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March 9, 2003

When my ex N.T. and I first became exes a year and a half ago, we lived together for a month or so before he moved out. Since he had no real job, I’d been supporting him for a year and a half; when we broke up, we split the bank account in half. He couldn’t completely cover his expenses for the rest of the month, so I lent him somewhere between three and four hundred dollars and told him to pay me back when he could, which I assumed would be never.

However, in the intervening time he has communicated on several occasions his desire to pay me back and his intention of doing so as soon as he’s able, which I have assumed would be never.

Imagine my surprise last week when a check came in the mail for the full amount of what he owed me. I was pleased and proud of him in an I-still-hate-your-guts-but-maybe-you’ll-amount-to-something-in-this-life-after-all kind of way. I whistled a happy tune and deposited the check.

It bounced.

Is there such a thing as karmic overdraft protection?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 10 Comments

March 8, 2003

Tonight I saw Little Fish, an off-Broadway musical starring (among others) Lea DeLaria.

Then I went with the gay cheerleaders to Henrietta Hudson’s, a lesbian bar in the west village, for Spirit Night.

God, I love lesbians.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 4 Comments

March 7, 2003

I had a post all prepared for today, full of bitterness and rancor, and I was going to post it, but then I went to the movies and saw Zus & Zo at the Quad Cinema, and I seem temporarily to have lost the ability to be bitter and rancorous.

That’s how good a movie it was. Funny, sad, moving, heartwarming, full of wonder and grace. Please go see it as soon as you can.

Tomorrow I’ll be bitter and rancorous, I promise.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 1 Comment

March 6, 2003

Am I the only one who weighs myself to figure out if I can eat dessert or not?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 11 Comments

March 5, 2003

A year or two ago, I was having an e-mail discussion with a former student of mine in which I mentioned that I had started to read Les Misérables and was finding it frightfully dull. She responded that I should keep on going, because they drink absinthe, and how can you not love people who drink absinthe?

So in December, when I was in Prague, where absinthe is legal (as opposed to here, where it seems to exist in a gray area), I picked up a bottle for her.

She came into New York today and we had lunch in celebration of her twentieth birthday tomorrow. By giving her the absinthe in person as opposed to mailing it to her, I feel certain I cut in half the number of state and federal laws I broke.

Then we got our fortune cookies, and somehow managed to end up with only one fortune between the two of us, so we decided it would apply to both of us. We read it, and it said, “You are never bitter, deceitful, or petty.”

It might as well have said, “You do not require oxygen to stay alive.”

Clearly the fortune was intended for the bottle of absinthe.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 4 Comments

March 4, 2003

Last night I went to Duane Reade to get contact lens solution and, generously, a diet Sprite for my brother (who is also my roommate). The person in front of me in line somehow managed to make a request that required the only cashier on duty to disappear for what seemed like an eternity. While I waited, I picked up a box of orange Tic Tacs. I figured, okay, if each of these has half a calorie, then even if I eat the whole box right here and now I should be okay. So I did.

Then, when the cashier had returned after her eternity away, and after the person in front of me had made three or four more requests that, while annoyingly time-consuming, didn’t require the cashier’s further disappearance, I stepped up to the register and presented my contact solution, my diet Sprite, and my empty box of orange Tic Tacs.

She rang up the contact solution and the diet Sprite. Then she got to the empty Tic Tac box and stopped cold. She looked at me as one might look at a person one suspects of being a dangerous lunatic and asked, “What is this?”

“It’s a box of Tic Tacs,” I said. “I got hungry waiting for you to come back so I ate them all.”

It was as if I had confessed to eating my family.

“You’re not supposed to eat these all at once! You’re supposed to eat them two or three at a time!”

I was momentarily thrown off balance, but I quickly recovered my equilibrium.

“I did. I ate two. Then I ate three. Then I ate two more. Then I ate three more.”

She expelled her breath in disgust, rang up the Tic Tacs, took my money, gave my change, handed me my receipt, and stapled my bag shut, all without saying another word.

The Rite Aid is a block further away but maybe it’s worth it.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 18 Comments

March 3, 2003

Here is a lyric to a song I just finished. It’s called “Backwards Day.”

I stepped into the seven train this morning,
My hair just right, in perfect disarray.
I glanced across the aisle to see
A gorgeous man, eyes fixed on me.
When I looked back, he didn’t look away.

He gazed at me through station after station.
His eyes were deep and blue and left no doubt.
I grabbed my courage, took the dare,
And asked him, “Why the sexy stare?”
He said, “Because your shirt’s on inside-out.”

Every day is Backwards Day in my life.
I run across the finish line going in the wrong direction,
Having stupid accidents, causing strife,
And sleeping through my subway stop,
Never making a connection
To the person that I want so much to be,
So instead I’m always stuck being me.

But fate was with me: once again I saw him.
At the pretzel cart, I got a second chance.
I caught his eye and flashed a smile,
Said, “Careful there, the hot dog’s vile,”
Stepped forward, and spilled ketchup on his pants.

Every day is Backwards Day when you’re me.
You’re never really on the ball—just a step or two behind it,
Raising people’s hackles accidentally.
The other day I realized how much easier I’d find it
If I turned into a pumpkin or a yam,
But instead I’ve got to stay who I am.

So why did he give me his number?
What the hell do I do with this card?
Is he a therapist looking for patients?
‘Cause, if so, I’m irreparably marred.
I’m a giant, spectacular fuck-up
Who fits in like a foot in a glove.
I see people go forwards and crabs going sideways
But I’m just too backwards to love.

But . . . what if, when it’s Backwards Day, that’s okay?
And what if me the way I am is the me the Fates intended?
What if every lack I feel every day
Is not a lack at all, but rather leaves more room for something splendid
To appear and—oh, my God, that’s him, one flight of stairs below.
Now don’t hesitate, just go,
But this crowd is too damn slow,
So I’ll just shove my way along
Through the people in the throng.
Hey, remember me? I—AAAAAAAAAAAH!

(Beat.)

Gosh, your arms are strong.

Thank God I don’t really believe that part about me the way I am being the me the Fates intended. Otherwise I might start developing a sense of self-worth.

And who knows where that would lead me?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 4 Comments

March 2, 2003

Okay, you’re having sex and you’re about to have an orgasm, and you (very considerately) want to let your partner know, so that he can either join you in the experience or ask you to wait if he needs a little time to catch up (or, if you’re beyond restraint, make sure you don’t stain his sheets). So you say, “I’m coming!”

Why do you sound so surprised?

What, you weren’t expecting this?

What is it about the experience of orgasm that makes us tell each other about it not only as if we had never done it before and were shocked and thrilled to find ourselves capable of it, but as if in fact no one had ever done it before and we were shocked and thrilled to find anyone capable of it, much less ourselves, and secretly proud that we were the first?

Do girls do this too?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 11 Comments

March 1, 2003

From Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay & Lesbian Russia, by David Tuller:

“It occurred to me that there might be a problem with Russia’s AIDS efforts when I saw the safe-sex poster of a man chopping off his penis with a hatchet. This safe-sex strategy, advised the poster, guaranteed the safest sex of all.”

Ouch.

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