Last weekend, my friend Dennis asked me to go third wheeling with him again
His ex-boyfriend had invited him to a housewarming party in the deepest darkest wasteland of the Upper Bywater. We both were a bit afraid to venture up there, but we did. We found it. It was creepy up there. We drove off.
Being early, he asked if I wouldn't mind going with him to another party, in a somewhat safer section of the Garden District.
I said, "sure." We drove up to a large building set like an island between two intersecting streets and I instantly recognized the place.
Twelve or so years ago, I had been brought to a party in the exact same place.
My friend Desiree had lured me there with the old carrot trick of saying there "might be some gay men there"
She knew she was lying. I half-knew she was lying. But it worked every time.
It probably, sadly, still would.
As Dennis and I were ascending the steps, I was in a weird haze of deja vu. We finally got up to the apartment and went in.
In the intervening decade or so it had been beautifully redone. When I had first been there it was like a flop house, old shag carpet, peeling paint, thrift store furniture.
Now, however, the hardwood floors were stripped and gleaming. It looked like Pier One show room.
The hosts this night were a married couple, friends of Dennis' from his former job. The guests were all stylish and hip young thirtysomethings with few springlings of younger and older here and there.
It was all very nice and polite...and dull.
The hostess and her (ambiguously gay) husband offered me a champagne cocktail on the (now enclosed) porch.
He had a higher voice than she did.
"You know," I told the hostess, still dazedly looking around. "I was here exactly on this spot about 12 years ago."
"Oh," she replied, a bit taken aback by my excitement over this fact.
"Yes, exactly here, this very spot," I went on. "I was talking this Tulane girl out of committing suicide. She had done too much coke in your bedroom right there. She wanted to jump."
"The porch wasn't enclosed then," I went on. "It looks really nice now, though. I like what you've done with it."
"Thanks, but it's riddled with termites..." she finally responded....and on she went with a long detailed description of the termite problem.
But who cares. I spent the rest of the party remembering. That night 12 years ago I was still fairly young, but felt old. I was surrounded by college freshmen from Tulane. The party that night had been thrown by a friend of Desiree's ex boyfriend, Ross.
The only people that night there my own age, I rememeber, were Ross...and a couple much like the host and hostess of the place now.
That night 12 years ago, I met a bona fide gigilo. My first.
He, much like the host last Saturday, was ambigously gay, but his clientele was older uptown women, I was told. He was not particularly good looking, but as a ballet dancer, I suppose he was flexible. Who knows.
He and his "girl friend," a buxon woman in some arcane graduate program at Tulane. I can't remember which, took a strange liking to me.
In the kitchen, I remember some very tall preppy boy named St. John (pronounced Sinjin) obnoxiously drunk, guarding the door. He was the first one everyone met upon entering.
Every other guest who stumbled up to the party, told the same story. They had each been robbed at gunpoint downstairs that night, they said. No one, however, seemed very alarmed.
I spent that night 12 years ago, much like I did last Saturday, surrounded by strangers whom I will most likely never meet again. In the decade that has followed, the topics of conversation have graduated ....or degraded (again I'm not sure which). Once it was an endless droning about music and sex and drugs....now it's an endless droning on real estate and jobs.
That seems to be life in a nutshell sometimes.