Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bonk! ...Owwww!

If your bathroom is looking a little sad and tired, maybe a brand new toilet seat would help!

Why not stop in to your local Ho(t)me(n) Depot and pick out a new one?

In the Kitchens and Baths Department, you'll find an entire aisle devoted to toilets and toilet seats, and a sales associate looking spiffy is his or her orange apron will help you pick out a new one. There you'll find a wide selection, arranged like Vermeer sketches, displayed by hanging them vertically.

I refer to that particular aisle at the Ho(t)me(n) Depot where I work as Terlet Verld. Part of my responsibilities as a Sales Associate is to pay attention to frontage, making sure that all the merchandise is right up at the edge of the shelf. At the toilet seat display in Terlet Verld, this means that the boxes containing that particular seat are stacked neatly just behind the displayed seat on the shelf. This can be a little awkward as it means lifting up the toilet seat and holding it straight out from the bolts with one hand while stacking with the other hand.

As I do this, I'm always smiling to myself, imagining a not unlikely scenario... What if I were to lose my grip on the seat while fronting and it would swing down and bonk me in the head, à la The Three Stooges. Then later in the day, say when I'm ordering a latte at Starbucks, someone says to me, "Oh gosh! How did you get that nasty bump on your head?"

And I'd reply, "I got bonked in the head by a toilet seat."

Friday, September 28, 2007

That Time Of Year Again

There's a chill in the air (and yeah, for the past two day's the thermometer has brushed up against 90° here), the leaves are turning color, Starbucks is again offering Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

But how do you know it's really Fall?

Tonight I made the first Meatloaf and Scalloped Potatoes of the season.

(The scalloped potatoes didn't set up very well. I think I used too much bechamel sauce. But the meatloaf was one of my best ever. I think the trick there was using twice as much breadcrumbs as I usually do.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bustin' Ass


It's after midnight, and I just got home. The past two days, I've been working for Hard Labor Ready. And I pulled a pretty good gig. Yesterday, I showed up down there in Willow Grove at about 10:30 a.m. And they had work for me. I was partnered with these two guys, Leon and Leroy, and we were dispatched to... a Ho(t)me(n) Depot!

In the Kitchens and Baths Department no less!

Y'see, among the cabinets we sell are these all-ready-to-take-home-in-a-box jobs. By the standards of Wuperior Soodcraft, they're absolute crap: 1/4" backs, held together with staples and dowels. At my Ho(t)me(n) Depot, they're all down an aisle tucked away behind appliances where no one ever goes. The Hard Labor Ready client was a contractor who has a job with the manufacturer of those crappy cabinets. Apparently they are universally disdained by Ho(t)me(n) Depot staff, and as at our store, they're all crammed onto the racks haphazardly. So this guy travels the country--literally--going from Ho(t)me(n) Depot to Ho(t)me(n) Depot, tidying up the crappy cabinets aisle in each store he visits.

Yesterday we worked at a store in Bensalem, PA. When I was a senior in high school, there was this really hot blond kid who transferred in who had moved up from Bensalem. Bensalem is in The Lower End Of The County. I live in Upper Bucks County, which used to be The Land Of The Dog In The Back Of The Pickup Truck, but is now all about McMansions. Horses have replaced Holsteins in what was previously serious dairy farm country. But the character of Lower Bucks remains relatively unchanged. U.S. Steel used to be down there in Fairless Hills, and Lower Bucks was all about steelworkers and the children of steelworkers. We were farmers and hicks and they were hard drinking Irish and Italian factory workers. So this blond kid from high school, being from Bensalem, was sort of exotic, and thus I thought he was smokin' hot. So working for a day in the Ho(t)me(n) Depot in Bensalem brought with it the frisson of Seeing How The Other Half Lives, so to speak.

And yeah, the men were hot.

And down in Bensalem, the crappy cabinets aisle got a lot more traffic than at my store. Which brought about a realization: even people who don't have a lot of money deserve kitchens that look good, and a nice look can be achieved with crappy cabinets for not a lot of money.

In the future, I'm gonna pay a little bit more attention to the crappy cabinets aisle at my store.

So the work was really hard. We'd take all the cabinets--some of them weighing a lot--off the steel racks, re-arrange the shelves on the racks--think of working with a giant heavy gauge steel Erector Set--and then put all the cabinets back in a more rational arrangement. We got there at 1:30, and we weren't finished until almost ten.

And today, I got up and did it again.

Leroy carried over from the first day with me, but Leon was a No Show, so instead, we went out with Jim, a man who looked like he was carrying some heavy burden, and Johnny, who explained the wreckage of his finances brought about by child support to us on the drive down.

