Monthly Archives: November 2003
It was in seventh grade that I was first introduced to Latin. We started out with Marcus puellam amat and progressed through by the end of the year to Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, etc. Or perhaps it was in second year Latin that we first hit Caesar–this was almost twenty years ago, so my memory is a little bit vague.
At one point we were assigned a project about Greek or Roman history or art or architecture or culture. The exact parameters have escaped me by now but I do remember that we did this project in pairs, all of us except E.T., who, being the class loser, was naturally anathema as a project partner. If memory serves, he came in dressed as a Roman gladiator and demonstrated various combat techniques on a stuffed dummy; this was pretty successful as a Latin project but did nothing, alas, to raise his standing in the class hierarchy. W.E. and W.N. made a Greek temple out of garbage; rumor had it that there was a piece of cat poop inside. The fact that they flunked the project lends credence to the cat poop legend, but as the motivations of the powers that be are often shrouded in mystery, I’m not willing to stick my neck out for this one.
At any rate, I worked with C.O. for my project, which was more or less all my design: we made a working model of Tartarus, the classical version of hell, using Legos and Star Wars figures.
This involved a cardboard box on its side with a lot of wires and string and holes in the back. There was Obi-Wan Kenobi as Sisyphus, pushing a clay boulder up a posterboard mountain colored with brown marker. Whenever he neared the top, we would jerk the string attached to the boulder and let it fall back down the mountain; then Obi-Wan, by means of a wire wrapped around his waist and running through the back of the box, would follow forlornly down after it and start the whole thing up again. On the other side of the posterboard mountain was bound Han Solo as Prometheus, attended by some vultures (on wires) to eat his liver every morning. (Technically this was a concatenation of the punishments of Prometheus, who was bound to a mountain but who didn’t actually end up in Tartarus and whose heart was eaten by an eagle, and Tityus, whose liver was eaten daily in Tartarus by vultures and snakes but who wasn’t actually bound to a mountain, being spread rather over nine acres of land. But we couldn’t spread Han Solo over nine acres, even to scale, so we figured we’d fudge it.) Princess Leia was a Danaidthere were 49 of them according to Greek myth, but even my extensive collection couldn’t produce that many women in the male-dominated mythos that was Star Warsforced eternally (again by means of wires) to fill an ostensibly leaky jar made of Legos by means of an ostensibly leaky cup from the Lego Town House collection. Luke Skywalker was Ixion, turning forever on a burning wheel (also posterboard) as punishment for dallying with Hera. And Ice Planet Han Solo was Tantalus, always reaching up (pull the wire) for the fruit on the branches above him (pull the string attached to the twig) or down (push the wire) for the water in the pool below him (let go the string attached to the blue posterboard).
In hindsight, we should have had Darth Vader as Hades sitting on a throne above it all, but we were thirteen, so perhaps we can be forgiven.
And we got an A+ all the same.
Tonight we watched Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.
I don’t think I’ve been this scared to go to bed since I was a child and got through the first part of The Hound of the Baskervilles but stopped out of terror before I found out it was all a hoax.
Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Western Maryland with my dog, this man, his dog, and his boyfriend. I will be here for a week, during which I expect to do nothing but 1) eat and 2) give thanks that I live in a place not littered with signs informing me that Jesus paid my sin bill.
The first time I went out in costume for Hallowe’en was, I believe, at age five. My parents asked me what I wanted to go as, and I told them, “I want to be a witch.”
Choosing to ignore the clear sign of incipient homosexuality, they procured a witch costume, complete with pointy black hat and broom; what they failed to understand, however, was that I had been speaking in terms of a life choice.
Well, that was certainly exhausting.
Not quite as exhausting to tell as to go through, but still.
Continued from two days ago.
We left the restaurant and started walking around the block. It’s slightly difficult to walk with one’s heart in one’s throat, but somehow I managed. Eventually he said, “I like you. And I’m really attracted to you. But . . . what’s going to be different this time?”
I started talking, stammering even more than I usually do when I’m nervous. I talked about the strong effect our conversation on Yom Kippur had had on me; I talked about my coming to see him in a new light; I talked about my understanding of what a blackguard I’d been. “I’m a different person than I was a year ago,” I said.
“Okay,” he said.
“I mean, you can think about it, you don’t have to give me an answer now, or if your answer’s no I completely understand and”
“No, I mean, okay, I’ll go out on a date with you.”
Then I burst into tears.
Which was the first time I’d done that in front of him, despite having dated him for six months. So I was already doing better on the emotional honesty front, as bursting into tears is something I find myself having the urge to do at least twelve times every day, but I always bottle it up.
