Friday, June 30, 2006

Back to Brad: Drunk with Lust

It was a flawless, summer day. At noon it was 30 degrees Celsius, the humidity was low, and the heat beat down upon my exposed skin. I went looking for Brad.

I took a break from seeing him after writing my last post on him: I got my mind in order about the situation. Like most people, he's unable to be reduced down to an oversimplification. While it's important to keep in mind some of his less savoury characteristics, I came to a more balanced view. He's been able to stay sober and has been working hard to get his life into order.

The next time I saw Brad he was on his way to court for some charges he received in Calgary while he was using: he stole a $12 sandwich, and had 3 fines for using the C-Train without providing a receipt of proof. He was looking fantastic - dressed in black suit pants and a dress shirt, glowing with health.

I noticed how handsome he looks in black - it's such a dramatic contrast to his wheat blond hair and white skin. It emphasizes the angles and planes in his face. At times when I looked at him I didn't recognize him - he looked like a European model. Edgy, rather than boy-next-door. It's of course one of my big attractions - what I call "the 'dark' blond." The colour black brings out the intensity in him.

I offered to go with him. He was nervous. The judge was reasonable, and fined him appropriately. We had to wait a couple of hours for the court to produce the tickets, so I got to hear more of his growing desires for having a normal life and his relationship with his family. Brad was genuinely glad that I had gone with him to court. He's just a kid who needs support from a mature friend who can help guide in him the right way, who's not going to take advantage of him. Unfortunately there's been a lot of people who have.

It's now a few days later after the court date when I went to get him. I thought he was probably still sleeping, so I called his name outside of his window. He responded immediately, and I replied, "Get your ass out here." Then laughed.

A few seconds later he exited the side door, and… Brad was naked except for a pair of shorts. This completely shocked me. I hadn't seen him shirtless before, and I wasn't expecting to ever. It totally fucked me up in an instant. All of my available testosterone rushed into my blood stream, making me feel flushed. I must have looked completely taken aback, and I caught myself staring at his body for far too long.

Staring isn't even the right word. I was using the most intense, observant gaze, trying to memorize every detail. I must have an entire portion of my brain dedicated, cellularly, to Brad now. He has light blond hair on his chest and it all twirls and descends in an intricate pattern into the waste of his shorts. It looked soft. I noticed how it twirled around his surprisingly large nipples. Not small, not large - medium sized nipples. I'm used to seeing small nipples, especially on blond Caucasians, so I was taken aback by this detail. His nipples looked lush and highly erotic. They were an unusual colour too - more beige than pink.

He was unshaved and still trying to push aside his sleepiness, but had a bounce in his step and was happy to see me.

Time stood still for an unspecified amount of time while I was in rapt attention of his nakedness. I only broke out of my spell when my gaze moved up from his stomach to caress his shoulders and arms (he has a tattoo I didn't know about), and happened to notice he was looking at me, bemused.

I pulled myself together: I consciously reminded myself he's straight, I'm not going to come onto him and told myself to stop seeing him like a sexual object. But it was too late, and Brad knew it.

Before you think that I'm some silly horned up gay guy who goes around looking at other guys this way all the time, I can tell you that's not true. It must be a few years since I've had this reaction to anyone. And that was my ex. This reaction was profound, emotionally encompassing and energetically dense. I'm sure every thought registered on my face. In fact, I know it did, because of what happened later.

Meanwhile the sun's heat is still burning onto my skin, intensified by all the concrete around us in the alley, and I'm feeling drunk with lust. Without thinking, I said something (I don't know what) and then my eyes stupidly went back to looking at his body. I was like an out-of-control 13 year old boy.

When I looked back up at Brad, I could see his own thought process (or maybe I was projecting it). I could see him think, "Ha ha, what is this guy looking at, oh yeah, I'm practically naked, and that's right, he hasn't seen me with my shirt off and is that lust in his eyes? I nearly forgot he's gay."

He laughed it off and said he'd get us a couple of chairs to sit outside and have a cigarette. He disappeared back into the building, which gave me more time to recover.

We sat outside, talking. I was probably radiating intense sexual energy and attraction and the funny part is, Brad seemed to like it. We decided to go for coffee, and he wanted to get some clothes on so we went through the front door of his building, where he told me to wait in the sitting room.

I'm thinking, "Fuck, he's going to put his shirt on, and I'll probably never get an opportunity to see him shirtless again, so I'd better step up and do something about it." I said something to him about wanting to photograph him - I just blurted it with no context or lead up, and I said, "Let me take a couple of pictures before you get dressed."

Brad said, "Sure, I love to be photographed."

With shaking hands I dug into my bag and got my digital camera out, and simultaneously scoped out the sitting area. I noticed that the couch was black leather, and even had metallic studs stapling the material to the frame. I joked, "Why don't you sit on this black leather couch, it has an S&M feel to it."

He threw himself onto the couch in such a natural way - there was no posing or posturing. He had his arm stretched out across the back of the couch, exposing his arm pits, and I squelched the impulse to bound over to him like a wild train wreck, trap his arms above his head and start aggressively licking and slobbering him from head to toe.

Seeing his white blond body laid out on the couch, and his black shorts hiked up exposing a nice package, I think I muttered, "Fuck." And I rarely use this word.

The problem with trying to take a picture of Brad though is he can't stay still. He's constantly moving, and his facial expressions constantly change from moment to moment, so he's like the worst model you can hope for. Plus my camera's shutter speed isn't fast enough to capture him - by the time the moment is right, and I press the button, and the shutter clicks, he's already moved and emoted several more things, so I never get a good picture. I was afraid too that another guy would come into the room and see me taking pictures of this practically naked stud. So, I let it go.

I can't even tell you what he wore, because now the only image I have in my mind is Brad shirtless, so that's all I see when I look at him. My eyes must have digitized him like a Cruse Synchron Table Scanner. All I can think about is that blond fuzzy hair hiding underneath.

We went for coffee, and I'm stumbling, mumbling, saying all kinds of verbiose garbage, trying to sound normal, when out of nowhere he says to me, "You're attracted to me aren't you."

It was like a breath of fresh air, for someone to finally mention it. But I went into rationalization mode and said, "Well, yes, it's kind of complicated. When I first met you I thought you looked like a nice kid, not my type. But then I got to know you more and realized I like your personality. So I find you attractive - not just your looks but also your personality. But I wouldn't ever come onto you or anything, I respect you too much as a friend."

Brad paused, then said quietly, "We could cuddle together."

I felt like a bomb had just dropped. I was speechless. I think he was nervous having just said that, so he looked away. I managed to say, "Yes, I think that would be very nice."

Brad turned back to look at me with those baby blue eyes and said, "I think so too."

I totally dropped the whole direction of this conversation with him for fear of having a spontaneous orgasm while my brain's background mental processes are generating thousands of cuddling scenarios with him.

Later, Brad saw a guy coming down the street and said, "Oh no, it's the weird gay guy." He introduced us. He was quite tall, a bit goofy looking - I wasn't really paying attention to him. He seemed to be high on something. I don't know how we got on the topic any more - I think I was too shocked about what went on so the details are sketchy - but Brad said, "You should see this guy, he's hugely endowed."

The guy smiled proudly, and drew attention down to his crotch. I noticed that his red boxer underwear was sticking out of the top of his jeans. Several questions went through my mind, like, "How did Brad know this? How does he know him?" I think the story was the last time Brad was in Lethbridge five months ago, he was using crack with him and he exposed himself to Brad. But there was some general discussion about the size of Brad's cock, and the gay guy seemed to have knowledge about it. Brad was uncomfortable with the discussion and situation, and so was I, so I didn't interrogate them.

