ain't that a bitch

I went to a holiday party tonight, at the christmas light-covered Castro District home of my friend Thom. It's a fabulous Victorian flat, quite opulently decorated, with many rich colors, textures, fabrics, and endless tchotchkies everywhere. It's quite fabulous, actually. They had a beautiful tree and lights and garlands everywhere, with lots and lots of candles, and beautifully prepared hors d'oeuvres. I was one of the first people there, and Thom told me, "It's your job to make sure none of those candles get knocked over by a drunk queer and burn my house down."

Burn his house down. His words proved to be eerily prophetic. Read on.

I was on top of it. I was being The Militant Mostly Sober Gay tonight, making sure the sloppy people stayed away from the candles AND the liquor. Getting shitfaced at christmas parties is quite tacky, IHMO. That's why I didn't drink much alcohol, but instead gorged on marinara meatballs, Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce on skewers, liver pate on tiny circles of wheat bread garnished with a single caper, quail eggs on rye, and caviar. Of course I washed it all down with 3 glasses of champagne.

It was a very gay party, in a very gay neighborhood, in a very gay Victorian flat.

Thom was in rare form tonight...in addition to being a singer, composer, and musician, he's also a dancer and choreographer and makes all the costumes for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. In other words, he's a Super Gay. Upon seeing the lavish decorations when walking through the front door, a guest asked Thom, "Wow, I love your place! Are you from New Orleans or something?"

He replied, "Oh no, darling. I'm just a big gay homosexual who knows how to drape fabrics."

Thom kills me. I was sipping champagne when he said that and I sprayed it everywhere. I think some came out of my nose as well.

Halfway through the party, an incoming call vibrated my phone. The number was unfamiliar, but I instantly recognized the 216 area code, which happens to be the code for inner-city Cleveland, Ohio. Since I was in the middle of a conversation (ironically, with someone from Wickliffe, which is a suburb of Cleveland), I let it roll into voicemail, then excused myself a few minutes later to go outside and see who it was.

Turns out, it was a call from my sister using her friend's cell phone. She was speaking very fast with her Cleveland accent, and since I was on the edge of a Nextel dead spot (there are so many of them all over San Francisco...it's maddening), I could only make out bits and pieces of her message. I did hear, however, "fire," "my apartment," "burned," "red cross," "standing outside," and "fucking freezing."

Slightly panicked, I called the number, and my sister answered. Turns out her incredibly cool Coventry Village apartment building in Cleveland Heights had a severe fire, and several units were completely gutted. Luckily, her apartment only suffered smoke damage, and since Hillary (by habit) locked her apartment door when she fled the building, the firemen had to kick it in. Topping it all off, she just filled out her renter's insurance paperwork this week, but didn't turn it in yet. It was still sitting on her dining room table when the fire started.

This means in addition to being Shit Out Of Luck, she has to move back in with my parents, who live about 2 miles away. My sister is 29. She's not looking forward to that. Her cool apartment is now completely uninhabitable, the electricity and gas is shut off, everything she owns is covered with soot and smells like smoke, and her whole place needs to be fumigated, scrubbed, and repainted. Her front door may be bashed in, but the American Red Cross installed a padlock for my sister (they were right there at the scene shortly after the fire was extinguished) and the Cleveland Heights police secured the unit. It could have been a lot worse, actually. She's lucky. Hopefully, her cheap-ass dickhead landlord (her words, not mine...I don't know the guy) will spring for refinishing her gorgeous hardwood floors, but I'm not holding my breath for that one.

So when I was talking to her, she was standing outside, shivering in the 37-degree cold, in the rain. I asked her, "Hillary, are you okay?"

She replied, "Yeah, but it's cold as balls out here and I need a fucking drink."

Hey...look at it this way. At least she gets to have another housewarming party when she moves back in.



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