Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dear Mr Shopper,

Dear Mr. Shopper,

This is an open letter to you. You know who you are. You are the man that stood three customers ahead of me at Loehmann's today. The line was extruciatingly long, and moving very slowly. We made eye contact (by accident) and you seemed extremely nervous and (dare I say) fearful of me - quickly averting your eyes, lest you convey some sort of "attraction" or mislead me into thinking you were interested in me.

I realize that it might have seem like I was making a pass at you, or cruising you down. But you are mistaken. The line took forever, and I couldn't help but look at EVERYONE and ANYTHING while I waited to use my $20 off coupon (on any $50 purchase) that expired today. Apparently everyone else was also using this coupon, and the clerks at Loehmann's aren't the fastest.

Nevertheless, I take offense at the fearful quick averting eye tactic you made. But, perhaps I misinterpreted your expression. Perhaps the eye aversion was merely politeness. And perhaps the quick turning to the vacuous blonde Marina girl next to you, in which you said something witty and flirty, to assert your straightness was just that - a witty flirty comment. The Marina girl seemed to appreciate it, laughing out loud and giggling absurdly at whatever you said. Perhaps it really was quite funny, with the savage wit that you straight people are known to have (that wacky hilarious fat guy on King of Queens cracks me up every time!). My, how I wish I did not have my iPod on so that I could have revelled in the hilarity.

Let me assure you though, that I, by no means, confused you with a gay man. Perhaps it was the ill-fitting shirt you were wearing that clued me in on your sexual orientation. You know, the one with the slogan from some B-B-Q joint which might have been cute had it actual fit you (hint: flairing sleeves on the arm of a T-shirt = straight man, fitted sleeves on the arm of T-shirt = gay man). Perhaps if the shirt had been worn in an ironic sense, like you had just found it at a used/thrift store instead of looking like you actually got it for free by going to said B-B-Q joint I might have mistaken you for gay. Or perhaps if you did not have the bad overgrown hair ontop your head, with the male patterned baldness there could have been another case of mistaken sexual identity. But a gay man would have clipped it short, or had a stylist disguise that balding spot in the back of your head. You seemed to not care about your hair at all, which screams "I watch Spike TV."

But I generalize and stereotype. Perhaps you were gay, but just found me unattractive. Or perhaps you have been trained in the big city ways - to avoid eye contact lest you be accosted by crazy homeless people. And for that I apologize. But if you were what I think you were - an uncomfortable straight man, I have a piece of advice for you. Don't shop in Loehmann's in San Francisco. It's full of gay men, and sooner or later, there will be eye contact.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wherein AJ enters his mid30's and I have weird dreams

A couple of Mondays ago (August 28th) AJ had his birthday. The boy turned 34 - so everyone email him and tell him happy late birthday! As he said, he's now firmly in his mid-30's, and can no longer say that he is in his "early 30's" ha! And in the next two months, I can say that he is a whole TWO years older than me.... heh heh.

I took him to a fabulous restaurant (Quince) which I wanted to feature as a "new restaurant of the month" choice, but when I called they told me the max they could accommodate would be 12 in the chef's kitchen table - and that there would be with an $80 prix fixe menu.

So I decided that was a bit rich for everyone.

I had known about Quince for quite awhile because of my fascination with the quince fruit. I once made a quince pie (back when I first moved to SF) which I believe Rita, Damon and our friend Cara tasted and it was lovely. I have yet to make the pie again, but one of these days I'll get around to making it again. I don't think I knew AJ back then, so he's actually never tasted a quince before. They are a bit hard to come by - though I'm sure if I were to go to some of the myriad of farmer's markets in SF I'd be able to find them during the fall season. I actually found them at my favorite produce market (22nd and Irving) out in the sunset so maybe this year will be the return f the quince pie....

We had actually tasted an appetizer of some of Quince's food from one of the Meals on Wheels fundraiser and that was what really inspired me to want to go there. I think it might have been a liberty duck with bing cherries that they made that was absolutely delicious. Or maybe I'm wrong - I can't quite remember. Mmmm. Duck. I love duck.

