Monday, February 27, 2012

It Only Happens on Sitcoms

Picture it. New York, 1951. Ethel pokes her head into Lucy’s open window, and Lucy tells her to come right in. Ethel then sits down and finishes Ricky’s breakfast.

Picture it. New Rochelle, 1962. Millie just walks into Laura’s house without even knocking and starts yammering right away.

Picture it. Binley Woods, Warwickshire, a village east of Coventry, 1991. Hyacinth steps outside and insists Elizabeth pop in for a coffee at 10:15. As soon as the coffee is poured, Elizabeth drops a cup from the Royal Dalton with the hand-painted periwinkles on the floor.

Picture it. Chicago, 1975. There is a knock on Bob and Emily’s door and Howard just walks in and starts complaining.

Picture it. Jessup, 2012. There is a knock on my door, and Mrs. M comes in for a chat in the middle of the afternoon with Buddy, her beagle-basset hound mix, who proceeds to hide all of Esmeralda’s chew-bones, while she watches without a care in the world. They stay for more than an hour.

And you thought neighbors only dropped by unannounced on sitcoms.

I remember sitting at a party in West Palm Beach in 1992 (yes, I remember the year), and we were having a heated debate about whether Hazel was a sitcom or documentary. The thesis of one of the debater’s arguments was that the show was never funny. I had to agree. It was annoying, but never funny, but for some inexplicable reason, when I see a rerun of Hazel on TV, I have to stop flicking channels and watch it. I don’t laugh; I just observe and wait for a scene with one of their cool 1960s Fords. Mrs. B drove a Falcon at one time!

Anyway, in the middle of the argument, someone mentioned how Rosie (played by Maudie Prickett), Hazel's best friend, would drop by unannounced. Then we got into a discussion about how on sitcoms friends drop by all the time without so much as a phone call or an invite. All of us agreed that this was a violation of protocol, with one exception – the host, my partner, whose house was arranged like a sitcom set and who in the middle of conversations would turn to the nonexistent audience and wait for a reaction. I swear he got one once, then Marc Daniels yelled, “Cut.”

Seriously, how many of you just knock on your neighbor’s door to sit down and have a chat? I’ll bet none of you. The only time I knocked on a neighbor’s door was if he left his headlights on.

Once I saw a guy in a van ram into one of my neighbor’s cars. I called the police with the license plate number then knocked on the victim's door to tell her what happened. It turns out the van was stolen. A week later, she knocked on my door and yelled at me for giving the police the license plate number because if the driver had not been identified, she wouldn’t have had a deductible, but because of me, she had to pay $500. I vowed never to knock on someone’s door again.

Ceiling or wall yes, door, no.

In an apartment building, you never show up unannounced unless you are delivering a package that arrived in your mailbox by accident, but you never expected or accepted an invite for coffee. In a way, this is strange. Or isn’t it? Maybe we never did this in apartments because we can hear everything through the walls and showing up at someone’s door unannounced would get you sucked into their drama.

And who wants to be sucked into their drama? Oh right, every guy I ever dated.

Now, I haven’t lived in a stick house since 1985, but I don’t remember just knocking on someone’s door to come over and have a chat. Once in all the years we lived there, my mother went over to Mrs. Ruble’s and sat down to have a smoke with her and Mimi Smith. We were playing outside her house, and somehow, everyone ended up at Mrs. Ruble’s. But that was a very rare occurrence indeed.

Then, I saw The Long, Long Trailer, and in that movie, it turns out that in a trailer park showing up unannounced is a common occurrence, but wasn’t that a 1950s version of an RV park? Or did Marjorie Maine really live in a trailer park? Oh wouldn’t that be cool.

But that was a movie, and my life is more like a sitcom. So here I am, the Gay Jew in the Trailer Park. Just as I have in any neighborhood where I lived, I know everyone by name and most of their back stories, which helps when walking Esmeralda and saying hello, and we do stop to have a conversation on the sidewalk all the time, but that is not like showing up at someone’s house.

Soon after I moved in, I came back from a winery tour, and I wanted to give a bottle of wine to Mrs. M for walking Esmeralda while I was out for the afternoon. I called first. When I went over with Esmeralda, she asked me why I called, considering it too formal. She said just come over next time. And, Esmeralda and I sat and chatted with Mrs. and Mr. M for an hour about nothing in particular.

I should have realized this since Mrs. M stopped by a couple of times to watch me put together furniture soon after I moved in.

Two days after the wine delivery, Mrs. M knocked on my door and came in. I offered her a cup of coffee, and in the middle of the conversation, I mentioned how Mrs E’s next door neighbor was having some financial difficulty. Within seconds, she and I were knocking on Mrs. E’s door to get the 4-1-1. I asked if we should have called first, and Mrs. M looked at me as if I were insane. I know that look; I get it all the time. Mrs. E invited us in, and we had another cup of coffee and discussed how we could help her next-door neighbor.

Apparently, I was not well versed in Mobile Home Community Manners. In my new world, one does not call first. One just knocks on the door. I’ve tried to analyze this. Could it be that our homes are closer together than in gated or stick-built neighborhoods but not on top of each other as in apartment buildings? Our streets are wide enough to drive a house down one; they have to be. Maybe our lack of fenced-in yards has something to do with it? Could it be that the average age in my community is fifty-five, so we are of the same generation?

