Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I am a rock/No soy una isla

I'm sure this one will be revisited in the future.

He's the part of me that likes to cry.
He is: weak
easily forgotten
a scaredy-cat
a cry baby.
He's that little kid who followed his older brother
around until he said, "Fuck you. Find your own friends."
He's annoying,
a mama's boy,
the type of person you don't want around, but won't go away.

I am strong.
I am independent.
I'm brave.
I'm creative and intelligent.
I get things done on my own,
I don't need any help.
I am assertive and cool.
People like what I say.
I'm popular,
a natural speaker.
I never get stage fright.
People invite me out because they enjoy my company,
not because they feel sorry.
I'm active and attractive,
your all American male.
I never ask for help.
But, when I'm hurt and alone, all I want is a hug.
When I'm vulnerable and scared, I need someone to say it's okay.
But I refuse to say there's anything I need.
I refuse to be happy.

a morning at the KFC

This one goes out to all the early morning work outs,
swim-teamers and jocks everywhere,
dedicated fitness buffs and guys that like to check out their butts.

This one goes out to that girl walking on the treadmill...
Still, after 2 hours. Seriously, girl, go walk outside.
I'm sure there is a hill somewhere for you
to repeatedly climb- speaking of, thanks for that, Miley;
I've heard your song like 10 times today.

This one goes out to pretend Olympic weightlifters,
and that chubby guy that always asks for fitness advice-
man, they don't care if you don't have a six pack.

This one goes out to those people you didn't wanna see:
that old guy in spandex,
last night's one night stand...
your priest?!

This one goes out to muscle milk and hot girls stretching.
No, I'm not checking you out. Well, maybe I am, but
it is kinda my job.

This one goes out to people who can't work out:
ex- football players and injured dancers. Some still try,
but most have given up.

This one goes out to good health.
This one goes out to looking good.
This one goes out to you, grunting dude.
This one goes out to me, for waking up this goddamn early.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Emotion and Waves

remember this story? it's longer and worse now ;)

I’m on my way to Nick’s with Maggi. The sun is out after a few days of rain, so I let her off her leash. She darts in and out of the water with the waves, despite the fifty degree weather. You would think that Stinson Beach would provide some nicer weather for February, but California gets cold too. I like to see Maggi run free. There’s something noble about the way her shadow stretches in the purples of a dusk sun. She is a rescue puppy, Maggi, from the shelter just off of Shoreline and Del Piños. I wouldn’t have even seen her if not for Nick. His cat, Puma, was getting old and he wanted a new cat in the house, so he made me go to the shelter with him. Maggi was a tiny mix of black lab and shepherd that whimpered as soon as I walked in the door. I didn’t think I could afford a dog then, but I couldn’t ignore her.

Nick invited me to dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We grew up together, Nick and I. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that he doesn’t want me to be alone tonight. I think, mainly, he just wants me to get to know Pam. They have been dating for awhile now, but I only met her once before at Zio’s Pizzeria. She ordered pepperoni but picked off the ones that weren’t whole. She is cooking for us tonight. She said it would be a pasta dish, but she would make sure to include some meat that I could feed to Maggi. I’m stopped by the stairs, now, to wait for Maggi, and as she shakes off the ocean water I put on my shoes.

Nick opens the door before I can knock. His house has a wall made completely of glass so that he can watch the sunsets. I guess he saw me walking up the stairs. Maggi pounces on him before I have the chance to hold her back, but Nick likes the attention more than he minds the sand on his Hawaiian shirt. When she’s done, I get to give him a hug.

“Roger’s here,” Nick calls out to Pam. She walks out of the kitchen in a skinny black dress that draws attention to her dancer’s calves. Over it is a tickle-me-pink apron with oven mitts tucked into the front pocket.

“Hello, Roger. I’m glad you could make it.” She’s interrupted by Maggi’s eager calls for food. I laugh a thanks while I move past her to grab Maggi a treat. From the kitchen I can hear Pam talking to Nick.

“Roger, I forgot to grab oregano from the market earlier. I’m gonna run and get some, but I trust you can keep Nicholas in line.”

“You bet, Pam.”

