Monday, March 27, 2017

Loring Park Episode #68: After Winter Must Come Spring

Hello, children! I know. It's been a while. We'll talk about why in a little bit.

There is no Previously on Loring Park for Episode #68. I took Episode #67 down for a while. I'll put it back up eventually -- it's an important part of our story -- but that chapter, when shit really hit the fan and got dark, doesn't need to be out there at this moment. I also understand that there's no takesies-backsies in real life, but at this point it is important for me to be present and look forward instead of the other way.

Now we're gonna listen to Lauryn Hill and see if I even remember anything from the last two and a half months.

February started with stand-up! I did two shows at Ric McCloud's Comedy Cabaret, which is in the basement of a tavern in Arden Hills. I house-sat for my parents' that weekend, although the gag is that I stay there all the time anyway and I wasn't even attempting any kind of responsibility. This meant I had to miss Jared's birthday party, but I had to open the day after it anyway and nobody could have switched to me. Of course I had fomo*, but I had to get my coins! The crowds were a lot of fun and I had great conversation with the real Ric McCloud after the show was over.

Speaking of comedians, my mom and I went to Andy Erickson's birthday party at Sky Deck! How fitting that I look horrendous in a picture with a star of Scream Queens. We sat by a family who she met through her work educating the world about Marfan Syndrome, and they were incredibly kind. The mom's name was Ruth and that killed me because when I go out, I am Debby and my friend Lee is Ruth. After twenty minutes of discussing Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, she begged the table  to stop discussing politics. I was fine with this because I had spent a week fielding calls from angry Trump supporters at work (no guessing my day job, y'all). I also made an ass of myself when I introduced someone to my mom as "______'s wife, _______." "You can just say I'm ______," she said. "You don't need to introduce me as _____'s wife." It was a good lesson. Sometimes I think because I'm a gay man that means that I am automatically going to be woke as hell about everything, and I'm really kind of a social dunce.

On the way back to the car, my mom and I ran into Paul Ryan, who has some kind of a corporate job at the mall right now.

"Hello, Jakey," he grinned.
"Hi," I said. "We were just at Smash."
"This is Smash," he said.
"I meant Sky Deck," I said. I was all flustered!
"He's such a charmer," my mother said when we walked away.
"That he is," I said, and pretended to flip my hair even though I don't have any. Damn you, Paul Ryan and for how good you look in a Hugo Boss suit!

I wasn't stressed out about being single on Valentine's Day because I had a big gig that weekend.

The show at Running Aces was sold out, and I was nervous as hell. The contract said I had to do a "clean-ish set." What did that mean? The crowd was predominantly Caucasian heterosexual couples in their forties. Not exactly my demo, but what can you do? Also, when you're the emcee you're the first person up, so it's up to you to figure out what kind of crowd they're going to be. I debated if I was going to do a joke I've done for years that's kinda dirty. Would it take away from being "clean-ish?" Will they like it? What if they hate me? I debated for twenty minutes and was full of anxiety.

I did the joke**. It took them a while to get. Most of them laughed and one guy yelled "Gross." My job was done. Sherlonda Sharp was the feature and John Bush was the headliner and they were great. John was super nice and asked for my contact info and I left before giving it to him because I am a dumb shit. It was an incredibly professional atmosphere and I loved it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Loring Park Episode #66: The Holiday Show

Children, I can't believe 2016 is almost over! I have never enjoyed this time of year, probably because I have worked retail my entire adult life. That's why this episode is gonna be choppier than usual. It's been so long since I've written to you that we have to go all the way back to Halloween!

With my friend Ria at Lush

My friend Angie made this for me!

I decided to attempt creativity by being a shark/lifeguard, even though a lifeguard can't really save you from a shark. I wore my old "Baewatch" tee and a onesie from the kids' department that I purchased from Reid. Jared was Dorothy Gale, Joey was Adam Levine, and Steve, who had spent months discussing grandiose group outfit ideas (ranging from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Fifth Harmony), ended up borrowing a pair of camo pants and was an army man. I remember enjoying Halloween this year! We had a boy staying over that weekend and I was in drunk mommy mode. Diva came out with us and next year she is going to do special effects make-up on all of us.

The day after real Halloween, we had an 8 AM meeting at work and I had to work until 6! Cue horror music. Then, Sarah McPeck and I were off to CAMP bar for a live podcast of "Not So Kosher". I felt bad because when I got there I was really ornery and was worried that I wouldn't be any pleasant, but the hosts were really great and once we started recording I think I felt like myself again. It's hard to feel "on" all the time, especially when you're coming off of a bender and on three hours of sleep. I was glad Sarah was there; she's a pro and our paths often intersect. Two months later, we would reunite again doing a corporate gig at Regis, where we were told we couldn't swear to talk about sex. Sarah was like a star student and wrote a poem about getting her hair done. I talked about sex anyway.

Despite how tired I was, the boys and I went to go see The Girl on the Train at 10 PM that night anyway. It is about an alcoholic mess of woman who cares far too much about the lives of other people instead of her own and she isn't quite sure what the truth is and is an incredibly unreliable narrator. If you take away all the parts about infidelity and murder, I found it oddly relatable and that worried me. Also, there was too much sex in it for me to enjoy myself in mixed company and the next time we all went to the movies it was to see the much more palatable Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I thought was going to be a documentary about Grindr.

Speaking of horror, after Halloween was Election Day! I worked as an election judge in my local precinct. These were my biggest surprises of election judging this year:

1. A surprising number of people do not realize that you can't just go in and vote anywhere you want. You have to vote, y'know, where you live. As part of my pledge of helping people vote in any way I can, I looked up where certain people needed to go. Two men were pleasant when told they had to go to St. Paul and Columbia Heights, respectively; one guy said "Fuck this" and went home.

