Thursday, December 30, 2004

Only thing missing was a seeing-eye dog.

Ash came over last night. He'd gotten his haircut.

I have cerebral palsy, and I have difficulty supporting myself on my arms. And I'm heavier than I would like to be.

Ash just got out of the hospital after having leg surgery, so he can't really move or bend or anything.

So, during the time he was "over," Ash and I looked like we were engaged in a Special Olympics Greco-Roman wrestling competition.

Sometimes I felt like I was holding on to him like a balance beam. At other points, I was on my side, not holding on to anything yet convulsing, like a fish flopping around on dry land.

He didn't stay very long. I'm not sure I blame him. I half wanted to leave, myself.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

She's alone in the new pollution.

Susan Sontag is dead, so, not really familiar with the actual work of Susan Sontag, I told Miss Gibson that she should become the modern feminist icon.

She thought that was really funny, for some reason, but what does someone have to do these days to become a proper philosopher and social critic?

When's our Jazz Age? Why can't we all sit around the round table at the Algonquin and pontificate endlessly while drunk?

I want that. I want to be genius-and-madman, not just madman.

I want to be all, "Romance deserves a renaissance," and have people be all "Ooh, listen to him." (I suppose that pontification would work better if I used actual verbs.)

Still, this is our time and our culture, and I think we should contribute.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Top Ten of 2004.

I used to do this list with more panache than I have in the past couple years. It's just that, as I've gotten the opportunity to see more films before their release dates and read other lists, I've always held out before releasing my own personal list. But I don't want it to be February before my list comes out. I have not seen all the Oscar-eligible movies for 2004 yet, most notably the well-reviewed MILLION DOLLAR BABY and HERO, but I shouldn't wait. So, without further explanation, here are my favorite films of the ones I've seen.

10. SPIDER-MAN 2. I love well-written, well-made movies with strong stories, complicated heroes, complicated villains and an exploration of the role that choice can play in our lives. Through understanding his characters and their comic-book origins and histories, director Sam Raimi vastly improves upon his original film, creates a really fun, popcorn-movie ride and turns SPIDER-MAN 2 into a thorough, damn interesting film with a great, great ending.

9. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. This is a jarring, violent, uncomfortable film, depicting the last, horrible hours in the life of Jesus as a deluge of suffering and sacrifice. I am not religious, and I don't agree with several of director Mel Gibson's political stances. But THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is a brave, risky, harsh film that knows exactly what it's trying to do and does it well. It doesn't look away from the harsher aspects of its violence, for it's trying so desperately to communicate the feelings of pain and grief to its audience and move them. In the midst of Jesus's long walk to the cross, at one point, Mary is shown weeping for her son, thinking of him as a boy. That moment in the film, where Jesus is shown at his most human, is, for me, when it's most touching. Like SCHINDLER'S LIST before it, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is not at all fun and may be too difficult to watch more than once, but it's a tremendously effective, smart piece of cinema.

8. COLLATERAL. Though this Michael Mann thriller never really answers the question Lupo asked of it (i.e., "Why does the killer need a taxi when he could just rent a car?") and has holes in the logic of its story, COLLATERAL is a solid, fun movie that just keeps moving, getting more and more twisted and interesting. Tom Cruise gets the showy role of contract killer Vincent and proves himself more than worthy, but the great Jamie Foxx, in many ways, steals the movie out from under him as Max, the hostage cab driver. It's a gritty film. The digital camerawork, which can weaken the impact of some films for me, is one of COLLATERAL's strengths, adding to its mood and keeping things uneasy and weird.

7. THE AVIATOR. Martin Scorsese's biopic of Howard Hughes, featuring the pilot-film director-playboy-tycoon in his golden years while only hinting at his eventual decline into complete madness, is a well-written, well-acted, great-looking and entertaining film, and it features a career-best performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. Cate Blanchett's take on Katharine Hepburn is startlingly good, as well. It's an ambitious epic of a movie, and it succeeds.

6. BEFORE SUNSET. For two hours, I sat and watched two characters I adored once get reacquainted, rekindling what was left of a brief childhood romance. Though I was in the theater and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) were wandering through Paris onscreen, the intimate way director Richard Linklater made BEFORE SUNSET made me feel like I was there with them. And the chemistry and conversation came just as naturally for them as it did nine years ago in BEFORE SUNRISE, my favorite modern romance. Of course, since Jesse and Celine are older and more complicated and guarded now than they were, their two-hour conversation, which encompasses the entire film, is fraught with moments of occasional anger, tension and madness. Their memories of that single night of young love have affected who they are and how they view all their relationships, and their reconnection isn't always great for them. But BEFORE SUNSET is divine to watch, realistic in how it compares the risks and dangers of mature romance to the idealized notions of young love.

5. RAY. This movie is completely awesome. The music, of course, is great, and the story is inspiring. The look of it is authentic. And the acting, my word, is glorious. Jamie Foxx, even more brilliant than he was in COLLATERAL, embodies Ray Charles in a way that transcends imitation. Foxx is compelling, and he maintains his character's charm even when the film delves, without abandon, into the story's darker aspects of drug abuse and childhood trauma. I never expected RAY to be this good. But, catching it in a sneak preview, I realized this was the best music biopic I'd seen since WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, and I immediately told everyone to catch this in the theater.

4. KILL BILL, VOL. 2. The first film exploded with style and innovation, and more of the same occurs in Quentin Tarantino's action-packed, dizzying sequel, which adds layers of depth to the characters and their backstory while continuing to innovate as The Bride gets her final revenge. Months after seeing it, I still recall the fantastic Elle Driver trailer fight scene, the horrifying buried-alive sequence and that final, surprisingly calm conversation between Bill and The Bride. The movie has a great cast, a great look, a good story and fantastic visuals. It's smart about its craft, and it's very entertaining.

3. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. This was, easily, the most fun I had in a cinema all year. SKY CAPTAIN is a beautiful-looking film, a technological marvel, a grand adventure and a funny throwback to old-time movie serials. Jude Law fills the typical hero role with fervor, and Gwyneth Paltrow has loads of fun with her role as Polly Perkins, a damsel-in-distress almost as annoying as she is delicious. There are neat twists to the tried-and-true formula, and the script is filled with lots of genuine wit. This film reminded me of what I liked about movies when I was a kid. I liked a good story. I liked the marvel. I liked the cliffhangers. I liked big, stunning visuals. SKY CAPTAIN has all that, and, most importantly, it has a heart.

2. SIDEWAYS. Alexander Payne's films are really funny. But they can also tap into moments that are so true, painful and real. As Paul Giamatti's Miles faces defeat after defeat and sinks further into depression and alcoholism, we see him both as the loser he's become, and we see him sympathetically as someone talented who's still capable of goodness and deserving of some kind of joy. I identified more clearly with his character than with any other that I've seen this year. When he's doing things wrong or doing things against his will, we're there with him, understanding his reasons while cursing his flaws. SIDEWAYS is a great, human story, funny, sad and deep.

