Synopses & Reviews
Chapter One h.e.i.
You know what I really hate most of all in the whole wide world? More than people who don't bother to vote and then carp on about taxes and how all politicians are the same? More than people who think that if you're bisexual it means you'll fuck absolutely anyone (especially them)? Much more than the concept of circumcision (female or male)? What I hate most of all in the whole wide world is that feeling. The feeling you get when you wake up one afternoon and the first thing you think of is some hideously embarrassing incident from the night before. (Let's just call them H.E.I.'s from now on, shall we? It sounds more chic and is easier and less painful to repeat.) It s the absolute pits. And it s always happening to me. This one, though, is a stonker. Last night had started so well too.
What happened the night before . . .
There was a massive queue for the club. It was a Friday, I suppose, and we should've known better, but still. I used to enjoy a queue too, but ever since Charlie told me his club-queuing theory, all the joy of the anticipation and the camaraderie had gone out of it. Now I feel like a helpless and abused pawn in the cynical game of nightlife commerce. Here's why: Charlie says that queues outside clubs are only PR devices. It's not that they re absolutely jammed to the rafters inside or anything, it's all about making the people who are driving past in their cars think they're missing out on something really exciting 'cos hey, look, all those people standing around in the cold wouldn't be doing it for nothing, would they? He's right, you know. In all the thousands of times I've waited in long, nonmoving lines in thefreezing cold, there has never been a single time I've got in and the club has been full enough to merit making me wait for that length of time.
And last night was a case in point. It was absolutely brass monkeys. That's the thing about clubbing in London -- the bloody weather. And tonight I'd miscalculated yet again and was wearing just a skimpy little vest. I persuaded Charlie that we should take our e's while we were waiting, and miraculously he agreed. He was normally more into wandering round a club, getting his bearings and feeling settled before imbibing anything stronger than a Corona, but I reasoned that with a queue of this length we were wasting a lot of potential off-our-faces time inside, and if we dropped them now we'd be coming up and starting to fly just as we paid the hugely inflated entrance fee and ran to the bar for bottles of overpriced water to quench the dehydration. Also it would take our minds off the cold. So we did.
You just never know with an e what level of experience you're going to have. It can be anything from an "Oh, that was nice" to a "Jesus, what happened?" This one was pretty intense. As I'd hoped, it started outside, a sort of tingling and an overwhelming need to stretch and yawn. Then everything started to get a bit blurry, but I do remember the glowy feeling, that sensation of warmth and the imminent and unstoppable euphoria. Oh yes, it was a particularly vintage glowy feeling actually. And by the time we made it to the dance floor, wave after wave of chemical benevolence was seeping outward from my tummy and washing over my entire being. I was up, I was off, I was high, call it what you will, but I was still me. I was just amore vivacious, smilier and happier me than I had been an hour or so previously. I felt at my best like this. Content, carefree and yeah -- hackneyed though it may be -- full of love.
You know, people who don't do drugs like this think they're really scary and violent experiences, but they're so not. They're what the word sensual was invented for. And last night, Dame Sensuality came down from the clouds and sat on my face and I drank hungrily of her.
It got a little too intense at one point and we needed to have a little sit-down, so we went off the dance floor and through to the chill-out lounge with its less fit-inducing lighting and more trancey vibe. We fell into a sofa and watched people. The e was playing tricks with my eyes, and I was enjoying the strobing effect. A girl was swaying to the music near me but leaving a little trail of herself behind her with every turn. It was like one of those effects they used in pop videos from the early eighties, and I liked it. Then suddenly I seemed to be in the middle of a conversation with Charlie that I didn't remember starting:
"I couldn't believe it," he shrieked.
He was shouting in my right ear hole, spitting tiny gobs of beery sputum against the side of my face. (Actually, it felt amazing.) I turned my head to face him and the music suddenly seemed twenty decibels louder. Wow! That was weird. I turned back and . . . yes, much quieter. I turned to him again . . . boom! Wow. It probably had something to do with where I was sitting in relation to the speakers, and the changing position of my head meant that either one ear or two was in direct fire of them, so therefore, depending on a very delicate movement of my head Iwas going in and out of a sort of weird speaker sound-cusp thing! Or maybe it was just the drugs? Whatever, my aural preoccupation prompted Charlie to bawl even louder. I was having major rushes, and I knew that my F.B.M. wouldn't be far off. That's nearly the best thing about ecstasy for me, the F.B.M. It stands for Fabulous Bowel Movement, and if the e is good I have one about forty minutes or so after I've taken it (depending on when and if I've eaten, obviously). But I digress. Back to Charlie . . .
