Le Hammam

8 02 2015
La Marais

La Marais

As I left the Paris Hammam there was one young man who drew my attention. He was of dark skin. Black. There was no doubt in my mind he was of African descent. He reminded me of my co-worker from the Grand Canyon…Mamadiou.

I did not speak to this young man as I dressed and gathered my belongings from the locker. He muttered something and I glanced over my left shoulder, but said nothing as I turned. It was at this time that I noticed a young build attached to a head with patches of gray hair coming in. This was not Mamadiou.

The Hammam had been an experience like none other. There were countless attractive, well built men, most in the prime of their lives. No one spoke, but everyone judged.

This was my last night in Paris before catching the Euro Star back to London.

The Hammam was not open 24 hours and they refused my American debit card, but the sympatheic front desk clerk directed me to the bank across Sebastionpol. There, he said, I would be able to withdraw cash, Euros of course. I diligently proceeded across le rue, to get cash, feeling slightly shameful as the guys in the que behind me chuckled at my confusion. What happened next was, dare I say, one of those moments.

As I withdrew my money from the French bank, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned around to find a teenage boy crouching behind a column in the lobby of the bank. I Immediately turned back to the ATM, completed my transaction — swiftly I might add — and took the cash and left. I let the boy, and his friend (another teenager) know in no uncertain terms what they were doing was suspect.

On the street, I approached the nearest men outside of the bank, strangers, but I felt compelled to let them know of the boys’ mischief in the bank.

“Those are Roma,” said one of the men. We know them as gypises. “They try to trick you,” the man said.

He then told me this was quite common in Paris. His friend, a Frenchman, agreed with laughter no less. I told both men if the Roma boys were intent on robbing me they would be greeted with a quick and forceful kick. I then demonstrated this kick to the men. The fat Frenchman found this to be especially funny. Much to my dismay, the other one asked for money. At this request I realized they were street people.

I scoffed and marched back across Sebastionpol to the Hammam, peeking inside the bank to see the Roma boys still hiding behind that column in the lobby. I paid the front desk clerk 15 euros and he gave me a small towel and locker number. I needed to relax after what just transpired. Had I been robbed, I would have been embarrassed, disgraced and humiliated. Unfortunately, there were just too many people at this Hammam to properly relax.

Adonis like figures waited for open spaces in the tubs and sauna. The sauna was especially cavernous. I worried of getting lost and unable to get out before shrinking down to nothing amid the steam. My confidence and self esteem were at all time lows inside this Paris Hammam. The feeling of guilt again sweeping into my psyche.

I walked all the way back to the hostel that night on the cold streets of Paris. My research into the strange subculture of Parisan men complete.

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Velvet Raging

28 03 2014
Miami Design District

Miami Design District

For about a month now I have been in a constant state of agitation, frustration, confusment. And, worst of all, depression.

South Florida — and all of her quirky games — is weighing on me. I recognize living in a metropolitan, urban area is no piece of cake and there are certain aspects of unpleasantness here that I have come to terms with. (horrible traffic, chief among them.) The attitudes of the gay community has been tough to get used to. For a community that craves acceptance, the judging it can dish out is down right devastating. There are certain pockets of Wilton Manors and Miami Beach I would dare not visit for fear of being ripped to shreads at first sight.

The irony here is I came to South Florida to experience and live in a free and open society. The idea was to relocate from a place where I was merely tolerated to somewhere where I could be celebrated. Dreamy stuff, I know, but, hey, why not? I’m afraid, however, I will leave the Sunshine State with a bitterness I have never held before.

But let’s look to the bright side, shall we. David says my cup is always half empty. He enjoys the difficulties that life throws at you much more than I do. Waiting around for a repair man, fixing a broken appliance or getting stuck in traffic for hours is nothing new to him. His health is also improving after another round with the prostate cancer. I wish I had his patience and caring.

But I do not. We are from different generations. I am driven. Driven by ambition to succeed. To conqueor.

And yet I do not know who I am.

It was the gays who bailed out my journalism career. Credit must be given there. I have reported largely about LGBT issues since arriving here in October and remain truely grateful for the work, the paychecks and the opportunity to return to writing. There are occasions when I am indeed, “gay” or happy as the old timers once referred to it. But I am not a homosexual. I am a bisexual and I am finding this out more and more about myself as I continue on life’s journey.

I miss Ann and what we had in Yellowstone. We chat only briefly via Facebook now. I worry I have broken her heart.

The agitation in my life seems to stem from a desire to do everything by the book, play by the rules and yet still come out ahead. This appears to be a fantasy. My strive for independence has been costly. I am nearly broke once again. Working freelance gives me the ability to set my own schedule and type away on a keyboard in my pajamas, but it does not pay all the bills. Thankfully, David is helping with that — and our partnership has never been stronger.

I suppose when you reach a certain point in life you began to set keener priorities. Getting out of Panama City was the right thing to do, that much is clear. I was blacklisted from working in the region and it was time to move on. It is remarkable I have been able to make such an impact in South Florida during just a six month period. Again, I am grateful to the publishers of SFGN for this opportunity.

I think the root of my depression can be found in my work. In writing about the move for equality for gays and lesbians I seem to be frustrated that I have not found my equal. I wonder if I ever will. I am not worried about making up for lost time and I do not dwell on mistakes of the past or relationships lost. I am not consumed by money, although I still seek a stable existence.

I realize now it is validation I am after. And soon I will travel across this great land of ours in that quest for answers.