Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Loring Park: Week One

The following is an account of my first week of being a resident of Loring Park. Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the innocent ... and the guilty.


It has been just over a week since I moved to Loring Park, or, as I affectionately call it, The Gayborhood. Every night has been an adventure, so hold onto your designer fedoras, boys.

Because my mother was on vacation in San Diego and I had already needed her assistance for when I moved back home for a month in April, I decided to hire movers this time. They were three and a half hours late, in part due to an improperly booked morning job and because of a torrential rainstorm that occurred in the morning. Nevertheless, when they finally arrived, the move took less than two hours. I decided to bring my twin bed instead of the queen bed so that my studio apartment looks bigger, similar to how most male porn stars are often rather short. I thought it would affect my sex life, but then I had to remind myself that this is me I was thinking about, and I have the sex life of a nun.

My first night was a Thursday, and my 20-year-old friend Joey came over. He is from small-town Wisconsin, looks like a Disney Channel star, and has effortlessly amazing hair. He tried and failed to put together my television. My friends Jared and Rachel came over as well, and we went to The Saloon, or, as I affectionately call it, Gay High School. I was hoping to run into old friends at The Saloon, but the only one I ran into was Cordero, a boy from my college days who insisted on playing ridiculous mind games with me when I was younger. I am forever relieved that I never played board games with him. He sloppily kissed me on the cheek, and then he dared to flirt with Joey, and while Joey and I are by no means a couple, I still chose to be silently livid. I got hammered, Joey slept over, and while nothing romantic happened (although I did wrap his arm around my torso at one point), I learned that two twinks can fit in a twin bed.

Last Saturday, however, was when I fully realized the reality of my new surroundings, and that the concept of "The A-List" was not just in my head.

"The A-List" is the cool gays, the ones who are always at The Saloon, the ones who are not overtly rude and snobby but will nonetheless never have a reason to speak to you. They know the bartenders by their first names, they are always dressed and groomed impeccably, and while they are at The Saloon on any day that ends in "y", they also manage to always look bored and distracted.

I went with Jared, the new bad influence in my life. Jared is my 21-year-old co-worker and lives in Bloomington, so he often takes the train to The Saloon. We are perfectly compatible wingmen for going out as we are not attracted to each other, but we appreciate the finer things in life, such as strong vodka and sex with other men. We met at my apartment, where I promptly took another half hour to decide on my outfit and pre-game. We stopped at the 19 Bar, which is like a divey sports bar that just happens to be a gay bar. It is cash only, you can go there wearing sweatpants, and the vibe is distinctly different from The Saloon. Hell, their website even says that it's for people who are "tired of the flamboyant club scene." We had two shots, then walked to The Saloon together, and I was tepid about having to work at eleven the next morning. I was also worried about running into Star Quarterback, a boy who I see as the ultimate A-lister that I totally drunk Facebooked last month.

We did not run into Star Quarterback, but I was most surprised that we ran into Anthony. I had met Anthony a few years ago at the '90s with my friend Sina. We had some late night chats on Facebook, and I planned on writing him a note of inspiration when he moved to Ft. Lauderdale, as I knew what it was like to move to a new city where you don't know anybody. Before I could write it, however, he had removed all of the tangential Minnesota gays from his Facebook, which was his complete right and prerogative. That being said, when he moved back to Minnesota last year, Sina re-introduced herself to him in the same room at the '90s in which we had initially met, and he had no fucking clue who I was. I was strangely sad about it, and now every time I see him, I do not acknowledge him. With that back story, it was rather surreal for him to approach me. Then someone made fun of his name. Then I asked him if he had ever gone to Boardwalk in Ft. Lauderdale, because I am Twitter and Facebook friends with a ridiculously interesting and attractive FIU grad named Izak Pratt who used to work there and even had his VIP birthday party there last summer.

"Um, I used to live right across from the Boardwalk," Anthony said, and his face was now full of terror. "I'm not quite sure how you know that ..."

