Last Night at the Protest

Last night at the protest I ran into an old friend. I hadn’t seen him in years and, quite frankly, the last time I saw him he wasn’t doing so well.

He looked great, thank goodness, and I wished we had had more time to catch up — he was with another friend and they both had somewhere to be.

The encounter prompted me to search my computer for remnants of the time we spent together, so many years ago.

This is some of what I found (I wanted to edit the piece before posting but I resisted the impulse, somewhat.):

“Speed Queen”

“What time is it?” I asked.

“It’s about two,” answered William

“I gotta use the phone,” I snapped back.

“Klein, you just checked your machine. I’ve got to tell you about this Viacom deal!”

“Look William, I’ve gotta use the phone.”

I felt like a hostage; just after the ransom note and just before the kidnappers would cut off my right index finger to prove they had me. I grabbed the phone and dialed 9.

Craig… Eric… Little Rob!

The sun spontaneously broke through the overcast Manhattan skyline, with puffy clouds and tall steely buildings framing the bright sunlight. I could float right through the ceiling up to the roof. I was on the fifteenth floor, but it like I was on the twentieth or thirtieth. I was so elated to hear his voice that I didn’t even think about all the ugly ceiling tiles I would hit on the way up.

“I really want to hear all about the deal, William. But first I have to call Little Rob,” I calmly explained.

“Okay then. Sure, you just go ahead and make your little phone call.”

“Look, this is important. I could get laid. No, really I haven’t heard from that little speed queen since he left San Francisco in a paranoid drug frenzy. You know, he’s the first, and hopefully only Club Kid I’ve ever gone out with.”

“Club Kid? Is he hot?” William asked in sudden, almost urgent interest.

“He’s really cute and sassy. In fact, he’s the sassiest little bitch on both coasts. He makes me laugh. I really love him.

Move over. I’ve gotta use the phone”

Of course. A busy signal. This just means I’m going to have to gear up to ask William to use the phone again until I get through.

“I am putting this on my credit card you know?”

At an appropriate break in the Viacom deal I grab the phone again. Now it rings. Good. It rings for about five minutes. MCI charges for the call after a minute, even if the other party doesn’t pick up. I hang up the phone. I pick it up again.

“Who are you calling now?”

“I’ve gotta check my machine. Maybe I have the wrong number”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“See? Three new messages!”

Two are Little Rob wondering where I am. One is Cynthia, the obsessive Jewish mother. Actually, she’s my obsessive Jewish mother. But I need to keep my distance, for my own health and well being.

The number I have for Little Rob is right. So why is he not picking up? All three of his messages are giddy and funny. He always laughs at his own jokes. It surprises both of us to know how funny he is.

-Alan Klein


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