Do You Party

That afternoon he visited grandmother in a small town, his hometown, a town with no name, not in this story anyway. She was talking about a lot of people who were dead to life but alive in her memory, perhaps because it was the day of her regular appearance at the local historical society, where she was a member. He replied it had always been his intention to visit the society; could he accompany her? At this she was radiant.

So they went together, the old and the young, words which mean less and more as you age. Mostly everyone there was older, and they were animated by his youngness. They asked about where he worked: a recording studio – where he lived: a certain neighborhood which had been in the news lately – did he feel safe: he was aware of his expression, of his phraseology, the need to be direct but respectful, to humanize and not patronize. It seemed his grandmother was proud, if a bit concerned for his safety.

What he omitted, what he didn’t admit, was that when he walked the neighborhood, people often asked “do you party?” They asked from a car like a Destiny’s Child song, from across the street like some parabolic priest, from profiling him as sexual preydator. There was partying: drugs and partying: sex. No one, even complete strangers, seemed to be confused at all that he tended toward the latter. And when it was asked, his word was no, but his face was yes, and they would always linger for a moment; an anguished moment in which he could feel his heart lean over the question, as water, seeing itself.

In the car, between the small town history and the big city present, a friend from the suburbs, a man his grandmother’s age, with whom he occasionally lunched, called. “I wanted to ask you at the restaurant the other day, but that didn’t seem the right place for it,” the man said. “Sometimes I go to parties, in people’s homes. They are parties with nude men. I just watch. You are welcome to watch. You don’t have to participate.”

“Oh. Oh,” he replied, “I appreciate you asking,” as if it were an old microwave being offered; “no,” he said. Old microwaves are too heavy, they get too hot, they take up too much counter space. They said goodbye, but he meant goodbye in a different way than the man did.

Parking near his duplex, he could see a party next door had moved outside. Their porches seemed like opera boxes, a great distance of theater between. Reaching into his pocket for the key, someone shouted, “how you doin’ neighbor?” and he smiled, “Good, you?” Unlocking the door, climbing to his level, collecting a drink from the refrigerator, a cigar from his backpack, a match from a drawer, he came down again. He slid a patio chair to the porch side nearest theirs and sat, waiting, knowing why he was waiting, not knowing why he wanted.

No one asked if he partied.


“Where are you?”

The voice was distant, blurred with sobbery, but I could tell it came from Tanya.

“Downtown,” I said. “What’s going on?”

Silence. For 2 minutes. Have you ever heard dead air on a radio station? It’s not that you hear nothing; you hear the absence of nothing. It’s a padded cell in a condemned mental institution in an evacuated city. So was this silence.

In response, my mind became a staff writer at a soap opera production meeting and within 2 minutes he had pitched some screwball ideas: Tanya is trapped in a burning building that is about to collapse and her leg is pinned to the ground by a steel girder; Tanya has been pushed in front of a Greyhound bus, or a Badger bus, or some kind of beastly bus; Tanya has been murdered and the murderer is listening to my helpless hellos.

I hung up. I called back. She answered: “Sorry, I lost you.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “What’s going on?”

“I’m driving to the emergency room,” she replied, sober of emotion.

“What did you do?”

“Something stupid.”

“What did you do.”

“I met someone on craigslist. It was stupid. There were so many red flags and I ignored all of them.”

“What did he do?”

“He slapped me really hard. Although, to be fair, I slapped him first. But that was because he threw me on the floor.”

“Did you call me while he was doing that?”

“No. After I left. Anyway, I’m almost to the ER,” she sighed, “and I – I just don’t want to be alone.”

“Is that an invitation?”

“No. You’re downtown, and I’m in Brookfield, and gas is so expensive.”

“I wasn’t inquiring about gas prices. I was inquiring if you want me to come.”


By now I was short of breath. Not from suspense, or grief. From being on the treadmill for 20 minutes. But I would not stop until 30 minutes. Not for this. This was our routine. And I don’t mean the ER and I don’t mean the treadmill. I mean our credit card sexuality, with which we shop around, hoping for approval, dreading decline.

The ER receptionist betrayed her title and rejected me. Repeatedly. So I spent two hours in the lobby, where the floors matched the wallpaper which matched the chairs which matched the lamps and I worried if I stayed there too long I would match too. Law & Order was on the TV and some actor said, “God told me to do it.”

We got back to Tanya’s friend’s place where she’s staying while he’s out of town. He bought it so he could restore it. He’s doing all the work himself, a little at a time, so little you hardly notice.

Laying on her bed, we looked up the guy’s record. “Evictions, small claims, domestic abuse,” she laughed. “Why didn’t I look this up before I went to his house?”

It was 12:30 AM. I was laying my head behind the laptop screen. She closed it. “Are you okay to drive?” She asked. “I’m not that old,” I replied. “I am,” she said.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

St. Paul convicts by way of confession. He’s like Scorpion in Mortal Kombat, throwing his arrow of truth right into my heart, pulling towards him, and then uppercutting me. But in the name of God, not revenge.

I understand why he’s upset; he’s celibate.

I know how upsetting it is. All of that extraneous sexual energy is redirected into my personality, which decides to form a color guard, with flags flailing with flamboyance, airblades slashing with wit, batons thrusting with independence, sabers stabbing with superiority.