I have no idea why, but I said to the weird gay guy, "Oh yeah, why don't you show it to me then. Right here," challenging him in a flirtatious but passive-aggressive manner. Maybe it was some weird kind of jealousy I was feeling, that this guy had already gotten intimate with Brad, so I was trying to humiliate him. He said, "Sure, I'd have no problem showing you, any time…"

"No, right here," I said, looking at his crotch, looking at him, egging him. It looked like he thought about it, and nearly did it, but instead asked for my phone number, and I said, "No, that's alright." He left, saying, "If you change your mind…"

This of course is now fuelling all my fantasies even more of Brad, making me think that he plays a little bit more than he's entirely admitted to. Disturbing too, having images of the weird gay guy and Brad having that kind of interaction…I don't want to go there in my mind.

We talk some more, and things are friendly and comfortable, and then I did something really awful. Don't worry, I didn't freak out at him or come on to him or anything. I decided to leave and go back home, leaving him by himself and to his own devices. The terrible part is that I left him with money and possibly at a vulnerable moment. I just hope that he's okay and has managed to stay clean. I tried to find him that evening - I called but he wasn't home. I then stopped by where he's living, called his name, got the dormitory supervisor to check by knocking on his door to no available. I went the next morning to see if he was back, but he hadn't been home all evening. I haven't checked today, but I'm hoping he's all right. So I feel immensely guilty for having left him in that situation and for not protecting him.

I'm afraid I wasn't a very good friend to him in that moment. If you're reading this, help me do a collective prayer for him and his safety. And one for me too.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Chris Labelle Update

Unfortunately I missed Canadian Idol last night, so I didn't get to see Chris Labelle. I'm so disappointed. I even emailed CTV to ask for downloadable video footage of Chris Labelle, but the nice guy who's the contact there couldn't give it to me because I'm not a Media person. I tried convincing him, saying that Bloggers and Media cross boundaries, but he couldn't budge, legally. I even searched "YouTube" and there's no footage. If anyone happens to have it, please let me know - send me a link.

Anyway, the entire Men's competition is full of extremely talented singers this year. It further convinces me that Canada is full of far more talented people than the U.S. Each one sounds equally incredible, and unfortunately Chris' voice just doesn't stand out. But the judges all commented on his incredible charisma. I hope he has a chance to improve and isn't voted off too quickly. He sang the same song he did at audition - perhaps that's a smart move. He knows he does it well, plus it gives him room to grow. Anyway, that's my Chris Labelle update, I'm out.... Enjoy the pics.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rewriting History | Identity

I spent most of the day adding pictures and links, and editing, deleting and rewriting many of my blog entries. Some people think you shouldn't rewrite your history; that once you make an entry you should keep it as is: a record of where you're at in a given moment. But leaving it untouched may be even more artificial than the process of rewriting it.

I rarely look back at my entries, but I decided to review what I'd written because I knew that someone, whose writing and character I admire, was going to start reading it from the beginning. I wasn't surprised to discover that several were created under inebriated conditions, so they needed to be tossed into hyperspace, or at the very least rewritten.

I didn't change facts. Deleted entries contained little of historical importance. Often my writing was lazy because I didn't take the time to rework it until it communicated my original messages; or it was unnecessarily self-indulgent, narcissistic or just plain rude. Other times hyperlinked web sites and pictures were out of order so needed replacing.

I endeavoured to keep much of the raw data and personality of the original entries - I haven't housecleaned to the extent that I idealized my personality or perfected my writing style. I still need to tidy up the empty bottles of vodka and pizza boxes strewn across my home on the net.

Research reveals that rewriting our history is a common occurrence that relates to the operations of our brain. "Memory's errors are as fascinating as they are important. They can be divided into seven fundamental transgressions or 'sins,' which I call transience, absentmindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias and persistence. Just like the ancient seven deadly sins -- the memory sins occur frequently in everyday life and can have serious consequences for all of us."

Our constructions, subversions and reconstructions of identity are an ongoing and daily process, to which no one is precluded. History and identity behave more like verbs than nouns, and are contingent on subjective - not objective - conditions. While rereading the entries, I discovered events that I had forgotten altogether, and in another case I had joined together three separate incidences into one event in my memory. My sense of continuity was disjointed and my timeline twisted.

History and identity are remarkably fluid, especially in the age of the internet. One's body is merely virtual: digitized into electromagnetic pulses that are easily assimilated by others. Words are a particularly flimsy and transparent medium, easily manipulated and misinterpreted by both parties according to conscious and unconscious agendas.

Where does reality end and fiction begin? Are we not who we believe we are in any given moment, or is there an intrinsic, essential and unchanging aspect to our nature?

It's a miracle that we ever know ourselves, or understand the other. Perhaps it's only fleeting: as soon as we grasp it, it slips away. Knowing ourselves and others is an ongoing effort; one that's constantly being pursued by bloggers across our lonely planet.

Here's a couple newly reconstructed entries from the past:

Celine Dion & Quebec Canada - The English-Speaking Canadian's Perspective

I explain why English-Speaking Canadians do not like Celine Dion or the Quebecois. Our identity is based on self-flagellation and on not being American. Included is a video link to our national anthem: Molson Canadian's "I am Canadian." You'll see why this beer commercial brings on such a heart-felt, tear-jerking patriotism to our sadly lacking national identity.


Part 1 of a supernatural thriller, describing the events that lead up to meeting Les, my second relationship partner. I've referred to some of the spooky, incorporeal situations we experienced together in other writings about our relationship (see Ghost and Leaving), but I have yet to tell them all. The details are so nearly unbelievable - hauntings, possessions, impossible synchronicities - that I haven't gotten the nerve finish the story. This section explains how I "just happened" to shave my head the day before meeting Les, making me look nearly identical to his ex-partner of 20 years who had died recently.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Introducing Chris Labelle

Canadian Idol
has begun its fourth season, and already I have a crush on one of the contestants - Chris Labelle. Sometimes there's nothing sexier than a guy that can make me bend over and … laugh!

We're first introduced to this comically funny guy when they're interviewing contestants who are waiting in line in Ottawa, Ontario. The question asked is, "How do you prepare for the audition?" Most people answered thoughtfully, such as "I worked with my voice teacher to select the best song for my voice," or "I looked through my collection, and tried out my favourites on my friends and got their opinions."

When the interviewer asked Chris, who is wearing a black cap and t-shirt, he swiftly responded, "How do I prepare for the audition? I like to say the word 'kitty cat.' K-I-T-T-Y C-A-T." He repeated this word a half a dozen different ways with various inflections, as though it's a vocal warm-up exercise. All the while wearing a huge magnetic smile on his cherubic face.

See the video by clicking here. Once it loads, click on the link "Behind the scenes of the Ottawa auditions" under More Vide Clips. Move the play arrow about 2/3 across. The video section with Chris begins at about 4min | 50 secs.

The next time Chris is shown is at his first audition for the judges. According to one interviewer, the 24-year-old busboy came straight from his shift at an Elgin Street pub to sing the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Chris Labelle never got to sleep.

"I was there all night -- 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. -- then I came here and got in line," he said, flashing a giant grin. "I was drunk at the start.* Now I'm wired. I just did it. I'm so excited -- from all-night shift to Canadian Idol."

When Chris is seen walking on stage, he's bursting with energy. Every feeling flashes nakedly across his face - and as one writer puts it, the " Ottawa busboy steals 'Idol' show."

The chatty and energetic Chris LaBelle started off the show, bursting onto the Ottawa audition stage like a ball of bald energy. Not that he wanted anyone to notice -- the 24-year-old LaBelle only revealed his hairstyle, which consisted of a super-blond ring around the sides and back and nothing at all on top, when prompted by the panel.

"It's not going to change your decision is it?" asked the Ottawa resident before sheepishly removing his black toque. "I wanted to bleach it for Canadian Idol. The beauty salon bleached it for an hour and a half and ruined my hair. I look like I'm 80."

