Fabulousness

Synchroni-City

a trip to the mall yields a gift from the gods of chance


North York,” Illustration by David Roddis.
Photo credits: ethan johnson/roman mager/victor xok/antoine dautry via unsplash

SATURDAY: AN EX-ROOMMATE DROPS BY with a friend who’s in town to see the Raptors play. (I’m not sure, but I think the Raptors are some kind of sports team.) Anyway, my ex-roommate brings this handsome Raptor fan and a doggie-bagged hamburger, flits about, wreaks delightful sketchy havoc, scrummages through another friend’s personal effects (some of which he appropriates—he’s a bit of a kleptomaniac), tidies the kitchen, messes up the bathroom, and gives me news of someone, let’s call him “Ben,” whom I haven’t seen in nearly two years.

Ben and I are estranged because of my big mouth and my snippy tactlessness and my sour, flippant remarks about his abusive passive-aggressive female partner, whom he endlessly complained about but couldn’t seem to break free of. Ben took offense at my unasked-for advice, which admittedly was a little brusque, and stormed off in a straight-guy huff.

This is because straight guys pretend they’re manly and strong, but in fact, compared to gay men, they are as fruit flies to our turkey vultures, so spindly and ephemeral is their sense of self-worth. Straight men are used to being coddled and kow-towed to, and receiving the world’s deference and the security blanket scented with Febreze, so they are soft and frail.

Gay men, by contrast, eat rock-hard shit for breakfast and halt juggernauting freight trains with our bare hands, all while dancing backwards in Louboutin cocktail booties, lashes mascara’d so thickly our eyelids glue shut, and wearing a print dress from the Sally Ann that someone’s grandmother died in, so we’re ready to take whatever you care to throw at us.

Like, “Hey, faggot!” for example.

Then we shove a butt-plug up our ass and head to the office.

You know. Tough.

Straight men are all about the masculinity and the deference, but their masculinity is butterfly-fragile, so that if you so much as brush its powdery wing they are irrevocably maimed. And trust me when I tell you that they will exhibit their wound with a stoic, martyred acceptance that is worse than any accusation, like those portrayals of saints holding out their lopped-off body parts on a tray or having their entrails slowly wound up on a wheel.

They will pull on the sweat-stained track suit of their straight-guy pride, they will draw themselves up to their full height and they will take their elevated chin, their grim have a nice life, dude, expression and their affronted, bruised ego out the door, pulling their ruined masculinity behind them like a stuffed toy rabbit on a string.

Still, Ben was handsome and slim-muscular, refined and smart and soft-spoken, with a hint of Barbadian accent, and he let down the straight-guy façade every so often and we’d mud-wrestle, winner take all, quite effectively. So I feel wistful about Ben, wishing we could be friends once more, although I’m not so wistful as to think my remark was inaccurate. Just badly timed, and with a little too much emphasis, perhaps, on the words “co-dependent” and “dysfunctional”.

You know, and can I just say, seriously. I mean, someone’s gotta cut me a great, big bleeding side of slack, and it might as well be me.

And, in case you’re wondering: When we mud-wrestled? I always made sure I lost.


MONDAY: I ARRANGE A HOOK-UP with a guy in North York. For an elite downtowner, as our bloated odious demagogue premier, Dug-Up Ford, would call me, this might as well be the moons of Jupiter. As I rarely travel north of Bloor Street, and start bleeding from the ears somewhere around St. Clair, I pack with a vengeance, remembering that it is food and its availability that determines the outer boundaries of possible interplanetary travel.

Book for the subway ride ( Resident Alien: The New York Diaries, by Quentin Crisp, who I am trying to become), shoulder bag with cigarettes poached from the Mohawk nation, lighter, butane. An apple, culled from my roommate’s sock drawer and slightly mummified, in case I get peckish, a sweater in case it’s cold up there, sunglasses for viewing any displays of the aurora borealis.

Hey, Cortana: What’s his particular corner of North York called?

