Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stupid people are lucky. They wander around blithely, not noticing anything around them. They stop dead at the top of escalators, stunned immobile by the tiny brain trying to process all the new sights. They hold up the line at Gristede's looking for that penny they just know they have. And when the subway car inevitably lurches, their Starbucks always falls on the well-dressed stranger with the Dostoeyevsky novel in hand.

They've having a great time. The smart people trying to avoid them? Really, not so great.

The smart people have another disadvantage: they continually reassess themselves, always questioning which side they fall on. If they were truly smart, would idiots have so much control over their lives? Would they spend eight hours reassuring a worried eBayer that the ceramic duck he paid five bucks for will arrive at some point in time?

My friend Janice emailed me on Monday saying a hairstylist friend desperately needed models. I'm smart enough to ask a few questions: is he really a full-fledged stylist? Is he good? Does this "modeling" involve looking fierce, or a catwalk? She answers the questions to my satisfaction and I agree to let Victor cut my hair.

"So are you a student here?" is the first thing I ask him, since smart folks know their friends lie. "No, I'm a stylist," he says. "But my boss says I need to work on my communication skills."

"Oh," I say, and I await further details.

None come. "Beards look so cool when they're short, don't you think?" he says in almost a non sequitur. "Like 'Miami Vice' five o'clock shadow."

"Yeah," I reply, "but I don't have a chin, and -- " and even before I finish the sentence, my beard is gone.

I stare in the mirror. Victor stares back at me. He's glowing. I'm not.

"Let's get back to those 'communication skills,'" I say.

When you possess a presentable head of hair, you don't understand how much damage a sad one can do. Now you wander the streets, searching every face: do I look as bad as I think? You glance into every reflective surface: have five minutes in a plastic chair really transformed an attractive middle-aged man into a wash-and-wear lesbian? You try to keep your spirits up. Change is good. Different is interesting. And then you go home and lay on your bed and think, I'll just stay here until it grows back.

I flip through the magazines that piled up while I was attractive and find an item I can't resist. Joe.My.God is taking part in a reading at Rapture Cafe. I'm a big Joe fan: I envy his lifestyle, his humor, his endless supply of hunky friends. I wonder how he can post so much interesting stuff every day of the week. He'll brighten my day and make me forget I have lesbian hair.

"Scottie," the first reader, discovers he loves the limelight about five seconds into his story. Asides start to fly. "God, I should tell you about another part that I didn't write down," he says. Joe, sitting two rows in front of me, is surrounded by a buzz-cut bear entourage. Every five minutes he hustles outside for another cigarette. Bored, his photographer snaps another picture of Scottie, who's saying, "Wait -- I just remembered another part I left out."

I have hundreds and hundreds of mental buttons that make my blood pressure skyrocket with even the slightest push. Most fall under the general heading of Idiocy, and this guy's story is up to its neck in that. He meets a new man who's perfect, and he falls head over heels in love. Oddly, though, this declaration is followed by an endless line of incidents that don't sound particularly lovable. "Walter" can't cook if there's somebody else in his kitchen. At a restaurant he screams until Scottie forks over two dollars for his share of the bill. He's big, butch, and hairy . . . and has a different pair of nonprescription glasses for every day of the week. He won't leave home without his spandex, lime-green scarf.

We listeners sit rapt, waiting for the inevitable: "I thought, 'That's just too weird,' so I never called back." "I told him it was over, and went home and cried." "I ran away screaming and swore I'd never pick up a man in a bar again." Instead what we get is, "And then the next night -- "

Finally on one of these nights, they fall into bed together. "I'm a wolf," Walter declares, and he sniffs Scottie from head to toe.

"A wolf?" Scottie asks. "How are you a -- "

"SHHH!" Walter barks, then he resumes sniffing.

Scottie lays there as Walter sniffs him from head to toe. Isn't love wonderful? Scottie thinks. And then when Walter howls his orgasm, Scottie starts to think about settling down. "I love you!" he declares. "I love you with every fiber of my being!"