Today, we started off at a Ho(t)me(n) Depot in South Philadelphia at 22nd and Oregon Avenue.

Total Hot Guido Ville. Loved it.

Guys would stop me as I was heading out to fetch stuff from the truck or something and say, "Yo! So's that ink you got, Boss, that totally fukken kills."

I was in heaven.

Lot's of Man Banking went down.

We finished up at the South Philly store around 3 p.m., and then headed up to the opposite corner of Philadelphia to the Ho(t)me(n) Depot on Castor Avenue off Aramingo. (Hearing how the locals pronounce "Aramingo" is a hoot, but doesn't represent well in print.)

Driving there up Aramingo Avenue, we passed through Kensington (Irish) and into Port Richmond (Polish). Philadelphia is like that. Even on Manhunt and such, whereas in other citites, guys might express a preference for "Black or Latino Guys" or the occasional "Middle Eastern Guys step to the front of the line (Again: you have a line? Who the hell are you?)," in Philadelphia, it's not unusual for manhunters to specify Irish, Italian, Polish, Welsh, Sicilian, and to self-identify along those lines, too. Not a lot of melting that goes on in that pot.

Being an undifferentiated mutt myself, I usually have to explain that my people are from Schuykill County ("the Coal Regions"), and that usually does the trick when someone is trying to pin me down.

Again, amongst men buying construction materials who favor sopresanta or kielbasa, much Man Banking ensued.

And oh man did we bust our asses.

And that great thing happened. That thing where you bond with the men you're working closely with, when everybody is giving it all they got, getting the job done. I got to know the guy who hired us some, and Jim and Leroy, too. (Johnny inexplicably headed for the bus after we finished up at the South Philly store, and in his absence we decided that he was Afraid Of A Little Hard Work, which is about the lowest form of life.

At 10 p.m., as Ho(t)me(n) Depot was closing, we stood on the sidewalk outside, sweaty and smelling ripe, our eyes gleaming, catching a smoke while contractor guy filled out our paperwork.

Since it turned out that I could slightly re-arrange my drive home to drop Jim and Leroy at their respective front doors, I decided to be a Good Guy and do that. And felt good about that all the way home. And I still do.

What the hell.

Hard Labor Ready pays me minimum wage. After taxes are taken out, I'm bringing home slightly less than $6/hour. It's hard, back-breaking work. Getting out of bed tomorrow morning will be a challenge.

Why am I having such a good time doing this?

What's wrong with me?

Working working working and almost no money to show for it. But life is sweet. Life is good.

The Baron opines that this will all be great material for my novel. But it doesn't feel like that. It feels real. It feels like life. It feels like my life.

And my life is pretty good.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Such Is Life


Ho(t)me(n) Depot, back to back to back to back. Eight hour shifts.

At Wuperior Soodcraft, not infrequently, my days would be spent sorting sheets of 4'x8' 3/4" plywood. Like All Day Long. After eight hours of that, I would emerge sweaty, happy, and envigorated. After eight hours on the floor at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, I'm happy, and plain old exhausted.

I think the difference is that in dealing what is euphemistically referred to as "The Public," you've always got to be "On." You've got to bring all the energy to the interaction. You're hanging on every word like Detective Bobby Goren interviewing his chief suspect. You're trying to squeeze as much information as you can, conveying it in the simplest way. And that wears you out.

But just the same, everyday I come out with a smile on my face.

I like work.

And, of course, there are the fringe benefits.

And by fringe benefits, I am referring, of course, to scoping DILFs. (You've heard of MILFs? Well DILFs are what float my boat.)

As I hoped, Ho(t)me(n) Depot provides plenty o' opportunities for Man Banking.

I should explain Man Banking.

Y'see, given the current sorry state of my sex life, with the exception of three occasions, I'm the only one in the room for all of my orgasms. So I've raised Man Banking to an art form. Here's how it goes down. There at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, some smokin' hot DILF wanders into the bathroom vanities aisle. Before I approach, I study him carefully, taking in the his butt, admire the line of his jaw, that half smile, his guns, the package, ink... I move on to thinking how he'd look with his hands bound behind his back, duct tape (available in Aisle 24!) over his mouth, sweat glistening his forehead...

Say cheese! Take a (mental) picture.

And file that picture away for safe keeping, banking it, as it were.

And later, after I climb into bed, I make a withdrawl from the Man Bank.

Followed by a deposit onto my furry chest.

What can I say. You do what you gotta do.

(Another day at Ho(t)me(n) Depot tomorrow. Then doing Hard Labor Ready on Tuesday and Wednesday. Filled out an application at the Steel Mill, but no word yet.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Best. Hard. Labor. Ready. Gig. Ever.

