cheaper-than-therapy-immortal
Advertisement

About a year and half ago I wrote my first Cheaper Than Therapy column. I struggled over the content, trying to decide what story would perfectly set the tone for the series of essays that would delve into the deepest recesses of a promiscuous neurotic’s day-to-day life. The story had to be perfect, as this was my first published piece of work. I imagined all the people who would read this piece and laugh hysterically at my absurd tale. I imagined how they would show it to their friends and say things like, “I would totally hang out with that guy. He seems so fun!” I began contemplating how I would deal with the fame – whether I would become a paparazzi whore or maintain my humility.

cheaper-than-therapy-immortalAbout a year and half ago I wrote my first Cheaper Than Therapy column. I struggled over the content, trying to decide what story would perfectly set the tone for the series of essays that would delve into the deepest recesses of a promiscuous neurotic’s day-to-day life. The story had to be perfect, as this was my first published piece of work. I imagined all the people who would read this piece and laugh hysterically at my absurd tale. I imagined how they would show it to their friends and say things like, “I would totally hang out with that guy. He seems so fun!” I began contemplating how I would deal with the fame – whether I would become a paparazzi whore or maintain my humility.

I ultimately decided to tell the story of a tawdry encounter with a casual acquaintance in the backseat of his car. I wrote and re-wrote the 750-word story half a dozen times, trying to perfectly craft an image I wanted on display, all the while envisioning the reader basking in my words. I waited anxiously for the first issue to go to print and for the countless compliments from adoring fans that were sure to follow.

Alas, the reception was not what I had expected. I’m not sure even my closet friends ever read the column. All of my careful planning to immortalize myself in text went unnoticed…almost.

The casual acquaintance featured in my story read my masterpiece. I can only imagine his face as the words on the page disclosed not only my dirty little secrets, but his as well. As he sat a table in Streetcar Charlie’s with two of our mutual friends, he saw our tawdry affair replayed in the public domain. He was humiliated, and angry.

Feeling a bit defeated because my column was not the roaring success I had hoped, I was less than interested in this man’s feelings about being objectified as a character for my personal gain. What the hell did he have to be upset about after all? In my quest for immortality, I had immortalized him as well. I did all the work and he was in a position to reap the rewards alongside me…had there been rewards to reap, that is. I never apologized. I never even felt guilty for what I had written.

Last week, the man I had objectified and embarrassed in that first column died very unexpectedly. When I heard the news, I felt numb. Naturally I was shocked and saddened, but I was mostly confused. We weren’t close friends, but we had shared a moment. That moment ultimately became very significant in my life. The retelling of it represented a milestone for me – my first published column, setting the tone for how I would depict myself.

Death has a funny way of putting life in perspective, making us simultaneously cherish and fear it. Knowing my own mortality, I continue to write in effort to contribute to the cultural zeitgeist of gay Tampa at the turn of the century…to allow myself to live forever. I never apologized to the man that made the milestone, or thanked him for being part of a defining moment. Recalling that attempt to immortalize myself, I have never been more aware of how mortal I truly am.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here