Thursday, July 29, 2010


"There's nothing new under the sun," my sister used to always say. She was right. I gave up looking for wild innovation and originality a long time ago.

But the daytime soaps could at least make a decent stab at not recycling and reusing with such predictable regularity. Over the years, soaps have habitually given us repeat engagements with tried-and-true storylines -- pregnant woman falls down the stairs, love triangles and quadrangles, who's the daddy? -- but lately, watching All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Days of Our Lives daily on YouTube makes me feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

In the space of one week, last week, two characters (Madeline on Days, Ryan on AMC) dropped like stones during heated confrontation, due to brain aneurysms. One suffered hers while falling down a flight of stairs (of course!). Ryan, a major AMC character, will die another day (after yet another round of memory issues). Madeline, a minor Days player, won't. She leaves behind a son, a husband and a big secret. (Hint: Here comes more "Who's the daddy?" story. Ugh!)

Then there's poor Rex on One Life to Live (pictured above). In the past year or two, we've watched him get drugged three times. First, by his girlfriend Gigi's sister, Stacey, whose goal was to prop him up in bed to make it look as if they'd gotten it on, just in time for Gigi to walk in (cue triangle storyline). Months later, he was put under by his aunt, who was working for that evil genius Mitch Laurence, who wanted to separate him from his sister Natalie, with whom he was trying to locate her missing husband. Are you still with me?

Most recently, this past week, his room-service food was drugged by Elijah Clark, who didn't want the private investigator to discover that Elijah is, in fact, Bennett Thompson, and thus is the guy responsible for every bad thing that's happened to every resident of Llanview in the past few months. Oh, and did I mention that poor Rex has had a big question mark hanging over his paternity for his entire decade or so on the show?

Meanwhile, his sister, Natalie, and her twin, Jessica, are both embroiled in their own "Who's the daddy?" dramas (a mere six months or so after the death of Natalie's aforementioned husband from a bullet in Mitch's gun), and another character, Tea, has a pain in the head in the form of a deadly brain tumor, an ailment that plagued her best frenemy forever, Blair, years ago. (But one which the show's writers have chosen not to acknowledge during Tea's current misery.)

I groan and complain about all the repeat business, but I still tune in daily. Every now and then, though, I find myself wishing that Marlena Evans clones possessed by the devil would arrive via space ship on all four shows to launch murder rampages in Pine Valley, Llanview, Port Charles and Salem and leave their citizens on deserted islands. It would be about as believable as when Days previously did stories involving devil possession, a space ship, serial killing and a secret island (Guiding Light did the one with cloning), but then so is pretty much all the soap action I see on my computer screen every weeknight, beginning around 8pm.

Now excuse me while I stress out over that sudden pain in my head.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Marcelo is a piece of work.

We met weeks after I moved to Buenos Aires, and for a short time, we were practically inseparable. He was everything I wanted at the time: cute, smart, refreshingly independent (as is so not the case with most of the mama's boys I meet in BA, his family is kilometres away, in Misiones), and fun to be around. We spent hours listening to the U2/Mary J. Blige version of "One" on repeat, and sang along to ABBA. "Does your mother know that you're out?" I asked him by way of singing the chorus to ABBA's great 1979 hit.

But I was wary -- and not just because his mother didn't know. He played fast and loose with his emotions, uttering the dreaded L word about three dates in. He was 25 years old, and he acted it. He wanted to have a good time, and he didn't know when to stop. I wanted to have a good time, too, but I always knew when the party was over (sometime around dawn). We had a number of false starts and stops and restarts until one night I decided to sabotage everything, and good. I left with another guy; he stayed with my best friend in BA.

