I was sittingat the counter at Des Moines Cafe reading, as I always do, the sports sectionof the New York Post. I was then joined by my new lovely friend, B, whois an accomplished and highly successful movie director-she has a Hollywoodhit under her belt. But despite her success, she's not at all pretentious ina Tinseltown way. She still dresses like a real East Village girl, albeit anEast Village girl of the 80s. This particular morning, she was in overalls anda v-neck t-shirt and I could see a good deal of her generous, dark and intoxicatingcleavage. I stared into that shadowy place and I wanted to put my nose downit and inhale. B ignored my intrusive and infantile stare, ordered a coffeeand then grabbed my Post and began reading the gossip pages. She sawsomething about Kevin Spacey and said, "I just saw Kevin Spacey on CharlieRose. He said he wants children."
"He'svery faggy, isn't he?" I said.
"Didyou say faggy?"
B then beganto shout, "Homophobe! Homophobe! Everybody come stone him! There's a homophobein the cafe!"
We weresitting just down from the cash register where several people were congregated,and sure enough there were two lesbians there ordering muffins and hearing thiswar cry; they came toward me and made motions as if they were throwing rocksat me. The lesbians were smiling as they performed this pantomime, so they weren'tdeeply offended, but I felt like I was in some kind of Sapphic Shirley Jacksonstory. And B kept saying, "Homophobe! Homophobe!" I hung my head,falsely accused, and muttered, "Stop saying that!" Then, on the otherside of the counter, the patron of Des Moines, whom I suspect is homosexualbecause of his sweet demeanor, approached and said good-naturedly, "What'sgoing on here?" B declared, "He said that Kevin Spacey is faggy. Faggy!"And then she pointed an accusing finger at me and said, "He's obviouslya homophobe."
"Iam not a homophobe!" I protested.
The patronlaughed, didn't say anything and went to the gleaming new ovens to remove somepastries, and the lesbians, becoming bored, got their muffins and went to atable in the front of the cafe.
"Youshouldn't call me a homophobe," I said. "You'll get me in trouble.Also, I'm not a homophobe. If anything, I'm homo-neurotic. In fact, just lastnight I dreamed that I purchased an organic banana in a health food store, broughtit home, put a condom on it and violated myself. I then thought, in my dream,that it was safe sex because it was an organic banana."
"Butthe banana had a condom on it. So you didn't need an organic one."
"Iknow. Dreams never make sense... I also think in the dream I was concerned thatthe banana might squish and the condom would protect me against this, becauseotherwise I'd have to go to a hospital and explain to the emergency room doctorthe presence of a squished, yet undigested, banana in my colon... So all thisto say that if I can have dreams like that, then obviously I'm not a homophobe.I may not approve of lesbians, but that's a whole separate issue."
"What!"said B, who I hadn't realized was such a holdover from the days of politicalcorrectness. She glanced to the front of the cafe, wondering if she should resummonthe lesbians to really stone me this time.
"Ican't help it," I said, before she could bring in the troops. "Lesbiansupset me. They intimidate me. And this is because of a severe weakness in my character."
"You'resuch a typical man," said B with noticeable condescension. "Just becauseyou and your cock are left out you don't like lesbians."
"It'snot so much that," I said. "I feel stupid compared to them. They reallyknow how to eat pussy, whereas I after nearly 20 years of making love to womenhave still not located a single clitoris."
"Howcan you not find the clit?" asked B with annoyance, and my spirits sank.Any chance I ever had of putting my face in her cleavage and then nursing ather full and gorgeous breasts was now lost.
"Idon't know why I can't find the clit. Everyone says it's at the top. And I sometimessee a little bump, like a pink pimple, but it seems to be under the skin andeveryone tells me that it's under a little red riding hood-by the way, I betthat's where that famous story got its title, because it's a story filled withsexual innuendo-anyway, the clit's supposed to come out from under the hoodand be eaten by the big bad wolf, but I never even find the hood. Plus it'susually very dark when I'm down there. And if I'm looking for it with my finger,I think I find it, but then it's always sliding away, and I'm never sure ifI'm actually on it."