Now I get it!

This is why God lead me to Hard Labor Ready.

It sure didn't start out to be a good day. I had 1/16th of a tank of gas and six dollars. Not enough gas to get me down to Hard Labor Ready to make money to get gas. What to do?

I counted out my quarter collection--I stockpile quarters for when I'm in dire straits, sort of a rainy day fund, and I did it reluctantly because I think there's much worse weather to come--and took fifty dollars in quarters to the bank to cash in. Of course the bank made this as difficult and humiliating as possible, making me count out all my quarters. But I left with fifty-six bucks in my pocket. And headed down to Hard Labor Ready. After getting gas.

Because I was getting to Hard Labor Ready so late in the day (10 a.m.), there was the possibility that I wouldn't get work. Or worse, I'd be doing yardwork for a frugal lesbian house flipper. But after waiting around their offices for a little over an hour (they were watching The View at deafening decibels), a call came in. Sharon called me over and gave me a gypsy's warning: you'll get really dirty.

The thought in my head was, "Oh cool!" but the words that came out of my mouth were, "No problem. I have a washing machine." The place, called "Metlab," made me smile. Imagine the doubletakes! "Yeah, I work in a metlab." I drove over there, parked my car, and entered. The guy who greeted me seemed nice, and told me that the employee parking lot was down the street, so he'd meet me around the back of the building. I moved my car, got out, and headed for the huge bay door.

And stopped dead in my tracks.

Inside, it was dark and sooty. Flames were shooting out of blast furnaces. Mercury lights shown through air thick with oily smoke...

This was a steel mill! I was going to work in a steel mill!

In my talk about movies in the post below, I neglected to mention in the list of movies I saw during the Eighties one of my all time favorites: Four Friends. It had a profound effect on me indeed. The protagonist (is it a protagonist when you're talking about a movie, or just "the lead?") is a guy who wants to be a writer, and he's in love with a girl who believes she's the reincarnation of Isadora Duncan, and he feels he loses his way in life after a horrifying tragedy, but he finds himself again by going back home to Indiana and working in the steel mill where his father works. Since I saw Four Friends--something like eight times--a steel mill has always seemed to me to be a crucible of manhood and self-knowledge.

Okay. So what were they going to have me do? Sort scrap metal? Sweep up?

Uh uh.

I was partnered with a guy named Phil who, it turns out, was also a Hard Labor Ready alum. In fact, he first came to MetLab (which is short for "Metal Lab," it turns out) as a Hard Labor Ready assignment. Phil explained to me the work we would be doing. The job was to harden eight inches on the end of these ten foot long quarter inch five inches in diameter--in other words, huge steel pipes. The way you harden steel is by raising the temperature to kindling (where it's glowing bright orange and about 1600° F.) and then cool it down really quickly by dunking it in water, called "quenching" it. We were heating these three hundred and ten pound pipes using electromagnetic induction. Together, we would lift the pipes onto a rack, position them in copper coils, and Phil showed me how to keep the watts and amps in the ideal range. Then, after sufficient time (about twenty minutes), we'd heave the pipe up and dunk the end in the quench bath.

I. Was. Working. In. A. Steel. Mill.

Oh man.

Phil was a great guy to work with, a really handsome Black guy who loved Classic Rock. Like, really loved Classic Rock. He had a radio tuned to the Classic Rock station, and was singing along very loudly to Aerosmith, AC/DC and the like while we worked. After the pipe was quenched, we'd set up the next pipe, and Phil would take the pipe we just did by forklift off into the mill to be tested for hardness, leaving me to work the machine we were using alone.

I loved every minute of it.


At three o'clock, the shift changed, and I saw a passel of steelworkers pass by me, some of them enjoying their after work cigars.

I shit you not.

But the best part came when I had to go take a piss. Phil gave me directions to find the bathroom.


It was in a lockerroom, decades old, painted institutional green, and grimy and filthy. Against the back wall were shower stalls, with only transparent liners hanging from the rods. It occured to me that the steel workers who passed getting off shift were wearing nice street clothes and had cleaned themselves up some. Obviously, I hadn't timed my pee break very well.

There were a couple of toilet stalls, but the best part was the urinal. It was a circular steel pissoir kind of thing, reminding me of a contraption I once saw as a whisky sour fountain at a wedding. It was situated in a separate room from the lockerroom with the shower stalls, and in the urinal room was a door standing open to another part of the mill. Since the pissoir fountain was only three feet high, I whipped it out and pissed in plain view of anyone who happened to be passing by. Although no one was.

In other words, the men's room in the steel mill would make the best porn movie set of any place I've ever seen in my life.

