What a week it’s been. A week of romance, of bedroom slippers, of heroism, of great books, of pumpkins and cheese and true love. As my little friend Andrew, who is seven, would say, “That’s EPIC!!!”
Sunday afternoon I carved a pumpkin for Andrew, according to his own design. His mom, our friend Dora, lit it up with a big spherical purple candle. It sat on their dining room table in Madison, Wisconsin, looking askance at the pumpkin casserole we had for dinner.
Andrew is the only one I carve pumpkins for. Andrew is adorable and on fire. He is who I’d want for a kid. He is multi-ethnic, and when he asks me and my partner, Rogerio, about the school friends we remember, he says, “What color were their eyes?” “What color was their skin?” “What color was their hair?” He wants to know these things about the bullies we remember. Monday morning I felt for Andrew, watching him go off to school. Monday evening he came home and wondered where we were.
Leaves fall outside Dora’s kitchen window—scores of big yellow ones, twisting down. Here in New York, as Simon and Garfunkel sang fifty years ago, “Leaves that are green turn to brown.” Rogerio went to Tampa for a professional conference. I worried about him. He had a full and stressful schedule. He was under the microscope a lot. He came home to a colder New York, a slightly darker New York. He is from Brazil, and an indefinable sickness creeps over him when winter comes. I hold him and enumerate the things that will make it all right: avocado at breakfast, lunch with a supportive friend, afternoon coffee (I bought sunflower bread!), the two of us snuggled in front of “Law and Order” reruns. I think how, in Fiddler on the Roof, the cast describe their beloved village of Anatevka…
“A little bit of this / A little bit of that. / A pot, / A pan, / A broom, / A hat.”
And slippers. Don’t forget slippers. Saturday morning Dora talked about how many different people each of us is. Being biracial and a single mom and a professor, she should know. “Some people know David in a business suit,” she said. “Some know him as a writer.” She indicated Rogerio. “You know him at home in his slippers.” After lunch we headed to Milwaukee, where I would read at Outwords Books and Coffee on North Murray Street. Thinking how Outwords makes Milwaukee feel like home and family to me, I packed my slippers. Before the reading, I made a point of changing into them, and explaining why. It was a lightly attended affair, but many there I knew from other readings, and we all stayed and talked quite late.
Though I don’t have a little Andrew of my own, somewhere along the way I became a family man. I wrote two novels that reflect the journey toward being a family man: Bob the Book; and especially my latest, Looking After Joey. Joey is a porn character who steps through the TV screen into an average guy’s life. All Joey knows is, he wants sex. Soon he discovers there is more to this world. Including love. Love does, after all, make a home. A few judges and legislators have at last figured that out.
As for heroism, where does that come in? Yesterday I watched a lovely interview with conductor Eve Queler, from when she received the NEA Opera Honors Award in 2010. A female conductor? Even today, Queler is one of a very few. Yet she parried every question about the difficulties of being a woman in such a male profession. She spoke only of her love of singers, of song, and of the individuals and institutions with which she worked. She loved music that much, and she knew that much what she wanted from it. And yet, was everything a victory? One door closes, another opens? Did she really always win, somehow? I try not to complain about—rather, I try to own fully—instances where being gay made things difficult for me. I tell myself that gayness, that sexual orientation, is a unique factor in one’s life. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. It should never, ever be an excuse. Yet things haunt me. I recently described to an old college professor how I often did not try things as a young man, because, even if I succeeded at them, it wouldn’t help. Yesterday someone mentioned Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Lost Decade.” I feel like I lost a few decades. The story of how I lost them is in my own book of short stories, My Movie.
So that way my week. Epic, eh, Andrew? He is just beginning to understand. May what he understands not dim his eye. May it not dim yours or mine or anyone’s. There is always something to be enjoyed. A hug, a jack-o’-lantern, a friend’s observation, a rerun, a pot, a pan, a broom, a hat.
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About the author
David Pratt is the author of the Lambda Award-winning novel Bob the Book (Chelsea Station Editions)
and a new novel, Looking After Joey, from Wilde City Press. His short stories have been collected in
My Movie, also from Chelsea Station. He has published in several periodicals and anthologies. He has
presented work for the theater in New York at HERE, Dixon Place, the Cornelia Street Cafe, the Flea
Theater and the NY International Fringe Festival.
Photo and design credits are: all photos (c) 2014 Eva Mueller, except slippers, by Larry Wheelock; and jack-o-lantern by David Pratt. Joey cover, photo (c) 2014 Eva Mueller; model, Nicholas Gorham; design, Adrian Nicholas; entire cover (c) 2014 Wilde City Press. Bob and My Movie: cover designs by Peach Boy Design and Distillery, (c) 2010 (Bob) and 2012 (MM) by Chelsea Station Editions.