1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. The most original, daring, dizzying movie I saw this year came out in February. And, upon seeing it, I was certain I'd seen a great movie, but I didn't realize that I'd seen the best movie of the year. But, thus far, nothing beats ETERNAL SUNSHINE. The performances in it are among the best of the year. Kate Winslet's wacky character of Clementine, with her ever-changing moods and her ever-changing hair color, manages to be both off-the-wall and identifiable. It's the best work Winslet's done since HEAVENLY CREATURES. Jim Carrey, in contrast, underplays Joel as depressed, subdued and calm, losing himself and all his usual mannerisms in the role. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry jump into the story quickly and play with the timeline of their wacky narrative so much that you're, frankly, amazed when they succeed in creating a story of depth, understanding, truth and romance. The central memory-erasing story is told backward. The film also jumps around, occasionally focusing upon dozens of characters in a subplot that doesn't seem to fit in and even delving, at one point, into a visual depiction of a character's subconscious. But when you're done letting ETERNAL SUNSHINE make sense of itself, it leaves you with a key understanding of how our memories make up who we are - and how love, even at its ugliest, may still be worth the risk.

Since a number of people have pointed out to me films that they'd want mentioned or included, I thought I would expand my list, as I have in years past, to include honorable mentions - good movies I liked which could've made the list but didn't - and one outside-of-the-box film that works as a guilty pleasure. In previous years, the guilty pleasure films have included Britney Spears' CROSSROADS, Jason Statham's THE TRANSPORTER and Angelina Jolie's ORIGINAL SIN.


GUILTY PLEASURE PRIZE: CELLULAR. No other film this year had such an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel as CELLULAR. No other film featured a showdown fight scene between, of all people, Jason Statham and William H. Macy. No other film featured Kim Basinger, who was brilliant in THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR, at such a level of frenzied histrionics. And no other film had such crackerjack plotting so that it ended up a satisfying, fun little gimmick movie. Cute people go on the run from bad villains in a movie that tries to use every plausible cell phone contrivance or complication it can find, essentially, and the movie just works.

I'm Carrie.

I just used one of my gift cards from this weekend to finish off my collection of "Sex and the City" DVDs. The last episodes of the sixth season came out today. I'm so excited that I finally own every episode of it, and I think there might be something wrong with my level of sheer enthusiasm.

In the beginning of the show, I thought I was clearly Miranda, the smart, cynical one afraid to show vulnerability. (Jenipher, by the way, is the embodiment of Charlotte.) But then, as time passed, I realized that I'm all about showing vulnerability and romanticism. And I'll all about talking about problems moreso than fixing them. And I ask the big, philosophical questions. So now I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm Carrie.

I'm going to have to abandon my GILMORE GIRLS DVD set for a night.


Monday, December 27, 2004

The most unique gift.

My friend Brad took some years-old snapshots of me, scanned them, made them into refrigerator magnets and gave them to me for Christmas.

They're photos of me and his friend Kim sitting on a bed and lying on a bed. In them, I look like I need a shave. Oh, and Kim's topless in them and wearing a thong.

The best part is that, in the photos, you can tell that I'm trying my best not to look directly at the naked woman.

Yuletide redux.

* Spent Christmas Eve at Larry's condo, exchanging presents and watching SWEENEY TODD on DVD. We watched SWEENEY TODD instead of going out and watching PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which I believe is going to be terrible. Still, I feel I must confess that I learned all the lyrics to the major songs of it when I was 13, and I saw it on Broadway when I was a senior in high school. But SWEENEY TODD is way better than PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. PHANTOM's about obsession and murder. So's SWEENEY. But it also involves haircuts, meat pies and cannibalism.

* Nana's caramel cake made it to the Christmas Eve lasagna feast at my dad's house, even though Nana didn't. At one point during dinner, I got into a conversation with my stepmother's mother about the cake, and she told me that the frosting didn't come out right because, while Nana was making it, she collapsed and had to be helped to her room. Beyond that, Nana now suffers from dementia. After my stepmother's mother told that story, I felt really rude asking for Nana's recipe, but that caramel cake is the best dessert ever. (Seriously, do the math. My STEPMOTHER'S grandmother's caramel cake is so good that my MOTHER is happy when we bring home leftovers of it from my FATHER'S house. Thus, that cake has bridged the generation gap and the divorce gap. It's powerful stuff.)
* I got into an argument with one of my dad's friends, who was in more of a blowhard tone-of-voice than usual, when he suggested that the "Confederacy" re-elected Bush and that the majority of Georgia voters "probably don't know how to read ... or don't read." I told him that, though I'm a Democrat, I wouldn't go so far as to calling everyone who voted Bush stupid. (Particularly when there were a number of educated people who invited him there who voted Bush.) We lost the election, y'all. It wasn't nearly as close as last time, when I felt like such complaints were more valid. The situation's bad, but it's done. If some friends invite you to their Christmas dinner, don't call them illiterate yokels out to intentionally destroy the world. Don't insult my dad and say he should be sent to Baghdad to die. Drink your wine. Talk about your imaginary, long-distance girlfriend that you've been mentioning for a decade. Talk about movies. Other than that, shut the hell up. It's Christmas.
* For Christmas, I got the third season of ALIAS and the second season of GILMORE GIRLS on DVD. It hurt to leave the house this morning.
* I will never, ever, ever again go to a gay bar on Christmas Eve. I mean, yikes. It was sad. People who didn't want to go home alone or go home to parents sober or, the worst, flight attendants stuck here on a long layover willing to throw money around while looking for a friend.
* Ash got out of the hospital on Christmas Day.
* Vic got back from Illinois after being stuck in traffic or a snowstorm for over 20 hours.
* Lupo's fresh off the boat, which he called "a hell worse than death" in a ship-to-shore e-mail last week.
* The annoying, bitchy seasonal employee at my bookstore probably only works there another week. I've hated her since she insulted a blind, deaf, 94-year-old customer in a walker in a tone-of-voice so soft that he couldn't hear her. And I've tried my best to get the bitch fired.
* I watched A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and am as puzzled by it as I was when I was a kid. How do they get that Christmas tree to grow extra branches and a completely different shape? None of the Peanuts even has pruning shears.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Jimi thing.

Yesterday at the bookstore, I waited on this cute guy named Jimmy, who is more than likely straight. He and I talked music, and I was, I think, flirting shamelessly. And, to his benefit, he didn't notice or chose to ignore it.

For some reason, though, while we were talking about Damien Rice, he mentioned two artists to me that I do not have in my collection.

One was a new group, and I don't recall their name. Jimmy had great blond hair, was short and had these dimples that just wouldn't quit.

But Jimmy also mentioned Jimi Hendrix, and I am sad to say that I don't own any Jimi Hendrix.

So I asked Jimmy about Jimi, and he recommended an album to me. He recommended it with such passion and with such a cute gleam in his eye that I, being smitten, immediately purchased the album.

Jimmy said "Blues" is his favorite Jimi album because it isn't blaring and loud, and you can really concentrate on the guitar work.

I asked Jimmy if he played guitar. He said he plays it badly.

So now I own some Jimi Hendrix. Thanks to cute, straight Jimmy.

Merry Christmas.

I sent out this sentiment to some friends yesterday, and writing it cheered me up. I thought it might help some random stranger (or someone pretending to be Kevin Smith on the comment board).

Do whatever necessary to get yourself in the proper mood for the holidays.

Watch the movie that most reminds you of the holiday, be it about a happy family or a dysfunctional one or, um, even the Plantagenets. Listen to Judy Garland's version of HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS. Watch Charlie Brown try and save that pathetic, little tree. Go to church, if you do that. Go shopping, if you do that.

