Monday, November 29, 2010


I had been fighting with my boyfriend for the past couple of days. “Eat your own damned food off your own damned plate,” he snapped, I quickly withdrew my fork from his enchilada, he was an angry little fuck, I thought, I knew this when I met him. He had a lot of childhood trauma, had been mugged 3 times in the past decade, and had to go through life as a 5’4” man, but still you can’t let me taste your enchilada? After hitting his favorite Mexican restaurant, it was off to the comic book store, and then to the sneaker store, he explained that this trauma had robbed him of his childhood, I was along for the ride as he reclaimed his pre-teen years, we would be forty before we knew it.

Tomorrow was going to be dedicated to me, I had decided, Dave had come home with bags of comics, toys, and sneakers, he’d spent his paycheck like a kid blowing his allowance on stupid stuff. But in the morning, I would be getting a custom sound system installed in my new sports car. I had done all the research myself, had purchased all the best components I could afford, and now I was off to the sound system installers in Park Slope I’d heard were some of the best.

I was waiting in front of the place for about 45 minutes, the steel gate was down when I had arrived in time for my appointment. I was thinking I should leave already when the guy screeched into the slot next to me in front of the gate. My installer had arrived, he was hard-to-look-at hot. He introduced himself, pulled up the heavy metal gate with one hand as he explained that he was the preeminent sound system installer in all of Brooklyn, and told me to come back to pick up my wheels at five. When I returned that evening, he was sitting in my car admiring his work, it did sound fine, and he looked good there in the driver’s seat. We spent an oddly long time there in the driveway there in my car, but my boyfriend would be waiting outside my place any minute, so I wrote a check and asked Johnny for my car back.

I loved this car, and now that I had this primo system installed, there would be no stopping me. I roared back down Union Street, windows down, speakers loud, I wanted to see what it could do. I hit the dial that balanced the power between the front speakers and the back, and turned it all the way to the back speaker position, but the front speakers went full tilt. When I turned the dial to the front speaker position, the back speakers shook the house. The preeminent sound system installer had screwed up my installation, for a moment I was regretting not going with the stock sound system, but I reassured myself that everything would be made right. I parked the car and Dave was sitting on my stoop with his hoodie pulled up around his head, he thought he was a baller now. Sometimes out of nowhere he would start talking like a homie. He’d say “woot yoo saee” instead of “what did you say”? He’d been waiting for ten minutes, “where you been, woomone,” he said, snapping his head back, as I put the key in the front door to my lobby. It was a little hard not to laugh, he was a 5’4” white boy from Indiana, but alright. “I wanna get some chicken for dinner, you good with dat?” There wasn’t a Popeye’s in Carroll Gardens, a pro or con of the neighborhood depending on your tastes, but I ordered him some chicken wings and fried rice, and myself a steamed chicken a broccoli. He was glued to yet another basketball game on TV, yelling at the TV in ebonics, eating his chicken dinner. I went into the bathroom and gave myself a facial then went to bed while Dave was in the other room watching his double dip of Seinfeld reruns. I wondered if he would now morph from a black man into some other personae, his hood was now in the down position, he had changed into his sleep pants, eating Ben and Jerry’s with a big soup spoon. I was pretty certain he was now a seven-year old boy state. Either way, it was all good, I would go back to the sound system installer first thing when they opened and ask Johnny to make my back to front speaker snafu right.

Johnny was out in front when I got there, catching some rays like he was poolside at some Beverly Hill’s hotel. “Hey, babe – nice to see ya,” he said, his handsome face tilted upwards to soak up the skin-damaging rays.

“Look,” I told him, “you crossed some wires or something, the back is front and the front is back,” so went my diagnostic assessment. “Oh no. Did I?.” he was feeling all of his pockets for a pack of cigarettes. “Not a big deal, leave it, I’ll try and get to it by the end of the day,” he said reaching through the driver’s window to take the keys. I wasn’t sure what other business he had going, given he was sunbathing and smoking and there were no cars in the garage save for mine. But I hopped a cab to work, and got back to the garage at five on the dot.

“You’re good to go,” he grinned as he pulled the car out, “listen.” He turned the dial all the way to the back position, the back speakers went all out. He turned the dial to the front speakers, it was true, I was good to go.

As I pulled out the driveway, he pounded on the hood and stood with his fists at his waist like a super hero who had saved the day. What a stud, I thought, as I threw it into second gear down Union Street. Boy, this sound system sounded great, I was glad I hadn’t gone with that stock stuff they sell you with the car – too much money, and not enough power. Ha, I’d got it right. I moved the balance slider over to the left, both front and back left speakers went silent, I moved it to the right, the right went dead. Unbelievable. I hung a U-turn and gunned it back to the garage but the metal gate was already down and handsome was out of sight.

I drove home and parked the car, and Dave came over. I tried to tell him about my trials with my car stereo, but he was too busy pouring over comic books he was pulling out of his Jansport backpack. He didn’t like to be interrupted when he was sorting through new additions to his collection. I reached over and picked one up to show interest. “Hon. I ask you one more time not to touch my things,” he admonished me, “please respect that.” I couldn’t tell what personae he was in. Was he a ten-year old reading comic books? Was he a trauma survivor with serious control issues? Was he a middle-aged West Village Lesbian therapist? All I knew was my head hurt, I would go back to the sound installer in the morning, I went off to bed early so I could get up to be there right when they open.

It was 10 A.M. and the gate was down. 11 came and went, I called into work to say I would be more than my usual late. Johnny finally rolled in around around 11:45. “Hey, babe – how ya doin,” he said as he hopped out of his black car and threw up the gate. “No big deal,” he said, “we were so busy yesterday, I musta got distracted.” There were still no cars in the garage. “Let me make it up to you, whadya say we go out tonight and catch a bite.” The most inept sound system installer in all of Brooklyn, and possibly all of the tri-state area had asked me out on a date.

“I don’t think so,” I said, “just please get it right this time, OK?”

“Anything for you, Babe,” he said, snatching the keys from my hand and pulling me towards him. The guy was incompetent, but cute. Still, I had Dave, my loyal, loving when he wasn’t angry, twelve year old, trauma surviving, black militant, lesbian lawyer boyfriend.

When I finally got into the office there was a message from Dave. “Hon. How many times have I told you not to touch my stuff. I’m pretty sure you moved my action figures. I don’t remember moving them myself, and I have a pen mark where each of them should be. And they’re not on the pen mark. It’s Dave, call me back.”

Ugg. I had given Dave a corner of my apartment to keep some of his things. He had put up shelves to display his many action figures, comic books, and Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia. While I was doing some light cleaning I had, in fact, touched his action figures. I should have taken a Polaroid of them to put them back just so, but I had screwed up big time, I had removed them from their Bic pen marks on the wood, and all hell had broken loose. Dave would sometimes adopt a white-trash beer drinking personae, and he’d say it like, “All hill is broke loose,” no matter how you said it, there would be hell to pay.

I went back to the sound system garage, Johnny was in the driver’s seat cranking the thing to eleven, smoking a cigarette. “Hey, babe, check it,” he said proudly, “back… front…. Left… right…. loud…. soft… Perrrfect.” It was true. And although he completely screwed up my stereo the first couple of times, he was pretty perfect himself. Over six foot, jet black hair, muscles, face, psychologically simple. “You still wanna hang out tonight,” I said, jumping into the passenger seat. I had never called Dave back about the action figure debacle, I was in hot water already, I figured just go for the gold and go out with the guy that looks like he’s in the road tour of GREASE.

“Let’s just stop back at my place so I can change, K?,” he said, throwing my car into reverse, “I'm all hot 'n' sweaty, we were biz-eee,” he drove us out to some God forsaken no-wheres-land section of Brooklyn.

He unlocked the deadbolt to his basement apartment, and asked me to sit down on his leather couch while he took a shower. There was a giant birdcage with no bird, a huge TV, an orange shag carpet, the leather sofa and mirrored coffee table in front of it. The place was immaculate, Johnny was in the shower, my car was parked outside, I wanted to call Dave, but there was no phone. The place smelled of room deodorizer, or those car freshener trees you hung from rear view mirrors, it was turning my stomach, I suddenly wanted to go home but I didn’t see my car keys, Johnny had never handed them back. I waited for him to come out, he was now in his bedroom changing, I would tell him I had a change of heart.

Suddenly, the room went pitch black, some multi-colored lights came on from above my head that were flashing in time to the disco track that was suddenly pounding around my head from some mysterious source, I hadn’t seen any equipment. Johnny emerged from his bedroom dressed in skin tight briefs, dancing like it was a show. Hands clasped, moving his arms in a wave pattern, flexing his muscles, giving me the back view, then front view, then back again.

“DID I TELL YOU,” he yelled over the music, “BEFORE I WAS A SOUND SYSTEM INSTALLER, I WAS A DANCER AT CHIPPENDALES!” He was mid-routine, I was sure he had seen his fair share of five spots shoved in the top of his Speedos. His chest was waxed, his shoulders were huge, his penis was in the down position, but seemed to be hard, he was reliving his glory days there in the basement apartment in Bumfulk, Brooklyn. “OH YEAH, OH YEAH,” he whisper/screamed over the music, his choreography hardwired into his muscle memory. He was building towards something, some big crescendo, some grand finale, whatever it was, it would be happening inches from my face. He had me pressed against the back of the leather sofa, which upon closer inspection may have been Naugahyde – he had jumped up on the couch so I could get up close and personal with what appeared to be red nylon briefs, but it was hard to tell in the dark room with the multicolored flashing light show.

“I want to go home,” I choked under his gyrating girth, the evening had taken an unfortunate turn.

“YOU WANT WHAT, BABE? YOU WANT THIS?,” he yelled to top the music, which suddenly stopped, he was breathing heavily from the vigorous dance routine, straddling my lap, his huge thighs locking me in. “You want this,” he whispered in the silence before the next disco hit kicked in. I was hungry and scared and wanted to go home and call Dave.