Willowdale?

You can’t be serious, girl.

Phone charger. I will definitely need the phone charger cause my phone’s at twenty-eight percent, but I figure I’ll plug it in at the hook-up’s place before plugging the hook-up into me. Yowza!

And I have five dollars and some change. A subway ride is three dollars twenty-five cents, but because I’m providing a little government-sanctioned legal cannabis sativa, I figure I’ll touch him for a subway token to get me home, if I’m still able to walk to the subway, that is.

I am placing a heavy burden and high hopes on this hook-up. And I haven’t even met his boyfriend yet!


I’VE BEEN ON THE NORTHBOUND TRAIN for twenty minutes. As the subway leaves York Mills station, my hook-up texts me: “When you arrive at Sheppard, go upstairs to the mall, find the Shopper’s Drug Mart and wait for me there.”

At Sheppard Station, I head up the escalator and look for any random exit because it is all the same to me, and it is not immediately apparent what the mall means, because that is what North York is.

One big mall.

I have no idea where I am in relation to the mall, the exits were designed by Max Escher and a sign says “take this stairway down to the first level” while displaying an arrow that points to the ceiling. The sign is in front of another escalator.

I take this escalator back down to where I started and follow a TTC worker, who leads me into a cul-de-sac where she disappears through a door marked “Employees Only.” I backtrack. I take another escalator up and this time I exit to the street, where the people, who are all teenagers, look different and full of cares and have diametrically opposed interests to me, and I look across Yonge Street and I see the words “Harcross Centre” on the front of what looks like a mall.

It looks like a mall because everything looks like a mall. This particular mall does not have a Shopper’s Drug Mart, but it has a fine-looking Rexall.

I’m glad I brought the sweater because it is freezing cold on the street corner. I text the hook-up: “Hi! I’ve arrived and taken the wrong exit, is it OK if we meet in front of the Rexall Drug Store instead of Shopper’s?! LOL!”

I’m unsure which way is north and which way is south. Perhaps this does not matter in North York, where you can just say the mall to indicate directions. I cross the street to the Harcross Centre, sit outside on a granite bench and vape.

I wait and vape, vape and wait. I wonder if the teenagers in North York are property speculating and driving up housing prices, and how they manage generally without adult supervision. I’m convinced the teenagers are looking at me with stern disapproval, the way the people looked at me in Flatbush, New York, when I was running around looking for a pay phone wearing a semi-transparent Indian hippy shirt, tight, white hot pants from Joe Fresh and sandals, which would not be a positive thing. Or perhaps they haven’t seen an adult in a while. The vape produces impressive clouds of pipe-tobacco-y sweet smoke, but it makes me cough like I’m going to hack up a lung.

I text, “Hi, I’m wearing blue shorts, sandals, a jean jacket and I’m reading!”

I text, “Hi, I’m still waiting for you in front of the Harcross Centre! Sure hope you’re getting these!”

I text, “I’d feel a lot better if you were responding!”

I text, “I’m waiting fifteen more minutes! LOL!”

My phone has just shut itself off with a little Bronx cheer, like, “I’m on strike for better working conditions, loser. You might at least charge me.” I turn it on again. The screen is on power-saver mode, like, “I’m working to rule, buddy. And you call me dim!”

I call the hook-up. A voice says, “The wireless customer you are trying to reach is not available at this time.” I have two dollars and fifty cents, in dimes, and I’m realizing that the hook-up has come out without his phone, or the hook-up doesn’t have a phone plan but is using an app—or the hook-up is a wanker who has pulled one over on me.


I AM ON THE SOUTHBOUND SHEPPARD-YONGE subway train. I’m heading home, meaning that in my imagination I’m heading as far away as possible from the hook-up who’s pulled one over on me, for which “home” will do. I am so demoralized that I am alternately crashing asleep like a stone dropped down a well and waking up with a little yelp one stop later.

