Wait: from the Old High German, wahten; to watch. To remain neglected for a time, in repose, inactive, in anticipation of an event. To attend upon, escort. To perform the duties of an attendant or servant, to supply the wants of a person.
I accepted an invitation and went to a “party” last night with a fellow, T, whose specialty is “consulting with new restaurants and bars, re: brand building and events” but, in the meantime, he waits on tables.
My career in food service was a brief and spectacular failure during my youthful run away from home to New Haven. Surprisingly, for a person who has spent most of his life morphing himself into shapes dictated by the wishes, whims, and whippings of others, I was a terrible waiter. I suspect my genetic predisposition toward sociopathic duplexity of crippling inferiority complex and delusional narcissism rendered me incapable of dealing with the dismissive and belittling behavior of many patrons; my final moments in food service had to do with outrunning members of the Yale football team at whom I had thrown a pizza after they one too many times called me faggot. It was the early 1980s and in order to pay my share of the rent on my hovel of an apartment in a building housing mostly Section 8 mental patients, across the street from a vacant lot where multiple bodies were dumped during my tenancy, and, too, to supplement the white rice and hot dogs on which I was living and starving, I worked in a downscale joint, owned and operated by two ridiculously homophobic men who would shortly have found a way to get rid of me as they’d recently done to another waiter, D, who had provided me protection by being fey-er and out-er than I was at the time. D had mistakenly thought himself safe because he was sucking off one of these owners — a gorgeous, married, uber-macho Sicilian whose grasp of English and human decency were as limited as his capacity to consider he might not be entitled to do whatever the fuck he wanted to anyone who worked for him, said privilege conferred because he signed the paychecks and supplied a shift meal — both of which all of us needed. D hadn’t wanted to fellate or be fucked by him, but really didn’t have a choice, and after he’d been loudly fired for supposedly stealing food (he didn’t), I was the next cocksucker in line and the boss had been increasing the pressure, trapping me alone in the refrigerator walk-in and storage rooms, getting his dick out, rubbing against me, sticking his hand down my pants and grabbing my ass, trying to push me to my knees. I had, thus far, managed to avoid actually giving in, pretending I would never and had never touched a man in that way, but, it was only a matter of time until the assault would turn to rape.
There was nowhere D and I could safely turn for help and nothing we could do then; had we tried, the boss would have said it was consensual and since he was so dripping in machismo, married, and good-looking and we were such faggots, the police would have dismissed us or worse. It was an ugly time. I knew I could never again be a waiter, for me it is intertwined with indignity and fear and fury, and I’ve not the spiritual or intellectual fortitude for it.
I’ve not the fortitude — it turns out — for a lot of things.
T and I have known each other for a while although not well enough to exchange last names. He’d messaged me and asked if I wanted to “hang” Saturday night. Interjection: when someone asks me to hang, I’m so old and dramatically inclined, the first thing that happens is 1) I always, always imagine myself noosed and gallowed. The second is 2) I get a shiver of culturally-bred guilt about hanging with someone young enough to use hang in that manner. Third, 3) I’m silly-surprised someone wants to hang with me. And, finally, 4) the combination of thinking “hang” in ways they wouldn’t, plus that sting of brainwashy-age-guilt and my resentment and anger about feeling it, and my eagerness to pretend I have a life outside my hermit-like existence, makes me say yes no matter how much I really want to say no.
And I really wanted to say no last night. T had said he’d message me after work, which he thought would be around ten. It was after midnight when he finally did so and my evening had been exciting enough; I’d had leftover chicken cacciatore for dinner, finished Harlan Coben’s latest crime procedural, started (and was loving) Francine Prose’s new novel, and had managed to reattach after long and sweaty effort the bathroom doorknob which had fallen off in my sister’s hand. My life is full. But, see 4) in above paragraph.
I had waited all evening for T’s message. When it came, I went. When I got there, it wasn’t long before I was waiting to leave. First, I knew no one there. Second, people were smoking cigars and, eventually, other things. Third, they were not hearing reality broadcast at the same frequency I hear.
I’ve known for some time the radio dial of my soul is tuned in to different vibrations than most of the population of this planet on which I live. I’ve also known for some time that the years I spent trying to hear and see the world as others did, denying what I felt, did great damage to me.
I’ve also known that like waiting on tables, the effort I have to make to process other people’s reactions and behaviors exhausts my spirit, is not good for me, and presents a dangerous trap into which I too easily fall — trying to force myself into a slot rather than finding the slot into which I fit.
That slot is a slot I have believed in, thought just a matter of finding my true calibration, a click of slipping into the place I fit and belong for which I’ve been waiting my entire life, but, now have come to think, probably doesn’t exist. Was another myth. The mythical Happy Charlie. Not real. Not really. Funny. At this party last night — where I really didn’t fit or click either, seemed almost invisible to some of the folks there — while I was near gagging on smoke and telling T I wanted to go when it started looking like it was going to be some variation on a gang-bang/orgy, I was thinking; First I became an agnostic about the existence of God, and now, it seems, I no longer believe in my own existence. I think I am just not.
I so don’t have a slot, I wanted to (needed to) leave this party like I recently retreated from Twitter, it’s been two weeks now since I have even opened it — something I wouldn’t previously have thought possible — but, like with the party, like with being a waiter, like with a years long relationship I had, like parts of my family, like so much in my life, I wasn’t in a slot there I wanted, or imagined, or, it was made clear I wasn’t invited or I was invisible or — whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s about me. I’m not blaming anyone else or the world. But I never thought I’d pull away from Twitter. Or theatre. Or, my family. Or, I mean, I freaking turned down an orgy last night — how many more of those am I going to be asked to?
Silly git. So today, I smell like smoke and am headachey from breathing it last night. What should have been a no-strings-attached frolic with T, ended up with me driving him home and dropping him off because I’d had no alcohol nor any of the other substances being passed around there and he’d had two drinks and I suspect other substances and I can’t let someone drive who is altered. (Although, I told him he should stay, even though I wanted to go. But, he was beaten from table waiting all night. He said his roommate will drive him back to pick up his car tomorrow/today.) And I didn’t get home until 4a.m. — which is about an hour before I usually get up nowadays.
I turned down an orgy, got home at 4a.m., got naked alone and into bed, and read Francine Prose.
Oh well, I slept in until 8. I’m going to shower this smoke stink off of me. I’m going to the gym to sweat the second-hand smoke off my body and out of my system. I’m going to read Francine Prose. I’m going to make chocolate chip cookies and homemade pizza — Sunday is a free day on this diet, which, by the way, I lost four pounds this week — and I’m going to wait.
Not sure for what, maybe sense enough to stop waiting? Because I fear, now, this living I’m doing is just time spent in one more waiting room, like the ones I sit in with my Mom, like the waits I have spent hoping for stability, love, security, to be seen, heard, to find my place; just intervals meant to occupy us on our way to the inevitable end.
Fuck it. It’s free day so I can have donuts and chips (which I have stacked up, on the ready) and I have books to read.
Love and light, dear ones.