deltoid. Today was quite the productive day, despite the distraction of the wildly hilarious seasone one of Reno 911. ("No, your style works for you, in a sort of whorish I-have-no-self-esteem way.") We made it back to my shoulderblade, over my shoulder, down over my left pec, up across my clavical, my neck and down my back over the rib cage, and finished up crossing my spine.
It was absolutely fucking excruciating agony.
Luckily, there was this other guy getting tattooed in the next chair. He was pretty stoic about the whole thing. For a while, I was thinking, "Oh sure. your bicep. Big deal." But then, when the worked moved to the underside of his arm, the games began. I have to admit, he got the better of me, remaining totally immobile, with only a glazed expression to give him away. I was clutching the cuffs of my jeans, my wrist, my ankle, whatever, with white-knuckled intensity. But I'm sorry. I'll see his underneath the upper arm, and raise him a clavical, neck, rib cage, kidneys, and spine.
Did I mention it was absolutely fucking excruciating agony?
I am so glad I'm not a bottom. How do they do that? "Oh sure! You want to stick needles through my dick! Cool!" "Oh okay! You want to whack my tender ass with a cane? Sure thing!" "What's that? Suspend me by fish hooks through my flesh? I'm game!" Today, I went through a significant amount of pain, and I have to say, I don't understand what the payoff might be. "I was flying!" is an oft heard refrain. For the record, I did not fly. Not before, during, or afterwards. I felt shakey and fragile afterwards.
But I did notice something interesting. Pain comes in flavors, subtle yet distinct in their variety. There's burning pain. There's stinging pain. There's Yo!-Something-is-wrong! pain (that would be the pain you feel when you're getting your kidneys or spine tattooed). There's sharp pain. There's enduring pain.
I did--a little, not a lot, because I kept getting distracted by the fact that it was absolutely fucking excruciating agony--do my best to do that Zen thing of noticing the pain, metaphorically rolling around on my tongue and getting the full flavor of it. (What I notice was that it was absolutely fucking excruciating agony.)
But it's done. For whatever reason, I'm thinking that the worst is over. Definitely, there are some tough spots ahead: hip bone, inner thing, kneecap, shinbone, ankle. But it's lower body, and I think that the farther you get from the head and the heart, the less evolution has wired us to "care" as much.
And now, I just wanna go to bed. Drop off into the arms of Morpheus. Sleep it off.
Tomorrow, I'm heading down to Philadelphia, helping the Baron pack up his apartment of twenty years in anticipation of an up-and-coming move. I think I might be re-living some of todays fun as I haul four years worth of Paper magazine. (The Baron is something of a soft cover publication fetishist.) The Baron's recent ordeals (evil landlord! extortion! fire!) (yes, fire!) deserves a post of its own.
And now, I'm signing off. It's been a long day.
And it was absolutely fucking excruciating agony.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
So I realized that it was just screwed into the doorframe with about fifteen screws.
And I have a screwdriver.
So the aluminum screen door is now stacked up against the wall out in the tractor barn.
And it totally makes all the difference. No longer is there this stupid, unattractive aluminum screen door hanging open on the porch. When the front door is wide open, it makes it what it ought to be: another room, all be it one with a nice breeze.
As I was setting to work removing the screen door, a thunderstorm blew up. So it was verrrrrry dramatic, with lightning striking seemingly right over my head and loud peels of thunder. I couldn't resist a few BWA-ha-ha-ha-haaa's.
My father is going to be pissed. "You did what???" Not, mind you, because he's particularly attached to aluminum screen doors. Just because it's a change, and he's never ever liked any change whatsoever. Even when it's for the better.
But he will have to live with it. (BWA-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!) Y'see, as the thunderstorm raged, he pleaded with me not to leave the house today. Thunderstorms get him panicky, and he wanted to be hear. I agreed (I was fetching the screwdriver when we had this exchange), and thought to myself, "Aha! And now, you owe me one! And that 'one' will be getting used to the idea that from now on, you'll be living in a house without a stupid, ugly aluminum screen door."
I finished up my diabolical task in time to sit on the porch, Faithful Companion at my feet, and enjoy the tail end of the thunderstorm.
I love when it rains this time of year. You can see the plants growing. Now, the storm passed, the air is cool and the air is filled with birdsong. And I'm enjoying all of it from my nice, clean, screened in porch.
As I did this, I was thinking of Dwell, the best magazine ever. Given what I had to work with, and given that I have a budget of $ 0.00, I did my best to make it look "Dwelly" out there, and I'm pretty pleased with my efforts. I did my best to have nothing distract from the lush greenery outside. Simple and clean.
