This is Part 1 of Chapter 113 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "My Favorite Mistake -- Part 4", the previous section.
The narrators are Debbie Novotny and Michael Novotny, and features Justin Taylor, Vic Grassi.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Debbie and Vic get ready for their trip to Los Angeles. Pittsburgh, November 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"Hiya, Sunshine!" I call as Justin walks through the door of the diner at exactly 11:30 on Wednesday morning. I know that he's meeting Michael for lunch so they can discuss their trip out to Los Angeles next week, among other things. Of course, the details of MY trip with Vic are already in the bag, so I don't have to work out NOTHING! Because WE are traveling in style! First Class on Trans-Con Airways -- ALL the way to L.-fucking-A.!
"Hey, Deb." He plops his bubble butt on a stool at the counter and picks up a menu. Yeah, like Justin needs to look at the menu in the Liberty Diner! He knows every dish we serve here like he cooked it himself. Actually, no knock on Phil, but Justin IS a better cook than anyone we have working the grill -- especially since Vic decided that the pressure of short-order cooking was too much for his nerves. If Sunshine ever needs a job....
He's looking at the menu, but he's not reading it. In fact, his eyes aren't even focused. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was high. And he's humming to himself. Humming! "Baby -- what's up? You look like you're high," I say. Why beat around the bush?
"Hm? What did you say, Deb?" he says, looking up at me. He has a silly little smile on his face. He's so cute I could eat him up with a spoon!
"I said -- what are you, Justin? High?"
He cocks his head and grins. "I'm high on life!"
I bust out laughing. "That's rich, kiddo! Highly well-fucked, that's more like it! How come you didn't come over yesterday and tell me and Vic all about your Wonder Weekend in New York? Or didn't you ever leave the bedroom?"
"Oh, we did plenty of stuff! I saw a LOT more than the hotel room, Debbie. But I didn't get home until really late Monday night and I was totally wiped out yesterday. I caught a later flight than the one I was originally booked on. WE decided that I should leave AFTER dinner and not before so that we could go to this hot new cafe in Chelsea, you know? It was pretty great! A lot of the celebrities go there when they're in town."
"Celebrities, huh? And WE decided, did WE?" I say. Like he and Brian are the 'Royal Couple'!
Justin raises his eyebrows at me. "Yes, WE did. Brian and I did."
"And what about school, young man?" I mention. "Brian seems awfully nonchalant about you missing your classes, honey. I mean, it's one thing to have you flying all over Fuck and back just so he can have access to your bubble butt whenever the mood suits him, but it's another thing for His Royal Diva-ness to encourage YOU to blow off your education."
Justin frowns. "Brian doesn't encourage me to blow off anything, Deb -- especially not my education. And since Brian is paying my tuition at the Institute -- well, he would never do that."
I stifle a laugh. "Uh huh. Because the only thing that Brian Kinney blows off is a nice, stiff dick -- any time, anywhere! Am I right, hon?"
But Justin isn't smiling. He's fucking glaring at me! ME! "I don't think that's very funny, Debbie," he says, seriously. "And I don't appreciate you making comments like that about MY life partner."
"Your WHAT!?" I almost swallow my fucking gum. "You REALLY must have been horny this weekend, sweetie! 'Life partner'? Holy shit! You must have been HYPNOTIZED by Brian's big dick because NOW you are really dreaming, Sunshine!"
But Justin narrows his Baby Blue eyes at me. "I think I'm going to sit over in the booth and wait for Michael to get here -- if YOU don't mind -- MRS. Novotny." And Sunshine picks up his menu and his fancy leather bag and sashays his ass over to the rear booth without even looking back at me. Fucking kids! Talk about a Drama Princess!
A few minutes later Michael comes in with Vic. He heads straight back to Justin's booth. "Hey, Boy Wonder! How was Gotham City?"
"Awesome, Michael! You should see some of the sketches I made!" Justin also gives Vic a huge smile -- and offers me a big, fat scowl. Then he turns around and he and Michael put their heads together.
Vic settles at the counter and stares at me. "Okay, Sis. What did you say to Justin that has his knickers all in a twist?"
