Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Have Been To Newtown

There I was, on a date, in a movie theater in the mall in Jersey City, watching M. Night Shamalayan's (or whatever his name is) Signs. The opening titles, and then a pan of a field of corn, and in block letters down in the corner, "Doylestown, Pennsylvania."

My popcorn went flying, I made a noise something like "Aaaack!" My date was alarmed.

"I'm from there!" I explained to everyone sitting near me.

And indeed, the movie was filmed in good old Bucks County. In fact my sister-in-law, determined to get as close as she could to Mel Gibson (he was a 'phobe before he was an anti-semitic nutjob masochist), ended up driving onto the set during filming at the farm where the shooting took place.

But here's the thing. In the scenes shot "in town," the part of Doylestown was played by Newtown.

I had never been to Newtown. I felt cheated.

Originally, Newtown was going to be the county seat. But back then, you had the english settlers who lived in the lower part of the county and the german settlers who lived in the upper part of the county. The Germans complained that Newtown, which is southerly situated, was deep-in-the-heart of the english portion of the county, and they felt excluded. Thus, the seat was switched to Doylestown, that City On A Hill, which was roughly where the two factions met.

Even though it's about sixteen miles south of me, I never had any reason to go there.

Or so I thought.

Tonight, I helped out the married couple with the cleaning business I met on a Hard Labor Ready gig a few weeks ago cleaning the awful furniture store run by the most miserable people on the planet. (Even though they were cleaning to prepare for their Grand Opening Celebration, you could just smell failure in the air. I don't doubt they have their Going Out Of Business signs up by now.) Tonight's cleaning gig was at a soon to be doctor's office under construction in an office park kind of place down there in Newtown. After my duties were done, I couldn't resist heading into town to check out an as yet unvisited Starbucks.

So Newtown.

It's kind of like Doylestown on speed. Or New Hope on tranquilizers. If preciousness, charm, and all things quaint are your thing, head to Newtown. People there seem so scrubbed. And happy. As I walked the thirty paces from where I parked my jeep to the Starbucks, two people said "Hi!" to me in tones and manner akin to what you might hear in greeting from a game show host to Our Next Contestant. I was, however, rewarded with the awesome spectacle of the young man working the cash register who was very hairy, his arms covered by a dense pelt and bouquet of black fur coming out above his uppermost buttoned button on his shirt. They may be scrubbed in Newtown, but thankfully they don't seem to be manscaping.

The Baron and I have talked about a field trip to check out Newtown, and now that's a definite. We'll stroll the sidewalks dressed in holiday style (all the trees in town have these big red ribbons around them) and stop into Kate's Kountry Kitchen Kollectibles and such. No doubt All About Throw Pillows has a store in Newtown, although instead of being staffed by SingleTails sometime correspondent Tim, no doubt there's a blond young woman named Ashley or Sarabeth to help you pick out some nice ones for your chofa.

After my small but potent sugary taste of Newtown, I look forward to returning to the Land Of The Toolbelts tomorrow. There's no Ho(t)me(n) Depot in Newtown, although they do have a Bed Bath & Beyond.

Mr. Christmas

On Saturday, I got off work at 6 pm. The Saturday after Thanksgiving marks the date of Santa Saturday, the annual leather-bear event held by the Bucks MC, a day of leather pride flag granny afgans and meatball sandwiches. I believe the event officially ends at about the time I was punching out, but I decided to stop by anyway, much to the dismay of my father, who was waiting at home not-quite-patiently for me to get home and make him a hot turkey sandwich.

There was a good crowd still, though no cover charge, when I got there at about Seven. Heading through the tents, I saw no one I knew, until I ran into Michael Michael Motorcycle, with whom I attended a couple of the NYC Bike Shows over the past few years. MMM was looking real good, and we chatted for a bit and caught up. He's been seeing this guy who lives in Boston and who's fixing to move down here, a prospect that is probably both exciting and terrifying at the same time. After MMM and I parted, I made my way up on the porch and had just lit a cigar when this big guy in a brown leather jacket sidled up to me and said, "Hi."

Cool! We talked for a while, confirming that each of us thought the other met our personal standards for Got It Goin' On. By about 7:30, we were both ready to leave. I walked him to his car parked up behind the Eagle Fire House, and he drove me down to mine, parked in front of SuperFresh StoopidFresh, and there we spent some time doing what in back in high school we used to call "necking." And he was good at that necking thing.

He was disappointed that I had to heed the call of Hot Turkey Sandwiches at home, and asked if we could meet up when I got off work at Ho(t)me(n) Depot the next day, Sunday. And I said sure.

The next day, Sunday, I started work at 8 a.m., opening up the store. At the morning meeting, the manager on duty asked me and a couple of other guys to help out with "Christmas."

Who were we to not oblige, so we dutifully headed over to Christmas, at the front of the store. There, in front of the displays of evergreen twinkling with LED lights, we found a row of pallets of boxes of stuff. Not having received much in the way of direction, we decided to open up the boxes and find places for the stuff on the shelves. This proved to be no easy thing. Christmas, it seemed, was in disarray, managed by no one in particular. Technically, it's under the provenance of the Seasonal Department, which is the offshoot of the Gardening Department. So much like the babe in the manger, Christmas at Ho(t)me(n) Depot is something of a bastard stepchild.

Well uh uh! Not on my watch!

I plunged in, familiarizing myself with where everything was on the shelves, finding room for stuff that I was taking out of the boxes, and making it all look pretty.

And, since there I was in an orange apron, folks would come up to me with questions like, "I'm looking for hooks so I can hang a wreath off my rain gutters on the roof... Where would those be?"

Now this was problematic. Y'see, we at Ho(t)me(n) Depot pride ourselves on our Product Knowledge. We know everything there is to know about the stuff we sell. Just ask me anything about shower enclosures, toilets, toilet seats, vanities, vanity tops, faucets, cabinets, kitchen storage solutions, or countertops. That's how we set ourselves above the competition, despite what the ecclesial husband of a certain Brooklyn Gardener might say (See! I really do read your Comments!) (Just pulling your chain, John).

