Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pride Weekend Recap: Cliffs Notes

                              Gay Pride Weekend in 25 Observations

1.       I lost my phone on Friday, stone cold sober, while running errands with Jared and Liam.

2.       My computer crashed and burned that night. These things come in threes. Jared graciously let me borrow his laptop, and I am forever grateful. However, I threw away my router password like a dumbshit and thus the Internet only works 25% of the time. Refresh refresh refresh.

3.       I ran into a high school crush at The Saloon, and while I have no idea why a straight guy would be there at 1:50 A.M. on a Friday night, I had enough liquid courage to tell him that I had a crush on him all through high school and that Erin McCloskey and I called him Colonel Brandon so we could talk about him behind his back. He was surprisingly not freaked out.

4.       I went to The Eagle on Friday and kept asking people how to aim a shotgun so I could properly go “bear-hunting”. I learned from Jack that if you are a bear with a smartphone, there are approximately 87 different hook-up apps you can download.

5.       I went to work on Saturday and it was surprisingly a breeze! I texted Joey and was excited to reunite with him. He was on the fence between the ‘90s and The Saloon, and I said I would probably stop at The Saloon to look for a certain boy. “Kevin?” Joey asked. “No, of course not,” I said. “OMG, then who?” Joey wrote back. “Kevin,” I said. “I was being sarcastic.”

6.       Kevin gave up drinking and will not ever be at The Saloon ever again. He told Joey this via text message, but he does not contact me anymore, and I am totally fine with this.

7.       By totally fine, I mean I bawled my eyes out in the car like a dumb homo and then subsequently told everyone and their dog about it at work when I got back from break. I work with people who have gone through ten times the shit that I have and you would never know it. Meanwhile, I am sad about a BOY who I met THREE WEEKS AGO and he thinks I am shit on a shoe and therefore MY LIFE IS OVER I WANT TO CRAWL IN A HOLE AND DIE.

8.       OMG, am I really wasting all my Pride sentences about Kevin? I will say this: I have only fallen in love with boys from the Internet or unattainable straight guys, and despite the fact that we never did anything physical, he will always be a “first” for me. I think I was saddest that he does not want a damn thing to do with me, but there are other fish in the sea.

9.       I want that fish.

9b. OK, I totally get that I am putting him on a pedestal, but he was jocky and fratty and intelligent and complicated and tragic and complex and arrogant and blunt and sensitive and ridiculous and ambitious and frustrated and broken and connected and incredulous and silly and while we only had two of them because I am not counting the Prince Eric one, I will most cherish the mornings, when I would sneak in a Listerine strip, pretend I was still sleeping, and surreptitiously navigate my body as close to his as I could. I was in love with Drew and I was in love with Puppy, but they were from the Internet, and while I was certainly not in love with Kevin, the mornings are what I always imagined a real relationship felt like.

9c. I will never write of him again.

10.   No one made out with me all weekend, and that is probably karma for telling people at work that I was taking over-under bets for what number I would get. I think the highest bidder was 12.

11.   When Jared is Level Three drunk, he is the most hilarious person in the world. “STOP THAT TWINK!!” he yelled in the park, and a buff dude turned around and was like, “Did you just call me a twink?” “Yes,” I said. “I could break you in half.”

12.   When Jared is Level Four drunk, he is not the most hilarious person in the world.

13.   I babysat Jared during the latter half of the weekend, is what I’m saying. I screamed at his gal pal this afternoon. My anger was misplaced and I apologized for yelling, but I still meant every word that I said (I just could have said it in a regular tone of voice and with a dozen less F-bombs).

14.   HOLY SHIT, MYA!! She was great at The Saloon. She did “Case of the Ex” second and Jared and I, in happier times, queened the fuck out. “I have one question for you, Minneapolis,” she said. “Where are my soul sisters at? Let me hear them soul sisters. Hey, sister, go, sister soul, sister go, sister go, HE MET MARMALADE DOWN ON OLD NEW ORLEANS!!!” Jared and I urinated on ourselves and on each other and the strangers near us.

15.   I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Liam as a person these past few weeks. He is a hoot.

16.   I have been telling a lot of people they are a “hoot” this week, but I genuinely mean it. Some people even get called “a hoot and a half”. I grabbed one blond man and said “I sat next to you at Lush last year at Meghan McNamer’s table, and I just think you are a hoot and a half.” Also a hoot and a half are Chuck’s boyfriend Peter, Liam’s Gal Pal, and that *hilarious* Star Quarterback who is so beautiful but manages to look pissed ALL THE TIME. I imagine he is a pistol at parties, and I am not just saying that because I’m bitter that he’s not even polite enough to give me a courtesy eye-fuck.

17.   Channing Tatum(‘s publicist) Tweeted me when I sang the praises of someone in a “Magic Mike” T-shirt who gave me a block party ticket for half price because my drunk ass lost mine. I LOSE EVERYTHING.

18.   I went to the A-list recovery party on Monday afternoon. I did not have my face on and looked like sheer and utter hell.

19.   I got flirted with more at that party than I did all weekend when I was all gussied up in designer clothes and Clarins foundation. At one point I had actually convinced people I was a sophomore in high school. There is a lesson there somewhere.

20.   I have glitter all over my apartment.

21.   I AM SO FREAKING SUNBURNED. For the first time in my life, I decided to wear a tank top (I still have Liam’s. WHOOPS.) Yay for self-esteem because I never looked twinkier in my life, but now I would like to bathe in a vat of Solarcaine.

22.   At 4:30 AM. On Saturday night, Joey decided he wasn’t sleeping over at my apartment and then I listened to “Brighter Discontent” by The Submarines on repeat, even though I have no idea what I was expecting.

23.   Joey apologized right away Sunday morning and all was well in gay world. Feelings are weird.

24.   I spent all of Sunday taking pictures of hot guys with my disposable camera. Some were sneak pictures, but most of them were me coming up to them and asking if I could get a picture, and because  it is Pride Weekend, most of them were ridiculously cute boys from Iowa who probably assume that this is just how we do things in Minneapolis.

25.   I have been measuring happiness by all of the wrong quantities. I may have the sex life of a nun, a sub-zero checking account, a hellacious case of sunburn, and something gross is going on with my gums right now, but I really am blessed. Happy Effing Pride. Vote No in November.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Loring Park Episode #7: Aggressive Spooning

I was so excited to go "glamping" this weekend a la The Real Housewives of Orange County! Matt Iverson, a gay comedian who I've seen around the circuit, graciously invited me to be the opener for a GLBT comedy revue at CAMP Bar in St. Paul. I was excited for many reasons. First of all, I never go to St. Paul, which is rather shameful; My good friend Josh Florhaug would also be on the show; and it was the first time my name has ever been on a flyer! Anyway, I was looking forward to a good time, and my parents were in attendance, which is always awesome.

I decided to wear Kevin's Hollister tee, the purple one that says It Only Gets Sweet When You Get Deep. First of all, Hollister fits my figure really well and I don't know why I never wore it when I was actually the appropriate age to wear it. Secondly, stand-up comedy is really my therapy. I was still emotionally damaged from my super fun hang-out with Kevin turning into an episode of "Elimidate", and I decided that I was going to talk about it in front of my parents, lesbians, and a totally awesome group of gay guys sitting in the front row.

"I need to address the elephant in the room," I told CAMP bar. "Which is that I am born in the eighties and that I'm way too fucking old to be wearing Hollister. Here's the thing: I'm mad at a boy, it's his shirt, and in my teenage girl logic, I have decided that if I wear his shirt at a comedy show that he doesn't know about and therefore isn't attending, somehow it means he'll text me back. Just go with it.

And I knew it wasn't gonna end well. All of the warning signs were there. Strike one: I met him at The Saloon. Strike two: He was wearing a pouka shell necklace. And strike three: His name was [Kevin], which is only a step above Tyler when it comes to how messed up a dude is."

The gays appreciated it. Then I did my Gay Oprah jokes and they bombed. I am not destined to be the Kathy Griffin of Minneapolis and that is okay.

After the show, I mingled with the other comics, including the headliner Tiffany Norton! I took a picture of me, her, and our mutual boyfriend Channing Tatum:


Unfortunately, I do not know how the hell to use Instagram, which is why my face is grey. That would never happen to Chan Crawford.

My mom's high school friend Lori and her boyfriend (husband?) came to the show, which was awesome! I should have been less dirty. They maintained they had a good time, and I drove my Deathmobile back to Loring Park. I had no reason to go out considering I had to work at 10 A.M., but stand-up always leaves me with such adrenaline that I felt I had to celebrate, even though no one at The Saloon would have known I was telling jokes across the river hours ago.