In fear of looking like a stalker, I decided to vamoose and walk the bar with Jared. We ran into Cordero again. He was with an older friend in his forties who was not very attractive, but who was I to judge? I was ashamed that his looks were even the first thing on my mind. I should try to get to know him as a person.

Within three minutes of our conversation, he stared daggers at me. "If I had met you in my twenties, I wouldn't have even talked to you," he hissed. What the fuck, dude?! I was proud of myself in that I didn't cry or let it get to me like I would have just a few years ago. Instead, I realized that this man was full of his own insecurities and that's why he had to be so awful. Even Cordero felt bad about what his companion had said. Five minutes later, the gross man in his forties walks by me again. "I'm sorry if I offended you," he said. HE COULDN'T EVEN DO A REAL APOLOGY, he had to do the half-ass Sorry if you were offended. Like, How dare you be hurt when I said something awful and degrading to you. Clearly, it's YOUR problem you were hurt, but I will be the bigger person. I ordered a Three Olives, and before I knew it, Jared and I were dancing on the whorebox.

"Can I sleep over?" Jared asked. "I'm going to miss the train."

"Of course, that should be fine," I said, and I turned around to find myself face-to-face with a tall blonde with a swimmer's build and a tank top.

"Do you guys work at [redacted]?" he smiled.

"We do!" Jared and I cried in unison.

"I go all there the time," he smiled. Then he stared at me intensely. "Your name's Jakey, isn't it?"

"Huh?" I asked. Then he lifted me up off the ground as if I weighed three pounds, and before I knew it we were making out like rabid eighth-graders. Before we resumed Frenching, I tried to make small talk because I am a lady, dammit. This means that while I forgot his name, I do remember that he was from South Dakota, and that is what he is now named in my phone.

"Jared," I said when my mouth wasn't otherwise occupied. "Here's $60. Get a cab home."

"JAKEY!" Jared scoffed. "It's 2:30 and you're broke!"

Thank goodness for Cordero, who came back on the whorebox, and without his awful forty-year-old friend. "Jakey," he said. "Do you want to go to an afterparty?"

"Sure," I agreed. I didn't really want to have sex with South Dakota anyway -- don't get me wrong, I do, but at the end of the day I am still only a pretend slut -- and I decided taking Jared and South Dakota to an afterparty would be less douchey of a move then sending Jared out in the pouring rain so I could bring a boy home that I wouldn't even go all the way with.

"Okay," Cordero said. "Meet me outside."

Jared and South Dakota agreed that they would be down for the afterparty. I should also re-iterate now that it was pouring rain outside. Not a light drizzle or sprinkle, but a ridiculous, violent amount. Afterparty or not, there would be no way that Jared and I would be taking the mile-walk back to my new apartment.

A cab sat out front, and Jared, being the biggest of all of us, rode shotgun. There were two boys that I didn't know that were already in the back seat. South Dakota went in behind me (not like that, you perverts), and I sat on his lap. We were waiting for that hot mess Cordero, who stood by the door flirting with some dude.

"We have to go," the driver said in a thick Somali accent. "It is 3 in the morning. I cannot sit here with five people in the car."

"CORD!!!" Jared yelled out the window. "HURRY UP!!!!!!"

Cordero smiled and waved at us.

"God dammit, Cordero," I whispered, and then I had to swat South Dakota's hand away from my genital region.

Cordero finally slipped into the cab, saddling up next to South Dakota. He gave the driver an intersection.

In the back of my head, I wondered who would be hosting this party. Someone must have a large townhouse or condo to invite all these gays to an after-party. It was 3:15 in the morning and I had been awake since 8 A.M., but I strangely wasn't tired. It may have been the two 5-hour energy shots or the two Zyrtec-D's I had (what, allergies are a bitch), or the adrenaline of leaving The Saloon and not feeling like a loser.

The cab stopped at the intersection that Cord gave him. "Um, who's paying for this?!" Cord asked. Seriously, Cordero? POOR ETIQUETTE. Because it was the day after pay day, I gave Jared a $20 to give to the cabbie and told him to get ten back. We all got out of the cab, which drove away. And there we stood, at 3:20 A.M. in the pouring rain.