But that was my problem. I was analyzing too much. Face it, trailer park people are just friendlier and more like family. And there is a big reason why. No social ladders to climb. No one is A-list or D-list. We are all T-list. Even if you live in a single-wide as I do, you are just another trailer park queen enjoying life.

Hyacinth with her slim-line phone with automatic redial would never survive in my community.

So, if you want to live where your neighbors look out for you, and at times, watch your every move, then come on down and buy yourself a manufactured home in mobile home community.

And honey, once you move in, you better be sure to have a pot of coffee going at all times. After 5:00, make it decaf.

If you want to come in and sit a spell, follow me, join me, tell your friends.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Three-Hour Tour

Gilligan’s Island has been in syndication forty-five years, yet whenever someone over-packs for a trip, the first thing he is called is Lovey Howell. Her name was actually Eunice Wentworth Howell.

I used to be a light packer. I spent a week in Austria in 1992, and I travelled with one carry-on bag. I don’t know how I did it. I also travelled from Germany to Austria and back again with no GPS, cell phone, computer or fluency in German.

Try that today.

When we had our goodbye luncheon at my last government project, the event coordinator declared I was the best packer she ever met. Only one person raised an eyebrow. Apparently, I can pack a lot of stuff into a small space. I have a talent; I don’t question it; I just accept it. As a matter of fact, friends ask me to pack their trunks for trips.

I still can pack for a trip in about fifteen minutes. Yes, I am also a fast packer. You never knew what hit you.

Oh, he didn’t just go there.

However, somewhere along the way, while my packing skills have remained, I have become Mrs. Howell. When did I suddenly start needing so much stuff? Recently, I had to go on an overnight business trip, and I brought enough underwear for a month-long safari, even though I don’t have a bladder control problem. My size fourteen shoes can take up an entire suitcase on their own, but when did I start needing four wardrobe changes for every day of a trip? It’s a good thing I don’t travel very often even though I can still pack all that stuff into two suitcases. If one of my bags ever explodes, there will be a brief disaster.

After my last over-packed trip, I decided to a look back at those glorious family vacations we took in the 1970s. My brother is gonna love this.

Arnold and Harryette Stern loved to spend money the few times they had it, and there was a time when vacations were the recipients of their retirement, our college and everyone’s grocery funds. Since they didn’t have money very often, there weren’t that many family vacations. Thank God for small mercies.

Forgive me all you loyal family vacationers, but I cannot think of anything more horrible than a family vacation. My friend Chris used to claim that all divorces were the result of a family vacation. Think about it. You spend twenty-four hours a day for seven days with people you normally see for fifteen or twenty minutes a week. I worked in restaurants in Williamsburg, Virginia, for close to a dozen years, and I never saw a happy family on vacation. Never. I still remember the one mother who came up to the bar, ordered Scotch straight up and proceeded to tell me that she was glad she didn’t carry a gun on this trip. Not only did they have three kids in tow, but also, both grandmothers, who apparently did not like each other. I asked her one question, “What the hell were you thinking?” Her answer was to order another drink.

If Jews learned anything from Moses and Zipporrah, it is never to take your extended family on a trip. Imagine traipsing through the desert for forty years with 630,000 of your closest friends and relatives following you. Moses didn’t go up the mountain to talk to God; he went up there to get the hell away from all those whiny Jews.

What we also learned from Mr. and Mrs. Moses was that Jews always vacation where it is hot. One of our family vacations was to Miami in August. Seriously, and we stayed at the Aztec hotel for one night. It was such a dump that my mother left an unflushed present in the commode before we moved to the Thunderbird Hotel.

As you can see, I come from really classy stock.

Now, let me tell you about a typical Stern family vacation. My mother would bake by the pool covered in Coppertone, smoking cigarettes and reading a book, while my father played golf, and my brother and I swam in the ocean. We knew better than to bother either of them. At night, they would go to an expensive dinner, and my brother and I would be on our own. I don’t remember our doing much of anything as a family, but my parents were married for more than forty-six years at the time of my mother’s death, so while this sounds like a strange vacation routine, perhaps they knew something other families didn’t? We spent as much time together on vacation as we did when we weren’t. Stick with me; I am trying to find the positive in all this.

The funny thing about our vacations was how much they packed. Of course, the portable bar was the most essential item, and the first thing that was opened upon arrival. After that were my mother’s things, which would only fit into a complete set of Sampsonite, three wig boxes, a Hollywood-sized make-up case, and four garment bags. All of this would fill the car’s trunk, and the rest of us were on our own. Maybe this is when I learned to fit a lot into a small space.

The most bizarre vacation was the trip they took to Cape Cod after dropping us off at Nana’s in the Van Ness North Apartments, in Washington, DC, in the summer of 1972. At that time, my father drove the prettiest car I think he ever owned – a 1967 Mercury Monterey four-door sedan, which was seafoam green with a black vinyl interior. We called it our Hawaii Five-O car. The trunk of this huge car was filled with Mother’s things, and for this trip, they put one of those poles across the back seat and hung up what had to be half of both of their complete summer wardrobes. My brother sat up front, while I squeezed into the back, against the passenger-side door, with all those clothes taking up ninety-percent of the space as we drove to Nana’s from Newport News. I couldn’t see beside me, and I started to cry. When they asked why I was crying, I told them I felt like a piece of luggage because the three of them were up front, and I was squeezed among all these clothes and wig boxes as if I wasn’t part of the family.