So since I wasn't able to do it with the "new restaraunt of the month" group, I saved the restaurant for AJ and I and it was amazing, but after seeing it, I understand why they couldn't fit large parties. It's a pretty small restaurant. And it was fancy. Not just fancy with italics, but fancy with curly q - italics wedding invitation script type fancy.

I love that.

I had lunch with Karen and Felisa at the Educated Palate the day after. I told them all about the dinner and went into details about the evening and the food.

Side Note: Educated Palate is part of the City College Hospitality Program. It's an actual class where students run the restaurant - taking the order, cooking the food, serving and clearing. Tuesday was the first day the restaraunt was open to the public for lunch (Fall semester just started) and all the students were nervous. Unfortunately our experience was a complete "F" if we were to grade them on service. Our food took over an hour, and finally we had to tell them that we needed it to go because everyone had to get back to work. We decided that we were going to go back at the end of the semester to see if they have improved at all. Check back with us about that.

For AJ's birthday dinner at Quince, when I had made the reservations the hostess had asked me if this was a special occasion. I told her it was for my boyfriend's birthday, and she asked his name. So when we were seated, I sort of expected the menus to say something like "Happy Birthday A.J." on them. But alas they did not. So I figured that maybe they would be lighting a candle on some sort of dessert at the end of the evening. I did assume that AJ would be spared a group of waiters singing to him (this was no Buca di Beppo).

As were getting situated at the table, a different hostess came up, apologized profusely and said "I'm so sorry, but he gave you two the wrong menus. Here you go." And lo and behold - these menu's said "Happy Birthday, A.J." on them! AJ seemed touched and pleased by that.

After deliberating on the menu for awhile (which included asking the server to expain each and every single item on the second course as they were all pasta dishes written in Italian - like I said, it was fancy) we had made our choices.

For our first course AJ had a Salmon Tartare with grapefruit and bacon avocado (on the cutest toast points that were cut out in the shape of fish!) and I enjoyed delicious stuffed squash blossoms with cheese (I must find some and do this immediately, because they are so my new favorite thing ever). AJ and I split the second course which was a sort of pasta that I can't remember the name of (starts with a T), but it was folded and sliced thick, almost as if they were pasta sheets, but denser and chewier - as if they were large square flat gnocci noodles, covered in a rich basil pesto sauce. Extremely tasty. The final course for the birthday boy was a medium rare liberty duck with grapes and fingerling potatoes, while I had the veal rack with chanterelle mushrooms and spinach. The duck was amazing, and the veal was very good (though I had the tiniest bit of food envy with AJ's duck - it really was superb, and as I stated before, I love duck).

We opted to skip dessert, as we still had leftover pie from our pizza and pie night on Saturday that we had invited people to. The waiter seemed surprised and a little disappointed but we explained that we had dessert at home. So he brought out a small scoop of anise ice cream anyway and lit a candle on it, and everyone in our corner of the restaurant wished AJ a happy birthday! No singing commenced (though the guy next to us tried to sing a little bit to AJ but I think he might have been a wee bit drunk).

The restaurant is located over at Octavia and Bush which is sort of Pacific Heights, lower Marina. And, as usual, when we go to restaurants like this (where the clientele seems mostly older, or mostly straight) they lump us in the corner with the only other gays there. Even when we get out of the gay ghetto of the Castro we get put in the ghetto in the restaurant. I used to think it's coincidental, but it's happened so many times, that I just assume that it happens either on purpose, or unconciously by the host/hostess. I don't mind so much, but I do find it amusing.

We couldn't quite figure out what the other three gay guys were doing in the restaurant (other than enjoying a damn fine meal - I was envious of their cheese selection that they had made - though I think it had more to do with the fact that I love it when food is wheeled to me as the cheese selection was wheeled to them. This might explain my fascination and love with dim sum).

