Sara and I hit downtown Burbank last night, because we’re cool like that. Once we’d exhausted ourselves at the hangar-sized Urban Outfitters, the progressive-artistic-expensive Skyblupink and the troublingly named Melrose In Burbank, we sat down on a metal bench at what can only be described as the epicenter of Burbank street life.
We drank our coffee and watched a young man set up shop across the cement aisle. “Shop” consisted of a box of un-inflated balloons and a small chart depicting various animals one might request that the balloons be made into. He got to work on something involving several brown and white balloons, and was soon joined by a young, blonde-haired woman.
She stood nearby, hands in her pockets, talking to him and smiling. She rocked back and forth on her toes. He kept twisting the balloons, and soon they started to resemble a monkey.
“Do you think they’re working together?” Sara asked. “She’s not doing anything, but she’s been there an awfully long time.”
“Maybe he’s trying to impress her by making a really complex balloon animal,” I said. The young man added some green balloons to the mix. Vines? We didn’t have a good view. “He wants to keep spending time with her, but he doesn’t know what to do besides make balloon animals. He doesn’t know where to take things from here, so he just keeps adding balloons. Look, I think the monkey is wearing pants with little white buttons on them now.”
“Really?” said Sara, who had left her glasses in the car. “Seriously? Oh look—she totally likes him. She just did that cliché touching-his-arm thing.”
“That’s a cliché?”
“Oh sure,” said Sara. “Girls always do that when they like a guy. Or a girl, either way.” She gave my arm a playful shove and raised her voice an octave. “‘Stop, you’re so funny!’”
“Damn, I think I’ve used that move before,” I lamented.
“It’s okay, it’s just that it’s a cliché. Hey, do you think they can hear us?”
“I don’t know. I hope not,” I said. “Sometimes I forget that I’m not invisible.”
We snuck away, leaving the young balloon artist to create an entire jungle panorama for his new love.
This morning at the gym, I was excited to discover a just-a-few-weeks-old Star in the communal magazine rack. This was a major find because A) the rack usually only has real estate freebies and, like, Forbes, and B) the tabloids at my therapist’s office are always at least a year old, and while I appreciate the weirdness of vintage gossip, sometimes I want to know what Brit and K-Fed are up to now. Or at least three weeks ago.
What I learned, though, was what Clay Aiken was up to: IM-ing a guy on manhunter.com and filming himself on a web cam to prove he really was who he said he was. But this wasn’t your typical Paris/Chyna/Rob Lowe/etc. etc. fare. These were grainy but PG stills of a refreshingly scruffy Clay, just smiling and wearing a hoodie. The final picture showed Clay lifting up his shirt, but then included an excerpt from his IM in which he described his chest as “white and boring.”
He also talked about how he so didn’t have a boy in every port (I believe his exact words were “HAHAHA! That’s rich.”), and how he’d met this guy in January but it hadn’t worked out, how he really liked to kiss and “make love,” and if the guy he was IM-ing now wanted to come over, he really hoped it could be the start of a relationship.
It broke my heart. It didn’t read like a line (and I’m not sure “I want a relationship” lines work on manhunter.com anyway), and it didn’t come across as pathetic. I just thought, Wow, Clay Aiken really wants a boyfriend, and instead he found some dude who sold his web cam pics to Star.
Even Star seemed a little sheepish about the exposé. While tabloids are not past using phrases like “gay shocker” and “gal pal” in headlines, they’re past straight-out condemning the aforementioned gay shockers. Or non-shockers, in Clay’s case.
Star closed the article by basically wishing Clay well in his manhunt for love. It was actually kind of sweet of them, in a hypocritical way. I thought of the balloon-maker. We all just use what we got, that’s all we can do. Best of luck to all of us.