2. An older man came in with a "service dog" that jumped on everyone. Mmm-hmm. It turned out he had already voted absentee.

3. Jared and his boyfriend live in my precinct and arrived with half an hour to spare! Woo hop!

Despite how horrifying I look in this picture, this was eight days after Halloween.

4. I really liked seeing first-time voters, especially a group of young women from a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

After closing up shop, I went to the neighbor's house across the street to watch the results. Goldschlager was involved. Of course, we all know what happened.

I could have stayed in the fetal position forever, but we have work to do -- and donations to make to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. It's gonna be a rough four years, y'all. Still, I was happy to see that Minnesota had super high voter turnout, and I still have a kum-ba-ya world view in that I have more respect for those who vote period than those who agree with me but stay home on Election Day for reasons of varying bogusness.


I'm a month away from being 30 and a half now, and I'm still not used to it. I somehow became even more of a man child this year. I legitimately don't know how to do anything. It's a miracle I can wipe my own butt some days. While in the car one night, I had a conversation with Steve -- who is 23 but, like, a grown-up -- and I said that I spent a lot of my twenties obsessed with complicated men and trying to figure them out, and this year I have to figure out who the hell I am at 30. Also, I don't want to date boys who are freshmen in college (you at least have to be born before the Butterfly album came out), but I don't relate to men my actual age, who have degrees and grown-up jobs and mortgages. But 24-year-old men want to date either other 24-year-old men or 40-year-old daddies, and I'm this weird twink-adjacent goofball.

So I had this in the back of my head when Dane and I went to a very fancy fundraiser at Coup d'etat in Uptown, and I hadn't been there since my friend Jenny's birthday party years ago. The food and the people were lovely, and we were there to support a great charity, and yet I couldn't help but feel inadequate. Dane is in management now, and he and a young woman of 28 were discussing the complexities that go with that. He was trying to include me in conversation and I just wanted to become more invisible.

"Jakey has a show in St. Paul," he said to be encouraging.
"Well, God love you for thinking I would ever go to St. Paul," a young woman laughed, and I just wanted to go.

Dane won the biggest raffle prize. Of course he did.


My friend Chad Kampe of Flip Phone fame graciously gave me a free ticket to Christmas Queens! It was a show that consisted of most of the girls from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6, with Roxxy Andrews and Tatianna. I sat next to a drag queen who left at intermission. The highlight of the show for me was Chi Chi Devayne's rendition of Mariah Carey's "O Holy Night", as she took us to church! Bob the Drag Queen was the host and was worth the price of admission. Okay, my ticket was free, but you know what I mean. She kept the show moving, even if they kept on flickering the lights on during the Q & A and this did not deter certain queens from telling long and meandering stories that don't go anywhere. And now I know what I am like at parties.

This is from a different show; at our show, Chi Chi was wearing a long red gown. It was sickening. I gagged.


The show in St. Paul was a lot of fun! Christina Jackson let me be the co-host, and it worked out great because I go to to stand-up first, BEFORE the crowd gets too drunk, and then help her introduce the drag acts throughout the evening. For a Friday night at the Townhouse, our crowd was fun and respectful. I was really shy when I first got there -- stand-offish even -- and I feel bad about that. But it's weird when you're the only non drag queen in the cast! I felt like a PA on RuPaul's Drag Race. I didn't want to be in the room with them while they changed and tucked and everything, so I just sat on my phone randomly texting people. One of the queens lip-synced to old school Mariah "Vision of Love" and "Vanishing". TAKE ALL MY MONEY. After the show, while waiting downstairs for my Uber as the queens were now to untuck in the Interior Illusions Lounge, one of the performers was blatantly hitting on me and I literally didn't know what to do. Maybe it's because I haven't been hit on since 2009. Don't get me wrong, I was flattered, but I was also really uncomfortable and just wanted to go The Saloon where I could be ignored all night. That's my "normal". (Also, I ran into Under Armour and then shamelessly flirted with him while he looked for the nearest visible exits, so at least I am consistent in my hypocrisy)

I got hit on the next afternoon, at LUSH, by someone who is super sexy. I still didn't do anything. I don't know what I want. And it's not like my self-imposed celibacy is because I am still hung up on somebody who I am never going to see again and that ship fully sailed away a year and a half ago, although I did see his name blow up the cell phone of a twink sitting next to me while at a hotel party. It was a master class in restraint, as I did not start bawling my eyes out in jealousy that I'm not getting the "What's up?" text messages at 2:45 in the morning. Maybe I'm overthinking it and he wanted to discuss philosophy. I shouldn't have gone to that stupid party anyway.

Is anyone else watching Mariah's World?


Okay, fine. Well, *I* am, and I convinced Chad to let me guest-host a Mariah's World viewing party at LUSH for its season premiere. Sunny Kimaraya was the featured queen, and I enjoy her. I think she's hilarious and bawdy and gorgeous. Anyway, the show was a bigger disaster than Glitter. Nobody but me cared about it, and at one point a twink demanded that we play Ariana Grande. Also, I was booed when I did trivia questions that had a trick answer. Mariah does not have a middle name, although Wikipedia says it's Angela for some reason.

I reunited with my friend Sina!! She came back from L.A. for a weekend and didn't even tell me! And she got me a Red Bull! The same day that I did the aforementioned Regis gig, we ate at Alma with our mutual friend Jack. Everything there is so healthy! Like, everything is kale. I had a salad and a spritzer. Sina said I lost weight and asked if I was okay and I made ridiculously transparent small talk about California. #deflection

I only accidentally killed Jack and myself three times while driving us around Minneapolis. We stopped at Twin Cities Leather & Latte, where a man decided to read Lavender magazine out loud and let the entire establishment know his disdain for everything that was offered in the magazine. I was annoyed by his negativity.

