Before the night is out, I will find Waldo 134 times — here, posing next to a gorilla; there, wearing little more than his glasses.
But right now, I’m watching Bruce Vilanch’s ridiculously cute salt-and-pepper pug drag her ass across the concrete balcony. The reverberations of West Hollywood’s Halloween spectacular thrum beneath us– the streets gorged by streams of costumed phantasms. The off-street, dark alleys behind — a cacophony of orgasms.
A Manhattan before, I’m rubbing shoulders with dragons and Abraham Lincoln and the characters from Moonrise Kingdom. But I just stay focused on the referees leading me and Andy down Santa Monica Boulevard, through the throngs of carnival-goers.
John blows his whistle with such conviction that he actually parts the sloshed seas on occasion. Shawn clutches his artfully arranged flag, ready to throw it down and declare a foul.
But before we know it, we’ve arrived.
A sexified Angel of Death flutters up the stairs ahead of us, and we sidestep through a nearby door. A breeze whips up along the walkway as we pass apartment after apartment in the sleek, contemporary building.
John rings a doorbell. A gladiator answers. His white Chihuahua darts out, and busies herself with smelling my feet. He takes a few steps out, stoops, and scoops up his precious cargo. Which is how Shawn gets a clear view of the hand-to-sword combat going on in the back room.
The gladiator smiles, re-assumes his sentry post, then motions next door.
“Bruce is there.”
Before we can thank him, he’s returned to his ménage a lot.
And then, I’m pug watching.
There are times in my life when I’ve wished for more developed, intellectual thoughts to be rolling around in my noggin than what’s screaming in the fore. And this is one of them.
Instead of reflecting on the thoughtfulness of our friends — for braving the costumed masses and dragging us away from watching Hocus Pocus in our underwear — or our host’s humor and hospitality — his complete lack of pretension — I’m thinking, I’m watching Bruce Vilanch’s pug drag her ass across the balcony. Incredible.
I snap out of it, and catch then follow Andy’s concerted gaze. And there, placed just so by the television, Bruce Vilanch’s Emmy’s.
“Oh yeah, well, you know Chi Chi, right?”
I swivel back to the conversation and nod. Even if he’d asked us about a chattery dolphin that has a lion’s head and speaks in tongues, we’d nod, zombie-like.
Yes, Bruce Vilanch.
“Well, he lives over there.”
I peer over the side, toward the lighted apartment in the distance, but get distracted by a Rubix cube dancing below.
The world is a bizarrely amazing, small place.
A week later, my mind is goo.
The Merlot is dark and tastes like strawberry jam — a catalyst to wax poetic.
Faces reflecting an internal dialogue —
Heavy, somber eyes
Emotion overflowing onto asphalt like a dull, constant rain.
We keep to our courses — exploring new avenues,
Detouring around construction,
Hunkering down and pushing on;
It’s all a journey,
And we’re each just one pilgrim,
We stare out from our table at the passing cars as conversations buzz around us. And I lend my ears all around — like hummingbirds, they swallow the lifeblood of others’ lives: the stories that make us something special.
Andy and I stare over our salads at one another, and just absorb everything.
“This is the moment we’ve been working towards.”
He smiles and nods. And the server materializes, resting our plates in ghostly quiet. I push the slightly sticky wine glass stem toward Andy’s. He meets me halfway — near the bread — and a melodic, soft ting bleeds into the surrounding chorus.
Months ago, we landed in an alien place — knew few people; had dreams of where we wanted to start building a life.
And as we peer through the candlelight, we know we’ve found it.
The answer melting into each other’s eyes.