I just popped open my 02 Beaujolais from Barton & Guestier. It was a tough choice between this and my fave wine of comfort, the 01 Montepulciano. But there is something about spending Friday nights alone that evokes Proust and Paris. So I brought out my lone decent wine glass (which is the surviving half of a Calvin Klein Home pair that Carter gave me for our anniversary a long time ago) and started sipping on this earthy spirit as I listen to Joni Mitchell sing hits from her Ladies of the Canyon CD. “Comfort and consultation, he knows that’s what he’ll find,” this genius sings in the song, Conversation. This is how I am spending this Friday night — I sit alone and have conversations with myself.

Tim is working in his show. I am seeing him tomorrow. Henry is out in SF. (I think BlowBuddies just got a lot of business.) Eric is having a date with this Texan he met a few weeks ago in Barracuda, this Chelsea bar. (I really hope that this guy is it for him.) Doug is in Montreal participating in the OUT Games. (I hope a few or a lot of Canucks are having a good time with this hot ex-Peace Corps volunteer.) Joel is off to Fire Island for the whole weekend. (I don’t need to worry about him in that place.) All my really good friends are out and about tonight. I know I could have arranged something if I really wanted to. But I opted for what was less consequential and more substantial. I chose to spend it with myself.

And, no, this is not that kind of pity party for one.

I went home after work and went to the gym to run my routine 3 miles. Keeping fit, I guess, is more necessity than vanity. But, then again, life is one fucking beauty pageant after another, which is what I relearned after watching Little Miss Sunshine last weekend. I just loved that movie. I always thought clapping after a movie was utterly tacky but I couldn’t help but clap with the rest of them when the credits rolled. (Maybe the free yellow shirt that read “Everyone Pretend to be Normal” they gave out at the start to celebrate the premiere added to my goodwill.) Other than my faves Toni Collette, Alan Arkin and Steve Carrell (whom I am lusting after) being in it — OK, Greg Kinnear too, (but he’s really more hit-or-miss for me) — I thought the whole story was most heartwarming and endearing in a more bitter but still sweet kind of way. It tells the story of a young chubby girl (played by Abigail Breslin in her earnest starturn) who enters a beauty pageant out-of-state accompanied by her madcap family. Everyone in this family was such a nutcase — the suicidal gay uncle, the Nietschze-reading teen, the cokehead grandfather, the obsessive parents — that it suddenly made my family look most desirable. Anyway, everyone learns something more about themselves and each other during the trip despite their differences, through their distinct extraordinariness. It seems to say that you can be a nutjob but never a basketcase. There is always that hope for something better but always through the other. In the end, it is the family knowing each other and caring for one another that overcomes all. (I really don’t want to say much more about the story since I don’t want to spoil it especially the ending which was one of the more surprising twists I’ve seen in a looooong time.)

Of course, you cannot care for someone if you don’t care for yourself. And you cannot care for yourself if you don’t know who you are. In this fucking beauty pageant that I call my life, I realize that my worst competition is myself. I am also always my worst judge. (I wish Steve Carrell would come and just crown me and all this willl be over.)

Tonight is one of those rare moments when I can just stop this competitive style of life and get to hang with only myself. (One gift of not going out on a Friday night is the absence of the agony over which outfit to wear with what pair of shoes. It gets harder as the seasons grow colder too. Layering is a bitch.) I can sit back and watch Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda on HBO and re-examine my life’s comedies and tragedies as I drink French wine and snuggle under my sheets. There is no pageant on tonight. The only show is what’s on TV later and Joni strumming her guitar right now. I am now not here to judge myself. I come to just be with.