Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chicago Life

I live in a city of sirens. Police cars. Ambulances. Fire trucks. Twenty-four hours a day of sirens. Living on the 9th floor of a building within unobstructed earshot of a nearby fire station does not help, and living on a block with two large senior citizen complexes adds to the fun. Ambulances scream down my street (never mind that it is primarily residential and that at 3 a.m. there is very little traffic that needs to be warned to get out of the way) at least five times every day. One would think that at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. they might not need to keep their sirens screaming full blast, but they do. And every paramedic visit is, for reasons I’ve never quite understood, accompanied by a huge fire truck, which has not only sirens but a horn. A very loud horn.

And all this sweet, soothing symphony of the city is set against the every-three-minute rumbling and roaring and, especially in wet weather, shrieking, of elevated trains not 1,000 feet from my window.

And yet, for all that, Chicago is a wondrous city. Laid out roughly in a grid, with eight city blocks to a mile (though there are many, many exceptions), “major” and generally commercial streets down which busses run, are located every four blocks, and the streets within the squares formed are residential and most lined with trees. Chicago is flat as a pancake, so the towers of the loop can be seen from considerable distances, and they present a great skyline, especially seen from the lake front which is, in effect, one long park running the length of the city. Even in the canyons of the Loop (so named because of the elevated train lines which circle the inner core of the city) one can easily walk to the green spaces of the lakeshore, with the spectacular Millennium Park with its Ghery Music Pavilion, and adjacent Grant Park with its beautiful Buckingham Fountain.

And there is always some free event going on, from spectacular to quaint. A great example of the latter was held this past Labor Day: the twice-annual Woogms Parade. Woogms stands for “Wellington/ Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society” and consists entirely of residents of two residential streets near my apartment, who gather to have a parade. Well, it’s just a walk, mostly. But they join up on Wellington…lots of kids on bikes, moms and dads with baby strollers, and an entire spectrum of citizens, many with silly hats (Dr. Seuss is a favorite), many waving small American flags, two guys on stilts, and led by the Jesse White Drum Corps…six or eight very enthusiastic and quite talented kids from the ghettos of the South side.

(A brief aside here to explain that Jesse White is the Illinois Secretary of State who has started a number of programs to get disadvantaged kids off the streets.)

So the parade starts on Wellington, and is led by the drum corps followed by a line of several assorted residents carrying large American flags on poles, and the 300-500 participants march…well, walk, or stroll…down Wellington to busy Sheridan Road, half of which is blocked off by the police to allow the perhaps block-long parade to pass. It moves south the four blocks or so to even busier Diversey, where it turns left toward the lake, then turn left again to pass in front of St. Joseph’s hospital. There the parade disperses and the people gather on the lawn to watch the Jesse White Tumblers go through their routine. Perhaps 20 kids, ranging in age from 8 to 18, performing some truly impressive leaps and tumbles, some aided by a small trampoline. And when the show is over, to the enthusiastic acclaim of all assembled, the kids pick up their mats, take them to two large vans parked beside the hospital, and go home, as does the crowd.

I love Chicago.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sing Out, Fagin!

I’m going through a bit of a busy period, though comparing it to other busy periods of my life is a bit difficult, since time usually softens the sharp edges and blurs the focus, and we…or I…tend to easily forget how things really were. My mind has a tendency when dealing with the past, to run around smoothing out the wrinkles in the bedcovers and dusting under the couch, with the result that things tend to look a lot more rosy in retrospect then when actually being experienced.

At the moment of writing, I am not-at-all-patiently awaiting the arrival of a new internet modem (the subject of another blog). It was supposed to be here today. The day is nearly over. It is not here.

I learned earlier today that I will definitely, without question, damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead moving this coming Monday…providing they are able to find the key to the apartment, which apparently has gone missing and might necessitate the replacing the lock entirely. If I move on Monday, it will be the end of a six month game of “Oh, you can move for sure next week. Or maybe next month. Or if not then, the third Tuesday following the Solstice. Or if not then, definitely by St. Michaelmas Eve. Or maybe….” It’s really been fun. But not much. I have come to see myself as Charlie Brown, with the building’s bureaucracy as Lucy, and my new apartment as the football.

I am—and I would not be surprised if I also am at the time you read this, however far down the calendar it may be from now—also awaiting the court’s approval of my appointment as executor of my recently and sadly dead friend Norm’s will. Though I legally can do nothing until it comes through, I’ve made arrangements for an appraiser to come over to go through Norm’s condo and give me an idea of the value of his lifetime collection of belongings, and I’ve been in touch with a representative of a company that purchases estates.

