Archive for May, 2003


Friday, May 16th, 2003

1. When I/we first met Sean …

I may be wrong, but I think the first time I met Sean was when he came out with his parents to spend Christmas with Sean’s grandparents. Unfortunately, about a week earlier, his grandparents had decided to get divorced, or at least to begin a high voltage, dish throwing discussion about getting divorced, so Sean certainly learned to weather the storms of controversy at an early age.

I feel like there have been several meetings with Sean. The second was in 92 when I moved to Iowa and we hung out playing Dungeons and Dragons. Sean was, of course, my intellectual and emotional equal, but that may be because of my stunted maturity, not his accelerated growth. He had a speech impediment then, one he didn’t seem to care about, and he had the same relationship to the world that I had then and currently have now. He seemed to be just on the outside of the melee wondering what the hell everyone was so worked up about.

The soccer games for 8 year olds are not really profound sporting events, they mostly involve groups of the most athletically involved running around in circles in the middle of the field while the future scientists and artists and politicians tend to the occasional ball that rolls towards a goal. Sean was in the midst of his duties one day as goalie, staring off in the wrong direction with his hand in his mouth and suddenly his whole face lit up. A loose tooth that was bothering him came off in his hand and he raced over to the sidelines to give it to his mom. The parents in attendance burst into applause.

Another soccer moment; we were driving down to the field in soaking sheets of rain to watch Sean Patrick play. We pulled up and the rain was running down the windows of the mini-van like we were in a car wash, I didn’t even know we were there until the door opened. When it did, we saw Sean and one friend in complete soccer costume standing alone in the field. Sean came racing to the car and before getting in he held up two fists like a conquering dictator and said, in his broken ‘r’s, ‘Victo-wy! They Fo-fitted!!’

There was a third meeting, when Lucas was in the hospital. I came to help out in any way I could and was asked to spend some time with Sean, to make sure he knew that he was still loved even though all the attention was going to Lucas. It didn’t seem that Sean had ever had any doubt about his place in the universe, but I went into this knowing my assignment, to hang out with a 13 year old boy, probably the worst sort of person there is. What I noticed immediately is that Sean was *exactly* like my friends who were 25 at the time. Maybe it says something about American men, but if Sean could have gotten a fake ID and a beard, my friends would have assumed he just graduated from college. I cracked him up, he cracked me up, and we watched the same TV shows and listened to the same music. It wasn’t a chore, it wasn’t an honor, it wasn’t anything to hang out with him. It was like we were old friends from the same neighborhood. We even made fun of his and my parents.

Running into Sean at 17 was incredible. When he came to New York I kept forgetting I couldn’t take him into bars. He may have finally matured past me at this point. But now we can at least joke about basketball and college and the seedier side of the internet. I really wanted him to come to college in New York, for completely selfish reasons. I just wanted him to be around so I could find out what new albums are good and what new websites are hilarious.

2. When Sean comes to mind, I think of …

His sense of humor. I remember him at six needling Ian about his favorite basketball team. Over and over he would ask Ian why they sucked. When Sean was 16 or so we were walking past a poster of Ricky Martin and Sean said, ‘That’s an artist I like for his music,’ completely straight. When he was 13 he played me a Wesley Willis CD, switching from song to song playing just the first five seconds and laughing like a banshee.

Seriously, Sean’s a good looking dude, there was basically no chance of that not happening with the genes from his mom’s side. But as soon as he realizes that girls like to laugh more than they like anything else, he’s gonna have to put a deli ticker on the door of his dorm room and have a light up sign out front saying which number he’s serving.

3. Advice for Sean’s Future …

Um, seriously? Sean should keep it real. He should keep his head up and go out and do what he has to do to win this game. He should be kind to the lesser things in this world, and be courteous, learned and obedient. He should refrain from farting in an elevator unless it is *really* crowded. And broken. He should start exercising before he ends up looking like his dad and uncle Sean. He should stand up for what he believes in and for ladies entering the room. He should learn to shoot left handed. He should grow up in a small town and live his life in a big city and grow old in a small town. He should swing at the high heat and should hit his backhand flat and down the line. He should never be any cooler than he is now. He should shower at least twice a week, without being asked. He should keep the wall to his left, the sun to his back, the wind to his front and his eyes open.

Family Values

Wednesday, May 14th, 2003

How do you know?

That’s the question I haven’t yet been asked and probably won’t, but in my romantic notions, it’s a question I think I should answer. And I can’t, really. I mean, I have some grand idea that this could be a blog outlining my concept of why I believe in love, why I believe that this can work. But there is no way you can write that in a blog.

‘Values’ is one of those words that makes me cringe, since it’s meaning, like Jesus Christ, has been stolen from the people who deserve it and given to crappy old Republicans. But in order for a relationship to work, you have to value the same things. If you find a woman who is crafty and hard working, that doesn’t mean anything unless you value those qualities. It doesn’t mean that you both love God, it could mean that you both don’t. But you have to share the same priorities when it comes to behavior.

