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."


Liam and I went to brunch the next day, and I smuggled a purple Vitamin Water (key for a Sunday Funday!). We got there at 10:30 so we could get a booth, and I was happy that Rusty, my favorite barback, was working (I only drunk Facebooked him once). I made him wear my green Ray-Bans and admired his sweatpants. I ordered scrambled eggs and truffles while Liam oddly settled for a plate of bacon, which he would later ask to have re-heated.

Some acquaintances showed up, looking dapper in church suits (I was rocking a green button-down look), and I texted Wesley in bratty fashion about how his favorite bartender looked (when he got too risque, I criticized him for saying such things on a religious holiday).

Victor showed up and ordered salmon, and Liam complained about the smell. Victor essentially told Liam to fuck off, and then Liam pouted like a toddler and said he was going to talk to nice people. Cagefighter showed up and looked scrumptious, and I enjoyed sitting by him. A lady from California with big lips showed up and kissed Victor on the neck and Liam on the chest, and it looked like they had tattoos. Liam would alternate between conversation and pouting, and it was getting strenuous. 2:00 struck, and  I decided it was time to enjoy drink specials. Cagefighter wanted me to walk by a cute boy for him, but we later found out he was partnered. Then I decided to spill about my current emotional affair.

"Here's the thing," I said. "I remember in high school in Creative Writing class, we discussed archetypes, and I had to do my paper on the Mentor. And the role of the Mentor is to guide the Hero to the end of his journey, but at the end of the story, the Mentor is not present. So, there is eventually going to come a time when he --"
"--Replaces you?" Cagefighter finished, and he stared at me with penetrating eyes. That will be the only time I will use "Cagefighter" and "penetrating" in the same sentence, and don't think I'm not relishing the moment.
"Yes," I said, and I almost started crying, but then Victor and Liam started getting in an argument again and my attention was mercifully diverted.

We later went out to the patio to meet new people! Hooray! Mingling! One was in a pink shirt and had a Southern accent, and we later found out he was from Austin, Texas. I was in love with a boy from the Internet when I was in high school and therefore I was able to share my knowledge that Austin is the capital and is in Travis County. His friend was in a blue button-down, had a natural tan, and teeth that should have been on the cover of a White Strips box. We all went around and introduced ourselves.

"I'm Jakey," I said to the boy in the blue shirt. "You have really nice teeth."
"Thanks," he said. "I'm Kevin."
Of course his name was Kevin. He got in an accident and we discussed painkillers and how much they cost if you don't have insurance. It is a scary world out there.

However, it only got scarier when we went inside. I'm not sure what was going on at the table, but Liam -- who had been acting like a second-grader for the majority of the day -- kicked Kevin 2.0 in the shin, and Kevin 2.0 got really angry. It would have been sexy if I wasn't so upset with Liam.

"You want to try that again?!" he yelled with gritted (and sparkling white) teeth, and I damn near started crying at the booth. I profusely apologized to Kevin 2.0 and his friends, and his gal pal could not have been any nicer. "He's not always like this," I managed to eke out, and it was true. I felt like a mother who had been called to speak to the teacher after school, and I was failing to convince her that, deep down, my son was a really good boy.

The moment was quelled when a member of the Pretty Girl Mafia sat at our table. And I gotta tell you this: I am still learning that just when I have people pegged, I'm wrong. I took him for one of the meanest bitches on Hennepin Avenue, but as he was telling his story to Liam to try to calm him down (Liam was going through an existential crisis that weekend -- not to excuse his poor behavior, but I think it explains it), I finally got it. Everyone has a story, and until that moment I thought he was a snob who just got lucky with the right friend circle. I understand him now. It was a rewarding moment.

I called my own cab and told Cagefighter I hoped to see him that night at The Saloon. I went home and prepared to take a nap when Quinn messaged me, asking if I was going out tonight. He agreed to meet with me and Jared at around 10 for a kiki. How fun!

I really enjoyed getting to know Quinn, as usually when I see him he's with somebody else. He is a very good listener and he's one of the few people I've ever met who has a Minnesotan accent as strong as mine is. I can genuinely see why people find him adorable, and I say that without any bitterness or resentment. After all, we are all grown-ups. Jared and I talked about our company for far too long, and I felt bad. After some awful Mountain Dew Kickstart mixed with awful Three Olives Dude, we were on our way.

