This is Part 3 of Chapter 112 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "My Favorite Mistake -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Justin enjoy a day in New York City. New York, 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.
I wake up early on Saturday morning. I guess I'm too used to getting up for classes at PIFA. I climb out of bed quietly because Brian is still asleep. He's been running ragged all week and I think he needs this weekend to recharge. And I'm planning to do my bit in helping with that recharging -- relaxing in the suite, sightseeing, eating, and, of course, as much amazing fucking as both of us can handle! Yes, after that Brian should be completely recharged!
I put on my fluffy white bathrobe and go out into the sitting room. The first thing I notice is that Cynthia's door is slightly open. I go over to shut it so I don't wake her up -- but the room is empty. This is interesting. She had that date with the actor last night. Now I'm really curious to meet him -- I bet he's hot. At least, hot for a straight guy!
I pick up the clothes that Brian and I discarded in little piles all over and take them into the bedroom. I don't want Cynthia to think we are total slobs -- or sex maniacs! Then I come back out and get the room service menu from the desk and look it over. It's not yet 8:00 a.m., but I'm starving. I weigh whether I should order breakfast now or wait for Brian. Or I could eat the rest of Brian's corned beef sandwich. I ate the other half of mine last night after we finished watching 'Letterman' -- I was pretty hungry again by then and I needed to refuel before another session in that big, bouncy bed. Brian, of course, seems to run on bottled water, come, and pure lust, but I still have to have real food regularly. But somehow the thought of a corned beef sandwich doesn't cut it this early in the day.
I keep thinking about how cool it was seeing myself on 'Letterman' last night. And making out with Brian on TV! How intense is that? Of course, he was 'making out' with Bowie and Connie Chung and that intern, too, but that was just pretend. With me it was real. I can hardly wait to call Emmett and Vic and make sure they got everything on tape -- they must have been DYING when they saw the bit. And my mom... well, I'm sure she probably thought it was all right, too. And Brian says that I'll be happy when I see my scenes in 'Hammersmith' -- he acts like they are really important instead of just a couple of short bits, but I'm sure he's exaggerating. I hope that 'Hammersmith' gets to Pittsburgh after it's released here -- I'm sure it will after Brian makes a big hit in 'The Olympian.' I can hardly wait to go with everyone and see that -- Brian and ME on a huge movie screen!
I open up the fridge in the minibar because I know that Brian asked the hotel to remove all the booze and stock the thing with juices and water. I find a container of orange juice, I sit down at the table, and drink it while I look through yesterday's papers. I tear out the gossip column with the mention of Brian in it to save for my scrapbook.
I'm just about to go back into the bedroom when there's a knock on the door. I know it can't be Cynthia because she has her own key card. When I open the door I see that it's Peggy, Jimmy Hardy's assistant.
"Jimmy wants to know if you two gentlemen want to come down and have breakfast with him," she says. Peggy always looks like she's smelling something bad, with her lip all curled around. "As usual, Jimmy ordered enough food for ten people and if no one goes down to eat with him, he'll have me knocking on doors and inviting total strangers to join him. Cynthia is invited, too, of course."
"Um, they're still asleep," I say. I don't want Peggy to know that Cynthia isn't back yet. Peggy strikes me as a big gossip. "But I'll go down and eat something."
"You better be hungry," she sniffs.
"I'm always hungry," I reply. I check on Brian -- still out like a light -- and put my key card in my pocket. I also put on my briefs. I don't want Brian to think I've been roaming the halls of the hotel with nothing on under my robe.
Jimmy is sitting at the table in his suite, also wearing one of the white hotel bathrobes. Just like Peggy said, he's ordered enough food for the whole floor.
"Justin, my man!" he says. "Delighted you could make it. Dig right in!"
I pull up a chair and help myself to a sesame bagel. "What's that?" I point to what Jimmy has on his plate. It looks like some kind of egg custard with green stuff in it and croutons on top.
