RENT $1,295 [market]
SQUARE FEET 375 [one-bedroom in tenement]
OCCUPANTS Michael Sullivan [executive administrative assistant, Time Inc.]; Calvin Hermanson [social worker, Palladia]
Bullets were flying in your old apartment. [Michael] One was, anyway.
It sounded fierce. It was bad. [Calvin] I had to take a medical school exam. We had to get up really early. Outside our bedroom . . . [Michael] It looked like finely shredded white paper. [Calvin] We couldn’t figure out what it was. There was this notch in the door frame. [Michael] Like someone had taken a crowbar. [Calvin] We both looked at each other—was it you? [Michael] I’d been out partying the night before. [Calvin] We were both pretty perplexed. [Michael] Until we saw the bullet hole in the window.
So if you’d been standing at the window at that moment . . . I was standing there at midnight. We’d been in Spanish Harlem for about four years. We kept waiting for the neighborhood to get . . . [Calvin] Better. [Michael] Everybody thought it would become like the new Lower East Side. But it never did.
Why Yorkville—so formerly German, Hungarian? Though now that community is moving away with its pastries. It’s the only neighborhood below 96th Street we could afford.
I heard you were recently married. Not legally.
Ah, it was June, in a gallery in the East Village, you said on the phone. “Calvin’s sister Ronda was the reverend. She read a passage from Tom Robbins about love being the ultimate outlaw. Then e.e. cummings. People were tearing up. We got a room at Off Soho Suites on Rivington, went to Barcelona the next afternoon. That was great. We didn’t have to go all the way back uptown.” Had you always wanted to tie the knot? Well. It’s a lesbian bar where we met—in Seattle. I was with my friend Deenie. We kept looking at each other like a junior high cafeteria thing. I was going through a tough time then. We weren’t that serious that I’d move to Seattle for him. I didn’t know he was planning to move to New York anyway.
How is marital life? [Calvin] Bliss. [Michael] And we call each other . . .
What? I can’t say.
You can. No.
It will be part of history! I think he and I have a good balance of humor.
Who cares. What do you call each other? I need something for this article. What about the lesbian bar in Seattle?
Everyone meets at a lesbian bar in Seattle. What about the bullet?
The bullet’s OK. But it was only one. Do you want to hear more about the wedding?
No! I heard the poems. That’s enough. We want to have kids. [Yawn.] Adopt in a couple of years. [Calvin] Probably domestic. [Michael] Most countries ask if you’re homosexual. If you’re truthful, they won’t let you adopt. We won’t be untruthful. In Florida you can’t. New York’s a good state to be gay. [Calvin] We fantasize about having a boy and a girl. [Michael] We have names picked out. I like old-lady names, like Mavis. I like Vivian but spelled with an e, like Vivienne Tam.
What do you call each other? [Michael] I didn’t think you wanted to know that stuff.
I didn’t until you brought it up. I don’t have a checklist or anything. It’s better a mystery, leave people wanting more. [They whisper.] [Calvin] We were thinking about two different names. [Michael] Do you want some Reese’s Pieces?
No. [There’s a lull. A person is singing, “It’s not for me to say . . . “] Is this your favorite song? I like Johnny Mathis. [Next day, an e-mail. They call each other “Treasure.”]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2004