We were having a little discussion last night at my birthday dinner. Jordana is changing her last name to mine and Tessa is not changing her last name to Ian’s. I’m not sure why the discussion lasted as long as it did, but I did find myself, drunk off my ass, trying to put into words why it is so important to me. There are several reasons, primarily because I want Jordana and I to have the same last name, but also because I want to share that name with my expansive immediate family and with the rest of America who have that name. It is exciting to me, not limiting, to have the most common surname in the United States. There is another Shawn Williams in the cast of my show, a black guy who grew up in New York has my homophonic name, that is so awesome.

And also my ex-wife never took my name. Because she felt it was giving in to the patriarchy. I didn’t press it, but I did point out that I wasn’t fighting for the patriarchy, that I want Vijay Sing to lose in the masters this weekend, that I was donating my time to Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill, that I had campaigned for the ERA in Iowa, and that I just wanted us to have the same last name as my mom. But the fact that she never changed it became an indication of her need to satisfy a political ideal over wanting to be part of a family with me.

That, by the way, is not why Tessa isn’t changing hers. She is older than I am and has built a public identity as ‘Blake’ that adds so much to here private identity. I mean, I think she too would fight the patriarchy, but I don’t think that’s why she’s doing this.

In any case, at some point far back in our relationship, Jordana and I both realized that she wanted to change her name because she knew I wanted it. She is politically savvy, but our value system is based as much on wanting to give the difficult gift to one another as it is on the importance of laughing during sex. At some point, I think we might not be getting married if this was something we didn’t agree on. There would have been a moment, years ago, when it would have broken us up. Not this particular matter, but the underlying value systems that lead us to this.

And that’s why I know this time it’s right, or at least as right as I can see right now.

Opening engagements

Monday, May 12th, 2003

The unexamined life is not worth living, I am told, but these last few days have been beyond description. I can give you a quick recap.

– Friday I found out that my show opening for Saturday was cancelled. That’s right, cancelled. They cancelled opening night. Because the set sucked. There is a casualness to what other people may think that is so refreshing with this theater, they will do what they want when they want it, they will give you a great play when it is great and no sooner. But seriously, cancel opening night? The show must go on, unless it isn’t as good as it could be with another week of rehearsal? Amazing. They didn’t even rehearse us the night we were supposed to open, we got the night off.

– Saturday, I asked Jordana if we could just spend the day together, the two of us, for my birthday. I wanted us to just go have some fun. We went to the Upper West Side for breakfast and candy and then walked through the park down to the Empire State Building. Once up there, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I don’t know what I can say about that. I’m sure I’ll think of something soon, but right now I can’t think of anything.

– Sunday we did the show in front of a small invited audience, mostly mothers fresh from church who muttered in agreement all the way through. Then Michelle had arranged a dinner at Otto, Mario Batali’s new restaurant, with my closest friends and family. Everyone couldn’t stop hugging Jordana and Tessa and me and Michelle, all for different reasons. The food was wonderful, everyone was awesome…

In fact, that’s the thing. It will happen, sooner rather than later, someone who is feeling sorry for themselves is gonna shit on this. My friend Steve left me a voice mail saying ‘Happy Birthday, and Happy Engagement, dude do you really need this much attention…’ and he was kidding, but at some point someone is going to come along thinking that I think I am really cool for having a show open and getting married and having a birthday all in the same weekend.

But until that happens, I am still walking on air every time I look at Jordana. I have been walking on air for years, but now it’s because of this. And I cannot believe the level of love we have gotten from everyone. It’s really incredible. People are like kids when they hear, I can’t call anyone because I can’t get off the phone. It seems like everyone has been waiting for this for me as much as I have.

And so, I don’t really know how to write about it until I have some perspective.

Maybe it was Eugene Mc Oregan…

Friday, May 2nd, 2003

I have a funny story. At first glance it would appear to be a story about me, or about me and a girl, but I think it is actually a story about Los Angeles.

There was a group of us sitting around drinking back at the old Beachwood House, debating the magazine headlines that were coming out in early 1999. People were compiling lists back then, lists that would suggest some kind of cosmic significance to the end of the decade, the century, the millenium. And we were talking about how right or wrong they all were.

The first part of the conversation contains a pretty infamous comment. You have to understand that this was the skankiest group of humans I have ever had the misfortune to spend time with. This is a group of people so completely dumb that one of the girls dropped out of school three weeks before graduation to move there, and so completely without scruples that you couldn’t set down a slice of pizza to take your turn at the pool table without the knowledge that your housemate would eat it.

I mean, we can laugh about it now, but at the time it was terrible.

My wife had just left me to shtump a busboy she had met at the Olive Pizza Kitchen Italian Garden of Eatin’ or some-such thing, and I was broke and depressed. As we sat around drinking, the guys were mostly good natured awesome guys that I am still friends with, but the girls were these horrible grizzled, old old old young things, preternaturally skinny from see-through liquor and stolen crushed up Ritalin. Girls who were underweight despite being about 30% body fat, girls whose tiny waists slid right down to tiny hips and flat asses, whose hollow cheeks and cavernous clavicles slid into breasts like small, wet, rolled up sweatsocks full of mud, willing to fuck, not snuggle or make love to, but fuck anything that had thirty extra dollars or a thirty inch waistband.

