Archive for March, 2008

… a rolling stone gathers no moss.

Posted in Passion on March 25, 2008 by moderngatsby

 It sat there mocking me somehow, the brilliance of the full moon, with a sliver of cloud that hung like a shawl around her shoulders. Looking up through the driver’s window of my car I was reminded f all the things that had passed since she had smiled on me again, with her bounty of good fortune or pleasing charm. But being drunk the moment was lost on me fully and I fumbled out of the car; gathered my carry-all bag and headed into the cottage trying to get out of the predawn chill.

I was returning from an afternoon lunch at a friend’s house some 14-hours after it started, swilled with the copious amounts of white rum, champagne, and crisp white wine between glasses of home made ice-tea. In the process, I had inadvertently mixed my own long-island iced teas without realising it. And as the fatigue started to claim me to the blackness of inebriation the only thing I wanted more than an espresso was a warm body to cuddle up to and sleep off the indescribable drug in my blood.

In the space of three days I had started to shed my cocoon to emerge into the autumn sunlight a different person no longer held by finely weaved bonds of silk old school ties. Wishing I were some secret agent in a foreign land – the alien landscape around me was the cold, grey city of Jo’burg – but I was back on the gay meat market and this wasn’t a game. When it comes to finding someone to share your heart, the stakes are much higher than finding someone to share your bed.

With my ears still deafened from dancing on the parquet flooring of my hosts lounge area to a strangely mix of wannabe Portuguese pop and gay disco funk, my body had already forgotten the chemical infatuation with the lithe, beautiful stranger and instead fell into the goose down comforter that was my bed. Shadows became dreams as my body struggled with natural habits and my recent nocturnal habits. Safe to say that the natural habits won and I lay awake. Too tired to sleep.

Skulking through the cottage towards the kitchen, looking for something to calm a troubled stomach, the only thing I could find was a luke warm Bodum of coffee. My nose still tingled slightly as if I were about to sneeze but really was only residue power from the night before. And in a moment when you’re led to believe in your moment of need that he wants what you want but doesn’t you do dirty deeds for dirt cheap in the cramped guest toilet with a lithe, beautiful stranger.

The hours towards dusk passed equally slowly as I lay awake in my bed rereading a brilliant novel and quickly as I dozed through the feeling of dehydration. I wasn’t sure if the restlessness was because of the eventful Easter weekend or from a month filled with new challenges that had started with meeting an unlikely stranger and being played like a cheap hand of poker. But I was over the speed hump and gathering speed towards a new year filled with new opportunities. And new men.

 

… and like faith unseen or felt it’s as real as the tears she cries.

Posted in Confession on March 21, 2008 by moderngatsby

A few weeks ago as I sat drinking coffee with a good friend of mine he started telling me about someone he knew who had committed suicide recently. As I listened to the story of this man the words started to swirl around my head like plumes of smoke at a downtown jazz club hazing the worn velvet banquets and triggering a distant memory of my own. It turns out we were talking and thinking of the same man and the realisation left me cold with missed conversations and half-fulfilled promises.

While I could never claim a deep friendship with him, we had shared a few memorable moments when he was my Pilates teacher and then later as my yoga teacher. Over time we became as close as two strangers in Jo’burg can and we politely passed the time in casual conversation while in the sauna at gym that didn’t amount to much but didn’t make you feel that you had been too rude or non-committal as you queued for coffee at a favourite barista in Rosebank. We always promised to do more together but always found ourselves otherwise entertained.

As I lay there his death sunk in and I started to think about my own future. In a city that moves so fast that we get our Sunday papers on Saturday, how did any of us know how much time we had left? There is so much I hadn’t done: I had never been to Miami, I hadn’t finished painting my bedroom, hell my VISA bill still wasn’t paid in full. Sometimes I felt like I was barely living anymore.  And with my recent flirtation with dating I even felt different. As I lay there thinking of things past I could help but wonder: in a city where everyone is dying to make a connection – can a relationship bring you back to life?

