Holy crap, people. This episode starts at the beginning of June. We basically have to go over the entire summer in just two or three episodes. There will be drama, tears, and laughter.
It is difficult to write about things that happened so long ago. Not just from a memory standpoint, but because a lot can change in the span of a season. One of the reasons that this episode is so delayed is that much of my summer was spent working on a Fringe Festival play, which transformed from a one-man show into an ensemble comedy that I was writing, directing, and starring in.
But the other reason -- the immature, shameful reason -- is knowing that, at least for part of this episode, I'm a real piece of shit.
Here we go.
I went to LUSH on the last Wednesday of May despite knowing that my 12th sinus infection was coming on. I didn't even want to go out (I say that all the time), but it was Cagefighter's birthday and Joey said he was going and this had nothing to do with Wesley texting me saying he wasn't going, because I said I wasn't going anyway.
I arrived wearing a T-shirt that read "LOVE IS OVERRATED" and made a beeline to Cagefighter. Wesley was across the bar, sitting next to SDV2. I decided to focus on the positive things, and shamelessly flirted with Cagefighter. I don't think I had ever seen him drunk before, and it was enjoyable. Also, he was wearing a black tank top and I was enjoying the scenery.
"Let me buy you a birthday shot," I told him. Before he could refuse, I asked the bartender for two shots of tequila.
Before she could start, I looked over at Wesley smiling at SDV2 and turned into a character from Melrose Place. "Oh, wait, can I have four shots of tequila?"
"Four?" Cagefighter balked. "Are you trying to kill me?"
"Two for us and two for the gentlemen across the bar. The one in the white V-neck and the one in the black leather jacket. Thank you, sweetheart." In my head this was an excellent stealth move, but then I thought about it and realized that all I was doing was jacking up my bar tab.
I kissed Cagefighter on the cheek and vamoosed to Wesley and SDV2. The former was drunk and the latter was his usual gracious, friendly self. But before I could delve into serious conversation, I realized my Listerine Strips were empty! Thankfully, I had an extra pack in my car. I sprinted to my vehicle and returned moments later, fully refreshed and proud that I was adding preparedness to my obsessive compulsive disorder.
"I had a spy watch your stand-up comedy," Wesley said when I returned. "Apparently your whole routine is about me."
"That is so not true," I lied, and stared at the floor.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I have to talk to you about something," I cringed, because I hate confrontation. I mentioned the incident at The Saloon.
"I didn't see you," he said. "I swear I didn't."
"You don't owe me anything--" I began.
"JAKEY," he said. "I SWEAR. I would never do that to you."
"Wesley, it's fine if you were--" I started.
"JAKEY," he said, looking at me with those sky blue eyes that are milky in the center, the kind you can fall into like a pillow. "I swear on my mom and dad, if I would have seen you, I would have said hello."
"Well, don't say that," I said in a soft voice.
He asked a litany of inappropriate questions. I chose to answer them honestly, because I assumed he was drunk and wouldn't remember. I was going to stay until bar close, but then he kissed SDV2 on the lips and that was when I realized it was time to go.
June began by doing stand-up in a movie theater! I was invited by the very talented (and chiseled) Kevin "Kaoz" Moore to do stand-up in between film screenings at the Twin Cities OutFest Film Festival. Here I am with Matt Iverson, who was named "Entertainer of the Queer" last summer. It was a fun experience, chiefly in part because a cute boy paid for my parking at the St. Anthony Main Theater. I was then asked if I would be interested in volunteering at the ticket booth for the after-party. I declined, and then was secretly worried that James Franco was going to show up (a film he co-directed was the last film of the festival).
I texted Wesley to ask if he was going to LUSH or The Saloon that night, but he said he would text me back because he was at the movies with SDV2. This upset me more than it should have. I am not a "go to the movies" friend because I am gayyyyyyyyyy and it will be a give-away, but SDV2 is only gayyyyy and thus they can go to the movies together? I could feel myself turning into a seventh-grade girl. My brother told me he was at Legends, and I thought it would be perfect to meet up with him at Legends and then vamoose to LUSH. I took a cab to Legends, and promptly ordered tequila.
"Tequila makes me too honest," I lamented to one of my brother's straight friends whom I had a crush on in high school and whose arms I once awkwardly jumped into. He is married now and has gained a good 40 pounds since then. "I hope I don't embarrass myself."
