Stretch A Band Between His Toes

On Saturday, Pete had a delightful encounter at the toy store.

Pete: I looked up and there was this little girl, about nine or ten. She looked like your niece.
Tata: Which one? Lois?
Pete: Lois! Light blond hair, blue eyes, skinny. She was wearing a little girl t-shirt, a little girl sweater, jeans and sneakers. And a big fake mustache like that movie critic –
Tata: Gene Shalit?
Pete: Yeah! She was completely serious, so I said, “Can I help you, sir?” She cleared her throat and said in a deep voice, “Yes.”
Tata: GET OUT!
Pete: I didn’t smile or anything, I just kept going. “Would you like me to gift wrap this for you, sir?” and she said, “[deep voice] That would be nice.” She was alone in the store but her mom kept peeking her head in from outside.
Tata: I’m so happy! Did you recognize the little girl?
Pete: How could I recognize her? She was in disguise!
Tata: Omigod, you should have taken a picture!
Pete: I wanted to but I would’ve had to let on I knew she wasn’t a grown man.
Tata: Then what happened?
Pete: She got into a van with her parents and her sister and they took off.
Tata: I’m so jealous! I wish I’d seen her. Oooh, you know who are going to be mad they missed that? Anya and Corinne! My sisters are going to be steamed!
Pete: She’s my favorite customer ever. “[deep voice] That would be nice.”
Tata: I love that you didn’t tell her to take off the mustache or pretend it wasn’t there. That’s the most fun: seeing something coming and letting the adventure unfold.
Pete: And it was way better than my other idea: there’s a man wearing a little girl suit and forgot to cover his mustache.
Tata: Hmm, suddenly this has gone all Cinemax.

All She Wants To Do Is All She Wants

A long time ago, far, far away, a friend took a job in Tewksbury, MA, and from distant New Jersey, I saw this for what it was: an opportunity for a scandalous road trip.

Johnny’s always been the pretty one.

Every so often, Siobhan pipes up with tales of another episode from our freewheeling life together that I’ve totally forgotten. Yesterday, she went a step further and produced pictures I evidently captioned by hand. That’s a new twist, even if the words themselves are Johnny’s longtime motto. In any case, I had totally forgotten that the unnamed, over-employed friend on a business trip used my nail polish to paint symbols on his forehead. If Siobhan has pictures of that, that might be a career-ender for our friend. Ah, youthful exuberance! You’re as young as you feel until the cops show up and you hand them an AARP card.

Don’t forget to floss, kids!

In point of fact, Ivan and I donned those Santa suits at the drop of a hat for years. We bought them for Santacon a bazillion years ago. Come to think of it, I should have mine bronzed. He should have his fumigated.

When Siobhan reminded me of this scurrilous excursion, the only thing I recalled was sitting outside a waffle house on a Sunday morning, all five of us blisteringly hung over and paralyzed while Ivan read us the chapter from Steve Martin’s book Pure Drivel about memory loss. It was obvious to the locals we had not just come from church and our presence was suspicious. Breakfast both saved and imperiled our lives. That, I remember.

A Vacant Lot For Any Spirit To Haunt

Oh brudder:

A passenger told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that she noticed Sicily was missing – while she was on a flight to the island. Smaller islands, such as Sardinia, were in the right place on the map.

Alitalia was re-launched earlier this year under private ownership. It had been a state-run company for more than 60 years before going bankrupt.

One Italian Senator, Riccardo Villari, said it was unfortunate the big advertising campaign surrounding the re-launch had been followed by “unpleasant” errors. The magazine editor, Aldo Canale, said: “We have run lots of editions on the beauty of Sicily and we would never dream of eliminating it from maps of Italy.”

This reminds me of that time on a genealogical bulletin board when someone said my great-grandfather never existed. I recall shouting a lot, “The proof that he lived is that I’M SITTING RIGHT HERE.” See, he married a divorced woman, which was cause for little old ladies to slather White Out all over the family records. Hope Sicily reappears or floating through baggage claim in the Mediterranean’s going to be VERY FREAKING TRICKY.