Once the condo is empty, I’ll next have to consult with a real estate broker about putting the condo up for sale, and whether it would be better to sell it as is or go to the time and expense of painting and replacing the dog-ravaged carpeting and wallpaper.

And while all this is going on, I become increasingly aware of the fact that while there is sufficient money in his bank account to cover monthly—and sizable—condo fees and other continuing monthly expenses for a time, it won’t last forever and, given the status of the housing market, there is no guarantee of how long it will take to sell.
You’ll notice no mention of my own life, which normally centers around writing. I have a book halfway written which is far behind schedule and must be finished soon if there is any hope of having it get out this year. And after I’ve typed “the end” on that one, I must get busy on the next.

So there you have the general gist of my most recent reviewing of my situation. It’ll all look a lot better from some point in the future when my mind has once again tidied up my memory.

And you know what I’m going to do when all this current turmoil is over with? When I can get back online and am all moved into my new apartment and Norm’s affairs have all been settled, I’m going to take a boat to Tahiti. Yep! That’s what I’m gonna do. Ask Gary to come up and feed my cat, and just take off. And while I’m sitting on a deck chair looking out over the vast, untroubled ocean, I look forward to a most pleasant reviewing of my situation.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Jobs from Hell, Part III

Well, as long as we’re on the subject of jobs from hell, I might add one more snapshot from my rather full album. I find it interesting, now, as I look them over, that three of the worst jobs I ever had were all during my 18 years in Los Angeles.

Immediately after leaving my glory days with the P.R. firm, related earlier, a friend got me a job with Peterson Publications, a magazine publishing conglomerate that cranked out countless well-known, mainly male-oriented periodicals such as Car and Driver. My tenure there was blessedly short, for reasons soon to be made clear.

I have always held to the philosophy that one should work to live, and one should never, as so very many people seem to, live to work. Combining that philosophy with my ability to exist in the world without really being a part of it has largely enabled me to pretty much sail through life like the Flying Dutchman. Still….

Some jobs are furnaces, some are ice boxes, and some, like my stint at Peterson Publishing are London fogs. My job with Peterson was definitely fog: fog so thick that I never did understand exactly what my job was supposed to be, other than do whatever I was told to do at the moment. I think I was in the Promotions department, the primary purpose of which I gather was to come up with little gimmicks to attract new readers. I do recall making up a fake airline baggage claim ticket to be attached to the front cover of one of their travel magazines. I assume it had something to do with an offer of a free trip, though its purpose was never explained to me and I never saw the finished magazine to which it was attached.

There was a similar cover attachment for a diving magazine, featuring a ferocious-looking shark, which I was assigned to draw. This, to me, was proof positive that the inmates were running the asylum, since I have never, ever been able to draw anything that ended up looking even remotely like whatever it was I had set out to draw. I think I found a photo of a shark in some other publisher’s magazine and just traced it. It was atrocious, but they used it. And again, I never knew its purpose.

It was not a bad place to work, I don’t think. It was just reminded me of what Limbo must be like. There were people there, but other than the friend who had gotten me the job, they all existed in this thick, grey fog. I do not remember the face…let alone the name…of a single person there. I do not remember the layout of the workplace or what went on there. I would imagine I did have a fairly good idea at the time where the restrooms were, but other than that….

But what I do remember distinctly was that the entire organization seemed to be focused on Office Politics, particularly among the management, whom I do not think I ever saw.

From what I could gather from my friend, the company operated like some strange, gigantic game of chess. While I know nothing at all about chess, I gathered that in this game, the employees were pawns, the lower-level supervisors rooks, the supervisor’s supervisors the queens, etc. So when one queen bested another queen, not only would the overturned queen be fired, but all the rooks and pawns under him/her as well. Entire departments would be let go at one time. I couldn’t quite figure out how an organization could survive like that, but what did I know?
I did not understand the rules of the game and I really didn’t care.

Suffice it to say that after perhaps three months in Limbo, my supervisor’s supervisor lost to his faceless opponent and my entire department was let go.

I did not weep.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bye, Bye, Birdie

Here we go again. Sitting at the computer, minding my own business, when the radio begins playing “Bye, Bye Baby” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (or, in my case, Blonds), and suddenly it is 1953 and I am back at Northern with my friends Zane and Stu. I had a terrible crush on Zane, and we had just gone to see the movie version of the musical. For some reason…my mind was accountable only to itself even in 1953…I associated the song “Bye, Bye, Baby” with Zane. I still do, to this day.

