This new year’s ‘celebration’ seems a bit moan-y to me whilst re-reading, but i admire the artistry. Oh, fuck off, i’m kidding, the artistry is far too subtle for you to understand. Speaking of flabbiness, I am SO depressed after trying on clothes today. I am, officially, flabby. Not fat. That would be pitiful. Instead I have skinny flab, which makes me look like a lazy faggot who relies on his charms. But the reality is, I work out every day! Between the yoga and the swimming, I barely have time to cruise hotel toilets. I guess I have to cut back on the pasta and brownies. I’m losing the struggle with gravity. Sorry, I’ve lost it. But enjoy the article.
PQ “I was sure that by 45 I’d be a huge international success, loaded with plaudits, wearing tweed blazers and seducing 19-year-olds at book signings”
As a youth, I looked forward to my 40s as my semi-retired, mostly vacationing decade. I was sure then that by 45 I’d be a huge international success, loaded with plaudits and far too recognisable to journey from my mansion in daylight hours. My fame as the world’s greatest novelist would be both a blessing – allowing me to wear tweed blazers and seduce 19-year-olds at book signings – and an albatross, robbing me of Sample Sale shopping. Secretaries and stylists would whisk in and out of my vestibule almost daily, my life a whirling dervish of lecture tours, literary discussion programmes (in French, of course) and dinner parties in my ‘modeste honneur’.
A sophisticated slip-on wearer, my intellect would be both praised and less competitive, having achieved professional goals far beyond my family’s anticipation. Compared to two Pulitzers, an Oscar for ‘Best Screenplay Adaptation’ of my own Man Booker Prize-winning novel would seem rather gauche. I’d be brave for my fans, donning the mantle of a fine sportsman, sliding into a slim, classically-styled black evening suit, revealing my jauntiness and, to only the cleverest of acquaintances, my disapproval, with brightly colored Art Deco cufflinks. Oh, such a cad am I, I’d whisper to myself, holding my statuette high.
However my domestic life, I assumed, would surpass my laureate success. At 25, I’d ended a seven-year long relationship. I was sure, while driving to San Francisco to start my creative career, that only a better, longer relationship would follow. I considered myself a monogamous monologist, and I imagined someday reclining on outdoor furniture, petting a puppy with one hand as I gestured wildly with another, my doctor-lawyer-lover rotating a roasting animal. Many loyal friends would surround me as we’d laugh, lie and lisp our way into a mulled wine-induced dither. Their shoeless children run quietly through the house, while cats hiss, phones ring, singers sing and helicopters hover overhead, trying unsuccessfully to snap lurid shots of my warm, supportive extended family. It’s a scene as kind and affectionate as a modern-day, mildly camper Jimmy Stewart movie – with me in the Lana Turner role, naturally.
So then why, on the eve of my 45th birthday, am I travelling Standard on a lurching train somewhere between Hull and Grimsby? Stoic England rolls by, grimacing passengers resting their tired faces in poorly manicured hands. A cool reception last night in Edinburgh left me feeling abandoned on stage, and I’m wondering, have the sacrifices been worth a two-bedroom flat with wood fiber floors in East London? After 12 years of telling dick jokes in every shithole off the scenic route, I terrify TV people, I make Christians tremble with resentment and, apparently, as I was told by a pale, small Scottish creature in the front row, I’ve ‘denigrated the memory of Anne Frank’. Had I that sort of power, I’d have used it to ascend and fly away. But to where? An empty nest overlooking a few stumbling prostitutes in E2 is not my idea of a safe place.
I’m doing all this alone. I’ve lost so many friends in the last few years. Not to Aids – that was in the early ’90s. Now I’m being discarded. Good friends, some of whom I’ve known my entire adult life, have changed locations or changed their minds. Suddenly, I look around and find my ‘mansion’ devoid of any camaraderie. Not only do I travel too much to have a pet, but apparently having a pet name is too demanding. Everyone refers to me as Mr Capurro, because I only meet hotel clerks.
My ex-best friend Julie, whom I’ve known since I was 13, cut off communication because I’m told I was once dismissive toward her oldest son during a meal. Lee, a bookshop owner I lived with nearly 20 years ago, decided that, offstage, I’m too much of a performer. Richard, an actor, just never returns calls. Never. And lately, Mark seems very angry. That one I halted. The list goes on and bloody on, and I’m isolated, with very few good mates left, and my immediate family, never the easiest companions, 5000 miles away.
I know the New Year is about the metaphoric peeling of skin, refreshing one’s life and discarding what is unnecessarily heavy. Perhaps, like Jesus, in the flurry of youth I made poor character judgments. Maybe I’m inadvertently tripping into a second social life; Spartan in number, but the friendships I do make will be deeper and even longer-lasting. But making new friends? At my age? Prostate cancer seems more likely.