Monday, July 23, 2012

Loring Park Episode #9: Are You There, Gay Oprah? It's Me, Jakey

Previously on "Loring Park": Lordy, Lordy, Jakey is 40!

I told myself that I wasn’t going out this week because I had gone out so often during my birthday weekend that I could have been put on a waiting list for a liver transplant. Liam invited me out to the 19 bar on Thursday, and I told myself that was fine, because the 19 doesn’t count. It’s a block away from my apartment, it’s cash only, and you don’t have to dress up.

Lawrence, Markie, and a few others joined us, and we all caught up on delicious gossip. For starters, it turns out that the man I made out with on my birthday is a sex offender and was busted in an FBI sting several years ago because he had gone to a hotel room in hopes of doing lascivious things to a 13-year-old boy.

That is awful.

I am having an identity crisis in which I, at 26, feel washed-up and decrepit, as I am no longer a twink, although I never felt confident when I was at my alleged peak of 19-21, and thus I feel that my ship sailed before it ever came in, and that older gay men in our culture are only sexualized if they are masculine and muscular, and when you are an aging twink you are just old and gross and weird. The fact that I apparently look young enough that the only person who was sexually interested in me was a pedophile is disturbing … but for someone in the identity crisis I'm in, it's also really, really flattering.

I will see you in hell.

But Thursday night, Liam was the one who was getting attention, from a very strange skinny man who told him he was a “beautiful bottom” and claimed that he had three houses, including one in Dallas, and proceeded to send sexually explicit text messages all night. I bonded with a guy and a girl at the next table. The guy was gorgeous and asked me where I got my shirt (the Nordstrom kids’ department), shook my hand, remembered my name, I was in love, and then I found out that he was straight. It is a genuine skill to fall for the only straight guy at the gay bar, and I am an expert. His gal pal lives three buildings down from me and we plan to get drinks soon. Liam also told me that the last time he was at The Saloon, he had also ran into the person who walks around telling everyone he was Gay Oprah’s best friend. Why is everyone so obsessed with Gay Oprah? I don’t get it.

Friday night, Chuck and Peter invited me to a barbecue. It was 10 P.M., so by the time we got to this house in South Minneapolis there wasn’t any food there, but there were drinks, and I was offered a beer. I am apparently allergic to beer, as I turned into a lobster. Still, I had great conversations with new acquaintances, including a lawyer from Los Angeles with beautiful eyes (we had different theories as to why Prop 8 happened), and I was happy to drive Chuck and Peter home after drinking a gallon of water to get the redness out of my face.

I got home at 1:30, and decided there would be nothing wrong with walking to the 19 for last call. When I got there, a late-thirties man in a muscle shirt that showed off his impressive biceps asked me if I knew the song from Footloose. He explained that he was from Utah. Then his friend grabbed me by the neck, which was sore because I had tried trimming it with my father’s ancient electric razor. His friend was fascinating, as he was pushing forty but looked and acted like a frat boy. He had beautiful shaggy hair and I was instantly attracted. Then they walked up to a large black woman and called her Shamequa. “Oh, because I'm black, my name's gotta be Shamequa!” she yelled. “How dare you! My name is Allison!” She became best friends with us.

When the bar closed, they invited me to their apartment building for a pool party. While we did not have access to the pool, I still enjoyed seeing the apartment, located a block and a half away from mine. What I think I love most about Loring Park, besides all of the, y’know, gayness, is that someone like me who lives in a studio apartment/sauna can live so close to someone with an apartment that is so gorgeous it should be in magazines. A large kitchen and living room and two bedrooms and expertly decorated! They shared Grey Goose and were hospitable and friendly.

Unfortunately, my drunkenness ruined everything, because just as I texted Jared that “Of course the cutest guy here is straight” (the 40-year-old frat boy was straight, too! I can’t win for losing!), the man in question took my phone away from me, and I freaked out that he would have seen that I wrote he was cute! Then he gave the phone to his girlfriend, who handed it back to me, but when I got it back, it was no longer working! I would later find out that it had been dropped and the battery fell out, but at the time it was 3:30 in the morning, and not only was I drunk, but I had seen The Dark Knight Rises that afternoon, and as a result, I was super paranoid about everybody being corrupt and secretly a criminal, and I wondered if this was all somehow a ruse to damage my cell phone. Like, what if the phone they gave me was a fake and NOT my real phone, and then they had all my information and they would use it to get my credit card numbers or blackmail me for money they thought I had? I don't think I can be friends with them anymore, and that makes me sad.

