Friday, May 14, 2004

Martini Time

If certain drugs were cheap and legal, I might have habits other than the ones I do, but my favorite legal high is a Bombay martini. This has been true since my first initiation into a cult of martini drinkers in New Orleans back in the 60s. I readily concede that gin is not a taste enjoyed by many, but for me it was always the high I was after. My favorite drinking line is, "After one martini, people like me. After two martinis, I like people." In my youth, gin quickened my wit and sharpened my tongue, giving me entree to a very charming society of people wherever I have lived. Fueled with two martinis, there were few individuals who once in my sights eluded me. If it's a good party with direction and focus, two martinis will bring on the next act, dinner. Dessert has always depended on the chemistry of the evening, don't you think? (By the way, we're talking good sized drinks, here, so two is usually adequate. After two, I'm about as high as I'm comfortable being in a social setting, public or otherwise. After three I think you're just drunk. Then you're never as charming as you think you are, and when you're as old as I am you're just pathetic. Been there, wrote the book, starred in the movie.)

The Perfect Social Experience

I love dinner parties at a set table, and I think six is the most optimum number. I've always favored even numbers. I think that's probably something Southern, but I'm just guessing. I think that's silly now, but I still think in terms of even numbers only now I don't get flustered by someone bringing someone extra or someone missing at the last moment.

Heads up here. This is an important truth. There are cheap highs and and there are substantial highs. Here is a parable. An English noblewoman, who knew both of Queen Victoria's prime ministers, Benjamin D'Israeli and William Gladstone, was asked by an acquaintance which of the two was the more interesting, both being considered great. She replied, "After lunch with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the wittiest, most brilliant, most charming person on earth. But after lunch with Mr. Disraeli, I felt that I was the wittiest, most brilliant, most charming person on earth."

Through fate and circumstance, I have a few interesting stories about how I came to be in this place at this time. I really can tell stories for hours. To everyone I bored to death in the past 40 years, this is my first, and last, public apology. I'm sorry for thinking I was the only person at the table with stories to tell. I have since learned better. Mine may be better -- or not -- but each of us has a story to tell. The substantial high is to hear someone tell his own story in a magical setting. Oh, yeah.

While I am not a drag queen, I have been influenced by several who taught me that illusion is the most powerful tool in an urban queen's purse. You don't need to bust your balls, you need to set a pretty table, serve simple food, a good wine, good bread. Although I cook well enough, to me it's the social aspect of the dinner party, so I'm happy to get a grilled chicken at Safeway, toss baby greens, steam some asparagus real quick, some good sourdough bread, sorbet for later, wine from my own collection and I've got a perfect evening for less than $20 out of pocket. Served, of course, on Ashworth china, (named for my family), silver on loan from a friend with a good story, but who thought I would have more fun with it (ask me later and say "huntly gordon"). I use wine glasses that I inherited from My dear friend who also left me a house in the country just because he thought his family should know someone like me. (That was mean, Kenny. When I see you in hell, I'm going to give you grief for that. Another story, ask me later.) Of the dozen or so serious affaires des coeurs in my life, only two did I not meet at a dinner party. No, make that three. No wait, four. Maybe five. Let's just say I met several interesting people with whom I later became intimate at dinner parties.


My social life has changed quite a bit with my moving to Oakland. My place in S.F. was 538 square feet. That's small. I called it my Holiday Inn Condo, after all, it had one window, one door, one bathroom, one closet, with the bonus of a small galley kitchen thrown in as well. That place was so small. The first thing I did was buy a wall bed for $3,000 and mirror every other wall. We urban drag queens know about illusion. At least it looked bigger, and I made it interesting. I owned Holiday Inn condo for 4 years and sold it for $100,000 profit. With the profits, I bought a place in Oakland 3X its size. I had a good life from that tiny place, but I suffered being so cramped. My imagined people had big houses with white columns. In my fantasies we must have always had help, because let me tell you, I have a two-bedroom, two-bath place now and it seems I'm working for it rather than it working for me. I wish I had help keeping it clean.

