I celebrated the end of February with a mini-vacation to Winona State University. I was there to visit my friend Nick, who is from Germany. We met a few years ago in Las Vegas at a convention for forum members on WrestlingObserver.com. It is as nerdy as it sounds. I am far too old to be cavorting with the college kids, but life is short.
|This is the horrible picture he used on Facebook to announce my arrival.|
This is the third time I have visited Winona, and I always go through an existential crisis about my status of three-time college dropout and my usually forgotten Mommy Issues. But other than that, it was a hell of a time. We did all the things college kids should do: Attended a crappy basement party, ate Little Caesar's at 3 in the morning, and made a bro fort with Nick's Swedish friend Jesper. I felt very international. Also, Nick doesn't live in the dorms anymore, and that was great because it meant I was able to take a dump and a shower (I feel a strange need to clarify that these were not done at the same time). If I ever write a memoir, Chapter 9 will be called Vodka Shits in Winona.
I didn't plan my weekend very well, because that Sunday was my 11th Annual Oscar Party! Every year, I host an Oscar party, and even in years when I wasn't living in Minnesota, I still conducted a pool amongst friends. But because I had spent too long at the casino (I was all id that weekend, really), I was late for my own party! Mercifully, Erin and my father took care of the food, and my uncle Ander and his girlfriend were already there! I lived with Ander for a year, and in some aspects we could not be more different. I refer to him as a "hyperVirgo" -- always organized, always on time, always on it. My friend Sten is a Virgo, too, and he does not believe in rounding numbers up. "I will see you in seven minutes," he will say if he is on the way over. Because he has timed it, you see. He knows these things.
I couldn't relax until the show started, but I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout! My friend Julie, her boyfriend and their co-worker came, as well as people who I only see at Oscar time. Sina was supposed to be the Vanna White, tallying the statistics of the betting, but halfway through she transferred her duties to Chuck. Joey arrived and made it a close one, but in the end he lost to Sten by one category. (I finished fourth out of 13, which I will find respectable, and I was the only one to get Documentary Short and Art Direction, SO THERE).
It was a glorious night, and I felt happy to have the wonderful friends and family that I do. My mother wasn't there because she was in Costa Rica. I am proud of her in a way. I know we have had her ups and downs, but I also feel that, once she turned 50, she finally started to live for herself.
It was the last night I would see Chuck, at least for a while. We got in a spat, and at first it was ridiculously junior high -- he got mad that I reneged on going out because I had to work late, and when I offered to go to lunch on Monday, he scoffed that I would just stand him up again (and maybe he was right, because I ended up switching work shifts that week anyway) -- but I have become closer to Peter (not that way) since their break-up, and I think he blames me for certain transgressions that have happened since then. I have many positive memories of our friendship last year, and I will choose to focus on those. He is a caring and intelligent person, and I wish him all the best. I'm not going to run away from him when I see him at the club, unless he tries to make out with Star Quarterback just to get a rise out of me. I just read on Twitter that a Cancer knows exactly what to do and say to get under someone's skin. We are both born under this sign, and I will just say that no one who deletes me on Facebook and then wants to smooth things over is going to be on my Christmas card list.
I ventured to LUSH a week later, and was excited to catch up with Quinn and Joey. They're moving to my street in May! Oh, HOORAY! I was also happy to talk to Dennis, an acquaintance of mine whom I feel is on his own show. Like, we're both on Bravo, but his is the more grown-up show. Like, I am a ridiculous trashy show like Shahs of Sunset and he is Million Dollar Decorators. Dennis is very well-educated and is on a different socioeconomic level than I am, but he is never a snob about it, and we were discussing reality shows when his buff, muscled friend of mixed race joined our conversation. Then I found out the buff friend was a drag queen. Then the buff drag queen was spilling the tea (to borrow a phrase) about local drag queens, and it was a combination of two of my favorite things: Biceps and gossip! I was surprisingly quiet for most of the conversation, as I wanted to fit in. But finally, the Grey Goose seeped out of my pores and I had to say something.