Their trip was for only five days. Who the hell needed all those clothes?

And for the five days we stayed with Nana, she carried on about two things: Aunt Flossie’s divorce and why our parents were spending all their money on these ridiculous vacations. We did get to see the Panda’s when they first arrived at the National Zoo. About that, Nana complained that they needed a bath.

If you have ever wondered how I turned out the way I did, you should have no difficulty understanding that now.

When they returned to pick us up, somehow they had managed to fill the car up with more stuff, and we were also hauling Nana’s black and white RCA television home since she bought a Sony color set to replace it. There I was in the back seat again – this time with a television banging into my head.

I made two vows on that trip. I would never go on a trip where I ended up in the back seat competing for room with someone else’s luggage and used appliances, and I would never travel with a middle-aged Jewish woman.

While I do pack quite a bit for the few trips I take these days, I leave the wig boxes at home, and I leave enough room for me to see out the rearview mirror. And yes, on the rare occasions when I do sit in the back seat, I still cry.

If you feel crowded out by someone else’s stuff, follow me, join me, get on my list.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Straight Men Playing with Knives

For as long as I live, I will never completely understand straight men – not the kind who feed a comedian lines, but the ones who knock their women over the head with a club and drag them back to the cave. To me, most straight men are just cave men with a better wardrobe.

For example, I like to watch a football game on occasion, but I don’t throw food at the TV screen or wear a jersey or even care who wins or loses. I just like the science of the game. But, straight men can talk about a particular football game until the key players have retired and had their knees replaced. There is a guy who comes into the gym every morning, and for forty-five minutes argues with the guy at the front desk about a football game. Not even the past weekend’s game, but one game that has him irked beyond belief. The Super Bowl was two or three weeks ago – who remembers – and this guy still comes in and argues about every play that occurred. I have never seen him workout. He stands there holding his gym bag and yelling about this pass or that tackle or this kick. He reminds me of what a restaurant owner I know always says, “The customer has gone home and already shit out his dinner, and you are still complaining about him.”

As long as we are talking about football, I have to complain – big surprise. For a sport that is full of man on man contact with lots of bone crushing, blood spurting and grunting, what is up with Astroturf and stadiums with roofs? I watched a game a month ago (I don’t know who was playing, I switched channels and the game was on, so I stuck with it for an hour), and one team was wearing pristine white uniforms. It was the third quarter, and no one had a mark on him. Not a blood stain, not a mud stain, not even a wrinkle. You call this football? Where’s the mud? Where’s the rain? Where’s the snow? And they call us sissies. I had an electric football set as a kid (the NFL Electric Football Tudor Board Game), and my players that got dirtier than these guys.

Remember those electric football games. Basically, you set up the teams, put the felt football in the quarterback’s bent arm, flicked a switch, and the damn thing vibrated until you couldn’t make heads or tails of who was doing what to whom, but you kept setting it up and flicking the switch because at seven years old, it took you so little to entertain yourself and you liked things that vibrated.

Now, I like staying clean as much as the next guy, but football today is hardly a sport. Every time one of these spotless players catches a pass or makes a tackle, he has to do some kind of dance followed by a fist pump. This is when I scream at the screen, “Stop your showboating and get on with the next play!” And with the curse of instant replay, we have to watch this spectacle over and over again. With the money they are making, they need to play in all kinds of weather and get dirty and bloody and break a few bones. What is amazing is golf is more manly than football these days. These overweight fashionably challenged country club members will take their shoes and socks off to stand in a bacteria filled pond to get the right shot from a bad lie.

Where are our modern day gladiator? They are playing baseball. Thank God for baseball. At least they still have dirt on their uniforms and skinned knees, but I am sure it won’t be long before they come up with Astrosand, too.

Bet you didn’t know a flaming queen would know something about sports? I just don’t talk about them. When the game is over, it’s over, much like my relationships.

Back to straight men. As you know, I am taking Krav Maga, and as usual with my obsessive compulsive personality, I have rearranged my schedule, so I can take a class every other day because God forbid I should miss one, or I would end up doing my Wonder Woman circles and have a mini-nervous breakdown. I could give Rain Man a run for his money.

What this class has done is really expose me to straight men in a group setting, and it is fun to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. The last time I was around so many straight men in a group setting was when I played football, but that was a long time ago in a universe far, far away. I always played center with the quarterback's hands always up my crotch. No wonder I miss the game so much.

There may be some gay men in the Krav Maga class, but I’ll be damned if I can figure them out. I have the worst gaydar of anyone on the planet with the exception of my friend Charles. He compensates for his bad gaydar by assuming all men are gay and then figuring out who is straight.

How bad is my gaydar? When I lived in Mount Pleasant, I had a neighbor, cute guy, who was always working in his yard shirtless and had the complete gay look. We would talk every time Serena and I would walk by, and he would chat with me when he walked by my place. I asked him to dinner, and he said, “What is this about? You know I am straight.”

I answered, “I know you’re straight, I was just asking if you wanted to grab a bite sometime.” As I walked away, I cursed myself for once again having bad gaydar. And honey, this is the least embarrassing situation in which I have found myself.

