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You and he arrive at the Bistro at the same time. You slowly dine on appetizer after appetizer. About halfway through, you unknowingly and accidentally honor the ancient Chinese tradition of
(obviously the phonetic) when you spontaneously feed him a morsel of shrimp with your chopsticks, thereby sealing your happy futures together. Three hours later, you both know you are the other’s “other.” You kiss sweetly and tenderly when you arrive at your cars, oblivious of the passers-by. You go home, realizing it’s too late to call me, and settle in your bed. Delicious sleep lulls, then overcomes.
Margaret Atwood wrote:
You fit into me
Like a hook into an eye.
A fish hook.
An open eye.
That's the long and short of it, an accurate depiction of any relationship. The absolute feeling of fitting together, a metaphoric connection, defying words: it was and will be always. Yet, there's that realization that no attachment is free from being and causing hurt. We've been pretty lucky in that respect; our conflicts have been short-lived and quickly resolved. Both of us have gotten off the hook with little residual scarring. What's next? Who knows? There's always the potential of "maybe."
“Maybe” is one of my favorite words. It is so rich in possibility and so reluctant with commitment. It is that buffer between plan and reality, intension and outcome. It is the one answer that is always acceptable because the listener connotes from it what he or she wants to.
But it goes beyond being a word: Maybe is a state of mind, even a way of life, placing us all at the threshold of potential, coincidence, opportunity, and luck. I know that you might not think that any of this is important, much less profound, but one day… maybe.
There is nothing like wiling away hot summer hours in a dark movie theater. Except when the movies are marginal and can’t stand up to multiple viewings. I’ve seen
The Sum of All Fears
The Bourne Identity
, and just about every movie that I want to see. But I don’t feel a desire to see any of them again, so I’m stuck waiting for what’s coming out next.
Last year was different:
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
was so good I saw it five times, so there was always something to sit in the dark for.
deny Me and be doomed
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
is on my Top-10-Of-All-Time Film List because it is challenging and open to multiple interpretations. I like movies that don’t pander and that are willing to leave questions unanswered and situations unresolved. But not all of my favorites are like this; some of them are on my list because they provide a unique insight into life, as I perceive it.
Other films on my list (in no particular order):
A Room with a View
Y Tu Mama Tambien
This is Spinal Tap
Elvis and Me
When I was four years old,
Follow that Dream
was filmed in Ocala, Florida, and two carloads of my family went to watch one day.
There is a photograph on my soon-to-be Web site: I am standing in front of Elvis. He is about to put his hand on my head. I am topless.
Several weeks later, my mother took our neighbor to the airport; Elvis and his entourage were leaving. He brought his face close to mine, lowered his sunglasses to the end of his nose, and said, “You wanna go with me, baby?”
Pets I Miss
Kyrie - sweet, black little girl cat who lived to be 20 years old. When she died, I had had her for half of my life. My cousin found her under a car.
PawKwee Kitty - big white male with buff ears and tail. He looked like he had eyeliner on, which emphasized his light blue eyes. I found him in a box that someone had left by a telephone booth in front of a store.
Zeta - sweet, longhaired, soft gray kitty with a big fluffy tail. I found her, tick-infested and skinny, at a park.
In November 1972, when I was 15 years old, I saw Elton John in concert for the first time.
was newly released, a follow-up to the phenomenal
Madman Across the Water
. The $8 ticket bought general admission, so my friend (actually not a friend, but a "responsible" adult - a pot-smoking, hippie teacher at the private Christian school I attended - that I persuaded to drive me in exchange for her ticket) and I arrived early to secure good seats.
Many years later, on my first trip to NYC, I shook Elton's hand at Madison Square Garden.
Things I Think Sometimes (Randomly Listed)
1. There's nothing worse than a reformed anything.
2. Jeannie at The Hub (Tampa, FL) makes the best Bloody Mary on the planet.
3. Your friends will help you, but you have to let them.
4. Love is a lie that everyone wants to believe.
5. Winning the Lotto will make my life better. A lot better.
6. Stick shifts are better than automatics.
7. Feeding wild animals brings good karma.
8. Cats have napping down to a science.
9. Sundays are good day for movie hops.
10. Night is the time for swimming.
Ties That Bind
Baseball is a game of elegant simplicity, yet complex strategy. Games are not restricted by the rigors of time, but are allowed to develop at their own pace, find their own rhythm.
Baseball is a volatile game where a single hanging fastball can eclipse 8 and 2/3rd innings of shut out. Baseball has no hiding places. Every mistake will be seen again and again, up-close, from several vantage points and will become a permanent blot on the scorecard.
Many were disappointed by last night’s All-Star game, but it could have been worse: the AL could have won.
It’s a Sin
After fifty-three years at the same location, The Hub, my favorite bar, is closing its doors and reopening in a different place a block away. This is happening because a Presbyterian church has purchased the building that houses the bar and plans to raze it for a parking lot.
