Import-A-Gay

I would move to New York for you. Would you move to Honolulu for me?” asked my handsome date. I took one bite of burrito and stared longingly at his mesmerizing hazel eyes. “Absolutely not,” I replied.

“Oh,” he answered. I shrugged my shoulders and nonchalantly noshed on my Mexican feast. “Oy, this guy is handsome, tall, and quirky, but shit, I can’t get a good bagel in Hawaii. Hence, fuck no, I am not moving to Honolulu,” said I, internally.

In New York, I have wonderful friends, a rich cultural life and plenty of inspiration to last me a thousand years. Unfortunately, one thing was missing.

While walking down Fourteenth Street, I was met with some of Manhattan’s most handsome men. Unfortunately for me, I was met with their head turn, whenever potential eye contact would potentially arise. This had left me a bit disappointed. “Gee, is my future husband hiding under a rock?” asked I.

“More than likely, he is. That’s it. He’s under a rock,” declared I. While almost shedding a tear at my lack of male attention, I bravely smiled again. “Oh yes, tomorrow is a big day,” said I.

The next morning, anxiety levels rose. “Shit, I have to pack. I have to pack,” said I. That afternoon, I was on a flight to California to visit my father.  Sweat dripped, even as chilly winds blew from my window unit. I ran out of my apartment and hailed a cab. Goodbye, Seventh Avenue, hello, California for the next few days.

I made my flight on time. Like any trip to California, there was a layover in an unexplored part of the world. “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Dallas,” announced the friendly flight attendant. My connecting flight arrived in Dallas, early. Soon, I made it to my gate and the people watching commenced.

I pulled out a good book. In actuality, I peered through the airport’s imposing windows, which were filled with perfectly aligned American Airlines planes. The Dallas skyline was seen from a distance. There are Men in cowboy hats out in the horizon, I declared. Rather than feeding my intellectual cravings, I took a dramatic step for gay boys, everywhere.

Damn it, I tried to avoid it, but I am going on Tinder and finding a Texan. I pulled up the phone app and started swiping (a swipe to the left means not interested, a swipe to the right means the opposite. Also, if they also swipe to the right, you’re a match).

With great excitement my phone was buzzing with matches. ” Wow, I didn’t get this many matches back home,” said I. One fellow really tickled my online dating fancy. He had a cleverly written profile and shaggy red hair. I started a simple conversation with that most thrilling word of all, hi. He responded back. Visions of us meeting, falling in love and yes, him moving to New York, (just for me) played in my head.

“Ladies and gentleman, we are now boarding our flight to Ontario,” announced, the flight attendant. Passengers eagerly lined up towards the gate. “Oh shit, what’s the point of messaging these guys, if I won’t meet them. Long distance relationships are tough, ” declared I. While boarding the plane, I wondered if cupid’s arrow would ever strike me in New York. Disappointingly, I didn’t connect with my cowboy.

The plane took off, flying past the flat lands, a maze of suburbs, and then the imposing Dallas skyline arose. Texas eventually faded with the evening fog. “Oy, what happens if I had really connected with that guy? Was he the one? Would he had really taken the next step and moved to New York? Or would he stay in Dallas? Asked I, pondering the great questions of the mighty singleton.

It made me wonder, if the true love of my life was really in New York? Or if I had to search elsewhere. After a very relaxing vacation in Palm Springs and Riverside, I returned to New York. A week later, I was wondering Alphabet City.

The neighborhood still retained some of its funky 90’s edge. I was attending a friend’s very fabulous drag queen photo exhibit. Outside, the exhibit hall, there was a sea of arty gays. They adorned their New York style with some sort of quirky edge (i.e. funky glasses and eccentric shoes).

Finally, the doors of the exhibition hall opened. I took a seat. As I waited for the show to start, my eyes locked with a handsome older guy. “Hi, he said. I politely replied, “hi, how are you? While keeping my eyes locked with him. As he took a seat, I smiled. “Why look outside New York for a guy? Finding love here may not be an impossible after all. The rock my future husband is hiding under is probably on the corner of St. Mark’s & Avenue A.

Beatnik Heartbeat

In my last year of suburban innocence, I took one bold step. Upon entering a darkened basement, my eyes gazed into an unexpected sight. The intensity of a beating drum romanced my senses.

“I am the party star. I am popular,” sang the band. They were covering the anthem of 90’s teenage angst, popular. Quirky artwork filled the walls of the basement. The brightness served as a lighted candle. People sat in Indian style, bobbing their heads to the music. I smiled from ear to ear. Along with my friend, Nicky, we were taking in the intoxicating bohemian surroundings in the midst of our conservative town.

