January 14, 2004

N.B.: This post is inspired by a recent post on this man’s blog.

In college, I lived in the dorm widely known to be the place where all the pretentious artsy clove-cigarette-smoking fags lived. We enjoyed this reputation and did our best to live up to it. Other dorms had Italian Tables and German Tables at mealtimes for those who wanted to practice speaking those languages; we had, in addition, a wildly popular French Accent Table. One year the theme for our winter formal was the Masque of the Red Death; the next year it was the Seven Deadly Sins. That sort of thing.

The year before I got there, the dorm T-shirts said “[Name of dorm]: We’re all gay and we’re coming to get you.” I live to this day with the regret of having been fool enough not to do everything within my power to obtain one of these.

But my junior year, I attended the dorm committee meeting at which they were going to decide what to put on the new T-shirts. A front runner quickly emerged: “[Name of dorm]: You are who you pretend to be.” Someone suggested that it would really be much snobbier (and therefore better) if the shirts said “We are who we pretend to be.”

I sat listening for a while and then offered what seemed to me to be the obvious choice: “[Name of dorm]: We are who you pretend to be.”

This was greeted with great acclaim and accepted unanimously. Then whoever took the order to the T-shirt place told them to italicize “are” and “pretend” and ruined the whole damn thing.

I still have the shirt, but I can never wear it without a certain bittersweet awareness of the absolute impossibility of perfection.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 11 Comments

January 13, 2004

A friend made me this for my birthday:

I feel almost unworthy of a gift in which humor and insight and wisdom are operating on so many levels.

Mostly I feel lucky to have the friends I have. I mean, if somebody brilliant enough to create this is willing to be my friend, I can’t be all bad, can I?

Can I?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 6 Comments

January 12, 2004

Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday, dear Faustus.
Happy Birthday to me.

Though perhaps, given my senescence, a more appropriate birthday song would be the one they used to sing whenever it was anybody’s birthday in the music library where I used to work:

It’s your birthday.
It’s your birthday.
Gloom and misery fill the air.
People dying everywhere.
It’s your birthday.
It’s your birthday.

People keep telling me the 30s are much better than the 20s.

Let’s hope this is borne out by experience.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 38 Comments

January 11, 2004

I turn 31 years old tomorrow.

The older I get, the less I feel I understand anything.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 6 Comments

January 9, 2004

After last year’s conspiracy scandal, I know better than to get my hopes up, but if you like my blog, go and nominate me for a Bloggie before the nominations close at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday.


Posted on by Joel Derfner | 6 Comments

January 8, 2004

I was chatting last night with this man, and we were discussing the apparently universal childhood sandbox game.

In case it’s less universal than I think it is, I’ll explain that the game goes something like this: one kid comes up to another and says, “I won the sandbox.” Kid #2, treating the verb in that sentence as its homonym from the world of cardinal numbers, says “I two the sandbox.” Kid #1 says “I three the sandbox.” This continues until Kid #2 is forced to say “I eight the sandbox,” and Kid #1 and all the spectators laugh hysterically at Kid #2 for being stupid enough to have eaten a sandbox.

As I approach senescence (my 31st birthday is in less than a week), the question sticks in my mind: why did we stand for this?

Why, when some little prepubescent putz came up to us and said that he’d won the sandbox, did we miserably play along, knowing from the beginning that we would be, in short order, an object of mockery and derision for everybody in the playground? Why didn’t we just tell him to fuck off?

I’m beginning to think that being a grown-up means understanding that “Because you have to” isn’t sufficient justification for doing anything.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 12 Comments

January 7, 2004

The summer after my freshman year of college, I sent my high school a check. But it was a donation with strings. Along with the check, I sent a note that said, “Please use the enclosed check to buy the following books for the school library,” and listed several books I wished had been so readily available to me during my coming out; the only one I remember specifically was Brian McNaught’s On Being Gay, which was extraordinarily helpful to me at the age of fifteen or sixteen or whenever I read it, but there were three or four others as well.

Full of sanctimony and self-righteousness, I thought, “Well, that’ll show them. They can’t very well refuse the check, so they’ll have to buy the books.” Visions of destroying the homophobic prejudices running through every current of my high school danced in my head; I would be the savior of the new gay generation, and they would all thank me for it, except of course that they wouldn’t know who the books had come from, just that they were in the library, which made the whole thing even better, the gift being slightly higher up on Maimonides’ Ladder of Charity, so they’d just thank the universe, and me as a part of it, and I would be glad to know that I’d helped.

Which is exactly the way it would have happened if the check hadn’t bounced.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 12 Comments

January 5, 2004

On New Year’s Eve, after seeing Big Fish, E.S. and I went to dinner at Ollie’s, a Chinese restaurant that, though it offers mediocre food and bad ambience, had the virtue of being across the street from the movie theater on a cold night. On my right and E.S.’s left sat an enthusiastic heterosexual couple in town from Westchester to ring in the New Year. On my left and E.S.’s right sat an old heterosexual couple. (I am almost as bad at guessing people’s ages as I am at answering the Sports and Leisure questions in Trivial Pursuit, but I’d say they were probably in their late 60s or early to mid-70s.)

In any case, E.S. and I tried to make appropriately romantic conversation, but we were defeated first by the utter lack of ambience and then by the increasingly fascinating conversation of the old couple on my left and his right. He was saying things like, “But don’t you want somebody to come home to?” and she was saying things like, “I had that for forty years, I don’t need it anymore.” Then they went on to Viagra.

Then it hit us: they were on their first date.

They were on their first date and they had met online.

God bless the internet.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 14 Comments

January 4, 2004

Yesterday, I went to Philadelphia for the evening to see a show playing there. This was noteworthy not only because I got to see two friends I hadn’t seen in a while (one who lives there and one who turned out to be the musical director of the show) but also because it was the first time I’d ever taken the Chinatown bus, a service that will get you from one major city’s Chinatown to another’s for a very low fee.

The trip down was uneventful.

The trip back up involved multiple movie screens on the bus, all showing Executive Decision, a movie starring both Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal. Furthermore, though my instinct for self-preservation impelled me to sleep through the movie, I was prevented from doing so by the three fags who screamed the whole time (at the screen, at each other, at people on the other ends of cell phones). Understand that this left Philadelphia’s Chinatown at 11:00 p.m. and got into New York’s Chinatown after 1:00 a.m.

Time was I would have been able to take this in stride.

But I turn 31 in just over a week, and I’m looking forward to taking my place in society as a crotchety and cantankerous old man.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 7 Comments

January 3, 2004

This is, unexpectedly, my second post today, though it won’t seem like it, as I began drafting today’s first post yesterday and then accidentally published it today before I’d finished writing it—but the idiosyncracies of Blogger mean that, though it wasn’t published until late this morning, it’s dated yesterday afternoon. I considered removing it, finishing it, and reposting it complete and whole, but its very unfinishedness is representative of the amount of mental clarity I seem to be able to summon about the issues I was discussing, so I figured, what the hell.

The punchline to the unfinished story is that the anaerobic physicist was the first guest we met after we put our coats away. The meeting of these two people so unnerved me that I could barely remember my own name, which explains why, with no warning, I introduced E.S. as my boyfriend.

So now the cat’s out of the bag, and there’s no going back.

P.S.: His head, unlike mine when the subject came up last time we were dating, did not explode. We discussed it afterwards, and I officially asked him if he would be my boyfriend. He said yes.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 15 Comments