Anyone who’s visited downtown Tampa knows that parking is never a problem on Sundays. Tampa turns into a veritable ghost town at about 5:30pm every weekday, so parking isn’t a problem in the evenings either.
Parking lots are ugly. The Hub should not be destroyed. Shame on you.
It’s the final day of the workweek. It’s the day when new movies open. For some (unfortunately not me), it’s the day when paychecks are distributed. For most (not me) it’s a day for looking forward to the night’s activities, to spending time with friends, to drinking, to living.
But all I can think about right now is going home and sleeping. I do not particularly enjoy socializing (although drinking is always nice and Friday is the best night for the Blue Penguin, a scanky little bar with cheap drinks and (mostly) bad karaoke). Tonight, I want to sleep.
It poured rain almost all day, but my friend John and I had fun anyway. We started at Sweet Tomatoes for lunch, then did a movie hop. We saw
Reign of Fire
, then hopped over to
Road to Perdition
Reign of Fire
Later, after refreshing ourselves, we went to The Chambers, a newish gay club. We danced, watched a drag show, relished the strippers, and danced some more. After, at about 3 a.m., we headed to La Terisita for breakfast. I always enjoy the time we spend together. A day spent with a friend is always good.
What $1 Buys
The stripper—tall, muscular, young, and beautiful—stood still, smiling down from the perch of the runway as the middle-aged man deliberately reached between the stripper’s legs, behind the hefty endowment that stretched the white t-back underwear to near transparency, and slowly fingered his perineum, small circles with his middle finger. A group of men, and some women, stood watching, but there was no physical response in the stripper. Sure, he was hard, evidenced by the rigid outline, but no more so afterwards. The man slipped a single into the elastic band and the stripper moved on.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s in a name, just consider Dubya. You can only wonder where he would be if his father hadn’t been president. Listening to him speak, it’s a stretch to believe that he would have ever achieved any level of success on his own. Administrations and alumni of Yale and Harvard must be mortified; their stellar reputations are blemished by his mangled grammar and questionable ethics. Now, this master of hypocrisy is finally coming under the glare of public scrutiny. This will be his legacy: He will be remembered as one of the worse presidents ever.
“Rumor has it”
That’s what we would jokingly say when she would grab her toys and run with them almost 10 years ago when she was a puppy. Now, her huge Rottweiler head rests on the floor most of the time, especially when she is guarding the food bowl. She gets up slowly and walks with a slight limp from the arthritis.
Today, we found out she might have cancer. Tonight, we plan to take her swimming-one of her favorite activities. In the water, her stumpy tail wagging, she moves gracefully and easily. Her old legs don’t betray her there.
1 # Off
I got lucky last night, but I didn’t realize it until I checked my lottery tickets this morning. Florida Lottery’s Mega Money game draws four numbers from a pool of 32, plus another number, the megaball, from a 32-number shoot. I got three numbers plus the megaball for a $351 payoff.
While I’m happy for the win (and I certainly could use the money), I can only wonder how my life would have changed if I had that one other number. The payoff would have been over $450K. What a twist of fate that would have been.
Lottery of Love
If you want to win the lottery, you have to buy tickets. Face it: most will be losers. Even though you are disappointed with losing, you know that if you want to win, you have to keep buying tickets without getting discouraged by all the losers you buy.
If you want to fall in love, you have to meet people and go on dates. Face it: most will be losers. Even though you are discouraged by the parade of losers, you know that if you want to find true love, you have to keep trying and hoping.
The Hollow Me
Between the desire and the spasm is me, always waiting to emerge from the shadow of doubt and fear before it falls and leaves nothing but delicious darkness and the irresistible desire to hide from abject rejection, the possibility of intimacy, and the embarrassment that human desires bring.
Outside this life,
(so-called) life, a world of potential lurks; I imagine that it is full and happy yet impenetrable, inviting but not welcoming. It shows its teeth, scaring me away.
Stuck between the motion and the act, the emotion and the response, I stand outside looking in.
Thirty-three years ago today, I sat in front of our console black and white television set and watched transfixed as Neil Armstrong stepped upon the moon. It seemed unreal. Looking back, it is truly amazing that we were able to accomplish something so incredibly complex using such primitive (by today’s standards) equipment.
It makes me think of the sentiment expressed at the end of
The Great Gatsby
where Fitzgerald writes about “being face to face…with something commensurate with our capacity for wonder.”
I feel sorry for kids today because they will never know the wonder we knew in 1969.
The ‘86 White Honda Accord was aimed north on I-75. The sun had just made its first appearance through a deep misty fog. The air hung heavy and wet. Being a Sunday, there was hardly any traffic, just a few 18-wheelers heading to Tampa with their loads of, of what? toys? meat? parts for Hondas? What did it matter?