"I'm not ready for a relationship," Walter says. "We wolves don't like to settle down."

Scottie falls silent as tears slide down his face. The audience sits there, frozen. What to say? What to think? Should we race onto the stage and give Scottie a hug?

He continues. "And then the next night when we were in bed --" and that's when I get up to go.

I've been completely wrong, I decide. I'm an idiot. An idiot in denial. Going to a gay erotica reading and being surprised that it's crap. Being unhappy with a free haircut. Not realizing it's easier to get through Tina Turner's entourage than Joe.My.God's. Nope, I'm as stupid as the rest of them, and it's time to let my freak flag fly! I scurry out of the cafe with the thrill of nascent discovery, proudly looking left while running right, and I plow right into somebody's startled arms.

Big. Butch. Hairy. Can it happen that quickly? I wonder. Is the universe already rewarding me for embracing my true self? Words are exchanged, then phone numbers, and now I've got myself a date.

I think she might be a lesbian, but I'll let her worry about that.


riot said...

Roman, you're brilliant.

Yet Another Steve said...

Roman, you're back! Happy, happy, happy.

Do not neglect the stupid person in line at Subway who finally, after 20 minutes, reaches the counter, is asked "What'll you have?" and, startled, stares wide-eyed at the menu board and says "Uhhhhhhh....."

RomanHans said...

It was a busy day: haircut first thing in the morning, then eight hours by the duck pond in Central Park, debating whether I should drown myself. And then the reading. We New Yorkers really do have life cranked up to 11.

1904 said...

You cheered me up. I was sure those erotic readings were full of hot manly studs reading hot manly stud stuff to other hot manly studs. I didn't realize I could have lesbian hair and still go. Who knew?

David said...

Hey Roman,

I'm one of the buzzcut bear entourage that worshipfully follows Joe.My.God. to all of his events and serves as a buffer against the throngs of his fans.

Seriously, just come up and say "hello" next time. Your post was awesome and I'm formally inviting you to our annual blogger gathering next month. Details here:

Yes, "Scottie" did go on for a bit, but you missed some kick-ass dyke porn and the other readers were much more brief.

Hope to see you at GB5, and good luck with the lesbian.

1904 said...

Aw MAN, you left out the part about the kick ass dyke porn. Dude, you totally have to take David up on his offer and go hang with these guys, I will live vicariously through you. I tried repeatedly to get JoeMyGod's attention, and I am apparently SO NOT his type it's not even funny. Sigh I will live and learn through you. You HAVE to go and tell me all about it afterward. Sign me, Lonely and Envious and Far Away

RomanHans said...

David, thanks very much for the invitation. I will absolutely, positively be there.

1904, remember when we were fourteen and went to a Bowie concert and I said I'd do all the roadies if that got me through to the Man? That totally goes double here.

Joe said...

Hang on, so you didn't wait for MY story? ;)

1904 said...

Right. The Bowie concert and your clever plans that couldn't possibly go wrong that wound us up in the DRUNK TANK that night with that motorcycle gang from Tulsa. I still wake up screaming.

And you didn't stay for JOE's STORY? Dude, you're gonna have some explaining to do.

RomanHans said...

1904, you know I still get email from Rooster.

Wow: first Gawker, then Slate, now Joe. Honestly, it's like opening a neighborhood crack den and having Amy Winehouse show up.

I really, really wanted to stay, but bad writing to me is like garlic is to vampires.

READER: "'Your share of the bill is two dollars!' he shouted angrily. 'You're kidding, right?' I asked questioningly. 'No, I'm perfectly serious,' he declared straight-facedly."


I went back to Rapture Cafe last night and "Scottie" was there. Sigh: I think word has filtered out. Two minutes after he spotted me he put underwear on.

Steven said...

So, how was your date with Scottie?