Gaylingual: April 2006: Archives

April 29, 2006

Daily Show: Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | April 29, 2006 | 2:34 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 27, 2006

Name Dropping: What A Drag genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek

It's common knowledge that a drag queens name may be as important as the rhinestone regalia he/she wears. The conventional approach (although I would say that it's more urban legend than actual fact) is to take the name of your first pet and add it to your mother's maiden name and voila...you have your drag name. Chances are you won't like the name if you try it...of course that's only if you were inclined to have a drag name. As with Seinfeld speak...not that there's anything wrong with that.

I ran across an interesting article that indicates that there is an art to name selection and to become an actual namer is no easy task. The study of names is an adjunct to the study of linguistics and dialects and given the attached humor it seems to get the lion's share of the attention. The article is from the San Francisco Chronicle (duh!) and I've included some interesting excerpts below. Following the article segments (full article here) I decided I would do a fun little exercise in naming. I chose food as the theme, meaning all the names had to be about food. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

"My drag queen name, for the record," said Professor Ronald C. Butters of Duke University, speaking between academic paper presentations in a beige room on the second floor of the Oakland Marriott, "is Coco Butters."

The room tittered appreciatively. If any crowd of buttoned-up academics could enjoy a good drag queen name, this was it. Butters was presiding over a recent panel on "Queer Names of Stage, Screen and Fiction" at the American Names Society conference, held in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America, the American Dialect Society and three other groups. The conference, held in early January, drew people from all over the country and the world, and, in addition to official business (the Linguistic Society's vote on "Word of the Year," for instance), there were three days of overlapping panels and paper presentations.

The subjects covered by American Name Society, though, stood out in a sea of obscure papers on obscure topics. Perhaps the broader appeal of its work has to do with the universal nature of its mission statement; the society, founded in 1951, "seeks to find out what really is in a name."

Who knew that although drag queens usually employ sexual innuendo or humor in their stage names, it is strikingly uncommon for male gay porn stars to do so? Apparently, bland names are perceived to be more attractive.

Unsurprisingly, many drag queens chose honorifics such as Lady and Miss and upwardly mobile names like Xaviar Onassis Bloomingdale or, less frequently, overtly lower-class monikers such as Winnie Baygo or Mary K. Mart. Ethnic stereotypes got some play too, with China Silk and Bang Bang Ledesh.

How does one become a namer? Members of the American Name Society enter the world of naming from many directions.

Ed Lawson, a professor emeritus at SUNY Fredonia and former president of the American Name Society, was a psychologist who studied stereotypes before focusing on names. In one study, he selected a group of young women with "ethnically nonspecific faces" and gave them three ethnically distinctive names for three groups of subjects. Sure enough, Lawson found that people's impressions were colored by the perceived culture of the names. "The Jewish girls were labeled smart, the Italian girls were seen as passionate, and so on, " Lawson said.

When asked about the persistent Internet meme about how to choose a porn star name (some combination of first pet's name or mother's maiden name or your middle name with the street name of your first address), Zwicky laughed. "No, I didn't see any evidence of those games at play in my study. I, for one, couldn't get a good porn name from that. My first dog's name was Spot."

But as Zwicky noted in his presentation, he has no data on what, if any, impact a name has on a porn career.

A name isn't a porn star's most salient feature.

So here's my list of food related drag names...some I found online and some came to me as I was laughing my ass off. Remember, don't be afraid to add your own in the comments section.

Hedda Lettuce (everyone worth their weight in drag queen sparkle salts has heard this one)

Holly de Seuss (that's hollandaise sauce for the linguistically challenged)

Condi Mentz (can't help you here...if you don't get this one...well its time for remedial drag queen naming school)

Sue Flay (see they get easier)

Brie Cheese (it works but would any respectable drag queen use it...I think not)

Marsha Mallow (Marsha Brady with a few extra pounds)

Eda Bagel (I actually found this one online...and it's in use)

Reese Aroni (Yep, the San Francisco treat)

Virginia Hamm (I found this one also...too obvious for my "taste")

OK, your turn...I've gotta get something to eat.

