Saturday, January 31, 2009


Speaking of memory, sometimes mine is super-selective and wildly unpredictable. This past week, it's been working overtime. My old college pal Chip is visiting Buenos Aires with his friend Lauren (that's him on the left in the photo above, with Lauren between us, and Tom, a fellow expatriate, from New Zealand, on the right). Chip and I were close friends during my senior year in college, and we've been intermittently in contact over the years. When I joined Facebook a little under a year ago, he sent me one of my very first "friend" invitations (and yes, I remembered him).

The most surprising thing about spending time with Chip for the first time in nearly 18 years isn't how well we still get along, but the memories that have come flooding back, some of which I had put away and hadn't thought much about since we were both journalism majors at the University of Florida in Gainesville. There's Professor Sullivan, our instructor in the magazine journalism class where we met who committed suicide halfway through the semester. And there is the time, shortly before my graduation (I was the first of my friends to graduate), when I was depressed because no one seemed to care that I was leaving. Chip promptly cured my blues by telling me that some of our mutual friends were planning a surprise going-away party for me.

And then there's the biggie, something which I'd never, until this week, stopped to seriously consider: Chip was the first uncloseted gay friend I ever had. When we met, with the exception of my big brother Alexi, he was the first "out" person I'd ever known who wasn't a stereotypical prancing queen. (These were the days before the current "straight-acting" phenomenon among gays under 35 -- but seriously, can any guy who sucks cock be described as "straight-acting"?)

Chip had been a pivotal influence during my formative gay years, in a way I hadn't realized at the time. It came to me like one of my jog-time epiphanies on Monday night, while Chip, Lauren and I were having dinner on the terrace at Minga in Palermo Hollywood. In college, I was still very much in the closet, and being around him, someone who was openly gay and seemingly un-tortured about it, showed me that one could be gay and "normal" and in a sense, shaped the person I would become once I dared to come out of the closet myself. In terms of influence, that would make Chip second only to Alexi.

One of my most vivid memories of our college friendship is one weekend when we were working on the magazines that we had to put together for our class. I can't even remember what kind of magazine I was creating (which I think is telling, for reasons I can't quite pinpoint -- Chip is certain that it was music-related), but I can vividly recall Chip's: He was launching a gay magazine. And this particular evening, as Chip was cutting out pictures of hot semi-nude guys, and we were listening to k.d. lang's Absolute Torch And Twang CD (he introduced me to k.d., too), he looked at me and said something I would never forget: "I wonder if my mother knows how gay I am."

It's funny because over the years I've asked myself the very same question several times, and each time, I remembered where I'd first heard it. To me, Chip was the ultimate cosmopolitan guy, good-looking and wordly, even though we were living in the middle of cow country. Boy was I wrong (about the wordly part). Chip is now a poet, and as he talked about his new about-to-be-published book of poetry on Monday, his first night in town, I began to realize that he hadn't been the person I thought he'd been all those years ago.

He had been just as insecure and messed up as I'd been, and as we both, in some ways, continue to be. I also discovered that we'd had very similar childhood experiences: religious upbringing in a small southern town in a family dominated by our mothers (I know, I know, how gay cliché). Somehow, Chip had found the inner strength, despite having as much doubt and uncertainty as I did, to come out of the closet, while I would remain trapped in there for two more years.

But despite his being out and my being in, we really hadn't been so different. Perhaps a subconscious awareness of this is what brought us together in the first place. Or maybe I'm reading entirely too much into this, and we were brought together simply because we had fun hanging out. Whatever the case is, I'm glad to have reconnected with him, and I owe it all to Facebook. Yes, although I still despise all that ridiculous spam and those time-wasting applications (if anyone figures out what "flair" is, please let me know -- but don't send me any!), I recognize that without Facebook, Chip may have come and gone in and out of BA without ever knowing I was living here. In fact, he now lives in New York, and our time there overlapped several years, but we never knew it because we didn't have Facebook to bring us together.

I've said it before (see one post below), and I'll say it again: Doesn't Facebook just rock?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"My memory serves me far too well," George Michael sang on his classic 1990 single "Freedom."

