Friday, January 25, 2013

Loring Park Episode #22: I Knew You Were Trouble When You Walked In

If I learned anything from the One Direction fanfic I obsessively read last weekend, it's that you need to tell this Kevin guy how you feel NOW. There's never going to be a good time! If you don't, he may run off to London on a photography internship like Harry and you're all alone and depressed in your flat because you just assumed he didn't want to be with you! And then Niall will be forced to come over and drag you out of your pile of Lean Pocket wrappers.
                                          -The irrepressible James, who better be in the same city as me by the time we're  40

I was going to tell him. Life got in the way.

Yes, boys and girls, we are naming this episode after a Taylor Swift song. If you want to decide that now is when Loring Park jumped the shark, so be it. This might be the episode in which I win an Emmy, but I don't want to jinx it.

I wasn't going to go to the club on the night that started this downward spiral. I was attending The Reapies, which is the Minnesota stand-up version of the Emmys. Even though I wasn't nominated, I knew it would be fun to go and see all my comedian acquaintances, and my friend Sina agreed to be my date for the evening. I bought a Jag bomb for my friend Josh Florhaug, who was celebrating his birthday. The show was to start at 8, but because of the Vikings/Packers game, it didn't start until ten. I almost didn't make it because I cut my chin while shaving and it refused to clot. You can see just a speck of it in this picture, taken by the talented Ricky Noren:

The first half of the show was delightful, and I really do feel I'm on some weird wavelength between open-miker and professional. It made me want to work harder and do more, and I felt lucky to be in a room with so many talented people. But I was not lucky enough to have a seat, and Sina left at around 11, and at around the midnight halftime mark, I was debating if I wanted to leave or not. And by leaving, I was preparing to go to bed, not go to The Saloon. There were many reasons to choose bed over clubbing. I had seen on Facebook that Liam had been at LUSH since 8 PM, and therefore I knew that he would be two sheets to the wind by the time I arrived anywhere. I was tired! My feet hurt! I had to work the next day! I had also been invited out by a nice boy from Iowa whom I met on a previous Sunday Funday, and I explained to him that I didn't know if I was doing anything after the Reapies.

"R u out?" Joey texted.
"Comedy thing is at halftime," I wrote back.
"Kevin is here fyi," Joey wrote. "And he needs a place to stay."

Kevin could not have stayed at my place, because my apartment was a disaster (as is often the case). Besides, I did not want to be that girl who jumps at the chance to run into the boy she likes. It is not organic. It is manipulating the situation. I walked upstairs and talked to the hilarious Carolyn Blomberg. I regret to mention that, much like I did with my karaoke outing with Jenn Schaal, we spent only a little bit of time talking about comedy and most of it talking about Kevin, because I am 14 years old that way. I decided to go to the damn Saloon, but first I had to drive my car home and cab it.

Joey was texting me to hurry. When I prepared to walk into my apartment, there was a cab available to take me, but I had to go back inside to check how I looked, because I wasn't sure I was pretty enough. This added another 20 minutes before my arrival. Along with even going to The Saloon that night, that is another split-decision moment that I will always question. I look at the picture above, and while I know I am not Channing Tatum, I also realize that I looked fine, dammit. I do not know what I was so afraid of.

I got there around 12:30, and ran into JARED! I didn't even know he was there! This led to relief because then I didn't even need to worry about Kevin. By this point, I knew where he was, but first I ordered Absolut on the rocks from Danny, because I was nervous. I finally saw him at a different bar. He was in a red T-shirt and was talking with Joey, Liam, and Quinn. Because I am 12, I talked to Joey first, and then Liam (who was pretty far gone), and then Quinn, and then Kevin. I was going to handle this like an adult.

"JAKEY!" he yelled. "Good to see you!"
"Itsgoodtoseeyoutookevin," I articulately replied.
"My niece asked about you!" he said. "So did my mom. She said she loves your expressions."
"Oh," I said, staring at Joey the entire time. "Thatisverysweet."

I have not introduced readers to Quinn yet. He has been there since early fall. He has not been written about because he is quiet. I first met him at a Sunday brunch as a friend of Markie's, and he often goes to LUSH with us on Wednesdays. He smiles a lot and does not say much. He is 23 and lives in my neighborhood. I had yet to have a personal one-on-one conversation, but, save for a time at LUSH when I (perhaps rudely) asked for a ride home and he agreed to one and then later texted Joey that he was backing out of it, I've never had beef with him. If you asked me my opinion, I would say he is a good kid.

"Jakey," Joey whispered. "Kevin has been on Quinn all night."
"Well, so?" I asked. "We're all grown-ups." I was on my second straight vodka drink after that.
"Yeah, but Quinn doesn't even like him that way," Joey said. "He's been texting me 'help' all night."