"There are so many muscle bro-skis here tonight," I chimed in.
"Yeah," Buff Drag Queen said. "And they're all bottoms."
"How can you tell?!" I asked, because I have the sexual naivete of a home-schooled evangelical tenth-grader. Then Dennis and the Buff Drag Queen lamented about how everyone thinks they are bottoms but they are not, and I knew this was a conversation I would never again be having.
Dennis and I both love the Real Housewives franchise, and he fancies himself as a Gone with the wind Fabulous Kenya Moore. We both agreed that I am Mama Elsa. "Mama Elsa is very weird," Dennis said, "But everyone loves her anyway." I will accept that.
The next night, I reunited with Peter to go to The Saloon! He came to my place to pre-game and help me with my outfit. Peter is the biggest fashionista I know, and he taught me how to roll up the sleeves of my Topman button-down (under my Burberry sweater) to make it look "sloppy chic", like I was an effortless bad-ass. I have bought way too much Topman lately, and I giggle every time I say it.
We stood at Danny's bar, and Peter started talking in French fluently, and I couldn't tell if I was inexplicably attracted to that as much as I am when he does his "broski" voice. Peter has given himself a Breakover -- it's when, after a break-up, you find your sexy -- and exudes a charisma that is inspirational be around. "I lost 13 pounds," he boasted earlier in my apartment. "And you gave them to me!" I pouted. In obnoxiously keeping with my Real Housewives meme, I was being a real Vicki Gunvalson in our friendship, and I made a mental note that true friends are always happy when they see others succeed. It is no one else's fault but mine that I haven't worked out in two months and I choose Lean Pockets over sex.
A nice man from New York wanted us to dance, but I was feeling lazy, so I vamoosed over to T.J.'s bar, where I saw Wesley. Wesley went to the same high school with me for two seconds but quickly transferred. He is a few years younger than me and, when I was a junior, asked me if I wanted to fool around. Since I was a prude even in those years, I turned him down, and instead told him to hook up with my frenemy, whom I knew was more sexually promiscuous (by promiscuous, I mean actually having sex). He did so, and he quickly disappeared soon after. I always thought about it. He came into the Walgreens I was working at a few years later, and was still his extroverted, smiling self. I thought about it then, too. I have actually seen him at The Saloon a few times and wanted to talk to him, but I live by a few mantras. One, which I have repeated often, is that no one owes you anything. But Mantra #2 is:
The moment has to be organic.
"Ugh, I hate moments," I once heard Joey say, and maybe it is a sign of my emotional stuntedness and immaturity, but I love the moment. I live for the moment. No, I should not have spent an entire summer literally running away from Star Quarterback, but when all was said and done, I got my moment.
Wesley was sitting by himself looking forlorn, and I even thought about betraying my own mantra by approaching him. But I didn't have to, because, there, in the flesh, was the very high school frenemy whom I haven't seen in years! We made niceties and he filled me in on the situation.
"Wesley wants to talk to you but he's afraid to," my high school friend said.
"Afraid of me? WHAT?!" I laughed. "That's so crazy! Bring 'em over!" Wesley soon met up with us. He was a bit distant, had that look on his face that implied that he wasn't really at The Saloon. Still, I didn't want to make him feel forced into an awkward situation, and for what it's worth, he looked very cute and bro-ski in his A&F hoodie. Peter soon reunited with us and he always lightens a moment, and we made plans to hit up The Saloon again the following Thursday.
That night, my drunken self thought it would be a great idea to hit up Piano Man on Facebook Chat at 4 A.M. Remember that time in the summer when I was going to go over to his apartment to "cuddle" and then I stood outside awkwardly for half an hour, and then he answered and drove me home right away? I decided it would be a good time to bring that up for no reason. I thought I was being like Taylor Armstrong from Season 2 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills -- finding my voice and not being afraid to use it! -- but instead I was being like Taylor Armstrong from Season 3 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills -- drunkenly causing drama that didn't need to be there.