As another writer puts it:

Chris Labelle, 24 from Ottawa, ON is the first to face the judges. He's wearing a hat that they ask him to take off only to discover that he is balding and has bleached his remaining hair so it is snowy white.


A ham of a busboy...stole last night's Canadian Idol episode, part of which focused on Ottawa auditions.

"I'm 24 years old," he said, telling the incredulous judges his hair fell out at the salon from too much bleach. "I look like I'm 80."


One fellow to step up to the judges is 24 year old Chris Labelle. Continuing with the theme from the first episode, he’s asked to remove his hat. When he complies, the judges are shocked, not with his bleached blond hair, but his lack of it. That’s right, he’s kind of bald. Chris explains that it was a dye-job gone wrong…

Chris immediately launches into "I Ain't Too Proud To Beg." Everyone's unsure if he's joking (is he begging them to take him in spite of his hair?) or if he's actually auditioning. So one of the judges says, "Okay," said a smiling Zack Werner, "but you can't really sing, right? That's just what you do." Without skipping a beat, Chris launches into "I'll Be (Your Crying Shoulder) and moves frentically around the stage. At one point he stops in front of Sass Jordan, the female judge, does a "hip thrust" and flirts with her. He's so hilarious and spontaneous - I don't think he even knows what he's doing. Here's what the journalists said:

He's full of energy and sings Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Zack doesn't believe he can sing so he launches into I'll Be (Your Crying Shoulder) and has Jake saying at least he sings it honestly. He's getting a golden ticket and heading to Toronto making this a great start to the day.


Labelle immediately switched gears and launched into Edwin McCain's "I'll Be," earning impressed looks from judges Sass Jordan and Jake Gold, who stopped him mid-note and told him he was moving on.

"Thank you," said Labelle, grabbing his ticket before bursting out of the audition room.

Fortunately for the hip-shaking soul singer, his I.D. proved he was young enough to be eligibile for the Top 200 and he was sent on his way to Toronto.

"You are probably the most entertaining person we've seen so far," said judge Farley Flex, before handing Chris Labelle his gold ticket to Toronto.


Labelle, who was delivering food just this past weekend on the job at popular Elgin St. watering hole Lieutenant's Pump, pelvic and hip thrust his way to a spot in the Top 212. He bleached his hair, shaved off the top to look like an aging bald man, then donned a toque and mugged while singing The Temptations' Ain't Too Proud to Beg.

...and when his snazzy performance of “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” doesn’t convince the judges of his actual singing talent, he breaks into Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be”. The second performance displays his versatility and the judges decide hair or no hair, he’s going to Toronto.

After getting his gold ticket, Chris still had the energy to race around the room giving fellow competitors high fives.

You can listen to his audition by clicking here. Note the judges laughing in the background as he races around the stage.

To be honest, I don't think he's such a great singer. But he charms the pants off me - he's so much fun to watch.

The next time I think I see him is during the next round when contestants are called up on stage and asked, "Why do you want to be the next Canadian Idol." I could be mistaken, but I think it was Chris who said, "I've always loved singing. I do it everywhere. In the shower, in the bathroom…" He's got a huge and sincere smile on his face, and you can tell he's just working on the hyper energy of his nerves. "And I'd just like to make Canada my …bathroom," he finishes.. He didn't know where he was going in his statement, and kind of forced himself into a corner.

Even my father laughed at that one.

As the competition winds down and the judges must choose the top 22, Chris steps up to deliver his final solo performance. There must have been a few weeks in between because now he's sporting a tuft of hair on top of his head, and the sides are shaven (he looks much cuter). Before he walks on stage, he says to the camera:

“I’d like to see an established artist try and go through what we competitors go through,” he said. “This competition is no joke. I wish people could see behind-the-scenes because [the pace] is nuts.”

Again, you can tell he's a bundle of nerves and hyperactivity, and just throws himself into the song and movement. He works the stage like a pro - but more like a comedian than a serious singer. He manages to put in his patented hip-thrust at Sass Jordan, and then runs embarrassedly off the stage, blushing.

The cameras watch him come off stage, and the interviewer says, "How did it go?" Chris answers, trying to be brave, "I think I did okay, yeah, it went good, I think." But you can see his confidence sliding off of him as he sinks into his embarrassment. He runs around the corner, away from the cameras and disappears. A few seconds later the camera finds him, sunk into a corner, crying, tears coming down his cheeks. The stress and emotions have overcome him, and he's trying to have a private moment. He pulls his shirt up, trying to cover his face, dropping it a little with his sad eyes looking over top … he looks so vulnerable and emotionally authentic.

You can see every thought expressed on his face, as he tries to pull himself together for the camera. He stands up, forcing a confident posture, and says something like, "I'm strong, I can pull myself together." After a few tries he does, and then beams his gorgeous smile.

As one writer puts it:

Chris Labelle decides it’s time to get serious, and his number is “That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” He was OK, no better… mostly, he’s glad to be done. The emotions hit and he briefly breaks down, but he’s far too tough to weep for long.

I totally fell in love with this guy after watching this scene unfold.

Chris didn't make it to the top 22.

But by some fate, one of the top 22 men dropped out, and Chris was asked to replace him:

A 24-year-old server at the Lieutenant’s Pump, Chris Labelle became a surprise addition to the Canadian Idol Top 22 when Phil King withdrew for family reasons. “The best day of my life was when I got the call telling me that I was in the Top 22 and that I would perform in front of millions of people,” he said.

So I'll have the pleasure of jerking-off watching him some more in this competition.

*In his bio on the web site for Canadian Idol, it states:

A server at the Lieutenant's Pump in Ottawa, Chris is most proud of the fact that at age 24, he has never drank, smoked or done drugs, "I've always told everyone if I were to sign a record deal then that's when I will have my first shot and I'll probably be smashed," he says.

That's in opposition to what one journalist reports him as saying - "I was drunk at the start," when waiting in line to audition.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The semiotics of tighty-whiteys

Photo Credit: Aussie Bum

The post below is a response to the article "Tighty-whities: the semantics." Read it first at the brilliant Language Log blog. [Those straight linguists are so clueless sometimes.]


I enjoyed your writing on "tighty-whiteys" and thought I could give you some informed insights on the evaluative aspects of the term from a homoerotic perspective.

"Tighty-whiteys" do refer to fly front, white briefs produced by such brands as Jockey, Calvin Klein and AussieBum. I don't have any proof, but I thought it was a term coined by gay culture, and used in a derogatory manner by heterosexuals, as well as some gay men. Tight-whiteys have come to represent "gay sexuality" or even "metrosexuality." He who wears them is considered to be a more feminized version of masculinity: one that is more self-conscious of itself as a sexual object and thus emphasizes the phallus.

In North America, "tighty-whiteys" are considered by the majority of heteorsexual men (and some gay males) to be more effeminate than boxers. Because boxers are looser fitting and do not emphasize the phallus of the wearer, they are considered more heterosexual.

There is a homophobic response to the representation and revealing of male genitalia in heterosexual North American culture, especially when compared with European attitudes. For instance, the typical North American heterosexual woman (and man) would prefer to see a man in long surfer shorts at the beach, rather than a bikini swimsuit. The material hangs looser and does not mold itself to the contours of the male genitalia. It is not uncommon to hear derogatory comments, sometimes of repulsion, regarding bold and obvious displays of the penis in North America. Whereas in Europe, bikini swimsuits are common at the beach, and there is greater acceptance of frontal nudity in media.

While it may seem logical that gay men may prefer tighty-whiteys because of the more obvious display of sexual genitalia, the symbol for some is less erotic. Those who find boxers sexier tend to eroticize the displays and codes of (North American) heterosexuality. Boxers represent to them a more true "masculinity."