I pushed Johnny off of me, he grabbed both of my hands to pull me up off the sofa, he thought I wanted to dance. “I WANT TO GO HOME,” I repeated, “WHERE’S MY KEYS??,” I yelled after him, he was doing some backwards come hither pony step move, then went into a spin. I felt around for a light switch, but gave up and grabbed my bag of the sofa, and started feeling around the coffee table for my keys. “WHERE YA GOIN BABE? THIS SHOW’S ALL FOR YOU,” The scent of his deodorant was taking over the room, creating a toxic hybrid perfume with the pine air freshener fragrance, I was feeling around the carpet for my keys. “YOU LEAVIN? YOU SURE?,” with that, he theatrically pulled the red nylon fabric away from his stomach and down with his thumbs, revealing a huge penis, two tiny bird’s egg testicles were hanging on for dear life under the wood.

“JOHNNY, WHERE ARE MY KEYS??,” I yelled trying to push past him, he grabbed my wrists.

“WHERE YA GOIN, I THOUGHT WE’D ORDER PIZZA. YOU LIKE PIZZA?,” he was in a slow improvised sway now. I broke free of his hold and felt around and found the light switch. He was standing there naked in the garish white light, music blasting, the red Speedo now taught around his calves. He waddled that way back into the bedroom and turned off the music, returned with the briefs pulled back up, holding my keys. “Do I at least get a kiss,” he said like a spurned boy on a first date, as he handed the keys back to me.

“Jeesh, where’s my purse,” I said, disoriented, my Coach bag was on the floor, I must have dropped it during our forced dance/scuffle. I unlocked the dead bolt, leaving him standing there in the middle of the room naked – he seemed perplexed how his first date strategy had gone so wrong.

I got into my car and just started driving until I found a familiar road that could take me home, I turned the stereo system off when I started the car, and left it off the entire ride home.

When I finally got home, there were two messages. Dave had called, “Hon, I’m sorry I got mad about the action figures. We’ve talked about this before, but I forgive you, and I love you, Hon. Call me back.” There was still 10 minutes before the double header of Seinfeld, he’d still be up, I wanted to hear his voice. Black Dave, white trash Dave, lesbian Dave, any Dave would do.

The other message was from Johnny. “Hey, got your number from your receipt – I wanted to say I had a real good time and if you’re free on Saturday,” I hit the erase button before he could finish, he sounded hopeful and sad and still a little out of breath. He called me the next three nights. That following Saturday night I told Dave I loved him back and asked him to move in the following week. He said yes as he pushed his plate of fried chicken and collard greens towards me, asking me if I might like to take a bite, “Yo, you want try some of dem collard greens,” black Dave inquired. But it sure beat Chippendale’s Johnny any day of the week.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I was about to give Jonas a ride home, he’d left his bike back at his place because it had snowed the night before. He had The Office DVD boxed set I had loaned him in one hand, and a substantial black leather and chrome harness in the other. “Want a bag for that,” I asked what I hoped sounded casually, pointing at the more forbidding of the two items. “No. No I don’t,” I had anticipated his matter of fact, non-negotiable response.

I think maybe we can make it into the hall, into the elevator, out of the building without being detected, pressing the lit down button frantically like a mad predator was gaining on me, but it was just my weightlifter hulk of a boyfriend humming mindlessly next to me. The elevator door opened, we had company for the long ride down: the roly-poly gay man from the 5th floor, and my neighbor Paul, who had married Lauren, an almost friend of mine who had a penchant for babbling other people’s business. Jonas entered first, with the ‘clank, clank’ of The Ghost of Christmas Past. I entered after him, pretending that his BDSM ecoutrement was no more noticeable than if he’d been carrying the Arts And Leisure section from The Sunday Times. “Hey, Claud,” Paul said half impressed, half aroused. The meek gay man stood silent, eyes popping and fixed on The Terminator to my right. Introductions were in order, “Paul, this is Jonas,” I said with a lilt, like I was introducing the boy I'd met him at the country fair. They exchanged hellos, Jonas looking straight ahead, not extending a hand. I didn’t know if bikers did’t subscribe to the school of basic common courtesies, or if shaking Paul’s hand would have required him to place the confining leather and stainless accessory into his other hand, which was already occupied with the lighthearted English comedy DVD. Paul mumbled something about he and Lauren heading off to MOMA, never once taking his eyes off my mighty date. Jonas outweighed him almost 3 to 1, and seemed to have Paul considering a first time homosexual encounter. My roly-poly gay neighbor had stopped breathing, and appeared hurt by the fact that I hadn’t extended an introduction his way (I had never learned his name), but was nonetheless getting a good eyeful of Jonas who was winding up his intimidation stare for the 2 block walk to my car in my quaint Brooklyn neighborhood.

The elevator door opened, Jonas thudded out first as usual, giving no thought to me, Paul or Lauren, or the tiny, stout gay man who was clumsily fighting off the closing elevator doors in an effort to keep up. The whole motley bunch made its way up the long ramp to the building’s front door, following Jonas’ lead; his mammoth leather jacket implying the slaughter of at least 4 animals, their fates delivered by Jonas’ own bare hands. Once outside, Jonas shifted his harness to his boxed set hand, taking my small hand into his death grip paw with tenderness. “We should go to MOMA sometime,” he said, wistfully – a small girl on a tricycle had to swerve out of his Frankenstein path, her mother averting her eyes, guiding her child out of harm’s way. I suspected there would be no MOMA in our future, they didn't serve shots of Jack, but Jonas was good times all the same. We grabbed some croissants, a pack of Camels; breakfast of champions for the ride home. Jonas rode shot-gun, quietly staring out at the gray February morning chomping on his chocolate croissant with childlike abandon, the XXL sex shop harness a-tangle at his feet.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


It never occurred to me that my boyfriend I’d been with for the last year and a half was homosexual. “The Streisand posters in his bedroom didn’t tip you off,” said my Dad after we broke up, one day later Jeff was engaging in butt play with another boy from the Theater department, the rumor mill had informed me. Apparently my parents knew my boyfriend was gay from the first day I brought him home, all my friends had a suspected it, but Jeff was about the best boyfriend I’d ever had, even to this day. He was very attentive, knew how to take a girl to dinner, insist she have dessert, and pick up the tab. When we were separated by school vacations, he would send me gift packages full of perfume, body and bath oil, and a cute warm scarf or jewelry, all nestled into tissue paper and sealed with a sweet note, the small envelope addressed with my pet name. Jeff was handsome, had a rockin’ body, and was charming as heck, the fact that he was gay fluttered over my head. I had somehow snagged an extra single room in my dorm at B.U., our “love shack”, that we would visit usually 3 times a day where me and my gay boyfriend would fuck like rabbits then stay up all night talking, we were madly in love.

I met him the very first day in the elevator at our dorm, he asked if he could carry a box I was bringing upstairs from my parent’s van. Two days later I broke up with my high school boyfriend I’d left back in Westport over the phone, Jeff was coming on strong and I was a goner. He had pictures in his room of Hanna, a gorgeous blond he had left back in high school, who he claimed was his girlfriend, she was so pretty, it never occurred to me that my real competition were dudes.

Jeff and I broke up after about 16 months, two days later he was having sex with Ron, a guy I had grown up with in the theater department back home, we had found our way to the same college where we both had voice lessons and yoga with Jeff. Soon, Jeff moved on into a cozy relationship with Seth, a good friend of mine, another theater student who had decided to pursue a career as a chef.

3 years later, Jeff and Seth became good couples friends with me and my boyfriend Phil, we spent holidays together, Seth would make the turkey, Phil would steal the wine from the fine restaurant he was working at, the four of us were very happy together, there was one rift between Jeff and Seth, Jeff had never come out to his parents.

Jeff’s parents had adored me, I was the only girl he had ever actually dated. They were the typical nice dysfunctional family from The Main Line outside Philly. Jeff’s mom went by the name, “June Bug,” she had everything ladybug, from pins, to mugs, to needlepoint pillows, Jeff’s dad looked like Ward Cleaver, but with Jeff’s ski jump nose – they were card carrying members of The Gin and Tonic Club. June Bug and Ward would take us to the overpriced 360 rotating bar in Boston where we’d order round after round of G n T’s, the potted plant at my right getting its buzz on due to me emptying drink after drink directly on its roots just to keep up with the party. I was soon invited to stay at their house on The Main Line, June Bug would make us lovely lunches of tuna salad sandwiches, chips, and iced tea, Jeff and I would escape to his tiny room, put on the Peter Frampton, and fuck like mad. The rest of the afternoon would be spent in the pool, or strolling around the neighborhood discussing what we were going to name our kids, or sneaking up to his sister’s room where the kid’s communal bong was kept. Around 3:30 the G n T’s would start flowing, although June Bug and Ward usually wreaked of booze shortly after breakfast was served. The grill would be fired up around 5, and Jeff’s closeted brother would show up with his wife and two kids. Jeff’s brother, Jack was quite flamboyant, owned a thriving florist’s business, Jeff and I would laugh at how he’d fooled everyone – June Bug, Ward, his wife. Jack, or "That Raging Queen,” as Jeff frequently referred to his older brother – had pulled the whole thing off.

That night, after everyone had passed out on too much gin and red meat, Jeff and I took advantage of the placid kidney shaped pool and the full moon and went skinny dipping. He had always been very attentive towards me sexually, but had always steered clear of my breasts. I had him up against the wall of the pool on the shallow end, by breasts floating above the water, I took Jeff’s arms from around my neck, and tried to coax his hands there. He said, “I think I’m going to throw up,” and ran from the pool and into the bushes. The vomiting when faced with my boobs, the Streisand posters, the love for musical comedy, it all started to add up.

I lost touch with Jeff for years, he and Seth had parted ways, Phil and I had done the same, I had heard Jeff had taken up with an older man, another theater enthusiast who was wealthy, they both resided in the rich man’s upper west side apartment, and hopped between that and this fellow’s place in Hawaii, and a little beach house they renovated together on the tip of Montauk. It was rumored that Jeff’s lover was HIV positive, and when Jeff finally got back in touch with me, his lover had passed, and Jeff told me he was HIV positive, and recently diagnosed with AIDS.