I then tooka big gulp of coffee and the caffeine hit me, the way it does sometimes, andI couldn't shut up, and B just stared at me like I was a subnormal, but I couldn'tstop blabbering.
"SoI'm too old now to ask women if I'm actually touching the clit. I can't revealmy utter sexual stupidity. And so the whole time, I keep worrying that I'm playingwith the urethra, which is perhaps uncomfortable for my lady friends, but they'retoo discreet to say anything. But to my credit, I have given women orgasms withmy hand, just so you know. A friend in college once told me about the G spot,which I think I may have found. I tap from the inside a sort of unintelligibleMorse code message and many women have come from that. So I think I might betapping the G spot. And even though I can't really find the clit, women alsodo come when I lick them, because I do it with a lot of enthusiasm, which Ithink they appreciate. And I lick what I think is the clitoris, but I also justblanket a wide area, just in case, and it seems to work. But if I was a lesbianI would know for sure if I was licking the clitoris. That's why they upset me.I'm jealous of their knowledge."
B pointedat a picture of Rosie O'Donnell in the gossip pages and said, "So you don'tlike her, because she better than you at oral sex?"
"Actually,Rosie O'Donnell doesn't upset me because I don't find her attractive."
"Soit is all about you and your cock being left out. I'm not talking toyou anymore!"
"Ican't help it. I'm flawed when it comes to lesbians. I'm weak! Weak! But maybeI'm full of shit. I don't really mind lesbians. When I see them kissing I mighthave a quick flash in my mind of prejudice and bigotry and fear and feelingsof intimidation and castration, but then I dismiss these thoughts and acceptlesbians as I accept everyone, except for myself, against whom I'm prejudicedall the time as an idiot who's losing his hair. I'm feeling very bald thesedays. I'm looking more and more like a blond Jeff Van Gundy."
"I'mstill not talking to you," said B. "Even if you're prejudiced againstlesbians for only a minute you're not worthy of my conversation."
"Well,give me back my paper," I said, trying to assert myself. So she thrustthe Post at me, and then she went to the front window where discarded newspapers are left on the ledge and came back with a New York Times.
We readour papers in silence and drank our coffees. I finished the sports and thenwent to the gossip pages myself. I read something about Cindy Crawford and herhusband Rande Gerber, which sounded to me like a Jewish name.
"Ialways like it when unknown Jewish men get famous, beautiful gentile women,"I said to B, sensing that she wasn't mad at me anymore, that the silent treatmenthad run its course. "There's a mention here of Cindy Crawford and her Jewishhusband, which is like Sharon Stone and her husband, whose name is somethinglike Bronstein."
"Whydo you like Jewish men getting famous women?" asked B no longer mad atme, as I had correctly presumed.
"Idon't know," I said. "it gives me hope that Jewish men can do anything.These fellows are role models. You've got to have a lot of courage to be the man who gets Sharon Stone... Let's think of other powerful and beautiful gentilewomen who are with non-famous or lesser-known Jewish men."
B likedthe idea of this game-she's half-Jewish and so has some interest in things Semitic-andI took out my little pad that I always carry and wrote down, "(1) SharonStone, (2) Cindy Crawford." But then we couldn't think of any other examples.
"Whatabout Julia Roberts?" I asked. "Do you think Benjamin Bratt is Jewish?Maybe Bratt is short for Brattberg or something." But because we weren't sure, I couldn't add Julia to the list. "I wish Ethan Hawke was Jewish,"I said. "Then I could feel good about him getting to be with Uma Thurman."
"Whatabout Elizabeth Taylor?" said B.
"Whatdo you mean? Elizabeth Taylor herself is Jewish!"
