LET’S GET A PHYSICAL

LET’S GET A PHYSICAL

Given my previous difficulties finding a doctor, I only had one real requirement when I started searching for a new one: that he not be crazy. If he were gay, too, well, that’d be a nice bonus.

It’s not that I really care about a doctor’s sexuality, or that I feel some need to “keep it real” or “give back to the community”. It’s just that, coming off a doctor who told me, “The risk of HIV is zilch”, it’d be nice to have someone I felt comfortable discussing, you know, personal issues with, not to mention someone who has at least a loose grasp on reality.

Given that I live in Los Angeles, finding a gay doctor is just as easily done as said. Or so I thought. I mean, it’s not like you can ask. And I wouldn’t expect that most doctors would readily offer up information on their personal lives anyway. Drew raves about his gay doctor, but unfortunately, his doc doesn’t accept my insurance plan. So all I could do was open my provider’s directory, look for someone in my general vicinity and hope for the best. When I found a doctor whose name sounded exactly like a porn star’s, I figured he was as good a candidate as any. (For privacy reasons, I won’t give his name, but trust me, it’s hilarious.)

The health history questionnaire I was given while I waited for my appointment had at least 10 references to HIV, which was a refreshing change from Dr. Crazy, I guess, although it seemed a bit redundant. On one page, it’d say, “Have you ever tested positive for HIV?” Then, on the next page, it’d say, “Have you ever taken medication for HIV?” Then, “Okay, c’mon, let’s be honest here, are you HIV positive or what?” Maybe this guy was a little obsessive about this.

When I finally met him, I wasn’t sure what to think. He was very young — probably several years under 40 (and therefore, only a few years older than me) — and pretty darn adorable. He flipped through my paperwork, nodding at each HIV-negative response and tossing in a few new questions, too. We seemed to be dancing around the issue, until he asked, “So are you single?” Out came Drew’s name, and down came his guard. “As gay men,” he said, “it’s important that we get tested on a regular basis.” It was a totally gratuitous “we”, and it was followed by other gratuitous “we”s, when hepatitis and syphilis came up. By that point, I’d say, “we” were getting the message loud and clear.

Doctor Adorable seemed more comfortable after that, asking questions like, “So what do you and Drew like to do for fun?” as he poked around inside my ears and tested my reflexes with the little rubber hammer. I don’t think he outed himself because he wanted to “keep it real” or “give back to the community”. I think he just knew it would make things easier on both of us.

I was so focused on how having a gay doctor would make me more comfortable, I hadn’t thought about it from his perspective. I don’t know whether Dr. Adorable outs himself to his straight patients, but I’ll bet he doesn’t do it so readily. It’s probably a little awkward if your patient is straight to tell him that you’re gay and then grab his testicles. Me, I was flattered. And I guess a gay doctor probably feels like his obligatory safe sex lectures will seem less judgmental to gay patients than they might coming from a straight doctor. Or maybe he’s just heard about Dr. Crazy and the kinds of information he’s giving out.

I think I’m going to like Dr. Adorable, and not just because of the gay thing. More than anything, he seemed competent and knowledgeable and not crazy. I mean, that’s all that really matters, right?

WHEN HUNG SUNG

WHEN HUNG SUNG

Much like the rest of America, the most replayed moment ever on my TiVo has to do with a pop singer who can’t sing or dance very well. But this one keeps his shirt on.

I admit I’ve watched William Hung, the “She Bangs” guy from “American Idol” about a billion times, and every time I hear him say, “I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all,” it fills me with happiness. But I’m a little uneasy about his overnight internet cultdom – all the fansites, remixes and petitions that have sprung up in the last few days. Hey, if American Idol brought him back as a correspondent or even if, dare we dream, he got his own sitcom or something (called, er, I don’t know, “Hung Out to Dry” maybe?), I’d be the happiest guy in the world. But it sounds like this kid really doesn’t enjoy all the attention. Much like the Star Wars Kid, he feels like the butt of a cruel joke, and I really can’t blame him for that.

