Linguist, lexicographer, writer, editor, broadcaster


Out last night with Kay. First to Kitty’s place. Big pad, cheap, got it through a friend. Near Grand Central. Wood floors, light, big bedroom, big living room, big bathroom. Half the crowd was fat or gay. Not happy gay because they were all too concerned with whether the birthday gifts they’d bought would look more expensive than they cost . And how nice Kitty’s gown reflected her composure. “She’s so collected, for being 30 and all.” All night with the “and all.” Can’t talk to those guys anymore. The whole gay thing, the whole fag, queer, homo thing. I say that unprejudiced but jaundiced. They musta bought manuals: “How to be Gay the Safe Way.” Not about safe sex, but about how not to stand out from the gay crowd. What’s more boring than an artificially flamboyant gay man, lisping and limping through a house exclaiming ironically at flea market furniture and silk scarves, at fondue pots and cowboy patterned curtains? Swear to God, that’s what they did. Probably still doing it now. Some of the fat people surprised me. Not just overweight. Fat. Huge. Extra chins, fatty plus sizes, flowing caftans, everything. They looked like they should be riding the white cart at the airport on the way to their departure gate. Kay looked like a high class escort. I loved it. She’s so chaste the contrast is delicious.
Chaste, at least, with me. Borderline crowd of the near- but never-will famous. Half-assed writers, dumb-assed computer programmers, a lot of time-biders, non-restaurant hesitators: always on the edge of a big break, the job is just for now, until, temporary. Just about to happen. Any minute now. Yeah, a real sweet situation. Just need this one teensy weensy little bit of frigging never-will luck to show up on the stoop with Italian sweets and beaujolais nouveau and make me famous. At least better off. They’d make more money in a white shirt and black pants taking the steak tartar back to the kitchen because it’s too raw and filling up the bread basket for the nineteenth time. But waiting tables, that ain’t respectable. And offers no false hope. Then to Vedi’s swank pad. Kay, from wealth, is impressed. By the apartment. Not the people. The people are cookie-cutter bankers and venture capital hounds and a 39-year-old guy in two-tone shoes who thinks swing is back for good, forever. Restaurant kitchen, blonde wood floors, intentional spartan furnituring. Big ass bed. View of a church, a historically protected church, so there will be no view-blocking buildings going up. Until the earthquake. We flee. Dewey’s Flatiron. Huge screen, rodeo playing. Toothless barrel rider. Parallel vaulted ceiling, bricks stacked like Pez, restrained by rusted steel straps. Long, long rooms. Fratboy hell, all the sweethearts of the world are dancing in the bar. A girl is pole riding, dancing, grooving: voluntarily, unpaid, she’s in heat. Jeans and cheap straw hat and a white cotton t-shirt with lace on the sleeve cuffs. Her own thing. She’s in faces, in laps, licking her lips, Dharma hands and Demi body waving and winding. Every skeeze geek chump in the joint is all over her. But she’s a tease. She grinds her behind, polishes pants, bats eyes, pouts lips, then moves on. Resists urge. Deflects gropes and grabs into unintentional caresses. She’s drunk as hell. She looks like a pro. White kid in a dancehall reggae knit cap sits in a well-lit corner and sniffs coke from his jerk-off curved hand. What are bathrooms for? Can’t get your coke-sniffers merit badge in the bathroom. This is his performance. This is what he does. This is what he is known for. The disk jockey blows. Bad segues, bad beats, can’t find a groove, talks loser talk in a loser mike, feeds it to his tonsils so the whole chit chat is plosive and distorted. But he’s a friend of the promoters, a bunch of local Jewish kids. Mix of Israelis. Nice bunch. Friendly, loud. My one goy word of Hebrew works well in noise: Ma? What? Kay and I eat at 3 a.m. at L’Express. She’s been to Paris, lived there, but still suitably impressed. Twenty-four hour French joints, even here, are rare.

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Grant Barrett