I had a lovely afternoon on Saturday watching the Eurovision final with a fun group of Germans and my cousin and her family. I drank too much wine and spent the afternoon critiquing the performers' vocals and clothes in German. (Being queer and bitchy in German is such a delight!)
In addition to seeing my beloved Queen of Austria perform two new songs, I also quite enjoyed the performance of hunky Mans Zelmerlow, who ended up winning the world's gayest competition (with all due to respect to "Ru Paul's Drag Race").
He's a tasty Swedish treat, he is!
A dream from the wee hours of Monday night: WG has made it to the final 4 of "Ru Paul's Drag Race." It came as a shock to me, as I didn't recall auditioning or even owning make-up and fabulous frocks, but there you have it.
I have to say that as a fellow big girl, I was hurt at how shady Ginger Minj was to me in the workroom. (Pearl was super nice, oddly enough.) Then, to my chagrin, Ru Paul shantayed in and told me all my scenes had been edited out due to voluminous viewer complaints. Well DAMN.
I woke up as I was sobbing in the arms of Conchita Wurst. (She just showed up, like magic. And she smelled so pretty.)
Saturday night I was at loose ends and decided to check out one of the myriad homo movies I have in my Netflix queue.
It was with low expectations that I started watching Four Moons, but I was quickly pulled in by the film's four interwoven stories of gay men at various stages of life: bullied gay teen; long-time partners struggling with infidelity and boredom; a closeted, married sexagenarian and his obsession with a young hustler at the sauna, and two "straight" men whose friendship takes a romantic turn.
The dazzling fellow here, Antonio Velázquez, played Hugo. His character in the movie was a real prick, but he was sure nice to look at.
Check the movie out. It made me cry, but then lots of stuff does that.
Hi. This has been a hard few months. Losing my dad in April has colored much of life in the following months. There have been, and continue to be, many sad days.
However, I do my best to find something each day that makes me happy. And today, it's this image. I do love me some Conchita Wurst...
I'm also hoping that writing will help me be happier. So maybe I'll be around here a bit more.
He told me that he had joined the NYC police force hoping he'd meet me someday (um, okay), and he couldn't believe that fortune had thrown us together in the same Vietnamese restaurant in Eagan. I agreed that the odds were long indeed, but there we were, in love.
In a nice bit of intertextuality, as we were smooching he said, "This is so much better than kissing that silly horse-face!" Clearly a reference to SJP from SATC, a program that I have never once watched.
I might also have have referred to him as "Mr. Big," but I'm disinclined to share further details in that regard.
It's a cliche expression, but I literally grew up with her music. I was a sixth-grader living in Atlanta, GA when Donna was first at the top of the charts, and I recall hanging the front cover of Newsweek magazine on my wall. It featured Donna's rightful title, "The Queen of Disco."
Many were the hours I spent dancing with my sisters in our parents' basement, nearly blowing out my dad's speakers with the thumping bass of "I Feel Love," a song I probably listen to at least once a week to this day.
Both my my sisters sent me texts this afternoon expressing their sadness; I think we all feel like we'd lost a part of our childhood, part of our family. Donna's soaring rich voice had few equals, and it's sad to think it has been stilled far too soon.
In the past few years, my sisters and I were lucky enought to see Donna perform twice. Both concerts were phenomenal. She may have lost the bad-girl figure she once had, but that glorious voice could still tear off the roof.
She will be dearly missed.
Those seemingly mundane words were the last that Darren ever spoke to me as my partner.
The next words out of his mouth were, "I have to tell you that I don't love you anymore, and I'm ending our relationship."
And just like that, 14 years with the man I loved more than life itself came to an abrupt, excrutiating end.
Not so abrupt for him, of course. He told me as I sat in sick, mute horror that he'd been feeling this way for a year or more--gradually growing more distant from me emotionally, sexually.
But for more the last 18 months, I've had a broken leg, and I was trying to heal from two botched ankle surgeries. I wasn't really picking up on subliminals too well.
Did I miss signs of his discontent? I'm sure I did. But there certainly weren't many. True, we'd had two (as in exactly 1 more than 1) conversations since Christmas in which he stated that he wasn't as happy as he'd like to be. But there was no hint that he was looking for an out, eager to pull the plug on us after so many years.
So. He moved out a week ago. Much remains to be decided. There's the house, shared finances, and Hudson, who still waits in vain by the back door for his other dad to come home in the evening.
All relationships, especially ones as long as ours had been, go through rough patches. I felt we could work out our problems. But now that's a moot point. We're in counseling with a really smart, no-nonsnse therapist whom we both really like. But our goal isn't reconciliation.
It was MY goal, mind you. But he's not having any of it. Apparently there are great new adventures to be had.
With new men.
So, we work now to bring the swiftest, least destructive end to the relationship I had thought would sustain me until I died. And though I feel as though I have died, it appears I will go on living.
Now, the question is simply, "How?"
Damn, that was fun.
Last night Darren and I (along with 90% of the homos in the Twin Cities) attended a very enjoyable Pet Shop Boys concert at the State Theater in Minneapolis. Darren had seen them perform on Halloween night a few years ago, but this was my first time at one of their shows.
I have to admit that I found the first few minutes of the concert to be underhwelming. Sure there was the initial "Oooh, cool, it's really them!" moment, and because we had amazing third row seats, we could see Neil Tenant extremely well.
I'm just used to my pop stars (Prince, Madonna, even poor stoned George Michael) exuding a LOT more oomph in the performances.
Honestly, most of the gay boys gyrating in the crowd probably worked up more of a lather than Neil ever did. But then I reminded myself that acting as though they're heavily sedated has always been a major part of the duo's vibe, and after that I had more fun.
Cameras were allowed, and because of our great seats I got some really cool shots during the show.