But what was I to do? Quinn and Kevin kept walking off in various parts of the bar, and I didn't want to seem like a stalker. Jared and I brushed by them a few times, and I had some more conversation with Kevin, but nothing deep, nothing I will remember (I also talked to the boy from Iowa while staring a hole through Quinn). By 1:30, it was inevitable that Quinn and Kevin were going home together, and I honestly was fine with it, because my apartment was really messy. Jared asked if he could stay over and we watched the first hour of Julie & Julia. Because Kevin wore red, I played "White Houses" by Vanessa Carlton over and over. Nothing has changed since college. I am still sexually naive and pining over the unattainable.

And he's so funny in his bright red shirt
We were all in love and we all got hurt

  The next night I decided I would go out, but first Chuck had begged me to come to his house and entertain him and Peter. He even convinced me that perhaps I wouldn't even need to go The Saloon that night, and I could save money. I packed an overnight bag just in case, and left my apartment at 9:30 P.M. to drive to Northeast.

It was the sixth day in the year in which I pledged to be a financially independent adult, and that was the night that my 2000 Honda CR-V finally died. I am very grateful that it happened where it did, at the stoplight nearest my building, and that by some grace of God and Mariah Carey, it was able to hobble back into my parking lot. I called Chuck with the sad news, and then I decided that I was going to The Saloon to get drunk in honor of that CR-V, the one that my mother never dented and that I managed to bang up the first five times I drove it. I am over my Mommy Issues (I think), but when they come back up it is always tied to not being allowed to get my driver's license when I was a teenager, and I wanted to put all of that pain and drama away. I suppose I could have done this via working out or writing poetry, but I chose clubbing. My friend Madison said she would meet me there with her boyfriend, and I felt supported.

I moseyed over to T.J.'s bar first, and soon met with Madison and her boyfriend Keith, who is cute in a skater kind of way. Amongst mingling, I walked by the shower contest and met one of the future contestants! He was from Ely, Minnesota and was an MMA fighter, and I thought he was very cute and I enjoyed our G-rated conversation.

"How big is your dick?" asked my friend Big Tony, and then I left the room before I got an answer. Such talk is so awkward.

Keith and I went up for drinks and we joked that I was allowed to pretend he was my boyfriend if it made people jealous. I didn't think I would need to do that, but then Liam walked by, and he was very drunk after a long day of Sunday Funday-ing. I didn't say Keith was my boyfriend, I just didn't act like he wasn't, either, and he taught me how to do choreographed dance moves. Shocked at my actually successful interaction with an attractive man, Liam was beside himself.

"You're trouble," he kept telling Keith. We all circled the bar together, and found ourselves next to Quinn, and I tensed up just a bit.

When Jared is Level Four drunk (which, to his credit, he is not been in my presence since a rather traumatic incident), he is loud and belligerent and slurry. Liam is a stealth Level Four Drunk. He doesn't get loud, or curse, or get violent. But he will tell secrets. It's hilarious and enjoyable if you are not the one is secret about. Hell, if you want a false rumor to be true, tell him it when he is Level Three Drunk, and then when he is Level Four Drunk, it will come out. If any of you are at The Saloon and you hear that Ryan Robertson and I went to Applebee's, well, it certainly must be true!

However, this was an evening in which I embraced Liam's Level Four status. It needed to happen. There was an awkwardness in the air that had to be addressed.

"You hate me," Liam pouted.
"I do not," I said. "I'm just concerned." Lawrence and Markie, who had spent their entire Sunday Funday with Liam, were responsible for his transportation and I did not see them around, and I began to resent the implication that because I lived so close to the bar, it would be unspoken that he could sleep over at my place. I always want friends to have a place to stay, but what if hell had frozen over and I was entertaining guests? That was the biggest source of my stress in that moment. The other, was, well .....
"Quinn thinks you hate him," Liam said, a bit louder.
Quinn smiled nervously. "What?" he asked.
"You think Jakey hates you," Liam grinned.
Quinn and I awkwardly smiled at each other.
"Liam, you are just being silly," I said, as if speaking to a kid who had too much sugar. "None of us hate anyone."

A loud, awkward silence continued to float in the air, and we weren't even paying attention to the naked man in the shower right in front of us (ONLY AT THE SALOON). I decided now was the only time to address the bright pink elephant in the room.

"Okay," I told Quinn. "This is not your fault, and you had no way of knowing, but I really like that Kevin guy you went home with the last night. And I know the situation, that he was on you all night, and you were feeling trapped --"
"Oh my god, totally!" Quinn gasped. "I don't even like him that way. And I had no idea you felt that way."
"But how could you know?" I asked. "He wasn't even talking to me all night. By the time I got here last night, he had made his decision." Why did I even go? Why didn't I take that cab? Why was this some fucked-up version of The Bachelor?
"No, I'm so sorry," Quinn said.
"You have nothing to apologize for," I said, and I meant it. "I'm just saying that Liam knows I like Kevin and that's why he's saying these things. I have no beef with you, honestly."
"Oh, my god, me neither," Quinn agreed.
"For once Liam being drunk led to a good thing," I grinned and chugged my vodka. Then my expression turned serious. 