But when the crowd goes home, I am alone. That pagan skeleton inside of me starts to dance. How sexy can it be without being sex? he asks, and his distal phalange screeches on the blackboard as he writes the equations:

(interesting person – only interested in their body) touching over underwear + kissing with tongue = delectable, forgivable

(seemingly nice person – never met them before) taking off shirts/pulling down underwear x groping organs until they orgasm = incredible, despicable

Expressions, identities, constants, variables…The math can’t explain my actions, or solve my regret. I am on the ground. I am bleeding from the heart.

Then St. Paul is at my side, offering a hand, saying, “And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”

Upper & Lower

I call it my office. I don’t call it my bedroom. It’s not big enough for either.

My bed is lofted about 5’4″. If the Brewers decided to play baseball on the floor, the bed would be the nosebleed section. Upstairs I can hear the landlord and his lady pounding the keys of their sexual organs. My roommates bring their boyfriends home, shut their doors, and – gIGGle – shhhh – gIGGle – shhh.

God’s going to use my gonads for his glory, not for my gratification.

The conventional diagnosis for this is sexual frustration, but I prefer sexual circumvention – rerouting the passion for a more productive use.

I am a string figure in God’s hands. He knows that being in a relationship would distract me from being an artist, so he allowed Satan to make me selfish. He knows that without a struggle I would be without inspiration, so he allowed Satan to make me homosexual.

Today a co-worker held up a cable and said, “see? This is a male to male connection.” Inside, I was a studio audience, and Satan was Lucille Ball.

I laughed my ass off.

Dancing is Sex for Virgins

Certainly, wet dreams and masturbation might have more explicit similarity with intercourse, but they are also more explicitly selfish. Dancing involves partners, without body exposure, clean up, STD’s or emotional wreckage.

I like my sex public: at a stranger’s wedding reception. Wearing my lustful-but-formal tight black wool pants and tight white shirt with a tie so alive it could tie itself.

Brick House, Dancing Queen, Let’s Go Crazy, Billie Jean – the songs may be regular – like a prune-eating-fiber-supplement-taking geezer – but they are not shitty. Or maybe pop music is proof that you can polish a turd. I’ll keep eating it regardless. We are sweating and strutting our way to salvation. The crowd reactions are different – giggles, stares, smiles – but they are all the same: they wish they could be this wild.

Yet we are not enough for ourselves – no twist or thrust is fully satisfying. We cannot truly dance until we are without genitals, without gravity, without minds.

It’s only a few songs later when our humanity starts with its harrassment – unfortunately not sexual, just slumberous. Muscles slacken, hearts tap instead of pound. We are more attracted to a chair than the dance floor. Instead of sitting, we wave to people we don’t know, and sexily snicker and swagger to the elevator. We are out of there, and into the night – an early summer night – that sighs and presses its cool cocktail glass on our foreheads.



A scene in Baby Doll. Carroll Baker has the genteel fragility that no Tennesse Williams woman leaves home without. Eli Wallach is that irresistible fusion of gentleman and ladiesman. She sits on a double-swing with only room for a single. He asks to sit next to her. She agrees, looking away. He sits; the swing squeaks; he sort-of-smiles; everything seems like a sensual threat. She questions his forwardness but will not look at him. He leans in. She is distracted and doesn’t know why. He cannot get any closer, can he? She answers, but she is submerging in something thick and warm. “You make me feel kind of hysterical,” she lilts, feverish, immobile. “I do?” He marvels. This ecstatic incline, numb alertness, someone’s laying Icy Hot patches all over, all over…

Foreplay is preferred to intercourse. Tight Clothing is preferred to nudity. Movie Sex Scenes are preferred to pornography. It’s better to observe than experience.  To learn than practice. To listen than share.

Don’t feed the animals. They’ll only want more. Sluts.


Every time I’m about to really use a public toilet I wonder how many sexual partners the last user had. I wish I owned an RV. Then I’d have a private bathroom wherever I went. I mummify the seat with paper, then sit. So, I’m supposed to pee with this, and then put it in some woman, right where she pees? No, no, I’m supposed to pee with this, then put it in some man, right where he poops? No, no…

Unendurably revolting.

Stephen King is always saying adverbs are unnecessary. Then so am I, because I use them all the time (childish logic results in the quickest conclusion, why not use it? Just because I’m an adult…).  I’ve never read one of his novels, only his book on writing – I must do these things to be ironic, even though I don’t realize it until after I’ve done them.


Some of us don’t have the physical qualifications for sex. I don’t mean my former friend Jonnie, who was born a legitimate man but whose male-specific apparatus needed multiple operations just to mimic normality, though it still couldn’t truly function. I mean – when I get out of the shower, I dry off, put on deodorant, briefs, shirt, and then, only then, do I look in the mirror. The last time I saw myself naked, I almost took a personal day.

Even with the traditional practice of turning the lights off, there’s the possibility your partner could be hiding a flashlight under the pillow, or have a switch right next to the bed, or one of those reading lights and even though the latter would possibly only illuminate a nipple, all three would mean instantaneous and humiliating exposure.

A scientist said he started studying the periodic table as a youngster. He was very alone and shy, so he identified with inert gas. It is not reactive with elements.