1. The assessment
||After myself, the most interesting man I have known --
if I have known him.|
2. His hands
||You notice the coolness and smoothness of these hands.
Even when he is tormented, the hands keep their repose.
The touch is peaceful, firm, and confident. They are trained
runners, supple and harmonious. Their dharma is good; they
have trained on a series of joys.|
3. His eyes
||Cat's eyes, really.|
4. His mouth
||Heavy artillery. The lips push out in panic, compress
in anger. This mouth must serve him in several ways -- as the
entrance to the grand ballroom of his mind, as the tent flap to
his medicine show, as the happy gateway for immigrants of all
5. The navigator
||Roads are mere circuitry, after all, and such puzzles
are his joy. The circuits of Wisconsin and god knows where else are
fixed flawlessly in this Navigator. What a pleasure it is to drive
the back roads with him! You always trust that he knows where he's
going, and you're always surprised where you come out.|
6. The coach
||He once took an outsider into the Gym and taught him to
run. The outsider hated gyms; they made him feel lumpish and
inadequate. The Coach talked about oxygen levels and such, showed the
outsider how to stretch himself and warm up so he wouldn't hurt
anything. Then they ran, easily and regardlessly, running only
for themselves. The outsider ran a mile at his own pace, a
pace the Coach assured him was as right as the pace struck by a trained
miler; slower, but testing nonetheless. Then they ran sprints and
the Coach showed the outsider how to count his pulse and cool
himself down. They showered and left. The outsider came back to the Gym
and was never afraid of gyms, or of his own body, after that.|
7. The chef
||His kitchen was a merry lab; the Scientist licks his
8. The insider
||He'll say he knows almost everyone you mention. You
often suspect he doesn't know everyone he claims to, especially
not half the boys on campus. But you can never be sure. They show
up in the damndest ways.|
||He listens and absorbs your grief with a broad love.
The voice grows soft. At length, when he has let you feel what you
need to feel, he begins a quiet probe. Little by little your
catastrophes collapse to their true dimensions. Panic subsides.
Self-criticism is possible. In these matters the Counselor is easier
on you than he ever is on himself.|
10. The detective
||He tracked the movements of a jumpy lover hour by hour,
day by day. He raced around town pulling information from friends,
piecing the fragments together, searching for the devastating truth
that had to be lurking beneath the pattern. The truth, when he
learned it, was unremarkable; the devastation was the search itself.|
11. The language instructor
||By example, he taught a friend the necessary art of
verbal masking. It was an exciting course, for it was also a course
in self-defense: kung-fu for the homosexual. The friend learned the
delights of speaking in two languages, both of them English, in social
settings that would be menacing were it not for the protection of the
tongue. Today that tongue is a double asset as feminists press to
cleanse everyday speech of gender specification. While liberals try
awkwardly to reform their utterances, we come forth naturally with
the new speech. Their newest progress is our oldest protection.|
12. The computer programmer
||For years it was almost mysterious. You knew what he did,
but there was never any talk about it. Now there is overlap between his
worlds, but it is still mysterious. One supposes either that the work is so
recondite that he despairs of sharing it with friends, or that it is
so pedestrian that he fears boring them with it. Either way, the
silence around his work adds to his enigma. In society one feels like
raising the subject with him only guardedly, as one might with a
member of the Mafia or an agent of the CIA.|
||For things: "Uncommonly good."|
For people: "Transcendental."
14. His worst poem
15. Weights and measures
||1 millihelen = the unit of beauty required to launch one
1 megahelen = 1,000 helens.
16. A Rabelaisian moment
||"He beat me severely about the mouth and lips."|
17. He said it to his mother
||Mother: My color television reception has been a
lot better lately.|
J: Oh, have you moved to a better streetcorner?
18. His mother said it to him
||"All these years of work and what do I get? Miss Viper
Tongue of 1973."|
||R: (On completing a Joplin rag) Oh, Jess, in my next
incarnation I want to be a whorehouse piano player!|
J: (Deliciously) That's convenient -- you won't even have to die.
||J: (A bit smugly) The Reis-Allisters saw me in a
restaurant the other night and didn't even recognize me.|
R: (Deliciously) You must have had your mouth closed.
J: (Stung) I certainly walked into that.
R: (Triumphantly) One can.
21. The faux pas
||J: Thanks so much, I had a wonderful time.|
Host: We'll be sure to have you back the next time we want the
22. The miscalculation
||He was standing at the bar of the Kollege Klub when an
uncommonly attractive young man walked by. Speaking in a normal voice,
but in French, he said: "I wish that boy would sit on my face." The
young man stopped dead in his tracks and stared at him with a look of
23. The experiment
||In the fall of 1970 he curled his hair and came to a dance.
