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!

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