Being around the open sexuality of a sex-themed coffee shop awakened me. "I'm going to have a slut phase in 2017," I declared when we got back in the car.
"Why not start now?" Jack smiled, and I hugged him for a little bit longer than I should have. The woman next to us in the parking lot smiled. Baby steps.


I lost my wallet for the 8,150th time and this was a week after I thought I had lost it when it was really on the stove and Joey told me to at least put all my duplicate ID's somewhere safe. It was stolen at The 19 on a Tuesday. I am most alarmed about why I went to The 19, because it was 1 AM and my friend Chris was over and he doesn't even drink and there was plenty of booze in the house. I have become so much more impulsive lately.

We were still able to have our Christmas party, and it was a highlight of my year. It was just me, Loretta, Greta (rhyming!), Jared, Joey, Reid, and Steve ... and it was all I needed. Every other present was alcohol-related. Jared gave us all peach candles so we can find the joy of re-gifting.

Friends of mine had unbearable tragedy. Steve, Loretta and I went to the fundraiser at LUSH. Our community takes care of our own, gosh darn it.

It put things in perspective because I really have nothing to complain about, and yet I think this was the most difficult year of my adult life (not counting the year I was 20 and majorly suicidal and then transferred to a college out East at the last second. Is "majorly" a word?). I can't blame anybody else for it, either. There comes a time when you realize that the common denominator in all your interpersonal conflicts might be ... (gasp) ... You.

I don't want to make excuses -- if I was an on-looker, I would wonder what the hell was wrong with this person who is amongst the oldest of his group but is somehow the least mature, who starts screaming in the street at 2:45 A.M., who camps at his mother's for a month in lieu of solving conflict, who is being sued for a third of his income and spends all his money on Ketel One, who couldn't appreciate anything and spent too much time and energy worried about the stupid shit.

I don't ask anyone to understand. I just hope people know how fucking exhausting it was.

New Year's Eve is coming up. It's my third favorite day of the year if you count Pride weekend as one big long day (which it kind of is, no?). 2016 was my year of going nuts, and maybe 2017 will be the year of standing back up.

Then again, I'll be 31 ....

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Loring Park Episode #65: Garbage Person Dumpster Fire

It took 65 episodes, but I officially became the Vicki Gunvalson of Loring Park. I am not the star of this fake show anymore. I am the maligned villain who thinks she's all that and a bag of Fritos.

In the past, I have written about other people, whether they wanted me to or not, and when they treated me wrongly I called them out. So it is only fair, dear reader, to divulge that in the past month I turned into a full-on garbage person. I cannot present myself as a perfect bastion of innocence who everyone is trampling on for no reason at all. The truth is far from that, children! I turned 30 and evolved into an anxiety-ridden, possessed demon.

I told my friend Tanya about it and she said not to worry because she puts her dumpster fire status on full display. Then I combined the two and decided I was a Garbage Person Dumpster Fire.

In no particular order, here are the horrible things I have done in the past month and a half:

  • Made comments in a group setting that I thought were hilarious but instead were hurtful
  • On the way to The Saloon for the RuPaul's Drag Race viewing party, I pet a stray dog and realized I somehow stepped in his shit and had dog shit all over my hand. I wanted to run home to wash my hands, but my companion insisted we just stop at Target instead. This would be an apt metaphor, because when our large group got back to the house, I really stepped in shit. I had an impromptu private conversation with somebody in my bathroom. Unfortunately, I have no inside voice despite the sink and the fan running, and everyone and their dog heard it (and whether or not the conversation even needed to happen is up for internal debate). You're an asshole, said a third party in a broken voice, and we did not speak for ten days, ten days of constipation in which I saw their birthday and alma mater everywhere and even watched an HBO show where a character had the same obscure last name. It was not a good stretch of time.
  • Made passive-aggressive Facebook posts whose subjects were open to interpretation
  • Told a woman my brother was interested in all about our tumultuous teenage years
  • Locked my keys in the car twice and then lost them again for the 87th time

Now, let's put our thinking caps together. What could possibly be the common thread in all of these events?

Well, okay, but if we're gonna be a little less self-victimizing, the other answer is ...

Vodka! Sweet and glorious vodka!

And I love vodka.  I love vodka on the rocks. I love vodka with lemonade. I love vodka with Sprite. I love vodka in shots full of sugar and calories. But it was becoming excessive. I searched what little of my soul there was left and decided that I needed to put a moratorium on booze. It was time for Ocsober.

It was October 4th and I could go until Halloween weekend without a drop. It would be hard, but I could do it! When I hosted at the '90s, Tim could make delicious Shirley Temples or anything else that you put Sprite and grenadine with. I could still have sugar! My skin would clear up, my waist would get smaller, and I would stop destroying all of my interpersonal relationships.

I read articles about how to stop drinking for a limited time. They said to tell a lot of people because then you are held more accountable, and that the first week will be the hardest and the last week will be the easiest.

I lasted three days.

Wait, wait. I have a half-assed explanation.

We were all at The Saloon for the RuPaul's Drag Race viewing party. I told people I wasn't drinking. "But you're horrible sober," someone said. "How will we understand you when you're not slurring everything?" At the end of the show, we were all standing in a group: Me, the usual suspects, and our friends including Carter, who is born in the mid-to-late '90s and is blonde with dimples and a really good body. Did I mention I was feeling anxious about situations that I may or may not have created in my own head? Okay.

