This is Part 2 of Chapter 6 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Fuck Armani -- Part 1" , the previous section.
Whenever Carmel is riding shotgun I never know where in hell I'm going.
"Turn here! No! Left! Left!"
"Jesus! Give me some warning!"
We pull up into another dusty parking lot attached to a Mexican market.
"Can't you just go to the A & P or whatever and get your shit? I don't even know what part of town this is!"
"So what does it matter to you? You just drive and be quiet."
"Danke, Mein Führeress."
Rather than sit in the Merc, I trail along behind Carmel and Maria as they fill up their baskets and scream at the producemen in breakneck and probably obscene Spanish. I know it's starting to get late and I still have to buy that suit. Fuck me if I'm going to wear something I've worn before to this big dinner at Ron's agent's house.
Finally, I get them hustled into the car and Carmel directs me -- by way of San Diego, it seems -- to Rodeo.
"You can sit in the car, you can window-shop, you can run out in the street and play in traffic, but please give me two hours to do my shit, okay?"
"So who is stopping you, Mr. Brian?" Carmel shrugs and she and Mama stroll off down the sidewalk like Julia Roberts.
The first two places I go are a complete wash.
"This is the same crap you had here last time. Don't you have anything new?"
"I'm sorry, Brian, that it doesn't meet your high standards."
"Fuck you, Robert." This guy has tried to pick me up every time I've come in here and can't get it into his head that I'm not interested. First of all, I don't do flab and this guy is about as toned as the Pillsbury Doughboy. Second of all, he's seriously follicly challenged. That can be hot -- if you're a young Sean Connery. And Robert is NOT.
"How about this Tommy Hilfiger?"
"I'm going to a dinner party in Holmby Hills, not a frat party at UCLA."
I end up buying a crummy pair of socks. This is not going well. I feel a headache just starting at my temples.
The second place is, if anything, even worse.
The clerk there is some new guy, which could be interesting. Except he makes Richard Simmons seem like Clint Eastwood. I mean, there's out and then there's OUT and this guy is nothing but capital letters. 'Camp' makes my dick soft.
He's dragging out every piece of shit in the place to impress me. It isn't working.
"This is PERFECT to wear to an audition!" He pulls out a Prada shirt that just screams 'I'm a big old fag!' Perfect to wear to an audition for boyfriend-of-the-week on 'Will and Grace' and not much else.
"I'm not going to an audition. I'm going to a dinner party."
"Dinner parties can LEAD to auditions."
"I'm not an actor."
"NOT an actor! EVERYONE in L.A. is an actor. And you are SOOOO good looking."
"Yeah, I know. Still, I'm not an actor."
"I could give you the number of my agent. He'd LOVE to take you on, I'm sure."
I'm sure. THIS guy has an agent? Jesus!
"This dinner party is nothing but fucking agents. I just need a suit, I don't need a seminar in networking."
"If you're not an actor, are you a WRITER? If you have a screenplay, I know a reader over at the Clarke-Magnuson Agency. They are looking for action pictures. Like something for Bruce Willis?"
"Action pictures? Do I look like if I were to write a script I'd write a fucking ACTION picture? Bruce Willis? Christ!"
"If you aren't an actor and you aren't a writer -- what else IS there?"
"Besides a fucking salesman in a clothing store, you mean? I'm a kept boy, what do you think?"
"REALLY? Kept by WHO?"
This guy is unbelievable. "Tom Cruise and John Travolta share me. Alternate weeks."
"I think I've seen enough."
By now my headache has moved all the way around to encompass my whole head. And I still have the entire evening to get through. And I still don't have a fucking suit!
Finally, I head for my old stand-by. I almost always end up getting something here, but I hate it because the manager is a scary blonde Amazon I think of as Ilsa the She-Wolf of the SS. I'm certain she must be a muncher, but she's such a queer-hater you can feel it radiating off her. And since her staff is nothing but little intimidated queers, she's in her element all day long.
"Mr. Kinney. A pleasure." She holds out her hand. It is cold cold cold! She looks me in the eye. She's tall, but even in her highest spiked heels, I'm taller. I can tell she hates that.
"A special function? A trip, perhaps? How may we fill your needs today?"
Creepy. I may never watch another Marlene Dietrich film.
"A dinner party. Tonight. I need something -- fabulous." Fuck. Why not turn it on? Her little pack of underlings stand by, bug-eyed.
"Tonight. There will be no time for alterations. And you usually need things... taken in." I try to imagine her getting a pair of scissors near my balls. I don't think so.
"Then I'll have to live with it -- un-taken in."