But this stance left me sort of off balance in the middle of Christmas. Corian I know, twinklelights, not so much.

But I plunged in and did the best I could, picking up on things quickly and using all my problem solving skills. But the result of this was sort of viral: when someone I had just helped would offer a heartfelt "That's it! Thanks so much for your help!", everybody standing around who heard this would be moved to fire their questions at me. And so on and so on.

An example: "Excuse me, I'm looking for the candlelights that you plug in and put in the windows?" We hunted and hunted, and I was forced to conclude that we didn't, in fact, have them in stock. To let the nice lady down easy, I said, "I can't believe we don't have candlelights! They were a staple of my childhood! I think there's still Scotch tape on the windowsills of my dad's house. (There is.) The nice lady nodded, "And there's Scotch tape on my windowsills, too."

By the afternoon, I had the situation pretty much in hand. But I had a hard time letting go of a bit of resentment I felt at being dispatched to Christmas like I was being air-dropped into wilderness survival training ("Here's your Bowie knife and a flintstone! Good luck!"). And all of this Christmas shit! All those people overspending on those weird treetop angels wearing what looks like a bejeweled corset and faces that look a hell of a lot like Mother Of The Year Britney Spears... Do you really need one of those? C'mon! Get hold of yourselves!

But then, between helping a customer find The Perfect Flocking and packing Santa Clause hat wearing teddy bears (whoa. wait. that one with the little fir tree in his paws is kinda Hot), I had a recollection of my own idea of a Christmas tree. And it's gaudy, a mishmash of ornaments passed down from of old and the whole thing festooned with tinsel. That's the Christmas that I love, minimalist anti-materialist that I am. If I'm not trying to fish the glitter out of my eggnog, then I say t'hell with it. My ideal Christmas resembles not an ad for throw rugs in LL Bean but looks more like an explosion at Ice City.

I became Mr. Christmas.

I put my all into it. It was a manic spree.

And then it was over.

Time for me to clock out.

Oh. Right. That guy from Santa Saturday last night. I need to give him a call so we can make a plan to meet up. But wait, who's that standing in the middle of the kitchen cabinets display? Why... It's the guy from Santa Saturday.


He drove over to pick me up after work.

I asked where he wanted to go for dinner and he said, "I made something for us. I got some salmon."


He made me dinner.

I'm the guy who always cooks dinner. Nobody ever cooks dinner for me.

But I followed him to his own humble abode in nearby Lansdale, and together we sat down to his Really Good Salmon.

A handsome man making me dinner. It's a Christmas wish come true. And it's still November.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Menu

What did I cook?

altarboyk wants to know!

It was fairly standard Thanksgiving fare. Turkey, stuffing, my stepmother's baked pineapple. But there were two notable dishes.

First there was the succotash. Back in August, I froze some sweet corn that was off the stalk and into a pot of boiling water within an hour, so it's sweet as sugar. I used one of three bags, and combined it with carrots, celery, finely chopped onion, and peas. I sauteed it really slowly over medium-low heat until the vegetables were just tender. It was really sensational, and a great counterpoint to the turkey and stuffing.

But then there were my yams.

Yams cooked in butter with some honey. They were softening up nicely when I had an idea. I had these prunes I found in the cupboard and thought that would be a nice addition to the yams. So I chopped them up and dropped them in the pot.

No no no no no.

The prunes seemed to dissolve completely. But they did lend their color to the yams. So what I was left with was soupy, gloppy stuff of a certain shade of brown. I'm not even going to teell you What It Looked Just Like, but it doesn't take much imagination. And once that thought crossed my mind, I decided it would do better to grace the compost heap than my table. So this was the Thanksgiving Without Yams.

And that was about it.

Oh. Other than to mention that I took off the wings and put them in a stock pot simmering slowly, along with some carrots, celery, onions, thyme, and bay leaves. My stock was phenomenal. And I made some great gravy with it.

Der Schwartzfreitag

Further tales from the seemy underbelly of retail America...

Today was Black Friday. I opened at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, meaning I started work at 6 a.m. Meaning I got up at 4:30 to be there. I was congratulating myself on how far I've come. There was a time when if I had to be anywhere before 10 a.m. it was like I had to slather my face body with grease and swim the English Channel. But here I am now. The alarm goes off, I'm out of bed, out to the kitchen to put the tea on, take Faithful Companion for a walk, get back, fix my tea, jump in the shower, get dressed, and I'm out the door. It takes me about a half an hour to get to Ho(t)me(n) Depot, but I've tricked myself into believing it takes 45 minutes. That way, I'm never late.

This morning, it was not a bad thing that I was a few minutes early. We hit the ground running. When I arrived, there were cars in parking lot.


Ho(t)me(n) Depot?

Now, we did have some bargains strewn about the store. Seven dollar coffee grinder, these cool $10 tool bags, a Dewalt drill for a mere $97... But there's nothing out there that could compel me to get up that early to goo shopping.

But Black Friday is called Black Friday not in the same sense that that plague was Black. Rather, it's "In The Black" Friday, where retailers such as my place of employ hope to make a double digit percentage of their profit margin for the year. I'm not sure we faired so well. Traffic was light overall, not a lot better than our average Friday.

So my day started off with this guy coming up to me... Okay. I came up to him. Greeting him with my standard, "Hi! Can I give you a hand with anything?"

And he looked at me and said, "Let me tell you about my stool."

And sure enough, it turned out he was not talking about a short, backless bench but rather a turd. It seems he was prone to constipation and that made his ol' brown logs pretty thick and dense, and they would clog up his toilet because of the s-curve in the trapway.

Together we strolled the toilet aisle ("Terlet Verld!") checking for one that didn't have such a severe swoop to it. It looks like he would be well served by the Kohler Wellworth, with the Ingenium Flushing System, one of the most powerful in the industry.

And, gone from the Soundtrack Of My Work Life are Moby and REM and Supertramp; replaced by Christmas music. Of a kind. It's all sort of jazzy Christmas music, with lots of mention of of the weather and Santa, but Jesus and the Incarnation... Not so much. And I'll be listening to that for the next sixty-two days.