This older man -- good-looking, though! Short but like a stacked body -- was drunk and was trying to mingle with all of us. Which is fine. I don't think we're a cliquey or snotty group. Just don't be obnoxious about it, y'know? Anyway, Joey, Reid and Steve were annoyed with him so he moved on over to me.

"You're like me," he said. "You're the eccentric one."

Well, I ... guess that's a fair snap judgment? Yes, I have the worst body in this group and I am wearing a hoodie and I am in a weird mood in which I don't want attention (I told y'all it was a weird month. I still went up on stage anyway throwing a plastic bag at a cute boy performing -- it makes sense if you were there. He was lip-syncing to "Firework" by Katy Perry and I happened to have a plastic bag with me because Joey and I went right to The Saloon from Nordstrom Rack. Or maybe that happened a week later. I can't remember.) But, still? I was uneasy. Was this me now? Next year? In five years. I wanted to go home and drink.

"And YOU," the guy said to Carter. "You must just be the pretty one that people only hang out with because you're gorgeous."
Carter smiled nervously through a smile that was tighter than his butt.
"Now, that's not fair, " I said. I don't even know Carter that well, but he's always been kind to me and it was a nasty comment to make. "Carter is not just eye candy. He is also a painter and a sculptor."
"Wait, what?" Carter asked. "No, I'm not."
"Shhhh," I said. "Just go with it."
"Wait, really?" said the creepy guy. "I own an art museum."
Oh, shit. Of all the fake careers and facts I could have made up about Carter, I chose one that actually applied. This was worse than when Erin and I went to Jetset and tried to pretend we were from Seattle and the one hot guy we talked to was from there and our cover was blown.

It was torrential rain outside, and Markie drove Steve, Joey and me to the house. Joey took my car to go to the liquor store. I left my phone in Markie's car and he dropped it back off. I took a shower and shaved my face because we were going to go back to The Saloon. Jared and Mitchel came over. It kept raining. We played Uno. And I got hammered.


Not all was awful in the past few weeks. The hilarious Maggie Faris took me on the road with her to Eau Claire to perform at The Plus! I got to be off that Saturday, so first I went to LUSH to play bingo with my friend John from the '90s. I didn't win.

I was sure to be ready on time, because lesbians are punctual! They also drive like demons, because we were in and out of Eau Claire in record time. The crowd was older than I anticipated because it was homecoming weekend, but the show went great and I was able to mingle with friends from Stout who I hadn't seen in nearly ten years!

Maggie and I drove back and I brought her to The Saloon, where she was more popular than I was. She did lament the lack of females there, but, like ... fuck. It's The Saloon.


Year in review

A week later, Reid and I went to karaoke on a Tuesday, where I serenaded the crowd with "What A Man" by Salt 'n' Pepa. It was a good time and laughter and deep conversations were had.

And the next morning, we were at Stage Four Nuclear Meltdown all over again. I don't even fucking know. It was 7 A.M. I left the house to drive in my car and scream, and then I came back and tried falling back asleep, but I couldn't, and my heart was going to fall out of my chest. I debated going to a free counselor at a walk-in clinic, but I had to work at 2 and the earliest I would be seen was 1 and I am still new in my job and I didn't really want to tell my new manager, Hi, I'm gonna be late because I'm going crazy but I'll see you at 2:45!, so I sucked it up and even went to work early. In my half hour of down time, I got a call from a study I am participating in saying that I had an STI, even though no one has been back there since the Stone Age.

I clocked into work and didn't need to be around anybody for two hours, which was a nice bonus. I could do this! I clued in Reid that I was not feeling awesome. At 4 PM I reported to my work station, where I am to smile and greet customers and take care of things. I couldn't stop pacing.

"Are you okay?" asked a co-worker.
"No," I heard myself say.
"Do you want to come to the back with me?" asked another co-worker who has turned into my Work Mom.
"Uh-huh," I said in the distance.

She told me to go get water from the espresso bar. I started stirring my straw furiously. The loss prevention agent asked if I was okay. I was silently tearful at this point. I said no but I told him it had nothing to do with work (customers are, like, nice to me in this job). He politely encouraged me to go upstairs to the Human Resources office. It was like school. I walked the escalator up three floors and walked by Reid, who saw the whole thing but was with a customer.

The HR lady sat me in a private office. Oh my god. We officially have a crying room.

"It's not work," I kept saying. "I'm fine. I'm fine."
"Shhhh," she kept saying. "Breathe. Anxiety is physical. You have to ride this out."
I looked around nervously. "This has been going on for a while," I said.
"Should we call your mom?" she asked.
"My mom is on vacation," I sobbed. "And she deserves it! I've drained her out of so much money."
"Do you live with your mom?" she asked.
"No," I said. I don't think the HR lady knows I'm 30!
"I'm gonna leave and shut the blinds," she said. "And I don't want you to do any thinking."

Half an hour later, she snuck me a bag of animal crackers. Having a nervous breakdown at work is a lot like having a nervous breakdown at daycare.

The situation would repeat itself the next night at The Saloon. The Saloon! My safest, happiest, place. I can't go anywhere anymore! I was talking down a friend from the proverbial ledge and maybe I took on his feelings after our conversation ended, because after I was done wiping his tears away and sent him to the dance floor, I saw another friend was holding hands with one of my eight million crushes, and my brain went snap-crackle-pop. Why was this the catalyst?? It makes absolutely no sense. It's not like they were making out or banging each other on the table, and even if they were, it would have been their right! (Well, maybe not the banging on the table thing because of laws about that stuff, but they could have gone home to bang) The bouncers were very sweet and gave me Sprite and even asked if I wanted to sit in the office. Tim let me stay at his place. I lost my keys and my left shoe. Also, Tim has a gorgeous apartment and I should have gone into bar tending.

