Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Loring Park Episode #35: Comedy is Easy, Living is Hard (SEASON TWO FINALE!)

Previously on Loring Park: "I'm sorry you had to go through that," he said, and that is when I realized how blue his eyes are. Oh, crap.


"If you want to bring a ... friend ... to Thanksgiving, just let me know," Grandma Shirley said the week before. I had her on speaker phone when Jared and I were getting ready and he cracked up.
"No, Grandma, I don't have any ... friends ... right now," I moped. "Just a lot of pals."

Thanksgiving was lovely and uneventful. I only felt stupid about being single because Grandma thought Dane's friend Walter was coming, and so there was an empty seat next to me. My grandparents sold their house and bought a new townhouse in the same city, and there was no yelling, and I only said the F-word twice.

The next day was BLACK FRIDAY at Mall of America! AAAAGGGGHH! I worked from 930 to 630 and then did two shows at House of Comedy as an emcee.  Midway through the first show, I was at a bar when a drunk guy came up to me, as his wife was rolling her eyes in the background.

He was in a Pittsburgh Steelers hoodie and their 21-year-old daughter was mad because she didn't have her ID and can't drink, so she just wanted to "do rides" with the 17-year-old daughter. The wife keeps saying how she had to go to the bathroom.

"Hey, buddy," he slurred. "I don't have a problem with gay people."
"Good," I smiled through gritted teeth, wondering why the bartender doesn't see me. I'M THE ONLY ONE HERE.
"Gays and lesbians, I'm cool with them," he slurred again. "My best man at my wedding was gay. JACKIE!! I'm telling him about Jeff!"
"Leave him alone!" she yelled.
"Jeff was my best man. You guys would be great together. He's pretty crazy. We went to the gay club once, he kept taking his clothes off."
"Yeah, that can happen ..."
"Aww, man, you'd LOVE Jeff. You guys would be such a great couple. Like, he's GAY. Like, you're gay, but he's like ......... Really, really, gayyyyyyyy."

THAT'S when I got mad because not only is it super obnoxious when people assume that two gay people will automatically be a perfect match, but he had just seen me talk for ten minutes describing relationships with gay men who use Axe grooming products, do pantomime golfing in lieu of dancing, drink beer and can't name a single show on Bravo. Not only was he drunk and obnoxious, but HE WASN'T EVEN LISTENING.

It was still an enjoyable evening. Before the show started, the wait staff informed me that an 18-year-old boy was going to be in the front row and he was being shipped off to the Navy the following day. "We thought you should be the comic that mentioned it," she said.

I called him out during my set and he waved. "Well, hello, sailor," I said. "Don't worry. I won't hit on you. It's awkward. And I only put out for Marines." Then he winked at me. After the show his bro-ski friends shook my hand. Life could be worse.


Saturday was a pre-Christmas miracle because I was on time for a shift that begin at 7:30 A.M. and I was on about 90 minutes of sleep. Oy vey! Kevin was throwing a bonfire party that night, and he graciously allowed me to get ready at his house in between retail slaving and yuk-em-up jokes.

Kevin's door was unlocked and I let myself in. I put my vodka bottle in the freezer with my name on it, juvenile as that may have seemed. He came upstairs from the basement wearing camo sweatpants, which I couldn't help but think was ironic. As you know, the other unrequited object of my affection is of a military background. I texted my best friend Erin of this fact and she wrote back, "It's like you combined both worlds!" "I know!" I wrote back. "Now all I need is for Wesley to be a clean freak and video game nerd!"

Kevin was excited about the party and told me that his sister was planning on coming and that her friends were a lot of fun. "How are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm exhausted," I said. "I feel like I'm doing an endurance test."
"Oh, yeah, your thousand-hour day?" he asked. This meant a lot because he works really hard at a big boy job.

I got pretty at his house and we had time for me to drive him to the liquor store. "This way you can feel like you're helping," he said. He, of course, panicked the entire way there. "I forgot how GOOD of a driver you are. Y'know what I like? Things like ... stop signs ... and seatbelts."
"Shut UP, Kevin," I said. "You only hate driving in the car with me because it's the one aspect of your life in which you have no control."
"That may be partly true," he said. "It may also be because of, y'know ... your driving." RUDE.