I know that I've not been in the best of moods lately. Working retail in December can make you long desperately for some month that isn't insane, and you start to think that people have lost complete sense of their priorities when they're yelling at family and making themselves crazy just to assure that they have all their gifts.

Still, if you spend some time over the weekend singing a song, giving a dollar to the people ringing the bells from the Salvation Army, enjoying the look and feel of winter clothing and getting the opportunity to be around people you really enjoy, you'll feel better.

Thanks, guys, for what you contribute to my life. (And forgive that for coming out so saccharine. I don't know what's come over me.)

I hope you all make it the best day.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I can predict the future.

Check the date on this post, baby. I am so ahead of pop culture right now.

Hopefully, this means I'll be right about AMERICAN IDOL spiralling downward in ratings during its next cycle of atrocious music.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I just don't feel like it.

I don't want to waste anyone else's time anymore. I don't want to talk about hating my job if I don't take the steps to leave it. I don't want other people to encourage me to write a book or write a story if I'm not going to do it. I don't want other people to be all "GO BENJIE!" when that's not the attitude that I seem to adopt ever.

I don't feel like this is going anywhere. And that doesn't STILL bug me enough to actually do anything about it.

Bob, my former supervisor, bet me today that I'll probably get fired from my job before I quit it.

It's 8 p.m. I'm still at my desk. I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm not even supposed to be here.

I have Christmas shopping to do.

Somewhere in the darkness.

At lunch, I went to my usual Blimpie, had my usual tuna sandwich and sat at my usual table with my usual Living section of the AJC.

Next to me, the owner's 13-year-old nephew, whom I'd never met before, was writing down a list of commands.

"Power surge," "life surge," "water surge" ...

I asked him, after the owner sat with him (and she knows me), what he was working on.

And he told me this long, long idea he had for the mythology behind a computer game he was dreaming up. About a 13-year-old boy who's dark and quiet, who doesn't know how to talk to people, isn't very popular and has special powers that few people notice.

So I started asking him questions about his project, offering him questions about his characters and what their tasks and goals might be.

And, in the process, I told him about outlining the story, developing individual characters and knowing kinda where you want to go and kinda letting it just go there in its own time.

He asked me if I was a game designer.

"No," I said, and I hesitated. "I'm a writer."

"You mean, like novels and stories?" he asked.

"Yeah," I lied.

He told me I helped him. I told him that I didn't point out anything to him that wasn't already there.

Someone asked, "How are you?"

I think I'm technically terrible, but I don't know why I feel so damn fine about everything. Seriously, to cheer myself up a few minutes ago, I went out and leaned over the third-floor balcony before I came to the conclusion that the impact of that would be worse than what I was dealing with. I think I'll be able to write my story about suicide better now.

Last night, Ash assured me from the hospital that we could have meaningless sex again once he regains use of his legs. (The surgery to remove a minor blood clot became more invasive after they noticed its size. Also, he may have a blood clot in his heart, so he's in the hospital until that breaks down.)

But we're not boyfriends, and we're not in love. And, if we tried to date, it would be a disaster. So he called me a "fuck buddy," which made me realize that the primary romantic relationship I currently have is one that I compromised to get and never wanted. But we're friends and able to talk.

The guy I kissed last week, the one I said would never call me, called me that night and then never called me again. Classic.

My supervisor yelled at me over minutae from work that probably matters to somebody, but I, like, so don't care, as usual. So I went to my old boss to vent about it. And he told me to finish up with my requisite tantrum and then get back to work. I completely understood that meant neither he nor I expected me to actually ever do anything to leave here and make my life into what I want it to be. (And what is that, exactly?)

So that's when I went out, leaned against the railing on the balcony and considered. Two people, including my other boss's wife, saw me do this and looked puzzled. But I turned to them and said hi. Then, feeling better and understanding the situation, I walked back to my cubicle, smiling.

Yesterday, I missed my therapy appointment. I have more Christmas shopping to do.

Monday, December 20, 2004

All the news that's fit.

* At a Christmas party this weekend, I stood around an electric piano with about seven other gay men singing show tunes and Christmas carols. My rendition of "On the Street Where You Live" was beyond terrible, but I kept singing it louder and louder. One of my friends applauded my bravery but not my talent.
* My ex Ash is having surgery this morning. Last night, on the phone, he told me he loved me, and I said I loved him. I needed that maybe more than he did.
* Ash has recurring blood clots in his legs.
* I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.
* Roger Ebert sent me a personal reply e-mail to a praise note I sent him. That was kinda cool.
* I have a story to write, but I'm not writing it.
* Don't see SPANGLISH. It's beyond annoying.
* See A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. It's uneven storywise, but the look of it is just amazing. And there's a scene where Jim Carrey flirts with Meryl Streep that comes off as oddly delicious.

* I didn't notice traffic stopped this morning and almost collided with another car. I think I was half-awake.
* Vic's in Illinois. Lupo's in, I think, Texas or on a cruise or something. Jenipher is out of her office, I think. Dena's in Texas. Bonnie's home from work. Edmondson's in Florida.
* I think I still have Christmas shopping to do, but I'm not even sure who I'm doing Christmas shopping for - if that makes any sense.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Kissing McFall.

I was supposed to see THE LIFE AQUATIC with Ron yesterday, but I got stuck in horrible, horrible traffic on the way there and missed him. I didn't have my phone on me, and, by the time I got to the theater, I was in a lousy mood.

So, of course, that was the exact moment that fate drew me into another random McFall encounter.

Have I mentioned McFall before? Oh yeah, I mentioned him here.

McFall is a guy I met four-and-a-half years ago at Phipps Plaza. He was attending a screening of "Queer as Folk" (the British one) that was in the middle of an intermission, and I was there browsing in a store when I ran into him.

And we flirted. And flirted. And flirted.

So, a couple days later, I called him, and we were going to go out. But, um, we never did. He was 19, I think, and flighty and in school and on the go. And I was 24, worked for CNN and went to bed at 9 p.m. because my work schedule was freakin' bizarre.

Then I got caught up in that whole Ejay romantic debacle, and I lost my job. And I had to move home to my mom's house. And all that stuff.

Basically, McFall, at the time, was a lost cause.

Fast-forward into 2001, and my co-worker Jamie and I are having lunch at Perimeter Mall. I turn around on the escalator down to the food court, and standing right behind me is McFall.

"He-e-ey," I said to him. "How are you?"

He told me he was fine. And he told me that he was glad I had noticed him because he'd been following me since Rich's to try and make sure that it was me. He'd followed me across half the freakin' mall.

So he buys me lunch, talks to Jamie, flirts with me, flirts with me, flirts with me ... and then drops the shocking bombshell that - uh - he has a boyfriend.

I was confused. Jamie, who'd been sitting there the whole time, was confused. Everyone, except McFall, was in a state of basic confusion.

"Did it seem like he was flirting with me to you?" I asked Jamie later that afternoon.

"Uh, YEAH," she said. "I couldn't believe he had a boyfriend."

So, as soon as I get to my office, I call McFall's cell phone, and he answers it.

So I ask him point-blank if he was flirting with me, telling him that I kept getting a vibe.

He admitted the vibe was there, admitted that he had a boyfriend and then told me that the three of us ought to meet sometime.

So my wires weren't crossed.

So thus begins the "McFall and I play phone tag for a year before I realize I'm calling him more than he's calling me, and that makes me feel creepy so I stop calling him" phase of our relationship.

