Wednesday, November 26, 2003

An intriguing, albeit entirely hypothetical, situation.

Last night, when talking with my friend Dena, I told her that I wasn't a relationship person. The evidence I gave her to support this was simple, that I've never been in a long-term relationship and all my short-term commitments have been epic disasters due in part to my own obsessiveness and to the faults of the people that I choose.

She looked at my evidence and told me that I'm a different man than I was at 22, when I last had a real possibility for a relationship. She asked me why I ended things with Greg in Augusta then, and I gave her the reasons. The more time I spent with him, the more I wanted to be by myself to work through my own issues. The more he needed me, the less I wanted him.

Greg was really nice, but why did I find him so annoying? He decided that the Bryan Adams-Barbra Streisand duet, "I Finally Found Someone," was 'our song.' And he shaved his chest. ("It's like fucking sandpaper," my friend Steve said when he heard of my predicament.) And he said Miss Piggy was his favorite actress. ("But she's a puppet voiced by a man," I argued.) At age 31, he lived with his mother. He once bought "coal from the TITANIC" over the Internet, which led me to laugh at him. ("It comes with a certificate of authenticity," he said.) And he cooed like a baby when we saw "Babe: Pig in the City," asking me if talking, domesticated ducks could really fly like that. (That was the last straw. We broke up soon after. He later cried, "I never should've taken you to 'Babe.' It ruined our relationship.")

I told Dena most of this last night. At the mention of the Miss Piggy thing, she told me that I didn't need to say anything more about Greg.

Dena told me, though, that she wouldn't go so far as to say that a relationship wouldn't be in my future or conclude that I wasn't meant for long-term love.

There are things I would like to learn about myself and romantic love that I can only learn through a relationship. There are situations I'd like to be in with one.

I don't know why this is the topic of the week, apparently, but it's intriguing.

I have no prospects. I don't want to think that I actually need a relationship. I don't know how one would fit into my already-packed life. (I can't even find the time to do laundry, after all.)

But I'm interested in seeing if I'm different now. Different from five years ago. Different from who I was when I was even dating Ryan the teen a couple years ago.

It's strange, but I have some hope that things are different about me.

But I can't think about that. There's too much else to do.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A Very Kacoon Thanksgiving Preparation Freakout.

A couple days ago, Kacoon called me apologetically, then said, "Please don't hate me, but I only took the turkey out of the freezer this morning."

"Oh," I said. "Why would I be mad about that?"

"Because it's supposed to defrost in the refrigerator for four days, isn't it?" Kacoon asked.

"Yeah, or we can just defrost it overnight by soaking it hourly like we did last year," I said.

"Oh," Kacoon said.

Today, she called to ask me some questions.

"What time do you get off work tomorrow?" she asked me. "Because we can do the shopping tomorrow and take care of everything."

"I think I'll be over at a reasonable time," I said to her.

"Oh, OK," she said, sounding nervous.

And a moment passed.

"I need to make the cornbread stuffing tonight, don't I? That way, it doesn't get too soft, right?"

"It's only Tuesday," I reminded her.

"Oh yeah, I can make it tomorrow," she said.

"Or on Thursday," I said.

"No, it needs to be crispy," she said.

"You're doing what I did last year," I said to her. "You're overthinking Thanksgiving. Don't sweat the dinner. Everything will be fine."

Last year, I stayed up all night rubbing down the turkey with salt, massaging it and keeping it in warm water. I felt like I was giving it a spy treatment. After the dinner ended, I collapsed from exhaustion, pleased with my success.

This year, we're supposed to have Kacoon, Mike, me, Midget, Kacoon's mom, her sister, her sister's boyfriend and our mutual friends David and Jamie.

The turkey I bought last week is 15 pounds. Kacoon keeps asking me about the ingredients in bread stuffing. This is going to be fun.

Visions of sugar plums dancing.

Yesterday, I asked Vic if she wanted to see "The Nutcracker" some Saturday with me before Christmas, and she said she would think about it. Right now, she says she doesn't feel like leaving her house.

I thought it up as something that we could do together, for we've been before. But, the thing is, thinking about going with her makes me really, really want to see it again. So I don't know what I'm going to do. I think I'm just going to take off one Saturday and head down to it.

A holiday reminder for those spending it alone.

Sometimes, it's better to be alone.

As we enter the holidays, I'm going to post this reminder of my oh-so-amusing ex-boyfriend to assure myself and other single people who start to feel the pressure this time of year that RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE UGLY.

I know it was a long time ago. I know it's unhealthy to hold a grudge. I know I should forget about him.

But would you forget this sort of thing if it happened during your affair with someone? There. I thought not.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Flirting by osmosis.

Ben, a customer at my bookstore, hit on me Friday by staring at me at my cash register until I gave him my phone number. Seriously.

I mean, he just stood there at my register to "buy a People magazine," and I talked a bit to him. And the chat ended, but he kept waiting for me to say something.

We were past, "Hey, how are you?" and "Hey, that's my name, too," and "Hey, how old are you?" and "Hey, I want to read that magazine." And Ben just kept standing there, staring at me, and I said, "Yes ..." And he asked, "What?" And I said, "Yes, um ..." And he asked, "What?" And I said, "No, I just said yes." And he said, "Oh." Since that was going nowhere, I asked him if he wanted to ask me something, but he just kept saying, "No, um," and staring at me with this burning intent in his eyes.

So I wrote down my phone number on a post-it and handed it to him. And he said, "Thanks. I couldn't be sure."

And I smiled. But it seems unfair that he got away with my phone number since he didn't actually ever say anything.

Life could be a dream, sweetheart.

My mother once told me that she thought a good way to counter the effects of my disability would be to sign up for dance classes. I mean, when I was a little boy, tap dance was discussed, then abandoned. Ballet was suggested, but, for some reason, it never happened. When I was in college, though, I took a quarter of ballroom dance. (At the time I suggested to friends that I was taking German and dance so that I could become a suave, gay superspy.) After that one quarter of ballroom, I knew the steps. I was still terrible at it, but I knew how to have fun with it. I like pretending I can dance, and occasionally I'll show people my moves. (Usually, after the store closes, I'm a wannabe Fred Astaire with a mop in the cafe. Yesterday, I grabbed my co-worker Luann's hand, and we did a couple steps.)

I once wrote this play in college that said I wasn't fit for modern romance, that I didn't know how to make it work. In the play, I said I wished I could use my grandparents' methods for courtship. I figured that my grandparents managed a 65-year marriage because they lived in an era of slow dancing, of conversation, of getting to know someone beyond what they looked like. When you danced with someone, you touched them, and you moved together, connected, across the floor. I'm romanticizing the time, certainly.

(I've seen SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, so I know I'm lucky that my grandpa didn't take up with one of the easier girls in town and drive my grandma straight into a nuthouse, as Warren and Natalie did to each other.)

Still, is there not something to be said for, dare I use the term, old-fashioned romance?

Today, there are no slow dances. There's pumping techno music that you have to scream over, and people are afraid to say hello first. Or people meet their soulmates through the Internet because that's how you have conversations now. Or you have sex first, then meet someone later. I don't know anyone I've dated who's fallen more in love with me over time. Didn't people used to do that? Maybe it's just me.

I've only gotten to slow dance with one boy ever. His name was Erin, and he worked with me at the newspaper. I had a crush on him that everyone, even he, knew about and tried their best to ignore. He had this boyfriend whom he loved, and I was the designated "crazy" one - yet I don't know if I really deserved that role. The dance took place in the office after a funeral for a friend of ours. Erin was in a funk but trying to keep his mind off of things. I'd stayed in the office that day so that others could go to the service. When he got back, dressed up moderately, I walked into the newsroom to see how he was doing. This kid named Mark was typing a story. And Erin was talking with this girl named Mary Sue about his ballroom dance class. He'd taken the same class as me. He was trying to show her how to do the fox trot. When the girl became thoroughly confused about it, though, I stepped in and told him that I knew how to do it.

Usually, he was polite to me because he was too nice to tell me to go away, but it had been a hard day for him. And he seemed to really want to get the step right. So he led, and I followed. And we did one full box step. And when he went forward, I went back, for his arm was at my side, guiding me. He had good form, so I felt his arm when he moved and moved with it.

And I was looking in his eyes when we stopped, which you're not supposed to do. And I glanced over at the kid Mark, who'd stopped typing. And I think I said thank you and left the room. I hope Erin, if he remembers this, never mentions it to me. I'd hate to think I was a bad dancer. Or that it mattered at all.

Swing music is back in vogue. Today, I bought the new Cyndi Lauper album, which covers old standards, and the "Mona Lisa Smile" soundtrack, which features old '50s tunes redone by people like Seal, Tori Amos and Macy Gray. Both of the albums are excellent, and they make me feel like the sort of romantic innocent that I always wanted to be when I was a kid - the one who was going to be able to dance, the one who was going to be able to sing and flirt and woo and do all those things successfully. Those ambitions, though I recognize them as silly, are still inside me when I hear this sort of music.

I think about the play I wrote, the one where I talk of sweeping a random, loving boy off his feet with old-style romantic gestures. The one time I performed it (because it's just a monologue featuring a slow dance), I actually had a responsive audience who liked it. And my dance partner, a girl then, was even impressed that I did the steps while continuing the monologue.

And I wonder sometimes if those old gestures would actually work for me now. Or if they would've worked for me, even in the '50s. I wonder what I'd sound like if I sang for an audience, now years out of practice (though I received accolades the last time I did karaoke). I wonder what I'd look like in a tuxedo nowadays, if I'd be able to win the hearts of the crowd and, in particular, a person in it.

I sing in my car. My voice, from what I can tell, isn't bad if I actually pay attention and try to keep my notes from falling flat. Kacoon once heard me sing "Luck Be A Lady" and told me that my voice was capable. (Then, she told me to please stop singing because she hated showtunes.)

