Previously on Loring Park:
Jared and Jakey encountered a frightening bar patron. Joey returned to Minneapolis. Jakey has a crush on everyone.
Halloween was looming! The week before, Chuck and I ran errands so that I could buy my costume and feel like a grown-up. I had left my car at LUSH the night before, and we had to reflect on the previous night because I am in ninth grade.
“The twinky bartender is so nice,” I declared. “Usually I’m threatened when they’re smaller and prettier than me, but he’s genuine and not bitchy. He even said he hoped I would come sing karaoke!”
“I hugged Star Quarterback,” Chuck boasted. “I wished you would have seen it.”
“I don’t know if I like him anymore,” I said.
“What?!” Chuck asked, and his face fell. “That’s the only reason why I did it.”
“It’s so stupid,” I whined. “It’s not even him! It turned into this whole manifestation of my insecurities, and now he’s this entity that goes beyond him as a person.” It should be noted that we were shopping for my Halloween costume, and I was ironically going to be a star quarterback. I had the jersey custom made.
Yes, I know that the quarterback doesn’t wear #69, but I was going to gay bars and therefore I did not think that anybody would be calling me out on my lack of football knowledge. Plus, back when I did a radio show, I totally talked to Chris Kluwe for five seconds, and that was before he became a heterosexual gay icon.
First, we went to the bank so I could cash in my change! It turns out a cute boy from Lawrence’s post-Pride party works there, and he looks quite dapper all dressed up. “Hey, Jake,” he smiled. “I haven’t seen you since the summer.” I turned scarlet, audibly whispered Oh my god, he’s so cute as we walked out, and then had to go back inside because I forgot my now-empty change bowl.
After the bank, we went to Party City. We were supposed to look for Chuck’s costume, but he still hadn’t decided what he was going to be, and scoffed at my suggestion of Justin Bieber. I purchased eye make-up, and then we vamoosed to Target and eventually Play It Again Sports, a secondhand sporting goods store. They were slow as it was a Thursday afternoon, and a boy who was probably in between junior and senior year of high school was behind the counter.
“Where’s your football stuff?” I asked.
“Is this for a costume?” he instantly asked. Nevertheless, he was incredibly helpful, even going through unopened boxes in order to find a Youth Size L pair of black football pants. Chuck assisted with putting on the shoulder pads.
“Do these go on the outside or the inside?” I asked the high schooler.
“Inside,” he said above Chuck’s stifled laughter.
“I knew that,” I said. “I was testing you.”
We rang up our purchases where another boy who couldn’t have been older than 18 conducted our transaction. “Ready for the big game?!” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Go, team, go!” In the car, Chuck and I decided that those boys were cute and that we should find new and creative reasons to continue shopping at Play it Again Sports. The final portion of my costume was discovered at Gordman’s, where I discovered a pair of black New Balance sneakers. I was too drained from shopping to try them on, and decided I would just hope for the best.
As for Halloween weekend itself, my work schedule that week was not in favor of social outings, so the only night I could actually go out was on Sunday! However, I was able to go out Thursday night in order to treat myself. Jared and Sina wanted to go to the Gay ‘90s, but I took forever and a day to get ready, and I decided I would go to The Saloon instead. Also, I was going to meet Bjorn, a fellow Minneapolis comedian who has recently come out of the closet (on stage, mind you!). He had messaged me on Facebook “I forgot it was National Coming Out Day! Shit!” and I had mistaken it for sarcasm. Whoops!
I was anxious before Bjorn got there, because the usual A-listers were there, and I was being that guy that just stands at T.J.’s bar and gets plowed. Bjorn finally showed up, and then Jared did, fresh from the ‘90s. Bjorn and Jared are both what you would call “cubs” in the gay zoo. While that doesn’t sexually float my boat, and Bjorn is not into skinny femmy dudes such as myself, Jared was woefully turned on.
“How do you know Bjorn?” he asked. “He is so hot! Grrrr!!” Jared does enjoy his grizzlies. A week prior, at Lush, he hit on a man coming out of the door saying “Hello, look at that bear! Grrr!” but the man got all offended. “How dare you!” he cried. “I’m an otter!” I don’t get it. I will stick to being a happy ocelot, thank you very damn much.
