It’s Official: I Am a Horrible Person

Hey, it’s you guys who insisted on thinking of me as “nice.”

SOMETHING HAPPENS WHEN YOU HIT sixty, or, to make this as painfully personal as possible, the last couple of months of sixty-four-ness. That’s right. On September 21st, 2020, I will officially be sixty-five years old.

And what happens is me, unmoored. I’ve cut myself adrift, slipped the surly bonds of that last tie between what you think of me and how much, or if, I care.

Sixty-five. Senior Citizen. Golden Oldie, may I never hoark up an oyster and lob it at your Spectator pumps. An Old Freak in a trench coat, pin-striped shirt, dress shoes, socks and no pants, that’s right. My man bits are flapping under my coat like raw turkey gizzards as I cruise the Eaton Centre.

I stand patiently outside the Liquor Control Board until some customers come out, then I whip open my trench coat, whoosh! as I scream,

“Jackson-Triggs is on special but mine’s not reduced at all!!”
“Liquor Control Board?? I haven’t even met her parents!!”

The genius thing about the no pants is not having to pull up any pants as you run away! So I can race down the escalator to the main level, jump in the fountain and pose as mercury, god of communication, like the FTD logo. Still, it’s hard to hold the position, and frankly it’s a relief when the police escort me out of the fountain five minutes later.

You gotta admit, it passes the time and gives the boys in blue a productive morning. Mr Social Justice Warrior, that’s me!

Sixty-four and counting means I’m soon to be a recipient of Canada’s Old Age Security pension, graciously reduced because of my spending, one might say squandering, sixteen years of my youth in England being special, drinking warm beer and having anonymous sex, none of which do I regret for one second, by the way. Not one single dick, not the third champagne cocktail, not a nano-second of all the attention turned onto my disingenuous little face. I accepted without gratitude every scolding speech and every broken heart, including mine, as I burned the quasar at both ends.

If seven hundred dollars per month is old age security, I blanch, or is it blench, when I think of what old age destitution must look like. Is there a box of corrugated cardboard less roomy than this one, in an even less lavishly appointed sewer conduit? A more raucous corner of the Don Valley, where one is serenaded, perhaps, by the frustrated shrieks of the would-be suicides on the King Edward Viaduct, as they grapple with the gossamer cage of barbed wire put in place to make them losers even at suicide?

Go ahead and jump! The pandemic’s a bore and your plummeting from the diving board into an empty pool will do nicely as a minute’s distraction. I don’t give a flying fuck, though you surely will, once you find your personal subway platform, elevator shaft or observation deck and achieve lift-off.

I know you think you’re making one final, grand statement, and I hate to be the one to break this to you, but— if jumping off a bridge is what it takes to make us pay attention, your problem isn’t despair. Your problem is consistently overestimating how interesting your grand statements are.

I mean, what if you threw a suicide and nobody came?

Je suis Odieux. Odieux! And that’s not all.

Someone wants to be my friend, and—I don’t want to be their friend. Isn’t that horrible of me?

I’m missing the fuck that flies. Tu manques de moi, fucké volant! Es fehlt mir, der fliegende Fick! In every language I smatter in, I couldn’t give a fat rat’s ass.

My wannabe friend is intelligent and almost verging on kind, but there is a problem. And although the person is transgender, that is not the problem. Or rather, it is, but not in an anti-transgender way.

No! I am not one of those guys. If you are transgender, I am your ally. I will do cartwheels of support as I ostentatiously voice your preferred pronouns. I will march up Parliament Hill and throw myself under an eighteen-wheel Bernier just to show how much I insist on your having the same rights as me. I will speak up on Twitter, the toilet that’s also a phone, when ignorant trolls doubt that you exist.

I will do all those things for you, and more. I will make you nourishing soups when you have Covid-19 and I will do your soiled laundry. Yes, I will. When you tell me that you are transgender, identifying as male in opposition to your assigned-at-birth gender of female, I do not tarry.

