Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ohmigod, I didn't realize how stupid my mommy and daddy are. I assumed that because they made a living and drove cars and cooked food they had to be intelligent, but now I discover the opposite is true. They're dumb as two piles of rocks.

When I was like three minutes old I noticed they were on their cellphones all the time -- like constantly, even when we're eating dinner -- so I waved my arms and gurgled in hopes they'd buy me one. I figured it would do really cool stuff, like let me read the news or call Anderson Cooper or check stock prices easily. I cry and shriek and wail and finally they get the hint, and I swear to God I have never been so disappointed in my entire life. These cellphones that all these adults are attached to are just little plastic pieces of shit.

Believe it or not, the intellectual apogee on my new phone is a game called Find The Fruit. There's a piano mode where you hit a button and it plays a plinky little kiddie tune. And, I swear to God, if you hit another button it makes drum noises for like twenty minutes. Really. That's it. Did we learn nothing from the seventies? I guess not. I'm picturing daddy at a Led Zeppelin concert yelling, "Hey, stop singing and shut off that damn guitar and let me hear from John Fucking Bonham again!"

This horrible little gift really opened my eyes. When daddy was on his phone I was thinking he had to call work or see what was up with the flooding in southeast Asia but no, instead he's like, "I need some mental stimulation. Let's see if I can press a tiny button next to a picture of a strawberry."

Another button you hit plays a recording of Mickey Mouse. A recording. First, you've got to be an idiot to want to talk to an animated character; and second, there's something wrong in your head if you don't realize the whole dialog is canned. You say something like, "I swear to God, sometimes I find it really difficult to cope," and Mickey doesn't answer, "I'm sorry to hear that; is there someone really supportive among your friends?" It doesn't deter mommy. All the time she's talking into her cellphone like there's a sentient being on the other end. I want to say, "Well, Mommy, what's Mickey up to today?" because I'm pretty sure that like yesterday and the day before he'll be all like, "Hi, this is Mickey Mouse! How many years old are you?" But I only hold two fingers up so there ain't no chance of that.

I swear to God, this sad little gadget was the worst gift ever, and I'm not forgetting when Aunt Barbara gave me that Hello Kitty toaster cover. It truly shook me to my core. These folks are in charge of my life -- my wellbeing, my upbringing, my education -- so finding out that when times get tough they desperately need to hear a cartoon mouse squeal, "Hot diggety! It's a phone call!" and then rabbit on to nobody for the next sixty minutes makes me want to grab my rattle and hit the road.

Anyway, I decided this was a toxic situation so I came up with a plan. The next time mommy or daddy gave me a bath, I'd "accidentally" knock their phone off the side of the tub and into the water. Yes, it's a little patronizing, but I'm not exactly going to have an intellectual discussion with folks who spend half the day hitting buttons that play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Besides, this little plastic piece of crap with like three LEDs and a tinny speaker can't cost more than a cappuccino so it's no biggie there. Sure, they'll probably swear and scream and order another one but if I can get them to spend five days without chatting with a nonexistent animal maybe I'll finally get some respect for them and actually think about pooping in the toilet for a change.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Story Tapped Into An iPhone (aka 12:30 And I Can't Sleep)

Roger was my first love. I hadn't expected it: he just popped up out of the blue, this hunky figure from some Midwestern town, chosen by unknown forces to be my college roommate. Some men are gay because they love masculinity -- that's me -- and Roger was the butchest thing in San Francisco. I was entranced by his long hair and beard, his well-worn plaid shirts, and the beat-up old VW he somehow always brought back to working order.

Being heterosexual, Roger was fascinated by me for other reasons. He saw how popular I was. He saw how -- though at fifteen I was five years younger than him -- I spent every other night going to the hottest clubs in the city with a gorgeous, adventurous female, and on the other nights I'd disappear into the dark, returning as the sun came up with a smile on my face. VWs are good cars but not quite that interesting.

I admit that I suggested we have sex. But everybody was experimental back then, so it didn't seem out of line. When he finally got into bed with me, though, I didn't realize how dangerous it would be. How I'd fall for him, and how he'd decide he was straight. How he'd fall for women, and bring them to our room, and sleep with them instead of me. How upset I would get, and how the dorm administrators would ignore my pleas to GET ME OUT.

But one night it happened. I'd pictured something on the scale of From Here To Eternity, with both of us swept away in purple passion. We'd dissolve into one flesh united by heat and sweat and spit and hours later, exhausted, we'd peel ourselves apart knowing we were eternally bonded by Love.

Instead, Roger was skeptical from the beginning. He embodied the words "cold fish." He lay there waiting to see what I'd do, while I, being younger, naturally assumed he would take charge.