We joined the other revelers and sat Indian style. It was my first foray into open mic night at Back to the Grind, our local independent coffee house.

Poets went up on stage. Each spoke eloquently of their life experiences. Nervously, I fidgeted with my notebook paper. After one poet turned his poetry into a musical number to remember, the stage was left empty. I took a deep breath and galloped on stage.

The spotlight hit my face. It was harsh and intensified, when I read the first lines of the poem. I The words flowed with a proper theatrical accent. I took one last breath and quickly read the poem without stuttering. The audience clapped. I bowed and that marked my debut as poet. “This is going to be me, forever, audience applause, thought, I.

Years went by, and I didn’t write poetry. Instead, I wrote plays and short stories. Then one day, while sitting in a most cliché of surroundings, an East Village coffee shop. I opened up my $1 black marble notebook and filled the blank pages with a spontaneous poetry. “I’m back, I declared.

Soon, I immersed myself in New York’s poetry scene, attending reading after reading. Secretly, I longed to have the spotlight on my own work. My opportunity arrived.

A poet friend told me of open mic night at the Sidewalk Café in the East Village. Joyfully, I decided to share my poetry with an audience.

That day, the skies above Astor Place were an inspirational shade of hazy grey. I made my way through east Seventh Street. Nerves were ignited like fireworks over a darkened sky. “Oy, I need to go in front of perfect strangers and reveal my soul. This sounded wonderful an hour ago. Am I mad? Asked I, walking toward Alphabet City.

I took a seat on a bench in leafy Tompskin’s Square Park, Central Park’s grungy cousin. A sweet melody seduced my senses. “What is this most serenading sound?” asked I. To the corner of my eye was a folk band playing harmonious music. Instantly, my anxiety levels subsided.

“I just need to relax. This is the East Village, where (beat poet) Allen Ginsburg was inspired and famous punk bands played. I am joining a grand tradition of creative types inspired by the clash of folk music and grit, which engulf the landscape,” said I.

I left the comfort of a park bench for the venue. “ Nervousness, what the fuck is that?” asked I, practically skipping into the bar. The nervous fireworks returned. I stared into the crowd, which was half hipster and thought “I don’t think they’re going to get my poetry.

With great bravery, I signed up. “I’ll take a glass of wine and a burger,” said I to the waitress. “Food and wine will help ease my nerves,” thought I. An uneasy feeling lingered.

The first poets stepped on stage. “Sex, cultural differences and body image issues are going to be covered & the audience will applaud,” were my initial thoughts. “Fuck, I am genius, declared I. Most of the poems revolved around those topics. The audience ate it up like a warm knish on freezing cold day.

My name didn’t come up. “That’s weird I signed up for open mic, when am I going to be called? Asked I. After one last poem about lesbian desires, intermission happened. Suddenly, I was called up for the poetry slam, where one gets judged for their work. “Fuck, I signed up for open mic. This has to be a mistake,” said I.

I had preconceived ideas on a poetry slam. Shrugging my shoulders, I gave it a whirl. The first poet went up, she read a poem about Billy Holliday, which she later turned into a story about sex. “Oy, this story makes me happy to be gay, “ thought I.

The audience clapped. She left the stage. With much shock, she was given a score by random judges. “Shit, they’re giving out scores? You get judged for bearing your soul? How can people give out scores for this?” asked I with a swift eye roll.

Escaping was not a viable option. Soon, I went on stage. I made a joke. Nobody laughed. Then I read my poem to an ocean of emotionless faces. The experience was a speedy one. I finished and left the stage. The audience clapped, politely.

My score was low, very low. Oh, my poor poetic soul free fell into disappointed. I kept a brave demeanor, but bolted out of the venue after the show ended.

“This was such a disappointment. My first show in years and nobody got me,” said I. Like many disappointed writers before me, I took an obvious step.

“Dad, the show sucked. Everybody hated me. I don’t think I want to do this again,” said I, on the phone. My dad with a giggle responded, “You had the guts to go up on stage. I am proud of you. So, you feel like shit now, but you’re the type to just keep on going, no matter how much people hate you. After an uplifting conversation, I dusted myself off and carried on.

Rather, than feeling like a failure, I walked crosstown to the subway. “ This is only the beginning and fuck, if I didn’t do well on this show. My poetry-reading journey has just begun. While crossing Fifth Avenue, I let out the following words, “fuck it.” From there, I planned my next performance. More importantly, I know I did something right, when a group of silly hipsters just didn’t get it.