Wesley texted us and said he would meet us there, and my trio arrived at 11:30. Jared quickly went to the video bar to enjoy 2-for-1 whiskey cokes, and I stopped at T.J.'s bar before going to the restroom. When I got to the mirror, there he was.

"Is Quinn here?" he asked.
"Bring me to him," he said.
"But I have to pee," I said.
"Pee later," Wesley said. "Find Quinn."
"Yes, Master," I said, and that was the only interaction we would have for half an hour. Wesley sat next to Quinn, and I turned into the Invisible Man. Jared and I gossiped about work as usual, and he begged me to go to the '90s, but I didn't feel like walking. That was the excuse I was going to use, anyway.

Before Jared left, he decided to give Wesley a piece of his mind about the previous night.
"Y'know, the Eagle is a culture," he slurred, and lifted up his shirt to show his bear paw tattoo. "Not everyone is into twinkssssssssss." And then he did the splits right there in the middle of the bar. His booty-pops cracked me up, and it was a delightful way to ease the tension (that only I was having, by the way. Quinn and Wesley were fine on their own).

Jared was on his way, and I tried to ease myself back into the conversation when Johnny, the high school frenemy, literally popped up from the ground like a Whack-a-Mole. We made our usual niceties, and then I decided to Froot Loop, where I made nice with Running Back and we discussed Mariah Carey. Johnny and I ended up at T.J.'s bar.

"Wesley and Quinn have been talking to each other the entire time," I said. "And I shouldn't care. I don't care. Why do I care? I don't fucking care."

We looked behind us, and, as if they had teleported, Wesley and Quinn were now sitting at a table far in the back. That is a couples table. That is when you sit when you do want to be talked to or acknowledged. That is when you share secrets and propose marriage. This was happening.

This was high school all over again. This was when I was in tenth grade and hopelessly in love with the tromboner in the ska band/soccer stud, who told me all about the girls he liked, and I never thought I could "turn" him or anything, but I still fell head over heels for him and fantasized about bringing him to family gatherings, and that boy had to break my heart so many times before my stubborn and creepy self would finally get the message.

I didn't try to deny anything to Johnny, because he could tell. He's known me since I was six years old, for God's sake. We watched Trick together and surfed PlanetOut chat rooms as adolescents. He could read it all over my face. There was no point in fronting.

"Jakey," Running Back said as he spun around. "Where's your friend?"
"What friend?" I asked.
"You know, the straight-ish one that you're always with."
"'I'M NOT ALWAYS WITH HIM," I said with more anger than I intended. "Anyway, he's over there with Quinn. Don't look, or they'll see us looking."
"Oh my god," Running Back grinned. "You really like him, don't you?"
"I don't want to talk about it," I said, and I chugged my drink.
"Let's go say hi!" Running Back said, and I began to panic. I only know Running Back from interactions such as the one we were having! He seems harmless, but what if he was the type to spill everything to Quinn and Wesley just for his own entertainment? 

Running Back walked over to their table, and I sprinted after him. Before Running Back could get out two syllables, I yanked him by the arm and brought him back to the bar. Wesley looked absolutely dumbfounded.

"What are you doing?!" Running Back asked.
"You're not gonna tell him anything, are you?" I wondered in panic.
"God, no!" Running Back cried. "What kind of person do you think I am? I was just saying hi! Calm down, Jakey!"

Johnny joined us as we walked back to the table, and I tried my best not to appear agitated or awkward.

"That was so weird," Wesley said. "You came over and then walked away right away."
"Yeah, I don't---" my voice trailed off.
"My mom still talks about you, Jakey," Johnny said, and it was a very classy way to change the tone of the conversation. We sat there for a few more minutes before I realized the two of them had no intention of moving, so Johnny and I went to go Froot Loop and Running Back went to go do his usual prancing.

