PS: HALF AN HOUR AFTER ORIGINAL POST OF BELOW – I want you to know — here in my whiny world — how DIFFICULT life is without a copy editor or, even, a proof-reader. ALLLLLL this babbling I do and I’ve no one to look at it BUT ME – and I SO OFTEN think I’ve fixed everything (well, everything I know enough to know needs fixing) and then I will RETURN to post an hour – a day – two minutes – later and see MORE MISTAKES, more lack of clarity, etc — you will just have to excuse me — I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN – (ARGHH — and 2 hours later, I just fixed four more mistakes/syntax messes. Not helping. NOT HELPING.)

What was that?

First of all, my internet is going all wonky, sporadic, in and out, hidden network, bullshit, disconnect every two seconds so EVERYTHING about writing this is harder than it should be. And that is making me cry.  Like the news is making me cry. Like people’s political Tweets are making me cry. Like the fact bullies are taking over the world is making me cry. TOO FUCKING MUCH CRYING.

There are days . . . where I feel as if I have spent my life being tricked by the imps, gremlins, pixies, enchanters, and impostors in these woods, as if I was enraptured, some spell dropped upon me while I was still acrib.

The curse of being Charlie. I am stuck in these woods. Where I think people are fucking with me just to see what I’ll do.

The past few weeks have been difficult. I thought I had it handled. Was that me? Was that him? Was it wrong? Am I mad? Is that all? Was he suddenly getting bored with me? Before he even had a chance to get bored he left the woods.

There are needs. There are standards. There are shouldn’ts and shoulds …and those include … oh, who am I to tell anyone about shouldn’ts and shoulds.

Then today, more rude at gym. Topped off with an odd sauna. When I got in the sauna I was already in a mood because of what amounted to cutting from a certain hospitality specialist (i.e. cater waiter) who used to be nice to me but now has moved on to bigger fish to fry (i.e. larger dicks to chase) so opening the door to see four toweled fellows was less than encouraging. I like to pretend the sauna BELONGS to me in my HUGE Manhattan penthouse. I’m not saying that in my HUGE Manhattan penthouse sauna I wouldn’t have four fellows — but they wouldn’t be toweled and they’d all stand at attention when I entered and hospitality specialist fry my fish in the most obsequious way.

Still … all four of the fellows seemed at first glance the harmless variety: Green-towel, naked beneath, mid-thirties, I’ve spoken to a few times;  Brown-towel, yellow-spandex long-swim shorts, very young and seemed to be trolling the locker room area (more later); Red-towel, UnderArmour sport-briefs, mid-forties, seen him around but not a lot; Blue-towel, naked underneath and his junk exposed, slipping partway out of towel when I entered, late-twenties, early-thirties, very athletic build, nice body, chiseled features, locker room-fantasy material.

I went in and sat down. It was a silent bunch. Which is how sauna groups often are. There is some sort of code about when to and when not to speak. A code I don’t really understand and so I never speak unless spoken to, and even then, sparingly. (Hard to believe, I know, but, truth — again — I’m almost cripplingly shy and terrified of people.) Red-towel and Brown-towel had moved so I could slide between them. Tick. Tock. Suddenly, beautiful Blue-towel who has by now tucked his exceptional genitals away, leans forward and across-ish Red-Towel and clearly aiming at me, starts in with this:

“I lost fifteen pounds because of Peru. I got an amoeba-something. And so did my wife. That’s where I was.” All sputtered in a rush, almost breathless with desperation. I was literally taken aback — as in, I’d had my elbows on my knees, head toward floor, and when he spewed this torrent of information, jerkily gesticulating at me across Red-towel, I slammed myself fully upright and scorched my naked back on the sauna-bench. I thought, hmm, maybe he needs to say “wife” because his junk was hanging out for me to see when I walked in the door and he wanted to make sure I didn’t misunderstand what was going on? Maybe he wanted to make sure I knew the display had been an accident. He continued.  “That’s why I haven’t been here for a while, why you haven’t seen me, you know? But the other day I looked in the mirror and said ‘I gotta get back to the gym’ cuz I’m a hard gain and — well, my wife likes it when I’m cut.” First of all, I don’t know what “hard gain” means but if it means he has trouble gaining weight, I hate him anyway. And then, wife again. And the implication I had noticed he hadn’t been to gym for a while, as if I had been missing him or looking for him? Which, I hadn’t. This story went on for something like ten minutes and included many, many mentions of wife, and everyone else but me contributed to it — even the Brown-towel, think-he-was-cruising (more later) teenager — with tales of their own world travels, trading Spanish and French phrases, talking about their wives (Blue and Red-towels) and partners (Green-towel) and parents (Brown-towel) with whom they’d world-traveled and such.