Uptowners

While awaiting my flight, home to New York, anticipation grew. “Gee, I’ve only been away for five days, but already I miss my friends, coffee shops, and wandering the city on foot for hours.

More importantly, I bought lovely new frocks while on my California holiday. I couldn’t wait to parade around the East Village in dazzling new cardigans.

After landing in EWR, I waited for my train into the city. The humidity levels rose. “Oy, Toto, we’re not in humid free, California any longer,” I declared. Sweat dripped into the train platform’s bleak concrete, forming miniature rivers.

I glared at my carry on, which was filled with wonderful new clothes, designed for cold weather. Happy thoughts, said I. Pea coats, sweaters and cardigans with those words, I took a flying saucer and ventured back to the Polar Vortex.

Snow, slush and more snow, the city had morphed into a splendid upside down, snow globe. In icy temperatures, I walked along practically deserted, Park Avenue. “This isn’t so bad, empty side walks and single digits temperatures, said I. Harmoniously, my teeth sounded like a well tuned type writer from shivering. “At least, it’s not hot,” I declared.

It snowed randomly, even on days when it wasn’t forecasted. Being a native Californian with plenty of East Coast winters under my belt, the blizzards were still thrilling. Something about the cold weather gave me a strong craving for comfort food.

“Pickles, why am I craving pickles?” asked I. Cucumbers are the food I fear the most. However, I was craving sliced fried pickles. Even the feared cucumber/pickles tasted delicious, when fried. I made a bold step for foodies everywhere. I called my friend Anna. “Let’s go to Harlem Public. I am craving their fried pickles,” said I. Anna agreed.

In the midst of heavy snow, we marched up the street, toward Broadway. Classic Harlem brownstones with lavish stoops were filled with white powdery snow. It fell from the sky and blinded the naked eyed.

As a winter enthusiast, I wondered, “why am I going up a hill in a snow storm for fried pickles?” Both of us just wanted to go home.

“Frosty the snowman was a very happy soul,” I started singing Christmas carols. If anything could make a journey in rough conditions delightful, it was campy Christmas music. Anna joined along. By the time we wished each other a very merry Christmas for third time, there it stood, Harlem Public. We had arrived. We wiped the snow from our black coats and ran inside.

The restaurant was packed. After a few minutes of waiting, we sat at our table and quickly ordered the fried pickles. One bite and I realized the journey was well worth it.

After polishing up the pickles and a burger, we entered the twilight zone. Actually, it was more like food coma land, but they are both quite hypnotizing. I had a wonderful night’s sleep as snow continued to fall over Manhattan.

Let’s take the flying saucer back to this humid summer. I made it back to the city, which was engulfed in deep humidity. After reaching my apartment, I bolted toward my air conditioning unit. Eventually, my apartment morphed into the Polar Vortex: Part 2.

I unpacked my suitcase and lovingly hung my cardigans. “Don’t worry, cardigans, sweaters and pea coats. New York will once again feel like Antarctica. You will be out of the closet soon and back on the frosty sidewalks. I miss you, said I.” With that, I closed the closet, turned off the lights and forgot that it was 80 degrees with humidity, outside.

The Broadway Itch

Musical theatre makes every campy bone in my body, sing and dance. It soothes my soul and stimulates my creative nerves.

Upon returning home to New York from my California holiday, I caught a dreadful cold. I opted to stay in my apartment and feast on Wonton soup. While noshing the night away on the Chinese comfort staple, I kept sneezing and coughing. “Oy, this cold has me all sorts of light headed. Something has to revitalize my aching self,” said I.

“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself part of the family,” sang the familiar voice. “Oh it’s Oliver, I love that musical, declared I. Rather than dwelling on my cooties, I reveled in evening full of famous Tony awards performances and Broadway musical soundtracks. Book of Mormon, Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Shop of Horrors and Kinky Boots, I heard at least one number from all those delightful musicals, while sick in bed.

The next day, I developed a serious condition. I was able to make it into the office, but I had an itch. As I listened to even more show tunes, I realized, “oy, I know what I have. It’s the Broadway Itch. The itch derives from a severe craving to watch a wonderful Broadway show.

That day, the craving intensified, as my cold subsided. I eventually finished the day, listening to the Hedwig & The Angry Inch soundtrack. “Oy, this music is just wonderful. Maybe, I should just go to the box office and pray they have a cheap ticket for Hedwig. That’s it, I’ll just live on the edge for once,” said I.

