(Photo: And every connotation that goes with it. Credit: Mildred’s House of Signage.)
[This entry is one in a series of dispatches from my recent trips to Gotham.]
So I’m in New York job hunting. And as usual when I’m here, I am the unofficial ringleader of the ongoing GLYNY AGAIN reunion. No surprise, then, to find me and the gang hanging out on my first evening in town at Astoria, Queens’ sloshily seminal Bohemian Beer Garden. Picture it: one outdoor acre; 100 picnic tables; unlimited hooch; and half a dozen gay New Yorkers. Somebody’s secrets were coming out that night or no one was going home happy.
Least of all me. I blame it on my iPhone. Or more properly, my fellow-alum Jimmy’s crackberry. It won’t last long, but for the moment anyone with an iPhone tends to be the center of attention, even in technology-forward Gotham. So there we were, me and Jimmy, taking a tour of each other’s devices, when I innocently accessed his calendar and ran smack into Dr. Piglet.
Now, of course, that’s not his real name. But for reasons that will become obvious, that was his term of endearment of choice. I should have handed the ‘berry back right then and there.
Instead I found myself querying Jimmy with a barrage of questions. Innocent ones, like: “Is this your family doctor?”; “What’s his full name?”; ‘Is he from the southwest?”; “Is he a redhead?”; Does he still wear all those earrings?”. And in a flash, the most emotionally screwed up man I ever dated in my life came back oinking after a 13-year absence.
I didn’t ask about the tattoos or the other piercings. I couldn’t fathom how any self-respecting patient would manage to see them. Well, unless they were having sex with each other. Ah, the things we put up with for love.
“Use the harness as a handle, Pooh Bear! a handle!”
Not to mention the nicknames. As it turned out, Dr. Piglet was, indeed, the general practitioner for Jimmy and his lover. Jimmy said Piglet has a thriving practice now. I had met the swine (you had to see that coming) when he was a first-year resident. I have no idea how he made it to year two. I remember a closet full of in-your-face gay pride tee-shirts that he used to wear to the hospital to goad the administrators (not to mention his patients). I remember a series of injudicious questions no aspiring doctor should ever ask his boyfriend.
“Would you mind if I practice catheterizing on you? You look to have such good veins.”
Let’s not, if it’s all the same with you. Which, if nothing else, men definitely were to Piglet. We dated for almost a year. We had each other’s keys. I came over one day after work and found another doctor he was working with making a house call.
“Can you come back in a few minutes so we can get dressed? This harness doesn’t just snap off, you know.”
As I later found out, the porkster had left a veritable support group of broken hearts back in the southwest before he moved to New York for med school. His M.O.: beginning his next usurious relationship before ending the previous one so that he never had to be alone. It was with some glee that I informed Jimmy about Piglet’s tendency to drop to his knees to lick leather boots on daddy bears.
Mark, our old attendance-taker extraordinaire, was more succinct. “I think you should pepper Piglet casually into your conversation the next time you see him and tell him Pooh Bear says hi.”
Staggering to the N train at evening’s end, I thought I had heard the last of the Piglet, er, tail–and for his sake, so did Jimmy. Jimmy was so lucky; I was not. The next evening, as I helped our much-loved alumni outreach obsessive-compulsive, Adam, ring-lead a dozen people into dinner at the Village Den on Greenwich Avenue, I made the mistake of recounting the porcine particulars of the previous evening.
We were sitting at Julius, the hoary old, old man’s dive on West 10th Street, having before-dinner drinks at the back tables. I had just begun my story, when Adam’s eyes grew wide. “No kidding? I dated him, too, sometime in 1995. He had just broken up with a doctor he was working with…well actually, they were still dating.”
Indeed. To Adam’s credit, he said he eventually dumped Dr. Piglet (perhaps the first time the errant bacon had even been on the receiving end of that particular shove). “I thought he had too many personal problems to be my boyfriend.”
That’s generally the outcome, my friend, when love and livestock intersect. Too much information all of this, but it was ultimately my own fault. After 20 years apart, I had forgotten the iron-clad adage to live by among the GLYNY crowd: assume everyone has slept with everyone.
It just saves time in the telling.