Excerpts from late night conversations with a man facing the inevitable.
BY MARK ARIEL
Just because you were never promised a rose garden doesn’t mean that you can’t proudly walk down that thorny path to whatever it is you think is your final destination to self fulfillment.
It’s that simple. It’s that complex.
But in all honesty—in the end—to quote an amazing singer of great intellect—nothing really matters…
I have been single and married, a saint and a whore, a giver and a taker, a pitcher and a catcher, a victor and a loser—all in one… and that’s the God’s honest truth… and a bold faced lie…
Lying is the truth. Everyone lies. We lie to placate ourselves because at the end of the day—if we really looked at things as they truly are—if that is even possible—we would be too devastated to go on.
• • •
“Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.”
That is my favorite Woody Allen quote. I keep it on my phone. It tickles me.
• • •
Tell me about you. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Happy childhood? Class president? Agonizing coming out story? Moved away? Created a new life? Found your truth? Made shit happen? Had to compromise? Found love? Lost love? Another compromise? Occasional drug use? Not so occasional? New day? New you? Found Jesus? Does he fill you with light and love and serenity and joy and gratitude?
How nice for you.
• • •
I was 6, he was 7. In the back yard, behind the trees. Show me yours. I will show you mine. His name was Paul. I rubbed my cheek on his buttocks. He said I love you. And then we hugged. Don’t tell anybody. No, I won’t. I promise.
Many years later … a phone hook up line. He sounded sweet. He said why not come over now. I will leave the door unlocked. I walked into a dark apartment. He said I’m in here. And there he was. Face down on the bed naked with his ass up in the air. Fuck me. Fuck me please. I walked out. Maybe I’m not gay after all?
• • •
The only problem I have with death is that it usually leaves a dead body behind and I don’t like strangers touching me.
There were moments when clarity prevailed. Beautiful moments. Standing on the balcony. The sun setting. A gentle breeze. A child’s laughter. It’s a beautiful world. I don’t want to leave it.
Why are you here? No, seriously. I do not have answers or solutions or last minute realizations to help you get through the night. And anyway—even if I did, they might not work for you. We don’t all necessarily get wiser, or kinder or more loving. In fact some of us just grow old and bitter and defeated. Fortunately that is not me. I am very wise. I am so full of wisdom I could explode at any moment… ah, the humanity.
Note to self: Never give up. And never, under any circumstances, face the facts.
Fail. Fail again. Fail better.
• • •
I remember a purple shirt that never stayed tucked in. I remember peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, an apple, a red and blue lunchbox, the smell of fresh paint and chlorine at the swimming pool.
I remember another country, a foreign language, beautiful boys, trying to fit in, feeling like a fraud… I have this terrible secret… “What is it?” “I can’t tell you.” “Did you murder someone?” “No, it’s something worse.”
• • •
Men. Short, tall, cocky, timid, skinny, chunky, sweet, endearing, sensitive, coarse, funny, morose, beautiful men. The best were the unspoken bonds, just two bodies, flesh on flesh, sharing the shame, the joy, the secret, the uncertainty, the passion of the moment… at a train station, in the park, behind the church, in the parking lot, in a movie theater…
One of my many future projects was to write a thesis on the amazing intimacy of the one night stand. It’s so much easier to be completely honest, totally exposed, absolutely vulnerable, with a complete stranger. Especially when no words are exchanged…
Language is a tricky duck. Harold Pinter said: “The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don’t hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place. When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness.”
• • •
I finally fall asleep. I wake in pain. How long have I slept? A few minutes? Hours? Days? No matter. Living inside your head has its advantages. I dream of rain. I dream of love as time runs through my hand.
The incredibly sad truth is that I didn’t do anything extraordinary.
No major contribution. No lasting legacy. No engraved plaques, no endowments, no living trusts, no my heart will go on, no symbolic gesture that means so much to so many. Nothing meant anything, nothing was real, nothing was achieved, no gain, no loss, nothing left for the ages…
My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.
• • •
“Holy! Holy! Holy!”
“Everything is holy! Everybody’s holy! Everywhere is holy! Everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!”
• • •
I was 6, he was 7. In the back yard, behind the trees… His name was Paul… He said I love you And that’s the God’s honest truth… and a bold faced lie… New day… New you… Why are you here? Fuck me. Fuck me please… A gentle breeze. A child’s laughter. It’s a beautiful world. I don’t want to leave it.