You’ve got to give it to Chris Dodd. He knows he’s about to fuck up so bad Connecticut’s voters might finally put him out of a job, and yet he sounds so calm about it.

On the one hand, Dodd expressed his strong support for a public health plan that would compete with private insurers and give Americans to buy into an insurance system that doesn’t fatten corporations’ bottom line. On the other, Dodd signaled his willingness to accept a “compromise.”

“We have the votes to pass a bill that expands coverage to millions of Americans, improves quality, protects patient choice, cuts costs, and averts disaster for our economy and our families,” Dodd wrote. “But, as frustrating as it is to you and to me, I don’t know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option. What I do know is that whether we can get there or not is still an open question. What I do know is that I plan to fight hard to convince my colleagues on the committee and in the full Senate that we need a public option. What I do know is that I’m going to need your help.”

I’d sound a little more nervous if I were saying to Americans, “Dudes – can I call you ‘Dudes?’ – Dudes, we’re going to expand coverage by forcing you to buy it, refuse to help pay for it and sit around with our collegial thumbs up our asses while the insurers refuse claims and make your lives an exorbitantly expensive living hell.” In fact, knowing that this plan will actually make the lives of Americans much worse would prevent me from saying it at all.

So who knew I had some dignity? Not Siobhan, who just sent an old picture of Ivan and me in Santa suits in a Tewksbury, MA hotel room where she, Ivan and I met up with Johnny and drank Boone’s Farm out of bowls. Apparently, paper cups were illegal within the city limits – but whatever: dignity, motherfuckers! Like the Portuguese, I guess:

Notably, decriminalization has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law. And while there is a widespread perception that bureaucratic changes need to be made to Portugal’s decriminalization framework to make it more efficient and effective, there is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. More significantly, none of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents — from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for “drug tourists” — has occurred.

The political consensus in favor of decriminalization is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.

You had me at postdecriminalization, Mr. Greenwald.

Is Pack Up And Run

Johnny, Poor Impulse Control’s Southwest Bureau Chief, reports from New Mexico:

You’ll enjoy this. My knees are killing me. I go to the rheumatologist. She orders xrays. She says it’s osteonecrosis, where blood flow has somehow been cut off and some sections of bone have died and are presumably rotting. She says I’m too young for knee replacement and cortisone shots won’t help. She says the only thing she can offer is – you guessed it – painkillers. I can’t win.

Dude! Did you tell her you were an addict? Wait, you’ve mentioned osteonecrosis before. Do you have other necrotic joints or did I dream this?

Oh, all my doctors know. I’ll be in trouble if I ever get in a car wreck. They’ll offer me an aspirin.

Actually, about ten years ago, my knees hurt and the MRI showed osteonecrosis. How do you remember these things? I can’t remember what movie we watched last night.

Actually, last night I was playing Embudo Station, up past Espanola, which is a lot like a movie set of a cafe’ by a river in the south of France, especially when we play the CanCan, which I spell the CannesCannes. We’re there every Friday now, except when we’re at the Lucky Bean in Rancho Viejo. I’m making about a hundred bucks a week playing music. I’ve always played just for the honor of playing. I can hardly believe I get given money and dinner now. The burst of pride I feel when I bring home my pay and give it to my wife to buy dog food and paper towels with is monumental, like the Great Wall of China, or at least a Very Good Wall of China. I’ll never be able to repay everything I’ve cost this family in medical bills, but you gotta start somewhere.

Tonight we go see some friends skate in the roller derby. I love our life here. I think we know more gay people than straight, and, like the song, where she makes love to him in his Chevy van, that’s all right with me.

Did I tell you that a month or so ago we were playing the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and about ten guys in full Star Wars stormtrooper costumes walked past us, like it was the most natural thing on the planet, going God knows where? We looked at each other, shrugged, and kept on playing. I think we were in the middle of Czardas, the Israeli national anthem. You think I’m kidding.

