6.23.05 (written on napkins)
http://fredsoffa.com (aka 'The Mythical')
Standing here, at a dentist convention (Aesthetics in the World of Implants) in the Ritz Carlton, utterly invisible. Men in expensive suits with slicked-back hair drink screwdrivers and fine red fucking wine, while desperate women in very high-priced heels hit on them.
Everybody’s teeth gleam, though their skin is even whiter. A brother serves the food. A Rican woman I am probably related to collects discarded napkins. There are free golf balls on a table, in packages of three. Some hairy fool takes my picture.
A few of the dentists are younger than I and it makes me feel wasteful. On top of that, I’m chewing gum.
Britney Spears is here, too, and who knew? Sometimes I find myself in the strangest fucking places.
Last time I saw Shade was twelve years ago, B.C. (before Cambridge) – I was nineteen, he was twenty-something. Lanky boy with a beard and smiling eyes, we discussed Romero and Cronenberg on the set of The Mythical's A Wavering Heterosexual Confronts the Pleasure Principle Head-On, Forced to Decide (his first words to me, “You’re too intense for this business,” with that hedonistic grin – I proved him wrong at the wrap party). Month before move to Boston, ran into him again at Kinko’s and he handed me a flyer for a screening of Return of the Living Dead 3; was surprised he remembered me.
He’s an adult now and no one sent me the memo; I’d have never recognized him. But there he was, in town between international film festivals, schmoozing.
Dr. Z drones on, occasional pools of laughter wafting over as I write these words. Shade respects him; we respect Shade. Though he doesn’t hand me the camera.
Coltrane blows from somewhere in the kitchen. Softly. Down underneath, my heart is fluttering, my soul is muttering. I breathe. I am not present, mind stuck on three nights ago, four AM – “Don’t leave,” she said and I didn’t; we kissed till I left at noon the next day and when I pray, I pray to be made less sensitive a man cuz I can’t handle the way love treats me. I won’t be some girl’s dirty little secret, crouching in dark corners, making out, otherwise keeping my distance – it’s not who I am. Who I Am. And I can’t afford to get hurt again – I’ve too much to do and can’t spare the love or time. I need support, not confusion.
But, “I want what I cannot have,” she wrote me at the bar and supposedly this meant a soft, wet kiss from my generous lips – the first for me in over a year and a half. We slept for two hours, fully clothed, and she said things to me and I whispered to her how her friend Enrique had propositioned me all night long, staring at my lips in a way that made me recall why I never go out drinking. And we kissed and groped and clung and, since then, nothing from her and so I reciprocate, cuz I’ll keep up, but I won’t step forward. I’ve done it already, putting myself on the line, winking and flirting like some kind of playa when it’s something I never do and she knows this. “You’re holding out for something amazing,” she’d said, then mentioned all those actress’ phone numbers I’d gotten, asking why I haven’t called them and I told her (“I don’t date,” I’d said to them and out came the slips of paper, on which they wrote their phone numbers, saying, “If you ever change your mind...”).
Unavailable men are the most attractive, apparently, and I want no part of it – I take the slips of paper and smile, for the sake of the film and cuz I’m a gentleman, later I roll them into tiny balls, hold my hand open and let them fall in the director’s wastebasket. The director, whom she told of her crush on me and whose reply was, “Stay away.” Since then, has been trying to set her up with others on set and what drama! And what did I do to deserve such derision but show up early and leave late, ingratiate myself in my admittedly quiet way with auditioners and crew, wearing the hats of whomever I’m asked to wear the hats of. Another example of people projecting shit onto me has nothing to do with me and isn’t it silly and unfair?
No matter cuz there it is and so I’ll hold back cuz I am afraid to afford the heart and commitment. I need those for MY work – HERE is where I’m unbridled, HERE is where I take fuckin risks and let you in for it.
It don’t pay to be honest, to be good, to be a man with principles in this city, this industry, this world.
It should all be simpler. They tell me I am complex and frustrating because I want the truth and it makes no sense to me – they make things more complicated with lies and denial. But our city’s not conducive to honesty, not even when it’s in our best interest. Stubborn. Convoluted. Ridiculous. I look around and seethe with something thicker than sadness, more furious than anger. We’ll never change, but it doesn’t mean I can’t.
I’m doing my part. To live and love on the table, not under it. To do right by you. Another woman leaned in to kiss me and I turned away cuz it wasn’t what she needed; she cried instead and I held her and afterwards, I did some impressions and made her laugh. Later, I went home and watched Larry David and laughed myself.
Off on a tangent, I bring it back and notice the small, dark waiter before me, correctly surmising, “Tienes sed, no? Whacan I getchu?” I smile and wipe my brow. “Seltzer,” I say and he smiles warmly, a different one than they get. He is probably a long lost uncle – sometimes I walk by men in these projects who just got out of jail and look just like me; they wink at a brother and give a filthy grin as they saunter on and go ahead and ask me why I have trust issues. Cuz it only occurred to me after I left her place that she put her friend up to hitting on me. This how my mind works. Except I’m usually right. Always something else going on. Always secrets.
It’s time to go, The Mythical decides and we pack it up and he drives me to Queens. During the ride I spit out my strategy, practical and well-formulated, if somewhat combustible: make out with as many different kinds of women as possible cuz if I stick to one, I get attached, but if there are multiples, they will drown each other out.
“Finally!” he cries and I come home and draw up the plans.