Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Love and Death

Every once in a while I have one of those moments in which I stop in the middle of it and think, Wow, my life is actually pretty cool. Sunday night was no exception. I went to Piano's in the East Village-- the bar that is supposedly emerging as "the next CBGB's," for Zombie-A-Go-Go, a horror-themed party. I had been introduced to the co-organizer, Roman, through my friend (and sometime love interest) Jesse, and I had profiled him and his party partner Josh for Next Magazine. I knew the event would be right up my alley; as a confirmed horror junkie, I was sure to enjoy the makeup, movie clips, and spooky ambience. When I arrived at the bar I was whisked upstairs by Roman. The space had been transformed with cobwebs and "blood"-spattered sheets, while makeup artists and face painters set up stations and a guest DJ played hipster music. A T-shirt designer was also there with his gothic designs. Roman and Josh were wearing grey schoolboy uniforms and pale makeup; I had worn my shirt from Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving" trailer for the occasion. I was soon joined by Jesse and his friend Harold. Harold is a really sweet, funny guy, even if he is, in Jesse's words, "more man-hungry than a cannibal." Jesse and I have had kind of an on-again, off-again thing ever since we reconnected at a Christmas party last year; we'd worked together at Williams-Sonoma back in my first fall in the city, and I'd harbored a crush on him then, but it was at that memorable party in Brooklyn that it came to fruition. In fact, Jesse, Harold, and I all piled into the same bed that night, which was very funny. (No, there was no torrid threesome; what do you think this is, Erik Rhodes' blog?) Jesse and I began dating and actually had an extremely romantic Valentine's Day together: we're talking a picnic in Central Park, Wayne Newton music, chocolate-covered strawberries, the whole nine yards. But right after that Jesse got very gun-shy about commitment and we actually didn't talk for several months. We had been messaging in advance of Roman's party, though, and I was really looking forward to seeing him again. When I saw him-- he gave me a big hug-- the chemistry was definitely still apparent. He got touchy-feely and affectionate with me. I texted my friend Patrick, who wrote back, "Be careful. Don't get hurt again." I certainly didn't want to, but I couldn't deny that seeing Jesse made me happy. Both of us got makeup done, becoming the zombies you see above; Jesse went a step further and got some ghastly Kabuki makeup applied over his already frightening living dead face. We took a series of pictures together and started fake biting each other. It reminded me of a story from one of my Emerson workshops in which flesh-eating zombies made an apt metaphor for sexual desire. Later on, we sat down on a couch together and he told me he was very out of sorts these days; he alluded to "family stuff," and I knew that he was on anti-depressants. "Are you telling me to stay away from you?" I asked. "No," he answered. "But you're a really cool person. You're awesome. I think you deserve better than me." "I probably do," I said, half-jokingly. "But what makes you so sure I won't understand what you're going through? You should try me sometime. I'm a really good listener." Appropriately, I thought of a horror movie scene right then. In Halloween: H20, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) has a conversation with her boyfriend about the trauma she's been through in the past. Will tells her just what I did, that he's a really good listener. Laurie smiles. "Maybe," she answers. "Someday. In front of a roaring fire." That was always an issue with Jesse and I: he wouldn't open up. It was hard for us to achieve real intimacy because he seemed afraid to let me in, to take that next step. After that we didn't really address the issue again, but as we said goodbye, out on the street, I told him we should get together this week. We kissed, two zombies making out in the dark, and then I waved and set off for the train.

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