“JAKEY!” a man who I had never seen before in my life yelled. He was about 6’4 and built rock solid like a football player (which he was professionally at one point). It turns out he went to my old college and had even bought shoes at my store the week prior! I felt bad for not knowing who he was immediately, but we had a delightful time with his gay roommates, and he was able to learn from us that, just like heterosexuals, not all gay men want to bone each other.
“I’m not into Jakey that way at all,” Bjorn said. “I like manly men.”
“And I don’t want to get a hairball,” I explained.
“See, I like small girls,” the football player said. “Y’know, I can just lift ’em up and destroy ‘em.” Then my face turned into a tomato.
Bjorn walked me home as his boyfriend lives in the building next to mine, and I hope to see him on the open mike circuit soon (oh, also, I need to actually go back on the open mike circuit).
I really was not going to go out on Saturday. I closed at work Friday, then we had a meeting at 8 in the morning, and then I had a full shift from 1 until 9:30. I could have just gone out with no make-up and said I was a zombie, but that would have been beside the point. A 19-year-old co-worker of mine got me on the list at a U of M frat party. I couldn’t go to a frat party! I was born in the 80’s! I seriously debated it, and when I was in the shower, I convinced myself that I would go if only for the great stand-up routine it would create. Sina invited me to a party in Golden Valley, and I planned to go to that. It would be low-key, and I haven’t really hung out with Sina since I moved to Loring Park.
Saturday was one disaster after another. The world did not want me to go out. It wanted me to sleep and stay home.
First, I realized that I could not get the shoulder pads on as long as I had the jersey on. Then I ruined the football make-up when I dropped it in the sink. Then I realized that not only did my New Balances from Gordman’s not fit (I should have gone up half a size), but that the security tag was still on. It was a hat trick of snafus, but I bitched about it on Twitter so much that I got featured on the Weekend Twitterings page at LOL OMG Blog (it’s a hilarious feature that they do every weekend, and it was delightfully random to look back and see Jenn Schaal and my friend Kendall be highlighted on it as well).
I had a Hot Pocket and watched Up! With Chris Hayes on DVR. Happy freaking Halloween.
Finally, it was Sunday night! I amazed myself by getting to the Gay ‘90s by 11:15 when I told Sina I would meet her there at 11. I still had to eschew the shoulder pads, and decided to put my ID, cash and credit card in my sock, and leave my phone in my coat, which I would check at the door. I also told Sina from the get-go that I would leave for The Saloon at 12:30. Still, I wanted to be present. Two Halloweens ago we were at the ‘90s having a blast and I felt the need to go to The Saloon because it was different and there would be boys there, and then I went and didn’t know anybody.
Sina is a fashion designer and made her own costume, and she rocked it as Storm, commander of all the X-Men. My football theme continued as a former Minnesota Viking was there (but by that point I think he was too drunk to even know I was wearing a jersey. I complimented him on his singing, anyway). Sina noted that I didn’t really look like a football player without shoulder pads.
“I know, I know,” I said. “It’s not really a Star Quarterback look. It’s more of a Gay Kicker.”
It felt like old times! Sina and I used to go to the Gay ‘90s every Sunday together, back when we first became good friends. She is destined to be successful as she has more talent in her pinky finger than most people have in their whole bodies, and at the risk of trying to sound like I’m anything, I’ve noticed parallels in our lives. We are both queer, on the periphery, and have these side show business careers that are finally starting to go our way. She has seen me do stand-up comedy in the diviest, emptiest bars and sat through bad pussy joke after bad pussy joke. I once went to a fashion show she did on Christmas Day in a warehouse in Brooklyn Park in which everything started three hours late and the hosts mispronounced her name the entire time. We’ve paid our dues, and I think we’re a little better now than we were two years ago (her much more so than I as she actually leaves her apartment).
