Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sexual Identity Crisis

On my last AMS layover, I fell in with a DTW crew and headed down to the Kraz Hotel Bar for the usual Apple Martinis. This pilot was part of the group who seemed to remember VERY vividly from a few months back. He was the one that subtly scammed on me using music as an intro. He casually invited me to his room and I politely turned him down. I hadn't even SEEN that coming. So he's along on this expedition. Down at the Kraz, of COURSE he's gravitating toward me and somewhere in the middle of the second martini, I said:"It's time for total truth between us. You like GUYS don't you?" "Well, yeah..." "And you like ME." "Uh, yeah". I told him that he was a nice guy but he wasn't my type and that if he was planning on being married to a lady and was faking his way through it, he had some hard decisions to make. I went to the bathroom. When I returned, he was still cordial but his body language had changed to REALLY formal. When it came time for HIM to hit the bathroom, he headed out...and never came back. A co-worker tells me that she'd been with this guy before and he was ping-ponging between two straight male flight attendants(a mathematical improbability in itself). I don't think he's developed gaydar yet. Plus he had that quiet air of desperation and creepiness thrown in. When I stumbled to my room later, I found a voicemail message from him from early in the afternoon: "Hey, ---, this is Steve. We talked some serious music in the bar one night and if you want to get together and hang out, give me a call..." Brrrrrrrrrr..... And of course, he couldn't even be CUTE to go with the creepiness. Sigh. I guess I don't have the TOUCH...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Saint Patrick's Day Individuality

Some sparks of hope to which will hopefully mark the end of winter. This morning I was down at the gym. At the last minute, I grabbed a GREEN LANTERN t-shirt and slipped it on to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day...as well as proudly display my super-hero obsession. (And Green Lantern IS one of my favorites...) So I get down to the Y and I see NO ONE wearing the green. For a second I thought I got the day wrong until someone wished me a Happy St. Pat's. After my treadmill ordeal, I was on the floor of the weight room doing my stomach exercises when I see this older gent walk by. From that angle, I thought I saw a slight aura of green on the top of his head. But the ceiling fluorescent lights were right behind him. Maybe it was a trick of the light. I got to my feet to do some side-bends and my first impression was confirmed: The top-half of his hair was dyed a nice vibrant shade of green. Obviously, it had to be temporary but I was slack-jawed at the sheer absurdity and audacity of it. I walked over, shook his hand, and said, "Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Here I was bitching that NO one had the spirit and you come along and MORE than make up for it. That," I pointed to his hair. "is GREAT." "Thanks," he replies with a smile. It won't register with most people until afterwards." Oh, it registered all right. When he left the weight room, I heard a chorus of howling laughter. A quiet display of colorful individuality that cracks you up. (Either WITH him or AT him---I don't think it really matters.) THAT took some sac. Another hopeful note. Before I moved house, I used to drop by on the corner of L--- and C---- Streets and hang with my old friend Peter as he sat out on the stoop to absorb the sunlight. A former schizophrenic and sufferer of seasonal affective disorder, he can often be found out there during the warmer months to get some much-needed photosynthesis to keep his spirits up. If his winter-moods are anything like mine, the cold, dark months probably weren't a stroll in the park for him. Anyway, chance just happened to me taking me past my old neighborhood and there was his familiar figure, sitting on the stoop, sipping his bottle of water. A quiet joy flooded my heart and I hurried my steps so I could greet him for the first time in about nine months. I gave this shy and slightly withdrawn gent a big, warm bear-hug. God, it was good to see him again. He once told me that he was an engineer or something to do with intense mathematics...but as with some super-intelligent people, he shorted out at one point. ("Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know"---Ernest Hemingway) I'm not sure why I enjoy Peter's company so much. Maybe it's because he laughs so uproariously at my half-assed socio-pop-cultural quips. Maybe I feel a kinship with him. Maybe there's this urge to protect this seemingly vulnerable little guy. Maybe it's a swirl of ALL of these. All I know is that it was good to see him again. It made my day and for me, officially marks the beginning of a hopeful spring... Let's get some warmth going after this miniature ice-age of a winter...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pseudo-Teen Wasteland