I took the long drive out to Montauk, Jeff looked much older, he was on a multiple of “cocktails” for AIDS. He had the companionship of two dacshunds, neither of which were potty trained, Jeff didn’t have to energy to train them, they willy-nilly pee’d throughout the house and in the beds but changing the sheets and following them around with paper towels required less energy than daily walks, he said as I handed my soaked bed sheet to him in the morning. Around noon, Jeff made me lunch, the same tuna salad sandwich and chips June Bug used to make us back at his childhood house on The Main Line. Halfway through my sandwich Jeff took my hand and proposed.

“Please, Claud. It would mean the world to my parents if we got married,” he had never told his parents who he is.

“Jeff, I really want you to be proud of who you are, I’m sure they know,” he put his cloth napkin to his mouth, then used it to wipe the potato chip dust from the table, shaking his head slowly, “no.”

“I don’t have a lot of time here,” he said looking down at his lap, the proposal continued,” if you do this one thing for me, I’ll leave you this place in my will. We can have the lawyers draw up something."

How I hated his parents for hating homosexuals. I hated them for shoving two sons into the closet. I hated them for denying their son his lifestyle, and the fact that they were calling his illness “cancer”. 4 months later, Jeff was gone. I received word that there would be a ceremony honoring his life back there on The Main Line, all of his parents friends would be there, his whole family, and some of Jeff’s friends would be invited as well.

All the friends that made it to Jeff’s lunch were mostly female, one or two if his gay friends were there, but no one too flamboyant – accept Jeff’s brother who of course did the flowers, they were stunning, the G n T’s were flowing, there were scrapbooks at tables that one of his sisters had put together filled with pictures of Jeff and his friends from back in high school, long before Jeff figured out who he really was.

June Bug rushed up to me right as the tea sandwiches were being passed, she pulled me by the arm over to a white cloth covered table where her friends were sitting in lovely Spring cardigans and strands of pearls. “Everyone! THIS is Claudia, Jeff’s girlfriend!” She introduced her friends to me one by one, I smiled, nodded, extended my manicured hand to each saying, “lovely, so nice to meet you,” June Bug’s face was swollen, but beaming.

June Bug, Ward, and Jeff’s next of kin had buried Jeff that morning in a quaint cemetery right outside The Main Line. Buried him in a closet, surrounded by lovely flowers supplied from his brother’s shop, everyone stoic and picture perfect – just the way Jeff would have wanted it.

Friday, November 5, 2010


“If you see him coming towards you at a biker rally, run the other way,” the warning felt familiar, this wasn’t the first biker I had pissed off in the course of penning “claudtalks” but I thought I was done with that chapter in my life.

I had taken a riding course and had written what I thought was a harmless little piece about the weekend called, “Jiggy”. A story about a classmate who I first thought was under the influence of crack cocaine, turned out his skeletal physique and shaky hands were the result of leukemia and its treatment. I had warm feelings towards this guy, he inspired me with his survival against all odds, and his drive to learn to ride and take himself on a ride to explore the rest of his years on the road. One of the side characters was one of my instructors – a surly, Captain Ahab looking character, who was referred to in the piece as “the bad cop”. Hardly an assault on his reputation or effectiveness, the piece was not about him, although his demeanor was worthy of a much more illustrative piece reserved especially for him, I put the experience behind me, took the lessons learned on the road, and wrote a heartwarming piece about one of the classmates who stuck with me long after the weekend was through.

I come to find out that my blogpost is forwarded to the head of the riding school, and that it was interpreted as a signed affidavit of this instructor’s poor bedside manner. It was hard to believe that she’d never experienced his gruff demeanor first hand, his reputation preceded him, I had heard of him through another rider who had told me, “if you get this guy, don’t cry or quit,” he assured me to “stay with it” if I did roll into class to find this notable character – that he was, in fact, a superb instructor; much better than some of the young pretty boys they had teaching at the competitor’s school.

Turns out the head of the school confronts Instructor Ahab, throws anonymity out the window by sending him the actual blogpost with the “bad cop” comments, he now knows exactly who is behind the “complaint” and has full access to records including my home address. This, from the head of the school who’s implied motto is “safety above all else”. Once off the bikes all bets are off, it now seemed.

Now I have a blogpost I am still proud of, an easily angered biker seeing red because of it, seems “Jiggy” has been informed that I called him a “crackhead” on the internet, and I find myself wondering was it all worth it.

I would have to say, “yes!” – until I see Instructor Ahab coming towards me at a biker rally with his lip curled back and his eyes popping out at me from under his bushy brows – at which point I’m left no other choice than to yell out to the heavens, “Please, God – give me the strength to throw a knee right where it counts, run like hell, then write a damned good blogpost when (and if) I make it home.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I sure was hungry and anxious to see what the guy across from me would be fishing out of the murky caldron in the center of the table. There were five us sitting around the two little Formica tables pushed together, I was given my own little wire basket on a stick to ladle whatever I wanted out of the liquid I was warned wasn’t for consumption, I felt safe going for the familiar chunks of thick white potato that had picked up the flavor of the grey water. They were delicious.

It was followed by something that looked like an uncircumcised cocktail wiener, a little red bulbous tube peeping out of a pale sheet of fleshiness. “Frank,” the guy who was quickly piling goodies on my plate, spoke no English, and could only say “beef,” redundantly identifying the only item on the plate that was recognizable to me. “Emily,” the 21 year old girl who ran the place spoke a fair amount of English, said, “I don’t know what you people call this,” to whatever morsel I pointed to. Her husband looked on, lovingly at her, kindly amused by me as I pointed at each new dripping gift; they all were impressed with my willingness to eat each and every unsolved mystery on my plate.

Truth is, it was all quite tasty; the company pleasant; “Emily,” her husband, “Frank” and the delivery guy from Ecuador, who spoke little to no English but had an affinity for fine Men’s cologne which he reapplied like he was going on a date each time he ran out to make a delivery. Everyone was up and down from the table – multitasking between the bountiful feast and keeping the Friday night business hopping. Originally this dinner was planned for their entire extended family, but some little one got sick which meant the 18 that were expected had to stay home to tend to him, there must have been enough food for thirty people; fish chunks and unidentified crawlers and beef parts and pork bits all in cellophane yellow Styrofoam trays, there were bags and bags of other unidentifiables they would tear open and one by one they would plop them in the gas fueled divided metal pot before us. Emily was the only one that spoke English and boy, she loved to talk. She met her husband when she was out with some girlfriends in Coney Island. He was out with his boy friends. He had one of his boy friends tell one of her girlfriends that he thought she was nice, and the rest was history. She took him home to meet her parents, the owners of the place, they liked him because he was fresh from China, and a fine cook, they thumbs upped him for their daughter and immediately put him to work in the restaurant. A few months later the young couple gave birth to a daughter and Emily’s mom and dad found their opening to stay home from the grueling restaurant, deciding to raise the child themselves, sending the young couple to run the business full time. Emily had wanted a career in beauty, which was surprising as she wore no makeup, was a bit overweight and a tad slovenly, her sister had been allowed to go to college in Boston, which Emily pronounced “Booostone” – to pursue a degree in accounting but Emily had been given full responsibility to run the the business her parents had started – which prevented her from graduating high school by two classes. She would now have to get her GED to make something of herself but her friends told her they were all too stupid to take the test, it was “very, very hard,” she told me. I had heard the GED was difficult – an overwhelming task with a limited vocabulary, I imagined. I wanted to tell her she wasn’t stupid but she was on a breathless tear to tell me her life story, so I just nodded with each new development and let Emily’s story unfold.

She explained how she had come from China when she was 14 and how she, of course, spoke no English. “I thank a black boy for my English,” she said. She said it a couple of times, her eyes wide and grateful. “I thank a black boy for my English,” she smiled, her moon-like face glowing over the bubbling pot – the fluorescent light making it look magical as she told the story. “He said, Fuck YOU to me,” she nodded. “What do you mean,” I said, the four words I was able to slip in during our conversation. “He come up to me in school and say, ‘Fuck YOU’ to me. I say, “Thank you!” and all the kids around laugh.” She had no idea what “fuck you” meant, but she felt the pain of all the other children laughing at her that day in the lunchroom at school. She went home and asked her parents, “What do fuck YOU mean.” They explained it to her and she was “Oh very so mad.” And from that day she made it her business to learn the language. The next time the boy came up to her and said, “Fuck YOU,” she said, “you TOO,” in response, and from that day she was accepted by all the other school children as one of their own. “See!, I thank this black boy for my English!!” It was a great story, opening with the curious teaser and all, I sat next to her like a child getting a bedtime story, still sucking the tender meat out of the mystery creatures that were put in front of me.

We both sat talking, well, her talking and me listening til the boy from Ecuador started mopping and her husband was finishing up his meticulous clean up of his in-laws' take out place. I stood up and thanked them all but they were focused on their end of day tasks, Emily said, “I’m glad you eat with us, I love the big family dinner. You come please again.” I walked the half block home in the first cold night, that was nice, I thought, feeling toasty and a bit too full having eaten everything piled in front of me by “Frank”, Emily, Her Husband, The Ecuadorian Delivery Guy; my new little Chinese family.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I eat too many eggs.
I don’t floss every day.
I’m too nice.
I’m very mean person.
I hold it all in.
I eventually implode.
I use too many “I’s”.
I don’t clean up my room.
I’m late for work.
I don’t buy eco-friendly.
I glare at tailgaters.
I pay the minimum.
I cook with butter.
I don’t do sit-ups.
I blame other people.
I blame myself.
I beg for love.
I hate myself.
I’m always right.
I get it wrong.
“I” “I” “I”
“I” “I” “I”
Oh m”I”.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Before he delivered my sentence, he called me, “Psycho.”

“Psycho” he said it several times, the word bullying the words around it into submission – a steady string of “Psychos,” his lifeless voice in a deafening one word chant. Walking to the subway after receiving the prognosis, shock turned into shame along the wet walk home from the train.

“Self-actualized”, “Self aware”, these are names I go by, who is this other self that goes there? Grasping at weapons, whatever happens to be lying around at the time, landline, cell phone, text messages, some well-place words, past resentments work well in machine gun fire.

The Superhero flies in pushing other selves aside; she looks like every woman – no cape, no tights, just the word “PSYCHO” printed big and red across her chest.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sudden and violent, the van slams into the cab, throwing me forward from the back seat. First thing I think, I am to blame.