The thing that got me the most with my ex-Pilates teacher was that he was the most gorgeous man I have ever met. And by that I mean personality not physical. Sure he had a perfectly defined body honed through years at the Royal Ballet Company, a dick that any size queen would have sold their Madonna collection for, and a smile that could melt even the most cynical hearts. But he was something more. He was HIV+ as well and in his last few years was left isolated by a sickness after years of being pursued by man, women and beast.

Sure when you have that feeling of new love’s butterflies in your stomach you pretty much feel bullet proof. After all you’re nobody until somebody loves you. But when you put all your self-worth in what others tell you, you start to become like an addict – always waiting for that next compliment, that next kiss or even that next date to quell the craving of an addictive heart. And when you’re led to believe in your moment of need that they want what you want – but they don’t – you have to look within yourself to calm the anxiety of self-worth and doubt.

I don’t won’t to be a hypocrite and say that I’ve learnt something from his death – and that everyday I’m going to live like it’s my last. That I’m going to grab life by the balls and tell it that I’m not so easily defeated because I can’t. I’m struggling to make it through each and every day but I do know this … I’m going to be more careful for what I wish for. No matter how bad my day is, how painful it is not being able to say what you want to the person you desire most, or even realising that sometimes love just isn’t enough to get you through the dark patch in a faltering relationship. Everything is relative.

Somewhere out there is an inconsolable mother who has lost her son. As she sits beside a cold autumn grave, questioning what else she could have done to have changed it all, her questions float like dreams and are lost to the wind. At the time of Easter when death and life have such secular undercurrents in our lives, we have to give up our quest for corporeal answers and have a little faith in something that will get us through that dark and stormy night. I know that so many people berate me for saying this out loud: but what gets me through it all is the belief that somewhere out there someone like you is looking for someone like me.

And like faith unseen or felt … it’s as real as the tears she cries every night for her gorgeous son who knows love and death. That will be his legacy for me.

 

Tom Ford: Designer Genes?

Posted in Tom Ford on March 18, 2008 by moderngatsby

Tom Ford’s next big foray: fatherhood? In the spring issue of Fantastic Man (The Gentleman’s Style Journal) on newsstands this week, the designer says that he has everything–the cars, the homes, the wealth, and the lifestyle–except for one thing: “I’m going to have a kid in 2008,” he reveals. “Richard [Buckley] knows I’ve wanted this for a long time. He’s just resisted it. He would be a spectacular father. It’s going to give his life new meaning.

Pressed on further by writer Stephen Todd, Ford, whose career first began not working for Cathy Hardwick, but, rather, with an internship at Chloé, continues, “It will be biologically mine. I mean, I’m a lot younger. If things follow their natural order he’ll [Richard] probably leave the planet ahead of me and I can’t not have had something I’ve wanted forever. I’ve always wanted kids. I don’t want to get to 75 years old and just have made a lot of dresses, done some houses.

In the candid Q&A, accompanied by a series of tame–in Ford terms–photographs by Jeff Burton, Ford, who the magazine deems “The Fashion Entrepreneur,” speaks openly and revealingly on a wide array of topics:

-On his days at Gucci: “…having to design 16 collections a year and make a lot of silly stuff I really didn’t care about. Leaving Gucci taught me a lot about who is a real friend and who is a friend for business. The Gucci experience was horrible. I was burnt out from working too hard and I was exhausted from the experience and a certain disillusionment and an inability to see my future. Luckily I had made enough money to not have to work for the rest of my life, and I seriously thought I’d play tennis and golf for the rest of my days. But I got that out of my system.

-On physical form: “I don’t find the human body offensive. I don’t find a guy’s cock or a woman’s vagina offensive; in fact, I find them beautiful. I would put them on an ad with a perfume bottle if I could get away with it.

