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.

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.

t’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.

 

 

 

Old New Yawk

Keep New York old is my motto. A tear streams down my cheek every time another steel and glass box reaches the sky. In utter disappointed, I declare “oy, there goes the neighborhood, goodbye Breakfast at Tiffany’s, hello, Blade Runner.”

With the rise of hip hotels rooftops, condos for the rich and fancy gyms, I abandoned my architectural despair and found old New York in the most unexpected of places. In the midst of gentrifying Harlem, lies the West Side Bingo Hall. It’s a gathering place of feisty senior citizens, who opted to stay in Manhattan, rather than embrace palm trees and golf courses.
My New York gal pals and I just happened to be the youngest people at the hall. Bingo didn’t quite appeal to me at first, but I decided, “I may get lucky here.” Excitement filled the air, as everyone anticipated two hours of Bingo madness. The prize was $500.00, which made the idea of possibly winning, ever more exciting.
The girls and I began to play. We noshed on Little Caesar’s pizza as the numbers were called through a large megaphone.  I told myself “I am going to win. Damn it, I am going to win,” said I, with every number, matching my bingo sheet.
“Yo, shut the fuck up,” yelled one grey haired New Yorker to the other for talking over the game. My eyes widened. “Wow, I’ve never heard old people talk like that, ” said, I mentally. “The fuck you this and that “continued, every time anyone spoke too loudly. “I can’t wait to be a sassy old person in New York. It’s so cool, that everyone is straight forward and saying fuck and shit, is cuter when you’re eighty,” said I.
The adrenaline rush proceeded. I wanted to win the grand prize. I had four squares left on my sheet. “Bingo,” shouted an elderly gentleman. The crowd went into a loud commotion. Don’t worry they may have gotten a number wrong, said Kelly. The gentleman was indeed the grand prizewinner. “There goes $12,” I proclaimed.
Not all was lost, besides hanging out with some of my favorite gals, Bingo became more entertaining. I glanced to my left. There was a crowd of rowdy seniors anticipating bingo. There was also a bouncer trying to hold them back from entering the bingo hall too early. Note to self, when I turn sixty-four, I’ll be at the bingo hall, being Mr. Sassy Pants.
We left the bingo hall, empty-handed. I may have lost the game, but gained an evening full of laughs. My gal pals and I headed to legendary, Dinosaur BBQ for dinner. One bite into beef brisket sandwich, and I forgot about loosing the bingo game. Instead, I enjoyed an evening out and celebrated a new hobby, playing Bingo (naturally).

Square Dancing With A Cowboy

It happened one faithful night in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). Pigs finally flew across the purple sky. “Shit, I am lost in Brooklyn,” declared I with sweat dripping from my brow. In my all my years in New York, I had never been lost.

Oy, there was that one time I did get lost taking the G train, en route to Greenpoint. That doesn’t count though. Everyone gets lost on the perplexing G train. I’ll just keep telling myself that.

Back to the story:

Close to the Montrose, L train stop, I grew further frustrated. I was heading toward my friend’s apartment for a dinner party. The map on my smart phone had me confused. As I glared at the map, my agony worsened.

The phone slipped from my hands and fell face forward on the very cold concrete. “Memories,” from Cats played in my head (Cardigans F.M.). Unfortunately, this was not an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, although dancing cats would lessen the blow. As the chorus was belted, I nearly cried as I examined the phone’s newly cracked screen. Dahling, it’s been a fabulous 3.5 years, said I. Speaking to my phone like I wounded warrior, I had to take drastic measure. (I did make it my friend’s apartment, albeit very late, which is not an Anthony quality).

Firstly, welcome to first world problem brought to you by the Whole Foods, yoga mat and cupcake loving, first world.

Predictably, I had to buy a new phone. “Oh great, I don’t want to turn into one of those people with their head constantly down starring at their iPhone. I don’t want Instagram and oy, Grindr,” said I. The next day, I upgraded my phone. “No reading books on the phone, no twitter and especially no Tinder, said I, while walking out of the phone shop. In toe was my new and very technological, accessory.

I did download the Facebook and Pandora app. For the first week with my upgrade, I almost completely avoided apps. On a faithful Sunday, I sat at my favorite East Village coffee shop and pulled out my black marble notebook. “I am going to take part in bohemian interests, “said I. As, I opened up the notebook and attempted to write poetry, my brain farted.

“Shit, I can’t think,” said I. “People watching, that’s it. The East village is my favorite place to people watch to inspire me,” said I. Then I ordered a bagel to compliment my black coffee. “Stimulation will be mine,” declared I. Lots of men, entered the coffee shop. Every shape, color and size was represented. “Maybe, I need to be in love?” I asked myself, philosophically.