The Hassid pulls out his wallet, the cabbie says he’s sorry, I admit nothing, the blame is on me.

The policeman comes, files the report, questions the drivers, smiles my way. Truth be told, Officer, I am to blame.

Today I was driving, redline raging, spiraling into lateness, spinning me towards hailing, backseat hating then impact, sudden, violent, head on from behind, there in the back, I am to blame.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


There’s a sealed cardboard box in the middle of the room, the Super finally brought it up because I’ve been avoiding picking it up for weeks.

My sister and law had it shipped, she told me it would be coming, the box inside the box marked is marked “Claudia”. She hadn’t opened it, she found the box, it was filled by my mother who now remembers my name but little else. My mom filled it back when she was invincible, she filled the box back then.

The box is unopened there in the middle of the room. I left it down there with the super, down there in the basement where I didn’t have to look at it. Now that it’s in the middle of the room "anxious" overcomes me. Anxious times sad times regret then what now.

The box and I are in a standoff. Now vs. how life used to be, when my mom was sharp, there to talk to, before she talked in sound bites, pull the string, a doll with a sweet voice answers back.

I could make room in my closet, next to the childhood stuffed toys I can’t part with, store it there next to the way things used to be.

The box would stay sealed, taped shut, out of site.

The box with my name on it; packed by my mother back when things were good.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


he downstairs
all textin me
like Romeo
down there
jus twenty six
miles runnin
iron pumpin
silver tongue-in
he wants up
just to get up
in here
same as last week
n the week
cause I use to let

new years
he up here
ringin in
the year
my kitchin
pullin it out
over there
in the chair
im like
why you do
he up
comin at me
all in
my face
I'm not
what why wo
the stairwell
still blazin
over there
by the chair
where he go
you go
n do

Sunday, October 17, 2010


How do they speak? The ones who's daddy left home in the first grade, taking one suitcase, the savings account, “who will love me” lingers in curtains, the sofa, the stuffed toy rhinoceros.

How do they speak? The ones who lost interest in the third grade; steady F student majors in hitting or giving head behind the gym.

How do they speak? “WOT U DOIN NO U DIN DATS INORANT ” all caps quill. The words won’t come and fist pump finds face, face finds pavement, the DNA found beneath her nails delivers him home to Cell Block C.

How do they speak? Talkin'smack, bully stares, AK47. “What you lookin’ at, what? WHAT?!!” conversation starter.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I scanned the folding table carefully, looking for a cute souvenir between the rows of brass knuckles, knives, and swastika goodies; clearly this shopping spree was a bust. I hoped to leave the biker party with a cute little skull to hang around a chain, but I’d have to continue my search on Saint Mark’s Place or Bleeker Street, my treasure would not be found among the lovingly displayed anti-Semitic collectibles and illegal weaponry.

It was around one-thirty in the afternoon, the biker I was seeing had asked to meet for coffee around noon to give me the hundred bucks he had borrowed, and to apologize for fucking an old flame he’d invited into town two days before. She’d gotten pissed off and had split a day earlier than planned. He showed up on time which was a rarity, passed me 5 twenties, ordered 2 shots of Jack and a burger and before I knew it I was back on his bike headed to Staten Island to a biker party, location undisclosed - but not before borrowing another 20 for gas.

There were a couple of guys from his club there, one of them a sweetheart who thanked me nicely after I fetched them a couple of Bud’s and dollar shots per my date’s request. I had to stand on the sidelines; I had learned the rules a long time ago. I wasn’t to speak to anyone, particularly men, and especially those from another motorcycle club. There were bikers from one of the hardcore MC’s, they call them “outlaws” or 1 percenters, they stood in a circle, I tried not to be caught looking in their direction, someone might be beaten within an inch or two of their lives – but I didn’t know what else to do. There were some girls there, too – in their own clique, I had seen a couple of them arriving on their Suzuki sport bikes with their longs sleek black hair and 18 inch waists. I wasn’t familiar with the policy on chit chatting with biker chicks, but these didn’t look like the type of girls you call up to go to the museum with on a Sunday, or grab a nice brunch and lattes at a charming cafe – so I decided to err on the safe side and spend this lovely day staring down at my Uggs.

My other choices were perusing the illegal weapons gift table (again), seeing what fare was offered at the buffet table steamer trays, or to seek solace in the last stall in the ladies room where at least I had someone to talk to. My friend Mel was just be waking up in California, and we were conversing in texts. She wanted the update on my biker friend, what had happened with his weekend tryst, how many shots of Jack did it take for me to cave and hop back on the bike; she had been living vicariously through me – the highpoint of her weekend was usually going to Trader Joe’s on the off chance she could get lucky and find their soy product chicken fingers in stock. It wasn’t like she was jealous of me, either - she had tried to coach me out of this affair for weeks, she was the recipient of late night phone calls when he’d blown off our date for the umpteenth time only to show up at 2AM, smelling of Jack, Camels, and God knows what else - maybe cheap strippers I never dared ask. I was staying in it for the sex, the civil breakfasts where we would linger over eggs, sausage, 7-grain toast, and premium grade coffee topped off by more sex. And then there was the bike; I was in love with the bike. The roar of the throttle, the glint of the chrome, he’d start it up and gesture me to take my place behind him, barely fitting my arms around his girth we’d edge towards the sidewalk and clunk, clunk down on the pavement - the day filled with the promise of flight.

Still, it wasn’t long after that biker party that I said my final goodbye. After apologizing for the weekend tryst with an old flame, another ex flew into town after that, then another - a woman I overheard asking him if he would be staying for breakfast while we were on the phone one Saturday morning, he rang my bell that Sunday afternoon - I invited him up and asked him not to come back.

I ended up finding a cute little skull on Ebay finally, which I hung on a chain. My biker had been gone for weeks, we kept in touch on the social networking site, he was in his third relationship since we’d split - it had been a month and a half. I missed the sex, the two-hour breakfast extravaganzas, but mostly I missed the bike. Hell-bent on dating another biker just to get back on a bike, until eureka it hit me, I could actually get a bike of my own.

Yep, I could get a bike, not have to depend on a guy to go flying, maybe have a real chance at love with someone nice who has a bicycle and maybe reads The Times, you never know.

I couldn’t tell you when I fell out of love with the biker. Was it the folding table full of swastika souvenirs? Was it the pile of vaginal freshener suppositories I found by his sink - left behind by yet another ex? Was it the smell of Jack coming off him as we lane split on the Belt Parkway at 2 AM and the threat of imminent death?

The day my bike was delivered, maybe that was it; when I fired her up and clunk-clunked her down into first gear and rode off by myself. My ex-boyfriend biker friend was keeping a watchful eye over me in his side view mirror, he showed up on that first day – sober, precise in his direction, and ultimately supportive as we rode together in formation later that afternoon down Hamilton Avenue. I couldn’t have asked for a better instructor, as a boyfriend he pretty much sucked, but as I was feeling stronger, up on my own two wheels, sun shining - it was all water under the bridge.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Martin was one of a long line of men touched with madness. I wondered why they called it “madness,” where else would great thinkers and creative geniuses be without at least a smidgeon of its magic.

To quote him, Martin was a self-proclaimed manic-depressive; on the internet they started to refer to it more as Bipolar Disorder. Big pharma, publishing, and Hollywood latched on to the phrase and took it all the way to the bank. Depending on what you read about Bipolar Disorder there were many different opinions about what caused it, and no real clear-cut definitions of how it was categorically diagnosed. It is suggested that it often runs in families, and this family appeared to be the textbook case study that proves that theory.

The first time I encountered the family gift was with Martin’s nephew, a man I dated one Spring. He had windows of brilliance during sex that would manifest in mid-intercourse soliloquies featuring narcissistic dominant themes that usually took place in a medieval setting . A rich fantastical world, highly detailed in leather, iron, stone, and sinew – circa a long long time ago. There would often take place in a cobbler’s thatched roof abode, it would certainly involve either the man’s wife or mistresses, or his staff of 12 handmaidens – but the theme basically always the same: the “hero” would have his way with the proprietor’s wife or most prized maiden in front of the poor cobbler's very eyes, who at first would be disturbed at the on site abduction, but then have a sudden paradigm shift and be greatly honored that his wife was chosen to be fucked by the slayer. I was never quite sure who the "hero" was, he wasn’t an emperor, a king, he was more of just a “slayer” – much like the ones celebrated in rock albums and video games. In the other corner there was me, present day, on the receiving end of this thickly twisted bedtime tale – he had my undivided attention as the artfully told impromptu story seemed to come from him as if possessed.

A couple of weeks later after an incident they sent him away to a mental health facility, he returned calmed, his flights of fancy barely stirring under the blanket of meds prescribed so that he could act “right” in the world.

Back then I would ask and he would sometimes feed my curiosity and tell me stories about his childhood, about his unconventional upbringing, about his father, a sometimes cruel, always demanding uber genius who was kissed by that special something which lead him to great success in the military as well as in the halls of academia. Then there were the other times, the times the “special” made him “mad”. It was brutal stuff, one time his sons had to fly in and pull a special ops mission to intercept the electroshock therapy session scheduled by their dad's psychiatrist. Years later, Dad's demons are kept mostly at bay, he’s living in Indiana, happily so with a wife, teaching at a local college. I wonder if he ever misses the old days.

So begun my brief period of fascination with Bipolar Disorder. Over a couple of months I absorbed just about everything I could on the topic, I read from reliable medical resources online, joined websites where those with BPD chit-chatted, told horror stories, where their wives, husbands, and lovers advised others on no uncertain terms to, “RUN, don’t walk, for your life.” But then there were those with BPD that celebrated it. Usually they were arrogant geniuses that somehow managed to bottled the stuff and use it to fuel art, commerce, or evil.

For some BPD is a hell inside the head with racing thoughts of terrorizing self-doubt that is beyond one's control. On the flipside, the "good times" mania is reported to often manifest in inappropriate, sometimes ethically deplorable sexual behavior, as well as flagrantly irresponsible spending binges, both behaviors often leading to personal and financial ruin, and failed romantic relationships. But as I poured through these forums, I would come across the one or two with BPD that embraced their illness, celebrated it, wouldn’t have it any other way; to them, it wasn’t a disorder or disease, it was a cherished gift. And from his proud declaration of his wildly swinging state of mental health, playfully described in the personal description box on the social networking site, Uncle Martin was one of those guys.