My shoe was retrieved, but my keys never were, so I had to walk of shame it to my leasing office, which was thankfully in the North Loop (Tim is in the adjacent Warehouse District). There is nothing to re-iterate your newfound trash box status like walk of shaming it in the North Loop, past all of the salons and expensive brunch places and condos you will never be able to afford. I debated telling the leasing company a whopper of a lie (I got mugged! But only my keys!), but decided to just be honest to the beautiful young woman behind the counter.

"I had an ... episode last night and lost my keys," I said.
She found out who my agent was and told me to wait. "Would you like some coffee or water?" she pleasantly asked.
Go big or go home. "Coffee with a LOT of sugar, please," I said. They had a black lab in the office that made everything better. If I ever get my money right and my own, bigger place, I am getting a labrador.

The leasing agent came in shortly after with my keys (and news of a $50 deposit). "Everything going okay?" he asked.
"Oh, well ..." I began.
"...With the house?" he was sure to clarify.
"Oh, just great," I said.

I then stopped at The Saloon for a cocktail. My phone was going to die and my charger was in my car so I bought one of those boost charger things, although St. Loretta made plans to come over to get me a new car key. I felt bad because Johnny was the bartender and he was one of the first people that I told I was doing Oscober (and we know how that went). Nina DiAngelo, out of drag, was putting up Halloween decorations. A handsome 40-year-old from Orlando was there and Johnny and I told him where to go every night as far as the club scene. An athletic man of the same age sat by me but only ordered a water with cherries and said he was kicked out of an earlier restaurant. He later told me his husband was cheating on him and wanted an open relationship. I told him monogamy is not for everyone but both partners need to be on the same page or it's a deal-breaker. An elderly gay couple told me I was cute. You find your people when you're day drinking.

I took an Uber to the government office (I lost my ID on a different night, for the 87th time) and got in touch with St. Loretta, who was beyond annoyed but made plans to deliver a car key to my house. I cried all the way on the walk home and made awkward eye contact with handsome young lawyers. None of them asked what was wrong and for my hand in marriage, but a boy could dream.

Maybe you should get sober

You will make a better atmosphere for everyone

I am trying to help you help me

Sobriety = Rehab

Rehab = Going far away

Going far away = Never coming back

Never coming back = I would miss everyone

It was a lot to think about.

I made plans to go to her house later and then went to my appointment at Planned Parenthood. They were busy! 7 PM on a Friday night at "the clinic" is apparently the place to be. They asked if Joey was still my emergency contact and he had been upsetting me all week, so I let out a big "Awwwwwwwwwwwww. Yessssssssssssssssss." and the lady behind the counter nervously smiled.

I decided to get tested for everything. Considering I probably got an STI from a sex dream, one could never be too careful.

"A lot of girls would kill to be your weight," said the nurse.
"I almost did," I replied. She politely laughed and then I drank the antibiotic-in-a-cup that tastes like sidewalk chalk.

Things got back to normal in the next few days. I was lucky enough to participate in the 10,000 Laughs Festival. My show was at the new Royal Comedy Theater in Hopkins. Even my brother came! It has the fanciest green room I have ever seen in my life. Basically, it's like a kitchenette with a stocked fridge and food and it felt like I was in the Big Brother house. I was especially excited to see Tiffany Norton (a.k.a. Bangs from KS95) again, because she's one of the first people I met doing comedy and I always gravitated toward the ladies.

After the show, we met with people from the city who were thrilled that Hopkins has a comedy club. "We've wanted to do this forever," a lady said.
"I love this downtown," Tiffany said. "It's like Edina."
"Don't say that!" the lady cried. "We'll never be Edina!"
"No, I just mean the architecture," Tiffany clarified. "I used to work for a construction company."
The Hopkins natives invited us for drinks, but we had to go previous social obligations. I kind of felt snobby about it.

Dane and I drove to Plymouth to my friend Lee's house, where he was having a neon-themed party! I didn't own anything neon, so we all just threw neon headbands at each other. It was fun until we played "I Have Never" because I have the sex life of a nun and always feel inadequate about myself playing that game (I spent my prime years living with my parents having emotional affairs on the Internet), and someone divulged that they had sex on someone's blanket, and the owner of the blanket STARTED SHOUTING IN VERY HIGH DECIBELS and if I had the money I would have just ordered him a new blanket from Amazon right then and there. Dane was a very good sport during all the gay sex talk, though. I think he was less fazed than I was!

I still had a good time as Lee is always a gracious host. I left my 10,000 Laughs t-shirt there. Of course I did. They even spelled my name right.

The next day, Steve and I went to Spring Street Tavern where all the comics were having brunch! We got there late (which was my fault -- shocking, I know), so we just sat at the bar and had bloody Marys because I was driving and needed something to sip. Tiffany hung out with us and later she met us at LUSH along with David Harris. Then we went to the mall so Steve could find last minute outfits for his upcoming trip to Hawaii, and my quest for dress pants was fruitless. I literally only bought Chap Stick. It was a sad day in the world of retail.

That night, I did my '90s hosting gig (where I beat Steve at darts in a miracle of miracles) and we were back at The Saloon. Joey reneged on coming to the '90s but made it to The Saloon and he explained that extenuating circumstances were making him act differently than usual, and I understood it. Then Sexy Jesus bought me a shot. Hallelujah.


Steve was gone for a week and I didn't know what to do with myself! It's not like we hang out all the time -- I'm kind of like a whiny mosquito -- but who would listen to me repeat the same 50 stories over and over? Thankfully, my work schedule didn't leave much room for partying, and I stayed at my parents' at least one of those nights. That Friday night, Joey and I went to Mansion!

