Holy Saturday 2024

Darkness ended yesterday’s Good Friday service. The so-called “Christ Candle” extinguished for a moment, then relit, while projected screens (like subtitles to a liturgy) projected the word “remember.” Re-member, as Mark Doty points out, is a re-bodying. A day of the body, again. So, naturally, I went to Beyoncé night at the local gay club, to celebrate this inaugurated day of the body (initiated by the end of a body: in the church, a form of its absence). I invited a boy (Jonny) that I knew, in the spirit of Beyoncé’s new country album, had cowboy clothes. My straight friend showed up with his girlfriend in a gay club filled with boy-girl cowboy couples. And Richard, whom I describe as “closet energy” because of his evangelical megachurch attendance (but is maybe just “chaotic energy”), showed up in all black and no yeehaw garb. “First time here?” he asked, while I recalled going to his birthday party here last year. “No,” I said, “but I normally go to the Long Beach bars.” “They’re weird,” he said, ”I went once.” “They’re much more relaxed,” I said, “I like them. They’re chill.” And I walked away to watch screaming women take selfies with drag queens.
            Jonny showed up. He mostly speaks Spanish, and I speak a small amount of it, so we talked slowly, on the patio underneath an umbrella, in phrases and single words and micro-charades thrown back and forth. Has it been a couple months since I’ve seen him? No, he said, six months. Time passes quickly, I told him. 
            It began to rain, and my car, which is like a jeep, sat topless in the parking lot. We went into the club to warm up, and Jonny sat down with his redbull (he no longer drinks, nor smokes, so he took an edible before coming).  He noted that the music (Beyoncè) was not good club music (nor, according to anyone I asked, very good at all), so we retreated to a black booth in the dark part of the room, reminding me of the still-life backdrop that Mark Doty describes. Jonny sank into the booth, and then into his body, and then leaned into mine, and we lingered together while the night passed. More Spanish, testing out hypothetical imperfect tenses; more English trying to test out the complexities of alternate languages we could both barely articulate. So I poked his face, watching him relax and rest his eyes; I poked his mustache suggestively (one perennial thought: many men, including the gay men I talk to, have never had a mutually-mustached kiss! No sharing-of-caterpillars!). We grabbed hands and I pulled him close. He said, in Spanish, now he understands cats and dogs, especially when you poke their whiskers. And more, how they react when you pet them, how they relax completely into their bodies, giving up their little animal wills to their senses. He joked that he was like a cat, sarcastically, like an animal. I told him, sarcastically (but seriously), that we’re all animals anyway. Animals and bodies, as we spent the night figuring our desires through gaps in language, in the dark little booth.     
               Until the lights came on at 1:30 in the morning. The host announced closing time. We walked outside in the rain. We looked at my car, soaked with drizzled rain, laughing nervously in a silly panic. I sat on the wet driver’s seat, while he said “Oh my God,” standing next to the passenger seat with the door open. I pulled his arm in, and he sat all wet. We were freezing. “You’ll remember this night,” I said, as we drove through the rain, and he, laughing, recorded a little video of us for his friend, while we made our way through the empty, dark, and glistening streets, shivering. I drove towards his apartment from a vague memory six months ago. Then home, texting him goodnight until 3AM, which meant Holy Saturday (the daylight part of it) was a day of waking up too early. 
            Holy Satur-day-of-bailing-water-out-of-my-car-and-drying-off-the-seats. Grogginess hovered throughout the day, and I finished Doty’s still life book again. My mind slowed, tracing my body (the day that seems so human, so of-the-body through an image of its absence). Back to animal bodies, desiring together.