"Nothing! I didn't say a fucking thing!" I insist. "Sheesh, blame me because the kid is in a pissy mood."
"Funny, but he wasn't in a pissy mood when I saw him on the street about fifteen minutes ago," Vic answers. "In fact -- he was practically singing, he had such a good time with Brian this weekend."
"Sure, whatever," I say, wiping off the counter.
Vic looks over at the back booth where Justin is pulling out his sketchbook to show Michael. "You know, those two are really getting serious about doing that comic book."
"Yeah," I reply. "It's always comic books with Michael. Now he's got Justin into it."
"It's important to Michael, Sis -- and Justin is helping him." Vic pauses. He stares at me -- but I just keep wiping the counter. "So? What did you say to Justin?"
I toss down the rag. "I told you -- nothing! Just -- making a teeny little comment about Brian. And that's all! It isn't MY fault that Sunshine is so fucking sensitive!"
"What kind of comment?" says Vic. "Sis?"
"Oh, Justin made some ridiculous remark about Brian being his 'life partner' or something like that. Naturally, I started laughing. I mean -- Brian? Come on!"
But Vic just glowers at me. "When are you going to learn NOT to tweak that boy about Brian? That's one area the poor kid has no sense of humor about. I would've thought that seeing what he did to Ted that time would teach you a lesson. Obviously not, because you still won't keep your big mouth shut!"
"Sunshine is NOT going to punch me out, Vic. Be real!" I set a cup of coffee down in front of him.
"Maybe not," he replies, stirring the coffee. "But I wouldn't take the chance. Besides, Debbie, you have NO idea what those two guys talk about when they're alone. No one does. You have NO idea what their relationship is all about. Didn't Brian practically announce to everyone at Woody's that he and Justin are in an exclusive relationship now?"
"Humph!" I snort. "That's Michael's take on things. Brian probably meant exclusively that night! You know damn well that Brian couldn't keep his dick reserved for one guy any more than he could fly off the roof of Babylon! He probably meant until he got back to Hollywood and his fancy boyfriend out there! That's about the most poor little Sunshine can hope for -- and that's the truth!"
But Vic just shakes his head. "I would think that you, of all people, would cut the two of those boys some slack -- especially after what Brian went through over in England." Vic glances over at the booth. "And what Justin had to go through with him. I remember how upset you were when you came home after seeing them at the loft that day. And I know how upset Tim has been about it. Brian was really badly hurt. That can change a person -- and I ought to know. You start thinking about your mortality and what you value in your life -- and that can change your outlook big time. So why not let Justin have his romantic notions about Brian and quit making him feel self-conscious about it?"
"I know, Vic," I admit. "It's just that I hate seeing Sunshine get hurt. And thinking that asshole Brian is going to turn into some kind of 'perfect boyfriend' or 'life partner' is just wishful thinking. I know he supposedly said that their relationship was 'exclusive' -- but who knows what Brian means by THAT? I'm sure that Sunshine believes him, but it's nuts! It'll never happen! I've known Brian Kinney since before he had hair on his balls and I KNOW that guy better than he knows himself! Brian has proved again and again that he can't be faithful to one guy. And Justin should realize that. I mean, to think otherwise is to live in a fucking fantasy world!"
Vic holds up his hand. "Leave it alone, Sis! And it wouldn't hurt you to give Brian the benefit of the doubt once in a while -- especially since we are both getting ready to go on a fabulous vacation -- courtesy of 'that asshole Brian.'
"Holy shit!" I hear Michael yell from the back booth. "Ma! Uncle Vic! Come over and see this!"
We hustle over there and Michael shoves a piece of paper into Vic's hands. "Look!"
"Michael, you're embarrassing me," says Justin, who is beaming.
"What the fuck is it?" I say, trying to look at the paper, but Vic is hogging the thing.
"My God, Justin, this is wonderful," says Vic as he reads it.
"Isn't it?" says Michael. "I'm not going to be able to afford to have him to illustrate my comic book if we don't get it started pretty soon!" And Justin blushes.
