At an Xmas party last week, Wolfgang, a large German personal trainer living in Shoreditch, informed me that to increase my muscle mass I'd have to eat a half-pound of meat per day.
I'd seen him from across the guacamole, whilst I singularly shoved in handfuls of tortilla chips covered in green lumpy goo. The invite stated tonight was a catered affair, but muscle-y gays don't eat solids after sundown. In the winter's dim their heartbeats slow to a sluggish pace as they conserve energy for Sunday squat sessions and spring mincing.
The trainer appeared, at a distance, to be a statuesque eight feet tall and 18 years old, so I bitterly purged on pricey champagne and dark salty beans from a casserole dish. Beans? Who prepared this menu, a Trappist monk? Where is the Turkey with stuffing and cocaine? For fucksake these queens are on such strict diets, you'd think they were studying ballet, instead of complaining about the cramped seating at Sadler's Wells. Wait, that seems unfair. Bitching is more accurate, whinging the £35 ticket price was too high, when an £80 trim of whatever wisp they pretend remains is beyond reproach.
Don't be boring, I murmur to myself. My drunkenness is a result of seasonal abuse. My mother had asthma attacks every Xmas and as a child I spent my California holiday indoors, sprucing up a fake spruce. My friends...ok, my friend...ok, my sister had a tan line and spent December shoplifting behind overwhelmed store clerks, whilst I brought my mother another blanket and knew, at age five, Xmas was like a bus. You waited forever for it to come, and it was shit.
Suddenly, somehow, I was canoodling with the Hun. I'd been drawn to him like a victim to his assaulter. I was Austria, in the throws of minor resistance. I thanked my cashmere for its confidence.
"Are you ill, because I am not allowed to be ill." The German was repulsed by whatever weakness I was flaunting. "Perhaps you should lie down."
"No, I'm just..." think fast, I'm hovering, "too thin for this cold weather." That would work at a high school reunion, IF I was at one and IF I was a woman. Oh well, one out of two ain't bad. To the German, I was as interesting as a vagina with arms and legs, which actually would be more interesting than my skinny thighs and migrating ass.
"You can gain weight. It is possible."
"Maybe for young men like you. At my age, one condenses."
"I'm 46." He told me, as he swiftly removed a calculator from his breast pocket. After correctly guessing my particulars, he punched numbers and proudly showed me the result.
"Eat this much," he stated, "and you'll increase. You'd need my guidance of course. But I work with many men like you."
Lonely men, elderly and irrelevant.
"I can make you strong again."
"But a half-pound?" I clutched my chest and winced, puncturing my palm on the sharp pin of my nametag, annoyed with myself for NEVER having been strong. "Is that an estimate?"
"It's exact." I looked into his eyes. They were black, a dolls eyes. Dead eyes. Like a shark's determined gaze when it's going in for the kill. "Follow me mein heir and the trains will arrive on time."
"But... for chrissake... Wolfgang..." I was dazed by his musky fragrance, a hobbit in the land of the aromatic giants. If only I understand metaphor, I thought, I could effectively chronicle this experience. "... when will I poo?"
Against whom are gays arming themselves? The men at this party, riddled with steroids and pumped up for a battle in Vauxhall, sported chests ballooning as if they were wearing bulletproof vests. But where is the adversary? In Central London, the average straight guy sucks cock for cab fare. My female neighbors are almost too supportive, offering embarrassing images of their skinny-dipping husbands and access to their young children.
With opposition thinning, it's as if gays' pasts have become our shame; and our youthful, sinewy bodies our foe. Lacking bullying, we've turned inward, picking fights with our adolescences and camouflaging our shy remains.
When I was in California in July, my sister showed me her gun. She lives in a wealthy, predominately white suburb, and she keeps the gun polished and loaded to defend herself and her family against lunatics who also have guns.
"It's us or them," she shrugged. We stared down at the shiny metal. A dog barked and my sister jumped.
"But lunatics have the element of surprise," I reminded her. "It seems like, when the craziness kicks off, the sane ones are never around." Or if they were, they wouldn't have guns.
The Berlin Wall is gone. Russia is afraid of itself. China is busy building bullet trains, and Iraq is starving. My sister's enemy is her imagination. Fear is her terrorist, and it lies in wait in the shade of a California palm.