I wish I could say the same.

Well, to be honest, occasionally, I can. There are times when my memory seems to be positively photographic: Some images from my childhood are indelible, more vivid today than they were 30 years ago. And sometimes my mind will hang onto a particularly traumatic episode and every minute detail about it (such as being dumped by email while I was on vacation in Rio nearly six years ago and the crappy way I felt for weeks afterwards), even though I'd much rather contract selective amnesia and forget the whole sordid mess. But why oh why can't I remember hardly anything about high school (including what I was thinking when I styled myself for my 9th-grade school photo, above)?

I'm not talking about the things I learned in Algebra or Science or Latin class, which, truth be told, retreated to the remote crevices of my brain eons ago. I'm talking about people, people who may or may not once have been very important to me. I may never really know because I can't remember them.

One of my favorite things about Facebook is reconnecting with so many people from the past. I'm not completely sure how or why some of them track me down, but I'm sometimes quite glad that they do. But too often, I sit staring at profiles, analyzing the photos, trying to come up with some clue as to who the hell is looking back at me. It's not just that many of the females now go by their married names, or that 20-plus years can take a physical toll. Sometimes even the mention of maiden names, or blast-from-the-past photos do nothing to jog my memory.

Contributing to the insanity is the fact that some of my former classmates, inexplicably, now have adult children who are the same age as some of the guys I've dated in Buenos Aires! What?! Were they conceived on graduation night?! And God only knows what they think of Jeremy Version 2009, a completely different creature from Jeremy Version 1987. One old classmate from elementary school through high school, whom I actually did remember, was shocked when she saw the pictures in my profile and sent me a truly revelatory message: "I could not get over how suave you look! I remember you wearing plaid shirts and docker type pants, almost on the verge of being nerdy. You are definitely one of those guys that came out of their shell after high school."

Wow! I had no idea that I was gave the impression of being so hopelessly freeky and geeky, but now that I think about it, she is probably right. I was a wreck, a piping-hot mess! I was always well-known and well-liked for being one of the smartest kids in school (revenge of the nerd?), but I was far from being one of the beautiful people. Thanks for the observation, Tammy. And thanks for bothering to say something.

The ones I don't remember almost never bother to say anything, perhaps providing some clue that will sweep the cobwebs from my memory banks. (Hey, maybe they don't remember me either and just added me because I was a "friend" of a "friend" and looked vaguely familiar.) It's probably for the best since I'd rather not insult anyone by uttering those three words that no old acquaintance wants to hear 20 years later: "Who are you?" So I press "accept" and wait for the next one.

Ooh, it's my old friend Carrie, whom I haven't seen or spoken to in about a billion years! So nice to reconnect! You look fabulous! Doesn't Facebook just rock?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Today I had one of my end-of-the-jog epiphanies, and this one, this truth, was a whopper indeed. I've tried to avoid it, delay it, deny it, but now I'm just gonna shout it: "I THINK I'M HAVING A MID-LIFE CRISIS!

And it's not just because as I've become more obsessed than ever with achieving the perfect daily workout; or because as I get older, the guys I date get younger (but, don't worry, perfectly legal); or because I secretly don't really know what the hell I want -- although those are all huge parts of it.

It's also got a lot to do with the constant shuddering in my head. I've always been someone who analyzed everything to within an inch of its life. But now it's gotten so bad that I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time analyzing my constant analysis. Where I used to accept my good judgement of character, trust my instincts and act accordingly, I now find myself fearing my hunches, questioning them, wondering why I even have them in the first place. The result: a borderline-creepy mistrust of everyone, myself included.

There I've said it. I'm kind of creepy. I spend a lot of time on this blog dissecting my life in Buenos Aires and critiquing the guys I encounter. And believe me, every word I write is true. But when you get right down to it, I'm not exactly beyond reproach. No, I've never been the flaky type and hopefully never will be, but sometimes I find myself playing the same games that I complain about, testing people, pushing people, trying to find out just what they are made of.