Actually, I think Ha Tikva is the Israeli national anthem and Czardas is Hungary’s. Why do I know that when I can’t remember the name of the woman who sits next to me at work? And who knew I’d feel underdressed without a roller derby?

Deal With Rockets And Dreams

The weather, I am under it today. Most of the morning, I couldn’t open my eyes. It’s not a big deal, but my patience wears thin when my body refuses to cooperate. I’d call a meeting with it but I’m sure it would hang up on me. Thus, now is the wrong time for me to notice that one of my soaps is about to step into a stinky mess. This child holding a child is the mother nearing the moment she decides to raise her baby rather than give that baby to a nearby adult. I’m neither an advocate for adoption nor a detractor. Most – not all but most – of the adults I know who were adopted are very fucked up about it. Adoption is better than foster care. Sometimes. Depends on the circumstances, the kid, the parents. But the soap saying that kids can raise kids is going too far, especially with the class issues packed – no, stuffed – into this particular scenario. It’s a bad scene, glossing over what this means in real life, like that the teenage characters are unable in any way to provide a home for themselves or the baby. So today, I shut off One Life To Live half an hour in, and I’ll come back when the show veers back to husband-stealing, underground cities and mental illness. That weirdness I can handle.

Be Loved Or Be Forgiven

Tonight as the sun sets on a rainy afternoon, neighborhood children released from the captivity of some fearsome rec room run screaming in a sopping backyard. Under the canopy of tall oaks and maples, sounds echoes, amplified, distorted. What sounds like a rampaging mob may be two enthusiastic Marco! Polo! players, but whatever it is, it’s nearly over as bedtime approaches. I’ve been having that dream again in which I’m chained to the stake and the flames are rising, so I hope they sleep well. Someone should, but I keep getting up for little glasses of water.

Yesterday’s brief issued by the Department of Justice defending the Defense of Marriage Act knocked the wind out of me. It was plain during the long campaign that Candidate Obama was a corporate centrist, which while better than the alternatives was miles to my right. I didn’t have high hopes for progress, but I hoped we wouldn’t lose a lot of ground. Unfortunately, a whole lot of President Obama’s supporters have discovered since 1.20.09 – I have the t-shirt and everything – that their groups’ love wasn’t returned. Some of these groups overlap, but if you happened to be a phone-tapped pot-smoking union anti-war mortgage-holding uninsured olive-skinned pregnant lesbian with credit card debt, man, you are shit out of luck. But who among us is not?

As light fades under the trees, the echoes yield to the sounds of rain dripping from rooftops onto pitted concrete. It’s quiet, but quiet has layers. Traffic on the highway on the other side of the river rumbles but this sound is neutral and somehow unlike noise. The Defense of Marriage Act clearly defines GLBT people as second class citizens, and I cannot make this work in my tiny brain. So many words, so much talk, so little compassion and the result is that some people diminish the lives of other people for no reason and in ways they refuse to apprehend. It is difficult to ponder the psyche that actively seeks to harm, but this we must, over and over. The thing that is most puzzling about this oppression is that in the putting down no one is raised up. No one’s life is improved when GBLT cannot comfort one another in hospitals. No one’s marriage is strengthened when GLBT people cannot marry. No children live better lives because GLBT people cannot adopt them. No one benefits. We allow all this love to slip through our hands is because it’s easier to stick our fingers in our ears when people suffer than to embrace them.

Once, I was sitting in the fenced-in cafe of a girl bar in Asbury Park on a sunny day with my lover, my live-in boyfriend, a woman I sometimes cozied up with and our friends. That was quite a weekend. I spent a lot of it sticky. As the long rays of afternoon light combined with the beer and no particular need to go anywhere or do anything, bottles sailed over the wall and crashed at our feet. It wasn’t the first time, and certainly not the last as the neighborhood, once gay-friendly and quiet, was changing. Nothing really happened, you see. No one was injured, but if someone had been, no one stood to gain.

Even now, so much is lost you have to wonder why.