Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's All In My Mind


Tony had a quiet presence about him, as if he were made of marble, or a statue found in Tutankhamen's tomb, come to life. I sometimes got close to him to check if his chest was actually moving up and down. He was tall and thin and still, and moved with the slow grace of a redwood swaying in the breeze. His presence also had a timeless permanence to it, like all the extra comet dust floating around space was gathered up just to create him.
Was he on drugs, or naturally this way? I asked myself one afternoon in Berlin. We were meeting the other Tony, Tony T, to talk about a fashion show he was putting on- Tony was going to model, I was going to present an outfit.
As we chatted, I realized this was the first time I had spent time alone with him, and it was a little overwhelming for me.

What is his deal? I thought, as we made small talk. Is he depressed or serene? I asked him questions to gauge where he was coming from, without directly saying it, because I didn't know him very well then. We talked a long time that afternoon, in 1991, and I came to the conclusion he was either wearing his eternity on his sleeve, or just plain tired.

The fashion show was a lot of fun; I had my friend Siobhan model a pre-Gaga football girl satire ensemble. (Lady Gaga is a cute weird dresser, but I like Roisin a little better...)
I bejeweled and spray painted gold metallic a set of football shoulder pads from the thrift store, gave her a bee hive hair do instead of a helmet, and paired it with bright orange stretch pants, the word 'hell' sewn to her butt, in big floral letters. Of course she played on Hell's team. To top it off, I gave her a Jewel shopping bag to carry down the runway, as an homage to Wickie-Poo, because no matter where I ran into him, he had on an amazing out fit that turned heads, and elicited jeers. I hope Renee has a picture of it laying around somewhere...

Life with Chris and Cath began pretty well, but I soon grew discontented with our arrangement. I guess I was at the start of my search for a life without drugs and alcohol, but didn't realize it at the time, and I couldn't bear being in the apartment with them very much, between Chris' all night mini drug parties, and Cath's wake and bake-edness (rhymes with nakedness). They drove me nuts because I wanted to be doing what they were doing all the time. Don't get me wrong, I was no saint, and I kept up with them, but only a day or two at a time. I was yet again around 24 hour party people, and resenting their abilities at it. I knew my addictions enough to know I couldn't hold down a job if I partied like I wanted to, and begrudgingly only went out a few nights a week.
So to avoid them , I got up early and went to a coffee shop on Broadway, aptly named Coffee Chicago, and hung out a few hours before work started, at one pm. (It's where Joy's Noodles is now. I spent countless hours next to that brick wall...)
I can't remember what I did for all that time, besides drinking tons of coffee, but I must have read books. After breakfast I walked the fifteen blocks to work, which took me an hour or so, and after walking back to the coffee shop after work, I stayed til close, which was midnight. I liked the nights there better, because they played old movies in a side room. A cup of coffee and a movie for a buck? Not bad. The kids who worked there got to know me pretty well, but I wasn't in the mood for any new friendships, I couldn't handle the ones I already had, so I kept to myself for the most part.
Friday nights were the worst. I had to be up super early to walk to work, to not drive in with Cath, because her smoke wouldn't kick in until we got to work, which was too late, for being with an unbaked Wake and Bake on a Saturday morning is just about the most dreadful way one can start one's day.
Chris' sounds of a party trying to not make a sound in his room, kept me up for hours. Then, just as I fell asleep, his ex showed up drunk on our buzzer, pressing it a hundred times, begging to be let in. No amount of threats or swearing ever dissuaded him from doing it again the next week. Maybe that's why he gave us so much free weed. That stuff was amazing. I had never got anything but paranoid from it in the past, not from lack of trying, but this guy's stuff became my reason for living. One puff and it was hours of happy laughy time. I seriously considered turning my life over to it, and did, for that whole year.
On the weekends, I went out with Renee and we'd do normal things like go to the movies or karaoke, and going to Scoozi or Hat Dance, and brunches at Queeny Mark's place in River City, and tea dances with the Berlin gang.
BUT, if Renee wasn't around, I hung out with Chris and Tony, and their scary friends. Their friends are just a blur in my memory, just a flash, because of all my consumings. I don't mean Chris's old friends you can still find at Berlin. I freak out a little when I see them, for they are still together, tied in their forged familial bonds, all these years later.
No, these people were scary in their commitment to ruin. Hour after hour, drug after drug, it was too much. One night the Mark I was dating was with us, and the next day he told me a the guy hosting the party turned to him and said, in a horrid monotone voice, with a shit eating grin on his face: Soon, very soon, most of the people in this room will die. And you wanna know why...? Mark was to afraid to say anything. Because of the decisions they are making right now...
Mark was so perturbed by that guy, he wouldn't be around him again, even thought it meant a free party. He'd ask me if the You Wanna Know Why Guy was going to be there, whenever I asked him out after that.
Mark, I'd say, that freak always has that look on his face, his brain is fried. He's a mess. Don't listen to him.

But no matter what happened that week or over the weekend, Chris and I would wind the night down together, sometimes with Tony and Cathy, by watching movies on Cath's VCR, her super-expensive early Eighties gift from her dad VCR. Usually the same movies: Female Trouble and Glen or Glenda, and/or Desperate Living. We had them all memorized, but we never tired of them. I guess it always helps when you know somebody else has it worse off than you, and no one had it worse than Dawn Davenport...
No one knows suffering like Lana Turner! (I think that's from Polyester)
I was just looking at the list of movies from 1991, and Chris and Renee and I saw so many of them in the theater, I can't believe it. How did I find the time or energy? None of use could stop talking about My Own Private Idaho, we really loved it, and Whore made us laugh our ass off. (At the funny parts. Or Theresa's blunt performance. I'm not sure which.) To this day, whenever I see a limo, I assume Theresa Russell's in there, nonchalantly working a three way.


Tony, Chris & Renee, 1991