But things got better from there and Black Friday went pretty well.

And another interesting thing. My department head is talking--a lot--about me being promoted to take his place. As in, sooner than April.

Now, who the hell could have predicted that? This is very far from a sure thing, but in the mean time, I seem to have a pretty good job.

Is fortune perhaps smiling on me once again?

Here's an interesting development.

After months and months and months of passing through the world of men who love men without seeming to inspire much in the way of interest, my biorhythms seem to be peaking. And there's even this guy who seems interested in being my slave.

Now in my life--or at least, in my online life--requests to drive down there to Murphreesboro, Tennessee and abduct some guy sight unseen and drag him back to chain him to my bed come in fairly frequently. And I dodge them as gracefully and as kindly as I can.

But there's this guy who seems sincere, realistic, considered in his approach, and experienced and enthusiastic about being owned.

Oh. And he's hot as hell.

We have yet to meet. But we're working on that.


So with my recent awareness that I do indeed seem to have a gift at being a Top, I wonder if I might be similarly gifted at being a Master?

Interestingly, that could be an answer to the Too Set In My Ways conundrum, huh? If I get to be In Charge in the relationship, then there's not much reason to change my ways. It would be for my slave to adapt to them.


Backrubs on demand... Without reciprocation.

But anyway. Like my ascent of the management ladder at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, this has much more to do with the opening up of possibilities than it does with anything I can be sure of.

Just now, walking Faithful Companion in the moonlight, I saw Orion.

Orion the Hunger, up there in the stars with his dog, too. Forever chasing Taurus the Bull through the heavens, pursuing and pursuing but never attaining.

But there's joy in the hunt, too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Favorite Holiday

My turkey is soaking in brine. My stock is simmering on the stove. The shopping is done.

I love Thanksgiving. I get to cook. I get to cook for people. And the more abstract aspects of the day--gratitude and hospitality--sure resonate with me, too.

Granted, it's just going to be just me and my father, but I'm hoping to get the Baron up here to share in all the leftovers.

Hope you and yours have a good one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

City Of The Damned Insufferable

Oh interesting.

The worst thing you'll ever hear me say about anybody is "I find him insufferable." Love that word "insufferable." As in, "I can suffer through quite a bit--in silence, with grace--but he is just way over the limit."

It used to be the case that whenever an Insufferable would crop up in my life, he would do me the favor of getting out of my life and moving to San Francisco. It was always San Francisco. I swear! Again and again and again! No sooner would the words, "Oh man, he is just insufferable," cross my lips than I would hear the news that he'd shipped off to the City By The Bay.

Hence, I spent a lot of my adult life sort of fearful of San Francisco. I imagined those fabled streets teeming with all of the people I found insufferable.

And then, I was collared by a man who lived in San Francisco, and before the two of us exhausted our frequent flyer miles, I spent some time there.

I can't say I fell in love with the city. Every time I've been in San Francisco, I've been cold. And I don't do cold very well.

But still, hanging out and watching men outside the Starbucks in the Castro is sure a pleasant time to spend an afternoon.

And regardless of how much time I spent there, not one Insufferable crossed my path. And what's more, I had several pleasant encounters.

And then it happened.

Last year, about this time, I was in San Francisco for a conference for work. The conference was actually across the Bay in Oakland, but I stayed with Special Guy and the man he replaced me with. (Ahem.) Whom I liked a lot. Disconcertingly.

And one night, coming back from the conference, I got off the trolley at the wrong stop and had to walk several blocks to get back to where I wanted to be. It was a beautiful, cool November night. I came over one of those hills, and there was the whole city spread out before me, shining like jewels.

And I got it.

I totally got it.

Did you know that once a month in San Francisco some members of the leather community gather on the beach for a bonfire?

How cool is that?

I get it I get it I get it. San Francisco rocks.

But wait.

What about Insufferables? Where will they go?

I'm wondering if I haven't solved that mystery.

There's this... uh... other city. And there's this guy. Who is just totally insufferable. But no sooner had I started to think thoughts like, "Uh oh. What if I run into him at MAL?" then I get the news. He just moved to That Other City Not San Francisco.

And I've spent time in That Other City. And I know people there. I had some great raw oysters there. But if I never had to go there again, I wouldn't mind too much.

Could it be?

Could my life really be that charmed?

Will future insufferables now be doing me the favor of getting out of my life and moving off to That Other City Not San Francisco?

That could work well.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Ways

Last Sunday, I headed up to NYC. It was time once again for a meeting of my Gay Men's SM/Spirituality Discussion Group. (The Group Which Without A Catchy Name Or Anagram, although one of of the members referred to it as "Sex And Spirit," and that kind of works. Although maybe "Leathersex And Spirit" might hit it more closely.)

Here's the great take-away that I took away: "Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing the wind."

Isn't that great?

It's from Ecclesiastes, I believe.

I talked some about my recent chain bondage experience, and just how well it went off, and how well all of the chain bondage scenes I've done have gone off pretty well. This despite the fact that what I've learned during these many years of doing chain bondage from the first experience way back when with GI Joe Skin until two weeks ago could be printed on the back of a playing card. In other words, not much. And it's not a thing I think about much while I'm doing it, I just do it. Combine that with the fact that I do it pretty well, and I wonder if perhaps I don't have a particular gift for it.

A gift.

There's lots in christian spirituality about gifts. One should use one's gifts, not hide your light under a bushel basket. And one should not get all puffed up about one's gifts; they're given to you so that you can do God's work in the world.


But anyway.

Before meeting up with the group, I met up for lunch with an recent acquaintance. We had a good time. Whenever we're together, I'm always struck by how remarkably similar we are. When he describes some life situation or other, I know how the story ends, because he does just what I would do, or says what I would say, or responds how I would respond.

So the recent acquaintance celebrated his fiftieth birthday not so long ago. We were talking about prospects of romance for Men Of A Certain Age, and he came out with something that gave me pause.