I dashed crosstown to the Belasco theatre. “Hi, what’s the cheapest ticket for Hedwig tonight? I asked the gentleman at the box office. “Our cheapest ticket is rear balcony at $50 dollars, he replied. “I’ll take it, declared I with great excitement.

While sitting in the zoo, which is Times Square (waiting for the show), I stared at my ticket. “Gee, I really do love spontaneity,” said I. Excitedly, I walked back to the theatre. Audiences lined outside the theatre with great anticipation. I stared at a sea of fancy dresses and ties. “Opps, I am wearing a polo, sneakers and black jeans. I feel awkward,” said I.

With a touch of cheekiness, I shrugged off my casual outfit. “I am here. I am queer and ready to see a wonderful show. Besides, I am wearing all black; nobody will notice, said I. Journeying to the top balcony, my eyes twinkled in the ornate old world theatre. Thanks to my show-tunes loving condition, I am about to have a memorable life experience.

Our main actor arrived with great grandeur on stage, as the band played. “Oh this show is so much better than I expected, said I with the music intensifying. Suddenly, I felt an itch. This wasn’t the campy kind of itch. “Oy, my throat, I want to cough,” said I.

The stage went silent. “Oy, don’t cough. It’s one of those interactive shows. This actor will probably call me out for coughing in the midst of a monologue, ” said I internally. I became fixated as the itch in the back of my throat became increasingly unbearable. “Happy thoughts Annie, Oliver, the Phantom of the Opera, don’t cough, warned I.

On stage, the loud music returned after a touching monologue. I let out a small cough then cleared my throat. The itch slowly subsided. After clearing my throat one more time, I survived a possible coughing spree. The show ended.

While the actors took a bow, everyone stood up to give them a proper standing ovation. “I survived a night at the theatre without coughing up a lung. Go me,” I declared.

I power walked toward Times Square. My heart went piter patter as Broadway Marquis blinded the pupil. “This is why I love living in New York. I could have spontaneous evening at the theatre,” said. Not even the overcrowded subway could diminish my Broadway high.

Even after curing my Broadway itch, a craving to see more shows was cemented. Naturally my campy spirit yearns for more show tunes to sooth the creative soul.

Mr. Pea Coat Goes to London

“I just can’t seem to get enough by Depeche Mode,” played in conjunction to my morning walk. This stroll was quite different from the norm. I wasn’t in America, but in jolly old London.

While I listened to the most British of new wave songs of the 80’s, I walked down the very British Mall. It leads to Buckingham Palace. Although this classifies me as a tourist, I found the walk quite refreshing and memorable.

In the grand tradition of London, the sky was grey. Color came through the beautifully manicured flower gardens and green grass, which accentuate St. James Park. The ducks quacked merrily away, while taking a late morning’s swim.

There stood Buckingham Palace, the tourists went mad snapping photos. “I really want a photo in front of Buckingham Palace. Gee, I know I’ll look like an awful tourist, but shit, I am one,” said I. I found a most splendid bench and took a photo of myself in front of the Queen’s magnificent residence. “This is much easier than, asking someone to take photo,” said I, internally. The photo shoots didn’t stop there.

“Oh look at these lovely red brick in South Kensington. I shall take a picture of myself in front of them,” said I. Snap, went my camera. ” Gee, the canals of Camden are grungy, but kind of cool, I don’t feel like asking anyone to take a picture of me, so here I go again, said I. As predicted, my camera went snap, snap, snap.

When the photos developed, I giggled. “Wow, I look silly taking photos of myself in London. I should’ve asked someone just to take the photos.

Years later, I found out my self portraits had a name. “A selfie? Is that what they call the process of taking a photo of one’s self? The selfies saw online, were typically folks taking photos of themselves in front of mirrors or with puppies. Either way, I like to think I pioneered the concept with all those selfies I took in London. Or should I say I like to think I pioneered the concept.

In tribute to the selfie, here’s an 80’s love ballad to ponder:

“All by myself. Don’t want to live, all by myself, anymore.”(Sang by Eric Carmen)

Always a Groomsman, Never a Groom

“I’ll have a martini, please,” said I. A few years back, I was fresh faced gay in his early twenties. On an average Thursday night, I enjoyed people watching with friends at Therapy bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Keenly, I knew Mr. Right was not in the room. Naively, my mind told me otherwise.

Like so many transplants, the city’s rich dating life seduced me. Thanks to Sex & the City, many flocked to New York, hoping to land their Mr. Big. Many came to the realization, dating was harder than finding a rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side. Hence, many of us, New York veterans, have come to find an alternative romance.

