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The Flaming Artist Speaks to the World

The Amsterdam Trip—January, 2005

9:50 a.m. Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I’m writing this in the boarding lounge at LAX, waiting for the departure of our 11:00 am flight to Amsterdam. We’re going to help set up the opening of my one-man exhibition at Mister B’s, a leather-fetish boutique in the Warmoesstraat, the Gay Ghetto/red light district of that fabled metropolis. John, my spouse of 19 years, is accompanying me, giving me support.

Josy and Cindy, our lesbian friends and partners in “Spades” (our favorite card game) were scheduled to arrive at our house at 8:00 a.m. Cindy was to drop Josy off; Josy would then drive John and I to the airport in John’s RAV 4, drop us off at LAX, and return to our house to house sit and take care of Amy, our 14-year-old German Shepherd mutt, during the 9 days of our absence. But 8:00 a.m. came and went, followed by 8:05, then 8:10 and 8:15. We were starting to lose our serenity. We tried calling Josy and Cindy at their home line (no cell phone for them); no reply.

Finally, at 8:20, we decided we’d have to leave, Josy or no. We’d have to pay airport parking for the 9 days; tough shit, that’s life. Just as we were stepping out the door, Cindy and Josy drove up. “Traffic was horrible,” Josy sighed as she pried her herself out of their Nissan Sentra. John and I were greatly relieved to see them, but apprehensive about the trip to the airport. If traffic sucked that horribly, would we make it in time? Would my Amsterdam Exhibition be scuttled before it began by horrible traffic? The suspense!

Late starting out though we were, I took the time to say one last goodbye to Amy. I reassured her that I would return soon. Since Sunday night, I have repeatedly told Amy I’ll be leaving, but I’d be back soon. Josy had called me Sunday night, imploring me to talk to Amy, to tell her that I’d only be gone for 9 days. “Humor me,” she said. “Last time” (She was referring to our Fall ’03 trip to Europe, when we’d vanished out of Amy’s life for 2 weeks. Josy had been the house sitter then as well.) “she was so depressed the final few days you were gone.” Josy is afraid Amy will get so depressed that she’ll die while we’re overseas and Josy won’t know how to deal with it. John thinks Josy is being overly dramatic. I don’t know. Amy seems to lose more mobility with each passing week. It’s an open question (like so many things in life) what her condition will be upon our return.

Monday was spent taking care of business: packing, attempting periodic naps as I went through periods of weakness, dizziness, and hot flashes. I had started coming down with a sore throat on Saturday. I went to see Dr. Albert as a walk-in patient after his office opened at 9:00 am Monday morning. I didn’t see Dr. Albert, but another MD who was actually quite attractive: 40ish, black hair with gray flecks, copious arm hair. He took one look down my throat and said I had strep. He prescribed antibiotics, twice daily, no alcohol for 5 days. Shit. Dairy’s OK though. He asked me if I had a fever. I said, “No,” but almost immediately started to feel feverish, started to sweat. “Am I making you nervous?” he asked jokingly. He asked if there were any other colds in my household. I told him about my “spouse” spending all day Sunday sick in front of the TV. Eventually I ran out of excuses to refer to John in non-gender specific terms and had to call him a “he.” At this point I did become nervous, about the Doctor’s reaction. But he didn’t bat an eyelash.

I called my podiatrist’s office and got him to refill my anti-inflammatory and pain killer prescriptions. I have gimpy feet: plantar fasciitis, arthritic cartilage loss in the ankle joint, and bone spurs on the navicular and talus bones which snag the tendons and limit my mobility. If I’m standing or walking for more than 30 minutes at a time, I start to feel it. This makes playing tourist somewhat problematic.

I called Paper Chase, the printing company that is doing the postcards of 6 of my erotic images, to see if the job was ready to be picked up. Sofia, my contact person, said, no, they’d be ready Wednesday. I said that was a problem, since I wanted to take them with me when I left for Europe today. Sofia reiterated her point that the fault was mine: If I’d replied to the email of the proofs they’d emailed me in a timely manner instead of 4 days late, I’d already have the postcards. I repeated my assertion that I had deleted their first email because there was nothing in the sender line to indicate that it was from Paper Chase. When, 4 days later, I requested they resend the email of the proofs, the subject line said “Proof”; the sender line said “CSR.” Sofia was completely unapologetic. “If you’d opened it, you’d have seen it was from us.” I countered, “The only reason I opened your re-sent email was that I expected it that day. Otherwise, I’d have assumed, as I did the first time, that it was another spam for Viagra or Vioxx.” Again she was unswayed.

I asked her if they would FedEx it to the gallery in Amsterdam. “Sure, if you have a FedEx account.” I said I thought they should pay for it. She didn’t agree. I told her I envied them being in the position of not caring whether or not they had repeat customers, and hung up on her.

I called my assistant, Bill, and discussed the matter with him. We decided we should ask Paper Chase to FedEx me 100 copies of each postcard. It took me until 5:00 pm to get over my pissed-offness enough to call them back. I asked Sofia if they could ship not the entire order, but 100 of each card, and I’d pick up the remainder upon my return. She said they would. Then I called Bill, asked him to check up on them on Wednesday, make sure they were really doing it.

When the shit with the email of the proofs had gone down last week, I did an image capture of my email inbox screen, to demonstrate the fact that nowhere in the address line of their email was there any indication that it was from Paper Chase. My intention had been to get them to agree to give me some sort of price break. However, given Sofia’s chronic intractability, that result seems unlikely. Plus, I’d called every work day since last Monday, leaving messages for her to call me. She hadn’t returned a single one. Why should I do Sofia the favor of giving her feedback she obviously didn’t want? A friend of mine, Leslie, responded to my griping that sometimes small businesses can’t handle everything that’s required of them. I said, if Paper Chase is small they sure put up a slick front. Their office is really sharp looking. Everything is white, black and chrome, with all the slick mags and brochures spread out over the brushed aluminum coffee table. When on hold (a maddeningly frequent experience as I waited to leave repeated messages for Sofia), I listened over and over and over to the same professionally recorded message, about how much Paper Chase appreciates my business and how interested they are in finding innovative solutions. I would roll my eyes and think, “Boy are these wankers deluded.”

 
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