Monthly Archives: December 2005

Fairytale of New York

Today was C day. Day for counseling. After the past few months, weeks, days, hours and minutes (don’t get me started on the seconds) Bill had set up an appointment to start the ball rolling and we would begin counseling. Well actually today was all about intake. To see if we deserve counseling? See if we had fundage for the session? Who knows? The appointment was at 6PM. I left work early, which was something I hadn’t been able to do for the past few weeks.

Timed it so I’d be able to stroll down Fifth Avenue and still smoke my cigar. You see, I do have my priorities straight. Also picked up some of the last remaining packs of Gauloises in Manhattan. In midtown yet. Someone was asleep at the wheel of the van driving to Sloan Kettering.

Got on an ‘R’ train to 14th street. Being rush hour it was crowded and being that I caught the train around Macy’s made it even more crowded. I didn’t mind much. I did have some apprehension about the session. Got to 11th street in the Village and went into the building. Got on a elevator with 3 other people in need of therapy. We all got off on the same floor so that’s how I knew.

As I approached the window to register, Bill appeared as the woman behind the glass was about to ask if there was someone else with me. Bill said yes, and it was him. Which was nice, because it was him with me.

The woman behind the glass came out and gave Bill and me some clipboards and forms to fill out to begin the intake process. Usual name, address info. Piece of cake. After we handed them in Jamie Jones showed up. She was our intake person. Nice, probably a grad student.

She walked us through a buzzing door and walked us to a large walk in closet. She sat us both down and said that she was going to see us one on one so somebody had to go and wait in the waiting area. I volunteered. I looked at Bill who looked uneasy about the whole thing. I tried to reassure him that it was going to be alright, it’s not going to hurt.

I don’t think I reassured him. I sat and read a New York Times Magazine from November. I read an article about genetic (genomes?) medicine and a disease affecting Amish and Mennonite children in Pennsylvania Dutch country. It was well written and I was engrossed. Then I read about Darwinian Literature. Also fascinating. I thought Bill’s intake was going to be 45 minutes but it seemed to be running long.

I was getting concerned when Bill finally came out. He looked even more uneasy that he did when I left him an hour earlier. I tried to let him know that everything was going to be ok.

I followed Jamie Jones into the walk in closet and sat on her couch. She had a few questions, starting out with where was I born? Hackensack Hospital, Hackensack NJ. So far so good. I was on top of things, answered questions truthfully and intelligently. Added a touch of humor when I felt it was needed. Talked about my education, or lack of it. My mother’s death. Crying. Drugs. Alcohol. And Bill. All the major issues in my life. My relationship with my father. My anxieties and worries.

It ended and Bill and I walked out. We talked a lot about the session, where we are going in life, and how we are going to go through life together even if it kills us. Bill treated me to a steak at Arthur’s Steakhouse in Hoboken. It was nice, not too many people like on weekends. We were able to have a pint each. Actually a pint and a half since Bill couldn’t finish his.

That’s what love is, finishing your partner’s pint of Guinness. It was a deep discussion and we both seem to be looking forward to where it might lead. Objectivity and subjectivity. That is what it’s all about. That and a half pint of Guinness.

Wolves, Lower

Yesterday after I had gotten my belligerent bagels, and my newspapers, I had decided to treat myself to some donuts. It was fairly busy and Sabrina took my order. Then she put the box in the bag, and walked away. I stood there for about 2 minutes, totally ignored and unseen. So I turned around and walked out the door. Of course I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking I was being followed.

I know it was wrong, but I just wanted to see if I could do it. Yes, I am a donut thief. The lowest of the low. I think Miguel Pinero wrote a play about Donut thieves, called ‘Short Pies’. Ouch. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Needless to say, the donuts were horrible. Sour, bitter donuts. The worst donuts ever. The kind that in order to lose the taste of these foul doughy products was through repeated cups of coffee throughout the day.

Still the taste of illicit pastries weighed on my tongue all day. That and the aftertaste of coffee. I mentioned to Bill my crossing over to the dark side and wanting to make amends. He suggested that it would be the right thing to do, and it would be good karma as well.

On the bus back to Hoboken we passed Lois who was with a friend. I told Bill I wanted to go to Dunkin Donuts and make amends. We got off the bus at the same stop as Lois. She met her partner Fred at the bus stop and mentioned to him that she wanted to go to Dunkin Donuts. I told them my tale of woe regarding donuts. Lois was amused. Couldn’t get a grip on what Fred might’ve been thinking.