After saying hello to Piano Man (and watching him and Johnny eye-fuck each other), Johnny and I had a heart-to-heart back by Danny's bar.
"Don't be sad," Johnny said.
"I'm not trying to be," I said. "It's not .... it's fine if they like each other. I don't care."
"But you do," Johnny said.
"I don't want to be a psycho stalker friend," I said. "It's just that ..... I have all these sexual hang-ups, y'know? I'm so inexperienced and the older you get, the more embarrassing it is, and I know I'm putting it on a pedestal, but would my life have been different if I would have messed around with him when I was in high school? I wouldn't be so fucked up. And the minute he got here he's barely said two words to me. And I'm paranoid about my hair and getting fat and getting old and it feels like we're back in high school, and I'm the goofy class clown, which normally is fine, but right now it's not feeling so great. I don't even know why I'm here."

I formally introduced Johnny to Piano Man, and they found out that they had mutual friends in common. I felt happy and successful in connecting the two of them. I went to go Froot Loop to look for Quinn and Wesley, and decided to be mature enough to act like everything was normal. I enjoy them both for the friendship they provide, and my misguided tenth-grade lust would just have to take a seat. Everything was okay.

Then I realized they were gone.

Ugh, I so care. I reunited with Johnny and Piano Man, but the sleep-deprivation, alcohol, and stunted adolescence were coming in waves. I knew I was going to cry, but I knew that I was going to control it until I left the bar. I'd be damned if I was going to cry in front of all these people, even though nothing could cheer me up.

"Jakey," an attractive man I have seen a few times before. "I'll take you home."
"Do you want to have sex with him?" Piano Man asked rather directly.
"I do," the man said.
"No, that's okay," I said, and not just because I'm closed for business. "I'm too sad."
"Jakey," Running Back offered. "Do you want to go talk to Star Quarterback?"
"No," I whimpered. "I don't want him to see me like this."

Before I left, Johnny made adamantly sure if it was okay that he was going home with Piano Man. "Oh my god, yes," I insisted. "Of course, I think Piano Man is gorgeous, but I have 30 different bar crushes. It would be far too unfair for me to call dibs on all of them. There were only two that I had deep feelings for." One of them liked Quinn instead and the other .... left with Quinn. Oh, God. Water works. "Thank you for being such a good friend tonight! I really have to go." Not even Piano Man's bro-ski fratty friend (who I have never seen before!) was cheering me up. The meltdown was to occur in 5, 4, 3 ...

I did not cry until I got to Lasalle Avenue. To my surprise, it was not an ugly cry. I did not make any noises. There was no guttural sobbing or sniffing. It was just walking into the wind, tears streaming down my face, but I had this pain in my chest. When I look back, I can justify it by saying that it was because I constantly combine energy drinks with alcohol. Maybe that's the accurate case. But at the moment, it felt like my heart was literally breaking. High school sucks.

Jared came over at 3 in the morning and slept in the wicker chair. I wasn't even mad at him for snoring. I chose to be comforted by it.

Quinn texted me the next morning, assuring me that nothing happened, he doesn't like Wesley that way, and he apologized if he crossed any boundaries. "OMG of course not!!" I wrote back. "We'll have to go out again on Saturday!!" Perhaps it was all in my imagination and I was overthinking these things.

Wesley asked if I was going to LUSH on Wednesday, but I declined because of my work schedule. But because I am in middle school, I then put on Facebook that I was going to step away from what hurt me in the first place. It was a cryptic message, but I thought nothing would come of it, because a) Wesley does not use Facebook very much, and b) How was anyone to know I wasn't talking about avoiding food that always causes heartburn? Maybe I was writing about barbecue chicken.

"What was your Facebook post about?" Wesley texted later. Fuccckkkk. I was honest enough to say that I felt ignored on Sunday, and that I was also getting over a recent heartbreak. Which was true. I wasn't lying. I was just omitting certain things. We agreed to hang out together on Saturday.

But because we are all whores, we went out on Thursday. Quinn came over for a kiki again. I invited Wesley, too, but apparently he and Quinn were on the outs. I invited my neighbor girls, but they both declined. I confided in Quinn that I was to get over Wesley, and that I shouldn't like him "that" way and expect anything in return. Quinn said that he didn't really care about Wesley anymore. I believed him.

"I don't want to use the word 'love' because that's super creepy," I said. "But in general, if you 'love' somebody, you're selfless about it. You don't expect them to owe you something."