It definitely seemed like sugar-daddy situation, but based on the lad's unflagging enthusiasm throughout the concert, daddy was going to get his money's worth for the ticket.
Alas, in this picture his arms aren't raised, so you're deprived of the beauty of his sculpted biceps. Swoon.
Finally, although the audio quality of this clip is truly abominable (the iPhone is never going to be the bootlegger's tool of choice), here's a snippet of the show's encore, the obligatory yet still very fun West End Girls.
It was a fun night--much more entertaining that a Wednesday night knitting at home.
PS. Aw hell, you deserve the biceps, too! Just turn the sound down--it's not needed.
The butterfly has emerged from his chrysalis, and he's fabulous in plaid...
Yes, my witty pal Scott has a new blog! Oh, how missed his pointed musings these last few months...
Since I am utterly tapped out creatively these days, why not go read his inaugural blog post?
I'll most likely be here when you come back.
Kick-ass weekends to you all!
I love Kylie for many reasons. Some of them surround her in this video...
Damn, I need a bevy of hot dancer boys. But who doesn't really?
Have a great weekend, y'all. BTW, posts here next week might be somewhat sparse, as I'll be in Boston much of the week for a conference. I'll do by best to post at least once from there, though!
Amidst the chaos of my life these past few weeks, I failed to take time to appropriately commemorate a truly wondrous blog that came to the end of its run, Going 40 in a 20 Zone.
My remarkable friend Scott, who started his blog two years ago to document his return to college and completion of his degree in music, graduated from Hamline University several weeks ago.
Like the best of Mexican soap operas (take Dos Mujeres, un Camino, for example) Scott is a class act who knew to leave the stage at his moment of climax.
If you haven't had the good sense to click on the link to his blog right over there -->> in the past, I encourage you to do so now. Scott put together a mighty fine blog, and I already miss it something fierce.
In a week or two I'll take down the link to Going 40, wistfully and with an ache in my heart, like when I take down the Christmas tree.
Scooter, we hardly knew ye.
Funny that I had only been to Chicago once, back in January 1986, but this will be my second trip there in seven months.
We will not be doffing our clothes and donning towels at Steamworks. I can imagine nothing so horrifying quite frankly, but the Germans can't wait to hit the sauna. You'll never catch me in such a body-exposing setting.
We're planning to to do an architectural cruise, and there may be a museum visit or two. The weather isn't supposed to be all the warm, but I would like to spend some time along the lake shore, too.
I'll try to post some pictures while we're there. I know how you enjoy that...
Hi kids! Sorry, there's still little time for blogging, as I continue to play host to my friends from Germany. We've been having a great time since they arrived Sunday afternoon. They're currently exploring northern Minnesota, causing who knows what sorts of Teutonic mischief.
Tomorrow I'm back to work after three days of vacation, and I expect to come home very tired indeed, despite culling 100 emails from my inbox when we returned from Duluth this afternoon.
The same sticker on the back of a motorcycle. (Truly, I had no idea such stickers even existed. You can imagine how much use I have for them.)
The view from our hotel room in Duluth, MN.
The Duluth harbor
Darren, Peter and Nils stroll toward the lighthouse on the Duluth shore
Taking a break on a well-situated lake-side bench
Hudson, very tired indeed after five days playing with his doggy friends.
On Friday Nils & Peter return for a few more days here in Minnesota, and then on Wednesday we're all off to Chicago.
More reports as time allows.
Yours as ever,
Hi dearies. Yes, this post is nothing more than a naked plea for your hard-earned dollars. On May 17, Darren and I will be walking for the second time in the Minnesota AIDS Walk. Didn't we look adorable last year?
I know money is tight in these precarious financial times, but with AIDS cases steadily on the rise, the need for for donations has never been greater.
As last year, we'll be walking with my company's team. If you're so inclined, you can make your donation on my secure web page provided by the Minnesota AIDS Project.
Thank you for your (tax-deductible) generosity!
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving as I left work and contemplated the drudgery of of 45 minutes at the gym, I said to myself, "Screw it, I'll just go back Monday."
Nearly five months later, after a surfeit of indefensible sloth, unrestrained indulgence in food and drink, and a concomitant mysterious shrinkage of every pair pants in my closet, I have rededicated myself--yet again--to a regular exercise routine.
I'm not at all happy with the physical state I find myself in, but I'm choosing not to dwell. Instead I've decided to return to the Couch-to-5K Running Plan that I did a few years ago with quite good success.
Today was Day 3 of Week 1. If you followed the link above, you'll see that I'm not doing much running yet. That's good, because I'm in crappy shape.
Today's workout was greatly improved by the presence of the strapping young man on the treadmill just in front of me. Watching his well muscled legs powering along, I quickly slipped into my little fantasy world, in which overtaking the hunk means I can possess him. (In the Judy Tenuta usage of the word.)
A minute or two after he started jogging, the most wonderful cologne wafted back towards me. I have no idea what scent he was wearing, but it was intoxicating without being overwhelming. (I have a very fine nose, not quite in the league of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, but pretty damn good.) Ah, entrancing. Once I even forgot to switch back to my walking pace for my 90 seconds of walking.
I firmly believe if that young man were in front of me, I could run a marathon. Or at least happily croak while trying.
As Iowa wingnuts push for a Prop 8 style amendment of the state constitution to set aside the state Supreme Court's landmark ruling of marriage equality, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal had this genius response.
Amen to that.
Suck in a bad way, I mean.
Sure, there's always someone cute on the cover, and there's invariably a photo spread inside that makes me drool while simultaneously feeling like a beached whale compared to the vacant-eyed air-brushed waifs who frolic in their square-cut trunks on the shores of Fiji or wherever, but I can't remember the last time I spent more than ten minutes flipping through Out or The Advocate.