I dropped him off and did my two shows at House of Comedy. My friend Tan Man came to the second one, which was great! He asked if I could drop his friend off at home, which was not great because I was in the awkward situation of saying no (I honestly would have, but I had to wait for my Jared to get off work and then we had to drive to Kevin's house).

Jared and I reunited and on the way there I talked about how I was going to be nervous because of all these possible ex-boyfriends that were going to be there. "I want bed privileges," I said.
"You should claim the bed right away," Jared said. Tan Man not only gave me this advice as well, but he took it a step further and said that I should take my clothes off in the bed, because no one will move you if you have your clothes off.

We saw the bonfire in the backyard, but I decided to go in the house first instead. The door was locked, so I had to use my key. And the dead bolt was locked, too! I made my way in.

"I parked in the driveway, because I am Mrs. Thomsen," I declared. "Welcome to my home."

Jared and I giggled as we made our drinks before heading out to the bonfire. There was only one other dude there. He had piercings and went to college with Kevin. We got along well, and a fourth guy with glasses soon joined us with firewood. I felt kind of sad that Kevin had been planning so much for this party and only four people came. His sister is apparently very flaky and bailed with no response. We played Catchphrase, got on the awkward topic of drug use and enjoyed ourselves despite the fact that I couldn't feel my feet. Kevin even said he was proud of me for locking the door when I got in the house,

"How do you know Thomsen?" Piercings asked Glasses. Ooh, we're doing last name basis? Okay. I was being stealth in the way I acted. I didn't hug Kevin or act mushy or anything, but I still made sure I sat by him at the bonfire. The little things, y'know?

We got back into the house and continued drinking in between games of Uno, Jenga, and before we knew it, it was already 6 in the morning!!! Jared passed out on the basement couch and snored like a banshee. Piercings crashed on a cot next to Jared. Glasses had a mental breakdown and said he didn't feel safe and wanted to leave, and apparently he has major social anxiety that is exacerbated by alcohol. RUH ROH. I went into Mommy mode and tried to get him to bed, as Kevin had thoughtfully put together a makeshift bed in one of the extra bedrooms. He wouldn't have it, and I said I would drive him home because we didn't want him driving (I had barely had anything to drink that night because the one drink I made for myself tasted horrible, and I was having enough fun and was comfortable enough that I didn't need alcohol to calm myself. Progress!)

We got Glasses out the door and I got into my car when Kevin announced he would come with us. Glasses decided to drive on his own accord, which was a bummer.
"I have to get gas," I noticed.
"Let's go," Kevin said. "We're in the car anyway."
"Do you have Wounded Bird Syndrome?" I asked him. "You find these men that are .... special." Then I segued into how much I hated his friend that we went on the Trail of Terror with.

"Piercings is nice, though!" I cried.
"He is," Kevin said. "Apparently he's liked me a lot for a long time, which I had no idea about."
"Yeah, that's kind of your thing," I said as my voice trailed off.

We got back home and couldn't believe it was already 7:30. So much for our plans to go to brunch.
"I guess we should go to bed," Kevin said.
"Okay," I said.

We got in his big mega-comfortable bed.

I woke up three hours later with the biggest dumb smile on my face.  Kevin turned 30 last month and now he is more handsome than ever. This is because the Lord is sexist that way and men age backwards (this does not apply for men like me who are skinny, twinky and boyish. We just get grosser. My back has totally broken out and my chest is full of ingrown hairs from waxing and shaving. Kevin doesn't want to take his shirt off anymore so then he doesn't ask me to take mine off like he used to).

I GOT BED PRIVILEGES. I felt like I had won "Survivor: Kevin Thomsen." I imagined a game show host in my head.

"Jakey, you outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed your competition. You deserve your prize."

He woke up shortly after and mentioned playing our favorite video game and asked what I wanted for lunch. When he mentioned ordering Davanni's I realized that this was going to be the most perfect morning of my entire life.

He, Jared and I spent the rest of the afternoon playing video games, and it was just what I needed after the busiest, most tiring week of my life. At one point I said that I'm not as dumb as I act.

"I only get dumb at your house," I said. "Something about this house makes me lose brain cells."
"No, I've hung out with you in other places," Kevin smiled. I gasped and Jared guffawed. "It's okay," he said. "I've accepted you for who you are."