He only want me when I'm not there
He better call Joey with the good hair

We were nervous because we read so much about the dress code and I've read about people being turned away at the door, but I think if you wear black shoes, you're fine (also, Joey graciously let me borrow a sport coat). Also, be sure to go in the regular line and not the bottle service line. I still had my yellow papers from my lost ID but the bouncer was cool. "I don't need that shit, Jacob," he said good-naturedly.

Y'all, Mansion is fancy! We met a friend of Joey's who later lamented that she was turned down by Ricky Rubio. "I even spoke Spanish," she pouted.
"You already have a boyfriend," I said. "You were just talking about how hot he is."
"But it's Ricky Rubiooooo," she whined.

We walked to The Saloon where Joey talked to his hot and ripped neighbor, and across the bar I saw the boy who broke the heart of the boy who broke my heart, and I kind of got it.

(Sometimes you just need some Stevie)

Work at my regular job is steady. Wish I had more gigs but I have to get myself out there more often and no one is gonna do that for me.

I'm working on a book.

I think my Rogaine is working and I am currently less than my drivers' license weight.

I'm trying to have adult conversations about things.

Not everything is about me.

Talk is cheap, though. It's your actions that people will truly remember you by. I can only hope that I would be remembered as a good person instead of a garbage person dumpster fire, but I have no control over that shit. As long as they spell my name right in the yearbook, I'm good. It's Emmert, not Emmret.

Next week: Our Halloween episode! Scarier than me without make-up!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Loring Park Episode #64: No Sex and the City

I had no idea what to call this episode. I was going to call it Adrift in New York, which is my blog from when I lived in New York NINE YEARS AGO (we'll get to that later). Then I thought something cheesy like New York State of a Crazy Mind, New York Minute (of Agony) or You Can't Go Home Again. Maybe I'll change it before I finish, I don't know.

We were going for Joey's birthday, and I am the poor irresponsible friend and he basically subsidized my entire trip. It was an amazing time and I fell in love with the city all over again! Most displeasure I had was entirely my own fault. I had been a tightly wound ball of anxiety before the trip, about things that were really stupid, and I was worried that the trip would only exacerbate these worries.

As we talked about last week, something snapped in my brain when it turned 30 and it hasn't been put together yet. In Minneapolis, I am disgusting but I am D-list famous if I am at The Saloon and occasionally at The 19 -- depending who is there -- so I don't have to worry about not getting attention. In New York, I was going to be with Joey (who looks like a model), Steve (who is masculine and laid-back, two things I AM VERY MUCH NOT), James and Marco (who are a happy and drama-free couple), and Barney (who is older, handsome and just doesn't give a shit). I had convinced myself that I was a hideous troll and no strangers would want to talk to me the entire time. Nobody told me this, by the way; in fact, Joey and my friend Angie had tried to convince me otherwise. But it was in my head. I am not sexually active. Sex is currency. I am not having sex with anyone and therefore I have no value. Also, I had never hung out with everyone as a group before, and I didn't know what the dynamic was going to be like. Do I leave when the party starts? Should I find a nice older man to bring me to Staten Island?

The first snafu happened the night before the trip! I was going to to hit up the '90s to cheer on Autumn Vixxen in the amateur contest with Woody, who was back in town for just a few days, but Joey was on his way over and Steve had gone to the 19. Joey finally arrived after midnight (it took forever for him to find a parking space that would last him until Monday), and we played darts at the 19, where I reunited with man about town Todd O'Dowd. We got home at bar close and had about two hours of rest before hitting the airport. Joey and I had a flight that left at 8 AM, and Steve and his crew were on a flight that left a little bit later. Also, Joey and I had a layover at O'Hare and the other group was flying direct. The plan was that we would meet at Barney's apartment in Eagan and a car service would bring us all to the airport. This is what I was told.

Again, I spent a better deal of the trip with horrific NYC flashbacks. Nine years ago I transferred to Brooklyn College. I was incredibly depressed and had been suicidal my entire sophomore year, and this transfer came out of nowhere. I was going in completely blind. My mother and I weren't even speaking to each other, yet she was flying with me in August of 2007 to help me move and get settled in (to the expensive apartment that she was paying for, yet I couldn't appreciate anything at that point). This was the Monday after the 35W bridge collapsed. We missed the flight and had to go on stand-by. It was not a good time.

Anyway, I was convinced we were going to miss the flight and that I was cursed. We got to Barney's apartment on time and he didn't answer the door right away. When he let us in, he was going through his beauty routine and we were watching Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race. He graciously made me a Screwdriver to assuage my nerves.

And then the clock ticked. And ticked. And ticked.

And now we have been there for half an hour and nobody feels like moving and our plane is leaving in 90 minutes and my mother has always told me to be at the airport at least two hours early and Barney is still in the bathroom.

"Calm down," Joey had said. "We'll make the flight. Stop worrying."
"Is Barney coming?" I asked Steve.
Steve rolled his eyes. "I don't know," he said. "You ask him."

Children, the combination of anxiety, lack of sleep and the possibility of missing a flight had pushed a button!

I went from 0 to 100.

"Barney, are we leaving yet?" I asked.
"We're leaving in ten minutes," he said.
"Fuck you!" Barney yelled. "Don't you come into my house and speak to me like that!"
"We're getting an Uber," I snapped at Joey, and I stormed out of the apartment.

Two minutes later, I texted Barney apologizing for my actions. I didn't want him to be mad at me the entire trip! I had the right to be anxious and upset, but not to scream and swear at anybody. I tried explaining that I was under a very different impression of how our morning plans were to be conducted. He agreed. With that bullet now dodged, we were on our way to the airport, where we got on our plane ten minutes before boarding ended.