For months, I was furious with them both. Naturally, it was the end of that friendship, and to prove to myself that I was firmly in control, I occasionally fooled around with Marcelo behind the friend's back. I still liked him, yes. And I do know that I was the one who let him go. But my infallible instincts told me that sticking around would only postpone the inevitable. I noticed his eyes wandering as much as mine did. And the more his wandered, the more mine did in turn, and the tighter his grip became. I already had been down this road in BA: They're terrified that you'll cheat because they know that they will. Despite his confessions of love, I knew that neither one of us was boyfriend material. So I had to shake him off. But how dare he rebound with my best friend?

Other guys came and went -- Leandro, Matias, Gonzalo, Alejandro (a few of them) -- but Marcelo remained in the back of my mind. I'm not really sure why. Yes, I liked him. A lot. That we've established. But it wasn't like I was in love with him. I think that in a sense, for me, he represented a more innocent time of my life in BA, when I still walked around in a dreamlike state, unaware of the cons of living in a city with such "special" citizens. Marcelo was from before my apartment was burglarized, before I'd let any guy get to me, before I'd really opened up my heart to the city or anyone in it.

After more than a year of not seeing Marcelo, one night we ran into each other in Amerika. He was no longer dating my ex-friend, and he apologized profusely for his part in what had gone down between us. I accepted, but deep down, I knew I hadn't quite forgiven him, and I'd never forget. That didn't stop me from taking him home. Unfortunately, our uneasy truce didn't last long. I can't quite remember what exactly set me off, but shortly after we arrived at my apartment, I asked him to leave. He did.

Many months, perhaps an entire year, passed, and one day, I received a text message from Marcelo. He just wanted to say hi. I wasn't sure what his point was, but I chalked it up to typical Argentine behavior. They always come back. Usually, they don't have anything pressing to say. They're just testing the waters. I wasn't taking the bait. We sent a few messages back and forth, but I expressed minimal interest, and that was that.

Then about a week and a half ago, I was walking down the street to an appointment, and I saw a familiar face about a half a block away. He was standing on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette and looking right at me. I didn't look back, but I got a good enough glimpse through the corner of my eye to make out the face. I was already past him when I realized that it was Marcelo. I thought about turning around and saying hello. But I was late. And did I really want to go there again?

In the end, I did. Against all odds, Marcelo and I ended up together Saturday night at Human. I had gone with a bunch of friends, and by all accounts, I was in rare form. Talking, dancing, mingling with every body in the club. Somehow, though, at the end of the night, it was just us two: Marcelo and me, waiting for a taxi on the side of the road.

We ended up spending all of Sunday together, which is something I haven't done with anyone in years -- possibly since the night after we first met nearly four years ago. He made us dinner, and we talked and listened to music. It was the best Sunday I've had in a long time. In some ways, Marcelo seems so different. He's 28 now, and he does seem more mature, more sure of himself.

But in some ways, he's still the same Marcelo. Sensitive, charming, impulsive and flaky as hell. He told me that he's liked me all of these years, but in the past -- and even the night before -- it was so hard to get my undivided attention. He'd practically had to drag me out of Human because I was giving a little bit of myself to everyone who crossed my path. I told him that's how I am when I've had a bit too much to drink. But as I generally don't go out more than once a week, and don't go all out more than once a month, it's a side of me that normally stays well hidden.

After telling me at least two dozen times how much he likes me, he asked me if I wanted to be his boyfriend now. I didn't give him an answer. Part of me is no longer interested in having a boyfriend. I've been burned too many times. Isn't it ironic? Argentina legalized same-sex marriage last week, and I'm suddenly completely uninterested in being tied to down to one guy. Anyway, I going on vacation to Australia soon, and I don't want any possessive boyfriend stopping me from going full tilt while I'm there.

Another part of me simply does not trust Marcelo. And I wonder if I ever will be able to. He hurt me once, and I've convinced myself that he'll do it again, if I let him. In fact, as I sit here typing, I'm not convinced that I'll see or hear from him again this week, or this month, or this year. Perhaps it's not Marcelo I don't trust. Maybe it's Argentine men in general. I've been burned enough times here to know that any relationship is only as valid as your last meeting, and you've got to treat every goodbye kiss like it might really be goodbye.