I took out my iPhone and the unthinkable proceeded. Geez, I think I am going to download Tinder. For those in the dark, Tinder is a phone app, which shows you a variety of men and. If you swipe, left, it means you’re interested. A swipe to right means you’re not interested. If you and your choice man, both swipe left, then you can message each other (since you’re both interested).

It downloaded the app. Initially; I was disappointed as I swiped. Hipster, hipster, hipster, and Bravo reality TV escapee (pretty boy/generic look), I am so bored and feel very judgmental, “said I. “I can’t do this,” declared, yours truly. While strolling down First Avenue toward the Lower East Side, I had an itch. “Nope, I am not looking at Tinder. Actually, I am going to delete the app,” said I.

I crossed Delancy Street and with imposing Williamsburg Bridge, beckoning my inspiration. The itch persisted. I found a cozy bench and went back on Tinder. I had a jolly good time swiping to the left then the right. After a few minutes, I matched with guy. “Wow, finally a guy who’s interested, ” I said. The swiping continued.

To my surprise, I ended up racking up a greater number of eligible bachelors. We started chatting. Surprisingly, they seemed like amazing guys. There was less talk about sex and more about significant hobbies. What I disregarded as a shallow phone application had proven to be a fantastic tool to message other single guys in the city.

“Have I gone on a date, yet?” you ask? I haven’t really met the right guy yet, but eventually it will get there. Thanks to a precious shattered cell phone, a whole new world opened up. Thanks Tinder, for reminding me that this isn’t a lonely, dateless city. There are indeed other dateless, Tori Amos loving, Augusten Burroughs reading, and Stanley Kubrick film aficionados in this universe, we call, New York City.

 

 

Lullaby of Chinatown

Within the perimeters of Canal & Bowery, exists a country within a city. In the shadow of neon signs flashing Cantonese and Mandarin, are many treasured wonders.

Exotic fruit, which have the appearance of quirky, avant-garde art, delights all senses. The sweet scent of miniature pancakes infuses with escaped fish from the sea. Chinese fans, ceramic dragons and Buddha’s, provide a much-needed kitsch.

In the midst of Chinatown’s charm, four New Yorkers embarked on an odyssey. Firstly, I must take the flying DeLorean to last year (hello, Back to the Future reference). Fasten your seat belts, folks. Please be aware of the exit row. Here we go, its lift off time.

It happened last year on the rooftop of a quaint building, in close proximity to Washington Square Park. Yours truly and some of my people waited in anticipation for one magnificent sight. That glorious Kodak moment was in the form of fireworks. Hello, Fourth of July, said I. As the darkness embedded Greenwich Village, the anticipation built.

Boom, boom, boom went the fireworks. With great dramatic momentum, our eyes searched the night sky for those beloved-flashing lights over the nearby Hudson. The sound effects persisted, but the fire works were nowhere to be seen. I looked at my friends in puzzlement. “Where are the fireworks? They’re supposed to be visible from this vantage point, aren’t they? asked I.

We waited a bit longer. Still the imposing apartment buildings of the West Village shielded us from that most Fourth of July tradition. Instead of feeling disappointed, we watched the fireworks on television. It was quite lovely, but not the same sensation (as seeing them in person).

A few weeks later, I strolled the Upper West Side. While walking toward the 72nd Street subway, I heard a familiar, boom sound. I peered into the night sky over Broadway. Fireworks dominated the ornate Upper West Side sky. This was in celebration of Bastille Day (French independence day). The sight was quite magnificent. I declared, “vive la France.” My desire to see fireworks on the Fourth of July only intensified.

Let’s take the DeLorean back to this year. While my gal pals and I didn’t see the candy hued lights over Manhattan, last year, we made it a mission to actually see them this year.

In the depth of an empty Chinatown, we set out on foot to see the glorious show. Even as experienced New York walkers, we were baffled on where to see the show, which was on the East River (this year). We took a side street down and as the Manhattan Bridge appeared, our mission had been accomplished.

At last, we found the perfect vantage once we reached the East River’s Edge. “This is it, we’ll finally see the show,” I declared. Hoping that nobody extraordinarily tall would hover in front of me, I waited in anticipation. Then that familiar boom was heard. The fireworks commenced. They lit up the sky from the near-by Brooklyn Bridge. “Oh, aw, wow,” said the onlookers.

I too was in awe of the sparkly sky. At that moment, I appreciated seeing the show in living flesh. It would become one of my all time favorite New York memories. I was so very impressed with the pomp and pageantry of great American tradition.

Afterwards, we topped off the night, Lower East Side style. As wine was sipped, we thanked our lucky stars for a most memorable Fourth of July.

The Californian

 

“I am not a beach guy,” said I, at age, sixteen. The sand, surf, and blazing California sun, didn’t quite tickle my fancy. One summer, my dad talked me into a road trip to Malibu.

In the midst of a-list celebrities, glitzy trailer parks, and rugged hills, was the piercing blue ocean. The most popular spot was Zuma beach, a grand surfer’s spot with an eclectic beach going crowd.