I power up Evernote, using the handy crankshaft provided, I peel back the digital leather cover, pick up my imaginary fountain pen from the two-dimensional holder and place its imaginary barrel thoughtfully against my cheek, just below the place where I’d have a mole if I were Liz Taylor. I type in your name in a suitably steam-punky, decorative font, John Anon, and I note that I address you as: he, his. Done!

This, my wannabe friend, I do for you, gladly, openly and always where it will get up the noses of the most people. I got your back, transgender buddy. Big, inclusive hugs!

But I’m sure as hell not gonna lick your goddamn pussy.

NO! I’m not going to do it. Nothing with my tongue. No wagging, no circling, no laving, no cleaving, no pretending I’m tying shoelaces. Nope-arama. Three kinds of no way, José, so I can live another day. No No NO and a bottle of rum.

Nor am I going to finger, rub, twaddle, diddle, frot, trib or otherwise disturb the serenity of your mystic pond, your swamp, your gateway to heaven, your grilled cheese sandwich. Nononononononono. No on a high C! NO NO NO NO!!!

No pussy licking, carpet munching, setting sail with the little man in the boat, proving I’m a cunning linguist, no box lunches, no dining at the Y.

No furburgers—I’m a vengeful contrarian.

I”ll be your ally and your buddy, but eating you out is not what I signed on for when I made it to the front of my preferred line-up. I’m talking about that pre-incarnate Black Friday, the pre-birth Waiting Lounge, where the unborn and inchoate jockey for position behind signs labelled Dick for Days, Symphonic Composer, Gift of Gab, Psychologically Able to Handle Reptiles, Big Naturals, ‘Jolie Laide’ but with Money, Equanimity in the Face of Stupidity, Mother of Genius, Terrible Autocrat, Midas Touch, Natural Silky Blond.

I was camped out and first in line for what seemed, and, in fact, was, an eternity in front of a big mirror surrounded with blazing make-up lights, and on whose surface some angelic hand had written, in the gaudiest red lipstick that Yves Saint Laurent ever cooked up:

Big Fabulous Gay Dude, Late Bloomer and, Hold the Phone, Not Obviously Effeminate, This One Will Go FAST!

And I owe my success to the helpful spirits at the Welcome Desk, who gave me a personal recommendation then sent me racing to grab my spot. “”Ya can’t miss it!” they yipped, as I elbowed my way through all of humanity, “It’s right next to Dick for Days!”

I’m a horrible person. I don’t give a shit. I keep all my x-rated selfies right on my phone, where the police will easily access them after they’ve nabbed me from the fountain, also the US border patrol the next time I travel stateside for some poontang with red-eye gravy.

I love to see the expressions on their faces as they huddle over my smartphone, watching me demonstrate non-traditional Kama Sutra poses, like “Horizontally-flipped cowperson with a rainbow gradient, variation 14.” I’ll just laugh, lean in closer than they advise and tell them that’s a banana down my pants, then smile during the anal probe. Drives ’em crazy!

Facebook, not merely incompetent but horrible at everything that’s not selling your mother’s organs to Elon Musk, perks up when it discovers my gallery of not-the-slightest-bit-of-shame.

Would you like to add these to a STORY!? chirps the algorithm, displaying some random guy’s picture of his schlong that he sexted me, next to a full gallery of me wearing nothing but a hopeful smile and something that surely must be night regenerating lotion all over my chin.

I don’t care. I’m horrible, remember?

Growing old is like being cast as the lead in our personal horror movie. I don’t necessarily mean the physical horror: the inevitable wrinklings and weepings, secretions and excretions, the saggings and floppings, the mocking melt-down from youth’s plump juiciness to flaccid incontinence, though that process could merit its own art-house retrospective.

Horror isn’t primarily in the moment or physical. It’s foreknowledge, anticipation, dread.

The horror movie’s trajectory is either tragic (the hero’s fatal character flaw is the engine of his downfall) or melodramatic (the actors are just pawns in destiny’s chess game). Either way, we know what will happen, but that knowing doesn’t diminish our horrified vicarious delight in the proceedings.