"Eggs Florentine." Jimmy sees my dubious face. "The green stuff is spinach. It's not bad. Have some. Have everything. Isn't the Big Man coming? Or is he dieting again?" Jimmy says, his mouth full.
I take some of the eggs. They're good. Then I take a couple of sausages. They're even better. "He's still asleep. But he'd never eat all this greasy and creamy stuff for breakfast -- or ever!" I laugh.
"Brian is too obsessed about his weight. It's crazy! The last thing that guy needs to do is watch what he eats," Jimmy says, cramming a piece of cinnamon toast into his mouth. It smells good, so I grab a slice. But I also notice that Jimmy looks a lot pudgier than he did last June out in Los Angeles. Maybe it's because he's between movies. Jimmy smiles that smarmy smile of his and comments, "Must be nice to have a perfect body."
"Brian works at it," I say. "He works out all the time. And he's careful about what he eats."
Jimmy smirks. "The guy is just naturally a stick, let's face it, kid! Not like me. Every donut I eat on the set goes straight to my rear end. But, like Dave said last night -- nobody is paying to see MY ass! With Brian it's a different story. HIS ass will sell a heck of a lot of tickets!"
"Well, please don't say that to him, Jimmy," I reply, seriously. "Brian thinks the only reason anyone would want him in a film is for his looks. He's completely down on himself as to his acting ability -- thanks to Ron. So don't say stuff like that to him."
Now Jimmy frowns. "Does Brian really think that? I was only joking, you know. He's a really good actor! He knows that!"
"I don't think he does, Jimmy," I answer. "Because Brian listens to Ron -- and Ron tells him he ISN'T any good. That he's valuable for his body and not much else. And that's the truth. So don't you say the same thing all the time and just reinforce it to him."
"Now that's silly, Justin!" Jimmy scoffs. "I was just kidding around. Brian can't be THAT paranoid! And I know for a fact that Ron doesn't really think Brian isn't a good actor. Far from it! He raves about him to everyone."
I look pointedly at Jimmy. "But what good is Ron bragging about Brian's talent to everyone else in Hollywood if he's always telling Brian something different? Always putting him down to his face? No matter what their 'relationship' might be, Ron's opinion is important to Brian -- and Brian thinks that Ron looks at him as just another pretty face and another smooth ass. How would that make YOU feel, Jimmy? If everyone labeled you as a no-talent who was getting by because... because of his sex appeal. Or because of who he was sleeping with?"
"Well, THAT is just a lie! Brian has to know that! And I can't believe that Ron has never told Brian how talented he is. He's almost obsessive on the subject!"
"Obsessive is right," I say, taking a couple more sausages and another piece of cinnamon toast.
"I think you're jealous, kid!" Jimmy smirks at me again.
"I don't need to be jealous," I reply. "I'M here -- not Ron. So who is the one who should be jealous?"
"Good point." Jimmy has the morning papers and he opens to the gossip columns first thing, scanning through them. "Did you see that item yesterday in the 'Post'?"
"About Brian's 'girlfriend'? We saw it."
"That was some scene! Cindy was about to smack that woman because she was pestering her while we were just trying to eat dinner. Finally, the woman gave up without getting Cindy's name!" Jimmy guffaws. "Gossip columnists can be so dumb sometimes. They completely miss the obvious!"
I think of a few of those blind items that didn't seem to 'miss' the obvious, but I don't point that out to Jimmy. Like a certain item about an Oscar-winning star who thinks no one knows what he's been up to with his male co-star.
"What are you and Sleeping Beauty going to do today?" asks Jimmy. "Got big plans?"
"Nope," I say. "Maybe go shopping or walk around. Nothing much until dinner and the show tonight."
"Are you taking Cindy with you? Or is it just 'The Guys'?"
"Brian invited Cynthia, but I don't know what her plans are." I glance over at Jimmy and see his questioning expression. "Why? Do you think she should go with us for some reason?"
Jimmy looks at me slyly. "No. It's just... sometimes it looks a little... you know. A couple of guys? Especially two really hot guys together. And Brian -- when he's so much in the public eye on this trip -- you can't be too careful."