I guess I sort of miss the pre-Barnes & Noble days of The Advocate, when it was comprised of eight glossy pages sandwiching 50 pages of seedy newsprint adds for sex-toys, phone-sex lines, and other sundries integral (or so it seemed) to the life of the average homosexual.
When I was in grad school, I enjoyed the edgy Outweek, which lived it's brief life in the late 80's and early '90s. Edgy, dangerous, and angry, the magazine was just the thing I needed when I was taking my first tentative steps out of the closet.
That's not to say that there's a complete dearth of quality writing in today's gay magazines. Kenneth has written some pieces I really enjoy, for example. However, I find myself so, so bored by most of the "articles" that provide flimsy excuses for pictures for scantily clad men.
Now, I'm an enormous admirer of the male form (perhaps you had noticed), but I can see hot men online for free. So why do I fork out $25 a year for Out?
To quite one of my favorite lines from Heathers, "Because you're an idiot!"
Yesterday, Darren and I saw Graham Norton in La Cage auf Folles. He was amazing--comedically, that is. Not so strong in the singing department. I didn't care that much about the singing, though, because the rest of his performance was so strong. Nearly peed myself from laughing, I did!
Today we're off to York to meet my friend Raphael. No more blogging until I'm back in the USA, kids, sorry!
I can't say I look anything like Mr Walker, but I will state for the record that I'm fairly pleased with the result.
Will I be able to recreate it tomorrow morning before I got to work? Only time will tell.
Thanks for being with me as I made this momentous decision. Without you, I'd be nothing. And I'd look like Cousin It.
I've decided that one way to look thinner is to go back to a short hair style so at least my head will seem smaller. So you all have until 3:00 (Central Time) today to help me choose a new cut.
Now, bearing in mind that I have 15-20 years and 60 to 80 pounds on these fine chaps, here are the options I'm considering. (These pictures come to us courtesy of coolmenshair.com. Bookmark the site--you never know when you might night follicular inspiration.)
1. Josh Duhumel's rakish look appeals to me, both the longer and shorter versions.
2. Enriquita's short 'do is sharp, too, though I'm not sure I like the distinct weight-line on the sides.
3. Demi's boytoy is sporting the look I wanted when I started growing my hair out a few months back. I think I'm too fussy to manage stylishly messy well, though. (Could I be trained?)
4. Paul Walker shows the leading contender. Tidy and no fuss.
5. Unless I go in a bold new direction...
What's a boy to do??
A variety of responses suitable for Prop 8 supporters, courtesy of Whine & Cheese
As many of you probably know, on Saturday, there were over 300 rallies across the USA to protest the passage of anti-gay ballot measures in California, Florida, Arkansas, and Arizona.
Proposition 8 in California, narrowly approved after buttinsky Mormons contributed millions to help overturn gay marriage rights, has received the most press coverage.
Several speakers at Saturday's rally argued that the Arkansas vote to prohibit gay and lesbian couples from adopting children or being foster parents is in some ways even more disheartening because it strikes at the children of GLBT families. Well, take your pick, there's plenty to be unhappy about.
I'm a very nervous Nelly, and it's not like me to show up at a public rally. Darren was persistent, though, and Going 40's threats of brunch-related retribution also had their effect.
So Saturday afternoon we stood in the plaza at the Hennepin County Government Center with a good 1500 other hardy souls braving the November chill to listen to an array of speakers, some excellent, so not so great.
I found the experience quite inspiring, even though I will admit that I didn't participate in any of the chants. I'm just not a chanter. I'm way too self-conscious about being loud. Can't do it.
Anyway, here are a few pictures we took Saturday. It was a DAMN cold 90 minutes, but I'm glad Darren didn't let me wuss out and stay home by the fire.
I got quite a kick out of this next one...
Do I want to walk down the aisle? No, I don't. What I do want, though, is for Darren and me to be able to fill out a form at the courthouse and get all the same legal protections afforded to married couples.
Last Friday afternoon several of my friends from the gay employee group and I spent a couple hours helping out at the the Minnesota AIDS Project. It was a great experience, and I definitely plan to go back again.
After an informative and interesting tour of the facilty, our pleasant volunteer coordinator put us to work assembling safe sex kits. Each little ziplock baggie got four condoms, a packet of lube, and a fact sheet on lowering risking of HIV infection.
I honestly don't think I'd ever seen so many condoms before. It was quite informative. For example, since I'm not really a connoisseur of condoms, I had been unaware that there was a a self-proclaimed "Official Hip-Hop Condom."
Yes, roll on a Rottweiler, boys, and you are the height of urban contemporary sexual fashion. (Somehow I find the combination of snarling dogs and willies off-putting, but maybe that's just me.)
We had literally a dozen types of condoms to choose from as we assembled our kits, and I enjoyed making fun combo-packs, e.g. a Rottweiler, a Lifestyles Kiss of Mint, a snug-fit, and a Dual-Pleasure with extra room at the tip.
Since I had no way of knowing the girth or favorite flavors of the people would be receiving these care packages, I thought it wise to cover my bases.
Apart from some seriously slippery fingers (some of the lubricated condoms' packets in the heaps we worked through had leaked onto their neighbors) it was a really pleasant experience. I plan to go back with Darren and some friends to volunteer again sometime soon. It's a great cause, and I can always use help fighting dry winter skin.
So He Who Must Not Be Named finally fumbled his way out of the closet, huh?
Not that anyone is really surprised.
Well, I suppose some people might be. I'm sure the Claymates are wailing and gnashing their teeth today. Who will they make death-threats against now that the truth is out?
