(22 days left in the DGC Kickstarter!)
I’ll relate to you one more Bradley story before I get back to talking nonstop about Ziggy.
The night we’d told Bradley and Marvelle we were hiring them both, we ened up at Jordan’s. When Carynne had talked to him to vet Marvelle, he’d mentioned we should drop by the loft late if we were around.
Apparently there was some music industry function—I don’t remember what—and it was Jordan’s usual M.O. to get people together socially because that so often lead to them maybe working together professionally, later, with each other as well as him. Maybe. (Or maybe Jordan just liked to have parties and that’s what happens when you know people.)
Anyway. The upshot was we went, and I figured now that I had hired Marvelle I could ask Jordan to tell me more about him, but I never actually got around to it during the party. Instead I found myself sitting in the corner by the keyboards and recording equipment watching everyone and wondering whether it was really true that other people enjoy parties more than I do or if it’s that they’re just better at acting like they’re enjoying themselves.
And that led me to thinking about the definition of enjoying one’s self. I mean it wasn’t like I was having a bad time. I wasn’t in a bad mood. I wasn’t hungry or deprived or afraid of anyone there. It was kind of pleasant watching people I knew talking to one another. If I didn’t feel bad, and I felt okay-good, why was I worrying about it? I dunno. Somehow I was still convinced that I was missing something–in myself, or in the way being a human was supposed to work.
But it wasn’t bad, really. I’d had a couple of conversations that night of the content-free type that I was pretty sure was just meant to be so they could later tell people they had met me. It was a fairly large party as one of Jordan’s gatherings went. Fifty, sixty people? More than I could easily count, anyway.
Bradley came and sat down next to me but didn’t say anything. He had a bottle of beer in his hand but didn’t appear to be drinking it so much as carrying it around like a movie prop. We watched the crowd together for a long time, I think.
Then at one point I looked at him instead of at everyone else, and he looked back at me, and we just kind of nodded to each other.
When I felt ready to say something, which was a while later, I said, “I often end up sitting alone at parties.”
“You seemed like you wanted to. I hope it was okay I decided to sit alone with you.”
“Totally okay. What’s funny is I’m trying to figure out why that worked.” Right? Why did it still feel like we were sitting alone, if we were sitting together?
“Maybe because neither of us is demanding a lot of social interaction from each other.” He crooked his neck. “That’s why I wanted to sit by you.”
“Because I’m not demanding socially?”
“Yeah.” He seemed to be staring into the beer bottle instead of looking at me. “I don’t know which is more exhausting, trying to work my way into conversations or dealing with the people who jump in and want to talk to me when they see me standing alone. They both are.”
I nodded. “It’s different when I know everyone.” Very different. My gaze strayed across the couch where Ziggy and I had won the blow job competition.
Bradley seemed to agree. “So this is what the big time is like.”
I thought about that. “I guess? Trav’s parties aren’t like some of the parties I’ve been to.”
“Mostly in LA, but I’m sure they happen here, too. Coke and people being stupid. At least at Jordan’s parties people don’t seem to be stupid.”
He nodded. “So he’s Ziggy’s producer?”
“He produced M3’s second album, and he’s kind of kept me and Ziggy in his sphere ever since.”
“He’s the one who got you back together?”
I had to turn and look at his face then to see if he was serious or not. He was. “Is that what people are saying?”
“People aren’t saying anything; I’m just trying to figure out how everyone’s connected.” His cheeks grew mottled red, though, as if he’d said something wrong.
Which he hadn’t. I suppose technically there was a way you could look at it that Jordan did get me and Ziggy back together, musically, in a roundabout way, with “Breaking Chains.” But instead of trying to get into that explanation, I said, “I’m trying to figure that out, too.”
“You mean like, on the cosmic scale?” A half-smile.
“Yeah.” I suddenly wished for a beer bottle in my hands, too. Just to have something to do with them. There was no guitar in sight or in reach, either. I suddenly remembered that was my way “normal” way of dealing with parties and group social situations. How weird to have forgotten. I guess I hadn’t needed that crutch in a while. “The one who is the real expert on who knows who and how is Carynne, though. I always end up having to ask her later who everyone was because I can’t remember at the time.”
“Is she mad at me?” Bradley asked.
“I don’t think so,” I said honestly. “I think she’s mad at herself and it comes across as her being mad generally. She usually comes right out and tells me if she’s pissed off at me directly.”
“I think she’s mad about you, a little, though, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
I didn’t want him to be freaked out first day on the job so I tried to explain. “I think she’s still beating herself up about not getting things to work for Sugargum, so she feels she failed you, and I think she’s also mad at herself for not dealing with your transition well. But she’ll just have to get over it.”
Bradley nodded. “That’s pretty much my attitude with everybody. ‘Get over it.’ Thing is, anybody who can’t get over it, I pretty much need to cut them out of my life. That’s kind of hard to do if she’s your boss, though.”
“She’s not your boss. I’m your boss,” I said then, not even sure why my hackles prickled. Feeling kind of protective/defensive but I’m not sure who I was defending, myself, Bradley, or Carynne. Or all three of us from each other’s stupidity. I don’t know. “And she’ll get over it. I assume. I’ll be honest. I think you’re the first transgender person I’ve met going in this direction and my brain is flipping out a little trying to figure it out.”
“This direct–? Oh, you mean FTM.”
That might have been the first time I heard that term, “eff-to-emm,” but it was obvious immediately what it mean. “Yeah. And by flipping out I mean just trying to get it right. And by get it right I mean, not just pronouns but…trying to see you for who you are, for who you want to be.”
Bradley’s mouth hung open slightly like he wanted to say something to that but wasn’t quite sure what words to use, and my anxiety spiked and got the better of me and I spilled out the following: “I mean, my entire life all I’ve wanted is for people to judge me by my talent and to value me for it instead of for what I look like or who I’m attracted to or any of that shit. And so I try to treat other people like that, but I really can’t get on a high horse about it because I fuck it up regularly, I’m sure.”
“Um.” Bradley looked at the beer bottle then back at me. “Thanks. I…thanks. I feel like…there’s more to say about that but I don’t really know what to say right now.”
I chuckled at that. “That’s me in every conversation at every party, ever.”
That made him laugh and smile, too.