I had an extra battery at my parents’ house from when I lost my phone over Pride weekend but later found it in my back seat. Thank God.

That night, I went to go do stand-up comedy in someone’s garage in Northeast Minneapolis. The comedian that invited me is one of my favorites on the scene, and I always remember Kathy Griffin telling an aspiring stand-up at a book signing, “Do it whenever and wherever you can”. Someone’s garage in Northeast Minneapolis at 11:30 P.M. on a Saturday night? I am there. Chuck and Peter, who had previously invited me to fireworks, showed up, and I was thrilled to have them there. They also brought Devin and Attractive Bartender, who I once sat next to at LUSH on a Friday night but he found me to be as amusing as back acne (see Episode 5). So imagine my surprise when he actually laughed at my routine, and not just the joke I told about The Saloon being gay high school and that I am the nerdy girl with the trapper-keeper to the Star Quarterback.

After the show we mingled (Peter bonded with the hilarious headlining comedian, Amber Preston, after she remarked that we all looked dewy), and I soaked up great advice from the host of the show. “Do what you do,” he said. “If you only want to do gay jokes, that’s fine. But just don’t be hacky. You still have to be original and yourself up there.” I think I knew what he meant, because I’ve seen bad gay comedians, and I resented their bad performances as I felt they were letting down the sisterhood. The first time I ever went to open mike night at ACME, a gay comedian asked if anyone saw Carol Channing on Larry King Live. Keep in mind that on a Monday night at ACME, the median age of the audience is 22. His advice will always be in the back of my head, even though “Don’t be hacky” is vague enough to always leave me wondering if I’m any good.

The quarterback is here at The Saloon,Liam texted me. I’m going to get myself murdered.

Chuck and Peter dropped Devin and Attractive Bartender off, and they let me come over for a bit. We ended up talking for two hours, and it was one of those great deep conversations that you can only have with people who are your true friends. We touched on current events and politics, but we also spoke in depth about clubbing and the culture and our ages (my age is almost exactly between Chuck and Peter, who have a 12-year age difference). I was never a “club kid” when I was 18 and 19; I was going to school in small-town Wisconsin. When I was 21, I lived in New York; when I moved back, I lived at home for two and a half years and deemed myself an undateable loser, and therefore the only non-Internet boy I allowed myself to fall for was an overly flirtatious bartender who I think just wanted extra tips and/or casual sex. I was never promiscuous, and don’t necessarily regret that I wasn’t, but I have this weird fear that I missed some window of opportunity where I was somewhat attractive. It was not until 25 that I moved to Loring Park, and my mother once asked me if I am getting something out of my system, and I think she is right. I am 26 going on 15, and The Saloon is my high school.

I went back to the proverbial hallways Sunday night. It did not go well. First of all, I decided to dress up and put on my yellow Express button-down and Ike Behar dress pants, because at work they have changed our wardrobe to T-shirts only, which is practical and makes mornings easier, but I really do miss dressing up. Unfortunately, I chose to walk to The Saloon, and it was 93 degrees out. By the time I got there, I was sweaty and disgusting. I walked around for thirty seconds before I realized that I had the sex appeal of a giant disembodied armpit. I told the bouncers I would be back, and I went outside and hailed a cab.

My driver was an older lady named C.J. who sounded like she smoked three cartons of cigarettes a day. She agreed to stay in my parking lot while I showered, changed my clothes, and slathered on some concealor. It only cost me $20! And I looked much more appropriate in a T-shirt and shorts.