I debated if I should wear the Hollister shirt or not. I decided it would be too creepy. It honestly wasn't that I wanted to run into Kevin, it was just, what if, in the 5 percent chance that I did, I would be wearing his T-shirt? How Single White Female would that have been? I opted for a different one, did my usual stop at the 19 for a quick cheap drink, and was on my way.

There is rarely a dull moment in downtown Minneapolis. On my way down 9th St, I saw a policeman pointing a gun at a dude and arrest him against his car, and then I graciously allowed a group of three good-looking guys and their gal pal to go ahead of me in line at The Saloon. This proved to be a mistake, as the jackhole was indignant when the bouncer told him that The Saloon does not accept American Express. The silly, silly boy said he would wait "all night" for a manager. Honey: AMERICAN EXPRESS CHARGES BUSINESSES $2.50 FOR EVERY TRANSACTION. BRING CASH TO THE GAY BAR. YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL. WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT.

I soon began to regret my decision to come to The Saloon. Most of the gays are hibernating until Pride weekend so their abs will be in full display (While I am down to my lowest weight ever, it's actually kind of gross and I am still going to be wearing a button-down all weekend. Or maybe a muu-muu), and I didn't recognize anyone, nor did I feel confident to make new friends (there's this blond guy I always see, but Jared and I are convinced he is an escort, and I'm broke). I finally recognized someone I barely know, and he was polite enough to make small talk with me on the patio for a few moments, but when he walked back inside with his friends, I was back to social square one.

I walked back to the large room, and took a picture for three good-looking gays. I had set my drink down and it was gone, so the bartender graciously made me another Three Olives lemonade on the house. Such good service (and why you always tip well, boys and girls!). I threw it back and walked back to the patio, and when I turned around to look back indoors, there he was.

I did not do what Old Jakey would have done, which is to ignore him like I am in middle school. I smiled at him like a grown-up, but I did make him walk over to me if he was going to engage in conversation. He was wearing a dark blue short-sleeve button-up. It looked nice. Wait, holy shit, that was my dark blue short-sleeve button-up!

"I think I'm wearing your shirt," Kevin smiled.

"I was going to wear yours but I didn't want to be awkward!" I cried.

"Let's go inside," he said, and I obeyed. We soon walked by a shirtless boy giving out $1 Red-Headed Sluts (the drink, not promiscuous women). Because Jagermeister gives you balls and Red Bull gives you wings, I couldn't resist.

Margaret Cho has a joke that Jagermeister is the liquid equivalent of Wonder Woman's golden lasso, because it will make you tell everybody everything, and that was in the back of my brain the second after I downed the Red Headed Slut. Within two minutes, Kevin and I were on the subject of the Dismissed incident.

"Eric and I didn't do anything," he smiled. "You could have fought for me."

"I'm not gonna do that," I said calmly. "I'm above that. I like you, but I'm not gonna get in a catfight with some boy for you in the mud pit. It's not my style."

He was genuinely confused. "Wait .... mud pit?"

"Did I stutter?" I challenged, and chugged the rest of my Three Olives. "Let's go dance this out."

I wanted to go on the whorebox, but Kevin does not like the whorebox. There were four beautiful young women dancing on the whorebox, and I decided he was not going to dictate my night. I jumped up and booty-danced with them and got all their names, and it was like a weird Kardashian thing because I think they were all "K" names. Kaylie! Katie! Kara! They were there for a bachelorette party but the bachelorette could not be explicitly identified, because The Saloon has banned bachelorette parties long before The Abbey ever made headline news for it.

Kevin was legitimately scared of the whorebox, but he finally jumped up and danced with two of the girls. I would have understood his trepidation if there were other men on the box, especially older ones (he had told me that being sexually harassed was nothing new), but it took me a while to understand that maybe he was afraid of girls. Not in a juvenile, cootie-fearing way, but in a way that was deeper and sadder. I do not know how old he was when he came out, or if he had done so in high school or not. Unless you are witnessing his intimate moments, Kevin does not look or act gay in any capacity unless you are aware of his DVD collection, and I realized he had spent at least a decade fending off girls innocently hitting on him, never thinking that the reason they didn't have a chance was because they weren't the right gender.

"Is he your friend?!" one of the K's asked. Kelly?

"Yes," I smiled.

"Are you ----?"

"We're friends," I smiled through gritted teeth.

"Okay," she smiled knowingly. We danced some more, I might have kissed one of the girls (judge me not!), and Kevin jumped off the whorebox.

"C'mon," he said. "I want to go outside."

"Fine," I groaned, and I gave him my hand so he could escort me off the whorebox without me falling and breaking my nose (because that did happen once, in my most D-list of moments). Instead he grabbed me by the waist and carried me around like our team had won the pennant, and the K girls were cracking up.

"I know that's what you like," he said. "I just wanted to give you a little taste." Thank goodness I wasn't turned on at all.

We went into the big room, and I told him that I had to work at 10 A.M. He looked bummed.

"You don't have to leave with me," I said. "I don't have air conditioning, anyway." I believe in honesty, dammit. I bought a Three Olives lemonade for me and a Long Island iced tea for him.

He stared at me as my back was against the wall. "That's real early," he said. "It's Saturday. I want to sleep in."

He kissed me on the lips and walked back onto the dance floor. I had been Drive-By Kissed.

When I saw him again, he was dancing with an attractive, strapping young man in a pink shirt. My freshly ordered Three Olives lemonade was half-empty.

"Are you leaving?!" he shouted over the music.

"When I finish this," I said. It was about a quarter to two. There was an uncomfortable silence. He looked at the guy in the pink shirt, then back at me, and I began to realize that I was going to be dismissed again. I remember an episode of Elimidate when the guy made out with the slutty girl, then turned to the other contestant and told her he forgot her name, and she indignantly scoffed, "That's it! I am eliminating myself!" and walked out of the bar in triumph. I wanted to be her.

"Ten o'clock is early," he said.

"You don't have to leave with me," I said, and I genuinely meant it. Yes, I would sulk when I got home, but he certainly didn't owe me his presence outside of the club.

He jumped off the box he was dancing on. "All right," he said. "Finish your drink and let's go."

We took a petty cab back to my apartment, and all the cash I had left went to our "driver". What is the appropriate term? Bike pilot? When we got inside, he was wired as hell, ate my mac and cheese and a Hot Pocket, got cheese all over the floor, and we watched The Devil Wears Prada. He criticized more of my writing when the computer was open, and I showed him the first memoir I wrote and quit, about my mental illness when I was a teenager, because I was desperate to prove that I was deep, and depth, like hotness or class, is something that you only have less of the more you try to prove that you have it.

I fell off the bed, could feel myself falling, realized I could have helped myself back up if I wanted to, but I decided to make him rescue me anyway. For the two of us, that's like second base.

When I woke up at 7, I realized that I could not fall back asleep. I reached out to three co-workers to see if they could switch shifts with me, and none of them did. I know it's only spooning, and spooning means nothing, but I wanted to stay in bed for as long as I could.


My mother came over the following night because my freezer had gone off the fritz and I was still concerned about the DeathMobile. She noticed that some of my blinds were broken.

"How are your blinds broken already?" she asked.

"Because I fell off the bed!" I cried. "It's hard to fit two people!"

"Well, you have a sleeping bag if you want people to stay over," she said, and she was actually serious. I stared at her until she got the point.

"Well," she sighed again, "I guess you'll have to call your grandpa to borrow his pick-up so you can bring the bigger bed over here for your ... aggressive spooning."

Sunday night, I was going to walk to The Saloon to meet Liam, but the weather turned into the Rapture. I don't mean just a little bit of rain, I mean torrential downpour. I stood outside to watch it and appreciate its majesty, and debated going back inside when I realized I didn't have any alcohol in the apartment (and I had put my face on). I walked the two blocks to the 19 bar, thoroughly ruining my Polo shoes as I think I walked through a pond at one point.

I soon became friends with a young man who was the Latino version of me. He had my exact body type and I found out he lives on my street! He assumed I was 21 and we had fun picking out songs at the jukebox. He was from Houston and I enjoyed his accent. When I decided I really wanted to be friends with him, I told him my current fake boy problems and my real age, and strangely, his face fell.

"Really?" he asked. "You're screwed."
"But I've never dated!" I cried.

He was appalled. "Why not?"

"I don't know!" I cried. "It just wasn't ... in the cards."

And right as I said that, Prince Eric walked in the door with a companion. Of all people. Someone who I have never seen before last week, who lives in a third-ring suburb, who would never be downtown on a Friday night, and he's in a bar that I'm only at because there is a monsoon outside. You can't make this stuff up.