Not that AJ and I were eavesdropping at all, but the three gay guys obviously did NOT know each other at all. Perhaps it was a three-way date? They were a bit older, but very well dressed and this is San Francisco. They might have been on a business meeting, but all three of them seemed a bit guarded the way you might be when you haven't met the other person before. One had an ex that had slept with the model on the gay.com billboard in the castro. One lived in West Portal. And one had moved to SF to be with his now ex.

Okay so maybe we did eavesdrop a little. Shame on us.

After explaining the dinner to Felisa and Karen, Karen said that she didn't really care for fancy restaurants. In fact she would much prefer to eat at hole in the wall dives. Not that I can't completely understand that sentiment, as I love a dive joint as much as the next guy (j'adore Tu Lan), but you can't live on greasy imperial rolls for extended periods of time (trust me, I've tried - Tu Lan is a block and half away from work). Of course, this is coming from the woman who actually once told me that she doesn't like a high thread count for her sheets. Karen claims that she actually prefers her sheets ever so slightly scratchy, because they feel cleaner than a smooth high thread count sheet. Ah Karen, Karen, Karen....

After getting home AJ opened his presents (camera bag! new cereal bowls! t-shirts galore! and much more!) which is all the more impressive as I had to run around and buy him all the presents during my lunch and after work, as I had not had time to get him anything before hand, and hadn't a clue what to get him. When in doubt I opted to go the route of "BUY ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that AJ might possibly REMOTELY be of INTEREST" which seemed to work out well. Go me.

We then partook of pie and Haägen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream. AJ had the summer berry (blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry) pie, while I had the peach pie. And then we went to bed - where we did what couples do....

After falling asleep the fun didn't end for me though. Apparently all that rich food and the extra rich ice cream triggered my mind to work over time, because I had some vivid dreams.

When I was a younger, I used remember the dreams I had at night rather vividly. I even kept a sporadic dream journal where I would write down my dreams. I had gotten so in tune with my dreams that I once (only once) figured out that I was in the middle of a dream, and that I didn't like it (I think in the dream, my friend Nancy Algranati from high school was coming onto me, and flirting with me and I really didn't see her like - what with me being gay and all - and I really didn't want to date here, and then in the dream I found out she was pregnant, and she said it was my child, all the while I was trapped in her car in her garage with her...the dream was all very uncomfortable), I jumped out of it, and force myself to dream about something else.

It was all very Nightmare On Elm Street Pt. 3 (Dream Warriors).

As I got older though, I got lazy and stopped keeping my dream journal and I pretty much stop remember my dreams (or having any sort of super powers in my dreams). My dreams slowly faded away into my subconcious, and I never really paid that much attention to them anymore.

But that night, I dreamt extremely vividly - to the point where I actually remember them after I woke up.

In the first dream I was part of an elite group of people who were tasked to get into a high security vault. The vault was located inside a large skyscraper complex, and we had to sneak into the building unseen. It was all very Sydney Bristow - Alias.

I was one of only three people who knew what was in the vault to be stolen. I apparently was also head of the team as well. The item that we were stealing, the precious valuable commodity we were tasked to find and retrieve was....a special brownie.

When we broke into this vault, the other two people who knew what we were stealing decided they wanted to taste this incredibly valuable brownie. They argued that if they were doing all the work, they needed to experience it. I tried to stop them but they would have none of that. They both took a little corner and nibbled at it.

And it turned them in to monochromatic zombies. They slowly transformed into these strange slightly fuzzy (as if they were covered in felt) zombies, in unnatural colors. And the zombificaiton of them was contagious. Soon the world was full of these monochromatic zombies, all blue, all green, all pink terrorize the world, walking around like zombies do.

And there wasn't a thing I could do about it. That damn special brownie.

AJ once ate a special brownie (his one and only experiment with illegal substances). It did not turn him into a monochromatic zombie. However it was the day that he actually met me. He warned me right after he met me that he was "under the influence of an illicit drug" and that I shouldn't be alarmed if he acted strange. Since I had never met him before, I had no baseline comparison. To his credit he didn't even seem that spacey or high (I later found out that after meeting me, he really tried to suck it up and act as normal as possible, as he was interested in me...awwww....). His friend Bryan though, he was a total space cadet, staring at a kitchen cabinet for hours on end...

