Thursday, July 28, 2005

He Said

So we're watching The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.

Poor Mrs. Stone, as portrayed by the stellar Vivienne Leigh, is clearly at her wit's end, and has just tossed her keys down from her balcony to the mysteriously handsome, if rather sordid hustler who has been silently stalking her through the course of the film.

She's just invited Death into her home, I intone gravely.

To which Tim replies:

Nah, just crabs and regrets.

Pause.

Oh, and skid marks on the silk sheets. You know the maid is going to have something to say in the morning.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Countdown to P-town

Yup, we go too!

Like so many other things in life, I'd didn't get around to going to Provincetown until I was in my 40's. I'm a New York City boy. Brooklyn born. I grew up 1-1/2 blocks from the beach. If I wanted to get exotic I could go to Riis Park. Or even head on out to Fire Island. But the concept of traveling 6 hours to a beach was just foreign to me.

The majority of traveling that Robert and I did in the 19 years we were together was mostly in the South. I can regale you with tales of the Delmarva pennisula, which Stuckey's had the best pecan log or most tasteless Mammy salt and pepper shakers, or the best barbecue in the vicinity of Roanoke Rapids, NC (that would be Ralph's....I think it's in Weldon). And we made many, many trips to Key West in the days prior it's becoming the whole-hog T-shirt emporium it has since morphed into.

But it was Tim who showed me all the gay capitals. In short order we went to New Hope, Provincetown and San Francisco. Not all on the same trip, of course. That would have been exhausting, and I would have run out of t-shirts.

We did P-town together for the first time in 1996 and I was charmed. We were to be house-guests of an old, slightly wild, slightly insane friend of Tim's, which is another story and a potential libel suit. We drove up on a grey, rainy steamy August day. I was so disappointed when we hit the cape and there was nothing to be seen for miles but traffic, sand and scrub pine. I had expected some sort of seaside fantasia, a Yankee Disneyland with a nautical theme. Instead, we had traffic and rain and neon No Vacancy signs. It wasn't until we hit North Truro that I caught sight of the sand dunes, beachside cottages and big sky wide-open spaces I was expecting. The rain was beginning to slack off around the time I saw the Pilgrim Monument and asked What the hell is that?

The sun had actually broken through the clouds as we turned off Route 6. We were confronted with a fairy tale cottage garden in full bloom, rain drops sparkling on dark green leaves in the light. A shirtless young man rode by on a bicycle, checking us out. He was followed by several more. I turned to Tim and laughed. We sure as hell weren't in Kansas anymore. We turned onto Commercial Street to see everyone who had been housebound all morning by the rain. The streets were teeming with guys and as we were forced to drive at 5 mph, there was ample opportunity to smile and say hey. I was pretty much at home immediately.

Since that first visit we've rented condos on Shankpainter Road, Conant Street and for the past 4 years running Winthrop Street. Our condo is about 160 steps from the Boatslip. Tim counted. You could crawl home if you wanted or needed to. Yet once inside behind the hemlock shrubs that hide our windows, its quiet and peaceful.

I love the routine of P-town. How you can participate in the madness or spend a day hiking on the beaches outside Wellfleet and not see another soul. How the light there is quite unlike any other light I've seen, and how it makes everything seem slightly flat and slightly effervescent at the same time. I love the chance to share a full week of romantic dinners with Tim, and all those afternoons spent throwing back beer with him on the deck of the Boatslip, checking out the crowd. And the drunken pizza and negotiations at Spiritus!

We're heading up there in 2 weeks. I'm getting antsy just thinking about it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Learning to Crawl

It was hot and steamy last Saturday as only July in NYC can be.

Neither Tim nor I are fans of industrial strength air conditioning, but it was really necessary. And of course, I knew Tim was feeling the heat when he asked for Gin and bitter lemon rather than the traditional bourbon Manhattans we consume during our traditional Saturday evening cocktail hour. I did have gin, and even had a pair of frosty high ball glasses to serve it to him in. A true sign of incipient alcoholism: Having the correct stem/bar ware chilling in your freezer for almost any cocktail occasion. I even had the appropriate lime garnish. We sat out on my terrace on the Syrocco Adirondack-style chairs and tried to chill out, while listening to Shirley Horn.

