Thursday, April 11, 2013

Loring Park Episode #27: Tears of a Class Clown

Previously on Loring Park: Jakey cried at The Saloon, and was revisited by a blast from the past.

I cry a lot in this episode. But it was never in front of everyone. I am maturing that way.

I did not cry on that first Saturday. My night began by telling jokes at Johnny Tequila's Drinking Taco. It was the night before Easter, so the crowd was sparse, and I was exhausted having worked a 50-hour week (which I realize that some people do all year around). Mommy was tired, y'all. After only one vodka tonic, my brain cells were shot, and my routine did not go very well. I told all four audience members that I was Bette Midler in The Rose, and nobody knew what I was talking about.

Wesley was adamant about going to LUSH, so he agreed to pick me up downtown. I usually chastise him for wearing the same stupid hoodie, but tonight he cleaned up good and wore a white Banana Republic button-down. I was proud, and somewhere a gay angel got his wings. Earlier that night, Liam texted me asking if he could sleep over, and while I wasn't thrilled about it, I was happy that he was texting at 7:30 P.M. and not at 1:30 A.M. I said it was probable, but that I wasn't sure if we would even be at The Saloon or not.

When we got to LUSH, I panicked and realized I had lost my Listerine strips! I even speculated bringing a back-up pack in case this would happen! "Oh, no!" I cried. I have OCD about Listerine strips. My greatest fears are tarantulas and halitosis.  "If I give you $10, can we go to the gas station to get Listerine strips?"
"What?!" Wesley asked. "Now? We just got here."
"I can't have bad breath!" I cried.
"Oh my god," Wesley cried. "You are worse than a chick."

He unlocked the car, and my Listerine strips were on the passenger seat! Hooray! Crisis averted!

"Do you have everything else?" he asked. "You probably need your ID. You look 12."

Not really, but it was a moment.

LUSH wasn't very crowded. We didn't know anybody there except Jason Matheson from FM 107, and by "know" I don't mean in a personal way. I texted my mother of his presence, and she begged me to say something (I still think my mom wakes up and hopes for a few seconds that I grew up to be Jason Matheson before the ugliness of reality sets in), but he was off the clock and I felt it would be rude. Wesley told me of his recent trip to California, but other than that, we sat in mutual boredom. He asked the staff why the place was so dead, and he explained that everyone was at the Eagle. I texted Joey and Jared, and they were there, too! Was The Eagle having a big event that night? Wesley and I wanted to go to The Saloon, but we agreed that we could stop at The Eagle to see what all the fuss was about.

Here's a primer about The Eagle for those of you not familiar with the Minneapolis gay club scene: There is something for everyone, truly. The Saloon, typically, is a younger, trendier, sexy crowd. Jetset is a trendy, sexy, older and more professional crowd (any time I introduce myself to anyone there, I get my own name corrected. "Jake," the Jetsetters say, with firm handshakes). The Gay '90s is hardly considered a gay club anymore. LUSH, the winner of Best Gay Bar in the City Pages last year, is a crapshoot, but on Wednesdays it attracts the same crowd that The Saloon does.

The Eagle, on the other hand, is for those who would not necessarily feel comfortable at The Saloon. The Eagle has bear nights and leather nights. The event we were attending, complete with $7 cover, was called "Bear-a-cudda." I paid the cover since I could already tell that this wasn't a great idea.

We were on our way in when I realized my phone was in the car, but we couldn't find it. "Call my phone," I demanded of Wesley. He did so, but it was stuck under the back seat.

"I'll get it," he declared, and I stood with the back passenger door open while he crouched below the passenger seat. Not only did this look lewd from a certain angle, but I also blushed when I realized I was totally checking out his butt. "I have a hockey booty," a forlorn customer struggling to buy a suit told me a few months ago. I get it now.

Wesley and I walked in, and Joey and Jared were right by the exit. I hugged them and introduced them to Wesley, and soon ran into my fellow comedian friend (and cub!), Matt Iverson! I didn't even notice the hairy, overweight men walking around in their underwear. It's The Eagle. You go there and you expect that. It's part of the scenery, just as The Saloon has the go-go boys and The Gay '90s has drunk 18-year-old girls who are still in love with their hopelessly gay twink pals.

Wesley was not one to hear of my explanation that the gay subculture offers something for everyone, and the further we walked into the bar, the more, erm -- Eaglish -- it got. The men somehow got hairier, fatter, and more scantily clad.