I want to be Sinatra sometimes, and I'm playing to an empty house. It's a little upsetting.

If I sang a boy a love song, how freaked out would he be? If I tried to slow-dance with a boy, how awkward would that be? To serenade someone is now seen as silly, ridiculous, embarassing. I bought a boy flowers once, and he looked at me like I was quirky and dumb.

I didn't go to a bar tonight. I didn't get jilted. I'm not getting over a bad date. I'm not heartbroken. I'm not in "now denial" because a crush doesn't like me back. This post isn't coming from the usual, bitter places in my mind. These thoughts of romance come from the music I heard today and am listening to now. It's soft, innocent, amusing. It makes me want to hold someone's hand and have that mean something.

I'm being really silly. But, tonight in my living room, I'm going to work on my box step, and I hope that someone special gets to appreciate it someday.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

I hate this movie.

THE CAT IN THE HAT, by the way, was so intolerably bad that I sat through an hour of a midnight showing last night and walked out. The management of the theater told me that they understood I'd wanted to see the sold-out GOTHIKA show instead, didn't like the fact that six-year-olds got into a fistfight at the MIDNIGHT show and didn't like the shitty kitty movie at all.

THE CAT IN THE HAT is pointless and horrible. It takes the funny, charming book and removes all the fun, humor and charm from it. It replaces it with a completely unlikable lead character, potty humor and a bloated, unnecessarily convoluted plot. Visually, it's overdone, attempting a sort of EDWARD SCISSORHANDS-ish beauty and failing miserably. (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS created a place you wanted to visit. THE CAT IN THE HAT doesn't at all.) I didn't laugh once. I wanted to punch Mike Myers in the face for stealing the Cowardly Lion's laugh from THE WIZARD OF OZ without permission. I wanted to watch BEETLEJUICE to remind myself that I once liked Alec Baldwin with good reason. I wanted to remove the film from Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning's permanent records. I wondered if I could involve DFACS in a probe of the child actors' families. I wanted to call Dr. Seuss' widow bad names for allowing the project to even be made. But the only person I could save from the debacle was myself.

So I walked out. I got an emergency pass to see another movie at a different time. (The management agreed with me that the movie and the viewing experience I had with it were worthy of a refund.)

I was talking to a parent in my store about it today. She'd just finished watching it with her two-year-old daughter. Since we didn't want the little girl to hear bad language when we talked about the movie, we put headphones on the girl and kept all the four-letter-words we used to a whisper. She said that, if she hadn't had a two-year-old, she would've walked out, too.

It's bad. Really bad. Horrible bad. In just over 80 minutes, they manage to screw up everything delightful about what is a brilliant, excellent children's book. There must be a special place reserved in hell for the people behind this movie.

See something else. Anything else. Really.

Indian summer confusion.

Today I was wearing a white button-up shirt with a blue checkered pattern on it. I had on a tie featuring a different geometric design and different basic color. I also wore a tan sweater vest. With intentionally mussed hair, I looked pretty good. I was dressed for a sad day in November.

The memorial service for Johnny was nice, and I even shed a couple tears when Vic's sister gave a somewhat funny, very touching speech about how much her silent, stubborn, frequently ill yet good-hearted and kind stepfather meant to her. Her speech was nice.

The time I got to spend with Vic and her ex-husband, who told me that he liked my tie and told me that it was nice to see me, was actually warm. I felt good being in their company. He sat with her during the service and held her hand. He drove her to the library to pick up some books when the service ended. (She told me she didn't know what she was in the mood to read but that she had to read something. I understood that.)

Anyway, so I headed to work after the service, and I kept the clothes I was wearing to the service on through lunch at Max Lager's and throughout my shift, though I admit I removed the tie then.

People commented to me on how nice I looked.

"Hot date?" my manager Linda asked me.

"Funeral," I said.

She paused, then frowned and said, "Oh."

At lunch, I was sitting on the patio, looking out at the mall. The overhead speakers began playing k.d. lang's "Consequences of Falling," which is the song title I borrowed for my book on mall culture and choices regarding our collective individuality. It felt like a moment I was supposed to experience.

One family posed for a photo by the giant Christmas tree in the mall courtyard. They were all wearing shorts and T-shirts. It was 80 degrees outside, and it's a week before Thanksgiving. I was wearing the sort of outfit I'd like to wear in November, but Georgia in November has Bizarro-world weather.

During lunch, Nick the cute waiter, who gave me the wrong phone number to contact him a couple months ago, smiled when he saw me and asked me how I was doing. I was confused by this.

He smiled again, "I like your tie."

I was trying to read the look on his face. It was the look of a friend, someone whom I'd hug.

"What?" he asked me.

"Um," I muttered.

"What's wrong?" Nick asked, smiling still.

"You gave me the wrong phone number," I said plainly. "I called it this week, and I couldn't decide if you'd given me the wrong one on purpose."

While I was explaining this, he was quickly looking at his phone, then writing a new one on his order pad. (This was at the beginning of his shift in his restaurant, but I couldn't figure out why he'd be so nice to me if he gave me the wrong number on purpose. So I asked him about it. That makes sense, right?)

He said something about a 9 number, then saying he used to have a number similar to his phone number. And now he inverts the digits. Or something like that.

He's had my number saved in his phone since before he gave me the wrong number accidentally. He hasn't called it. There's a disconnect. It's unintentional and on purpose. We're busy. But neither of us is making an effort. I will call him. Eventually.

So I left his restaurant. And he went to work. And I went to work. And I don't know.

The weather fit my mixed emotions about my outfit, the reasons why I was wearing it, the fact that I liked the compliments I got and that I was dressed up in front of Nick the cute waiter. It all jumbled in my head. I didn't know if I was just having a typical adult life or if I was supposed to feel guilty about something.

Friday, November 21, 2003

I say the word "Um" a lot.

I'm nervous whenever I talk to Vic, and I stammer. And I'm sure I'm really annoying, but she sounds different. And she tells me I don't need to be nervous, but I still stammer. And the whole thing is like stupid-weird. She's grieving, and I'm behaving like some comedian bombing at the Catskills.

Four friends of mine got together with me yesterday, and we arranged to send her a Peace Lily plant. And I had to go and tell her today about how the whole thing came about, rather than just shut up and be fine. And I had to tell her that we all wanted her to know that we cared for her, which is basically the sort of thing she'd probably already figured out from the card.

I feel so dumb. I don't know what to say to her. I just talk to her so that she'll know I'm there. And I don't want to go when I'm on the phone with her, even though everything I say makes it sound like I have nothing more to say. I just keep talking and talking.

She's invited to A Very Kacoon Thanksgiving, which is now the official name of the Thanksgiving celebration I'm throwing, but Vic's working. She told me, because I was concerned, that this year's Thanksgiving at her house is going to be light and sorta potluck. I shouldn't have asked her about that, but I was concerned.

She was more concerned that I was thinking things I was afraid to ask. I'm never one for tact, and that's sorta what she appreciates about me. And that's where I fear I'm going to go wrong.

Avoid the temptation. Don't see CAT yet.

OK, everyone, do me a favor. Don't go see "Dr. Seuss' THE CAT IN THE HAT" until sometime later this weekend. I will make a Christ-like sacrifice of my time and see it this weekend, like I did with THE GRINCH and SCOOBY DOO, and tell you if it's worth seeing. (SCOOBY DOO and THE GRINCH, by the way, were terrible.)

Instead of seeing THE CAT IN THE HAT, which received atrocious reviews, see the movie ELF instead. ELF, unlike CAT IN THE HAT, received really good reviews, and it was actually a surprisingly good movie.

So see ELF, skip CAT for now, and I will let you know what I thought as soon as possible.

Right now.

Lupo wants me to write something sharp and funny, but I'm not feeling very sharp and funny.

I want to take a nap.

Right now, there are too many papers on my desk. Right now, I'm writing e-mails instead of doing the work I'm supposed to be doing. Right now, I'm unmotivated. Right now, I'm wondering whether happiness involves being in a relationship or being out of one. Right now, I'm wondering why Vic is having what I would guess is the worst year of her life. Right now, I'm wishing that I shaved this morning. I'm wishing that I had time to do everything that I wanted to do. I'm wishing that I didn't have to compromise Thanksgiving so much that I ended up hurting my mother's feelings, but I don't want to be reminded of my lousy childhood trauma and abuse. I wish that choices weren't so hard. I wish adulthood weren't so hard. I wish that I could be more reliable for my boss, and I wish that I could sleep more than I do.

Right now, I wish that Hollywood would leave simple, little Dr. Seuss books well enough alone. (What's next, GREEN EGGS AND HAM: THE MOVIE?) I wish that my car was clean and that I could take everyone outlet shopping. I wish that I hadn't gotten a cold this week.

I don't know. I wish that I had the time and motivation to do well at everything I attempt.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Me against good music.

So last night, after I left Vic's, I went to Wal-mart for about two hours. And what I did was incredibly silly. I mean, I just sorta vegetated and browsed.

I read the latest issue of SOAP OPERA DIGEST to find out why they're killing off the entire cast of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, it seems like. (They've killed off four longtime characters in three months and intend, it seems, to kill off several more.)

Then, to completely alter my mood, I bought the new Britney Spears album and the soundtrack to GILMORE GIRLS, which I think makes me a giant dork. The Britney album I bought because I needed escapism and because I have been a closet fan ever since Kacoon and I put on headphones in the middle of the bookstore and danced around to "Oops ... I Did It Again," paying no attention to anyone watching us do it. (This was the reasoning that brought us to our viewing bash of CROSSROADS with Doug, during which I said the now-immortal lines: "Excuse me, but why is Kim Cattrall dressed like a park ranger?" and "Go on, White Trash Girl! Kick her ass into the street!!!")

