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!
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.
I was back at The Saloon the next night. I know. Wesley and Santana were there, and sat in a corner the entire time. I wanted to be more extroverted. I didn't have a good time because I had a huge canker sore on my bottom lip thanks to anxiety, and I kept icing it. I told TJ that I should have had a sign on my shirt that read "I Swear It's Not Herpes". And, of course, this was the one weird night that a boy actually wanted to dance with me! He looked half-Asian (was Gary Spivey right??) and had nice muscles, and he tried to kiss me, but I couldn't do it because of my lip! I will never win. D-List forever!
Wesley texted me asking to go to LUSH on Wednesday, and I predictably obliged, but only because it was dollar drink night. He was with Santana again, and I was fine seeing him -- he was friendly enough -- but I began to feel like a third wheel. Was something romantic going on? Was I cockblocking?
Conscious of my budget, I hoped to get a rail drink from the adorable bartender instead of my usual Grey Goose Lemonade (the Lush bartenders always remember to put the cherries in). Right before I was about to order, Wesley made an observation.
"Your hair was a lot longer in high school," he observed.
"Grey Goose lemonade," I pouted to the bartender. I got drunk and made an appointment at Hair Club for Men when I got home that night.
Wesley was finally comfortable enough to tell me who he had a crush on. At first I was excited, but then he told me it was one of the bartenders at LUSH, who is absolute perfection. He is nice, so I can't hate him, but I cannot compete with someone who has a full head of jet black hair, piercing blue eyes, a natural-looking tan, a ridiculously high ass, and the quintessential "twink" body. Wesley and I were in deep conversation about this for a good half hour, and Santana grew agitated.
"I'm leaving," he grumbled and began to walk off. I felt bad! Three is a difficult number, and I couldn't help but feel that my presence was causing a rift.
"Wesley," I encouraged. "Just go talk to Santana before he leaves. Smooth things out."
In all honestly, I thought that they would talk for two minutes and we would all be hunky-dory. Um, no. Those two got in a spat for 27 minutes, so I went out to the patio, where thankfully I knew some people. I talked to Victor, who told me that he liked Quinn but that it wasn't reciprocrated.
"Who's your big crush?" he asked.
I did not want to say Kevin, because I'm pretty sure Victor and Kevin have bow chicka bow wow'd. Yes, I am so mature that I used the term bow chicka bow wow'd instead of fornicated.
"Aww," Victor said. "You're so innocent." Victor is 21, by the way. It was a sweet thing for him to say, and I chose to appreciate the moment. I looked back inside and Wesley and Santana were growing more and more animated in their argument. Finally, Santana stormed out and I reunited with Wesley inside.
"Oh my god," Wesley cried. "FUCK him. Seriously."
"What's going on?!" I cried.
"He's just very very jealous," Wesley said. "I can't talk to anybody or he gets jealous."
"Oh no ...." I said.
"And YOU!" he yelled. "Do you remember fucking slapping me Saturday night?"
"Yes, but that's because you were asking weird questions," I said.
"But do you remember what you SAID?!" he asked.
If you drink fairly often, the concept of The Drunk Flashback will be a familiar one. It is not that you get blackout drunk, but you have to be prompted to trigger a certain memory or event. For example, I perfectly remember slapping Wesley across the face. What I didn't remember until Wednesday is that I may have answered his question ...
"You said you would ride me like a Shetland pony," he reminded me.
|Drunk Me is clever.|
"Can you even ride a Shetland pony?" I wondered out loud. "Aren't they supposed to be small?" I said this to be a brat and to deflect the awkward moment, but I later went on Wikipedia, and yes, you can totally ride them. They are strong for their size and sturdily built, but they are also very stubborn and can have difficult personalities. Oh, my god. Wesley is totally the Shetland pony that my parents would never buy me.
"I want him bad," Wesley said as he continued to eye-fuck the bartender so hard I thought Trojan was going to have to invent ocular condoms. "The things I would do to him ..."
"Oh, barf," I replied, because I am a mature adult. Wesley would later spank both me and Victor on the butt hard, and that was sadly the highlight of my evening.
I was back out on Friday. I didn't really want to go out. LUSH is girl night on Fridays, and The Saloon was having a Studio 54 theme, and I was too exhausted from work to be all dressed up. However, Wesley took away my excuse of not wanting to pay for a cab by agreeing to pick me up from my apartment. We are platonic with a capital "P", but there is something exhilarating about a boy picking you up. Perhaps it is an extension of an unfulfilled teenage fantasy.
On the way in to LUSH, I wanted to make boundaries clear. "I don't want to be your Santana," I told Wesley. "I don't want to be cock-blocking or jealous or awkward. Like, if you want to go home with somebody, you just let me know." Then I contradicted myself by insisting we walk in together arm-in-arm like we were at the prom. I thought lesbians would get a kick out of it.
Our high school friend -- I have to give him a name now, so we'll go with Johnny -- was there with his boyfriend. Johnny and Wesley sat together immediately, and I was relieved to see a mutual friend, who was there with his lesbian pal. We discussed cardigans and Tegan & Sara as Wesley told us all the dirty things he would do to the bartender, and my face reddened. Johnny looked at him with a mixture of flirtation and lust, and it felt like we were all back in high school again: The two feminine frenemies both giddy and not-so-secretly competitive over the goofy, athletic, unaware guy who is kinda sorta on our team. I have not advanced since high school. OK, clearly I am still attracted to Wesley based on my drunken comments, but I want to be realistic and adult about it.
