On Monday -as luck would have it, Kevin could meet Orlando and I for lunch at a Thai Restaurant in his neighborhood. It was in Hell's Kitchen. The is the first time I had been in Hell's Kitchen and didn't realize it was actually a nice neighborhood with a lot of cool restaurants. Hearing it's moniker I had always envisioned something desperate and horrid with lots of garbage and huge swarms of rats chewing through it. As we made our way to the Thai Restaurant, I noted several restaurants along the way that I might like to investigate should I ever come back to NYC.
Kevin had not changed a bit to me. Maybe he had a few more character lines around the eyes, but he looked that mature even when he was in his 20s. He had that sort of calmness that many of my friends in their 40s were showing now that we were growing older. There was a certain acceptance that things were the way they were and that there was no changing them. I was glad to see that he hadn't given up on dating and there was date with some hispanic gentlemen later -surprise surprise. The conversation between the three of us was gentle and easy and Orlando was entertained without feeling excluded. I was immensely happy that we had made this connection. We reminisced about our boy-crazy youth. At age 25, It wasn't uncommon for me to fall in love with a new boyfriend every weekend and then change my mind a few days later. I fell prey to the San Francisco Gay Male Relationship trap that there was always someone better just around the corner. Kevin was more loyal then I and hung on a bit longer. He wasn't exactly a stalker when he was a kid, but it was always a running gag that he, himself, would make jokes about. He used to sing little made up love songs about the current man he was in love with or joke about hiding in the bushes watching them from afar. Sometimes I wondered if he was just being funny. I noted to myself as we played "memory lane" that our mutual ability to laugh at ourselves was probably the secret to whatever sense of peace we could find within ourselves. I also observed that despite the struggles that New York had put Kevin through as an actor- now composer, he seemed content. It solidified my belief that I could let go of being on stage and find another way of creative expression to fulfill my soul. He had done it. When he mentioned that he really didn't act or try to audition for anything anymore, the comment seemed casual and not all that big a deal. When Orlando got up to use this rest room Kevin gave me a thumbs up my partner selection. I knew he would like Orlando's " no nonsense" approach to life as much as I did. Kevin surprised me and treated us to lunch. I snapped some pics to commemorate the reunion. There was an exceptionally sexy Latino man standing in the doorway that I pointed out to Kevin. It turns out that Kevin lived above the restaurant we were eating in and that sexy Latino did repair work in his building. Immediately Orlando and I urged him to go break something and then hugged him goodbye.
The Thai lunch should've sufficed but I passed a colorful sign on our way to Central Park that I could not ignore.It was a shop that sold ice cream donut sandwiches. I don't normally indulge in the sweet rich ooey gooey because I am a salty crispy crunchy deep fried kinda guy. The over-the-top dessert realm is Orlando's specialty, but somehow I was inexplicably compelled to learn more. When I suggested to Orlando that we investigate this treat his eyes began to dance wildly in his head. He was A) amazed that I was the one that was suggesting this given the state of our expanding waistlines and B) he was about to get two things together that he absolutely adored-ice cream and donuts! The perky gal behind the counter gave us an enthusiastic tour of the flavors and how the process was done. You could pick THREE ice cream flavors and the choices were all very exciting. I chose this interesting flavor that was called "Hotel" ice cream. I think it was Vanilla with bits of a smashed spiced cookie and chocolate chips and it was totally fabu!!! I also chose a caramel dul leche something-or-other and I think another unusual cookie-n-cream-esqe flavor that I can't recall right now. The donut was dipped in vanilla frosting and sprinkled with coconut. Orlando who is a notorious chocoholic chose three different types of chocolate ice creams and then had his donut dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with almonds. Orlando had NO difficulty consuming his. I, on the other hand, did a valiant effort of consuming two thirds of the massive rich dessert. Orlando considered finishing my portion but then wisely chose not to.
The Horse drawn carriages were all lined up where we had seen them the day before. Orlando went up and found a cute Turkish bear to give us a ride. It was determined that a little 45 min tour around the park would cost a $100-which included tip. I saw the expression on Lando's face as he was doing an inner monologue of once-in-a-lifetime-dream as we crawled our overfed bodies into the carriage. It was clean and shiny but there was this bouquet of fake flowers attached to the side of the carriage that made me grimace. I kept my mouth shot to my benefactor of the ride. I wasn't going to gripe. Before we flew to New York , I had briefly thought about spending ten grand on an engagement ring and presenting it to him on this ride. New York -despite the horrible smells and crowds- felt like a romantic city to me and I wanted us to be engaged. Yet Orlando's belief that the Federal government should pass the RIGHT-TO-MARRY- law in order for it to be right kept me from doing such an economically reckless romantic proposal. I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. In one way I thought he was right, but the girly-girl side of me wanted to flash my engagement ring to everyone to proclaim that I was good enough to be engaged to someone. I was hoping he would come around to wearing engagement rings and should I ever get a windfall of some type, I may just go for it. The Turkish guy took us through Central Park and showed us all the sites.
|Cute Turkish Bear Carriage Driver|
|Friends Fountain without Friends or water|
Many of the sites were pop culture referenced: John Lennon's Strawberry Fields, A building that was in the movie Ghost Busters and the fountain that Joey, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe and the rest of the Friends all flounced around in the beginning of their show credits. The Turkish bear carriage driver shared a little of his life with us. We had learned that he had just married but he was getting a divorce after a few short months, but he thought he would be okay. It didn't seem like a great job driving the carriage around the park. I imagine it would be a little dull over and over again. There was a beauty to the park and a surreal quality that this was not New York. It was where New Yorkers went to get away. I played with my lens on my camera that my friend Bruce had just given to me and snapped a man sitting on a bench. I was pretty far from him but he knew I was taking a picture of him. Again…'marriage' popped in my face as we passed a young androgynous Asian couple in wedding costume trudging to pose for some pictures post wedding. They seemed focused on the task at hand but not particularly joyful. The driver showed us a building Madonna supposedly lives in and none of her neighbors want her there because she is too loud.I frowned .A part of New York I would never see. The New York Madonna frequented. I hated being denied that access. It occurred to me that this was supposed to be romantic and I put the camera down for a second and held Orlando's hand. We were supposed to be making memories here dammit!