I think Zane and Stu and I thought of ourselves as something like the gay Three Musketeers. Stu was incredibly talented in a number of areas, but a classic case of A.D.D. before anyone knew what Attention Deficit Disorder was. He was always starting grandiose projects and never finishing them. Very tall, thin, and with red hair, Stu’s flamboyance stood out anywhere he went and his sexual orientation was not too terribly hard to guess. He was the campus cut-up at college, but away from campus, among people he did not know, he attracted a lot of unwanted attention. Though his reaction to being stared at was to defiantly kick up the flamboyance level several notches, I knew it hurt him.

Zane was to the theater born. Actor-handsome, and of Greek heritage, he shortened his real first name from Zenon to Zane. He was suave and confident, and represented a lot of the things I wanted to be. And, as I say, I had a huge, unfortunately unrequited, crush on him.

One night, in one of their rooms, they decided that they should practice their makeup skills on me, and brought out a makeup kit they’d borrowed from the drama department. I wasn’t particularly wild about the idea…especially when they brought out the lipstick and eyelashes, but went along. About half an hour later, they declared they were done and told me to stand up. Stu then brought over a mirror, faced away from me. Holding it up in front of my face he turned it around to give me the full effect of their efforts—a rather tarty-looking woman. I was so revolted that I fainted. Literally.

We had made plans to meet in New York during summer break. I was totally excited by the prospect, but my father was not, and we had a number of rows over it. Finally he gave in: “Okay, so go to New York with your queer boyfriends.” That was the first time my dad had ever said anything like that, and I was truly shocked. He had met Stu and Zane many times and had never said a word against them. He of course knew full well that I was also queer, and I guess he was just afraid that three gay boys alone in the big city of New York might get into more trouble than we had bargained for.

We had made reservations at a hotel called, if I remember, the St. James. Stu and Zane were to arrive a day or so before me. When I arrived and checked in, they were not in their rooms, and I decided to go out exploring by myself. Naturally, I headed for Times Square, which in 1953 was not quite what it is in 2008. And there, in a city of 8 million people, as I walked down 42nd St., I looked across the street to see Zane and Stu.

My memory for such momentous events in my life is usually very clear, but for some reason I cannot recall details of our stay, or even be absolutely sure that this was my first trip to New York. I imagine it was. In any event, I know we had to have had a marvelous time. And if it was my first time I do remember that the first show I ever saw on Broadway was Rogers & Hammerstein’s Me & Juliet, which used the music Hammerstein had used for the immensely popular TV series, Victory at Sea, and Cole Porter’s Can-Can.

Oh, to be 19 and with friends in New York City again!
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Domesticity Yet Again

Robert Benchley, talking of an overseas trip, mentions a quaint little Spanish town, whose residents he describes as “simple, childish people, to whom cleanliness is next to a broken hip.” And oh, Lord, I identify with those people!

I’m not talking personal cleanliness…I am not a stranger to soap, water, a toothbrush, or a comb…but to my living conditions. I’ve touched on this subject before but was reminded of it yet again this morning when I was wondering where to install the feeding trough when I saw just what a pigsty my bathroom floor is. It is a very small bathroom: I can stand in the center of it and easily touch all four walls just by raising one arm not quite 90 degrees. It has a tile floor, and I do have a small throw rug. The cat litter box is under the sink. And I try to keep it clean. Really, I do. I have gotten on my hands and knees with a scrub brush and pail of water with Spic and Span, and Pine-Sol, and Soft Scrub and God knows what else. I have scrubbed until my arms feel about to fall off. But trying to clean in the tight confines around the toilet bowl (especially when I cannot raise my head to see what I’m doing) is a total effort in futility. When I finish, apart from having removed various spots and smudges, it is still a mess.

The entire apartment has the same tile floor—the exposed square footage of tile in the entry, the kitchen, and the bedroom are each only slightly larger than the bathroom. I mentioned earlier, I think, having been conned into buying a spray-cleaner Swiffer, which like all things advertised on TV looks like the best thing since sliced bread. Swish-swish, put on sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the gleaming, spotless floors. Right. The button to release the spray is conveniently located right under your thumb, so that when you push or pull the mop, your thumb cannot avoid hitting the button, and you end up spraying far more than you intended.

Each time I am foolish enough to use it—stubbornly refusing to remember the fiasco of the last time I used it—the only real difference I can tell between “before” and “after” is that my feet stick to the floor when I try to walk on it.

