Monday, December 18, 2006

Just One of Those Things

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I was walking down Lincoln last week, on my way home to have candy for dinner and to watch all of season three of the Mary Tyler Moore show, when I passed the pottery class place. They were having a party, and in the window was a really great looking guy talking to someone, when all of the sudden, when I passed him, this giant emotional WHY DOESN'T HE LOVE ME! hit me full-on in my gut. I almost fell down. What? That guy? The guy in the window? ...That hasn't happened to me in a while... I thought to myself.

On Halloween, 1986, Christopher asked me to go to a party and a movie with him. My rival for his affection, Robert, was having a non-costume, 'friendly drinks' party. You remember those two, right? I wrote about them in C30 C60 C90. Robert had a place in that amazing building on Chicago Ave. (The link is a nice pic of how it looked when he lived there. I had coffee at the Starbucks there Sunday, and started to tell my sister-in-law this story, but told her to read it here instead. I was lucky enough to choose a table underneath a picture of the building taken in the 1890's, and wrote down the name. Oh how I wish I could read through a diary from someone who had lived there then. That's one of the reasons I'm doing this blog, I guess...) I don't remember it being rehabbed yet, so his rent wasn't too bad.

Christopher had actually called me and asked me to go, and picked me up in his car and drove us there. He was a tall guy, really beautiful, with dark curly hair and big brown eyes. And even though he said he only used his weight-lifting bench as an extra closet, he had the body of a football player. Such a sweet guy, too, and so funny. I opted to play it cool, and wore very little make-up, 'small' hair, and the understated, clean lines of a 1960's thrift store outfit, despite the fact he found my penchant for orange lip stick and metallic eye-liner amusing, and nicked named me 'Miss Maybelline'. I was mildly offended by that name, because I thought of myself as having 'a look', or being rebellious, and not trying to look like a 'Miss'. I found wearing make-up funny, and I was trying to enlighten the world to their boring macho cliche ways. He forced me to realize that most people just saw me as a bad drag queen.
I did take two pieces of my belt from Wax Trax, which was made up of four smaller belts linked together, and put one on each shoe, as an added dash of sophistication. The shoes had a heel, so I didn't trip all over myself, in case you were wondering.
Walking up to the building, I got excited. Not for the party, because Chis tended to attract a snooty crowd, but for the beautiful old building. I wanted to spend the night wandering around and exploring, or running to the library to see what I could find out about it's history.
We arrived early, and there weren't too many people there, but when I saw who was there, I instantly gave up, and went into a foul mood. All the kings and queens of the twenty-something Chicago-bar-scene snobbery were there, slouching around in Parachute and Matsuda like they were wearing rags.
Chris knew everyone there, and left me alone to fend for myself, after he sat with me for a while to let everyone know he was there with me. The belts on my shoes were a big hit, and I said something stupid like My mom sent them to me from Milan. After an hour or so, the booze dried up, and they ran out to get more. My Milan comment sent them all on a tangent about their European travels, and I snuck off to the kitchen so I wouldn't have to admit I'd never been. No one had any cash, so they came back with only a bottle or two, but they also came back with a drunk who was playing a saxophone on the street for money.
"Isn't this cool and scary and urban?! We told him we'd give him five bucks and a couple cocktails if he played at our party for an hour!" Someone said.
He played two songs, grabbed a bottle and a glass, Hey we said a couple drinks! That's our last bottle! and passed out in a corner. I was secretly jumping for joy this guy was ruining their party. A little later they tried to wake him up, because the ripe odor emanating from him made him impossible to ignore anymore, and we were all sick of explaining him to the new arrivals. He did not want to be woken, and started cursing and trying to hit people if someone made an attempt. Although I was having a good time now that some of my friends had shown up, Chris thought it best if we left. The next day I found out there was an ugly scene when the police showed up to drag him out.
Christopher drove us down Lake Shore on the chilly October night, to The Music Box, to see a Film Festival movie. I was so happy to be there with him; someone I was so attracted to, and who seemed to be attracted me. For years later, the sights and sounds and emotions came rushing back to me whenever I was on Lake Shore Drive on an October night. I still always 'test' it, to see if I can remember that night, but as the years go on, the memories get fainter, and this year, they were barely there.

Diaries are funny things. Mysterious things. Do people write what really happened? Do they intentionally forget things? Do we tell ourselves the truth? Why am I not telling you that whenever I talked to Christopher, I could barely put two words together? I would just stare at him, slacked jawed, thinking, this guy doesn't really like, does he? Why am I not telling you he put the Smiths song Ask three times on a tape he made for me? He doesn't want me to ask him anything, does he? Not me. Why am I not writing that Chris seemed 'different' around me in the car ride home, like someone said some thing to him about me at the party, or like I somehow failed a test he had given me?
I'm not telling you any of that because I projected. I could've very easily, very quickly fallen in love with him, but the pain of my break-up with Doug had recently reared it's ugly head, and I felt I couldn't be a person Chris could love back, and if I was in bed with him, in the dark, under the covers, listening to him sleep, and feeling the warmth of his body next to mine, and to maybe be given this invitation once or twice, well, I knew I could never bear the physical pain of never seeing him again.

