How does that old song go? If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with…
Well, for starters, there’s no one that I love. I mean, I have an idea, but ideas aren’t love. And sadly, I’m not with anyone, either — though I’ve thought about it. I haven’t told my friends how close I’ve come to texting Adae again, mainly because I know that the minute I verbalize the longing that I’ve internalized so much, it’s going to sound pretty stupid out loud and they will righteously mock me. By the same token, one of the scenarios that I imagine if we should ever finally meet is me, in a quick instant, suddenly realizing how ridiculous I’ve been all this time and regretting that you made such a nice effort to meet me. Indeed, your response is always one of outreach: you have sought me. I waited.
Besides, it wouldn’t make much sense to text Adae. He doesn’t even live in Northern California anymore. Not long after we hooked up, he got another job in the L.A. area. (This of course made me reminisce about my college drama with the straight guy that I fell for. The experts say that it’s common in the youthful gay experience for a friendship to suffer due to the common experience of the gay person falling in love with their straight friend. Anyway, said straight guy is from the L.A. area.) I wouldn’t know if Adae’s lack of a response is because he doesn’t see the point in communicating with booty that doesn’t even live nearby, or if he really just isn’t that into me.
I don’t know what I would even day in a text to him so long after we had hooked up yet when the feeling strikes I always seem to have an idea of what I’d like the exchange to look like. I’d say “hey,” short and unsolicited and then he’d respond with “hey!” Yeah, Linc — just like that, with an exclamation mark, all excited-like. And then we’d pick up where we left off, joking at first about stuff and then… well, I don’t really know what we’d say to each other after that except that it would feel great to talk to him again and he would feel great about it, too.
Sometimes I have this fantasy that Adae will sweep back into my life wanting something more than a hookup. Sometimes I wonder if Adae might be the One.
Yes, that did sound stupid to say.
Tonight I worked my first big event of my job. On top of events we have inside the store, we also partner with City Arts and Lectures (CAL) to sell books for their events, so my job often takes me off-site especially during the fall. CAL events are held at the Herbst Theatre, this fancy space next to the opera house, and they always book big name authors and politicians, a scientist here and there, folks like that. I was pretty nervous about my first event tonight. These events usually have huge turnouts. What helped was that the speaker tonight was Michael Chabon. He’s one of my favorite authors. Unfortunately as much as that helped make me less anxious it was also a hindrance.
Let me start by saying that Michael Chabon was a class act. After his speaking engagement, where he surely answered a bunch of silly questions that can only be asked by fanboys and fangirls, he was kind enough to sit for a little over half an hour signing books from a long line of fans, some of whom monopolized his time by right then and there unpacking entire suitcases of books. And then there was the one fan, whom I am distressed to admit may be Filipino, who kept asking him to explain Yiddish to her.
There is a lull during the event when the booksellers who have come on-site to sell the works written by that night’s speaker can either choose to sit with the audience and listen to the talk or sit outside and guard the products and the cash. I divided my time between going into the auditorium hearing Michael Chabon talk about his writing process and what it’s like to live in Oakland, and sitting out with my coworkers. One of them asked me if I had a book that I wanted to have Michael sign.
“No,” I said flatly, shrugging. “I don’t like going up to famous people and asking them to sign stuff. I actually don’t like things like this.”
“You’ve landed your dream job,” one of my coworkers joked.
I like working events, Linc, but that doesn’t usually mean that I go to that sort of thing, either. By the way, I haven’t heard you doing any signings lately. Not that I’d go, although I am now apt to advise you to be kind to the staff. Don’t ask for foolish things like a specific drink that must be specifically placed on your signing table. And if you see a staffer struggling to open a box with some bobbleheads or baseballs or whatever it is that their store ordered just for your appearance, help them open the box.