A wise man (or was it a woman?) once said, "You reap what you sow," and I think he (or she) had a point. Yes, I'm embracing cliches now, which is either a sign of the impending apocalypse or irrefutable proof that I'm going middle-aged crazy.

Seriously, though, perhaps my over-analysis and un-great expectations are bringing about the very things that I'm dying to avoid, all the young dudes included. I've always hypothesized that gay men in their 30s are the looniest of creatures. Wounded by the experiences of their twenties, they are bitter and jaded, a condition they generally don't recover from until their 40s, when their options decrease considerably, forcing them to ease up a bit. Whenever a thirtysomething enters my romantic orbit, I arch my back and prepare for the worst. Meanwhile, my encounters with twentysomethings come with fewer expectations, for better or worse, and thus, fewer defenses. The result: I'm left vulnerable to their various misdeeds, all well documented in this blog.

Ah, my revolving door of twentysomething hotties (see the photo three posts below for visual proof). It keeps slamming in my face, leaving me annoyed, confused and sometimes a little bit hurt. But it could be worse. If I were a married heterosexual male, I no doubt would have already left my wife and kids for some Generation Z bimbo with fake boobs and an IQ even lower than my target body-fat percentage. Thank God for small miracles!

Friday, January 23, 2009


It always works. Nothing perks up a slow morning like the Oscar nominations. Even in a year like this one, in which there are few surprise nominations or snubs. The biggest shocker is that Kate Winslet got nominated in the best actress rather than best supporting actress category for The Reader and was left out altogether for Revolutionary Road (although her costar Michael Shannon got a slightly eyebrow-raising best supporting actor nod for what my friend Mara describes as an "unintentionally hilarious" seven minutes of scenery-chewing screentime). That the Academy nominated Kate for best actress when she had been campaiged in the supporting category says a lot about her peers' estimation of her performance in the film. The statue is hers to lose.

So Meryl Streep may have to wait another year to finally score her second best actress Oscar (and third overall), which is too bad. I just finished watching Doubt, and I must say it's probably Meryl's best shot since A Cry In The Dark exactly 20 years ago. The movie itself is highly watchable, although well short of great. The performances are what elevate it. Meryl is her usual bad-ass self, with more than a few shades of Miranda Priestly, her The Devil Wears Prada alter ego. (There are subtle differences between a dragon lady magazine boss and a dragon lady school authority figure -- trust me, I know -- and Meryl nails each and every one.) Believe it or not, Streep's stern nun and Catholic school headmistress who is certain that Phillips Seymour Hoffman's priest and pastor has had improper relations with a black male student (the film is set in 1964 but makes racism less of an issue than you might expect) probably has the better sense of humor. She's scary, too: In several scenes, particularly when dressing down a student, or Hoffman, she is as frightening as Streep's version of "The Winner Takes It All" in Mamma Mia!

Despite a script full of zingers ("In ancient Sparta, important matters were decided by who shouted loudest; fortunately, we're not in ancient Sparta," Streep's Sister Aloysius says after Amy Adams's mousey Sister James finally -- and loudly -- stands up to her), the story itself is a tad musty, which makes the film's absence from the Best Picture category no big deal.

But, oh, what acting! Supporting actor nominee Hoffman makes the interesting and brave choice of playing it as if his character, Father Flynn, might actually be guilty. Supporting actress nominee Viola Davis is solid in her roughly 10 minutes of screen time, though not quite up to the hype she has received. Her mannerisms are a bit stagey, and I suspect the performance might not have been so noticed had it not been for those on-cue tears toward the end of her big scene with Streep. Note to aspiring Oscar nominees: When in doubt (pun intended), let the waterworks flow.

