(performed at TRUTH OR FICTION show, at THE FUNHOUSE LOUNGE...1/20/13)
On New Year's eve, it hit me.
I've been living in Portland for five years.
Five. Long. Years.
I moved here from LA, running from the corrosive ripples of one showbiz disaster too many.
I'd been writing for a soap opera, living in Van Nuys, coping with the sweltering filth of the valley and making a wage by tapping deep pubescent memories of an air-conditioned East Coast summer, when I'd watch General Hospital and One Life to Live with my mom,
thrilling to the pecadilloes of self-conscious, generically attractive white people who never stop talking. Bo and Monica and Luke and Laura. Felicia and Frisco and Chad and Troy and Clint and Rio and Scorpio. Their convoluted mating paths of fear and desire were tattooed on my subconscious. My hormones were just starting to simmer as I studied those shows, and I assumed adult life would be an endless, episodic careening from one feverish, trauma-twisted psychosexual rendezvous to the next, with no time for reflection, responsibility, or narrative logic.
At least as far as MY adult life is concerned, that has turned out to be true.
I left the city of reptiles in a hurry with a battered laptop and the shirt on my back and beneath it, still-fresh scars from the passionate nails of too many women.
Back in college, I admit I kissed a boy or two...or a multiple of two. Just to feel what all my gay art-heroes were going on about. Any kind of consensual stroke is lovely, in and of itself, but, at the end of the day, it's the ladies who mix me up, bewitch, delight, and destroy me. My life has been a blur of false starts, broken hearts and glorious girl-parts. In LA, shizzle got cray-cray in matters pertaining to the ady-lays. Too many crazy nights. Too many kisses. Too many questions. I flipped my own script and went missing.
Good-bye, venereal sunsets of a desert city where mammals grow scales, outside and inside, just to get by.
Hello, perpetual puddling and misty drizzle of Portland, where even the moustaches are waxed with introspection and estrogen.
It's not like I thought there'd be no females here, or that they wouldn't be beautiful.
Obviously, you ladies are every kind of gorgeous.
I just thought things would be different, that I'd seem somehow cheesy in this climate of aggressive authenticity.
I thought my half-assed glad-handing dandyism and air of old money would keep the rainy day women off my jock.
That hasn't been the case, I'm afraid.
Au contraire, mon ami. Hence, my ennui. The French have a word for everything.
I know what you guys are thinking. With problems like that, who needs solutions?
But the thing is, I wasn't just running FROM something.
I moved up here to put my reindeer games on hiatus and to get serious.
I moved up here to put my crass commercial work behind me.
I moved up here to break into the local poetry scene and to work on my sensitive coming-of-age memoir.
The working title is either "Infection Vectors of a Hypervirus" or "Hostile Two-Party Systems of the Heart". I can't decide.
So I'm here to get my shit together, basically.
But it's been five years. And I'm just forty pages in.
Mainly because fascinating, ravishing women can't help but get addicted to the tender fury of my hot monkey love.
A girl can smell my abstract, unwavering ardor and sensual expertise from a distance of three city blocks.
And they DO come sniffing. Don't you, ladies?
Girls don't CARE about me finishing my memoir. The mere mention of it provokes so much mating moisture that publication would be an afterthought. If it were up to the ladies.
But it's not. Not this time. This is for ME.
I made TWO resolutions on New Year's Eve, while six or seven wannabe midnight kissers clamored for my commitment.
One is finishing my memoir.
The other...NO MORE AFFAIRS.
You'd think it would be easy.
I might still sport the shrivelling, spectral residue of yesterday's boyish good looks, but I'm nothing like the bearded skinny-jeaned twinksters that seem to set all the pretty young hearts aflutter in the region.
I can't account for my attractions using the crude tools of science or logic.
I just have this WAY about me, and my seductions (for lack of a less willful word) tend to occur with the swift and terrifying inevitability of a reflex.
I'll give you an example.
I'm in a coffee shop, minding my own business, my arms full of notebooks, obviously about to look deeply into my own soul for words that will beguile a generation, when the shameless hussy behind the counter says "You want cream and sugar?"
"Oh", I say,"Cream AND sugar. Aren't YOU the generous minx? No thank you." I've been around the block a few times. I know that cream is a flirtatious reference a lady makes to her own skin when she's of a certain paleness, and sugar, of course, refers to the sweetness that resides WITHIN her skin. In another life, if I didn't have this poignant, evocative book to write, I'd have taken her sugar for a spin. But I've seen and touched too much. It might be hot, but I couldn't be bothered. NO MORE AFFAIRS.
Or maybe I'm lunching with a dearly loved female friend, with whom I habitually exchange flirtations, not with any craven intent, but merely as a way of lending a certain schwepperescence to our casual conversations. But she's very serious, for a change. She's staring at me intently, a little bit scared and trusting in my sensitivity, hoping she'll be stronger and not even more deeply broken when we part company and I go back to my memoir. "I have cancer" she tells me. And I instantly, defensively lose every trace of sympathy. "Oh, is that your game," I ask her. "you're dying now and anything goes and I owe you a few strokes of the serpent before you slough this mortal coil? You can take me off your bucket list, HONEY. Squamata don't play that. Not any more. Cancer or no cancer, it's books before birds, baby." NO MORE AFFAIRS.
Or maybe I'm in a bookstore, searching the stacks for the recollections of some obscure thinker from whom I might crib an epigram to give my own reflections some gravitas by association. I'm stepping into the elevator, intending to descend from the rare books level to a collection of common volumes, only to find a doting, elegant grandmother and two cherubic children. "Going down?" she asks. Coquettishly. Yes, granny. A younger, more frivolous Squamata would happily urge your grandkids to avert their unschooled gazes from us as I kneel to worship at your no doubt diaphanous delta. I'd be taking you higher and higher as our steel serraglio sank to ground level, perhaps triggering an impromptu golden shower with the expert ministrations of my silver tongue, lapping at your gushing honey happily and petting my smirk with a wet-nap before the doors open. But not today. I have some awkward childhood indignities to rhapsodize, thank you very much. Her silver foxiness may curdle and boil my loin-juice with suggestions of what might have been, but the memoir beckons. And these kids will someday need her dignity. Respect yourself, Mrs, Robinson. NO MORE AFFAIRS.
So we're a few weeks into the new year and I'm proud to say that I have yet to submit to the constant beckonings of you females. Even now, up here in the spotlight, I can see you bat your lashes and squirm in your seats, tittering and whispering speculative assessments of my lovemaking skills in the candy-lobed ears of your feline wing-women. A less experienced, less jaded, less committed memoirist might mistake your laughter and stone-faced ambivalence and visible shuddering to revulsion at the pageant of desire I project. That writer might go snivelling back to his garret, sobbing over his journal until his page of inky shame is blotched into an unsexed Jackson Pollock. What would such a flaccid violet have to offer a world of wily women who get hopelessly distracted from their own sensitive memoirs, maybe, by the rabid, heat-seeking pheremones of beastly men like me? A writer like that would set his oeuvre on fire for just one of the countless sordid invitations I receive on a daily basis. Every move that writer makes would be desperate. The memoir would never get written, never published, never seriously discussed on talk shows with teary eyes and a vast, legitimizing audience of commiserating housewives. I moved here to be busy, not to get busy. No more mating games. NO MORE AFFAIRS.
Not yet, anyway.
My resolution will prevent me from submitting to the palpable hothouse yearning of you ladies.
I will not be having slithery, life-changing sex tonight with you...or you...or you.
I'm writing a sensitive, coming-of age memoir.
And I'm saving myself for Oprah.