Monday, July 5, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-20

November, 1982

Dear Lázaro,

I'm so excited. I'm in Miami rehearsing "West Side Story." That has always been my all time favorite show. How many times did we see the movie? I always dreamed of doing it and now here I am....and it's the first time that Mami and Papi are going to see anything I've done. Thank God!

I've just seen my nephew, Juanchi, and I don't know…but there's something about him that strikes a familiar chord. He has this obsession with dressing up like Boy George. I know things are different today than when we were kids but… idolizing a guy who looks like he couldn't decide what sex to be when he woke up in the morning so said, "Screw it! I'll be both!" doesn't seem quite right. Maybe I'm wrong. I've been hanging around too many flaming ballet dancers and drag queens I guess.

Speaking of drag queens…Dainty is in the show with me. He says they offered him the part of Anita but the budget couldn't afford that much crinoline. So he's one of the Sharks. He says he's broadening his horizons and going out for boy parts.

I cannot believe a body can get that sore. Last night after rehearsals I drove home making only right turns. I couldn't turn left if my life depended on it.

There's this Shark girl who has dubbed me Mr. Nipples because she says that they're always erect. She called me the other night to ask me if I was offended by it. We ended up speaking for hours. She's a beautiful Costa Rican girl named Arcadia with these sparkling blue eyes on a mocha face framed by mounds of black curls.

I've been going out since the second day of rehearsal with a skinny, blond Jet boy. Name's Kevin and he's really cute. Nothing special but we hit it off at the first dance rehearsal when I suggested that he was tiny enough to be lifted over the Sharks in the rumble sequence.

Our director is this crazy Englishman with a nose that could have its own zip code. He has absolutely no clue of what New York street kids are like. He keeps using words like urchins and ragamuffins. I told him that speaking like that would get you side swiped with an old Chevy back in the old neighborhood. Can you picture saying to Vinnie Moroni, "Hey you stupid ragamuffin. You have to put it in park first."

What ever happened to him? Most guys from our neighborhood are either dead, in jail or have noses that permanently point east. What a crew that was.

But you certainly made good. The army was good to you and now you are going to be a big time architect. You should design a theatre and name it after me.

Irene looks beautiful in the picture you sent. Knowing your taste she's probably ten times more beautiful than that. I can't wait to meet her. Why don't you come to opening night? That way you get to see the folks too. That is if Mother can convince Father that "West Side Story" is not guerilla propaganda.

December, 1982

Dear Lázaro,

I'm so disappointed you couldn't make it opening night. But maybe that was okay because I had one of the most devastating experiences that can happen to anyone on stage. The stage manager got nervous and thought that I was late so she sent me out on stage. We were all supposed to enter one at a time on a musical cue onto a spotlight behind Riff; then hit a menacing pose and commence snapping. I was supposed to be fourth.

Well I got out there in the dark, hit my pose, grimaced and snapped. When I started to look around I realized I was the only one on stage. The orchestra was still playing the overture. The audience was getting settled. It was another five minutes before the show started. What could I do but try to look menacing? Thinking up ways to dismember the stage manager helped. They were the longest five minutes of my life.

Something interesting happened right before the show. We were in the dressing room and this Shark boy asks me to help him with his make-up. A small, hairless, brown Cuban boy named Romero. As far as I know, as straight as the white stripe down the middle of the road. He sits in front of me between my legs and is getting precariously close. I'm trying to banish these prurient thoughts when I notice that he's moved his thighs to touch mine. Could this be a cramp or could it be something else? Definitely worth investigating!

Dainty, observing everything from his post, called me a pedophile. You see, Romero's eighteen. That's legal! He's just upset because when he managed to set up a catwalk as his star dressing room, I told him that in this show he was just glorified chorus so I would share the room with him.

After the reception we had for opening night, I was walking to the parking lot in a hurry. The parental units had a celebration at home for me. As I'm getting into the car, Romero comes running towards me.

"I just wanted to thank you for helping me with my make-up. This is the first time I've done anything like this."

"Well there's a first time for everything. If you need help tomorrow, I'll do it again."

"Thanks! I hate to bother you."

"Believe me it's no bother. I actually enjoy it...a lot!"

"Really? Why?"

"I enjoy helping new kids get started. I know I'm only twenty-five but it feels like I've been in this business all my life. And I like you."

"Thanks! I like you too. You're not like the other guys in this show."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, they either look down on you 'cause you're not a professional or they want to take you to bed. You're not like that! You're friendly."

"Like I said, I like you."

"You are gay, right?"

"Yeah! Why do you want to know?"



"Well you don't act all girly some of the others. And you didn't try anything on me."

"You made it seem like you were straight and I respect that. I'm not out to recruit anybody, contrary to popular belief. I get turned on knowing that someone likes me. I don't go for that seduction bit. If I have to force someone, it just means that I'm stronger or smarter. It doesn't mean they were attracted to me."

"I think you're attractive."

"Thank you. And I hope you don't get offended but I think you're gorgeous."

"Another guy, it would have offended me, but not you."

At this point he asks me if he can sit down in my car and in a few minutes tells me that he's only been with girls but he wouldn't mind being with me. He feels it's the union of two brothers. This is a junior version of Eric. But I'm not letting him pass by.

Needless to say I showed up at the folks' house after the last guest had left. My hair was a sweaty mess, my clothes were wrinkled beyond belief and I had a glow like the midday sun. The theory is right. Men do peak at eighteen!

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