"Will someone tell me what's going on?" I scream and everyone in the diner turns around to stare.
Vic starts to read from the paper in his hand. "This is a letter from Justin's Dean at PIFA. It's forwarding a request from John Hamilton...."
"He's the man who runs the Austin Gallery, where my piece was in the juried show." Justin adds.
"... for Justin to take part in a special exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum. They want his 'Warhol Variations' series of prints to be part of an exhibition of Warhol influenced art." Vic looks up from the letter. "What is this piece, Justin?"
"It's a series of prints I made based on photographs I took," he says. "I manipulated the photos on my computer to look like Warhol style portraits. Like I shot Brian in his leather jacket and shades and made him look like Lou Reed. And I made Lindsay look like Marilyn Monroe, and Emmett like Jackie Kennedy. The first one I did was actually of Gus. I made it for Brian for Gus' second birthday."
"And he did ME as Galaxy Lad!" says Michael. "You should see it, Ma! Justin promised that I could have the print to hang in the store! But first I'm going to hang in the Warhol Museum! Isn't that fucking amazing?"
"Justin, honey, when did you find out about this?" I say, grabbing the letter from Vic.
"This morning," he says, taking the letter back and looking at it again. "I got called into the Dean's office and I thought they were going to toss me out of the place. Instead, he gave me this. I tried to phone Brian to tell him, but he and Jimmy are flying back to the Coast today. And Cynthia is coming home today, too, so I'll have to give her a call."
"So, is that why you were so spacy when you came in here this morning?" I ask.
Justin lifts one eyebrow at me in a very Brian-like way. "Nope. Just still enjoying my well-fucked weekend, Deb -- if you MUST know. Excuse ME." And the Drama Princess/Artiste flounces off to the restroom.
Michael watches him go and then looks at me. "Ma! What did you say to Justin when he came in here anyway?"
But before I can answer, Vic butts in. "Giving him the third degree about Brian and making sure that he's aware that Brian doesn't 'do' relationships."
Michael stares at me. "What the fuck are you doing, Ma? Can't you just lay off? You're as bad as Melanie and Ted sometimes. I thought you were all gung-ho about the two of them being together? I mean, Brian is going out of his way to be a real boyfriend, believe it or not. He's even stopped drinking. And he's for sure stopped tricking. So what's the problem now?"
"Well," Vic snorts at me. "Your mother seems to think she 'knows' Brian better than Justin does."
"I was only joking around!" I say. "Can't ANY of you guys take a fucking joke anymore? Sheesh!"
"Well, cut it out," says Michael. "And just hope that Justin doesn't repeat any of your cute little comments to Brian -- or you could find yourself watching the 'Olympian' premiere highlights on 'Entertainment Tonight' instead of from inside the theater in Hollywood!"
"I said I was fucking kidding!" I shout. I see Justin come out of the bathroom. "Sunshine -- honey -- tell these assholes that I didn't say anything bad about Brian, will you? They're about ready to revoke my membership in the Brian Kinney Fan Club!"
But Justin sniffs at me -- and he and Michael pack up their shit and take off for parts unknown, probably to work on their Top Secret Project that isn't a secret to anyone at all -- their dumb comic book. It's a good thing that Ben thinks comic books are okay, because I don't get a guy in his 30's who still reads the things. And now Michael is writing one!
But what they all don't understand is that there's no way I'm anti-Brian! I'm the guy's MOTHER -- and that's the truth! Screw Joan Kinney and her tight-assed attitude. In fact, I'm going to my quilting group tomorrow to finish up the gift I've been making for Brian for the premiere of 'The Olympian.'
I started with the quilters after Vic got really sick and was in the coma. I started to make his section of the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt -- that's why I joined the group in the first place, so I could do it up right! And then Vic got on his new meds and he got better -- thank Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! But I kept going to the group. I liked it. It's a good way to relax and gossip and, eventually, you have a nice quilt for the bedroom or to give as a gift. I made one for Gus when he was born -- I started it right after I heard that Lindsay was pregnant -- and now I'll start a new one for the baby that's coming.