One of my duties tonight was to fetch Michael Chabon from the green room, introduce myself and then lead him to the signing table. Going to the green room is itself an intimidating act — to have that kind of access is kind of crazy. I’m just a bookseller. When I shook hands with Michael Chabon tonight, the first thing that came to mind as soon as I let go of his hand was, Damn I have a wussy handshake. And then he went to the bathroom and I had to stand around pretending to hobnob with important people like Sydney Goldstein and her daughter. I say “pretending” because I was overwhelmed with a bunch of feelings like the newness of my job and being surrounded with important white people who are taller than me (except for Sydney, who actually is about an inch shorter but commands the royal presence of Nancy Pelosi, who is also tiny). I had nothing charming to say. Instead, I stood there with my hands folded in front of me like I was an altar boy — damn this Catholic upbringing! — and laughed along with everyone else when it was time to laugh. Luckily, Michael Chabon finally finished using the bathroom and it was time to get on with it.
At least I looked damned good. Look, man: I’m not a vain person. All right? Quite frankly, I think I look ugly. I’ve had this lazy eye my whole life. I hate the sound of my voice. No matter how much weight I lose, there’s always still a shape of my body that I hate, always some imperfection that I can’t stand. Often, I avoid looking at myself in the mirror, which is actually a bad thing because, really, we could all stand to look in the mirror every once in a while. Lindsay Lohan, for example. I used to be a huge fan, but besides her terrible drugs and boozing, her fashion choices have drifted by the wayside, and she can’t seem to make up her mind between staying a redhead or being a blonde. And these days neither hair color suits her. Next thing you know, she’ll go bald, which won’t look so great on her, either. Imagine going through all that trouble and you still look like a hot mess. But I digress.
The part about looking good tonight happened by accident. I came to my shift dressed in my normal bookselling clothes, and we booksellers are not traditionally known for being anything more than casual. Sometimes we’re dress casual, but only if we feel like it for some odd reason, or if there’s a CAL dress code that you didn’t know about before and were suddenly delivered the news three hours before the CAL event.
I was packing up some of Michael Chabon’s backlist items (bookseller speak for old books) when my boss walked up to me with his face all flushed with embarrassment as he asked me if there were any chance I could head back home and change into slacks and a dress shirt. My worn blue jeans and black v-neck tee weren’t going to cut it. The running shoes were worse. My boss proceeded to apologize profusely, saying that he just found out, but I was also thinking that I should have seen this coming. The people who put together CAL seem like the type who enforce a dress code. You don’t necessarily have to be dressed up to attend to a CAL event — this one guy tonight wore one of those t-shirts with a necktie print — but the general impression of CAL is that it’s dignified, it’s rarified, and the staff should not be in faded jeans and a t-shirt. Much less sneakers.
Going home was not realistic. The commute would take way too long. Instead, I thought on my feet — quite literally, as I ran from the store, down Van Ness Avenue, and into the metro station to take the train. But to where? I could go see what was at the Ross. That was at the Powell stop. I could also try my luck with the used clothes at Crossroads. That was at the Church stop. I went to Church.
It was quite a self-conscious affair roaming the narrow aisles of the Crossroads shop looking for an emergency outfit at the very last minute. It was a hot day today, Linc, and all that running around made me sweat these huge beads raining down my forehead in such a way that I suspected the staff was eyeing me suspiciously for daring to try out their clothes in such a foul condition. I tried my best to dry myself, but any suspicions and disgust they might have possessed would be justified. Anyway, I picked the best dress shirt and the best slacks I could find, and thank goodness they worked out so that I wouldn’t have to sweatily try on some other outfit. Next, I needed a pair of shoes. I was lucky to find a pair of pointy brown Steve Maddens. You have to understand, Linc, that these brown shoes were a fashion gamble because the slacks were grey and the shirt was blue. I normally hesitate at the risk of putting together three colors. Usually I stick to wearing two colors. As for the shoes, they would also be the fanciest pair of dress shoes I’ve ever owned. But when I put the whole outfit on and checked myself out in the mirror, I marveled that I was actually checking myself out in the mirror. It helps that I’ve lost weight from training for the half-marathon. Huh, I thought with the cautious approval of someone who has often disapproved. I could make a good baseball player’s husband.
And those fly Steve Madden dress shoes were only 18 dollars!
(Does anyone say “fly” like that anymore?)
They were a bitch to walk in, though.