Oedipus kills a man, marries a woman; we know the story. We know he will kill his father and marry his mother and, in madness blind himself. This isn’t just a bout of temporary insanity: his sight, his rational belief in his own destiny, has viciously betrayed him. It’s the end of man as visionary, the end, even, of civilization. Destiny is not something to shape, it is imposed.

There are no surprises, here. We know this is the plot before we go to the play; the Greeks knew it before they went to the play.

This was not a new episode in a series, “I wonder if he goes to the Delphic oracle again and who do you think that old shepherd guy is? I can’t wait! Cleo said there’s going to be a talking sheep in this one! Did you remember the hummus this time?”

The point is not the twists and turns of a storyline; the point is to let Oedipus stand in for us.

In the standard horror-movie trope, there is a forbidden act and the transgression. We watch the girl ascend the stairs to the attic, and we cry, Don’t do it! but knowing she has to. She can’t not ascend the stairs, to end up filleted and served with French fries on the side. We’d feel cheated if she escaped.

We ache with dread. We know what will happen tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. We affirm that forces beyond our control will cast pearls under our feet so that we slide from our virginal beds into the gutter.

But it’s also delicious to know this, and to know that we know. Every accident scene we observe with guilty pleasure, every spin of the Ferris wheel, every trope of practised terror is our hungry rehearsal for the final thrill, every triumph its warding off. This is how we learn to lie every night belly-to-belly with fear.

The inevitability of the horror movie is liberating. Is that a koan? If it is, I say to you, “Just drink tea, dude!”

I have never met a young person who wanted my advice. Never. And I have a rain barrel full of advice, sometimes sweet and warm, sometimes roiling with mosquito larvae, and I earned it just in time for it to be useless to me except as a gift to be offered so that others might benefit. And no one wants it.

I complain about this, but, in fact, I understand. The last time I was in New York City and staying with my friend in Gramercy Park, I connected with this hot guy online. But my friend dipped into his rain barrel of advice.

“I’ve been with that guy, and believe me, he’s bad news.”

I took in the advice and I mulled it over for an hour, but I was seething with resentment. I finally said,

“OK, John. Here’s the deal. It’s not that I don’t believe you, and I realize you’re looking out for me, a mere innocent of fifty-eight in a town with no mercy. But you had the experience, and I want to have it, too. And you’re you and I’m me, and I may very well have a different experience. In fact, it’s guaranteed. So I’m going to meet this fucker. You survived, and so will I.”

I went and had the hook-up and afterwards, as I wandered around the streets at four in the morning somewhere in the vicinity of Coney Island, high on crystal and wearing someone else’s t-shirt and thanking my lucky stars that the neighbours hadn’t called the cops, wandered until I found the subway back into Manhattan, I thought, He was right. That guy was bad news.

And I was right. I survived.

And I wouldn’t have missed it were you to offer me every emerald, every peacock, every magic mirror telling men’s thoughts, that Herod offered Salome, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

I would demand the head of Jokanaan on a silver platter. I’d seize the Prophet’s head by his long, tangled hair and I’d kiss the dead lips and taste their bitterness.

A friend, a former roommate, actually, brings me a gorgeous French coffee press, with the glass carafe sheathed by intricate gleaming bands of stainless steel. It’s so perfectly my style that I gasp with pleasure. I estimate it’s on the expensive end of French presses, worth at least fifty bucks, and it’s obvious that he’s stolen it from somewhere, because the stuff he doesn’t steal is always non-functioning or ugly or covered with bugs or all of the above.

I suspect he’s the one responsible for stealing a palm tree off my balcony a week ago, and also for sticking a big piece of driftwood into my giant houseplant while I was sleeping, and wrapping the stems around it, so that my houseplant now brings to mind the victim of a serial killer who’s been bound and gagged and is stoically waiting to be flayed before being raped.

This former roommate-friend and I have a history. He did a midnight flit three years ago, on the first of September, leaving me in the lurch for five hundred dollars rent and in real danger of eviction; and turned up, jealous and threatening and banging at my door, at least twice during the ensuing year when ‘Fred,’ his boyfriend, had dropped by to visit me. I had had a fling with his boyfriend, but before he was his boyfriend and not since. At least, if we did I don’t remember.

