the lost man chronicles
the daily chronicle
another great day and an ideal husband
“There are always exceptions to the rule, and the rule you should always follow is—be exceptional.”
I fully anticipated that this would be another great day—and it was.
It always helps to begin with the right attitude and the day began early this morning with the great discovery of another grey hair, only the second in five years, and I have been giddy-up giddy from thereon in. For how could I not be ecstatic about coming into the Elysian age of wisdom?
By chance my friend Fernie was taking the bus in early and I was going in late, so, as the bus crawled into the City at rush hour, we sat together and discussed the finer points of being a man.
Our conversation concluded with a waking spurt of wisdom, which I, not only was compelled to write down, but also pressed to profess, “Damn, this is it! This is going to be my mantra for the day—‘There are always exceptions to the rule, and the rule you should always follow is—be exceptional.’”
As empathy can be invigorating and this great insight was likewise uplifting, by the time I arrived at the office, I was hyper-happy and eager to take on the day.
And no one, no how, no way was going to steal away this wealth of felicitation I had come into, and which I was spending like an Ugly American abroad, tossing pennies asunder to the horde of hungry, grimy, greedy and needy children diving under and about me to plunder a grossly expended extravagance.
In the office, and in full operation mode, I moved things along with little pats on back, challenging nudges and bribes of flattery. I was utterly ecstatic when a few opportunities to take circumstance and wield it to my advantage arose. For the CFO was putting up obstacles to being the exception and that wasn’t acceptable. There were several parts of the machinery that required her approval in order to get my project churning, so I subtlely, and sometimes brashly, brought up bits and pieces of my case with every chance meeting we had that morning.
I had just submitted a request for attorney review on a contract, and according to administrative schedule, mine wasn’t going to come up till November. I thought “Helll no! This ain’t acceptable. And I’m going to have to take some serious action, ‘cause cous’ I am not heeding to any damned computer-generated schedule. I am just going to have to personally push this through, sooner rather than later.”
In addition, to my own riled volition, I was feeling as if fortune was on my side as well. For on one occasion I overheard the CFO quote me, “He thought of a very funny companion to The Vagina Monologues—The Penis Soliloquies.” Shit, and we weren’t even drunk yet. So the notion that she still found something I said funny enough to repeat—was a soothing consolation to me.
It so happened that we were also going out together this evening to an event—the book launch party for Vaginas: An Owner’s Manual. And so, I was looking to bring it on in full force then, when, in person, I could best ensure that my project was made a priority. Because I wasn’t going to stop till I had my concessions.
Coincidentally enough, I also recently discovered what her favorite drink is, so one might rightly guess what the first order of business was going to be for me this evening, which I was aiming to fruition—exceptionally.
Later that afternoon I came down to her office to tell her where to meet me, and she told me that there was another party she was going to afterwards, and that I should come along. I thought with a subtle grin, “This is all working out all too well for me.”
At lunchtime I decided to do something different, something other than going down into the basement, eating by myself in a corner and digging into a few more pages of my current afternoon read, An Ideal Husband.
So I walked up Park Avenue and happened across The Scandinavia House. There was a quaint little café inside and list of the current exhibitions displayed in the window. I decided to go in, and first went to the galleries to view the Louisa Matthíasdóttir Retrospective.
I began a conversation with the sole woman there, and happily discovered that she was actually creating a film about this deceased Icelandic artist, who was simply known as “Ulla” to her small family and little circle of friends. She went on for about half-an-hour with eyes of wonder and a wonderfully fine-tuned aesthetic and appreciation for the work. I was enamored by the utter simplicity and unique beauty of the 100 pieces of work we saw together, as we walked through the two floors of the gallery. I just smiled with a smug satisfaction, being privy to this spontaneous private tour.
Amongst so many great little things I learned the ad-hoc tour guide disclosed to me that Icelandic people have falsely been accused of being Scandinavian, “We’re not even on the fucking map! We’re Nordic and that’s that. And we’re unique to say the least.”
For her spontaneously rendered lessons I invited her to lunch at the Aquavit Café. “Okay,” she said, biting her lip with a shy smile.
We sat to chat and chew for what would flow over into another half-hour, with such a strange familiarity, which I almost felt at the end was one like that shared between two old lovers meeting for a quick platonic rendezvous.
She asked if she could treat me to dessert and I immediately answered “Yes. That is very kind of you,” all the while thinking, “In fact, I wouldn’t mind having you for dessert.”
Along with a mini-cup of hazelnut gelato and a cup of coffee, she presented me with a small gift, “Here, this is for you. You mentioned you loved Swedish licorice while we were in line, so I hope you like this kind,” and with that she handed me a blue bag of Fazer “Extra Hot” Tyrkisk Peber (Turkish Licorice). I was flabbergasted and wholly bewitched by this gesture.