“Hi, I’ll have the chicken tika masala, garlic non bread and a mango lasse please,” said I, while ordering at my favorite East Village eatery. With years in New York under my belt, I have found pleasure in taking myself on dates.

I’ve been going to the same restaurants for years. The staff always knows my favorite table, order and even make wonderful conversation with me. It’s reminiscent of the cafe society (where regulars were always welcomed by their first name), which has inspired me to live in New York for life.

After enjoying the best Indian feast, west of New Delhi, I head for a slice of old Manhattan. While walking toward the Strand Bookstore, I became reminiscent on my early years in the city. “Gee, I am awfully glad, I don’t have that naive notion, that Mr. Right will magically appear at Therapy (the bar). How silly was I to think he was around? I know enjoy more literary endeavors, who needs a boyfriend? Asked I.

The doors of the Strand open wide. Aisles with bookshelves recreating a canyon of mightiness rise above the antiquated facade. The sweet scent of books recreated a bit of nostalgia. “Do I want to read Gertrude Stein? Or should I go with Edgar Allen Poe? Who am I kidding? I just really want that quirky book by John Walters.

In the midst of old books, walks in the world’s most adorable gay couple. Of course, I stare and in wonder. They’re cute. I nod my head, “no, no, must not feel like a spinster for being a singleton at thirty. It would be nice to go to the Strand with another literary nerd,” say I.

I purchase my book and walk toward Union Square. Although, I am surrounded by a freak show of people, I feel completely alone. Am I the only person in New York, who feels completely alone? Why am I still alone and completely dateless? Am I doomed for eternal spinsterhood? Asked I.

“It’s so hard to date in this town,” said my friend, Natalia. “Oh, I thought I was the only one, I reply with great enthusiasm. “It’s getting harder as time goes by,” she continued. We took a sip of our wine. “Do you want to go to dinner?” I asked. She replied, “sure.”

The Empire State Building twinkled against the starless sky. We sat outdoors at a French cafe in the Flatiron District. While noshing on French staples, we celebrated our singleton status. “Hey remember, when we used to party?” she asked. “Yeah, this is as wild as might nights get these days,” I replied.

At that very moment, I realized that our twenties had officially ended. Late night drinking at the gay bar made me sleepy and I am a night owl. Now, we were now in our (relatively) laid back thirties. As I took the bite of Croque Madame, I smiled. “Sometimes, all you need a simple, laid back night out with beloved gal pals.

While venting, and talking about life, it made me feel a little less alone. My life isn’t “Sex and the City” and I am so glad it’s not. Like the old Beatles song goes, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” With that I truly believe loneliness is curable with a dose of laughter.

Gramercy Park

The following story is brought to you by this sponsor:

Wanna feel that burn from a good work out? Well, join the “I live in a fifth floor walk up club, today and burn, baby, burn (insert Saturday Night Fever soundtrack reference).

The fog lifted subtly from the serene East River. A yellow boat steered elegantly against a backdrop of an industrialized, but bustling Brooklyn. The Chrysler Building was engulfed by an adorably fluffy cloud.

This spectacular show was witnessed from my bedroom window. I adored my bedroom and it’s view, which were on the 14th floor of a brick building on Manhattan’s East Side. Although, I didn’t have a doorman, gym or functioning laundry mat in my building, there was one amenity, which tickled my fancy the most.

An elevator building, oh boy. Ever since I was a lad living in a closet in Queens, I dreamt of being lifted up into the sky. More importantly, I strategically chose my location for one very important reason.

“I would like an everything bagel withe scallion cream cheese. Oh and a large coffee, please,” said I with my mouth watering. Throughout my years in New York, I always lived around the city’s best bagel shops. In my east side apartment, I lived dangerously close to Essa Bagel, one of the city’s most highly revered bagel shops.

One faithful morning, I finished my scrumptious bagel and headed toward Gramercy Park. Unexpectedly, I heard a classic New York accent garner attention from my eardrum. “Hi honey, question?” asked the voice. An elderly woman stood in all black. She was wheeling a granny cart. It’s the closest New Yorkers get to driving. Granny carts are ideal for loading up with groceries and laundry. Her cart appeared especially heavy.

“Can you help me take my cart up? I’ll give you ten dollars,” she said. I have always hated lifting anything heavy, but at that moment, I graduated to a “pushover” status and agreed to shlep the cart up to her apartment.