What I do remember is Fred and I going to a party during the period of our fling, my passing out on the sofa late at night, and, on my awakening, Fred telling me he’d had sex with a buddy of mine, in front of my buddy’s girlfriend and her bestie. Just for the hell of it, just to see that he could.

When I’d recovered enough breath to express how lacking in good manners, good taste and decency I thought that was, how there might ever so slightly be a time and a place, Fred responded, “It’s my right to have all the experiences I want, when I want, and you’re not going to stop me.”

Shortly after that event Fred started talking about a new boyfriend, an unemployed guy with a beaten up red truck and a temper who did interesting things like hurl the TV set out the window.

Mark the TV thrower was the guy who became my roommate.

Fast forward: Then, after this horrible roommate experience, all the being dumped for rent, and banging on my door, and hostility and anger, this ex-roommate turned up unexpectedly about six months ago looking meek, also hot as hell, and bearing joints, and we got high and we fucked.

Well, I might as well have all the unstopped experiences I want, when I want! Right?

I’m gleeful as a billy goat at the thought of how thoroughly pissed off Fred will be when he finds out, which I thoroughly intend to make happen!

See what I mean?  Schrecklich !  Schrecklich !

I’m old, I’m bold,
Unnaturally cold.
I won’t behave as I’ve been told.

My greasy dishes fill the sink,
I’d rather dally with a twink.

Burn the floor with cigarettes
Won’t get me listed in Debrett’s.

Kawartha ice cream by the quart
Is felony but not a tort

I sleep till noon and mock your ethic
Wage slavery is quite pa-thethic

And when you weep from your bad luck
I say, “I couldn’t give a

Roasted, buttered parsnip, darling boy, not even if you paid me. And those dishes ain’t gonna wash themselves, bright eyes, and I would remind you that you can be back on the streets just as quick as you got off them, you get my drift?”

Full-frontal geriatric lust
Concupiscent until I’m dust

My earlobe hairs grow more deplorable
As I revel in being horrible.



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.) My ex-roommate installs the handsome Raptors fan in my armchair, offers me a doggie-bagged hamburger, then flits about, wreaking delightful sketchy havoc.

He 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 juggernauts of bigotry 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 laugh our silvery, ironic laugh, shove a butt-plug up our hole 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 stigmata 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 comments were unjustified. 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?


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.

Almost convinced that I’d been the victim of a perverse practical joke, but wanting to avoid a two-hour walk home, I had wandered with anxious determination along the byways and alleys of North York, in the process walking directly into a plate glass window that is not the exit to the Yonge-Sheppard Centre, which is the mall (because for some reason I stopped wearing my glasses about a year ago); locating, now that it was too late, 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, and for the practical matter of charging my phone via a socket located on a nearby pillar—which was a decorative gew-gaw socket installed merely for its visual flair and architectural irony and which did not charge my phone.

I had no sense of how long I’d been wandering around, but it was no longer twilight, and I had that rising panic you feel in dreams where you suddenly realize there will be a terrible calamity if you don’t make it to an appointment you’ve just remembered.

Crazily, because I didn’t know his address, only the street and that it was “directly across from the station,” I started to try and find his apartment building. This involved approaching a young dad and his son, the only pedestrians available, with such a shyly apologetic demeanor that they jumped in the air when I spoke. They were, however, able to point me to Yonge Street, which would be like wandering along Forty-Second Street and enquiring whether Times Square was anywhere nearby.

Then it hit me: 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.

I decide to give up and head back to civilization, or, in a pinch, just absolutely 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. When I reach Sheppard Station I find that in this wacky topsy-turvy mall desert of furrow-browed teenagers the ticket booth guy 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 the subway train approaches Wellesley station. Normally I get off at College, one stop further, but I am suddenly blindsided 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-dogs-for-dinner, dirty bingo drunk sex circus I sometimes guiltily, secretly miss.