Now, I'd like to have folks (or folk) over for dinner. A nice porch party. I'll think about how I could make that work.
Now then, astute observers may point out that this fairly accurately describes my feelings towards Vin “Chained At My Feet, Soaked In My Piss” Diesel.
And you are correct!
Therefore, after careful consideration, it seems to me that Mr. Angel and Mr. Diesel should meet and have it out in something along the lines of a UFC match to settle the question once and for all.
Now it might seem risky leaving so much to chance as I would be doing in such a scenario. However, you may rest assured that I would, in fact, be perfectly content with either outcome. I would by no means spend any time wondering, “But what if the match had gone the other way? Would the loser possibly give a better backrub-on-demand than what I enjoy at present?”
Not so! For both Mr. Diesel, ”Vin,” if I may, and Mr. Angel, “Buck,” if I may further, are excellent in the same way: they both are “raw material” of sorts, that I can mold and shape according to my whims and desires. Were I a sculptor, the choice would be between two beautiful and unblemished blocks of the best granite.
And thus, whoever emerges, bloodied, beaten, but victorious from the ferocious battle, I will joyfully padlock the collar signifying my complete ownership around his neck, and with no remorse whatsoever consign the loser to spend the balance of his time on this mortal coil to imprisonment in a seedy Turkish male brothel.
The question is settled.
So apparently, I'm The Devil. And, oddly, I find nothing to disagree with in that assessment.
Back in the early '90s, it seemed that everybody I knew was always wanting to "read the cards" for me. Because my college delving into Existentialism left me jealously guarding my Free Will, I was antagonistic to prediction of the future as limiting to that, so I would decline. However, intrigued as I am with archetypes and Jungian stuff like that, I think it would be cool. I wonder if people still do that.
Or perhaps, the purchase of a deck of Tarot cards and learning how to lay and read them might be a fun hobby.
Heh. Then, in the minds of many Christo-fascists, I would be the Devil.
You are The Devil
Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession
The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.
Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Monday, May 14, 2007
My Christmas gift for my father was two cords of firewood. Unfortunately, the guys who delivered it couldn't back their dump truck past the powerlines running from the house to the garage, so they just unloaded as far back as they could get, right in the middle of the driveway. And yes, it took me until now to get off my lazy ass and stack it nice and neat in the back yard. But finally, it's done.
As you may or may not know, snakes love woodpiles. And I hate snakes. So I was sure that during this undertaking, there would be at least one snake siting. I just hoped I wouldn't squeal like a little girl and dance around fluttering my hands and rolling my eyes like I usually do. (It's a sight that would make anyone uneasy, and I would like to get laid at some future point in my life.)
Sure enough, as I was loading up the last wheelbarrow full of firewood, there he was, a big ol' garter snake. Perhaps because I'd been expecting him all along, instead of freaking the fuck out, I just greeted him--"Hello, Garter Snake!"--and watched as he made his way across the driveway and into the tall grass of the lawn.
So, not only did I not make like Shaggy in Scooby-Doo, I stacked a cord and a half of wood into nice neat piles.
Last night, I did something I hate to do. I fell asleep watching television. Out here in the livingroom, stretched out on the pleather recliner, with Girls Gone Wild commercials seemingly repeated endlessly, it's sleeping only in the sense that my eyes are closed and I'm oblivious. When I drift out of unconsciousness, I don't feel particularly restless, and I know I haven't dreamed.
This morning, that happened at 3 a.m. I got up, brushed my teeth, turned off the lights, and headed to bed. But I knew what was coming. My body has been tricked, and I guess my serotonin levels start to rise or something, because after my nap of a couple of hours, trying to get to sleep is like trying to push water uphill with a rake.
Instead, I start thinking all those awful thoughts. What am I doing with my life? When will this exile end? Why can't I do anything right? Why does everything I touch turn to shit?
Usually, I say the rosary silently to myself until I drift off. For the uninitiated, the rosary consists of three prayers--the "Glory Be," the "Our Father," and the "Hail Mary"--repeated according to an age old scheme: bookended by Glory Be's and Our Father's, Hail Mary is repeated ten times, called a "decade," and five decades make up the rosary. The repetition calms the mind, other thoughs are stilled, and thus I am usually able to go to sleep.
But tonight, I prayed a greedy, self-serving, stupid prayer, along the lines of, "God! Make it all better!" And perhaps on some level not wanting to draw the Almighty's attention to me after that outburst, instead I looked around for something to read.
