Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Page 12


9 One spot. I was just one spot away from bingo.
10 B-I-N-G-O. B-I-N-G-O. B-I-N-G-O. And Bingo was his name-O. What I want to know is: What the fuck does the  have to do with the game? There has to be some connection, right?
11 Did I really just dump Bruce the First, the one person in this whole city who worships the ground I stalk on? So what if he’s a  . Isn’t it enough to have someone who adores you even when you’re not being adorable? Isn’t it enough to love someone because you know he’s going to be nice to you? Does there really have to be a sexual charge? Isn’t it enough to feel it in your   even if you’re not feeling it ?
12 Who the fuck am I kidding?
13 I’m not kidding myself, that’s for sure.
14 Robin  has the right idea. When Robin  told her he just wanted to be friends, she threw her  at him. Just picked up her appletini and splashed it over his just-wanna-be-friends expression. Then she stormed out and left him to pay for the drink she’d just emptied onto his face. I think it’s the last part I admire the most. (Of course, afterward she cried for about six days, which was about five and a half more than I could really stomach. I told her the only person a named Robin should date is a guy named Batman, so they can live in their Brokeback Batcave and . I told her she could do better, even though she probably can’t. That’s what friends are for.)
15 I miss Dad. Even when all of these other things are going on, even when he should be two thousand miles away from my thoughts, I wish he was here. Not so we could return to the fighting time, but back farther than that, to the good time. I know he and Mom both say now that the good time wasn’t really that good, but what matters to me is that I didn’t know it then. I felt it was good, and even though that’s selfish, it’s really good enough for me.
16 Do you remember, Ely, the way we’d always be picking places to get married? How many years did we do that? In front of the polar bear pool at the Central Park Zoo. Or in a swank soirée at the Temple of Dendur. Or on the Staten Island Ferry, with the guests changing every time we docked. Or at the top of the Empire State Building, before we realized how cliché that was. Then just this August, when you dragged me to XXL so you could flirt with one of the go-go boys while all the gone-gone boys hit on me . . . at one point between oglings, you leaned over to me and said, “Maybe we should get married here.” And I laughed, because it was funny. And I was happy that you’d made us into an us again, in a place that wouldn’t treat us like an us. And I was upset—really upset— that you weren’t taking it seriously, that you would never take it seriously. Even though it was ridiculous, I wanted you to care.
17 I am so over guys. Even gay guys. Especially gay guys. Sympathize all you want, boys, but when it all comes down to it, you still have dicks.
18 Look, there’s Gabriel. He’s looking very, very gazeworthy tonight.
19 Oh, Mrs. Loy, don’t glare at me like I’m a strumpet. I know you want Bruce the First to be the Harold to your Maude, and now you should be royally pleased that I’m freeing him from the shackles of being sadly in love with me. Maybe he’d like a real Dame for a change.
20 It shouldn’t be called a multi-purpose room. It’s a no-purpose room.
21 Almost there. Almost there.
22 I’m so glad I didn’t sleep with Bruce the First. And by sleep with, I mean have intercourse with. We did a lot of sleeping, and that was nice. In fact,  was the nicest part. I’m glad I’m smart enough to know that not getting to have intercourse with your first choice for your first is not reason enough to have intercourse with choice #2.
23 I’m so tired. Tired of the drama. Tired of missing Ely. Tired of spending all my time trying not to miss him. Tired of being so fucking angry. At him. At Mom. At Dad. And most of all at the universe. Tired of having to deal with people. Tired of not getting anything close to what I want. Tired of having the wrong people want me. Tired of wanting the wrong people. Tired of the   and the   and the  . Tired of thinking. Tired of the games. But if I got rid of all of that—what would I have left?
24 Why is Gabriel smiling like that? It’s like he knows the  ListTM has been  A into pieces.
25 Danger! Danger!
26 Do you really have anything left to lose?
27 Go for it.
Track 1
Chris Isaak: “Graduation Day” This is the song for both of us: the past.
The day we met was your graduation day—yours and Ely’s. Make that night. It was night. You and Ely still wore your graduation robes. You were both ripped. The parties were long over, but the two of you cuddled on the lobby sofa until dawn, empty champagne bottles at your feet. You laughed and sang songs. You seemed to be making up ditties on the spot as you goaded one another into belches. That was your game, seeing who could push the other the farthest.
Your graduation day was my first night on the job. I wondered why the building residents who passed through the lobby took no notice of you and Ely—like that’s how you could be found on any night, two drunken teenagers wearing graduation robes, burping and singing and teasing, holding on to one another for dear life and yet not groping one another, either. Whispering secrets.
Look, it’s no secret that I’ve turned out to be a lousy doorman. Everyone in the building knows it. The benefit of working a graveyard shift is that very few residents are awake enough to be bothered by my incompetence. So I misplace packages, and I mispronounce residents’ names. You try saying, “Nope, there’s no DHL, UPS, or FedEx for you here, Mr. Dziechciowski,” at four in the morning. So I buzz the wrong apartments and send food-delivery guys upstairs to bring steak sandwiches to the Singhs or BLTs to the Lefkowitzes . . . before dawn on a Saturday morning. Sorry. And don’t forget the middle-of-the-night rotation of visitors dealing dope or adultery who I let slide by. Just don’t ask me to gossip about all the goings-on with the congregation of lobby insomniacs. Because I don’t care. I’m just gonna stand at the doorman station lookin’ cool. That, I do well.
