This being Thanksgiving (by virtue of deadline-to-print-date lag, mind you), and me being averse to L-Tryptophan bathed in lard, I thought it might be a good time to consider the nonperishable qualities of life that continue to impede my next suicide attempt, melodramatic breakdown, or single.
Ah, there are blue skies, dragonflies, day lilies and ball-funk dancing around my head right now, I tell you, and both my mood and my blood-alcohol level are rising. There is so much to be thankful for, so many niceties served on doilies in Eastern European grope rooms, how could I ever pop a pill of doubt?
Umm, do you have any pills?
OK, then, for now it's sweet euphony and a swig of swill. Especially when I consider the time-addled notion of family as it pertains to the holidays, and the fact that my family holds me at a distance typically reserved for dirty diapers and toenail clippings. That's mostly of my doing, and frankly, I wouldn't change a thing. Why? Because family gets in the way … until you need bail money (which I did once … hi, Mom.)
To wit, it's another Saturday in Pooville, and I'm standing outside The Social awaiting the inspired novelty of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. It's raining, and I'm wedged up under the Tabu marquee, acting my prescribed part as disinterested indie kid under the influence. Currently influencing me, dully, is a suspended television inflicting teen second-sister Ashlee Simpson on me, minus volume. Naturally, I'm driven into an internalized tizzy about lack of volume, lip-synching and how clever I am, until I belch and it all goes away.
By the time I whisk myself into the just-opened Social, I'm already reconjuring thoughts of Ashlee, focusing this time on the "shadow" of her sister and the "shadow" of her Svengali father, when I feel something breezing past my knee … in my shadow. There are children present, ladies and gentlemen. Children in a bar. And if there were a lollipop present as well, it would be stolen.
Fortunately, there are adults too, like a cute & indie bob-haired girl named Jessica directly to the right of my drinking arm.
"What exactly is your column about?" she spills my drink and my premise. "I mean, I started reading it after I met you, and I couldn't quite figure out its purpose."
"We've met?" I don't remember anything.
"Yeah. You must have been pretty drunk because you and Dave Plotkin gave us your unfinished drinks when you left."
Blasphemy. There is no such thing as an unfinished drink, or Dave Plotkin. Jessica and I get on fine, until she senses that I might be in her space. But not so much that she can't throw a flirtation in my gay face.
"It's not like you're coming on to me," she winks. "Not that I would mind that."
And not that I have any synapses in that particular lobe. My minding is reserved for the realm of male genitalia, liquor and personal failure. In short, we'll never have kids.
But by the time the Trachtenburgs are onstage, spinning their neurotic combo of musical daft/deftness and slide-show nostalgia, the kids in the audience appear to be the surreal inheritors of indie shortlist chic, all jumping around and enjoying things more than the jaded or gay can. In fact, on drums is the 10-ish daughter of the (Partridgey) family, while on the screen are housewife boobies. It's all odd juxtaposition here, and it only gets worse when show opener Andrew Katz throws the word "fuck" at the rhythmic tyke, running up to her kit and jokingly attacking her.
Yes, that was me tinkling my toes along the moral high ground. But I won't get used to it. Not when directly in front of myself and Jess is the perplexing vision of a tousle-haired Brit's ass in perfectly fitting jeans.
"Oh, look, there's perfect patch of air suspended between his cheeks," I anally remark.
"I know," she says. "It's all I can look at now."
We watch his ass, and that of another, less attractive faux-hawked pud nearby, reporting our cynicism like aging Muppets in a skybox. By night's end, I'm in a photo booth with Dave Plotkin's mom (with whom I'll never have kids and name them Dave), and with Jessica, trying to create memories I know I'll never remember.
By Tuesday I'm involved in another family situation, this being some unlikely involvement with a fifth-grade football league at a game on the Boone High School field, sans housewife boobies. I've been dragged here by my boyfriend to join some of our friends in celebrating their son's athletic achievement, which would be great if I weren't a gay guy at a fifth-grade football game, thus embodying the pedophile stereotype for those still basking in the red of their state. So I sit quietly, while my sheep in wolf's clothing talks up issues of investing, government and Thanksgiving cooking, never even slipping into my prison of irony. Well, sort of.
The other spawn of our friends, deep in her terrible twos, is constantly wrapping herself around us and growling precociously. I love her deeply, but am sometimes scared of her, especially when she's on bleachers made of concrete and steel. There's a top-heavy quality to children, so you're always weebling their wobble and hoping they won't fall down.
"Pleased to meet you!" she keeps telling me, holding out her hand.
"And you." I keep sinking into panic.
And just when I'm not looking, she lunges at Alan, the other half, with her teeth out and bites his crotch. The world stops, everybody's face goes into smooth-over mode, and both a laugh and a cry waddle to the back of my throat.
Stammering and stewing into a sort of echo-headed nausea, I cross my knees and stare at the 10-year-olds stumbling over each other on the field. Then I scream inside, and realize I don't fit in, never did and never will. And then, a 3-year-old comes tumbling down the bleachers behind me, landing his soft noggin right on the steel currently burning under my perfect ass, and screams bloody murder.
I couldn't have screamed it better myself. Happy Thanksgiving.