This one for Brian -- all the girls worked on it to get it finished in time. The pattern is called 'The Fan' -- which is appropriate! Anita -- we meet at her house -- found the pattern in an old book. It's all those long triangle shaped squares pieced together to make a huge fan in the center of the quilt. Plus, we've worked a design with Brian's name in it on the edge of the quilt, like a little surprise. I know it probably won't fit in with Brian's fancy Beverly Hills decor at that fancy house he lives in with that director guy, but what the hell?
And that's the other thing I don't get. Brian is living with that fellow out in California -- that Ron. He has been for almost a year now. So where does THAT leave Sunshine and his 'exclusive relationship'? Someone tell me the answer to THAT one!
A guy comes in and sits at the counter and I go and take his order. At least HE doesn't give me any attitude! I think I'll get a job at the Big Q and screw the diner. It's just too much fucking aggravation! But I think I'll wait until after I come back from Hollywood.
"I'm sorry I was such a bitch to your mom, Michael," Justin says when we get to the store. "But she just started in on me first thing. On Brian, really. And I'm sick of it." Justin is laying out the sketches that he made of New York City over the weekend. They'll make a perfect background for the comic book that I'm writing and Justin is illustrating. It's only a concept right now -- but I have lots of ideas and Justin is a whiz at carrying them out. It's like he can draw what's in my head. And when the comic features a superhero based on Brian -- it isn't all that difficult for him.
"Well," I say. "You know how Ma is -- she can't resist opening her trap. I think she speaks without thinking. You know she really loves Brian -- and she's all for you guys being together. It's just hard for her to believe that Brian can change. It's hard for a lot of people."
"I know. And, Michael... I'm glad you aren't one of those people," he says.
"I'm trying," I answer. And I am. It's hard to think of Brian having a real relationship -- and with Justin, too. The trick who never went home. I used to not like Justin very much at all. But we get along great now and have ever since I lived in the loft last Spring and got to know him better. He's smart and funny, even if he is a smart-ass some of the time. And a Drama Princess. But he's a really good artist -- his basic sketches for the comic are amazing.
And I'm in a relationship with Ben now. I'm trying to leave Brian in the past -- where he belongs. I love Brian -- I always have and I always will -- but I'm IN love with Ben. I think when Ben started to get sick this past summer it really brought that home to me. I was so afraid that... that I was going to lose him. He's in good health right now, but I know how quickly that could change. I'll always care about Brian and I'll be there if he ever needs me -- like I was when Justin got bashed. But I don't want to spend my life chasing some fantasy when I have a great reality right in front of me -- and that reality is Ben Bruckner.
"I know you're trying, Michael, and I appreciate it. You and Emmett are about the only two people I can talk to about Brian without getting a big lecture or a lot of nosy questions." Justin sighs heavily. "I'm really sick of tearing new assholes in people who make rotten comments about him."
"Uncle Vic tells me that you sure tore poor Tim a new one when he barged over to the loft when Brian was here the other week."
"Yeah, well," Justin shrugs. "I know Tim means well, and I know he just wanted to help Brian. But he was a priest, Michael! And he was in charge of a scared, wounded kid, for crying out loud! And I just don't like the thought of him... taking advantage of Brian when...." Justin stops and looks down. "When he was so vulnerable."
"You know," I tell him. "Brian really did get better that summer, Justin. I didn't know anything about Brian and Tim at the time... but Vic used to visit Brian at the halfway house and Brian would also come to our place for dinner occasionally when it was allowed -- and he got better. He really did. He was good enough to go back to school that Fall and... and he finished out the year and we had our band. And then he went off to Penn State. So, don't blame Tim too much, Justin. I mean -- who could have resisted Brian?" I raise my eyebrows and grin. "I know I never could!"
Justin grins back. "I wish I'd known him back then. BRIAN must have been AMAZING when he was 17 and 18!"
I laugh. "He was. At least I thought so. He looked pretty much like he does now, but a lot goofier."
"No way!" says Justin.