Tighty-whiteys on men represent a more feminized, self-conscious and preening symbol of gay sexuality. Therefore "tighty-whiteys" is generally used as a "negative, dismissive label" by heterosexuals about men who wear them.

Gay men who eroticize boxers are also more likely to eroticize hairy men (those who do not trim, shave or wax their bodies), facial hair and more natural appearing bodies, because these are signs of heterosexual masculinity.

On the other hand, gay men who prefer tighty-whiteys eroticize the emphasis on the phallic, as long as the body of the wearer approaches either a Greek ideal (or a hypermasculinity conveyed by the bodies of bodybuilders), or the athletic, toned bodies of athletes or youthful men (eroticization of youthfulness and innocence). If the man wearing tighty-whiteys is overweight and overly hirsute, then tighty-whiteys are considered erotically repulsive.

Tighty-whiteys are also representative of youth because they are commonly worn by boys and male teenagers, and thus convey "immature development" - those who wear them are not quite yet a 'man.'

The hybrid tighty-whitey/boxer known as a "boxer brief" is a compromise between the competing and dualistic gay eroticizations, making both camps of 'fetishists' happy.

White bikini briefs, sans fly, eliminate any reference to the penis and thus masculinity and therefore are considered even more effiminate and akin to panties.

Colour adds another layer of meaning: white equals innocence, purity and youthfulness, black and grey add a touch of masculinity, and red is worn by rebels such as punks, goths and fringe artists. Silk is associated with European males, blue with boyscouts, and fluorescent oranges and lime greens with psychedelic ravers.

I'm sure this is more information than you wanted to know, but since you brought it up...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Absolut-ly Potent

Image credit: Adbusters

Alcoholism is often considered a moral issue; but it has a very real physiological basis that may lead to addiction. There are varying theories as to its cause.

I'm not a biochemist, but my understanding is that when alcohol is consumed, through a complicated process it turns into the opioid neuropeptides known as endorphins and enkephalins. They resemble opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well-being. In other words, they might work as "natural pain killers." The good feeling one gets from an orgasm is partially attributed to the release of endorphins. The common understanding that intense exercise such as the "runner's high" is caused by the release of endorphins is questionable:

"Another widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called "runner's high", which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production…. However, some scientists question the mechanisms at work, their research possibly demonstrating the high comes from completing a challenge rather than as a result of exertion. (Klosterman) (Altman) There is some recent evidence that endogenous cannabinoids are responsible for "runner's high", rather than endorphins. (Endocannabinoids and exercise, by A Dietrich and W F McDaniel, May 4, 2004"

In addition, there is a substance (neurochemical?) produced called Tetrahydroisoquinoline or THIQ, which is normally found in the brains of heroin users.

Tetrahydroisoquinoline compounds (THIQ): Precursor of morphine found in the opium poppy and in mammalian tissues after exposure to ethanol. Development may be dependent on aldehyde concentrations. Enzymes controlling the production of this substance may be genetically determined.

There is genetic evidence that there are ethnic groups with increased risk of developing alcoholism. These include: Irish Catholic (Brad fits this category), American Indians, Scandinavians (I fit this category).

It is theorized that some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism due to the genetic and biochemical make-up of their brain. Alcoholics tend to love the rush of opiate-related biopeptides that rush through their brain. Some research shows that in alcoholics, a brain function related to hunger-control is triggered, causing the experience of famishment. One drink literally causes the feeling of an insatiable, intense hunger for alcohol.

Unfortunately, for those who are genetically predisposed to alcoholism, there is a progression of the disease. The brain chemistry becomes irrevocably altered, and retains a biochemical memory of sorts. Relapse (use of alcohol) returns the users back to the stage at which they stopped drinking alcohol. The brain biochemistry does not return to normal or heal - the stage of alcoholism continues where the person left off, even decades after their last drink.

The physical dependence to alcohol is caused by the withdrawal of the opioid neuropeptides. The chemical structure of the ethanol-derived opioids mimics the shape of the brain's naturally generated endorphins and enkephalins. Imibing alcohol floods the brain with an excess of these foreign neuropeptides, causing the brain to decrease its natural production of them. The brain to go into neuroadaptation - it stops production of these essential neurotransmitters and the cessation of alcohol use causes the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are exactly like those from the withdrawal of opiates - morphine, codeine and thebaine. In long-term, constant users of alcohol, there is the threat of experiencing delerium tremens which may lead to death.

Photo credit: Adbuster/Alcohol Spoof Ads

From a personal perspective, I definitely have crossed the line from occasional social use, to occasional binges, to regular binges. The binges went from a few times a year to once a week over a period of about 9 years (I didn't drink from age 20 - 32). Now it seems like when I drink, I stay drunk for a few days, not one evening like before. It definitely seems progressive, and that I start where I leave off from my last drinking pattern.

I definitely love the rush of opiate-endorphins I get from alcohol. I can easily drink a mickey of vodka in 20 minutes. Even after feeling the warm, pleasant buzz, I begin to crave more. . .even after 24 ounces. But after the initial few hours of pleasant drunkenness, I tend to pass out, and then the binge experience becomes blurry and generally unpleasant. The last two times I got drunk I ended up experiencing painful withdrawal, in contrast to rarely even getting a noticeable hangover.

I think that alcoholism is far more common than generally acknowledged, especially in gay culture. The abuse of alcohol definitely impacts one's moral character negatively; but more on that another time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

[Updated] The Law of Attraction?

My infatuation with Brad has ended - I don't think I'll continue writing the story. Immediately after finishing Part 3 of "Hanging With Brad" and posting it to Blogger, I had an epiphany: Brad is a slithery little bastard. Writing down the details gave me a more objective perspective on him and our 'friendship.' I was obviously blinded by his beautiful exterior and the desire to get in his skivvies. Although I don't purport to be much better, we really don't share the same values, or at least aspire to the same ones. I realized from writing it down that he left out a lot of information about his experience with his S&M buddies [for instance, he did admit he gave Dave a hand-job, but what else?]. And his attitude toward women and relationships is appalling [I didn't get to finish writing about some of the things he told me, but trust me, it's pretty disgusting].

Earlier that day Brad and I went for coffee, and he told me that a new guy moved into his half-way house over the weekend, who he knew from the drug scene. This guy is apparently 6'4", built huge, and a major crack addict who wants to get back into dealing. He confessed to Brad that he's gay [no one else knows], and the two of them "hung out" together all weekend while I was out of town. He wants Brad to move into an apartment with him near the university. I didn't think much about it at the time. Brad and I arranged to meet up later that evening.

I was looking forward to seeing him, and since I had a car I thought we could drive out to do a hike together or something fun. So I called him at the pre-arranged time, but he wasn't home. That's when I decided to start writing Part 3 of my story, to fill my time until I got a hold of Brad. I tried an hour later. . . still not home. I tried once more an hour later, and when unsuccessful at reaching him, I finished writing.

I realize that I've been sugar-coating my perceptions about him - in reality, I don't think he's interested in improving his values. I'm not sure that he wants to stay clean either. He might still be using if he had enough money to buy some crack, or had the right connections. Having lived on the streets with other crack addicts for so long, he's learned how to survive, which means: charming the pants off people, saying what you want to hear while cleverly using you for money, company and entertainment. I don't sense any real commitment or depth in his offer of friendship.

In reality, I didn't have much to say to him. I was just getting off on hearing "exotic" stories of street life from a criminal who happens to look like Brad Pitt. My attraction was mostly physical, and hanging out with him held the allure of getting sexually intimate with him. Pretty stupid when I look at it now.

He of course didn't call me, nor did I see him the following day. I saw him today at the meeting, but I was in a hurry to get home so I just said, "hello, I've got to get going." I think I'll keep a distance for a while until my hormones regulate.

It's probably not good for either of us to "hang out" right now. My intentions were less than honourable too, and I was making the same mistake of treating him like he treats others. Ouch! I guess it's true - one is often attracted to others of like mind!