Nothing disappoints quite as much as getting exactly what you asked for, and now that the larger-than-life, extravagant outlaws have been homogenized, suburbanized, deflated and dispersed, mediocrity and misery have filled the void. Goodbye, desperados and Doc Martens; hello, homelessness and heroin.

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 to this day I still haven’t met—sets in motion the arrangements whose failure leads to my spontaneous decision to take a route walking home that I never take. I’m led through the maze, gently nudged here and there, teased and disappointed and red herring’d; told, subliminally, “this way, now this way…”


So that I can encounter someone whose warm touch I’ve missed, a soul I never meant to hurt, at the one, exquisitely-timed moment when he’s stopped at the red light with me right there on the sidewalk, and be friends with him again.

This is why synchronicity is my atheist substitute for faith, God for the godless.


Serious two-bite brownie habit

it helps me forget how awful we’ve become

The sex here is awful—and such small portions!

1. SEX

SUFFERING TODAY FROM Eine-kleine-schokolade-kuchen-schade, which is the bewildered, mushed-together feelings of shame, hopelessness and despair I experience walking home from the corner store, having purchased a pack of “Two-Bite Brownies” for later, mindful delectation. But I am desperately empty now and I eat them en plein air.  

It’s snowing lightly and I feel the chilly kiss of snowflakes on my hand as I reach into the brownie bag and pop another one into my mouth. I lick my index finger and press it onto the few remaining crumbs, suck them back, like a crack addict mining the shag carpet, unable to accept that his few fleeting moments of pleasure are done.

This was supposed to be about pleasure, wasn’t it? Or maybe I just used the brownies to, as it were, bribe my anxiety to get out of the house and go see a movie. I feed myself like a depressed new mother feeds the squalling unwelcome alien who popped out of her womb. What do I have to do to shut him up?

I’m tired of being one of the adults, sometimes the only one. I’m tired of peering into the dark and telling myself that everything will be all right. I crave comforting placebos: a hint of childlike sweetness, some undemanding chocolatey depth and a little quotidian complexity. I want a Schubert Impromptu; a Chopin Nocturne; a fugue from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.

I want sanity and order and not quite predictability; more like inevitability, but that of a bud coming into flower more than the fruit’s decay. I want to forget, just for a brief, gooey moment, about death and hatred and everything I’ve broken just by being alive and in the same room.

I want to forget about sex.

Craigslist forgot about sex.

Craigslist succumbed to our never-ending panic over sex, in its common-or- garden and educational forms, after its erstwhile competitor, Backpage dot com, got cocky, if you’ll pardon the expression, and rather lackadaisical about a little matter of underage girls. These knock-off Lolitas, who should have been selling nothing fancier than Girl Guide cookies, proffered their sexual services to stoked-up pervs, for cash, with online ads that left nothing to the imagination, then enhanced them with raunchy selfies that screamed, “Over here, Children’s Aid Society! We wanted to make sure you and the vice squad had lots of evidence!”

The Backpage Horror is a classic example of how you can start out with absolutely no good intentions and a disingenuous belief in laissez-faire, drift into awfulness, then say,

Oh, how did we get here? We never noticed before about the fourteen-year-old girl hookers, and anyway, doesn’t everyone do that—? No? I guess we all kinda got used to it!

Are you sure….?

and not even bat an eye until five hundred police divisions and ten centuries of jurisprudence come parachuting into your call centre.

Because, more than ever, in times of stress and uncertainty, we North Americans cling to the truths that have sustained us through famine, world wars and native genocide: that sex is wrong and sex is sinful; that we endure its distasteful bumps and grinds because, apparently, we are in the grip of a compulsion to produce unnecessary, smaller versions of ourselves with whiny, high-pitched voices and a tendency to spit creamed spinach in our faces.

Sex has become awful, as awful as the people practising it. Sex, primarily, is a weapon that men use against women. Men in positions of power and of trust, your sons or husbands or bosses, maintain their bragging rights in the locker room by casually reducing their female colleagues, employees or trophy wives to scalps on their belt.