He smiled at me, and we shook hands, and told each other our names again. I turned to my new friend, who by this point had heard the whole Kevin/Prince Eric story. "I don't want to say this is fate," I said. "But it's cosmic, right? I can't show up at The Saloon because of the storm. I show up here. I meet you. Prince Eric shows up. It has to be mean something, right?"

"Eric is hot," New Friend said. "Everyone would like him. Tops. Bottoms. Jesus." I think he meant Jesus as an exclamation and not literally Jesus.

"Gilbert!" I cried. "Not. Helping."

"Sorry," he cackled. "Yes, I do think it means something."

It finally stopped raining. Gilbert and I walked home and he announced plans to cook for me. Yay for new friendships! And weird feelings.

Coming up: Pride weekend! OH NO.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Loring Park Episode #6: Dismissed

After working an 11-8 shift at work last Saturday, I drove to my parents’ house to collect some dress shirts I still had over there (some days it feels like the transition of moving will never end). Kevin had eloquently texted me “Hey”, and I asked how his formal dinner went.

“Tragic,” he wrote. “I was actually in tears not too long ago.”

“OMG,” I wrote back like a teenager. “Are you okay? Tell me what happened.”

“I’d rather not talk about it over text,” he wrote. “Why don’t you stop by the liquor store and come over?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “But I won’t be there until 11 because I have to stop at my apartment, change out of my work uniform, and take a shower.”

“Just shower here,” he wrote. “You don’t need to waste all that time.”

Literally five seconds before I was about to leave, my mother came home. We had genial conversation and then she told me that she noticed the muffler on my Honda CR-V was coming undone and about to fall off.

“You better keep your car here and I’ll bring it in on Monday,” she said. “I’ll drive you to your apartment and you can take the train to work tomorrow.”

I could feel my face start to turn red. “But I’m …. going somewhere tonight,” I said through gritted teeth. This honestly just wasn’t about a boy. I mean, it was, but it was also etiquette! I had already confirmed my presence and I knew that if I backtracked on him (or swerved him, if this were pro wrestling), that he would likely never speak to me again. Okay, fine, this was totally about a boy.

“Where are you going?!” she asked. When I told her, she was livid. “What if your muffler falls off on the freeway? That is gonna cost you so much money! Who lives in [redacted]?”

“…..A boy,” I said, while staring at the floor.

“Oh, a boy,” my mother sputtered. “Well, at least if you die of carbon monoxide poisoning, it’ll be worth it because you had a boy.”

“Oh, that is going in the quote book!” I cried. Once I gave my mother a collection of her most memorable quotes for her birthday (#1 began with: “Jacob, are you being slutty?”).

“I just wish you were being sensible!” she cried back. “Is this even going to be worth it?“

We had a circular conversation for five minutes that finally ended when I was at the front door.

“Mother,” I began. “Do you remember what you were like when you were a teenage girl?”

“Yes,” she said softly, and we had a moment of unspoken clarity.

Ladies and gays: You may not see eye to eye with your mother on a lot of things -- or maybe even anything -- but when it comes to boys, she is always right.

I stopped at the liquor store where I bought Three Olives because despite my poverty I couldn‘t bear to bring over the cheap shit, then stopped at my apartment to get my phone charger but kept my work shirt on so he wouldn’t know I had stopped at my apartment, and was off to the suburbs, purposely blaring my music too loud so that if the muffler fell off I could be in denial and say that I didn’t hear it. Also, worrying about the muffler was a great way to not worry about Kevin. I strangely wasn’t nervous about him. I knew we weren’t going to be doing anything physical, I didn’t have my face on (but I had $200 worth of Clarins product in my car in case I really wanted it to be there), and despite the fact that we had cuddled and he had licked my face, I still barely knew anything about him, and the superficial crap like if he only preferred boys built like me and Joey, or if his last boyfriend had an alpha-male rugby player build.

I arrived at his estate by 10:20 P.M. When I parked in the lot, he summoned me to his door by whistling ridiculously loud. I grabbed the Three Olives and my short-sleeve blue Cockpit button-down to change into. “Shhhh!” I hissed as I walked in. “You’ll bother your neighbors. I had such a horrible drive here, I got lost and my muffler is about to fall off.”

“Come in and have a drink,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

I changed my shirt while he played bartender. “I’m drinking sake,” he explained.

“Are we in Japan?” I smart-mouthed. He poured my vodka into a brown chalice and it tasted bitter. “What did you mix this with?” I asked. He explained that it was some sort of ginger extract and that it’s very good for you, and I appreciated that we were trying to be health-conscious with our binge drinking.

His roommate, who is bespectacled, in his mid-thirties, and spends all of his time playing Civilization on his computer, came out of his cocoon to briefly introduce himself. He is also gay and has known Kevin since he was 15. I don’t know if I want to think about it too much.

Then we played board games. And by board games I mean …. board games. Upwords, to be specific, which is like Scrabble for stupid people. We did not last very long, as I had to argue for “faps” being a word, and he did not consider UrbanDictionary.com to be a credible source, and then I couldn’t figure out how to keep score. I started drinking the Three Olives neat.

“Let’s watch a movie,” he said, and I thumbed through his collection, expertly organized in a CD folder. Amidst typical guy movies with things blowing up, I came across When Harry Met Sally.

“That’s so weird,” he said. “I actually just watched that yesterday.”

“But I love this movie!” I cried. I’ve actually never seen it, but I’ve read the screenplay and read both of Nora Ephron’s latest books, so I feel like I have.

He agreed, and we sat on the couch together.

“I miss New York,” I said at one point.

“I miss Hawaii,” he said. “Y’know, I could have stayed there? I was 21 and I met this billionaire. I mean, legit billionaire, with a B. He owned, like, half the companies in America. He wanted to ‘keep’ me. But I turned him down. I have pride!” He began to slip into a Southern accent.

“You’re getting all Southern again,” I said, trying not to blush.

“I can’t help ee-it,” he grinned. “Meg Ryan is so pretty. Just perfect in this movie.”

“Are you Harry or Sally?”

“I dunno. Both.”

“Fine. You can be Sally. I’ll be Carrie Fisher.” I loved Wishful Drinking!

“Carrie Fisher?”

“The friend that always dates married guys!”

“You don’t even see yourself as one of the leads. That is so sad.”

“Well, I can’t be Billy Crystal and you already claimed Meg Ryan.”

He started quoting lines before they came up. He erroneously thought the “I’ll have what she’s having” lady was Meg Ryan’s mother, and I told him I would figuratively bet him a thousand dollars that it was Rob Reiner’s mother. He teared up at every interstitial with a geriatric couple talking about how they first met and re-connected. We got to the 45-minute mark, where Harry and Sally are in the music store and Harry runs into his ex-wife while he and Sally are singing karaoke and he subsequently melts down, and that is when Kevin started tearing up again, worse than before, and sweetly asked if we could put in the BBC version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

“Of course,” I said.

“My other favorite movie is Ghost,” he explained.

“Shut up!” I exclaimed. Then I realized that while Kevin is very boy-like and dudely, his taste in movies is ridiculously gay. “I used to watch that movie all the time when I was a kid! But I only like the Whoopi scenes.”

As he switched DVD’s, he looked at me with skepticism. “Only the Whoopi scenes?”

“Only the Whoopi scenes,” I repeated. “My mom had taped it when it was on CBS, and I would fast-forward to around 45 minutes when she first comes in.”

“You don’t like … any other scenes?” he asked, and his grin let me know exactly what scene he was talking about.

“The pottery scene is too messy,” I said, and then I looked at the ceiling so I wouldn’t blush. Then we both took turns doing the “Molly, you in danger, girl” line.

Speaking of Ghost, I then spilled vodka all over my button-down. “I swear I’m not trying to be like Carl in Ghost,” I said, referencing when Tony Goldwyn’s character purposely spills coffee on himself so he can de-shirt and seduce Demi Moore. We marched to his closet, where I chose a purple Hollister tee-shirt that read “IT ONLY GETS SWEET WHEN YOU GET DEEP.”

“A stripper gave me that shirt,” Kevin smirked. "It was in Hawaii. He was in the Navy, too." I totally compared.

He sat on the couch with me again and his phone started playing the Super Mario Brothers theme. “This guy,” he snickered. “I texted him this afternoon and now he finally texts me back asking ‘what’s up’. I know just how to get a reaction out of people. ‘Since you are so proficient in texting people back, I highly doubt you even care what is up.’ Send. I give it thirty seconds.”

The Mario theme played again right on cue, and as sexy Mary Magdalene sang to sexy Jesus Christ (have you people seen the BBC version of Jesus Christ Superstar? It’s like Baz Luhrmann meets Passions meets the “cool” videos you would watch in confirmation class. Also, am I going to hell if I announce that Simon is fucking hot?), the night turned on its axis.