The GILMORE GIRLS soundtrack, by the way, is absolutely awesome, like the sort of mix CD that your best friend would make you. Joey Ramone. John Lennon. Yoko Ono. Sam Phillips. PJ Harvey. Carole King. Yo La Tengo. Very, very good stuff.

My job and my pleasure.

I just got home from Vic's house a few minutes ago. It's 2 a.m. I left her house at 11 p.m. It should've taken me 45 minutes to an hour.

But I couldn't go home. I created new errands to run, new things to buy. I wanted to change my mood. I wanted to be someplace neutral. I ended up at the Wal-mart Supercenter.


When I got to Vic's house at 9:30, she was surprised to see me because I hadn't called. She seemed happy to see me, which made me happy because she'd told me not to come. I sat on the floor next to her as soon as I walked in and greeted everyone. When she tried to get me away from her cat and away from her feet, citing my allergies as the reason, I wouldn't leave Vic's side. I told her that I already had a cold this week, so I wouldn't notice my own cat allergy. I wanted to be with her. As her friend, it was my job and my pleasure to do it.

I played cards with the family (including Vic's nephew, whom I've known over 11 years), and I had some of this really rich chocolate cake that someone else had dropped off. Other people dropped off a platter of cold cuts, a platter of sandwich bread and some cut vegetables. Vic said that I was one of their many guests that day and that her ex-husband had been there a half hour before.

She talked about taking her nephew to get his haircut tomorrow, and I asked her if she needed to buy a dress. I thought I might be able to help out before Saturday because I doubt she'll want to wear anything that she'll ever wear again.

She told me it had been one of the weirdest days of her life.

I hugged her, then told her that the hug was actually from my own mother. Later, I said, "Oh, Kacoon wanted me to give you one of those, too." My own hug came as I was walking out the door, and it was the longest, warmest one that I gave her. But I fear it wasn't long enough, partly because I was trying to determine where to send flowers. The service is on Saturday.

She, who had told me that I didn't need to come over, said to me softly, "Thank you." And I left.

Writing that, I feel silly. This isn't about me doing something nice. I mean, I did something nice. But I did it easily and readily because I love her. I love every inch of her. I love her heart, her mind, her soul. I love how difficult she is, how difficult she tries to be. I love how stubborn she can be, and I love how silent she gets when she's angry. I love how we sometimes don't talk for months, but she and I both understand that our friendship has an inevitability. Every road eventually leads back to us.

She's worried about her mother, Donna. I'm worried, too. The woman seemed sorta shell-shocked, walking around not knowing what to do with herself in between the phone calls and the visitors. The TV set was on some silly show that no one was watching. Everyone just zoned out.

I felt weird having some focus, talking about certain memories and laughing at the nephew's jokes. I smiled at Donna. She smiled back. I didn't really talk to her. I told her that I'd see her on Saturday. Then, I tried to ask where to send the flowers, without actually asking where to send the flowers, but I felt uncomfortable talking too many details.

Vic seemed to be holding up, though it was clear that she'd been crying. I acted like I didn't notice it. I just sorta let her go about those small tasks we were doing. She won the card game. She gave me back books that she'd borrowed from me months ago, and I asked her once again about a missing book, which I don't really care if she ever finds. It's what we talk about. It's got its own rhythm, its own cause-and-effect. We return to pattern because we can.

One day, I'll need her, and I pray she'll be there. There was never a possibility that I wouldn't have given her a hug on a day like today.

Those of us in the living room, playing a game or pretending to watch TV, commented at times about how much space the room seemed to have in it. I asked Vic when they'd rearranged the furniture. Donna asked her if something was missing.

The long coffee table was gone, for one thing. But the room had other empty space in it, and we all knew what was missing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


My friend Vic's father died this morning. His name was Johnny, and he was a nice guy. He used to think I was weird, but we'd gotten to the point where we would actually talk if I called his house. He's been ill for as long as I've known him.

I want to be there for Vic, but I don't know what to say. I know it doesn't really matter what I say, so long as I'm there for her. But how do I help her when I can't even figure out how I feel?

My first impulse is to think about how Johnny used to react when I called on the phone. He sounded annoyed. And I was scared of him. The whole thing strikes me as silly now, for he was a really good guy. He just didn't "get" me and made that clear. I didn't really "get" him either. But we came to an understanding.

His family is strong, unlike mine. They're together now, and they're strong.

I love Vic. I love Vic so much that I think she knows it, can feel it, can sense me trying to do the right thing even when I falter or say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing or something. She knows I love her. I hope it helps her.

But I don't know what to do.

IKEA Waiter Boy.

Ever have a really excellent delusion?

For some reason, I'm in this mood lately where I think that IKEA Waiter Boy might actually be polite to me if I attempt to speak to him. I don't know why, maybe because he waved at me when I was, like, staring at him in American Cafe. (I was under the influence of a lot of cold medicine, in my defense, and my phone was not working - so I couldn't get anyone on the phone to distract me from staring at him as he tended bar.)

I need to completely ignore the IKEA Waiter. I mean, Edmondson and I decided the night we met IKEA Waiter that he probably wasn't gay. He was in graphic design, certainly, and his hair was highlighted, true, and his name made him sound like he was a member of a boy band, as well. He talked to us about his job search and about relocating to the city from one of the Carolinas, which I suppose even straight guys do.

And he was lanky, scruffy and sorta geeked-out adorable, which incidentally makes him someone that Lupo would notice moreso than me.

I'm just surprised that I didn't do my usual thing of talking to him and making a complete fool out of myself. I mean, I only asked him one question: "Are you the IKEA Waiter?" And I only asked him after he waved at me.

He's out of my league. And I didn't even ask him about his job search or make some sarcastic comment about his furniture.

I need to get IKEA Waiter out of my head.

I've not felt this way about a waiter since that time the cute guy waiter hit on me while I was having lunch with my mother that one time. My mom, noting who the waiter was paying attention to, got angry with me when he wouldn't fill up her water but kept asking me moment-to-moment if everything was all right. At the time, it was really embarrassing. Now, it's just funny.

But nothing will ever happen with me and IKEA Waiter Boy. I will not be traveling to Toronto with him, holding a civil ceremony and moving into a Europop-style furnished condo with him. We will not admit our love story to IKEA execs and, because our story is so inspiring, get an offer to appear together in some nice, high-profile commercials and magazine print ads. We will not, following in the trendy example of Angelina Jolie, adopt Cambodian orphans and raise them in a happy, expensively-furnished ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST-looking home.

Maybe I should go back and find someone more in my range, like that semi-psychotic Christian boy who feared his parents' deaths and couldn't do his own laundry. Or I should go to Ash and hold his hand and inspire his poetry while he serves some lengthy prison sentence for tax evasion stemming from his activities as a middle-class loan shark. Or I should find Ejay, get reminded about what his real name was and see if he's come out yet to his ex-wife.

IKEA Waiter Boy is a myth. His catchy banter abilities are probably lacking. He may have nothing interesting to say beyond talk of IKEA. He probably already has a girlfriend. Or, better and worse, a boyfriend. Or he might just not be attracted to me, which is a common occurrence.

I love these delusions, though. They're so much better than real life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

A Very Kacoon Thanksgiving.

Kacoon and I started to arrange how next week's festivities, where I join her family for Thanksgiving, are going to happen. We broke down who's paying for what. We broke down what the grocery list is going to include.

And, most importantly, I called my mother and copied down her recipe for Sweet Potato Souffle, which is fantastic. (At the dinner last year, Kacoon's husband Mike said it was better than his own mother's.)

This is going to be fun.

Preparing for THE TWO TOWERS.

I'm watching the extended edition of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, which I haven't watched before even though I've owned it for a year. I'm a dork, I suppose, for both watching it at all and not watching it until now - when my extended copy of THE TWO TOWERS is supposed to arrive within hours.

It's been on for 45 minutes, and Frodo just now left the damn Shire. Is it just me, or are the simple, happy hobbits really, really annoying? That whole hokey dance, pipe-smoking thing they do at the beginning, where they all look like they're from a midget-only production of LES MISERABLES, is my least favorite part. I like when the humans show up, and the movie gets all scary.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

I feel like such a dork. I'm still congested, but now I'm able to talk. I feel lousy yet not as lousy as yesterday.

Plus, my sleep schedule is all thrown off, even though I avoided the Nyquil, so I'm home again today.

I don't know what's wrong with me, besides my cold, but something's bugging me.

Middle of the night.

I'm going to make it to work tomorrow. I may even avoid the Nyquil to assure that I wake up in a reasonable amount of time.

I stayed up late watching a Western I purchased on DVD before even watching it. It was made by one of my favorite directors, Robert Altman, during his '70s glory days. And, as Ebert said it would be, it was a pretty great movie.

Monday, November 17, 2003

High-maintenance man.

So I was alone in a restaurant tonight, still congested as all hell, and I tried getting friends of mine on the phone. (I don't know why this was a good idea. Who on Earth wants to listen to me eat?) But there was either something wrong with the acoustics in the restaurant, so I think everyone on the phone with me heard the soft rock playing in American Cafe over my own voice.

I hated being alone today. Hated it. Hated it more than yesterday. I just wanted to call every person I've ever met and talk to them for five to 10 minutes about nothing in particular. I don't know what my problem was. I just wanted something. A significant day. A conversation that mattered. Something real. The best I did was finish a section of CONSEQUENCES OF FALLING, and even that failed (because the story's not yet developed enough to be involving) to generate much buzz. But that'll change.

Danielle, a friend I've gotten to know through Mike and Kacoon and one of the people I called tonight when my cell phone was blocking out the sound of my own voice, told me that my message was impossible to understand.

"I felt like Jodie Foster in CONTACT," she said. "I mean, all I heard was this static, then this beeping. And the weird thing is, my phone ring is the theme from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, so it was like I was in some science fiction movie."