I put down my fork. "So you're saying that we should bring Cynthia along as Brian's beard? Because Brian hates that kind of shit."
Jimmy shrugs. "He may hate it -- but he's done it. And he'll do it again, I bet. For the good of his career."
"Not when he's with me, Jimmy. Never!" I look Jimmy right in the eye.
"You are so naive, kid! It's adorable," says Jimmy. "YOU are so adorable, you little scamp!" And Jimmy reaches over and gives me a playful little pinch on my arm. Like he's trying to be funny. But there's something else there. He looks at me sitting there in my bathrobe -- and I don't really care for the way he's looking. Like he was staring at me when he barged into the bedroom yesterday. I think Jimmy needs to get back to his wife -- soon.
"Well, I better go back to the room," I say, pushing away from the table. "If Brian wakes up and I'm gone he'll worry."
"You just got here, kid! And there's plenty of food left." Jimmy lifts the tops of some more containers to show me all the remaining dishes we haven't even touched.
"Thanks, Jimmy, but I'm full."
"Stop by any time, Justin. Any time," Jimmy says, grinning at me in that creepy way. But now I'm really in a hurry to get out of there.
Back in the room, Cynthia's door is shut and her coat is draped over a chair. Must have been a good date! I'll have to pry the gory details out of her later.
"Where were you?" mumbles Brian, opening one eye. "I was about to send out the Mounties."
"Peggy dragged me down to Jimmy's room to eat breakfast. That guy wastes more food!" I toss my robe on the end of the bed and slip off my briefs before I get back in.
"Jimmy's getting fat," Brian says, turning over and pressing up against me. "So don't get lured into his world of high carb consumption. Your twink metabolism won't last forever, you know."
"I know," I say, sighing and cuddling up against Brian. It feels good to be back in bed with him. His body feels hot and smells all sleepy and musky. But I have to feel a little sorry for Jimmy. I think the real problem is that he's lonely. He's famous and rich and has Peggy and a slew of assistants, but he doesn't really have any friends, except maybe Ron. And Brian. Nobody who just wants to sit and have breakfast with him. And now his wife, Tess, doesn't seem too happy with him. I wonder what he's going to do all weekend in New York, all by himself. Hopefully not bug me and Brian. Or try to get into bed with us! The thought makes me queasy after all that breakfast.
"I thought I heard you come back earlier," says Brian, nuzzling his face against the pale fluff on my chest. "I heard the door close out there."
"That must have been Cynthia coming home," I answer. Brian's lips feel so good against my skin.
Brian looks up. "No shit? She just got back NOW? What do you know!" Brian seems pleased. "It's about time she got laid."
"Well, heteros have sex, too. Sort of. So, why not Cynthia? She's got time off this weekend. And speaking of sex...."
"Aren't you hungry, Brian?" I murmur. "Don't you want any breakfast?"
"I have plenty of things to put in my mouth right here," he says. And he moves down from the fluff on my chest to the fluff a little bit lower. And he finds something else down there. Something that fits in his mouth just perfectly. I gasp.
And we don't get up again until it's almost noon.
"Can we just walk again, Brian?" I say, looking up at him. The doorman at the Wyndham is standing by, waiting to see if we want him to call a cab.
"You don't want to ride around and see all the sights? Or I can buzz the limo. It's on call -- unless Jimmy is using it right now."
"I'd rather walk, like we did last night. If that's okay?"
"Sure. It's fine with me. Both of my legs work okay -- for an old man." He smiles.
"Yeah, you're real ancient, Brian!" I grab his arm and pull him down the street.
We wander down Fifth Avenue, talking about all the shows Brian has done so far and the appearances still on his agenda. He has 'Good Morning, America' first thing Monday, then finishing up his Woody Allen scenes Monday and Tuesday. 'Conan O'Brien' on Tuesday. Then he and Jimmy are flying back to the Coast to get ready for the premiere and also do 'The Tonight Show' and 'Larry King.' "I'm not looking forward to the Larry King thing, Justin. Lots of questions about kissing a guy! Jimmy warned me ahead of time about Larry's questions -- straight off the cue cards."