“He’s gonna come over,” Kevin announced. “I haven’t seen this kid in, like, a year. We hung out on New Year’s Eve. You’d like him. He’s really good-looking.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, and I could feel the panic striking across my face.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “What are you so afraid of?”

“Because!” I eloquently cried out. “You say he’s all good-looking! Y’know, if he’s all like …. Looking like a model, and I’m all ….. Y’ know …. This ….” Did I mention I once dreamed of being paid to speak in public and write books? Such eloquence.

He stared at me with his jaw wide open and a look of incredulity. “You have self-image issues?” he balked. He was so adamant in his shock that it took me a few seconds to register that he wasn’t being sarcastic. “You. You have self-image problems?”

When I look back, I realize that if I was ever going to kiss him, it would have been then. But instead I drank.

Two minutes later, Prince Eric arrived. He was very good-looking, but I wasn’t initially threatened, in part because we don’t look similar. Prince Eric is about 6’3” with olive skin and jet black hair. If he would have been blond and slim (“twinky” for lack of a better term), I would have jumped out the window. Still, I knew I was staying the night as I had drank way too much to drive. I’m friendly. I’m not bitchy. I can do this. I can mingle.

Prince Eric wasn’t a bitch, either, and the three of us sat at the kitchen table. Kevin started getting drunker and talking more Southern, and was dancing in his seat. Eric regaled us with his excitement of being an uncle. His niece or nephew is going to be half-black.

“Now, I am not racist,” Eric said.

“Do not start your next sentence with ‘but’,” I challenged.

To his credit, he did not. After twenty minutes of conversation, I started yawning and downed a 5-hour energy drink because, unlike Eric and Kevin, I do not have an Adderall prescription. I discussed my history of antidepressants as a youth, when I was batshit crazy.

The dynamic wasn’t necessarily like the two of us were competing. It was something stranger and more complicated. For starters, Kevin kept crying off and on and was proud to be emotional. At one point Eric told me I was a good person, then purred “Hang on to him” to Kevin. But Kevin and I aren’t anything! We haven’t even made out! His roommate announced he was getting Mountain Dew from the car, and brought out ginger snaps cookies from the freezer. We each had one, and then he lectured us on the importance of sealing the Ziploc bag shut. I would later be chastised twice that evening for not shutting the freezer door shut tight.

I went to the bathroom to weigh myself and try to take a Grindr pic that didn’t suck. Prince Eric jokingly accused me of vomiting.

But at 2:30 A.M., the gauntlet was finally thrown down. “You’re sleeping on the couch, right?” Prince Eric asked me in a silky, baritone voice.

And I said yes. Because I was not going to get in a catfight. Because I was better than this. Because maybe I really was tired. Because I should never have come over. Because I didn’t know what I should have expected when I drove to the suburbs with a bottle of vodka and a car ready to fall apart at any given moment, in a decision based on a combination of lust, curiosity, and guilt.  Because I should have known better. Because my mother was right.

The three of us went into his room to watch Child’s Play. Then they started kissing. Then I snuck out to the couch, like the loser contestant on MTV’s Dismissed.

Remember that show? It was on MTV and it would have an attractive male date two attractive females at the same time (Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Jonny Moseley greatly lampooned it on Saturday Night Live once). He never picked the girl who was necessarily more interesting or more compatible. He always picked the girl who put out. What was the name of that little card you could have where you got 5 minutes of alone time? The Slut Card? My phone was in the bedroom and I sure as hell wasn’t going back in there. I should have cuddled with his roommate.

Instead I laid on the couch in sleeplessness and self-pity. At around 7 A.M., his roommate sweetly closed the blinds and asked if I needed anything. What a gentleman! At 10 A.M., I realized I needed to get going if I was to drive my car back to my mother’s house and get a ride to work for my 1 P.M. shift.

I knocked on the bedroom door, then marched in. “Are you decent?” I whispered. They were both silent and shirtless, and I grabbed my phone and walk-of-shamed myself.

I kept the fucking Hollister tee. He texted me later that day. 'You didnt have to leave so early. We didn't do anything.' I wrote back, explaining the situation going on with my car, which I now affectionately call the Death Mobile.

My mother and I got in a stupid fight about finances. I felt worthless and hopeless. The muffler cost $500. Now the speedometer is broken.

I texted him on Wednesday. "How's life?" I wrote. He did not respond.

And that is when I went through all of the feelings I needed to (he would give me shit for ending a sentence in a preposition, but fuck him). The whole thing lasted a week (and our time together only 48 hours), and I had already gone through all of the stages you go through in a relationship: The initial crush, the getting to know each other better and seeing yourselves together in some sort of capacity (I really only wanted a friendship -- he is much more serious about his future than I am), then you don't treat each other the way you should (the Prince Eric situation was bullshit, but I did not help matters by refusing to stick up for myself in or after the moment), and then you finally realize that the two of you just weren't gonna work out.

Most couples have this happen in a few years, or even decades. I had it in two days. And in a strange way, I was proud of myself, because I realized that, for me, at 25 going on 12, Kevin is an emotional milestone for me. This was the first time in my life that I allowed myself to go crazy about a boy who was not:

*Born in the 1990's
*A bartender
*From the Internet

And it was real feelings I had felt, certainly not love but certainly something deeper than a schoolboy crush (should I send Star Quarterback a fruit basket?). As bummed out, disappointed, and maybe even heartbroken as I was, I also welcomed the pleasant realization that I am now at a point in my life where, unlike in high school, college, and my subsequent years of being a screw-up, I can actually like people who are ostensibly attainable.

Coming up: The Adventures of the Traveling Hollister T-Shirt!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Loring Park Episode #5: A Departure, A Mugshot, and a Surprise

Previously on "Gays of our Lives": Joey prepared for his departure, but not before introducing himself to Kevin, he of the frat-boy demeanor and the pouka shell. Jakey threw up.

                                                   A Departure

Two Sundays ago, I was preparing for the inevitable. Joey, who had become my newest running buddy over the past month (and my first experience at what gay parenting felt like), was moving back to Wisconsin, and it was to be his last hurrah. After work that night, Jared called me and said that his friend Rachel wanted to venture to the St. Paul bars instead, as she had grown weary of the insular gay high school that is The Saloon. I empathized, but told him that it was Joey's last night in town and crossing the river just wasn't feasible. Joey arrived at my apartment at around 10, and because I am such a considerate host, it took me half an hour of gabbing before I finally put pants on.

"I was so worried about you the other night," I said, trying my best to not address the elephant in the room (*cough cough* didyousleepwithkevinnotthatIcare *cough* cough*). "What time did you get home?"

"Oh," he said nonchalantly. "We ended up going to his place."

"Doesn't he live in the 'burbs?" I asked, my eyes narrowing into slits.

"Yeah, it took us a while," he said. "We played chess."

Now, I use "board games" as a colloquiasm for intercourse all the time, so this did not faze me. "Joey, we're grown-ups," I said as I spackled foundation all over my face. "You can call it sex."

"No, we actually played chess," Joey laughed.

"Wait, isn't Kevin dumb and fratty?" I asked, and this is when I realized that I am absolutely awful at snap judgments.

"No, he just looks like he is," Joey explained. As it turns out, Kevin is older than me by a few years (this never happens anymore), works a lucrative big-boy white-collar job, and is still reeling from a relationship that crashed and burned after two years. "He's actually really deep," Joey went on. "Like, he started crying when he started talking about his ex-boyfriend, and what his family means to him. He's not at all like we thought he was."

"I am not good at this first impression thing!" I exclaimed. "Like how during the entire time we were doing the play, I thought you were this snobby twink who probably goes to The Saloon all the time and never gives anyone the time of day, when really you're a shy boy from Wisconsin who hardly ever went out until you met me!"

"It's because I have natural bitchface," Joey said. "I can't help it. Everyone always thinks I'm a bitch before they get to know me because I can't control my face. It's a problem."

On our walk to The Saloon, he dropped another bombshell. "Oh, he said you're cute, by the way," he shared.

"Joey, don't!" I cried. "You don't have to say that. But, oh my god, really? Like how?"

"Yeah," he said. "He was like, 'Oh, Jakey's cute'. Oh, and he doesn't know you threw up. He just thinks you passed out."

"So embarrassing!" I cried. "My #1 crush is in my apartment and it's the one time of year I vomit. My life is a crappy young adult novel. It's even worse than when I drunk Facebooked Star Quarterback."

We made it to The Saloon, where we soon met up with Jared, and later ran into Liam. Hanging out with Liam at The Saloon is weird because you will try to have a conversation with him, but every ten seconds someone walks by and grabs his ass. The life of a gAy-lister.

