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September 12, 2005

He comes home late, or should I say early. Five am is early. I ask him where he has been: drinking with one of the cooks from work whose penultimate night of work it has been. It is an unexpected duo, drinking beers until dawn in bad bars and discussing the merits and faults of their workplace. I fall back asleep faintly amused by the idea and dream of sex with the cook. We are in some Nordic place and much younger than either of us currently is, even younger than the cook is now, which is young I presume as everybody has begun, for the first time in my life, to be younger than I am. Part of the appeal of this sex is not just the adolescent tenderness of it, but the fact that the cook in the dream is becoming confused with my first male hero, Tin Tin, that Belgian journalist-detective, master of Snowy the white dog. This resemblance the cook bears to the intrepid Belgian, is something I never tire of noting in my waking life, but in the dream the confusion has a seamless quality that prevents me from knowing who I am really with.

In spite of the element of anonymity that the encounter entails as a result of this confusion, it also feels deeply personal. Management has been sleeping with the kitchen. I appear at work the next morning flushed, embarrassed by my night of gallivanting with my beautifully drawn co-worker. I can’t quite look him in the eye, can even summon a blush. It seems I have more to do with the cook on this, his last day, than usual, as the chef is away and the cook is now second in command as a result of the relentless hierarchy of the kitchen. Broken phone in his station, menu changes. I notice one of his front teeth is cracked diagonally, patched with a bad cap. Bicycle accident I would guess.

After service we all go next door to drink. The cook is pursuing one of the pretty young hostesses as handsome young cooks will. He is tender and brave. I know where her heart lies, dependent on some rough, Wagnerian type with an unreliable eye. The cook is rubbing her shoulders as he stands behind her in the garden of the bar, lifting his hands under her hair at the nape of her neck. She can only think of the logistics required to meet the one who will probably, if not break, at least pinch her heart in a cruel and menacing way, twisting a corner of it until her big eyes seem to travel even farther apart on her face. The cook’s tenderness towards the young woman and the memory of the dream, which seems less like a memory and a dream than much of what has happened in the preceding fifteen hours, makes some part of my insides, not quite stomach, not quite heart, leap downwards into my lap. The young woman leaves. I go back inside to the bar and resume talking to my favorite server. We talk about how to live one’s life with grace as one gets older; as one catches, like a repeated and momentary vertical spotted from a high-speed train in a landscape of horizontals, the ever increasingly familiar shadow of failure. This is what he and I always seem to talk about. I think he relishes the conversations as much as I do.

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June, 28 2004

Went to a party on a roof top to celebrate gay pride. The party was a catered affair with morsels that merely served to leave my appetite raging. One of the hosts was completely distracted by a handsome waiter that had come with the catering company. I wondered if I was having a vaguely homophobic moment, or a sort of service industry based moment of protective outrage, but his ogling—along with my aggravated appetite—precipitated my early departure. I felt relieved, as I walked away, that I hadn’t made enough money to have catered affairs at which I eroticized the staff, grateful guest that I am!

At the dog run this morning I met Barry (with his beautiful five-month-old Wegman gifted Weimaraner), who had also been at the party. We admitted to missing our dogs when out socailising, to detesting the enforced sociability of the dog run and the street when with a dog. As a gay man he finds it particularly ironic that he has now become a chick magnet. I asked him if gay men were not similarly compelled to stop and pet the dog. Apparently not. He also admitted to finding the party and the dinner afterwards, which he stayed for, strangely awkward. The host had started groping him under and over the table, and as he was paying for the dinner Barry was unsure as to the etiquette in such a situation. Perhaps we were both piqued because wealth, in some instances, permits a certain liberty that I recognise offends Barry and I as we both have no money and something of the old lady about us: priggish and irritable, but quite capable of having a very good time on our own terms.

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