I’m a nineteen-year-old guy with nothing better to do than moonlight as a doorman, and daydream about you.
You didn’t love me, but life goes on, just like the song says.
Sorry, that line refers to another girl, who’s not you. My life has gone on without her.
You couldn’t know the imprint you left on me that first night, how I’d arrived on the job feeling like it was the first day of the end of my life. You couldn’t know what had recently been buried, or left behind. You couldn’t know that the simple sight of your dimpled smile at me that night, and the sound of your laughter, gave me the smallest glimmer of hope when all I wanted to do was bolt—from the new job, from home—to go anywhere or nowhere, to disappear into nothing.
Even the smallest glimmer counts.
Track 2
Bettye Swann: “(My Heart Is) Closed for the Season” This song is for Lisa.
Let’s get this out of the way now. Lisa was my first. I got piercings in private places for her. Combat boots and a nurse’s uniform, that was Lisa. A goth hospice nurse—go figure. Ah, figure. Voluptuous, a smart-ass with a smart ass. Who could resist?
Let’s also get this out of the way now. Slap any sexual or ethnic label on me that you want, but don’t—I repeat, don’t— label me on the basis of my musical tastes. My dad claims he learned to speak English from listening to country music; my mother believed music was how we should communicate as a family. My parents used to trap my brother and me into helping them with weekend home-improvement projects under the guise of our “musical education.” We were hostages to Dad’s love of vinyl honky-tonk and funk, and Mom’s fondness for sad soul singers and Clash-era Brits. Because of my parents’ alluring baits of grilled cheese sandwiches and endless air hockey games as rewards for time lost to tiling kitchens and bathrooms, I’m a sucker for Hank Williams (Sr.) and old-school girl soul singers from the non-Motown pack.
Okay, so admittedly I first heard this song on a Starbucks compilation, but it wouldn’t be right to hold that against the song. It’s not the song’s fault.
The Lisa-ness of this particular oldie girl’s timeless song message? Seasons change. Closure and transition. Whatever. We’ll address The Obviousness of Irony in later song selections.
Lisa was older. I guess you figured that by now. She wasn’t Mrs. Loy old, the kind of old that defies actual numbers. Lisa was of an age that she’d been around long enough to get married and divorced, to know where piercings should be situated for maximum effect.
My brother said I had displaced attachment. Like if I loved her nurse, then that love could somehow keep our mother alive.
Lisa left me a week after. She said she’d been meaning to break up with me for a month, but I was too vulnerable. So she waited until after the funeral.
Go to college, Lisa said. Join a band. Act your age. Enjoy it.
I joined a band just so I could call her and tell her I joined it. Do you even know who Abe Froman is? she asked me. I said no. She said that was exactly why we could no longer be together. Generation gap. Act your age, she repeated. Find someone your own age.
I’m in a band, I can hook the girls in if I want to. I’m like you. I’ve got the right looks, if you know what I mean. And I don’t mean that in a vain way. Just being honest.
Honestly, I’d rather do a lot of things than be a doorman or perform with a band that switches identities from screamo acid jazz to indie-breed melancholy merely to accommodate whatever dive club will let them play. I just haven’t figured out what those other things I’d like to do are yet.
Honestly or foolishly (is there a difference?), I can’t be bothered to hook up with girls girls girls. I’m a disgrace to my looks and to my age. Five girls asked me to my high school prom last year, and I chose to play cards that night with Lisa, on a bench outside Mom’s room. I’m like my dad. I can focus on only one woman at a time—and I want her to be forever and for always.
You’re the first since my first to make me feel something, anything. I don’t exactly know why—I hardly know you. Maybe I suspect you’re like me. If you ever gave the matter substantial thought (and I hope you have), I suspect you’d also recognize that the Temptations were bound to factory hit-songwriting, and that’s why they got it wrong. Beauty’s not only skin deep. Just because a person is beautiful doesn’t mean there’s no soul beneath. Doesn’t mean that person hasn’t suffered like everyone else, doesn’t mean they don’t hope to still be a good human being in an awful world.
Hope. That’s what you make me feel.
That smallest glimmer could expand.
Track 3
Belle & Sebastian: “Piazza, New York Catcher” This song is for you and Ely.
You and Ely hummed this song to one another when you passed me by my first weeks on the job. You didn’t think I got it, but I understood the underlying message. Gabriel, nighttime doorman, are you straight or are you gay?
Like it’s not enough that people look at me and wonder, Is he brown or yellow or white or what?
As I mentioned, aside from my musical taste, I don’t care what anyone wants to label me, but for the record? Father from the lighter side of the dark continent, mother from the land of the midnight sun via the land of the rising sun. Straight.
Was I mean or kind or neither for letting Ely flirt with me those long summer weeks when you were in Kansas visiting your dying grandfather? Hanging out with Ely in the middle of the night was like a cheating way to get to know you before I was ready to do the work. When Ely talked about you, about the lives you’d shared growing up together, I pictured the two of you as some she-male Eloise at the Plaza, knowing every dark passageway, every nuance of every resident, every secret. I wanted to scavenge your heart through his memories.