-On retail expansion: “[We’ll have] about 50 stores in the next two years. Except Paris. Paris is not a priority. Our stuff is not aimed at tourists coming in and taking a lot home–and Parisian men don’t know how to dress!

-On intellect: “No, I wouldn’t say I’m an intellectual. I think I’m intelligent.”

-On sex and childhood: “I didn’t play American football [when I was 12], so I wasn’t so popular. At fourteen or fifteen all of a sudden I became very popular because–and I’m not saying this in an egotistical way–I became good looking. I wasn’t even aware of it but other people were all of a sudden aware that I was handsome. I was having sex with girls when I was 14, and that was because they were pouncing on me. I wasn’t even aware that I preferred men.”

But perhaps, of all the statements made in the piece, his most profound one–which, by making it, puts to rest any thought of him disappearing from fashion’s future–is: “I will not retire until I literally drop dead.”

… hello darkness, my old friend.

Posted in Self-Truth with tags , on March 18, 2008 by moderngatsby

I had just gotten over the fact that I would neither see – or hear – from him this weekend when my phone beeped telling me there was a message waiting. There they were: another variation on the words I’d heard all week. “Hey sexy sorry I have been so distant had lots to sort out and now to bed. Sleep tight.” And the weekend of trying to forget the angst bubbled again like cheap champagne and he was all I could think about. But instead of obsessing like I had the week before I accepted that I was lower down on his list of priorities that I might like to be and carried on downloading music.

Fast forward a week later and I found myself at the gates to his complex with the large chicken-tikka pizza, a bottle of favourite white wine and a bag full of goodies that he asked me to pick up for our date. The only thing missing from this party was the host. Intuitively the feeling started in my stomach the moment I tried to call him on his mobile phone and it was off. 30mins later when it still wasn’t on I knew that he wasn’t going to show up to his own house. I had put myself so far out there on the ledge that when I looked around I was alone. He called with an excuse but it was the last I wanted to hear.

Desperate not to be alone I phoned my fuck-buddy and asked if I could come over. Arriving at his place with a cold pizza, flaming temper and a wounded ego we sat watching Queer as Folk munching away. Somewhere between our last fuck-fest and tonight he had developed morals and said he wouldn’t fuck me since I was in ‘relationship’. Rejected by the 2nd man that night I wondered off to the spare room at the first sign of drooping eyelids and tried to fall asleep surrounded by unfamiliar noises and linen. Barely sleeping, I woke up in the early hours with thoughts of my bête noir.

As it was still dark and the middle of the night and desperate for a distraction I read every magazine in the room, including FHM (the Jerry Springer of magazines) only to find a copy of Spud to peak my interest. For some reason I had always avoided this novel but now as I started smack bang in the middle of the story line it seemed interesting. In fact it was damn funny and the hours flew past and before I knew it dawn had broken, my fuck-buddy had overslept for a meeting, and I had almost forgotten being stood up the night before.

After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, another episode of Queer as Folk and a cold cup of coffee later I left for home. The feeling of loneliness had passed and I was enthusiastically preparing myself for the comfort of my own bed, starting the novel from page 1 and snoozing the afternoon away in the rain that had come overnight and threatened to stay the week. There is no describing the smell of the country after the rain. I realised that even though it’s a pain in the arse living so far away from my old life there is no reason why my new life can’t be a happy coexistence of the two.

Happily devouring the 300-odd pages of the novel it left me feeling a little overindulgent and remorseful. If only I had paced myself the brilliance of the novel could have lasted the rest of the weekend. It could have seen me through a bleak and cold Sunday and into the start of a new week. Instead of atonement I bought the sequel to read as well. I’m most likely going to hell for being a fag anyway so what’s adding another deadly sin to the list of greed, ego, envy, lust with gluttony? I did one disturbing thing though: I’m using a photo of the Squirrel as a bookmark. He’s an alumnus of Michaelhouse after all and helps put a face to the character. Okay it’s a 36yr old face on a 15yr old boy but that’s only clouding the argument with facts and I will not have it!

