Thank you Christine and Rupert

These people guided us through London attempting to continue revelries after being abruptly and inconsiderately expelled from the pleasant drinking environment. The trail they led us on was not entirely successful, it was a difficult journey and only the strong survived. We missed the opportunity to "Dance in a Lesbian Bar", a la Jonathan Richman, although Chiisuta and TheLady made a great attempt to get in. SharQ was fortunate enough to find a white label 12" by Warp Nine, entitled, "Laws of Motion, Test". Spurning this unique find he passed it on to me and I shall, tomorrow, be able to inform you of it's content. From their the journey continued into Soho and we were forced to split off and depart in the direction of Leicester Square tube station to begin out trek home, as jobby put it

"There are only three places further south than Tooting Bec - Colliers Wood, Wimbledon and Morden - and Morden is next to fucking Savacentre for fucks sake"
and so we were forced to say our good byes and mark the end of an extremely enjoyable evening.

It had begun with us arriving at The Bricklayer's Arms and discovering wertperch giving a foot massage to chiisuta, and it was in this vein that the evening was to continue. Wertperch was considerate enough to spread his massage skills and we began to circulate. I was able to identify jodrell from his geek code,

"s+++:++" - meaning, "I usually have to duck through doors. I'm a linebacker candidate."
once we got talking the evening had truly kicked off to an excellent start. However jobby was not happy until he had spoken to his idol, spinyNorm, who was, of course, propping up the bar.

From here the evening moved on in something of a haze. At some point Tiefling led us on a trip for food, which resulted in us finding wertperch and chiisuta in a pizza restaurant (yes, wertperch was yet again alone with a lovely lady, how does he do it?). The pizza was cheap and delicious and people seemed to have "peep eyes bigger nor rumpty", as my grandma used to say (your eyes are bigger than your stomach for all you young 'uns out there), and so I was able to significantly increase my pizza intake without the normal further purchase requirements. The journey back to the pub was yet again fraught with difficulties but somehow we won through and we received a hero's welcome upon our return. Chiisuta took me to her breast (in a loving, kindly and American sort of way you cynics) and it was there that I happily remained for most of the evening. We talked of deep and meaningful subjects such as love, cultural boundaries and sex.

The conversation continued, pleasantly added to by the likes of werty, TheLady, catchpole, ascorbic, The Oolong Man and even Frankie, who dropped in before meeting her boyfriend. As we were threatened with vile punishments if we failed to extricate ourselves from the establishment, The Alchemist heard the shouts of "MONKEY, MONKEY" from across the room. And so we were introduced to Christine and Rupert, fellow monkey lovers amidst a sea of ignorance. They were to lead us on a merry dance for the remainder of the evening before we were forced, as I have already heart-rendingly recounted, to say our goodbyes.

So as tears well to your eyes yet again I will round the last bend in this meandering tale. I returned to jobby's house whereupon we fired up the PS2, loaded GTA3 and most importantly heated up some nachos in the microwave which we ate with some decently spicy Old El Paso Thick and Chunky "Hot" salsa. What could complete this wonderful evening, I hear you clamour. Well, tomorrow I have the delight of helping out with a lesson for mathematically gifted seven year olds, at the delightful hour of 10:30.

There is something about her that defies description or qualification. To many people, she seems forward and aggressive. Since I have known her, I have found her to be quite the opposite. She is guarded and careful. She says that she is a witch, a gift or two that came naturally to her without any training. While the jury is still out on that, I take her at her word- what else can I take her at?

We have slept together. Nothing sexual, just sleep. We actually discussed having sex and both agreed that it is too soon to even try, that it might interfere with our friendship. We went out to dinner last night. She was babysitting a mutual friend's daughter and brought the 5-year-old girl along, crayons and color books, too. We ate dinner and talked a bit, watching our language in front of Keller, our charge for the evening. Keller wanted to watch the goldfish in the tank before we left. I hoisted the little girl up in the air and held her close to the glass. It was good to be with a young child and just enjoy innocence for a while. The hostess mistook us for a family. She and I (my date, not Keller) looked at each other with raised eyebrows and then smiled. We informed the hostess that the girl is not ours, that we are taking care of her while her father is at work, and that we were merely eating dinner.

"Oh," the hostess replied in a southern accent. She did not look a day over seventeen. "I'm sorry. You just looked like... a family." Then she turned to me. "Do you have kids of your own?"

"No," I said. "Perhaps someday, but not yet."

The hostess smiled sweetly. "Call it a hunch, but I think you'd make a great father." Then she bid us a good eve.