Sex is that smelly, messy, hairy chore that needs to be airbrushed, deodorized and manscaped; Sex produces the involuntary squint, the pursed lips and the face hiding from the cumshot’s spray. I am quite fond of you, but may I be on record as saying: I never signed on for body fluids!

Sex is not the naked guy in front of you in the motel room who breaks your heart with his beauty and devours you with his longing while the afternoon sun beats through closed curtains. Sex has left the building, and sex is never now. Sex is just a possibility, the next big thing, the guy or guys, bland and identical as supermarket fruit, a certain number of GPS yards away (maybe even in the next motel room) who are out there waiting to be recruited; so you must log on —sexual encounters without a device no longer exist—line-up ten, then dump nine, exactly what they’re doing to you. The result is that sex is handily avoided, time’s up! and besides, you’ve started to wonder if there’s something suspicious about the way your desktop background keeps changing.

Did you do something malicious to my computer? You are awful!

Sex is the great defiler of the under-prepared and the irresistible tempter of the over-informed. Sex makes us cry, reflexively, “What about the children?” because sex involves body parts, male lust and female mystery, parental control and teenage curiosity, and someone, somewhere is going to have the awful idea of teaching the names of body parts, how to deal with male lust, how to give consent. But if you name those body parts, they’ll start to pay attention to them, and if they can give consent, what’s stopping them from skipping chemistry class, giving consent, and creating a few explosions of their own?

This, I’ll bet you one intact Trojan, is what has driven Ford Nation to roll back the sex ed curriculum in Ontario. It’s homophobia, doing double-duty; pulsating behind the superficial reasonableness of children must be protected; children will be sexualized; children can’t cope with knowing the names of their genitals.

What about the children?

What, Ford Nation is saying, what about the pervy fingers of gay men who itch to stroke and probe and excite and defile; what about innocence, and making children say “penis?”

(There is nothing more taboo than a dick, because there is nothing more contingent, more recalcitrant, more unbiddable. Men must be structural engineers before we’re lovers; our success is one awkward moment away from disaster. We dare not let you see how pathetically, hilariously vulnerable we are.)

But wait! Surely gay men are attracted to other men, by definition? It’s pedophiles who are attracted to children (and specifically under the age of thirteen). What gives?

Conservative minds are simple minds, tirelessly engaged in explaining how stuff works to other simple minds. If it fits on your fender, it’s true. Thus, sex is a necessary evil, gay men are a perverse evil, sex education is a Liberal evil and of course child molestation is an unforgivable evil. BINGO! All for one and one for all and evermore shall be so!

Sex is the great defiler of the under-prepared and the irresistible tempter of the over-informed.

Most abused kids know their abuser; when kids are abused it’s usually within the family circle, by heterosexual men; but never mind, give it up, because het is normal; gay men—perverts, queers, nancy boys, poofs, faggots—are abnormal, thus more logical suspects. This one never changes and this one never dies.

Artful arsefulls of awfulness.

Parents labor under the misapprehension that their children belong to them, like their Ford Fiesta or their fifty-six inch smart TV. Our children are chattels, slaves born of our flesh to be whipped and abused and browbeaten and guilted into doing exactly as we say and believing exactly what we believe: Our alternative facts; the facts that should have been reality if anyone had been paying attention.

But children, saith the U.N., are autonomous beings with rights, and one of these is the right to the best education that can be provided.

This means children have a right to be educated about their bodies. Young men have the right to be educated about treating women with respect; young women want to confirm that their bodies are their own to control; young people want to know how to consent, and, yes, they fully intend to do so.

What about the children? Why do we ask this question when so many acts and omissions prove beyond any doubt that we do not care? Is it a cynical political posture or are we actually so deluded as to think our enraged attempts at control and our denial that every system we’ve built has catastrophically failed are the acts of loving guardians?

We don’t care about exposing kids to violence, whether as entertainment or as live-action classroom assassinations. The lucky survivors are ruined souls: white-haired, soot-faced trauma victims, twenty-first century chimney sweeps.