Bill went into Village Market to buy his vitamin sugar water, and the three of us went into Dunkin’s. Lois ordered what she wanted then the girl behind the counter asked me what I wanted.

I told her that I was in the store earlier today and had gotten too much change and I wanted to give it back and gave her five dollars.

My conscience was assuaged somewhat though I knew she was going to put the fiver in her pocket as soon as we left.

I used to be a get over, always looking for the easy way. I used to shoplift when I was a kid. Just for a thrill. Nothing else to do. I used to steal blank Memorex tapes. Stole quite a bit from Two Guys department store. Me and my friends also used to pick up something that cost maybe a dollar, put it in a shopping bag and go to the courtesy counter saying we needed to return this ruler and we didn’t have a receipt.

They would take the ruler back and give us store credit. Then we’d go buy some gum and have 85 cents left to play pinball or video games.

A pock marked store dick eventually caught me. Had the tape in my pocket and had just walked through the door. “Excuse me son, could you come back into the store?”

“I forgot to pay for it.” “We’ve been watching you the past few weeks. Come with me”

He brought me downstairs to a wood paneled office. He had me in tears in about 30 seconds. He had me write out my confession, telling me what to write. Then I signed it. Then he tried to have me banned from the store.

I told he couldn’t do that I need to come here all the time. Then he said I couldn’t without my parents. I saw him once while I was there with my mother. He was trailing someone else in the store. I was under the radar. I put the ruler in the bag.

So It Goes

Saturday of Saturdays. Relatively active. No, not really. A mellow day, which included a nap, food shopping, dry cleaners and a haircut. Not much motivation. Cold out. Chatted with the usual suckers online. Tired of them fast.

Bill and I saw ‘Capote’ tonight. It was good.
I finally see the resemblance between Phillip Seymour Hoffman and myself.

It was unnerving for me at least. I don’t know that if the tables were turned he’d feel the same way.
Only way to find out is to get my mug on the silver screen.
Christine Keener was good as Harper Lee. Very understated. Phillip Seymour Hoffman played the title character as a predator, as an author, and as someone who falls in love with a murderer, albeit at arm’s length.

Once again I was subjected to the hype. It is a good movie, but for me, when I hear so much about a film, when I finally get around to seeing it, I sometimes, if not most times, feel that it doesn’t live up to the hype. No one’s fault really. Just the PR machine in overdrive. Chris Cooper was quite good also. I enjoy seeing him on screen and glad he’s doing well. I met his wife Marianne Leone back in the day when they lived in Hoboken. Friends with Martha Griffin et al.

Tonight was also the Aids Dance-A-Thon tonight at the Javits Center. I was a celebrity escort/production assistant for a few years running. Nona Hendrix one year, Cyndi Lauper another year and my last year was Rosie Perez. With each passing year more and more drugs found their way up my nose and into my system. Everyone else was doing it, at least the Hoboken crowd I was working with, so why not me?

It was generally a lot of fun to work, and a strong feeling of self importance was a given. Must’ve been the head sets. Well, the headsets and the coke. Coke always makes one feel so important. Sometimes I had gotten so ahead of myself and wired that I had to swipe drinks from wherever possible, or I simply would’ve ground my teeth into nothing put piles of powdered enamel.

Rosie’s entourage were drinking a bit too and I probably kidded myself that they couldn’t possibly know what was going on with me. This was the year Madonna showed up. She finally deigned to make an appearance, and was escorted past the table where Rosie, her entourage and myself sat. I do remember Madonna looking like crap. Shaved eyebrows. Freakish strange Swiss Miss buns on her head. Truly a fright. Also Rosie, who had met her before, introduced herself. Madonna smiled shook her hand and continued on her merry shaved way. I remember Rosie saying to Madonna, “How you are” intending to ask, “How are you”.

I never got to see Madonna do or say whatever it was she was scheduled to do, and I don’t think I cared much to either. The other volunteers were all so psyched to see her. It was the same group of volunteers each year. This was becoming a tradition. It wasn’t supposed to be though. This was supposed to be funding for a cure for AIDS.

But it was turning into an annual thing. At the end of the night, when we were saying good night to each other, I told some of the others, that perhaps we won’t be meeting again, perhaps they’ll find a cure this year, with funding from the Dance-A-Thon. That didn’t go over well. Some were offended.