The door shuts and Nick leads the way back into the den. He grabs a beer from the mini-fridge there and throws me a crème soda. I’ve never been one for alcohol. I ask Nick if there’s a bowl I can use for Maggi while he searches through his floor to ceiling album rack. He loves technology, but Nick has always had a soft spot for vinyl records.

“Yeah, the one you used last week is still by the back door.”

By the time I get back he has The Black Keys playing so loudly that the cleanliness of his wood floors is in jeopardy with the way the sound is rattling his Sam Adam’s. I smile at him and he winks back.

“I’ve got an idea.”

“Aw c’mon, Nick. You can’t have anything mischievous planned yet.”

He smirks and runs out of the room. I can’t hear his footsteps because of the music, but I figure he’s gone to his room.

“You can still play, right?”

He hands me a battered black case, and I can tell he is serious.

“Yeah, I can still play, Nick.”

“Well then, play!”

I pull out the saxophone and put it together while he takes his Fender off the wall.

“Just like the good ole days, hey Rog?”

The saxophone isn’t tuned and we’re both rusty, but we manage to play along to most of The Black Key’s The Big Come Up. It doesn’t seem like we have been playing for long when I notice a patrol car pull up in Nick’s driveway. Nick runs to the door and I turn off the stereo system. I hear the door open from the den.

“Evening, is this Nicholas Garrett’s residence?”

“Yes, I’m Nick.”

“We’ve received a complaint about the loud music. I’m going to have to ask you keep it down, alright sir?”

I hear Nick laugh and mumble a response. I’m not worried. Nick’s smile has gotten us out of worse situations in the past. I sit down on the brown suede couch and continue to drink my pop. Nick is giggling when he gets back into the room.

“Looks like we still have it, eh Rog?”

“Have what? The ability to be idiots or the charm to get out of trouble?”

He only laughs as he sits down next to me.


“Yeah, Rog”

“Why do you have that old picture still up?”

“The cowboy? It reminds me of home, ya know?”

“I thought you hated New York.”

“No, Rog. I hated being poor. I loved New York.”

“Then, why do we still live here?”

“California’s warmer. Besides, we wouldn’t want to move Maggi, would we?”

“Yeah…” my nervous chuckle earns me a concerned look.

“Roger, what’s bugging you?”

“Nick, do you remember Vivian?”

“Of course, you two were perfect together.”

“Yeah, and Theresa?”


“Nick, I… I’m gay.”

“I know Rog.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, since Sarah’s party in 9th grade.”


The sound of Pam’s tires crunching gravel in the driveway filled the silence.

“Nick, are we still friends?”

He doesn’t answer, but he winks at me before he gets up to grab another beer.


Sarah Severson’s party was sixteen years ago. It was a Friday night during the start of the summer after our 9th grade, and the queen bitch of the freshmen class wanted to host a fiesta to celebrate a successful year of her social domination. We shouldn’t have even been invited, but Nick won her over somehow.

We looked completely out of place in clothes that weren’t Gucci, Prada, Coach or Armani. I had on jeans from Express that Nick helped me steal the weekend before. He had on a button down from Bloomingdales that probably wasn’t paid for either. When we arrived to her high rise, Sarah let us in herself.

“Hey Nicky, it’s so nice of you to come.” She giggled as she hugged him for slightly longer than a normal greeting. She was glad he was there, even if she wasn’t thrilled to see me. She had on a blue summer dress, she always wore blue, and had an unlit cigarette clamped seductively between her red painted lips. In her other hand was a half filled cosmo.

“Mommy is down in Belize, and left the place all to me.” She smiled through her model white teeth, while leading us through a throng of people. She stopped at the bar to get us drinks, Budlight for Nick and water for me, before leading us up to the roof.

Sarah’s social standing was due mostly to her older brother, Garrett’s influence. A lacrosse player and senior, Garrett’s lean body and handsome face made him both popular and attractive. He had a reputation for taking the virginity of the prettiest freshmen girls, all of Sarah’s friends.