"You don't have to answer this," I whispered. "But did he make a move on you?"
"He tried to, yeah," Quinn said.

"I'm gonna go see T.J. again," I said, and I vanished to the back of the bar. T.J. made me a strong one, and I learned he used to live in Paris! Why can't I just marry T.J.? We already have a perfect relationship. I see him a few times a week, he only speaks when spoken to, and he knows how to make me happy (in this case it is Three Olives Pomegranate with lemonade and extra cherries).

"You can find another boy you like," Madison encouraged. "You look gorgeous. You've gained weight but it looks good on you."
"I just don't know," I whined. "And I don't want to be that girl who only talks about the same boy over and over."

 Madison and I talked about the possibility of her helping with my Fringe show, and it was a welcome distraction.  Keith and I went to the front of the bar, where we mingled with bartenders and the barback from LUSH. The barback used to be my favorite, but now he isn't, because he kept hitting on Madison. When she tried to deflect the situation by introducing me -- "This is Jakey, he goes to LUSH all the time!" -- he responded with an angry, "Yeah, and he knows I'm STRAIGHT." Oh, sweetheart. When you're hitting on the girls at the gay bar, you gotta be a little softer about such things. In a related note, I will forever miss Rusty. I got my mind off it by noting the dreaminess that was Ryan Robertson strolling into the bar.

"Oh my god, it's Ryan Robertson!" I slurred, and then we had another five-minute conversation of which I will remember nothing. Why can I never remember anything?? For all I know, we discussed World War II.

Is this the night that I went to my neighbor's apartment? I think so.

 I had so much more fun talking to her hot straight friend bro-ski friends than anyone at The Saloon. I kept calling the one on the left John Cena. He would say things like "bud" and my only response was to crack up laughing, because I am good at talking to attractive people like that. There was another loud gay guy in our group, and when he asked how old I was, I mouthed it, and he thought I said "twenty". I didn't correct him.

Liam and I later smoothed things over in the week, and we both agreed that he is perfectly fine to stay with me on certain nights. I just prefer knowing about it at 4 P.M. and not 1:30 A.M. He ended up going home with Markie. All was well in Gay World. Maybe.


 Wednesday we went to LUSH! I got to talk to the wonderful Dennis again, and spent the entire time talking about Kevin. What is wrong with me?? Am I 12??  Speaking of age, Dennis was surprised to learn we were the same age, and wondered why I always lie about it.

"That's different, Dennis," I said. "You're a grown-up and have a fancy corporate gig, and dogs. I work two retail jobs that I suck at equally." I talked to Ryan Robertson to get ideas for my one-man show. We had a deep conversation about aging and being attractive and relationships. I remember these were the subjects. I do not remember a fucking word he said. Why can't I ever remember my conversations with Ryan Robertson? It is as if all of the sexuality that he oozes is fused with some brainwashing liquid like some awful sci-fi gay porno.

 I got my Honda CR-V replaced with a Honda Civic, and I got through the week knowing that on Saturday was my GUBING trip! Gubing is when a bunch of gay boys go snow tubing together. Joey was in charge, and the plan was that he, Liam, Kevin and I would all attend. Because my life is a fucked-up version of a Sweet Valley High book, I was going to tell Kevin all of my feelings while on top of the hill, and then I would slide away. "Guess what?" I would say. "I really like youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" and then my voice would carry down the hill.

The world had other plans.

Some communication snafu happened with Kevin and Joey, and Kevin wasn't going. Jared got cut from work that day and decided he could go. I was honestly very happy with this change of dynamic. Never in my life have I felt more like I was on a reality show than when the four of us walked up Buck Hill like we were in stilettos, and suburban families stared at us with the fire of a thousand suns. Joey drove Liam and I drove Jared, and of course I made those poor boys wait an extra half hour, but that's because my super cute red Spyder snowpants weren't fitting right!

It was enjoyable, as cold as it was. Children advised me how to properly sit on the tube, although we had different tutorials.

"I like to sit this way!" an 8-year-old boy told us, planting himself in the middle of the tube.
"No, lean back," his older sister told us. "Otherwise your butt will hurt."
"I don't care if my butt hurts!" he exclaimed, and four gay men held their tongues.
 "Are you boys having fun?" a soccer dad later asked us on our trek up the hill. Then we all took pictures by the 'UNLOAD HERE' sign, because we are classy ladies. Again, it was actually for the better that we subbed Kevin out with Jared. With Jared, we got to be as loud and queeny as we wanted to be. Kevin is masculine and somewhat bro-ski, and while that turns me on sexually, I would have felt pressured to act more like a dude, I would be worried that it seemed like a double date, I would have been jealous if he shared a tube with Liam, et cetera et cetera. With Jared, the only source of drama was worrying that our toes would get frostbite.