So here I am: 2nd week into my new job and facing a litany of advertisers without contracts to cover the current edition, the promise of a new relationship in tatters because I refused to lower my standards even though I lowered my pants, a prediction of rain throughout the week along with as yet to be scheduled power-cuts, and a tiny voice in the back of my head telling me to prove something to someone somewhere. I think it’s a great start in the run up to the Easter weekend. But I’m learning and making the mistakes as I go along. That’s all I can do right now … 

… two milkshakes and a packet of jelly-tots later.

Posted in Passion with tags on March 3, 2008 by moderngatsby

In the darkness of an empty room I read recently late one night that the three most common mistakes for the average gay men in a new relationship are too much-too soon, monopolization of each other’s lives or moving in together for the wrong reasons. And while at the time all of the above seem like perfectly natural things, this above average gay man realised that these mistakes would never be made on principle.  The internet has become a repository of useless information and perhaps if Napoleon had had access to it the winter of 1812 may have ended slightly differently.

After a particularly unsettling week of treading water I had reached my emotional tether. Knowing there was little I could do about work the only thing to regain some kind of control was to call him. Leaving the last message on his voicemail I hung up and let go. Unexpectedly he returned the call and we spoke things through until we had gone full circle and reached the point we had a week earlier when we lay naked, spent and eating dark chocolate at 2am in his bed. We agreed to meet the coming Saturday to have a conversation that had come far too soon in this relationship-game-whatever but was now overdue.

If I arrived fashionably late, then my new guy was very fashionable indeed. When you do business over breakfast, lunch or dinner the polite form is to wait until you’re half-way through the meal before you get onto the topic at hand. We started before our coffee had arrived. The well practiced thoughts from the night before seemed empty and I spoke instead from my heart to someone whom I didn’t quite love but couldn’t bare not having in my life. When I was done he smiled but remained silent. The silence pushed him to admit that I had said everything he was thinking. And wanted.

The Eskimo have hundreds of words for snow and we have even invented three times as many for a relationship. But the more words we invent the harder it becomes to define things properly. As I sipped my iced chardonnay late Friday I started to think about a world where you can date without sex, screw without dating, and in the end keep many of your sex partners as friends long after the screwing is over. As a realist who doesn’t believe that you can get everything from just one man, without losing focus from the object of your affection, I couldn’t help but wonder what really defines a relationship?

Growing up many of us look to our parents as role models for the relationships that we most want or try to avoid. But when that model neither works nor applies to you where can we turn to? More importantly with the recognition or same-sex unions and legal rights are we trying to fit our lives into a prescribed mould as a way to fit in rather than stand out. Part of the blame lies with the gay couple themselves. In not being honest upfront the breakdown that occurs towards the end because of unmanaged expectations or insecurities and emotionally immaturity adds to the cynicism of impossible relationships.

In jest my new guy often tells me that I’m a player saying all the right things at the right time. And while no truer word has been spoken in jest – underneath I can see what he fears most – that these words are just that. Like the many others that he’s heard before, the abyss between promise and delivery has grown in every relationship he’s ever had and I’m no different to the last boy that broke his heart. But with no more words to be spoken between us … the only thing left is for me to keep my promises. I may not have miles to go before I sleep again in his arms but it will be a long road to trust.

And somewhere between breakfast in Bedfordview and slowing down for some fast-food in Fourways on a lazy summer’s afternoon, I found myself in the passenger seat listening to a forgotten hit by Roxette and realised that I had started dating again. And while I wasn’t painted right, in the moment with his hand on my thigh and him glancing every now and then at me with that smile on his face, I was certainly feeling like everything was alright. It might not be what I was wishing for but now that I’ve stopped trying to make it into something it’s not – and just appreciating it for what it is – I’m somehow more optimistic. After all they might be baby steps but at least we’re heading in the same direction.