"Y'know, even if I were to meet a great guy, who turns me on, and we have a fun time in bed, and we get along great, and who laughs at all my jokes, and who makes me laugh... I just wonder... I mean, at my age, I'm pretty set in my ways. And a relationship would mess all of that up."

Carrie Bradshaw Moment: Am I too set in my ways at this point in my life? Has that ship sailed for me?

Relationships involve compromise. We know this. The last time I moved in with a guy (Disaster!) there were lots of compromises. My desk went into what had been his darkroom. I gave up my great kitchen for his ridiculous excuse for a kitchen. My objets d'art didn't "work" so they were canned. I had to purge my wardrobe twice: once to fit in the closet space afforded to me, and again because he deemed some of my clothes to be "wrong."

I could never do all that now.

But hey, what if it didn't involve sharing living space? That would reduce that problem, right?

Or would it?

"Now let me get this straight," I could here him saying, "We can't see each other this Sunday because Sunday is specifically reserved for you to sit in Starbucks reading the New York Times for four hours?"

Ummmm... Yeah?

So is it true?

Am I too set in My Ways?

At this point, My Ways are shorthand for My Life, right? And I happen to like my life. My life isn't something that just dropped from the sky the other day. It's the distillation of of years of listening closely to the music of my heart, and tentatively, after a few cautious steps, and then with assurance, learning how to dance to it.

Not that me and this hypothetical guy couldn't make our own music together and turn my solo into a pas de deux, But let's be clear: that would not be an easy or graceful transition.

So it looks as though the stakes are raised higher still. As if they weren't already stratospheric.

Ah well.

Hope still springs eternal.

Maybe, just maybe, we'll be so perfectly matched that he wouldn't consider giving up his four hours spent reading the New York Times at Starbucks on a Sunday and it would only involve us deciding who goes to who's Starbucks.

It might happen!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Cold That Kills

This may be one of the final postings here at SingleTails.

It seems that I don't have much time left and I'll soon be shuffling off this mortal coil.

Let me explain.

This past week at Ho(t)me(n) Depot was our annual inventory. On Wednesday, I started work at 1 p.m. and worked until 10 p.m., went home, went to bed, and then had to get up at 4:30 to be at work at 5:45 a.m. And when I get home from work, I'm usually all wound up, so I had some trouble getting to sleep. And I woke up in the middle of the night--not with theological insights running through my head--but with a coughing fit. Y'see, I've had a low burn cold for about the past week. It's an odd cold. Maybe not a cold at all, just sort of a viral infection. My eyes are reddish and when I wake up in the morning they're glued shut with mucous. And, I've had that neuralgia (that all over achy-ness and feeling of malaise) that goes with having a cold. Of course, all that work and so little sleep hit me like a truck. So my day off on Friday I spent the day sleeping and feeling awful, and I had a fever and chills.

So yesterday morning, feeling a little bit better but not by much, I went into work at 10 a.m. On my way in, I met one of the more eccentric colleagues, Steve from the Plumbing Department. Steve spent the 1960s living in Greenwich Village. He claims to have taken a ride on the Magic Bus and sat next to Bob Dylan in a dive bar on St. Mark's Place while Bob wrote the lyrics to "Positively Fourth Street" on a napkin. What makes Steve really interesting is he looks kind of like an older guy who works in the Plumbing Department of Ho(t)me(n) Depot: conservative haircut parted on the side, wire framed glasses, clean shaven.

I had just punched in when I ran into Steve. I wished him good morning and he asked how I was doing after inventory, when he had also worked. I told him about how I had been fighting a cold, and after inventory, I definitely thought I was losing that battle.

"Uh oh," said Steve, "I hope you don't have The Cold That Kills."

Steve told me that there's this strain of the cold going around that killed nineteen people in the midwest. He told me that if I got a fever, I should go to the doctor immediately, because that's the sign of The Cold That Kills.

And I had a fever the day before.

Now, my healthplan doesn't kick in until I've worked at Ho(t)me(n) Depot for ninety days, which will be November 21st. I'll probably have succumbed by then. O how bitterly ironic!

Now don't you fret that this SingleTails turn into some goopy Oh-Woe-Is-Me weblog. I don't have time for that. I work tomorrow, and on Tuesday I have off, but I'll probably see if I can do a Hard Labor Ready gig, and Wednesday I'll need to start in on preparations for my Thanksgiving dinner. If I live that long.

I hope to meet the end with grace and dignity. There's only a couple of things I feel bad about. One is that off all things, it's the common cold that will do me. How humbling. And of course the other thing is the fact that my final days of life will be spent having a cold. Sheeesh.

Oh. And if we should cross paths, let's not kiss on the mouth. I have no interest in taking anyone with me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Went And Did It Again

Fresh from my success at telling the strapping young man to "grease his hole up real good," I instigated yet another ripped-from-the-pages-of-a-porn-script moment at Ho(t)me(n) Depot.

There I was, fronting and facing and such, and this... this... Man came sauntering up to me (bearded, built, booted, beer gut... you get the picture; I don't even need to go into detail, right?).

I offered my conventional greeting: "Hi! Can I give you a hand with something?" (I like that better than the standard, "Can I help you?" Being keenly aware of power dyanmics (ahem.), needing "help" implies subordination, and most people don't want that. But needing "a hand" means that you're in control. Just about none of my customers decline my offer of "a hand," but the automatic response to an offer of "help" is, of course, "No. I'm fine." Anyway...)

So the Man started off to say, "Yeah, I need..." And then he struggled to find the right words.

I jumped in. My voice got low and growly, I looked him dead in the eye, and said, "Tell me what you need."

His reaction was perfect. He froze. There might have been an intake of breath. His eyes looked searchingly into mine.

And I quickly followed with, "...and I'll see what I can do!", delivered in my sunniest and most innocent and pluckiest voice.

He went on to describe a plumbing problem he was having, and I lead him off to the fittings aisle and set him up with some PVC and a SharkBite connector, explaining to him what he would have to do.