As I was broke and full figured, I was generally safe from these depressing vacuums of degredation.

On this night, as we discussed the most influential women of the last one hundred years, the girls in attendance were really off the chart. We tossed out Oprah and Eleanor Roosevelt and Indira Ghandi, and one of the girls, who was the embodiment of drunk and braless, burst forth with her vote. Stumbling she said, ‘No. No. Nono. Listen. No. Listen. It’s not… whoever. You have to say the first… you know… Eugene McGorigan, the first woman on the moon.’

The silence after that would have been filled by my friend Mac saying, ‘Oh, right right. I mean, I think you mean the woman on the shuttle who died. But yeah, totally. Except her name wasn’t Eugene, but I’m sure you knew that…’ except that Mac wasn’t there. I can’t describe it as a stunned silence, because we lost our ability to be stunned when we started finding girls O.D.ed on heroin in our yard.

That isn’t my favorite part of the story though. Twenty minutes later, that same girl, let’s call her ‘Idget’, was looking for more liquor and I told her we had already drunk everything in the house except the bottle of champagne left over from my wedding. I remember looking down at my hand, wondering when I would stop wearing the ring, and Idget looked at me with a real sadness in her eyes, a thirst to help me.

“Come with me,” she said, and led me into the kitchen. There was a brief silence from my pals, because I simply wasn’t the type to get a blowjob from a girl like this, but it seemed rude to refuse. Plus, I had a feeling that Idget knew exactly what to do as far as my genitals were concerned. “You need to forget her,” she said as she reached into the cabinet.

She pulled out the last bottle of Champagne and asked me to open it. I did, and she put the bottle right to her mouth and drank like a marathon runner about to collapse. Champagne spilled out of her mouth and covered the sliver thin tee shirt over her right breast. I honestly was about to put a stop to the whole thing when she lowered the bottle and offered it to me. I demured. She shrugged and before raising the bottle to her mouth said, ‘Seriously, you need to forget her,’ and left the kitchen.

Everyone I know knows the Eugene McGorrigan story. It’s the half hour afterwards that made me move to New York.

Some Numbers

Thursday, May 1st, 2003

My life has always been a numbers game. Ever since I first learned the properties of numbers, I have been obsessed with their relationships to one another, and to the rest of the world. There is a way that numbers make me feel, each one has a different flavor or set of flavors that change and shift depending on my mood. 3s are sometimes comforting, sometimes annoying. 7s are majestic one day, clumsy and falling short the next. I can’t explain why I do this, I just do, and I can’t really make any sense of it.

Of course, numbers are assignations of other thing’s worth as well. If you want to know how good something is, there is generally a sliding scale that will tell you, in dollars, in days, in karats, in something. Sometimes 80 is better than 60, sometimes 60 is better than 80, but we get used to the scales we use.

My friend Steve thinks the number 227 appears more than most numbers. It isn’t true, of course, and he knows that, but he likes pointing it out. 227 is the heaviest I have ever been, in pounds. 227 pounds on my five foot ten frame was enough weight to make my knees buckle and walk with a cane.

I chose a number, 1,1,2003 to make a promise to myself that when I reached another number 5,11,2003, I would have had a few things accomplished. I chose 10,000 as a dollar figure and I chose 200 in pounds as a goal. 10,000 dollars in half a year would still put me right around poverty level, and 199 pounds would still be 25 pounds overweight, so these weren’t unreasonable goals. I set these goals because without the setting of them I was achieving nothing.

It’s hard to describe the length and breadth of my failure on both fronts. I was down to 210 at one point, as of this morning I am back to 218. I have made so little money this year I have twice had to ask Jordana to pay our cellphone bill, ostensibly my gift to her. More numbers have shifted, my waist size going from 34 to 36 and now finally to 38. My jacket size from a 42 to a 46. I feel like I am going to the gym every morning and every drop of sweat that rolls down my fatty sides is matched by two drops that I am retaining, swelling to the point where my chest and stomach hair will begin to look sparse and stick straight out from my skin under the pressure.

And the numbers on the clock keep shifting. The going to sleep number, sometimes as early as 11:30, has been creeping back down to single digits again while I keep watch over the clock like a paranoid delusional afraid that time won’t move without my willing it. And my alarm, set at 7:05, keeps getting turned off at 6:50 or 6:40 after I wake up just after six and wait expectantly for time to catch up to me. I usually can grab a half hour or so in the afternoon so I don’t feel sleep deprived, but I feel out of control when my body and mind won’t obey.

I’m sure I will get a concerned email from my mom, one of maybe five people who read this blog, so let me just say it’s been a tough week and a tough morning, but I am always happy when I am either cooking, being with Jordana, seeing my friends or seeing my family. So don’t put me on suicide watch. I just weighed myself this morning, and the sense of disappointment was not something I can ignore.