My father showed up and scolded me after my third shot of tequila. "Christ, son," he said. "You should just stay at our house."
"Nooo, I have to go downtowwnnnnn," I slurred.
"Hey, aren't you doing a play?" my brother's friend asked.
"Yes!" I cried. "Auditions are next week! And I haven't even finished the script! I should be working on that. I don't know why I go out so much."
I called a town car to pick me up from Legends, because I wanted to look like a douche bag. The car took me to The Saloon.
I really should have stayed at my parents' house, y'all.
Wesley was there with SDV2 -- someone who, I must note, has always been friendly and courteous with me. And instead of appreciating that Wesley was finding new friends and enjoying himself, I internalized everything and became jealous and crazy. All I could think about was comparison.
Jakey: Works at the mall. Occasionally does stand-up comedy and gets paid in drink tickets more often than cash.
SDV2: Big boy job that betters lives of others.
Jakey: Pasty and often razor-burned. Eat-a-burger skinny.
SDV2: Tan and hairless. Ripped.
Jakey: Dark undereye circles. Skeletor.
SDV2: Looks 18 and makes his own eye cream at home (he told me the ingredients in the hot tub once, but I wasn't listening. Something about Vitamin K.)
Jakey: Overdramatic. Whiny.
SDV2: Well-keeled. Even-tempered.
SDV2: Once described by Wesley as "a perfect blend of masculine and feminine". You bet your ass that made it into the final script of They Shoot 25-Year-Old Gay Men, Don't They?
Jakey will go home with a $10 gift certificate from Loehmann's as his consolation prize. Thank you for playing.
I mingled with others and even met a cute boy from New Jersey who picked me up like I weighed three pounds and was actually impressed that I had a visible chest hair poking out of my button-down (I, on the other hand, was cursing my poor shaving skills). I returned to the bar right at bar close, and I was fine. Wesley kissed SDV2 again and I was fine.
"I better get him home safely," SDV2 said.
"Yeah, you do that," I hissed, because now I was on my fifth tequila.
"Wait, what?" SDV2 asked, genuinely surprised by my sudden hostility.
"It's fine," I said. "I know the score." And I stormed out.
What did that even mean, by the way? I honestly don't know. I'm not saying that as a copout. It was partly the aforementioned comparison chart, it was that I was never asked to go to the movies, it was that I was pretty sure that SDV2 was going to take Wesley's pants off when they got home.
JAKEY. You don’t need me to entertain you anymore. I know the score.
Jakey storms off.
RANDY. I know the score? Wait, is there some secret gay game no one’s told me about yet? How many points do I have?
Everything is copy.
But back to the moment. I couldn't even let it end there. No, then I had to text Wesley "YOU THINK I'M SO STUPID." Then he called me while I was walking through the park and told him to call me when I got home. Then I talked to him on the phone, sobbing, for twenty minutes. And the worst part is that when I woke up the next morning, I had no idea what I said. At all. Was this all karma for my bragging about being a heavyweight? That is when vodka is concerned. But, as we have learned, tequila is truth serum and it leads to negative consequences (and also, very unsexy dry mouth. Drink sparingly, boys).
The next day at work was hellacious. There is no hangover like a tequila hangover. Not only that, I felt really bad about the night prior. Also, I had been dealing with a dry cough for the past two weeks (remember that I told Kevin I wouldn't hang out until my cough was cleared up?). I was especially upset about how I had treated SDV2, who had only treated me with dignity and respect and I instead acted poorly as a result of my own insecurity. I was crabby all day and didn't even smile at a customer. At the end of the day, I volunteered to walk a woman to her vehicle (she had about five bags), because it meant at least five minutes in which I wouldn't be in the store.
And I have to tell you, this changed my outlook on life. At least for that month.
She was about five feet tall and from Connecticut, visiting for a convention. She appeared to be in her sixties, but I got the vibe that she smoked and drank a lot, and maybe that was prematurely aging her. I thought she had parked close to our store, but it turned out she was parked on the opposite side of the mall, so our trek was going to be longer than I had anticipated.
"What religion is that?" she asked when she saw a Muslim woman working by with a burqa. I explained it to her.
"They can't show their hair to any men but their husbands," I said.