On Monday morning, standing in the doorway of my building at 2am with Marcelo, that's exactly what I did.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Yesterday, when I was mad, I did something that I regretted a few hours later.

The devil, or JM (see "SATURDAYS WITH BO DEREK" below), or both, made me do it. Since last Saturday with Bo Derek and JM, I've been getting mixed signals from the latter. He may not be Argentine, but in five years here, he's mastered the Argentine way: act interested and disinterested at the same time.

We'd spent the latter part of the week communicating by text message. I had a hard time reading him. Whenever I wrote to him, he always responded enthusiastically, ending every sentence with an exclamation point!!! When, on Thursday afternoon, I texted him suggesting a Thursday night rendezvous, he responded two and a half hours later, suggesting Friday night. I accepted, but he didn't respond. Of course, when I went to bed on Thursday, I knew that Friday night was not to be. The next day, I thought about sending JM a message to see if we were on, but I couldn't get that that final text message -- the one he didn't respond to -- out of my head. I decided to test him and see if, for once, he would take the initiative.

Naturally, he didn't. No worries. I wasn't expecting him to. I went out with my friend Cara and had a great time anyway. The next afternoon, I sent a message to JM. I was testing him again. I apologized for not having contacted him on Friday. I wanted to see what his response would be. He immediately replied, going on about how he was worried about his computer, on which he had spilled orange juice the other day. He didn't know if the technicians at the Apple Store would be able to fix it.

I felt for him. I told him I was sorry about his rotten luck, and I offered him my Mac, which I rarely use, if he needed to borrow it. He thanked me for my generosity, and asked me what I was doing that evening. Did I have plans with our mutual friends? He never mentioned the previous night, the fact that he had asked me out, the fact that he had never answered my response, the fact that I had apologized to him anyway.

The writing was on the wall, but I needed some blog material, so I decided to go for broke. I told him that I didn't have any plans, but if he wants to come over later, we can do something together.

No response.

One hour later. No response.

Six hours later. No response.

The next morning. No response.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, filled with rage. Now I've learned my lesson about sending emails when I'm in a state of extreme rage. It's never a good idea. But I also have this overwhelming need to express my feelings -- be it love or anger, love or happiness, or hateful hate -- in the moment. I decided to send him a message on Facebook, keeping it short, sweet and on subject. I wrote, "Not responding to my text message yesterday was very rude. I will not be bothering you again." I pressed send and deleted him from my list of friends.

Oh, how I hate doing that dreaded delete-from-Facebook thing. But I have this thing about burning bridges. I'm very protective of my sanity, and rather than live with the temptation to contact someone hanging over my head, when I know it's over, when I'm done with it, I remove all forms of possible communication with them from my life. I delete them from Facebook, MSN and my telephone. I felt proud of myself. I'd said what I wanted to say, in two short sentences, without making a big scene. I sent an email to Cara to tell her about it. Mid email my phone rang.

I thought about not answering it. I knew it was JM. I also knew that he wouldn't leave a message. Though my email had been not a test but a a parting shot, I wanted to know what he had to say. I'd hoped he would do it by email because I'm so much better there than I am on the telephone. But I picked up anyway.


"Hi, Jeremy?"

"Who is this?"

"It's Juan."

I don't know what clicked in me, but I suddenly was overcome by rage. I couldn't understand why it took that email for him to call me. Why hadn't all of the nice text messages I had sent over the previous few days warranted that response? Why hadn't the invitation to which he never responded? I started to take a deep breath, but I stopped mid-breath and told him that I was asleep, and I couldn't talk to him. Then I hung up.

I immediately felt terrible about my response. Not so much because I'd probably ruined any chance of reconciliation, or because I may have hurt his feelings, but because I wanted to know what he was going to say. I still do. But in that moment, I was so angry, and I responded instinctively, without thinking.