For me, supporting actress nominee Adams is the true revelation. Her character, the nun who first accuses Father Flynn of something, then believes his denial, then doesn't, then does again (or does she?), is the most fully drawn and the only one with a complete arc. You read it here first (or stop me if you think you've heard this one before), but don't be surprised if Adams pulls the biggest upset in the category since, well, last year, and takes home the prize.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This past Saturday night, en route to Cocoliche, my friend Alexandra and I made an impulse pit stop into a rock & roll bar in downtown Buenos Aires. I was excited for two reasons: First, I had no idea there was even such a thing in BA, a city where everyone seems to be obsessed with electronica, '80s pop (no more Madonna concert photos postings on Facebook, please!) and cumbia. Second, because I am, as I like to tell anyone who asks about my taste in music, a rock & roll guy at heart (contrary to the impression you may or may not gotten from reading this blog). I prayed for the White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, anything to chase my electronica blues away.

Interestingly, in the taxi on the way downtown, the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" came on the radio. As I sang along to Mick, I declared myself a huge Stones fan (pre-pomp and circumstance, when the music still mattered), more so than a Beatles fan. Alexandra said that one of the things she likes about me is that unlike most of her gay friends, I'm not a walking cliche. I take it all in and appreciate everything, from the standard gay icons to stuff I'm not necessarily supposed to dig. Little did I know at the time that the rock & roll fun had just begun.

So in we went. The first thing I noticed was that the characters all looked straight out of Seattle, circa 1993. One old-school Chris Cornell lookalike, in particular, seemed to be auditioning for a cameo in the grunge-era classic Singles. As for the music videos that provided the soundtrack, they ran the gamut from Cinderella ("Gypsy Road") to Poison ("Your Mama Don't Dance") to Aerosmith ("Love In The Elevator"). I knew I wouldn't be hearing Karen O or Jack White, but I was nonetheless pleased -- and slightly confused. I have no idea what rock & roll bars in the U.S. are playing these days -- or even what the kids in them are wearing, for that matter -- but I'm pretty sure the likes of Skid Row and Bon Jovi are not on the soundtrack.

I thought back to my favorite scene in The Wrestler where Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei are singing "Round And Round" by Ratt in the dive bar and discussing their shared hatred of Kurt Cobain because he basically killed '80s hair metal with his grunge revolution. Much as I like Nirvana, Soundgarden and the rest of the grunge heroes, I secretly concurred. From the moment I walked into the BA rock & roll joint, singing along to Steve Tyler, until our departure, I didn't stop singing or moving. Surprisingly, however, my fellow revelers were unbelievably tame and well-behaved and didn't even seem to notice the music.

Once we got to Cocoliche, the kids with pretty much living for the electronic grooves, which I still can't quite get a handle on (I guess that recent critic of this blog and of me must have been correct when he dismissed me as "a weathered middle-aged man"), all I wanted was one more retro dose of Cinderella. Don't know what you got, till it's gone, indeed.

Monday, January 19, 2009


The boys of Buenos Aires are at it again -- luring me, amusing me, infuriating me. Take Alejandro. On Christmas Eve, he contacted me for the first time in months, and last Saturday, I invited him to hang out with me in my apartment. He accepted and promised to be there an hour later, after taking a shower. Now Alejandro doesn't have the best track record -- it's horrible, in fact -- so I rolled my eyes, went back to bed and thought to myself, I'll believe it when I see it. And I didn't. More than a week later, I'm still waiting for him to show up. He didn't respond to my three IMs the day of his no-show, so I assume that either it was something I said or he fell off the platform at the subte station and was crushed by an approaching train. Going with scenario No. 2 makes me feel better.

I may never know -- until he makes his inevitable reappearance (and he will because they always do) and acts like the blow-off never even happened. My New Year's resolution is to stop sweating the small stuff because, when you get right down to it, it's all small stuff. I don't get mad; I don't get even. I just shrug and go on with my life.

I did just that several times this past week when "dates" cancelled on me at the last minute -- the few of them who actually bothered to contact me. Most of them didn't. Get angry? Who, me? Not me. In fact, I was relieved, as I usually am over cancelled plans, which mean I don't have to worry about making myself look presentable.