Tim took it into his head that we had to have dinner at a very old village standby, soon to close forever. It has been owned and operated for longer than most of you have been on this planet by a feisty older woman, who fixes fierce drinks after she fishes the black particles out of your glass, and serves dishes your mother hasn't made since 1963. It is populated by a group of men whose median age is approximately 85. I feel positively chicken-like everytime I enter that room. The room is chilled, if you want to call it that, by an ancient swamp cooler, which heaves and groans louder than anything in a 5 block radius. Dinner was, um...an experience. I don't have to add that we both had fairly distressed stomachs the next day. I wonder why.

After dinner, around the corner to Ty's. Snore. ZZZZZZ. The aging clientele now stare as one at the large screen TVs they've installed, thereby guaranteeing no conversation, cruising or even random admiring of your neighbor's flannel shirt. We abandoned them to Reel Gay TV, a constant panorama of Gay-Pride-Around-The-World, and headed out.

I know...let's try that new-ish bar on 8th Avenue!! The Gym. Damn, what a bad name. It was packed to the proverbial rafters at 11:00 on Saturday night, with very few people I've ever seen before. And none of them were the slightest bit interested in us. It was not a stellar crowd, some attractive fellows, but the lighting was awful, and most people were squinting, so hard to tell. The highlight was getting carded at the door. That never happens to me. We had a beer, and scoped the room out for potential further visits. Now I like a bar where there's some sort of open area where you can spy your prey without having to parade back and forth in front of them all night. That's just not going to work here. We finished off our drinks and left in search of the next one.

We headed across the street to Tim's old 80's stomping grounds, the Rawhide. Seedy as ever. Only slightly more horrifying than usual. We managed to finish our drinks before the mingled scents of ammonia and stale beer asphyxiated me. The highlight was getting carded at the door. Next station.

We wonder up the block and fall into Barracuda. Obviously, we have a death wish. You know two middle aged men in that bar on Saturday night are completely and totally out of place. I admired the decor for a brief moment, allowing Tim to share the facilities with some nice young girls from New Jersey. The highlight was getting carded at the door. Outta there!

Well, the only place to go was G. The highlight was getting carded at the door.

It was definitely time to cut our losses and head back home.

In the taxi we discussed the fact that we'd both been carded more that evening than in the rest of our entire lives. What gives in Chelsea? Are they looking for terrorists? Underage booze hounds? Both Tim and I have more than our share of silver hair and the fine lines that signify aging. We could hardly be mistaken for young!

Sunday morning we headed off to our respective gyms and I pulled up at the Dugout around 5:00. It's been so hit and miss there lately. A really nice Sunday night followed by a totally suck-ass one. It's more predictable in the winter, when the Eagle roof deck isn't happening. Tim said it was alright, but on my side of the bar it was pretty dismal. I did spend part of the evening talking with a couple of guys from Denver. If I remember correctly, if you're in Denver on Sunday night, you have to go to the Wrangler. Or maybe it's the Ranch Hand. I dunno. I was drinking beer at the time.

I was in bed and drifting off by 10:15 Sunday night. At least there was no doorman to card me.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hair


For the most part I still have mine.

Sure, it's receding a bit in the front. I have what used to be referred to as a widow's peak, but that peak is getting more lonesome as the years pass by. And I can see that its beginning to thin at the crown. But what the hell. I'm assuming since it's stuck around this long, it will probably continue in some form or another, perhaps just a bit sparser.

Now the color is a whole other can of worms. Up until my 40's I had black hair. With actual blue highlights. None of that common brown for me. And my beard was the same, minus the occasional rogue white hair. About 10 years ago, my beard started turning red. I rather liked that, being partial to redheads. I didn't realize this was the precursor to the loss of pigment; that my black hair was actually oxidizing. Rusting! And within a few years, my hair would turn mostly silver. And my beard would become rather spotty looking. A mean-spirited Irish acquaintance told me my beard was turning like a turkey. Now I know that sounds obscure, but I knew exactly what he meant. Ugly turkey feathers. My beard is now mostly white with some darker areas highlighting.