How do you tell that to someone?
"I can't touch you or kiss you, because I probably will fall in love with you, and I think you will see what a jerk I am in a couple days, and never call me again, and I'll freak out and jump off a bridge, because I'm a weirdo for believing that when I'm intimate with someone, something magical and eternal and larger than the universe and more important than God comes from it."

Well, I've learned you don't tell that to someone. I learned to give someone 'the honor' of breaking my heart, because I've happily discovered the pieces are big. I can easily put them back together.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hiroshima, Mon Amour

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A flashback in a flashback....

Oh my God, he wants to kiss me! No! I can't! I better not! Oh well, I'm doing it anyway... I thought to myself. I had just run into John, walking with a guy I didn't know, on Sheffield, in front of Medusa's, one chilly December Sunday afternoon, and he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. This was a custom I had never practiced before I had moved to Chicago, and it freaked me out whenever it happened, and those same thoughts raced through my mind each time a guy leaned into me, lips puckering. In 1985, when this occurred, two men kissing on the lips as a greeting was a very this is my home, this is who I am, and screw you if you don't like it greeting to show the world. I took me a long time to not look over my shoulder when I walked away from a man I had just kissed hello.
"Brian, this is Bill!" John said. "And Bill, this is Brian..." And John paused and looked at me funny, and said "Cats!", as I said hello and pulled my cat Gidget out of my coat.
"I'm taking the train up to Jeff's place, and didn't want to leave her alone"
She was very content, snuggled in my coat, for the long train ride.

When I gave Danny my number, I didn't think he'd actually call me, but he did, and when we realized we lived across the street from each other, he was soon knocking at my door. I used to take the Halsted bus from Waveland to work, and I would get off the bus a few stops early, so I could visit Danny at his work. He worked at a now long gone fancy deli on Fullerton east of Halsted, who's name escapes me now. We'd talk while he mixed pasta and diced vegetables behind the deli counter, for an hour or so. He'd yell the craziest things to his coworkers and the customers, and before long he'd have the whole place in hysterics. The thought of seeing him was the only thing that could get me out of my bed early.
One day we ran into each other on the bus.
"I'm thinking about changing my name from Daniel Wickie-Poo to Danielt Wickie-Poo." I laughed.
"What's your real name now?" I asked.
"Daniel Ebert Wickie-Poo Junior" He said as he pulled out his driver's license. Holding his license in my hand, I said Wow, you're for real.

Danny floated into my apartment like he was made of glass. He looked like he belonged on one of the mirrored display tables at the glass crafter's booth that came to the mall across the street from my dad's house each Christmas. Seeing the big, greasy man turn chunks of yellow and orange and blue into his version of mid-seventies delicately beautiful horses and giraffes and the like, was what I looked forward to the most each holiday season.
Danny was dressed in all white, and tied his hair back with a sheer blue scarf, all of which set off his clear blue-green eyes.
Around his neck was a necklace of laminated cards.
"What's that?" I asked.
"A story I wrote." He said as he took it off so I could read it. It was a beautiful story about a girl and some boy troubles she was having. What struck me most about his story was the way he wrote it; he somehow told it from the inside out, he told it from the perspective of the girl's dress, and he was now wearing his story around his neck.
We spent hours talking that day and into the night, about his classes at the art institute, his plans for the future, growing up 'different' from everyone else and the pain it caused us. He was so free and easy with his emotions, and the truth of them, to this day he still inspires me. We bitched about the constant, horrible noise that started everyday at 7am at the The New York high rise construction site, (It turned out we had both put a curse on that building to fall down, and after 9-11, I went back and took the curse off.) He told me about his trip to London, when Philip Salon fell madly in love with him. (I was insanely jealous of everyone I knew who had direct or indirect contact with Boy George. In 1990 I got my revenge, when I talked to him for hours at the London Limelight...)

I guess Danny thought this was a date, for we made-out a little, but I didn't know what it was.
Thinking about writing this, over the past week, and putting it off, I realized this was the time, winter of '86, when I was living with Jody on Pinegrove, that the finality of my breakup with Doug hit me with giant, ugly fist, leaving a ghastly mark that took years to fade. We had stayed in touch when he left Chicago, and for some reason I thought he was eventually going to come back. When he started telling me about a guy he was seeing, and kept telling me to get a boyfriend, the truth dawned on me.
It dawned on me when I came home from a Saturday evening run, a rare occurrence for me back then, but a boyhood habit I was trying to re-start, and I felt great and rejuvenated. Jody was gone for the evening, the apartment was spotless, the weather perfect, and Doug wasn't with me. I was alone. I was still waiting for him to come back. STILL! I was still waiting! I sat on the couch and lit a cigarette.
I ate. I got fat. I thought I was over him! I drank. I did drugs. I thought I didn't love him! I locked myself in my room and wouldn't talk. I smoked a thousand cigarettes. Was I so fragile, that a tiny push would send me over the edge, crashing to the floor, into a million pieces, never to be put back together? I guess at the time, I was. Maybe because this was the third time I had a relationship with someone I truly loved that ended badly, or just plain ended, and I felt hopeless and gross.
I got a sick pleasure from prodding those memories, and used them to justify any behavior I felt guilty about.

It's not easy, dissecting your past, but whenever I turn around to face it, it spins me forward again, and in the right direction.