On the nightstand next to my bed, with my prayer book and a few other select volumes, is the Leatherfolk anthology. I opened at random and leafed back to the first chapter heading I came to. It was Thom Magister's recollection of being schooled in the ways of the Old Guard as a boy of 19 in Los Angeles during the 1950s. It's the essay that contains the phrase, "SM is the quest for excellence in ourselves and others."
Oh man. Did I need to read that.
So lost am I. So without a sense of myself. So un-soulful.
SM is the quest for excellence in ourselves and others.
In two weeks, as planned all those months ago, I'm heading up to a gay campground north of me in Pennsylvania. (Not that gay campground; the other one.) I'm meeting up with the man with the name of the greatest of the English Metaphysical poets whom I whipped at Black Rose down in DC back in December. I'm going to help him set up camp for the season, and then, I'll be going on a walk with him out into the woods. When I find a "good place," I'll tie him, arms akimbo, securely between two trees. Then, I'll whip him good.
It's been much on my mind. Earlier this afternoon, I took my whips out and spent some time throwing them in the front yard. But the word "dutifully" would fit into that sentence. And it shouldn't.
Where is my heart?
SM is the quest for excellence in ourselves and others.
At this point, I'm good with whips. I'd say I'm very good. And I know just how to bring out the excellence in this man, who shares a name with the writer of the Holy Sonnets. I will bring out the excellence in him, but I have to strive to find that which is excellent in myself, too.
I must be strong, and good, and wise, and kind, and dilligent. The whole Boy Scout motto: Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. (I don't know many better explications of "excellent.") The Warrior's Heart must beat again in my breast. I must be Master of myself before I can be Master of another.
I am called. I have been given a great gift, and with it, a great purpose. I am a Shaman. I bear the sins and burdens of other men as well as my own, giving them respite, courage, and wisdom. As Thom Magister points out, when a man submits to me, I am responsible for him forever, and forever is a long time. If anyone wants to hurt him, they have to go through me. He is mine. Or he will be. The God who made him has seen fit to entrust this man to me for safe-keeping. That's the way it should be.
And that, of course, is one of the great gifts of my time in exile here. Back in my NYC days, if a weekend went by and I didn't have a nice dose of SM, I'd feel let down, like something was wrong. In between, there was no time to think and reflect, to recognize that for me and for each man who submitted to me, our lives before were ended, and a new life, in relationship with each other, began.
Now, of course, there's plenty of time to think and reflect and assimilate. And that's a good thing.
I'm not a young man any more. And it's time to put away the trappings of youth. That quest for experience. That unquenchable need to Be There when the Big Thing happens. It doesn't matter if I only hear about the Big Thing second or third or fourth hand. My days are numbered. To be sure, all of our days are numbered, but my number is smaller, and thus easier to conceive. And my life won't be measured in parties or lattés on the porch of Starbucks or nights in some bar or television shows or workouts at the gym. Nor even, although I wish it weren't the case, in books I read. There is only one thing that tips the scale: the love you gave seeking nothing in return.
And for me, that's what SM--and excellence--is all about: love. One of my online profiles has the headline, "Leather Is Battlegear For Warriors Of Love." And although that's awfully high fallutin', I think that's true.
It's 6:13 a.m. The sun is up. The birds are singing. It looks like it will be a beautiful day.
Although I didn't sleep well last night, it seems I had some good dreams.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Seeing ads on television for ask.com, I decided to so a self search to see how it compared to Google. And it compares pretty favorably. There were some press items uncovered by Ask that I had forgot about. And most of the hits were all about me, as opposed to my alter egos, a minister in the United Church of Christ and a marketing guy.
But then, I stumbled upon this. It's my all time worst in terms of media relations. Because I knew the reporter from activiist circles, I let my guard down, forgetting that he was, in fact, a reporter. So, like, never do that.
I hurt so bad today! Getting up from a chair has me fighting panic that I won't make it. If I were to drop my car keys, I'd have to walk everywhere from now on.
I would do anything--ANYTHING--to be able to drop into a hot tub for an hour or so.
Other Ball Breakers started showing up around 3 p.m. and we had a problem: there were big puddles on the field. Teams with earlier games had played instead not on the ball fields but on the grass in the park. And that's what we were looking at, too. Playing on the grass is hugely problematic. For one thing, the ball does crazy things, making fielding ground balls difficult. But for another, it's dangerous. Running at top speed down the baseline on uneven turf instead of nice soft sand results in all kinds of injuries.