So, around 2002, McFall changes jobs from some computer company to the Apple Store and had begun the second of many breakups with the boyfriend, and he lets me know that he works there. So I stop by.

And it's, like, crickets-chirping awkwardness between us. He's not in flirt mode. He doesn't want me there. I'm there too long. He's working and distant.

Bad vibe all around.

So I lose touch with McFall, and all's well that ends well, right?

Until earlier this year when I run into him at a grocery store when he and his friend stand right behind me in line, and he kinda flirts with me - but now he's really done with the boyfriend. He's there shopping with a friend.

So the friend goes to get the car, and McFall and I flirt for a bit. And I give him my phone number, even though I make a point of saying that he NEVER calls me when I give him my phone number.

And, in the moment before his friend drives the car around, I said to McFall, "You know, I never even kissed you."

McFall tells me not to because it'd be awkward and his friend is coming with the car, and the friend pulls up.

And I call McFall, but he doesn't call me.

Then, about four months ago, I walk into Best Buy, and McFall's there, working in the computer department. And I pick up my DVDs, and I talk to him for a moment. I make a conscious effort not to stay too long or talk to him too much.

And he's there at Best Buy when I go shop, but I don't shop there any more than I would otherwise.

I'm thinking that the H.M.S. McFall is a ship that's passed me by, you know, and all that it will be is all that it is. And it annoys me. McFall, whom I am attracted to and have never not been attracted to, is just this guy I run into occasionally, and, much as I'm happy to see him when we run into each other, it doesn't lead to anything. And that's annoying.

So then, last night, I'm an hour-and-a-half late for the screening, and McFall is standing outside the theater, holding his cell phone.

And McFall sees me and smiles. His whole face gets bright.

And I spit out a "Hi" and rush past him into the theater.

I get to the screening, show them the pass into it (because I had it and Ron didn't) and rush into it.

It's packed, and I go up and down the aisles twice.

And, I'm thinking, Ron would call to me if he were here. Ron would be looking for me if he were here.

And I don't have my phone on me, and Ron's cell number is from Massachusetts - and I have it saved so I don't have to remember it.

So I leave the screening, leave my name with the ticket-taker lady and go ask the usher if they have a pay phone.

He says they don't. And I ask if I can use their regular phone, and they say they don't let customers do that - because very few of their phone lines aren't internal and go out of the building. And he says Apres Diem, the restaurant next door, "used to have a pay phone but doesn't now."

And I spit out, "That's great, thank you ..." like a bastard, and I head out of there.

And I'm thinking Ron's mad at me. And he's thinking I stood him up. And he's probably thinking that I'm somehow mad at him since I've been moody around him lately. So it's more important to get to Ron. Beyond that, it's important to check my messages to see what he said when he surely tried to call me.

So I go past McFall, and he asks me if everything's OK. And I tell him no, saying that traffic was terrible and it put me in a bad mood and that the person I was supposed to meet probably left the theater.

And I start to walk away, then I turn around and ask him curtly if I can use his phone.

He says yes.

But McFall's got this newfangled cell phone with a keyboard, and it takes two phone calls before I'm able to check my messages. And one message is from Ron telling me to call him tomorrow to explain what happened, that he's left the movie because he didn't have the pass.

The other message on my cell phone, incidentally, was a recording of me and McFall trying to figure out if the phone was letting me check my messages.

McFall was there for the same screening. Someone invited him who didn't show up, so I tell him that traffic was terrible.

And he's moving back and forth, and he's pointing out cute guys to me.

He apologizes for the constant moving, saying he was cold, and he apologizes for the pointing but then he told me that he's single and always looking.

And the people he was supposed to be with didn't show up.

And he says that he's not waiting on a date, and he asked me if I was waiting on a date. And I told him no, that Ron has a husband and is just a friend.

And I looked like a mess in all likelihood.

But I say to him, "Look at me."

But McFall keeps swaying back and forth.

And I say, "Look at me."

I must've looked just awful, and I don't even know about my breath.But I did this anyway.

In front of the Landmark movie theater, in between the two brick columns, in the freezing cold weather, while we were supposed to be with other people, five minutes after the movie we were supposed to see had started and over four years after I first asked him out on a date, I kiss McFall. And he kisses me back. But only for a moment.

"That's why you wanted me to look at you," he says.

"I was going to make it one of those spontaneous moments," I say, "But you wouldn't stop moving."

"Well, I'm cold," McFall says.

So we talk a couple minutes more, but I tell him that I've got to get to my phone, get to Ron and fix this whole mistake.

"I'm going home," I said to him.

"Well, I can't go there," he said.

"No, you can't," I said.

And he raises an eyebrow and asked, "Why can't I?"

Because I've got to get to my phone, and I'm going to drive to Ron's and try and catch him there.

And McFall says he'll wait on his friends there five more minutes.

So McFall gets my phone number, even though I try to flatly refuse giving it to him because the man does not call me.

And he asks me for it again because he says he's got his phone right there and will save it.

And I'm, like, "Dude, you don't call me. I gave you my phone number four years ago."

But then I give him my phone number because I like McFall.

"And I said, if they don't show up, I'll be in the area," I said, "CALL ME."

"OK," he said, smiling.

"I mean, CALL ME TODAY," I said.

And then I left and went home and got my phone and tried to call Ron and didn't get him on the phone.

So I headed to his house. And I apologized and explained. And he berated me for not having my phone on me, calling it irresponsible.

And I said, "I had to kiss a guy just to check my messages, and I went down the aisles of the movie theater three times. The lady at the door still has your name in case you turn up looking for me."

And we sat and watched WEST WING. And Ron gave me my Christmas present.

And I realized that I left my phone in my car.

Once I left there and got back in my car, there was a message from McFall, which he left at 9 p.m.

It said, "You're probably begging your friend for forgiveness right now, but I was calling you ..."

And I called McFall back, and I got his voicemail. And I apologized for being a bastard but thanked him for letting me use his phone.

And, then, in the back of my head, I'm thinking, "New Year's kiss ..."

But I'm not allowed to think those things about McFall. Because, when I do, fate bites me on the ass.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Weekend redux.

* OCEAN'S TWELVE isn't really worth your time, even though the people in it, particularly Brad Pitt, look really pretty.
* Bargain week at my bookstore is dangerous to my bank account, especially when I've cut up my American Express card. But I should be OK.
* SANDMAN is an absolutely great comic book.

* I'm a writer who doesn't write. When I do write a story, it should be about a writer who doesn't write.
* The OK Cafe is a really, really good restaurant, and Susan and Richard, whom I saw there this weekend before sending them a thank-you card today, are very nice people. I mean, one of the appetizers there is a deep-fried, finger-food serving of jalapeno cheese grits. The restaurant has cheese grits you can hold in your hand. Complete ecstacy.
* Poli Sci Guy is going to finish writing his book before me and told me so.
* This website is hilarious. Check the review of SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.
* The Atlanta Police shut down NAKED BOYS SINGING! at the Armory this weekend, saying that the place didn't have a permit for adult entertainment. The owners say it's just a play featuring nudity, that it's not pornographic. The whole thing upset my friend Larry. He wants us all to march upon City Hall and bomb churches and stuff. The situation bugs me, but I'm not going to kill anyone over it.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The tip.

Remember that couple I mentioned last week? The one that bought SPORTS NIGHT based entirely upon my recommendation? The one I met the same night that customer Rebecca invited me to the Vogue party?