Insider's Joke

Guy 1
"I got lucky last night at an AA meeting."

Guy 2
"You did?"

Guy 1
"Yeah, I went home alone."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hanging with Brad (Part 3)
Read Part 2 here

[I've searched the internet for pictures of Brad Pitt that most remind me of 'my' Brad. I bought a digital camera this weekend so I can start taking my own pics of him!]

Brad's getting blood tests and an x-ray today to check his liver functioning.

"How long do you think you'll be?" I ask. I'm being a little manipulative in my question - I hope to hang out with Brad all day but don't want to simply ask him if he wants to. It's important to not appear too eager.

"It shouldn't take more than 30 minutes," he says.

"I'll wait for you then," I say.

I let Brad off at the front door and tell him I'll meet him in the atrium after I find a parking space.

I've always loved the efficiency and sterility of hospital atriums. I haven't been in them often, but when I find myself in one I enjoy the focused purpose, the organized busyness, the muffled voices inside its cavernous spaces. Hospitals are a world within the world: they remind me of science fiction utopias where its citizens maintain carefully controlled emotions. I find a seat across from the coffee shop so I can watch the handsome doctor on coffee break.

Half an hour later I see Brad walking through the main avenue of the atrium. He looks out of place with his ball cap, skater shorts and t-shirt, and quick shuffling movements. When he sees me he appears more animated.

"Oh man, the urine test has to be taken exactly at 10:30, so they won't see me until then. Maybe they can take the x-ray first. Do you mind waiting?"

Not at all. Brad asks me to come with him to the waiting room.

"Are you sure? I can just stay here and do some work. I've got my laptop with me," I say.

Brad looks disappointed. "Oh, you want to work? Nah, come with me." He grabs my hand to help me stand, and heads toward the admitting desk.
The nurse directs us to another floor, so we take the elevator. Inside, he says to me, "I get claustrophobic inside elevators. I never used to be, but it's from using crack so long. It's part of the paranoia."

I feel more like the paranoid one between us. I'm self-conscious of being older and gay, and I wonder what people think when they see us together. It's probably all in my head - I haven't seen anyone give any indication that they find us an unusual couple. And Brad hasn't shown the slightest concern about it himself.

I'm also unsure of how to act. I'm not used to being friends with a straight guy, especially one who's younger and attractive. I've been keeping a distance, trying not to show too much interest, in order to make Brad feel comfortable with me. I don't want him to think I'm just trying to get into his pants. Because I'm not [I think].

Younger guys have different kinds of friendships than older men do with each other. It's more common for guys in their late teens and early twenties to get together and call one another on a daily basis. To lean on one another more, and share more personal experiences and feelings. The unwritten rules of friendship are quite different within my age group.

Brad gets to see the nurse much sooner than the other dozen people in the waiting room. I notice how the nurses flirt with him: When one nurse calls his name, she walks right into the room and looks around expectantly for him with a huge smile on her face. She shares knowing smirks with two other nurses next to her.

Brad returns shortly with a band-aid on his arm, holding a large plastic container with measurement lines on its side. "I'm supposed to piss in this over the next 24 hours," he explains, "and keep it refrigerated until I bring it back for tests."

In the car, I ask, carefully, "I don't know if you have plans for today, but you're welcome to hang out with me at my sister's house. She lives just outside of Lethbridge. You can watch some tv or use one of their computers."

"Yeah, that would be great," Brad says. "I'll take any opportunity to get out of town and do something different."

On the highway I remember a quaint country restaurant that serves home-grown, organic vegetables from their greenhouses and a healthy menu. It looks like a farmhouse, and is surrounded by acres of farmland. "I'll buy you lunch, if you're interested," I say to Brad.

Over a Cajun Chicken Caesar Salad and a whole wheat BLT wrap with organic tomato soup served on the outdoor veranda, Brad tells me about the last time he had eight months of sobriety.

"I was really getting my shit together. I even was an extra for that movie…what's its name? It was filmed in Fort MacLeod."

"Brokeback Mountain?"

"Yeah, did you see it?"

"Yes, it was quite good," I said.

"I think I was even in the movie. I was in the scene where one of the characters was at a fair, and gets into a fight with two other cowboys." Brad says. "I haven't seen it myself though."

"The one where Heath Ledger is at a fair with his wife and kids, and two cowboys sitting behind them are using foul language, so he tells them to watch their language?" I don't remember the scene very vividly, but this is what I recall.

"Yeah, you should be able to see me walking past them in a cowboy hat, just before the fight scene. I had to redo that scene several times, and the director handpicked me to be the guy who walks past them before the fight breaks out."

"Cool." I'm now beginning to have Brokeback fantasies starring Brad in a cowboy hat. "We'll have to rent the movie to see if you make the cut," I suggest.

An hour later we're sitting in my sister's kitchen, drinking coffee. Brad is sitting next to my sister's "prayer board" - a dry erase marker board where her family lists people to pray for each evening after dinner. Brad is telling me more details about his last slip, when he went on a 3 month crack binge in Calgary.

"I ended up spending a couple of weeks with a couple of gay guys who were really into S&M," he says. "I sold [drugs] to a lot of guys in the areas around the gay clubs. I got along with them because they were friendly to me and non-dangerous.

I never did tricks like a lot of crack addicts out there do. Well, okay, maybe about four times I let a guy suck my dick when I was really broke and desperate. But I've never been fucked. It's just not my thing.

I met a gay couple named [Mark] and [Dave]. Mark has a big condo in one of the high-rises downtown. He's some kind of stockbroker. His partner Dave is an up-and-coming musical theatre actor. Both are good looking guys, but Dave is a lot younger."

I'm speechless from Brad's confession. So I just nod, listening, trying not to look shocked.

"These guys had been doing Crystal Meth for about three months straight, and were totally insane. They'd basically lost hold of reality, and were inviting strangers they met on the internet up to their apartment for group sex and orgies, and getting really into S&M shit. He had turned his apartment into a dungeon - his livingroom had a sling and harness hanging from the fucking ceiling! They both were HIV+ and had unprotected sex with other guys, and were really proud of their fisting skills." Brad pauses to check out my reaction to this information.

"Yeah, I know about that kind of thing," I say. "I've run into guys who are into that stuff, although it's not something I've ever participated in."

"Me neither. I used to hide in another room while these guys had orgies going on. I was afraid to fall asleep in case I awoke and found myself tied up in the sling. It was my greatest fear while I was staying with them," says Brad. "I was afraid they'd get on the internet and sell tickets for a thousand dollars a pop at my virgin ass."

I'm both shocked and upset that Brad put himself in such a potentially dangerous situation, while also trying to push aside images of him tied up in a sling with his white ass spread ready to be entered. "Oh, I doubt they would've gone that far, would they?" I say.

"You never know. Remember, they were hallucinating after using Meth for months, and not getting any sleep. Once we were on an internet chat and they made plans to get together with a guy who wants to be dominated by the two of them. So we all get dressed up: they were wearing full leather gear and Dave had on a mask that covered his entire head. They put me in some leather pants, and I had a chain around my neck, and we piled in the car to go over to his house. Except we were so high that we got lost for three hours."

Brad both laughs and acts horrified as he explains the rest of the story: "Here we are, stoned out of our minds driving around Calgary. I'm freaking out that we're going to get stopped by the cops, and they'll think we're some kind of psycho killers. We finally find the address somewhere in the suburbs of Calgary, three hours late, and we get out of the car in full leather gear and walk up to a house and ring the door bell.

It turns out that we were at the wrong house! We were at his next door neighbour's house. Fuck! I was afraid he was going to call 911 after seeing us."