So here I am in this class, and I have taken classes at all different times, so I have been exposed to many straight men or so I assume. There are also quite a few women in these classes, but with one exception, I am sure they are all straight. My lesbigar is much better than my gaydar. After all, I drive two lesbian magnets.

Granted this is a self-defense class, but I cannot be the only person in this class who is taking it for its fitness benefits, or do all these people find themselves in situations every weekend where they need to defend themselves in a fight? The instructors always talk about bar fights.

“OK, you find yourself in a bar, and a guy throws a punch at you. This is how you deflect the punch.” They speak as if everyone goes out on Saturday night and finds himself in the middle of a brawl. My favorite was the instructor who said, “Last Saturday, I was at the Green Turtle, and this guy wanted to fight me. He went into a wrestling stance, so I kicked him in the face.”

Who are these people? You kicked a guy in the face? Do all straight men have to learn these skills? Is this why in straight bars they use plastic cups and in gay bars they use fine crystal?

I find all this fascinating. Do straight men go out looking for trouble? Do they grunt like Tim Allen? Maybe it is because they don’t shave their balls. Having all that hair down there must make them angry.

Gay men don’t get into fistfights. In all the years I went to gay bars, I only saw one act of violence. A guy threw a beer bottle at his boyfriend during an argument. He missed because he threw like a girl. Everyone scooted out of the way, and he was escorted out. No punches were thrown, and we went about our business and continued dancing to C&C Music Factory’s latest hit. I think they only had one hit.

But, here is my theory. Straight men are very possessive of their girlfriends. If a guy even sees another guy looking at his girlfriend, he immediately feels threatened and goes into attack mode and what culminates is a fistfight. For gay men, if another guy looks at your boyfriend, you feel flattered because he is obviously jealous of what you have, and what culminates is a threeway. So you see, straight men use their fists, and gay men use their penises.

When straight men do a threeway, their biggest concern is crossing swords. For gaymen, it is the lighting.

Another thing I have never understood is why straight men like me so much. Seriously, other than middle-aged Jewish women, since my college days, this has been one of my best demographics. I have not been in the closet since Mary Tyler Moore tried three times to launch a variety show, so they know I am of the pink persuasion. The instructors know I am a flamer. One of them, a creative writing major in college, just bought my latest novel. They never have a problem touching me when showing me the proper way to throw a punch or kick a guy in the face. I have noticed they are hesitant to touch any of the other guys in the class. I am also the guy who took ballet and modern dance from the only two straight instructors in South Florida. They loved me.

See why my gaydar is so screwed up? I don’t know if they are being friendly or coming on to me. Even at my jobs, the straight guys always love me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am comfortable in my own skin and can talk auto mechanics and sports with the best of them. I confuse them. Who knows?

But, as much as they love me, I will never fully understand them, and yesterday, I really was confused.

The subject at the end of the class was what to do if your opponent has a knife? Seriously? Are these guys going out every Saturday night and reenacting scenes from West Side Story? Oh my God! I get it now! Oh, wait a minute; it can’t be that easy.

Anyway …

The instructor told us how many people are stabbed and don’t realize the attacker had a knife until it is all over because it happens so fast. Then he talked about these knives you can pull out of your pocket that open immediately. He asked, “How many of you carry a knife to work?”

There was a show of about eight hands. Some of the people in the class are in law enforcement, but don’t they use guns? He then said he has co-workers (notice the plural) at his day job who play with their knives all day.

I had to ask, “Where in the hell do you work that people are playing with knives?” He just smiled.

Can you imagine walking by a co-worker’s desk and seeing him play with his switchblade? Maybe, If you are a receptionist in a meth lab.

One cannot enter the government building where I work with a peanut butter sandwich without being questioned because apparently the biggest threat to national security is peanut butter bombs.

A few weeks ago, CVS had a sale on batteries – buy one get one free. I ran over there at lunch time, and I bought six packages of batteries. Upon entering the building, I was questioned as to why I bought so many batteries and why I was bringing them into the building as if it is any of their damn business.

“They were on sale.”

“But sir, I don’t understand why you need so many?”

“I'm single, and I don’t get out much.”

They let me go through. Yes, I buy a lot of batteries.

So, bringing a knife to work would be completely out of the question. Or would it? I think I’ll put a cleaver in my backpack tomorrow and see what happens.

If you play with knives at work, follow me, get on my email list, tell your friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Was the Salesman Pretty?

One of my favorite episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond was when Raymond bought a vacuum cleaner for a door-to-door saleslady, and Debra asks if she was pretty. He says, “Yes, but you should see this machine.”

I once read that good looking people make the best sales people, but in the same article, it said that good looking people also make the worst telemarketers because they are not used to rejection.

As the saying goes, “you have a face made for radio.”

To be clear, I have nothing against unattractive people. I firmly believe that anyone with the right grooming and wardrobe can be attractive. If you take a good look at unattractive people, you will notice they have done everything possible to make themselves unattractive. This is especially true with many teenagers who adopt hairstyles and make-up applications that do nothing to make them good looking, oftentimes achieving a repulsive effect.

If it were not true that anyone can make his or herself attractive then how come on Good Morning America they can make over some shluub in an hour? The results are usually phenomenal with one exception. The dresses. They get the hair and make-up right, and if they put the woman in slacks, she comes out looking damn good, but who picks out the dresses? It’s as if they raided the dumpster behind the Goodwill Thrift Store for the rejects.