I didn't worry about making myself look presentable for Eve, a writer with whom I was scheduled to meet on Thursday after my pilates class in order to discuss a writing assignment I wanted her to do. Almost as if to prove that girls can be just as irresponsible as boys. Eve stood me up. Later on, she sent me an email explaining that she had gone out the night before and basically slept through our appointment. I'm in no rush to do business with that one, but I appreciated her honesty.

I appreciated pretty much everything about David, a nutrition student in Cordoba who is visiting his family in BA during his summer vacation. I was actually looking forward to hanging out with him on Friday afternoon, and I was pleasantly surprised when he showed up -- and only about 30 minutes late! I've spent few afternoons in BA as agreeably as the one I passed with David. We talked, listened to music (I was too impressed that he knew Duffy, even though he mistook Robyn for Kylie Minogue), ate Chinese food and made out. A lot. For the first time in ages, there was a guy in my apartment, and I wasn't dying for him to split. When he announced the he had to leave to go to his aunt's house, that feeling in the pit of my stomach was genuine disappointment. He promised he'd return on Sunday. I knew better. He did contact me. Not to cancel, though, but to see if I would send him the photos I took of him (that's my favorite one above).

Saturday night I went out with my friend Alexandra to a rock & roll bar (where they think the rocker vibe is created by music videos from the '80s hair metal likes of Poison, Cinderella and Skid Row). Then we went to Cocoliche, one the hippest underground clubs in BA, with strong, expensive gin & tonics (AR$25, which is about eight bucks). Alexandra quickly disappeared with some guy (it figured), and I sneaked out and headed to the place where I really wanted to be, Glam. As I do any Saturday night that I go to Glam, I ran into my acquaintance Sebastian, and once again, he didn't say more than three words to me. Not that I really have much more to say to him, but I couldn't help but wonder why he's always IM'ing me, sometimes making plans with me (which he's only once kept), yet when we are actually in the same room together, he behaves as if I'm a virtual stranger, which I suppose I am.

Is he just shy or is it a sign of the times, with a youth gone truly wild, interested only in conducting relationships with screen names? Miguel, who is actually Colombian, claims he's shy, but I think cowardly is probably more like it. He IM'd me last night and asked if he could ask me something. I knew what was coming and wondered why guys here always ask permission to ask a question (which usually has to do with penis size or anal sex). As I suspected, he wanted to know if I had gone to Cocoliche on Saturday. He said he saw me there, and when I asked him why he didn't introduce himself to me, he used his shyness as an excuse and the fact that he was more about digging the cool grooves than hooking up. Alright then. While I was cracking up, I wondered why he was talking to me now since he obviously has no interest in establishing a real-life rapport with me? Why did he contact me in the first place on Facebook or Manhunt or wherever my profile caught his eye? When I suggested that we have a proper meeting some day, he didn't respond. Wrong question! Why build face-to-face human relationships when you can waste hours conducting your social life online with virtual strangers?

Friendships are so 2006 anyway! Webcam is the new face-to-face. It's time for me to get with the program.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I've spent the last few days in a whir of preparation for the upcoming 2009 Oscar nominations. (Shame on me! I don't even know when they will be announced. It's a date I always had committed to memory before moving to Buenos Aires.) I watched Frost/Nixon, Changeling, Happy Go Lucky, The Wrestler, The Golden Globes (unfortunately dubbed in Spanish) and a YouTube clip of Anne Hathaway and Viola Davis (for Meryl Streep) accepting Critics Choice Awards. Next up: The Visitor, Revolutionary Road, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Doubt (which opens in BA on Thursday). But first, a few questions...