Hell, forget porn, I want to have sex in that bathroom. With a steelworker, both of us smoking cigars.

I wonder if at any point down through the years steelworkers smoking cigars have had sex in that bathroom?

What a waste if not!

I met the owner of the mill, and the head foreman. I think I made a good impression on both of them. Given Phil's experience, I'm hoping that I'll get more work at this steel mill. Like, a lot. During the dinner break at 7 p.m., I ate a sandwich from the local 7-11, sitting just outside the bay on a pile of steel, watching a beautiful crescent moon rise in the evening sky.

Damn it was perfect.

I finally got off work AT THE STEEL MILL at 9 p.m. I left reluctantly, smiling all the way home.

Of course, I had to stop at Starbucks to get a latte to serve as fuel for my drive to work tomorrow morning. After I ordered my latte, I had to pee again so I headed for the men's room at the Starbucks. I opened the door, turned on the light, and found myself looking at my own reflection. My clothes and my face were covered in black soot.

You know, like I had been WORKING IN A STEEL MILL ALL DAY. Which, of course, I had been.

I looked so fukken hot I gave myself a hardon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

At The Movies

I never see movies anymore. The last two movies I saw were 300 and before that, Brokeback Mountain.

I used to live for movies. Back when I was in high school, the theater in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which was The theater in Doylestown, closed down, and re-opened briefly as an art house, showing independents. This was back in the Eighties, the golden age of independent film. And I saw them all. The Year Of Living Dangerously, Breathless with Richard Gere, Blood Simple, Death Trap, Plein Lune Au Dessus Paris, My Dinner With Andre... Amazing stuff.

In college, the there was a college in the same town as my little Catholic liberal arts college that had a pretty ambitious film program, and showed classics on Tuesday nights for two bucks. So I was introduced to Film Noire, experimental Super 8 stuff, documentaries, developed a whole film vocabulary. There was a time when my only idea of what a date was would have been going to see a movie and then talking about it afterwards. Anybody who couldn't talk about film wasn't worth a second date.

And I was always up on movies. Every Friday night, I used to see whatever looked good. I used to say that for me, just the repetition of slightly altered images on celluloid projected on a screen creating the illusion of motion was enough to delight me; plot, characters, cinematograpy... that was all gravy.

But then, about the time I hit my fortieth trip around the sun, things changed.

I came to sense that I had only finite reserves of something, some nameless thing, some élan vital. And that each movie I saw diminished that in some small way. There was something that had to be rationed, doled out little by little or it would too soon be used up.

Or maybe it has something to do with the thought that I'm a minimalist.

Nowadays, when I do see a movie, it's a big deal. Brokeback Mountain and 300 were such powerful experiences for me. Each of those movies changed my life, changed me. And perhaps, part of why they were so powerful was because instead of drifting in a sea of cinematic experiences they floated alone, pure and sweet and true and clean.

Which is not a bad way to conduct yourself with some things.

If you lived on a a diet exclusively of chocolate, the occasional truffle would all but go unnoticed. But if you're eating a lot of thin gruel, then that truffle would be explosive.

And we're not talking about self-denial here--which I am Against--but just a more considered way of enjoying life.

So Eastern Promises looks interesting. And I can bone up on my russian.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not Yesterday. Tomorrow.

Oh MAN my poor old tired body is aching.

Spent the day working for installer guy putting together office furniture over in Broomall, PA. Thank the Lord the stuff wasn't delivered until noon so I didn't have to be there until 12:30. The work wasn't hard particularly, but lots of bending and lifting and such.

So I didn't get to put on my apron and head out on the floor at Ho(t)me(n) Depot. It was a management snafu kinda thing. No big deal.

So tomorrow night, I'm working 6pm to 11pm. And that's when it's gonna go down.


Starting a new job... Always stressful. Always laden with anxiety. But it'll pass. And it'll all come together. And then things will be So. Much. Better.

And guess what? It think I might just be feeling some vague stirrings of my libido lately!


And what a welcome development that would be.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Favorite Color

Today at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, there I was reading through training materials on installing sinks and faucets and such, and in came the Human Resources Manager for the store. She who hired me. In her arms was a bundle. The moment had come: I have earned my apron. On the right side--it should be the left! Closest to my heart!--was my name, written in black magic marker.


This means that when I go to work tomorrow, I'll report not to the training room, but to the Kitchens and Baths department manager, thereafter to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting world.

"Oh my gosh," I said, trying to contain myself, "Should I kneel?"

"No, no, no reason to kneel," she told me.

"Will there be cake?" I asked.

"Y'know, there ought to be cake," she agreed, "But there's no cake."

