The year is running dry, but I still have crushes. Let me guide you through the sweetest drops I know.
1. "Pizza Boyfriend." He works at the pizza place down the street. He holds a cigarette like it's a strand of hair. He passes the house four times a day. I don't know his name. Scratch that. "Pizza Boyfriend" is his name.
2. Actresses. Josh and I saw a production of The Glass Menagerie in Boston back in March (since moved to Broadway). One scene has Amanda and Laura setting a table in silence. No actual silverware. Just the way those women move their hands in unison as if dinner is a spell they cast together every night.
3. Photography. Josh took a class. I took a class through Josh. Taking a picture is like anything else. Pretend you can do it until you really can do it.
4. Eve Englezos. Long-time friend and neighbor. Ceramicist and jelly witch. She rescued a bird from a parking lot five years ago. That bird is now a human boy.
5. Reading aloud. Josh and I took turns reading a novel to each other in bed. Stages don't scare me anymore. I read a story to a crowded auditorium in October. The audience was mine. I caught those fish, but in the end I let them all go.
6. Jordan Stempleman. The man-teacher-poet responsible for A Common Sense Reading Series. His tattoos have muscles. He taught my book in a summer class at KCAI and had me come in to read his students to sleep. We went out for beer after. Jordan offered to share one of his cigarettes with me. I declined. What was I thinking?
7. James Piechura. One of my most recent friends. He moved back to the desert a couple of weeks ago to take care of his sick mother. The last thing I said to him was, "I guess that's it," and that was it. I have cried about it twice. Our final topic of conversation was scorpions. It comes back to that most days. What animals and where? Not much I've seen in Kansas City compares to the thoroughbred I saw running down the street in Kentucky when I was a kid. In my current neighborhood I've seen a stray cat with a Hitler mustache, and once near Joplin my headlights bounced off a miniature horse I mistook for a lioness. But James is a real lion, an astrological Leo, and I miss his feline restlessness.
8. Champurrado. A Mexican chocolate drink. I prepare it every Tuesday evening. I've never seen Josh so happy as when he's drinking it. We've offered it to other friends. The rapture isn't shared. Champurrado is thickened with masa. Corn and chocolate. Our friends just aren't ready, and that's fine.
9. Houseplants. Our friend, Mac, gifted us with three houseplants. They're all impossible-to-kill varieties native to jungle floors. I have nearly killed each of them. When Mac is over, he asks when the plants were last watered. The answer is the same every time. I don't know. And that's how it is with crushes. Don't give them too much attention.
10. "Thor." A man with long, golden hair worn in a ponytail who eats alone at the Indian restaurant down the street one Sunday each month. His only company is a book. Maybe he isn't the real Thor, but I can't say for sure. I haven't seen his hammer.
11. Gay literature. The novel Nebraska by George Whitmore. Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story. Tennessee Williams' Memoirs. Anything by Dennis Cooper. SHY by Kevin Killian. Start anywhere.
12. xTx. The hand on the other side of the glass. She got a new job this year. Most of our communication since has been quiet staring across the country. Simple. Elegant. She sent me a gold journal. Inside, she'd written all she needed to write. I'll make her a pie one day. She'll hate it.
13. Josh. Duh. The crush who crushes back.