I have never watched a single episode of American Idol, nor do I listen to any radio stations that might play Clay's music, so I hadn't even heard the icky Howdy-Doody-looking creature sing until I saw a commercial for his compilation of diva power-ballads.
Wow, is that some total shite! Seriously, my right ear (the bad one) still drips blood occasionally from the abuse it suffered during that one interminable minute ten months ago.
Okay, Ricky Martin. Time to step up and take one for the team. You owe us, baby. We watched you on General Hospital and we even pretended to like soccer for you. Now shake your bon-bon and fess up.
And please, no power ballads.
Darren and I arrived at Loring Park about fifteen minutes before my two-hour shift in the company booth. I chatted with two women I know from the monthly GLBT meeting, and I learned about doling out the freebies to passers-by. (Not that there was too much to learn.) People seemed quite pleased by our give-aways, but the biggest hits were the caramels and the Sweet Tarts. (Sweet Tarts?? Go figure.)
My friend Jay arrived a few minutes after I did, and we spent the next couple hours chatting with people who wanted to know more about our company and what we do. Quite a few passers-by were interested in finding a job with us, and it was a good feeling to assure them that it's a very gay-friendly company.
Naturally we met more than a few total freakazoids over the course of two hours, but we also got to talk with some really sharp, interesting people who would be great additions our workplace.
Best of all, a bevy of sexy men strolled by, and we saw a lot of cute dogs. In both cases, WOOF.
(Speaking of sexy men, many thanks to my friends who stopped in to chat a bit with me. I enjoyed seeing you!)
As for Gay Pride itself, I'm afraid I found it as underwhelming as I usually do. I didn't even really get a chance to walk through the park to see the other booths and pick up free samples of lube. (It's all about the freebies, people.)
Once we finished our shift, Jay and I packed up the booth, and then we and our dashing partners went out for a really tasty Thai dinner. We were joined by my good friend John, whom I met the same night I met Darren, eleven years ago. The relaxing meal with a group of really nice guys was definitely the high point of the day for me.
Rather than return to the park after dinner to see En Vogue perform, Darren and I headed home to the sedate south 'burbs by 9:00 or so. Darren mixed up a strong batch of his (patent pending) cosmos, and we enjoyed a chatt on our balcony as the sun set over the pond.
I'm sure I'll volunteer to help out again at the festival next year, because it was a really positive experience, and I was happy to help out my GLBT group.
However, I'm more certain than ever that I'm totally over Pride at this point in my life. Been there, done that. I'd much rather spend the day at Ikea--or snuggling on the couch with Darren and Hudson. That's the reality of my gay life, and I couldn't be prouder of it.
My previous employer always has a presence at Pride, too, but in ten years, it never crossed my mind to volunteer to do anything that might have made the company look as though it were an especially gay-friendly (or even a relatively decent) place to work. It's neither.
Oh, by the way, the dreadful company in question was U.S. Bank. (Aha! At long last he spills the beans!)
On the occasions I went to Pride, I always made a point of stopping by the bank's booth, just to reassure myself that they were indeed giving out some of the chintziest, crappiest freebies in the whole park. I was rarely disappointed.
Care for a US Bank-branded Band-Aid dispenser? "How many stars does YOUR Band Aid have?"
Get bent, you cheap bastards.
Now, though, for the first time since I entered the corporate world, I can actually vouch for the fact that my company is a good place for gays to work. For example, during my day-one orientation, the gay employee group was mentioned prominently as an important resource for employees. I even got a handout!
By way of contrast, in my orientation at U.S. Bank, the HR rep actually bragged that all real plants had been removed from the building in a genius move to cut wasteful spending that didn't improve the bottom line. "Plastic is just fine with us," chirped the dull-witted orientation lead.
Believe me, a company that sees live plants as wasteful frippery is not going to provide a holiday party specifically for its gay employees.
It's amazing how much loyalty some
chicken wings, beer and a night of bowling can buy a firm when compared to a self-proclaimed "employer of choice," who spent not one thin dime to show a homo a good time in the ten years I worked there.
Another reason I'm happy to represent my company at Pride this year: I have gay friends at work. That may sound simplistic, but the fact is that I had no gay friends at my old job. Zero. As in not one.
Nor did I know how to make any gay friends, because the bank did nothing to promote networking among its employees, gay or straight. (Why waste your time making friends or forming personal connections with other professionals when you could just be staring into space in your cube, silently screaming into the void of your own mind while you wait for the agonizing minutes to tick by?)
(Full disclosure: There was a queeny guy I noticed at lunch occasionally, but that was about it. I once heard him use the word "supposably," which was enough to tell me that we didn't need to meet.)
In contrast, I've been at my current company less than a year, and I've made a dozen gay friends. Even more amazingly, I originally met them all through activities sponsored and funded by the company. That's pretty damn cool.
So, sure, I don't really care that much about the Pride celebration itself, but I'm happy to tell other queers they should think about working where I do. I used to complain to Darren all the time that we had fewer gay friends than any other gay couple we know. That may still be true, but we have a lot more than we used to, and my job has been a huge part of that. (Along with the knitting--let's be real here.)
If you're one of my local pals, look for me tomorrow. You know the company. Come by and chat for a while. I promise not to give you a Band Aid dispenser.
Pride weekend was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Pride--upon which the entire queer year revolved.
Yes, this is the weekend that we gay boys and girls of the Twin Cities let down our hair (or put on our teased-up, sky-high wigs) and take to the streets and parks to celebrate our rainbow-hued fabulosity in the nation's third largest Gay Pride celebration.
I know it makes me sound like a party-poop (Darren pretty much called me that when I told him what I was writing about for this post), but I've never been a huge fan of Pride. I have nothing against it, but it's just not my cup of tea somehow. I feel the same way during Superbowl weekend.
I'm like the Charlie Brown of Gay Pride: "I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Pride is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."