I ran into Piano Man, the boy from the end of the last episode. He is stable and educated and intelligent, and I feel like I gain something from him by osmosis. I ran into someone from The Play That Wasn’t, and he is in a musical being featured in the Fringe Festival. I ran into Star Quarterback, because I live for awkward moments (we made awkward eye contact but he didn‘t say anything and that‘s totally cool! One of these days I think he will call me by the wrong name, like Jeremy or Jackie, and I will find it to be the most exciting day of my life). I ran into an older African-American gentleman who was from Brooklyn and was familiar with the Flatbush area, and I saw glimmers of a life I never had.

“You’re young, though,” he said. “You look …… 25.”

Stupid liquid make-up always sweats off in the summer time.

“You’re cute,” he said. “And I don’t think you know it, and that makes you cuter.”

I should have focused on that, this genuine compliment from a genuine stranger. But five minutes later, in the bathroom (because this is high school!), I ran into the worst bully of my life, with the exception of that cunt Suzy Gardas, who once walked up to me at a school dance, kneed me in the balls, and sashayed off to the bathroom.

I was looking in the mirror, obsessing over the dark circles under my eyes, when a non-descript man in his mid-thirties stared at me.

“Do you think you’re attractive?” he asked.

I paused. “No,” I said, because at the time I didn’t.

“I agree,” he hissed.

“Now, why do you need to say that?!” I challenged. “What are you gaining from this?”

Too weak to answer me, he turned his attention to two ladies in the hallway. “Question!” he asked. “Do you think I’m attractive?”

“Of course!” they squealed, and hugged him.

“He doesn’t think I am,” he said.

“Boo!” the girls yelled. “That’s mean!”

This fucking psychopath not only called me ugly, but now he was going to turn the entire bar against me. It was sociopath Regina George behavior, and I was not going to survive.

I took a cab to the 19. By this point I was beyond drunk. I don’t remember any of it, other than it’s a goddamned miracle that I made it home. And on that trek home, I sobbed like a bitch and drunk dialed everybody, because a stranger called me ugly.

I drunk dialed Chuck, bawling my eyes out. I drunk dialed Piano Man, bawling my eyes out. I drunk dialed my friend Diva, who lives in San Francisco. I drunk texted Kevin, because now we are in a weird place where we’re friends? And I don’t have strong feelings for him anymore? That’s an entirely different episode.

And I got home, still crying, turned on my computer, and thought about what you did when you were bullied in high school (or, if you were me, bullied at UW-Stout). Who did you go to? Who did you turn to? Who was going to make it all better? Did you have a guidance counselor, a wellness coordinator, a psychologist, a favorite teacher? To whom would you pour your heart out in order to alleviate yourself of the pain you got from the bullies?

And that is how I, at 4:30 in the morning, drunk Facebooked Gay Oprah and sent him a novel of a message. A month ago, he had written a column about bullies at the gay bar, and I think I wrote to him about that, how this was a real thing because I was now a victim of random bathroom bullies in gay high school. At first I was just going to share the link of his article on my wall, but it kept screwing up, and finally in my vodka-soaked wisdom I decided I would just personally write to him as if he was my therapist. I think I also told him the entire exchange from the bathroom, but I'll never know because I'm too embarrassed to read it again. I don’t even know what I thought would happen. In the movie in my mind, he would have walked into that bathroom, told us all to live with an open mind and a generous heart, and somehow ice cream would be involved.

Rosie O’Donnell cold-called Oprah at 4 in the morning after Columbine. But they were actually acquaintances, and comparing a national tragedy to a mean person’s comment in the bathroom at a gay bar will lend me a first-class ticket to hell if I hadn't already received one before for the beginning of this episode. But I really did feel better after I wrote to him. I get that he's a real person and not some omniscient being, but I had feelings, dammit, and they were out there, expressed to someone who wouldn't be unfamiliar with the situation or strangeness of our subculture.

It should also be noted that after Rosie called Oprah in histrionics, she deleted all of her phone numbers so she would never do it again.

Chuck and I went to Lake Calhoun today, because if anything will improve your mood, it is Abercrombie models playing Frisbee. Then I spent $44 at Whole Foods, and I could psychically feel my brother, who has worked at Trader Joe’s for six years, being stabbed in the heart. My apartment is 93 degrees and the closet still smells like cat pee. I spent all my birthday money. I am allegedly attractive.



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