We don’t care about children living in poverty because we decided not to fix the worst aspects of capitalism: its focus on profit to the detriment of the public good; its monopolies, corporate and social, concentrating wealth, therefore power, in the hands of a very few. We don’t care about crippling student debt or that we’ve sold out universities, once centres of original thought and incubators of genius, to corporations, to be run like businesses with profit as their sole motive.

We don’t care that we’ve fucked the planet, bled it dry, squandered our kids’ inheritance, because we know it will be our kids’ problem, not ours. We’ll be dead when the ice caps melt and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thunder into shore, engulfing in mere hours what has taken generations and centuries of struggle to achieve; We’ll be dead when democracy is replaced with anarchy, its soundtrack the blasting-off of private space shuttles launching to convey the planet fuckers to another fuckable planet. Our kids will have to deal with that, so long, losers!

We don’t care about our kids.

It appears that all we care about is what our kids will do with their genitals, lest they embarrass us with their sexual virtuosity or raise the ire of whatever fairy-tale ogre whose cult we follow, whose jaws drip blood and bone; the ogre who claims to love us, then shakes us from his sandals like dust.

If we believe god made the world and saw that it was good, why did we trash it; fill the lakes with shit and strip the trees from the hills and poison the air? 

If he made the birds and beasts and everything that crawls upon the ground, and gave Adam the privilege of naming them, why did we cage them for our vicious entertainment, pen them, miserable and terrified, in lakes of their own waste, slaughter them so we could stuff our expanding bellies until we literally died from greed?

If god made our bodies that experience pleasure, why would god not want us to enjoy that pleasure? Why did we choose agony as our only offering and make suffering our primary achievement?

Great big Noah’s Arks of awful.


GAY GURU SHAUN PROULX, venting his righteous anger like an Old Testament prophet but with less sackcloth and more interesting hair, hits the nail on its swollen mushroom head when he excoriates the current crop of fags as douches, albeit unintentional ones. He generously, partially ascribes this to the wiping out of the older generation by AIDS— the men who should have been here to guide them.

“The proof is in the pudding!” one of my awful acquaintances is wont to shout; and I bite my tongue so that I may not lose my cool and man-to-mansplain him that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, idiot!

(Seriously? As long as he’s happy and not focused on me, I’m good.)

The proof of this douche pudding may be the lost generation of guides, or it may be that social media, our beloved burbling cesspit of dreck, has reduced attention spans to nanoseconds and identity to self-serving fakery.

Looking for now, now now! Nope, not fast enough!

You are all fungible. You will do, old shoe, as well as you and you and you. What was your name, again?

Our hook-ups insult us, lie to us, steal from us, gossip about us, go crazy on us. Our hook-ups have never heard of the hostess gift. Our hook-ups are cynical eternal teenagers, wanting an increase in their allowance, and free wi-fi. Our hook-ups don’t like our food or our drinks and are amazed that we’ve read all those books.

Our hook-ups have not brought with them the five things without which they cannot function; we must provide them. Our hook-ups are laughing at us even as they exploit us.

How would my dead comrades—lutenists, and counter-tenors, and artist-inventors of imaginary tribes, and poets, and long-haired angels and choreographers and lovers—how would they even have begun to train these sad, wet pups?

Tabernac ! Marie-Joseph ! Atrocités que vous n’avez jamais imaginé !

And with the older generation gone, gone is technical mastery of sex. My challenge to you, gentlemen: Try to get a decent blowjob from an 18-year-old.

What is this? A half-hearted closing of dry, chapped lips around my dick, no idea of how hard to grip, or where, no consistency or sense of drama, no crescendo in the build-up, and now, thirty seconds in and with their reserves of concentration depleted, their eyes begin to wander. Fatal error! Now they are looking for something shiny that will actually amuse them or something bland and starchy they can microwave.

They never expect what happens next. Their insulting behavior towards me and my dick guarantees an experience, maybe their first, of sexual rough justice. As they reach for their iPhone, I shove their head down on my cock, holding it tightly with splayed, lube-y fingers; I shove it down hard until they gag, and when I hear them gag I don’t release them.

