05 January 2008

A New York State of Mind

New York has a funny little way of bringing people together. Not in that "the city is a melting pot" kind of way, but more in a "Jesus, I never imagined/dreamed/feared I would ever see that one again". At the deli, on the corner, in your subway car, coming out of the bathroom; you name it, my ex boyfriend/high school acquaintance/old customer from a store I worked at in Florida, has been there.

A couple of months ago when I was eating a veggie wrap at the deli across from my office, I looked outside and saw Mike Herrero standing on the sidewalk getting ready to cross the street. Mike was a senior when I was a junior. That was the one year I went to Gibbs, a magnet school with an arts program. I was not in the program, by the way. I had been warned against Mike before beginning there, warned that he was a tool. I don't think we used the "tool" in quite that sense back in those days, but it perfectly fits the image of Mike that I was presented. Though he was a senior, we shared two out of six classes: Anatomy & Physiology, and Twentieth Century American History. Eric Gehring was also in that history class, but we'll get to him later. I liked Mike. I didn't think he was a tool at all. He and Eric made me an amazing mixed tape a few weeks after school started; sadly, I've lost it. They were both in the visual arts program, so they decorated it up all nice. It had a lot of songs from the Basquiat soundtrack, and some other stuff. I think I left it behind on a visit to Massachusetts that summer. Once, after I asked him if his father's name was Luis (which it was; he was a therapist who had an office on the main road that I drove on every day, "Luis Herrero" the sign said), he drew me a picture showing me being s sneaky spy, driving by his dad's office in my mom's mini-van. It was pretty amazing.

One day Mike and I contrived to switch shirts in our science class. My poor brain cannot recall how we pulled this stunt off, but we did (he was a small, skinny boy; still is, actually). I believe it went something like this: We hid behind a lab table at the back of the class. Mike took his shirt off and put a jacket on. I took his shirt to the bathroom, changed into it, and brought him my shirt to put on. Mine was a brown thin sweater kind of thing I'd gotten at a thrift store (I'd gotten everything I owned at a thrift store); his I believe was a navy blue shirt of a similar bent. When I came back my teacher gave us this very...confused look. But I was his pet, as I was with most of my teachers. Mike moved to Chicago to go to art school after he graduated. I saw him and some of the other seniors a couple of times when they visited the following year, but then lost touch with most everyone. None of that email exchanging the kids are doing these days!

So anyway, when I saw him I shoved the remainder of my wrap in my bag and ran outside. "Mike? Mike Hererro?" He was struggling. Not even a glimmer. "We went to school together?" "Ohhhh yeahhhhhhh!" Fake recollection. Like, oh yeah, I totally remember when we met that one time on a street corner seventeen years ago. Then again, he was a pretty massive stoner. "We went to Gibbs? Carina?" "Oh shit! Yeah! Whoa!" Seemed genuine, but I've played the fool before. "So uh, yeah." "Yeah." And that was pretty much it. I gave him Eric Gehring's number, as they'd been out of touch for some time, and went back to work.

Eric Gehring is a magician in New York. He goes by the name "Stuart Palm". I discovered this when one day I walked by the 4th Ave. entrance to Halloween Adventure and saw a flier. I knew that he lived in New York before I came here. He'd gone to art school in Maryland, but moved here after that. We'd reconnected via Friendster, but not any any deep level, and pretty much lost touch again. I had a major crush on Eric in high school. He was just the coolest art fag EVER. But he was dating this horribly vapid, soulless girl, Sarah Dennis. I think she went to Reed, maybe Sarah Lawrence. No, Reed.

I was grounded once for spending the night at Eric's house after poker night. Little does my mom know that I slept on the couch and Ashley slept with Eric. Little does my mom know what a good girl I was, and how her insane paranoia turned me into a slutty pre-marital sex having, birth control popping, drug experimenting god hater. Pardon the tangent. I probably kept in touch with Eric the most his first year away. I would send him envelopes full of random magazine and newspaper clippings, words, stories, pictures. It was fun, and he loved them.

I can't recall where I first randomly ran into Eric, but it was not long after I moved here since his number was in my old phone. I do recall that once, maybe last summer, I went into Halloween Adventure and discovered that he actually works in the magic department there. The last time I ran into him was a few months ago in front of Arlene's Grocery. I was doing laundry across the street and he was on his way to Piano's for karaoke.

John McCord is another one from Gibbs that I run into. He was a year below me in school. I may have had a crush on Eric, but John made me swoon. So dreamy. And, I thought, the best artist. He went to Cooper Union, and is some kind of art dealer now. I learned that the last time I ran into him a few months ago (fall was a popular time for running into Gibbers, I guess) just outside of 88 with Eric Sosnoff, who apparently also lives in New York. This Eric went to the university I dreamed of going to, and even thought about transferring to after my freshman year, St. John's in Maryland. Eric was a bit arrogant in an annoying and completely not sexy way. I mean, arrogance can be sexy, but he was just a prick. The time before that that I saw John was about a year ad a half ago, on Houston, outside of that sushi restaurant between Ludlow and Essex. James was on the phone and I was looking around, and there was John, leaning up against the wall and smoking. He had left a date inside the restaurant.