Well, apparently I was on a roll that night.

Yesterday, when I got to the bookstore, Music Manager Matt gave me a letter sent to the store but written to "ATTN: BENJAMIN IN MUSIC." It was from the Liberty House Restaurant Corporation, which I'd not heard of.

Music Manager Matt said to me, "Polly was working this morning, and it just killed her that this was sitting around, and she wasn't able to open it. So please open it."

I opened it, took out the letter and a little, yellow folder with a gift card inside of it.

The letter said:

Dear Benjamin,

Thank you for imparting so much information during our visit this weekend. We've already watched one episode of SPORTS NIGHT and see why you like it so much.

Barnes & Noble is lucky to have you working there. It's people like you who make a chain feel like a neighborhood store and make people like us feel at home.

Enclosed is a gift card from one of our restaurants, The OK Cafe. You might want to use it after one of your movie-watching Sundays. We hope it lives up to your discerning taste. (If it doesn't, please let us know.)

See you again soon.


Susan DeRose & Richard Lewis

So I opened the little, yellow folder, and the gift card for "BENJAMIN IN MUSIC SALES @ BARNES & NOBLE" was for $100.

Before getting to the bookstore yesterday, I'd been having a tedious day. Just another stuck-at-the-desk, unmotivated, ho-hum, not-great, not-bad days.

That letter, coming at that moment, really touched me. It was very, very flattering and generous. And it was completely unexpected and unnecessary and so nice of them. And I'm really glad they liked SPORTS NIGHT.

Music Manager Matt took the letter and put it on the store manager's desk so that she could see it. He was, I think, as excited as I was, for he kept showing all the managers in the store at the time the letter.

I love the bookstore, and I enjoy working there. I get enthusiastic about products I enjoy, and I don't even think of it, so much, as a job because I have a lot of fun there.

Yesterday was a high point, and I just wanted to share it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What could make the needle jump the groove.

I brought my laptop into my office today in the hope that, at some point, I could get some documents e-mailed off of it so that I could modify them at my office. I don't know why I've not attempted to do this several times before or at a different location. I mean, really, all I need is a phone line.

But I know me. And I know that I'm bound to make things way more complicated than they actually are, to throw steps in my way rather than to climb the ones already there.

I'm probably even adding steps and difficulties just by writing this.

For the record, I know I do this. For the record, I know I shouldn't.

But words like "strategic planning" and "discipline" are words I try to avoid. Because I want to not conform, and those terms sound like the terms of conformity. (And saying that is a way of copping out, for getting discipline is not conformity so much as common sense. But it feels true.)

Layers upon layers of meaning. And all I'm doing is talking.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Silver and gold decorations.

I'm at a tree-trimming party. Wes and Travis have a blue-and-silver theme going on their tree this year. I'm actually over at their house this time, and it looks like I'm not going to end up messing around with anyone. So that's festive.

Before coming here, I went to the Mall of Georgia Barnes & Noble and bought myself a copy of the latest Magnetic Fields album, "I," which is really good. At first, I thought that the band, with its deep-voiced lead singer Stephen Merritt and quirky lyrics, would be an acquired taste. After all, Merritt plays ukelele.

But last night, when I went with Poli Sci Guy to see them in concert, the music was excellent, and the crowd sat silently and watched them for an hour and a half. It was a great show.

Afterward Poli Sci Guy and I waited at the backdoor to see if they would come out, but they were staying inside. (It was weird, for the only ones waiting on them at the door were me, Poli Sci Guy and this creepy, fat, old balding man who admitted to us that he was essentially stalking them.)

I spoke a little bit to the band's cellist, then I spoke a bit to their cute Australian opening act, a guy named Darren Hanlon. Then, because the creepy guy weirded me, I walked away, and Poli Sci Guy drove me home.

The tree-trimming party has now gathered around the Xbox, so I'm going to end this and watch the festivities.

At one point, earlier, I dropped a couple ornaments under the tree and had to crawl under the tree to get them. I think some other decorators found me entertaining at that angle, but I don't know what to think of that.

How did I end up here, exactly?

At various points during my workday, I browse the Web instead of doing what I should be doing.

For some reason, one of the windows open on my desktop all day has been this page, and I can't for the life of me recall why I was looking this up.

And he bakes ...

CJ and Solenn held an event at their house on Sunday they called "Pie-Pie." The two of them are competing to see which of them can make the best dessert every Sunday this month.

Anyone invited can also bring something, and I brought my seven-layer cookies, which were named "Best Dessert" at the party.

They're actually squares, not cookies, but whatever.


4 tablespoons SUGAR
1 cup crushed WALNUTS

Layer all ingredients evenly into a cake pan, usually about 13x9. I found that you may want to assure that the melted butter properly greases the edge of the pan as well as the bottom so that the pan doesn't singe on the edges.

First the butter, then the graham cracker crumbs - spread evenly like pie crust. Then the sugar spread evenly. Then the butterscotch and chocolate and so on and so forth until you have the distinct layers spread out, looking like a tray of brownies.

The condensed milk is the key ingredient. Make sure it's covering a significant portion of the top, for it allows the rest of the ingredients to, I guess, "candy."

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, checking routinely.

Monday, December 06, 2004

How not to name a baby.

At one point on Saturday night, coming up with a boy's name for Mike and Kacoon's embryo, I started naming off author and character names off their sci-fi bookshelf.

Stephen Coon.
Neil Coon.
Robert Coon.
Jordan Coon.
J.K. Coon.
Harry Potter Coon.
Ron Weasley Coon.
Albus Dumbledore Coon.
Gandalf Coon.

It was, at that point, when I said quickly, "Sirius Black Coon," while rattling off names.

Then, hearing it aloud, I said, "Oh my God ..." and we all practically collapsed we were laughing so hard. Kacoon eventually patted her belly and said to it that it'd be better off born a girl.

"We'd not even make it out of the hospital alive," Mike said.

What ails you.

There's something wrong with me that I know how to fix, but I'm reluctant to fix it because it requires more work and different work than I'm used to doing for myself.

In the end, though, if I use this prescribed treatment, I'll be better than I am, so I should do it.

It seems really comfortable to stay sick, though.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to do this.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Life in mono.

My friend Christina, whom I've known since we were both 5, has apparently been stuck at home with mononucleosis for weeks, and none of us on the HIGH SCHOOL REUNION SHOW list-serv, which is still in existence, has had any idea.

Christina wanted me to write a new episode of the soap opera featuring her and my other high school classmates, particularly since the last episode had her getting into a vicious catfight with another girl over the man that I'm shacking up with on the show.

Though I haven't made Christina's REUNION SHOW dreams come true yet, I told her to come to the blog routinely for some entertainment, and I'm hoping we can use this new comment board thing as a way of passing her along some good wishes.

If you've ever had mono, as well, can you please post how you got over it or how you coped with it?

I've never had mono before, but I have been tired and horribly bored at several points in my life, so I think I can relate, except I went to a therapist for it - not a doctor.

Christina, whom I don't mention here very often, is one of the most upbeat, perpetually positive people. I don't honestly know how she does it, though she would likely attribute it to her faith.

Though I'm not religious myself, I mention that she has faith because that impresses me. I'm happy for anyone capable of having faith and hope in God. I can't do it.

Christina's always been completely cool with me, and I love her. And she knows I love her. And I know she knows I love her. So that's cool.

(It's getting late. Please pay no attention to the lack of flow.)

