Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Almost Forgot Myself

for sarah

September, 1990:
As I waited for the number eight Halsted bus, on the corner of Halsted and Armitage, I muttered a curse at it. I had taken that bus every day, twice a day, for over five years now, and I was sick of it. I was in the sometime habit of walking home to Sheridan and Broadway, about two miles away, but I wasn't in the mood this particular night.
After a few minutes, a cab pulls up in front of me and drops off a cute blond guy in a suit. He steps out of the cab, and instead of taking three steps to the curb where I am, he decides to sit down in the street. He stands up and sits down a few times, and I realize he can't stand up by himself, so I slowly walk into the street, and bend over to ask him if he wants my help with the three steps to the curb, and out of the street and away from drivers not on the look out for dudes sitting in the road.
Before I can get out more than a 'hey buddy', he growls at me, and sputters out: get the fuck away from me right now or I'll fucking kill you.
Whoa! ha ha, I laughed, as I threw up my hands. You got it, and I move back to the curb to wait for my bus. If I seriously thought I wouldn't have gotten bitten or worse, I would have helped him anyway.
The cars stopping at the light would either first look out their window at the guy in the street, and then to me, and gave me one of those I can't believe you're just standing there not helping him! looks, or rolled down their window and yelled at me to help him, where I would yell back: you try and see what happens!
No one, however, got out of their car to help.
I started to worry he would be in the way when the bus pulled up, and the bus driver would get mad at me if he had to get up and help the guy out of the street, and not let me on the bus. So I started to mentally and bodily nudge him in the right direction, as you would a bowling ball, whenever he made a wobbly attempt. After a few more tries he finally did it, and stumbled down Armitage I'm sure, to his doom. Or at least to a night in the shrubs.
Speaking of the CTA, I used the newly opened Irving Brown line stop, and saw the wonderful art work adorning the walls. Is it worth an extra quarter a ride? I guess so...

I was so into with John, once upon a time in nineteen-ninety. I loved how he looked at me when we danced together at Berlin, and the way his arms and shoulders moved, and the smile on his face. I was so worried about messing up my relationship with him, I totally messed up my relationship with him.
The first night I met him, in the summer '90, he invited me to the Belmont Rocks the next day to while away a Sunday afternoon with him and his friends. I was so scared, I begged Scot to go with me, which he did. We had a great time, the three of us, for his friends never showed, if they were even supposed to, and I grew more smitten. I watched as he lounged in the grass by the lake in his Calvin Klein boxer briefs, his tanned toes playing with the deep green blades, as we chatted and laughed long into the afternoon.
I could just look at him for hours... I thought to myself.

Gasp! you're wearing underwear out side, Madonna!
I said.
Yea, so?

The couple times I went to his place on Michigan Ave, I desperately wanted to, but didn't, go to bed with him.
I think the long string of one night stands I was having that year prevented me from sleeping with him, and because I liked him so much, I wanted to take a slower, different approach.
The last night we were together, in his high rise condo, with the night sky pouring in like a curious voyeur, we were still wrapped in that glorious, fuzzy, rose-tinted haze of a new relationship, with the spell of our desire for each other still potent, seemingly indestructible, fueling us closer together. I felt it hanging in the air, as if we were laying in a room in the Louvre, and saw it on John's face like a drug; I couldn't believe it was desire for me.
I came closer and closer to laying bare my amorous intentions for him, but never did. I watched his desire for me that night fade away; never again was I to see imaginings of me on his face.
As the months went on from that night, I was to often run into John around town, always with a beauty on his arm, and a smile for me, but as the years went on, he had less good cheer, and almost a look of contempt for me, shading his brow.
Maybe he saw on my face what I still held unwavering in my heart for him, and he grew tired of masking his disappointment in me for never sharing that with him.



Saturday, December 06, 2008

When I'm Up You're Coming Down

for graeme
I know, it's not January, but aren't you glad to see me? BTW, that last post was my 100th. Hurray for me. Thanks for wasting time with me!