We both sipped our espressos in silence in an awkward recognition that this was the final act before parting.
“Well, I guess this means goodbye. Thank you very much for that informative tour, and of course for the treats,” I said smiling, holding up the bag.
“You’re quite welcome. And thank you for lunch.”
Then we paused for a moment. I reached out to shake her hand to breach the gap of charming silence and she took it, pulling me forward for what I interpreted to be the standard international farewell between familiars—the two-cheek kiss. The lithe brushes tickled me. And as I pulled back she held on and stretched this blissful moment with a fey “Unh, unh, unh. You missed stranger…in Iceland we kiss three times.” And this time, as I leaned in, the corner of her lip came just a little closer to mine, so that I could hear her whisper “Thank you.”
“Jesus,” I thought, ”this can’t be happening to me,” and with that I walked away, scurrying with a gay stride back to the office.
A little more than four hours later, the evening got a jumpstart when with the iTunes random-ator pumped out Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” while I waited at my PC until 6:55. It was an uncannily apropos duo that was considering where I was going and the kind-a-crowd I was fully anticipating to be there.
At 7, while I waited outside for her and another colleague who was invited at the last minute, I flipped a coin—and won. I stopped flipping the quarter as a reminder to quit while I was ahead. For on this lovely and lively evening I was vying and plying and playing and flirting, simply out of necessity. If there was pleasure to be had, it would only come with the successful execution of my circumventing intentions.
I was looking to simply garner a little extra credit, and certainly not to get anyone indebted to me.
Because to survive and thrive in this ultra-conservative corporate outfit you had to quickly realize that having anyone in the workplace haunting you with smitten eyes, is a curse. Its just plainly not the right thing to do during these punchy, puritanical days when red lights never turn green because most people believe they mean prurient satisfaction, discrimination and depravity.
So instead I drank, they ate, I drank and they ate some more. This was pretty much the gist of it—all night long.
For the all-too-short while we stayed at the party, I listened to my two companions complain one too many times about les guests da fête. With wrinkled noses, and nasally jibes jetting out of their gritted teeth they kvetched loudly enough to ensure I could hear them over the DJ, “There are too many women here!”
At first, their irk and observation did not jive with me, for it did not readily translate for me into the same reality. It did not at all occur to me that a great looking gathering of well-dressed, well-kept and well kempt women might bother anybody privy to being amongst this tasty array of people. It certainly did not bother me. But then, of course, as I would hear regaled a few times more later on, out of fifty or so people here, I was probably one of five men, four of which were probably gay.
It was only when the observation was uttered once more that I voiced my ignorance and asked “So, there are a lot of women, what’s the problem?” The answer should have been obvious to me as soon as we walked in the door—“There aren’t enough men.” For the few that were there were either too old, too happy, taken or too unapproachable because they were either “gorgeous” or already surrounded by little fawning blonde fairies.
I found it utterly amusing that my manly bias kept me in the dark until I was dragged into the bright light by bitter company. The sour taste of their disposition hid the other underlying reasons goading their dissatisfaction. Because once I saw them in action, quite a few things dawned on me.
As I’ve mentioned, my pals apparently like to eat. And it was also apparent that the ball belles at the little lilith fair—did not. And being that this festive bunch ran the gamut from a few well-breasted gold-diggers to what seemed like a lot of otherwise well-endowed, well-to-do, as well as well-bred and likely interesting people, it occurred to me, as I watched my pals grab and grub hungrily, devouring hors d’oeuvres with stubby paws that there was indeed a noticeable difference entre them and the competition.
And since I was earnestly focused on shamelessly being obsequious, and I absolutely had no interest otherwise in any member of my particular party, one which eventually burgeoned into a full tug boat of four merry woman and me—my antennae did not register the litany of sensitivities, cat-calls and feelings of inferiority or dissatisfaction that the lack of opportunity to gawk and goose about, fantasizing the rout of a good-looking and presumably available male-man.
Ding-dong. “Mam, I’ve got a package for you.”
Fortunately, for me, I feel and felt at the time, since I was inclined to imbibe more than one of the disequilibriating and effervescent house specialties—The Lavender Light—a strong purple flute of Dom Perignon et Chambord—that this rare evening-out was slowly and surly unfolding according to my wily plans and not-so-humble expectations.
And considering the extended and engaging conversation I eventually had with the sister of “the one who signs the checks,” a spiritual psychotherapist, the night actually panned out alright.
Granted, it would have been by all means, just as acceptable, and maybe even somewhat more satisfying to have taken advantage of the ratio at the party we left behind, but I not only got what I bargained for, but I also ended up bantering about one of my favorite pastimes—understanding and manipulating and running joyously through the feral fields of the mind and imagination.