Unlike Charlie Brown, I don't need Linus to stand in a spotlight and explain "the reason for the season." I'm enormously grateful for the huge gains the gay community has made since the 1969 Stonewall riots that Pride hearkens back to. That social progress is definitely worth celebrating, and I never take it for granted.
Look, I certainly don't begrudge anyone their wild fun this weekend; it's just that I personally have never really enjoyed the event itself all that much.
As an out gay man, I feel obligated to attend the festival in Loring Park at least every few years for an hour or two. I make a desultory loop around the park with Darren and a couple of friends, but I quickly grow bored, footsore, and sweaty, and I want to hit the road to have drink someplace where I can use real money instead of obscenely expensive festival tickets.
As un-hip as it makes me sound, I'm always relieved to return to the 'burbs, to our happy little terrier, and the comfortable, sequin-free reality of a gay lifestyle that doesn't feature men in leather chaps, or tweaked-out shirtless twinks parading about in body glitter, or dykes on bikes.
All of that gay revelry is fun to see for a couple hours, and though I am invariably impressed and heartened by the sheer numbers and types of queer folk who turn out to enjoy their weekend in the sun, I've always felt like just a non-participant observer at Pride. It's kind of like I'm at "Gay Country Safari."
Naturally, I recognize that I lug my own considerable collection neurosis and baggage to the park with me, and these don't do me any favors.
Given my reticence about Pride, it may come of something of a surprise to you (it certainly surprises me) that this Saturday afternoon I'll spend two hours at Pride stationed in my company's booth.
How did that come to be?
I'm afraid you must wait until tomorrow for the answer...
Darren and I have been asked that question more often that one might expect. It's always an awkward moment, and it gets even more so if our standard reply of "Neither" doesn't nip things in the bud.
"Oh, so just friends?"
Yeah sure, whatever, we're just friends. Now, can you please just finish bagging up our goat cheese, fresh pasta, and mojito mix and let us leave??
I mean come on. We're both stocky Nordic-looking boys with sandy blond hair and dazzling blue eyes. I could maybe see that someone might think we're cousins, but twins?
Right, we're twins separated at birth--by six years and two different sets of parents! It's a miracle, watch for us on Oprah!
Darren's mom recently sent us some childhood pictures of Darren, and even when you look at us as kids, the resemblance is hardly uncanny. (In case you need help, that's me on the left.)
The most annoying game of Are You Guys Twins? that we ever played took place on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis about six years ago. The plane was just a few minutes from landing, and two flight attendants had just sat down in the jump seats that faced the first row of coach where we sat.
The younger of the two women started the game off.
"So are you guys twins, or just brothers?"
"Really? Because you look SO much alike!" She turned to her coworker, a matronly woman twenty years her senior, and said "I mean, don't they look like twins?"
"Not really," replied the second woman, clearly more interested in the huge bunch of tulips she had bought at Schiphol airport.
"So you're just friends?" continued the young one.
No, not just friends. [This, I hasten to point out, is the point where the game REALLY should have ended.]
"Oh, so you don't know each other? You just happened to sit by each other?"
"So you're coworkers traveling to Europe on business?"
No, um... [Won't this freakin' plane ever land? Or explode? OR SOMETHING?!?]
Finally, the older woman stopped admiring her flowers long enough to intervene.
"Geez, Cathy," she snapped, in voice that carried back at least three rows, "Get a clue! They're obviously GAY!"
The game ended there, which is fortunate, because even though he hadn't said a word throughout the entire painful exchange, I knew Darren was ready to choke the life out of both of them. (Not that he's a violent man, mind you, but who could blame him? Enough is enough.)
Okay, the annoying grocery bagger who used to ask us if we were twins gets a pass, because she was mildly retarded.
But flight attendants? Hello? Honey we own that profession!
Man, some people's kids need to be smacked.
Those of you of a certain age may actually remember the first season of MTV's The Real World.
Long before reality television shows were the stupefying institution they have become in recent years, in 1992, The Real World was actually kind of interesting.
Of course, we've subsequently learned that things in the beautiful Manhattan loft these seven strangers shared weren't quite as "real" as MTV purported, but that doesn't matter much to me.
For one thing, the show introduced us to Eric Nies, who, though now sadly faded, was once stunningly beautiful (if dumb as a box of hair).
Even more important to me, however, was the presence of Norman, whom MTV labeled "the lone gay cast member."
Back in '92, there just weren't many real gay people on TV, so I was extremely interested in watching Norman try to find love in the Big Apple.
The closest he came to having a boyfriend during the run of the show was a brief fling with a handsome fellow named Charles Dabney. In one episode, Norman and Charles were even shown smooching while attending the NYC Gay Pride rally. Pretty hot stuff for basic cable in those days.
Skip ahead a couple years, and Charles Perez, who had appended his mother's maiden name to is own, had a short-lived daytime talk-show. It wasn't very good (he was like a male Ricki Lake), but I used to watch it with my my housemate Irma. We watched a lot of bad TV together.
Check out this promo for his show, and note the diva-based queer club music.
Eventually I took to calling myself "Sean Seany Perez," claiming I was giving props to my (non-existent) Latino heritage. Irma, who is Puerto Rican, found this hilarious, so I kept the joke going for several years.
Now Irma is a big-shot writer at Telemundo, and recently she managed to get Charles Perez, now a weekend anchorman on WPLG in Miami, to autograph a headshot of himself and dedicate it to my old ethnic pseudonym.
That was right sporting of him, I'd say, since my silly name was pretty clearly mocking him.
Hmmm, I guess this post might be considered something of a long run for a short slide, but, um, I don't care.
This picture is now one of my prized possessions. I think I'll get it framed.