Our opponents, the Dragons, started showing up. The pitcher for the Dragons, a woman named Anna, I love love love. She's a good pitcher: she pitches the ball rapid fire, establishing the rhythm at the plate, making the batter dance to her tune. But for some reason, I can read her pitches like neon signs. I know exactly what's coming over the plate, ball or strike.
Wham Bam, the game was on. The Dragons took a lead early on, in the first or second inning, bringing in like eight runs. And the rest of the game was all about the Ball Breakers holding them defensively and getting in hits. The third baseman for the Dragons had an annoying habit of standing right on the baseline--in other words, In The Way. The umpires were aware of it, and said that according to the rules, they'd favor the runner. But so unnerving to be running from second and see someone standing in your way of getting to third. "Just run her over" said one of my teammates. Easier said than done, since for one thing, she was a girl, and for another, she seemed sweet.
But it caused problems, Ben, our first baseman, having to pull up short to avoid plowing into her. Easier said than done. On the grass. When you're running at top speed. And Ben went down, and there he was, rolling around in agony, unable to decide whether it was his knee or his ankle that hurt him more. And he was out of the game. So we put another player, Anthony, on first and took Ben out of the game. Which was problematic. Anthony has a sprained wrist, so he was less than effective.
But in the end, we managed to climb out of the basement and win the game.
Yay Ball Breakers!
So between the games, our Fearless Leader, George, approached me. "Drew, I'm going to need you to be catcher. I've got to move Billy from catching to first base, since Anthony shouldn't be in the game."
Catching is hard! It's like spending an hour and a half doing squat thrusts. Up and down, up and down. You keep your glove out to give the pitcher a target, and all the while, the batter is swinging a bat as hard as he can right over your head.
The game began, and we took the field first. The swinging-the-bat-right-over-my-head issue was the first obstacle. I just had to pretend that wasn't happening. Left handed batters, in particular, made me nuts. And I also kept thinking that every time the pitcher threw the ball out of the strike zone was My Fault, and I was full of self-recrimination. What am I doing wrong? And another thing. Baseball has been described as the pitcher and the catcher throwing the ball back and forth, with the batter trying to intervene. And the big job of the catcher, of course, is to catch the ball. In baseball, this is somethhing of a bigger deal, because if the catcher doesn't catch the ball, runners can steal bases. In softball, it's only hugely embarrassing. It's that Junior High School Cafeteria experience, where you drop your lunch tray and can just feel every eye in the room boring into you. And yeah, I kind of did that a lot. But the other aspect is that the catcher is a fielding position, and my fielding skills are... ummm... not where they should be. I've been playing the game all these years, and still I'm saying "please don't let it come to me please don't let it come to me please don't let it come to me" with every batter. (NEXT year, I'll tackle that. This year I'm getting it together at the plate.) And the moment came. The batter just clipped the ball, so it went about eight feet from the plate, and that's a fair ball. I lunged off my knees, grabbed it, took a breath--no easy thing as I'm watching the batter tearing to first--and lobbed the ball to the first baseman.
And the runner was out.
And of course, every time we got three outs, that meant I had to get up from squatting on my haunches at home plat and get into the batting line up. Every at-bat, I got a hit, except for once when I got walked. And every time I got a hit, I made it to first base. Mostly, alas, I was stranded. But once or twice, I had the sublime joy of running across home plate! And then it was back to squatting.
In the second game, the Ball Breakers extablished a lead early on. And it was a nice solid lead. But the Dragons managed to get some really impressive hits and our lead evaporated. But we managed to hold them defensively, and then there was that hold-your-breath moment when the tying run was on second and the go-ahead run was on first. And both those guys got home. (Yesssssssss!)
And we won the game. The final score, I think, was 13-11.
So after the game, our Fearless Leader calls us all over to announce who gets the game balls. It's a new thing we're doing this year. Every time we win a game, the managers sit down and decide on an MVP, or at least, the most deserving. For the first game, it was Ed, who made a really stunning catch, and got some great hits at the plate.
And for the second game, it was me.
Everybody cheered with gusto. I was floored. I was holding back tears. (Because as we all know, "there is no crying in baseball!") Fearless leader explained, "You stepped up when the team needed you, you made that great out, and every time at bat you got on base."