No matter what his excuse was going to be, I knew it was not going to be good enough. Two years ago, after being blown off by this guy named Alejandro, I sent him an email to which he responded in the exact same way -- a telephone call within five minutes of my pushing the "send" button. I had given Alejandro one more chance, and we had one great date before it ended very badly. I didn't want to go through that again, and I think I had this brief moment of deja vu during which all the rage bubbled over to the surface. JM would have to go. Later, talking to one of my friends, I found out that I'd probably dodged a bullet. "He has a lot of issues," the friend said, when I told him what had happened.

But I'm sure he's not gone for good. Not here in Buenos Aires, where no encounter with any guy is ever your last one. The fact that we have friends in common almost guarantees that JM will be back. Hopefully, by then my anger will be tucked away in a place where I no longer have access to it, and I can finally hear his lame excuse. If he bothers to give one. If he has truly become like every other porteño, he'll probably say, "Tanto tiempo," and act like nothing ever happened.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Though we didn't officially meet until one day later, I first saw JM on April 1, the night I returned from my tour of England, Istanbul and the U.S. East Coast, and from the moment I saw him, there was something about him that I wanted. We eventually were introduced through a mutual friend, and we slowly embarked on a tentative friendship that consisted of occasional Facebook chats, birthday greetings (mine was May 7, his June 24), six photos that I insisted we take together at my birthday party (I wonder if anyone who looked at my birthday photo album on Facebook figured out what had been going on in my head), one phone call, and three text messages.

It took exactly three months from the night we officially met for us to end up in bed together. The particulars are unclear. It was a wild wild night, and lots of white wine and whiscolas (Coke and cheap Argentine whiskey) had been consumed (by me, of course). I have no idea how his damage was done. The action started last Friday night at the birthday party of a mutual friend and ended up at Sitges. Neither of us is quite sure how we ended up body to body. The only clues I had were one missed phone call from him, and two text messages, about 30 minutes apart, in which he was trying to find me.

I'm glad he did eventually. I had no idea how we'd gotten to the point where it was just him and me. We'd gone out with a huge group of people, and I barely remember talking to him at Sitges. But somehow it had come down to just us two, and there we were, our bodies intertwined, looking into each other's eyes.

I looked away to postpone the awkward moment. It was only the second time I had been in this position with a friend, and the first time that he'd actually spent the night. I looked at the poster at the foot of my bed, leaning against a glass partition. It was a Spanish-language poster for the 1981 Bo Derek movie, Tarzan, the Ape Man. I'd found it a few months after moving to Buenos Aires, and I knew it would be perfect as the one wall decoration I was going to allow myself to have in my apartment. I got a nice but simple black frame for it, but I never did get around to hanging it up. I sort of liked the way it looked on the floor leaning against the glass. Thankfully, in the home invasion of February 2007, the robbers left it behind.

"When are you going to hang up that poster?" JM asked.

"Why? Don't you like it where it is now?" I asked, in turn.

He nodded yes, and asked what it was.

WTF?! He's never heard of Bo Derek or 10?!

I explained to him the legend of Bo Derek and her short-lived stint on Hollywood's A-list. Interestingly, he knew all about the cornrow craze -- which I had no idea had ever made it to Bolivia, where he's from -- but the name Bo Derek rang no bells. Of course, JM, being 23 years old, was born about five years after Bo Derek was over.

"Is she still alive?" he asked.

For the second time that morning I felt old. I couldn't believe my ears. I told him that she was only in her early 50s, and that she is engaged to the guy who plays Aidan on Sex and the City. Finally, a look of recognition. I'm not sure he knew who the guy who played Aidan was, but he'd heard of Sex and the City. "I was thinking that maybe she was like the other one, and she died young."

"You mean Farrah Fawcett?"

"Uh huh." He'd covered his tracks. And he knew who Farrah Fawcett was. Instant bonus points!

To avoid having any more years added to my life, and because I really wanted to, I moved in for a kiss. From that moment until JM left at 5 in the afternoon, Bo Derek was never mentioned again.