Another point is that attractiveness has nothing to do with weight. I have seen the most beautiful fat people and the ugliest skinny people, and every one of them either worked to make themselves attractive or just crawled out of bed wearing an “I don’t give a shit” T-shirt.

I have been told I am attractive since I was a little boy by only one particular demographic – middle-aged Jewish women. The yeantas love me. I have worked to maintain my looks for my demographic by doing a nightly ritual that involves the mixing of Oil of Olay with formaldehyde and sleeping in a hyperbolic chamber. Oh honey, this doesn’t just happen. And although I don’t wear the most fashionable clothes, I also never go out looking sloppy. I don’t wear jeans, and I never even go to the grocery store without hair and wardrobe in proper order and a healthy layer of moisturizer on my face. And, the middle-aged Jewish women still wink at me in the produce section while squeezing their melons.

I also have the cleanest shoes in town. My friend Dean always asks me, “Do you still wear spotless tennis shoes?”

When your feet don’t touch the ground, it is easy to keep your shoes clean.

I even look spotless when I go to Krav Maga class. I always win best hair.

In high school, I sat in 11th Grade homeroom and watched as every boy was nominated for the Homecoming Court except me. I wasn’t the guy whose name was scrawled in some girl’s notebook, although through Facebook, I did find out a former male classmate had a crush on me. To think I could have had a better time at the prom.

Since my look is an acquired taste, I have never been called sexy or hot, but then again, sexy and hot have nothing to do with looks as much as it has to do with essence. Have you ever noticed there are some plain people whose bones you want to jump in public and some very good looking people whom you wouldn’t consider boning even if there was a monetary reward in the end?

I have a friend who is attractive, but not what one would call a knock-out, yet everyone who says hello to him wants to screw him. It is funny to watch how guys react to being introduced to him. He doesn’t have a killer body or model hair or even the snazziest wardrobe, but he must put out a scent that is a mixture of a porterhouse steak and musk (I stole that from the Golden Girls). I think I am the only person in the world who is immune to his lure.

I am glad I am not sexy or put out a natural fragrance. I don’t know how I would handle the responsibility of having sex with so many people. Oh the burden my friend must bear.

Although I state anyone can be attractive with just a little effort, there are those who have a natural beauty that is just breathtaking. You know the type, male or female, they walk by, and you just cannot help but stare at them. If they say hello to you, you exhibit the symptoms of a mild stroke. You know you do.

However, I don’t.

What I do is flirt.

I know there isn’t a chance in hell one of God’s perfect creatures will rock my world, so I figure I have nothing to lose, so I flirt. And I can flirt with the best of them.

But sometimes, my flirting gets me in trouble.

Take Valentine’s Day. Seriously, take Valentine’s Day and never let me have to live through it again.

On the way home from work Valentine’s Day night, I performed my Milton is alone on a special day ritual. I stopped and bought a bucket of fried chicken, with the intent of eating every damn piece of succulent meat then having a large piece of cake for dessert. And of course, watching some TLC show about the morbidly obese afterward. Sometimes, I don’t even use a plate; I just stand over the sink and throw the bones into the disposal.

If I spend any more special days alone, I will be on one of those TLC shows as they slice away a wall of my trailer and carry me away on a flatbed.

I arrived home with my chicken and cake and immediately took Esmeralda out for a walk. As we turned the corner, I spotted a guy in a winter coat similar to mine who was wearing a badge and holding a clipboard, and he was one of the beautiful people. He was no older than twenty-five, no taller than five-six, with short brown hair and a smile that would make angels sing.

All of you would have had a stroke.

I flirted.

With my brightest smile, I asked, “What are you selling?”

He said, “Look, our coats match.”

See, even some beautiful people have questionable taste.

As it turns out, he was selling some kind of alternative provider for my electricity that was going to save me 1.7 cents a kilowatt per something or other. It sounded good. OK, it sounded wonderful coming from his beautiful mouth. I gave him my address.

Fifteen minutes later, he was knocking on my door.

I said, “Your wife must be mad about you working on Valentine’s Day.”

He didn’t respond, instead getting into his shpiel.

We sat at my dinette while he explained what I was getting and how for a year I would be getting my electric bill as usual but my power from a competitive supplier, and five minutes later, I was signing a contract while looking into his beautiful brown eyes. Yet, I still didn’t know what the hell he was selling.

I also noticed something else since I rarely get a chance to look at the face of someone half my age. There wasn’t a blemish, a line, a wrinkle, a crease, not one flaw at all.

God, was I ever that young?

He also told me he sells health supplements that are organic through his side business. I told him to come by and tell me about those as well.

Interestingly, I didn't want to bone him, just look at him.

Then, he was gone, and I still didn’t know what the hell I just bought.

Later that evening as I stood above the sink eating my fried chicken, Esmeralda looked at me and asked in Beagleeze, “Was the salesman pretty?”

If you buy from only good looking people, or you find yourself attractive, follow me, link to me, tell your pretty friends.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Men Are Assholes, and They Don’t Know What They Want

This comes with a warning: Never date a writer … or a reality star.

I have been single for a long time. My longest relationship lasted exactly one year. I moved in to his house on June 21, 1993, and I moved out on June 21, 1994. He was a raging alcoholic. 