This guy actually had fire coming out of his costume and won the contest at the 19 the night prior. Sina asked me to take a picture with him. This guy is a saint, because I took four pictures, and Sina was not happy with any of them. "You're so bad at taking pictures!" she chastized.
"Sina"! I cried. "I'm used to disposable cameras! Be nice!"
We mingled with Genevieve, our favorite drag queen, and then decided to dance at the Retro Bar.
Remember when Jared and I were at The Saloon and that scary, scary man kept stalking us? He is tall and imposing and does this thing where he just STANDS BEHIND YOU. He does not say anything. It is much scarier when he has his shirt off. Mercifully, he was clothed this evening, but he did the same shtick to me, and this time he was adding a massage. I did my best to ignore it, but it got too skeevy and Sina and I finally switched bars (and I was too sober to shriek like I was in a slasher film this time). Still, I needed to drink more because The Pink Ladies were next to us. The Pink Ladies are a trio of ridiculously attractive and chiseled gays (one of whom is Jim Wilson, one of whom Peter has a huge crush on, and I don‘t know anything about the third one) who, while I’m sure they’re very nice, I can’t be comfortable around because of my own insecurities. Abs are the ultimate status symbol in Gay World, and once attained, they are to be waved around like an 18-karat engagement ring, for everyone to silently envy and hate themselves for lacking.
Sina and I stood at the “drag bar”. Two dudes were making out hardcore, to the point that I thought I should have had popcorn. “That’s my little brother,” a boy said to us. He didn’t have very good breath but he was reasonably attractive in a Jersey Shore kind of way. “Your friend’s cute,” he said to Sina.
I shook his hand, hugged him, and then we kept mingling. “Go back to that boy,” Sina demanded. “He was cute. This is why you are single. They hit on you and then you don’t say anything.” She gasped when another Storm walked by.
“Don’t worry!” I cried. “You’re way prettier than that other Storm.”
“She glared at me,” Sina hissed. “Now go find that boy again!”
We went back upstairs. His little brother and that other guy were still making out, and now they were getting into face-eating. Ew! As for my future boyfriend, he was now booty dancing in between two middle-aged women. Story of my life! A reasonably cute boy likes me but I turn him down for superficial reasons (in this case halitosis), and then he leaves me for a group of women old enough to be my mother.
Seriously, I don’t know who these women were, but one of them was seriously groping the boy.
“Sue!” one of them yelled. “What are you doing?!”
“Well, he’s here!” Sue defended. I have a new hero, America, and her name is Sue.
“Jakey!” Sina yelled. “They’re stealing your man!” And just as she said that, my “man” stumbled and fell into an end table. Sue helped him up before the bouncers could kick him out.
“Yep,” I said through gritted teeth. “That’s my boo.”
I downed my Kinky and Sina escorted me to coat check, where we saw the boy tripping over himself. His eyes and hands met mine.
“Youresopretty,” he slurred. “So beautifulllll.”
This was going to be my most romantic moment of the evening. You take what you can get.
“Help me go pee,” he begged. “Please. So pretty.”
“Ugh, fine,” I said, and I took him by the hand and walked him to the bathroom, and if these bitches wanted to think he was my hot drunk boyfriend, so be it.
“Come in with me,” he begged, but that is where I drew the line.
“I’m not gonna hold it for you,” I said. “I’ll be next door to make sure you’re not dead.”
I banged on his door after I was done, washed my hands, and walked out of the ‘90s. As I pushed the exit door, a girl scoffed when the door hit her.
“God," she said. “You totally fucking hit me.”
“Well, don’t stand by the exit,” I scolded. I’m guessing she was denied admittance for some reason, either for prior intoxication or not having an ID.
“You don’t gotta be a smart bitch about it,” she snapped.
“Smart and bitch are good things,” I retorted before I walked to The Saloon. I should note that the entire time, I had to keep one hand on my football pants because, despite being from the youth department, those things would not stay up. I don’t think this happens to real football players.
I made it to The Saloon and instantly made a beeline to Liam, who was standing next to Ryan Robertson.
“Don’t be mad,” Liam whispered. “But I came here with Ryan.”
“Oh my god, Liam,” I said. “We’re not in high school.”