Moreover, in solitary confinement I was treated fairly nice by my gaol keepers, because they doled out the compliments, excessively—“…and you’re just the kind of good-looking guy that those gay men are looking for…”, “God, I thought you were much younger,” “Jeez, you’re just my kind of man—one who doesn’t watch sports, reads something other than comic books and financial reports, understands people…,“ “So, do you have a brother?” blah, blah and another blubbery-blabbery blah.
Of course, I did not much mind these kind of comments, and I duly feigned some humility by brushing air with a limp wave of them away, and an “Ah, shucks” sort-of-smile. But, while surely they massaged my ego, considering my circumstantial purpose, these laudatory perks did little for me—and piqued me about as much as the pink plastic martini glasses and shakers that came in the faux Tiffany’s turquoise gift bags at the end of the night.
Besides, by the time I started in on my bourbon, my fool’s gold, alas, with each subsequent of the liquid brass I readily forgot each new complimentary quip, and let them merely wash over me and put a little polish to my brash countenance.
As we left the restaurant, the girls said their goodbyes and good nights, and I relayed my farewell, whimsically suggesting to the my new friend, the therapist, that we bounce back to the club for a nightcap so she could see for herself what we had all been talking about when she arrived at the restaurant.
Her first reaction was “No, I’m too tired and I got to home…la l a la.” I shrugged and said “Okay, well you all have a splendid evening” and stepped into the street. At mid crosswalk I heard my name and “She’s coming with you!” Her sister had nudged her hard and told her to shake off the cobwebs of age, and just run away with the opportunity to play, if only for just a little longer than usual.
The train of endearing affinity we were riding almost derailed when at one juncture we got into a light-weigh bout, shouting back and forth about “relativity.” I took the position that truth and reality were essentially one in the same, and that both were definitively relative. She vociferously moaned “No, only reality is relative. Truth is absolute.”
I thought—at the speed of mad thinking—truth be told, if we were truly talkin’ reality, I likely would be regaling this tale in a slightly more sordid limelight—for if I was talking trash with the boys at our irregular poker night, the story might sound more like this: “So, the other night I was out with a horde of middle-aged, substantially overweight, and not-so-attractive women from work. Meanwhile, all the while, several svelte and sexy notables were swirling about us, and ‘God, please forgive me,’ for I readily noticed that many of them were ogling me. One small, but rather inflated, part of me wanted desperately to part with the fussy foresaid company and go frolicking, skinny-dipping, fishing, swimming and splashing, dressed as a dashing young man, with a wicked plan and a penchant for jumping into the sultry sea which undulated to and fro right before me and my wildly-dilated eyes.
But lo and lamentably behold, pragmatism intervened, and instead, I was the token drag-along queen for the evening.
At some point the music stopped and the booming echo of our voices clearly indicated that we were the stragglers in the cavern of silence. After exchanging stories about the glory days of clubland with Earl the big black bouncer, one of the barbacks came around and began picking up the sea of smudged glasses that lie strewn about us.
Somehow, perhaps by magic of a female therapist’s intuition, she asked this lanky hunk about his hair, which was well hidden beneath a skull cap that made him look like a conehead. All of the sudden he smiled and took off the cap and a full mane of long dark hazelnut hair fell softly past his shoulders. He began to tell us how he just moved here a few months ago and the (modeling) agencies suggested he do something with this tress. “This cost me $500,” he professed, explaining that he had to have it straightened so that it was malleable enough for the client to be able to do as she pleased with it. “It used to be really curly,” he added, as he played with it almost fetishically. This prompted the therapist to ask for a touch and the lanky boy with the long hair replied, “Oh yeah, feel,” practically pleading as he leaned forward and it fell into our laps. I had to indulge the moment and was pleasantly surprised to see how silky it felt. I was impressed and asked how long it usually lasts. “About 11 months,” he responded, smiling smugly as he rolled it back up and put his cap back on and walked away.
Perhaps, the sole regret I may have is the fact that at the end of the evening, as we rolled over midnight and into Thursday,—I boldly brandied my wit and confessed with a ribald laugh—my genius.
My new friend gracefully entertained my brash claims and delusions with some accommodating humor, and a few hearty chuckles over this profession. And even as she seemed to accept this quirk well enough, if only with a grain-of-salt, I’m well aware that sometimes charm sparkles beyond the first glow. And that this would probably be part of the news imparted to her sister in the morrow. And then—I would never hear the end of it again.
“So, you’re a genius, huh?”
“Well, I guess that depends.
Have you signed the check yet?”
“As a rule, I think (geniuses) are quite impossible. Geniuses talk so much, don’t they? Such a bad habit! And they are always thinking about themselves when I want them to be thinking about me.”
~ Miss Mabel Chiltern, An Ideal Husband, Oscar Wilde
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