So I wonder if after dinner, after the news, if he climbed into bed, got all comfy underneath the covers, and then asked himself, "What do I need?" And maybe noticed that his cock was rock hard.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In The Spirit

'Tis the Season! So Ho Ho Ho!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shiny Thumb Incident

There I am, minding my own business, mindlessly wandering through the mall, feeling all superior about how I look down on wanton capitalist consumerism. And Lo! This young woman approaches, greets me warmly, and takes my hand.

She begins to explain to me that she wants to tell me about a great new product that I should know about, something that will endow me with the ability to give myself a professional looking manicure right in the privacy of my own home. As she's talking, she peels my thumb out of my clenched fist and begins working on it with something that looks to me like a sanding block. Only, she explains, it's not impregnated with aluminum oxide, but with diamonds. Then she switches to another side to buff my thumb nail, then to a third side of the block to "bring up the shine."

"Now look at that!" she exclaims, "hold your thumbs up next to each other! See how your left thumb doesn't have those ridges? See how it's all nice and shiny?"

Before I could point out that having shiny thumbs was never something I particularly desired, she grabbed a bottle of some kind of product off the table behind her, squeezed out a liberal blog into her palm, and then started massaging my left hand with it.

The smell hit me immediately. One of those perfum-y contrived smells I hate. "This is 'Aspen,' she offered. Men always like Aspen the best. We also offer Kiwi and Ylang-ylang.

"And now look! See how it made your cuticles go away? And without any cutting or pushing them back!"

Note that up until this point, I had not said one word to her. Not even "yes" or "no" in answer to her questions. I think that I was just offering stunned silence, but this didn't even slow her down.

She launched into the sales pitch, about how I could get all of the products she had just used on me And More, and that today was my lucky day because they usually sell the package for $59.00, but just for today, I could get it for $29.99.

"So you could get this great look at home whenever you want!"

I could just about see my reflection in my thumb nail. It was shiny and flat, looking sort of like the hood of a PT Cruiser.

Finally I spoke: "You... you made my thumb all shiny."

"Yes," answered, "and for only $29.99 you can keep this up! It should stay like this for the next two weeks though."

"But I've got a shiny thumb. It looks really weird. I have to live with this weird shiny thumb for the next two weeks?"

Without blinking, she dropped my hand as though it had been transformed into a dead eel. She stepped away from me and grabbed the hand of an elderly man, who seemed pleased and charmed by the gesture. I walked away from the young woman and her lotions and her diamond encrusted sanding block staring down at my newly shiny thumb.

I will never agree to bottom in a scene that involves thumb polishing. That is one of my hard limits from here on in.

So. Going To MAL?

I'd like to go, too.

In years past, I've had a hotel room and I've been looking for someone to join me to share expenses. This year, I'm looking for someone who's looking for someone to join him to share expenses.

Some important facts to know about me as an MAL roommate:

1. My needs are few! Space on your floor to unroll my sleeping bag? Works for me!

2. I do not snore, as far as I know, and I don't mind men who do snore. However loud. In fact, I kinda like it.

3. It's your room. If'n you need it--even for an extended period of time--just let me know. I try to stay flexible over the course of the weekend and not make plans, so I can easily work around you and yours.

4. I take a long time in the shower. And even though it's MAL weekend, I like to get a nice seven hours sleep at least. I have a long drive home ahead of me.

So if you, or someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know, would be able to help me out, please let me know. You can hail flag me down on Yahoo or AIM as BaldBuiltStache, leave a comment here, or shoot me an email at drew kramer[at]mac.com. (Omit that space and you know what to do with the [at], right?)


Monday, November 12, 2007

Faithful Companion Under The Knife?

My father is prone to obsessions.

For the most part, they're harmless, although they can be pretty annoying. For example, I open up the window in the bathroom when I take a shower. In the warmer months, I just leave the window open all the time. But now, the heat's on. With my Dad, the heat goes on when the temperature drops below 70°. When I guess the thermostat was right on the cusp, my father discovered that although I wasn't taking a shower, the window was open. And I heard all about the folly of having an open window when the furnace is is running and oil costs so much. For about the next week, apropos of not much, the following would transpire...

Dad: Is the window in your bathroom open.
Me (not looking up from my book or whatever): No.
Dad: Are you sure?
Me: Sure I'm sure.
Dad: Go check and make sure.
Me: I don't need to check. I know it's not open.
Dad: How do you know it's not open for sure if you don't go check.
Me: Because I know.
Dad: Do me a favor. Just go check.
Me: Dad!
Dad: Just take a minute and go check.

(I go check and find the window closed.)

Me: It's closed.
Dad: Good. Thank you. You left it open the other day though. Do you know how much we're paying for oil this winter?

Get the picture?

And this will transpire again and again and again for about a week.

My father has a new obsession.

Y'see, for the past five years or so, Faithful Companion has had a benign fistula on his asshole. Originally it was the size of a grape, then a strawberry, then an apricot. Now it's about the size of a lady apple. It's always the topic of discussion at Faithful Companion's annual visit to the vet. It's benign, and he doesn't fuss about it. I asked about removing it, and apparently the problem is that surgery in that area might damage Faithful Companion's anal sphincter and make him incontinent.

So Faithful Companion and I live with it. In peace.

So the other morning, my father said, "That thing on your dog's butt. It's just dangling by a little thing."

"Right," I answered, and explained the whole history of the benign fistula on Faithful Companion's butt.

"I learned how to deal with those in school."

By "school," my father is referring to his alma mater, National Farm School.

National Farm School was founded by a man named Joseph Krauskopf. He was a russian Jew who was concerned that with all of the Jews leaving the shtetls for the Big City, russian Jewry would lose its agricultural heritage. So he wanted to found a school to teach young men how to be farmers, using the best in agricultural technology. He consulted with none other than Leo Tolstoy, who told him that with things getting so dicey here in the homeland and so many people emigrating to the United States, he might do better to open up his school then.

My father left high school a year early to become a freshman at National Farm School 1943. After the japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, my father was drafted, and never went back to earn his degree.