Daniel DiRito | April 27, 2006 | 7:16 AM | link | Comments (8)
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April 26, 2006

Gill Funds Ad Campaign For DP Initiative genre: Gaylingual

Tim Gill, former software entrepreneur and founder of the Gill Foundation, a philanthropic advocacy group, has announced the kick-off of a $1.5 million dollar ad campaign to support the domestic partnership initiative he is backing for the November ballot in Colorado. The Washington Times reports on the story here. A second initiative is being promoted by conservative religious groups that are intended to focus on defining traditional marriage and limit the extension of similar benefits to gay couples. From the article:

The $1.5 million television buy, easily the most expensive in state history for a ballot initiative this early in the race, stunned political pros and worried the state's traditional-marriage advocates, who have their own ballot measure in the works but a significantly smaller war chest.

Rick Ridder, a CFE consultant, confirmed the campaign planned to spend $4 million to $5 million, although some estimates run much higher. He said the ads were aimed at introducing the public to the civil rights issues behind the domestic-partnership initiative.

Neither ad mentions the domestic-partnership referendum, which is awaiting final approval in the state legislature. The measure would allow same-sex couples to register with the state as domestic partners and receive many of the same benefits as married couples, including hospital and nursing-home visitation, shared health insurance coverage, and property and inheritance rights.

Carrie Gordon Earll, spokeswoman for Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, called the ads "misleading," saying that anyone can now take legal steps to give their partners the same rights as a husband or wife, such as naming them as medical agents.

"They're trying to pass a law that's much broader than hospital visitation," Ms. Earll said. "They're saying Coloradans are discriminating, and that's not true."

Daniel DiRito | April 26, 2006 | 1:20 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 25, 2006

Pieces genre: Gaylingual & Rhyme-N-Reason

The subject line read “blast from the past". It was an old high school friend who I hadn’t spoken to in twenty-three years. It was last Thursday and at the time I took it in stride. I instinctively responded and we traded emails to fill in the gap. However, by Sunday night my anxiety was palpable…not because I didn’t want to communicate with my friend…but because all the emotions that I had neatly packed away came racing to the surface.

Truthfully, I can’t recall the specifics aside from the emotions. They remain vivid like so many others from that period of my life. You see…it was when I announced that I was gay. I think a lot of gay people talk amongst themselves about their coming out experiences but I don’t think many of us talk about it with the straight people in our lives. Sometimes I think we’re protecting ourselves and at other times I think we are protecting them. It’s probably some of both.

My friend told me he had run across my name on the internet and after checking out Thought Theater he concluded that it was me. In his third email, he broached the subject of our last conversation. He mentioned that he had hesitated to email because he wasn’t sure what to say to me or what I might say to him given that last uncomfortable discussion. In retrospect, the words hit me like a ton of bricks but I ignored them and simply responded to the rest of his email.

I went to bed around 11:00 Sunday night but I couldn’t sleep. I lay there for probably fifteen minutes before I just suddenly started to cry. At first, I wasn’t even sure what was happening or the source of my emotions. My mind started to race and I suddenly found myself returned to that period of my life some twenty-three years prior. My brain locked in on one thought and I actually started to repeat the thought aloud over and over. The words were these…"one by one, I lost them all…one by one, I lost them all."

As the tears subsided, I was able to return to the present and look back and see me as that person in that place that I had tucked away for all these years. Strangely, my first observation was that I didn’t know how I had survived it all. How can a person walk into a new identity in an instant, leaving behind an entire lifetime’s identity? What could ever be so compelling? Anyone who is gay knows the answer to that question.

One by one, everybody I had ever cared about let me go when what I needed most was to know that I was worth enough for someone to keep holding on. I remember feeling like I was being pushed out of one world and pulled into another. The people I was leaving knew me but didn’t understand me. The people I was running to understood me but didn’t know me. In a matter months, everything and everyone I knew and loved was gone.