If life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one, but if life were only moments, then you’d never know you had one. Who can live in the woods?

All the time, beautiful Blue-towel-junk-exposed-fellow keeps trying to bring me into the conversation. But, I had nothing to add. I haven’t been anywhere. I can barely keep up with what people mean when they are speaking English, let alone trying to follow them in another language. I mean, truth — most of the time I feel as if I am translating even when people are speaking in English because people are never actually saying what the fuck they mean.

I didn’t understand why my arrival in the sauna changed the silence dynamic. I would have been fine with silence. I live — mostly — in silence. But, they went on and on and on with their lives, their travels, their languages, their loves, their amoebas, and it started — that feeling that begins as a tensing at the back of my neck, involuntary cheek sucking — I knew I was going to cry. Because I haven’t been anywhere and I don’t speak and there’s no one who ever wanted me first or to take me anywhere and so I — who had quite honestly said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING the entire conversation even though Blue-towel was aiming it at me — couldn’t live in those woods any more — I got up and headed to the showers.

Where soon, too soon, Brown-towel, yellow-spandex long-swim shorts, very young was in the shower across from me and he was amusing himself and recording it on his phone. I hastened away (surely I should get points for that) and as I dressed at my locker, he walked by, stopped, did the under-the-mirror-ball-last-call-lights-almost-up-desperate-last-ditch-gay-bar-turn from the 80s (where did he learn this stuff?) and smiled at me, dropping his towel, then picking it up, challenge-smirking at me.

What? Why? I mean, what is it about me that invites this? It’s like with cats, I try to avoid them, am not a fan, so they always want to be on my lap. With men, I am perfectly fine with NSA sex, no worries, no issues, but, right about now, lately, I want very much to be seen and appreciated for something more than a quick-trick — NOT THAT I HAVE ANY OBJECTION AT ALL TO QUICK TRICKS, I do not, I am a HUGE fan — but, right now, I want someone to HUG me. It’s different.

So, me being me, I come home feeling incredibly lonely and sad from Yellow-towel mean and Blue-towel-odd-conversation and Brown-towel-fuck-dare and I turn my phone back on and see I’ve a few Twitter-notifications and I look at them and notice famous author who doesn’t follow me but follows about a million other people has gotten twelve-million responses to a Tweet and I foolishly scroll through famous author’s follows to see how many people I know and follow and am followed by we have in common and SO MANY it seems almost PURPOSEFUL that I am not followed —

YOU SEE WHERE MY MIND IS NOWADAYS? This babble-look-for-reasons-to-feel-inferior-fit is crazy on MANY levels — ridiculous and foolish and yet, somehow, in my mind, conflated with Yellow-towel dissing me and strange sauna goings on and Brown-towel dropping towel and —

Let the moment go. Don’t forget it for a moment though. Just remembering you’ve had an and when you’re back to or, makes the or mean more than it did before …

No. See, sorry Mr. Sondheim, but I think that is FLAWED logic. The ands are killing me. Look, I don’t expect some prince to come remove this spell, kissing me awake into an IRL-reality better than this five decades long shit-storm, nor do I expect a man in a towel in a sauna to want to hug and fuck me, but, I mean, really, enough with the AND and the OR and the MOMENTS. Enough.

P.P.S. ONE HOUR LATER: Some days I am just so incredibly weighted down by sadness, I don’t know what to do, and it seems that those days magnetize me for more sadness, because I didn’t even write about some of the other things that happened today. So, I’m sorry, and I suppose I should be more careful about what I write, or I’ll lose the few of you I still have. But, this is where I am, so, it’s what I write.