"Where can I buy beer?" she asked.
"It's Sunday," I said. "All the liquor stores are closed. It's a Minnesota thing."
"That's awful," she cried, and I laughed and smiled for the first time in 12 hours.
We pushed her cart through the food cart when she asked about gummy bears. "That's why I took so long in your store," she said. "It took me too long to find anything that fit. I've gotten so fat. It's because I love gummy bears too much."
"Me too!" I cried. "They're my downfall."
"Where can I buy gummy bears?" she asked.
As fate would have it, we were right across from the Candy Emporium.
"Let's stop in," she requested. I couldn't believe I was getting paid for this, and I knew my managers would wonder why a 5-minute trip expanded to half an hour.
She couldn't believe the variety of gummy bears the Emporium had to offer. It's not just your basic Haribo gummies. No, the Emporium has gummies of any animal imaginable -- bears, worms, army men, octopi, etc. -- and her enthusiasm and joy for the candies were infectious. She bought $17 and offered me some, but I refused. Employees can't take money or gifts, but the gift she gave me was her energy. She was genuinely ecstatic about the overwhelming variety of gummy bears, and that is when I realized that life is too short to focus on the pain. Instead, we should cherish the memories and appreciate the positive. In short: Enjoy the damn gummy bears.
We arrived to her car and I hugged her good-bye. Parked right next to her was a girl from my college days! She introduced me to her boyfriend. His name was Wesley. You can't make this shit up.
I got home and texted apologies to Wesley. Not only that, but I went on Facebook and personally sent a message to SDV2, completely taking Wesley out of the equation. Regardless of what was or wasn't going on between them, I had no reason to attack him or lash out at him the way I did. Plus, I enjoy seeing him around town and he is one of many that I want to be when I grow up.
I went to my usual bar at The Saloon. Wesley and SDV2 were sitting at a back table, and I ordered my usual Three Olives. I was going to say hello (to be polite!) when I was stopped by a cute boy who was tall and surrounded by boys equally blessed in height. Most of them had black X's on their hands, which meant they were under 21.
"Hey, you're Jakey, right?" the tallest one asked. "I saw you stand-up once. Joey took me to one of your shows at the U of M."
"Oh, that's so nice!" I shrieked. I stood amongst the college boys, enjoying my moment in the sun. Wesley walked by and kicked me in the butt.
"Why did that golfer just kick you?" one of the college boys asked. Wesley does tend to wear polos and Callaway shorts to an embarrassing degree.
"What did you write to SDV2?" Wesley asked later.
"That's between the two of us," I said. I was proud of my newfound adulthood. "Not everything is about you."
He looked off in the distance.
"You're doing your brooding soap opera look," I said. "It bothers me."
"Fuck you," he said, and it was just like old times, y'all.
I went to ACME Comedy Club the next night to sign up for open mike, but I didn't make the list. My friends Bjorn, Jody and I went to The 19. It became our ritual for many Mondays this summer, and I'm sad that I didn't appreciate it more. I spoke with my 19 crush, who is 180 pounds of muscle and is a WWE nerd like I am. We discussed Triple H, The Undertaker, and if we would want to fuck John Cena.
A cute boy with jet black hair and blue eyes started talking to us just as Bjorn and Jody chastised me for never having a boy over. We went back to my apartment at about 1 A.M. I wasn't going to do anything. I am so the opposite of slutty. Plus, I hadn't Naired my legs and was not feeling very sexy.
"Do you have any vodka?" the boy asked. I did, but not very much, and he drank the remainder very quickly. I suggested we walk back to the 19, but then I suggested we come back wearing different T-shirts. He wore one of mine, and I enjoyed that he didn't realize that it was all a ruse so that I could see him with his shirt off.
"I used to have better abs," he said. "Like I was shredded."
"You look fine," I said.
We went back to the 19. He knocked a chair over and the bartender gave him water. He joked about doing a field sobriety test, and then the bartender kicked him out. The bartenders at the 19 do not like joking. Of any kind. Especially about alcohol. Because I am a rancid bitch, I still stayed inside until 2 A.M.