The whole of me that had been divided all my life came together for an instant as I began to cross from one world into the other. Sadly, it became apparent that once again I could only hold onto half. I wondered if the whole of me would ever exist.

My friend shared one other piece of news. One of our high school classmates died a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that fact. Twenty-three years are gone…one is lost and one is found. Something is received and something is taken away. Much as I’ve come to believe, this life we live is shared with death. At some point we pass from one half to the other. It all seems to fit so well and yet I still don’t know if the pieces can ever be connected.

Few people know this, but one of my favorite movies is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s funny and its sad; its silly and its serious. On the surface the movie is about two people who fall in love and then fall apart. It is actually far more complex. In reality, the movie is about only one person who is struggling to find the second half of him. I have lived a life of halves as well. My life has been filled with dichotomies…more of necessity than choice…but then I tend to think the world is ordered accordingly. Through it all, though none may know, whether on this side or on that side, whether this piece of me or that piece of me…I loved them all with with the whole of my heart.

I wrote the following poem that I call Pieces while I was traveling around the world. It captures this idea of life being made up of different parts.

Pieces

Life is made of pieces
The pictures incomplete
The paint slips off the canvas
While tears fall at your feet
Has the picture already met the screen?
Can you erase what you haven’t seen?
The search is on to find what’s gone
And yet it’s impossible to know what belongs
Soldier of love in the house of the heart
Tell us our purpose, who to defeat
Does victory ever bring us relief?
Life is a tightrope, its balance we need
Poles on each end, yet the center we seek
Is the puzzle solved when the spirit leaves?
Or is the spirits resolve what makes us complete?
With brush in hand and colors lucid
The image forms, the walls obtrusive
Building blocks just block your view
Tear it down, you’ll be renewed
It doesn’t matter what you can’t see
Each piece is a part of your destiny
Life is made of picture frames
No two are quite the same

Daniel DiRito | April 25, 2006 | 7:21 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 22, 2006

Brokeback Mountain - "Goodbye My Lover" Video genre: Gaylingual & Tuned Out & Video-Philes

This video is a compilation of scenes from Brokeback Mountain set to the James Blunt song "Goodbye My Lover", one of the best songs (IMO) off of his CD Back To Bedlam.

Daniel DiRito | April 22, 2006 | 10:43 PM | link | Comments (2)
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April 20, 2006

Eternal Inequality genre: Gaylingual

Bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate to limit the protests of military funerals conducted by Fred Phelps and his clan of hatemongering zealots. Senator Evan Bayh [D-IN] and Representative Michael Rogers [R-MI] are the sponsors of these two bills. While I despise Phelps, I find the introduction of this legislation troubling. First, as much as I object to these protests, I doubt if the bills will withstand Constitutional review. With that said, I find something else far more troubling.

Phelps and his clan have been protesting funerals for years...primarily funerals of gay men. Apparently when that didn't get them enough attention, they decided to go after fallen soldiers. Nonetheless, the pain and suffering from these despicable protests began long ago. Unfortunately, the outrage is noticeably late for the many mourners who had to previously endure this horror.

I appreciate the sentiment shown by these elected officials but I can't help but feel, that by acting now, they will be making a value judgment, albeit less incendiary than that of Phelps...yet still a hurtful judgment. Those gay men and their families and friends who endured these vile attacks will be left to conclude that the dignity of their loved ones is inferior to that of a fallen soldier. Sadly, some Americans believe this. Worse yet, passing bills that demonstrate as much in writing will simply add insult to the injury already administered by Phelps and his followers. Can we justify making inequality eternal?