“Thanks dahling, my apartment is over there,” she said. The charming grandma lived in an enchanting apartment block in Gramercy, an affluent neighborhood in Manhattan’s east 20’s.

I entered her building’s lobby, which looked like every other New York walk-up building. “My apartment is on the sixth floor. Remember, drag, and don’t lift the cart up the stairs. I’ll wait down here,” she said. “Oh, the Karma Gods better serve me up something wonderful for this one,” said I, internally.

The voyage up commenced. Instantly, I hated having to drag that heavy cart up the stairs. Also, I wondered, how old people survived in a walk-up. “Are you okay up there? Remember drag, don’t lift,” said, our lovable senior citizen. Her New York accent intensifying. Even on a winter’s day, the sweat poured. Every set of stairs was even more daunting than the last.

Eventually, I reached the top. I was awaiting a medal for my courageous voyage up. Exhaust-idly, I walked down the staircase. I reached the lobby. “Hey you looked stress,” she commented. “I am fine, thanks,” I replied. “Here’s ten bucks, thanks so much dahling,” she said, after going through an archaeological dig in her purse.

I really wanted the ten dollars. My conscience took over. “Look, it’s fine. I have a full time job. Consider it a favor,” said I. “Buy yourself a coffee or something, she said. I still wanted the ten bucks, but I walked out. “No, it’s really okay. Lovely to meet you. Have a great day,” said I. “Thanks again,” she replied, while cracking her coconut exterior and revealing a sweet smile.

I stepped into the bitter winter cold, which was quite refreshing after that work out. Passing the beautifully guarded and very private, Gramercy Park, (the actual park, which the neighborhood derives it’s name from) I thought to myself, “gee, must be tough being old and living in a walk-up, glad I could help that nice old lady out.”

Months later, I traded my elevator building for a fifth floor walk-up in Harlem. After dragging that granny cart up sixth floors, I had proper training in maneuvering a walk-up. I do daydream of living in an elevator building again. These days, I don’t need that gym membership, since every step up to my apartment feels like the equivalent of running the New York marathon.

 

The Blossoming Wallflower

Live from my modest New York apartment, it’s another trip down memory lane.

Through the darkened canyons, I drove. 80’s music blasted. I was a man on a mission. Along with my gal pal, Holly, we took the spontaneous voyage to Palm Springs, where gay happens.

The eerie darkness of the canyons gave way to a scattered city lights. Mountains were hidden in the darkness. Signs for Target, fast food restaurants and a casino, reminded us, that indeed this is not the barren desert. Windmills boogied to the rhythm of the wind. After another round of darkened canyons, we arrived in kitschy, Palm Springs.

“Gays, so many gays,” I declared. The sweat ran down our faces, even at night. However, the liveliness of Palm Springs was simply invigorating. The restaurants were bustling. There were plenty of interesting art galleries and shops selling knick-knacks. We had a most splendid dinner, at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Las Casuelas.

We skipped dessert, in favor of quality time with my people on Arenas Road. Cher impersonators, senior citizens and gym bunnies come together on the town’s main gay drag. Want a new speedo or the latest gay news? Arenas Road has it. The music was thumping, especially at Hunter’s nightclub, which is the grand dame of Palm Springs nightlife.

Only one obstacle stood in my way. “Shit, I am not twenty-one yet,” said I. Rather than sobbing, I asked Holly, ” Hey, I wanna meet a guy. Can you let me know how much approach is?” Officially, she became my love therapist. “But, which fellow should I approach?” asked I.

Predictably, I found two handsome fellows, who converged on the sidewalk. One guy was blond and classically handsome. The other fellow was a raven-haired Adonis with a slight resemblance to Zachary Quinto. I swooped in with Holly was my wing lady.

“Hi, I am Anthony, nice to meet you,” I said. They politely made conversation with us, but seemed disinterested. Rather than call defeat, I kept the conversation going. Holly seemed less than impressed with the boys. I was too, but they were so cute.

“Oh, this is I, improving my self confidence. I get nervous meeting guys, but here I am,” said I. Holly gave me an awkward smile. “You did alright to me,” said the blond guy with a cold expression. “We’re going to Toucan’s. Nice meeting you guys, enjoy Palm Springs,” said, the raven-haired Adonis.

“You shouldn’t tell a guy, that you lack self-confidence,” said Holly. “You’re right, I messed that one up,” said I. “They were kind of cold. You could do better,” she said with a smile. We headed back to Riverside (where I lived at the time).

That night in Palm Springs taught me a lesson, not typically grasped in musical theatre. Indeed, one must not put a hot guy in a pedestal; we must value our own self worth first.