"Let us see what we have that would be... suitable?" She smiles tightly. The underlings all nod. Fuck, it's just like an advertising pitch, with all the phoniness and ass-kissing. All over a lousy piece of cloth with a label attached to it. Which I want.
And I know immediately that she has exactly what I want. And she's going to make me sweat for it. I almost turn around and stomp out of there. But it's a game. If I leave, then she wins. Plus, I don't get the suit.
She has her legion bring out a few items. This is the tease. She knows they are all wrong -- wrong colors, wrong material, just all wrong. I consider them anyway, but indicate just how boring this all is. What could be more boring here, I'm thinking? Ilsa blowing me. Ho hum. If I had a watch on, I'd look at it, pointedly.
Finally, she begins to wave the good stuff in front of me. Yes, it's the Armani, of course. This woman knows me too well. But she also has a Prada that the other place didn't. It's a possible. Perry Ellis. I don't think so. The Versace. It's not quite right for this -- but maybe for something else.
Okay, she knows she has me. The underlings are pulling my clothes off now -- I've seen more subtly in the baths, for chrisake. And now dangling little odds and ends -- ties, shirts, shoes, scarves -- in my face. One of the vassals brings over a hat.
"Ah -- No! No fucking hats. Do I look like Truman fucking Capote to you?"
Ilsa smiles again, that eerie smile. I think she's the only one in the place who even gets the reference. No matter -- she's the only one who needs to.
"Make a note, Geoffrey: no hats for Mr. Kinney."
Oh, she's evil.
It's definitely between the slate Armani and the fawn Prada. I should just say fuck it and take both, but I'm supposed to be able to make a decision around here. Isn't this about choosing one and leaving the other behind? Isn't it almost philosophical?
Besides, I can come back and get the other next week.
Of course, I take the Armani. And a couple of shirts. I pass on the shoes. She's right about the alteration -- it needs it, especially the pants, but I'll have to screw it this time. No one at this agents' love-feast is going to notice anyway. I can come back later and have it done right. But for now it will have to do.
One of the little underlings is hovering a bit. He's young and looks vaguely British, even though when he opens his mouth it's pure Valley Boy. If he wasn't such a sycophant I might consider it. But not today. And not tomorrow. Oh, fuck it.
And now comes the part she's been waiting for. The part where Ilsa gets to stick it in. Well, okay. In Pittsburgh pulling out the Platinum Card always brought a modicum of respectful toadying -- I mean, if I wasn't getting it already. Here, you might as well be tipping them a quarter. I start to get the card out anyway -- and she's there, with her little red book open.
"Shall we charge to Mr. Rosenblum's account?"
The vassals pause, looking at her and then at me.
What the fuck.
"Why not." I put my wallet away. "Oh -- and throw in the shoes as well."
If you're going to do it, do it right.
The girls are waiting at the car, loaded with shopping bags.
"What the hell have you got there?"
"Going out of business sale! You can't believe!" Carmel is gleeful. Maria nods. She shows me a bag full of designer underwear, all in plus sizes.
"Hm. You can model them for me later."
"You are a bad boy to say that!" Carmel loads her mother into the back seat and then climbs in front. Since she's in a good mood, she directs me the quickest way back, instead of the screw-you route. I have to get myself a fucking map one of these days.
It's like an explosion when we walk in the door. The dog is barking and jumping around, the girls are shrieking at him in Spanish, and Ron is yelling from his office.
This isn't doing my headache any good.
I try to make a detour to the bar to pour myself a good stiff belt, but Ron intercepts me. He's going on about fuck-all that I can't follow even on a good day. There's trouble in movie-land and I can't let on that there's something going south with their leading man (not Jimmy Hardy, but the young hot -- not! -- supposed stud playing 'The Olympian'). Since I have only a vague idea about exactly what is wrong or what any of these people tonight have to do with the actual film, I try to make it clear that warning me not to say anything about it is pointless.
"Oh -- your office called. There's a message on the machine." He sounds peevish. Any message from Pittsburgh, no matter how trivial, puts him in a funk.
It's Cynthia, of course. I'll have to call her back tomorrow about the insurance on the Jeep. And I'm sure she's got a million other questions that will take eons to go over.
I wish I could stop Ron for two minutes and talk to him about a couple of things -- but he's preoccupied with this shoot and bitching about my job and what I'm going to do about it sounds pretty inconsequential compared to a multi-million dollar movie that's teetering on the brink.
So, I concentrate on getting dressed.
