1 of Androgynous Murder House Party:
One loves one's
friends, one really does. But to be forced to entertain them for an entire weekend? To plaster a smile on one's
face so tightly for three days that one practically gives oneself a facelift? To suffer through the lingering effects of long-ago
misunderstandings that have never been satisfactorily resolved? This, surely, is asking too much of one?
Yes, it is asking too much of one. And yet that is exactly what Lee did—phoning me up and suggesting none
too subtly that a weekend getaway could be just what the doctor ordered. Apparently, Lee and assorted others had been
chatting, and the subject of my house on Long Island cropped up, and before anyone knew it, plans were being made to invite
our entire circle to _____________ for the upcoming weekend. The rub being, of course, that the gathering needed my blessing
to come to fruition.
The tender young thing who does
my manicures was gently applying a protective glaze when the phone rang. At that very moment, I was wondering whether
I should place my hand on that untamed youth in a way that would make my interest obvious, as the two of us have always had
a physical chemistry that we must stop struggling against, at some point, so that we may embrace our desires and move beyond
the sexually supercharged atmosphere that results whenever my fingers are tended to.
I fear I
was slightly grumpy at the ringing phone's interruption of what was looking to be at least a liaison dangereuse,
if not an affaire de coeur, as the manicurist is a dear thing, but quite vapid and certainly not one to keep around
one's manse for longer than, say, a season, and preferably the season in which the fewest clothes are worn.
"Who is this calling?" I asked truculently. I fear I have the habit of broadcasting my state of mind
quite blatantly, as I have found that inhibiting one's thoughts leads to all manner of gastric distress.
"'Tis I," responded Lee, in that irritating manner that is so hard to gauge; one can never tell whether Lee
is speaking seriously, or whether fun is being had at one's expense. "Am I interrupting anything dreadfully important?"
"Not at all," said I, shortly yet graciously, as one must show a certain amount of noblesse oblige
to those of the lower classes, and there is no better form of n.o. than patience. "The child who does my manicures
is just finishing up. Hold the line for a moment, would you?"
I reached into the pocket of my robe and paid the urchin, adding an ample tip. The creature is always on time and always
efficient, and therefore deserves the money; and, due to extreme mindlessness, is certainly fated to end up in an abusive
relationship, so why not help the child enjoy life a bit more now? As the manicurist left, I gave those well sculpted buttocks
a small pat, a liberty that I feel was within my rights, given the tip I'd bestowed.
"We had the most fabulous idea," Lee continued, as I listened, grimacing. The combination of "we"
and "most fabulous idea" could only mean that Lee et alia had cooked up a scheme sure to involve me in
its serpentine machinations. "Wouldn't it be simply irresistible to have a gathering at the house in _____________ over
"You can't possibly be serious,
Lee," I gasped. "The weekend is a mere four days away. To get the house opened, have it cleaned and staffed,
and have all the foods and spirits ordered would take at least a month. I simply cannot believe you are suggesting such
"Oh, be a sport. I'll help
with the arrangements, and I'll even come out early to help set up. I still have my key. It'll be tons of fun. Besides,
the gang hasn’t been together for a while, and we miss you."
This is the problem with longtime dear friends; they know your weaknesses and how to exploit them. Lee knows that I am,
at heart, a romantic, and that I can neither abide nor resist sentimentality. Thus, in less time than it takes dime-store
nail polish to dry on the fingernails of a Times Square hooker, I'd agreed to the gathering and was planning the guest list
with Lee, who'd already determined whom to invite long before calling me.
There'd be few surprises among the guests; they would be the same group of posers, dilettantes, and frauds who've been boring
me senseless for the past twenty years. Of course, one or two would ask to bring a current lover, recently estranged partner,
or flavor of the month, and we'd have some good-natured fun with that person, in a manner that Lee once likened to George
and Martha's treatment of Sunny in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? This was an observation, not a judgment, since
it went without saying that anyone fool enough to traipse into a gathering of long-time friends deserves that sort of trial
"I think we have everyone," I said, ticking
off names. "Except for Michael and Michael. Have we excluded them deliberately?"
"Perhaps unconsciously. But even if they were invited, I doubt they'd come. They're in the middle of a huge…thing. It
seems that Michael was jogging in Washington Square Park when he bumped into—of all people—Michael…I know,
I know, I am as surprised as you are…The two were having an uncomfortable chat when suddenly Michael arrived on the
scene with Michael. Well, Michael had a wild idea, and the four of them went back to Michael's loft, and…well,
you can guess what happened. Of course, word got back to Michael, and he flipped! Meanwhile, it turns out that Michael's
roommate, Michael, was an ex of Michael's from way back, and much old sludge was dredged up, with the result that Michael
and Michael are now not speaking."
I said. "I'd best just send them an invitation through the U.S. Postal Service on the day before we leave for _____________. The
weekend will be over before they even get it."
We divided up
the tasks, with Lee calling the guests to proffer the formal invite and I making the arrangements to get the house opened
Within five minutes of hanging up the phone, I felt a migraine forming behind my left eye. Why
was Lee always able to talk me into these mad schemes? Our relationship had ended long ago, but I suppose a bit of the
magic remained. And perhaps some of the bitterness.