Although, I’ve been rejected a ton, I still look on the bright side. Stories on rejection are often times more interesting and relatable, since it delves into the very core of our own insecurities. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go back to finding dates on Tinder.

 

 

Boy About the World

Ten years ago, in the blazing Riverside sun, I arrived for a photo shoot. In a matter of minutes, I struck a pose and proudly, “vogued.” Not quite, but I did shine my brightest smile.

On the faithful day, I took my passport photo. Upon receiving my new photo, an eyebrow was raised in terror. “Oy, I look like Butthead from Beavis and Butthead fame,” said I. Obtaining a new passport was one of the highlights of 2004: a suburban odyssey.

At the time, I was traveling to Spain for the Christmas holiday. When I touched down on Madrid, the excitement filled the drab customs hall. With one brave swoop, I had my first passport stamp (on the new passport).

My passport became my constant companion on visits to the Prado Museum and Barcelona’s lively Las Ramblas (Street). When I returned to the States, I wondered, “will I have other stamps gracing the pages of my beloved passport?”

Time would answer my question with great vigor. Soon, my feet touchdown on Australia. I marveled at the grandeur of the Sydney Opera house, sky blue seawater and marvelous cliffs, which epitomized Aussie living.

Then I ate plenty of pizza in Rome, with the backdrop of ancient history and vespas. It made me feel just a little closer to the artistic eye of Federico Fellini. Excitedly, I made the impossible happen.

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Tokyo Narita,” said the flight attendant upon arrival in Japan. It was a destination, I had always dreamed of visiting, but never thought I would actually make it to.

I fell madly love with Japanese quirk. Vending machines, Pachinko halls, Harajuku’s street fashion and neon lights, it delighted me. I longed for another trip to Tokyo and returned, two years later.

The Tokyo metro, a fashionable tweed coat, admiring kitschy art, it was a dream come true, x 2. However, my adoration for travel didn’t end in Japan. Paris eventually beckoned.

Coffee sipped from a porcelain cup, coupled with a dizzying array of experimental and enjoying live jazz at an underground bar, made Paris more inspirational than sitting through a Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard film marathon.

As my Air France flew out of Paris, I shed a tear. “Oh, I think I am sick,” said I. That’s right, I didn’t need WebMD to diagnose this condition. While sitting through the same Family Ties episode on the flight for hours, a diagnosis was reached. “Oy, I have the travel bug,” said I.

It’s that condition, which is medically untreatable. However, more stamps on the passport would help elevate any wanderlust symptoms. I trekked on. After listening to the Evita soundtrack, one too many times, I was inspired to head south of the equator.

Buenos Aires was elegant, even in the midst of deep humidity. I ate steak and more steak and even more (you guessed it) steak. I also found romance with a flan with dulce de leche, which melted from the afternoon sun. “Oy, I must eat vegetables, when I get home,” proclaimed I.

On my return to the States, I didn’t exactly become a vegetarian. I did marvel at my collection of stamps. One stamp was still elusive. On an icy, but sunny Tuesday in an island, which was also known as a kingdom. I ran around in a navy pea coat and proclaimed, “hello London.”

I had a most magnificent time in old London. It was a place, which dazzled me as a teenager. As an adult, it still captivated my imagination.

While wondering around one of the capital’s many spaces of green, I took a deep breath. “This has been amazing, all this travel. The ducks on the pond are charming. Look at those clouds above. Oh, that beer from the pub last night is my making my head chime like Big Ben. I am in London and feel like a real world traveler,” said I.

After a quick trip to Amsterdam from London, I plotted my next trip. However, as time went on, the only jet setting my passport saw was moving from one New York apartment to the next. The traveling stopped as adulthood responsibilities took over.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, the passport and I finally took a voyage together. Did you take that fabulous trip to Rio, you ask?” Why, no, the next exotic destination was better known, as “Casa de Daddy,” (dad’s house) in Riverside, CA. I didn’t receive a precious passport stamp for flying cross-country, but it was a treat to finally use it on plane travel.

After stuffing my face with my dad’s famous turkey and stuffing, I was heading back home to New York. Like most voyages to Riverside, I had a lay over. As I rushed through Phoenix airport, I felt like a jet setter again. The plane was boarding. I was given the news, which most airline travelers dread.

“Folks, you have to check in your carry on, we’re out of overhead space on this plane,” said the (not at all) merry flight attendant. “Oy, what’s the point of having a carry-on? Asked I.