Daniel DiRito | April 20, 2006 | 5:12 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 19, 2006

Duke Rape Suspect May Lose Plea Bargain genre: Gaylingual

The Associated Press is reporting that one of the suspects arrested in the Duke Lacrosse rape case may lose a plea bargain entered on his behalf in a D.C. case of gay bashing. Finnerty has been defended by neighbors and friends who contend he is incapable of committing the crime he has been charged with at Duke. Given the incident in Georgetown, it would seem to at least raise doubts as to these assertions. While Finnerty is innocent until proven guilty, the Duke case has brought racial and economic tensions to the surface. The case has been controversial since the incident was intially reported. Numerous questions remain unanswered. The Associated Press article follows:

(Durham, North Carolina) Federal prosecutors could revoke a deal reached in an assault case with a Duke lacrosse player charged with raping a stripper at a team party, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., was charged with assault on Nov. 5, after he and two high school lacrosse teammates were involved in a confrontation with Jeffrey O. Bloxgom in Georgetown, according to records at D.C. Superior Court. (story)

Bloxgom said Finnerty and the other young men "punched him in the face and body" after he told them to "stop calling him gay and other derogatory names," according to the complaint. He added "that when he tried to walk away, the subjects without provocation attacked him, busting his lip and bruising his chin."

The three men were arrested after Bloxgom flagged down police. Paramedics treated him at the scene.

Finnerty entered a diversion program, under which the charges would be dismissed after the completion of 25 hours of community service. The diversion agreement called for Finnerty to refrain from committing any criminal offense.

"We're considering revocation of the diversion," Channing Phillips, a spokesman for D.C.'s U.S. Attorney's Office, said Tuesday.

The simple assault charge carries a potential penalty of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Hearings in the case are scheduled for April 25 and Sept. 25, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Calls to Steven J. McCool, who is representing Finnerty in the Georgetown case, were not returned.

Finnerty made a brief court appearance Tuesday in Durham, N.C., on charges of rape and kidnapping. A 27-year-old black woman and mother of two children told police she was attacked March 13 by three white men in a bathroom at an off-campus party held by the lacrosse team.

The woman in the case also has a criminal history. She pleaded guilty following a June 2002 incident to misdemeanor counts of larceny, speeding to elude arrest, assault on a government official and driving while impaired.

Daniel DiRito | April 19, 2006 | 9:23 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 14, 2006

Mad TV: "Just For Lesbians" Hair Salon genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | April 14, 2006 | 8:45 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 11, 2006

Biblically Speaking genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the talk radio personality who offers advice (and opinions) to people who call into her radio show. She has been quite vocal in her criticism of the homosexual lifestyle. In one of her programs she said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and that it therefore must not be condoned under any circumstances. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura that was posted on the internet. It’s funny as well as informative. It does a good job of pointing out the selective use of Biblical quotations used by individuals with particular agendas.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev 25:44 states that I may indeed posses slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev 11:10 it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20 or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blends). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them - Lev 24:10-16? Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws – Lev 20:14?

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Daniel DiRito | April 11, 2006 | 8:26 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 7, 2006

Family Values: This Blows genre: Gaylingual & Rhyme-N-Reason

It's become fashionable to talk about family values. In today's culture war, the posturing by various groups to become the definitive voice on the subject is rampant. All too often the debate centers on issues outside of the family in what appears to be an attempt to vilify segments of the population that don't meet with the approval of any given group. Most recently, homosexuals, through their efforts to legalize gay marriage, have become the focal point of many of these family values proponents.

From my perspective, children learn their values at home and the values they adopt are primarily discerned in proportion to the degree of sincerity and integrity they believe exists in their parents. In this construct, the degradation of family values originates within individual families as a result of a child’s perception that their parents are inauthentic and hypocritical. It's also important to keep in mind that nearly every homosexual is the product of a heterosexual relationship and a heterosexual family. Consequently, the fact that the vast majority of children are raised in traditional heterosexual families makes the premise that homosexuals endanger the family not only flawed, but blatantly absurd.