When she walked into the train car, on the tube in London, on that unseasonably warm day in May, all heads turned. She was stunningly beautiful, after all, with her peaches and cream skin and dark golden blond curls cascading down her back, bobbing like a willow tree in the wind, but she was also dressed in the height of fashion for the time, in 1990: Katherine Hamnet (or were they Pam Hogg) copper patent leather moc-croc short shorts, and matching jacket. Jaws dropped. I didn't know where to look first. And she just stood there on the train, a typical cool English beauty, like it was no big deal that she was a fashion magazine come to life.
Londoners wield special fashion powers. It is especially strong, and you always know when you are in their presence, and the designers notice too: The Brits invent style and trends, the French make it beautiful, and New York sells it. It was a special thrill to see them in the flesh, living and breathing as they trotted around town on my first visit there, and I hunted for them, like rare birds, and found them lurking in stairwells smoking cigarettes, gliding in pairs down King's Road, or flitting around nightclubs.
For me, it's like a great painting being suddenly plopped down onto the street; some people have the gift of presenting a complete and perfect statement, idea, or feeling with what they choose to wear. I stop in my tracks and stare, eyes bugging shamelessly, every time.
I guess that's the appeal of movie stars and movies. Breakfast at Tiffany's and Gentlemen Prefer Blonds never bore me, because the costumes are so beautiful.
Monroe, Crawford, and Audrey all knew how to dress, and the power of the right choice. Chloey Sevigny does it for me. (Cute blog.)
Also on this trip, I got to be face to face with one of London's biggest fashion icons, Boy George. Yes, I'm finally telling that story.
I was with my boss, Consita, at Limelight one night, and we somehow found ourselves in the VIP lounge by accident, because now we were on the other side of the mob of people, we had just witnessed moments before, who wanted in.
(Someone left the downstairs backdoor open. That place is a maze of rooms.)
And who is standing six feet away from me but George himself.
I was a little haunted by George during my time in London, for I so, dare I hope, wanted to meet him, or at least see him. I imagined seeing him just rounding corners, going up escalators, or getting into cars; always just out of my reach. I turned into my childhood friend Mary. She was my lonely, slightly slow neighbor, and a few years older than me, who constantly interrupted our playtime by running off to 'talk' to a 'friend' she just 'saw'. Thinking about her makes me giggle and breaks my heart at the same time. Is that possible?
I think it was the combination of her full and curvy womanly body, married with the mind of a girl, that made her junior high school peers shrink away from her.

George was a few steps away from me, and I wanted to run, but Consita had a better idea. She pulled me up to him and said Hi George, I'm Consita and this is Brian and we're from Chicago and we wanted to say hi! Perfect, right?
Hi! I'd love to talk to you two, so can you hang out for a minute while I finish talking to those two? He said, as he turned and pointed.
Love to talk tooo....??? I thought.
He was bookended by two of the most gorgeous men you ever saw. I'd finish that conversation, too.
By the time this happened, I was pretty drunk, for it was one of those I'm gonna get drunk tonight! nights, which was an unusual statement for me to make, because getting drunk every night was a given for me back then. I think it helped calm me down though, and helped me to act casual and non chalant, for I was tripping on some heavy Boy George acid.
When he came back over, he introduced us to all the people he was with, who could have been the Beatles and the Queen for all I knew, and bought us drinks from the giant stack of drink tickets in his hand. When I saw that stack, I immediately thought of Marilyn, and his Chicago Limelight performance: the rumour was the owner made him sing there, and New York, to pay off his huge London Limelight bar tab.
Yes, Mare, I could pay off your bar tab, but what lesson would you learn from that? I imagined George saying.
George's hair was cropped and magenta, and we were wearing similar outfits: black palazzo pants with a Gaultier t-shirt and blazer. My Gaultier blazer was borrowed from my friend Rex, It was a thousand dollars, so don't wreck it, and my t-shirt was Junior Gaultier, and I felt like a junior George.
We talked about his interview I had just read in i-D magazine, but he could talk really fast, and with that accent of his, well, it was hard for me to follow him, so I took dives into his amazing blue eyes. No wonder he's famous, look at those eyes, I thought to myself or said out loud, I don't know. Pictures don't capture them. Colour by Numbers comes close.
After a while, George slips away, with a promise to return, and Consita and I talk:
"Bea is going to be so jealous! George is so nice! I think he likes you! Can you belive it? Partying with Boy George!" Consita says.
I was still at a loss for words, but I knew I needed another drink, and left the way we entered, back downstairs. The door was shut, so I kept it propped open a bit while I got my drink.
Of course it was locked when I got back, and I spent twenty minutes trying to get Consita's attention from the other balcony, waving like a lunatic.
See. Me. Now. George. Is. In. There. See. Me. Now!
She finally saw me and snuck me back in, and we talked with George some more.
Do I tell him I can remember the first time I saw a picture of him? Do I tell him about the hours I spent dancing around my bedrooms in small town Arkansas and small town Wisconsin, pretending I was him? Do I confess to him all the time I spent looking at pictures of him, memorizing every fashion detail? I decide not to, for whenever I had the impulse to relate my experiences to him, I read in those eyes of his a look of knowing, like he could read my thoughts, and his desire to simply enjoy this moment we were having together.
I should have stopped drinking, but didn't, and by the end of the night I was quite wobbly, and George drifted away from me and down to one end of a blurry hallway, discussing me with a friend, while Consita and I tried to hold each other up, on the other end.
We stumbled home, back the the flat we rented by Harrods, and woke Bea with our news.
For days afterward, I floated around London with the power of I spent the night with George, and he liked me! keeping me two feet off the ground.

God's speed, George.

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