"It created an awkward moment," Piano Man typed in his defense before leaving the conversation. Um, no shit.
Saturday was a shit show.
First of all, Piano Man came into my store that day -- with his mother -- and I looked terrible, and I can't even blame my unflattering work uniform. I usually don't go out on Saturdays, as my retail gig often requires me to be up early on Sundays. However, I was lucky enough to be able to tell jokes at Johnny Tequila's Drinking Taco, which has an open mike/comic showcase every Saturday. It did okay, and after the show I mingled with other comedians, who were on their way to Insert Coins. I told myself I was headed to The Saloon because I was already allowing myself to be out, but there was a voice in my head that said I should go with them to Insert Coins. Go where you fit in. Go where you're valued. Don't go to The Saloon. Things never go well there.
Oprah says that the voice starts as a whisper. I ignored my whisper.
I went to The Pourhouse first, because Liam and I had so much fun there last time. I went to my favorite bartender (up on the top floor, in almost an alcove kind of area), chugged a drink, and started walking to The Saloon. This was after I'd had two Red Bull vodkas at Johnny Tequila's. I wouldn't say I was sloppy, but I definitely wasn't sitting on top of the world.
Still, I imagined a night of fun and excitement! What is The Saloon like on a Saturday? As I walked in, I remembered that last time I had been here on a Saturday was in January, when I left the Reapies at halftime to hang out with Joey, Liam, and Kevin, and that was the night Kevin was all over Quinn, and that was the beginning of that whole emotional downfall, but I'm so sick of being the girl that always talks about the guy that she's not over (I can't even say he's my ex-boyfriend! He's just some boy! Soooo stupid!), and so I certainly wasn't going to spend the rest of my night thinking about him ....
....And the minute I walk in, there he is. And he makes eye contact with me (in his usual way that manages to be both intense and vacant). This is not what the movie in my mind looked like.
I had a few different movies in my mind about the inevitable time I would see him again. I imagined all scenarios taking place in the summertime, either during Pride weekend or around my birthday in mid-July. I would have been working out regularly (ha!) and been feeling confident about myself. My three versions were my Sex and the City Version, My Funny Version, and My Oscar Version.
SEX AND THE CITY VERSION
INT. THE SALOON - T.J.'S BAR - SATURDAY NIGHT
JAKEY walks in and orders his usual drink from TJ (ad-lib). He looks to his right and sees that KEVIN is there.
You look good.
There is an awkward silence as Jakey sips his drink with authority.
You're uncharacteristically quiet.
Trying to get in between me and my drink?
Jakey smiles, blushes, looks away -- his usual eighth-grade girl demeanor. Kevin stares at him with a smile, waiting for him to talk again. Finally:
You know I was crazy about you, right?
You had a crush on me, probably ....
No, I was pretty fucking crazy about you.
Oh. No .... I didn't.
Well, I'm not anymore, but I still thought you should know. It was good to see you.
Jakey walks off with confidence. END SCENE.
JAKEY and KEVIN are at T.J.'s bar. We join the scene in progress. JAKEY is tearing up pieces of a napkin and throwing it at Kevin.
See? The napkin is my heart. I don't even want it anymore. Here, there you go!
JAKEY puts the rest of the napkin pieces in KEVIN's front pocket. Everyone at the bar starts looking. GAY OPRAH shakes his head.
I'm sorry, Gay Oprah!
Gay Oprah gives a look of concern before going back to his group.
It's going to be fine. I wish you well. Honestly.
Jakey takes a napkin shard from Kevin's pocket before walking off.
OSCAR CLIP VERSION
INT. THE SALOON - DANCE FLOOR
You are broken, Kevin Thomson. But I love you. And I am going to fix you. You just have to let me.
They kiss as a dance version of MARIAH CAREY "I Still Believe" plays in the background.
Of course, none of these things happened. Instead, I saw him, said hello, and then immediately I felt tears in the back of my eyes. Oh, shit.
