I turned down sex three times in one night last week. That should let you know where this is going.
First of all, I was on hiatus from going out! I was going to stay in until Labor Day Weekend. But I was stressed out! I found out my rent check won’t be cashed until the 4th so I had extra “going-out” money! The 19 Bar doesn’t count as going out! I was fully stocked up on excuses, and ventured to my favorite hole in the wall a block way. I instantly ran into a neighbor pal of mine, whom I met there in June. A decent-looking young man stood next to me and asked if I wanted to “step out”. I got his name first, because I’m not some trollop. Then I ordered a shot of vodka and told the neighbor boy about it.
“Go for it!” he said. “You’re cute. You should get some.”
“I just don’t do that,” I said. But it was summertime! And maybe he just wanted to have a deep conversation or ask if I had a cigarette! Maybe he was a prostitute, and I would turn him down but at least be flattered that I looked wealthy enough to pay for one!
Bad things happen when you leave at the 19 Bar at 1:30 with a guy you barely know, and I know that. I knew this was irresponsible. I was honestly waiting for him to bring out a knife or a gun and ask for my wallet, and then I would have been mugged, and tell everyone I had been mugged, and how ironic is it that I lived in New York for a year and never got mugged but that it happened a block away from my apartment in Minneapolis. I had no intention of doing anything physical with him. Well, maybe I would have made out with him. I’m not that much of a cocktease. I tried to make small talk, and I found out he was from River Falls.
He didn’t want to mug me. He didn’t want to bring me to his place. And he didn’t want to bring me to my place, either.
He wanted me to do … that … in an alley.
“Oh, honey,” I said. “That’s just not me. But you’re cute. Enjoy your night.”
He was cute, but not cute enough to be worth the mugshot. Also, I mentioned that my own apartment was a block away. Is romance that dead? Are men that sexually desperate that they want to be blown in an alley at 1:45 in the morning on a Wednesday night? I get I have the sexual experience of an acne-plagued teenager, but I just didn’t get it.
I ran back to the 19 and had to tell the neighbor boy all about it. He graciously brought me a drink, and then offered to walk me home. “Do you want to see my apartment?” he asked. “Of course!” I agreed. “I love real estate!”
His apartment, while on the same block as mine, was fabulous with a capital F. A huge living room! A well-stocked bookcase! A kitchen that actually had food in it! His building used to be a hotel and was a combination of two different rooms, and it was luxurious. We planned on co-hosting a Labor Day party together. “Just bring your friends,“ he said. “This place will need eye candy. I will be in charge of the food.“ Perfect! He was a good listener, as I was drunkenly rambling about the A-listers.
“I don’t have the height to compete with them,” he smirked. “But I do have the income.” He was adorable, and I was able to appreciate that without being attracted to him. He is shorter than me and even smaller than me, and therefore anything physical just wouldn’t be happening.
I kept telling myself that, even if when he sat on my lap and started kissing me. "You're trouble," he kept whispering. We would not be physical, even when we went to bed and he took off all his clothes and got on top of me and it felt like I was being climbed on by a toddler. Then I had this inner crisis: Was I really that shallow? Am I really going to turn down this man who is educated and sweet and instead walk of shame it at 2:30 in the morning because he‘s not Channing Tatum? And maybe if I were promiscuous, would I have been fine with him not being what I’m generally attracted to? What did I want, anyway?
I stayed in bed motionless until 4:30 before sneaking out. I went on Grindr for shits and giggles, and another neighbor that I met wrote “Jakey!“ in a message, and I have decided that using real names on Grindr is poor etiquette. I think the Labor Day party is cancelled. I think I am crazy. I think I am 26 going on 14. I don’t know what I am doing when it comes to the preferred sex, and then I have the audacity to be disappointed that I am sleeping alone.
I decided I was going to go out on Friday night, but I would still be on hiatus from The Saloon, and I was justifying it because a girl I went to college with was hostessing at a bro-ski bar and if I said her name I got a wristband for $2 drinks. I missed broski-ville, and hopefully I would run into someone I knew so I wouldn’t look or feel ridiculously awkward.