And his degree would have been in Poultry Management. My father, a city boy from Olney, Philadelphia, wanted to be a chicken farmer. And so for a year he matriculated in the Animal Husbandry department. So that's what he means by learning how to deal with growths "in school."

And just what was he proposing?

"All you have to do is tie some thread around it at the base really tight, then you can just cut it off and it will heal up."

I think the blood drained from my face.

"Cut it off?"

"Yeah. Just take a razor blade and cut it off below where you have the thread tied."


Faithful Companion won't stand still for me to give him a bath. Despite my pleading and promises of treats.

And then... I mean... My father is proposing that I do surgery here at home on my dog.

On. My. Dog.

"Dad, I don't know that I have the nerve for that."

"Aaaaah. Sure you do. It's no big deal."

An image of me, tears running down my face as I chase Faithful Companion around the house as he spurts blood out of his ass all over the carpet.

What am I in for?

If indeed this has become my father's latest obsession, then I fear for my sanity. He won't relent. Not until he's satisfied.

My father's life is all about sitting in a chair smoking cigars watching the Weather Channel, CNN, and football. And obsessing. He has all that pent up energy to pour into a relentless campaign to get me to do surgery on my dog. He won't let up. Until I relent.

Oh man.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why My Coming To Wear The Orange Apron Was Not A Matter Of Chance But Of Destiny, Part CCXLII

So the other day at work, I noticed that the background music that they play... well... there is significant overlap between those cuts and the Most Frequently Played tracks on my iPod.


Not in every case. Ho(t)me(n) Depot doesn't seem to favor the Seventies the way I do, and that insipid song "Closing Time" makes me nuts, but other than that, it's down right spooky.

I don't quite know what to make of that.

Although, as if in confirmation of that, today I received Part One of my 90-Day Review. I rated a V. At Ho(t)me(n) Depot, V stands for "Achiever." On the rating system, there's N, M, V, and O. Probably that originally stood for Needs Improvement, Meets Expectations, Very Good, and Outstanding, but the Powers That Be seem to have felt that Performer, Achiever, and Leader in Excellence better captured the flavor of what they wanted. I forget what the new term for Needs Improvement is. Maybe something like "Stinko" or something.

But at any rate, I'm an Achiever. Eighty percent of Ho(t)me(n) Depot employees get a Performer. Some get Stinko. Apparently you have to drag our CEO out of a burning building to get a Leader in Excellence, and a chosen few get a to be Achievers. And I'm one of them.

My Department Head told me that he was grooming me as his replacement when he moves on to bigger and better things. And that in his estimation, if you want to make Assistant Store Manager (at which point the Ho(t)me(n) Depot world is your oyster), your best to head up one of the Special Services departments, such as my own Kitchens And Baths.

And this was only a Get By job. A part time gig until I found something more appropriate.

I'm almost ashamed about how much I like working at Ho(t)me(n) Depot. And it's not just that half of our customers are right out of a Hot Desert Knights video. The work suits me. I like the people I work with. Every day brings some new challenge that I tackle with pluck and aplomb, so as I'm walking out (always through Building Materials, where the hottest men are usually to be found), I've got a smile on my face.

And... like... they have three Ho(t)me(n) Depots in the Coachella Valley in Southern California.

Okay. So it's not being a Master of the Universe. Or as someone I know said, I "could do better." But what's wrong with having a job I like that pays a salary I can live on?

Hey! What's that song they're playing? I love that song!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Night Of Chains

The mike was out. So there would be no announcement.

I was kind of happy about that. Rick had asked me, "So how do you want to be introduced?" and I was stumped for an answer.

And so Rick cleared the dancefloor, and when there was sufficient space, I went to work. I'd reach into my big ol' plastic bucket, and haul out a length of heavy guage chain. I had brought my weight bench, a cheapo affair, but serviceable. Male, of Datt and Male fame, was my bottom, and right on cue he appeared, wearing only a leather jock and boots. I put wrist restraints on him and positioned him on the weight bench, then I got to work.

The night before, I saw the position I wanted Male to assume in a dream. (Good dreams lately!). I wanted him on his back on the weight bench, with his butt hanging over the end, his legs in the air with chain wrapping his wrists and ankles together.

Verrrrry vulnerable.

And so I went to work, laying on the chain. All of it. Secured by padlocks.

I was totally in the zone, heedless of the crowd and music. But I did take note of the fact that Male looked really really really hot. He was just swaddled in gleaming steel. Male, who is very good at this, seemed to be deep in bottom space, just drinking in the experience, letting it was over him, a beatific smile on his handsome face.

When all the chains were in place, with something of a flourish, I drew my Bowie knife from my tool belt, hoping that the steel blade would catch the light. I played the knife over Male's helpless body, letting him feel the cool steel blade, laying the flat of the knife against his ass, his pecs, and his throat. And pressing the point into the meaty parts of Male. And there are plenty of meaty parts of Male.

Finally, I unlocked and collected all the padlocks, leaving the chain in place. Then I signaled that the time had come for my favorite part: Male struggling mightily against the chains. And struggle he did. When he finally freed himself, there was a round of applause as I held him and kissed him.

And it was done!

When we came off the dancefloor, Rick the impressario greeted us, full of praise. Coming out of the dreamlike state of Topspace, I got some objectivity on what I had just brought to be. And damn, it must have been pretty hot.

When I got home from work, I decided some serious napping was in order. I had gotten up at 4:30 a.m. that morning, and having just turned 43, I thought that my days of being up for twenty-four hours straight were behind me. I awoke refreshed a few hours later and made a nice beef stew for my father and I to have for dinner. While the stew was simmering, I managed to get the jeep loaded with the chain and the weight bench and take a nice long hot shower.

Then I leathered up.

When was the last time I had an excuse to do that?

It felt novel.

The drive down to Pistoldelphia went pretty easily with not much traffic. I unloaded my gear at the club then headed off to find a parking space. And I ended up finding a space on South Street, a block away from my apartment there many many years ago, about the time of the Great Vowel Shift. Things were getting going later than usual at Club XO, due in part to the Great Autumnal Setting Back Of The Clocks, which meant that the bars would be open for one hour longer tonight. So the crowd at the club was light early on. Datt and Male were waiting for me, so we relaxed for a bit.