"Cord, where is the party?" I asked, and then I had a horrible flashback of the time when he and I drove around all of St. Anthony for two hours because he knew of a party that he swore existed but then couldn't recall the address.

"I swear, it's here, I'm texting somebody," he slurred.

"Cordero," I whispered. "We are six gay dudes standing outside at 3:30 in the morning, and it is raining. I do not want to get murdered." Jared is about 220, and the other two guys seemed like they could defend themselves, but South Dakota and I, despite his surprising upper body strength, would not survive a mugging in our intoxicated state.

"I got it," Cordero said after looking at his phone. "Follow me." He led us to an office building and rapped on the door.

"Who is it!?" a voice asked.

"It's Cord," he said. "I have six."

A wide door opened and we were in a foyer, in front of two gays who sat on folding chairs behind a makeshift table. "The Place. $5" read a sign written on loose leaf paper. I recognized one of the gays from the '90s. He has platinum blond hair and I have always had a crush on him, as I have long been jealous of his effortless blend of masculine and feminine, the way he could rock eyeliner while wearing a shirt and tie.

"Five dollars," he told us. "Cash only. Do not check in on Twitter or Facebook."

I looked around and, still bitter about the cab ride, realized I was not paying for all of us, not even South Dakota's ridiculously sexy ass.

"There's an ATM around the corner," the platinum blonde host said, reading our minds. "Please go to the third floor after paying."

"I'm just paying for me and Jared," I said, and I nudged him to put my $10 bill on the table.

"Third floor," the platinum blonde re-iterated. The other four left to the ATM, and Jared and I walked up three flights of stairs.

"What are we getting into?" I asked.

"I don't know, this is crazy!" Jared giggled. "So A-list."

"Shhh, Jared," I said. "Focus. We have to act normal. Like we belong here. Like we're not impressed by anything. Otherwise, everyone will know we're really D-listers."

We walked up to the third floor, where there was an undeveloped room that led to a working toilet.  Standing in line was Anthony, who looked at me with a strange look of surprise.

"Jakey," he smiled. "You're .... here?"

"Hello, Anthony," I said as Jared and I strolled by.

"Oh my god, it's Genevieve!" Jared howled. Genevieve is by far the best drag queen at the Gay '90s, and I was impressed that Jared recognized her out of drag. Genevieve is a black queen with muscles like granite who often does Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Beyonce, complete with cartwheels, backflips and booty-popping. Other than the queens who randomly do Mariah Carey, she is the only one that I make a conscious effort to tip well. She recognized Jared and me, as we are always there with Sina, who gets routinely invited to Genevieve's all-star make-up parties. Genevieve was incredibly gracious to us, and we proceeded to walk into the main room.

It was a bar. Like a genuine speak-easy. Cirque du Soleil dancers undulated in giant hula hoops. A DJ blared music. Bartenders dressed in their underwear served a fully stocked bar, cash only, please tip kindly. I had a vodka sprite. Cordero walked up to us and I thanked him for the invite. I did not see the Star Quarterback, but I saw all of the other familiar faces from The Saloon, the ones that let me realize that this ridiculous "A-List" concept wasn't just borne out of the insecurity from my head. It was real, and for that night, Jared and I were among them. There was the hot 29-year-old I met at Lush who graciously gave me workout advice (I didn't of course follow it, but it was nice of him to suggest what I should be doing). There were the gays who traveled in packs, and they finally stopped sneering. It was a wonderful occasion, and Jared and I danced until 5:00, when we realized that I had to work in six hours. We walked up to the roof, where it was still pouring rain, and gays that smoked were standing under a piece of cardboard they had found. I imagined what it would have been like if it wasn't raining, and what a delightfully romantic moment it would have made, and then I decided that when I went home, I was to listen to Mariah Carey's "The Roof" on repeat. Then I thought of the lyrics to that song and realized that I had to come back here on a November night and drink Moet if I was going to be completely faithful to its lyrics.