We vamoosed to The Saloon, and it was a typical night of mingling. I saw old friends, newer friends. Wesley was there, and I turned a blind eye when he went to go talk to Quinn. I had already gone over this on Sunday. I was over it. Right?

"I like a bro-ski," I told T.J. the bartender after my fourth drink.
"Be careful," T.J. said. "They're dangerous. They're 'tops' in everything they do, but not really. So they need to be with someone that's always gonna serve them, or they fall apart. It's really complicated shit, dude." I want T.J. to have his own radio show where confused gays call in and ask questions.

And for the most part, it was fine. But at the end I got sad again, because when Wesley announced he was leaving, I asked if he was leaving with Quinn. "I'm driving him home, yeah," he said. "GOOD-BYE," I said, and I spun his body around. I was Adrienne Maloof and he was Paul Nassif. I was bitter and mean. I wrote "I DO NOT LOVE WESLEY STEMPER" on my bar tab.

For two weeks, it was the same old routine: I enjoy myself until the end of the night, and then I go home feeling hideous and disgusting. Fortunately -- or perhaps unfortunately -- it was all going to come to a head on Saturday.

But before that, I took a detour on Facebook. The whole emotional affair had taken a horrible toll on my self-esteem, and so I kept looking at this picture:

I know I squandered a lot of potential I had with the Funniest Person in the Twin Cities 2012 label (I still went clubbing too much, and I briefly picked up a second retail job), but it was important to remind myself of who I was. I am more than the immature, boy-crazy idiot. I studied the 104 likes and the 14 comments that this got. I went back to September on my Facebook page, when the established comedians complimented me, and Jared wrote "Good luck, Mary!" the night of the contest. I am more than the bar. I am more than the unrequited crushes. I am more than the drinking. I am more than the intimacy issues. I tried to remind myself of this when Saturday night came around.

See, I had made plans with both Quinn and Wesley. Wesley had been complaining about driving all the time, so I told him that I could drive him as long as he got a cab home. I thought I would pick him up myself, but then Quinn texted me, and we decided we would go together in my car to pick up Wesley, and then leave my car at LUSH overnight. I was lucky enough to be off on Sunday, so I could go to brunch, anyway. Everyone would be happy.

The drive there was fine. I put on Mariah Carey. We made it to LUSH, where I indulged in rail drinks and could feel my gut rotting. Wesley and Quinn were arguing, then flirting, then fighting. Then Wesley started trying to dance with me, but I completely knew he was only doing it to make Quinn jealous.

"Why do you never return my affection?" Wesley asked.
"Because it's ..... whatever," I said. "I want to leave at midnight."
"It's 11:20," he said. "Calm the fuck down."  More time meant more rail drinks. Ugggghhhhhhh.

I called my town car service, and they sent the limousine! Hooray! Then Wesley tried to kiss Quinn. No hooray. Then Wesley tried to grab Quinn's junk. No hooray. Then I wanted to jump out of the limousine.

We got to The Saloon. I lost my cell phone. Wesley and Quinn started YELLING at each other at this point. I tried to get Wesley to leave. And not to go home to play board games with me (I really had no delusions by then), but just to diffuse the situation.

In retrospect, I should have been the one to leave. But I wasn't, because Quinn and I were playing chess at this stage in the game. Unfortunately, no one wins when it's just two queens left on the board. Wesley was yelling so loud I thought he was gonna get kicked out, showing a side of explosive anger that was unnerving and terrifying. Once I would calm him down, Quinn would come back and instigate him. It was a neverending back-and-forth, and I should have left, and let the two of them take care of themselves. But I didn't. Was it because I really thought something would happen with me and Wesley? Was it because I felt responsible? Was it because I felt the need to win? Everyone was watching us, and I knew how I appeared: The hopeless third wheel. The class clown that is actually trying to get with the cheerleader. It is Saved by the Bell, and I am Dustin Diamond and he is Lark Voorhies.

"I'm so confused," he muttered at one point. He kissed me quickly on the lips, but I did not return it, because the moment was too fractured.
"Let's just go," I whispered. Quinn was on our tails, and I didn't want to start anything. We all left together in a cab and made it to my apartment. Maybe this would be fun! Slumber party!

