He forewarned me, the playlist is gay. At least that’s how he called it. I didn’t see it though. I scanned through the player looking for the stereotypical trance music and show-tunes [thanks America] and saw nothing of the sort. Wait…. No, still nothing. “Look closer”, he said smiling and I, not wanting to be that guy, looked again. I laughed so hard when I saw it:
- Take it on the other side [red hot chilis]
- Grinding [Clipse]
- Happy [Pharell]
There was even Mos Def's ‘My Umi Say’. His latest…. I don’t know what to call him, was called Umi. There WERE a few Kylie in there but then that’s not gay, its 2am-club. What struck me as odd was the series of classical tracks in the ‘gay’ folder. I pondered on the tracks as I held his player in my hand. I guess you can say, ‘O Fortuna’ is the sound one makes when one, you know. I asked him about it, half expecting him to give me an equally warped answer; something stupid like, “Oh, Fortuna’s this Queen who’s always on the boat rides.” Instead, he just looked at me incredulously. “What the hell’s wrong with classical music?” Funny guy. He ceremoniously stretched his hand across the island; the accompanying headphones. Force of habit had me check to see if there was any caked ear sperm on it; he reminds me that he cleans his ears. And I guess I shouldn’t be TOO ridiculous, he WAS lending me his player after mine died of natural causes. Natural, being relative. Okay, I threw it against the bedroom door. He was accommodating. He always is.
“Did you see this yet?” he lifted the paper. I felt the pit of my stomach descend to my thighs. I let out a groan; I knew what was coming.
“Turns out, gays are ‘practicing societal incest since all men are brothers’”. He smiled.
“Dad is an idiot.”
“He’s an idiot with a column.”
He flung the newspaper across the counter. I hesitated but rushed over to fix it properly. If I hadn’t, two hours later, I’d still be obsessing over the way the paper was left. Flung any which way; pages flying in the kitchen as if a poltergeist was summoned; he, walking over crumpled, spilled print on his way to the microwave. This is what I do. I obsess. He doesn’t. He curses. No, cusses. Then he’s done. I walked over behind him and fixed the paper; folded it; placed it under the counter with the others. The damn pile.
“Does he know?” He asked casually.
He turned with that wry smile, “Do YOU know?”
“I… I don’t know. Maybe. Possibly. Yeah I guess.”
“Wow, that’s um…. Concrete.”
It was my turn to cuss. He laughed.
“HA! ABBA! DANCING QUEEN! An actual GAY track!” I blurted.
I regretted it. I don’t know why. What’s the protocol with these things? Is it okay to make stereotypical gay jokes WITH… gay friends? Why couldn’t he be black like everybody else, at least then I’d know what was socially acceptable.
He put the juice back in the fridge and walked over to where I stood, fixing my already fixed tie.
“You think we all have fragile egos? Look at me. Look at you.”
My eyes. They lock on to everything except his face. I’m over that time. I’m over that life. I’m…. starving. Yes, focus on the hunger. This will bring you peace.
“I need a snack.”
“I gave you my player; I have to FEED you too?”
“Loaned the player; when I buy another one I’ll -”
“Give it to some shlub. Isn’t that what your dad always says – ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ and all that?”
Focus on the hunger.
“Dude. I got nothing. I actually have to go to Hi-Lo or whatever that supermarket is called now. You want to come?”
I decline. That obsessing thing I spoke of? If we went supermarket shopping, we’d be sharing the same cart. And for a minute… just a minute…. Maybe for the seven weeks after…. I’ll be thinking about how good it felt to go shopping. Like a couple, like. Except we aren’t; because that’s not my life.
What the heck IS my life?
I looked into my soul and heard, “Dude, I got nothing.”