It was ten to ten when I got out of the shower and saw that Kevin had texted me. I invited him downtown with me, but he said he no longer had a car, and invited me to his apartment.
I did not want to be the boy that always just figuratively jumps and goes to his apartment at a moment’s notice.
Don’t want to be the girl you call at four in the morning
‘Cause you know that I’m the only one who won’t be home
I had my scruples! My morals! My integrity!
Do you have vodka? I wrote back.
Lol I do, he responded.
I will leave in 15 minutes, I declared. Judge me not!
Do u want pizza? he asked.
Yes but go ahead and order it, I said. I am not picky. Then I thought about it. Just no peppers or olives or mushrooms or Canadian bacon.
I still didn’t get there for an hour. Rome wasn’t built in a day, people, and I had to pack my overnight bag and debate what T-shirt I would wear, and I didn’t want to take the same route I did last time because it sent me on too many different freeways.
We didn’t order pizza, but he ended up making one. He enjoys cooking now. I didn’t want to eat at first.
“Why?” he asked.
“I don’t eat,” I said under my breath.
“That’s just …. Hmmm, okay,” he said. “You’ve got some issues.”
“Then I’m gonna be worried about my breath, and I’m gonna need gum, and it’s this whole thing!”
“What if the person next to you just ate the same thing you did? What do you think we're gonna do?” Then he made kissie faces. Then I felt strange feelings in my crotchal region,
He had gum, thank goodness! We played video games and discussed life goals and despite the fact that he makes roughly three times the annual income that I do, he talks to me like a grown-up who knows what I’m doing with my life, and I appreciate that. His voice got more and more Southern as the night went on, and I thought about the guy from the Internet from when I was eighteen, and maybe he was the gold standard and that’s why I couldn’t enjoy the moment with the neighbor boy, because I first fell for perfection that never really existed.
Then he mentioned an ex-boyfriend he had from the South. Then I realized I knew who his ex-boyfriend was. Unlike me, he’d had perfection in real life. That’s when I knew he wasn’t going to be making moves on me anymore. You don’t trade in a Mercedes for a Pinto.
Before I knew it, it was three in the morning.
“Do you want to go swimming?” he asked.
“You have a pool?” I asked back.
I borrowed a pair of swim trunks, and we ran down stairs and through hallways before arriving at a gated outdoor pool at three in the morning. I clumsily climbed the fence and he had to help me down. I jumped in the warm water and looked at the stars above us. I was finally going to have it! My sexy summertime moment! “Underneath the Stars” by Mariah Carey came in my head, and so did “Night Swimming” by R.E.M., even though at that point the only words I knew were night swimming. But, still! My romance! It was going to arrive in this moment, in the pool we were illegally swimming in, at three in the morning! My memories! My summer of love!
“Oh my god, a mouse!” Kevin yelled.
“What?!!” I cried.
“It was in the pool, it could have drowned!” he cried as he cradled a small moving blob and set it on the concrete. “I’m the first living thing it’s seen and now it’s imprinting! It thinks I’m his mother! Now it won’t survive in the wild!”
“Oh my god, Kevin, leave it alone!” I cried. The romance was gone. I was cock-blocked by a rodent.
He swam like a real swimmer. I swam like someone who never made it past Beginners 1 (meaning I can do a mean doggie paddle to stay afloat, but my front crawl is atrocious). Our excursion was over, and climbing the fence the second time proved even more difficult, as I cut my hand open on the metal. Blood gushed everywhere.
“Oh, fuck,” I whined. “Do you have band-aids in your apartment? Owwwwwww.”
“I think you’re milking that injury,” he said on the way back.
“Milking it? I’m bleeding!” I should have made him take me to the hospital.
He mercifully had band-aids. We went to bed in platonic fashion. Dashboard Confessional has a cover of “Night Swimming” and I have listened to it 17 times.