Since the fall of 1970 he has never curled his hair.|
24. Broken toys
The Million Dollar Computer Deal
25. Among his souvenirs
||In the days when it was fashionable, he drove a large
27. His library
||He has every recording anybody ever wanted. He told a
friend how many weeks or years it would take to hear them all in
succession, but the friend has forgotten the number. He has almost
no books. He sold his library years ago, a remarkable thing. To a
computer expert books are a primitive means of information retrieval.
The books he likes best now are the ones he writes himself.|
28. Triumph of the will
||He was so persistent at not paying credit card bills
that most of his cards have been recalled.|
29. Highly classified
||He saw "Gone With The Wind" in its first run.|
30. Four people we share
31. Sight reading
||He stares at the score, cursing and grunting at mistakes.
It is the concentration of a committed pinball player.|
32. The bungalow
||It was a surprise to find him living there. His manner
was so grand one expected a grand manor. Yet it was only a bungalow,
modest, really, and modestly situated in a modest suburb. Inside it
was rather jammed. The most elegant furniture was in the dining room
and this was scarcely used. The place was cozy; its coziness was instructive.
One realized that the sophisticate was also a homebody who felt
good in small spaces, a person content to submerge his
extraordinary presence in the sanctuary of an ordinary place.|
33. The chrysalis
||He found the chrysalis, picked the sack with the twig and
brought it home. With his care the butterfly emerged, not
a Monarch but neither a moth. Some said he kept it in a jar
for ten years, but this was unfair. It was good for a season.
Quite simply, another spring arrived.|
||He desired Pheadrus and wished to enroll him in his Lyceum,
but Pheadrus was too mercurial, too Piscean, for that.
Phaedrus himself was torn between the desire to embrace the Mentor
and the desire to flee him. Phaedrus feared that the osmotic
pressure created by the Mentor would drain him of essential contents.
However, the moments before Phaedrus felt his terror were often
beautiful. The Mentor, infatuated with his darkly athletic
and tormented pupil, would make passionate music and Phaedrus
would respond, pressing his lips ardently to the flute. Then,
inevitably, Phaedrus would find his panic and flee. This much
can be ventured: there will always be music between them.|
35. The designing young man
||The Designing Young Man entered the scene shortly before the
Ten Year Affair drew to a close. The Designing Young Man
proceeded to redesign the environment, to the delight of his Client.
The clutter vanished. The grounds, absurdly small for much design,
were dug and planted like the Gardens of Versailles. Stained glass
lamps, Oriental rugs, and carefully chosen objects entered the house.
The Designing Young Man encouraged the Client to renew old contacts
with area artists, and this was done. It was all very geometric
until the Client noticed that the Designing Young Man had included
everything in the design but a place for himself. When the Client
questioned him about this, the Designing Young Man shrugged. It
was not in the design.|
||He became obsessed with time and dates. This was disquieting.
One supposed he did not keep count of months during the
Ten Year Affair, yet now he celebrated monthly "anniversaries."
One wondered why, if he was liberated, he kept marking his days,
like a prisoner. Perhaps it was the celebration of a new calendar;
it seemed more like the preparation of a lawsuit.|
37. The nadir
||In April of 1973, he came with the Designing Young Man
to visit a friend. His movements were strangely sluggish. His speech was
alarmingly slurred. He had dosed himself dangerously with a drug
to put the distance of a dream between him and the cancer on his spirit.
This was the nadir. At length there was radical surgery, which was
38. How he was going to do it
||He was going to accelerate rapidly at the intersection
of Park and West Johnson Streets, gather momentum by the time he hit
Park and West Dayton, hurtle down the incline approaching the viaduct,
and smash himself into the thick abutment which divided the lanes.|
39. One year later
||On April 7, 1974, he strode through a throng in the
Elvehjem Art Center and bowed to loud applause. The courtyard was airy
and green. He wore white linen and a rose. He was entirely beautiful.
The music was controlled and springlike. The color and graciousness
of that day were all his color and graciousness -- yellow blossoms,
white wine, April sun.|
40. Two years later
||His friend is young, attractive, cheerful, and bright.
He himself is now wolfish, grinning through a mass of glossy beard
and hair. He feels rangy and rugged, surely not 40. The unreal Dorian
Gray, who was never more than a glossy photograph, has perished. Now
there is Mellors, the gamekeeper lying nude in his cottage with
his love twining forget-me-nots in the rough of his chest. The
odyssey from Wilde to Lawrence, from the De Profundis to the Jubilate,
at all but complete. A friend who must leave feels reassured.|