Vignette

The Solemnity of the Moment

I read in some article that for maximum health you should hug and be hugged 14 times a day by someone you love. “Fourteen!” said Dylan. “That’s a lot of hugs.” Some days I am militant about the number. I’ll appear before Dylan in staunch position and block his passageway. “Fourteen,” I remind him. “Today we’ve not yet even had one! I am ready to receive my hug.” Dylan will concede but sometimes negligently. He’ll with open secrecy text behind my back and use the free hand to pat me in a distracted and casual attempt to reassure me that all is on track. I let the distraction hugs mostly slide and only once in a while critique the poorness of the show. When I am too soft on hug crime, Dylan will make moves prematurely to leave. I then stiffen my body up, set my face to a bold expression of maximum angst and declare, “THE HUG ISN’T OVER YET.” The door slam record scratch drama of my loud announcement snaps Dylan back into the solemnity of the moment. “Jesus,” he says, “you are a Hug Nazi.” “13 MORE TO GO,” I say in a voice like I always totally know the number without explicit counting. And so we hug. We never actually make it daily to 14 but we get some good ones in there. It’s a very nice time. Hugs. They matter.

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Vignette

Like Tears in Rain

I once witnessed Dylan wake up by punching himself hard in the balls. He sprang up in bed all angry, shouting, “Fuck!” and then displayed an agonized face of visible distress. I chuckled, said, “Poor baby,” and felt sorry as best as I could, because how am I to know how much pain you feel from a sudden hard balls punching. I only know what they’ve told me and apparently it’s lots. I also know from the time I used to kick balls for money, crush, shock and tie them up, or stick the ball sack bounteously with many long sharp pins, but that of course was skewered knowledge, because those motherfuckers loved that shit, so much so that they paid for it. Then later I’d torture my friends with graphic recaps of the day’s ball punishment and amuse myself greatly watching guys who possessed zero desire to have their own balls be destroyed struggle to process the dark details of all my joyfully horrible stories. What I love about life is that it’s fun, and what I love about the world is that it’s fucked up, confusingly, maddeningly, beautifully. And good thing, because otherwise it’d all be just silence and loneliness, harsh words and complaints, emptiness and heartbreak, like tears in rain. Might as well welcome the pain.

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Conversation

LTR

I sat on the nice new glasses I got in Cuba and pretty much irreversibly destroyed them. The lenses are scratched and chipped and the arms are all bent wildly askew. Then, being blind and rampaging the streets of an unfamiliar city, I fucked up hard trying to get home from running errands and got pretty profoundly lost. I ultimately figured shit out and returned hectic and hyperventilating. Dylan gazed at me gravely while I described my misadventure with melodramatic gestures and overemotional words. When I was done, Dylan said, “Christ. What would you do without me?” “Roll around naked in a ditch,” I replied, “until I starved and died.” “Hm,” said Dylan. “So would you though,” I added. Dylan seemed about fit to refute the remark, but then intelligently desisted. “I love everything about you,” he said instead, which were of course exactly the only correct words. Because long term relationships take work. The point is to relish the work. And when you relish the work, you’ll relish each other, and the love will burn true and continue.

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Portrait

Mambabatok

Whang-od Oggay is a tattoo artist from Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Philippines. She is the last practitioner of Mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattoo) from the Butbut Kalinga Malay Peoples and at 100 years old is one of the oldest working tattooists. Her ink is composed of a mixture of charcoal and water that is tapped into the skin through a thorn end from a Calamansi or Pomelo tree. When naysayers challengingly ask what a tattooed person will look like when they grow old, Whang-od is living proof that the answer is fucking beautiful.

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Portrait

Cuddle Monster

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Meet MacGyver, a 4-year-old Argentine red tegu lizard from California, who may be the most popular lizard on Earth. This oversized adorable reptile has almost 200,000 followers on Instagram, 50,000 followers on YouTube and even has a LinkedIn page. Every day, thousands of people admire pictures and enjoy videos of MacGyver eating, going for walks, helping out with tasks, meeting new people, making friends, having baths, taking selfies, giving kisses and, most importantly, cuddling. MacGyver loves to cuddle.

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Vignette

Just Dudes

Afterward the two interviewers joined the rest of us downstairs on the patio for a pitcher and something to eat. I don’t know how the subject came up but during conversation one of them said, “Well this one time, I went to these guys’ house and they were gay. But they were just hanging out. They were like. Just dudes.” I gazed at the speaker, my expression mild, expecting more. “They were… just dudes,” he said again, as if the repetition more conclusively clarified his train of thought and beefed up his thesis. I don’t know if this guy expected to in all gay company be immediately imprisoned inside a semen-drenched enclave helplessly confronted by a swirling cesspool of seething testicles and permanently erect penises flying ramrod and relentless into every male available mouth and anus visibly in range and line of sight or what, but he seemed to be recalling the actual experience now, reliving the unexpected calm of it. He meanwhile didn’t seem to be aware that exactly two such “just dudes” were with pastoral elegance seated at the table with us all. “Ah yes,” I said finally. “‘Just dudes.’ Those would be the straight-looking-and-acting ones. One must watch for those.” And I grinned. I might’ve even winked. But in the silent secret fortress of my brain, I laughed out loud.

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