Are you kidding? I watch with pleasure as their faces turn purple and their eyes bulge and water and they start to splutter and flail, and I hold just a little bit longer until they are afraid. Then I let them go; they race back up to the surface like divers whose lungs are bursting, breaking the surface with wild gasps for breath that are close to sobs.

We have nothing at all to say to each other. Correction: You have nothing at all to say to me. You’d have to have something to say to me before I would say to you the many things I have to say to you, but won’t.

And you don’t.

With my compatriots gone, gone, gone to graveyards every one, we have lost the etiquette, the caring, the finesse of sex.

Young man walks into my room at the bathhouse. I’m naked, except, of course, for the army boots; don’t pretend you don’t know the look.

He walks in and flips my limp dick with one hand. Hey, I just arrived and haven’t popped a Cialis yet.

“Do you ever get hard?” he says.

I’m 63. Do I ever get hard? Is that the question?

Oh, I get hard. You’d better believe it.

I also have a refractory period that’s measured in weeks. I last came last Tuesday. My erection’s time frame is geological, like Mount Vesuvius.

What the hell am I doing in a bathhouse?


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Look, just do it, OK?



Sitting in my newly organized, tidied,

House-and-Gardened living room (see above), listening to Beethoven, the Sonata for Violin and Piano in F, Op. 24 (“Spring”).   I have that delicious convalescent feeling, frailty borne with a light spirit; I feel as though I’m transparent.

My thorny roommate equation, which had vexed until now both muggins here and an Air Canada Centre’s worth of exasperated friends and family, has been solved—unexpectedly, uniquely, obliquely, by my being presented, last-second, with a guy who I didn’t search for, who shares my values (which I will spontaneously formulate as: keep your sense of humor, try to be intelligent, help others less fortunate, be humble, and get high every so often, but not enough to eat into your savings or your soul) and who contributes.  Energy, money, ideas, support.

You shouldn’t have to labor at keeping the minutiae of life pinned down; your conviction that life is drudgery is a warning sign that your attention is misdirected. When things work, they are so utterly simple.

My new roomie has every reason to dance, and so do I.  But for now I’m just enjoying the predictable, blissful exhaustion and unpredictable, blissful Beethoven.

Speaking of Helen Keller, have you ever

tried to explain pluralistic democracy to an American?  I mean, recently?  Or a Canadian for that matter.  The cybersphere is currently overrun with overwrought geezers—or they may be paid lackeys of the international society of David-teasers, you never know—who are enduring the terrible burden of having to share their equality toys and the limelight with their newborn little bro’s—”the gays” and “the trannies”—and for me to point out that they are not enjoying the exercise would be an understatement at a level akin to the opinion voiced by the first visitor to the Grand Canyon, who took one look and muttered, “My, my, quite a slice.”

If these Libertarian geezers had their druthers they’d toss said little bro’s down the back staircase, cot, Bunnikins cup, security blanket and all, because—well.  You know.  What’s in it for them?  

Or, as one dolt said to me last night as I defended Justin Trudeau and “his” new bill barring hate speech directed towards trans persons, “I don’t get anything extra because I’m Caucasian, so why should they?”

And that’s when I shot myself.

Before I crawl into the stagnant pond of my lukewarm bath which was newly-drawn and hot about six hours ago, I’d like to ask you a question or two.  First, why do you think Constitutions, Bills of Rights, Charters of Rights and Freedoms and other such documents exist?

And another thing:  Would you make this sort of statement to a stranger online:  “You are proselytizing the politics of Sodom and Gomorrah, and as they were destroyed, so will you be.” ? (What could be next?  “I saw Biddy Roddis with the Devil!”?)

To respond to a person who is so self-righteous that he believes “being destroyed” is a fate reserved solely for his ideological enemies, just remind him: We’re all going to be destroyed, bub.

That’s our common fate as mankind— liberal, conservative, saint and sinner—which makes it all the more crucial that we make the most of our messy, inchoate and incomprehensible lives while we can.

And surely that might involve paying attention to something—anything—besides ourselves and our small pond we insist on believing is the ocean.