I unearthed his writings on the site during the period I was having historical reenactment sex with his nephew. My date's uncle, Uncle Martin was an open book, literally – he had no security settings in place for his page, he appeared to have no boundaries literally and figuratively – and in this spirit his page did not disappoint. He looked like one of the family, they were all big-boned and big-brained – his photo confirmed the former, his writings the latter. His writings were mind blowing. He posted often, and more times than not, the stories and poems were over my head which I didn’t allow to get in the way of my ability to relish them. Both enjoyable and elusive to me, they often earned comments of wry ridicule from the other family members/madmen, ridicule apparently another trait hardwired into the family DNA given their sometimes passive aggressive, subtly cruel banter on the social networking site. However, I knew better in spite of my average IQ, his content was off kilter, completely non-linear, yet always lyrical and completely original. There was one piece in particular that I actually got because it was so simple. The piece was simply about someone falling from a skyscraper window and their slow decent on to the pavement. No profundity, no epiphany – his beautiful gift for capturing the pedestrian details as they enter the mind of this average business man as he falls to his certain death. For me there was a comfort in the characters anti-climactic, cathartic descent.

Damn, those manic-depressives are good. Those first few weeks were magical wtih the guy I saw for awhile, Martin’s nephew, when he was in the thick of his mania. And his brother, too, he possessed a bit of the gift – his sometimes cruel, audaciously funny spot on observances that took the day on the comment threads. Then the father who sired them both and his mental triumphs and lessons, and this guy Martin, with his open page, no security settings, no self-editing, all raw and beautiful. He posted some “flair” recently on his web page – a virtual badge that you would put on a bulletin board or on the pocket of a favorite denim jacket that read: “I don’t suffer from INSANITY, I ENJOY every minute of it.”

This “insanity,” this “madness,” I don’t qualify for any special honors, I can only claim some average neurosis. It passed me by, I suspect that my grandmother possessed some form of clinically defined mental illness. She painted, used carefully chosen words sparingly and with quiet force. She would hand be beautifully hand written notes that were poetic and startling, and full of wisdom – reaching into her bag for small squares of paper and an ink pen, committing calligraphy to paper in front of my very eyes, she would pass them to me, folded in half. I was seven years old when she came to visit, and later on in that day she became agitated and hysterical, went running from our house to cry and wander the neighborhood returning from the darkness with my grandfather who eventually found her sobbing on a stone wall or something a street or three away. I was scared of her and also bit jealous of her and those like her: the fortunate/unfortunate ones in all their madness.


He’s always a Jeep in my dreams, a black one, to be specific. Sometimes the Jeep is stuck in reverse, or locked behind a chain link fence, sometimes the Jeep is slowly slipping backwards on steep steep hill. Last night the back left tire was springing a leak. I watched the rubber losing air, the rim pressing melted black rubber against the sidewalk.
A friend came to the rescue, filling it with air, I know the hole is there somewhere, I hear the slow leak, I don’t see it but I know it’s there.

One day (night) we were both in the front seat at the same time. A Sunday drive down winding roads, sure-footed tires, gas tank full, windows down all toasty inside.

Not bad for a broken down old Jeep.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I was pretty sure that the guy sitting behind me in the classroom of my motorcycle safety course was a crack head. He stuttered and bounced into the room, a little pint sized guy all skin and bones with full-on jiggy energy, he seemed nice enough – he offered me some hand sanitizer, his hand shaking as he extended the plastic bottle my way.

We broke into teams to go over the handbook material that we would be drilled on later. The three girls in the glass teamed up and we aced the Q & A, knowing our stuff, articulating the regurgitated material fairly well. Most of the guys lagged behind us, baffled when asked to basically read back the material, the jiggy man had trouble putting sentences together it would be interesting to see how everyone would do when we hit the practice track the next day.

Up at 5 AM the next morning, I couldn’t wait to get on a bike and see what they had in store for us. I arrived a bit early along with some others. One of the instructors was running simple drills on his gigantor Harley as we watched. Jiggy showed up just in the nick of time before Monty, the stern curmudgeonly head instructor, gave us a drill sergant-esque run down of the rules of the course. We were told to pick a bike, I went for the shiny black 250 that was first in line, the instructor telling me to hold on, I had short legs and should take the diminutive 125, I assured him I could handle it’s 360 lb bulk, and left the junior 125 bike to the lesbian court officer who I swear was a full foot shorter than myself, but with twice the swagger that surely kept the instructor at bay when awarding First Prize in the Shortest Legs Division.

I had been riding my own 250 for 3 months, although still green I knew how to ride in the friction zone, find gears, brake, all the basics. The rest of the students did fairly well, some better than others, but Jiggy seemed to really excel. There is a learning curve, but there are those who you'd call “a natural”, and Jiggy fell squarely into that category. One of the other women dropped her bike, I heard it before I saw it, she must of grabbed the throttle like her life depended on it, I turned around to see her whirling dervish finish, spirally down to her final drop, hand still grabbing the throttle full tilt even as she was on her side on the asphalt. The instructor had to run over and hit the kill switch, which she later bragged about doing herself although we had all seen what really went down. Her boyfriend was an experienced rider, she told us the night before she had already picked out her first bike, some 1700cc cruiser she assured me would be "nooo problem", although it was a good 1500 cc’s over what any newbie should sport. But the instructors gave her another shot, after all – she had gotten right back up on the bike, and had shown up in a 500 dollar Vanson motorcycle jacket, but dropped the bike again not 10 minutes later. It seemed it was catching, another fellow dropped his 250 20 minutes later, his leg caught under the bike, the headlamp cover shooting across the pavement. Both were asked out of the class, the rest of us were bonding based on sheer survival.

Jiggy didn’t really seem to talk to anyone. He wasn’t the most articulate, his pint sized stature made him the weakest link to the other macho boys who paid their $350 to train that weekend. During a break he was off to the side by himself while the other guys were off peeing or trading stories about the sports bikes they were buying on Monday. The only other girl left in the class, that little butch chick was busy texting her significant other on her T-mobile slider, left alone to the side, I took the opportunity to extend some warmth Jiggy’s way.

Turned out the reason he was so slight was because he’d just completed several rounds of chemotherapy. He had been diagnosed with Lymphoma just about a year ago, had been told he wouldn’t make it the year but was one of those against-all-odds percentages, the doctor had been shocked at his progress. He booked the motorcycle course on the phone from his hospital bed, he decided he wanted to get his M class endorsement, buy a small bike, and just travel around, wherever the bike took him. He didn’t feel sorry for himself, he was matter of fact in the way he told his tale - bouncing from foot to foot with that jiggy vibe, I wondered where he got all that energy. I admired his fortitude and could relate to his plan. I hadn’t had a near death experience, but between getting mailings with the big letters “AARP” on the outside, and having the same conversation week after week with my mother who’d been diagnosed with Dementia - I couldn’t get on a bike fast enough.

After our first day on the riding course it was time to take the written exam which couldn’t have been easier. I patted myself on the back and took a huge exhale when I aced a hundred percent, most got at least a 95, Jiggy squeaked by with an 82 - so we were all invited back to complete the road training and to take the final road exam the next day.

We all showed up early, someone brought donuts. It was cold and still dark, there were ten of us left out of the original 12, I was invited into the circle of boys, all of us standing hoods up in a circle. I was one of the strongest on the track the day before, no one had been listening when I explained I had 600 miles under my belt, I used it to my advantage and let everyone think my “first day” riding was off the charts, it gained me access to the boy’s club. Jiggy was off to the side, like a runt left behind by the pack. He lacked the oomph the rest of us had, his face sunken, his body shaking in the cold, I said good morning and scolded myself for not remembering his name.

After the drill sergeant gave us a good morning verbal bitch slap, we all went over to our bikes for the next drill of the day: shifting up into 3rd gear. Seemed everyone improved from yesterday. Guys that had been lagging the day before seemed to hit their stride. The “good cop” instructor told me he wished every student was like me which was a relief to hear after “bad cop” drill sergeant took every opportunity to motivate me with the threat of an imminent FAIL.

Two of the guys were having difficulty finding 3rd gear then downshifting into 2nd. One of them was Jiggy. The other guy was a silent working class guy who looked like he had angry conversations going on inside his flat topped head. Both he and Jigs kept stalling their bikes on the drills. Drill sergeant blew his whistle and sent the rest of us over to the side. He had the good cop instructor spent about 15 minutes with them before they asking the two weak links to leave the group. Flat Top took off without a word in a hurry, I was convinced he was going to get the gun in his glove compartment and take a few of us out before heading out to his mom’s for Sunday dinner. Jiggy walked towards us with a, “that’s it, I’m OUT.” He said it while walking, we all stopped him from going off to get into his car, or going off to the bus stop, we’d never seen how he got to the parking lot in the mornings, he seemed to appear out of thin air.

“Hey, you gonna reschedule, you’re gonna take it again,” all of us lending encouragement to the little guy who had shown such promise the day before.

“Nah, I ain’t paying $350 again, I’m done,” Jiggy said with a final straw.

“Hey, don’t give up, I’ll give you lessons, give me your number,” one of the more macho guys tried to cajole him, I wasn’t the only one with a soft spot for the little corn-rowed guy – the whole gang seemed to care – even without knowing he’d been walking around with Leukemia the whole time.

“Nah, I’m done wit this shit, I had it,” all his jiggy energy went up to his head, it was shaking from left to right with an adamant “no.”

And with that he was off, his slight form quickly getting lost between the parked cars there in the lot next to the gym - his spirit spent, it’s last breaths taken on an old 250.

Six of us passed to get our M class license that day, the other 6 didn’t, some of them were asked to leave – Jiggy was one of them. I didn’t care what happened to that 6, our pumped up camaraderie null and void once the test results were passed out by the instructors. Still, I wonder what happened to Jiggy after that day, had he gotten a good night’s sleep, bought himself a bike off of Craigslist anyway to pursue his post chemo dream? Or had he really given up on bikes, on treatment, on life altogether? There would be no way to know; I hadn’t taken his number, hadn’t even bothered to get his real name.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


It looked like all my dreams would come true in a matter of weeks. I would have a house on the beach, a square jawed blonde haired genius husband, and two toe-headed kids. My husband-to-be’s mental issues aside, everything was falling into place.