God knows when I last dusted. I simply am not aware of it. I never think of it. Every waking hour is filled with something, and dusting not only is not high on my list of things that must be done, it isn’t even in the footnotes. When I do dust, resenting having to take time away from more important things, within ten minutes I’ve forgotten that I’ve done it, and the next time I look, everything’s dusty again.

Living alone helps, I’m sure, as does having no visitors. My friend Gary comes up for coffee every now and again, but clean-freak though he is, he bears his disgust in silence. Had I someone to be domestic for, perhaps my attitudes might change, but I doubt it. When, in the past, I have lived with someone, I was generally lucky enough to have the other person be far more aware of such things and willing to take on the responsibilities. I have, regrettably, aged myself out of the likelihood of ever being so lucky again. Perhaps I could consider hiring a cleaning person, but I could not expect them to do much about the floors, which I see as a lost cause under any circumstances.

I really don’t enjoy being a slob. Truly I don’t. And I sincerely am ashamed of myself for being one. But it is easier to be ashamed of myself than to do much about it. Each of us must set his or her own priorities, and I have set mine. Cleaning my apartment is not one of them. 

Sorry about that.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Though I’m sure you haven’t noticed from my earlier blogs, I have a very slight tendency toward egomania. I firmly believe that certain key elements of my emotional development hit a snag somewhere around the age of two and have never advanced beyond that point. I cannot help but believe, in my heart of hearts, that the universe revolves around me…or should. That evidence of that belief is sorely lacking (and in fact is overwhelmingly and consistently countered by reality) is, as has been the subject of several blogs, the reason I write. If the world won’t conform to what I want it and expect it to be, I’ll create my own world and ignore the real one as much as possible.

I bewail at great length those things which I do not have in the real world, or which I feel have been denied me. I resent, with a blinding intensity, growing older—though the only practical alternative is unthinkable. I resent not being, physically, the same person I was five years ago. I have a part-time job working weekends at a local shopping center, which contains a Bally’s gym, and to watch the endless flow of physically perfect and beautiful young men who are completely unaware of what they have truly often makes my chest ache with longing.

T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” pretty much says it all. “I hear the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they sing for me.”

And yet, even with all this gnashing of teeth and wailing and moaning and too-frequent plunges into fathomless oceans of self pity, every now and then I am yanked back to reality like a tethered dog which, racing at full tilt, abruptly reaches the end of its leash.

Yesterday, walking down the street with a friend and practicing holding my head as high as I physically can, I noticed that ahead of us was a severely handicapped young man in his late teens or early twenties. And I was instantly yanked back to reality and was deeply and thoroughly ashamed of myself for being so totally absorbed with my own relatively minuscule physical problems.

For me to pity that young man, or anyone with severe physical limitations, would be an insult to them and shame me further. Pity too often covers a conscious or subconscious sense of superiority. My admiration for people who simply deal with what life has given them is boundless. To realize that someone who deals, every moment of their life, with potentially isolating physical and/or emotional restrictions infinitely greater than my own puts my own overblown egocentrism into perspective.

I bewail being my age, until I realize that not one of those beautiful 20-year-olds I see and envy every day knows whether he will be so fortunate as to be given the number of years I have been given.

I cannot raise my head higher than being able to look passersby in the eye, and even then I can’t hold that position for very long. My head is permanently bent forward due to changes in my neck vertebra caused by the effect of the 35 radiation treatments I underwent in 2003 for tongue cancer. But I am alive, and cancer-free and when rationality overcomes emotion I am infinitely, infinitely grateful for those facts.

And, hey, with my head bent forward I can more easily spot pennies lying on the ground. I pick them up, too.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Friday, March 11, 2016

Chicago Then, Chicago Now

Having moved to Chicago immediately after graduating from college, I left in 1966 for reasons which make the stuff of long, boring psychological dramas. We might get to it eventually, sometime down the road. At any rate, I moved back again in September of 2006, and it was in a way as though someone had simply removed 39 years’ worth of pages from the book of my life.

I now live on the same street—even on the same side of the street—as when I first moved to Chicago: exactly six blocks north of my very first Chicago apartment. And therein lies a problem, because now that I am surrounded by the streets and buildings and things which were so familiar to me when I was 25—even the same sounds of elevated trains rumbling by less than a block from my window—I am still 25. And then I catch a glimpse of myself in a window, and the illusion shatters. I never cease to be shocked.