I need to write about these things sooner than two weeks after they happen, because that night at The Saloon is all a blur. Liam and Joey did the whorebox together while I told Jared all about Kevin, ordered another drink, forgot I told him about Kevin, and then told him the whole story again. Jared took the train home, and Liam, Joey and I walked across the park. I regretted my decision to wear dress shoes and decided it was more comfortable to walk home with my dress socks hitting the pavement. Liam checked into my Grindr and messaged dozens of people, which made for an awkward morning. I used a bed sheet as a makeshift blanket for Liam to sleep on the floor (unbeknownst to me, my mother packed a sleeping bag somewhere in the closet -- whoops!) and gave him a Minnesota Twins T-shirt to cover up his tank top, and we fell asleep to the MTV Movie Awards. Twilight and Hunger Games won damn near everything and I just felt flipping old.

I remember Channing Tatum. I remember Josh Hutcherson. I remember Joey asking in a whisper if he could be the big spoon. I remember him whispering in the darkness that he was leaving. I remember the door closing. I remember looking at Liam sleeping peacefully on the ground underneath the bedsheet that he thought was a blanket and realizing that had I been left alone that night, I would have bawled my eyes out. I am blessed to have a great number of friendships in my life, and while I would never think to rank them, there has been something very cosmic about my friendship with Joey. It was the most positive thing to come out of an experience that left me otherwise sour and bitter  (seven months of rehearsing a play that never came to fruition). When I entered the gay world of Minneapolis at 22, I was jaded and abhorred myself, and seeing it from the perspective of a 20-year-old from Wisconsin allowed me to view it from a more appreciative and optimistic lens. He encouraged me to dream my dreams while never losing sight of his own. I thoroughly enjoyed introducing him to not just my gay friends but also people from Big Louie's Bingo ("How do you know all these people?" he had asked. "Oh, Mike is my dad," I said nonchalantly after half an hour of conversation, and when he cracked up, Marcie the Bingo Queen was convinced I had said something dirty), and my longtime friends Greta and Erin. For the past few weeks, almost every day had been an adventure, of seeing the city in a new and refreshing way, and while I realized that the boy wasn't dying, he was just moving, his absence was still something I secretly mourned for a few days.

A Mugshot

Later that week, Liam messaged me and told me he was going to be at the 19 Bar with Markie. Since the 19 is a block away from my apartment, I decided laundry could wait and I could make a cameo. Markie, Liam and their friend Marty were outside on the patio, and I quickly became weary of the smell of smoke. Anthony was there but I did not greet him because I only talk to him when he is in the mood to say hello to me. I know, did I learn nothing from the Jim Wilson fiasco (Episode #2)? Markie has always been supportive of my comedy "career", and I began to fully appreciate getting to know Liam as a person and not just a pretty face at The Saloon. Marty was in the mood for deep conversation, and kept talking about getting over his ex-boyfriend (it's one of those disgusting situations where they're roommates so they're broken up but they still fuck. Never let this happen to you, ladies and gays). I started talking about how I should stop feeling so insecure whenever Anthony is in the same room, and he was half-listening and thought Anthony was my ex-boyfriend, and I was too tired and wheezy from the smoke to explain that Anthony isn't into skinny dudes, but then I felt bad because the only reason I know that is when I was on his Facebook (by sheer and total accident! Not really!) and he and a friend were talking about boys from the Boardwalk and he admitted such. In a related story, if I looked like Izak Pratt, I would be naked right now.

Still, Pride Weekend is coming up, and every day I have been saying that I am going to work out (oops), eat right (oops), and not go out drinking in order to protect my wallet, waistline and liver (oops oops oops). Friday, Liam texted me and asked if I was going to LUSH for 3-for-1's with our friend Michael. I had first met Michael the same night I first met Liam, and only the second night I hung out with Markie. It was in November and was the first time I had ever done a stand-up comedy show at Ryan's Pub, and I still look back on it as one of the best nights of my life. Not only was I on a real show with real comedians, but Markie had brought along Michael and Devin, two remarkably dressed and attractive gays who intimidated me to death until I actually met them and found them to be as friendly as they were tan. That night, we went to The Saloon to celebrate Liam's birthday, and Michael and I were the only ones in the bar who knew all the words to "Shoop". Michael has a boyfriend, a day job, and a house in the suburbs, and therefore he doesn't go out as much as he used to, but he's someone who I always wish I hung out with more than I do, as he cracks my shit up. LUSH, voted best gay bar in Minneapolis/St. Paul by City Pages magazine, is my favorite place hands down, but it is in Northeast Minneapolis and therefore I am not a regular like I once was (I once had a ridiculous crush on the heterosexual barback who went to my high school. And yes, I drunk Facebooked him once, too).

For budgetary reasons, I decided to take the 10 bus from Nicollet Mall to LUSH. On Fridays, 3-for-1's go from 7-9, and then at 10, 2-for-1's begin to kick off Blush Fridays, which is the bar's lesbian night. All of Minneapolis was on the 10 bus when I got on at 7:30, as it was the first time in my life I have been on a bus that was at full capacity (at one point it went past a guy waiting, and he gave us the finger!). The bus was full of children, and four young girls who couldn't have been older than 15 were standing next to my seat, loudly talking about how drunk they were going to get and how the last time one of them came to work hung over, she successfully convinced her boss that she had the stomach flu. Kids today!

We arrived at Central & Spring, and I got out of my seat and nearly ran over the four teenage girls. "Sorry, this is my stop," I said meekly. "Ours too," they said. "Are you going where we're going?!" It turns out that they weren't a quartet of tweens, but rather four lesbians with amazing skin! "Yay! I have a posse!" I cried, and we marched into LUSH together. I grabbed my first of the 3-for-1's (instead of making you triple-fist it, LUSH gives you tokens for your other two drinks) and met the usual suspects outside on the patio.

First, Liam and I ran into a burlesque dancer we know who very politely critiqued my make-up (I was wearing SET liquid foundation). He recommended I go to the Armani counter at Nordstrom. I appreciated his advice, but the next day I found myself spending over $200 at the Clarins counter with John Paul (and ladies and gays, you must go to him and imagine you have a money tree in your backyard. The boy is a miracle worker).

I reunited with Michael and hugged Devin, who lamented that we don't hang out anymore. Devin and I had one sexual dalliance and I have always been attracted to him, but life gets in the way sometimes, y'know? I promised I would make a better effort to text him. I finally sat on the patio with Markie, Liam, his gal pal, and an attractive bartender that did not find me amusing at all. Devin and Liam moved to another table and stared comic daggers at us. Marty started crying when talking about his roommate/ex-boyfriend/fuck buddy and had to go inside for a little bit.

"Devin got really good-looking," Attractive Bartender said. "I wonder what he's been doing."

That made me feel confused.

"Did you guys hear about Star Quarterback?!" Markie asked. We were on the patio so it was okay to shout, but Markie really has no inside voice. "He got arrested in Florida for cocaine possession and a weapons violation! His mugshot is online!"

"What, who?!" someone (Liam?) asked.

"STAR QUARTERBACK!" Markie shouted. At the risk of being Captain Obvious, I should make it clear that Markie was not shouting "Star Quarterback", but rather the kid's real name.

"Shhhhhhhh," I cried. "Don't gossip."

"Who's Star Quarterback?" Gal Pal asked.

"It's complicated!" I cried.

"Did you guys fuck?!" Gal Pal asked with wide eyes.

"It's complicated," I repeated, because then I realized that if I shared that I had a crush on him for several months and drunk Facebooked him once but he never knew I was alive, that it would be a much less juicy story than the possibility of us once having a one night-stand or quasi-relationship. "Just don't say his name so loud," I gently told Markie. "Call him Fred."

"Oh my god, anyway, we will not be seeing Fred for a while," Markie said. "He resisted arrest, too. What a fucking idiot. The mugshot's online. You can Google it."

 I later Googled the mugshot and sincerely regret it. It felt wrong, voyeuristic, and like a violation of an implicitly established trust. I do not really owe Star Quarterback anything -- hell, especially now that our paths will never cross -- but it still felt unsavory of me to gawk at his mugshot like he was some celebrity on TMZ or The Smoking Gun. Speaking of TMZ, I think maybe I was most curious about the possibility of him doing a Paris Hilton smirk. He didn't, of course -- he looked as broken and scared as anyone would in such a situation -- but because he is, or was, the Star Quarterback, he also managed to still look flawless and beautiful. Nothing is greater proof that you've won the genetic lottery more than managing to look like a movie star when you're facing 10 to 30 in the hoosegow and you've got the ass of a 16-year-old girl.