“Hey, Jakey,” Ryan smiled, and then I felt like my body didn’t know if it wanted to pee, puke, or spontaneously combust, or maybe all three.
Jared was there and we gossiped for a good hour, and before we knew it, it was bar close! We all awkwardly stood outside, as one does at The Saloon. A boy we didn’t know kept trying to get close to us, but finally, Ryan, Liam and a boy who is never nice to me snuck away to Ryan’s car to go to an after-party! It was downtown, but it took us half an hour to get there because we had the wrong address, and the only way to get it was for Ryan to go talk to Philip on Grindr. Also, I really need a new Grindr picture and that is the next project for whenever Chuck or Joey come over.
We finally made it! I was inexplicably the first one to leave the car, despite the fact that I had no idea where I was going.
“What is your costume supposed to be?” the fourth boy asked.
“[Star Quarterback],” I said, only I didn’t actually say Star Quarterback, I said the boy’s real name, because it was 3 A.M., I was finally getting to celebrate Halloween, I’d been enjoying vodka all night, and it’s not like this was gonna get awkward!
The very first person I saw when I walked in was Star Quarterback, mind you. Oh, crap!
“Oh my god, Jakey!” Liam yelled. “It’s Star Quarterback!”
“SHUT UP!” I cried. The party was delightfully skanky. The apartment is laid out for parties like this, with a large living room and kitchenette and lofted extra bedroom up above so you can pretend that you’re at a nightclub. Liam had me take a picture with Philip, who is terrified of me, and I choose to find the humor in it.
I finished off the host’s vodka, and then he graciously let me have a rum drink, even though rum treats my stomach like I’m Drew Barrymore in Scream. I still ran away from Star Quarterback, which was hard to do in an apartment. Liam and I recognized one of the muscle gays that Joey lives with! I thought it would be a delightful time to break the ice.
“Heyyyy,” Liam said. “You live with Joey!”
“Um, let’s be clear,” Muscle Margaret hissed. “Joey lives in my house.” He sashayed off with his fellow alpha males, and that was all he spoke to us that evening.
Right? I always go by the mantra “Nobody owes you anything” (and we’ll get to that at the end of this episode), and so by that logic, he didn’t owe us an iota of friendliness, but I couldn’t help but feel sour by the exchange.
I kept trying to get pictures of myself with Star Quarterback in the background, but everyone was too drunk to get it together. People gradually started leaving, and then I began to feel a sense of panic. It was after 4 A.M., granted, but I had again blown it! I was in my Star Quarterback jersey, and there was the real Star Quarterback, and I was still too much of a chicken shit to ever say anything …
…I sat on the couch and he walked by. “Happy Halloween, motherfucker!” I yelled, and I hi-fived him, because I am a classy, classy lady. I did not wash my hands for ten minutes.
A delightful sprite of a boy emerged from the bedroom, and the party had dwindled down to he and I, Ryan, and Liam. We were overstaying our welcome, especially when Sprite was trying to molest Ryan and I briefly went apeshit, and the three of us bid Sprite farewell and went to Ryan’s car. Fully aware of my third wheel status, I did the proper thing and sat in the back seat. I was ready to pass out and didn’t think anything when we hadn’t moved for two minutes.
“Um,” Ryan said. “I don’t know where the key to start the car is.”
“Huh?” I stirred. The three of us practically tore his car apart. They weren’t in the glove compartment, or under the seat, or in one of his jackets, or anywhere. I was sympathetic as I have locked my keys in the car so many times that AAA makes me pay for it (that was nervous breakdown #7 of 2012?), but I was also selfishly relieved that even people ostensibly put-together and grown-up like Ryan Robertson lose shit every now and then. He called a car dealership and found out it would cost $160 to get his key replaced. Fuuuucccckkkkk.
We went back to the apartment. What else do four gay guys do at 4 in the morning when they are stranded? If you guessed streaking, you get partial credit. Sprite decided it would be funny to run across the street naked from the waist-down. I mean, it was kind of funny, but the street wasn’t very busy, it was dark out, and Sprite is naturally tan (had I been naked it would have looked like a white orb was floating in the air). He tried to get Liam to do it, but he refused. I was pouting because I was sexually frustrated and wanted Sprite to take his shirt off (in this episode’s TMI moment, I’m all about the upper body).