I'm the dog of my team. Maybe it's because I never played little leage growing up, or even had a catch with my father, but the basics of the game elude me. I try and I try and I try, but I just don't seem to be gifted with much in the way of ability. Now the Ball Breakers play in the "recreational" division, so only a few of us are truly masterful. And it's not uncommon for guys to come on to the team with no experience, and be pretty sucky their first year. But they get it together more the next year. And the next year. And the year after that, they're even better.
Not so much with me. My sparkling with and personality goes a long way towards making up for it, but sometimes, in the later inning of a close game when we really need some hits, there's a palpable feeling of "oh no" when I come up in the batting order. Which is hard on me, too. I don't doubt that any other team would have strongly suggested that I'd make a great "team statistician" or something, but the Ball Breakers let me keep on playing, and would be sorely disappointed if I didn't.
Which is good, because I truly love the game. Playing softball has brought me some of the best moments of my life.
Life without softball would be all but unliveable.
I have been given the game ball.
Everybody there signed it.
I'm going to find some way of preserving it, and I'll keep it and treasure it forever.
Friday, May 11, 2007
That said, walking Faithful Companion just now, I saw the constellation of my birth sign, Scorpio, just above the treetops in the southern sky. Antares, the bright star in the tail, was distinctly red. And right near by was a planet, shining brightly. Since Venus is usually only visible in the morning or the evening sky, it's probably Mars. Or Jupiter. But maybe it is Venus...
I'm wondering this because I have a date tomorrow after softball. And it's quite the exceptional date. Because for the first time in YEARS, I'm asked instead of asking. And the guy has been pretty persistent since we met, on the grass pier at the end of Christopher Street, three weeks ago. He called! Three times! And as he's a smokin' hot man, his attention is certainly welcome.
So we'll see.
But I take Venus (even if it wasn't Venus, I've decided that it was) in Scorpio to be a good sign.
Not that I believe in signs.
But I'm open to them.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Round about the time I started writing this, I was doing the Flash Gordon In The 25th Century look, lots of leather and zip up performance wear shirts. While working at Wuperior Soodcraft, there was a heavy Carhartt influence in what I was wearing. Then came the western wear thing, along with everybody else who saw Brokeback Mountain. And last summer, I was all about "Porn Star Going To A Meeting To Renegotiate His Contract."
So what's up next?
Think in terms of "running in slow motion means you're going really fast."
I'm talking, of course, about Col. Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man. That red track suit unzipped to his navel, the tight wranglers and denim shirts, and the occasional flight suit. Steve Austin had it going on.
Steve Austin was, to be sure, the erotic center of my grade school days. Portrayed by former NFL quarterback Lee Majors, I couldn't get enough of that bionic guy. And to be sure, I did my fair share of running around the back yard in slow motion and I couldn't help my mother with the groceries without lifting the bag one handed and making that shi-shi-shi-shi-shi sound.
There seems to be a lot of SMDM up on youtube, so I'll spend some time studying up. And maybe trying on my dads shirts from the seventies with the really wide collars to see if they fit me.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Soon, I'll be running Mac OS 10.whatevertheheckthemostrecentversionis. I was prompted to do this because I started getting these error messages along the lines of, "Your hard disk is almost full."
Well that's bad!
So first, I got an external harddrive with over a hundred gigabytes of space. Amazing to think about the fact that my Mac SE came with 2MB of RAM. Then, I got this upgraded memory chip that should have me going smokin' fast. (Alas, I need a teeny tiny screwdriver to install this, so I haven't done that yet.) But right now, as I type, everything I need to install Mac OS 10.whatevertheheckthemostrecentversionis is downloading to said external harddrive now. (We're 1/96th of the way there after seven hours of downloading.)
I'll have widgets! I'll have the latest version of all the iLife things! And with all that storage space, I can be takin' pictures and downloading mp3's to my heart's content. And, for the first time in my life, I'll have stuff backed up.
I know! Flirting with disaster all these years!
True enough, a lightning strike will wipe me out all together. (I know two people that happened to.) But it's a step in the right direction.
Icarus out in Seattle is helping me through all of this. Lord knows I couldn't and wouldn't have tackled any of this without him. And he has my undying gratitude for that.
It's been a wonderful experience, taking us all on a journey of inquiry, through the basic theology as embodied in the creed, and a survey of the history of our faith, aptly titled "From Jerusalem To Our Town." The format was a wee bit too didactic for my tastes (I think that theology is a conversation, not a lecture), but I really enjoyed getting to know the other folks in the group, and I learned some things I didn't know and gained a new perspective.
The Padre made the statement that the old saw about "avoiding talking about religion or politics" was hooey. And there was general agreement all around. So of course, for a bit, we launched into a little bit about politics. And discussed the 2008 election.