I, on the other hand, have never had a special brownie. I was offered one and actually took a special brownie last year at halloween at a party. It is still sitting in my desk drawer though - nestled amongst removable scotch tape that I never use, an A/V i-pod cable that I never use, and an old mouse that I never use. I felt like it was waste to throw it away, but now that it's nearly a year old, I think it might be time for it to be tossed. It probably has lost it's potency by now anyway.

The second dream from the night of AJ's birthday was of me having an affair with someone from college - Stephen Spivey. We had our tryst in a mansion (it was unclear if it was his mansion or mine). Regardless, the tryst wasn't anything too exciting. In fact I remember (in the dream) that I was rather ho-hum about him throughout the entire affair, and the one thing I remember the most about it was that I loved the gorgeous dark gray marble tiling in the master bedroom bathroom. It was just beautiful and so cooling to the feet.

In college Steven had long dirty blonde hair (actually I recently read in InStyle magazine that the color is no longer called "dirty blonde" - instead it is referred to "honey blonde"), that he kept in a pony tail. This sounds unattractive, but actually it looked quite nice on him, as he had amazing flawless skin and killer cheekbones. He was tall and slim and attractive, and had a really great boyfriend (who I cannot remember the name of at all - oh wait, his name was Kevin) who also went to Washington University. At that time, it was pretty rare for gays to be out on campus, and Steven and his boyfriend (in my eyes) were as close to A-list college boys as you got.

I think it was because they were the only out gay men that I knew on campus that were actually attractive. A few years later I believe a number of gay men came out, but my freshman and sophmore years, there were scant gay men that I knew of, out and about.

Steven still had his long hair with the ponytail in the dream. He had cut it off by his senior year, and I have to admit, he looked much better without it. But in my memory he'll always have that ponytail. And apparently in my dreams he does too.

I hadn't thought about Steven in years - probably since graduating from college. Though he was attractive, I never really personally found him attractive. I'm not quite sure why, but I think he was the sort of person that others found attractive, and you could always see why they found him attractive, but it never really peaked any personal interest.

Even my friend Renee (who did NOT go to my college) was friends with him (though I can't remember how) and apparently had a crush on him. She once showed up unannounced at his apartment, only to knock on his door and find him unwilling to let her into his single bedroom apartment. Awkward silence ensued, where Renee jokingly asked Steven if he had picked up a co-ed at the local bar, or maybe he had an unmentioned girlfriend over. Steven told him that he really wished that she had called first...when Kevin walked by the door to go to the bathroom. Renee was truly embarrassed by that, and never called on anyone again unannounced.

Regardless I haven't thought of him in ages, and I'm not quite sure why my brain decided to recall him that night. But it did. And strangely I didn't feel the least bit guilty about having an affair with Steven on the night of AJ's birthday when I woke up (often times lingering feelings from the dream are left over for me - I once in college, had to call my mom to make sure she was alive, after I had dreamed that she had passed away). I think this time I had no guilt because I knew that I would never really have an affair with Steven. It was so preposterous since 1 - I never found him attractive to begin with, 2 - I have no clue where he is, having lost track of him years ago, and 3 - obviously, even in the dream, I didn't really enjoy the affair all that much, what with me being more interested in the marble floor and the bathroom that he had in his mansion than himself.

But it has me wondering now, if Steven is out there actually living in a mansion. I wonder if he is having luxuriously long bubble baths in his master bedroom bathroom which is the size of my apartment. I wonder if Steven walks around barefoot on his cool gray marble floor and sleeps at night dreaming about having an affair with me.

And I know if he does have all these things, and he does have the dreams about me, he'll have to keep wondering about having that affair with me. Because, though I don't have a mansion, with cool marble and a giant bathroom, I have a boyfriend who just turned 34. He doesn't have honey blonde hair, or a ponytail. But he has something that Steven will never be able to get. AJ has my heart, and my love. And that's something everyone else can only just dream about.

Happy Birthday AJ. I love you.