Dan O'Neill is a fiction writer, essayist, and critic. His work has appeared in: the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Esquire.
I suppose I should have realized from the beginning that the security business was empty,brutal,and despite it's title ,very insecure.But,on the other hand people always referred to it as easy money and I was looking for a a job where I could turn my brain off and concentrate on my acting.Besides ,I'm very lazy. At my first post in Century City ,CA, a man somehow got on the roof of one of the twin towers I was working in and threatened to jump.He had made it to the top of the building because the guard,newly arrived from Nigeria had taken an impromptu rest break,claiming later that his urethra was about to break,and he couldn't hold it any longer without spritzing all over. not behaving like a man with the heart of a lion,which was how he billed himself.The man ,who threatened to jump was a lawyer,who had been recently canned.They called his wife,his sister,his priest,and of course all the major news stations showed up,complete with helicopters. The man didn't jump,and the Nigerian only got a warning.but in a way it was an omen for me of what was to come
My name is Michael O'Brien up to and I'm an actor.Commercials,bit parts in sitcoms,usually as the dimwitted stud,and in tv dramas as a hot head / flunky.Mostly extra work in movies,usually as something like beach bum number 3 or horny courier or Dwayne.I got into the security business,because I heard, there were hardly any qualifications.If you were breathing ,could speak some form of English, and weren't a felon,there was a good chance you could get some kind of a so called job .You could always get a schedule that would allow you to go to auditions and to be on call for work.I think I also did it to spite my father, an ex Marine,who wanted me to work at his insurance firm.But insurance bored the hell out of me. I tried it for a couple of months,and thought it sucked.I also got in trouble for supposedly seducing the younger brother of one of the employees at the firm.The dude Adolfo,who was 21,came to me and said he wanted to hook up.He didn't even work for the company.But,of course I got the blame,the old predatory, gay bullshit. My old man was mortified that I'd try to put the moves on someone,right in his office. A typical Virgo,good at Math and office Management,clueless at family people skills. I was lousy at math and management,but good with people.And ,I was sick of him acting like a fucking drill sergeant,with me one of his sheep like recruits.My earliest memories of Dad we're of getting criticism from him.The way I dress,the way I ate at the table(there was only one way to hold a knife and fork),the way I made my bed(you had to be able to bounce a quarter off of it)my haircut.( which was never short enough for him) I always wanted to shout "No dad I don't hear you,so fuck off!Of course, the real problem was he couldn't deal with me being gay.It sickened him.He claimed it put my mother into a mental hospital and a death from a broken heart.He didn't think acting was a real job,and he thought men fucking each other was an abomination.I often wondered if he had ever fucked another guy in the corps, or may have been raped.It could explain that's why he had been so angry. Semper Fi my ass.Maybe I inherited his gay gene,and he couldn't live with the guilt.
It was doing security in an freight elevator in downtown Los Angeles that I discovered the further joys of Latinos.( Adolfo had just been an appetizer.) I had a tasting menu from; Mexico,Guatemala,Nicaragua,,El Salvador,Honduras,Costa Rica.I was like a kid in a candy store.I wanted to savor all the flavors.
My favorite was Oscar,from,El Salvador.He called himself the guapo guanaco. He had dark brown skin and devilish green eyes that always seemed to be smoldering .Though friends and coworkers thought there was something wrong with his eyesight.He had the most beautiful culo,you could eat breakfast off of.He was always grinning,singing.But he had a serious side too, he was usually reading something by Borges or Jack London. He would always ask"Senor Mike do you think I'm a burro?"He was the best kisser,I had ever experienced.Tender but intense.We were able to come just by kissing.He liked to take his clothes off in front of me and ask what he could do to make me happier . He was always open to new positions.I would show him a video online and he would say"Let's go for it cabron!". Once, when we were eating hot fudge sundaes I suggested we make hot fudge sundaes of each other and eat it all off.He said "Si,senor Mike, tienes mucho hambre". His brother ,Mario,also a janitor,found out about us and went into a rage calling me a pinche puto, a sick succio.He said I had sprung his brother,who he thought was a virgin and made him a sex maniac.He would go on rants about how gabachos we're sexually exploiting people from his country traumatized by war. He said I was an fucking demonio. Mario claimed I had corrupted Oscar and poisoned his mind with nasty movies like "Y Tu Mama Tambien",that tried to make guys having sex with each other normal.He made Oscar go to a psychiatrist,but the shrink told him that his brother wasn't sick or disturbed,that was just the way he was wired.He told Mario,he had to adjust his way of thinking and stop tormenting his brother.
Calvin ,my straight roommate who worked some security posts with me,jokingly said I was corrupting the janitors,putting thoughts in their mind that they never had before. When I arrived for work and said I was hungry tonight. He would sigh"And not for food".He also said on my work evaluation form under weaknesses they should put"guys from South of the border". I thought this was heterosexual bullshit,everyone has these thoughts,I just gave them a chance to act it out.Not long after that, they put security cameras in the freight elevator and this religious freak, Howard,a black supervisor,who carried a Bible with him and would often quote from it,about security matters
,would monitor how long the elevator was on each floor with a stopwatch.If he suspected something he'd rush to the floor to catch us red handed.He got off on interrupting regular people(not security)fucking in their cars in the garage or in stairwells.His most used phrase was "Fool put your pants On!".When the janitors asked me what all this new scrutiny meant I said,"Muy malo gueys,no mas fun".Once, when Julio,a Janitor from Honduras,asked me to go dancing with him,because he was the best La Punta dancer in Los Angeles,Howard overheard and shook his head muttering "depravity".Later he asked me "What did you and that wetback do after you went prancing ?".I said we slept.But Howard thundered "You know what I mean".I said that I did know,and asked sarcastically if I could come to his church on some blessed Sunday and testify to my sins of the flesh.He actually considered it for a moment, seemingly taking me serious.Then he said"No sir..I don't think the church is ready for that kind of immoral exhibition.
Sadly, Oscar had to go back to El Salvador when his father had a heart attack.He never came back. I had a feeling Mario,who went with him was holding him prisoner in San Salvador.Probably in some fucked up conversion place,where they'd convert him from gay to a mara salvatrucha.I once received a collect call from him from El Salvador,but I didn't take it.I was afraid.I wasn't sure why at the time.But now I think.I may have loved him,if such a thing is really possible,and isn't just a chemical reaction,a social construct so we can act out bad impulses and try to put a good face on them. Carl,who like a lot of other guards was sadly pussy whipped,told met he other day he had met someone a week ago and was in love.He asked me if I thought it was possible and I said no,you can't know somebody in that time, so how the hell could you love them?You could be in lust,,but nothing more.So it was a fantasy.Pleasant for a while,but not real.For every bullshit story about love at first site lasting,I could give you a thousand stories of " supposed soulmates" not making it a year.