But there was a tape measure, a utility knife, a black magic marker, and a blue pen.

These things don't belong to me, mind you, they're just given to me by Ho(t)me(n) Depot to use at work.

Not like I'm not nervous. To quiet my nerves, I've been running over What-I'll-Say-To-Customer-Who-Wants-To-Buy-A-New-Toilet-For-Powder-Room-He-Added-To-His-New-Finished-Basement and Things-To-Say-To-Help-People-Wondering-Whether-To-Go-With-A-Gas-Or-Electric-Stove-Top (which is Not. What. You'd. Think.) and such.

It's been a long time since I've been a Productive Member of Society. It sure will feel good. Ah, work. Such good stuff there. Opportunities to shine. Chances to be The Man. Being the Go To Guy.

And oh yeah. The Go To Gay Guy.

Last night, I worked until close. After I clocked out, I was heading towards the door, and a woman asked me if I was the "New Guy" in Kitchens and Baths. I confirmed that I was. We talked for a bit. And I broke in... "Have we met somewhere?"

I asked where she grew up, and she said "Near Doylestown."

I asked where she went to high school, and she said, "Central Bucks East."


(That fly-paper mind of mine.)

"You sat in front of me in Current World Problems in Tenth Grade!"

And we were off to the races.

So then, with that certain gleam in her eyes (that gleam that I don't get from guys), she asked, "So are you married?"

No. Not married.

Dating anybody? In a relationship?

Nope. Not in a relationship.

Are you gay?

Yes. I. Am.

So doubtless the word is out.

And I totally don't mind that.

So I'm the gay guy in the orange apron.

And orange, as we know, is my favorite color.

The only downside to working at Ho(t)me(n) Depot would be that all of my favorite shirts are orange. And I can't wear orange to work. Which ain't so bad. Standing in my closet and looking around, all you see is orange and what my sister once called "any color as long as mud comes in that." So the downside isn't much of a downside, since if I'm wearing it and it's not orange, then it goes with orange.


Starting tomorrow...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Working Up A Sweat

Time to update you on the rollicking hijinx of your favorite homo day laborer!

Yesterday I got up early and headed down to Hard Labor Ready.

Not early enough apprently. The place was just about deserted when I got there; the assignments had come in and the laborers went out. I was antsy because I had exactly six dollars to my name. But happily, a call came in. But unhappily, it was someone wanting help with yard work. My least favorite.

I was partnered with a guy named Randy, and for a change we went in his Jeep Liberty instead of my Jeep Liberty.

The Hard Labor Ready turned out to be a single woman, in her forties, wearing comfortable clothes, who owned two dogs, who owned power tools, and who had her strawberry blond hair cut short and parted on the side. I'm not sayin' I'm just sayin'. But the possibility that I was working a member of the tribe sure made the yard work more tolerable. And, as is often the case, I jumped into the work with gusto. Ms. Yardwork had just moved from Montana. She had bought the home planning to fix it up--herself--and resell it, an effort that had payed off for her in Montana and before that in Maine and before that in Oregon. (I knew about Maine and Oregon being Poles of the Lesbian World, but I wasn't aware of Montana.) Thus far, she had ripped up the decades old carpet inside, and cleared trees and brush from around the house. At one point, I was cutting up oak saplings to three foot lengths, bundling them, and binding them with twine. I smile to myself, thinking that bundles of sticks were referred to as "faggots." I decided to keep these thoughts to myself.

The downside of working for a person rather than a company is that a company has usually already budgeted you for an eight hour day, so if you get everything done in less time, they still put eight hours down on your job sheet. Homeowners tend to be keenly aware that they're paying for your services by the hour and time it down to the minute. And such was the case with Yardwork Woman. She had Randy and I drop our tools at the four hour mark exactly. And so four hours was just what I got paid for. (Which works out to me getting twenty-six bucks.)

This morning, I left the house at 6:15, when it was still dark. I was helping out Installer Guy, whom I met through a Hard Labor Ready assignment but who gave me the opportunity to work for him directly. The job was way down in South Jersey. I was closer to Atlantic City than I was from home.

And it got weird.

It's for a company that deals in rare minerals. Very rare minerals apparently. And so most of their facilities are a metal free zone. Really! Because magnesium or whatever goes for $3000 an ounce, they take every precaution to make sure that no one is taking out any. So after we were cleared through the first security gate, we emptied our pockets into lockers before we headed through the second security gate. I was pretty scrupulous, but scrupulosity was encouraged.