Liam and I decided we were heading to The Saloon, so I called Favian. We were going to ride from Loring Park in the stretch Hummer, but because I am a dumb-ass and temporarily misplaced my wallet, we got downgraded to the regular town car because Favian got a call from a group of 14 during my frantic search. In a related story, my birthday is next month and I IS GETTING A STRETCH HUMMER, Y'ALL.

Our driver was talking to the dispatcher at the beginning of our trip, and Liam was getting antsy. "Is he gonna talk on the phone the whole time?" Liam said, and then, fresh off his 3-for-1's, he mouthed off. "Are you not gonna talk to us at all!?"

"He's just joking!" I cried. I was mortified. I adore Favian and his drivers, and thus I felt like a parent whose child throws a temper tantrum in the middle of Cub Foods.

Jared met Liam and I at my apartment, and it took us an hour to decide on my outfit. Liam and I split a Lean Cuisine (twink diet?), I slathered SET make-up all over my face again, and this trio was ready for an all new episode of "Gays of our Lives".

A Surprise

Liam met up with his Gal Pal, Jared was put in charge of my keys, and we mingled like the socialites we are. I again told Jared all about what Joey had told me about Kevin.

"I know," Jared told me as we moseyed up to his favorite bartender. "You told me twice on Sunday night and again at work on Monday."

"Right," I said, almost disappointed. "Why can't I ever remember anything? I will have Three Olives lemonade, please." I think I answered my own question.

A gorgeous Latino boy in barely-there briefs walked around with a tray of Jag Bombs. It was an identity crisis, because I absolutely hate Jagermeister, but I adore a tan and visible abdominal muscles. "Can I call you Menudo?" I asked. "Is it offensive if I call you Menudo?" Lesson: Usually if you have to begin a question with "Is it offensive....", the rest of what you are going to say is probably offensive.

"You can call me Tony," he said through a pained smile. He totally wanted to kick me in the Caucasian balls, I knew it.

"Do you even know who Menudo is?" I asked. "Oh, youth." I overtipped him and chugged the Jag Bomb, pretending that I didn't have to be at work the next day at 11.

It was a Jagermeister Miracle, because right as I downed the drink, MARIAH CAREY CAME ON THE SCREEN! I figuratively lose my shit when Mariah Carey comes on. It was the "Honey" remix, and I was drunk enough to think that I could hit a high C note (I tried. It wasn't pretty, but Jared found it hilarious). We were next to two black guys, one of whom was in a tank top and was so built that I assumed his body fat percentage was subzero.

"Oh my god, Jared," I slurred. "Check out Chocolate Thunder over there."

"Oh my god, go talk to him!" Jared encouraged.

"NO!" I cried. I did my usual shy-boy routine and stood in the corner and pouted.

"Oh my god, Jakey," Jared said with an eye roll that was nearly audible. "How are you ever going to meet people if you never approach them? I wonder if Gay Oprah is here and we can talk about eyebrows again."
"STOP BOTHERING GAY OPRAH!" I shouted. Nicki Minaj blared on the dance floor, and Jared and I went to go dance as was our duty. I checked my phone to see the time (1:30), and Liam was asking if he could sleep over.

As Jared booty-popped and I did whatever the white version of booty-popping is, we realized that Chocolate Thunder was next to us.

"Jakey...." Jared smiled with a mischevious grin. "Come on."

"No!" I cried adamantly and I downed the rest of my Three Olives lemonade. As I set it down on the bar, I looked from across the whorebox and through the artificial fog, and there he was, sporting a tight blue tee-shirt, a lost look on his face, and that damned pouka shell necklace.

"Jakey," Jared said softly. "If you don't go talk to him, I'm disowning you."

I walked over like I knew him and smiled hello, then danced near him. The boylesquer would be so proud.

"I want to go to the patio," Kevin said.

"Okay," I smiled, and I took his hand and walked him over there.

"It just gets too hot in there," he smiled.

"Why do you have a Southern accent?" I asked.

"All my clients are from there," he grinned. "It slips out." He said out like Matthew McConaughey.

'"I'm sorry I puked when you came over," I shared. Why did I bring this up?! Damn you, Jagermeister Truth Serum!

"I didn't even know you puked," he said. "I just remember you passed out in your closet."

"I miss Joey," I whispered.

"Me too," he grinned.

"Come dance with me," I said, and took him by the hand to the dance floor. I made him go on the whorebox, and he peeled off his shirt like a model in those awful Bod commercials from the mid-2000's.

"Who's your friend?!" a man in his thirties shouted over the music. "He's fucking hot!"

"Ugh, I know," I said, rolling my eyes. I was rolling my eyes at Kevin's goofiness, the fact that I so predictably found him irresistible, and the brazenness of our fellow whoreboxer. I hopped off the box for a bit to give him some distance, and then quietly freaked out like a middle school girl next to Jared before he did the splits. Kevin licked my cheek like a dog and I immediately worried that he would start coughing and complaining about the taste of liquid make-up.

Jared left for the train, but not before throwing my keys back at me (lifesaver!). Liam regrettably agreed to crash at Gal Pal's house. And before I knew it, 3 A.M. had struck and I was walking out of The Saloon hand-in-hand with Kevin. This was happening.

We made it not half a block when we encountered a pretty blonde girl in her early twenties. "I'm sorry," she said. "Can you guys walk me to my car? I just don't feel safe."

"Of course," I said. "We're two strapping young men. We'd be happy to protect you."

"Where are you parked?" Kevin asked.

"The University of St. Thomas," she said. "I go there for law school!"

"Oh, no shit!" Kevin said. Then they started talking about grown-up stuff like LSATS and local law firms and I lost interest. The blonde girl graciously drove us to my apartment building, and I thoroughly enjoyed the moment, selfishly wondering if the blonde girl was attracted to Kevin, if she realized that he wasn't on her team, then hating myself for thinking that "straight-acting", whatever the hell that means, is something that should be prized or seen as better than its alternative, because the only females that have ever assumed I am heterosexual have been sixth-graders or sheltered conservative Christians who honestly believed I hadn't met the "right girl" yet.

He took his shirt off the millisecond we got into the apartment. Seriously, dude? I put on my iPod. He criticized every country song I had. He made me download "A Whole New World" and sang it at an embarrassingly loud pitch. He flipped open my computer, saw Microsoft Word open, and sharply criticized my writing. "Oh, that's real choppy," he said at one point, and then he kept reading out loud the Jim Wilson episode in his strange, pseudo-Southern accent that wasn't. I showed him my name in size 10 font in Lavender magazine as if it meant something. "Does this mean I can do jokes about Gay Oprah?" I asked. "I'm actually good friends with Gay Oprah," he said. "I had dinner with him last week." "Of course you did," I scoffed. He chastised me for not having a college degree. He talked about money, which I found gauche, but then I stared at his pectoral muscles and then it shamefully made it acceptable.

We did not do anything physical other than spooning (also, I have a twin bed that I really need to upgrade to a double). I was surprisingly fine with that because I felt myself actually starting to like him, and I hadn't Naired my legs recently.

When I woke up, I was sure to be present in the moment for as long as I could. I snuck in a Listerine strip and he stirred, mumbled, then crunched his muscular arms harder around my torso. I wanted to stay there forever.

I dropped him off at his friend's house, but not before explaining that I'm a terrible driver. It took me three minutes to back out of my parking lot. He couldn't help his laughter. "DON'T JUDGE!" I cried. "I just like watching people live their lives," he said. "That's all."

I love summer.

Coming Up: My Life Turns into an Episode of 'Elimidate'!









Thursday, June 14, 2012

Loring Park Episode #4: In Which We Meet (and become) Gay Oprah

Previously on "Loring Park": Joey went home with Kevin and was almost declared missing. Jakey threw up.

I had an awful day at work on Saturday (the mall, stressful on a Saturday? Pray tell!) and while I was planning to save my liver and wallet for Joey's farewell party Sunday night, Jared read my mind when we were on break. "I think we need an episode tonight," he suggested, and I was in full agreement. I think if it were a film, critics would describe it as a "lighthearted romp".

We decided to take the elevator, despite the fact that I live a floor above the exit. In a rare occasion, there were other men on the elevator, and then I felt doubly embarrassed.

"How lazy are we?" I asked aloud. Then, the doors opened, and from the You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department, we were all face-to-face (I'm 5'7" so it was more face-to-pec) with a shirtless, sweating Adonis who had just got in from his Saturday night run. He smiled at the other men in the elevator (whom he recognized) has he toweled off. I responded as any proper adult would, which meant that I giggled uncontrollably all the way out of the building.