Not long after I moved here I ran into Aaron Schultz somewhere in the East Village. I don't recall where, because I was thoroughly unfamiliar at that point. We exchanged numbers, but I haven't spoken with him since. He's on my AIM list, and I must be on his, but we never chat. Aaron was in the writing program at Gibbs. He was one of the foursome that also included myself, my friend Renee Horner, and my sort of first boyfriend Joe Burnett, who went to get our tongues pierced at the same time. Me, Renee, and Aaron were 15, Joe was 16. I nearly passed out when they pierced me with the 10 gauge; that size actually takes a chunk of tongue out rather than just making a hole. Me and Aaron switched tongue bars once; his was much longer than mine so it was hard to even close my mouth properly. He played around with his so much that he enlarged his hole enough to just slide the whole barbell through, no need to unscrew one side. I wonder if he still has his in.

I'm sure there are more Gibbers that I've run into that I'm not thinking of, but maybe it's time to move on to my alma mater, Largo High. I'm pretty sure there's definitely only been one, everyone else stayed in the Largo area to get pregnant or get someone pregnant. It was Shane E. I only give an initial for him because I do not want him to find my blog. I don't care if anyone else does. But not him. I didn't run into Shane, I ran AWAY from Shane. This was quite a while ago, when I was still working at Borders on Park Ave. I was sick so went to Duane Reade on my break to get some medicine. I got in line behind someone. Who looked so familiar from behind...I'm eerily good at recognizing people from behind. He was a bit pudgier than before, had some muffin top over the jeans, but it was surely him. I inched away, ninja-like, and then booked to the furthest corner of the store until I was sure he'd be gone. He didn't do me wrong, Shane. Not so much. He was just so annoying. We were friends for a time, sure, but it was him and Caca that were close, not him and me. And apparently he'd done some ill to Ca in the recent enough past to really justify the dislike.

Now, some of you may qualify the following as him having done me wrong, but I don't. There was this boy my freshman year of college, Clark. He was dating a girl named Elaine. But he liked me. I did that thing that I do sometimes, where I know a boyfriend likes me, so I become really close with his girlfriend, I become close to them as a couple. It's a weird thing. I haven't done that in a while. Don't you ladies get scared of me! I'm a good girl! Anyway, Clark broke up with Elaine. She was pretty nuts, and it was a pretty stupid casual relationship anyway. But then he set his sights on moi. That was back when I was still completely terrified of boys. Now I'm only moderately afraid. But then, I wasn't having it, no sir, not one bit. Long story short, he told me he liked me, asked if I liked him, I told him no, and he was cool with it. Ok, cool. Thennn, he starts to hang out with Shane, who I'd introduced him to. Yep, they started dating. And like, kept it hidden from me. One day I was walking to my dorm from the dining hall and lo, there was Shane and Clark in Shane's car, me crossing in front of them in the crosswalk, pretending not to see them, seeing me. I think I had a banana in my hand.

So, speaking of Borders, HERE'S a crazy one, maybe the craziest. When I worked at the store in Tampa there was this really aggro man that would come in and sort of storm around, looking scary. He seemed a very Type A, alpha make kind of guy, late 30s, business professional. Matt once caught him with a little brown bag, drinking a bottle of beer in the store. The guy was not small, but Matt was bigger, and he made him pour it out and leave. So I move to New York, and I'm working at Borders, and I keep seeing someone that looks exactly, no I mean exactly like this guy. I see him eyeing me too, so one day I ask him if he used to live in Tampa, and duh, of course, it's the same fucking guy. We had a little laugh, and didn't speak again after that.

This blog post is getting too hella long. To be continued...


  1. Oh hellll no, girl you did not just call me an arrogant prick. Well, if it makes you feel any better, I transfered out of St. John's after less than a semester (the tutors are all Straussians ... shhhhh).

  2. Hey, Funny what you find if you google yourself. My mothers cousin wanted to know where she could see me perform and so she googled "Eric Gehring." Not knowing the name I go by now, she mentioned finding that I go by Stuart Palm via google. I didn't know you could connect those dots, so I tried it myself and found your blog. It is funny to consider my mothers cousin, a 60 something year old Episcopal priest, reading your story about highschool crushes.

    On another note, thanks for connecting me with Mike, we had a great time. I have tried to contact you since then to no avail. I hope you are well. I am curious if you intended those who you mention in this post to read it. It is a strange thing to read about yourself this way on the internet.

    My older sister went to St. Johns College in Annapolis, she is a priest now. I'm not sure however if she is a Straussian, although I am also not sure what it is to be Straussian.

    Best, Stuart Palm.