I said good-bye to Cordero, good-bye to South Dakota, even good-bye to Anthony, and Jared and I stood in the rain as I called a town car. Favian, my usual driver (I say that as if I am wealthy. Child, I have $20 in my checking account until Friday -- it's all for show), picked us up promptly, and we told him all about the Gay Speak-Easy, "The Place" as it is called, how we were A-listers for one evening. Straight people have it so hard.

I can't believe I was at work the next day, but I was on time, and I wasn't hung over, but rather sleep-deprived. I decided I would hibernate when I got home, but my friend Madison, who I knew from the play that I had rehearsed for seven months before shit got cancelled (that's show biz!), now lives a block away from me, and called me over to the 19 Bar. I decided the 19 Bar does not count as "going out", and we played darts with a mean ginger-haired boy and his boyfriend, who was as attractive as he was drunk. We later played pool with a thirtysomething choreographer and his ridiculously buff boyfriend. After I put "Say You'll Be There" in the jukebox, I realized that gay pool is just like regular pool, except that after every success, you must pause for a dance break. Then the buff boyfriend held me upside down by the ankles.

I have been there twice last week. I ran into a stand-up comedian I knew from the scene, that gave me hope for my fake career. I went home with an older Mexican man. We did not do anything, and he left after my alarm clock kept going off at 7 A.M. (and I learned that if you want to kick a one night stand out early, that's the best trick to make them leave -- sleep through your alarm and they will leave from the frustration). Friday night I went to Duluth to tell jokes at an Irish pub, and I promptly drunk Facebooked my college crush. The restraining order is in the mail.

Saturday, Jared and I went to The Saloon again, and South Dakota looked delicious in a red V-neck.

"Are you a swimmer?" I asked him. "You have a swimmer's build."

"No," he grinned. "I just work out."

Speaking of working out, I fell in love that night on the dance floor. His name was Kevin and he exemplified my ridiculous crush on frat-boy bro-ski types. He was wearing a pouka shell necklace, for God's sake, and I was obviously in love.

"Are you guys from here?" he asked me and Jared. "No one at my work knows I'm gay. It's crazy."

"Forgive me for being so forward," I said. "But what cologne are you wearing? You smell very good."

He said the name of it. I forgot. I do remember that every time he talked to me he insisted on touching my face. He was such a disgustingly appropriate reflection of what "my type" is that I wondered if I had been roofied, or that he was a hologram. I tried to find him again, but he was shirtlessly dancing with another jock-type, and I figured I did not want to be his creeper. Jared slept over and we managed to both fit in my twin bed.

Jared, Sina, and I went back to the '90s last Sunday, where Sina managed to make her Forever 21 dress look like a Versace. Anthony was there and straight guy hugged me, then spent most of his night talking to an older man.

I still have a crush on him, but I know he is not buying what I am selling, and that is fine. He says hello to me and gives me straight-guy hugs, and at the end of the day, that's truly all I wanted, even if his adam4adam profile says he is 170 and I did not know he was that muscular.

I walked back to The Saloon by myself. My friend Liam, the kindest A-lister you will ever meet, was there but he was too drunk to notice me, and Anthony was there, falling asleep at the bar, an older gentleman continually getting him water. I kept getting molested by older men, and finally I was rescued by an attractive biochemistry major. We went home together, and the next morning he asked me where the cap was for my vodka bottle.

"I don't know," I said. "It should be fine."

"No, it won't be," he said. "The ethanol in it will evaporate and then the vodka will lose its potency."

"WE MUST FIND IT!" I cried. We did, and then we took a shower together while I set my iPod to play Robyn, and that will likely be the pinnacle of my sexual experiences. I dropped him off at his house in Dinkytown (don't judge!), and on the way to his house there was a shirtless boy in his yard looking like an Abercrombie model. I did the only appropriate thing to do in that situation, which was to beep the horn.

"You did not just do that," Biochem said.

"I did," I said. "I have no shame." And I don't, but I do need to find a way to let my mother know I need to swap the twin bed for the queen bed in her house in as less of an awkward way as possible.