My date and I were thoughtfully silent after that brief exchange. It's funny. I was thinking the same thing about her during dinner as I watched her dote over Keller and do "mommy" things, even though she isn't the girl's mommy. She would make a superb mother, I thought. The funny thing is that only recently has she given serious thought to ever being a mother. I strongly suspect that her experiences with Keller are translating into a sort of proving ground, like she's asking herself, "Do I really wanna do this one day? Do I really want kids?" Taking care of Keller while the girl's father works at odd hours is most likely her way of figuring that out without having to commit for real. She's testing herself, I think.

Of course, I would never tell her this. It's probably unnecessary to. But it's nice to learn these little things about a person you're seeing on a regular basis.

She's not my girlfriend, but she calls me almost every day. We're not having sex, but we occasionally sleep together. We don't kiss, but we tell each other our secrets. We don't have any expectations, but we know that each can rely on the other for anything. We're investigating each other's character, whether we are aware of it or not. We are having experiences together and we both enjoy each others' company immensely.

I don't think she wants to date anyone or have a boyfriend. At least, I don't think that she wants to quantify what we do as "that." For now, we're just having a good time together, keeping it light and friendly.

I like it like that. But it still bothers me to go to sleep at night, alone. We have seen each other naked, literally. We have bared each others' souls. We are dating, but it's not called that yet.

What do you call something that already has a name but isn't supposed to be mentioned?

She danced. As close to beautiful as possible.

I was 17 at the time, and she was 16. It was early February. We were young and alive and in what we called love. We were both members of a drum and bugle corps; I played a baritone bugle, and was generally the life of the party, while she was in the Colour Guard, and was the epitome of shy in large groups. But we held a magic together, where she calmed me down and I allowed her to open up. We did stupid things in those days, risked all and laughed heartily. We didn't care about impending doom or tomorrow or anything at all.

We spent hours lying in bed, tracing the outline of letters on each others' backs, guessing little hidden messages from our fingertips. I once wrote out her first name followed by my surname, but she didn't notice. I did, however, catch when she traced "sexy beast" on my back, and we made love for hours.

She lived in a too-small townhouse with her widowed father, so she used to practice her dance routines for the drum corps outside. I usually didn't take the time to watch her; Nintendo beckoned too often, and also had a tendency to chuckle at her mistakes when her flag would come tumbling down at her from a mishandled toss. But she wanted me to watch her late one evening in the middle of February, with the heavy snow slowly blanketing the patio where she was standing.

"I need you to watch me tonight."

And she danced. As close to beautiful as possible.

A week later she told me she was pregnant. A month later she was out of my life. The magic was gone.

She had an abortion, something we both agreed on. But we were never the same. She told me she couldn't have me around, it was too painful. We grew up. I went on to University and found someone else. She got engaged and never called again.

I traced her name with mine on her back. What did she trace that I didn't catch? I try and see the words I missed every time the snow falls at night, but I can't make them out. I can still see her though, exactly the way she was that one evening in the middle of February, with the heavy snow slowly blanketing the patio where she was standing.

Laughing, tracing, dancing. Beautiful.

Please don't vote on this. It's cathartic. It was also the 8 year anniversary of the day she told me she was leaving me.

Heaven and Hell in the Cabaret Scene

I've spent the month of February not just in college or my internship up in Manhattan, but I have tried hard to make time to see a few shows in the cabaret circuit. This time around, I'm giving myself a bit of variety by getting away from listening to the divas of the scene. This piece is dedicated to a couple of guys from the cabaret scene - John Barrowman and Rock Albers!

John Barrowman in Arci's Place (February 20th to March 1st)

It's been two years since I saw Mr. Barrowman on Broadway as a part of the cast in the Sondheim revue Putting it Together. I admired his voice first, but also his dancing in a seductive ballet with Ruthie Henshall. With a show in Arci's Place (directed by Barry Kleinbort and written by Bruce Vilanch), John is readying himself to take off to a future engagement to the Sondheim Celebration in Washington D.C. in May. Specifically, he's going to play the single-guy lead amongst the marriage-obsessed characters in the musical Company!

On his own, John is like a choirboy transformed by the forces of sophistication and admiration of talent. Accompanied by musical director Gerald Sternbach (who did great work with west-coast stalwart Jason Graae) and bassist Mary Ann McSweeney (back from the days of Sunset Blvd. in London), the evening was one of family, the love of the American Songbook, and the transition to the latter-day songwriters (Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd-Webber). With Bruce Vilanch being the writer for the evening's biographical patter, a sharp joke or two was floating around.