Here's how the conversation went.
Retired Grandmother: I think it's wonderful that two of the front runners are a woman and an African American.
Woman Research Scientist: And I'm not voting for either one of them.
Retired Grandmother: Neither am I! She's too wishy-washy!
Retired Grandfather: And he doesn't have enough experience.
Me: I like the Mexican American in the race.
Woman Research Scientist: He certainly has the best qualifications!
Retired Grandmother: But his name is Richardson! So no one knows he's Latino!
Working Mom: But if they do know, it sure adds depth! He is pretty great.
Yay Bill Richardson!
Easton sits at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. It's the home of Lafayette College (favored by rich kids with bad grades from my high school), and boasts some pretty nice Deco architecture downtown, which is dramatically centered around a square with an impressive Civil War Memorial. Easton is part of three cities in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, that are usually conjoined into one: Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton. But, as residents will attest, each of these towns has a flavor and personality distinct from the others.
Easton does not boast a Starbucks, and the coffee places that do grace the downtown area seem to close at 5 p.m. So, the Baron and I sat on a bench in the town square trying to wish a Starbucks into existence.
And then, we had a pretty interesting conversation.
"Imagine," said the Baron, "What this country will be like when gas hits $6.00 a gallon."
If you think about it, that will be good news for places like Easton.
Although there are sighs of an upturn, Easton is one of those cities where everybody moved out during a three week period in 1982 and filled up suburban cul-de-sacs across this great nation of ours. But in the coming post-internal-combustion era fast approaching, folks are gonna want to live in a place where they can walk to get groceries, see a movie, have coffee, hit a bar. But I don't think they'll all be moving to the big city. Not everyone is willing to take on life in NYC-Chicago-LA. So smaller cities, like Easton, Pennsylvania, could see a true resurgence, once the local businesses move out of the office parks and into a building downtown.
Way back when, after I was graduated from college, I was enamored with Reading, Pennsylvania. Reading is built up against the side of a mountain, has some amazing vernacular architecture, and you drive ten minutes outside the city and you're in some pretty splendid nature. And in a smaller city, the problems that all cities contend with--crime, poverty, schools--seem like they could almost be managed. There was a real sense of community in Reading. I knew all the people in town who liked books and music, because once a month or so, when some event happened, we'd all be there. And we traveled in a group, going to see movies, meeting up at Jimmy Kramer's Peanut Bar, field trips to NYC or Philadelphia.
But, alas, when Carpenter Technologies closed, Reading was left without any local economy whatsoever, and the city just went right down the toilet. The last hangers on moved out of the city, there was no more tax base, the schools went to hell, and it all pretty much collapsed.
But in a decade or so, when having a supermarket eight miles away like mine is just ceases to be an option, perhaps there will be a general migration to the Eastons and Readings across this great land of ours, smaller satellite cities, in the orbit of some Big Town offering culture and stuff (and in the case of Easton, commuting daily to NYC for work isn't a big deal).
This discussion raised an issue in my mind that probably wasn't in the Baron's: and will there be a leather bar?
Will leather continue to be big city phenomenon, and folks be forced to give up their lives in the suburbs and move there? Or will things thrive on a smaller scale in these smaller cities?
Anyway, who knows.
But interesting to think about.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Just so we're clear, spending time with the Baron is spending time WITH the Baron. As in, "Please hold that thought for the next fifteen--okay twelve--minutes while I go take a shower. In the special relationship we have, where I'm essentially the Baron's psychotherapist as well as someone who has known him and shared many rich and wonderful experiences over the goin' on twenty years we've known each other, it's intense.
The weekend was great, but I am exhausted.
Anyway, last night, we were talking. (Wait a minutes. That describes every moment that the Baron and I are together when one of us isn't asleep.) Last night, after dinner, I had a realization about myself while talking to the Baron. I mentioned to him how my pursuit of becoming a certified Construction Manager will be the first time in my life that I set a goal for myself and achieved that goal. Not that it's looking good that I'll meet that goal. Still gotta send the request to my college to get my transcripts. Still gotta fill out my financial aid form online. Still gotta get in touch with the other schools in the area that offer the certificate.
So of course, the Baron wasn't gonna let that get by, and he came back with, "What are you talking about? You're a pretty accomplished person."
But to my mind, my accomplishments are the result of a door opening, me walking through the door, and making the best of what I find on the other side. And that's a different thing than walking through the door of a house you just built. So to speak.