(a.k.a. Sean "Seany" Perez)
So apparently this guy, whom many of you liked so well on Monday:
is also this guy:
And this one:
And this one:
And this one:
And this one:
And this one:
And even this one:
(Okay, I admit, the eyeliner doesn't work. Not too sure about the wee tiny dog, either.)
His name is Marco Dapper, and apparently this is a case of WG arriving late to a very sexy party. (I also think I have just a bit of a crush on him. You know, on a purely spiritual level.)
Just FYI, a Google image search on his name will turn up some far more revealing pictures of Marco than I am willing to publish on this family-oriented blog. Happy hunting!
Thinking very shallow Friday thoughts,
I was a great fan of The X-Files for more than five years (until David Duchovny left and it turned completely sucky.) Here's a scene that some of you may recall fondly.
Ah, The Red Speedo episode...
Happy Valentine's Day, you sexy suave WoolGatherer readers. I hope this day brings you all that you wish for it.
Speaking for myself, I have no particular Valentine's desires. In our household, this day has always been something of a non-event.
I remember back ten years ago, when Darren and I, still a very new couple, faced our first Valentine's Day. I didn't quite know what to expect.
I figured maybe Darren and I should do something to mark the day, since I was extremely happy in our relationship. However, since I had no personal history of romantic Valentine's Days, I was okay with more or less ignoring the occasion.
You see, this would be the first time I wasn't single when the day of hearts, roses, and chocolate rolled around. While I was at Princeton, the one boyfriend I did have decided to dump me in January. (Hi Kevin!)
Darren seemed to feel the same way.
"You're not expecting some big deal at Valentine's Day, are you?" he asked.
I sensed he was apprehensive about my answer, or at least about my reaction to the question.
"Um, maybe we can exchange cards?" (I'd always enjoyed getting Valentine's Day cards in grade school, I figured. Why not now?)
We agreed that cards would suffice, and he wrote something very touching in the card he gave me, which meant much more to me than flowers or chocolate ever could have.
Ten years later, jaded queen that I am, I tend to view Valentine's Day as a faux-holiday created by the choco-floral-greeting-card-industrial-complex to give (some) straight men a way of buying themselves out of trouble with their wives or girlfriends for not expressing their love more directly and often the other 364 days of the year.
It just doesn't feel like "my" holiday.
And what am I talking "holiday? If this were a real holiday, I wouldn't have to work today, but I do, so it isn't.
Heck, even as a lapsed Catholic, I feel far more connection to Rosh Hashanah than I do to Valentine's day. Rosh Hashanah--now there's a holiday with some depth to it! (Plus, apples and honey, Mmmmmmm.)
Speaking of food, I also find it really annoying that each year the Food Network spends a whole week devoting shows to chocolate. BORING. I like chocolate just fine, but come on people! Let's keep things in perspective.
This year, however, Darren threw me for a loop. He announced a couple days ago that he would be giving me a gift this Valentine's Day.
What the hell?
It's sitting on the dining room table right now, wrapped in shiny iridescent red paper, waiting for me to open it tonight.
I have been strictly enjoined NOT to reciprocate in response to this one-time suspension of our traditional non-tradition.
Hmm. So I should I just lay back and have him lavish gifts on me?
Works for me.
PS. I did spend an hour making Darren a witty/sweet card in PhotoShop, so I'm not a complete slacker. And Hallmark didn't make a cent off me!
I hadn't noticed the faded bumper sticker until I was stopped behind the car at a red light. An obviously newer blue and yellow Human Rights Campaign logo on the rear window stood out more prominently
As I waited for the light to change, I pondered my reactions to the two stickers.
It struck me that even though the driver was proclaiming support for GLBT rights with both decals, I felt vaguely annoyed.
It was the "Straight but not Narrow" that rubbed me the wrong way.
I've never been particularly fond of that slogan. I'm sure that whoever coined it had his or her heart in the right place, but that doesn't alter the patronizing undertone of what's intended as a statement of solidarity.
Something about it just smacks too much of "Some of my best friends are black."
There's an odd dichotomy implicit in Straight but Not Narrow, which combines a gesture of inclusivity on the one hand with a simultaneous distancing on the other.
To paraphrase, "Hey, I'M NOT GAY, but it's okay with me if YOU are."
Well gee, thanks so much.
I don't mean to sound churlish, though I probably do anyway. Clearly there are bumper stickers I find infinitely more offensive (the letter "W" comes to mind, but thankfully one sees fewer of those nowadays).
I'm sure that part of my annoyance yesterday stemmed from a guilty conscience: I was peeved at a woman who considers herself my ally and perhaps even my advocate. I'm sure she would be hurt to think that a gay person might be even mildly offended by her statement of support.
But here's the thing. How bold is it, in one of the nation's bluest states, to proclaim "I don't hate gay people"?
I doubt that she has ever been chased through traffic by someone screaming homophobic slurs, as I was ten years ago when I dared to have a rainbow sticker on my crappy '86 Dodge Lancer.
If yesterday's Sentra had sported only the HRC sticker, I would have probably just thought the driver was lesbian. I might well have been wrong, but the point would have been that we both support gay rights, and she was willing to have people identify her, even erroneously, as a homosexual.
Even if she and a man had been making out at the red light in a car with an HRC sticker, I would have thought, "Those are some open-minded straight people who need to get a room," and that would have been that.
However, when a member of a socially privileged group (i.e. heterosexuals) expresses their support for victims of discrimination, while at the same time making it clear that he or she is does personally not belong to that group--well, it just kinda bugs me.
Maybe I read too much into things. I was a lit-crit student for many years, after all. That's basically all we did.
So, what do you think?
Last Saturday night the gay employee group from my company held its post-holiday holiday party at a north Minneapolis bowling alley. (There's really no way to make that sound chic, but that really isn't the point of my story.) The company paid the the lane fees and provided munchies. Drinks were up to us.
