Perhaps people predicted it. In fact many would have said it was inevitable. A Diva Bear of my magnitude was bound to get a little squirrelly, without having hearing some genuine applause just for him. There were only so many times I could crank up Bernadette Peters Entrance at Carnegie Hall on my Ipod and pretend the adulation was for me. The move from the 6th floor from the third floor here at The Mayfair has prevented me from discovering what can fill the void of my former theater world.
Orlando continues to find a routine that suits him. He has found some racquet ball players at the gym downtown that actually challenge him and is finding more and more opportunities to play. This is leaving me with more and more opportunities to not be joined at the hip with him. I now have an apartment to decorate with a budget applicable to Flea Markets and Target….that’s about it as far as my creative energies go. I did find a small audience of photographers to mug for but more on that later.
I hate to admit this but I was finding living with my lover challenging. This was new to me. It occurred to me, that I had lived alone for at least 15 years and was accustomed to living life the way I wanted to live it. The two years that Orlando and I had been dating was a weekend relationship. Some people thought that was the ideal situation. My co-worker, Kim would ride BART back to San Francisco with me and often tell me what a sweet deal I had going during those two years. Kim is a slim, snappy, bright-eyed fifty -something actor who I have known for nearly two decades. Depending on how much debauchery he has encountered the night before, he can either appear like a charming country Doctor with a wickedly playful gleam in his eye that makes you want to hug your children a little closer to you or the Crypt keeper. He is an avid cigarette smoker and on certain stressful days he smells like he has rolled around in a giant ashtray. His attempts at quitting are hard on us all so we have simply stopped encouraging him. In our younger years Kim and I had similar tastes in men and it led to some awkward moments. The awkward moments basically involved me telling him that I thought a certain boy was cute and then finding out he slept with said certain boy a week or so later. I am not particularly proud of my learning curve on this, seeing as how Kim did it at least three times to me. It must have really irked me because Kim had a long time on and off again affair with an Indian Boy and I “allowed my heart to be open” to the possibilities with this Indian Boy. This upset Kim greatly, (his eyes bulged and his ice cubes shook like crazy in his cocktail) and marked the end of the “sharing” of potential hook ups.
He works part time at the Skilled Nursing Facility with me organizing our fairly substantial volunteer base. We have also worked together in a few theatrical productions throughout the years.
Despite the resolution with the Indian Boy of oh-so-long-ago, I always feel like Charlie Brown with Kim as Lucy holding the football encouraging me to kick it with all my might -and then just at the strategic moment he deftly pulls it away and I go sailing away into the air landing with a resounding “Whump!” on my back. “Trust” and “Kim” just don’t seem like two things that go together when it comes to our odd decades-long friendship.
Several months ago, When I told Kim about Orlando’s impending arrival to Oakland he looked at me doubtfully, and tapped his cigarette packets on his bony knee tamping down the tobacco. “ I dunno P.A.” he drawled in his signature Carol Channing rasp. His voice is truly remarkable, and one of his best tools as an actor. He used to have a lovely honeyed tenor singing voice that years of smoking have made not so honeyed. When he speaks, it often sounds like wet gravel being poured over an old music box and sometimes reminds me of a character from the old West. When I greet him, I always mock him saying his name the way he would say mine by braying “KIM!” as loudly as I could, and then he always greets me back with “PEEYAAY!” with an ear cringing lower toned screech that almost always tops mine. I began to get a little tense as Kim elaborated on why he thought Orlando moving in with me was a bad idea. “I mean think about it, PeeeYay. You’ve got the Best of Both worlds right now. You get to see your boyfriend on the weekends and you get 5 days of the week allllll to yourself. (He leaned in on the alllllll, so I got a good whiff of tobacco). He Cawed on, “ 5 days a week to do whatever you want with your time..” Kim looked at me pointedly with his beady glittering eyes.Yes I got it. While Orlando and I didn’t live together yet we had a “Don’t ask don’t tell” agreement set into place. Living three hours apart and being the horny men we were , it just didn’t seem reasonable to expect monogamy at this point. In fact Orlando and I truly didn’t believe in monogamy having seeing it fail all around us time and again. We both felt that men aren’t wired that way. What I hadn’t given a lot of thought to was when we lived together how we would sort that all out. When I was in nursery school my mother had to be called to pick me up because another little boy rode my tricycle and well…it didn’t go over well. I even found some things she had saved through the years stating from various elementary school teachers that, “Paul seems to have trouble sharing.” I knew something would have to give. My middleaged New England Libido was not going to keep up with his Puerto Rican Libido so I had better learn to let other boys ride my tricycle. Kim’s voice snapped me out of my reverie. “Right now you have the BEST of both worlds!” and he patted my thigh and cackled. It was clear that Kim didn’t think that Orlando moving in was a good idea. Well…not a good idea for him anyway.
Now the rides on BART with KIM are significantly shorter since I live in Oakland, yet we still ride together. I haven’t told him that I really am over the whole acting part of theater because I am sure he wouldn’t believe it. At this particular time, I was still living in a postage stamped sized studio with Lando. He narrowed his beady brown eyes at me. He has an uncanny talent for sniffing out a person’s weaknesses out and he could see that the strain of living in a small studio with Orlando and not having enough “me” time was beginning to show around my eyes. “ I tell ya PA, I couldn’t do it.” He cackled , “ I don’t have what it takes.” I had visions of him cocktailing and crowing to those that we mutually knew, “There’s trouble in Bear Paradise!!!” I didn’t want this to get out of hand. I did whatever damage control I could. “It’s not awful Kim. I just need to get used to being cleaner and organized, and learn to…go with the flow more.”
He looked thoughtful for a second. It was if the alligator had flipped over and showed his vulnerable tender belly and I saw my chance. I wasn’t sure, it seemed, somewhere in those Absolut Vodka soaked eyes he was envisoning or remembering a moment where he may have lived with a lover. Then he spat out, “I don’t flow well with others.” He bit off each word. …I thought out carefully what I was going to say next and then spoke. “You see, the real challenge for me in all of this is to be as generous and as giving to him as he is to me. I mean he is so thoughtful to me and I just hate to think that I might be an imposition to him in any way because he really goes out of his way to make my life easier. He makes breakfast for me, rubs my feet, tells me he loves me at just the right times when I need to hear it and it’s great to have someone there to cuddle with every night on the couch. I just sometimes don’t think that I can measure up to his thoughtfulness.” The irony here is that you are thinking I made that up to keep Kim from blabbing to everyone that PA is not as happy as his Facebook posts make him out to be? Every word of what I told Kim is true. I worry every day that I don’t measure up..then again I worry every day period. (Thanks Mom)
That apparently worked because Kim picked up the Newspaper and snapped it open so sharply that it sounded like a rifle crack-even above the din of the BART train, and began to read it, completely ignoring me , after murmuring a dismissive, “Well that’s nice”
Well I did eventually find something to do. I had done a trade with Photographer Bill McClaren (profile to follow). He did a shoot with me if I agreed to be one of his models for his Fine Art Photography Workshops. However, I agreed to do the workshop and well…that was going to cut into our Pride Parade celebration a bit. It fell on a Gay Pride Sunday. That turned out to be not such a bad thing. You would think that a city full of queens would have fabulously creative floats to rival the Rose Bowl but no…it’s a surprisingly boring parade. Hey LOOK everyone – It’s all the Gay and Lesbian PG&E workers… whoopee. The pictures contained in the blog are from that workshop. I work with the photographers and it is kinda fun. They get to learn how to work with Models.They think I am pretty keen and say how expressive I am etc etc etc. It's not exactly like applause...but it'll do.