Riley McCarthy's Favorite Things.

Oprah has so inspired me in how I conduct my life and my work that I have decided to pay tribute to her by blatantly copying her annual tradition.

So I'm going to present you with the first-ever list of ...


First of all, allow me to welcome you all back to the blog. I'm so happy to see you here each and every day, all six of you who read this thing regularly. It warms my heart so to see that page counter climb its way up into the thousands ... particularly when I realize that it's not just going further up because I keep checking it.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays.

For my first recommendation, I would like to point you all in the direction of some really, really silly gay-softcore-type horror films, directed by the master David DeCoteau.

If you want good horror, you're out of luck. But if you're looking for ridiculous plots involving vampires that, for some reason, lead to lots and lots of scenes of young men in white boxer briefs, then you can understand why the classic VOODOO ACADEMY appealed to me so much this year.

With one-note, cardboard actors like Riley Smith, Huntley Ritter and Travis Sher on hand to bring down a demonic school headmistress while running around in their underwear, you can't get lower quality cinema or cheaper thrills.

The VOODOO ACADEMY DVD is particularly notable because the director's cut of this masterpiece is available. One special feature allows you the chance of hearing the film without its regular soundtrack. Instead, you get to hear the director's commands to actors from on the set.

At one point, the brilliant DeCoteau can be heard shouting to a gyrating, barely clothed Ritter, "OK, NOW RUB YOURSELF ... REALLY RUB YOURSELF ... ALL RIGHT, NOW WRITHE MORE!!! WRITHE MORE!!!"

For a horror movie, the entertainment value is immeasurable. For one reason or another.

Along that line, allow me to expose you all to one of my favorite coffee-table books of the year, XXX, which was created by renowned fashion photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Greenfield-Sanders, a very good, very serious photographer, decided for this project that he would find porn stars, both straight and gay, and shoot them both in the nude - and, shockingly, in clothes. The two portraits in the book are juxtaposed, so it allows you to examine the nature of what is pornographic and what about these porn stars really lingers in your memory. Many reviews say that it's not the bodies of the models that you end up thinking of - it's their faces.

The incredibly famous and talented Jenna Jameson appears on the cover of the book.

I found out about this book because there's also a soundtrack for it and an upcoming HBO documentary.

Looking at the soundtrack's back-cover photo, I saw a really good-looking actor in jeans and a sweater who looked familiar, and I didn't know where I recognized him from. I didn't know the premise of the book at the time, and, when I figured out how I knew the actor (whose name I still don't know), I found the premise of the book even more interesting.

And the book even features essays from John Malkovich and Gore Vidal on the nature of pornography.

It's not just some peek-a-boo featuring clothed porn stars.

Speaking of future HBO movies, I again have to recommend EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo. I mean, I know it came out years ago and already won a Pulitzer, but it really was the best book I read this year.

The characters are so well-drawn and funny, and the plot goes in so many unanticipated directions. It's a very satisfying book.

As for DVD box sets, there are so many that I've recommended and talked about here (like FREAKS AND GEEKS and SPORTS NIGHT), and there are so many that I find myself watching. It's strange, to me, that I use my DVD player more to watch TV shows than I do to watch movies, but that's really the case.

It's hard to pick a favorite that I haven't already mentioned repeatedly, but I will say that, in terms of satisfying and original storytelling, I really enjoyed the first season of BOOMTOWN with Neal McDonough and Donnie Wahlberg.

A cop show done using multiple points-of-view, like RASHOMON in a way, BOOMTOWN managed to always craft interesting, compelling puzzles in each episode, and the acting was always top-notch. Watching the episode "Fearless," where Mykelti Williamson appeared as a man overcoming childhood abuse, I actually started crying, which never happens.

Oh, and talking television, my biggest personal favorite television show of the year was not LOST or DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, though I do like those an awful lot. WONDERFALLS, my favorite show of 2004, is no longer on the air, and it was cancelled after only four episodes of the 13 made were aired. But, my God, it was hilarious.

The show starred Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas as Jaye, a bitter, sarcastic grad student who, despite her accomplishments and intelligence, works at a Niagra Falls gift shop and lives in a broken-down trailer.

Because I'm not the only person who loved this show when it was on, the makers of it are releasing all the episodes, even the ones that never made it to air, on DVD in February, and I'm very happy about that. I highly suggest you check it out when it becomes available.

And, finally, of all the CDs I could recommend this year, I would have to say that my current favorite is O by Damien Rice, which I bought after Marley recommended it and I heard the song "The Blower's Daughter" on ads for the movie CLOSER.

Thus far, it's proving to be a very good album. Light. Upbeat. Good rhythm. Good vocals.

To use my friend Lupo's personal catchphrase, I'm not mad at it.

Bargain days.

My employee discount at the bookstore increases by 10 percent from now until Dec. 12, I believe.

Why oh why did I choose to cut up my American Express card two weeks ago???

Wait, I think the former statement answers the latter question.

Defining intimacy.



1. Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity.
2. Relating to or indicative of one's deepest nature: intimate prayers.
3. Essential; innermost: the intimate structure of matter.
4. Marked by informality and privacy: an intimate nightclub.
5. Very personal; private: an intimate letter.
6. Of or involved in a sexual relationship.


Two nights ago, after the David Yurman party, I called Black on the phone because, for whatever ridiculous reason, he thought that the party would be the first step to me getting some swanky new job in Manhattan. He thought it would be a way that we could hang out there, and he would have an excuse to come visit.

I had to call him and tell him to lower his expectations.

During the conversation, he also invited me to his parents' beach house, and we analyzed our relationship's intimacy - and what it meant.

We've decided that it's some form of courtship or romance, the sort of closeness that's heightened, not diminished, by our lack of physical contact.

Our personal boundaries aren't as restricting, for the physical boundary is already there.

This whole thing, though Black is not gay, reminds me of Welsh Guy. And I'm willing to accept it for what it is.

Earlier that night, eating fried green tomatoes with Solenn at Mick's, she asked me what I was looking for in a boyfriend.

I told her that I was looking for someone who wouldn't run away screaming.

I then mentioned that I've been sleeping with someone who I'm not really interested in seeing in public, someone I've known for a really long time, but not someone I would ever think of dating. I said I thought that might make me some kind of asshole, but she said that the guy I'm sleeping with understands and accepts the situation I present him with.

She asked me if I'd ever been in love before.

That's what got me thinking about Welsh Guy the night I spoke to Black.

Telling the story of Welsh Guy, Solenn identified with it, I think. How she left her home in France and her job because she wanted to be with CJ, how they'd grown closer through e-mails.

I know from experience how you can find yourself telling a perfect stranger things that you wouldn't tell someone you see everyday. How you can reveal your own idea of your "true self" to them.

Because the words are all you have to define yourself to them, you try to paint the most flattering picture possible, you gloss over in words the things you don't like about yourself.

It all feels so familiar when I'm talking to Black. We sit up some nights and just chat until we collapse.

We talk philosophy, love, television, books, sex, politics, deep thoughts and even some secrets.

We use the word "love." I love Black. He loves me.

But it's not sexual. It's personal, intimate yet real.

I remember when Black first told me that he was attracted to my personality. I freaked out. I wrote a really funny blog post about traipsing through fields of daffodils with him.

But he's still straight. And I'm still gay. And yet we have something that makes sense to us.

