The beginning of Margarita Nights was a moment of epiphany. I was sitting at my desk, eating lunch, thinking, thinking, thinking some more and then - BAM! Yes, BAM! I thought - why not write a story about a bunch of guys who meet once a month for margaritas. I mean, so what if, at the time, I was a guy who met his guy friends once every couple of month or so for margaritas. Isn't writing about what you know a standard theme among writers?
So, I had the moment of inspiration and jotted down the first paragraph on a piece of paper. I had goosebumps - the good kind - by the time I wrote the last word of the paragraph. The obsession began in that moment! I'm not sure if it's ended yet.
What was the first paragraph? Well, I'm glad you asked that question. The first paragraph (or, at least what hit the screen with a few changes here and there) was . . .
Every two weeks – rain or shine, sleet or snow, often on a Friday, sometimes on a Saturday – they met for margarita night. They always ordered a pitcher, numerous pitchers on some nights, and each normally ordered the same thing: #1, #6, quesadilla fajitas, chicken chimichanga, beef taquitos with rice and beans, taco salad, etc. The food did not really matter, the margaritas did matter, but most important of all was the companionship and the discussions, from mild to wild, that would ensue every time they gathered for margaritas and cheap Mexican. There were nights when it was all nine of them, but more often than not, it was the core six – the first six who began the tradition years earlier and added a friend or two in the process to equal nine in all. Some of them had partners, some were single, and some suddenly single. They varied in ages from early thirties to just past fifty and came from all different backgrounds. They had one commonality, minor really in the scheme of things, but it was there and it linked them together – they were gay and each of them had had sex, or come close to having sex, with Kevin Kirkpatrick.
Now, of course, a gazillion drafts later. Okay, not that many . . .
Jared knew the stroke of midnight was almost on him, and he feared whatever semblance of happily ever after he currently had would disappear like Cinderella’s gown when the clock struck twelve. His only problem: the stroke of midnight was just an expression and not actually a time-related emergency . . . unless he counted the fact that the days, maybe months, of his current relationship were nearing an unhappily ever after.
He walked into the crowded Mexican restaurant and looked around. None of the boyz (well, grown men desperately trying to hang on to their youth) had arrived yet. He, was the first – punctual, reliable, stable, loyal (had he been a dog in another life?) – to arrive. He waited in line and checked out the scenery. The college boys were out in force tonight – cheap food and fairly cheap drinks a definite draw for them, and their presence a definite bonus for Jared and the rest of the boyz.
He jumped slightly and turned. His friend Nick – slender, toned, auburn hair – grinned at him. “Hey.”
“Happy margarita night.”
“Any night with a margarita is happy.” He winked at Nick. He seemed to hear the pendulum of the mysterious clock – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh – swinging back and forth, back and forth. His life was not, even though he was a gay man, a fairy tale. He didn’t have a fairy godmother, though he knew a few tired old drag queens in sparkly dresses, to wave her magic wand and deliver up Prince Charming in a tight pair of jeans with nice assets. He only had the boyz, margarita night once a month, some snarky comments, and the whispers of the gayvine – telephone, telegraph, tell-a-gay-man – to help him through the challenges of his currently chaotic life.
So, that's the difference between rough draft and draft I'm currently revising . . . at least the opening of Chapter One!
Writing Margarita Nights wasn't/isn't just writing about a bunch of guys who meet once a month to drink margaritas, trade snarky comments, and deal with the issues in their lives. I wanted to tell a story that actually reflected life for gay men in the here and now, something beyond the stereotypes on television and the movies, something beyond Jack of Will and Grace. I wanted (did) to deal with the loneliness and depression of being gay and single, and being gay and partnered.
A friend of mine, perpetually single, is always like: gee, I wish I had what you and Frank had. I try to tell him that there aren't any perfect relationships out there. I show that in Margarita Nights. I delve into the lives of the single and partnered and - hopefully - show that sometimes, even the most meaningless of relationships, ironically have meaning after all. I show - again, hopefully - that sometimes, staying in a bad relationship just because a person is afraid to be alone, isn't necessarily a good thing. I show - tell, whatever - lots of other things as well, but you'll have to read the book to find out about those things . . . and the dirty little secrets I incorporated into the book as will. I'm just saying . . .