He told me to get in touch with a realtor in Neponsit, an upscale beach community on the Irish Riviera, otherwise known as Rockaway Beach - a charming enclave with little houses and perfect manicured lawns just a stone's throw from the ocean.

He and I had been playing house a couple of nights a week in my apartment in Brooklyn. He would drive his Mustang convertible home from his job at a local college where he was a department head and celebrated professor. Matt Damon looks, gym hard body, shock jock sense of humor, and Mensa IQ – his violent sleep patterns had become less problematic since I started sleeping on the sofa. The sleep walking paranoid rants didn’t seem to manifest when he was left alone for his solid 5 hours of 40 winks. We had a good thing going, dinners together, chats about current events, pleasant strolls around the neighborhood, he would get up around 5 and tell me that he loved me and it was off to run 5 miles, do laps, and power lift before he had to show up to run a department around 8AM, the day fueled on a steady diet of Big Gulp Diet Cokes from 7/11.

Other than my personal safety being compromised by the genius’s harrowing sleep episodes where he would dream that he was under violent attack, that and the waking bouts of uncontrollable anger (carefully managed by him - storming out of my apartment only to return the next day shiny and new) - there was the nagging question, where was my beloved boyfriend every weekend?

At the beginning, he would paint beautiful pictures of the weekend we would have, beers and burgers on my deck, going to the beach, touring the city’s museums, but then without warning he'd go MIA until Monday morning when he would call me from his desk and change the subject when I'd inquire about the lost two days. When pressed he would say that he was teaching weekends at a school up in Connecticut, or babysitting his sister’s kids, surely I understood that these were priorities, real adults have responsibilities with more to do than take a no-limit credit card to the mall on Saturdays.

A few weeks later he casually mentioned the kids were his – “their mother” lived somewhere out in Connecticut, and he was planning on vying for sole custody, he claimed she was “unfit” - and that’s where the idyllic beach house came in, and me, of course, the suitable step mom figure. All I had to do was call the realtor, apply for a loan together, maybe make a family court appearance or two, marry him if it made things look better in front of the judge - he would take care of the rest.

The plan was questionable - my happy ending placed before me like a birthday cake with red flags flying where the candles should be. Still, I would be fast-tracking to the American Dream that my friends were living, the ones that had gotten married in their twenties and had kids by the time I was writing my first ad on Madison Ave. My future husband certainly wouldn’t be as safe and predictable as theirs, but who wanted that - besides my betrothed was a gay porn wet dream, his chiseled features, rock hard bubble butt had a firm hold on me, I wasted no time calling the realtor in the morning.

The houses were surprisingly affordable; my dream beach house was just a pre-approval away. I only needed to supply both our social security numbers to get pre-qualified from the bank; the realtor wanted to make sure we meant business before she started showing us houses in this exclusive beachfront zip code.

All I had to do was get those 9 numbers from my boyfriend, numbers I would have to pry from him with kid gloves. Inquiries beyond “Flavor Blast? Or Cool Ranch Doritos?” were always met with an unsavory response. As anticipated, the request turned the pleasant evening on its ear - sending him stomping to fetch his gym clothes from the dryer, snatching the key to the Mustang and on out the door with a slam – his grand exit compromised when he came back through the door again seconds later only to grab a couple cans of Diet Coke before heading out for exit deux.

It seemed like a good time to cut ties at this juncture; a decision timed perfectly as he never called me again. But months later, one Monday morning around the time the school session resumed after Spring break the phone rang. “Hey babe,” he sing-songed and chit-chatted as though nothing had transpired. “See you tonight around 7,” he said sweetly, “We can go for Veal Parmesan.” That was always our traditional meal: Veal Parm, Law & Order, cuddling, followed by sleep walking murder re-enactments for dessert.

“I don’t know, Jake,” the backslide to his perfect buns had begun, “What's with all the dodgy behavior?” We had to venture beyond the Doritos Q & A if things were going to work.

“You know what your problem is,” I could hear the rage escalating to a solid seven, surely after a three Diet Coke breakfast. “You ask too many questions, we could have had a very nice life together, but you threw it all away. Just remember when you look back, we had it ALL but YOU - THREW IT ALL AWAY.” He slammed down the phone in the unique way he had, the receiver never went clean into the cradle, you heard a violent fumble of plastic on plastic before the receiver actually found it’s final resting place. It always made me smile.

Had I thrown it all away, he gave me too much credit - I wasn’t sure it was the case. He left me no choice from practically day one - yet I kept buzzing him back upstairs. There at the ready with a steady supply of Doritos, Diet Coke, and the cloying fear that mentally disturbed geniuses with gay porn physiques don’t come along every day.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I was nursing my Cosmopolitan, the bartender got it right, I thanked the gentleman who bought it for me, the Dominican who was rumored to have shot a guy in front of my apartment building a few days before.

It was a hot Summer’s evening, I had been grilling steak out on the terrace, and went back inside to cool off in the AC when I heard a startling Pop! Pop!! Those kids with those fireworks, I thought, I went outside like Gladys Krafitz to see who the culprits were. A guy from my building was wrenching his neck over the railing of the roof deck of our building, he said someone had been shot right there down on the sidewalk, smack dab in front of our building.

Sure enough, the ambulance came and whisked off the kid who was lying on the sidewalk, his Model’s t-shirt soaking up a good amount of the pint or two of blood that was escaping from his stunned body. He wasn’t dead just frozen in motion from the stun, someone had pulled up in a black SUV got out and shot him point blank – in the leg.

The cops arrived shortly thereafter and started taping off the crime scene, I had seen this on TV like everyone else, even about 10 blocks from where I lived, but never right in front of my house. It seemed like such a nice neighborhood, 2200 dollar 1 bedroom rentals, places to buy breakfast burritos and overpriced cupcakes; the next day I heard that it was a squabble over a large amount of cocaine, like a pound of it. The story went that Hefty Bags full of cocaine were moving in and out of a brownstone down the way, usually around 4 AM when no one was watching, but the old-school Italians didn’t miss much of anything, some of them in their 80’s now were finding it hard to sleep and would keep a watchful eye out from their windows, and word gets around, even to those of us who were “ruining” the neighborhood.

The detectives spent an hour or so talking to everyone in the surrounding buildings, people reported on the SUV, the rotund shaved head 30 something getting out of the car, a brief exchange of words between he and the boy in the white t-shirt, and then the two shots, seemed there was something to go on, but I never heard another word about the crime being solved, except some local intel from the guy who owned the flower shop up the street. He said word had it- it was this guy in the ‘hood I knew since he was a kid. He was this fat kid who was a real nuisance when he was younger, heckling me from across the street, arriving home by police car more often than not, but that was a long time ago, he seemed like he had turned the page, he would greet me with a “hi, Miss – how you doin’ today,” and tip his baseball cap that he never even wore backwards. It sure beat being called a whooore, which was his term of endearment for all us gals back in the day, he had really cleaned up his act. But according to my neighbor, he had got into a squabble with a guy he had fronted a pound of coke to, who also happened to be his first cousin, and had shot him not once but twice - taking careful aim in a non-life threatening area to encourage his cousin to make good on his end of the deal.

Seemed the guy at the Flower Shop had identified a solid suspect, as did most of the guys in the social clubs on Henry Street, the detectives had come up empty handed, and had seemingly moved on to other things. A friend of mine who used to head a crime unit said the detectives probably had the same info that had reached the streets, but tended to let low life characters work out their own business, particularly if the parties were "friends" that wouldn't offer up anything in the way of evidence, and only if none of the local yuppies got hit in the crossfire. The laws of the street trumped everything, and life went on. The boy who was shot was released from the hospital a day later, there was no more talk on the streets, the men at the social clubs had other more pressing business to attend to.

A couple of weeks later I decided to drop into my local bar for a beer or two, it was Friday night and the guy I was seeing was probably out with friends from work, or some woman who didn’t yet know about his formidable commitment issues. “Miss,” someone placed a hand on my shoulder, it was the Dominican fellow rumored to be the shooter, he offered a warm smile, “Please, let me buy you a drink,” he slipped into the open seat next to me at the old oak bar. He waved his posse over towards me, a huge guy with a shaved head and what appeared to be prison quality tats across his neck and arms, and his beautiful girlfriend who I imagined would be what you would encounter your first night in jail if you ever got caught doing something stupid. My old friend from across the street made the introductions, the bald guy extended his hand politely, the girl stared straight ahead as though she hadn’t heard. My neighbor and I had exchanged names, I had gone by “Whooore” so many years ago, he now wanted to know my name, he said he always liked me and just had his heart broken – he was looking for the real thing, tired of being a player, his bad boy days long behind him, I could think about it, but maybe he could be my boyfriend, he would treat me nice. The other two were now seated on the other side of my suitor, she was making it clear she and the bald man were an item by rubbing his half hard on through his Phat Farm jeans. Suddenly, the tat-necked bald friend got a call and went outside, my date said, “Will you kindly excuse me, Dear,” and followed his buddy out into the street. Now it was just me and my potential cellmate there at the bar, I thought it polite to break the ice. I noticed she was wearing a diamond watch I had spied at Bloomingdales, it was covering part of the muddied black ink that covered her hand and forearm. “Hey, I love your watch, that’s the “Diamond Deco”, right? – I was thinking about getting one.” She turned in her chair, “SO??.”, I assumed we were not destined to be besties, I returned to my drink and shut the fuck up. Our “dates” returned to our sides after deliberating outside, the night was still young, I feared. “Hey, I’m going to excuse myself at this juncture, I have to be at work early,” I realized tomorrow was Saturday, but quickly realized safe to say this crowd never had a 9-5 so my lie would not be detected. Everyone said goodbye, except for the girl who shot me an “I’ll cut you bitch” look before returning to her cold stare to nowhere. “Think about what I told you, I’d like to take you out for steak and shrimp, anyplace you want,” my Dominican neighbor said, he had been practicing dropping his Brooklyn accent for a few weeks, it seemed – he almost sounded like he read books, or The Times, or watched PBS after meeting guys with black brief cases right outside Kennedy. “Oh, I’ve got a boyfriend,” I said, referring to my commitment-phobe on again off again - who was probably out romancing a 24 year old, “it was very nice meeting you guys,” I thanked the alleged drug kingpin/possible shooter from across the way for my Cosmo; I was always sure to mind my manners, particularly in instances like these.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Sal was one of those advertising creative directors they had back in the day. He was a real working class kind of guy, if you met him on the street you wouldn’t be able to tell if he made pizzas, worked for the Department of Sanitation, or was a big New York Creative director at an ad agency, which is what he was. And he was a good one, too. He had a great creative sense, a love for the business, and a gregarious, jovial personality that made him a favorite of clients. He taught classes two nights a week down at The School of Visual Arts and was great to work for, particularly if you were kind of green in the business. He knew how to critique work and articulate why it was good, or why it wasn’t, and he always made sure to build you up so you’d want to do better the next time.