I'm still trying to get my head around Brad's revelation. I feel disoriented from the amount of information he's confided, and I'm trying to imagine him being in these scenarios. "Uh, you went with them, and you were in leather and chains as well?" I ask him.

"Yeah, I mean, I wasn't going to join them in sex," says Brad, backtracking. "I was just along for the experience. Anyway, the guy had changed his mind once we showed up."

I can't put my finger on it, but his story and his role in the situation doesn't quite mesh for me. Intuitively, I feel like he's leaving some details out, but that he's being honest about it, overall. I don't want to interrogate him so that he feels uncomfortable, so I let it go. Instead, I move sideways with the conversation.

"Wow. That's pretty crazy," I say, "In graduate school I had to study sadomasochism because it related to an area of study I did for my thesis. So I know about it from a theoretical perspective. As well, I knew some artists who dealt with it specifically in their work."

"Yeah, one of my ex-girlfriends, the one from New York who was a topless dancer and whore, loved to have me dominate her, verbally. Basically humiliate her…" Brad adds.

I pause, trying to think of how to respond. "How did you feel about being put in that role?" I ask, neutrally.

"At first I was uncomfortable, but she really got off on it," Brad says. "She loved me to talk dirty to her: 'Yo, bitch, get on your knees and lick my boots,' kind of thing. I guess I got off on dominating her after a while.

I laugh, nervously. Mostly from uncertainty of how to react. "Really? I couldn't do that. I'm too vanilla for that kind of thing." I say.

I'm beginning to realize that blond, blue-eyed Brad is less Vanilla and a little more Ice.

[To be continued…in Part 4 Brad comes with me for dinner at my parents house.]

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hanging with Brad [Part 2]
Read Part 1 here

"Let me buy you a coffee," I say, after ordering myself an iced Americano.

"Oh, thanks, man," Brad says. "I only get $10 a day from the caretaker at my house, and he wasn't around this morning when I got up, so I haven't got any money."

Brad holds his head down in embarrassment and shrugs. "It's so depressing to be so broke, but that's where I'm at right now," he says.

"No problem, I'm happy to get you one," I say.

He orders a grande Americano with four shots of espresso.

I show him the web site I'm designing right now on my PowerBook G4, and tell him a little about my education and experience. My parents don't have Internet so I'm using the wireless at the cafe.

"Ho-lee, man, you're talented!" Brad says. "You've really got it together, don't ya?"

He says it in such a cute and exaggerated way, I laugh. I'm warming up to this guy more and more. I discover he doesn't really know how to use the internet very well, and isn't sure what to click, but he tries his hardest to come up with something intelligent to say about the home page I show him.

"Yeah, that's really awesome, I like the graphics and it looks easy to navigate."

I want to hug him. He's a big kid trying hard to be liked.

I soon notice that Brad is a major *chick-magnet.* Women from 14 to 40 years old do a double-take when they're within eye-sight of him, and go out of their way to get his attention. We're sitting outside looking down the street toward the crosswalk when Brad notices that there's a beautiful 40-something woman at the other end. She obviously puts a lot of time and care into her appearance – she's wearing a tight tank top and clam-digger pants showing off her toned and shapely body. He says casually, "That woman's giving me the eye."

"Where? Which one?" I ask.

"Over there, on the crosswalk."

Without thinking, I very obviously lean forward in my seat and scan the sidewalk, with a big smile on my face. "Where?" I ask Brad.

"The one with the short dark hair, she's crossing right now."

I finally notice her, and this woman knows she's being cruised by 'us.' She looks flushed from the attention, and walks confidently down the crosswalk, her shoulders back, breasts firm, and when she gets close enough, gives Brad a huge smile. I'm watching this, flabbergasted, that she's being so bold, and that there's all this sexual energy between her and this young man who looks maybe 21.

"Hi," she says in a low voice, flirting with Brad.

"Hi," he smiles back.

Just as she goes to open the coffee shop door, a couple walk out, causing her to swing it open for them, allowing her to brush against Brad, her breast within licking distance from his face. She lingers a few seconds longer than necessary, holding the door.

I'm shocked by her brazen display. Brad looks non-plussed, as if this happens to him all the time. Once she goes inside, I say to him, "I can't believe what I just saw. This 40 year old woman was very aggressively flirting with you."

Brad says, casually, "I know. I often get hit on by 'cougars.'* My last girlfriend was 39 years old. I like older women – they know what they want." He smiles wickedly.

Teenage girls suddenly stop talking as we pass by, only to giggle nervously and whisper to one another once Brad is out of their eye-line. The servers at the coffee shop become very attentive and start joking with him when he orders coffee. I get a sense of what it's like to hang out with a movie star.

"So, wadda you up to today, Doug?" Brad asks me.

"My name's [Intertextual], not Doug," I remind him.

"Oh shit, I'm sorry. You remind me so much of this gay lawyer I met, who's from Vancouver, named Doug," he explains. "I met him in a treatment centre. A really cool guy, very intelligent, sophisticated, about your age. We became really good friends, 'though he kept trying to grab my ass and get into my pants. He was always teasing me."

"What did he look like," I ask. "I know a few gay lawyers in Vancouver."

"He's about your height, with dark hair, good looking. You're way more attractive though, and you've got all your hair. You also look younger although you're around the same age," he says, flatteringly.

I tell him that I should do a couple hours of work, then we could meet up after lunch and go check out the art gallery and museum. Brad is excited.

"That would be so cool, man. I haven't done anything since I got here, except wander the streets listening to tunes. I haven't really connected with anyone, and I've been so lonely. It's so great to make friends with you," he says.


I'm finishing up my work on the upper level of the coffee shop when I see him, coming up the stairs. Brad's changed into shorts and an army camouflage t-shirt, made of long-underwear-type cotton. He has a huge smile on his face when he sees me, and I notice all the women in the room turn to stare at him. I can't help but smile unguardedly back.

"Hey buddy, how's it going?" he greets me.


We have an enjoyable afternoon, visiting the art gallery and museum. We sit on a bench overlooking the coulees and High Level Bridge.

"I haven't had such a good time in. . . months," Brad tells me.

He does most of the talking, reminiscing about his past, telling me stories about all the horrors and tragedies he's experienced, yet doing so in a humorous and engaging way. He's been charged for armed robbery [the can of peas he threw at the shopkeeper who came after him with a machetti was considered a 'weapon'], spent a year in medium-security prison, mainlined heroin and crack, attempted rehabilitation countless times, been in five highly dysfunctional relationships, contracted hepatitis A, had a psychiatric breakdown, lived on the streets in Nanaimo, BC and downtown Montreal. He's lived too much life for too young an age.

I'm torn between several mixed feelings. Brad definitely pulls at my heartstrings, making me want to take care of him like a younger brother. The enlightened "higher part" of me wants to protect and nurture him in the kindest way.

I'm also aware that I'm being played by him, perhaps unconsciously. He knows what buttons to push, how to entertain me and stroke my ego. He knows how to subtly flirt with me, by telling me how good looking and intelligent I am, by confiding personal stories with me, and also by constantly rearranging his dick while standing in front of my face. I also end up paying for everything: museum entrance fee, coffees, a late lunch.

Every once in a while my 'carnal self' goes off on a sexual tangent. . . what does his body look like naked? What would his cock look like erect – the one he keeps playing with? He keeps telling me how horny he is [he hasn't had sex in four months]. He shows me the callous on his palm he developed by breaking crack crystals into smaller pieces as a dealer, then turns over his hand, showing me his long, beautifully shaped fingers, holding them there for me to stare at, unnecessarily too long. He points out the scar on his thigh from an accident on his all-terrain vehicle. He shows me the tattoo on his forearm, letting my eyes linger, noticing how strong they look and how the blond hairs softly grow in a straight direction toward his wrists. He tantalizes me by repeatedly taking off his ball cap and running his hands through his scalp and wheat blond military cut.