I don't know why I needed to talk to people today. I didn't have anything really to say, even today during my therapy appointment. I just thought that I was past sick days of eating alone and watching someone get murdered on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

But I guess no one ever really gets past empty days.

Where is Jordy Ray?

Jordy Ray's ex-wife LaDonna apparently is writing his column this week, rather than the missing Ray, and the results are rather amusing.

Feel free to go to the sidebar and check it out.

Anyone out there? Please contact me.

I'm trapped in my house, surrounded by tissue paper, Vitamin C, echinacea and Tylenol. My nose is congested, and I'm sleeping entirely too much.

If you have my phone number, call me. If you want my e-mail address, use please, letting me know that there are other people out in the world today.

(Black wrote me today to tell me that he liked the latest installment of CONSEQUENCES OF FALLING, but he has yet to call me to talk about sex, depression, philosophy and movies - our usual topics. We'll have to do a chat sometime this week, I guess, because I miss talking to him.)

Incidentally, I think it was Kacoon who gave me this head cold, so, if any of you know a voodoo curse that you'd be willing to teach me, I'd appreciate it.

And if Kacoon happens to read this, heed this warning:


OK, enough typing. I need to go blow my nose.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Let's all go to the lobby, let's all go to the lobby, let's all go to the lobby ...

MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD comes out this weekend, and the reviews have been really, really good. So I'll end up in the theater at some point, likely thinking that I used to think that Russell Crowe was really good looking before he became famous.

Also in theaters, I want to see ELEPHANT and SHATTERED GLASS, playing at the Landmark; PIECES OF APRIL, playing at the Madstone and the Tara; THE STATION AGENT, playing endlessly at Garden Hills; and SYLVIA, which isn't playing anywhere in town anymore.

Good and fine.

I took some personal time this morning, and my boss Ethan asked me if I was suffering from side-effects of my pills.

I smiled and told him no.

I'm not sick, though I have the sniffles. In fact, I'm good. I'm fine. I'm better.

Things are good. Things are fine.

I took the morning off today and relaxed a bit.

I need to write more of CONSEQUENCES OF FALLING, the story I've been working on this week and planning for over a year. Ronald heard me talking about it, and he decided that he wanted to be written into it as a character - which was funny because he already is a possible book character.

I need to stop thinking about it and start writing it. It is my intention to have the whole thing done by the end of March so that I'll have a finished product to show Miss Gibson when I visit her in London.

Fun night last night. I thought I was working, but I wasn't. I wanted to go to a movie, but I didn't. I spent the night looking for a compromise, so to speak, and I found one.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Only you.

I don't want to love Ash. I want to love someone. I don't love anyone. I have no one. I could have Ash, eventually. Ash, currently, is the only one who's even entertaining notions of me that I know about. And no one else is offering.

What we want. What we'll settle for. When it's a mistake, and everyone knows it's a mistake, but everyone also knows it's the only thing in front of you for the other option is nothing.

Is wavering allowed? Is debate allowed?

Is something asking me if I want something less than love? Am I sending out into the universe a big reply of "Maybe" by even considering this choice?

Great, this is my life as an early '90s romantic comedy starring Marisa Tomei.

Walk This Way.

Once, about a year ago, I was feeling really self-conscious, so I called Kacoon on the phone to see if she could cheer me up.

"Kacoon, you don't understand," I said to her in the middle of a tirade. "I think people look at my limp before they look at me, and they judge me for it. Like it's my fault I have cerebral palsy or something."

"What are you talking about?" Kacoon said to me. "Do you know the first time I even noticed that you had a limp?"

"No," I said.

"It was, like, three days after we met," Kacoon said.

"What happened?" I asked her. "You never asked me about it, so I assumed you always knew."

"I didn't tell you about this because I didn't want you to hate me," Kacoon said. "Oh my God, I felt like such a dumbass."

"Why did you feel like that?" I said. "When did you find out I had a disability?"

"You and I were talking at the Information Desk upstairs at the bookstore, and I'd worked there maybe three or four days," she said. "You wanted to show me something, and you headed toward the shelves and said, 'Walk this way.' And I saw the way you were walking, and I thought you were kidding around. I didn't realize until you stopped to let someone pass you that you weren't kidding."

As she told me this, I started laughing. And I had to ask her the dire question, so I did.

"When I walked away, did you walk behind me, limping?" I asked, laughing.

Kacoon guffawed and timidly said, "Yes."

I have never laughed harder in my life than I did when she told me that. Tears came from my eyes, I was laughing so hard.

"Did anyone see you?" I asked her.

"They must have," she said. "Because I did follow you for a while before you stopped. People probably thought I was some jerk, following you like that."

"Did I see you?" I asked her.

"No," she said. "Otherwise, you would've thought I was some insensitive bitch. And you would've hated my guts."

"Oh my God, why didn't you tell me this before?" I asked her, laughing. She and I were having this conversation after a year of close friendship.

"Because I was MORTIFIED," Kacoon said on the phone. "I've never felt like more of a dumbass in my entire life. It was humiliating."

Apparently, hours after the group limping effort, Kacoon got up the courage to ask one of my managers if I had a disability of some sort. And they told her the truth.

"Why didn't you ask me about it?" I asked, laughing out loud some more.

"Because I felt retarded," she said.

"Oh my God, I have to call my mother," I said to her before telling Kacoon how much I loved her and hanging up the phone. "She's going to DIE when she hears this story. Um, in fact, I'll call you back after I tell this story to EVERY PERSON I'VE EVER MET IN MY WHOLE LIFE."

I called about 15 people that night, telling that story. When I called her back, I was so happy. Before I'd talked to her the first time, I'd been so upset. And she changed that by merely humiliating herself.

Last night at Mike's birthday party, I made Kacoon join me in a "re-enactment" of the incident in front of all our friends. And they loved it.

Her impression of my limp, which I hadn't seen before last night, is actually really good.

Tasha Yar's alternate universe.

OK, so I go to my friend Mike the LORD OF THE RINGS fan's surprise birthday party, and he was telling me about "Trilogy Tuesday," which he's attending in Columbus about 100 miles away - watching all three films, extended editions, of LORD OF THE RINGS all at once to mark the debut of RETURN OF THE KING, the final film in the series.

And Danielle, another of his friends, and I both ended up buying him THE MATRIX RELOADED. She apologized to me, but I told her not to worry about getting Mike a duplicate gift. He can exchange it for the extended edition TWO TOWERS DVD set with the complimentary Gollum bookends, which he's wanted for months.

(I told Danielle that the duplicate gift thing wasn't a big deal because last year, at Christmas, Kacoon and I both bought each other the same gift, a DVD copy of Britney Spears' CROSSROADS. I mean, that was really amusing, for we only got it because we enjoyed mocking the film aloud in theaters. I told Danielle that it was another Benjie-Kacoon classic moment, for it's like GIFT OF THE MAGI - except with a shitty Britney Spears movie.)

And another friend mentioned to me today that they went to DragonCon in September dressed as Trinity. When she mentioned a BUFFY convention meeting in Atlanta this weekend, I told her that I was actually excited that Season Five, featuring Dawn as the Key and the death of Buffy Summers, was about to be released on DVD.

Mike began discussing, at one point during the party, what Hayden Christiansen's STAR WARS: EPISODE THREE hairdo was going to be.

And in the kitchen, at one point, I began to sing the entire first act of RENT - by myself mostly but with occasional backup by this cool girl named Jamie - complete with its staccato lyrics.

I also found out tonight that Ronald the Sk8r, instead of using a sewing machine, hand-stitches his own designer pillows while sitting beside Lake Lanier and fishing. He asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him, and I told him that I would go, though I have an unnatural hatred for the "sport." I think my parents took me fishing as a child just because they wanted to find an excuse to keep me quiet, saying it would disturb the fish. I didn't realize then that, you know, fish don't have ears. I would go fishing with Ronald, though I'd have to bring along a good novel or a lot of alcohol.

I came home from the party, and, in an e-mail, my friend Benjamin mentioned something about owning a shirt that looks like it comes from "that alternate universe on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION where Tasha Yar was still alive." And, because I once created this Listmania list, I'm almost ashamed to say that I knew exactly what he was talking about.

At the party, because Mike, Kacoon and I all work at bookstores, we began to discuss, moreso than anything else, bookstore terms, bookstore etiquette, customer service and hot new release items. (And we all talked about how Best Buy, though they have great prices, have the WORST customer service. I mean, I once asked a guy for a soundtrack, and he had me clarify that I meant music "from a movie.")

So what does that say about me, my friends and our taste?

We call ourselves geeks. And we embrace that title with pride.

I think it makes us children of pop culture. I think it makes us interesting. I think it provides us with endless trivia and topics for discussion. And I think it makes us typical, not atypical, that we've found something that we enjoy being passionate about.

In this world, I actually hope that we're all geeks about something. I feel lucky to be one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I also own the original cast recording for "Sweeney Todd." So there.

I just read an article through the Quo Vadimus website about "playlistism," the hip, new discrimination technique used by people to disparage others. Apparently, the introduction of iTunes now means that other people will know what sort of music you listen to. The prospect of this scares me, so I will beat you all to the punch and admit it ... I am a music dork. I do not have good taste. My taste is, instead, an amalgam of good and bad music, and I will occasionally listen to crappy music on purpose.

I own the last Britney Spears album. I own the last White Stripes album. I own Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on CD single. Yesterday, I bought the REM Greatest Hits compilation, and I bought the new Pink album, where she tries to break away from her pop roots somewhat by getting Rancid to play back-up. I listen to Rufus Wainwright. I listen to show tunes, and I have the "Hairspray" original cast recording memorized. I listen to jazz throwbacks, like Michael Buble and the retro Robbie Williams album. I like Britpop and music you can dance to. A good gospel choir can excite me moreso than Jude Law in a swimsuit. I went to a Bette Midler concert when I was a senior in high school, and the girl who went with me didn't even bother calling me a closeted faggot. There, I admit it.