"So why is that?" asked the Baron.
Because I'm afraid of failure, I answered.
And gosh, am I ever.
What if I build the house and the house falls down?
So what if the school work to get the degree is too hard? What if I get the certificate and I can't get a job? What if there are no jobs available? What if it turns out I don't have the aptitude for it? What if I don't get hired because I'm a homo? Who the hell am I to tell people how to build anything?
Stinkin' thinkin'. I know.
But it hits home enough to get me to stop from moving forward. Taking all the steps I need to take.
So last night, talking to the Baron, realizing what was going on with me not filling out that FAFSA form, I remembered something.
When I worked at Wuperior Soodcraft, we had all these weird-ass corporate retreat things. Reading "Who Moved My Cheese?" and similar tomes favored by people for whom "The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People" comes as a huge revelation.
But from somewhere in all that blather, I remembered something. One of these claw-your-way-to-the-middle-coaches posed the question, "What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?"
Why, I'd go get a Construction Management certificate.
So maybe I'll do that.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
John McCain, who I sent a check to back in 2000, luvs luvs luvs Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and feels that serving in the military as an openly gay man or a lesbian presents an intolerable risk.
Okay. Beyond the idiocy of this. Before Bush-Cheney-Rove delivered the Republican Party over to the christo-fascist Right, there used to be an entity called the Log Cabin Republicans. They were Republicans, but they were also homos, and worked admirably to make room in the allegedly Big Tent of the GOP for butt-fuckers and the like. And in the run up to the 2000 election, they were making some real progress. There was a thing in the news when then candidate George W. Bush refused to meet with them (his father had), and instead met with his own gays (who in restrospect must have been a scary bunch).
So, where are they? Why aren't they clamoring for meetings with all the Republican contenders this year? Surely McCain, who I believe has a history with them, could have been headed off at the pass before saying something hateful and idiotic like that.
Where are they?
Probably they've all switched sides, in terms of how they vote of course, not who they bed. Bush has made it clear: there's no room in the Republican Party for the likes of you.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Two slices and an iced tea cost me $7. That's much more than I'm used to paying for two slices and an iced tea in New York City, but after all, that's only New York City, not New Hope, Pennsylvania. There's simply no comparison.
Since Villa Vito only had tables with tablecloths and cloth napikins (in a pizza parlor?) inside, I took my box of pizza and unsweetened iced tea and headed out to find a bench.
Worst pizza ever.
Totally the worst pizza I have ever had.
It was cold, and the cheese was rancid.
I managed to get a few bites down, then headed back to Lion's Den II (I say that "Lion's Den The Second"), Joe's place of business.
Joe laid out the plan. He'd do my arm today, and the next session work on my chest and back, and then finally do my leg in one or two sittings. As he explained, if he took on touching up my entire tattoo in one session, I'd leave slathered in vaseline and wrapped in Saran wrap, and that might not be a winning strategy.
For my viewing pleasure, Joe put on Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. I had never seen the movie. It came out not too long after Platoon, and Platoon rocked me for a long time afterwards, leaving me asking all sorts of questions about whether we are fundamentally violent and such.
While Joe re-did the lines on the chain snaking up my arm, I took in the boot camp sequences in the first part of the movie. It's absolutely brilliant. Kubrick should have stopped when he was ahead, not inflicting that tedious waste of time with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on a world that already has way too much grinding boredom in their lives. Full Metal Jacket is amazing, although the performance of the Marine D.I. made me feel wildly inadequate as a SM roll play Top.
And Oh Man.
Somehow I had forgotten just how much it hurt having those tattoo needles searing into the most tender parts of my arm.
I remember Joe told me when he was doing the work that tattoo artists like to tell people with bands around their biceps that it's bad luck to complete the band. This is a lie. The real reason is that most people can't take the pain of getting tattooed on the tender flesh under the arm.
Which is where my chain goes. Twice. As well as my elbow and my wrist.
Ow. Ow. Ow.
But, I was mostly able to make it through the ordeal by distracting myself with Full Metal Jacket, clutching my shin with my free hand so hard I cut off circulation of the blood to my foot, and breathing deeply. And then there's that Zen thing, where you just notice the pain. Sort of sitting bac and taking it in seems to gum up the works of your adrenaline response that's telling you, "Yo! That hurts! Make that guy stop! Get the hell out of here! Do something!"
Just when I didn't think I could take any more, it was over. At least for now.