This is a version of a writing exercise that I threw into a notebook. An essay emerged...Any thoughts and feedback are welcome...------------------------ This week, I found myself in a room full of lawyers talking shop. They were cordial, well-dressed, and inhabiting a world that I seldom visit. The world of the respectable adult. So it got me to thinking... I am caught between two personae. One is the rebellious teenager. The other is the respectable, responsible adult. The youthful rebellious teenager enjoys the romantic myth of being sullen and misunderstood with rich veins of melancholy resting just beneath the surface, an unspoken backstory of pain and hard-won street-cred that is hinted at opportune times. No one can FULLY understand me. I am the eternal wayfaring stranger in search of SOME truth in a cold, uncaring world of plastic smiles and artifice. The pathos! The drama! The responsible adult wants to let go of the toys somewhat. He wants to dress in khakis or the occasional suit and tie and be reasonably dapper in his appearance and demeanor. This is the half that can have a barbecue and a beer with the neighbors, chatting about innocuous subjects such as weather, local news, and sports(if I knew what the hell I was talking about). This is the half that would wear pleated, perfectly cut trousers, a bowtie, and a waistcoat, taking out the gold pocket-watch with a flourish. This is the part of me that puts an arm around my shoulder and looks at me over his glasses and says, "Son, isn't it about time you GREW UP a bit? Think about your prospects, maybe?" This would be my equivalent of the guy who advised Dustin Hoffman's character in THE GRADUATE that the (financial) future lay in "PLASTICS". The practical, hard-nosed, play-by-the-book guy. The pragmatist without passion. The SQUARE, basically... And even as I type these words, I come to the realization that the teenager is closer to my personality than the stiff. While I may have become more cynical and less wide-eyed with wonder, I feel more at ease in jeans, t-shirt, and a mischievious post-modern sense of EFF U attitude...without too much bile, of course. Which doesn't always work. The trick is to find the balance, not to let the cynicism override the wonder lest I become insufferably pessimistic, bitter, and nihilistic. It can weigh on you like the lid of a stone-coffin. But there are times when I would LIKE to fit in with a more adult crowd. A mode where I WOULDN'T feel out of place in a room full of lawyers or the denizens of academia dressed in their suits and ties; where I could pull off the pretense of respectability, infiltrate their world. Listen to me. "Pretense". "Infiltrate". I'd be playing a ROLE, wouldn't I? The respectable adult wouldn't be ME. So will I ever find a balance? In my own good time, I expect. As my hair gets thinner and greyer, as the lines on my face grow deeper and darker, maybe I WILL look the part. My body will ache as parts wear out and functions fail. As my flesh-suit begins to disintegrate, my mind will still be somewhere in its teens and twenties...Enjoying comic books, sci-fi movies and television, the regular buzz of coffee and alchohol(not at once, though),searching for cool action figures in the toy-section of Wal-Mart, writing letters, browsing in bookstores and card-shops... I want to think that I will still have passions as the years progress. A passion to communicate original ideas, a passion for humor and absurdity as dark and twisted as it may sometimes be, a passion for that which is REAL in this vapid culture of glossy surfaces, cross-promotional demographic marketing, and nauseating reality-television aritifice. Whatever I experience, be it happy or sad, ridiculous, or deeply profound...I want it to be REAL. Devoid of the time-filling chit-chat that we slather our lives with to convince ourselves that we are """"normal"""". REAL is normal and that's what I want to be. And if I achieve this by seeing the world through the eyes of a halfassed misfit teenager, the so be it. Bring it on. However, as a concession of maturity, I don't think I'll be using that sound-bite from KILL BILL VOL.1 which would make a PERFECT answering-machine message. Goes like this: Lucy Lui exploding with: "Now if ANY of you sons-of-bitches have ANYTHING TO SAY, NOW'S THE F--KING TIME!" Sigh...Would have been perfect. GaP

