Thursday, January 29, 2009

Everyone's An Artist, Baby !


Asheville, North Carolina, Appalachia’s own Paris is a mere 90 minutes up I-40 from me. This is a good thing because I can head over the mountain to hang with my buddy, Clay when things get too tense around here and I might add, that’s pretty damn often. If you’ve never been to Asheville, you’ve missed something special. Asheville, green, snowy and practically nestled in the clouds is somehow magical. Don’t ask me to describe it; you’ll feel it when you arrive. Perhaps it has something to do with all the pagans and Wiccans that reside there and the air is magically charged with cast spells and incantations.

Everyone, I mean, everyone is a vegan artist, sculptor, writer, singer, actor or knows someone who is. My buddy, Clay (not vegan) is a sculptor or at least he claims to be and he seems to pay his bills on time so I’m guessing he’s not pulling my leg. Every since I’ve know him he talks continually about his pieces and the galleries in NYC that are always contacting him to purchase his work. To this day, I’ve only seen his work once and I’d be hard-pressed to describe it. Ever see that episode of Gilligan’s Island where a tropical storm causes an old WWII floating mine to wash up in their lagoon and then Gilligan has to dismantle it before it blows them all up? Remember? Well, Clay’s “piece” looked something like that, huge, metal and tons of loose wires coming out of it. I never mentioned this to Clay; I somehow don’t think he’d appreciate the remark. When an artist asks your opinion of their work, tread lightly if you’re not an artist as well and know what’s good for you. Trust me, anything you say will go in one ear and out the other because the only opinion they respect is the opinion of a peer or someone they consider their “better”. So, just smile and mutter something about it being truly inspired and change the subject quickly or suggest going out for tapas. Nothing like marinated olives & anchovies to get you out of a sticky situation.


The way that Clay and I met was just plain weird, there’s no other word for it. Remember back to the early 2000’s and what the internet was like with the constant danger of your computer being infected with one of those nasty worms or viruses. There was one particular virus that once it got into your computer would cause all the email being sent to you to be also be forwarded to unknown strangers all over the globe as well. Such was the case this time. I started receiving all these emails from art galleries and also emails from guys wanting to hook up with this Clay dude (usually with a few nude pictures of their pierced genitalia embedded in body of the email for good measure). After a week of this and finally coming to the conclusion that this problem wasn’t going to clear up on it’s own, I decided to email this Clay dude and tell him I was tired of getting all his email and perhaps he had inadvertently infected his computer with a virus while downloading porn. Then because I’m a smart ass, I added that if he went out with that guy that had emailed him the night before and enclosed a grainy close up of his gaping butthole, he’d better be sure to tie a 2 x 4 across his ass to keep from falling into that dark abyss.

The next evening he emailed back seeming very confused about what was going on and not understanding how I knew all about that guy’s picture. Instead of emailing back, I called the phone number Clay had included with his email and we talked for what must have been two hours at least, conversation coming easy, both of us laughing at the same jokes and filling up the awkward silences. After getting him to promise to install a really good anti-virus program on his computer and to change all his passwords, we quickly found out we had a lot in common. Two weeks later I was driving to Asheville to spend the weekend with him. NO, not like that. I was to stay in the guest room. There was not going to be any bumping of who-who’s, I was sure of it. Besides, even though we had great fun when we talked on the phone, I had no idea what he looked. No, this was just a friend thing. I got lost driving around in the back streets of West Asheville and had to call him for more directions. “Stay put, I’m just down the street. I’ll come get you.” He commanded. So, I lit up a cigarette (I still smoked at that time) and walked behind the closed service station to find a place to piss.

When I came back around the building, there was a souped-up, vintage Ford pickup truck sitting beside my car, motor loudly revving every few seconds. Oh shit, some redneck hillbillies have come to kill this little queer boy, I thought quickly and then I heard my named called, it was Clay. He leaned through the darkness to pop the lock on the passenger side down and my heart lurched in my chest. To say he was hot was an understatement; he was exactly my “type” at that time. Very tall and tightly muscled, blond flat top, the bluest eyes you ever saw and a cute little blond patch of fur under his bottom lip. Now I hoped and prayed there would certainly be a bumping of who-who’s tonight. I wasn’t disappointed. We made it two months as a couple. It seems Clay has too much heart and dick to just share it with one man, he prefers to spread the love around and well, and that doesn’t work for me. I laugh now at how angry I used to become at him because he wouldn’t join me in the white-picket-fence fantasy I indulge myself in when I fall in love or the gay equivalent of that, a joint Costco membership.

Out of sight/out of mind comes in to play here. We didn’t see each other or call, email… nothing for six months, I guess. Then we got over it and became friends again, just friends. We knew better than to go there again even though I often found myself wishing things had somehow been different. Clay is truly one of the most serene, gentle people I’ve ever known. Maybe it was the constant nude meditation on the straw mat in the basement, the wicked strong incense he burnt or the all the pot he smoked, but I somehow suspect it was just Clay being himself.

He worried about my stress level often referring to me as his little clockwork mouse (hmmm). One day he said he’d found the answer. I looked up from the plate of homemade ravioli Clay had placed before.

“The answer to what?”

“Stress, your stress.”

“Ohh, that.”

After dinner we went into the living room where Clay pulled out a ball of yarn and tossed it to me.

“What, you think I’m a cat or something?” I growled.

“No, Kenneth, come here.”

Poor, long-suffering Clay sighed and patted the space beside him on the couch. I plopped down beside him and over the couple of hours Clay taught me how to crochet and the rest shall we say is history.

So, the next time you’re on a plane or train and see a skinhead bent over, cackling manically while he crochets something undeterminable in his lap, just know it’s the new stress-free version of me thinking about the expression on Miranda’s face when I present her with the ugly afghan on Christmas morning.

1 comment:

C said...

interesting blog. lets trade links. as told by c.