Swelter

Labor Day weekend, short, brutish, and nasty as America itself. Sunday, bloody Sunday, our low-rent neighborhood hot beyond human endurance, the mid-Beach boardwalk a sad expanse of oiled flesh. Stumbling out of the office and gaping aimlessly at the sea, and then miraculously, President Clinton jogging by, trailed by the Secret Service and the panting media, big Bill making a cheering keep-up-the-vital-work-of-the-nation wave in our direction. Winding down with "Tea on the Way," the new Spot/Stray Dog/Warsaw Sunday mixed tea dance on Espanola Way, topless girls and leather boys gyrating away on the ledge above Stray Dog, a clown on stilts tying dog-shaped balloons, debauchery undercut by the curse of longing. The eternal interpersonal dance, a previous conversation with Quentin Crisp -- the pioneer of modern self-actualization -- coming to mind in the human zoo:

"I've avoided getting involved with anyone; it's impossible to be witty, kind, and beautiful 24 hours a day. A long time ago, I spent four years worth of weekends with a neolithic beast, a creature of lust and nothing else. But his life turned out to be one of my great success stories; he's married now, with two children. Before her, you see, it had never occurred to him to take an interest in anybody else, and of course, he had always been terribly, terribly lonely.

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