With the exception of that year, I have lived alone for more than a quarter century, which is amazing since I am only twenty-nine. You just tasted part of your lunch from yesterday didn’t you?

As you know, living in a garage-level (I still refuse to call it a basement) apartment in DC was not attractive to potential suitors, and apparently living in a luxury apartment in Rockville didn’t quite do the trick either although …

There was the six-week relationship in Rockville with the Jewish boy who wasn’t “out” and never invited me to spend time with him and his friends although I included him in everything. After giving this potential relationship my all, I knew I couldn’t give anymore when we were at the movies, and he saw a cousin of his. He screamed then pointed at me and yelled, “Stay here.” Then with arms flailing and his feet not touching the ground, he ran out to their car to chit chat while I waited on the sidewalk. When he was done kibitzing, he returned to me, and I refused to speak to him.

“What’s wrong?”

“You pointed at me and told me to stay as if I were a dog.”

“Oh, well they don’t know I’m gay.”

“Seriously? The way you ran to their car? There were squirrels in the trees pointing at you and yelling fag.”

Then, I imitated him running to the car, to the horror of him and the amusement of everyone in line for the movie. Needless to say, we did not pick out china patterns after that, nor did we see the movie.

Prior to that, I dated the forty-year-old virgin. Well, not quite dated. We would go out several times a year because he thought I was funny and would laugh at everything I said. I kind of like having an audience. But, there is no future in a relationship based on a Jew being a ham. Did I mention he was a virgin? Do the math.

Soon after arriving in Washington in 1997, I met Frankenstein at the Pride Festival (he was incapable of human emotion). We dated for eight months. He would travel all the time and never invite me to accompany him, usually on the weekends, yet I stuck it out because I was desperate to be in a relationship, until a friend asked one night, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life with him?” I broke up with him the next day.

There was my other Jewish boyfriend, the one my mother adored. He dumped me on my birthday in 1999 because he didn’t want to be attached on New Year’s Eve.

With such a lovely dating history, I made up my mind at that point to quit actively seeking love, and I also realized I was happier when single.

Over the next decade, there was the guy who wanted to spend time with me – in my apartment, but not in public. The Jew who freaked out at six weeks when my friends invited us to dinner. He and apartment boyfriend hooked up after that when they discovered their mutual love of bondage.

There was the one who declared after I found out he was dating someone else that he could not see me exclusively because if he did he would fall in love with me, and he swore he wouldn’t fall in love again. He and the other guy he was dating recently celebrated eight lovely years together. Funny, I was dating him five years ago.

My favorite was the one in witness protection. He couldn’t remember how to spell his first name, and his condo looked staged. There were no pictures of family or friends, just pictures that came with the frames. He also couldn’t remember his age or where he worked. However, he was the best of all of them in bed and still is.

I resigned myself to believe my mother was right when she declared I would die alone. When I left the drunk to live on my own again, she said, “You are better off living by yourself.” I wanted to say make up your mind. But my living alone saved her from explaining who my roommate was to all her friends, who, ironically, knew I was gay.

Over the last year, I went on two dates. Yes, two dates. I also had dinner with the virgin and the guy in witness protection, who is still the best one in bed and a great conversationalist even though I know nothing of his life prior to 2003. Hey, a guy has to eat.

I figured that moving into a trailer park was not going to help me hook Mr. Right. What gay man wants to date trailer trash? Boy was I in for a surprise – or wasn’t I?

Twenty some years ago, I walked into the Oar House in Norfolk, Virginia, and my friend Joe Moore, the best looking guy in Norfolk (may he rest in peace), said to Christopher Lance (may he also rest in peace),“Watch out for that one; he’s husband shopping.” If you watched porn in the 1980s, you know who Christopher Lance was. His real name was Bobby Slack. We dated for a bit. And now you know who said that about me and to whom.

As I have always said, I apparently was not a good shopper.

A part of me always thought that my living situations, apartment dwelling to be exact, were handicapping my prospects. With that in mind, mobile home living was not going to improve the situation, but I am happiest when I am single, so I didn’t care.

So, here is how it all happened. I was on a dating sight (I keep putting myself out there), and no, not Manhunt or M4M or Adam4Adam or FuckeMeTonight (actually that one is made-up, but feel free to steal it if you want to). I saw this profile a while ago, but for some reason, I decided to send a note one day, and it went like this.

“I’ll bet everyone tells you how hot you are.”

The following day, I got “Actually, no. Do you really live in a mobile home? And do you really own two AMCs and a Rambler?”

There was a link to my blog on the site. Well, I figured that would be the end of it, and honesty was the best policy.

“Yes, I live in a mobile home, and I drive two AMCs and have a Rambler in restoration.”

And the response was:

“Cool. It is on my bucket list to live in a mobile home, and a few weeks ago, I went to look at an AMC Matador wagon.”

Opportunity only knocks once, so I responded:

“Do you want to do dinner some time? Here is my number 1-800-CYNICAL.”

He called, and we talked. More importantly, he made me laugh. We then talked daily for the week leading up to the date, and he impressed me by not doing the one thing that drives me crazy – sexting.

I found out he only dates guys who own dogs because only they understand about caring for something and about how one needs to be home for the dog at certain times. Yes, he has a dog.

I don’t like being teased. Guys tend to “sext” a lot before a date, and then the date happens, and nothing happens. Besides, at my age, I have had enough sex. I need someone I can talk to and spend time, without looking at my watch.