  • Is it now an Oscar policy to regularly nominate one nobody for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role? Keisha Castle-Hughes, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Imelda Staunton, Marion Cotillard and, next, possibly, Sally Hawkins. I've got to admit, I found both Sally's character and her performance in Happy Go Lucky hard not to love, and I'm secretly rooting for her. Her driving lessons scenes were priceless and her mannerisms so natural and realistic that I wouldn't even call it acting. A Sally win wouldn't be the perfect TV moment given the starpower waiting in the wings (Meryl, Angelina, Kate, Anne), but everybody loves a good upset -- although I'm still reeling from my beloved Julie Christie's 2008 loss to Marion Cotillard. Damn the power of a hammy biopic performance to seduce Oscar!
  • Why does Angelina Jolie shoot daggers at the winner every time she loses a precursor? If looks could kill, it would have been all over for Anne Hathaway at least halfway through her acceptance speech at the Critics Choice Awards. Come on, Angie! You were great in Changeling, which I found unexpectedly riveting. But how Susan Hayward circa 1958 was the role! I loved you in A Mighty Heart, but I understand why Oscar snubbed you last year, and it's not just your dour attitude. Like A Mighty Heart's Marianne Pearl, everything happened to Changeling's Christine Collins; the performance was basically you reacting to everything. I miss the days of bad-ass Angie, the days of Gia and Girl, Interrupted, when your characters drove the stories (the way Amy Ryan did in her few Changeling scenes). Bring her back, and I guarantee you multiple trips to the podium because, girl, passive or aggressive, you act your perfect butt off.
  • What will it take for Michael Sheen to finally get some Oscar love? The Queen totally belonged to Helen Mirren, and although I still think Judi Dench should have won for Notes On A Scandal, I understand why Michael Sheen's impersonation of Tony Blair was overlooked. But if you ask me, he holds Frost/Nixon together. I found Frank Langella to be hammy, mannered and way too stagey for my taste. Since he won a Tony for his performance of the role on Broadway, he must have thought, If the clock ain't broke... But unlike film, the stage is not a medium that emphasizes naturalism. Frank's Richard Nixon reminded me of the clips I saw of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, a film which I still have no desire to see. No one in the real world actually acts like his version of Richard Nixon. He was 100% persona and 0% person, which, come to think of it, may have been the whole point, considering the shady character of the 37th U.S. President. It was thoroughly entertaining, but I never forgot that I was watching a performance, which was not the case with Michael Sheen.
  • When will some great indie director create a fabulous leading character for Marisa Tomei and save her from her string of thankless second-fiddle roles? I didn't adore The Wrestler as much as a lot of the critics. I wish there had been more of a narrative and less wrestling and more interaction with Marisa Tomei's and Evan Rachel Wood's characters. Mickey is fantastic for sure, and more than deserving of his guaranteed Oscar nomination, but Marisa Tomei took a whatever role and turned it into a true showcase. And that body! My God, not bad for 44 and not an apparent plastic part in sight!

Monday, January 12, 2009


As my most recent post no doubt made abundantly, perfectly, crystal clear, porteños are a tactile, touchy-feely lot. This keep-your-hands-to-yourself U.S. citizen isn't even going to pretend to understand the whole Argentine kiss-on-the-cheek greeting. A handshake will do just fine, thank you. If you ask me, the kiss-kiss thing is just for show, less a genuine act of affection than an example of the Argentine obsession with custom and procedure. Perhaps it's the Catholic influence or maybe the British and French aspirations of porteños, but here in Argentina, the code of conduct is everything.

But getting back to the physical contact thing, it's rarely as out-of-line as it was coming from the octopus masquerading as an internet cafe employee. My second encounter with him reminded me of Christmas Day 2007 when, after my morning jog, I was walking down Avenida Santa Fe trying to find an ATM machine that wasn't out of service. Out of the blue, a middle-age woman who was emerging from the subway station approached me, wished me a merry Christmas and gave me a big hug.

It was a small interaction that left a huge impression. I'm not sure whether she sensed my slight melancholia that morning or if she was on her way home from a senior-citizen rave and was still rolling on ecstasy. Regardless of her motive, her actions cheered me up and made that gift-free Christmas in 90° weather my most memorable since 1983 when my mother bought me a subscription to Billboard magazine for Christmas. While the other kids played with their new gadgets, I sat on the couch, happy as a clam, reading my magazine cover to cover.

It's a mystery why my parents never locked me up in an institution. Some strange kid I was! Maybe I didn't get enough hugs. That's it, my New Year's resolution: to give more hugs. Come here!