We landed in Chicago and I was still stewing. "I have to let it go," I said. "Don't hold your breath if you're waiting for an apology from Steve Howell. You'll pass out."

Immediately after I said that, my phone beeped and it was Steve saying he was sorry and that they made their flight just fine. Well, then. I wrote and deleted a response about 12 times and decided to leave my anger in Chicago. We had landed and that was all that mattered.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Loring Park Episode #63: The Comedown

This episode begins with me screaming my head off in my bathroom at 2:45 AM on a Sunday / Monday. As one does.

Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still
I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

July 7, 2016 -- in which something I worked really hard for actually PAID OFF and I felt surrounded by love -- was one of the best nights of my life. Like, top five. Without ranking them, I would also say:

*New Year's Eve 2005 at my friend Laleh's house while we watched Mariah Carey perform in Times Square
*The surprise party for my college roommate Whitey at his parents' lavish house in Chippewa Falls
*The night I won Funniest Person in the Twin Cities
*Miami Beach with Erin, Loretta, Joey and Jared, a night that involved karaoke, gorgeous go-go boys, meeting handsome Canadians, and exotic food and drink

Perhaps the happiness of my birthday show was like a drug, in which the comedown was inevitable. Then it was my birthday (ten days of birthday!), and my life finally went back to normal. I had no gigs on the horizon. Work was busy but not as lucrative as I was anticipating. I could feel my mood starting to shift.

I went crazy for a while. And when I say "crazy", I do not wish to belittle anybody else's mental illness. I am not being treated for anything because I wasn't sure if I was gonna stay in my current job or not and would need new insurance (blah blah blah). I can call myself crazy. I can't call YOU crazy if you have anxiety or depression, because that's not nice or any of my business.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Loring Park Episode #62: In Which I Am Thirty

I love this movie. I saw it in the theater with my father. Two weeks later I dragged him to Mean Girls. 2004 was a magical spring. That poor man.

Yes, 30 was looming, but first I had some shenanigans as a 29-year-old to endure!

My timeline is going to get messed up because I am now 30 and my memory is fading, but I believe this episode starts at UpDown, the new video arcade in Minneapolis. We had heard about it and thought it sounded fun. I had decided that because I wanted to look and feel best during the biggest show of my career, that I was going to be sober between Pride and the show. It would just be two and a half weeks and I could do it.

I met Steve at UpDown, and Joey and Charlie soon followed. It is really fun! My only recommendation or complaint would be that you should definitely pay cash or close your tab right away, because when they take your card you have to literally be like a private investigator to track down your bartender. We kept confusing this poor girl with another girl who worked there and it was kind of annoying. Other than that, it was a hell of a time. Joey is obsessed with MarioKart but I can't play it to save my life, so I suggested games from my youth like Tetris and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

"You guys can name all the ninja turtles, right?" I asked my posse.

They looked at me blankly. Good God. Was this an age thing? I had flashbacks to daycare when we would role play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but there were too many boys to claim the roles of the turtles, Shredder, and Splinter, and we only had one girl who always got to be April O'Neill, so I always had to be April's loser friend Irma.

Me on a Saturday night.

"Oh my God," I sputtered. "I'll give you a hint. They were all named after artists."
"Leonardo DiCaprio," Joey guessed.
"Oh, wait, I know!" Steve cried. "Georgia O'Keefe!"

Then we played a zombie game where you had to go through this big mansion and there were so many zombies. Steve was almost bored playing it but I still gave him all my coins because I wanted to see him beat the big giant scary butterfly monster thing.

After our excursion at the arcade, we decided to have happy hour at moto-I, where I have never been! This was close to Joey's new apartment.

Oh my god, I forgot to tell you. Joey is MOVING. Why is this show even called Loring Park (Adjacent) anymore? Originally he was going to move to St. Louis Park, and I handed him a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and told him to just finish me already. Uptown isn't necessarily far from Stevens Square, but the era of me walking to his place or crashing at his place after The Saloon would now be over, and I had to mourn it as yet another example that this, the year of 30, was going to bring changes.

"It's not like he's moving back to Wisconsin!" my mother told me when I was freaking out about it.

My friend Jack was also pragmatic. "It is the natural evolution of a gay man in Minneapolis," he said. "First a gay man moves downtown and gets all the clubbing out of his system. Then they move to uptown. Then they move to St. Louis Park. Then they move far away to the suburbs and are never seen again."

I had images of Joey inviting me via snail mail to his birthday barbecue in Plymouth and shuddered at the thought. My poor baby!

Anyway, we were up at moto-I at the rooftop, and I declared that I was not drinking for a week so I would have a tonic water please, while the boys enjoyed adult beverages. The food was delicious. Charlie had to go back to his home in St. Paul (he's close St. Paul, though, like by UST), and the three of us went back to the house to watch the Beyonce visual album Lemonade. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the remote after moving back to the house, so we couldn't fast-forward anything and and to watch it straight through.

"I just don't get this," Joey said about every video.
"I want to get laid," said Steve after every video.
"You boys are stressing me out!" I cried. "I need a drink!" Steve and Joey looked at each other like children when Mommy is off her medicine. And thus ended my flirtation with sobriety. I felt bad about myself for drinking again and then drank more to feel less bad about myself. I had only been holding myself accountable -- I didn't pledge to anybody else that I would do this sober kick, and the only person I was letting down was myself (and maybe my mother) -- but it still felt like an internal failure on my part.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Loring Park Episode #61: My Pride and Joy

Pride weekend was upon us! But first it was Father's Day, and I have long given up hopes of finding a sugar daddy. I planned going to LUSH and then my grandparents' house, but I was also besotted by a horrific summer cold. My dreamy doctor put me on Prednisone and again expressed concerns about me being on it because it makes people hyper and I am already pretty "squirrely." I hope that's in my file.