So....what does a gentleman of a certain age do? I might as well start by saying NO, I'm not shaving it off. That's not a solution at all! I grew this beard in September of 1975. It used to give me no end of joy to tell young men I met that my beard was older than they were. It's a good full beard. It's very much part of who I am, even if these days I'm getting the occasional comparison to Harvey Fierstein in Fiddler on the Roof. I'm very fond of it, but I'm just not used to seeing myself with this coloration. Do I start the Just For Men routine? I'm not about to dye my hair, because I find nothing so disturbing as an old face surrounded by pitch black hair. But the beard is different. Perhaps I should just touch some areas up, forestalling the impending blizzard. My beard grows very fast. I can just imagine having roots on my face. Um, no.

Maybe I should just learn to embrace the inevitable. I just wish I had a mentor or role-model who could guide me through this transition. Most of the time I'm pretty alright about aging. Yes, it is difficult in a youth-obsessed culture, but I seem to be doing okay. I embraced my inner (and outer) Daddyism years ago. It's been a great marketing tool, so to speak. And I've trained myself not to engage considerably younger guys, lest I invoke that gruesome Troll syndrome. That's actually less of a problem than it sounds. They find their way to me, anyway. The so-called Bear community has names for for everything: Otter, Cub, Behr, Wolf etc. Am I really ready for Polar Bear-dom? Hmmmmm.

I guess I'm just going to continue making it up as I go along.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I dunno......

Am I enjoying this?

I've been spending more time reading other people's blogs than actually writing my own. At first I thought it was because everyone else had a much more interesting life than I do. But then as I kept reading, it dawned on me that this just isn't true. You guys are just better at assembling the minutiae of your daily lives than I am. Or y'all have a lot more self-esteem.

I mean, I could blog about the 3 killer Martinis Tim fixed me on Friday night when I turned up at his apartment after a miserable week, or the fact that we watched Serial Mom after I drank all those Martinis. Don't you think Kathleen Turner was born to play that role? Pussy willows!!

Or I could write about Saturday dinner with M. & Tim at Keen's Chophouse. And the 3 killer Martinis I had there. And the excellent cigar I won from the bartender because I knew the answers to his posted daily quiz (Sonny Liston, The Rosenbergs, Eustace Tilly). Not to mention the delicious mutton chop I devoured. Or the very drunk lawyer lady from Fort Worth who sat at our table and chided us for making fun of her boss. We were, it's true. He had the kitchen bring him a roll of aluminum foil so he could create his own doggie bag. Apparently he didn't trust the kitchen to do this for him. They might spit in it. Or something. It was me suggesting he create a swan out of all that aluminum foil in my Irish Whisper (a loud aside that everyone in the room can hear) that brought Rhonda from Texas over. They'd been drinking Scotch since 4:30. It was now 10:00 PM.

Should I mention that the three of us headed to the Townhouse for a laugh after dinner? Or that I continued drinking many vodka and tonics. Never mix, never worry. Should I discuss the Dominican hustler who was steamed that I was stealing his thunder? I was flattered that he even thought I could possibly be competition. For someone soon to turn 51, it's kind of hilarious to be the center of attention in the Townhouse. I'm thinking it might be one of God's biggest jokes yet.

M. actually went off on his own and made conversation with a couple of other guys. A first! Tim chatted up all the Fratti, who seem to make the Townhouse their home away from Casa di Pre. And I got to stand around, lean on pillars imagining Lena Horne doing the same, and realizing just how drunk I was!

Of course I would have to tell about the killer hangover I had Sunday morning. And that I dragged myself to the gym and did an hour of cardio and banged the weights around an additional hour. And consumed enough diet Red Bull to shake off any remnants of said hangover.

What blog entry would be complete without talking about my visit to the Dugout. I know. I know. You boys go to the Eagle now. So would I, if my boyfriend wasn't a Dugout Sunday Beer Blast bartender for the past 8 years! Anyway, it's nice when pals drop by to say hello before they head uptown. (Hey Greg, and nice to meet you, Clovis!) I had many Miller Lites, alternated with bottles of spring water. I felt positively healthy. And there were no end of frisky (and even attractive!!) guys who seemed to want to not even bother to make the trip uptown and hook up right then and there. Including the lovely Scott who apparently wanted to have sex with me right there at the bar, even through my shorts. I have to applaud his forthrightness.

Today I headed off to Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City to manage a project. My poor installers were completely hungover. They were in total groaning agony. I even saw a pint of Smirnoff in one tool bag. Pretty fucking nasty hair of the dog, if you ask me.

Thank Christ I know how to drink!