I will spare you how I wandered with tear-stained face like Stella Dallas along the byways and alleys of North York;

how I walked into a plate glass window that is not the exit to the Yonge-Sheppard Centre, which is the mall;

how I found the Shopper’s Drug Mart, where I waited for the historical thrill of knowing my hook-up had waited there, hopefully feeling guilty as a Christian;

how I plugged my phone into a socket located on a pillar near the Shopper’s Drug Mart, which was a decorative gew-gaw socket installed merely for its visual flair and architectural irony and which did not charge my phone.

I will spare you how I started to try and find his apartment building, until I realized I only knew my hook-up by his screen name, and I did not envision myself, in the movie of the week that will be my lasting contribution to Canadian culture, asking random residents of the building, as they exited or entered, “Excuse me, do you happen to know in which apartment Big-Hung-Bubble-Butt-4U might be found?”

I did not see myself doing that with anything like nonchalance.

But I still need to get back to civilization, or, in a pinch, anywhere that’s not North York. I don’t have enough to make the subway fare, which is not usually a problem at this hour, when the TTC ticket booth guys abandon the booth to go for haircuts or play Parcheesi behind the doors marked “Employees Only.”

However, this is North York, and in this wacky topsy-turvy land of furrow-browed teenagers the ticket booth man is clearly visible, looking work-ethical and fierce, bristling with multiculturalism and wiry, fiery red hair.

I consider just dumping the inadequate handful of dimes into the fare box and striding away, but that’s like fare-dodging and I could be arrested, though this rarely happens.

I am the adult in the room and I am nothing if not compliant. My fare-dodging strategy will be to age myself to “golden oldie” status, a little white lie which requires the addition of three years.

This is a concession which I would not, before today, have considered psychologically safe, but I have been beaten on the anvil of desire and tempered in the purifying crucible of rejection and I no longer care. I will pretend I am disoriented and in the throes of early-onset senile dementia, which I now view less as a tragedy and more like a coping mechanism.

I approach the booth.

“Excuse me, do you have a seniors’ fare?” I make my voice querulous and raspy, as though I have just torn out my feeding tube and fled the Sunset Lodge. I only wish I had a kerchief and shawl.

“Ten — Seniors’ teeckets? Vhat? Vhat?”

“I think I’m — a little — short…”

Ticket Booth Guy looks at me like he just recently spotted something similar crawling out from under a rock.

“Jus’ go troo!”

Life, they tell me, can reasonably often gift us with random moments of bliss that sneak up unexpectedly and just as quickly pass, leaving gratitude and nostalgia in their wake.

I’m not convinced about the bliss thing, but I can confidently say that humiliation this made-to-order is rarely experienced without participation in a spelling bee, awakening in a urine-soaked bed or attaching pornographic selfies to the email of recommendation you are sending to your friend’s probation officer. My tender dialogue with Mister Go-Troo is humiliation perfection.

I left home at six-fifteen. It is ten-thirty as we approach Wellesley station. Normally I get off at College, one stop further, but I am suddenly overpowered by whimsy, and I think: “Let’s get off here for a change, and take the alternative route.”

The streets are fairly quiet on a Monday night, but it’s still the gay village, or what’s left of it that drugs, rising rents and quasi-equality haven’t ravaged, so there are still flickers of that tawdry, hot-dog stand, drunken, drag queen circus I sometimes guiltily, secretly miss.

Nothing disappoints quite as much as getting what you want, and now that the larger-than-life, extravagant outlaws have been homogenized, suburbanized, deflated and dispersed, mediocrity and misery have filled the void. Out, fantasy and Fellini; in, Family Guy and fentanyl.

I cross Jarvis, and now I am walking past the Petro-Canada gas station with its convenience store and twenty-four hour A&W Burger.

And a voice calls out, “David? David!”

I look at the car stopped at the lights one west-bound lane away from the curb, the car in which the driver is leaning over and calling to me.

“It’s Ben!” says Ben.