"Well, at least you know what to expect, Brian," I say. And he shrugs.
Brian steers us down a sidewalk into the plaza by Rockefeller Center. Brian stops and looks in the window at the 'Today Show' set. "I've been watching this show since I was in college. And on Tuesday morning I was on the inside!" says Brian. "Seems impossible."
"You looked so great, Brian!" I say. "Katie Couric was drooling over you!"
"Flatterer!" He punches my arm gently.
We stroll over to the ice skating rink, with the big golden statue displayed above it, and lean on the railing. There are a lot of people who have had the same idea we did -- just wandering around town on what might be one of the last really nice Saturdays before Winter comes. I'm surprised that the rink is open on such a warm, sunny day, but there are a number of people going around on their skates. It looks like fun. I like watching figure skating -- even though every time I turn it on Brian bitches about the 'Olympic Queer Squad'! "At least the guys in figure skating aren't afraid to be who they are, Brian," I said the last time he snarked about one guy dressed in lace and velvet, spinning on the television screen. Brian didn't answer that time.
I pull out my camera and take a picture of Brian with the ice rink and the golden statue in the background and then he takes one of me. Then I ask a woman standing nearby if she'll take the two of us. After I put the camera away, Brian stares for a while at the rink and the statue and the people passing through the plaza. His face looks spooked all of a sudden. I had thought that look was pretty much a thing of the past.
"Are you okay, Brian?" I say, touching his shoulder.
He blinks a few times and turns his back on the skaters. "I... I just had one of those feelings of déjà vu that was so powerful.... Let's go. Let's go right now." And he puts his arm through mine and hurries me away from the ice rink and back towards Fifth Avenue.
"Tell me," I say. "You can tell me anything, Brian."
"It's stupid, Justin," he says, trying to put me off.
"Not if it bothers you, Brian."
He hunches over a little, like he feels a chill, turning up the collar of his suede jacket. He stops on the sidewalk and looks across the street. "That's St. Patrick's Cathedral."
"Do you want to go inside, Brian?"
He shakes his head and takes my arm. We start walking again. "It... it was just such a strong feeling. A strong memory. Of standing in that exact spot -- I mean that VERY spot at the skating rink -- with Ron. It... I didn't like that feeling." He tosses his head as if trying to clear the memory out of it. We continue walking back up Fifth Avenue, heading towards the Park.
"Was it something bad that happened?" I ask, quietly. "Because I understand. I know a lot of shitty things happened to you in this city a long time ago."
"No," answers Brian. "That's not it at all. Just the opposite. It was a good memory. A good day. A normal kind of day. One of the few good ones I had here. Just me and Ron doing normal things. Being together in the city. We... walked around. Looked at the buildings. Watched the people skating. It was cold, but I was so... so elated that day. I can't explain it."
"I think you're doing a fine job explaining it, Brian. It doesn't seem so strange to me."
He grips my arm. "Ron bought me... that fucking red shirt. And took me to dinner. The first time I ever had Thai food."
I'm not sure what to say. I'm not sure exactly what is bothering Brian. "It sounds... nice. You're allowed to have a couple of good memories in your life, you know, Brian." I smile. "I won't think any less of your Tragic Persona if I find out that you actually enjoyed something once in a while. In fact, it gives ME a little bit of hope."
"But it's just that... it's the same thing WE are doing, Justin! How do I know that this whole fucking relationship isn't just my sick attempt to recreate something that... that can't be recreated? Some stupid, juvenile fantasy?"
I know that Brian remembers his time with Ron in New York as something good in his life, but it surprises me that Brian would see any parallels with our relationship. That was such a short time -- only a couple of weeks, if even that long, while we've been together -- on and off, but more on -- for two years. Besides the fact that everything else is different. Totally different. "Is that all you think our relationship is, Brian? Really? Recreating a juvenile fantasy?"