Around the 999,999,999th time I watched his performance, I finally listened closely to his singing. And you know what? It’s not terrible. I mean, he’s no Trenyce or Josh Gracin (yes, I’m kidding), but he’s no Keith, the “Like a Virgin” guy, either. William was way more on-key than most of the rejects who get shown on the air. There are many wonderful things about his performance – his exuberance, his goofy dancing, his good nature and positive attitude. But let’s be honest: a part of what stands out about him is his thick accent. You can bet that since he came to America, kids at school have constantly been picking on him because of that accent. So now the guy feels like the whole country is picking on him. Hilarious, huh? I’m not saying that’s the only thing that makes his performance funny, but to him, it probably seems that way.

So here’s a suggestion to all the people trying to force celebrity on the guy: back off. If he doesn’t want his face plastered on t-shirts, then leave him alone. Isn’t his lack of celebrity a big part of what was so appealing about him in the first place? Why ruin it by making him into another overexposed star? Think about this: if you start selling William Hung bobbleheads and put him in Jack in the Box commercials, he’ll just end up getting a big head about himself and losing sight of what made him famous in the first place. Trust me, the William Hung bandwagon won’t be a fun ride for long. It’ll ruin what was so great and unexpected about him in the first place, and we’ll all grow to hate the very mention of him. So let’s not turn him into the “I Didn’t Do It” Boy. Let’s just enjoy “She Bangs” for what it was – a fun, lovable, one-of-a-kind moment in time.

Lord knows I’m not deleting it from my Tivo anytime soon.

MEDDLING KIDS

MEDDLING KIDS

When I was a kid, on one glorious occasion, I actually solved a Scooby Doo Mystery before the last commercial break. (If I remember correctly, the culprit was the son of the creepy old woman who ran the carnival.) It would be years before I realized how minor this accomplishment actually was, but I was so proud of my eight-year-old self that I immediately ran to tell my mom. I knew she didn’t care about Scooby Doo, but I needed to tell somebody — anybody — that the creepy old caretaker was the one who was haunting the carnival.

Anyway, I know nobody cares, but I’ve figured out who the Celebrity Mole is. I’m pretty sure I’m right, so if you’re a spoiler-phobe (and good for you if you are), then you might want to stop reading here.

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I suspected early on that it was Dennis Rodman. Something about the way Ahmad Rashad keeps stressing how “the game is always on” and “the Mole is playing games” and “game, game, game, game, game“. Having watched three previous Mole seasons, I know this is just the kind of lame clue they’d use to hint that Dennis, who plays basketball games, is the Mole. (If you don’t believe me, watch the explanatory show in two weeks when they’ll try to make you feel dumb for not picking up on things like this.) Plus, the longer Dennis stuck around, the more obvious it seemed that he had a free pass. I mean, there’s no way he was making it through those quizzes on merit. I’ll bet Dennis never figured out a Scooby Doo Mystery before the last commercial.

But last night, they totally gave it away. In the game where they asked ridiculously easy grade-school questions (i.e., How many continents are there on Earth?), and the players still got them wrong (flashbacks to SNL’s classic “Common Knowledge” sketch), one question stuck out: “How many minutes are in an hour and thirty-one minutes?” Not only is it easy even by the standards of that particular game, but unlike the other questions, it doesn’t test any real grade-school skill, except possibly knowing that an hour equals sixty minutes. (Duh. Even Dennis Rodman could get that one right.) For some reason, they wanted to introduce the number 91 into the game.

Knowing nothing about basketball, I went online to check a hunch. Well, lookee here! That is definitely the kind of lame clue they use on this show. Dennis Rodman is the Celebrity Mole.

Okay, I just wanted to share that. Now I’m going to call my mom.

ONE YEAR, TWO CELEBRITY SOUND-ALIKES AND LOTS OF COOKIES

ONE YEAR, TWO CELEBRITY SOUND-ALIKES AND LOTS OF COOKIES

Given my need to come up with a nickname for San Francisco, I’ve decided to label it “Cookie City”. Why? Because I had a great cookie about an hour after I got there and a great cookie about an hour before I left. And besides, somewhere should be Cookie City. Doesn’t it feel better knowing that somewhere out there is a place called Cookie City? And it’s not like it’s going to be San Antonio. I had the worst cookie of my life in San Antonio.

Maybe after a second trip to LA’s northern neighbor, I’ll be able to come up with a more appropriate nickname, but from trip #1 (I know, it shouldn’t take ten years in LA to make the one-hour flight to SF), the cookies stuck out. And the chocolate crepe, too. That was yummy. So why not Chocolate Crepe City? Well, that will always be Paris. When I went to Paris, I spoke no French whatsoever. My friend Greg knew only a tiny amount, and he taught me exactly two phrases: “Je suis” (“I am”) and “Je voudrais” (“I would like”). When I nervously placed my order at the crepe cart in the park, what came out was, “Je suis un crepe chocolat.” Somewhere in France, there’s a culinary worker who thinks I have very messed-up identity issues.