“Everyone important is up top.” Sarah informed us. Somehow they had managed to install a pool on the roof of her building, where Garrett’s friends Bill and Tim, and Kathleen, Grace, Amber, and Jessica were all gathered, none of them wearing more than their underwear.

“Coming in?” Sarah asked, as she slipped out of her dress. Nick quickly followed, leaving me the only one still fully clothed.

“C’mon, Rog.” Nick hollered.

I nervously obliged, slipping into the side of the pool away from everyone else. Garrett came outside then. He stripped down to tightly fitting boxers, but didn’t immediately walk into the pool. Instead, he picked up a bottle of Coppertone and began to work his body over.

“Hey man, can you get my back?” he asked me.

I was too flabbergasted to say no, and began to rub the white paste over his toned muscles. As a result, the unfortunate rush of blood caused by high levels of teenage hormones forced more than just the blush that came to my face.

In my hurried escape I forgot to grab a towel. I found myself in someone’s bedroom, probably Mrs. Severson’s based on the beige comforter and vanity mirror.

The door opened, and Garrett walked in. I was still suffering from excitement.

“I followed your footsteps,” he said.

He sat down next to me, and the look of passion in his eyes transferred to crumpled sheets on the bed.


“Hey Nick, I’m back.” Pam shouts from downstairs.

“About time,” Nick gleefully responds, “we’re starving.”

Her laughter dances back to me like the chiming of crystal. Nick has something special in her.

Then, I see Vicky step out of Pam’s Audi.

Nick enters the room to witness my nervous pacing.

“What’s up?”

I don’t have to answer, because the girls chatter is now audible from the den.

“Oh,” he says before smirking. “I’ll get rid of them.”

“No! Nick, it’s fine.”

He doesn’t listen to me, but runs down the stairs to save the day. He always knows what I’m thinking.

“Hello, beautiful,” Nick says to Vicky after greeting Pam with a kiss.

“I’m surprised to see you. I didn’t think we were expecting anyone else beside Rog tonight.”

Pam interrupts him then, informing Nick, and me by extension, that she couldn’t stand to imagine Vicky sitting at home watching t.v. on a night like this, so she had to invite her over.

“There’s just no way we can send her home,” Pam informs with a slight enough attitude to enforce her point.

“Of course not,” Nick forces out with a laugh.

It seems his charm has failed me for the first time. My phone vibrates then. It’s John letting me know that he got off work at the Chronicle, where he works as a copy editor, and is driving down. I have about half an hour to let Nick know that my lover is coming over. It’s the first time I will introduce him to anyone as anything more than a friend. I’m scared out of my mind, but the thought of holding his hand or kissing him with public knowledge is enough to convince me this is the right thing to do.

Nick catches me pacing furiously around the couch.

“Well, bud, I’ve failed you.”

I smile at him.

“Don’t worry. Dinner with one extra won’t be too much trouble. I mean, Pam probably made enough food to feed five.”

“Five?! Please, there’s enough there to fill an elephant.”

He places a hand on my arm as I move down the stairs.

“Are you sure you’re up for this, Rog?”

The seriousness of his voice is almost enough to break my courage.

“Yeah, Nick. I’ll be okay.”

We move into the kitchen, where Pam and Vicky are furiously putting the final touches on our meal while they chat about celebrities and the latest performances at San Francisco Theater. There is a scent of onions and chicken in the air. Pam has Nick and I clean the table and pour drinks. It’s a busy scene of bodies bumping into each other with an unfamiliarity of being in the same kitchen.

“Ha! All done.” Pam tells us. “Now all that’s left is the dessert.”

“Mmm. What are we eating?” I ask, my mouth salivating at the thought of sweets. It’s been hours since I’ve last eaten.

“Homemade apple pie. Vicky brought over her special crust.”

“Yes I did.” Vicky smugly proclaims, as if the ability to make a crust somehow cements her place at dinner. “Would you like to help, Rog?”

“That’s a great idea. Nick, would you help me find that Frank Sinatra record?”

Nick is dragged upstairs to help Pam, leaving me to skin and chop apples with no one but Vicky for company. Luckily, Maggi has taken a liking to her and keeps her distracted enough to keep the conversation to a minimum until Nick and Pam make their way back to the kitchen. I reward Maggi with a few slices of apple.