"No," he replies, his voice almost inaudible.
"Because I'm NOT you, Brian," I say. "I'm not some scared kid in a strange and hostile city looking for a place to feel safe -- or someone to feel safe with. There's no similarity whatsoever in our situations. And you aren't Ron. Not in any way. You're not a confused, unhappy guy searching for his identity -- and finding the answer in a beautiful, needy kid who only wants someone to take care of him. To love him." I glance around us, at the people jostling each other on the broad sidewalk. "Look at all these people, Brian, walking around the city on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Are THEY all recreating something from the past? Maybe some are. Or maybe they're just going on with their lives. Or maybe some of them ARE creating something new. A new relationship. A new experience."
"Maybe." He's really lost in thought.
"Brian, you said that we'd talk a little about what you said before. About you not doing any other guys. Because you told that guy in Woody's that you were in an exclusive relationship. And then you mentioned it again yesterday. Do you really mean it?"
"I said it, didn't I?" He shrugs me off.
"Well, I think we should discuss it."
Brian sighs. "Does everything have to be a big discussion all the time? I mean, don't actions speak louder than words?"
I look up at him. "Sometimes. But then sometimes words can help to sustain you when the other person's actions don't exactly... live up to expectations. Which happens, Brian, let's face it. I mean -- if you've said 'I love you' to someone it might not take away the pain when you know they've been... with somebody else. But it gives you... something. Something to hang on to. And when someone says they are in an exclusive relationship with you -- and they don't say it anyone else...."
"So you're already anticipating when I fuck up and slip up?" Brian says, an edge to his voice.
"No, Brian. Not at all. I'm just telling you that if you say the words out loud it might help to make YOU strong. To make YOU more able to actually do it. Because you're a guy who keeps his word. Once you say, you stick by it." I try to make him look at me, to face me, but Brian just looks straight ahead as we walk. "Which is why you don't make promises easily or say things like that off the top of your head. You aren't like guys who say, 'I love you! I love you! I love!' to ten guys a night just to shut them up or get them into bed. You only say it when you really, truly mean it. So, what I'm saying is -- you don't have to make any fucking pronouncement or promise -- unless you are serious about it. But if you ARE serious, then saying it might help you to actually keep it."
"Let's sit here for a minute." He pulls me over and points to some banners flying over the next street. I look up at them. "That's the Museum of Modern Art," he says, leading me off the sidewalk and over to a ledge where we can sit. "I know you've never been there. Want to go tomorrow?"
"Of course! I'd love to!" And now that I know it's right here, around the corner from our hotel, I'm dying to go inside.
"They have Picasso in there. Matisse. Van Gogh's 'Starry Night.' And Jackson Pollock with all his dribbles. I've been there a couple of times when I was in New York on business -- always by myself. You'll love it, Justin."
"Brian," I say, squeezing his arm. "I know you're changing the subject, but...."
"I'm not," he says. "I'm not changing the subject. That day I walked around with Ron, that cold February day, he promised that he'd take me to the Museum. He... promised a lot of things. But then... things happened. Nothing was ever fulfilled. Nothing was ever... made right. We didn't get to do all the things we were going to do together. We... never had the time. We never...." He pauses. "And when Fiona showed me... when I saw... what would have happened if I had stayed with Ron and how it STILL didn't turn out right... I guess it fucking scares me. Any kind of commitment. Any kind of promise. It's taking a chance. Because those things can hurt you if... if they fail. If everything explodes in your face. And let's face it, most of mine have failed. I've failed. And that's worse than... never trying at all. Isn't it?"
I shake my head. "No, it's not! I guess it's easier never to try at all. But it's also empty. Taking the chance at least gives you a shot at happiness. If you had never taken the chance, then you wouldn't have Gus. You wouldn't have your career. You wouldn't have... me. Jesus, Brian! You take chances all the time! You tempt Fate constantly. You are always standing on a fucking ledge, willing yourself NOT to fall off. 'Life without risk not worth living' -- remember when you told me that? So, is THIS so hard?"