Despite the fact that I'm a truly awful bowler (apparently Wii bowling has done nothing to sharpen my skills), I had a great time.
There are nearly 100 members in the GLBT group's email list, but only about fifteen people showed up. I had envisioned a much larger crowd, but I was relieved to have a more intimate gathering. (If one can have an intimate gathering in a cacophonous bowling alley on a Saturday evening.) Apart from a few new faces, I already knew everyone who showed up. Oddly enough, a couple lanes over, there was a guy I knew from my old job, bowling with his wife and kids. He didn't appear to recognize me, though.
I really enjoyed having a chance to chat in a non-work setting with the people I've met in the monthly GLBT meetings. I may also have found a tennis partner for the spring--a much nicer chap than the assorted weirdos I've met in the company tennis league.
Despite being a little nervous before we headed to the party, Darren enjoyed the evening too, (at least in part because my bowling score was even lower than his).
Chalk up another great experience, courtesy of the new job. It has been a ver good six months.
Maybe next time we bowl, I'll even break 100...
It must admit that I have never been comfortable around nude men.
Perhaps what I should really say is that I'm incapable of being blasé about male nudity.
I've just never learned the knack of being casually undressed or being around people who are.
I've never been on a sports team, so I don't have any experience with towel snapping or joshing around under the shower with my teammates after the big game.
In high school, I had only one semester of P.E., and I never once showered with the other boys. I had an official exemption from showering--a precious doctor's note that told of my permanently perforated right ear drum and the potentially dire consequences of getting water deep inside my noggin.
(It's true about the ear drum, but the only time I ever had an ear infection from water infiltration was in sixth grade, when I swam at a murky public pool in Tucker, Georgia.)
No, I wasn't afraid of the water; I was just terrified of the enforced group nudity.
Of course, even though I didn't have to strip down, the other guys did. The combination of lust and stress I experienced in that locker room permanently seared images from 1980 into my brain.
Even then I was fully aware that I was gay (so very, very gay), and seeing my classmates standing around, casually chatting while they dried their bits and pieces was enough to make me frantic. I always changed clothes as quickly as Clark Kent and dashed back to the fully clothed sanctuary of home-room.
Now that I'm an adult, my comfort level in the locker room still hasn't improved that much.
Sure, when I'm changing clothes at the gym, I let my eyes wander a bit more freely than I did in high school, but I don't gawk, I don't dawdle, I don't sit in the sauna or whirlpool, and I never, ever shower.
I live three miles from my health club, and I'm totally okay with funking up my car for the five minutes it takes to get to my house, where I can shower in privacy (though Hudson usually stares at me through the shower door, waiting for his chance to lick water off my calves and roll around on the wet bathmat).
This is all just a long prelude to describing something awkward that happened to me at the gym yesterday.
A couple years back, I noticed a handsome young fellow wearing a t-shirt with my high school's name on it. It took me a moment to place him, but I soon remembered that he was a classmate of my youngest sister. I recalled him being something of a jerk, but he grew up to look plenty fine.
One day, as he walked past me, I decided to say hi, and we chatted for a minute or two. Like 90% of people who went to the community college in Austin, MN over the past 40 years, he'd had my dad as a teacher. (He'd also been on the tennis team when my dad coached it. I think I may even have played against him a time or two.)
After that chat, we occasionally said hi to each other in passing, but we never had another conversation. In the last year or so, we had even stopped the greetings.
So imagine my surprise yesterday, as I was tying my shoes and studiously NOT looking directly at the genitals hovering at the edge of my peripheral vision, when the owner of those parts addressed me from above.
"Hey, how's your dad doing lately? Is he still teaching?"
Okay, let's recap: I'm seated; he's standing right beside me, and he's nude. Now I'm supposed to look up and talk to him while his junk dangles in my face?
I quickly stood up rather than talk into his crotch, and did my best to conduct a normal conversation. Unfortunately, a lot has happened over the past few years in my family, so catching him up (and he had follow up questions!) took some time.
For nearly all of that time, he stood there stark naked.
I mean, what the HELL? Could you at least put on some damn boxers?!?
I could no more have stood there like that than I could have held my hand on a hot stove while conducting a conversation. I simply don't understand how it's possible to be so at ease while wearing nothing. I envy that ability, but I will never share it.
Finally, he opened his locker and started taking out his clothes.
By the time we said good-bye, he had put on some underwear, but by then the damage was done. I was in a nelly tizzy.
I was nearly out of the locker room before I realized I'd left my car keys on the bench next to him, so I had to go back.
Yesterday, our house enjoyed a long, LONG overdue window cleaning. Darren and I are pretty good at tidying up after ourselves, but I have to admit that we're not the best at removing grime and dirt that appear on their own. (Nor, apparently, was the woman from whom we bought our house.)
To say our windows were spotty and smeary is to pay them the highest of compliments. They were pretty damn filthy.
Now, however, a mere $145 later, they are sparkling clean. It's almost hard to believe that there's glass in the frames anymore. I assume there is, because it would have been a lot colder in our house last night with all that wintry-fresh air.
Having fully transparent windows is great, but even better, the fellow who did the cleaning could have been this young man's twin.
Granted, Squeegee Boy wore a shirt, and (as far as I know) he was wearing underwear, but he was smokin' hot anyway. We chatted as he made his way from one grimy window to the next, and he was funny and personable.
While he worked, I found myself thinking of the scene from My Own Private Idaho, in which River Phoenix is picked up by a creepy John who just wants to watch him scrub his floors.
"Scrub, little Dutch Boy, scrub!"
I refrained from any such outbursts, but I can't wait until our windows get dirty again.