One of the reasons I returned to Chicago was to be back among what I like to call “my own people”—the gay community (there are more gays in one block of north Halsted St. than there are within 80 miles of Pence, Wisconsin). And yet I find that while I am once more in the community, I am no longer a part of it in the same way I once was. The intervening years I have so readily chosen to ignore have aged me out of the bar and cruising scenes which were so important my first time around, and sometimes my chest aches with longing, like someone who knows he is not welcome at a party to which he so badly wants to go.

But still, to be able to be in a place where I can see gay and lesbian couples walking casually down the street holding hands, or with their arms around each other, to go into a store where the staff and the customers are predominantly gay, to talk openly with friends in a crowded restaurant without having to avoid saying anything that might identify me as “one of those” is liberating in a way only members of a minority can feel when they are surrounded by their own kind. Straights never experience this feeling: they are always around their own kind.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was no “gay community” as such. The near north side of the city was something of a gay ghetto, but other than several gay bars, there were no gay shops, gays and lesbians were openly harassed by a notoriously corrupt police department. Discrimination was not only practiced but encouraged. Gays could be fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments simply for being gay, and there was no recourse.

So, though I was used to attending Gay Pride parades in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I was in something akin to awe when I attended my first Chicago Gay Pride parade. The City of Chicago lined the parade route and other gay areas with rainbow flags, and every local and state politician (from the governor on down) marched or rode in the parade. The Chicago Fire Department had a float, and the Chicago Police Department had not one but two parade entries, one of which was a huge float with more than 20 uniformed openly gay and lesbian police officers. The City of Chicago was a major financial contributor to the Center on Halsted, the city’s sprawling Gay and Lesbian community center.

And to the scores of thousands of gays and lesbians (and many of the straights) under the age of 30 lining the route, all this was simply the way it is, and the way it should be. They had, for the most part, not a clue of what those of us who remember “the old days” went through or how hard we fought for all this to happen.

But time also brings rather disturbing change. I and perhaps the majority of Chicagoans still mourn the takeover…and subsequent loss of name…of Marshall Field’s department store, which had been a landmark and symbol of Chicago for well over 100 years. I refuse to shop there now. Carson Pirie Scott, another department store anchor, has closed its gigantic Loop store, the building now filled with trendy (read “exorbitantly expensive”) little boutiques and restaurants, and probably at least 17 Starbucks. State Street, once a battleship row of grand old flagship department store chains—Wieboldt’s and Goldblatts and many others—is becoming a very upscale strip mall. The charm of “going downtown” is largely gone, at least in Chicago. Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart sounded the death-knell of innumerable small towns by driving small hardware stores, paint stores, dry-good stores, men’s and women’s clothing shops, etc. out of business; the collapse of the department store giants has sounded the death-knell of the once legendary Loop.

Well, life goes on. Chicago goes on. I go on.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Monday, March 07, 2016

Time and Dreams

Unless this is the first time you’ve come across my blog, you know that I am utterly obsessed with time, and deeply (albeit pointlessly) resentful of the fact that our physical bodies are trapped in it, and that it moves in only one direction. But the physical laws of time do not apply to the mind, which is one of the reasons I became a writer.

At any rate, dreams have always provided humans a refuge from our daily life and offer hope for the future. Most people keep their dreams to themselves, as though they were somehow slightly shameful. Others are carried away by their dreams to the point of losing touch with reality. But far too many people, I fear, have no dreams at all. They’re too busy handling the challenges and demands of time. For them I feel truly sorry.

I am currently dreaming of a trip to Europe when my friend Norm’s estate is settled, and I’m well aware that the possibility of realizing this particular dream could not exist were it not for his kindness.

(Of course me being me, I am already managing to throw something of a wet blanket on the dream by remembering the last time I planned a trip to New York, set for June 10, 2003, only to have it cancelled with the diagnosis of tongue cancer on June 3, 2003. I know it’s silly to even think of such a thing happening again, but it’s all part of my natural perversity: “Never pass up a chance to spoil a dream.”)