In trying to then determine what is wrong with families, the indicators seem abundantly evident. Firstly, a family cannot succeed if the parents aren't committed to personal responsibility, a trait that frankly cuts a swath across all of society in its impact on the overall health of civilization. When personal responsibility is abandoned, so are the family and ultimately the society.

The family fails when parents demonstrate their own intolerance and disdain for others. It's not uncommon for a parent to have issues with their own parents and when they live out these failed relationships, their own children are taught that it's acceptable to choose conflict and estrangement rather than compromise and conciliation. This can take the form of a dispute with a sibling over money or the holding of a grudge against a former employer or coworker. Sometimes it's an instantaneous conflict with the soccer coach or the store clerk. Nonetheless, all of these actions have impact.

Families fail when mom and dad's relationship succumbs to failure through divorce or the demonstrated disdain for a spouse...often acted out in bitter divorce proceedings or custody battles where both parents savage the persona of the other in full view of the children. Frequently, these situations involve infidelity and betrayal that only further serves to tell children that commitment to the self far exceeds the keeping of commitments.

The family fails when children attend school for the first time rife with the prejudices of their parents. A child reared in a home filled with bigotry simply brings more bigotry to the society. This can take many forms...a hate for Mexicans, Blacks, Jews, Asians, Arabs, Homosexuals, Catholics, Christians, Atheists, Conservatives, Liberals, poor people, wealthy people, and many, many more. The adoption of these unfounded hatreds foments conflict which ultimately damages the child’s ability to form and maintain relationships.

Families fail when parents teach children the need to win but fail to instill in them the ability and the acceptance necessary to lose. This is perhaps one of the most negligent oversights...in that there is no doubt that, when confronted with the many struggles of life; more of us lose than win. There is only one Super Bowl winner each year, a limited number of lottery winners, one Tiger Woods, one CEO of Microsoft, and so on. Far too often parents give children the false impression that they can, should, will, and must always win. Many of these children are destined for disappointment. They're apt to leave school in search of a job or a relationship or success absent the ability to overcome rejection or endure failure.

The family fails when parents neglect to teach children respect for others. This can manifest itself in many ways...a child wandering the aisles of a store without regard for another customers ability to navigate the same space...not saying excuse me when moving through a crowded room...not disposing of trash where it belongs...not acknowledging a driver that allows you to merge onto a busy freeway or into a different lane...not thanking the waitress for bringing one's meal, and numerous other courtesies that collectively build a functional society and set the framework for successful future families.

Families fail when parents give a child $20.00 to go to the mall because they want the child out of their hair. Other times it may allow a parent to make up for not attending the school play or the tennis match or simply not having the time to spend communicating with their children. Many times, a parent's work or social life leaves little room for children...sometimes out of necessity, but also sometimes by choice. Regardless, children eventually distinguish the difference.

Ultimately, the family succeeds one child at a time and that must start at home. The relationship of the Mexican couple down the street or the gay couple in the grocery store can only threaten one family...their own. Time spent obsessing about the actions of other families simply detracts from the precious time each family needs to succeed. The sooner families begin to act accordingly, the sooner the value of all families can be maximized. If and when this happens, the individual will flourish and society will endure.

I wrote the following poem called This Blows while thinking about this topic. For me, it captures the essence of the issues and demonstrates the subtle, yet foreboding ease with which a parent can lose contact with a child. Such occurrences are all too common and familiar.

This Blows

Raised down where you were brought up
Brought down where you were raised up

You shouldn’t need to be propped up
Cause you were brought up so proper

Time is money, it’s only money
Another cliché, give the kid some dollars
Things couldn’t be better, let’s talk tomorrow

You crammed all night for your last test
They said stick with it, just do your best

School teacher says the kid needs some help
They think he’s fine, there’s always the belt

Give it all you got, how much do you need?
Another cliché, give the kid some dollars
Things couldn’t be better, let’s talk tomorrow

Be with you in a sec, they can’t spare a minute
They’re all over it, but their shows never quit

Holler if you need them, just give them a holler
Better not bother them, they can’t be bothered