The date night arrived. It was great. And in case you are wondering. He did not look like his pictures. He looked even hotter in person. That is a surprise I can live with.

We had been dating for more than a month, when I met his crazy family at the fancy restaurant with the two different colored napkins.

If had known that all I needed to do to find romance was become a Gay Jew in a Trailer Park, honey, I would have done this twenty years ago!

Until …

A little history and some psychology for you. At six weeks into a relationship, one knows if he is falling for someone or not. It is usually at this point that several things happen. One of the guys admits he is falling in love. One of the guys dumps the other one because he is afraid of falling in love. One of the guys fakes depression to sort of get out of the relationship without having the balls to admit he just doesn’t want to continue.

I dumped my first boyfriend. I was twenty-five, and I freaked out at six weeks into the relationship and was afraid of falling in love (although I didn't understand that at the time). However, I did it in person, not over the phone or with a letter (this was pre-internet). We have since reconnected on Facebook, we are both still single, and I haven't aged a bit.

In the above relationships, two of them ended right at the six week mark, and in all three, the other party went into a depression, then either disappeared or wouldn’t admit they wanted to end it. I gave each a chance, and in the end, I had to be the man with the balls in the relationship.

To all you guys reading this. If you are done or you don’t want to continue, have the fucking balls to come out and say so. Yes, you will break someone’s heart, but that is better than making someone think he did something wrong or terrible. People deserve honesty.

And bitch, if you are going to date a writer, you really need to watch what you do.

So, here is what happened with Mr. Wrong. Yes, we will call him Mr. Wrong.

After the dinner with his family, he asked why I looked uncomfortable for about five minutes at the table. I didn’t recall looking uncomfortable. I was listening to the conversation, and since he worked for his sister, they started talking about work. What could I add? Politely, I listened. However, he dwelled on that five minutes for more than I thought was necessary. I didn’t tell him that. I let it go. It wasn’t that important to me nor worth discussing.

I had a good time, and that was all that needed to be said. Why analyze the evening?

Now, I may jump around here a few times, so bear with me, I have a lot of points to make.

The one relationship where I lived with my partner for a year was filled with arguing, screaming and drama, which is why it didn’t last. His other relationships lasted a minimum of five years because apparently that is what made them tick.

I refuse to be in a relationship filled with yelling, screaming, hysterics and most of all, drama. I grew up in a house filled with yelling, screaming, hysterics, hitting, and drama. I also grew up around alcohol and drug abuse. I avoid these things in my life. When dating someone, I won’t engage in ridiculous arguments over ridiculous things.

For example, when Mr. Wrong kept asking about the five minutes of silence from me at the dinner, I just said, I was listening because that was what I was doing. Some men would have responded, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this. What is your problem?” And looking back, I really think he wanted me to make this five minutes of listening at the table into some dramatic moment.

At another point in the conversation at the dinner, he asked me about the BMWs at the auto show I attended that afternoon. My response was, “I didn’t look at the BMWs. They all look alike to me. I like cars with character.” I did see the looks from everyone at the table when I said that.

For the record, I have never driven a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi. Surprisingly, I don’t feel deprived.

Unlike me, Mr. Wrong had been in long-term relationships – three of them, two for three years and one for ten. He never talked much about the first one, but apparently number two was his supervisor at work who seduced him on a business trip. They stayed together in a tumultuous relationship that ended when Mr. Wrong found out the man was engaging in scat with other men. This should have been red flag number one for me.

I had to ask him if he kissed Mr. Scat Supervisor and how long it had been since he had. Who wants to kiss a shitty mouth?

The ten-year relationship, which ended three years ago, was with a nasty drunk, according to Mr. Wrong, who was the good guy in the house (they always are and we all know there are two sides to everything). Ten years with a nasty drunk – makes you wonder.

This should have been red flag number two. Mr. Wrong obviously thrived on drama. But even a drama queen has his limits, and the relationship ended when the police had to be called to break up an argument.

I am not saying I am perfect, far from it. I know my flaws and that I can be difficult. I like being in control, I am set in my ways, I act like Joan Crawford when it comes to keeping my house, and I am not easily impressed. I also don’t bring a lot of excitement to a relationship. I just want someone with whom I can enjoy spending time, engaging in conversation, and laughing a lot. I am not going to stir up drama for the sake of stirring up drama.

Now, we also need to look at one other aspect of Mr. Wrong’s prior life. He not only lived on the A list, he lived beyond his means on the A list in two major Midwest cities. He drove the fanciest cars, lived in the biggest houses and wore only designer clothes. The exact opposite of me. And you know that none of those things matter to trailer trash like me.

However, three years ago, Mr. Wrong lost his job in the recession, then his house, moved into an apartment in a new city for a new job, and lost that one as well, and if I counted correctly, lost another one in there somewhere. His ex of ten years somehow also ended up in that new city with a new boyfriend with whom he is still partnered.

As I mentioned, Mr. Wrong works for his sister, and she gave him a small cottage to live in, while he figures out his next move. He has been figuring it out for more than two years. I’ll never forget my first visit to the cottage. I thought it was adorable, but I did notice the remnants of the prior life, mainly the huge artwork on the walls, and the closet filled with more clothes than the wardrobe department on the set of Dynasty. He had more than twenty designer suits, dress shirts out the ass, shoes, shoes and more shoes. I told him when I walked in there, I felt as if I should act like Ethel Mertz at Gimbels Basement, clawing through the racks.