Kacoon, for instance, HATES my taste in music. HATES IT. She bashed me about it on Friendster, for God's sake. She doesn't understand how I could like Dashboard Confessional, which I'm confused by because I actually think Dashboard Confessional is pretty good. She hates Travis, which confuses me because I thought everybody liked Travis. She likes Hole and Courtney Love, and I can only tolerate them. She likes Concrete Blonde, which I only basically understand because I thought they only had one song and it was that one with the scary, angry, off-key chick in dreadlocks. (She told me that was Four Non-Blondes, not Concrete Blonde. Whatever.)

Working in a music store, I do, on occasion, criticize people's taste. But I provide them, if I'm seriously critiquing their choices (like, for instance, if someone's buying a Jewel album), with reasons. Kacoon can't tell me why she doesn't like my music. ("Dashboard Confessional is so whiny ..." she says. "Uh huh," I reply. "So what?")

Once I criticized her husband Mike for liking John Denver, but I didn't really think about my critique of it. I was just feeling anti-wholesome that day, and I said to him that Denver had millions but couldn't bring himself to ever get a decent haircut, which bugged me. And Mike got mad. Really mad. Really, really upset. And I didn't notice, for I thought we were just talking about John Denver, not anything important.

But what he thought was good was important to him. And he was willing to defend it. Though it's good not to get yourself too worked up over it, he has a point. If you like something, you should be willing to defend it.

Who gives a damn if people think my music is bad? Say so. I don't care.

And I guess, to concede this point, I should be nicer to people who listen to Jewel, that poser, bad-poet bitch who tries to come off as deep just because she lived in a van in Alaska. Whatever. If girl ever gets writer's block and needs a song, maybe she can just steal a high school girl's notebook and plagiarize from it.

OK, nevermind.

This is the sweater I bought at the Gap.

I'm wearing this right now.

I bought it after seeing a similar sweater, though a different color, featured in the film "Love Actually" this weekend.

Good movie. I really like this sweater. I've zipped it up, though I can zip it down and it looks like a sweatshirt. No, wait, I'm going to zip it up again.

Historical fiction.

Jenipher told me that she had the day off yesterday and that she spent it reading "historical fiction." I asked her if Fabio was on the cover, and she said that it was an ambitious, serious John Jakes novel.


I made up a plot of "historical fiction" for Jenipher to read, the good kind that you find at Wal-mart.

I provide it now to you all:

In 1710, Alexandra Cummings was a newcomer to Salem, Massachusetts, but the townsfolk had immediately branded her as "trouble." Her haunting beauty, her revealing outfits and her insatiable hunger for life made her an immediate outcast. Men who saw her burned with desire, and the women of her church were threatened by what they thought she represented, something passionate and evil.

Dashing town lawyer Silas Roberts, also an outcast because his ambitious nature clashed with the humble farmers of the quiet area, found Alexandra a fiery spirit with flame-red hair. However much he tried, though, she continually rejected his attempts at courtship, clashing with him through passionate arguments at many a quilting bee or butter-churning.However, when the church measures her sins and brands her a witch, Silas provided Alexandra with her only hope for survival.

And, facing the possibility of death, the untamed beauty soon found her only solace was in his arms.

Enough psychoses, let's talk about TV.

Last night, I missed 24 and GILMORE GIRLS. Damn my VCR!!!!

So this morning, I went to the TV Guide Watercooler section, where they talk about all the good stuff that happened the night before. Tuesday is really fun because the hot, gay Daniel Coleridge writes the section that day, and it's usually really funny.

This is what he had to say about 24 last night.

Oooh! I just figured out how I know Riley Smith, who plays Kyle Singer. Omigod, I can't believe I'm gonna admit this: I saw him in this cheesy straight-to-DVD thriller called Voodoo Academy. It's about a young men's Christian college that's secretly run by Satanists. But really, it's just an excuse to watch hottie no-name actors run around in their boxer briefs. (Don't front like you've never rented that kinda stuff at Blockbuster. Besides, I was at my friend Matthew's house and he had the DVD, okay? I only sat through the movie like any polite guest would.) Anyway, I'm very glad to see Smith's gone on to bigger and better things.

By the way, nice fake-out about Kyle's plastic baggie of white powder. For weeks, the show's had us fretting that somebody would unzip it, accidentally unleashing the lethal virus on L.A. But the virus was never in the powder — it was apparently in Kyle himself! Then, Agent Tony Almeida gets shot trying to nab the kid. These surprises almost make up for Fox's overly revealing TV and radio promos, which screamed "The virus is out!" I just wish those scenes from next week's 24 didn't show the Feds finally catching Kyle. I didn't wanna know that yet!


Incidentally, the guy who made VOODOO ACADEMY (and I hate that I know this) made this movie called THE BROTHERHOOD that I saw over at Wes and Travis' house when they got it from Netflix. Wes got mad at Travis and me for making fun of it, but it was, ahem, another movie about hottie boys running around in boxer briefs. (Never undressed, always in boxer briefs. Always.)

Travis and I derided the thing as, like, a sanitized TEEN BEAT version of gay porn, which it was. Particularly the scene where the camera lingers lovingly on a jogger's barely-clothed, rippled, sweaty body for, I swear to God, 10 minutes.

THE BROTHERHOOD is particularly notable because it has ALL MY CHILDREN's former hottie Samuel Page in it (though he's credited as Nathan Watkins in it because, I'm guessing, he didn't want his mom to know the truth about the job).

Samuel Page, who played the equally hot Josh Duhamel's brother on AMC, now plays that BANDSTAND chick's boyfriend on AMERICAN DREAMS. This is both good and bad because, though AMERICAN DREAMS is good fun, Samuel Page will likely never, ever take his shirt off on a nostalgic family show. And that, my friends, is just a crime.

Samuel Page, who in case you can't tell from the photo is a personal favorite, also guest-starred on the show POPULAR as an oft-discussed character nicknamed Stone Cold Fox. I remember most fondly his scene where he, completely naked but properly camera-angled, approaches a group of cheerleaders acting as "towel girls" in the locker room. He asks them for a towel, and Melissa Ethridge's future wife licks her lips hungrily, glances down at him, smiles huge and hands him a washcloth.

It was so inappropriate. I was laughing my ass off.

Pushing an elephant up the stairs.

I arrived at work early this morning. Like, 45 minutes early. I should be concerned. Something's wrong. I couldn't sleep. I dressed better than usual. I woke up this morning worrying about money, worrying about Ash, worrying about Crocker, worrying about getting the gift wrapped for Mike's birthday today. Then, I realized I've not taken my anti-obsessive medication Luvox since, I think, Friday because I haven't changed pharmacies since I moved from Buford and ran out a couple days ago. I begin calling people too much, not able to focus, not able to think straight. I get antsy, panicked. I become rude. I shouldn't, shouldn't, shouldn't ever get into this condition. I start listing in my head all the things that I've bought recently, wondering the last time I checked the American Express website and wondering, as well, why my savings has gone down, even though I know who put the money in it and who transferred it out of it and how much it did it.

The first time one of these waves hit me was in sixth grade, and I didn't even realize what it was then. (Maybe it wasn't sixth grade. Whenever I remember something bad, I say it happened when I was in sixth grade because that was the year Jerry moved in with my mother and that was the year that I told her not to marry him, which she did after talking to me about it. I remember telling her that. She doesn't remember talking about it.)

Anyway, the first time one of these hit me was in sixth grade. Before going to sleep one night, a school night, I began screaming and crying in my room for no reason, worrying about the "future." How it wasn't certain. How it could be equally met with success and failure. How nothing was guaranteed. I was crying and crying, and my mother tried to hug me, and I yelled at her. Jerry was living there, for I remember him asking her why I was so worked up.

"He's hysterical," my mother said. "I can't tell why. Something about the future."

Just because bad things had happened, my disability and my parents' divorce, it didn't mean that the bad things were done happening. My mother wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes, and she worries about money. My mother wakes up at 4 a.m. sometimes, not able to get back to sleep because something, some intangible something that she can do nothing about at the point when she was worrying about it, was on her mind, trying to keep her from peace.

I was thinking like this, thinking of everything and anything that could be the matter or could ever be the matter. Because I was disabled, it didn't mean that I wasn't going to have to work. It didn't mean that I could just coast along on being the cute one or the smart one or the one who knew all the state capitols. It wasn't going to be easy. Not everyone liked me or was even going to like me, as I'd thought. Success wasn't guaranteed. Worry was necessary. Work was needed. Pain was coming. Disappointment was a possibility. Innocence was lost.

I was in the sixth grade when I had my first panic attack. And I cried about it to my mother, who couldn't figure out what was wrong.

The world changed. My view of it changed. And I was crying. And I couldn't tell anyone what was wrong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Pissed-off and directionless.

It's after 8 p.m. I'm still at work, even though I should be home by now. The store told me that I wouldn't need to come in tonight, yet I'm beginning to remember that I needed to anyway. I have to pay my damn Discover Card bill, and I don't want to have to pull money out of savings to do that. Instead, damn it, I'm going to drive down and pick up the damn paycheck I forgot to pick up when I was there every damn day this weekend.

The reason I'm still at work is because I was trying to get rid of the backlog of tasks that have been piling up in my "to do" list at work. I've gotten rid of both of them, yet I think I'm the only one who works in my office who manages to only ever see four minutes of daylight a day.

I had an idea for a chapter for CONSEQUENCES, but I want it to be funny. So I'm not sure if I should wait until I'm in a good mood to write it or if I should allow the writing of it to put me in a good mood.

Since I want more reader reaction, I'll probably write it tonight.