Behind the wheel for four and a half hours already, Robin fought to keep her eyes from becoming fixed in road stare.
could be fatal. Especially if it lulled her to where she wanted to be: sleep.
-to be continued…
…But she couldn’t sleep. Not yet. Not until she saw him. Confronted him. He was the one that ruined everything; now she was going to see him for the first time since his arrest. She wondered what he would look like through the criss-crossed glass of the prison’s visiting area.
Just then, a dark flash drew her attention upward. What was it? The hawk clasped the Mockingbird in its talons and ripped its wings off. They fluttered to the highway in a sad final flight; the wheels of the Accord ground them into the concrete. This was an omen.
“Don’t do it,” she thought to herself as she pulled into the parking lot of the Hamilton Correctional Institution in Jasper, Florida. The internal argument ensued, as it always did. What would be accomplished? Maybe, just maybe, this would be the punctuation mark, ending a sentence that, for her, had lasted exactly five years to the day. On
day-it was a Sunday at precisely 10:13 a.m.- her life was altered, against her will, accidentally, inexcusably, by a stupid mistake made by a witless teenager. He was too dumb, really, to understand what he had done. But she didn’t care.
In 1997, a brief epidemic of convenience store robberies around the Tampa Bay area baffled police; 27 stores were robbed over five weeks. The perpetrator-described by victims as female, tall (5’11” or 6’), young (late teens), lanky, short blond hair, brown eyes-was videotaped by in-store surveillance equipment. Police released the tapes to local media, yet no one came forward with a promising lead to the identity of the robber. The criminal carried a small caliber snub-nosed revolver and, this is important (in the event you haven’t figured this out yet), never spoke a word during the hold-ups.
“Sign in, please.”
She signed in at the security station. Then came the metal detector. Then the handbag search. Then down a long, dank hall. There was no air conditioning here, and the 92° Florida summer had crept into the building and refused to leave. The hot air smelled dimly of food (meatloaf?) and urine and something akin to death, which she was familiar with. As the group of visitors walked deeper into the bowels of the building, an anxious pang sprung up, first softly then gradually more violently until her heart was racing, a muffled thud pounding rhythmically in her head. Good.
She wanted to be angry when she saw him, hoping that her rage would protect her somehow. But as she walked through the sad hallways, her anger gave way to the encroaching tide of something else. What was it? Guilt? Maybe. Remorse? Perhaps. Shame? Definitely.
wasn’t the one, after all, who decided to turn to robbery for some extra cash.
wasn’t the one, after all, who stole her father’s gun. No. Not her. She would never have done something like this. She was the good one, the honest one, the one who knew right from wrong.
She found it difficult to believe that they had been raised in the same house, by the same parents. Theirs had been a “good” family, a “traditional” family, downright Rockwellian in composition, Chomskyesque in commitment to moral responsibility. It was that upbringing that offered her no choice but to do what she did just minutes after she saw on the evening news the videotaped image caught by the surveillance camera at the Circle K store. She stared disbelieving at the frozen image and immediately recognized him, wearing her old dress and their mother’s long-forgotten wig.
“The robber is my brother.”
Sometimes pretty dogs swim during red tide. Afterwards, they float up on the shore, stinky with matted hair and yellow mean teeth. Then someone somewhere somehow picks them up and throws them back, a crash upon a distant shore and shells that crackle under tender foot, the homes of smaller creatures now disrupted and displaced. Who is the Patron Saint of the Disenfranchised? Why doesn’t he or she or it intercede on our behalf? Cruel people in the bleachers say hurtful words and laugh; their teeth are mean too. I hope their words rot like dead fish in their mouths.
I feel the hot breath on the back of my neck. The arm is draped around me, going in where I go in and out where I go out. It fits somehow. I feel the warmth behind me, the length of my body mimicked by the length of another body, legs against legs, feet intertwined, back against front. Two people in bed. Together.
I don’t like this. It feels like suffocation, like meatloaf smothered by blood red gravy. I want cool pillowcases and unshared sheets and sleepless nights in the dark thinking of being alone and wondering if it’s right.
Its menacing laugh will haunt you, follow you down the hall, lurk under your bed. Don’t think you can escape it, hide from it, or kill it. You can’t. It will make a fool of you sooner or later. It will make your life miserable, suck up the last drop of your hope and then wait patiently for you to drop some morsels of faith on the floor. It will lap them up too. It will consume you. It will never be sated.
Yet, you cannot wait to throw yourself at it, a human sacrifice to the greedy god, Love.
My throat is a cage of tears. A hot coal is lodged in my esophagus. My chest is stuck in a vice and the screws turn with every word left unsaid. A thousand- pound weight hangs around my neck. Yellow jackets have constructed a hive in my stomach; sometimes they sting me for laughs. My hands are fists of anger. My eyes peer through webs of blood and rage.
Silence hangs like an eager noose. A single word uttered might land me in hell.
This is the precise grammar of repression. This is what happens when the
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