My partner, Brandy and I where always jazzed when we got an assignment with Sal. He loved good work, and saw something special in us, although we were practically just starting out. We would often shoot the breeze with him for 20 minutes or so after showing him storyboards of TV commercials we would dream up, he was always fun to be around. Respectful of us girls, generous with praise, he was like Santa Claus if he had a Brooklyn accent, a black beard, and wore 50/50 blend busting-at-the-seams shirts in lieu of the red and white suit.

He had a wife and a couple of kids that he kept photos of in Lucite frames on a sideboard where he also kept some of his awards that he’d won over the years at the agency. Besides teaching, we heard he had a modeling agency on the side, he had this friend, Lenny, who was his partner in the business. Lenny was a hack photographer, Sal would “call in a favor” and get Lenny to shoot product shots for clients that had limited financial resources. Lenny lacked any subtleties when it came to still photography, shooting cans of shaving cream on overly glossy black plastic with God rays behind it, but the clients couldn’t seem to tell the difference between he and the top dollar guys who had lofts on 23rd street and did deodorant shoots to support their art gallery level work which never paid the bills.

Sal was the brains of the modeling agency, we heard he scouted the talent, and Lenny was ready with his bag of tricks, a couple of SLRs, a range of lenses, and various back drop scenes like tropical islands or posh 5th Avenue apartments.

Brandy and I were moving to offices across the hall from Sal, we were his star team, and worked closely with him on a toy account. We were told the inside offices were an upgrade, which you could tell by counting the numbers of ceiling tiles that made up your space. If you counted and increase of 4 or more tiles, you were on the fast track. If you counted less tiles, it was time to look for a job. Between the two of us, we had an increase of 10 tiles so were figured we were on fire, and we partly had Sal to thank for that.

With Sal just across the hall, we started to notice a lot of activity between the hours of 12 and 3 in the afternoons. There was a steady stream of pretty girls, “pretty” in a cheap way you could say, but thin with long hair, and if they wore less make up and shopped less at the big discount stores next to Grand Central Station and maybe invested in facials to offset the breakouts from the dime store makeup – they might really have something. Scuttlebutt had it that Sal and Lenny’s Modeling Agency had no actual storefront, and no actual name, the bricks and mortar of it was Sal’s office that faced the 40th side of the agency. Girls would come and go between 12 and 3, and sometimes later, Lenny was usually there to help with the talent. The girl, usually in the 15-16 year-old age range would walk in, we’d hear Sal tell them to close the door behind them, then around 3 the activity would cease. After wrestling with the temperamental metal Venetian blinds behind his desk, the afternoon sun would flood in and Sal would ask us to wait while he ran to bring back a sandwich from the corner Italian deli. Brandy and I would wait patiently, we were always excited to show him work, we loved our jobs, the account we were on. If everything went right we would be on a plane to L.A. to shoot our first TV commercial.

As time went on we noticed that Sal was becoming less and less available to us, his modeling agency hours were taking up most of the afternoon, sometimes up until 5, at which point Sal’s portly wife and equally well-fed kids would come to visit after taking in a movie or a show – the four of them leaving together to grab the train out to Long Island.

One afternoon we had a big client meeting the next day, and hadn’t been able to get any time with Sal, he had postponed twice with us already, it was nerve wracking – if the creative director didn’t like the ideas you put in front of them you’d be back to square one and have to start from scratch. At this point we had less than 24 hours before we had to get on a train to our clients, and Sal was already 20 minutes late for our 3 o’clock. His door was closed, we had seen a young girl go in there with a portfolio around 2:15, per usual, Sal had asked her to close the door. Soon, it was 3:45, if we didn’t get in there soon we were surely in for an all-nighter with even the simplest revisions. We listened at the door, no voices could be heard, just a quiet sound, “ka-poo. ka-poo, ka-poo.” White flashes of light were coming from the space under the door - it was now 4 o’clock. After making sure nobody was coming down the corridor, Brandy got down on her hands and knees with her face pressed against the carpet to get a visual. “Oh My Fucking God, Claud,” she got up, dusting off her seersucker squirts. “There are two BARE FEET - right there,” she said pointing down towards the bottom of the door.

“This is fucking baaad,” she said, gaining momentum, “I’m goin’ in,” I shrugged an OK, I was glad that she was the one volunteering to bust Sal in the middle of his “meeting’.

BANG BANG BANG, Brandy pounded on the door. It was silent. The ka-poo’s went silent, we heard some scurrying, the flashing light under the door went dark. BANG BANG BANG, Brandy wasn’t relenting. Sal opened the door a crack, he appeared to be alone there with Larry who was awkwardly leaning against the air conditioning unit trying to appear nonchalant. “What is going on, Sal – we have a meeting tomorrow,” she pushed against the door - which was a formidable opponent wedged against Sal’s rock hard belly. And then we saw it through the cracked open door, it was there on Sal’s sofa, a small flesh colored bra, dingy and well-worn but neatly folded on the arm of the agency-issued love seat. We didn’t see a third party anywhere, just Sal’s sweaty face through the door crack, and his photographer/accomplis who now appeared to be seeking creative inspiration by leafing through an awards book annual. The bare naked feet and the young girl attached to them were apparently hiding in the corner, there behind Sal’s half cracked open door.

“This is fucked,” Brandy said as we backed into her office to discuss next steps. “I don’t know about you, but this is unacceptable,” she was going to march straight up to the creative director’s office, a woman who practically invented girl-power – she was just about the only female in the place at that level, and she ruled the roost. I, of course followed in Brandy’s huff although I could have just gone shopping instead - but we were a team, after all. I didn’t want to steal her thunder, the bare feet, the bra, and the BANG BANG BANG – she had bragging rights to this whistle blow if it went the right way, but I had to at least be in the room. It was like a great creative idea, everyone claims credit who happened to be standing in the room at the time when the guy first said it. Plus, it was hard to get an audience with the big lady creative director, but unauthorized photography shoots of under aged naked girls on agency premises? Chances are she would wave us right in.

Breathless, Brandy described the events that transpired around 3PM, she didn’t embellish, she didn’t have to – the naked facts spoke for themselves. “I see,” the lady creative director cocked her head slightly, not tipping her hand, “thanks for stopping by,” her nod seemed to show us the door.

By the time we got back to our floor, Sal’s door was shut again, it appeared he had left for the night, Larry was long gone for sure. The next day the account people called to tell us the client meeting had been postponed until the next week. It was 11 AM, Sal was nowhere in sight, he was usually one of the first ones there in the morning, but 12 PM, 2 PM, 3 PM came, the usual business hours of the modeling agency came and went; we never saw Sal again.

We heard his School of Visual Arts classes were still going strong, his students recommending him to all their friends. Rumor in the halls had it that he and Larry were going to make a go of it, they’d rented out an office in a strip mall a couple towns away from his house on Long Island; on-the-cheap product photography for clients on a budget and a class-act modeling agency for young girls with big dreams.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


He drove straight over when she announced she was suddenly pregnant, he had already started fucking this other chick even though they hadn’t been broken up for more than 23 hours, hadn’t bothered to change the sheets, you had to feel sorry for the girl, but then she called him, or sent him a text, I didn’t know which with the news. How did it read, “I M PRGNT” would be economical and to the point, and just as game changing. His heart did cart wheels, I had to wonder could it be a tactic, I knew a guy who’s ex lied about having cancer to get the guy back, people are capable of crazy things. But he believed in happy endings and this was a dream come true, he said, although he always had a policy that he never wanted kids, he made it clear to women he romanced, pulling out, his chosen method of birth control, with a 73% rate of accuracy, I imagined. This no-kids-policy was non-negotiable; he hadn’t the time - he liked to watch a lot of Spike TV, his job at UPS took up the rest of his days, ice hockey on Thursday nights - he surrendered his cat to the local shelter, “I want to be fair to the cat,” he said – yet this news sent him over the moon, people are full of surprises.

He did the noble thing, he called up the girl he had been drunk fucking the night before and gave her the good news and the heave-ho – he had a baby to think about, prodding some chick smelling of tequila paled in comparison, even if she did go into overdraft at Victoria’s Secret, he would man up – marry the girl, pick out cribs, bandy about names over two meals and a shared app at The Olive Garden. He wanted to be there when they took that little snap shot that looks like a Polariod with swoosh lines, he would leave the remote buried between the cushions, ask for the afternoon off from captaining the brown truck, maybe not get too too drunk on Saturday night; he was willing to sacrifice, there was a baby on the way.

The Dr’s visit never materialized. Sometime the following week his gal fell off the radar for a few hours, she mumbled something later that it wasn’t meant to be. The whole experience had brought them closer, like the cliché says, but in this case it was true and they were happy and looking for houses somewhere in Northern New Jersey, just far enough away from the landfills so you couldn’t really smell them and the houses were still affordable.


Pleasantly full, I call to thank him for my omelet w/rye toast, butter on the side, but he doesn’t pick up. Two minutes later I see his truck again, parked in front of her country store.

They used to be an item, that’s polite “for fucking”, she put her socks in his drawer without asking; he said she was a hysteric, unstable, “she’s somebody else’s problem now”; but I always see his pick-up truck right out front there, right on-the-dot to rescue her.