But this is a special dream, which grows more special the more I think of it. It’s the dream of bridging a gap of 55 years in time, to my first trip to Europe courtesy of the U.S. Navy. I’ve recently added to the dream by thinking of adding London and Venice, to which I’ve never been, to the itinerary. While my friend Gary may be accompanying me at least as far as London (this is still in the dreaming stages here, remember), and it would be wonderful to see the city with him, the rest of the trip I will be on my own, which will be more than a little strange but somehow oddly fitting. Of course pleasure is enhanced when shared. But though I may be alone, I will in fact be sharing it with a 22-year-old sailor named Roger—the me I once was, and will be seeing things through both our eyes.
I will try to brush up on my French and Italian before I go, but I fear I was not cut out to be a linguist. I took both French and Spanish in high school and college, and I stand in awe of those who are bi- or multi-lingual. My problem is that I will be doing very well for awhile in French, say, and then either suddenly have no idea what word I want next or, worse, suddenly lapse into Spanish.

I want to revisit Paris, Rome, and Pompeii, and most specifically, Cannes. I want to find (if it still exists, which it probably does not) the small jetty where Marc and Michel, two young Frenchmen who were on holiday from Paris before joining the army to fight in Algiers, Guntar and Yoachim, young Germans traveling the south of France, and I and a buddy from the Ticonderoga met one beautiful day in July of 1956. The week I spent with them provided me with the happiest memories of my Navy career which I still treasure. Though they will not physically be there with me, we’ll still all be together again. And anyone who ever questions how very closely related pain and pleasure are need only imagine what my feelings will be as I stand on that jetty and remember. And knowing me, I am sure that I will wonder if, as I see us laughing and diving off the jetty into the glass-clear waters to retrieve stones from the bottom of the sea, if perhaps there might have been a very old man standing there watching us.

Because the past is so very real to me—only the impenetrable wall of time, to me as crystal clear as the waters of the Mediterranean off Cannes, separates, for me, “now” and “then”—I have no idea how I will react to revisiting the same places nearly 55 years apart. I know my chest will literally ache with longing to reach through that clear, clear wall, to really see, to really feel and once again be on its other side.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Jobs from Hell, Part II

Today’s episode of Jobs from Hell joins our hero as he girds his loins for a work trip to beautiful Tehachapi, California, for a photo shoot for a brochure to draw unsuspecting land buyers into the spider’s web.

For reasons I could never understand, I got the assignment to accompany the boss, his statuesque girlfriend Inga, a truly hot male model, and his female counterpart to Golden Hills. The models had been selected, I’m sure, because they fit the beautiful image of the beautiful development, and apparently for their ability to sit on an unmoving horse without falling off.

Though the models had never met before, they took an immediate shine to one another, as heterosexuals are wont to do. The boss was too preoccupied with impressing Inga to notice though I, as fifth wheel, was very aware of everything.

The boss, ever aware of propriety, had his own room at the motel; Inga and the female model were to share a room, as were I and the male model—a prospect I looked forward to even knowing that he was irredeemably straight.

All went relatively well until after dinner, during which Inga and the boss played little courtship games, the male and female models sat gazing rapturously at one another, and I tried to convince myself I was in some sort of existentialist movie. After dinner, as we headed for our rooms, the male model approached me and announced that he and his newfound girlfriend would like to spend the night together, and that Inga agreed that I could sleep in her room.

Have you any idea of the degree of enthusiasm with which I greeted this whole prospect? But he pleaded and I, unused to resisting the pleas of male models, gave in.
So, to Inga’s room and to bed.

6 a.m. A knock on the door: “Time to get up, sweetheart,” my boss called. Inga got out of her bed and hurried to the door. The minute she opened it, the boss strode in. Hearing him at the door, I had pulled the covers over my head and prayed for death.

A moment later, I felt a hand on my shoulder: “Time to get up, honey,” he said.

I will leave to your imagination the look on his face when I sat up. Betrayal! Debauchery! Boinking the boss’s girlfriend right under his nose! Shock!

He stormed wordlessly out of the room, followed by Inga, leaving me to get up and get dressed. I’m not sure how I got through breakfast, but let’s just say the atmosphere was a tad strained.

Finally, about noon, I’d had it, and told the boss I wanted to talk to him. Now, whether he knew I was gay or not I don’t know, but this was at a time when you could be fired in the blink of an eye if it was thought you were. So I couldn’t very well just say, “Hey, don’t worry about Inga: I’m gay.” Instead, I told him that I had come up there to work, I explained the circumstances (as I’m sure Inga must have, as well), and that children’s games were for children. He merely looked at me.

Immediately upon return to Los Angeles, I began looking for another job.

Oh, and for those of you who have read my Dick Hardesty mystery, The Butcher’s Son, should you see any similarity whatever between my boss Laurence Laurie and Dick’s boss, Carlton Carson, I can assure you it is purely coincidental. Purely. Yes.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/