The Human Condition, As Affected By Other Human Conditions

I had this apartment in Boston once – specifically, on Sutherland Road in Brighton which is considered within the city limits – with drag queens tripping about in stiletto heels both next door and above. I am reminded of this because I woke up feeling weepy, exhausted and sorta bitchy this morning. (See “My Stay at the Five-Star Sanitarium”)

I went to look at the apartment with the Realtor (often hilariously mispronounced as the tri-syllabic “real-it-er”, much like our leader’s embarrassing pronunciation of, “nuke-u-lur”) and wrote a check on the spot to take it. But then, as moving day approached, I couldn’t find the apartment building and started to panic. I knew the address and while I could find the end of this one-way road where it met Commonwealth Ave, I could not find where it began no matter how many times I circled the block with friends. Calls to the realtor went unanswered so one night after work when it was really late and traffic was sparse, I backed all of the way down Sutherland Road to find out where this mysterious road began. This entailed backing down 3 blocks, stopping at red lights and waiting for them to turn green before continuing my backwards journey, pulling over to let cars going in the proper direction pass and avoiding hitting any of the cars parallel parked on both sides, thus perfecting my reverse driving skills till I finally found the beginning. As it turned out, the road began at the other end of a parking lot for a bar at the other end of the street, down on Beacon Street. I think it was called The Coolidge Corner Cafe. I was proud of myself for solving this mystery and could now bring my truck full of stuff to my new apartment.

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The drag queens next door were really sweet as were the ones above. We became friends. The couple next door would sometimes not be on speaking terms in which case I’d be the stand-in date for events with one or the other of them. One time I was the date for one to his company holiday party. His co-workers, knowing he was a drag queen (but never at work, as he managed the hardware department for Sears and went to work as a man and in a suit), wondered if I was perhaps a cleverly disguised man and several times during the night drunken co-workers would get on the floor and try to look up my dress. I spent much of the night sitting down. As the guests got drunker and more determined to have proof of my gender they stepped up their efforts and that made dancing tricky as I was constantly tripping over whichever guest was at that moment trying to look up my dress. But the food was really good.

The other was a concierge for a big snooty hotel in town and so I’d often get to go on restaurant reviews or plays with him so he could then advise guests as to food and entertainment venues. He was also a member of The Sommelier Society and that meant I’d encourage domestic spats when fabulous wine tastings were scheduled at the Trade center or The Boston Harbor Hotel. Ok–not really, but I did go to a lot of fabulous wine tasting events and dinners and tasted pairings of raw oysters with $300 glasses of wine. Actually, I liked them best together but was happy to be alterna-date and shoulder to cry on during periods of silence in their relationship. But every night as they got ready to go out they’d try on all their snazzy stiletto-heeled shoes and it was quite loud. And when they came home at 3 or 4 am it was even louder as now they’d be giddy and smashed. Man-sized high-heeled shoes supporting a few hundred pounds is really loud and lately I am reminded of just how much that reverberates through wood floors.

So I asked them if they could maybe try not to twirl about so much between 1 and 4 am in their heels but rather put them on just before going out and take them off when they came home and they happily obliged with a caveat–they said, “Honey, we don’t much mind your pointless hetero-music but if you will refrain from playing Herb Alpert EVER we will stop prancing about in heels. ” And we all lived happily ever after.

And this morning I put on Herb Alpert when I got up.

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