Whatever it takes, they can’t take anymore
Another cliché, give the kid some dollars
Things couldn’t be better, let’s talk tomorrow

They haven’t time, they must be martyrs
Don’t you mother him, he wasn’t fathered

Don’t blow it all, you blew your top
They blew your mind, you blew them off

These kids today, they grow up so fast
Another cliché, give the kid some dollars
Things couldn’t be better, let’s talk tomorrow

Hey mister neighbor, they seemed so normal
Kid was so sweet, the mom was adorable

Nobody’s home, it’s been dead there today
Headline tomorrow, is tomorrow OK?

Another cliché, give the kid some dollars
Things couldn’t be better, let’s talk tomorrow
No need to bother, he’s blown away…

Daniel DiRito | April 7, 2006 | 4:36 PM | link | Comments (2)
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April 4, 2006

Cedric genre: Gaylingual & Uncivil Unions

It was Friday the thirteenth and I had been in London for approximately a week. I’ve always liked Friday the thirteenth despite it’s billing as an unlucky day. I ventured out to Compton’s (a gay bar) to see what London was like on the weekend and I had just purchased a beer at the bar when Cedric walked in and made his way to the counter next to me. He was quite noticeable and he didn’t seem to fit the mold for the crowd that had gathered that evening. It appeared to me to be an older crowd with a local flavor. Cedric was neither older nor local. I don’t recall what we first spoke about but it was likely something inconsequential. Nonetheless, as sometimes happens, we formed an instant bond that would last the remainder of the evening.

Cedric was twenty-two and from France…his hair was cut in a fairly severe mullet and he had very thin sideburns that ran down his cheeks to connect up with what I might describe as an under the chin scruff. He was carrying two shopping bags from which he would later pull out a scarf that he would wear for the remainder of the evening. He was wearing a velvet blue sport coat, a basic white shirt with an element of stitch work, and last but not least, a pair of what appeared to be white Prada shoes that had a very elongated and pointy toe. Let’s just say they were the kind of shoes that precede one’s entry into a room and continue to be discussed long after one’s exit from the room. Before you get the impression that I didn’t approve of his style, let me just say that Cedric couldn’t wear anything else and still be Cedric. His attire simply added to his charm.

Cedric had only moved from France to London the previous month so Compton’s was a new experience for the both of us. He indicated it was one of his first ventures into the gay area of London. Unfortunately, living in London is even more expensive than New York City so he was living, as he described it, somewhere in the distant outskirts. The conversation was flowing and comfortable despite a bit of a language barrier. We each shared numerous observations about London from an outsider’s perspective. As we were discussing London’s night life, he indicated he had already had a few beers…having just come from the Admiral Duncan to check out Compton’s.

In contrast to France, Cedric told me that he drank when he went out in London. He explained that in France people rarely go out alone. He shared that it was unusual for people to approach those who were alone unless they had an intentioned interest. I took this explanation to mean that if you did approach someone who was alone, it would not likely be for casual chat as that would be inappropriate, if not rude. I told him that in America it was routine for people to mingle amongst the crowd and that casual conversation generally had little specific or intended meaning. To my surprise, he then inquired if I had any particular intention to which I quickly answered that I had no agenda. Had I thought further about his remarks, I would have known they foreshadowed the remainder of the evening.

As we drank our beers, we each took turns running to the bathroom. I would watch his bags and drink and he would watch my drink. Cedric was easy to talk to and while his English had a definite French twist, I seemed to follow what he was saying much better that many of the locals. At one point in the conversation, he started leaning over the bar and facing the bartenders as he was holding his head. I recalled that he had previously told me he thought he was a bit tipsy so I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening. I leaned over to say something to him and when he straightened up and turned to talk, I realized he had the hiccups. He had turned towards the bar when they began in hopes they would cease before he would need to speak again. Unfortunately, by asking him a question, I blew his cover which forced him to acknowledge their presence. He immediately began a profuse apology that lasted for the next few minutes. While he didn’t actually say the words, it was obvious that he was embarrassed and it was apparent that having the hiccups in France must have had far more negative connotations than in the States. He seemed truly horrified.