Jared and I stopped at the 19 on our way to The Saloon, and South Dakota was there buying a pitcher of beer. He recognized us and we greeted him with smiles, and then I felt strange tingly feelings in my groin area. I continued my streak of maturity by spending the entire walk to The Saloon bitching about the Kevin/Joey thing.

"I totally don't care if they slept together," I went on. "I mean, really? Why would I care? I have no reason to care. Bro's before ho's, right? Besides, maybe I don't even like Kevin that much. I mean, I don't even know him. And you know what, I'm not even gonna ask Joey about it, because we are good friends and after spending all of last night thinking he was dead, it's just, like, not important in the grand scheme of things. Although do you think Kevin is good in bed? I mean, not that I care, 'cause I don't, I mean, I don't even like sex, we've been over this ..."

"HAVE A GOOD NIGHT, SEXY!!!" a black queen yelled from his car as we stopped at a LaSalle Avenue stoplight.

"Oh my god, was that for you?" I asked Jared.

"People really like this sweater," Jared grinned, secretly relieved from the interruption.

We finally made it to The Saloon, ready for a low-key Saturday night. We ran into the usual suspects: Anthony was there and I will admit he was looking good in a light pink Abercrombie tee. However, the only encounter worth mentioning was when we stood in the fireplace room and I noticed the quintessential celebrity of Gay World.

Not everyone believes in the concept of "The A-List", and that is perfectly acceptable. To illustrate this point, I turn to comments written on my friend Jack's Facebook, when he dared write about the warehouse party incident:

"A-List" is such an arbitrary categorization made by people who only care about the shallow surface, and basically just means the more "A-List" the more slutty/insecure the person is.

 The people who consider themselves A-List are preening twats ...

Nice to meet you too, fellas. That being said, you cannot deny that within any subculture, there are social echelons, and there will always be people who enter a room and encounter dropped jaws, gasps, and whispers. And there was our finest example, impeccably dressed and ordering food.

"Jared," I said quietly through gritted teeth, as we stood at the table behindd him. "Do not turn around and don't point. That, right there, is Gay Oprah."

"Huh?" Jared asked, doing a very admirable job of looking without making a scene. I ratted off Gay Oprah's credentials and accomplishments and felt nauseous and anxious.

We went to the dance floor, where there was a bald, shirtless hairy man who DIDN'T DANCE, he just stood there like a statue and scared people. He didn't approach our side of the dance floor, and Jared was due for a smoke break.

The smoking patio was lightly scattered, and the only other duo out there was Gay Oprah and his pal. Jared loudly started talking about eyebrows, and I don't know if he had forgotten what I had told him, drank too much, or simply didn't care, but he went right up to Gay Oprah.

"You have great eyebrows," he declared. I nervously smiled and looked at the sky.

"Well, thank you," Gay Oprah said.

"Do you wax?" Jared asked.

"Of course I do," he said. "But I would never date a man who waxes his own. I wouldn't date myself. I only date real men."

They all laughed, Gay Oprah and his friend walked back inside, and I felt strangely relieved. In my most ridiculous delusions, I imagined that, if I placed well in the ACME contest, then as a mildly mildly mildly famous D-list local comedian, I would naturally date Gay Oprah for a few weeks since we were both local celebrities and therefore it would be required for us. Finding out that he is into dudes more masculine than myself (which, trust me, is really narrowing the field) somehow erased any anxiety I shall ever feel when he enters a room. I could be a millionaire and Gay Oprah will never be romantically interested in me, and finding that out strangely took a weight off my socially desperate shoulders.

It was time to go dancing, and the shirtless hairy man was still doing his Statue pose. This time, however, he was becoming predatory. I would dance, turn around, and he would be right behind me. I don't necessarily mind older men being on the dance floor -- we are all God's people -- but he wouldn't even dance. He would stand there, looking blankly, sweating on people. At first, I subtly moved across the dance floor, smiling as I danced it out to Rihanna, only to turn around and he would be behind me again! After three times of this occurrence, I reacted like shrieking my head off like I was Neve Campbell in a Scream movie. I would run across the whorebox, keep dancing, and HE WOULD BE BEHIND ME AGAIN! But he wouldn't even smile or engage, he would do that scary statue pose, and it all was too much! At one point, Jared and I ran past the bathrooms to the patio, but it was after 2:30 A.M. and the doors were closed!

"Jared!" I cried. "This is how people die in horror movies! They always kill the gay guy!"

"And I'm part black!" Jared cried as we tried to get the doors open. I kept screaming for half an hour, and we finally left the bar in one piece. We must have danced too much, because we decided to take a petty cab out of laziness.

Arriving back at the building, Jared was due for another smoke. As we stood outside, a handsome man in his late twenties who looked like a Van Heusen ad approached us.

"Excuse me," he said. "Do you guys know a number of a cab? I need to get uptown."

I gave him Favian's number, and we sat back in the lobby for a bit. He wasn't overtly emotional, but he was pacing and we could tell he was distraught. He shared with us that he was in love with a girl who lived on the eighth floor of my building, but that he was moving to Tampa for a year for a job, and he wanted to let her know that he was in love with her and wanted her to wait for him to return.

"Well," I suggested. "Don't call her now. It's 3:15 in the morning and she'll assume you're drunk."

"Call her in the morning," Jared said. "But don't overwhelm her. Text her first and tell her you need to talk."

"I'm just so embarrassed," he moped. "Her friends are all up there and she kinda kicked me out."

"But you have to tell her," I said. "You don't want to come back in a year and find that she settled for some loser because she didn't think you were serious about being with her when you came back."

"And women like when men are direct," Jared shared. "You can't live with regrets."

Then he did the token "My friend is gay" response, and shared that he had a hirsute friend who was in the military, is 6'4" and 240. Jared demanded to see pictures.

"I'm into bears," Jared explained. "I'm not into twinks like Jakey."

"I've heard of bears," our new friend said. Then we explained to him all of the lingo of bears, otters, cubs, twinks, jocks and ocelots.

His car finally arrived, and we hugged him good-bye. "Bring it in," he said all dudely-like. His taxi took him uptown.

"I should have asked what room his friend was in," I said. "We could have sent an anonymous note."

"I feel like Oprah," Jared said. "More so than the real Oprah. I mean, Gay Oprah."

"Right?" I asked. "I feel we changed lives this evening."

Coming up:

Joey says farewell to Loring Park -- but not before connecting with another gAy-lister and dropping a bombshell! And we find out why we *won't* be seeing Star Quarterback anytime soon ....






Sunday, June 10, 2012

Loring Park Episode #3: Proverbial Fat Friend

The nights on "Gays of our Lives" went by so fast when Joey was here. There was one night when he desperately wanted to talk to Star Quarterback when I pointed him out. "Come on!!!" he cried. "It'll be fun!!" But I staidly refused. Like Jim Wilson, my conversation with Star Quarterback, should it ever happen, should be organic.

I enjoyed going out with Joey, being his wingman or gay mother of sorts. Don't get me wrong, I love going out with Jared (and occasionally his gal pal Rachel), and I still wistfully remember nights at the Gay '90s with Sina, when we were new to this whole thing and dreamt of one day being recognized (well, actually, I just dreamt it. She actually has it happen to her).

In some ways, hanging out with Joey was like being the Fat Friend, a term I use proverbially at 116 pounds (although I did just eat one and a half Lean Pockets, EZ-Cheese on generic Wheat Thins because I thought I was buying generic Triscuits, and I had chicken drummies at bingo). Our friendship was strictly platonic, and so while we would hold hands in order to keep track of each other, I was fine to let him fly into the world of The Saloon. He was soon to move to Green Bay, and while he hopes to move back by summer and I believe in my heart he will, I also remember that my "living at home for a year and then I'll move out to Los Angeles and see the world!!" plan didn't really take off. As long as he wasn't being creeped on by a skeevy older dude, I was fine to watch him dance with others while I schmoozed with bartenders and acquaintances.

At the end of one of those nights, he was dancing with a cute Hollister shirt and baseball cap. It wasn't until we were leaving that I had realized he'd been dancing with KEVIN, the total fratty-douchey perfect type that I thought was a hologram from the week prior! We then had a very middle school girl conversation on the way home.

"I'm so sorry!" he cried. "I didn't know it was him!"

"No, it's okay," I pouted. "You're cuter than me. You're young and skinny. I get it."

"Oh my god, I'm not even into guys like that," Joey pleaded. "He wasn't even dancing with me that much. He kept obsessing with his hair."

I swooned. "How old is he?" I asked.

"I don't know," Joey said. "I think he's 20, because he pointed to his hand." On Sundays and Thursdays, The Saloon is 18+ but puts a big red X on your hand to let bartenders know you are not available for business and to let ocelots know that you are also not available for business, but please?

