This week, on Wednesday, my close personal friend Milton bade farewell to the coveted 18 – 49 age demographic six days ahead of his obvious counterpart in the hairline department, Tom Cruise.
Milton had a good day. He had entered the ticket lottery for one of the handful of front row $26 seats to the matinee performance of Wicked, the always sold out musical on Broadway. He won!
Milton loved the novel written by Gregory Maguire that is the basis for this show, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, but he was certain it would be watered down. During intermission he emailed me. I asked:
Me: How’s the show?
Milton: It’s empty, but has its moments.
Me: Oh, it’s the story of my life!
Afterward, when we got together at Bettibar, an adorable theater district pub upstairs from the Hourglass Tavern, Milton admitted that he was very impressed with the show’s overall production. Had he seen it when he was nine he thinks he would have been in such a state of bliss he would have instantly become obsessed with Broadway shows. He seemed pretty happy about it at the half century mark or maybe it was the shot of tequila he had just pounded talking?
Initially, Milton was afraid to get together with me for he was with a few other dear friends the night before celebrating at the Cheesecake Factory in Westbury, Long Island. They arranged to have Happy Birthday sung to him. He was now irrationally worried that I might subject him to the same fate, something he could not endure twice. What could I say to assuage his fear?
Me: Are you insane? Do you know me at all? Is this the first time we’ve met?
Only if faced with the prospect of torture that would lead to certain death would I ever subject anyone near and dear to me, or even someone far and loathsome to me (yes, I’m referring to you Dick Cheney), to that dreadful public humiliation. I would not want to be subject to that pain myself so why would I inflict it upon one of my VIP-level friends? If I had past lives, I highly doubt that any of them included me being a sadist.
Yet, I will admit I did have one noisy trick tucked in my satchel. When we had moved to a table, I gave him the sound effect birthday card that I bought for him three years earlier in anticipation of his milestone. One glance at those glitter-coated Audrey Hepburn eyes and I knew this was the perfect card for him.
I had no choice but to get it then and there and proceed to wait over a thousand days to give it. In the intervening three years I misplaced his card twice and I lived in fear that when I would finally present it to him on his natal day proper the battery would be as dead as Rafa Nadal’s 2012 Wimbledon hopes but fortunately, Papyrus uses some fantastically long shelf-life ultra battery. When Milton opened his card to read the caption, “The Big 50!”, our corner of the establishment was consumed with the sound of a woman shrieking in terror at the top of her lungs.
He liked that.
I was not feeling so confident about his gift, a DVD of one of his favorite films, Fellini’s Casanova.
Although he frequently lamented about it not being available on disk, he is a blu-ray aficionado. Right now it’s not being produced in blu-ray so I anticipated one of two things – he already had it since it’s release last November, or he’d be disappointed that it was not in his preferred blu-ray format. Much to my surprise he wasn’t even aware that it’s now available on DVD, and he didn’t care that it was not on blu-ray, he was so elated to finally have it. Score!
I will end this post with a trademark Miltonian observation he shared with me last weekend. Milton was expounding on one of his favorite topics, the male animal, after reading an article in The New York Times called Normal as Folk written by David M. Halperin. Halperin expounds that the current generation of gay men are blending in more in mainstream society as opposed to their elders. Milton observed:
Milton: Gay people are not less gay. Straight people are more gay. They know it’s sexy so they’re now embracing it. You can’t tell who’s gay … You can’t ask anyone out any more!
The next day we were in Greenwich Village waiting for the Pride parade to start when Milton discreetly confided to me:
Milton: Look at that guy over there. Oh my God, he’s so gay! But he’s not; he’s straight — with his girlfriend. Exactly what I was talking about.
I dyslexically looked in the wrong direction at the wrong gay-looking-straight-guy that was standing with his arms wrapped around a woman wearing a sundress.
Me: He sure looks gay to me. I feel for his girlfriend. What’s that about?
Milton: You’re looking at a woman!
Me: Huh? [focusing my myopic eyes better on a very androgynous butch lesbian with her femme girlfriend] You’re right!
Pictured below is Milton’s straight metrosexual guy that personifies someone who’s embraced the gay male style.
Happy birthday buddy!