"OH MY GOD," Wesley couldn't stop yelling. "This is not for me. We need to go." But I had paid $14! And it was too crowded for us to turn on our heels and leave. I was beginning to grow worried not just for Wesley's state of mind, but also for his physical safety. His volume was getting louder, and the last thing I wanted was for a muscle bear to pulverize him into the ground (Wesley has an athletic build, and don't think I haven't noticed it, but I didn't want to take any chances). However, the only thing that was about to be pulverized was my ego.

"IS THERE ANYONE ATTRACTIVE HERE?!" Wesley yelled a bit too loud.
"Wesley," I said. "I'm right here."
Then he busted out laughing, in a genuine, boisterous manner that was bigger than any reaction I had at Johnny Tequila's earlier. "That's the funniest thing you've said all night!!" he sputtered.

We went downstairs, where Wesley only grew more traumatized. I bid a quick and regretful good-bye to Joey and Jared, and we were on our way to The Saloon. I convinced Wesley to not start swearing until we got in the car, because I didn't want to get beat up.

"I'm sorry I brought you there!" I cried. He was in no mood to hear my speech about subcultures and how everyone should be celebrated. Liam was texting me and I told him I was en route to The Saloon. I could tell from his texts that he was already wasted. Oh, yay.

Wesley parked the car and I meant to take one Listerine strip, but the wind blew them up and I accidentally took all of them at once! I failed to avoid a Listerine Strip crisis!

"Wesley!" I whined. "Do you have any gum? Or mints?"
"No," he scoffed.
"Oh no! What am I gonna do?!" I was in panic attack mode.

We tried to look for Liam when we got to The Saloon, but I was also nervous because Football Guy was there! The 6'4" sex god whom I once told was a unicorn! "Wesley!" I cried. "One of my biggest crushes is here! I'm so nervous! I'll point him out when he walks by!" He did, and he was with two fifths of the Pretty Girl Mafia, but he was with two of the five that rarely and never talk to me, so my presence was not acknowledged. Also, I had awful breath! I ended up sipping Rumpelmintz like it was water. I finally saw a boy who gave me gum (his name is Tommy and I met him after the Kathy Griffin show in December), and I will never forget it.

"Well," Wesley said as Football Guy and his heaving pectoral muscles walked by. "I'm glad one of us thinks he's cute." Fascinating! Liam showed up and we discussed classical architecture. Meanwhile, Wesley was busy texting Quinn, who was out of town. While Liam was blathering in my ear, I saw a moment happen on Wesley's face. It was a genuinely affected smile, and a look that I had never seen him give me. I realized that I would be the boy that makes him laugh, but never the one that made him smile. It was a feeling that would recur over the week.

I wasn't crying yet.

We were back at T.J.'s bar in attempts to mingle and Liam went to Froot Loop. Wesley was still texting Quinn and I acquainted myself with Cagefighter for a while. As I was finishing my drink, Liam came back and tried to look at Wesley's cell phone, which didn't go over well.

"You better try to keep him," Liam said. "A boy like that isn't gonna be single very long."
"Yes, I know," I said. Liam sauntered off and Wesley glared as he left.
"What were you guys talking about?" Wesley asked.
"Um .... Easter," I said.

Cagefighter was getting hit on by a group of Asian twinks, and then RYAN ROBERTSON showed up! Liam and I instantly turned into teenage girls.
"Hi, Ryan," we both sang.
"I feel like you are a pop singer and every time we see you, we turn into the Ryanettes," I complained. "Are you going to brunch tomorrow?"
"Nah," Ryan said in his Lochte-like cadence. "My mom texted me and asked if I would come for lunch."
"Well, that's nice!" I agreed. "Cagefighter! Are you going to brunch tomorrow?"
"Yeah, probably at noon," he said. Hooray! Despite my emotional turmoil, I could look forward to brunch.

Wesley left, and Liam and I paid $20 for a petty-cab (which is when a cute boy in a bicycle drives you to your apartment).
"So, Wesley likes Quinn," I yelled, because I was drunk and rancid. "And remember when Kevin liked Quinn, too? And I'm fine with that. Quinn is cute, and he's a nice person! I'm not gonna hate him just because my crushes always like him! But I will say that my fake TV show is no longer called Loring Park. It is called Everybody Loves Quinn. On CBS at 8 PM on Wednesdays."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Loring Park Episode #26: Luck of the (10%) Irish

Previously on Loring Park: Several blasts from the past converged, but none were more surprising than a decade-long what-if.