It's funny, but, if I'd known last night that I wasn't going to be working tonight, I might never have told Crocker that, though I care about him, I cannot have him treating me badly. In fact, I'd probably be at THE PHILADELPHIA STORY with him right now.

Or, more likely, he would've just flaked out on me again.

So I'm going to hit the road, listen to the new Pink CD and take care of the tasks I need to do.

I'm aimlessly angry, though, and I want rid of it. Maybe time on the road will provide me with direction and/or a place to direct the unreleased anger I've been keeping inside all damn day.


My friend Dena, whom I've known forever, just e-mailed me to ask if I was big on cleaning.

I wrote this back:

"Um, hi, I'm Benjie. The boy who would need a team of archaeologists to dig if he wanted to see the backseat of his car under all the garbage. It's nice to meet you."

"You've saved us from the tyranny of the coffee machine!"

Last night, my DVD set for the complete series of "The Tick" arrived, and I quickly watched the first two episodes. There are nine episodes in the set, though the show was cancelled after airing only eight of them.

It was hilarious. I hate networks for cancelling good shows.

Monday, November 10, 2003


Someone whom I routinely invite out (who routinely says no or just doesn't reply) told me last week, in a surprise twist, that he was accepting one of my invitations. Not so surprisingly, today he had "something suddenly come up" and reneged on the invitation, which was to an event that I told him I could attend tonight. I feel like a chump, like an obvious fool, for sending him that invitation. I knew he wasn't going to show. He's a flake.

A person less gullible than me, someone more willing to let go of initially promising, essentially worthless friendships, would've given up long ago. I've been distancing myself, yet I thought one last invitation - which I even delivered with an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm - might be worth a shot.

I deserve better friends than that. I have several really good friendships, and I should instead spend my time cultivating those, rather than spend time with "friends" who think me crazy, drive me crazy and waste my time.

I should've learned that a long time ago. It pisses me off.

Educating Ronald.

Even though I moved out of Buford a couple months ago, I've been returning to the mall lately on my days off to meet with a friend of mine.

Ronald, whom I haven't mentioned here before, is 18. He's a straight, cute, smart-alecky yet delightfully refreshing skater kid who comes to my bookstore and used to question me constantly when I was working about what CDs are cool and why our music is too expensive. Girls, particularly the anti-establishment types wearing dark clothes, always look over at him while they browse, if he's in the store.

The first time I met him over a year ago, Ronald was in the section with his aunt, and I told him that a girl was staring at him, blushing. He thought that was funny. He likes girls, but he doesn't like when they get all stupid over him.

He came back later, asking me questions in this wiseass tone of voice. Sensing his personality, I started to joke around with him, telling him that his giant silver necklace would set off the security sensors or that he was going to step on his giant shirt on his way out of the store. In response, he said I was dressed like some ridiculously preppy dork, and he said the music I liked was stupid, corporate-prepackaged pop bullshit. A friendship was born through this. He said he could talk to me because I was sarcastic.

Co-workers in my store who have gotten to know him, incidentally, love the kid. Though he dresses like the sort we're wary about, he's not like that. He's loud, honest, funny, intelligent and blunt. He deserves all kindness.

I found out, after a couple conversations with him, that Ronald used to be trouble. Lots of trouble. He started drugs when he was 10. He dropped out or was kicked out of school because he was constantly on something. He'd been in and out of juvenile hall. That surprised me about him. He's so bright and so funny that you'd think or hope that he'd somehow escaped any major trouble. But the Ronald I'd met wasn't the way, apparently, Ronald had always been.

(An interesting, quirky side note illustrates Ronald's personality fairly well. He now makes and sells designer pillows - any size, any fabric - because he's in recovery from serious drug addiction, has a lot of free time on his hands and, in his words, took four years' worth of Home Ec classes because officials at his high school told him he was too heavily drugged to use the machinery necessary in a shop class. Apparently, his pillows, as a result, are absolutely terrific. If someone asks him what he does for a living, he says to them, "I make pillows." The look on the person's face is always amusing.)

He was arrested, which got him away from his mother and father. Then, he went on probation. Then, he went into recovery. Then, he received his GED. Then, he started coming to my store. Then, he fell off the wagon after some bad stuff happened with his family. Now, he's back at his aunt's house. He's on medication for some psychological conditions. Now, he's drug-free again, investing more time in his skating and his pillows. As I said, he's 18.

I found out a couple months ago that the friends who he needs to hang out with him at the mall frequently stand him up, leaving him standing around or loitering by himself because they do drugs still ... and he doesn't. The night he told me that, I bought him food at the cafe and spent time with him.

He needed somebody, and I was transferring bookstores. He wanted a way to contact me because he didn't want me to leave the store. So I gave him my cell number, and, after a couple weeks, he called me and asked me if I wanted to do something.

So I spent time with him at the mall, during which he met my mother, who told me that he was really nice and that she was interested in hearing more about his designer pillows. (Mom said all this, of course, after assuring herself that I was not dating Ronald. That, incidentally, was something I made clear to both Ronald and his aunt at the beginning of our friendship - which was that I was gay and needed him to know that I was trustworthy and wasn't interested in him in that way. He's not gay, of course, but I just needed to make sure that boundary was there. I have talked to his aunt whenever I had concerns about this, which she thought were paranoid, but I want no talk, no confusion and no trouble for him.)

He needed reliable friends, so Ronald and I hang out, even though I didn't end up leaving the bookstore. We saw THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS on Friday night. We talk and have dinner sometimes. (He won't let me pay. It's amusing to me, but it's understandable, I guess.)

I told a friend of mine that Ronald was my friend, but the relationship was different.

"It's like a Big Brother program, I guess," I said to him.

"Really?" my friend asked me. "Is he helping you?"

After I saw him Friday night, Ronald called me and asked me a favor, one that I found sorta amusing.

He's going on a cruise with his aunt and uncle in December, and they'll be eating at some nice restaurants. Ronald asked me, saying he had no other friends that he could really ask, if I could help him find dressier clothes for the trip.

"You've been watching QUEER EYE, haven't you?" I asked him.

"No," Ronald said, laughing. "I mean, I've seen it, but it's not like that. You're just the only friend I have who knows anything about this. Everyone else would laugh at me. And you sorta dress OK."

He has a couple months to pick out a couple outfits, but the boy told me that he had no idea where to start.

"I don't know colors or anything," he said. "And I know this is stupid and weird and all, but I'd like it if you could help me."

"But I used to pick on what you wore all the time," I said.

"Yeah, I know," Ronald said.

So Saturday night, Ronald and I were back at Mall of Georgia, talking about what he needed for his trip. His aunt specified, for she knows about his project but his uncle doesn't, that he needs a pair of black dress pants and a pair of khakis to wear. Ronald wants me to shop with him so that he can surprise his aunt by wearing in front of her, for the first time, an outfit that fits.

Before yesterday, I'd never seen Ronald's waistline before. Skater wear or clothes that you could buy at Vans or something were his stock-in-trade outfit. His jeans are usually so baggy that they practically fall to the ground. His shirts, never tucked in or anything, hang to his knees.

So I wasn't surprised when, yesterday at Rich's-Macy's, he had no idea what his own sizes were. Janna, the Russian saleswoman I befriended while Ronald was out having a cigarette, was surprised, though, when I told her my friend shopping for clothes didn't know his sizes.

"What you mean he not know his own size?" Janna said, hanging things up on a bargain rack while I was talking to her. "How he not know that?"

"He intentionally wears clothes he knows are too big," I said.

"Huh?" she said in reply, her accent very, very thick. "Why he do that?"

"He likes baggy clothes," I said. "From what I can guess, I think he's about a 32-inch waist or a 33, but I've never seen him wear anything that size."

The pants he was wearing that day, Ronald had told me, were 42 inches in the waist. I mean, I was amazed they stayed on him, though he did always have to spend time pulling his pants up if we walked for a while.

Janna kept talking to me, looking at me like I was a damn lunatic talking about some made-up person until Ronald showed up in front of her, smelling like cigarettes. Then, she saw that I spoke the truth. His clothes would look loose on Mama Cass. (And yesterday, he looked much better than usual, for he was wearing a really nice shirt, one that was only slightly oversized as opposed to his usual severely-oversized ensemble.)

I thought he'd be reluctant to pick out anything, for, though I make fun of his clothes, they do suit him. I mean, it's his style, and it's true. But, at the same time, a boy should know the size of his waistline at the age of 18. He should own a pair of leather shoes. He should know not to wear a brown belt with black shoes, which is a common mistake. He should know that a basic white dress shirt is essential, for it goes with any kind of pants (even jeans) and makes an outfit easier to arrange because it can match a lot.

Ronald was eager to get started. He told me that he was actually learning a lot, watching Janna and I tear through the bargain bin for Liz Claiborne khakis that were both his size and marked down.

Janna, because I thought he would be more comfortable around a woman with a tape measure, determined that his neck was 16 inches, that he was 5-foot-10 and that he could wear 32 W - 32 L pants.

Ronald proclaimed that one outfit needed to have a tie.

He picked out a shimmering, white and off-white striped tie he liked. I was proud, for it was a really good tie.

I made sure that his first shirt was a black shirt, not just because it matched the tie. I figured he could at least harken back to some Goth inspiration with a black shirt, even though he's more sk8r than Goth ... and it was dress casual. I wanted him to still feel like himself, and Janna and I agreed that he should shop - rather than do the typical heterosexual male thing of buying the first outfit that he moderately liked in the store.

Ronald thought that was interesting, that I let him pick out the clothes AND that I tried to make sure that the entire outfit matched completely. ("What do you mean, I can't wear a brown belt with a black shirt and white pants??? The shirt has to match the belt? I thought that only the shoes had to match the belt???")

Every moment shopping with Ronald made me, actually, love my shopaholic mother more and more, for it's because of her inspiration that I know blue is both my best and my favorite color.

