February 1979

Hanging out in the Troika Lounge


Gino and I have been seeing each other secretly.  We had been hanging out a lot and I was happy just being friends. I had no intention of getting into a relationship, but he was persistent about getting closer. He says that he loves me; he’s the first guy I’ve ever said that back to. Quite honestly, his matter of fact ,”Ti Amo” felt less like an affectionate declaration of emotion than it did a challenge statement, basically throwing down a gauntlet that I had no choice but to answer to, even though I was far from being prepared or sure in my response.  I hadn’t seen Paul since we spent the day together in St. Thomas a few months ago, and had no interest in anyone else, even though neither of us has made any commitment to the other. And there had certainly been no mention of love, or any feelings at all for that matter, other than missing each other’s company.

One evening, when we were still just friends and hanging out in the lounge having a few drinks, Gino told me that he had talked to Thomas at the beginning of the season and asked questions about the staff on board last year, and that Thomas actually told him about our relationship, and said I was, “f-able”. I find it hard to believe that he would have told anyone, never mind a new guy on the ship, but yet Gino knew. Was I being offered up as available as if I was some kind of hand-me-down that was no longer needed?  I don’t understand why Gino would even tell me such a thing, even if he was drunk. I brushed it off, didn’t acknowledge the relationship with Thomas in case Gino was just guessing, and I never mentioned it again; not to either one of them.  But that word, that attribute, that label: “f-able” plays over in my head like a bad song you hear late at night that gets stuck like a broken record while you are trying to sleep, worming into your dreams, and still lingering when you wake up.  It’s only by playing a new song that you can get it out of your brain.  I think I ended up with Gino to hear a new tune.

We do spend a lot of time together, and it is usually awesome.  He is so much fun most of the time. Sometimes I play my guitar while he plays conga drums, but we mostly listen to and sing along with tapes, especially Al Jerreau, Santana, Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind and Fire, Chic Corea, Steely Dan, and some others. I say it is usually awesome because he’s fine as long as he just drinks beer.  But when he drinks hard stuff, he is a different person all together.  He’s cold, and paranoid, and can be really mean to me.  It’s not like he is physical or anything, it’s more like he doesn’t give a shit how I feel about anything or what he says. “Mangia merda” is a favorite insult I wish I never learned.

When he drinks more than beer, we end up in an argument, and then the next day he’s saying how sorry he is and that he didn’t mean any of it and that he loves me. And I forgive him and he promises it isn’t going to happen any more. I must be stupid or something to believe him.  I guess it isn’t stupid if you love someone. But it’s as if he sets me up to say or do something that he can blame me for later. That happens even when he is sober.  I care about him, but I really don’t know if this is going to work out. I was a lot happier last year.

But we do have so many great times, like the day in Cozumel we rented a convertible and drove all over the island to isolated beaches and found a little zoo in the middle of nowhere with alligators and other odd animals. And the day we went shopping in a vintage clothing store in New Orleans; I bought an antique silk blouse and a beautiful white petticoat style puffy skirt, and Gino bought an old boy scout shirt and a white suit jacket – the kind a 1950’s nightclub band guy might wear.  He looks so cute in that shirt with his troop number on it, and the jacket is really stylish when he dresses up at night. Those are the good times, and there are a lot of them. I just don’t know how to make him be happy and normal all the time. I never know what to expect when I see him. I try my best to not say or do things to piss him off, but I don’t really think it has anything to do with me when he acts that way.

Click to play I’ll Write a Song For You– by Earth Wind & Fire [audiotube id=”_yKr8Q8PNuc”]


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