And then he put his arm around me for a little bit, and that certainly wasn't helping matters. I decided that I could have stayed at LUSH and watched Johnny eye-fuck Wesley and watch Wesley eye-fuck the bartender, or I could leave in an act of self-preservation. I vamoosed to The Saloon for the Studio 54 event.
I regretted my decision. It was $10 cover, I did not look the part, and I didn't know anybody! There were two men who tried to kiss me, but I rebuffed them both times. I should have stayed home and saved my money and pride. My only allegiance to Studio 54 is that my last bout of heterosexuality was with Neve Campbell, and she was in that awful movie.
Wesley and I went to LUSH again the next night. He picked me up at 10.
"Are you seriously wearing that Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie again?" I asked. "You've worn that every time I've seen you so far."
"I don't want to bring a coat," he said.
"I'm bringing you clothes shopping," I insisted. "Gays notice these things."
LUSH was decently crowded for a Saturday night, and I was excited to run into Dennis and his grown-up friends. We have a mutual frenemy that has united us, and as he was circling and throwing shade, I thought to introduce Wesley to the group. It wasn't to show him off or anything; I genuinely want him to meet as many people as he can. But as Wesley walked back to order another beer and eye-fuck the bartender again, Dennis couldn't help but notice the flicker in my eyes.
"Jakey," he purred. "That boy is gorgeous. Are you---?"
"Oh, what?" I assked, and I felt myself blush.
"JAKEY!" Dennis cried. "Good for YOU!"
"He is cute," I said, without actually answering the question. "But I forgot to wear cologne!"
"Do you have any in the car?" Dennis asked. "I always keep cologne in the car."
"No, Wesley drove!" I cried. "And I doubt he has any in the car. He's such a bro-ski. I don't even think he knows what Bravo is.'
"What were you saying about me?" Wesley asked when I got back to the bar.
"I was complaining about how I forgot to wear cologne," I answered, which wasn't necessarily false. "Do you have any in your car?"
"No," Wesley sputtered. I ordered a Grey Goose Lemonade and we ended up in an awkward conversation with a frenemy. I lied and said we had to go to the bathroom, and then we sat at the table near the bathrooms. I explained to Wesley that that is the stealth way to ditch somebody. The boy has so much to learn!
Running Back flitted among us, as he already knows Wesley. Running Back is 23 and Wesley talked about what he would do to the bartender. "I would fuck him so hard he would SHAKE," he boasted. "He would look like an epileptic surrounded by strobe lights." My jaw unhinged and I started sweating.
"That's a cute shirt," I told Running Back in a valiant attempt to change the subject.
"It's American Eagle," Running Back smiled, slightly embarrassed. "It's a hand-me-down."
"From who?" I asked.
"Star Quarterback," Running Back divulged.
"I LOVE HIM!" I cried. "HE'S SO DREAMY!"
"He is not," Running Back said with disgust.
"Yes he is!" I whined. "He's so tall and just like ... 'Hey, Jakey. 'Sup?"
"Oh my god," Running Back winced. Somehow my opinion of Star Quarterback's dreaminess was more offensive than Wesley's clever yet descriptive imaginary sexcapades.
We were off to The Saloon, where I was happy to meet up with Liam, Quinn, and Cagefighter, the last of whom was looking very dreamy and Muscle Daddy in a tight V-neck. Liam was rather tipsy, and Quinn was his usual jovial and friendly self. We all made niceties, and Quinn and I discussed New York and career goals. Later, Cagefighter asked me if I knew a certain boy across the bar (which I didn't).
"Find out his name for me," he said. "He's adorable. I want him to sit on my face."
Is this who I am in my peer group? The asexual clown who everybody tells their innermost sexual fantasies to? Yes, I know I don't put out, but that's because of my own physical and emotional fuckery. It bummed me out. Still, I was happy to have Cagefighter in our group, and I had him talk to Wesley for a bit. I don't know what was said, but they come from different backgrounds, and I felt it was important for Wesley to meet someone that wasn't an overdramatic and bitter aging drag queen. By which I mean myself. RYAN ROBERTSON showed up at some point, but I was too far into Grey Goose to remember it. I remember he had purple on and looked dreamy, and that is a good enough memory.
We went out again on Sunday, and I think it was overkill. First of all, the place was dead because all the Gays With Money were at the Rihanna concert. Wesley was still sexually frustrated because of the LUSH bartender, and I was still sexually frustrated because of Wesley. I thought I would impress him by doing the rap verse of Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker", but halfway through it, he announced that he had to pee. I was not going to win.
"Your friend Quinn is really nice though," he said. "He's cute, too."
"He is," I said, and I meant it, and in no way did I have a flashback of the last time I liked a boy, only to realize that he preferred Quinn, my opposite in terms of temperament and demeanor.
|Here we go again ....|
Perhaps I just needed a one-sided emotional affair to get over my last ill-fated one-sided emotional affair? We'll go with that. I have enjoyed his company, and it is best to keep my brain and emotions about him as platonic as my reality.
But this is me we're talking about.
Next week: Everybody loves Quinn! AND AN ALL-NEW EMMY CLIP.