As I continued walking, does anyone remember last summer when I met THE MOST PERFECT BOY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD????
"Hey," he smiled at me. "You're the comedian, right?"
"You're here?!" I asked, and I started feeling myself getting nauseous. Why couldn't he have been here on a different night, when I wasn't having so many different emotions? Then I think Ryan Robertson walked by. I thought I liked the drama. I thought I loved the drama. But this was all too much. I just couldn't take it ....
I think I cried at Danny's bar. And I wasn't sobbing, I want to make that clear. But enough that people were noticing it.
Kevin walked by. He told me my lips were chapped. I followed him around like an abused puppy.
"I'm crazy about you!" I yelled over the music.
"Stop," he calmly said, and I obeyed.
I drunkenly went up to Football Guy and showed him I had a picture of us in my phone together. In my head, I thought it was cute and funny. In his head, I think he was sure to figure out how to get a restraining order.
Kevin and I were supposed to leave together. I paid $20 for a town car to take me to the Hyatt. He did not come out of the Hyatt. He answered my phone calls later. Apparently Victor was there and was naked and it was all this big sex party, and you all should know by now that that's not what I do!
And then I end up at his house in my pajama pants. I just wanted to play Fortune Streets, but he couldn't hook up the Nintendo Wii, so then we played Monopoly with his roommate until 6 in the morning, but I really just wanted to either go to sleep or even let him stick it in (what? It might have happened that night. I'm closed for business again, but that week I was doing okay). I still like being in bed with him. We don't do anything physical -- that only happened once, and I think it was a fluke) -- but I still enjoy cuddling, and I am still an aggressive spooner. I am a power bottom when it comes to spooning. I had to go to work the next day rocking his size 32 Old Navy jeans, and while I may have been harsh about myself in terms of body image these past few weeks, at least I can tell myself that I am still not a size 32.
Still, the whole thing is so stupid. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. For as much as I obsess about The Real Housewives, I still have yet to learn my greatest lesson:
Liam texted me on Sunday, while I was at work pulling my pants up like Nelly at the 1999 Video Music Awards and he was enjoying Sunday Funday at LUSH.
"U cried last night?" he wrote. Oh, crap.
Piano Man Facebook chatted me a few nights later.
"You don't have to feel scared about what happened last night," he wrote me.
"You'll have to be more specific," I wrote back, because for all I knew, he could have been at The Saloon the night I was crying, too.
Peter and I went to The Saloon again on Thursday. I did not cry this time. I think I spent most of the night apologizing to people and asking if I cried. No one likes the girl at the bar that cries.
Wesley and a friend were there again, and Joey and Quinn were at their own table! They seemed to be a bit dazed by the time I got there, and while I felt bad for so completely dominating the conversation, I was also the only one making any conversation. I can't wait until they move to my street. In all honesty, I won't even be the wacky neighbor. I will be the batty aunt who swears someone stole her key hidden under the flower pot.
I somehow find myself talking to Ryan Robertson at the end of the night, and when I followed him like a scolded puppy (there is a theme here!), we were back where all the bartenders are after 2 A.M. No drinks are served, but it's where they shoot the shit and bitch about their day, and I felt like an insider at a speak-easy. Everyone made jokes about Ryan Robertson liking teenage boys, and then I felt weird, because my hair is thinning and no one is going to be mistaking me for a 17-year-old any time soon. Nevertheless, Ryan graciously gave me a ride home and I felt like a song from Taylor Swift's first album. We discussed his impending move to Los Angeles, and neither one of us made a move on each other. Ryan didn't because he is a gentleman and I am disgusting, and I didn't because I am a gentleman and I am disgusting. I heard the next day on Facebook that he "knows in love with him". So be it! At least Ryan Robertson is a fun bar crush and I don't burst into tears every time I see him. I am happy to keep it that way.
Next week: St. Patrick's Day means it's a holiday episode! You *know* this won't end well!