Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Rain-Coated Lover's Puny Brother


A story from 1987 follows...

"Brian, Michael's been calling you." Brad said to me one night.
"Michael T.?! How did he get this number?!" I asked.
Micheal T was a guy from our not too distant past, who reminds me now a days of Eddie Izzard, but with a language barrier. Eddie is hilarious, but if you grew up in China, you may want to avoid him, if you know what I mean. One night he finally gets me on the phone:
"I hear you and Brad have a place together! Can I come and visit? Can I stay at your place?" He asked.
"Um, OK." I say.
"What is there to do?" He asked.
"Well, I pretty much go to Limelight all the time and..."
"What! Limelight! How fabulous! Do famous people go there? Can we go there?!" He squealed into the phone.
"Sure," I say "there's lots of cool bars. Brad works at one you might like."
"How do I get there?" He asked. I tell him I live just off an exit from the interstate.
"Oh my God! I'm going to Chicago! I'm going to Chicago!" Michael screams.
I didn't hear from him again until the year 2005.

I've wanted to go to London for as long as I could remember. It wasn't til I met Bryan, who had been many times by the time I met him in 1985, and Robert, a 'Berlin' friend, who was 'going for the weekend', sometime during the summer of that same year, that I ever thought I could actually go myself.
I'm going to London for the weekend! Yea, just a few days! Robert said.
Moron. I think to myself.
How was London? I ask. Great! I just went for the weekend! He said. Idiot.

My boss at the time, Consita, really made this trip possible for me when she asked if I wanted to tag along for her class at Toni and Guy, in May of 1990. I saved for months, and had quite the sum when the day finally came.
I remember being in a panic, waiting for my taxi to O'Hare, I almost stayed home. But a powerful, quiet sense of 'everything will be alright' came over me, and I got into the cab. That feeling was one I recognized from childhood, and I trusted it.
The first few days I was on my own, meeting Consita and her friend Bea later, so I wanted to get off the plane knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. I studied the street and subway maps so thoroughly I practically had them memorized.
My roommate Rex had told me about an affordable B&B on Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park Rooms, and during my research I found there were many B&Bs on that street, so I decided to choose one once I got there.
Wearily stumbling in and out of several B&Bs on my first morning in London, I choose Hyde Park Rooms. (Still a great B&B and deal.)
Sussex Gardens and the surrounding area, Paddington, was unassuming and tree lined at the time, so the sounds of children at play echoing up into my shared and rented bathroom brought the city of London down to earth for me, as well as taking some of the air out of the whirling images of it's high fashion, mega night life glamour slinging around my brain.
It was hard falling asleep that first night, for I was overwhelmed by the actual achievement of my life long goal, and the British-accented reverberations filled my thoughts long into the night.
The first thing I did was go to Soho, for that's all i-D magazine talked about. My love for the ancient in London was in it's infancy, and my fascination for all things trendy and youthful was all consuming, and hard to miss in London, for the desire of young Britons to define their generation, in the face of so much tradition is pretty contagious.

I was a little Viv Nicholson, a little Spend! Spend! Spend!, and I loved every minute of it. Each morning I went to the deathly over priced currency exchange, because the guy was so cute, and I read in him an ever so slight urge to tell me of a more economical way to get some pounds, which he resisted. ATMs weren't universal yet, and I hadn't a credit card. Next stop was my tube stop, Paddington, by the long gone 70's era steak joint which, unfortunately, we ate at.
Eating was my main problem; fear of eating alone in London. Sadly, I was ostracized most of my Junior high and high school days, so you would think I would be over it, but when I talked to Rex about eating alone, he told me that was what he looked forward to the most when he was working in New York.
His words echoed in my mind during my first meal there, and by the next one, my fear was gone.
My first night in London, though being extremely jet lagged, I went to find Heaven, "under the arches", whatever the hell that means. I walked in circles for hours that night, til I ran into an Italian looking gay, and asked him if he was looking for Heaven. Not understanding his response, I moved on.
The next night I found it right away, but had a bad time. Heaven is huge, but no fun when you're alone. I was fascinated by the roving bands of club kids decked out in all white.
Wearing all white was a moment unique to 1990. I think it was a fashion statement saying the 80's are over; wearing all black is over, so let's start with a clean fashion slate. Most all the clothes I bought on that trip were all white.
For the next two nights, I decided to wait til Bea and Consita got to London to go out to the clubs, so I went to the movies. I saw Sweetie, the Australian flick that began so well, only to die a slow death, and The Krays.
The Krays! The Krays! There were posters all over the place shouting The Krays! Every time I saw that poster, I thought to myself, I thought those were the Kemp brothers...
I started to assume this was their new post Ballet gig, til I saw The Krays on a movie marquee. Oh, it's a movie...
I know you're thinking how can i be such a Morrissey fan and not know about the Krays; TLOTFIP, after all. I guess I just sang along to the chorus back then. (That boy was so cute. Whatever became of him...?)

More later...


American Girl said...

Some day I'll have to tell you my "Sweetie" story. Sadly, it doesn't involve shopping in London.

Anonymous said...

Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!