All of this is apropos of what? I just gave you a snapshot of my life. Not my "Gay" life, just my life. I don't wake up in the morning and say, "here goes GAY Houston off to work." Like Popeye might say, "I 'yam whats i 'yam." We single gentlemen with flair experience real discrimination everyday. I do not walk around with a sign that says, "Queer, Kick Me!" The enmity by which we are held by a substantial number of people in this society finds us all on its own. The problem with bigotry is that it is mean spirited. This punk working and hiding behind the mask of an Immigration clerk, got to be mean and hateful just because. Just. Fucking. Because.

Anyway, it's just something to think about. I'm playing mostly this week-end. Cocktail party Saturday night and theater Sunday evening in Mill Valley. Next week I'm meeting my sister, Michelle, in Sacramento for the National Genealogical Society's annual gathering. I did mention that I'm kind of sort of into genealogy, right?

Bon week-end, mes amis. Bon week-end.

Reading this made me feel as if I were in the company of someone brilliant,witty and charming, why did you have to stop? Write me a book Houston, filled with never ending stories. I want to drink your words like a bottomless cup of coffee on a cold winters night.
Your talent is surpassed only by your charm and good looks. Would only that I were a man or you a woman. What a sweet life we could have.

Posted by: wanda | May 14, 2004 at 10:00 PM

After tee martoonis I would be charmed to know you as a friend. Not a gay friend, you know, just a friend.

Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2004 at 06:09 AM

That's another nice thing about growing mature. Our relationships no longer are based on sexual dynamics. One of the things I love about the straight men I know is that they are the much more physically demonstrative than Gay men. I love getting big physical hugs in the middle of the street and more than half of the ones I know plant big sloppy kisses as well. Oh sure, cheap thrills, but the older I get the more I'm satisfied with any thrill. What I like about women, Lesbian or straight, is -- well, just about everything. I'm one of those Gay men who hangs out with women. It just sort of comes natural. Always have. They're easier to dance with for one thing.

Posted by: Houston | May 15, 2004 at 08:53 AM

Gay, shmay - I don't give a rat's behind who or what my friends prefer as intimate partners. None of my business, and irrelevant to our friendship. All I can say, Houston, is if I had a jammie party, I'd invite you. What fun we would have.

Posted by: ellen | May 15, 2004 at 10:01 AM

BOMBAY GIN......was my sister's favorite--she a diabetic now and shines away from alcohol! When I did drink,
never did go for gin--I preferred a GOOD Vodka, straight up with a bottle of water chaser---one hit of the Vodka and the bottle of water kept me hydrated......
and peeing a lot!

Posted by: oldcatman | May 15, 2004 at 02:04 PM

I don't drink much now at all, can't keep the weight off if I drink, but I used to like to do shots of gin before going out to drink beer. Tanqueray was preferred. We called it drinking christmas trees...

Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2004 at 02:29 PM

I love a good martini. Stirred not shaken. Olive not onion. Teetotaler that I am, two would probably have me dancing with the coatrack.

Posted by: wanda | May 15, 2004 at 10:44 PM

You sound like a real fun guy to be around that's for sure and looking at your photo, I can picture you with that Bombay Martini LOL Thanks for visiting my site by the way, hope you come back :)

Posted by: Kim | May 17, 2004 at 03:24 AM

I hope your weekend went as planned and you had a great time.

My favorite drink is tequila (preferably a stiff Margarita) and it brings out the truth in me (not always in a good way).

I miss dinner parties with friends and laughter. Around here it's more like throw it out there and get back before the stampede!

Posted by: Brenda | May 17, 2004 at 07:51 AM

Martini's are soo cool, but I can't get into them. Sometimes I order them and pretend like I'm cool.

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 18, 2004 at 11:35 AM