The work was reconfiguring cubicles in one of the labs. The whole place was built from cinderblock. The windows we passed gave views only to foundry looking places filled with men wearing haz mat suits. None of them looked out on the sunshine. And speaking of wardrobe options, the folks that worked there all wore these identical gray uniforms. At first I thought they were dickies, but I noticed they were much better cut. And they seemed starched. And they were accessorized by cinching thick black belts and black boots. (The hems of the pants were tucked into the black boots.) The entire effect--passing all these youngish men in the hall dressed in these militaristic yet proletarian uniforms reminded me (a lot) of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. We were working in one of the laboratories (lah-BORE-ah-tor-ees). Behind glass partitions, easter egg colored liquids bubbled in flasks and beakers. So cool! To one side were cubicles, and re-arranging them was our mission.

The work went fairly well, and after a few hours, we were finished. I helped Installer Guy pack up his tools, loaded them all onto a cart, and we headed on our way.

Which meant, of course, not leaving the building before it was assured that we had no metal on us whatsoever. Installer Guy went first. He took off his shoes, held out his arms, and submitted to one of those airport-security style go-overs with what seemed to be a verrry sensitive metal detector. (Each of the rivets on his jeans gave a signal and was accounted for. The security guy frowned deeply every time he hit another rivet.)

Oh hell.

I realized that I had emptied my pockets, but I was still wearing the big honking stainless steel cock ring that I always wear everywhere I go and which I haven't taken off in months.

Hoping that Installer Guy and security guy would be would be intent on what they were doing, I turned my back, unbuttoned my fly, dug out my three piece set, and wrenched off the cockring.

Don't try that at home.



I chucked it into the little bin with my wallet and the little key to the locker into which I had emptied my pockets.

Security guy was done with Installer Guy and was ready to turn his magnetic attention to me. First off, he put my plastic bin.

"Uh oh," he commented.

The bin came out of the metal detector, he picked up my cockring and held it up, like Hercule Poirot would treat a murder weapon.

"What the hell is this?" he asked.

"It's jewelry," I answered.

He was dumbfounded. "Jewelry? What kind of jewelry is this? How do you wear it?"

I steeled myself: "Umm... The genitals."

His eyes widened, probably from two flashes of recognition following in quick succession: first, just what I was talking about, and second, that he was holding it in his hand.

He recovered well.

I wondered if he'd hit some alarm button and all the youngish men in grey uniforms and black boots would come storming in to carry me off to the isolation chamber. Or the Re-education Camp. Or whatever. But it was over, and somehow I had passed.

After that, the once over with the metal detector was a cakewalk, although I think that security guy coould have found a chunk of Rhodium in my pocket the size of a Snickers bar and let it go. I sure breathed a sigh of relief.

Luckily, they didn't carefully examine every tool in Installer Guy's toolbags, but Installer Guy told me he wasn't always so lucky.

All told, going through security took over an hour.

But finally we were on our own.

On the way home, I was fairly jovial. Installer Guy would put a check in the mail to me, and tomorrow, Friday, I get my first paycheck from Ho(t)me(n) Depot.

Somewhere off to the West, tonight is the first night of Inferno. The men have unpacked, had the first dinner, and the dungeons are open. But knowing that I have money coming in dulls the sting of that.

Monday, September 03, 2007

In Case You're Wondering...

Taking advantage of my day off, I decided to mow the lawn.

Before I headed out, I had an idea. Without too much trouble, I inserted a butt plug.

And guess what?

A tractor makes a great vibrator!

A Reader Writes

"what exactly does "Feh" mean? I feel rather dumb to even ask"

Not so! A good question!

I was once told that living in New York City conferred upon you the perks of being honorarily Jewish and honorarily puerto rican. If, that is, you weren't already. And in the context of the whitebread world I currently inhabit, I've certainly found some truth in that.

And I think that's where "Feh" comes from. A very useful term, and because of its yiddish origins, it can sound both homey and exotic at the same time. And Feh doesn't stand alone. There's a whole family of ejaculations (the correct grammatical term) along those line.

So here is the Only Guide You'll Ever Need To Feh And Its Siblings...

"Eh." An expression of indifference to the options presented. Akin to, "Mesa mesa," or "N'import pas à moi," or "six of one, half dozen the other."

"Heh." "I find that wryly amusing." Reading accounts of all of the Family Values votin' Republicans swept up in scandals lately causes me to utter "Heh" in response.

"Geh." Deriding as useless, but with overtones of disgust. Like when you'd like cheddar cheese to grate on top of your chili, remember you have some in the fridge, but discover a small, grey-green fuzzy brick in the deli drawer.

"Beh" "Not like I care, but what you're saying is bullshit." Probably a derivation of the briticisms "Bah" and "Bosh."

"Meh." "WhatEVER." Similar to "Eh," but also expressing impatience. As in, "Meh. Don't bother me with questions like that."