"It's true! We were both more than a little nerdy. Ben says Brian was a dweeb, based on looking at our Yearbook pictures. And he WAS a dweeb -- sort of. He was in the Honors Program and all that shit. And, see, Brian got really tall over that summer and during his senior year, so he was sort of awkward. He was playing on the soccer team -- Father Tim got him involved in that at the halfway house -- and he was a good player, but he WAS goofy! Really long arms and legs going in every direction!" And I'm laughing, remembering. "You should have seen Brian, loping down the soccer field like some kind of giraffe, with his long neck and long legs!"
"Stop, Michael!" gasps Justin. He's laughing, too. "I don't want to picture that!"
"And he dyed his hair black so he'd look more like Robert Smith of The Cure -- and he used to wear black nail polish and eye make-up -- to school! And to the soccer games! He used to scare the shit out of the other players! On BOTH sides! But he was 'friendly' with the coach -- you know how that goes -- so the guy let Brian do anything he wanted."
Justin opens his mouth. "That wasn't the SAME gym teacher who...?"
"Oh, no! A different guy. That first guy was when we were freshmen!"
"Jesus!" Justin laughs again. "That Brian!"
"I know. You gotta love him."
"I know," says Justin. "And I do."
And I DO know -- he does. And that should make it easier to accept -- but it's still hard. So hard.
"Are you getting excited about going out to Los Angeles?" I ask. "I'm already packed!"
"Yes, I'm excited," he says. But I can see that he's hesitating. "Last time I went out there -- it was kind of... a disaster."
"No way!" I scoff. "You met Patrick Swayze! And Brian did that 'Vanity Fair' shoot and you and Gus were in the photos! How could it have been a disaster?"
"Because of Ron," he answers. "He and I had a little... run-in. And... it wasn't fun." He looks down. "Not fun at all."
"Oh, Ben says that Ron's bark is worse than his bite. That he's all talk and stuff. And... well, YOU won out, Justin, let's face it! Isn't that what's important?"
Justin smiles a little. "Yeah, I guess so." Then he smiles a lot. "You're right. Brian is with ME -- not Ron! It doesn't matter what Ron says or does, I know that we're together and nothing is going to change that. I almost feel sorry for Ron...." Justin's face gets serious again. "Except Ben is wrong about one thing -- Ron's bite IS worse than his bark, Michael. I know because he's bitten me. But never again. Never!"
And he flips a open another sketchpad to show me some drawings of superheroes that he's been working on for the comic.
"Which of these outfits is better to wear in Hollywood?" I say to Vic, holding up two of my favorite dresses. One is my yellow and purple striped number and the other is the orange and green flowered Hawaiian print.
"Um -- it depends on whether you're planning to go to a costume party -- or a major film premiere!"
"Vic!" I just glare at him. "I can't believe you said that. YOU -- of all people."
Vic puts down his newspaper and looks up over his glasses at me. "Sis, when have I EVER said that I thought you had ANY fashion sense? When?"
Vic stands up and takes the hangers away from me. "Didn't Brian say that he was buying you a dress to wear to the premiere? A fancy designer dress?"
"Yes, but... how do I know that some fancy-schmancy designer knows my personality? What if he doesn't capture my individuality? Then what?"
Vic rolls his eyes. "I'd say -- thank God!"
"Listen, Sis -- trust Brian. You don't need to bring a lot of clothes with you. You're going to go shopping on Rodeo Drive, just like Julia Roberts! And when they finish with you -- you'll look divine!"
"Maybe," I grumble.
"Don't you trust Brian? Doesn't HE always look fabulous?" And Vic smiles, thinking of Brian in his beautiful suits, I'm sure. Or in nothing at all!
"Then just bring an empty suitcase. Think of all the fun you'll have filling it up!"
I guess Vic is right. And it will be swell to get a bunch of new clothes. But I hate taking advantage of Brian like that. Michael says that he wouldn't have given us the trip if he couldn't afford it, but I still worry. I still have issues about owing so much to one person. Especially when that person is Brian!