I ask Pam to take over the preparation duties for me, and Nick and I set the table. He looks at me quizzically when I place plates for five, but doesn’t have time to ask. The doorbell rings.

Pam looks confused as she asks Nick if he is expecting anyone else. He tells her no, and moves to open the door. I walk behind him, hands clenching and unclenching, palms sweating.

“Hi, I’m John, Roger’s boyfriend.” He says it with such grace and normalcy. Nick takes it in stride, barely blinking before smiling and letting him in. They immediately begin to talk of sports and the cold weather, breaking the ice with an ease of conversation that was gifted to both of them. Pam flinches as John hands her his jacket to hang in the hallway closet. I see Nick notice it and hope that nothing comes of it in the future.

“Who is it?” Vicky asks from the kitchen. I had forgotten about her. John draws my focus like he is the only person in the room.

“Roger’s boyfriend, John.” Nick responds.

“Roger’s what?” Vicky is visibly shaken. It is obvious that she was expecting more than friendship in our relationship.

We sit down at the table now. I hope that the smell of pie from the oven will mask the scent of my nervous sweat. I move to grab John’s hand under the table. He squeezes it, reassuring me. John directs the conversation now, moving easily from what he does to politics. He is liberal, hates the war, and thinks that healthcare should be universal.

“You know, Obama should do to push through a free healthcare system.” John comments as he spoons alfredo covered chicken and pasta onto his plate.

“I agree,” Nick says as he takes a bite of a breadstick. “There is no reason for people to go without being able to see a doctor, but you know that some people will always be worried about how their tax dollars are spent.”

While they chat, I absentmindedly feed Maggi bits of meat from where she sits between my feet. Occasionally Nick or John will ask someone’s opinion, but Vicky and I are clumsy in our responses. Pam pulls through though, regaining her smile and charming demeanor. Eventually all the food has been eaten, and the bottle of wine emptied.

“Well, I have to get going.” Vicky says as she quickly takes her exit. “I have to work early tomorrow, you know.”

None of us know, but we don’t question her as she leaves. She has not enjoyed her dinner, and I don’t wish any more torture upon her. Pam excuses herself next, claiming to be exhausted. I try to convince her not to go. I think she has warmed to John, and I don’t want to tarnish her relationship with Nick.

“Sorry boys, it was a long day of cooking. You all better clean up.”

Nick walks her to the door, and I can hear them kiss. I think that they will be okay.

John finally lets go of my hand under the table, and gets up to use the bathroom.

“I like him”

“Me too.”

“How long have you been dating?”

“A few months.”

“Where did you meet?”

“A workshop group.”

I hear the toilet flush and the water from the sink turn on.

“Nick, I’m glad you like him.”

He winks at me before starting the cleanup process.

John walks back into the room, and my breath catches in my throat. I haven’t grown used to him walking in on me yet.

“Nick, it was nice to meet you, but I think I’ll have to be going too.”

They hug like old friends. I hand John his jacket and walk him to his car. We kiss. He runs his hand through my hair, something he only does when he feels comfortable. I smile at him.

“I’ll call you tomorrow.”

I kiss him again and then lay my head on his chest to feel his heart beat.

“I love you,” I whisper barely loud enough to hear myself.

He lifts my head to look into his eyes, a mix of blues and greens. They are intense, but gentle at the same time.

“I love you.” He says without a trace of shame.

He gets in his car then, an old green sedan. I keep telling him to get a new one.

I watch him drive off the long driveway and down the road. Nick walks up behind me.

We walk around the house and down the stairs to sit on the beach. It’s dark now, but the moon is bright behind the clouds. I sit down on a rock and Nick stands beside me. We throw pebbles into the waves.

“I felt like I was missing something.”

“And now?”

“I feel okay. Will you and Pam be alright?”

“Yeah, I think we’re good.”

I let out a long sigh. I love Nick too. He is family to me, a support system I'm terrified to lose. Nick and I watch the waves in silence now. It’s something we have become used to over the years, the repetitive motion of the waves suggesting that life can go on this way.