We all walked to Gabriel’s Gate (where a couple of my ex-roommates used to work, or still do, I’m not sure, it’s been a while). It’s about a mile from the Hyatt downtown, where the conference was held. Not far-far, but we happened to end up there, though we passed at least three other restaurants on the way. When we got there and the hostess sat us down I realized I had to get back to my car parked near the hotel to feed the meter-maid (I imagined a mermaid bolted to the curb, feeding her coins like little fish).
So, I felt silly, but I had to leave and couldn’t go back to the restaurant because I wouldn't've made it back to the conference in time to see J.A. Tyler read. He, of course, was awesome, reading from a work he’s collaborating on with John Woods in which John sends J. an image and J. writes a piece based on it, sends it back to John who then bases his next image on what J. wrote, etc. It's an really cool concept, and the words and images together were / are / will be crazy-bananas.
*I’ve come to realize I'd maybe want to live in a constant state of retrospection toward the present moment. It’s always easier to know what you should or shouldn’t’ve said / should or shouldn't've done after the fact, so I’m very interested in figuring out a way to always view the present tense as past, existing within it as though it was already an afterthought. Then, I’ll never make socially awkward statements because they'll already be prepared according / in response to anything anyone else says, and I’ll always be confident enough to go up and talk to someone I admire because I'll know what we're going to say. That's maybe silly.
An interesting thing happened while I was waiting for J. at the airport. I got hit on for the first time in years. By a guy. I was sitting on one of many in a row of seats in the baggage claims area, which was practically empty, waiting for his flight to arrive (I wasn’t sure what he looked like, so I was afraid I’d miss him). There was a vending machine near the end of the row I was sitting on, a few seats down. A guy walked past me, staring at me, and went to the vending machine. I stared back at him, not sure how to react. He sat down in the last seat, like three away from me. He looked at me. I got kind of scared.
“Buffalo’s cold, huh?” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
“You from Buffalo?”
“There’s some crazy people in Buffalo.”
I was getting worried he was one of them. I know I am.
“I think it’s safer to assume everyone’s crazy,” I said.
I kept imagining what we looked like through a security camera. I hoped someone was watching. I was afraid this guy had a needle and was fixing to poke me with some secret virus he manufactured in his meth lab using tainted biological agents and / or chemical compound derivatives. I don't know. I stared straight ahead, kept him in my periphery. Then he went into this really professionally choreographed line of questioning, bureaucratic even, with a cadence building toward something I maybe should've but didn’t quite expect.
“You waiting for someone?” he said.“Yeah.” I said.
There were long pauses between questions.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“No, not for a long time.”
“Some of my friends used to have girlfriends, but then they broke up and wanted to see what it was like being with men.”
“What do you think of that?”
“Would you ever be with a man?”
I felt this had maybe gone beyond small talk. “Um,” I said.
“You ever been hit on by a man?”
“A while ago, I think.”
“What would you do if a man hit on you?”
“Is that what this is?” I finally said. He smiled a little. “Listen, I’m flattered, and I thank you, but I really don’t dig men that way.”
I didn’t want to encourage him by telling him I’ve kissed two guys in my life, tongue and all. He smiled at me. "Alright," he said and got up, looking at his cellphone. I watched him go through the big revolving door out into the cold, and once he got outside he started running away. I almost wish I was gay, because he was really kind of cute...