Anyway, I still made it to LUSH where I enjoyed brunch with my friends Ria and Micah and friends (relatives? I'm a bad listener) visiting from Kentucky. Steve had to work at 2 but stopped and said hello for a little bit.

This was our server. TAKE ALL MY MONEY. He is a dancer/entertainer and had to work all of Pride weekend, the poor baby.

Things were a little awkward because Liam was there and kept sitting at our table and I was trying to avoid him. I was immature and cryptic before, so I'm going to put it all in the open, because I've been watching a lot of Bethenny Frankel lately and I think it's important to note when you're in the wrong and acting like an asshole.

When most of my friends went to Vegas for Jared's birthday, I was at home begging my mother to help pay my debt consolidation bill because I am broke as a joke as a result of my own poor decisions. I felt like shit about it but understood my current circumstances, and jokingly told my friends that if any of them went to the Mariah Carey concert, our friendship was over (none of them would have paid that much money to go see her, anyway. Britney? Maybe).

Anyway, while the gang was in Vegas and I was eating my feelings on my mother's couch, Liam tagged everyone at Caesar's Palace for the Mariah Carey concert and tagged ME in it with the update of "making Jakey jealous". This was not the first or last thing he had done on social media in a very short span of time to hurt my feelings, but when I look back, it was probably the most egregious. The last one was a week later when he wrote "you look old" on a Valentine's Day picture that I thought I looked good in! Maybe my skin is thicker now that I live with someone who insults my appearance at least once a week, but I was feeling sensitive that winter. So I pushed the block button. So did Joey and so did Steve. I ran into him weeks later at the bar and he cried and I told him I would be cordial to him - I wasn't gonna ice anybody out. That being said, even in February I was worrying about him trying to come to my Pride party. I wasn't going to invite him because we weren't friends anymore. But what would I do if he showed up? Would I pull a Tamra Barney and yell "LEAVE!" like he was Alexis Bellino in Season 7 of The Real Housewives of Orange County?

Now, here we were four months later, and I still hadn't tried to have a real conversation about what happened. I wanted to stay upset and non-responsive.

"I need to talk to you later," Liam said.

"Okay," I said. And I knew what this was about because he had been texting me for a month about the Pride party and I wasn't responding.

I told Ria and Micah about it and they are friends with both of us and didn't want to take sides, nor should they have. "You could always tell him it's a fire hazard and you can only invite a set number of people," Ria offered half-jokingly.

I tersely texted "You're not invited" after he implored again. At the time I thought it was a good decision, that I had true to myself and my own values and self-esteem, and that everybody would agree with me.

Um, no.

Ria, Micah, and their friends left, and while awaiting my chariot of my mother's SUV, I sauntered over to the table where Quinn and Louis were sitting. I decided to use as my greeting that I had finally told Liam he could not come to the party.

This is a picture of Megan Good and Christina Applegate from the underrated Anchorman 2. There are a surprising amount of articles about the surprising feminism of that movie. Anyway, Christina is Veronica, Ron Burgundy's estranged wife, and Megan is Linda, his sexy producer whom he is having an affair with. When the women FINALLY meet -- which I was waiting the whole movie for -- Ron encourages them to kiss or have a three-way. The women are both disgusted. "Read the room, Ron," Veronica says in my favorite part of the movie. Anyway, I couldn't find a .gif of it, but this was my same mistake. I did not read the room, and Quinn promptly yet politely ripped me an entirely new asshole.

"I am purposely finding something else to do that afternoon because of how you are acting," he said. And I want to re-iterate that it was ... Nice.  He didn't raise his voice, he didn't call me names, but rather he laid out his case in a way that I think was uncomfortable but important for him to do.

My mother picked me up, and I was a horrific Father's Day guest as I took a nap the whole time. This summer cold was kicking my butt. There was no way I could go to the '90s that night for Mystery Porn Theater, but I really didn't want to miss out on the money. It's not an exorbitant amount of money, but it's cash in my hand that I get every week, and that's a nice feeling, especially if I'm going to go home right away and not spend it on tipping drag queens upstairs and going to The Saloon afterward.

"How much do they pay you?" Loretta asked. "You sound TERRIBLE. I'll pay you if you stay home."

I texted Reid at 8 P.M. (the show is at 10) and he graciously agreed to pinch-hit for me, and the staff at the '90s was very accommodating about letting the door person know. It pays to know people. I told my mom about the party, about the plans, about Liam, about Quinn and my asshole.

"Well, you couldn't go because of your own life choices," she said. "Liam isn't the one who racked up a bunch of credit card debt. If you felt like shit about yourself, that's not his fault."
"It wasn't helping," I pouted. "He was kicking me when I was down."
"But does he know that?" she asked.
"He knows I'm pissed," I said.
"But does he know why you're pissed?" she asked, and the music at the end of every Full House episode started playing in my head.

"I told him from the get-go," I said. "I have the texts."
"Here's the thing," she finally offered. "This isn't like it's your birthday party or a dinner party. It's Pride. It should be for everyone." My mother, a 59-year-old heterosexual, was able to understand that, and I wasn't.

Over the next few days, I thought about Liamgate right before I went to bed and right when I woke up. It was consuming too much energy, and I realized the adage that the right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same. When you choose to forgive, it's not so much about what it does for the other person, but what it does for you. Conversely, I have been in that position where all you want is forgiveness and reconciliation. I didn't get it. It's been over 450 days, not that I'm counting. I  texted Liam like a grown-up and invited him to the party.