Just like some of us musical lovers out here, we are still sentimental to the likes of Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer. When the night turned to a small shout-out to George M. Cohan with a medley of his songs, John pulled out a flute from the middle of nowhere and did "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Hmm. . . Was it a coincidence that Jason Graae did the same with an oboe in front of the same musical director?

As said before, Mr. Barrowman did the Lloyd-Webber musical Sunset Blvd. in London - as Joe Gillis to Betty Buckley's Norma Desmond. I also saw a little channeling of both characters fighting each other in John's mind when he did "With One Look" followed by the title song.

As a surprise, the Barrowman family is invited to the act - especially at the encore. It's already an excellent landing of the show with the hymns "Amazing Grace" and "Loch Lomond" to combine his American and Scottish roots. John even brought his mother to the stage to do a Scottish wedding song because she can do a very good "Ave Maria." If the mother and son gave us the words to sing together, then the evening's end will be perfect.

Rock Albers in Don't Tell Mama (February 23rd to March 2nd)

Whereas Mr. Barrowman is a sign from a musical-loving Heaven, Rock Albers is a survivor from a kind of Hell written by the likes of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Rock shows us how is it like to face a Hell filled with comedic issues no comedian dared to discuss without struggling for his own humanity, let alone breaking in a furious sweat while wearing a suit to go along with rabbit ears. Mr. Albers is not alone in this task, as musical director Dick Gallagher (famous for his musical When Pigs Fly followed by concerts and recordings with all kinds of musical divas) is his cynical piano-equipped gondolier in this river Styx, always seeking diversions from this underworld.

The voyage starts out with sharp lights, with shadows out every part of him except his face. Rock uses a bullhorn to tell us the many ways of being told he was BORING! We can only watch as he recalls the world (and Jacqueline Onassis) pelting him with the same idea that he's so boring. He needs to find sanity...

The is a search for things Mr. Albers can use to keep himself "sane." This is where his song parodies come in. "The Ballad of Davy Crocket" turned into an example of man's duality to worship Martha Stewart and to curse one's lungs out against her. When the TV show "I Love Lucy" was mentioned (it's Rock's favorite show), he realizes that the episodic nature of episodic television started out like in the history of Ingsoc in the book 1984 - the most important ideas and characters for the show keep changing and changing to the level of insanity.

But hope is around the corner, as Rock finds a cause to fight for - The Bunny Hop. Yours truly has jumped to the opportunity (for the second time) to save the Bunny Hop with the audience.

My favorite part of this trip in the underworld of dissonance is a speech about chocolate. Certain chocolates in Europe decades ago were made with vegetable fat (rather than cocoa butter), and outrage ensued. From then on, the word "Vegelate" was unofficially used to describe such chocolates. (Note: search for the term "Euromyth" on the Internet for more details.) The audience chanted "Vegelate" with Mr. Albers, and I wanted to pump my fist up in the air in protest - that is, if the audience would have enough energy to do the same.

Speaking of Monty Python, I get to hear the "Finland" song from the Flying Circus show! It was the discussion of Finland and the rest of Northeastern Europe sharing the same flag that led to this little gem, and fake snow stuffed in Mr. Albers' suit was thrown out all over the stage.

The deepest part of Hell doesn't lead to Satan, but to "The Berenstain Bears." The discontinous nature of "I Love Lucy" was nothing compared to the changes of locale, characters, and the entire Bear Country. Neighbors come and go with no reason, the Bear family lives in a tree, yet everything inside changes in every book. It's as though the Berenstain Bears are really killers... And the world (and the cabaret itself) is engulfed in darkness.

The Aftermath Report

As an e2 newbie I was a little wary of attending the nodermeet, but in a moment of vodka-induced bravery, I had put my name down. I had made my bed... time to drink in it.

Friday arrived. I had looked at every single photo available online of the noders who were going to be there, hoping that I would recognise someone as soon as I turned up at the pub. Ha! Fat chance! The place was heaving! And not a familiar face in sight. At last I saw there was an upstairs and breathed a sigh of relief. I bravely entered the lion's den and introduced myself to anyone who would listen. After the initial shyness, embarrassment and dithering over whether to call noders by their real name or their other name I settled into a sofa and got to know these wierdos I had previously only chatted with in the catbox.

I felt honoured to rub shoulders with those whose name commands respect, I enjoyed serious discussions with some and chatted with many others.

Thanks for a fantastic time, people. You made me feel so at home.

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