We fumbled around and rubbed our bodies together. At some point I think he laughed. We ejaculated and he sneered:

That's it? he said. Gay sex is just jacking off?

I couldn't predict what was coming in the next few months, but I could see the disconnect. I could see a sexual tourist racing back to the safe cave of his heterosexuality, and I could see that love would not be simple for me.

How the hell do I know? I snapped. I've just slept with two more guys than you.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Child's Letter From The North Pole


Merry Christmas! This letter fulfills all of the obligations created when your parents remitted $11 to the North Pole Communications Coalition for procurement of our Silver Package especially for you.

The Silver Package is a very thoughtful Christmas gift, though not quite as thoughtful as the Gold or Platinum package. It must have been very important for your folks to save a few dollars considering that instead of a personal note from the North Pole you're getting a mimeographed sheet from a guy who graduated from Cal State Northridge. And instead of us actually addressing you by name we'll be calling you CHILD from here on.

Anyway, CHILD, this is Marv, Santa's Community Outreach Coordinator to New York, Maine and Vermont. Hopefully you find it exciting to receive a communication from somebody who may not be one of Santa's employees but could be a independent contractor depending on how the courts decide. Sure, maybe it isn't as exciting as a note from a reindeer (Platinum package) or an elf (Gold package), but thanks to me not a single focus group on the Eastern seaboard has ever run short on muffins.

I'd like to tell you that Santa has read your letter and can't wait to visit you in person. Unfortunately, that's not part of this package. I am allowed to say that Santa has been given your note, though at the present time it's wedged between sixteen unopened Citibank statements and three subscription-renewal requests from SMITHSONIAN magazine.

I'd also like to say that Santa thanks you for your generous offer of milk and cookies, but in his own words, "I ain't eatin' no cheapskate food." After all, if your folks won't fork over three extra bucks for a Genuine North Pole postage stamp and a "Santa, Stop Here!" window sticker, what guarantee does he have that your mom won't use cheap-ass slice-and-bake cookie dough? That she won't use lard instead of butter? That she won't swap out expensive shit like pecans for moldy-ass raisins? The Santa that I know would say thanks, but, you know, why don't you just feed that shit to the dog?

Anyway, the good news is, we would like to inform you that you are provisionally off the naughty list. You would have made it onto the Nice List, but your dad would rather ruin your life than downgrade for a day to Pabst Blue Ribbon. So you spend the next few weeks laying in bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering whether you'll be showing your friends a newborn Hatchimal or a corduroy jacket from Sears. For nearly six minutes your dad can drink without thinking, "Holy God, what kind of shit is this?"

Instead of getting a note that looks like actual old-man handwriting with a genuine reindeer footprint on it, you're getting a letter on the paper you dry your hands with in the bathroom at WalMart, printed by daisy wheel. Instead of getting personalized content like, "Hello BILLY OWENS! Santa can't wait to leave presents for you at 1712 BAY RIDGE DRIVE!" your letter says "Hello CHILD! Santa can't wait to leave presents for you at UNKNOWN LOCATION!"

Other upgrades in the Gold and Platinum packages are a candy cane made by the elves, genuine reindeer food, and an autographed photo of Rudolf. But three bucks doesn't grow on trees, and Mom's been dying to smell that Vanilla Walnut Glade.

I believe I have contractually fulfilled all the provisions of this offer so I'll close now. And please don't blame your parents for this letter ending with "Best regards, Marv" instead of "With all my love, SANTA CLAUS!" After all, they put a roof over your head. It's just too bad it's not one that reindeer will be touching any time soon.

Best regards,

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Brian was the one who started it. We were on the roof catching up on gossip when Charlotte's name came up. "You know what I'm surprised you haven't noticed?" he said. "Charlotte is a total homophobe."

I laughed, assuming it had to be a joke. Brian and I were both gay and she adored both of us. It seemed so ridiculous I'd never thought anything of the sort.

"Here's an example," Brian continued. "Name some of Charlotte's gay friends."

I thought for a minute. Charlotte knew a lot of people -- most rich and gorgeous New Yorkers did. To avoid confusion, then, she chose unique descriptive identifiers and permanently stuck them in front of names. If she knew two Alberts, she might refer to one as Crest White Strip Albert and the other as Republican Albert. If she knew two Matts, she might call one Cat Tattoo Matt and the other Staten Island Matt.

I didn't know why she did this, because it got her into trouble. Gay John wasn't too thrilled when Charlotte's mother referred to somebody named Handsome John and he realized it wasn't him.

"Well," I said to Brian, "there's Gay John, Gay Scott, Gay Stuart, Gay Toshi, ...."

