Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brandy and Nimbleness (A People Person - Part 3)

He had a bottle of cheap brandy. I hadn’t any better offers, and so accepted a long pull. It felt like fire going down, and then, when it got, a moment later, to my brain, like heaven, or at least morphine.

His name was Roy. His loneliness was as evident as a vainer man’s aftershave. Ordinarily I sprint from such persons, but there was something irresistibly plaintive in his expression, and I had to wait for tiphanee anyway. It soon came out that we had something important in common. Years before, while working at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood, delivering and retrieving rented musical equipment, he had met Tom Petty, whose music he kept hearing — and detesting — years after the fact. “He won’t back down?” he marveled. “The guy’s four feet tall, weighs 82 pounds, has a handshake like overcooked linguine, and he won’t friggin’ back down? From who — a nine-year-old girl?”

“Whom,” I said, because I can rarely help myself, and am particularly helpless with a bit of brandy in me.

“Whatever,” he said impatiently. “At the time his so-called hits were first released, I managed to tolerate most of them. I mean, he sucked, but I’d take him over Guns N’ friggin’ Roses's screeching, for instance, or friggin’ Madonna or even Springsteen in his mumbly friggin’ folkie mode; now that’s friggin’ unlistenable. But now it’s years later, and I’d like to go 72 friggin’ hours, thank you very much, without hearing ‘I Won’t Back Down” or ‘Free Falling,’ or any of them, for that matter.”

(Little did I realize at the time that I myself would find the whimpering little ferretface’s music inescapable in 2010. I hear it on my car radio. I hear it virtually daily at the gym. I hear it when I take my car in for an oil change. I hear it being played by the bands the Egyptian restaurant around the corner, down the hill, hires to play on weekend evenings in the summer. I understand that its inescapability owes to radio programmers and others believing that, bland as it is, the Petty ouevre doesn’t particularly offend anyone, but its blandness offends the devil out of me.)

By the time I was halfway through telling him that I shared his feeling, there were grateful tears in my new friend’s sack-lunch-colored eyes. He began trying to make plans for joint activities, asking if I liked fishing, or bowling, or going to Bulls or Bears games. I told him that, living in San Francisco, I was much more interested in the Warriors or 49ers. He observed that I was a long way from home, and wondered what I was doing in Naperville, of all places. When I told him I’d come to meet a young woman, his Adam’s apple seemed to become twice its former size, and bounced like an overinflated basketball. He stammered, “Well, I’d better be getting home,” and tried to jump to his feet, but he’d had too much brandy for nimbleness.

My worst fears were confirmed. He was tiphanee. As I looked around to try to ascertain if anyone were watching, or if I could strangle him with impunity, he blurted that it was loneliness that had inspired his deceit. When I relaxed my hold on him, he pointed out that I’d been no less deceitful than he. I realized he was right.

I couldn’t figure out, in my agitated state, what he would have wanted with a 16-year-old boy who resembled a member of a boy group. When it dawned on me that he must be homosexual, I was of course filled with revulsion, and then dread. What if he suddenly decided that he found me attractive, and I liked his doing so?
Panicked at the thought, my first thought was to strangle him, but then I reconsidered, and we wound up living together in Naperville (I dared not show my face in San Francisco!) for seven years, during the first of which I discovered that it’s possible for two men to have sex without any ickiness. We might be together even now if he hadn’t run off with one of the former members of New Kids on the Block, one whose identity I am not, of course, at liberty to disclose.

No comments:

Post a Comment