Sunday, May 11, 2008


Grief is a truly private matter, of course, and everyone experiences it differently; such an intensely personal and mysterious experience certainly doesn’t require an explanation, least of all to someone like me.

In spite of this, however, I was DEFINITELY not expecting The Boyfriend’s Mother to react to the loss of her pet bird Twiggy by taking another swig of her Mudslide Cocktail and saying “ Oh well. I wanted to get a grey one anyway.”

For those of you just joining this narrative, said fowl – a houseguest here at 801 on loan while the In Laws were out of town - flew the coop last week and in spite of a search which has rivaled the hunt for Jimmy Hoffa, she has taken the proverbial powder. While there have been dark murmurings around the household about Twiggy’s fate – my Peruvian houseboy (or as we're starting to suspect, possibly Argentinian; while we still can't decipher his language nor his accent, we've been getting some very strange long distance bills to Buenos Aires...) Panton spent an entire morning shaking his head and muttering “el gato…el gato” while cleaning up the now empty cage – I for one have tried to stay optimistic, suggesting that perhaps our dearly feathered departed has simply moved on to greener pastures.

I like to imagine she’s found a home somewhere on the other side of our Desert Town, perhaps some kind of magical place-

- with dozens of miniature swing sets scattered around the yard, mounds of delicious cracked seeds piled neatly in tiny bowls well within beak distance, and hopefully a welcoming shoulder or two upon which to relieve herself.

At least we can rest assured that, whatever her fate, she hasn’t ended up like that poor woman in Austria whose looney father locked her up in a dungeon-like apartment beneath his own home and impregnated her with seemingly dozens of offspring over the past twenty odd years.

The fact that a horrific crime such as this could have continued for two decades literally under the nose of this ghastly fellow’s WIFE – who swears she had no idea what was going on – is truly a testament to the fact that Love is not only Blind but also Stupid.

(It must be said, however, that the “dungeon” in question is almost identical in square footage and appointment to the average New York City apartment; given its location ten feet underground, buried within solid concrete, it could be argued that this vile crypt is actually quieter than anything you can find in Chelsea these days for less than $5,000.00 a month.)

My dear friend the Duchess of Milton –

- here seen recently winning the Randy Shilts Award for Best Use Of The Tragedies Of Others For The Promotion Of One’s Own Non-Fiction Writing - has expressed dismay over the years about crimes such as this which seem to appear with an almost tiresome regularity in the morning papers. Even though society is essentially programmed for Heterosexuals to flourish and succeed, he suggests, the very fact that they are responsible for most of the atrocities in the world seems to indicate that their mating drive turns them into Monsters.

While I firmly believe the Duchess will one day be regarded as the Truman Capote of his price point, I would only agree with a caveat; I don’t think society is programmed for Heterosexuals so much as it’s programmed for Idiots. Case in point: today, while Panton and I were selecting some river rocks to place around the gigantic Easter Island tribal worship sculpture I’ve placed at the south side of the property-

- (I’m not religious, of course, but given the current state of world politics we’ve decided to subscribe to the “Any Port In A Storm” philosophy although we are drawing the line at Virgin Sacrifice, not so much because of any moral queasiness but rather due to the difficulty involved in finding someone in our circle who possesses even a modicum of sexual purity) we were forced to wait in line at the local Lowe’s Hardware emporium -

- while a Check Out Clerk babbled on the telephone to her girlfriend about the evening’s plans while AT THE SAME TIME the Customer she was serving was talking on HIS cel phone, making dinner reservations with friends.

Neither of them were looking at, much less acknowledging, the existence of the other and just as it seemed this Babel-esque tableau couldn’t become more absurd, one of our local Obnoxious Retirees (easily identified by his leathery skin, gaudy jewelry and a pair of shorts so inappropriately brief that every time he bent down to add another bag of peat moss to his shopping cart, we were treated to the visual proof that he only used Grecian Formula For Men on the hair on his head) walked up to the counter, stood behind the Customer, and shouted “How long do perennials bloom?”

When nobody answered, he just shouted it again, completely oblivious to the fact that neither of the people in front of him were paying attention. As if suddenly realizing that his Old White Guy Privileges (wherein any straight male over the age of 60 assumes that when he speaks, EVERYBODY listens)-
- held no sway over the chatty Latina and pesky Homosexual in front of him, he finally threw his hands in the air, turned and – to my horror – marched in our direction. I tried to busy myself by reading the ingredients on a nearby bottle of weed killer, but to my horror, the Leathery One stopped right in front of us, ready to florially interrogate me within an inch of my life. Just then something caught his eye; he glanced down to the floor and, seeing my besandalled pedicure – recently trimmed with our exclusive signature color of Russian Navy – looked back up at me as if he’d just seen the Face of Satan.