Not only was it my first trip to San Francisco, it was my first First Anniversary trip. Yes, hard to believe, but this whirlwind adventure with Drew has lasted only a year so far. Where will it take us in the years ahead? I’m not sure. But I’m hoping Seattle, for starters. I’ve never been there either, and I hear it’s quite nice.

We started off our trip to Cookie City (after a stop at the café where we bought lunch and cookies) with a bus tour. Sure, it was a touristy thing to do, but I make no apologies for that. I was a tourist, proudly wearing my camera case around my belt. (If I ever wear anything around my belt within fifty miles of my home, shoot me.) As a first-timer, it was very important to me to see the whole city in three and a half hours, have lots of photo ops and learn things like what San Francisco’s top industries were (#1 tourism, #2 banking, #3 insurance, #4 shopping) and how to find a good restaurant in Chinatown (look in the windows and see if it’s crowded).

I stupidly forgot to charge my camera before leaving home and didn’t bring my charger along. That meant I either had to spend $40 on a replacement charger at the SonyStyle store at the Sony Metreon (a creepy, deserted high-tech entertainment complex) or take all my pictures really fast. Since I already had two chargers at home, I chose the latter route, which means I now have a memory stick full of poorly-framed, fuzzy-focus shots of me and Drew standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and other scenic landmarks.

The tour bus driver was a colorful character named Greg who spoke in an overly slow, deliberate tone that totally reminded both Drew and me of someone. We struggled to place it, and Drew finally nailed it: it was Adam West. The driver did lots of editorializing along the way. Did you know that San Francisco pays registered homeless people $410 a month each? If you’re outraged by this fact, you may qualify as a San Francisco tour bus driver. Thankfully, the new mayor campaigned on a “Care, not Cash” campaign, so hopefully things will improve. Batman was also quite concerned with the city’s readiness for another earthquake. We heard, among other things, how unsafe the Bay Bridge was, how unsafe the subway system was, and how parts of the city were built on landfill, which was dangerously, dangerously unsafe. Oh, and he hates those stuck-up jerks in “Snob Hill” who won’t let tour buses ride up their street. (He gave them a piece of his mind by parking down the block from the “Full House” house and letting us get out and take pictures. “If you come back and I’m not here, it’s ’cause I saw the cops coming,” he said, totally serious. “But just wait on the corner, and I’ll come back for you.”)

Batman talked at length about the city’s large Chinese-American population and how Chinese people came to America in droves during the gold rush and ended up building our railroads. He also made about 100 references to “hippies”, who live in the Haight, who attended concerts by Grace Slick and the Grateful Dead in that field over there, who painted the tunnels rainbow colors, and who are slowly being pushed aside by “the punks”. I was eagerly anticipating a shout-out to my people, who, from what I’ve heard, are also known to live in San Francisco. But all I learned was that we reside in the Castro, which was out the window to our right at the time, and that San Francisco is the kind of place where “you’re free to live whatever kind of lifestyle you choose.” I was disappointed at the shabby token mention at first, but then I thought to myself… gay marriage first, then a mention on the SF city tour. Eyes on the prize, Jerry, eyes on the prize…

I left it to Drew to plan Friday night dinner, since he’s been to the city before. He came up with a short list of restaurants, then we checked with Koo, our friendly concierge, to narrow down the finalists. There was one place on our list which we seemed predestined to choose, because we each had a friend who’d held their wedding there. Koo told us it was a “supper club”. I wasn’t sure what that meant at first, but when we walked in, I figured it out. The place was full of lots of rich people – not like those hip dot-com millionaires, but the kind who looked like they were in a movie about rich people. And the menu was full of unusual dishes that needed to be explained but weren’t. A supper club is kind of like the math club and the physics club. Demented and sad, but social. We got there a few minutes before our reservation time and were told the table would be ready really soon. Every few minutes, the hostess came by with an update. “We’re just waiting for the people at your table to finish.” “The people at your table are paying their check.” “They should be leaving any minute.” It was fine until we were finishing our dinner, and we were the stragglers. Drew spotted the hostess pointing out our table to a new couple, who were salivating over the impending vacancy before we were quite ready to go.