"I couldn't fucking believe it! She took me into a dark corner, stuck her tongue down my throat and then she said it."
"What?" I shouted too loudly. I didn't really care what she had said, whoever she was. But I was quite enjoying the feeling of Charlie's breath up close, his smell and his bristles.
"She said," and here Charlie paused for maximum effect, "and wait for this, she said she wanted to make love to me!!"
Eeeyyooaach! The two of us rolled around on the arm of the clapped-out sofa we had plonked on to wait for the e to kick in. We hate that phrase. Making love. It disgusts us. It appalls us. We knew we would never make love to anyone. And if we ever said we had or were going to, we each had carte blanche to execute the other on the spot. Our lives would be over if we made love. We would never make love. Sure we would love, and we did, often. Especially on nights like this. And we would easily have sex, or fuck, or screw, or shaft or whatever other verb I'm not going to grapple for. Oh yes, we'd do all that and then some more. We were party boys. We had fun. But never, ever ever ever did we make love! Not with each other or anyone else. No sirree Bob.
Makinglove sounds like a hobby, don't you think? Like a kit you'd buy from B&Q. It sounds like a Marks and Spencer frozen meal. It sounds like death, and if you didn't get it you were out of the picture. Anyone mentioning that dread phrase was instantly non grata, relegated to the bottom of the pile of weekend-cardigan-wearing, barbecuing, trying-for-a-family young couples that we so despised because we were scared we d turn into them. (But the way we were going, fat chance when you think about it.)
Nobody makes love. Love either happens or it doesn't. And if it's just a euphemism for fucking the arse off someone, then what's that all about? Why can't we be more honest, more graphic about our animal urges? Let's drop all the crap, we thought. We all fuck, we all like it, so why wrap it up in tissue paper and call it making love?
And finally (I know I've banged on about this one -- pardon the pun -- a bit much s
"A few funny bits do crop up....But such highpoints, so to speak, aren't enough to redeem Tommy's Tale from its larky, slapdash inconsequence. Alan Cumming is a marvelous actor." Kirkus Reviews
"Until yesterday I'd had a carefree existence. It was great. I had a laugh with Charlie, we went out, did drugs, had great sex, had a laugh, I saw Finn, I had a laugh. And now today, today, since the second I opened my eyes, the pair of them had turned into ogres of potential angst, pain, and -- oh no, the worst of all -- responsibility."
Tommy is twenty-nine, lives and loves in London, and has a morbid fear of the c word -- commitment, the b word -- boyfriend, and the f word -- forgetting to call his drug dealer before the weekend. But when he begins to feel the urge to become a father, he starts to wonder if his chosen lifestyle can ever make him happy. His flatmates, the eccentric, maternal Sadie and the stoic, supportive Bobby, encourage Tommy to tone down his lifestyle a wee bit and accept the fact that he's got to grow up sometime. His boyfriend, Charlie (whose son, Finn, is the epitome of childhood charm), wishes that Tommy could make a real commitment to their relationship. But can he?
Faced with the choice of maintaining his hedonistic, drugged-out, and admittedly fabulous existence or chucking it all in favor of a far more sensitive, fulfilling, and -- let's face its -- lightly staid lifestyle, Tommy finds himself in a true quandary. Through a series of adventures and misadventures that lead him from London nightspots to New York bedrooms and back, our boy Tommy manages to answer some of life's most pressing questions -- and even some he never thought to ask.Perfectly pitched, with scathing witticisms and deadpan observations, Tommy's Tale is a rollicking, tongue-in-cheek opus of absolute debauchery and reluctant redemption that's simply not to be missed.
About the Author
Alan Cumming's Tony Award-winning portrayal of the emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret was one of the most celebrated performances of recent years. Most recently he coproduced, cowrote, codirected, and starred in the film The Anniversary Party with Jennifer Jason Leigh. He also appeared in the films Spy Kids, Titus, Emma, Eyes Wide Shut, Goldeneye, and Circle of Friends. He lives in New York and London.