Ronald apparently didn't have someone like that. I noticed that, moreso than ever, when he was in the dressing room, completely made up, and he didn't know how to tie his own tie. So he asked me to do it.

"First, you need to button the top button on your shirt," I said to him.

"Really?" he asked. "I didn't even notice that was there."

It was, like, the cutest, funniest Hallmark moment I've ever had in my whole life. I did a variation, I called it, on a single Windsor. (The truth is, I only call it that, but I don't know if that's really what it was. It's the only way I know how to tie a tie. My dad, because of my own parents' divorce, never really showed me.)

Black shirt. White, off-white tie. Off-white khakis. A really good black belt with a shimmering, metallic buckle. And huge, white Adidas sneakers. Ronald looked the best I'd ever seen him look, and he still looked like himself.

"I actually like this," he said. "And I'm learning A LOT."

I couldn't stop smiling at him, and he thought that was funny.

"You're REALLY enjoying this, aren't you?" Ronald asked me.

"Yes, I really am," I said.

I felt like I was helping him, really helping him, because it was something that he both wanted and needed to do. And I felt like it was a way that I specifically could help him. I mean, anyone could give him a ride. Anyone could take him to dinner.

I took Ronald to a department store, and he came out knowing his sizes and the specifics of color coordination. And I tried to tell him about how you want yourself reflected in whatever outfit you have on - otherwise they're just clothes that don't reflect you, an outfit you'll feel uncomfortable in and only wear once.

We didn't buy anything at Rich's-Macy's, for I told him that, when you have time to shop, it's good to take time to look around at all your options. I told him about the Dawsonville outlet stores, specifically the Calvin Klein one that I try to visit at least once a year.

When we got back to Barnes & Noble to meet his aunt, he let me tell her about the clothes he'd selected, and I got all excited, to the point where it was almost silly.

She liked hearing that most of the stuff we looked at was markdown. She liked that I suggest Wal-mart as a viable place to get decent khakis. She seemed pleased when I told her that I was eventually going to see how Ronald, with his green eyes, felt about the color blue or the idea of tan pants. It turns out, of course, that she knew his sizes, even if he didn't.

"He always has me buy him extra-extra large, but I knew he was a 32," she said. "I've told you time and again that you were a 32."

She was surprised when I told her he was actually wearing pants that size.

"I don't think I've ever seen his waistline before," she said.

But she was most surprised about the tie I told her Ronald picked out.

"Yeah, I'm not concerned about what the tie has on it, so long as he's wearing one," she said. "I mean, it can have something completely ridiculous or silly on it. So long as he's got on a nice pair of pants or a nice shirt."

"No, it wasn't gaudy," I said. "It was a really good tie, and he picked it. Really good. I mean, it was white, but some material was shimmering. And it had these thick, diagonal stripes. You would've liked it. We just made sure everything worked around it."

"Ties are expensive," Ronald said to her, still with a hint of surprise in his voice. "But I liked the tie."

"Yeah, ties are expensive," his aunt said, looking at him like she wanted to give him a hug. Ronald has that way with girls.

Next week, we're supposed to do more shopping. (For the record, I have his sizes written down so that Janna or another saleswoman doesn't have to touch a tape measure again. Ronald said he didn't care, so long as they kept away from his "Johnson.")

When he left me that night, Ronald shook my hand, thanked me and told me it was fun. And when he left, I smiled to myself because I'd actually used one of my own strengths - or, at least, something my mom said I'm good at - to really help someone.

Friday, November 07, 2003


Because the "Reunion Show" website was successful in generating a complete writing project for me, I thought I would use the approach to see if I could make anything of my CONSEQUENCES OF FALLING story, which I've been mulling over for about a year now.

Since I have a computer at home, I'll be able to write more on it, posting it in installments on that website. Using the site, I'll also be able to get feedback on it from friends and my regular readers to see if it's a worthwhile endeavour.

This all makes me feel horribly egocentric, but, if you would like to join in and read the latest on my writing project, fill in the form at the bottom of this site or click on the link at the bottom of this entry.

Hopefully, this will result in something really good.

Thank you to anyone willing to help me.


Thursday, November 06, 2003

You say you want "Revolutions." Well, you know ...

Two people have already asked me today if I've seen "The Matrix Revolutions" yet. Dude, I don't see EVERYTHING on opening day, just most things. For some reason, after overdosing on "Reloaded" during its opening week, I thought it would be best if I waited out "Revolutions."

But everyone is asking me what I thought of it.

Jenipher saw it last night with Gabe, and she says it's really, really good. For some reason, she even watched "The Animatrix" in an attempt to better understand the film. I found that amusing, for she called it "homework."

Go for the gold.

My boss is so annoyed with me this morning that he's talking to me in platitudes. He just told me to "shoot for the stars" and "be all that I can be" this morning.

He wants me to avoid him today. He really, really wants me to avoid him today.

The first thing I've written on my new computer ...

Larry and David came over tonight for the dinner I told them months ago that I would have for them. (It was a compromise made during the horrendous move back in August.) The dinner, though brief, was successful.

They saw the apartment in its completed state (though now computer boxes are everywhere), and I got to try out steaks on my George Foreman Grill, which I've not used since the move. The fried green tomatoes, which I ordered specifically from Agnes & Muriel's would've probably worked better as an appetizer. The pumpkin cheesecake I brought from Barnes & Noble was excellent, of course, though there was entirely too much of it. The wine was good, and the wine goblets that Vic helped me pick out at Wal-mart a couple days ago proved suitable. And they liked the movie posters. All in all, it was a very good time.

So tonight, I spoke to Ronald the teen, and I watched "Finding Nemo" while setting up my computer, which is now done. I'm connected to the Internet, though, using AOL, and I don't know how long I want that damn relationship to last. Nonetheless, it's free right now.

There is significance in this post. For the first time ever, as you may have gathered from the subject line, I'm writing you guys from my apartment using a computer of my own.

I have this list of "Things to Do ..." up on my refrigerator, and tonight Larry asked me how many of the tasks on it I had already done.

Things to Do ...

- Find notebook computer. (Done.)
- Finish "BHS Reunion" episodes and rewrites. (Done.)
- Have over the following people:
* Vic
* Kacoon (Done. She saw it two days ago.)
* CJ
* Larry and David (Done. The dinner, as I said, was tonight and was successful.)
* Dad and Cindy
- Pay and cancel cable because, due to a lack of Soapnet, you're not watching it.
- Pay American Express something. (Done.)
- Find more wall art. (Done.)

It's time, thank God, to put a new list up there. Most of my tasks are done.

My mother bought my tickets to London yesterday. I'm going there at the end of March, yet I cannot even fathom that.

I've done so much lately, so many things that I didn't think I could do. Now it's time, I guess, to conquer bigger goals.

- Write my book. Write something everyday. Do what you enjoy, and get others to enjoy it with you.
- Save more money, and get out of debt.
- Meet more useful, positive people, and learn how to trust them.
- Become more useful and more positive.
- Risk.

Anyway, I wondered if having a computer back around would encourage me to write more. (Miss Gibson said it would.)

Though this isn't my best effort at writing, I think it's pretty good.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Get set.

The phone line at my apartment, set for local calls only and established only so that I could use my computer for a dial-up connection to the Internet (yes, dial-up), will be activated by midnight tonight. The computer arrived, and I picked it up today.

At a dinner party tonight, I intend to ask my friend David, the resourceful electrician, all the questions.

I can't believe I haven't taken it out of the box yet, but it's been that kind of day.

At the dinner tonight, I've selected steaks. I've placed an order for fried green tomatoes at Agnes and Muriel's. I put a call in for a pumpkin cheesecake at a nearby Barnes & Noble. And everything, it seems, is set.

You take the good, you take the bad.

Last night, I talked with Black about how some things are good now and some things are bad now.

I wrote a book sorta. Good.
I bought a computer. Good.
I did a reading of one of my essays. Good.
I had visitors over to my apartment. Good.
I am planning a dinner party tonight. Good.
I almost hooked up with Ash, the cradle-robbing, cousin-dating poet ex-boyfriend who used to think he was god of his own universe and believes in the religion of "poemology," and I did so to try and get over bizarro sexual hang-ups resulting from childhood sexual abuse. Oh, and I did this all on Halloween, the eighth anniversary of my first kiss with Ash. Bad.

Miss Gibson, going over a list similar to this (because you wouldn't BELIEVE all the things I have done since Thursday), referred to me as "her hero" in an e-mail today.

I couldn't sleep last night because I was busy catching up on my GILMORE GIRLS and 24, and I realized that my computer had arrived at the front office of my apartment complex and was waiting for me. (It's in a box in my trunk now, for I picked it up before I arrived at work. And I arrived at work late because I way overslept before getting here.)

Black and I talked about all sorts of things last night.

(I called him from a grocery store, which led to its own amount of comedy. Hearing the self-checkout voice prompt me on placing items in the bag, he said he felt like I was dealing with HAL 9000 in "2001.")

Anyway, we came to some conclusions.

Life is hard. Even when you do well at it, it's still difficult to get through it. Sometimes, though you lapse and make a mistake or take the easy way out or take a shortcut that's inadvisable, you just have to believe you're worth the effort of getting through rough spots.

I called Black knowing what I should do about Ash, which is to leave him be and build a strong, trusting relationship with someone new (because that's the only real way beyond my hang-ups), and he gave me assurance and told me to believe in myself. He told me that he has lapses in judgment, too, and that it's hard - when someone bad is presenting themselves to you as an option and your only option is remaining alone - to make the right choice. But you have to have faith that things are going to be better.

I'm not out of the woods yet. But things aren't all bad. And everything is going to be all right.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Update of sorts.

Back in August, I said that one entry on the blog was its "Shocking Summer Season Finale," like we were all on THE O.C. or something. I posed all of these questions, which I have found and reposted. I thought it would be fun to answer the questions.