I don't mean to harp about Brian, especially to Sunshine, but I worry about that kid. I worry about BOTH of those boys. Their 'relationship.' I hate to see Justin get his hopes up so high. I hate to see him put so much of his energy and invest all of his youth in a guy who is so fucking undependable. I know that Jennifer Taylor shares my concern, but even SHE seems to be coming around and hopping on the Brian Kinney Bandwagon. The other day she was talking about BriandandJustin, BrianandJustin, BrianandJustin -- like they are already welded together forever! Even SHE is beginning to believe it.
I only wish I could be so certain.
Vic gets up and logs onto his computer. He's become positively addicted to all those gossip sites ever since Brian went out to Hollywood. Vic follows that boy's career like he's the president of his fan club! Taping all the shows that he's on, clipping articles, and hanging out on message boards devoted to Brian and his career. He's even e-mailing other crazy people all over the world who share his obsession with Brian Kinney. And there seem to be more of them every day. I think it's a little wacky if you want to know the truth. Who would spend all this time involved in the doings of some actor they don't even know? At least for Vic, it's like he's got a personal interest in Brian. But these other people? I just don't get it.
"Wait until 'The Olympian' comes out, Sis. Then you'll see. Brian is going to be a REAL movie star -- no kidding!" And he shows me some stuff on the Internet from England, where that other movie he made last summer -- the one with the funny name that I can never remember -- is already a big hit. Some people have websites and fanpages dedicated to Brian! With photos of him from magazines and taken off the TV and even pictures taken on the street. There are even a couple of Brian and Sunshine, walking out of a restaurant with that Sir Kenneth guy!
"Brian and Justin had better be careful, Sis," Vic tells me.
"Why should they be?" I answer. "They weren't doing anything." And why the hell should they try to hide anything? That's what I say!
"Well, Sis," replies Vic. "Not everyone is as accepting of gay people as you are -- and that's the understatement of the century! Not even everyone in show business is."
"Then fuck 'em!" I say.
Just before dinner Michael comes roaring in. He's got a pile of Justin's drawings for that silly comic book that he wants to show me. "Look at these, Ma. They are as good as a lot of the series I carry in my store! Better, even!"
"Very nice," I say. What do I know about superheroes? They just look like drawings of Brian in skintight leather pants to me! But I guess just that is enough to get both Michael and Justin excited. And maybe a lot of other guys, too. So maybe Michael IS on to something!
"Hey, Sis, Michael!" Vic shouts from the computer. "Look at THIS!"
"What's up, Uncle Vic?" asks Michael.
"That Auntie Roo!"
"Who?" Michael looks puzzled.
"That drag queen online gossip columnist!" Vic exclaims. "That bitch!" Of course, Vic never misses checking this person's site every single day!
"What does it say?"
"Listen to this," says Vic. "'In or Out? Out or In? Can't this Stud decide once and for all? Sure, the studio tells him to keep things under wraps and not mess with their Olympic-sized premiere and all that publicity giving Stud the big build-up with the ladies. But what happens when the gals actually get a load of those hotter-than-hot scenes with Stud and his Oscar-bait co-star? And I mean HOT man-on-man action? Who knew that our Boy Next Door had it in him? And he's had more than just THAT in him, according to those in the know! Too bad that Stud has been blowing him off now that this flick is ready to hit the theaters, poor baby! And speaking of Baby -- Stud doesn't seem to care who sees him with his yummy blond Boy-toy, does he? Like half of New York City? Or a national late show audience! Auntie sure didn't fall asleep during THAT hot make-out session! Some 'acting' ain't acting, kiddies! So says your Auntie Roo.'" Vic looks up from the screen. "Holy shit!"
"Holy shit is right!" says Michael. "Wait until Justin sees THAT!"
"Wait until Brian's studio sees that!" adds Vic.
"Geez, guys," I say. "Can Brian get into trouble? I mean, especially when he's bringing Justin out to Hollywood to go to the premiere with him?"
Vic shakes his head. "I guess we'll find out soon enough."
Yeah, soon enough! Since we are leaving in three days. And the premiere is in exactly one week!
Continue on to "Deb and Vic's Excellent Adventure -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, April 2003.
Updated April 12, 2003.