Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New York! New York! Part Two!

(read part one of my fabulous New York adventure here)

I woke up Saturday safely out of the migraine woods, but still in a state of low-grade migrainity (I just made that word up!) that ended up lingering at varying levels of mild annoyance until well into this week. (Those of you who caught early versions of Monday’s post can chalk up all the typos and bad coding you found to my migrainally (I just made that word up!) compromised proofing skills.)

But enough about my graine (ha! a vile pun!)—I have more New York adventures to tell you about:

After a mighty struggle to extract myself from the almost unearthly comforts of my glorious hotel bed Saturday morning, I donned my gay apparel running gear, chugged a ton of water and headed out the door for a fabulous run through Central Park. Now, I’d been in Central Park only once before in my life: 10 years ago when I was visiting my friend Lucy for a week and she hooked me up with her hunky blond friend Bart, who upon meeting me took the rest of the week off to be my personal tour guide/gentleman companion. Bart took me through every fabulous museum in the city, and we’d spent one frisky morning walking through the park on our way to the Met. Anyway, either the park was full of trampled weeds and rusty doublewides back then or I just have a terrible memory, because OH MY GOD was Central Park surprisingly cool when I ran through it on Saturday! The trees were lush, the trails were groomed—and there were castles and rock outcroppings and tranquil bodies of water and charming little bridges everywhere. There were also tons of runners, whom I just followed through all the winding paths. Especially that scruffy muscleblond with the black sleeveless T-shirt and the melon-like runnerbutt. There were, however, NO signs indicating location or distance or anything else that might give a runner a clue how far he’d run. But I put in a full hour, so I figure I pounded out six miles. And they felt GOOD.

After cleaning up at the hotel and scarfing down a spicy breakfast burrito at the nearby Broadway Diner, I cabbed over to the west side to finally meet up with Jessica, a woman I’d gotten to know after her college roommate and my college friend Miriam was murdered in 1988. Now, I would bet money that Jessica and I had met only in letters and emails and phone calls over the years, but she insists we’ve met in person somewhere along the way. In any case, it was spectacular to spend time with her and her husband and her adorable twins (one of whom is named Jake—making this a two-Jake trip (a two-Jakation?) for me). We chatted about anything and everything, I got to hold the kids and watch them smile and clean up their baby drool and give them hugs, and we reveled in the fact that Miriam was still a presence in our lives after all these years. Our visit was a definite high point in a weekend of endless high points.

And all too soon, I had to take off—because I had more Broadway musicals to see. The matinee: Avenue Q, which was just as funny as I’d expected—and a lot more fun than I’d guessed from listening to the cast album. (And it, just like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, contains a nice little jab at Dubya that sent the audience into spasms of euphoric cheers. There IS hope for America.)

After all those nightstand jokes and acts of puppetfucking and songs about Internet porn, though, I needed some retail therapy, so I headed down to Chelsea for some shopping and light dining among the homos. I didn’t find anything I really wanted to lug home with me on the plane, but I did discover that the fabled Chelsea clone is alive and well and thriving on southern Manhattan. We have cartoonish arrogant muscleboy stereotypes here in Chicago, but not anywhere near the infestation levels they have in New York. All those fake muscles and shaved heads and tribal tattoos and low-ride track pants and conspicuously masculine mannerisms and steely gazes that react to nothing that doesn’t look like a mirror image … WHEW! Remembering names and tricks and finding a top and generally navigating in that world must be exhausting. No wonder the Republicans are in office—the gay men are too busy emulating alienating outsnobbing each other. (I must say they look good doing it, though.)

Thankfully, I had theatrical reasons that kept me from losing too much time in Stepford Chelsea. And those reasons were spelled out for me over and over in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which was, in a word, u-n-d-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-i-n-g. The show has a pretty clever premise—exploring the quirky personalities and interpersonal dramas and Miss America-level comedic potential behind a county-wide spelling bee—and it delivers entertainment and belly laughs in spades. But the score is largely forgettable and the plot is rather forced—and while the contestants in the spelling bee find interesting ways to avoid being predictable caricatures, the show as a whole does NOT live up to its hype. Frankly, it smells like an off-Broadway musical that got lucky—which is exactly what it is. And even though it got a ton of Tony nominations, I’ll be surprised if it wins anything. (If you do go see it, be sure to get seats in the middle or on your right as an audience member. I was on the left, which gave me a lot of butt shots as the show unfolded on the thrust stage way off to my right. And look for the place in the lobby where you can sign up before the show to be called up as a contestant. If I’d known about that little opportunity, I could be gleefully reporting here that I made my Broadway debut last weekend. But I didn’t, so I can’t.)

After the show, I met up with my disarmingly attractive friend Sonelius, who just so coincidentally lives a couple doors down from the Spelling Bee theater. He ran the marathon with me last October, and we talked endlessly about our training for this year’s run. We also found time to talk about boys, our jobs, Chicago vs. New York, the gay men’s choruses we sing in—and all too soon it was late and I had a big comfy hotel bed calling my name.

I made it to the airport in plenty of time for my noon flight. And I got home safely. On a plane filled with an odd assortment of ducks, including one college dude in front of me who was so drunk he’d missed his 11:00 am flight, another college dude behind me who read boring things out loud to his mother for a good hour and the bling-laden mother herself, who made it clear to the whole plane that not only could her brilliant college-age son READ OUT LOUD! but he could also reach HIGH LEVELS OF ACHIEVEMENT ON DIFFICULT VIDEO GAMES! and he was MATURE ENOUGH TO LIVE IN A CO-ED DORM! And dorkish enough not to threaten the virtue of any person of any gender on his floor.

There was also the guy next to me, who was pretty smokin’ hot—though he never took off his shirt even once during the entire flight. Which makes him selfish, arrogant and rude. Dear Smokin’ Hot Guy: I HEREBY CONDEMN YOU TO BEING CALLED SELFISH, ARROGANT AND RUDE IN MY BLOG, which has a daily readership in the tens.

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