Shaking his head he snorted “like you’d know…” under his breath and before I could utter a witty retort, Panton – with his rudimentary grasp of English – checked his watch and cheerfully replied “Four clocks and nineteen!”.

Without a word, the Disgruntled Shopper stormed off toward Small Appliances, probably in search of a Kitten Blender.

Now I’m sure this sort of exchange happens regularly amongst many of my Readers, especially those of you in the Trades or perhaps the Bowling Alley Maintenance Industry where you are forced to deal with these sorts of people, but I honestly must say I don’t know how you all put up with it. Between sex slaves and rude hardware patrons, is it any wonder that I require at least two very stiff Bloody Marys in the morning just to summon the courage to venture beyond the protective fichus trees of 801?

Not to say that vulgarity is limited to those toiling in the fields of Heterosexuality, mind you. Just the other night, for example, while dining in a lovely “family” style Mexican restaurant-

– hardly “21” I’ll grant you, but a respectable spot all the same – we were presented with the spectacle of one of our Gay Brethren waiting for his table, decked out in a Dog Collar, a pair of leather shorts and a tank top with the word “PIG” emblazoned across the front. While I certainly support the poor, deluded fellow’s right to humiliate himself in the pursuit of happiness – although the fact that he was dining alone might have suggested to him that very few men over the age of 40 are comfortable dressing like rejects from the road company of the movie “Cruising” –

- it just doesn’t seem like a particularly classy use of one’s freedom of speech. Some would say he’s being “courageous” by being “himself”; I would argue he was just being a show-off.

In sharp contrast to that sort of "Me Generation" leftover self-indulgence, I can’t help but think of young Lawrence King.

For those without access to the daily media circus, he was a 14 year old openly gay high school boy whose own pursuit of happiness was tragically cut short when a deranged male student took offense at Larry asking him to be his “Valentine” and shot him to death. This wasn’t a case of somebody trying to offend diners by advertising for sex next to the nachos, this was just a young man with a crush and we would venture to say he had more courage in his little finger than the Dog Collar Man had in his entire porcine body.

Of course fingers are being pointed; the media blames the Shooter's upbringing, the Christian Right blames the liberal school environment, the Gays blame the world at large -

- and lots of crappy art and bad poetry is being created by people who wouldn't have given the time of day to somebody like Lawrence King unless they had seen him on MTV and figured they could ride his coattails to their own fifteen minutes of Lohan-esque fame.

Call me crazy, but I blame the Shooter. I'm sure it's not politically correct to say this, but sometimes Evil just shows up on your doorstep with a gun. Lots of kids get teased, lots of kids get bullied; but only a rare few of them are so mentally unhinged that they steal Grandpa's gun and plug the school sissy.

The little bastard should hang.

I mention Lawrence because he wasn’t the only King to have died recently; by sheer coincidence, one of our old school chums passed away later that month, in his case from complications brought on by an enlarged aorta, a defect he'd carried from birth.

Steven King was the token “queer” at my high school, whose effeminate mannerisms made him a target to every thick-necked moron in the place. While myself and the other homosexuals amongst us – and as the years have gone by, one is surprised to discover just how many there were even in our little backwater school - who “passed” as straight were spared the slings and arrows of adolescent taunts, Steven took it all on the chin and, somehow, stayed true to himself, never once letting the cheap cruelty which was the currency of the teenagers in our rural town get him down.

At least, not in public. Who knows what private hell he endured when he was alone with his thoughts; had my own fears and insecurities not pressured my teenage self into the cowardice of conformity, I might have been a better friend to him. I’d like to think so, anyway.

One assumes that in this enlightened day and age, with “Will and Grace” in reruns five days a week

and Gay/Straight Alliances sprouting up like wild roses at schools public and private across the country, perhaps ignorance has been devalued somewhat and things are getting better for our young people. But then a boy gets shot for confessing his feelings for another boy, and two lives are ruined forever.

All in the name of God.

As I was saying, grief is a truly private matter and I certainly don’t pretend to know how the families of these two unrelated Kings are dealing with their losses, but I would like to add one thought. It seems to me these two souls had more in common than just their last names, or the simple fact of their sexual orientation.

I'm not a doctor, not by any stretch, but I would venture to say they both died because their hearts were just too big.


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