Months later - in fact, years into our friendship, I'm more comfortable with him. I feared that meeting him, which happened a couple months ago, would diminish that or hurt that. But it didn't.

We still talk until we're too tired to say anything sensible. He helps me. I help him, or I try to. We have our own jokes.

It reminds me of when I first encountered Welsh Guy on the Internet when I was 18 and had more secrets than I knew what to do with. So I typed them into a box to a stranger who was willing to listen. And it helped me. And, when I met him, we already knew each other well enough to immediately embark on knowing each other in a different way.

It worked for what it was.

I don't have a boyfriend, but I have these friendships, not just the one with Black, that have a level of closeness, trust and comfort.

I don't have to call these friends everyday or write these friends everyday, even though I sometimes do.

I know they're there. I know they're there because they want to be. And I know I'm not alone.

It's not wise, in the meantime, to continue the affair with someone I wouldn't want to see in public. I know that. And it's also not wise to continue pursuing whatever with a man who doesn't show he wants me.

But, for some reason, my whole situation doesn't seem dire or sad.

If I need the closeness and the love, I know where I can find it, I guess.

Comments acceptable.

I'm now attempting, in an effort to follow the lead of all the cool kids with all the cooler blogs - and in an attempt to increase a sense of community, to add comments on the blog.

This first post is a test.

Any thoughts on this?

Ack. It's not letting new comments be added. I think there's something with formatting that's gone wrong. Argh. This is a disaster.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Oh baby, baby ...

It is weird that, when Kacoon called me to announce her pregnancy this morning, the first thing I said after "Oh my God ... Oh my God ..." was, of all things, "We TOTALLY have an excuse to go SHOPPING!"

Then, before she could say anything, I said, "Oh my God, why was THAT the first thing I said after you told me this?"

And then I apologized, of course, for I apologize all the time.

Then I asked her how Mike reacted. And he was excited.

Then I asked how her mom reacted. And her mother, though concerned because Kacoon's first pregnancy was difficult, was excited, too.

They're supposed to tell Midget, who's 5, about it tonight, she said, and she guessed he'd be happy about it - for he's been asking for a baby to play with.

This is so cool.

Kacoon's gonna become Ma Coon.

Defining beauty.



Having qualities that delight the senses, especially the sense of sight.
Excellent; wonderful.

beauti·ful·ly (Adverb), beauti·ful·ness (Noun)

beautiful , lovely , pretty , handsome , comely , fair

I met Solenn outside the Apple store at Lenox, for it's the only place at Lenox I know how to find. I don't usually shop Lenox, and I don't know why. I think it's because I associate Lenox with my earliest thoughts on racism, even though that's a completely ridiculous association to make.

Let me explain.

When I was a kid, one of my mother's co-workers - an opinionated old lady - told me that she wasn't voting for MARTA to extend into Gwinnett County because "MARTA brings the 'wrong' sort of people to town." And then she told me that Lenox Square "used to be a nice place to shop" until MARTA came, "bringing all of South Atlanta there."

So that's why I usually don't go to Lenox. Because, when I was impressionable, I decided that the old lady shoppers there are society-minded racists who voted down practical public transportation.

The impression, though completely silly, stuck with me, and I browse at Phipps.

Solenn used MARTA to get to Lenox, and she got there before me. I was stuck in traffic, 10 minutes late, and it's the first thing she said to me when I walked up.

Then, she stood and greeted me by kissing me on both cheeks, which I reciprocated while thinking to myself, "Gosh, it's so cool that she's French. I have a French friend! I have a French friend! Yay, France, yay!"

And then I had to stop being ridiculous and selfish, doing a jig in my head, for Solenn looked fantastic in a black suit and this cute, white top.

She complimented the blue shirt and tie. She'd seen me in the jacket before. She told me that I looked good.

So after the greetings, Solenn took me to the Lindt chocolate store for some truffles, which is something we did on our first day out together at Mall of Georgia. Of course, that day it was my turn to expose her to Godiva Chocolates.

Here's how it works:

We both go in. We both pick a truffle from the case. Then, we get two of both flavors and find some place to sit for a taste-test.

Solenn allowed me the opportunity to select a truffle from the case first, and I chose the milk chocolate-milk chocolate truffle. She chose the dark chocolate-orange truffle.

During the taste-test (where the Lindt dark chocolate-orange was named our favorite of all the truffles we've yet tried), Solenn told me about how it's been really cold lately and that she would've worn a black dress if she hadn't had to walk to the MARTA station. (If I'd had time, I would've picked her up.)

"Did I tell you what happened to me yesterday on MARTA?" Solenn asked me.

"No, what was it?" I asked.

"This guy jacked off while he was looking at me," she said.

"Oh my God ...," I said.

"Yeah, I was really happy that I was near my stop and could get off the train," Solenn said.

"You didn't move when you saw him?" I asked.

"I couldn't leave the train car, and I was the only one who saw what he was doing," Solenn said. "I mean, at first, I didn't notice his hand was moving."

"Oh my God," I said again. "You do know that I'm driving you home, right?"

A little time later, while we were headed to the party, I told Solenn that it would feature a lot of extravagant jewelry, and she told me that she shopped at Lenox on the day after Thanksgiving and found it full of "really, really expensive clothes I'd never wear."

And, at that moment, she walked past BCBG and pointed out one of the dresses.

"I mean, look at that one!" Solenn said. "It's really, really orange. I mean, ORANGE. And it probably cost $800! Why would I spend $800 on something that made me look like a GIANT MARSHMALLOW!!!"

After I finished laughing, I asked her, "Where have you seen an orange marshmallow before?"

"I don't know," she said.

"Box of Lucky Charms, I guess," I said.

So we headed to the party at David Yurman, past the policemen.

Thinking I wouldn't be able to get in, I mentioned Rebecca's name to a guy at the door wearing a suit. And he told me that he was the caterer but that he would walk me inside.

I thought the store would be large enough to hold a crowd of people, but I was wrong. I mean, it was just in a corner shop inside the mall. But we were early, so it was still possible to walk around and look at all the big, honkin' jewelry.

Solenn and I mixed in with the crowd of browsers, and we grabbed glasses of wine and some of the sushi-esque finger food.

The stones in the necklaces were huge, first of all. And all the necklaces were really thick and not at all subtle.

Solenn, as she's said before, likes subtle jewelry, understated and simple, and I kept trying to see if any of the louder, larger, colorful pieces appealed to her at all.

None did.

I showed her one of the chains and asked her if it was pretty.

"It's big enough to put on a bicycle," she said.

I laughed.

"How do you define 'beautiful'?" she asked me.

"Um, what do you mean?" I asked.

"What does 'beautiful' mean to you?" she asked.

I wondered if she was asking me if I thought her beautiful, which I do. Her hair, her glasses, her face. But more than that, I find her savvy and sense of humor incredibly attractive. I love that she came to America, willing to take the risk, because she missed her boyfriend and didn't just want to see him on occasion. I envy that. Also, there's that whole "Yay, France, Yay" thing.

"Would it be cheating if I said it meant 'full of beauty?'" I asked instead.

"I'm French," she said bluntly. "Not dumb."

"What do I find beautiful about these necklaces?" I said. "I don't know. I like, I guess, that they're daring, stylized and big. But I don't know anyone who could wear them."

Seriously, big jewelry generally requires big attitude or big ego, I guess. Solenn said it requires a big bank account, but I don't know if, even if one of my friends suddenly the money, they would become a wearer of big stones and jewelry.