"Yes," he says, gazing down at the pavement. "Because standing on that fucking ledge is about dying. But this really IS about living. Living my whole life in a new way. And that's much more frightening." He reaches over and takes my hand and we move back to the sidewalk. We watch the people passing by and the cars and taxis whizzing down Fifth Avenue at impossible speeds in the middle of the crowded city.
"I'm not frightened," I say.
"I'm glad someone isn't," Brian replies, his eyes looking ahead. "I... I think I'm ready to do it, Justin. I think... I'm ready to say it -- out loud. I mean, it was hard enough for me to say... 'I love you' over in England, even though I'd said it a million fucking times in my head. Saying it out loud really makes it... true. But I know that I want to be with you and not with anyone else. I've known that for a long time, but I didn't want to admit it. I thought I needed a lot of other guys -- and I did, to numb myself into forgetting. And I thought I needed Ron, too. To... to make me forget who I really was and to help me escape from all my responsibilities. Then I could be a kid again. But... that was a lie." Brian begins rubbing his thumb across my slave bracelet on my right wrist, as if he's making a wish. "I'm not a kid and I don't need those other people. I don't want THEM. I just want YOU. So, if you think that you can do without anyone else -- even that fucking little Wade! -- then I'm willing to give it a try. That 'exclusive' thing. For as long as it works for you. If that's what you want."
I can feel the huge smile on my face. "Of course that's what I want, Brian! What do you think? I can do it! I know I can." Then I get serious and I pull his face around to look directly at me. "But more importantly, I think YOU can do it, Brian. I love you and I KNOW you can do it."
I don't know if New Yorkers are just used to guys kissing on the street. Or maybe only in front of the Museum of Modern Art. Because they ignore us. Maybe they think, 'Hey! It's those two guys who were making out on 'Letterman'! I guess it's okay, then!'
Brian is still very quiet as we continue our walk all the way up Fifth Avenue, past the Plaza Hotel, and into Central Park. I watch people getting into the horse-drawn carriages and driving into the park, but I think that might be taking Brian's fairly 'couple-y' mood a little too far. Brian seems to know exactly where he wants to go and we wind around on the paths under the trees. I remember that there's some place in Central Park that's an infamous cruising spot and I wonder if Brian's taking me there to bolster my Queer Education, but I know we won't really, especially not after our discussion earlier. But we do stop at a small area where some people are sitting on the ground, playing guitars. It looks like a hippy love-in on a very small scale.
"What's going on, Brian? Is it a protest or something?"
He laughs. "No. This is Strawberry Fields. That..." he points to a large, creepy-looking building across from the park entrance. "Is the Dakota. Where John Lennon was murdered."
"Oh, I see." The people are playing Beatles songs and singing along. Brian has a guitar in the loft -- an electric guitar. Sometimes he'd take it out and play it a little, but never if he thought I was paying any attention. Once he caught me listening to him -- and he immediately put it away.
We listen for a while and I get my camera from the pocket of my jacket and take a few pictures. Brian gazes over at the building where Lennon was shot again. "You know that he was shot by a fan?" Brian says. "The guy got his autograph and then waited around and when he returned from the recording studio -- the guy shot him. Just... shot him."
He suddenly takes my arm and pulls me away.
We spend the rest of the afternoon just wandering the streets, holding hands, looking in windows and watching people. When I get hungry Brian buys me a couple of hot dogs from a cart -- and Brian even eats one himself. He pretends that he never eats stuff like that, but I know better. He actually LIKES hot dogs. We end the afternoon at the Prada Boutique, where Brian buys me a new shirt and jacket to wear out tonight. I think of what Brian said about Ron buying him that infamous red shirt, but I don't mention it. And he buys two pairs of shoes for himself. For someone who is always barefoot, Brian sure loves to buy shoes! After that, we head back to the Wyndham to get ready for dinner and the show.
Continue on to Page 2 of "My Favorite Mistake -- Part 3".