 Later in the afternoon, Jared stayed with the boys, but I had to trek to St. Paul for the launch party of Fearless Comedy Productions!

I'm working on a one-man show, and if all goes well it will be in the Minnesota Fringe Festival this summer. If it is selected, that means that a) I will have to write and cast it, no pressure, and b) Fearless Comedy is sponsoring the $350 application fee! It was an honor to be in a room with so many bright thinkers and creative minds. The check number is #80085.

"It says boobs," the creative director told me.
"Oh," I said. "I'm gay. I didn't get it." The big check is still in my back seat, because I am both lazy and egotistical. I should really move it into my apartment, because if I do a bad parking job anytime soon, the car I'm next to can easily Google me and send hate mail.


Sunday I was back at The Saloon. Maybe I took too many allergy meds, or didn't eat enough, but the drinks seemed to be hitting me harder that night. I hope I wasn't an annoying drunk.

"Ryan Robertson!" I yelled at Danny's bar. "I'll buy you a shot."
"Um, I'll buy my own shot," he said. Then he chugged his while I sipped mine. Joey was there. Liam was there. Markie came from behind me and grabbed my dick, and I got really mad about it. Why is that acceptable? I don't grab any of my friends' genitals. It upset me more than it would have normally. We later smoothed it over, and he agreed to only caress my ass or grab me from the front. I guess it works.

Oh, that's right! I was there to talk to my comedian friend Bjorn and his boyfriend, who were putting on a comedy show at the U of M. Frat boys, my favorite! Yes, this was a professional meeting. It was hliarious being with Bjorn and Jody at their 'bear" bartender, and the bartender being flummoxed when Bjorn ordered a Three Olives Pomegranate lemonade with extra cherries.

"It's for her," Bjorn said, pointing at me.
"Ohhhh," the bartender said. "That makes much more sense."
"You're very innocent," Bjorn told me. "Your Facebook is like one big Craigslist Missed Connections post. Like, 'There was a cute boy in the hallway! Oh my god!"
"Oh, I don't know if that's bad," I said, but then I remembered that when I took the bus to Chuck's last week, I thought I was on the wrong one but I stayed on because there was a cute U of M boy sitting in front of me.

"I have things to tell you," Joey whispered to me later, but then he was dancing with Quinn. Then I drank more. That's when I made an ass of myself in front of Ryan. That's when I pretended to flirt with J.C. Oh, brother. I think I even asked for water at one point. I think I even asked the DJ to play Mariah Carey Butterfly, and HE TOTALLY DID! Then I had to stand at T.J.'s bar and act like I was shocked that they would play something so sad and evocative.

"Who requested this?!" I mock-scoffed. "It's so not a club song. IF YOU SHOULD RETURN TO ME, WE TRULY WERE MEANT TO BE SO SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND FLY BUTTERFLY .... I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from"
"Hey, I know you!" a girl yelled at me. I wanted to be polite, but this was my Butterfly moment! "You're friends with Sina!" She was kicked out before I could get her name, and I was able to finish my song in peace.

Joey's words were cryptic, and I stressed about them all night. I knew it would be harsh, but I also knew that I would need to hear them. It was time to rip off the band-aid.

And so it was, in the back seat of his car on a Sunday night, that I felt myself escape my body, so that I could process the information in the way that was needed.

"Kevin was at the Saloon on Saturday," Joey began to explain.

No apologies, he'll never see you cry
Pretend he doesn't know that he's the reason why
You're drowning, you're drowning, you're drowning

"Quinn and I were there and he was following Quinn ALL NIGHT. Like, stalking him. He wouldn't leave him alone."

Now I heard you moved on from whispers on the street
A new notch in your belt is all I'll ever be
And now I see, now I see, now I see

"Apparently he told Quinn, 'You don't understand. You're the one I've been looking for this whole time. You're the one.'

He was long gone when he met me
And I realize the joke is on me, yeah!

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I'd never been
'Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I'd never been
Now I'm lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

"And he barely knows him! But he kept telling him, 'I love that you're not dramatic."
"Oh, he thinks I'm dramatic?" I said when I came back to Earth and opened the passenger door, my heart scattered all over Joey's back seat. "That is hilarious."

And the saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I'd never been
'Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I'd never been
Now I'm lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble, trouble
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble, trouble

And I thought of all the warnings. All the games, the month-long intervals between texts, the times he would invite me over and then invite someone else over, the realization that he would never think of me the way I did him, but that he would never know how I felt because I could never be relaxed enough around him to admit it. Maybe if we were younger it would have worked. Maybe if I actually acted like my age.

I'm not even going to get the damn Emmy nomination, am I?

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