My biggest complaint about this entire state has to be the shower situation. It's ludicrous. This house has six bathrooms with six showers (and that includes the poolhouse and the girls' suite) and not one of them can work up enough water pressure to blow the dust off a fly. I need to get my fucking head blasted here and instead I get a pitiful spray like a plant mister on a hothouse orchid. This is NOT what I need. And, yes, both Ron and Carmel have explained that water pressure is carefully regulated blah blah blah. But I still stay up late plotting ways to smuggle a decent showerhead in from Canada or Pittsburgh or wherever it isn't against the law to wash your fucking hair.
Ron is extra antsy and he's making me nervous with his fidgeting and lint-picking. Especially since the Armani is perfect. Except for the fit of the pants, but he wouldn't notice that in a million years.
"If you don't back off I'm going to throw the suit out the window and put on my jeans and black leather jacket and go like that. That's what they're expecting anyway? Isn't it?" Christ!
"No. What makes you say something like that?"
"I don't know. Just an impression I'm getting from you -- since you've re-tied my fucking tie three times! Why don't you go into the bathroom and jack-off and let me get dressed in peace?"
Amazingly, he goes downstairs without an argument. I take about four Tylenols and wash them down with a bottle of Mexican beer I stole from Carmel's section of the refrigerator. I also calculate how I'm going to get from upstairs to the poolhouse to get a joint or two out of my stash. I have a feeling I'm going to need them before the night is over.
I manage to get in there while Ron is pulling the Jag around. I have an assortment of goodies put away in some of the diskette boxes stored with the computer. Some old pal of Ron's was living in the poolhouse for about six months while they were working on some script and he left the computer behind when the project went into permanent turn-around. I go in there and cruise around the internet when I'm in the mood. And, because Carmel is afraid that if she touches the computer it will explode (Christ knows what Ron's friend told her to keep her away from it), I can store all sorts of things in there without having to worry that she's poking around, dusting and exploring.
I can't believe he wants to leave now. No one in L.A. has dinner this early. No one in Iowa does! I try to explain the concept of the dramatic entrance, which is only heightened by my usual reliance on 'Irish Time' (anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours late, depending on the situation). That I come when I come -- and I haven't had a complaint yet. Ron isn't amused. He's so fucking literal.
"I wanted to leave a little time to get a bottle of wine."
Now bringing a bottle to the party is something that I thought ended with college BYOB-athons. But Ron still does it. He has no clue. Freddy Whatsis, his agent, probably has a wine cellar that would make Doctor Dave pea green with envy, but Ron has to drag along a bottle anyway.
We stop at the wine store and I try to convince Ron that there is plenty of time to go for a real drink before we have to face what is beginning to look like some kind of Spanish Inquisition. Besides, I need to be much more lubed than I am so far if I'm to survive tonight's little mind-fuck.
"Come on. We still have... um... what time is it exactly, Ron?"
"Where is your watch?"
"I'm... not wearing it."
"Did you lose it?"
"Fuck no. I just forgot to put it on."
"Brian, I've gotten you three watches and yet you never seem to have a watch when you need to know what time it is."
"I ask someone."
"But if you wear your watch you don't have to ask someone!"
Three watches. Who needs three fucking watches? Especially when you have no appointments to keep and nowhere particular that you have to be at any time. So, what's the big deal? The Rolex is nice, the Patek Phillippe flashy, and the Hermès has three little dials on the face that give you more information about time than you'd ever want to know. I fucking HATE watches! Tick tick tick! Being tethered to time has never been something I could stomach. Now every time Ron sees me without a watch he assumes I've lost it and another one appears.
"You never seem to lose that cheap bracelet. But all those watches...."
"They aren't lost!" This evening is getting off to a fine start. "I just forget to put them on."
Meanwhile, the salesclerk is listening to all this with intense interest. He's cute, but I feel like slapping him.
Ron puts the wine bottle down next to the cash register.
"Remember that Freddy Weinstein is my agent. The place is going to be crawling with people from his agency. I depend on these guys for contacts and connections, so...."
"So?" Where is this coming from? What has someone been saying, anyway, to make him so paranoid. Now, I'm paranoid! "So, what do you think I'm going to do? Embarrass you? How?"
"No, I'd never think that. I just want you to make a good impression on these people...."
"Ron, why do you give a shit about impressing a bunch of glorified accountants?" I flash on a roomful of Ted Schmidts, all in two thousand dollar suits. Christ! "You're an ARTIST, for fuck's sake. They should be trying to impress YOU."
Suddenly Ron leans over and kisses me. I'm a little startled. The clerk is smirking. I really need that fucking drink, but I know I'm not going to get it any time soon.
Continue on to "Fuck Armani -- Part 3" , the next section of Chapter Six of "Queer Theories."
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Picture of Gale Harold from MetroSource.
Updated May 8, 2002