Brad tells me that he put up some pictures in his room, arranging objects in a superstitious manner to protect himself from the other men in the house. "You should come see my room. . ." he says.

He must have seen the flicker in my eyes as I imagined being invited into his bedroom, alone with him, because he then adds, seductively, while looking me in the eye, ". . .and sit on my bed. [Long pause.] You know, to see if you can figure out the pattern in the way I arranged things."

I consider the internal conflict I have, between protecting him or seducing him. Between being used and using him. The false intimacy being created between us. In reality we're no more than strangers, sharing the intensity created by our addictions and attempts at sobriety. An attraction caused by the extreme differences in our age, education and experiences. We see one another as the exotic "other," both of us a mix of bad and good in differing but parallel combinations.

I know when I'm sober I won't take advantage of him. I stop myself from grabbing his butt, making suggestive comments, and repress my impulses to mentally undress him. That's why I have the occasional illicit fantasies about getting drunk with him, cracking some cocaine and taking off to a cabin somewhere alone with him. The alcohol and drugs allow me to act on these impulses that I keep controlled when clear minded. This may even be the main reason why I drink – a release from the darker and forbidden desires I keep locked up. I present myself to the world, sober, as a man grounded in high values and appropriate behaviour. Drunk, I have permission to be like "everyone else."


"Good night, buddy, thanks for the great day! I'll see you tomorrow," Brad says warmly.

I watch him walk home alone, to the half-way house where he lives with violent criminals just out from jail. A place where only two of the twenty residents are trying to stay sober – the rest are still using. A place where he tries to stay sober, without the support and care of his family and friends. He carries the burden of a wasted young life full of pain, self-loathing and wasted talents. And he has no clear vision for his future.


A couple days later I arrive at the morning AADAC meeting in my sister's car. I'm staying at her place while she and her family go camping. I'm hoping Brad will show up today and I'll invite him to drive around with me, and invite him back for lunch.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I've started taking a little more care in my appearance. I went out and bought a whole new summer wardrobe the day before, so I'm feeling. . . well, sexy. I see Brad at the opposite end of the table when I walk in, raise my hand in greeting, and he gives me a warm smile.

After the meeting Brad is bubbling over with energy and words, talking to everyone including me, trying to connect. When the crowd disperses I say, as casually as possible, "I've got a car today, is there any place you want to go?"

"You do?" Brad says, his eyes lit up. "Yeah, I have to go to the hospital to get some tests done today, are you heading that way?"

"Sure, I'll give you a ride."

His hyperactive mind continues to churn out a babbling stream of consciousness, and he jumps from topic to topic. Brad has a hilarious monologue he turns on occasionally, in which he talks and acts like an Italian mobster, but through the character of an Alcoholic Anonymous member. His script is a remarkably complex parody of AA, the organization, and a certain type of AA member who is gung-ho into the program and is constantly trying to make others conform to it.

"Mario, wadda ya mean you missed the 12 step meetin' last night? You want me to come afta ya, track ya down and drag ya there? You know who you're dealin' with here? I'll take ya down man, cut ya down to size if you don't show up to make the deal man. I'll get somma my men to come-a with me, and we gotta the machine guns, and we'll a kidnap you from your familee, tie you up and dump ya in the trunk and take you to the Old Timer's meetin'," Brad says, his hands and face gesturing in a comic imitation of Michael Carlioni. "I know AA preaches Live and Let Live, but I'm gonna murder ya if ya fuck up again."

I'm laughing hysterically. It's like watching a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch, in person. Brad gets so into the character he has difficulty switching back to his own personality.

He also does 'gangsta rapper' and 'blond chick' monologues.

To be continued...

*I've noticed that in Southern Alberta a 'cougar' is thought of as any older woman (attractive or not) who likes having sex with younger guys. My understanding of the term from Vancouver is that a 'cougar' is a sexy older woman who likes taking care of a younger guy, like a man with a mistress, and using him for wild sex.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hanging with Brad

Flash forward. I'll continue with the Detox story Part 3 soon, but in the meantime, here's a glance forward.

I'm out of detox for two days, feeling great and positive about the future. My health and sanity have returned, and I'm heading into an internet cafe in downtown Lethbridge when a young guy walks up to me and says, "Hey, how's it going?"

He's wearing long white shorts and a white t-shirt and a ball cap. I immediately recognize him as a kid who was at the Detox Centre, [who I'll call] Brad. He's easy to recognize because he looks like Brad Pitt. In fact, he's practically his doppelganger.

I talked with Brad a few times before he left Detox. His parents drove him to Fort Macleod from Calgary to get sober and stop using crack. He looks about 19 or 20, but is actually 25. He's got buzzed blond hair and beautiful blue eyes, white straight teeth. He's about 5'10 or 11 and slim. He's hot, but not my type. I find Brad Pitt attractive, but not fuckable.

Brad is agitated and talking fast. Checking behind him, he says, "Did you see that fat gay guy behind me? He's been following me for several blocks now."

I check behind him and the street is empty - there's not a single person within sight in this ghost of a town. "Uh, it doesn't look like anyone's around."

Brad throws himself into a chair at one of the outdoor tables outside of the Internet cafe and lights a cigarette. "Man," he says, "I fucking hate the place I'm staying at. It's full of criminals who just got out of jail, and they've got cameras all over the place, in the hallways and rooms, and the guys who live there hide knives all over the place." He takes a drag of his cigarette, holding it between his middle finger and thumb.

Brad had mentioned to me at the Detox centre that he was going to a halfway house in Lethbridge once he left. It's located downtown, and you get your own room, but share the washrooms, kitchen and living areas with other guys staying there. His parents had arranged this to get him away from Calgary and all his crack-smoking friends and dealers, and told him if he stayed clean and sober for 60 days, they would allow him back home.

Brad's father is the owner of a large energy-related company that develops huge projects, such as the windmill farms they're building in Southern Alberta. His mother is the President of the Catholic Women's League. He comes from a very wealthy family, and he has 3 sisters and 2 brothers, all older. Brad is the baby of the family, fully ten years younger than the next in line.

Brad started using crack at 14, when an Asian guy gave him an ounce of it and told him to go sell it for him at school. Brad was an all-star athlete - he had played hockey for eight years and was a fly-fishing aficionado who has designed and patented his own bait. His family has a 40-acre estate in the Crowsnest Pass, where he was spoiled with two four-wheel terrain vehicles, the latest computer technologies, a 4,000 sq. ft. house and trips around the world. But once he discovered crack cocaine, his life became a nightmare. His parents have sent him to five treatment centres all over Canada, some costing up to $20,000 per stay.

His most recent binge started in January, after he was kicked out of yet another treatment centre. His parents picked him up and rented him a motel room in Calgary, and told him to clean up. Instead, Brad took to the street, sold crack to make a living, used it several times a day for the next three months until he ended up in Fort Macleod Detox for his 5th time.

Now he's sitting in front of me, telling me what I think is a paranoid hallucination common to crack users [i.e. video cameras, people following you and hidden knives all over the halfway house] and I think to myself, "Oh no, he's using again."

Somehow it doesn't show on him - he's still got perfect clear skin and clear blue eyes. He's gorgeous to look at, even with the ball cap hiding his blond buzzcut. Even though I was feeling strong, healthy and confident about living sober just seconds before running into Brad, a whole scenario runs through my mind within seconds, that goes something like this...

Ah, here's the cute guy I met at Detox, and he's using. Maybe he can hook me up with some crack, and we can go party together. I've only used crack once and it didn't do anything for me, and I have had no interest in using it again. So, it should be okay, after all, it's not alcohol. Also, I have no idea where to get crack on my own - even in Vancouver when I went looking for drugs to buy, no one ever approached me. Even when I started asking people where I might get some. People said they probably thought I looked like an undercover cop. Plus, I think Brad may play both sides, maybe I can play around with him a little sexually.