There was a list of goals in the closet including buy a Porsche and be in a long-term relationship. Yes, I thought for a minute I might just be a goal. Another red flag? It was in the back of my mind.

I have to say something about expensive artwork. Why is it always so fucking huge? Who has walls that big? Also, why is it usually so ugly? Just because something costs a lot, doesn’t make it pretty.

As a Jew, I was taught art is what matches your couch.

I did not comment on his artwork, well not exactly. There was this painting in his bedroom of a woman’s eyes that took up the whole wall. He told me the artist picks someone in the background in a famous painting and creates a painting from some aspect of that person’s face. Whatever, I felt as if she was staring at us all night. The damn thing was ten feet wide and four feet high. Seriously!

But none of this difference in priorities bothered me because he appeared not to be bothered by it.

From the day after the first date, he would text me thirty to forty times a day. I am not exaggerating. It was actually fifty to sixty, but I didn’t think you would believe me. We would talk for an hour every night. He told me at one point he was starting to really like me, and that was before the second date.

By the third date he texted he missed me. That should have been a red flag.

On New Year’s Eve, the third holiday in a row I spent alone this year, he had a preplanned trip to a ski resort in California. This was the weekend after our first date (yes, I am still jumping around, but I have to make some more points). I decided not to text or talk to anyone as I was a little down. Everyone I knew was out of town, and here I was alone on New Year’s Eve – again!

He texted me about five times, and I was getting a little sick of it. So, I texted back that I was going to bed, and I would talk to him in the morning because I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Then he called. I didn’t answer. Then he called again. I finally answered because it was the only way to make him stop. I didn’t want to shut off my phone because if there were an emergency, I would have to wait for it to boot up.

During that conversation, he informed me that he was an “overcommunicator”and that I should not shut him out as he will worry and we should talk out anything or feelings we have. We had not been on our second date yet.

This should have been red flag number … OK, I lost count here.

The texting and talking continued for six weeks solid. Then one day it stopped. It didn’t slow down; honey, it stopped. And it stopped when he was supposedly on the road to his former Midwest City for a dental appointment because he loved his dentist and didn’t want to switch. I wondered if she would address his slight bad breath problem?

I thought he had an accident or was lying dead in a ditch somewhere. I texted him mid-day asking if he was OK. No response. Then I called. No response.

Then he texted, “At the gym, will chat latter.”

What the fuck?

We didn’t chat. I called again two hours later. I got a text. “I don't want to talk or text anyone. I am down on my luck, and I don’t know where to turn. I have to figure out my next move. My luck is running out.”

I responded, “Remember when on New Year’s Eve, you told me not to shut you out? Well, you shouldn’t do that to me. I am here to listen.”

He responded, “Thanks. I didn’t want to burden you.”

And, I never heard from him again … until ...

After two days of silence, I sent the following. “Dear Mr. Wrong. This is so typical. Six weeks into a relationship, the guy gets depressed then dumps me. I can see the writing on the wall. I will save you the trouble. Good bye, good luck, I am done. Milton.”

He responded, “Wow … ok, this is for the best. It was never about you. Have a good life.”

If he really did want to continue seeing me, he would have called to talk me out of it, but the son of a bitch did not have the balls to call me on the phone and just say, “I really don’t want to do this anymore” or “I want to move on” or “You suck in bed, and I need more.” I know I am lousy in bed, so this wouldn't have been a good argument.

This pussy took the coward’s way out and forced my hand.

Now, you can imagine all the crap that went through my head. First of course, was what did I do?

I really hate being fucked with. Don’t tell me you miss me and you are really beginning to like me and come on super strong with constant communications every day if you have no intention of following through for the long haul. Fuck with someone else. I don't like being test-driven.

If he was so worried about his finances, why was he taking ski trips all over the country? We have excellent skiing right next door to us. Did I tell you one of those trips was with his ex and his new partner? He invited me to go, but it was mid-week, and I cannot take three days off from work with only a day’s notice.

So, my thought was that although he says living in a trailer is on his bucket list, he just couldn’t see himself with trailer trash as a partner, especially one who was not impressed with who has what and what they can or cannot afford.

Then I noticed he changed his online profile pics on the dating site the next day. That is when I realized what was really going on.

His goal was to be in a long-term relationship again, but what he wants is another drama-filled screamfest with the police being called out once a week, and I’ll bet he wants that with someone who can keep him in a lifestyle in which he wants to become accustomed.

He can’t handle a healthy relationship. Few, if any, men can. I refuse to become a nasty drunk or take a dump in another man’s mouth in order to find love. Believe me, there was a time I would have done anything, but never anything involving the urinary or digestive tract.

The real problem is I will never know what really happened because he refused to talk on the phone, but frankly, I don't care anymore. I will wonder from time to time, but I won't care.

I have always thought I was flawed because no one has ever fallen in love with me or to be more exact, no one has ever allowed himself to fall in love with me. However, this six week affair affirmed something I have known for a long time.

Men are assholes, and they don’t know what they want ... and somehow, I figure I, too, fit into that equation.

And yes, I do hope he reads this.

If you are husband shopping, follow me, get on my email list, share me with your friends but don't tell me you miss me.