One morning he told me, “I’ll be over to help you” some eight months ago. A man to fix things; holes in my ceiling. tiles to grout, a light fixture for the island. The makeshift fixture hangs, a burned out bulb, glaring.

He’s busy this Saturday – hauling her heavy load, helping her get off the ground, just being there, she barely has to ask. So much joy in the rescue, I think – sitting there by the window, I hear his truck pass by again, on its way to her country store.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Dear Santa or God, please send me someone to ride with. Cal sees that look of want and says we’ll go some day this week definitely, it’s the thought that counts, I say, “great!” and “psyched!” knowing full well he’ll spend the week laying down flooring and ordering kitchen cabinets, he’s a grown up after all. I admit it, “desperate” is the only word for it – not for love or sex, I’m good, thanks – but someone to ride with is just as “sad”?? Desperate times/desperate measures – that’s what the internet is for but jeesh I don’t want to shower with you/don’t want a massage WTF I just want to RIDE, please leave your wee-wee out of this. Open invitation Wednesday nights at New York Scooter Club– chicks give me their backs, men under their thumbs– shifting in their 300 dollar SIDI boots risking punishment just to throw me a quick chit-chat that will earn them a certain scolding before bedtime. They’re riding tonight the full 20 minutes to Queens for souvlaki at this place that got 48 write ups on YELP – jeesh, my tachometer needs to get a life. Just send me someone who doesn’t have a job or a dog or a watch. I get real lucky sometimes - he idles up next to me at the light, we clunk-clunk into first at the very same time and start the dance, you first, then me: weaving, soaring, like a one night stand where no one gets hurt. Pretty-eyed Darth Vader – that 1100 bores quickly and you’re off to Coney Island or Rockaway or God knows where else with no goodbye because that’s just how it is. Maybe I’ll fill up, get me some of those chicken strips and lemonade – stand back from the counter, please, over there by the condiment station just follow the smell of raw onions clutching my receipt in front of me waiting for my number to be called, is that a six or an eight?? Next to me the sunburned guy with the bad ink and the 10k Jesus chain who’s busy texting his girlfriend while his wife in Juicy sweats that shows her cellulite off to it’s best advantage holds the table with their five kids who expand their verbal dexterity with words they picked up from strangers yelling out of car windows on the Belt Parkway. They shut their traps for a moment – almost seem like kids when the guy who makes the balloon animals finally gets to their table. I should ride and ride ‘til Exit 42 in Connecticut where people still get married and shammy their bikes and shop sweep their garages but Brooklyn is where I’m at; it’s where I ride solo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I never liked men with European accents but I was falling hard for Bernhard. He wasn’t my type, zero percent body weight, perfectly starched and fitted Diesel Brand shirts, Adidas (which he pronounced ah-dEE-DAAAHS) with laces that appeared to be bleached and pressed – yet he was growing on me fast. They put me together with him as a creative team at the agency where I worked, he had arrived in this country just weeks ago and was rumored to be a creative genius which proved to be true within the first hour of working together. He was a goldmine of brilliant out-of-the-box ideas.

No matter how horrible the assignment (we were quickly put on a big pharma pitch) he would make it fun and challenging. He raised the bar on creative ideas and I was challenging myself to jump higher with each new challenge, whether it was a radio spot that would run 10 times, or a crappy coupon ad, Bernhard said it had to be at “that level”.

He was a boarding school boy from a family of aristocrats – complete with a trust fund and a Rolex watch that he would let me wear like a boyfriend watch. He broke it off with his girlfriend of ten years when he came here to America and was staying with his good friends here, Michael and Sarah. There was never a dull moment with Bernhard, he would breeze in around 11 and say with his clipped staccato cadence, “So. My. Love. What. Will. We. Do. Today!!” We would have some unseemly assignment, but whatever it was, with Bernhard had to make it great, “The. Great. Idea. Will. Not. Happen. In. This. Shit. Office.” And with a, “Lunch?” he would whisk me off in a cab to some fancy eatery where we would work, drink, and eat crab cakes. Then it was back in a cab to the West Village to this little favorite record shop of his to buy LP’s of the latest dance beats, he was a huge fan and DJ hobbyist to add to his joie de vivre cred. Then it was off for two scoops of the best ice cream in the city, Bernhard had been here but a couple of months, but he was showing me a New York I had only seen in movies. He had a passion for the business combined with a real distaste for the office – so much so that my manager left me a voicemail one afternoon, “it would be nice if you two could occasionally stop by the agency,” but it was all good; we were hitting it out of the park – Bernhard was the best partner I’d ever had. And I was falling for him hard.

Bernhard and I spent breakfast, lunch, and dinner together – but the weekends were saved for his roommates, Michael and Sarah, to whom he seemed incredibly close. Bernhard would sneak out early on Fridays, “I’m. Going. With. Michael. And. Sarah. To. The. Hamptons. Soo. Lovely.” But I would dearly miss him over the weekend, we were glued at the hip Monday through Friday but weekends he would never so much as pick up his phone. One Friday afternoon he was packing up his man bag in a hurry so I asked, “Hey, Bernhard, maybe Michael and Sarah would like a weekend to themselves.” “What!,” he rolled his head in joy, “They. Love. Me. We. Have. Too. Much. Fun,” and he’d be off with a kiss. A few more weeks went by, I had more and more portfolio pieces for my book – Bernhard was the best thing to happen to me in the ad business – he was a great hugger, would hold my hand in cab rides to expensive restaurants, I was a goner. There was just this business about Michael and Sarah.

It was a crisp Fall Monday morning, Bernhard appeared at my office door, “Hey. Bay. Bee. Let’s. Rock.” We strolled over to Bryant Park, it was chilly, and Bernhard took off his 300 dollar Diesel Jacket and put it over my shoulders. “Come. Sit. Let’s. Talk.,” he led me over to two open seats on the lawn, “So. I. Have. Something. To. Tell. You.,” I couldn’t imagine, did he have a girlfriend, a wife and kids somewhere, what was with the lost weekends. He held my hand, “You…Know… Michael. And. Sarah…,” he said in a slow staccato, “Well. There. Is. No. Sarah.” He went on, “And. Michael. And. I. Are. In. Looove.”

Bernhard was flying high with this news finally off his chest, he didn’t seem to notice that the color had drained from my face. He giddily explained that had been hetero his entire life, had met an English banker 25 years his senior at a restaurant his first week in New York, Bernhard and he decided they were soul mates and had been together ever since. They were both well traveled, both spoke 5 languages, and had a passion for dancing and doing ecstasy until five in the morning. Bernhard had moved into Michael’s apartment and was living the gay life in NYC unbeknownst to his friends, family, and until five minutes ago, me. Bernhard popped out of his chair, grabbed both my hands and said, “Come! Come. See. Our. Beautiful. Home!” I had no time to process or protest, we were once again in a cab on the way to his Upper West Side homosexual soul mate love nest.

“I’m. So. Excited. To. Show. You. My. Dear,” he said, unlocking the door to the pre-war apartment that I’m sure his lover Michael snagged back in the day when he was young. There were fine English antiques everywhere, beautiful oriental rugs, and Robert Mapplethorpes on just about every inch of the walls. Expensive black and white prints, pristinely matted, professionally framed photos of naked twenty something men. Raw shots of men’s butt cheeks, men’s butt cheeks with horsewhips inserted in their anuses, men’s uncircumsized penises in bubble wrap. “Isn’t. This. Won. Der. Ful!” is wasn’t a question, I needed a glass of water. The kitchen was large and smelled like last night’s dinner although it was immaculate, save for a glass plate with white powder by the breadbox, “This. Weekends. Party. Favors,” Bernhard said with glee, the horse tranquilizer had a step-by-step preparation process, the men were proficient in the kitchen.

The cat was now out of the bag and now Bernhard’s felt he had a carte blanche to talk ad nauseum about Michael. He would describe their love making in graphic detail, how Michael had slowly broken Bernhard into homosexual lovemaking, Bernhard was the receiver. I lost my taste for crab cakes, the ten dollar glasses of wine, the trips to the little LP shop, it all took on a different flavor.

Our partnership was halted a couple of months after that, Bernhard had to find a better paying job, his partner Michael had quit his banking job, had “borrowed” most of Bernhard’s trust fund, and wanted to buy the apartment next door and break down the wall. Bernhard had become sole bread winner – and when I ran into him years later, we hailed a cab and had lunch at one of our old haunts. Bernhard had become a creative director at an agency who’s heyday had come and gone, he was on a terrible account forced to do terrible work to keep the client happy, he was now a slave to the big bucks, he had a whopping mortgage to pay, as well as having to throw Michael’s old lover some money now and again. He grumbled that Michael had to Get. Off. His. Ass. And get a job – he hadn’t lifted a finger since they day he walked away from Wall Street, I didn’t know the likelihood of that happening, I imagined that he was now well into his seventies. Bernhard still had his passion for club music, we strolled over to the little LP shop but it had gone out of business, then strolled a bit more before Bernhard said grumpily, “I have to get back to those fucking agency people,” his staccato now subdued, his job as a CD had sucked the life from him. I had been laid off from my agency job of 21 years - I was enjoying the farewell bag of money they had given me for signing the “I sign away all rights to sue your ass” agreement, life was good. I was seeing a mentally ill Physics professor who looked like Matt Damon who was keeping me on my toes by rarely showing up when he was supposed to and exhibiting borderline psychotic behavior when he did – his hairless gym body, Mensa-sharp wit, and calling me “baby” like he meant it was still gaining him access to my crib for the time being. “You. Are. Fucked. Up. Like. All. Single. Woman. In. New. York.,” Bernhard said with a window of staccato before giving me one of his world-class hugs and hopping in a cab; I didn’t know if I would ever see him again. He seemed so different, he’d gained 40 pounds, soured on the business, bitched about his spouse – he was pretty much like all the other beaten down ad hacks who had seen better days. But Bernhard had turned me on to great work, great food, and repetitive disco beats. He showed me how screwing around is fuel for the creative process and let me feel the cock ring through his slim Euro-jeans one day in the client’s lobby. Bernhard was one-of-a-kind and I had loved him back then, that was until the day we took a walk to Bryant Park, the day my whirlwind tour of New York took an abrupt left turn and there would be no turning back.