So we’ve seen each other a few times since then, and I’ve had a really nice time (except for when I herniated, though I suspect that, with some fudging, not having to go to the emergency room can be counted as having a really nice time). I’m excited and nervous and terrified and full of hope and doubt.
And with that, you’re all current. So far, this story has no ending.
It’s just to be continued.
Continued from yesterday.
Of course my first impulse was to leap immediately into the street, into the path of oncoming traffic, and hope that there was a Mack truck very, very close by.
Paralyzed by cold and horror and guilt and shame and wishing I’d never been born, however, my body refused to act on this impulse, and so instead I sat there in silence, staring at my lap because naturally I was about as capable of looking him in the face as I was of sprouting wings and flying to the moon. I’m sure only a minute or two went by, but it sure as hell felt like I remained mute for the length of all the Cretaceous Period plus half of the Tertiary Period before I spoke.
“I’m trying to figure out what to say that won’t be meaningless,” I said.
“Just say the truth,” he said.
So I did.
And what followed was an extraordinary conversation about honesty and letting people in and fear and facing your emotions and telling other people what you really think. None of these things has ever been my forte. My M.O. is, in general, to tell people what I think they want to hear so that they won’t despise me when they find out who I really am. But in this case, there was no escape route open, there were no evasive tactics I could employ. I had to talk about what I actually felt.
And it was wonderful.
To detail the actual feelings would be too soporific for even the most avid readers, and, besides, they’re more or less contained in the narrative of this blog. So I’ll summarize: ambivalent, cavalier, affectionate, all mixed up together.
It turns out that, about a month before the conversation I’m writing about, he’d seen somebody’s profile on gay.com that had a link to that person’s blog; that blog in turn had a link to mine. He realized it was me after about two secondsso much for the pretense of anonymity hereand went back to read the archives from the time we were dating.
In the end, he said (I’m paraphrasing somewhat), “I understand why you did what you did. You were just out of a serious relationship; you should have had ‘rebound’ stamped on your forehead. What upset me was that you didn’t tell meI didn’t have informed consent.”
Finally, the cold made it impossible for us to continue the conversation, so we headed towards the subway. “At first I was furious,” he said. “But now I feel like it’s actually pretty funny.”
“Give me a month to get there,” I said. “Right now I just want to go home and throw myself out my window.”
“Don’t throw yourself out your window. You live on the second floor. You’ll just hurt yourself.”
The thing is that the next morning, when I woke up, I still felt great about having actually been honest in a difficult situation for once in my life. (I don’t mean to imply that I’m a pathological liarthough I’ve told more than my share of untruths, I’m speaking here of emotional honesty.)
And then I started thinking, wait, what if it wasn’t him who was the problem when we were going out?
What if it was me?
Could it be that my complete inability to let him in or trust him or show him any real part of myself or see any real part of him had something to do with why I felt it wasn’t working?
He does, after all, fit all of my requirements: he’s handsome, smart, funny, compassionate, stimulating, and a top. Furthermore, he’s a med student, and he says things like, “I can’t figure out whether I want to join Doctors Without Borders when I graduate or run a gay community health center.”
In the days following The Conversation, we hung out more frequently than we ever had when we were datinghe said that he felt a lot better having gotten things off his chestand I found myself wanting more and more to try again, if he’d even remotely consider such a thing, that is, given the cad I’d turned out to be on the last go-round. So, in fact, this post was about him.
Eventually I realized that the only thing to do was to ask him. I was completely ready for rejectionwhat sane person, after all, would want to stick his finger in that pencil sharpener again?but held out a slim hope that he might not be sane.
So we went to the movies (this time it was Runaway Jury, the quality of which augured better for the subsequent conversation than Underworld had) and then to dinner. I sat through the whole dinner completely distracted and unfocused, wanting at every moment to speak and being unable to. If I can just get one word out, I thought, I will have committed myself and I can finish.
So finally I got out “There’s,” thereby committing myself, and followed it with “something I want to talk to you about.”
“Okay,” he said.
The silence that followed this exchange lasted for eras, not just periods, making the silence described at the beginning of this post seem positively infinitesimal. Staring at the table, because once again I couldn’t look him in the face, I kept beginning:
“I . . . I wa . . . I . . .”
And finally, from some place hidden in the depths of my psyche, I found a store of courage previously hidden from me; having found that courage, I screwed it to the sticking place and said:
“I want to ask you out on a date.”
He looked at me briefly without saying a word. Then he spoke:
“Let’s go for a walk.”
To be continued.