Brother Hood: Dispatches (Two Homosexual Men Negotiate the Boundaries of Domestic Bliss)
TO: ALL MY DEAR FRIENDS
SUNDAY, JANUARY th, 2010
Please forgive me for having taken so long to update you regarding our protracted, and very busy, absence from the United States these past several months.
At present we’re seemingly in the throes of an unusual transition and although I’ve no one but myself to blame for it, I’m not certain that blame, qua “blame,” means much, or is at all apropos, in the context of recent events.
It all started when I removed a vast, ugly mirror in the ostensible dining room of our “modernist charmer” and discovered that, for some odd reason, the wall space behind the ugly mirror was bare of the textured plaster that covers the rest of the wall.
Since abstract expressionism is in keeping with the overall period-feel of our modernist charmer, and since abstract expressionism makes no significant demands in terms of execution or materials, I suggested off-hand to the Li’l Guy that the two of us ought whip up a Jackson Pollack-style abstract expressionist work to fill the wall space formerly occupied by the vast, ugly mirror.
(I guess I’m the biggest fool in the world for having thought that an abstract expressionist painting was just the kind of “fun project” that unites and gives a sense of affectionate purpose to couples trapped in a downward spiral of nonsensical bickering and petty resentment.)
If I’d never, ever noticed that fairly decent cotton-linen canvas sells for about $USD per meter down here, the unfortunate consequences of my irrational optimism could have been avoided, but there’s a large fabric store just across the street from the nearest supermarket so, on Friday night, one thing led to another and I ended up bringing home about meters of fairly decent cotton-linen canvas without giving any thought to the consequences that might naturally flow from such an irrationally optimistic “impulse buy.”
But there you have it.
And so after midnight tonight, I noticed that the Li’l Guy had started calling me “Lee,” as in, “Where’s a bucket, Lee? I need a bucket.”
I also noticed after midnight that the Li’l Guy seemed to be spending some time on the front patio and that he’d taken, as some sort of prop, apparently, our “special occasion” bottle of frozen Stolichnaya from the freezer with him when he was spending some time on the front patio.
We recently (and quite unsuccessfully) paid the son of a well-known (but not well-respected) local attorney to do some interior/exterior painting for us and so there were a number of cans of half-used paint of various colors around the house and about the same time I noticed that the Li’l Guy had started calling me “Lee” I noticed that the half-used cans of paint seemed to have disappeared and that the Li’l Guy was holding a frozen bottle of Solichnaya in his hand as he barged around the house saying, “Lee, where’s the wine? I need wine. And coffee. I want to do a wash on the canvas.”
As of a few minutes ago, the Li’l Guy was sitting moodily on the front patio, chain-smoking, and angrily flicking cigarette butts onto the lawn while guzzling frozen Stolichnaya and studying the meters of canvas he’d spread across the patio floor and covered with what would appear to be a fairly energetic attempt at Pollack-style abstract expressionism.
I say “fairly energetic” because, in keeping with Pollack’s energetic style, the Li’l Guy was flinging paint here and there in a kind of frenzy, spattering the freshly, if ineptly, painted exterior walls and windows of our “modernist charmer.”
When I suggested to the Li’l Guy that he might perhaps take greater care while in the grips of creativity, he spat his cigarette onto the ground and growled, “Look, Lee. You can either be part of the process or not. And right now, you’re NOT being part of the process.”
I take it that by “Lee,” the Li’l Guy is making a direct reference to Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollack’s long-suffering common-law wife.
Since the Li’l Guy and I aren’t the sort of gay men who make a practice of calling each other female names, I’m not very comfortable with this, nor am I able to venture any sort of guess as to just what it was that made this practice seem viable to the Li’l Guy in the first place.
He’s in the kitchen right now.
There’s the sound of broken glass.
He’s yelling, “Lee, where’s a bucket? I need a bucket! Are you going to be part of the process or not?”
I should add at this point that all our immediate neighbors are elderly upper-middle-class and wealthy Lebanese immigrants who are well-known, even in this very conservative part of the world, for their tight-assed, if covertly louche, conservatism, and that, as far as I can tell, none of our neighbors are, at this hour, hanging out on their front porches, guzzling Solichnaya, chain-smoking, and producing abstract expressionist art.
Nonetheless, I remain stalwart in my resolve to resist the fatalism and moral lassitude endemic to the tropics and to shun the reflexive paranoia that permeates day-to-day life in so many societies at this latitude which all too often manifests itself in the study of such outlandish topics as “Celtic magic,” Tarot card reading, and the divination of natural, if untoward, phenomena such as packs of wild dogs spontaneously appearing out of nowhere to rampage through upper-middle class neighborhoods and howl fiendishly as they go about their ungodly mischief.
I hope this letter finds all of you in good health and great spirits and that at least a few of you will be able to take time from your very important careers to visit us during Carnaval, which is supposed to be a real hoot.
“Lee” — Ha! Ha! Ha!
FROM: LATTERDAY LENIN
TO: THE SAME DEAR FRIENDS
SUNDAY, JANUARY th, 2010
I’m writing you all just in case my Better Half (haha!) has once again failed to meet even his most minimal responsibilities by keeping you abreast of what we’ve been up to.
I know I’ve told you several times in previous letters that the situation here is bad, and that something big was coming to a head. Tonight, I learned that the upcoming bad thing is likely far grander, and more distant, than I ever imagined.
Determined not to let yet another of Lee’s harebrained art projects metastasize into yet another decor-masquerading-as-art piece of bullshit, like the kind of thing you see couples do together on HGTV with the leftover paint from their pennypinching home renovations, I cleverly kept Lee confused and harmless by having him retrieve more and more art supplies for me while I defended “our” painting from Lee’s middle-brow depredations.
But when I took a few minutes to step back, smoke some cigarettes, and enjoy a tiny sip of vodka while Lee, at my behest, was in the kitchen filling balloons and condoms with coffee, soy sauce, and red wine, the strangest thing happened:
A pack of wild dogs, about fifteen or so, and all of them female, came out of the darkness, ran through the front gate and onto the patio where I was working and they just started pissing all over my canvas. I mean, all over it. All fifteen of them, barking at me, licking and wrestling with each other and squatting on my canvas in a piss frenzy. The piss soaked through the canvas and got all over the patio. And when each of them had pissed on the canvas, they scampered away. They left the whole yard reeking of dog sweat and piss, and something I can only assume was female dog pheromones.
Now, as I’m sure you all know, Lee tends to be a bit superstitious. This has been the source of a sizable portion of our arguments. But not even I could ignore this unsubtle omen. I wasn’t about to go running to Lee to ask him what he thought it might mean, as that would have only started a new and endless round of childish I-told-you-so recriminatory rhetorical games that are, frankly, rather unbecoming of someone Lee’s age.
Perhaps some amongst you can help me parse some meaning from this event. I’m sure you see the urgency.
When Lee sulkily waddled out in his bathrobe carrying a laundry basket full of soy sauce-filled condoms and asked me why the patio smelled like piss, I referred him to the later work of Andy Warhol, which included abstract paintings made with copper pigments and urine, which, through the process of oxidation, created highly interesting and ever-evolving effects.
Lee just laughed and laughed at me in a very unkind, even frightened, way.
What have I ever done to give Lee any reason to fear me or my creativity? But I’m sure you all know as well as I do that his grasp of the avant-garde has always been shaky at best.
Do you think I should be worried that Lee never asked about the sheer amount of piss covering the canvas, the patio and a great part of the driveway?
And could one of you send me a couple of bottles of Grey Goose? It costs an arm and a leg down here.