"Feh." Useless for my purposes. Easy to remember as it shares the first phonic syllable with "feckless." Again, with overtones of frustration.

Okay. Got all that?

Pop quiz!

Indicate the appropriate response to each of the following. Answers can be found below.

1. "We shouldn't give up on the idea of establishing a toehold for democracy in Iraq that could spread throughout the Middle East."

2. "Let's stop for lunch. Wendy's or Burger King?"

3. "Sorry to keep you waiting. I was throwing up in the bathroom just now."

4. "I'll sell you the whole Girls Gone Wild video collection for just $50!"

5. "Sorry to interrupt you while you're watching Game Five of the World Series, but what would you guess Sandy Duncan is doing right now?"

6. "When asked what he considered to be his greatest achievement while in office, the outgoing Attorney General answered, 'I can't recall.'"


1. Beh 2. Eh 3. Geh 4. Feh 5. Meh 6. Heh

Angelic Visitation On State Street!

I was headed to Starbucks.

Coming into Doylestown from the South, I always hang a right onto Ashland, then take Pine up to State Street. That way, I don't have to wait forEVER to make a left turn at State and Main Streets. On Pine, I passed my church, and as I came up the hill to State Street, I saw them.

Crossing Oakland were these two men. Brushcuts, bushy facial hair, built bodies, wearing flannel shirts, Carhartts, boots (Wesco's even?), and chain wallets.

I was on the verge of letting out a Woof! when a Jack Russel Terrier beat me to it, letting out a chorus of yaps, as Jack Russel Terriers are often wont to do. (See "Breeds Of Dogs I Will Not Own Ever"). The two men crossed the street and headed west on State Street, so for a bit, we were in tandem, them walking on the sidewalk, me driving in the street.

A bit of eye hockey ensued.

I had to move with traffic, and caught the light, found a parking space, headed to Starbucks, and soon enough I was ensconced in my seat enjoying a cigar.

And feeling vaguely unsettled.

Something beyond the surprise of seeing two hot musclebears in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, an event akin to some god spending time among mortals in a homeric epic.

Then it kind of hit me.

In the not too distant past, that was me. There I was, back in March, at the Barracks in Palm Springs. Big, bald, built, leathered up, swimming through a pool of flirtacious attention.

I used to be that guy.

Used to be.

The disconnection I've been feeling lately has grown and grown. When was the last time I wore my leather? Or had cause to do so? Will I ever again? This is the Year I Didn't Go To Inferno. No money obviously, so I contacted them and got my deposit back. Strangely, I'm not mopey at all about that. I just don't feel up to it.

Nowadays, I lead a quiet life. I rarely visit the internet haunts that used to consume hours of my day. I get up early, enjoying the stillness of dawn, head off to either Ho(t)me(n) Depot or some day labor gig with Hard Labor Ready. Hit Starbucks on the way home, make dinner for my dad, watch a little television, and I'm in bed by eleven most nights. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But not only did I used to be that, I used to simultaneously aspire to be that.

In the world that I once called home, role models abounded. I want a relationship like Walt and Robert have! Tony is about my build, if I worked at it at the gym, I could have a body like that. I wonder if I'll ever be a whipsman with the skill and renown of Andrew or Joel? I'd love to have a pair of thigh-high Wesco's like that; I wonder how much they cost? Fred has such an awesome playroom... I wonder if I could build something like that.

It's all a game, but one that I used to play well, and was always trying like hell to play better.

So this vaguely unsettling feeling stayed with me, and yesterday, when I got into church and dropped to my knees before the service started, I was keenly aware of it.

"Who am I? Any answers?"

Yahweh was silent on the issue.

Or not.

Not quite a game, I realized. More of a role. The role of a lifetime, but a role nonetheless. For years and years, I would see other men playing that role, and when the time came, I took my place among them, having studied the part carefully, albeit unwittingly. Once you know the arc of the scene, the business involved the various everybody-on-stage-for-the-Grande Finale parts (MAL, Inferno, Folsom Street East), it all comes pretty easy. And at times, I felt myself to be a Star; my intentions fused with those of the audience and my fellow players: we were all one. And it was glorious.

Now, I'm doing improv.

"Okay. Here's the deal. You have four dollars to your name. You were sent by Hard Labor Ready down to the Franklin Mills Mall to clean up a construction site where they're winding down after remodeling a new store. You're partnered in this with a kid about nineteen years old who's pretty sullen and brand new to the world of day labor. He keeps disappearing on you, leaving you to take out the trash and push the broom on your own. You're hoping that even though you got there at 10 a.m., the foreman will sign on your paperwork that you've been there eight hours because you really need that money. Hell, you've got less than a quarter of a tank of gas in your jeep. Annnnnd... Action!