I was never asked to volunteer again.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Mick sat down at the table. It was a mess as usual. Papers, magazines and bills strewn about. It was a mess, yes, but he knew exactly where things were. Or at least he kidded himself that he did. Brenda left about an hour ago and said that she’d be back soon. He didn’t know where she was going. He hoped she’d get cigarettes. He should’ve given her money.

The phone rang. It was his brother Mark. He was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by. Mick usually didn’t mind Mark dropping by unannounced, as long as his friend Danny didn’t tag along. He didn’t think of asking Mark for cigarettes and he didn’t think of asking if Danny was coming along with him. It wasn’t a good day of thinking for Mark.

Brenda parallel parked the Mini Cooper a few doors down from where she and Mick lived. She looked in the rear view mirror and saw Mark and Danny stumbling down the street. Here it was not even noon and they both looked wasted. Drunk probably. Literally hanging onto each other as the walked. Brenda ducked as they walked by. Luckily they didn’t see her or the car.

‘What the hell do they want?’ she thought. She considered her options. Should she get out and join them? Should she wait until after they went into her building? Should she just drive away and hope they’d be gone when she came back from nowhere? She sat and bit her nails.

Mick buzzed Mark in and heard Danny coughing as they climbed the stairs. He rolled his eyes and wondered why he didn’t let the call go to voice mail. ‘Too late for that shit’ he said to himself. The loud knock on the door and Mick opened to have Mark stumble into his arms in a brotherly hug. Danny, all red eyed and stinking of beer shuffled in after Mark.

“Hey Mick, how’s it hanging?” Danny slurred. “Hey Danny, how’s it going? Keeping my baby brother out of trouble?” Mick jokingly asked. “You know it man. It’s all good Nigga” Mick couldn’t stand white guys using that word. Too many barbs. He’d been called Nigga many a time by his buds, but never used the word himself.

Now here was Danny, his brother’s best friend, all hip hopped, droopy drawers, baseball cap turned to the side. Oh he was hard. Like margarine. Mick never understood why his brother hung out with Danny. He knew it used to be drugs. A chemical bond, but he had hoped that Mark had grown out of it.

Danny had a hard time with booze, and had started chipping at heroin. Mick had seen him once nodding out, with the shit powdered under his nose. Mick had done his fair share of drugs but drew the line at H. He didn’t want to prove that marijuana was a gateway drug to Heroin. So he stopped short, saving his own life while proving the naysayers wrong.

Danny sat on the couch and Mick called Mark into the kitchen.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you still hanging out with Danny? He’s a fucking mess!” Mick hissed at his brother.

Mark tsk’d and said, “You wouldn’t understand Mick. It’s not your scene” “My scene? What the fuck does that mean? Your idiot friend is nodding out on my couch. Is that the scene I’m not a part of?” “Oh man, if I knew you were gonna be like this I wouldn’t have come over.” “Yeah well,” Mick said as he looked out the window, “yeah well, there’s Brenda in the car. You better sober up homeboy before she comes back here.”

“Hey we’re gonna split anyway. Could you lend me 20 bucks?” “You still owe me from last time jerk off.” “Aw c’mon man, don’t be like that. Lend me 20, we split and Brenda wouldn’t know shit.”

It seemed like a bribe, but Mick gave him a 20 from his wallet. Mark walked over to the couch and got Danny animated somehow. The left, Mick hugging Mark, Mark saying he’ll call later, Danny giving out a drunken pound.

Brenda climbed the stairs as they were descending. “Hey my favorite sister in law, Brenda!” Mark said. “You remember my man Danny right?”

“Yeah, hey Danny,” she said as she climbed past them, “Take care Mark.”

She walked through the door and threw a couple packs of cigarettes at Mick who was sitting on the couch. “Just saw your brother and his buddy. Bad news those two…”

Mark got up and walked over to Brenda. He gave her a nice warm hug. He buried his face in her hair. “Yeah, tell me about it…”

Jet

I met Jet in 1982 or so. Jet used to work in the mailroom in the New York office of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ) a book publisher. It was my job to drive back and forth from Saddle Brook NJ to 47th and 3rd Ave in Manhattan. One day while I was delivering interoffice mail in NY, I heard a song from King Crimson’s Discipline. I had gotten into that album. Very much a Talking Heads influence and I loved Talking Heads.

I asked him, ‘Is that the new King Crimson?’ It was of course, just breaking the ice. I needed a friendly face in NY and hoped it would be him. We became fast friends. Having lunch, and smoking a lot of weed.

