London: Beaver Lumber

london Miras advises me to shave my beard. He says it’s not worth losing my job over. He tells me the parable of the oak and the willow in which the oak tries to resist the wind while the willow survives longer by bending to the pressure. I seem to be creating a political divide among the staff. Every day when I show up unshaven I receive praise from some and condemnation from others. I eventually lose my job at Beaver Lumber when Mr. Brown tells me not to return to work unless I have shaved.

Leroy is a regular customer in the store, always seeking me out for conversation. I finally agree to go for a ride in his car. When we are on a country road north of the city Leroy puts his hand on my thigh. I make it clear that he has misunderstood. “Then why did you agree to come for a ride?” he asks. “Because I thought you were lonely.” He asks me if I would paint him in the nude. I tell him I would not feel comfortable doing that. Leroy never visits the store again.

The store clerk at Beaver Lumber looks at me with hopeful anticipation as he names one person after another. While some names seem to tickle the fringes of my memory I am unable to recall anything concrete about any of these people. I was a boy; they were men. They bent to the pressure.

London: Richmond Hotel

london Bob advances the carousel to the next slide. Donald Judd or Lawrence Weiner or Joseph Beuys. He asks “What’s that about then?” He leans back in his chair, his hands behind his head, and he waits.

“I like that Steve Harvey guy. I spend about an hour a day watching Family Feud.”

Bob and I meet at the Richmond Hotel for a farewell drink before I move to Ottawa. He says “I have two things to tell you. One is that I am gay. The other is that I’ve been attracted to you for years.”
We talk about William Morris.

I answer the phone and the first thing Bob says is “What were you doing just now?”
I say “I was working on our database of community service organizations.”
“No, I mean specifically what were you doing?”
“I was cleaning up some data errors.”
“No, I mean the moment the phone rang, what exactly were you doing?”
“I was correcting a postal code.”

Bob walks into my room and kneels in the middle of the floor. “Can I get into bed with you?” he asks.