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hanging With The Russians

Well, I spent my weekend helping out my lawyer buddy setting up for his Russian delegation. See, there's something interesting about this gent(We'll call him G). He has that kind of personality that commands loyalty. He's a natural leader. But from time to time, he can get patronizing. ESPECIALLY with front-line employees if things aren't going exactly his way. If I had to deal with him in that capacity on the plane, I'd probably spit in his drink. But he's worldly and connected...yet will associate with a slackeroid like myself. He's a good influence, I guess. Gives me purpose when I would be otherwise sitting at home in my pajamas, buried in a stack of comic books. Makes me wonder about my own personality. There's one half of me that likes being the cynical, post-modern teenager...and then there's that other half that wants to quiet down, be respectable, and have the approval of same. It's an uneasy overlap. Perpetual adolescence, almost. Anyway, when I finally got to see the Russians coming in, that's when the education really got underway. The most memorable speaker was a civics professor from UNH who painted a VERY unvarnished picture of America for his guests. He ruffled a feather or two amongst his colleagues but I was eating up every word. So nice to hear The Truth without sugarcoating. It just underscored that we're a nation in decline. During a stretch break, I overheard one of the Russians talking to G. and one of his colleagues. He misses Soviet Russia. At least the wealth was more evenly distributed, he opined. He also referred to the translators as "peasants". Nothing like unvarnished Russian bluntness. Now HE would have been fun to drink with. I didn't have the stones to talk with any of them personally... When the group broke up to do some touring, I hung out with George in the suite. Some of his colleagues with The Peace Coalition came on and talked shop. You had a pentagon dude there, a University professor...there were budget proposals, advance planning for the next group(The Latvians), and the usual networking. It was what I like to call "think-tank culture". I just sat there with my mouth shut, ears open, and sipped my beer. Like I said, very educational. Off to work today. Wish I felt better about it... Later...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Punch The Clock OUT!

Holy SH*T! I just tricked myself into a honest day's work! I went into my attorney-friend's office all set to do a couple hours of work for this Russian delegation that he has coming in. Cutting name tags, slipping them into small plastic holders and attaching those elastic string; making sure the list was accurate, seperating the tags into different folders...Grunt-work but time-consuming...When I left at 1700, his office mate Wayne says: "Hey, you can PUNCH the clock. Nine to Five! Just like a REAL work day." Everything stopped. Somewhere, a dog barked. And then I realized that I just did an honest day's work like the rest of the world. And it scared me. And I'd done it to myself. And I wasn't even getting paid. Friendship and loyalty? Or just abject stupidity? I may have nightmares about this... Hope you are well...I'm exhausted after w-W-WOR---OH CHRIST, I can't even TYPE the word...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Hedonism NOW!

A reply to a friend's e-mail... Hello, Ed... I don't know...Seems like the world could use a bit more hedonism along with a pint or two instead of oppressive religion-warped totalitarian bullshit that the George Dubyas and the Talibans of the world want to impose. Oh, and it would also help if our Military-Industrial Complex Shopping Mall McCulture wasn't pushing the continual message of consumer-materialist fellatio. I love it...I have a Conservative Friend who's a proud chest-beating Republican. He doesn't give two movements about the rest of the world so long as we "protect ourselves" and continually extols the virtues of our great country. But yet he's concerned that the meme of Santa Claus will be implanted into his son's head instead of little Baby Jesus in the manger, et al. "Well, what do you WANT?" I asked him. "America is one giant paid advertisement. Comes with the territory". Can't have it both ways...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bollywood Malaise

I just did a six-day trip to India by way of Amsterdam. Strange how travel will clear the cobwebs. I spent so long being a homebody, I became lethargic and obssessed over what now seem like very trivial things.
During my first Amsterdam layover, I got lucky. I have to say that this NEVER happens to me. Amazing what a bit of alcohol and a smile will do. I cut to the chase pretty quickly and learned that Jack was a married man and he worked for the same outfit that I did. I gave him my name and room number with no obligations required...but he took me up on it. While we were being intimate, I told him that he was a handsome man...I just drank in his good looks. He shrugged and he thanked me as if he didn't believe it. He was a gentle soul and he thanked me for some tenderness. This was a bit sad because you'd think that would be a component of marriage. I felt good that I was there to give him a bit of human contact. A perfect relationship/coupling/emotional connection that lasted just long enough...and then we went our seperate ways.
The layover in Mumbai was nondescript. I slept through most of the whole day while my colleagues went power-shopping as this was going to be the last trip of the season for our flight-attendant base. I read. I watched television. I exercised. I didn't write out a single postcard. I felt that I was losing my passion from everything that gave my life some meaning and kept me connected. Writing letters, visiting Scotland, visiting friends...All of it just seemed so futile, a wasted effort. It was a comfortable woolen blanket of apathy. Was THIS better than being spastic? Obssessed? Impassioned? Was this what it was like to "grow up"? Did being an adult mean aches, pains, and a lack of wonder?
I say all of this in the past tense because my mood has improved in the past couple of days. I'm watching the calories, watching the alchohol intake(it's WORK recovering from hangovers), and just the change in routine...We just got decked with a minor Nor'Easter and it didn't prevent me from going down to the gym today.(NO cops in sight...)
I returned from this trip to find the cat gone. The owner had picked her up. I miss her...but not enough to spark off yet another depression...Thank God.
Take care...