* Whatever happened to Snapshot?

Last I heard from Christopher at the Madstone, Snapshot was still working at Wolf Camera, trying to find another job. He's still with his boyfriend. Oh, and he thinks I'm a psychopath and never wants to see me again. And I don't really think it's that much of a loss. Go fig.

Christopher, meanwhile, was diagnosed with esophagial cancer - something that Snapshot knew when we were speaking but didn't tell me or anyone. Christopher, the guy I went on the horrible date with in June, is still undergoing chemo.

And I've not been to the Madstone since "Dr. Strangelove" about a month ago.

* Will Benjie's move into the new apartment go smoothly, or will tragedy occur on the frightening, "Exorcist"-ish staircase down to the new apartment during the move on Sunday? Will he be able to survive packing the Buford crackhouse apartment with help from his mother?

As constant readers already know, the move went anything but smoothly, but it ended well. My apartment is now unpacked, decorated and has been visited by several people, including Lupo and Kacoon this week. Everyone, so far as they've told me, says that the apartment seems rather nice and that it, complete with its videos on the top of the shelf in the kitchen instead of plants and its multiple movie posters, reflects my personality and likes. I can tell you that it feels nice to be there, though the staircase is still really scary if you're carrying a basket of laundry.

* Will Lupo and his boyfriend safely transplant themselves down to their new Savannah home, becoming semi-regular players in the drama that is this blog?

The answer to this one, though I've not visited them, seems to be a positive. They're both safe and relatively happy, with Lupo making occasional trips to better cinema-ed, urban areas for visits. His boyfriend/husband Kenn is currently dealing with a grad program that he seems to like, mostly. And their house got a lot of trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Seriously. I mean, Lupo said he counted 89 of them.

* Will Kacoon be able to cope through her son Midget's second week of Pre-K, or will thoughts that her little boy is all grown up drive her further into complete madness? Will she and husband Mike be able to find a new home for their family before her in-laws contribute to her downward spiral into insanity? And what will her hair color be next week???

Kacoon and Mike moved into a new apartment, out of his family's basement, over the weekend. Midget, having a horrid time at pre-K where he continues to get harassed by other students for being tiny and reprimanded by teachers for not choosing to take part in Musical Chairs (which Kacoon dismisses as being a valid decision by a boy with an independent spirit), is transferring to another pre-K program closer to his home this week. Kacoon, also, was talking to me about how she wanted to transfer from her current place of work to another locale, closer to her new home. I don't think I sounded very supportive of her, for the girl changes jobs an awful lot and has housing expenses now. Nonetheless, I'll keep you posted on her progress. Oh, and her hair color is still brown.

* Will Vic's change of job schedule and emergency change of medication keep her around and involved in more blog stories next season? Will a change allow her to attend Saturday's Indigo Girls concert, or will those tickets go to waste? Will she ever see lesbian performers in concert, or will scheduling difficulties perpetually keep her from catching dykes on stage???

Vic's initial change of medication landed her in the hospital during that horrid attempt at a birthday party that I had back in August, but she's alive and seemingly sane now, thank God. Her mom, who broke an ankle over the summer, is now back at work. Her father isn't doing as well, but he's out of the hospital again. We didn't end up going to see the Indigo Girls that month, though I've heard it was a rather good show. Vic and I saw each other Sunday night and again last night. She appears to be doing well, and I like that her work schedule permits me to see her more often. She hasn't seen my apartment yet, but it's only recently been made suitable for visitors, anyway.

* And what exactly will happen to British correspondent Miss Gibson and her Nickname-less Mystery Visitor next week?

The Nickname-less Mystery Visitor is Black. His visit went well. They had fun. And they care about each other. He's back in Tennessee, and I talk to him on occasion, though I've not had a marathon phone call with him in a bit, which is upsetting because those keep me grounded and are a lot of fun, actually. He's been really busy with work.

Miss Gibson's been busy with school, and she's renewed some of her passion for writing by buying a computer, which gave me the inspiration to buy my own - arriving this week. She had a terrific column published in the Guardian a couple weeks ago and is doing, by all reports, incredibly well. She's by herself, finding herself and enjoying herself. I'm visiting her at the end of March, for my mother is buying me tickets for Christmas. (In fact, she may be putting in the order for them RIGHT NOW.)

* Will Jenipher be able to push other people into fits of envy through her island wedding to Gabe in April? Or will her attendance at a Christina Aguilera-Justin Timberlake concert in Milwaukee on Labor Day change her fate forever???

The Justin-Christina concert, as I recall, was fun for Jenipher, who is still getting married to Gabe on St. Thomas in April. One of her bridesmaids appears to be causing her grief through a complete and utter lack of tact and decency, but that's working itself out. Jenipher, as everyone here should realize, is capable of surviving most anything with a positive outlook and a smile, which is why I love her.

So the drama that led to those questions has basically ended. And new situations, both good and bad, continue. But everyone's fine. Everyone's alive. And everyone's moving, I suppose, in their chosen direction - which is always good.

Have a little faith in me.

I was visiting Kacoon yesterday when a call came over my cell phone from an unidentified number that looked familiar, yet I couldn't place it.

"Hello," I said into my phone.

"Hi Benjie," said a familiar voice.

"Ronald? Is that you?" I asked the voice, thinking that it belonged to Ronald, this cool customer who hangs out at my store. Ronald, who is 17, and I spent some time together at the mall, and I told him that I would be a more reliable friend than the ones he knew before he went through rehab. I hadn't heard from

"What?" the voice said. "No, this is Ashley."

He was calling from the front gate at my apartment. I wasn't home, but the call bounced through.

So he went home, finding me not at home. He said he was just in the area and stopped by.

I have no idea what was going to happen, though I am curious about it.

Ash took up a good portion of the discussion in my therapy yesterday.

I don't know if I should want him, don't think I should want him, know that I do want him for a purpose, know as well that it's probably better to wait on someone else than to deal with him and, unfortunately, know that I'd be willing to do pretty much whatever he wanted me to do if he asked me.

That's not good.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Here we go again ...

Apparently, the Madstone is set to play "The Philadelphia Story" next week. So, again, I'll be faced with the horrible, daunting task of finding a date to it. (No one, after all, is ever going to ask me to see it.)

So, if anyone out there reading this can help me by being my date to a showing of "The Philadelphia Story," for I feel like the city keeps giving me chances to get this right, then e-mail me.

Relative paranoia.

I just e-mailed Black a question that surprises me because it shows that my personal life last week took another amusing turn when Ash, frustrated, left my apartment because I kept trying to seduce him.

He is seeing someone, his 18-year-old cousin. So I didn't think, you know, much of his moral high ground of fidelity since the person he's seeing is a) a teen; and b) his damn cousin.

Considering I shouldn't want to be with someone who would consider someone from a family reunion a viable dating option (though, in my defense, this is Georgia), then I should be even more puzzled why I still wanted Ash after finding out he was dating his cousin. I mean, I wanted him because he was familiar to me, and I care about him. But, if Ash is dating his cousin, then he still has, you know, issues.

Anyway, so I e-mailed Black the question in my head, which strikes me as really funny:

"If someone told you that he couldn't be with you because he was dating his cousin, then losing him wouldn't be a bad thing, right?"

I know the answer to this before I ask this. But it still strikes me as funny.

And, besides, Black is the person to ask if I ask anyone. He's got background in this. He is, after all, from Alabama.

New posters.

OK, shopping with Lupo on Sunday, I was able to find two more posters for my apartment, including the excellent OUT OF SIGHT poster that I hadn't been able to find anywhere. (I mean, at the store I bought it, they told me they didn't have one.)

Check out the colors. I picked all of them, by the way, because they had a vintage look and were all, beyond that, good movies.

Yes, I had an idea for a design scheme. I've been watching QUEER EYE.

It's on its way.

So I'm getting the computer. It's arriving in a couple days, and, from that, I'm thinking of getting Internet access through my cable company since I don't really have a phone line per se. (I've not really figured this out yet.)

Nonetheless, I'm both excited and wary about the new computer. I mean, will it really help me write more often?

My goal, which some people say is inevitable, is that I'll be a published writer. Really published. Not just self-published or iUniverse-published, not that there's anything wrong with that, but I would like it very much if I don't know, I was treated seriously.

We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, though.

A tale of two stories.

So the reason I haven't been writing so much on here, which I wrote a post about a couple weeks ago, is that I was caught up in a writing project that required all my creative energy. It was a "reality show" story about my high school class, and I guess it was a hit.

Last night, I met with some of my fellow classmates and a former teacher of ours at P.F. Chang's for dinner to discuss the show and to celebrate that we were all together again. It was terrific.

It was a very, very different vibe from the one I got on Friday when I read a really, really good piece about childhood sexual abuse - my own - and stopped a party, where my reading was a scheduled event, cold for a few moments.

Afterward, lots of people thanked me for reading something that harrowing and emotional to them. (Two of them even requested copies of it, and I obliged them.) But that reading was really, really difficult. "Circle" is a personal, dark story, and I wasn't really close to the people who were in attendance at the party. My biggest fear, which it turns out was unfounded, was that someone would think that I was just a whiny kid who thought I had a bad childhood but just really needed to get over it. Instead, my piece was met first with this shocked, awkward silence, then mild appreciation. I guess that's how it was supposed to be on Friday.

On Sunday night, having completed a decidedly different and lighter work with a, dare I say it, ravenous fan base of very, very close friends who've known me since grade school, I was very, very happy. (They had me pose for a photo with my book!!! I read the dedication page to them, mentioning them all by name, and they seemed really happy with that!!! They all toasted to me, which was weird but exhilirating!!!)

Oh dear, I'm using multiple exclamation points, something that should never occur outside of a yearbook signing. Forgive me, Strunk and White.