With an abundance of charm, he told me he would be unable to share an honest account of the evening with his French friends as he would have to skip over the hiccups in order to avoid abject ridicule. Perhaps Cedric was simply a skilled charmer, but I’m inclined to think he was simply being his authentic and original self. Seriously, it was abundantly apparent that he was sincere. At the same time, he seemed to doubt my nonchalant reaction as I repeatedly told him to stop apologizing. Regardless, until they stopped, he continued to turn towards the bar each time he had to hiccup again. Fortunately, for Cedric’s sake, they stopped in less than fifteen minutes.

I think at this point I bought another round of beers…a semi-celebration of Cedric’s return from social disgrace. It was shortly thereafter that Cedric told me he hadn’t eaten since breakfast and suggested we find a place for dinner. It sounded like a good idea. He quickly told me he wouldn’t know where to go and asked if I might know of a good place. I suggested a place called Balans. I had eaten lunch there earlier in the week. The food was good and it was nearby.

We made the short walk and we were quickly seated despite the fact that it looked like we may have been in for a long wait. As we looked at the menu, Cedric soon exclaimed, “They have Toulouse sausages!" I asked him what they were and he proceeded to explain that it was a type of sausage named for their place of origin, Toulouse, France. They were served with mashed potatoes and a reduction sauce. It sounded intriguing and comforting, so, needless to say, it was what we both ordered. I don’t recall our specific conversation after we placed our order but it wasn’t long before the two gentlemen seated at the next table asked if I was an American. They were American as well and we shared a few details about where we were from, what we were doing in London, as well as our next destinations …typical small talk amongst tourists.

Cedric was uncharacteristically silent during the exchange except for the obligatory greetings. As I finished speaking with the two Americans and turned my attention back to Cedric, I immediately noticed a change in his demeanor. It wasn’t a look of anger but a look of deflation…it was the look one might expect to see on the face of a child upon hearing that Santa Claus wasn’t actually a real person. He did his best to conceal the change but it was as noticeable as the clothing he wore. In my head, my first thought was that possibly the lack of food and numerous drinks had simply gotten the best of him. As I think back, I’m convinced that was my hope but certainly not my perception.

Before much time for further analysis or conversation, our food arrived. I thought the sausages were quite good. As I watched Cedric eat, I saw that his prior excitement for Toulouse sausages had turned into what I would characterize as an attempt to choke down an overcooked hot dog at a carnival stand. I asked him if they were what he expected and he said yes and that they were quite good…but it was obvious that the moment was no longer about food for Cedric.

We left Balans and walked a short distance to a club down the street. We went inside and sat in the seating area in front of the pay counter. Within moments, tears were streaming down Cedric’s cheeks. I didn’t speak but I placed my hand over his on the table. He mumbled the words, “all I do is cry" and then said he just wanted to be in love. I touched his cheek while trying to offer him some encouragement. I knew there was little I could say or do because I recalled my own similar feelings when I was his age. He was at a time and a place that cannot be denied or avoided despite all the words of encouragement that can be offered by those who have already made the same journey. I told him that he would find love knowing full well that while love endures, love would likely never again be quite so pure, quite so real, and quite as innocent as it had been before it was found.

Absent the appropriate spoken words, I took out a pen and paper and I wrote down these words and then handed him the paper to read:

Cedric wants to be in love
Twenty-two…too young for blue
His world is heavy
His smile is lovely
It’s all up there…just above thee
Look up my friend…
Discovery!

We sat for a while longer before we left. I wished him well and then we each headed off in different directions. I was happy for the chance to share some time with Cedric and in knowing he’s out there somewhere discovering himself reassures me that love is still alive.

Daniel DiRito | April 4, 2006 | 12:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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