We arrived at my apartment. Quinn took a chair and Wesley crashed on the bed, his body half on it and half on the floor. They were mercifully done fighting.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do," Wesley said. His eyes were closed. I crouched next to him. I laid on his chest and stroked his hair as he talked about the things he missed, the things he could not say to certain people, the things he wished he knew. I did not want to say "It's okay" to any of it, because I knew that it wasn't. Nevertheless, I felt a sense of mutual security. I hoped he felt safe with the comfort I was providing, and I felt safe against his granite upper body. It was a beautiful moment -- one that I wanted to stay in forever.

And then he threw up everywhere, miraculously missing my brand new laptop. I convinced myself I never did like that Topman peacoat.

Quinn helped me clean it up and throw the garbage bag away, and we all slept for a few hours. When Wesley woke up he talked about how he never got sick. He and Quinn argued again, and Quinn went home to shower before graciously driving us to brunch.

I didn't feel well at brunch and only had two mimosas. Quinn said he wasn't staying, but quickly changed his tune. I bought Wesley brunch, and then the three of us went to the patio, where they continued to argue. This weekend would not end.

"Let's trade hoodies," I said to Wesley in hopes of changing the subject.
"No, yours will be small on me," he said. "It's small on you."
"Oh, okay, so now I'm fat," I said. "That's just .... great."
"First you made fun of my hair, and now I'm fat. We can't all stay skinny by puking on the carpet. This has been awesome."
"You're worse than a chick," Wesley said for the second time that week. Then Quinn said something snippy, and they were back to arguing.

  I was third wheeling again??? I ran into Dennis, the role model in my head, and apologized in advance for being rancid. Liam was there and was in much better condition and behavior, and I thanked him for his concern. I had him watch my mimosa while I drove to the gas station to get an energy drink.

I came back with my green Ray-Bans on and my Gucci windbreaker that I had no business buying. I stood by Liam and Wesley showed up, and Quinn did soon later.

"Quinn's gonna drive me home," said Wesley. Of course he is. He went in to hug me and I wouldn't let him.
The two of them left, and I could feel my stomach rotting. "I have to go," I told Liam. "Thank you for being so supportive."

Rail drinks are the devil, and I have IBS. I spent the rest of the afternoon simultaneously crying and shitting. During my bouts of diarrhea, I read The Glass Castle, which really helped me put things in perspective. I may have been sad about two friends whom I felt were both using me for access to each other, but I didn't grow up in constant poverty and without indoor plumbing while my mentally ill parents bounced me all over the country.

Also, I didn't start crying until the end of Chapter Four.

One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight.

Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty."

And then I sobbed on my toilet. This was an historic low.

Four trips to the toilet later, I finally slept for a bit. Did I mention I lost my fucking phone??? It was not my weekend. I went to my mother's house, where I took a bath and talked to her about boys as if I were a 15-year-old girl, which I probably never stopped being.

"You're a slow learner," she said, "But I haven't given up hope."

I went on Facebook and Wesley asked why I was so moody at Lush. He was right to ask. Besides, it was an awful cycle that was unfair to him. We would go out, have fun times and deep conversations, and at the end of the night I would turn into an ice queen because he had the audacity to go home with my pseudo-rival.

I said I was sick of being the third wheel/referee, which was fair. He explained the situation with him and Quinn, which was fair.

Then I decided I couldn't pretend anymore. "I wasn't being entirely honest with you," I said. I explained that while I do NOT want a relationship, I had strong feelings for him that I couldn't hide anymore, and that Quinn knew this, and that while Quinn was busy convincing me that he felt nothing for Wesley, he was telling Wesley the opposite. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt -- was he trying to protect me? But I also realize that, if I am to learn anything from the past week, it is to not worry so much about the intentions or thoughts of other people.

He took it well, and said he wanted to maintain our friendship, which is all I can ask for. He told me to text him when I get my phone back. I told him I have to back away for a while.

The next morning, my Facebook news feed alerted me that

Kevin Thomson and that boy you threw shade at two weeks ago are in a relationship.

Yeah, that's, um, well ....

 I still have his size 32 Old Navy jeans. I am not giving them back.

Next week: Willam Belli guest stars?

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