“You’re seriously not gonna take your shirt off?” I asked.
“No,” Sprite said.
“Well, shit,” I said, and then I learned why I should never have dark liquor. “I’ll do it.”
I peeled off my football jersey as if I could, and then I darted across the street. When I turned around for the second lap, I felt my football pants starting to fall down. And then I thought: What would Kathy Griffin do? She would do anything to get the laugh. It’s 5 in the morning, I probably had the worst body of anyone at that party, but I decided to own the moment, and that is how I ended up running across the street in teeny tiny Reebok underpants. TOUCHDOWN? I don’t know. I will consider it one if only for the fact that Ryan Robertson did not vomit.
Sprite entertained us for a bit but eventually went to bed, and I had my own couch while Ryan and Liam spooned across from me. I was surprised that I wasn’t jealous. I barely know Ryan, and I thought that the whole thing was rather sweet. Besides, I am like Cady Herron and have really bad breath in the morning, and I wouldn’t want to poison anybody. The star quarterback slept on his own.
Ryan took a cab to work at 10:30 (the poor boy was working a double, too), and the party’s host graciously made us cinnamon buns. Despite the fact that I was getting uncomfortable in my football uniform, I had more fun in the morning than I had all night. The four of us gossiped and awkwardly waved at neighbors (Sprite, being from a second-ring suburb, especially loves people-watching). The host mentioned a sex party that evening, but I can barely fit in at a regular, non-sex party. Besides, who goes to such a thing on a Monday? Honestly.
My mother came over that day to help me clean my apartment, because I am 14 years old. All of my socks are orphans. We talked about un-fun stuff like my quarter life crisis, being a hopeless loser and wondering if I want to go back to school or not, and then I wanted to bring up fun topics like boys because it’s easier that way.
“I’m not promiscuous,” I said.
“No?” she said. “I think you’re verbally promiscuous.”
I don’t even know what the hell that means. It’s not like I have an entire blog that is nothing but pages and pages of anecdotes about cute boys I run into.
OK, this is the longest episode ever, but that’s because I have to get to actual Halloween!
I began my evening at my friend Julie’s apartment in Inver Grove Heights! I have known Julie since third grade and rarely see her, as we are victims of geography (if she lived downtown, I’d see her four times a week). This was an exciting night because it meant I got to actually wear the shoulder pads (it’s a two-person job). As for the sneakers, I got the security tag off, but as someone who has worked retail for four years, I do feel slightly hellbound because of it. The eye makeup got thrown away in the cleaning, but Julie graciously let me use black eyeliner, and it got the job done just fine. I invited Joey, but his bank account got frozen on account of the hurricane.
The plan was for the group to eat at Senor Wongs before going out on the town. While three of us were in my car preparing to pick up Julie from the side of the building, we got a phone call from our other friends informing us that Senor Wongs had stopped serving food. None of us wanted to tell Julie the bad news, and I encouraged her to take a deep breath before the devastating revelation. We settled on McGovern’s, where people ate cheese bread and steak fries and other things that sound really good, but I eat like a damn bird during the week. Julie’s little sister was visiting from Florida, and my childhood neighbor was there! I found out that the boy I thought was her boyfriend is her gay boyfriend. Whoops! He was dressed as a diver/swimmer but wouldn’t unzip because he was worried about a food baby. The kids and I went to LUSH, as that was more convenient for my post-Halloween schedule.
I circled around LUSH trying to find a parking spot (my M.O. is to park my car on a side street overnight), and spied Ryan Robertson walking to the door. This made me even panic further when I realized that my usual parking spot was unavailable for morning parking the next day. Crumbs! I ended up parking in a nearby suburb and hoped no one would see me until I got in the bar. Also, I was hella freezing. And yes, I just used “hella” and I am not deleting it.