"You don't think that's a little weird?" he interrupted. "To specifically single out everyone who's gay? Does she do it with anybody else -- Jews, blacks, Hispanics? If she really, truly accepted gay people, would she make such a big deal out of it?"

I blew it off as inexplicable but it planted the seed in my head. I had actually noticed how often she used the word "gay." As a gay man I hardly used it at all, whereas the straight woman used it constantly. In fact, that morning she'd asked me if I wanted to go with her and her "gay husband" to a gay club for some gay drinking and gay fooling around.

Charlotte had also raised a red flag with me when I was talking with Joe and David, a middle-aged couple who lived on the fourth floor. We were whispering about her upcoming birthday when she showed up out of nowhere. "Ohmigod," she gasped, eyeing us suspiciously. "If you guys are planning a three-way, I don't want to hear about it!"

We all laughed, but after she walked away we exchanged baffled glances. We agreed that her comment wasn't just clueless -- it was patently offensive. If she'd seen a guy talking to a hetero couple she wouldn't have assumed he was going to bang both of them.

I tried to forget about the whole thing during our usual Project Runway-watching night. While I was telling Emma about my trip to Berlin, though, she started acting weird again. "A lot of guys in Berlin have rings tattooed around their forearms," I said. "And I don't know if it's true or not, but somebody told me it's coded information about fistfucking."

"Ew!" Charlotte snapped, dropping a tortilla chip.

I scowled at her. "He said, 'Those rings mark how far they've gotten their arms into another guy's ass."

"That's disgusting," Charlotte sang.

I ignored her and went for the punchline. "I told him I'd have to get a ring tattooed halfway down my index finger."

Charlotte jumped up off the couch. "THAT'S IT!" she yelled, cranking up the TV. "STOP! I'm not going to hear about this!"

"About what?" I asked. "About gay guys having sex?"


"FINE!" I shouted as I stomped toward the door. "I WILL! And you can talk about whatever the fuck you want, but you won't be talking to me!"

I slammed the door behind me, and after that Charlotte and I didn't speak for eight days. Before the fight she'd invited me to her birthday party, and when the day came I decided I'd still go. There would be enough people that it wouldn't be awkward, and I could leave a gift as a peace offering. I didn't think I'd done anything wrong but I felt kind of guilty, so when I shopped for her gift I went overboard. I went to a shop down the street that specialized in all the Brooklyn clich├ęs: everything was handmade, sustainable, and organic, from the Peruvian bags woven from hand-twisted yarn to the incense made by Patagonian tribes from fossilized yak poop.

I finally settled on a bracelet made of hand-carved beads from Namibia. It was really beautiful -- as it should have been for $320 -- with chunky tourmaline and lapis beads carved with intricate tribal designs. It was totally Charlotte: it had style, it supported indigenous people, and she wouldn't have to worry about running into somebody wearing the exact same thing.

I toted the gift to the birthday party and Charlotte spotted me the second I walked through her door. Our eyes locked. Without a word our eyes exchanged everything we needed to say: that we both felt terrible, that we'd made a horrible mistake, and that we couldn't survive another minute without making amends.

We ran toward each other in seemingly slow motion, shoving the other party guests aside. We met in the middle of the room and hugged each other like we were never going to let go. "I'm sorry," I cried. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever done. I know you're not homophobic. I was just being stupid or I had a stroke or something, and I promise I'll never bring it up again."

"Really?" Charlotte said, wiping away tears. "You promise?"

"I promise. I'll never mention it again."

We hugged once more, and when we separated I noticed that both of our eyes were filled with tears. That's the mark of a great friend, I thought. When one of you does something unbelievably stupid, it just brings you closer together.

Naturally the party was brilliant, since Charlotte's friends were all six-foot-tall Russian models or handsome Norwegian musicians. We drank and laughed until the sun went down, and then a tipsy Charlotte took center stage to unwrap all of her gifts. She gushed over a pair of shoes, a painting, and a crystal vase before she got to my offering. She shot me an excited look and I veritably glowed with pride. She tore the paper open, pulled the lid off the box, and extracted the bracelet from the box.

With fifty people watching breathlessly, she held the beaded string at arm's length, and her expression turned from glee to disgust. "Roman," she spat like a third-grade teacher, "I never stick anything up my ass."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Jokes In Ten Words Or Less

Roman numerals and an alligator band? Not on my watch.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Not Sure Why The Word "Woman" Appears Three Times In A Donald Trump Quote

[Hillary Clinton is] a really sarcastic woman. To sum up -- and I'll tell you the other thing: She's an incompetent woman. And I've seen it. She's an incompetent woman.
-- Donald Trump to CNN