He drives around the corner, turns into the gas station lot, pulls up next to me. I hop into the car. He’s still so handsome it brings tears to my eyes just to sit next to him. Everything’s all right. It’s old stuff, what happened, and we’ve moved on. We’re cool.


A random stranger who I still haven’t met sets in motion the random schedule which leads to my random decision to take a route walking home that I never take, so that I can bump into someone I never meant to hurt at the one, exquisitely-timed moment when he’s at the red light and I’m right beside him on the sidewalk, and be friends with him again.

This is why synchronicity is the atheist’s substitute for god, God for the godless.

֍

Advertisements

We have PAPERBACK! + REVIEW offer

smallFINALPAPERBACKCOVER-22769060_cover (1)

My cover design for the paperback version

Sorry to SHOUT BUT I’M REALLY EXCITED!  Oh, fuck I started SHOUTING AGAIN BUT I CAN’T HELP IT!

Really, really sorry about my lack of control.  But it’s not every day that you PUBLISH A PAPERBACK !!!.  Oh, god.  This is really embarrassing.  Just try to bear with me as I tell you a little bit more about MY PAPERBACK WHICH IS NOW ON SALE!!!!.

<awkward>

This is what my friend Shaun Proulx, life-transforming guru extraordinaire and architect of the #ThoughtRevolution, tells me is a “soft launch”.  Well, I’m going to take his word for it, as what he doesn’t know about gorgeously shameless self-promotion and roll-off-a-log success wouldn’t fit on the smallest, fiddley-ist hors d’oeuvre Martha Stewart could stamp out with her heirloom cookie cutter.

In fact, he’s been cheekily dubbed “The Gay #Oprah”; word has it that Ms O’s acolytes occasionally forget themselves and refer to their bossatrix as “The Big, Black, Obscenely Rich and Heterosexual Shaun Proulx, Except Shaun Doesn’t ‘Balloon'”, which earns them a great, big, corrective “love tap” from the CEO.  I can picture her now as she hauls back and, with a follow-through like a Wimbledon champ, cracks the back of that jewel-encrusted hand across each penitent face while screaming, “This is gonna hurt you more than it hurts me!  KIDDING!!”

The book is for sale on Lulu.com, who are the gentle and helpful publishing midwives to this elderly primo gravido.  Once I’ve approved the physical copy, it will be sent for possible distribution on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other so KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED!  I AM SO EXCITED!!!

Sheesh.

May only, get 20% off. Click on the cover image above to go to my product page on Lulu.com and to purchase.

REVIEW OFFER

If you’ll go onto Lulu.com and write a review, I’ll send you a PDF of the paperback final version, free of charge.  Shoot me an email at david@davidroddis.com with subject line:  Paperback review offer and I’ll get it off to you within a day or two.

~

In Defence of Deviance

Toronto’s PRIDE 2017 celebrated diversity and inclusion. Yet some people—even some gay men—still think that’s a shame.

Men, men, men!  Not a flicker of humor in a back room full of us!  Forever shooting our wads, then rolling away from the damp spot and falling asleep; forever forgetting that ejaculation is for Christmas, but a snuggle is for life.

trudeau pride

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Toronto Pride Parade, June 25, 2017.  [From MSN.com]

I’ve come fresh from Pink News online, the British gay rag that’s the equivalent of Canada’s Xtra (but with better fashion and that string of pearls that you didn’t buy at Winners, but inherited from Great-Aunt Prunella) where the headline read—and you may want to sit down for this bit, lest you collapse onto your vitrine filled with Lalique crystal—

Men tell homophobic jokes because of their own fragile masculinity, study finds.

Well, slice me to ribbons under the Queen streetcar!  That gem ranks as news right up there with “Sun Rises in East” and “Dog Bites Intruder, Then Pees on Carpet”.

Personally, I’m gobsmacked.