And then we started dancing. When we hit the floor, it was this rappy new stuff I've never heard. But then--what the hell!--I knew this song! It was from the Eighties!

In fact, I had probably danced to this song back in the Eighties when I lived in Pistoldelphia. Y'know, I probably didn't get much involved in leather when I lived in Pistoldelphia way back then because I loved to dance. Loved loved loved to dance. And back then, you either went to the Bike Stop (leatherbar, no dancing), or to Kurt's (dancing, no leather). I went to both, but if'n I had to make a choice, I'd be dancing. So it was damn hot to be out there dancing in my leathers in Pistoldelphia.

And the DJ kept the oldies coming. And I started to suspect what was going down. Y'see, Datt and Male and I were about a generation older than everybody else in the place. So they were kinda doing it for us. That was a sweet gesture! But then I remembered how when I was the age of the kids at Club XO, I'd occasionally see one or two of these queens from the Seventies out there with a tambourine going crazy when they played Diana Ross and how I'd just wince and think "oh my god, I hope that when I get to be... And then they played Madonna's Get Into The Grove and I just went apeshit! I love Madonna! And there I was, transported. Not back in time, but out of time. Only me and the music and the lights and dancing.

After I did the chain bondage demo, I allowed myself a celebratory beer and then Rick the impressario helped me get my gear back to my jeep, then I headed over to the Bike Stop. And let's just say I was in and out of there in about fifteen minutes.

I walked back to my car through the still city. I remember that about Pistoldelphia. So often, I would just have the feeling of having the entire place to myself. You can walk a good distance, late at night anyway, without running into anyone. You can't get that in NYC. Once you find some quiet out-of-the-way place in Prospect Park or Central Park, you've got about ten minutes tops to yourself.

And then I walked right by the iron burglar bars of my old apartment at 1533 South Street, pausing to look up at the second floor windows. Who lives there now? Is the teetering deck still off the back, outside of the sliding glass doors? Can you still see the towers of Liberty Place, or has new construction changed the skyline? Are the same shit brown wall-to-wall carpets covering the place? And I passed Ron's apartment, across the street.

Ron was a bartender at the Westbury. I thought Ron was unbelievably hot. And such a nice guy, with his furry chest and the blue-black hair in his beard and his ready smile. I totally had the hots for Ron, but thought that no way would a hot man like that go for a skinny kid like me. He would decline my proferring of money for my beer, he drove me home a couple of times and we'd sit in his car parked on South Street talking. And he moved into an apartment across the street from me.

Years later, after I had moved to NYC, I learned that Ron thought I was such a great guy, and he would bore his friends with his pining after me. But he assumed that a strapping young buck like me would hardly be interested in a fat old guy like him.

What fools these mortals be, huh?

So much went down in those two years I lived in that city, all those years ago, from July 1st of 1988 to June 30, 1990. And leaving, I sort of hoped that one day I'd come back and be a star.

And last night, when everything just came together so well, when I left the crowd at Club XO awed and amazed, and I have to admit I was pretty awed and amazed myself (I honestly didn't know I had that in me), in a way I did.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ask Mr. Plumber!

Today at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, this smokin' hot boy came in with his mother. She needed a new toilet, and he was going to install it for her. She agonized over her choice of a new toilet, checking out everything we had in stock, looking through the catalog at all the different Kohler styles, debating whether to go with plain white or if Kohler's Sandstone color (which is one of my favorites) would work better with her tile.

I spent lots of time with her, because I couldn't take my eyes off her son. When I was explaining stuff to him out of the catalog, I got in real close, so close I could feel his body heat.

He was beautiful. Shaved head, ballcap, goatee, black tshirt from Daytona Bike Week over a white thermal, big blue eyes, bee stung lips.

Finally, I couldn't hold back any longer.

It turned out he was going to be installing the new toilet, although he had never done this before. I was talking him through the process, which is pretty simple. You put the wax ring around the falange at the mouth of the sewer pipe, set the new toilet on top, get it so it's steady, and bolt it down. He had removed the old toilet, which cracked, and he referred to the sewer pipe as "the hole." As in, "So I just put the the wax ring over the hole?"

Now, there's an old plumbers' trick if you have water leaking into the bowl from the tank: you take some vaseline and put it around the flapper to make for a good tight seal.

So I couldn't resist...

"Now, for a really good seal, before you put the wax ring on, take a big glob of vaseline and smear it around the hole. You'll want to grease up your hole really good. Then put the wax ring in place and set the new toilet and bolt it in."

"Grease up your hole really good."

I just wanted to say those words to that hot boy.

And Ho(t)me(n) Depot gave me an opportunity.

I love my job.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A New Way Of Thinking About SM

This post could well be the point of SingleTails. SingleTails in a nutshell. As this weblog has evolved since its inception, it became in many ways an extended meditation on what SM means. I now think I have an answer.

It came to me in a dream.


I woke up just now at 11:50 p.m. at night. Really inconveniently. I have to be at work at 6 a.m. tomorrow, so my alarm will go off at 4:40 a.m. I should be getting a good nights' sleep, because I have a BIG day tomorrow, even after I work a full day at Ho(t)me(n) Depot.

But whatever.

The Muse paid a visit.

(Thanks, Muse. Appreciate that. Great timing. Really.)

As usual, when I have problems sleeping, I start saying the Rosary to myself. The Rosary, an ancient, ancient form of meditative, repetitive prayers, can be a great way to get to sleep, and you don't have those problems with getting up in the middle of the night, driving out to Wawa, and waking up after your car collided with a police cruiser.

The Rosary starts off with reciting the Creed. "I believein one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.."

And that's what I did, running through it until I got to the part that goes, "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son..." And that's when I stopped cold, knocked off my horse like St. Paul with an Understanding: SM is the Holy Ghost.

