Monthly Archives: October 2006

Transparent Actions

We were watching Boogie Nights, and in the movie, Scotty’s wasted at the New Year’s party. He tries to kiss Dirk, but Dirk throws him off. I asked her if she knew Scotty was gay. Until that point, I thought he never gave off any such sign.

“Of course”, she said.

“How could you tell?”. I had to ask, because I couldn’t tell. I’ve watched Boogie Nights with dozens of people before, and they’ve all asked if Scotty was gay before it even got to this scene. It must have been the 20th time I’ve seen this movie, but I still didn’t see what so many others did. My gaydar can’t be that bad, I thought to myself.

“Just from the way Scotty looks at Dirk all dreamy”.

Dreamy? So Scotty wasn’t being particularly flamboyant, he was simply attracted to Dirk. It was obvious to everyone but me.

Then I recalled Pat telling me a few years ago that a certain girl liked me. He didn’t have some kind of inside knowledge, he said he could tell just from the way she looked at me. I never believed him, of course, because I had no inkling of such an message. I never believed him until she gave me a written confession.

It made me wonder, am I that oblivious? More importantly, do I ever give myself away, do I ever make myself so vulnerable, with such a look?

It took me almost a year to be comfortable enough to photograph Jenn (let alone getting over being so tongue-tied around her), because I was afraid of being too transparent. I always thought that by asking to take her picture, everyone could see how attracted I was to her. I would go around Aaron’s parties and photograph anyone but her. Now I realize that in doing so, I probably gave myself away.

It’s scary to think that people may read me so easily from subconscious body language. A girlfriend once said that her mom asked how she would feel if I asked her out, about a month before I did. To this day I wonder how her mom knew I would. All we did was have dinner together on Sunday’s. Did I steal glances from across the table? Did I look away when she looked at me? Did I lose myself in her face and stare?

Am I that transparent?

I’d like to think that I can hide such things, but how can I when I don’t even recognize what it is I’m doing.

How can I hide my heart, when I don’t even know that I wear it on my sleeve?

My Cat Can Beg

Before giving her food, I use to ask Dolly to shake or beg or give paw, and she’d lift one paw up (always her right one) for me. Now she’s associated the paw-lifting action with being fed, so she skips the step of me saying anything and automatically does it.

She’ll do anything for food really.

An Intimate Morality


A voice calls me into the back from the waiting room.

As I get up, I notice that her eyes are dark against her fair skin, almost black. They’re piercing, but gentle, never intimidating. Her face is kind and welcoming, full of youth, like the younger sister of your girlfriend.

I follow. Her hair is pulled back in a neat, braided ponytail. Wrapped around the curves of her body is her dental gown, and she looks like a small, sterile package of energy. She asks the usual questions, speaking with unrivaled confidence. It’d be intimidating as well, if it wasn’t for the control in her voice.

Even after I’m seated in the chair and the ultrasonic scaler starts to whirr, I’m surprisingly calm. The unique buzzing, spinning, squirting, sucking sounds begin their symphony.

She rests her forearm on my chest for leverage as she works on the posteriors.

With her breasts pressed tightly against my head, she stays like this, comfortable in this position, as she cleans.

I start to wonder how appropriate it is, if anyone has ever spoken out. Or have they not had the heart, like me?

I feel objectified.

As she works, she makes one-sided small-talk, saying every word with conviction. With her tools in my mouth, I answer only in mumbled positives and negatives. She goes along the arch systematically, molar to molar, lingual to buccal.

I want to see her eyes again, to take a closer look at what struck me first. To avoid making an obvious, darting glance, I preemptively look where her eyes will be soon as she follows her predictable path, and wait.

Her eyes arrive, and I look away. It’s too uncomfortable. I’m peering into the world of another who’s distracted, not returning my gaze.

Her physical intimacy was innocent, I assume.

Mine may have been less so.

Letter To My Mother

You didn’t know it, but for years I’ve come close to burning the bridge with you. It was a heavy step to take, because in doing so, I knew that I would never be able to go back on such a drastic decision.

I appreciate all the financial support you’ve provided. It’s been more than I can ask for. Unfortunately, what I wanted and needed the most was emotional support.

I’ve always played the role of the submissive son. Your boy who’s always done what you wanted and agreed with what you said. When we exchanged tears on the phone in August, I let you know how poorly I was treated growing up. I’ve always put up with it, but the way you acted last week was the straw that broke the camels back. I keep giving you a chance, over and over. Seeing you over those few days was the last one. Even if you say now that you can change, the risk isn’t worth it. The potential misery, frustration, and anguish you may cause me aren’t worth it.

Normally, I would be sensitive about the timing — the fresh divorce, the transition — but I don’t care anymore. I’ve put my feelings aside my whole life. You pushed me too far, and now I have to consider myself.

Don’t contact me again. Not even if someone dies. Any calls, messages, e-mails will be ignored. This is not an easy or a brash decision for me, a decision I’ve made after cooling off and calming down, but from my point of view it’s for the best.

You give me nothing but pain and money, and the money doesn’t mean a thing.

From now on, I don’t have a mother.

And you don’t have a son.

A Place To Stay

Thumbnail: Scratch sand 1

Thumbnail: Scratch sand 2

Gua sha, or sand scratching, he calls it.

I’m already sobbing. The culmination of another week of stress and lack of sleep. One disappointment after another.

With the bowl of a porcelain Chinese soup spoon, he scrapes the muscles along the back of my neck.

This causes rupture of the small sub-dermal capillaries (petechia) and may result in sub-cutaneous bruising (ecchymosis).

According to Chinese medical practitioners, the internal toxins in the blood are released and circulation is improved.

Before continuing down my shoulders, he rubs on some Vic’s VapoRub. It lubricates the process, cools the skin to ease the burning discomfort, a mix of eastern and western techniques. The patch he rubs turns a muddy mix of red and garnet, and from this he tells me that I’m working too hard. I have to look after myself better. Relax every day. Take an hour to exercise or walk. The first step to a healthy mind is a healthy body. The colour indicates that I have a lot of toxins built up in my body.

The darker it is, the more it’s supposed to hurt, but I feel nothing.

I take a sip from the mug that he hands me, full of pale yellow liquid. It burns going down. Flavourless, but maybe that’s just the congestion.

“It’s spicy”, I mumble, no longer speaking Chinese. It’s too much on my mind. I need to express myself without limitations.

“It’s just ginger-water. If you can’t take it, you can add some sugar.”

I don’t reply. The unassuming consommé raises the internal temperature, killing the sick air. To quell the spasms in my chest, I take slower, deeper breaths. It doesn’t work.

“I admire you, uncle. One day I hope to be a father like you.”

He breathes a short but heavy sigh. I can tell that these words pain him more than anything else I’ve said. He tells me, in Chinese, “Uncle doesn’t make a lot of money. I make sure I spend a lot of time at home”.

“I like you, uncle. I hope that no matter what happens, we can still be friends.”

“No matter what happens, you’ll always have a place to stay with us in Hong Kong.”