Friday, January 9, 2009


Coming soon: My misadventures in Bogotá, Colombia. (In the meantime, see the photos above for your viewing enjoyment.) But first things first. Two days ago I was reminded -- again! -- of why I love Buenos Aires. It's not just the whole absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder thing that some 10 days away caused to bloom in full force, or the fact that it's so good to be back to the faded glamour of BA, where the air (despite the "good air" literal translation of the city's name) is occasionally unbreathable, the people too pushy and the sidewalks littered with dog poo.

The thing is, in Buenos Aires, even a trip to an internet cafe can be an adventure. Many months ago, I went to one in order to print out a homework assignment for my Spanish class. As usual, I had a problem with the computer-community printer link and asked the attendant for help. Boy, did I get more than I requested -- personable service indeed! As he leaned down beside me, he used one hand to maneuver the keyboard and the other to squeeze and stroke my lap. What kind of wanton hubris is this?! I thought to myself, channeling Tommy Lee Jones in The Client.

Honestly, I was slightly flattered. Although hardly porteño hot, the internet cafe employee had that semi-attractive guy-on-the-street appeal that you probably wouldn't really notice unless you actually made contact with him, for whatever reason. (How's that for a ringing endorsement?) But I also wondered, Is it so obvious that I play for that team? After all, I was fresh from my Pilates class and looking my absolute butchest (of course, truly butch guys never use words like "butch," but I'm hardly what the Brits would classify as "camp"). More importantly, I worried that some other client would notice his brazen come on.

Thankfully, I managed to scram with my pages, my dignity and mi pantalones de gimnasio intact and put the whole episode out of my mind. Well, after I shared it with a few close friends and and some well-chosen strangers. Then two days ago, I found myself in a bind. I had an afternoon of meetings with writers for the Time Out travel guide that I'm currently editing, and I had to print copies pronto. My only choice was to return to the scene of my previous embarassment, as it was the only internet cafe with a printer conveniently located between point A and point B.

I prayed my previous "suitor" would no longer be working there (and truth be told, I prayed a little that he would). Alas, he was. I asked for a computer with a connection to the printer, and after shooting me a wink of recognition, he professionally directed me to a computer close to the front. Moments later, he was by my side, offering his help should I need it. He patted my leg, squeezed my shoulder and went on his way. I prayed I would be able to make it on my own, but once again, the computer-printer connection went awry, so I approached the bench.

He came over, did some quick maneuvering, more or less kept his hands to himself and -- voila! -- my pages began to emerge from the printer. So far, so good. I went to the counter to pay, and he helped all of the other customers before turning his attention to me. "Sería 16 pesos," he said with a mischievous grin. As I pulled out my money, he fixed his eyes on my face, smiling the entire time. Taking my 20 pesos, he began to interrogate me. "¿De donde sos?" New York. "Estás en Buenos Aires solo?" Yes, just me. "No tenés novia [No]... novio [No]... pareja [No]?" I tried to remain as calm and casual as possible. No girlfriend, no boyfriend, no pareja -- that's "couple" en español. (Incidentally, I would be asked the same question two more times in the next 24 hours, and each time my response would be greeted with equal parts shock and disbelief.) "¡Qué pena! Y sos tan hermoso," he said, hopefully, eyes still fixed on me, even as he was counting my change. He handed it back to me: 20 pesos, 10 pesos, a pair of two-peso bills, the entire time looking into my eyes and not at the cash.

It took me a second to realize that he was giving me change for a 50, not for the 20 that I had given him. He had been so preoccupied with flirting that he didn't even realize what he was doing. I stood frozen in front of the gum and candy display, answering his questions quickly and mechanically but not sure how to respond to this money thing. He handed me the bills, smiling, flirtatiously, hopefully. I could have sworn I even saw a twinkle in his eye. I stood there smiling back, politely, mind racing, honesty impulses bubbling under but not quite over. For the first time since I had stepped inside the internet cafe, I didn't know what to say.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Keyshia Cole's music don't impress me much. To me, she's basically Mary J. Blige without the personality. While Mary J. Blige has never had to resort to visual gimmicks to sell herself -- no primary-colored hair, no hootchie-mama get-ups -- Keyshia is pure presentation. Even her drama feels slightly manufactured. In Mary's case, no one really knew much about the turmoil in her life -- drug and alcohol addiction, abuse, low self-esteem -- until her fifth album title declared No More Drama.