I get lost in my momentary fantasy when Brad says, "So how are you doing, man? When did you get back?"

"Just a couple of days ago, I'm doing good."

"You look good." Brad looks me over more carefully. "Yeah, man, you look great, your skin is tanned and your eyes look clear."

I appreciate the comment, enjoying his attention. "How are you doing?" I ask.

"I had a slip a few days ago, my only one since coming back, but I've been clean for three days now," he says.

"Yeah, right," I think to myself. Brad looks and acts so similarly to Brad Pitt in the 12 Monkeys - a little off, a little crazy, but with great charisma and charm. I can tell his brain works really fast - it's on speed, after all - plus he's creative, so I find him very engaging.

We chat for a while and before he leaves, I ask him if I'll see him at the AADAC [Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission] meeting tomorrow morning at 8:30am.

"Yeah, I guess I'll go. It depends if I wake up on time. I don't have an alarm clock right now, and the fucking caretaker always forgets to knock on my door to get me up." Brad stands and extends his hand.

"It was good to see you bud, take care of yourself," he says shaking my hand. He's off with a flash of his star-quality smile.

Brad isn't at the meeting the next morning, of course, and I don't see him for the next week. I'm disappointed and a little saddened, thinking that he's gone out using; wasting all his talents and gifts. I'm over my "party and sex" fantasy with him, and know that I wouldn't do anything to endanger him or encourage his addictions. He's just a kid dealing with a very bad and dangerous drug addiction. He needs support and encouragement.


I'd nearly forgotten about Brad altogether when he shows up one morning at the AADAC meeting, ten minutes late. He's wearing a black t-shirt with Old English characters on the back that says, "Only God can judge me." He's got a ball cap on and earphones dangling from his perfectly shaped ears. He shuffles in, head down and plops himself unceremoniously in one of the large oversize chairs around the oval table to join us.

The counselor who runs the meeting asks him a question at one point, to which he responds in his unique choppy and incomprehensible manner. Brad tends to talk in short form - squeezing tons of information and experience into byte-sized blurbs that give you a sense of what he mans, but lacking in clarity. What he says usually ends up being humorous, so everyone laughs, and then he blushes and smiles his bazillion-watt movie-star smile at everyone, while rearranging the ball cap on head.

When the meeting ends, everyone is talking to one another except Brad, who is trying to sneak out the door without making eye contact with anyone. I wait for him, and as he approaches I say, "Hey Brad, you made it!" sounding happy to see him.

He looks at me, bursts into a big a big smile and shakes my hand enthusiastically. He's clearly happy to see me, and have someone talk to. It occurs to me that Brad may be a little shy at times. We go outside where he lights a cigarette and fills me in on what he's been up to.

"Man, I'm glad to see you. I haven't really made any friends with anyone in the NA groups around town yet. I think they all think I'm still using crack, and don't want to go near me," he says. "But it's just the way I talk."

I think, "I'm not sure if you're using or not but that doesn't mean we can't be friends." Besides, I'm too bedazzled by him to care.

"I'm heading to the Internet cafe to do some work," I say. "Wanna go for a coffee?"

Brad has a mountain bike with him, a small, low to the ground black model that looks [to me] like it's made for a kid. He pedals it while I walk beside him.

"I bought it with a welfare cheque I got last week, from a second hand sports store. It probably looks dumb, like I'm a kid or something, but it's nice to get around town with it," he says.

"No, it's a great idea, I need to get one myself," I say.

"I feel like, now that I'm sober again, like I'm reliving my childhood again. I guess I never really had one, starting drugs at so young an age," Brad says.

He yaps on, amusing me with little stories. He often has me laughing at loud, because he has such a nutty way of saying things. I've known many artists who talk like him: in abbreviated, short form. It's funny how much artists and crack addicts have in common.

[Brad just showed up while I'm writing this..I'll continue the story next time.]

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Detox (Part 2)
(Read Part 1 here)

I'm quiet when my mother and father pick me up. I know I should keep my mouth shut (I have a tendency to say things I wouldn't normally when I've been drinking, especially for five+ days straight). Fort Macleod Detox Centre is 40 minutes away from Lethbridge, in a tiny town mostly known for its turn of the century architecture, which was used as the town in Brokeback Mountain.

As we drive out of the valley of coulees and onto the flat, treeless prairies, farmland takes over. Monotony is broken only by occasional patches of cows. Restless skies of swirling clouds provide the only drama to the landscape. Fort Macleod, in the near distance, has a fairly well known musical theatre where I watched friends from art school perform during the summer season. But this time I wasn't going to Fort Macleod for superficial entertainment.

I have no idea what to expect from a detox centre. The only images that come to mind are from Hollywood. It's where street people are thrown when the cops pick them up, passed out on the street. Rough, nasty, mean and brain-damaged red-necks going through delerium tremens. It's not a place where well educated, well spoken, well dressed gay men go after a binge. I'm still wearing the black dress pants and black long sleeved leatherette shirt from a few days ago – I'm sure I stink like booze and tobacco, although I think I look alright. But in the motel bathroom mirror my skin colour looked strange – it almost appears as though I have an orange spray-on tan.*

Although I'm quiet, my brain is on speed. Several lines of thought run through my mind, simultaneously . I can feel my heart beating irregularly. Fortunately I'm still drunk enough that panic isn't overwhelming me. I run through possible scenarios in my mind: "What if one of the drunks in there starts calling me a fag, or gets physically abusive with me?" I'm not the most masculine guy you've ever met, but I haven't been bothered by anyone since high school with taunting and teasing. I'm definitely not a fighter, but if pushed I'd be willing to throw myself into kicking the shit out of a guy. I'd probably lose, but I refuse to get pushed around.

"I'm doing the right thing, aren't I?" I ask my parents, looking for a much needed 'pep talk.'

"Yes, yes," they say, encouragingly, their heads bobbing up and down in unison, with comforting grins.

We pull up to a non-descript, tiny looking, one level brown house with a gravel driveway. “We're here already? This is it?” I ask.

"Yes," they say, already out of the car and emptying the trunk of my luggage.

As soon as I stand up, I feel more drunk. Giddy drunk. I stumble four steps backward. Maybe the several ounces of rye I drank before leaving are finally hitting my blood stream. As they press the buzzer at the front door to admit me, I begin acting silly, trying to make my parents laugh.

"Well, this sure isn't Betty Ford, that's for sure." The 1970s shit-brown paint peels from the exterior wood paneling, and a tumbleweed rotates down the unpaved driveway and dandelion landscaped yard. "Here I go, into the observation room…." I said, mock-grimacing, trying to make light of this nightmarish scenario.

A stocky native woman in her mid-thirties opens the locked front door, and welcomes us. My parents take over for me, explaining things to her. As we walk down a linoleum hallway to the office, I peek into one of the rooms and see a dormitory of about 20 beds, side-by-side, each with horrifically mismatched bedding. Brown hand-knitted comforters with patchwork quilts of many colours lie on top of white, pink, blue and beige sheets. Banged up, hospital-green gym lockers line the opposite wall. I'm aesthetically horrified, and knowing my mother would be too, I grab her arm and said, "You've got to see this…" with an exaggerated sense of horror and playfulness.

She looks in the room, and suppresses her desire to make a face. “Oh my,” is all she says, and I laugh.

We sit in metal chairs in a small office, with a large window that looks into the observation room – the "dry-out" room where I'm about to spend the next 24 hours before being allowed the 'comforts' of the dormitory. Thin mats with a blanket are provided, but privacy is kept to a minimum - even the washroom door has been removed.
*Alcoholics often have an orange or yellow toned skin colour because liver function is compromised by excessive and toxic levels of alcohol in the blood system for ongoing periods.

To be continued...