After recovering from extreme motion sickness, my father and I walked into the piping hot sand. It contrasted a very mellow California sun.

The waves crashed against the sun. It’s ferocious roar sounded like a lion. “Why don’t you get in the water, Anthony?” asked my father. I don’t wanna go into too deep, I forgot how to swim, said I, drenched in sunscreen.

“Oh give me a break, enjoy the water,” said my father, who was basking in the Malibu grandeur. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a gaggle of attractive, shirtless guys dash toward the Pacific Ocean. “Fuck drowning, I am going in,” said I.

The relatively cold Pacific Ocean was refreshing for me. It was a treat for me feet, which were roasting in the sand. I went in a bit deeper. “ Oh this isn’t so bad,” said I.

My Malibu buzz was quickly killed. A flying football narrowly missed my precious face. It also nearly knocked me into the water. “Oh who’s the fucking asshole, who threw that ball?” said I, internally (of course).

”I am sorry about the ball,” said the voice with a distinct California accent. Unexpectedly, a handsome young man appeared. He smiled with his big brown eyes illuminating perfect white teeth, which contrasted my mouth full of metal (I had braces, forever).

“You’re not a beach guy, are you?” he asked with a giggle. I smirked, “no, I am from landlocked Riverside. He went back to playing football with his buddies.

“Shit, times like this, I should’ve fake drowning, I would had some mouth to mouth madness,” said I. I admired the Malibu charmer from a distance as the football was tossed from one well tone and muscular guy to the other.

I walked toward the sand, with the following thoughts in my head, “gee, I wish more guys at my age were out of the closet or that I could ask a guy out and not be disappointed that’s he not gay or not into me.” Disappointingly, I left the shores of Zuma, lacking romance.

The old song, “why must I be a teenager in love” played in my head. “Oh well, I thought, at least dad and I will go for ice cream. The world tastes better sprinkled with hot fudge and a cherry on top.

Sing along with Radiohead

“Fake Plastic trees by Radio, isn’t exactly a staple on Christmas Eve. After of campy holiday songs ware off, nothing says happy holidays like mellow 90’s Brit Pop.

This past Christmas Eve, I woke up excitedly. I blasted the quintessential Radiohead jam and did the happy dance. “Yeah, I am on vacation, this is thrilling,” said I. That morning I opened my Facebook. It was a montage of photographs featuring luxurious images of New York airports from JFK’s Delta airlines terminal to planes waiting take off at Newark.

Then I realized, “oh yes, it’s Christmas Eve,” everyone is going home for the holidays. I too was headed out west for Christmas, but didn’t leave till the next day. A part of me, just wanted to be home in California with my father, enjoying the back patio and grilling steaks. Tear, tear, I had to find a way to comfort my poor self, while I waited for time to pass by. Oh and did find the ideal while to brush off that lonely feeling, the New Yorker way.

On my day off, I headed for my happy medium, Brooklyn Bagel in Chelsea. “That’s right nobody is going to be in town, except tourists and they’re in Midtown. No lines for me,” said I. Those were the cliché famous last words, since Brooklyn Bagel was packed. Although, the streets were a bit emptier, everyone had the same idea.

Fortunately, I found a seat and indulged in a most delectable bagel. “I must keep myself occupied and not get homesick, how do I do that?” I took a long walk from Chelsea to the East Village. While fastening my pea coat, I peered into the pavements of gritty yet charming First Avenue. “Wow, it’s oh so quiet, just like the Bjork song,” said I.

“There won’t be a line at the Bean (coffee shop) or at the Strand (bookshop). Wow, fuck loneliness, the East Village feels like my own personal playground and it’s fantastic,” said I. It was marvelous walking around without people traffic (my previous New York years, I was in California for Christmas eve). Then I realized, “oh I still don’t have someone to spend Christmas Eve with.

Like any proper urbanite away from family on Christmas Eve, I had found my alternative and it wasn’t on Grindr.

Rocco was his name. He’s a cold-blooded fellow, thanks to being a turtle (which falls in the reptile family). My friend Krista had me feed him his holiday supper, since she was in Chicago for the holidays. That’s right; turtle sitting wore off the loneliness of being away from family. Watching the turtle munch on vegetable sticks gave me purpose in the midst of jingle bell rocks.

After an adventure in turtle sitting, I took the 3 train home to Harlem. An elderly woman hopped on the train and proclaimed “Merry Christmas to everyone.” Surprisingly, everyone was equally jolly in the tough nosed subway. The holiday cheer actually made my night.

I came home and packed my bags. For my holiday dinner, I ate a chicken pot pie. I traded Radiohead for a Charlie Brown’s Christmas tunes. It was a great end to a day, which could have been lonely, ended up being lovely. With eyelids fully closed, I eagerly awaited the early morning flight to California and quality time with my father.

 

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