Keyshia's third album, A Different Me, announces a new and improved Keyshia a la Mary's No More Drama. I haven't heard any of it yet, but something tells me that her new attitude is more marketing pose than true evolution revolution. All that said, the album's cover couldn't be more fierce. Sure the outfit is tacky as hell (with shades of my beloved one-hit-wonder '90s diva Adina Howard), but damn, I love it. And for the first time, Keyshia manages something that Mary with all her ghetto fabulousness never has: She puts the sexy in crazy cool. Sex symbolism has never been Mary's thing, but I hope she'll try it on before the potential expires.

On an unrelated note, today is my fourth day in Bogotá, Colombia, and I must say that I'm a bit disappointed so far. The city itself is clean (perhaps too much so), the people are beautiful, and the mountains off in the distance are breathtaking (pictures coming soon), but take aways the Andes, the lookers and the Spanish, and you could be in Anywhere, USA. So far, I've compared Bogotá to West Hollywood, New England and Florida. Where is the character that has so distinguished every major city I've visited in South America? The faded glamour of Buenos Aires? Lima's slightly Mediterranean aura? The urban grandeur of Sao Paolo? Rio's merger of mountains and ocean? Santiago's immaculate design?

The food is incredible. Since my arrival on Tuesday, I've had two home-cooked meals, and I've discovered a place called Cafe Omo to which I easily could return for all of my remaining meals. Soup seems to on the menu everywhere (it was actually my debut culinary experience in Colombia, at the home of Camilo, my friend Jeffrey's novio du jour, and prepared by their criada -- that's maid in Spanish), and it's better than the too-salty soup that's normally served in the United States, canned and otherwise, and even in Perú, where there is also an abundance of amazing soup. Omo's cazuela de mariscos, nominally seafood casserole but actually seafood soup, might be one of the tastiest things I'll ever eat, and it makes me wonder why porteños don't really do soup.

We went to club called Teatron on New Year's Eve. It's a massive conglomerate of several different discos. On New Year's Eve, only one, the biggest, was open, which was interesting, considering that Dec. 31 is the most important party night of the year. But here in Colombia, New Year's Eve, like Christmas Eve throughout the continent, is family night, which, considering my currently borderline-negative feelings about family (all to be expounded upon in a future post), don't impress me much.

Neither did Teatron. But I did have a grand old time. Two bottles of vodka worth of it (shared among my friends Jeffrey, Diego, myself and perhaps a stray clubber or two). I don't recall much after 4am. I'm told that a ridiculously young, tall and good-looking Colombian named Jean Karlos stepped in and out and back into the picture. Thank God for good friends, because I'm not sure how I got home, but I was relieved beyond belief when I woke up in bed, fully clothed and, most importantly, alone.

Brutal hangover aside, that is how you ring in a new year!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Another year bites the dust! So long 2008. I'm in Bogotá, Colombia, with my friend Jeffrey, anticipating a rather interesting night. The past 12 months were nothing to rant or rave about, but they were certainly an improvement over 2007, a year that found me struggling, sometimes less than successfully, with my new life in my adopted country. Let's hope for a continued upward trajectory in 2009.

I rarely do New Year's resolutions, but in the coming year I resolve to be true to myself and to march to my own drum; to suffer fools less gladly; to focus on the people who contribute to my life, not detract from it; to embrace my family, not the one I was born into but the one I chose and that chose me; to act my age and to remain young at heart. My wish list: more good times, more good friends, more good music, more good movies, a few good men and maybe, just maybe, at long last, love.

Happy New Year to all and to all a good night full of pleasant surprises. Thanks for reading!

P.S. I found the two photos above on the Huffington Post today and decided to post them just because I like them.