Of Partners and Pancakes

In a parallel universe best seen between flashes from a dance floor strobe light in a gay bar less than a block from MIT’s super-secret Cosmic Particle Accelerator, his name begins with a D and we’re very much in love — and we just moved in last week, and we knew right away what color to paint the hallway and what cinematic icon belonged on the shower curtain and what pasta pan had the perfect lid for us; and we’ve done it in this new place, like, a million times already; and he’s brown and lean and sometimes sad and frequently funny and always kind.

He’s the transporter accident hybrid best of two exes from my Boston days; or perhaps he’s eerily similar to Cielo, the sharp wit I met at a Midtown Manhattan hustler bar during the height of Y2K panic, whose disconnected number I’ll occasionally dial, and it works this time. And look at us now — just the way we were, but better; like the Netflix reboot of a fun but flawed sci-fi show, only this one has modern tech and a bigger budget and an edgy cast full of green young things about to become breakout stars.

Or maybe he’s like Rick, the good Rick from Queens, who always sent me home in a car service, never a cab; and he’s like, mid-40s, and I’m in my early 50s; and he says he wants kids, and I’m stressing because of the family track record — but the first thing out of my mouth is “Yes” because I really believe I could break that cycle and bring balance to the Force. We could adopt and tell them they’re only like the best things on the planet; and they’ve heard it so many times now they just roll their eyes and go back to their pancakes — but on occasion they’ll giggle, and it’s so damn adorable you just live for those moments; and we go out and get the rings and the rest of the things we need to put that plan in play.

And in the dream, I’m flying (swift and sure, of course) around the downscale Pennsylvania steel town of my youth; and I look up to see a beautiful, bruise-colored storm cloud about to burst; and I look down to see appealing patters in the cracked concrete sidewalks; and I wake up with a massive boner and drool on the pillow and the overwhelming sense that the person best suited to this sweet little domestic scenario lives in a parallel universe and must, at all costs, be prevented from finding a way to boogie down on the dance floor, make that strobe light freeze, and do a quick switcheroo with the real me.

And I wake up again, for real this time, and now I feel bad; not just for myself, but for D and the kids. And my glasses are out of reach, so I squint; and the gooey red shape on the digital clock comes into focus just enough to tell me it’s 2:27 in the morning and it’s a quick cab ride to West 28th Street, where buff bartender Gregory is serving shots and smiles on the second floor of the Eagle, and I should cast my cares and go out.

And people do it all the time, and I know they have their reasons — but why would a digital clock lie?

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