"Ican't believe you don't know that. That's worse than my problem with lesbians.You're in the movie business. How can you not know that Elizabeth Taylor isone of the biggest Jews of all time? Where do you think she got those eyes?And she does the opposite-she marries gentiles. She made that Fortensky guystep on a beer bottle in front of a rabbi."
We put ourmighty intellects on this problem for several more minutes, but we couldn'tcome up with any more Jewish heroes for me. "Maybe Madonna will marry aJew," I said. "I wish I could marry Madonna. With her money, I couldreally see the world."
Then B said,tangentially, "Paul Newman, you know, is half-Jewish."
"Really?"I said. "That's wonderful. See, when someone like Paul Newman is Jewish,or half-Jewish, it's much harder for there to be another Holocaust... Well,I think we've covered the major issues of the day. So I'm going to go home andthink about paying bills, become exhausted about the prospect and then takea nap."
I stoodup to leave. B remained on her stool and kissed me goodbye on the cheek andI squeezed her knee.
"Stopthat," she said.
"Can'tI grope you a little?" I asked.
"Allright," I said, scolded. I left the cafe and walked home and took to mybed until lunchtime. Then I got up, ate something, felt the need for anothernap to aid my digestion, and woke up in the late afternoon, feeling a profounddespair. I shook that off and went and played basketball in Tompkins SquarePark, and was castigated severely by a vocal teammate for missing an easy layup.
So afterbasketball, I came home and took a long bath and then another nap. I'm doinga lot of napping these days. I seem to be avoiding something. Then I got dressedand went to a dinner party in Soho, at this very attractive couple's loft. They'veinvited me to several dinner parties lately, which allows me to take taxis,since I feel like I'm compensating with the free meals.
At the dinnerparty this night, there were about a dozen people, including the very famousBritish journalist, T, who was a major player in the whole Clinton-Lewinskyimpeachment drama. And there was another Brit there as well, L, who is one ofthe Queen's leading poets and thinkers. In the company of these two intellectualgiants, I kept my mouth shut during dinner, like a college freshman, especiallysince all I ever seem capable of discussing is the Mangina or toilet humor.
After severalbottles of wine were consumed-though personally I stuck to temperance beverages-wewere on to dessert and the two mildly intoxicated Brits held sway over the largetable and launched into a cerebral and fascinating discussion about the originsof gay studies. The whole discussion, from what I could follow, seemed to centeraround the martyrish World War I death of the young gay poet, Wilfred Owen,and how his death influenced all the major gay English poets, which is to say,all of the major English poets. And then, after the issue of Owen was exhausted,a more general but odd and amusing discussion about homosexuality and poetryensued.
"Audensaid that Dwight Eisenhower was homosexual because he had no face. This to himwas a sure sign of homosexuality," remarked L.
"Ginsbergmastered the sphincter orgasm," laughed T at another point.
It was soonafter this sphincter remark that dinner wound down, and as I walked home fromSoho, I felt my post-nap despair from the afternoon return. Why were even thegreat minds of this world obsessed with buggery and sex? And why was I constantlyinvolved in such inane discussions? Isn't there something more to life? Whymust sex rule everything? Why is everyone obsessed with their genitals and theirneighbors' genitals? Why do we stagger around for 70 or more years not knowingwhat we're doing, all the while physically disintegrating?
Ponderingsuch important questions, I went into a Korean market to get something to eat.Amongst the plentiful display of many fruits were dozens of bananas. I hadn'tseen a banana since my dream the night before, and as I looked at it I feltan odd tingling in my groin-a sort of perverted deja vu. They weren't organicbananas, but I picked up several. I then felt embarrassed and guilty makingmy purchase-the way I do when I buy pornography-as if the Korean woman at thecash register had any idea what I was up to. But soon enough, she rang me upand I happily rushed out of there with my illicit purchase, forgetting entirelymy existential despair. I thought about the condoms I had back at my place,and as I raced home I knew that I could rationalize my mad deed, if I shouldgo through with it, by simply pretending that it was all a dream.