Look Who’s Talking


The editor said write about talk. The writer wasn’t tracking, okay, so sue him. He didn’t realize the editor meant that Talk. Well, okay, he did sort of realize but, after all, so what? There’ll be plenty of journalists “reporting” the manufactured buzz attending on millennial editorial synergy as conceived by extensively networked artifacts of the boom-boom ’80s.

So the writer did what he likes to do best, anyway, which is ignore the hype and hit the streets, ear cocked for the impossibly weird things that people say. No one talks this way in other places, thinks the writer. In fact, it’s a truth universally acknowledged—or anyway, well-known to anyone who’s ever been trapped amid the laconic cadences of rural Iowa or the mall-rat gibberish uttered by Angelenos of all ages or the coma-inducing speech of those Canadians who end every sentence with “eh?”

It was Frank Lloyd Wright, of all people, who once aptly characterized New York as the “greatest mouth in the world.” The writer has no precise idea in what way Wright intended this epigram; nevertheless, it seems appropriate to add a word of personal editorial confirmation: “Aight.”

And so. The woman at Astor Place was talking about a bridal shower she’d just attended. She had on platform slides and a skintight leopard-print stretch blouse and cargo pants of clam-digger length. Her friend, a guy wearing generic guy clothes, was standard issue, the Shlub. And what the woman was saying, in the nasal tones of the Five Towns: “So I was at a bridal shower, and the fiancé came in, and he like double air-kissed all the childhood friends, and then he like single-kissed the new friends and I’m like, ‘What are you trying to be, an Italian count putting a dis on us?’ I mean excuse me,you live on Park Avenue and you’re a Jew who took over his father’s pest control business?”

And so. Two guys are sitting at Big Cup, the overpriced Chelsea coffee dive that functions the way Schwab’s once did in Hollywood, as a locus for gym bunny Lana Turners. They sit there waiting for Mr. Right (or, as the saying goes, Mr. Right Now) to “discover” them, sipping iced frappuccino, their steroid cleavages carefully arranged just so, in white nylon tank tops from Raymond Dragon.

The topic under discussion was a flyer recently issued at a local dance club, the one warning patrons that “The ROXY has ABSOLUTELY ZERO TOLERANCE for anyone using or possessing GHB, Blue Nitro, Revivarent, or Renewtrient. These drugs induce coma and cardiac arrest.”

“So what do you think?” Guy One asks, flicking a thumb over the Celtic armband tattooed on biceps of action-figure dimensions.

“Oh, big deal,” says his friend, a John Kelly look-alike. “Put it in soda. You just find the dose that brings you to where you want to be. I’ve been taking an eyedropper with me to the club and, I shouldn’t say this, but I put the GHB in a lube bottle, and I just suck up the amount I want and put it in my drink. So then I can sip.”

“And are you loving it?”

“I’m loving it totally. Like last week I was doing G and the Whitney Houston remix came on and everything was like I was in a big cloud. The room just felt very free to me. It was like whooo.”

“Girl, I know. When you get that peak high, it’s like total whooo. You just get there. And if you take a hit of X early in the night, and then two grams of GHB, that’s it! Two whooos a night.”

And so. One of the two women at Kiehl’s had apparently not had a two-whooo evening. Despite the fact that both were at the peak of youthful perfection—firmfleshed, with high round butts encased in short shorts, wearing tank tops, and with their hair pulled up into that kind of extremely sexy, casual “I
didn’t give this look a moment’s thought” ponytail that probably takes an hour or so to achieve—it hadn’t been happening last night in the bedroom.

“Lazy-ass motherfucker was drunk,” said Girl One, as she sampled some Instant Satin-Soft Body Rub Moisturizer.

“Don’t you hate that?” asked Girl Two, leaning into a mirror to pat some Rosewater Freshener and Toner on her face.

“Duh!” Girl One continued. “Like who doesn’t? I’m dumping his tired ass tomorrow. I just hate these guys who get drunk and then they don’t want to do it. Or they do it one time and then they fall asleep.”

“That,” Girl Two averred, “was what I liked so much about X. He was young and clean and didn’t even drink or smoke.”


“And, like, he wanted to do it every minute.”

“My ideal,” Girl One said, as the two moved to another counter and found some Creme de Corpsto rub onto their thighs. “Just to like get to that point where you’re getting enough so you’re not constantly lying next to this flesh lump thinking, ‘What about mine?”‘

And so. Two men were discussing a recent dungeon demonstration: fisting, genitorture, Saran Wrap mummification, the usual. You don’t get this kind of thing at Kiwanis picnics in East Peoria, Illinois. This conversation was overheard during the Folsom Street Fair, which takes place not in San Francisco, oddly enough, but in the Village in the week before Gay Pride.

“So what did you think of the flogging?” asked Guy One, who was dressed in a modified aviator outfit.

“Plugging?” said the Other, whose
getup could be described as Leather Lite. “What’s that?”

Flogging. You’d hear me better if you weren’t wearing that hat. Flogging, you know, like with whips.”

“Oh, it looked good, I thought. I don’t know about the quirts, but you know the bullwhips looked amusing. I think I’d like to find a pig bottom and try that out some time.”

“Maybe you better take a course or something first,” said the Other. “Somehow I can’t see you knowing what to do. I mean, you really want to have some expertise with that stuff. Otherwise you look like Ruth Buzzi swinging a purse.”

And so. A man on the street outside Capezio in midtown was talking about toe shoes, saying, “Some people like them new out of the box, but I like mine dead. I put them in the door and slam it. I crush them. I throw them. You want to go through the shoe. You want to control the shoe. What you don’t want is to have the shoe control you.” And a woman buying a copy of i-D at Gem Spa was telling a friend how she’d found a perfectly good leather jacket just sitting on a fire hydrant on East 5th Street and took it home and put it on, “And then, like, after a couple of days, I was at work and I got this itchy twitchy feeling and I didn’t realize it until later, but the jacket gave me crabs.” And a man who looked a lot like John Giorno, the poet who once administered Keith Haring a blowjob in the Prince Street station, was in that same station talking loudly about a concept he referred to as “promiscuous giving.” And a woman walking to a newsstand near Father Demo Square was heard to say, “I was so happy, I gave all the bums a cigarette.” And the writer happened to overhear this as he sat on a bench reading James Joyce: “One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.” And, as he closed his book, the writer abruptly thought of a jazz singer he’d recently seen performing in the subway. Finishing her number, the woman mopped her brow and flashed a smile that might have been a sign of a fine disposition or, equally, of a disordered personality. “If you can’t make it entertaining for yourself,” the woman had said to the air, “who can?”