So imagine our surprise when a whole Ford F-150-full of fragile masculine egos came out to defend themselves against the “feminists” who designed and conducted the study.

madonna quote(Feminist in this context fulfills the same function as Nazi does elsewhere, describing as it does not an actual specimen of the genre but a scarecrow, only dressed up in dungarees and a tool belt instead of black leather and jackboots;  and instead of translating as “someone I disapprove of on principle”, it reads, “women I’m extra scared of”.)
Take a gander, or maybe a gender, at this response:

The folks who are most threatened and defensive are the writers and editors at PN who relentlessly push effeminacy and gender deviance whilst denigrating traditional masculinity and manhood. It’s almost as if they know that they are failures as men and want to use sexual orientation as an excuse. But decades of studies have shown that effeminacy manifests only in a minority of gay and bi men. So sexual orientation is no excuse for their personal failure to function as men.

And here’s my response to that :


“Gender deviance”? Holy Krafft-Ebing,

where’s my laudanum? I may have an attack of the vapours!

worldpride2014_20140627_0009.jpg

Pride 2014 / Photo by David Roddis.

I did live in Britain for 16 years and I read Pink News all the time. But that was pre-Internet, so perhaps their relentless pushing of effeminacy was less effective; I’m pretty sure I have at least half a testicle lying around somewhere.

A man is a man is a man, to rewrite Gertrude Stein; if you got the right bits and feel comfortable with them, that’s all it takes. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, that’s called “gender dysphoria” according to the bible of psychiatric diagnosis, the DSM-5, and the word dysphoria in the new edition refers to the anxiety caused by SOCIETAL pressures and the prejudice coming from those who do not accept “deviance” – and what an extraordinarily, umm, nostalgic word choice, by the way.

Nostalgic, or bathetic to the point of laughter, conjuring up as it does the kind of sleazy soft porn novels my dad would have read in the ’50s: “They’re wild! They’re dangerous! They’re: DEVIANT DAUGHTERS!”

But back to your ridiculousness: Men learn how to be men; it’s not innate and it’s not written somewhere in a manual. We learn from fathers, mentors, leaders, heroes (and sometimes the wrong heroes: the most superficially impressive instead of the wisest).

The problem is evident: We men more often than not learn from walking, talking, blustering, posturing models of manhood who have mastered nothing but bravado. We think they’re the reference, but in fact they’ve had a few of the most important pages ripped out.

It’s as though we’re seated at a formal dinner and, at a loss, look to the distinguished older guy on our right; then, following his brave example, we mix our petits pois with the mashed potatoes, then shovel them in with the grapefruit spoon.

Not pretty.

To call a man a failure because he does not fulfill your checklist of “real manhood” tells us perhaps a bit more than you would have us know. That checklist is nothing other than plain old garden-variety homophobia — dressed up in its “Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells” best, maybe, but homophobia all the same.

Normal is the average of deviance — Rita Mae Brown

In fact, what you have angrily and perversely crossed off your list is exactly what a man needs: everything you label “effeminate”. But a tablespoon, or more, of “effeminacy” does a man good. Women, you might have noticed, have a refining effect on men; or perhaps their presence helps men lower their guard and discover their own sensitivity, intuition, esthetic sense, all those things we’re taught to push aside by other men who are afraid and unsure of themselves.

So, put a little more mascara on, sweetie.  Slip into your silk peignoir and take a night off. I hereby relieve you of what must be a thankless, lonely burden: of being the self-appointed arbiter of what’s butch.  Us real men will decide that for ourselves.

Real men are works in progress, and we haven’t explored even the first ten percent of what we might become.

HAPPY PRIDE ~

Dedicated to every drag queen in
plexiglass pumps who ever threw shade;

every Quentin Crisp who “didn’t know how to
be any other way”; and

to the little boy who chose the Kewpie Doll
as his prize at the fair—me.

Never change.

pridecomp1

Pride 2014 / Photos by David Roddis

» Link to the Pink News article  (opens in a new window)