It is improv. Making it up as I go along. Doing my best to bring all of my training to bear on each brand spanking new experience. No costumes; just the jeans and tshirt I happened to be wearing.

And of course, the cardinal rule of doing improv--the only rule, in fact--is Stay In The Moment.

And I'm doing a pretty good job with that.

Ah, The Moment.

I always argued with that kernal of buddhist wisdom. Really? Don't the future and the past count for anything? They're really just illusion? Some aspects of my past and future were sweet as the peach I just ate. (The peaches are amazing this year.)

And, don't get to thinking that I'm denigrating leatherfolk by all this talk about it being a role or just so much theater. As M. Jean-Paul Sartre reminds us, ultimately, everything is reducible to absurdity. Just because it's a role doesn't mean that we can't catch glimpses of eternity from the proscenium. Quite the reverse. The love is real.

And one day, one day, this hiatus of mine, this season of summer stock way out here in East Bumfugger, will draw to a close. And I'll be back in the footlights. I think that I've got a good Lear and a decent Richard III in me still.

Those two hot musclebears on State Street in Doylestown, Pennsylvania... Sent by God. Heavenly messengers. Emissaries from that Golden Kingdom I used to call home. A City On A Hill, waiting to welcome me back again.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I, Colossal Dork

Thus far in my Ho(t)me(n) Depot career, it's been all about web based training. Me, sitting in front of a PC in the training room of the store. Hour after hour of how their order system works, and whirlpool baths (love them!) and such. Today was all about baths. Sinks, vanities, showers, tubs, toilets, linen cabinets, medicine cabinets.

And at this point, I'm chafing at the bit. I can't wait to get out on the floor and sell stuff.

So today, after eight hours of web based training, what did I do?

I got in my car and drove to the nearest Ho(t)me(n) Depot. (I thought if I pulled this at my own store it might get a wee bit embarrassing.)

And what did I do? I wandered through the Kitchen and Bath department.

I am going to be so useful there. No small amount of the merchandise was filthy. The reveals around the doors and drawerfronts of the cabinets are all way off. And whaddyaknow? A lesbian couple was left to their own devices to pick out stuff to renovate their bathroom! Outrageous! Ho(t)me(n) Depot maintains their competitive edge over our competitors by providing excellent, knowledgeable customer service, but I'm sorry to say that excellent customer service didn't seem to be in evidence at this other Ho(t)me(n) Depot store. All those conversations in my head, helping folks navigate the particulars of buying a new toilet (round bowl or oval? traditional two-piece or contemporary one-piece? gravity flush or pressure flush?), extolling the virtues of American Standard Lifetime Whirlpools (they don't take up much more room than a conventional soaker bathtub!), and, of course, making dreams come true (provided that people other than myself spend time coming up with cogent answers to questions like, "What would my dream bathroom look like?").

Yes, there I was, happily and excitedly strolling through the aisles of the Kitchens and Baths department of this other Ho(t)me(n) Depot, dreaming of the day (coming soon!) when I'll be donning my orange apron and joining the fray.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

Oh man. I'm a dork.

During my high school years, we were, by and large, a blasé and apathetic lot, all but devoid of School Spirit, despite the best efforts of coaches and administrators. We couldn't care less about how our basketball team did or that they were only two games away from the State finals or whatever. But there were a few among us, chronological throwbacks of sorts, who would bellow down the stairwells "We are totally going to BEAT WEST!!!" while we scuttled between classes. (I went to Central Bucks High School East, and our Big Rivals were Central Bucks High School East.) Generally, these calls down the stairway intended to cheer us on to Victory were greeted by a chorus of responses of "Shut the hell up, you Dork."

Dorks, of course, were those who didn't quite understand what the rest of us knew too well: it was just school, so what's the big deal?

There were a number of oddballs in the group of kids I hung out with--in fact, we banded together because we were oddballs--but we drew the line at dorks.

No dorks.

Well, I was just swimming in Ho(t)me(n) Depot dorkiness. I was in Dork Seventh Heaven.

After all, it's just a job.

Ho(t)me(n) Depot is just another corporation, making their money with mark-ups, driving local independent hardware stores out of business when they open up one of their Big Boxes...

But at this point, I have totally drank the Kool-Aid. In fact, my belly is swollen with Kool-Aid. I love Ho(t)me(n) Depot. I want to be a great Ho(t)me(n) Depot Sales Associate. I AM GOING TO TOTALLY ROCK KITCHENS AND BATHS!!!

I am a colossal Dork.