I am only 10% Irish. The only time I ever got called out for it was when I lived in Brooklyn and I helped a nice old lady with her cart of goods from Dollar Tree, and she said, "You're lucky! You have the mick in you!" Then, when I informed her that my apartment was in Flatbush instead of Midwood, she ranted about how she could not believe that I was living amongst "that rotten race". Then I started to regret helping her with her cart even though she was feeble and 80 pounds.

Still, I felt rather lucky about the events of St. Patrick's Day. Everything just seemed to align on the Saturday before the festivities.

First of all, it was a rare treat in that I had a Saturday off! The timing couldn't have been better, because my girls from college were having a pool party, as one of them lives in a fancy building with an indoor pool.

This sums up my two years at UW-Stout in so many ways.

I was beyond thrilled to go! I hadn't seen Amy, Kristen and Jess in years (Amy isn't in this picture -- Laura is on the left. She has a baby now. SO. WEIRD.), and while I kind of feel like Peter Pan, it also felt like we hadn't missed a beat. They all look great (they go to Sculpt Yoga every day) and are doing well in their professions. In St. Patrick's Day spirit, I decided to bring Three Olives Dude, which was the only green vodka I could find at the liquor store. I wore my green O'BAMA shirt, and then felt weird because I didn't want to get political on anyone, but nobody gave me grief for it. It was a magical afternoon! People had puppies! And green cupcakes! And I played PIG, the basketball game, in the pool with a broski who had pectoral muscles the size of my head. I was surprisingly adept at PIG. I think I am the same way with athletic endeavors in the way I am with Beyonce lyrics: I am only proficient when drunk. Because I am older now, I am no longer disappointed when I find out a hot guy is straight. Now I get to meet his hot wife. (She was very nice, by the way, and I promise I didn't think about them having sex)

I met Liam at the 19, and we got ready at my apartment to venture to The Saloon. I wanted to leave the bar early that night, as I had to work at 10:30 the next day! Oy vey! We arrived at around 10, and the place was packed. Who knew Minneapolis had such a high Irish population? Wesley and his friend Santana were there. Santana has often been with Wesley. He is quiet but not in a snobbish way -- they both seemed to be introverted, which was weird, because Wesley was not introverted when I knew him in high school, but people can change in ten years.

My mood elevated even more when Jared showed up! We giggled as Victor grinded against Wesley, who was clearly uncomfortable (I do not remember this and had to be told about it the next day). Then, I received another Emmy nomination when Kevin walked in with a man friend. He wasn't even wearing green!

I did not start crying this time. Nor did I have a panic attack. I think I was fine this time because a) I really think I've been burned enough times to be over him, b) I wasn't sloppy at this point, and c) I had Liam, Jared, and Wesley around, whereas last time I didn't know anybody else at the club, Perfect Football Guy Perfection notwithstanding.

"Hello, Kevin," I smiled. "Good to see you." We all went around and named names, and Kevin and his man friend went out to smoke (even though Kevin doesn't smoke!).

"Rhoda," I directed. "Go eavesdrop."
"Of course!" Jared cried, and he sprinted to the patio.
"JAKE!" Wesley yelled. "If I were gay in high school, would you have had sex with me?"
"Wesley, I am not answering such a question," I said with an eye roll. "First of all, don't you remember when we were in high school and you talked to me outside of the patio asking me if I wanted to fool around, and I said no and gave you my friend's address?"
"WHAT?!" he laughed. "That never happened. You are so full of shit, dude!"
"It did too!" I cried.

Jared came back shortly after. "Kevin is Penelope," he said, referring to Kristen Wiig's SNL character.
"What do you mean?!" I asked.
"He asked someone how long they knew you," he explained. "And then he was like, 'Oh, I've known Jakey for four years.'."
"Weird!" I cried. "Maybe he got me confused with Liam."

Jared shrugged, and we vamoosed back to the video bar. While I was very proud of myself for how I handled seeing Kevin, my confidence began to waver when the Pretty Girl Mafia walked in!

Not only that, but I totally forgot that one of them was having a birthday party, so they were all in tank tops and had enough glitter on them to .... well, I don't know how to finish that sentence. "Kill a horse" is the cliched way, but would glitter kill a horse? They all had enough glitter on them to successfully glitter-bomb every one-time frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nominee last election.

