Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Verona Hotel

One of the things about working on this new book, The End of San Francisco, is that it means going through my writing from the last three years which means my life, and then I find these things like a conversation with Chris from over two years before the end, a conversation that I thought would lead somewhere else but instead -- well, lostmissing, you know the rest -- I was calling Chris “Derek” for a while, but maybe now that he’s gone I’ll call him Chris again -- anyway, here’s this excerpt from what I’m editing:

You're adorable is what this guy says to me when I kiss him, he's on the sling at Blow Buddies getting fucked by first one guy and then another. I don't know how many it's been, but I like watching his eyes bouncing forward and back. I came in when the guy with one of those hats was going at it -- Chris calls them emo hats, Ralowe says conductors caps, I think they’re something from the military. Anyway, the guy with the hat was fucking the frat boy in the sling and I started hugging him from behind, licking all that sweat on his cheek and eating his ear, what is it about ears with me? He was grabbing my dick, but I kept having to pull back because I was about to come, I hate the way that works now like it only takes 10 seconds or something.

Then he came in a condom and pulled away, said something like you better take your turn before it's too late, so I put on a condom and what is it about the friction that makes me come so soon, I'm not even turned on I hate it. Then I leaned on top of the guy and kissed him, that's when he says: you're adorable. He's adorable, almost-shaved head and pale Irish jock skin I mean maybe we’re adorable together. Anyway, then he says will you tag someone for me? At first I think he means fuck someone for him, but I realize he means pick someone to fuck him. There are a lot of guys standing around. I pick the skinny one and make sure he puts on a condom, my new boyfriend says thanks.

Then I end up watching maybe four more guys fuck the guy in the sling and it's hot, even when the guys aren't hot I'm watching my boyfriend's face he's getting totally delirious talking to people who aren't there, looking back behind him saying this is the way, it's hot this way, you're in a sling just anyone walks in. One guy is pounding him so hard that all the metal on the sling is shaking like it'll fall but it's made not to fall. No one is smiling except me, I'm totally grinning like I'm proud of my boyfriend, problem is that if it was my actual boyfriend I'd be shaking like that sling or no I’d stay still as the floor but inside like the metal on the sling bouncing up and down. But this guy's not my boyfriend so I'm kissing him and it doesn’t hurt, I say you're amazing -- I mean I could never do that.

He says just try not coming for three days, but three days is like nothing for me, my boyfriend has to go pick up his straight friend who he left at a techno club -- he's from the Bay Area, but he's moving to Portland in July because he thinks it'll be easier there to survive the energy collapse. I'm curious about whether he's fleeing out of paranoia or whether he's engaged in creating alternative energy options, but I only get a chance to give him another number to lose in his cellphone. But then the cabdriver tells me my haircut is adorable, she's got long blond hair and a pink bow, secretary glasses with rhinestones. I like that word: adorable.

Although adorable is not the word I would use for the two hours at Blow Buddies that I'm skipping, the good news is that I have this breakthrough about my relationship with Chris, I mean I realize that the reason I get so shut down when he gets angry is that I don't know how to deal with that kind of masculinity in someone I love, I mean usually I just discard people like that. But Chris is my closest friend, so when he gets angry like that I just turn into a little kid and I can't say anything.

Luckily we’re having a conversation, honestly I've been thinking about this for five years -- I know that's terrible, but that's how my brain works when I get scared I mean it just rolls and rolls and eventually gets somewhere but not before wearing me down, wearing me out, and wearing me outdoors when I should be indoors or inside when I should be outside or you know what I mean: it's not a good pattern. Chris says he's afraid to show that he's angry because he knows it shuts me down, but that's not the point -- I don't mind if you're angry, I just can't deal when it's this masculine rage. Chris says he notices that pattern, he doesn't want to be grumpy all the time but no I'm not talking about grumpy -- grumpy doesn't bother me at all, I just can't deal when it's directed at me.

The best part is when Chris starts to cry, is it weird to call that the best part? Here in my kitchen that's too bright now that I replaced the light bulb but I'm not about to change it again, maybe it's just too bright because all the walls are white and there's nothing on them yet. But Chris starts to cry when he says you're one of the only friends I have left and just like that I'm crying too, we're crying in my kitchen and I lean over to hug Chris but that doesn't work so I stand up and he stands up and I'm hugging him, my hand on the back of his neck to comfort him, he doesn't cry often. I like hugging him. I always like hugging him.

Chris wants to know how we became friends if I always steer myself away from that masculine behavior, I mean I'm attracted to it sexually but I know it’s violence so I stay away. I say I don't think it was a pronounced when I met you, I mean looking back I can see that you were masculine but at the time it was like we were engaged in the same project of questioning everything about our actions, and that type of unquestioning masculinity was the worst type of behavior in both our minds and you have the same critique now it's just that I think you also find comfort in that masculinity. Maybe comfort is the wrong word, maybe it's something more like fatalism.

Chris says you're right, I grew up in a family where that kind of masculine rage was the only way anything was expressed and I can't help it, it's in me I can't help it. I say I grew up with that kind of rage too, I mean maybe it wasn't actualized in the same way. I stop myself -- of course it was actualized. Chris says you don't have to qualify it, I know you did too. I say I just chose to deal with it in a different way, it's just not the way I express myself any more.

I'm wondering if I was more like that when I met Chris, maybe that was something else that connected us this inexplicable rage. I never really embodied masculinity, but moving away from misdirected anger was still a long process. I mean I used to tear apart the people I was closest too, I thought that was love of course that's an old, old story. Chris says he has to think about it some more, it's a new thought he has to think about it. I'm just glad that I'm finally able to speak.

There's something about the sky in the middle of the day, right before it gets startlingly gorgeous you know like when the fog rolls in and the sun is lower but before that it’s just anticipation or not anticipation really because you don't even know that you're waiting but you’re waiting anyway. I don't know why I'm starting with the sky when what I'm feeling is so much lower I mean in my head and it's already nighttime, not nighttime when the sky is so blue it's almost brighter than day but just nighttime inside looking at a few scattered lights, no not scattered -- most of the lights are in the Federal Building actually or in that somewhat tall subsidized housing building where people seem to stay up later, plus the hotel sign in neon red with green wrapping around the top part, HOT, you know hot, don't tell -- that's the Verona Hotel I think, it's a residence hotel on a crack-heavy block but they have a very glamorous lobby with all the original wood. I saw this movie when I was visiting Berlin at the end of 2000 before I moved back to San Francisco and this guy in the movie lived at the Verona Hotel, San Francisco in the movie was this dark and desperate place where guys got crucified at dangerous SM parties where they thought it was a scene but instead it was the end and I just thought it was hilarious this pathologized sensationalism, I mean magnified to include everything but still a vision of San Francisco through the eyes of Berlin I saw the Verona Hotel or actually I think it's the Hotel Verona, that desk in the front lobby, I thought okay, I'm moving back.

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