ALL OF MY CRUSHES WERE THERE. South Dakota Version Two was there, and I teased him about having a ton of new fake friends since he won Madonna tickets. Then I totally ruined the moment about him saying I had a good aura by bringing up that he had said I had a good aura. That is so rank. That’s like saying, “Remember the time you were drunk and said I was really hot?“ and that will only make you less hot. I could feel my positive aura dissipate as I could not shut up. My childhood neighbor and her gay boyfriend were there. The tall boy from Lawrence’s party was there (“Hey, Jakey, I just wanted to say hi” he said on his way to the bathroom. Awwwwwww). Markie was there and kept grabbing my ass, and his friend kept asking if I was a “newbie“. Well, we can’t win them all.
I paid the DJ $5 to play Mariah Carey. “Play something upbeat,” said a boy I see often on the circuit who often hangs out with Star Quarterback, not that I care. “No ballads. Do ‘It’s Like That’ or ‘Heartbreaker’.” The DJ opted for the remix of “Fantasy”, and I had no complaints. The real Star Quarterback was at the back of the bar in a Dan Marino jersey.
“I have to get my picture taken with him,” I told his friend. “But don’t let him know about it.” I am not creepy at all.
Just like at The Saloon, the night ended before I realized it (I have got to start getting to the bar before 1:15 A.M.). Markie agreed to drive my car to his place and let me crash there, which saved me cab money and having to take the bus in the morning. Perfection! Yet five minutes after hopping into my CR-V, we were in the LUSH parking lot. To our left was Ryan Robertson in his car, and to the right was Star Quarterback and his friend. We were on our way to an after-party, and now I was truly scared. I hate Halloween!
Ten minutes later, Markie had my car parked behind Star Quarterback’s. “Aw, shit,” he muttered. “Christ, I gotta pee.” He sprinted out of the car to find a tree or alleyway. Well, at least it wasn’t in my car. I didn’t know the random group of people behind me, and they were keeping their distance (maybe they didn’t know where the party was). I stood in front of my car just as Star Quarterback got out of his. That was when I realized he was the only person on the street who I “knew” (at least as a familiar face) and I had no idea where I was going. Curse your overactive bladder, Markie! Curse it! But now I had to say something while he was gathering things from his vehicle! This it, Jakey. It's you and the boy you're scared of because you let it turn into this thing that it didn't need to be, morphing to the point that it was no longer even about the real person anyway. It was about what he represented, and what you weren't, but aren't you tired of always running away and spazzing when you see him? It's exhausting. Say something. Anything!
“My pants keep falling down,” I said, which was maybe not socially acceptable but at least it was true.
“Aw, mine too,” Star Quarterback said. It is important to know that Star Quarterback and I both share the trait of talking 100 miles an hour. “My mom sent me these because I used to play in school, but that was back when I was like 270. I should have just bought different ones.”
“Wait, but aren’t you the Star Quarterback?” I asked. “Is it okay if I call you Star Quarterback?” Holy shit, this was happening.
“You can call me whatever,” he said. “Hey, wait, what’s the back of your jersey say?”
I showed him the red-on-black #69 and the personalized name on the back. “Wait, I have something for you,” he said. “Hold on.” He went to his front seat and threw something at me. It was a black armband with a red 69 on it. “I don't know why I had it in my car, but shit, I don't need it. It goes with you. There you go,” he smiled, and he walked toward the house, his army following him.
It does not mean anything bigger than it is, as much as I dramatize it. But it was a moment. One that you can’t plan for or anticipate, but can only enjoy when it happens. Ever since April, I have been terrified of him, and in that moment, all of the times I saw him at The Saloon and ran away like a paranoid chicken shit had disappeared. And this was all because I drunk Facebooked! Who does that?
After the party, Markie came over and I drunk-added that whole entire room on Facebook. Ugh! D-list! I will never learn! About half of them added me back, but I have learned this time not to care! For one thing, I’m going on bar hiatus. I know I say that every episode, but this time I mean it. Even the star quarterback gets an off week.
Also, I’m pretty sure I fucking lost that wristband. There is a metaphor in there somewhere.