Now, the Doctrine of the Trinity is a lot to swallow. Even for some lifelong committed christians. The vast majority of the world just doesn't get it. Jews and moslems think that we're all covert polytheists, worshipping three gods rather than one God.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

What's that all about?

St. Thomas Aquinas was probably the only human being who ever lived who could answer that question, but I'll take a stab at it.

Okay. You've got God the Father. The Creator. He who hung the stars, whose eye is on the sparrow. Who calls all things into existence. Omnipotent, all-powerful, all knowing. The Almighty. Yahweh. The Great I Am.

And then you have God the Son. Jesus called The Christ.

Now, most of us christians fall into the trap of thinking about Jesus as a really really really really Good Guy. And he was! He was the best! Without sin! No sin! Who had a handle on so many things! Ain't nobody can argue really with much of what he said, as recorded in the gospels. Love him!

But the thing is, Jesus is also God. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." This is the doctrine of the incarnation, that God, the Creator, the Almight, who hung the stars and watches the sparrow and who keeps all reality from descending into chaos or the void or whatever, became a man. A living, breathing, sweating, crying, laughing, shitting, sleeping, waking, tired, hungry, loving, hating, fearing, despairing, rejoicing, man.

Let that sink in.

Uh huh... uh huh...

Gettin' it?

How cool is that?

It's the incarnation that gives all the juice to christianity.

God, that God, suffered and died on the cross at Calvary for love of us. For you and me.

(Note: I am pointedly not trying to win you all over to being christians here. It's just that this is all stuff I've been hearing and learning and trying to understand and sometimes even finding myself able to believe since I was a little kid. It's a big part of how I understand myself, the world, and my place in the world. And this is all about SM, I swear. It's all a big analogy, and I have to explain what I'm analogizing to. If'n I were buddhist or jewish or sikh and I came to a new understanding of SM through those paths, I'd be explaining some of the basics of those beliefs to you hear.


Just wanted to be clear.)

Okay. So you've got God the Father, God the Son, and that brings us to God the Holy Ghost.

Tricky, tricky, tricky.

When I was little, every time there was mention of the "Holy Ghost," I would picture the sort of white, shroudy figure with the dark grey splotches for eyes and mouth from the Scooby-Doo episode. The Holy Ghost is not easy to get.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, he's referred to as "the Spirit of God." He makes an appearance twice in the New Testament, as the dove that descends from Heaven when John baptizes Jesus, and as a roaring wind when the Twelve Apostles gather in the upper room after Jesus' crucifixion and death.

I know, right? Like, say what? What goes on here?

So Thomas Aquinas thought the dove thing was the Big Clue, the key to unlocking the mystery.

Y'see, in becoming a man, Jesus--and remember he's God--does the ultimate in submission to God the Father. He lowers himself--aka submits--and becomes a man so he can die on the cross. And he does this because of his love for God, and because of God's love for all of us. And God, beholding Jesus' pure and perfect act of submission and sacrifice, is moved to greater love and adoration of Jesus. So there's this whole cyclical thing that gets started: Jesus loves the Father and feels the Father's love, so submits to him; God, really impressed by this act of submission, loves Jesus more (love you back!), and this More Love deepens Jesus' love and therefore makes his submission more perfect and complete; and this makes the Father love Jesus even more, and...

Well, you understand? Maybe just a little?

(And maybe with that talk about submission, you catch a glimpse of where this is going, huh?)


As christians, we are called on to be Christ-like. And in part this means to be really really really Good, but it also means that we should submit ourselves to the Father, even as Jesus did. So we come to participate in that whole Love you!--Love you back!--That makes me love you more!--Well that makes me love you more! thing that Jesus and the Father have going on.

And that participation, which we feel inside us--and it's really really cool when you're really feeling it--is what the Holy Ghost is. It's that being awed by Jesus' loving act of submission, and it's loving him more because of it, and it's being able to submit yourself to God the Father because you love God That Much.

The title given to the Holy Ghost is "the paraclete," which is an aramaic greek word meaning, "the one called upon for help." And the way that works is that when you're in pain, or lonely, or in need, or despairing, or just Pissed Off At The Whole Damned World (the way you sometimes get), it's the Holy Ghost that comes to help you out by bringing to you some small measure of awareness of your participating in the whole Love you!--Love you back! thing that the Father and the Son have going on.


With me so far?

Maybe just a little big?

Because here's the point of this whole thing: the Father is the Top, the Son is the bottom, and SM is the Holy Ghost.

The Top is the Power. The Top is the one who Makes It Happen. The Top is Creator and Destroyer. The bottom, out of love for the Top, submits himself to the Top. The Top, in response, adores the bottom. And is filled with greater love for the bottom. And the bottom feels this greater love, and is thereby moved to greater submission. Which makes the Top love the bottom more. And so it grows and grows and grows.

Joseph Bean and Guy Baldwin and Dossie Eastman and so many greater SM minds than I have talked about this cyclical building within the scene, and I think this is the best way for me to understand that.

Now here's the really cool part.

Imagine that off in the platonic Realm of the Ideal [what the hell? I thought we were in christian theology here? Now we're going all platonic?] that the Great Top and the Great bottom are off doing the Great Scene. Always. They're always doing it. And it's getting better and better and better all the time because of that Love You!--Love You Back!--Then I Love You More!--Then I Love You More! thing. And when you or I do a scene, we make all that power and submission and love manifest in our own lives.

And that's SM! SM is the Holy Ghost!

Because the really cool thing is that we don't need to be doing a scene all the time to feel that SM wonderfulness!!! We can call on that SM energy when we need it, when you just don't get what's going on with your life, when you feel yourself losing your sense of who you are, when you're lost and afraid, when you're lonely and wondering why the hell it is that you can't meet anybody who's right, when you feel incapable, when you're just not feeling it... You can close your eyes, still your mind, and feel somehow that Great Scene In The Sky between the Great Top and the Great bottom.

That's SM. With us always. Not just in the dungeon.


Back to bed.

And please, God, let me get some sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and envigorated in THREE HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES when I have to go to work. Please?

You all say a prayer for me on that, 'kay?