However, Tan Man was in the Pretty Girl Mafia this evening! He was my fake boyfriend at Valleyfair. I never know how to act when a boy with a six-pack is actually nice. It just seems to go against some kind of rule. He was his usually genial self, and we made amiable small talk. When I later saw him making out with the birthday boy, I wasn't even mad. I was like, "Go get it, Tan Man. You deserve it."

Jared and I looped back to T.J.'s bar, where Wesley was still talking with Santana. I started dancing with Running Back. I haven't told you guys about Running Back yet! I call him that because he is besties with Star Quarterback, so at first I had to hate him. However, he's actually really sweet and is my unofficial dance teacher -- meaning that I watch him and then totally mimic his moves. He's fine with that. He's extroverted and will always talk to you, and I appreciate that in a fellow bar star. Anygay, Running Back continued dancing, and THEN STAR QUARTERBACK WALKED IN. And not only did he walk in, BUT HE WAS DRESSED UP IN A SHIRT TIE AND SUSPENDERS.

He walked past me, but we made eye contact, and then I was just embarrassed.
"Hi, Star Quarterback," I said.
"Hey, Jakey," he smiled.
"Why are you all dressed up?" I asked.
"I was at Marquee," he smirked.
I went to hi-five him. But then halfway through the hi-five, I decided that was too intimate of a gesture, so I switched it to a fist bump, but he did not know that, and so then his open palm smacked against my fist, and then when I tried to switch back to a hi-five, he switched back to a fist bump, and it was like a pair of toddlers trying to master a game of Rock Paper Scissors.
"Whatever," Star Quarterback said. "I'll just hug you."

I need to defend this. I know I am immature. I know I am 26 going on 12. And I know that Star Quarterback has no romantic interest in me, and I know he is not someone you bring home to Loretta. I get all of that. But it is what I talked about last week: It is the moment. This is someone who I was scared of -- from April to Halloween -- all of because of my own insecurity and social anxiety. So when the boy who (by no fault of his own) is the cause of that stress later decides he is going to give me a hug, it is a big damn deal.

("What did he smell like?!" Chuck asked me when I told him about it later this week, as we have since reconciled our differences.
"Like cinnamon!" I cried. "And strawberries! And Sunday mornings!")

I headed back to Wesley, who was getting louder as he was on another beer.
"JAKE!" he yelled again. "Seriously! You're saying if I were gay, you wouldn't have sex with me?"
I slapped him across the face and continued mingling, and was happy to run into my friend Cagefighter. I met Cagefighter at Pride last year and he has tattoos and a ridiculously banging body. He is also a corrections officer, which is a porno in itself.

I ran into Jared again during my Froot Loop (a Froot Loop is when you circle The Saloon, and is often done in a group, but this was a solo loop). I just wanted to gossip about work and/or Kevin, but he had other ideas.
"Jakey, go back to your friend!" he cried. "You can't just slap people across the face."
"Oh, I didn't slap him that hard," I said.
"It was pretty bad," Jared said. "Just go talk to him."

With my figurative tail between my legs, I walked back to TJ's bar, where Wesley was brooding and angrily chugging his beer. Uh-oh.
"I'm sorry I slapped you," I muttered in a small voice.
"It's okay," he said. He looked around nervously before speaking again. "But, yeah, I did ask you about stuff when I was in high school. And I did go to your friend's house. He's the only guy I've ever been with."
"He said you had a hot hockey body," I said awkwardly. I can remember things like this, but not anything about the Revolutionary War.
"I did play hockey," he said defensively. "Would you have ever fucked your friend?"
"No!" I cried. "First of all, not every gay guy wants to have sex with each other. Second of all, I was on a shit ton of antidepressants l when I was in high school, so I had absolutely no sex drive. That's why I sent you to his house." And I regretted it every time I realized that I grew up to have the sex life of a nun. I didn't say that part.
"I'm sorry things happened in your life that made you have to take those," he said, and that is when I realized how blue his eyes are. Oh, crap.
"Shit happens," I finally whispered. "I'm gonna go Froot Loop."
"Froot Loop?" he asked with confusion, but I was already on my heel before I could answer him.

Back at the video bar, Kevin walked by with his friend, and he rubbed the back of my neck.
"Jakey," he said with a growl. "It's good to see you."
"You too!" I said, and I kept my smile on. Kevin is a Scorpio, and that means he is highly sexual (even though I only got halfway there). I think I am finally over him, but I admit that his touch still makes me feel strange feelings in strange places.