On Saturday, we went to Pier 39, which our tour bus driver told us was the #2 most visited attraction in all of California, after some theme park in Anaheim. It seemed unlikely to me. I guess I always figured this would be higher up the list. Nonetheless, the pier turned out to be a fun place, where we got the aforementioned chocolate crepe and saw some seals. I wondered why the seals were all crowded together on the floaters furthest from the pier, then I realized it probably had something to do with the signs telling people not to feed, yell at or throw things at the animals. The coolest thing about Pier 39 was that it was the basis for a level in one of the Tony Hawk games, so I already knew how to find my way around and even some cool places to trick off.

Drew and I even braved the local public transportation system. We took a cable car (and learned that the only thing more touristy than riding one is calling it a “trolley”), and our driver had a brusque, gravelly voice that reminded us both of someone we couldn’t quite place at first. I was the one who finally figured this one out: Rupert from Survivor. Now I think of San Francisco as a city where everybody sounds like someone you know, or at least all the tourist vehicle drivers do. “Next stop, Chinatown!” the Rupert-like guy said. “Just turn down that street and keep walking until you can’t read the signs anymore.” One of the other passengers slid down the bench to talk to him. “I enjoy your banter,” he said. “It keeps things entertaining!”

After our seaside exploits, we headed to Chinatown for lunch. (It was my idea. Drew knew better.) Remembering Batman’s advice, I kept peeking in windows until I found a place that was jam packed. It had a nice Western-friendly name, the ABC Café, and there wasn’t a free table in the joint. Drew and I quickly realized we were the only non-Asian-Americans in the joint, which made it seem very authentic and very intimidating. I’m sure all the white people who’ve ever stopped by Chinatown have stories about a waitress misunderstanding them and serving them ground rooster testicles and sautéed octopus spleen, but let’s face it, that’s why we go – for the stories. My lunch was gross, but I almost wish it had been grosser. The worst I can complain about was undercooked chicken on the bone with marrow seeping out of it. It would’ve been fun to have my lunch crawling away from me as I tried to nab it with my fork, but as stories go, this will have to do.

On Saturday night, we stopped by Drew’s friend Joel’s bookstore, and I got to meet Joel and his boyfriend Gary. Joel looked and acted just like the main character from “Rent”, and Gary was wearing a beret. After that, we met up with Drew’s friends Kirsten and Daniel. Kirsten and Daniel were both really nice and friendly, and they had an adorable one-year-old son and an almost-equally-adorable six-week-old puppy. We told them we had just come from Joel and Gary’s bookstore. They hadn’t seen Joel in a while, and Daniel had only met Gary once. “When I met him,” Daniel said, “he was wearing a beret”. I guess Gary likes berets. Daniel had the whole house rigged up with ceiling speakers and a multi-channel audio system that you could access via a control box in the kitchen. Plus, they had multi-room DirecTV with TiVo that he hooked up himself. I was jealous. It sucks being the handy one in a relationship and knowing the limit of your tech savvy is hooking your stereo up to the computer so you can convert old cassettes to mp3.

After dinner, we said goodbye to Drew’s friends and decided to hit the town. But first Drew had to pee. Five martinis will do that to you, I guess. *Anticipating the comment where Drew disputes this charge… ready to counter with the evidence…* We ducked into a coffee shop, and Drew made me sit down and pretend like I was going to order, while he went to the bathroom. We almost got out clean, but just as Drew appeared again, the busboy dropped off a couple of waters. So Drew left five dollars on the table out of guilt, then we grabbed our stuff, hid our faces and ran out of there as fast as we could. That was enough adventure for the night, so then we went back to our hotel and called it a day.

On Sunday, there wasn’t much time before our flight, so we went to Ghirardelli Square to get brunch. If you’re looking for somewhere good to have brunch in San Francisco, let me give you some advice: Ghirardelli Square is not a good place to look. Luckily, though, it was a good place to get cookies, which was even better. As we headed to the airport, I realized I still had a few minutes of battery power left on my camera. All that worry for nothing. And then we headed home for a little anniversary present that was waiting for us from Mark Burnett.

It was a great weekend. It’s been a great year.

Happy anniversary, Drew.