I don't know anyone that daring. I don't know a potential J. Lo or Liz.

I saw Rebecca, said hello, complimented her on the party and thanked her for inviting me.

Rebecca was, of course, working and couldn't talk. David Yurman had arrived with his wife and dog in tow. (What is it with these people, bringing their dogs into places when they likely wouldn't allow the general public to bring in dogs? Janet Evanovich did a signing at my store a couple weeks ago, and she made her St. Bernard's attendance mandatory.)

So I didn't really get to mingle much with Rebecca.

As the store started to fill beyond fire-safety capacity, Solenn told me that I could pick out any necklace on display, and she would try it on.

So I walked up to a saleswoman and told her, sorta, the situation.

"My friend Solenn here likes only subtle jewelry, and I'm trying to find her something out-of-character that she might still enjoy," I said. "Can you help us?"

Solenn and I had managed to find a simple necklace in the store, telling the saleswoman that was our personal favorite, and the saleswoman told us that necklace was part of the men's line.

"But it can work however you like," she said accomodatingly.

Eventually Solenn, who usually only wears silver, found a white gold necklace of about four layers, complete with some small pearls, to try on.

The saleswoman helped Solenn wrap it around twice and fasten it, and I thought it looked kinda cool on her. Fancy, big, stylish.

"Do you like it?" the saleswoman, who was wearing a similar style herself, asked Solenn.

Solenn smiled, looked at it in the mirror and said, "No."

We put the necklace back, thanked the saleswoman and continued browsing.

Which is when the small space got really crowded and kinda hot, and Solenn and I, after having a couple more of these cool wrap appetizers they had, thanked Rebecca for inviting us and made our way toward the door.

"The mayor should be here any minute," Rebecca said to me. "If you'll stick around, she's coming."

I nodded at Rebecca, whose job it is to keep people at the party - as well as keep the caterers moving, keep the salesmen on their toes, keep the Yurmans' dog from getting stepped on and make sure that the big jewelry looks nice atop the young models' breasts. Rebecca's impressive.

I approached Solenn to tell her that the mayor was on her way.

"Oh OK, do you want to see the mayor?" Solenn asked me.

"I technically already met the mayor," I said. "She should my hand during a Pride parade."

We needed air, so Solenn and I left David Yurman as inconspicuously as possible and then sat outside on a bench for a few minutes.

Having relaxed a bit more, I then took Solenn to the Whitehall jewelry place - right across from David Yurman - and showed her some simple stones and simple chains.

The saleswoman at Whitehall was excellent.

Hearing Solenn's objections to big extravagance, the saleswoman said, "Well, you have to accept that any sort of jewelry you wear is supposed to be an adornment. It's something you wear because you want people to see it. You want people to see you and notice it. It's a luxury, and you have to be comfortable - if you're going to wear jewelry at all - showing off a little."

So Solenn showed the saleswoman the sort of diamond that she'd be comfortable wearing. Simple, geometric designs. Simple settings. No extravagant stones. Not layer upon layer of jewels and depth.

Solenn actually picked out three white gold diamond necklaces and tried on all three.

She said, if she were to get one, that the final one would be her pick. But Solenn said diamonds still aren't really her thing.

The saleswoman told us the price, $250, and asked us if we'd be taking it.

Solenn told her no, and we walked away. But the saleswoman then told me her name again, saying that she'd appreciate our business at any point.

Solenn and I circled around the area of David Yurman and stood outside of the party while Mayor Shirley Franklin arrived, delivered a speech welcoming the Yurmans and their dog to Atlanta and cut the red ribbon on the door.

Solenn, seeing the mayor, got excited and told me that her boyfriend CJ was right -- that Shirley Franklin is really short.

When we went to get something to eat at Mick's (where Solenn later asked me if French's Mustard was actually French), I called CJ on my phone to tell him that we were out of the party, and I let him talk to Solenn.

Which is when I got to hear her say that she did have fun.

"Of course I had a good time," she said into the phone. "I saw the mayor and tried on diamonds, and no one jacked off in front of me on the subway today."

It goes without saying that I had fun, too.

Knocked up.

OH MY GOD, KACOON'S PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


She just told me that I should title the blog post, which she approved, "Oh God, Kacoon's knocked up again!"

And I said, "That's just what I was putting."

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Well, that little mystery solved.

The invite I received is to the David Yurman opening at Lenox.

Check out this jewelry. It's cool, though I'll be amused to hear what Solenn has to say about it.

After the trip to Tiffany, this is going to be fun.

Where's the party?

Last night at the bookstore, I managed to get into three or four long conversations with customers about merchandise, movies and business.

This one couple bought the SPORTS NIGHT box set after hearing me talk TV and movies for 10 minutes, for they asked me what my favorite box set was. I said it was the SPORTS NIGHT set, because it's intelligent, well-written, well-performed and features the entire run of the series, is my favorite. Also, SPORTS NIGHT gets points for being a show that I only saw on DVD, never on first-run television. And Felicity Huffman and Peter Krause star in it.

The same couple also wondered how I managed to see movies before they were released, so I told them about the ArtsCard and the Sunday Key Cinema Club.

Another couple talked with me about foreign film and impressed me when they were flipping through the section. I've never seen anyone - other than me - hold up a copy of Jean-Luc Godard's BREATHLESS and audibly coo over it. (Lupo would probably coo over it in a store, but I've never seen him do it. I think Lupo was more excited about the Criterion DVD release of RULES OF THE GAME, a film I ought to watch again.)

One of my last customers of the night was a woman named Rebecca, and she was from Manhattan but here on business.

For some reason, because I was ringing up 20 or so greeting cards for her and those take time, I started to rapidly ask her questions the way I used to when I was a newspaper reporter.

Which is how I found out that she was from Manhattan, in town on business, organizing cocktail parties for a new upscale jeweler opening at Lenox and that she technically worked for VOGUE.

So she related a bit of how she was organizing a party for the store while working for the magazine at the same time, and I guessed accurately how she could do that.

"You're in the promotions department?" I asked her.

"My title is promotions manager," she said.

Then she mentioned a new area magazine that she was trying to get the attention of for this party, and I told her that, considering the demographics that she was aiming for and that the store was opening during the holiday season, the way to get young, hip women with a disposable income buzzing about the store would be to invite the people from JEZEBEL.

She wants trendy, hipster Buckhead.

She told me she'd already done that, then mentioned that I really seemed to know a lot about the way this sort of thing worked and was organized.

So Rebecca invited me to the first cocktail party, which is tonight. The mayor's going to be there.

Rebecca told me that it was at David Yurman and that, if I had any trouble at the door, I could just tell them to get her and that she'd work it out.

Last night, leaving the store, I decided that it would be out-of-character for me to go to a VOGUE party and that I probably wouldn't be able to come up with the right sort of outfit to wear - since Rebecca said it was cocktail party attire.

Then, I thought the whole thing sounded like something Carrie from SEX AND THE CITY would be invited to.

And I thought it would be neat and beneficial to maybe try and impress Rebecca again, since she did invite me even though I was just the music store clerk ringing up her greeting cards. Maybe I can be charming and not obvious.

So I'm going tonight, and I called Solenn up and asked her if she wanted to go with me.

Solenn's cool with it, so she's meeting me at Lenox.

I'm hoping we can find the party.