And I have to say that the result is pretty great. My tattoo looks even more amazing, with the thick black outlines darkened and emphasized. The effect is probably going to be temporary. I spend way too much time in the sun to have black ink stay black on me. Y'know how old polaroid photographs become discolored? Same deal. The sun degrades the red ink. The color black is made by combining blue, red, and green pigments. Once the red goes away, you're left with the blue and green.
So since I'm apparently entitled to a lifetime of touch-ups from Joe, I guess I can look forward to spending a few days every year in excruciating pain.
But in the circles I travel in, that's not so extraordinary.
As always, it was great spending time with Joe. Such a great guy. He told me that he's reading the Harry Potter books. In response to my, "You're kidding me..." he said that if you had told him a year ago that he would be tearing through them he would have laughed. But, the writing is good, the early ones just fly right by, and the books get darker and darker. Apparently, in Joe's reading, it's all leading up to a race war, a battle between full-bloods and half-mugs. And in the books, there's this "oppressive all-powerful government" theme that is de-emphasized in the movies.
So I'm totally crushed out on Joe after hearing that. Perilous path that might be.
Back when I was in college, I used to go with friends of mine to this "experimental film night," which we referred to as "Tuesday Night At The Movies." I saw Derek Jarman's Carravaggio there, the film noir classic Detour, and bunches of other great stuff. But I remember one Super 8 thing, this sort of montage of bleak images and disconnected bits of recorded dialog as a soundtrack. At one point in the soundtrack, a woman's voice said, "It's like falling in love with a straight woman."
Among me and my cool friends, that became quite the trope with us for a while.
"How was the Modern Drama final?"
"It was like falling in love with a straight woman."
Spending months repeating that phrase over and over again in varied contexts ("You're living off campus this year! How is that going?" "Are you all ready for graduation?" "Have you tried Tofutti? What do you think of it?") let it sink in a little bit, and I think I decided that if at all possible, I would avoid necessarily unrequited love.
But I sure could make an exception for Joe.
Anyway, much to do today. The Baron is taking the train up here to the Howling Wilderness, and we're going to spend the weekend together. Planned festivities include First Friday tonight in Doylestown, tooling around Bucks County tomorrow, and heading to NYC on Sunday so I can play softball and the Baron can be a lounge lizzard in some dingy boîte. Then on Monday, it's my father's birthhday, so there will be a cake to bake and a Special Birthday Dinner to prepare.
So it should be fun. Or, perhaps, it will be like falling in love with a straight woman.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Nothing is better. Resolve now that before the end of the Summer, you'll treat yourself to a nice Berry Fool.
It couldn't be simpler. You need exactly two ingredients: berries and cream.
If you like, you can have some fun, adding a liquer like Gran Marnier, Cointreau, brandy, or whatever. And to the cream, you can add a little sour cream or crème fraiche, or cream cheese.
I'm keeping it simple.
I start with the strawberries, slicing them up and taking off the stems. Then, I put them in a bowl, sprinkled some sugar on top, and let it sit. When you combine sugar and fresh fruit, it makes its own syrup, just give it some time. And, if you're dealing with less than wonderful fruit, it's just about mandatory. If you're adding a liquer, this would be the time to add that, too, so the flavors are married.
Then, you take your Heavy Whipping Cream and beat it till it's fluffy, but not stiff.
Fold the berries and the cream together and put it in the fridge for a few hours.
The result is simple and magnificent. You'll be surprised at how firm it is, almost like a pudding. The slight tang of the cream brings out the sweetness of the berries, and the sweetness of the berries brings out the tang of the cream.
If, by chance, you can find some gooseberries, snap them up and run home to make a gooseberry fool. Nothing is better.
So. Why is it called a "fool?" Why that's one of those daffy british things. No reason in particular.
Before I could counter with "I know I know I really do, maybe this summer," Joe got out his little appointment book and put me down for two sittings. One is tomorrow, Thursday, and 1 pm, and the other is in a week or two.
Love my tattoo. Love it! More often than not, I have the best tattoo in the room. (Okay. I'd say "Always.") And the whole experience was like a spiritual journey. But let's be clear: it hurt! A lot! And it was quite the sigh of relief when those links of chain finally made their way down my arm to my wrist.
So I sort of feel like I've survived some horrendous ordeal, but now I need to go back and have another taste of it. Like after being rescued from the remote island where I was stranded for eight years, now I have to go back and spend a week there. Just cuz.
I'm up for it.
And the hair grows back, right?
And I am thinking about another image. Something invoking werewolves. Although not being too implicit about it.
I'll talk it over with Joe.
At one o'clock.