The plane took off into the darkness of Arizona’s rustic desert. “With the all this modern technology, how does this plane not have television sets behind the seats?” asked I with a strategic eye roll.

I checked my pocket, “oh no, my passport,” said I. “ Oh that’s right, I stuffed it in my carry on luggage, I replied with ease. “Shit, I had to check it in. Dear travel Gods, please save my precious little passport. I promise to go to church. Actually, I promise not to say fuck so much on Sundays,” said I.

The flight commenced and we finally landed in Jersey. I rushed to baggage claim. I waited with a bit of anxiety kicking in. The colorful array of suitcases made their way through the conveyor belt.

Hello, hint of olive green, that’s my suitcase, I declared. I grabbed it and opened up the top zipper. Shining navy blue and bright was my passport. I skimmed through the pages. “Oh stamps, you are more colorful than any of those silly suitcases in the conveyor belt. With great relief, I made my way back to the city.

Whoever says New York doesn’t sleep, hasn’t stepped out of a train at a 6 AM on Sunday. Walking through a sleepy Manhattan to grab a coffee, my own backyard seemed more exotic, even after being away for only four days. “Hey I really like passport stamps and writing about my travels,” said I, while reminiscing on my good ol’ days of travel.

When I returned to my apartment. I put my passport away. Soon it will retire, since I have to renew my passport. I’ll miss our many journeys together. Optimistically, I head to McNally Jackson’s (bookstore) travel section.

It’s the closest I get to the international travel. As I opened up books on countries, which I aspire to walk in, I proclaim, “don’t worry new passport, you will be filled with precious and very colorful new stamps.” I just need to strike a pose and vogue, for the next passport photo. Excuse me, while I practice my best cheesy smile.

Boy Crush

New York in the middle of summer, it’s hot and sticky. On weekend afternoons (in the summer), the city empties out. New Yorkers find refuge in beaches outside the concrete confines. There is one kind of New Yorker, who sticks it out even in the muggiest of situations.

“I am the weekend homeless?” asked I, while on the phone with Ben. “It’s the folks that stay in the city. They don’t have a weekend house share on Fire Island  (the gay New Yorker’s favorite summer spot),” he said. As he uttered those faithful words, there was truth to the term. According to social media, most everyone had congregated on fabulous beaches, while taking photos of their newly sculpted physiques.

“I feel like a rebel staying in my city, ” said I. In summers past, I very rarely left the city. I lingered on the pavement, schvitzing (sweating), wondering if relief from the heat was in sight. One afternoon typified the New York weekend summer experience.

“Shit, why do I always insist on wearing all black in the summer?” asked I, while strolling down Christopher Street. Sweat dripped from my head. My rosy cheeks turned a harsher shade of neon pink. The intense weather forced me to ask myself, “fall, where art thou? You lovable season of pumpkins and cardigans.

A soothing wind dried my melting skin. “Hello, gaydom,” I proclaimed. Even in the easy bake oven, which is New York on a summer’s day, something refreshing and gay was in the air. “Oh that’s right, there’s always Christopher Street Pier, said I. Crossing the West Side Highway, I locked eyes with imposing Hudson River, and (of course) Jersey in the distance.

Christopher Street Pier is located on the Hudson. As the name suggests it’s a pier, which is filled with gay patrons. It’s a slice of Fire Island, sans the remote location.

There are many gay subcultures, which frequent the pier. Twinks (skinny hairless gay guys), run around in colorful speedos. Bears hibernate along the sunny shoreline with their chest hair flowing freely. Muscle men become one with their yoga mats as their inner self abandons the gym for a more natural habitat. Silver foxes, regardless of body types, proudly show off their seasoned exterior.

Sitting on the grass under the sun, my cheeks were roasting like marsh mellows on a fire pit. I took a breath of Hudson River breeze and declared, “oy, this may not be my favorite season, but at least there will always be Christopher Street Pier,” said I.

The not so-starry night re-appeared. It was time for me to return to the humid concrete reality. “Oy, this little staycation was fun, but I don’t want to go to stand on the subway platform right now. I still long for somewhere gay and cool,” said I, walking toward Seventh Avenue.

Fortunately, I found my own rainbow colored and unicorn friendly oasis. Where did I end up? You ask; the Big Gay Ice Cream shop, naturally. I noshed away on the pecan praline ice cream sandwich. “Summer isn’t so bad, at times, proclaimed I.” Where there is ice cream, shirtless guys and a little bit of breeze, happy memories magically appear.  If only I could see a flying unicorn, then my summer would be complete.

 

 

 

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