My Favorite Freak of the Week
If you know me, you probably know Billy Cotter. He was my darling boyfriend for 14 years! He has been my darling ex-boyfriend for almost two and a half years! We still see each other almost every day. We still share our car. We still call each other by weird nicknames. Billy is my family. It seems like the relationship we have now is the one we were making the whole time.
A long time ago, I worked at a home for profoundly autistic adults (who also had other severe developmental and emotional disabilities). They were incredible people and I will not ever forget them. They lived so far outside the mainstream, they did the weirdest shit and freaked out everyone who didn't know them. If we all went out in the world, we carried these little "please accept our apology" cards to give to business owners whenever one of us started screaming and throwing chairs around at Dairy Queen or tearing our clothes off and dumping out other customer's beverages. One of the guiding philosophies at the home was that no matter how fucked they were, we did everything with the idea that they had a goal of independent living. Nobody who lived in that house was ever going to live alone, they simply would not survive, but there was still the goal. And why not? I think it was a wise choice, it was a humanizing perspective for people who were rarely seen as human. I bring this up because Billy and I used to joke about how our goal was independent living. There was a long time when we couldn't imagine living alone or taking care of ourselves. When I moved out, it was scary and weird but now I can't imagine us living any other way. Maybe for us, the goal for our relationship, was, in fact, independent living. I am proud of us. I suspect no matter how much more independence we create for ourselves, we will always share a lot of love.
But enough about us. This post is about Billy Cotter! As I mentioned, if you know me, you probably know Billy so I've decided to tell you ten things you might not know about him! (Just in case you don't know about Billy, he is an all-around sweetie pie and a brilliant writer. He's published two literary novels, won a Pushcart prize for this essay, and has a children's book coming out next year.)
- He has a huge crush on Maria Callas. He has this framed photo on his wall (he's had it as long as I've known him):
2. He can fucking paint! It's annoying how many skills he has AND he taught them all to himself by reading books. Here is his painting of Maria Callas:
3. He's had 14 crossword puzzles he created published in the motherfucking New York Times. Most were Fridays and Saturdays.
4. He lived in Las Vegas for a year as a professional poker player. He was in love with his roommate's sister but was too scared of his roommate to ask her out.
5. He used to play poker in an illegal game here in Austin. If he won a lot of money, I would lie on the bed and make him throw $100 bills on me. If he lost a lot of money, he drove around town screaming in his car until he calmed down.
6. He is a rare book dealer and often gets his books from European auctions. French shipping companies tend to give Billy less than the best service and he takes it personally. He has tantrums about it. During his last French shipping tantrum he hurt his neck.
7. He keeps a huge Japanese sword for home protection.
8. He does not have voicemail because he doesn't know how to set it up on his phone.
9. He refuses to play parlor games that he has ever lost (Set and Mancala). No one can beat him at chess or Scrabble, so those are the only ones he plays. Once, his parents and I played him at Scrabble and we colluded to make him lose. He LOST! His parents went to bed but he demanded that we stay and play again so he could prove that he is the superior player.
10. He calls his boxer shorts "Little pants" and they all have names based on the pattern--Fox pants, Squirrel pants, Harlequin pants. He has one pair that is over 15 years old. They are called "Clear pants" because they are so worn out you can see through the butt.
A bonus fact: lately, he often looks like his grandmother, Pretty Mama, in photographs.