This is the opening 5 pages of "Bobby Carapisi - Volume 3"
“You know, it’s the people who scar you who prepare you the best for life.”
I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he looked at me like I was about to slit his throat. And that surprised me. If anyone should have understood what I was saying, it was Moritz. He’s the epitome of the bitchy queen but without all the requisite mannerisms, and his world is so completely centered around him and his needs you know he’s never wondered a bit about anybody else, and that had to come from someplace in his history. But he’s as sharp as they come and all too aware of the hatred the world spews at us fags, having run here screaming from glorious Idaho (another detail of his life that makes me think he understands about the scars you need to survive), so I figured he’d just nod his head and agree and then try to explain why he’s the poster child for that notion.
Instead he eyed me up one side and down the other and sniped, “Well, Eric -- pity-boy party, your table’s ready.”
We were seated at Marix, a Tex-Mex restaurant in WeHo, finishing off my second Corona and his third Margarita...and that was before the entrees had arrived. And just to give you an idea of how fast we were downing them, this is the kind of joint where you can sit down, eat and be gone in thirty minutes; these guys believed in volume hurried along by extra slatherings of grease.
The thing is, I wasn’t feeling the beer, yet. Maybe it was all the chips I’d chomped down or the Guac we’d had two helpings of, but I was still stone-cold sober and hating it. It had not been a good day and I wanted at least a few moments of oblivion.
“No, seriously,” I said, digging another chip into the Guac and then scooping a spoonful of salsa onto it. “My folks love and support me, as do my brothers and my father’s side of the family and my sister-in-law, and because of them, I’m probably more emotionally stable, right now, than I’ve ever been in my life.”
“If you’re fishing for me to comment on that, I’ll pass. I don’t feel like starting a fight.”
“C’mon, Moritz, you know what I mean. Hell, you and Laila and Rene all factor into it, too. You guys -- you helped me rebuild my life and I -- I know how important you were and -- .” And I was having an exquisite time trying to formulate my thoughts, and not doing too damn good till I said, “If I hadn’t had you guys to lean on -- after the last year, I’d have been lost in Tina and still...still doing the -- no, it’s been a year and a half, hasn’t it?”
“Almost. Is it now time to weep in your beer?”
The cunt. “No. It’s just, you guys helped me rebuild my life, but it was the assholes on my mother’s side of the family who gave me the strength to make it through all the shit.”
“This might mean more if I really understood what you’re talking about.”
No argument there. So I took another gulp of beer and said, “Fine. My folks used to make me and my brothers spend a month, every summer, at my grandmother’s outside Atlanta. My mother’s mother. And she was a control freak without measure. Not just over herself but also others. If you said you were going to do something, you did it. If you caused a problem of any kind, you owned up to it. Her way was the right way and silly things like facts and reality did NOT factor into the equation. And if you were facing anything in the way of ‘unpleasantries’ that needed to be done, you did the worst first. She seared that crap into our brains, all without ever raising voice or hand against us. She didn’t need to. You see, she firmly believed that if a child misbehaved, you just locked them in their room without food or drink until they admitted the error of their ways and explained why they did what they did that she didn’t like and how they would never do it, again. The first time it happened to me, I was six; I caved in ten minutes. The last time, I was seventeen; I never caved.”
“You never learned how to handle her, did you?”
“Oh, I learned,” I said as our food finally came -- cheese enchiladas swimming in grease for me, healthy chicken taco salad for him. “We all did. But Gerrod and Nils took the fake-it route then kept out of her way when they wanted to be sneaky. Me? I -- I’d be as blunt and honest as she was, to her face, sometimes. And yet, I also had this streak in me where -- well, if she was being especially hard to take, I’d do something wrong just to get the solitude it would bring.”
“The zen of dealing with grandma.”
“Grand-MOTHER. ALWAYS grandmother. But I think that’s what kept me from crashing too far after...after...”
Man, closer to two years later than one and it’s still hard to face. Just doing too-close a drive-by of those events could shatter my brain with memories and shut me down. I mean, I’m not as freaky as I used to be, but still...
Moritz gave a gentle pat to my hand and offered me a low-key smile. I didn’t have to detail it for him; I’d done that a week after it happened and had given him his first gray hair, or so he’d have you believe. I’m sure he’d plucked it the second he noticed it and nuked it to death in his microwave then did some incantation over it to make sure none of them ever showed up, again. Not that he was vain or anything.
Anyhow, he didn’t say a word, just dug into his meal like he’d never eaten before. I layered the last of the salsa on my rice and mixed it up before I continued, “My point is, she lead me to embrace my inner hard-head, the mule of my psyche, and I needed it during that -- that ordeal -- and I think I’ll be using it, again. So this is fair warning to any and all.”
“I don’t get it.”
I took a deep breath and said, “I, uh -- I got a letter from Allen.”
He looked at me for a moment, waiting, and then it dawned on him. “Barrow? Allen Barrow? One of the guys who -- ?” I nodded. “He wrote to you?! Why the fuck would that little shit do that?!”
“I -- I asked him to.”