Saturday night, I decided to branch out by going to Jetset! Jared joined me and I realized that will be our new hotspot. I would never go to Jetset by myself. The men are older and masculine and insist on calling me “Jake”, but every now and then you can bond with one of them, including one from that night when I lost my cell phone battery! He seemed both flummoxed and amused by me. We also ran into Football Guy’s Friend, and I told him I wasn’t stalking him. I did not mention Football Guy, as I am classy.
On the way back from Jetset, we met Neighbor Girl at the ‘90s! Jared and I have VIP cards so we were able to pop in after 2 A.M., and we stayed in her apartment with a random group of eight. Some of them were cute boys. One of them had his mother in tow. She was a hoot and a half. I love people.
"Jakey, you're a good person," Neighbor Girl's man friend said. "You've got that All-American thing about you. You should have somebody." Huh.
I love people except when I have to work 9-hour days after going to Jetset. Never again. I was tired and cranky and overheated, and well, then I just had to go The Saloon. I deserved it! Liam was there, and I didn’t get there until midnight. I regretted that I didn’t have any gossip, and we left our table to loop around the bar. We stood next to a boy with curly hair who looks like he could be in One Direction, and then I lamented that I had sat next to The Wanted at that very bar and didn’t know who they were. Football Guy’s Friend was there again! He is so nice. I am going to find out more things about him other than his being Football Guy’s Friend, because it really makes me a lousy person.
“That’s Star Quarterback’s ex-boyfriend,” Liam said loudly as we stood by the doorway, about to enter another room. He didn’t say Star Quarterback, mind you.
“Oh,” I said, and then, right in front of us, was Star Quarterback!! I responded very maturely, and by very maturely I mean I grabbed Liam by the hand and made him run outside to the patio with me.
"What is the big deal?!" he asked.
"You can't say his name so loud!" I yelled. "You have to stay Star Quarterback. Also, why am I so scared of him?"
"I don't know," Liam said with a smirk. "Calm down."
When we got back inside, we ordered drinks, and Star Quarterback stood right behind me and he was elbowing me, but it was an accident and he doesn’t know I’m alive? Allegedly? A boy who has been on “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” had a meltdown because someone stepped on his sandal. We took a picture of a puddle and pretended that I had peed, and One Direction boy photo-bombed us. Awwww!!! Youth!
Liam and I went to another bar, where Philip was standing.
“OH, LOOK,” Liam said a bit too loudly. “THERE’S YOUR BOYFRIEND, PHILIP.”
Philip smiled, and I said hello to him and became best friends. I’m just kidding. Instead I ran out of the bar in embarrassment to go watch the shower contest. And I wonder why I don’t make new friends.
Two ridiculously sexy boys with black X’s on their hands were the final two in the shower contest. I cheered for both of them, although I was lambasted for cheering for the straight one. Seriously, people? I have as much of a chance with the hot straight one as I do with the hot gay one, and that chance is zero point zero. Then I felt old and perverted, but I couldn’t find Liam! He was probably getting engaged to Philip. I later found him and he hugged me good-bye, and then I moped for twenty minutes.
I walked home alone. I felt stupid. Why do I care so much about the concept of “A-list” and “popular” and “cool” and “sexy”, and if I do, then why am I so damn shy when I finally encounter these people? What is the magic ingredient in the elixir of confidence? Is it money? Status? Visible abdominal muscles?
What did I learn in these 13 episodes? I spooned a lot. I laughed a lot. I had six different nervous breakdowns, but in those breakdowns I found out who I can call sobbing at 3 in the morning (the answers are Shelley from work, Chuck, and Diva who lives in California, and then I can always drunk Facebook Gay Oprah). I went through every stage of a relationship without actually having the relationship. I formed deep friendships.
Oh, and I made the Top 25 of the comedy contest I did at ACME Comedy Club, so there. Because I am such a dedicated comedian, I have currently spent more time thinking about what I will wear on Friday night than what jokes I will tell.
In closing, Michael Stipe wrote that "Night Swimming" was about "kind of an innocence that's either kind of desperately clung onto or obviously lost". I'm still not sure which one I have.