We walked back to my apartment and fooled around in ridiciously awkward ways. My mother cleaned my apartment, and I think she threw away my lubricant. Do not ask me why. I don't want to know. We used Burt's Bee's lotion like we were experimenting teenagers without a clue what we were doing (well, I still kind of am one). I made him take a shower with me. Then I think he left at three in the morning. Nevertheless, he was a good kisser and had nice muscles, and as meaningless as it was, I chose to embrace it as a boost to my self-esteem. I could bring boys home, hairy legs be damned.
We were all at LUSH the following week. You are so surprised. Wesley and SDV2 were sitting right in the front of the bar, and I decided to mingle with Joey and Quinn instead. We met with our friends Becks and Cooper, who are fabulous fashionistas who go to Marquee a lot and come to the club wearing designer clothes. Becks even suggested I buy a Dolce suit for my birthday. Suburban gays have different ideas about money.
"SDV2 saw your posting about auditions," Wesley said. That's right! Auditions were on Friday!
"Apparently one of the characters is a carbon copy of me."
"That is so not true," I said.
Randy - closeted, hypermasculine broski who is often ornery but really has a heart of gold.
"I would never," I went on. (There is also a character that I named Kevin, the best friend is named Jared, and the twink they adopt is named Jayden and a hybrid of Joey and Quinn. I mean, what??)
"You should let me play him," he grinned.
"No," I said. "That would be a Pink/Carey Hart situation. And she has 'Fuck you' money."
He drank more than he should have. He yelled at me in the bathroom, and then we sat on the pool table. Quinn was texting him and he was fumbling with his phone. "Stop talking to me," Quinn had texted. Wesley started swearing and ranting, and I took his phone away from him. "Okay," I wrote back on his behalf, and slammed the phone shut. "THERE. It's done."
He sensed my anger. "Why don't you ever say what you're thinking?" he growled. "Seriously, you NEVER say anything, Jakey."
He wasn't wrong. I can blog about it. I can put jokes in my act about it. I can write a freaking play about it. But saying things out loud to someone's face? Well, that's just crazy talk.
"Y'know what, Jakey?" he offered. "Sometimes things happen in your life that you just can't plan for." Ain't that the fucking truth.
That week ended with auditions! My friend Elizabeth Ess agreed to help me out. I know her from stand-up and already cast her in the roles of Pamela and Loretta.
This was now the plot of the play:
Jakey (played by me! Jakey Emmert!) turns 25 and it freaks him out. He often goes to the bars with his best friend Jared (played by Zidane Lockhart, who I knew from the club and who I found out has been doing some stand-up). He and Jared have adopted a happy-go-lucky twink named Jayden, and Jakey is still burned from Kevin, the one that got away (who could that be?), and is now in hopelessly in love with his closeted friend Randy. At the 19, Jakey and Jared find out from an older man named Gilbert that there is a doctor downtown delivering shots that prevent your brain from allowing yourself to fall in love again. It's all the rage with the Minneapolis gays.
The script wasn't even done, but I had enough written to put together audition scenes for Gilbert, Kevin, Jayden and Randy. I was feeling very nervous, chiefly because I had no idea what I was doing, but also because this was the first week of June and the show was to go up in the first week of August. There's no minute like the last minute.
Also, should I have had a questionnaire? I was resisting the following questions:
"Have you ever seen Funniest Person in the Twin Cities 2012 Jakey Emmert do stand-up? If so, where? What was your favorite joke?"
"Are you a broski? Can you smash a can of beer against your forehead?"
"Let's do character work. Are you more likely to disappoint me by inviting over a Calvin Klein model after I have drive all the way to your suburban apartment with a broken muffler, or by screaming at me in the bathroom at LUSH in front of new friends?"
"Who is your favorite bartender at The Saloon? What do you think this says about you?"
"Are you willing to be shirtless onstage for comedic purposes? How about right now?"
One actor came in and was so talented that he could have been either Jayden or Kevin, and Elizabeth and I chastised him for having never seen Ghost (the Jakey/Kevin scene was practically taken verbatim from this episode). Another actor came in to play Gilbert, and at first I thought he was too good-looking to play a nerdy, older gay who had given up on love. But he read the scene so well (he really nailed the emotions of heartbreak), and he was hired.
We still had to cast the twink and the broski. And had less than two months. Panic, anyone?
Next week: Someone else gets crazy at the bar, but this time it isn't me! Downtown adventures with Kevin! And my very own sex scandal!