I can't remember which night this was. As I said, they blur together, even when I look at the calendar. The Sunday before Memorial Day, we went to the '90s with Sina first and then went to The Saloon. Joey wore one of my T-shirts and I flashbacked to when I was 14, living in Alexandria, and I let my friend for that summer borrow my Quiksilver tee, and he filled it out so well with his muscles that I never dared to wear it again. Sina put a picture of us on Instagram, someone joked that Joey was Vanilla Ice, and Sina, who was raised in Cambodia, asked "what's vanilla ice?" and I made fun of her for a whole week because I thought it was adorable that she probably thought vanilla ice was a beverage or specialty food item and not the first man to have a #1 rap hit in the United States (yeah, think about that fact, America).

                                                 I look 87 in this picture.

His last night in town was the 3rd, so this must have been that last Thursday. I didn't work until late on Friday, so Jared, Joey and I all planned to hit up The Saloon for College Night (there is a story in between here that I will share for a different episode). If you get there before midnight, you get a free drink provided you check in on Facebook (which I can do that, now, because I finally joined this century and got a Smartphone -- that is for a different episode as well). Oh! Speaking of the Smartphone, part of the reason that it took so long for us to leave the apartment was that, as a gay man with a Smartphone, I had to start a Grindr account and then find an appropriate picture (and the whole thing is a joke, really, and I only go on it as an anthropological study). Also, I really hate my Grindr picture and need to just find a cute one from five years ago to use.

Joey was still contrite about his friend that had puked so close to us on our previous episode. "It's okay," I said. "Some people just don't know how to drink. But I don't puke." Then I knocked on the wall. Guess what else you can do when you join this century with a Smartphone? You can obnoxiously "check in" at places! If you do this at The Saloon on Thursdays before midnight, you get a free drink. Unfortunately, we kept gabbing and dancing and taking Grindr pics, and before we knew it, it was 11:40! The Saloon is exactly one mile from my apartment.

We sprinted the best we could, even Joey, who was a cross-country star in high school, but we were too late and strolled in at The Saloon at 12:02. I didn't even want a stupid free drink, but we did scare the hell out of a poor man walking outside of the CVS on Hennepin Avenue. Sprinting gays are the new bath-salt zombies.

Jared and I bee-lined to his favorite bartender so we could get non-free drinks quickly, and Joey went to go dance. Jared is not even a year older than Joey but I am 27 years older than Joey, and therefore we feel that he is our gay child. "We must let him fly," I remember saying, but then Jared went to go smoke so I decided to chaperone on the dance floor. The dance floor was scattered with well-dressed twentysomethings wearing VOTE NO stickers, and I assumed they must have arrived from a fundraiser. I also assumed them to be heterosexual, and so when a very good-looking dude in his late twenties came up to me, making conversation with a smile, I didn't feel like I was flirting.

"No one's dancing!" he yelled.

"Proper whorebox etiquette is to wait until you're invited," I explained. "But right now no one's on there, so we're good!"

We helped each other up to the whorebox, and Joey was behind us. He introduced himself as Scott, and then I realized under the strobe lights that he really was dreamy, built like he probably played football but never pursued it all through high school, and he had dimples you could put grocery bags in. I introduced myself to his friend as to not be rude, but his friend avoided eye contact and was rather distant. Still, how great was it that straight guys were dancing on the whorebox? I thought to myself as I danced in circles how wonderful it was, and how maybe Minnesota really can be the anti-homophobia state this fall, and then I worried if my Twitter was getting too political lately because I do have Republican friends that I respect and I never want to come off as preachy, and oh look, Scott and Joey are making out, wait, what?

I felt weird about it, but I had no idea why I felt weird. Remember sixth grade science when the first chapter is all about the scientific method, and Step 1 is Identify the Problem? I had to Identify the Emotion. I wasn't jealous of Scott; Joey and I are not romantically inclined, although we have admitted that the other is good-looking. I wasn't jealous of Joey because I knew he was moving away soon and I wanted him to live it up the best he could; I instead realized that I felt like the Proverbial Fat Friend. You see them hanging out with girls much prettier than they are, and they usually end up holding all of the purses. It is wrong and unfair and I am not saying it is right, but it is the best (albeit horrifically un-PC) way to describe how I felt.

Jared was still smoking and hob-knobbing, so I went to Danny's bar in the back of The Saloon. While Danny is the Iron Chef of bartenders and I knew he could have whipped up anything he could, I decided on Absolut Mandarin on the rocks. Jared and Joey both came up to me at around the same time. Joey explained that Scott gave him a fake phone number and if he would see him again, he would kick his ass.

"Young man!" I cried. "We will not have you fighting."

"I don't have enough money to bail you out," Jared said. "Starships" by Nicki Minaj blared, and Jared dragged me to the dance floor. "It's our morning song!" Whenever Jared sleeps over and we have to drive to work, "Starships" is what makes us feel awake and ready to take on the day. I think it's because it reminds us that just hours ago we were at the club, and that no matter how stressful the day will be, we can be soothingly reminded that in mere hours or days, we will be back at the club.

After our song, Jared and I went in for refills while Joey sat next to us. Still feeling confused about the Scott thing, I decided to lay my cards out on the table.

"Is it awkward if we make out?" I asked Joey, in a flat tone of voice that suggested I was asking if he preferred to have dinner at the Olive Garden or Applebee's.

"No," he answered, in a completely normal way, like if I were a waiter asking if he wanted his ranch on the side or not. I think I used that analogy because I am starving. We never did make out and we're both fine with that, yet it was a moment that made me realize how gay guys really do get to have the best friendships in the world.

It was time to dance again, and I started feeling like maybe I should not have ordered a goose lemonade without eating anything all day except for a Claritin-D. All I know is that my vision was blurry when Joey was dancing with a boy in a Hollister t-shirt, and it wasn't until I finished downing my Goose lemonade that things cleared up. "Jared," I gritted as I violently grabbed his shirt. "He's dancing with Kevin."

"Well, go say hi!" Jared encouraged.

"No, I'm not gonna C-block our son," I pouted.

"Ugh, I'll go over there and say hello for you," he said.

The next thing I knew, it was closing time and the four of us were standing outside of The Saloon, Kevin staring at all of us intensely and me trying to be outgoing without seeming desperate. After all, he was Joey's, right? I was the Fat Friend who was in charge of breakfast the next day.

We walked the mile to my apartment. I forget if we were in a group or paired off. I want to say we paired off. I think I was nervous. It was KEVIN. My #1 crush, probably more now than Star Quarterback, and he was going to BE IN MY APARTMENT. I didn't have any board games. Was it clean? I knew I made Joey put the sheets on because I have the fine motor skills of an infant. But I don't have a couch! Only two of us could have the bed and two could sleep on the floor. Was Kevin into drugs? Was he expecting an orgy? I mean, I really didn't know anything about him because I'm too scared to talk to him.

These were the thoughts going through my head as I passed out in my walk-in closet, which reeks of cat pee from the previous owner.

"Jakeygggghhhh," Jared spoke from the pillow he was passed out in. "Are you okayggghhh?"

"Yes," I said, and then the ceiling was shaking. Was I expecting Joey or Kevin to come save me? They didn't, but it was for the best, as I, the one who NEVER pukes, was soon worshipping the porcelain god. I took a shower, and when I got out, Kevin and Joey were gone. It was fine. I was too tired and stressed out to care.



The next morning, Jared and I awoke for our usual excursion back to the mall. I called Joey and left a message, but he didn't pick up. On my lunch break, I texted him again. In my head, he had played board games with Kevin and felt bad about it because he knew I liked Kevin and didn't want me to disapprove, but I'm not in eighth grade! I am so down with it! But now it was 4:30 in the afternoon and I was becoming increasingly worried. What time was it when they left the apartment? Did Kevin try to mug him or rape him? Did someone try to mug and rape the both of them?

"How soon is it to file a missing person's report?" I asked a co-worker.

"24 hours," she explained.

I started feeling queasy, queasier than the night prior when I actually threw up. I could have given two shits about if he had done anything physical with Kevin at this point. My child was missing! He had moved out of his Minneapolis apartment and was couch-hopping until Sunday, and he had no next of kin in town to verify if a body got found. What would I tell the police? In that moment, I understood my mother, and the crippling fear that dictated her parenting style to the point that I had little to no independence or survival skills as a teenager.

Joey finally texted back at 5:15 PM. 'Omg im fine sorry haha'. Oh, that child of mine. I wanted to ask a million questions about Kevin, but I decided they could wait until Sunday. It was more important that I knew Joey was alive and well, not if Kevin is a good kisser or not.

Next time: We meet Gay Oprah!