One night while doing the suburban thing of driving around aimlessly (gas was cheap then), smoking weed and listening to music, I came out to my best friend, Perry Didovetch. My way of coming out wasn’t so good. Something like this, “Are you high? Because I’m not straight.” I explained to him as he freaked out. I wasn’t making overtures, just coming out.

Hopefully he’d be understanding. He wasn’t. He had me drop him off at his house, and I begged him, that if he couldn’t handle it, fine. Just don’t tell anyone. Well he told his girlfriend, and she told two friends, and so on. Perry, his girlfriend and I all worked in the same warehouse for HBJ. My mother worked in the office. No one knew, especially Mom.

I came back to work and found out that half the people that were my friends, weren’t anymore. Very distressing. I went on doing my job, driving to the city. AT lunch, Jet and I sat in the park by Tudor City. Jet asked what was wrong, and I told him.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. I’m gay.” Jet was gay. I really had no idea. Basically Jet spent the rest of lunch talking me in off that ledge. We really became tight then. We hung out quite a bit, I even brought him to Lodi to meet my family for some reason. I think after my family found out I was gay, they thought we were lovers. We weren’t. I would drive him back to Inwood and go through Central Park, getting high all the time, playing B-52’s records and Jet singing Kate’s parts, and me, singing Cindy’s.

We even had gotten so close that I accompanied him to his mother’s apartment in Harlem, where he grew up to help clean it out while his mother was wasting away in the mental hospital on Ward’s Island.

Jet would regale me with tales of going to the Bathhouses. We did go to the occasional gay bar together, and it was there that I figured out that if you go to a gay bar with a friend, most everyone will think you’re a couple. I was this twenty something kid from the suburbs. Jet was more worldly. I just wandered around the bar by myself, Jet was off doing his thing. After a while I got tired of the disco music, and wanted something with balls. I also wanted someone with balls and neither was going to happen there.

So I drove back to Lodi, content with reruns of Eric Estrada, probably stopped off at the Vince Lombardi Rest Area where I more than likely scored.

Jet eventually moved to DC. I visited once or twice, tripped on LSD across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. I met his good friend, his sistah, Billie. Billie wound up babysitting me when Jet had to work in Georgetown.

I moved to Hoboken in 1984. I convinced Jet to move to Hoboken in a four room railroad apartment. It turned out to be a big mistake, due to the lack of privacy. Jet flounced from relationship to relationship. I started working at McSwells.

Jet and I lived together for a year. His ex lover Lee, had AIDS and Jet moved to Broadway Terrace in Inwood to care for him. Though there was nothing going on between them for years there was still a great bond. Jet loved him and Lee loved Jet. The stigma of AIDS was terrible and Jet was the only one Lee could count on.

Lee passed away and Jet stayed in Inwood. I visited him several times. He looked on me as a little brother, though more like a sistah, Cindy. Eventually Jet became sick. It was devastating. It wasn’t like now where HIV is manageable. It was a death sentence. He hung in there, he was working at BMG Records. A dream come true for him. He made it into the music business.

When AIDS became fully blown, Jet was placed into Lenox Hill Hospital. I visited whenever I could. I didn’t care, I wasn’t afraid. I loved him. He saved my life.

He told me that at night the hospital staff would make fun of him, calling him names, and cursing him at night. One time I visited him and he was filthy, lying in his own shit. No nurse would come and change him. So I did. I lifted his now 100 pound body and moved the diaper from underneath him and replaced it with a new one after cleaning him up.

Billie was coming up from DC whenever he could to help out. There was a health care worker that didn’t do much. So it was up to us, with Billie taking a lot of time off to stay with Jet. He didn’t have much longer to live. We all knew it, though I always held out some belief that he would get better.

Then came the phone call. It was Billie. ‘Hey Gurl. Jet’s gone.’ Of course I couldn’t believe it. “He was in my arms, and I told him it was okay to go. I felt his sprit pass through me, and he was gone.”

I was numb, in shock. About a week later there was a memorial service. Jet’s brother finally made an appearance. Jet’s friends from work, from his life were there and Billie and myself. Everything was going well until the service started. I never before felt such a primal cry well up from inside my bowels and release itself in deep heaving sobs. I couldn’t stop. Billie was providing me comfort by rubbing my back, as I bordered on hysteria.
I came home to Hoboken alone. It wasn’t the same apartment that I lived in with Jet. It wasn’t even the same world I lived in with Jet.

I miss you baby. Wish you were here. I love you. You were one of the best people I had ever met in my life. Thank you for everything.