This is about Darren and me. We're man-sized, and our rings only have symbolic meaning, and as far as I know, they don't grant us dark powers that could place humanity under our evil thrall.
(That would be kind of neat, though...)
This weekend, Darren and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary together. The actual date of our anniversary has been the subject of some discussion over the years, but after some puzzling and figuring, we agreed on November 15. The Ides of November, if you will.
To mark the occasion, we have reservations tomorrow night at what my nemesis Sandra Lee would call a "fancy dancy" restaurant in Minneapolis. (Okay, technically we're going to celebrate a few days early, but it's more fun going out on a Saturday night than a Thursday.) Over dinner, in our own private little commitment ceremony, we'll exchange the rings that we bought last weekend.
(And no, we did NOT follow the "two months' salary" guideline that jewelers like to quote. Think more along the lines of "one dinner out at PF Chang's with two appetizers and only one round of drinks.")
We have never done a formal commitment ceremony, as my sister and her partner Veronica did a few years back, but when we bought our first house, we had a huge house-warming party with all of our family and friends. That was a close as we've come to "making honest men of each other" in any public way.
As we approached our tenth year together, however, I began to think it might be time to make a gesture that says "This handsome strapping fella is mine, all mine, so hands off, skanks!" Combine that touching sentiment with my love of jewelry and accessories, and presto, we're ring shopping!
Actually, I wasn't sure if Darren would go for the idea of wearing matching bands. He doesn't wear jewelry, and he's not much for show or PDA. However, when I suggested the idea of buying the rings, he didn't take any convincing at all. So, that was that.
I don't mean to make light of a landmark that's very important to both us. Fifteen years ago, when I was an impoverished, unhappily single grad student, I never could have imagined that I would be lucky enough to have the life I live now. I have a wonderful partner, a real house, and a terrier who thinks he owns his two dads--it's quite a package.
So, here's to us.
I was stretching near the trainers' desk, and as I glanced to my left, I saw one of the personal trainers seated with his back to me, talking on the phone.
It stands to reason that most of the personal trainers have nice bodies, but this fellow--at least what I could see of him--was particularly scrumptious.
"Wow, those are some damn fine calves," I thought to myself. Defined, muscular, but not COUS, either.
I continued to admire the shapely fellow as I finished my stretches.
Did I recognize those sexy gams?
I was overcome by a strong sense of deja-cruise.
Hadn't I done crunches with those shapely legs standing next to me? They looked a lot like the sturdy legs of my smokin' hot personal trainer, C., who was sent to Iraq two years ago with his Army Reserve unit. Could it be him?
Lo and behold, the hottie turned around, and it was C..
He gave me a wave and a big smile. "Hey, Sean, how's it going'?" he called out.
My heart skipped a few beats. He was still exceptionally dreamy, even though two years seeing horrible things in the desert heat had roughened his formerly boyish face.
He was still chatting on the phone, so I wasn't able to talk with him beyond our quick greeting. But it's good to know (1) He wasn't killed or maimed while on infantry patrol; (2) He's back working at the gym, so I'll get to talk to him sometime this week.
You know, maybe my workout routine could use a little professional guidance, just to shake things up... (Though for $100 an hour, I suppose there are handsome men out there who would offer services more pleasant than forcing me to do crunches until I puke.)
Do you think he noticed that I weigh twenty pounds less than the last time he saw me?
Alas, like many of us, he's now past his peak of freshness, but I still felt a familiar little shiver when he appeared on screen, playing an assistant detective trying to track down the anti-fascist rebel, V.
I first became aware of Rupert when I was in graduate school, during those tumultuous first months of my coming out process.
Knowing that I was very depressed by gay-themed movies that focused on young men heroically battling AIDS (and face it, there were a LOT of those in the early 90's), a friend suggested that I watch the movie Maurice, based on the E.M. Forster novel.
In Maurice, Rupert Graves plays Scudder, the cockney gamekeeper who becomes the lover of the deeply repressed and haughtily aristocratic Maurice. I was at least as struck by Scudder's beauty as the stuffy Maurice was. (It didn't hurt matters that Rupert was willing to do several full frontal nude scenes. I deeply appreciated his commitment to the role.)
The moment when Scudder climbs a ladder to reach Maurice's room in the dark of night remains one of my favorite scenes in cinema. (Though in my experience, hot men don't simply climb into your window for a passionate tryst without the promise of substantial remuneration.)
Rupert (and his exposed bits) next caught my eye in A Room With a View, a film I just watched again last week on HDVD.
Upon meeting the (nearly) equally delectable Julian Sands, Rupert utters my favorite line in the film, "Fancy a bathe?"
Moments later, the gorgeous young chaps are frolicking together like water sprites, splashing, wrestling each other, and having a gay old time, as it were. It's all rather breathtaking. (The addition of the roly-poly Mr. Beebe, does little for me, however.)
Again, these easy moments of carefree nude male companionship are not part of my personal experience, so the scene always makes quite an impression on me, leaving me wistful for warm ponds in the English countryside.
Rupert is also a delicious morsel in yet another film based on an E.M. Forster novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread. His attraction to the darkly handsome young Italian, Gino Carella, is palpable, but alas, Rupert keeps his clothes on for the duration of the movie, and the homo-erotic subtext never becomes, um, text. (By the way, Judy Davis turns in a stellar performance as an acerbic bitch in this film, a feat she would later repeat in the biting comedy The Ref.)
It made me a bit sad to see Rupert in V for Vendetta. Don't get me wrong--he's still a fine looking man. But he has lost that painful beauty that so gripped me when I first laid eyes on him. See for yourself.
Would I refuse to dance if he asked me to tango? No, of course not. But sweet young Scudder is gone for good.
Thank god for Jake...
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