I hugged him good-bye about four times because he looked that good in his sweater. On the way to the mall, Jared said that we were like a couple and that Kevin was like the husband who has the wacky wife who tries her best but is a hot mess, and the husband tolerates it and enjoys and accepts her for who she is. I, of course, feel bad that we weren't together in June, but the timing and situations were different then, and I do worry that after our big fight when I stayed the weekend, he has written me off as boyfriend material.

I talked to the female comedian I was working with all week about it, and she said I need to man up and have the grown-up talk with him. "Happiness can be a scary thing to face," she said. Ain't that the truth.


This is when shit gets dark and awkward.

That week of House of Comedy and Black Friday retail slaving was probably the hardest I have ever worked as an adult. And when all was said and done, I had zero point zero dollars to my name.

I'll copy and paste what ended up going on Facebook that day, although I was as shocked as everyone else that I was going to be so publicly open about it. Alcohol was involved.

      **STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS** **I WILL STILL LEAVE OUT UNCOMFORTABLE DETAILS** **OR MAYBE I WON'T** Today was such a strange day. I was eight minutes late for work. I was told I would be written up if I was late again. I couldn't find my keys or my Claritin-D. I went to work and thought about financial stuff. Last week I worked the hardest I ever have in my whole life (Black Friday retail week + seven shows at House of Comedy) and I had literally nothing to show for it because of mistakes I have made in false attempts at budgeting and managing money and all that. I make okay money. I'm not wealthy but, on paper, I'm not in poverty. I thought about a post a very educated and articulate friend of mine made the day before about people wanting $15 an hour to work at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, and I ranted on his page about how, while those figures are ridiculous, the working poor is a growing yet invisible class in America, and I threw in some snarky aside about how Congressional Republicans are all "What would Jesus do?" and then they cut food stamps. And that is true, but I cannot call myself the working poor. I'm not poor. I just don't know how to do that thing where you take your money and you keep it and you only spend real money.

Anyway, I was sad about that, and how I might have to file bankruptcy, and jokes I could make about filing bankruptcy, and about how I should have stayed in college, and how -- Mommy Issues be damned -- I can't blame anybody else but me for not staying at UW-Stout or CUNY Brooklyn College because I really am smart. I went to work today, and two of my best friends were there, and if you hate commas just stop reading right now, but even their presence and jokes couldn't cheer me up, and a co-worker told me to please snap out of it, and I couldn't, and at 2 PM the closing manager came in and I told him that I needed to leave for a little bit because I was not mentally okay and I would come back in a few hours. I had thought about checking myself into a hospital because all day I had been thinking about driving off an off-ramp or taking pills but then I thought about how hospitals aren't really designed for that kind of thing once you're an adult -- being hospitalized as a teenager was kind of like daycare --and how expensive that would be because I have insurance but it's crappy insurance and I am not eligible for Obamacare SO TAKE THAT RICK SANTORUM WHO COMPARES OBAMACARE TO APARTHEID THE DAY AFTER NELSON MANDELA DIES. Really?? I mean, really.

Where the hell was I? Oh, here. I was allowed to leave for a few hours, which speaks volume about my management and my company. I went to a credit union and cashed out what little I had. I called my father. He told me to talk to my mother. I went to my mother's house. I swore a lot but I did not yell or cry and we wrote my expenses down on paper. It was scary but not super scary.

I went back to work and then locked my keys in my car. I punched out for half an hour between 7:50 and 8:20 because that was when AAA was supposed to call, but then they didn't. They called 20 minutes after I went back to the floor. I stayed 20 minutes past my shift as to not be a total deadbeat.

I went home and did laundry. A friend asked if I wanted to go to the 19 as I threw laundry in the wash, and I thought it would be okay because you don't need your face on or be dressed up to go to the 19.

Two minutes in, my friends said we were going to Jetset. JETSET. Where gays with money go and everyone is dressed up, and I have no make-up on and wrinkled jeans. I decided to go with the flow.

I only had two drinks (budgeting!) and enjoyed myself despite the fact that I wondered if people were laughing at me. A gay who I have known for a few years from when I first did stand-up not only recognized me but picked me up, which made me think he has done his homework. We gallivanted to The Saloon. The Saloon! Where I would NEVER be without make-up. I went to my usual bartender. I met a boy and he said his name was a certain name and I joked, "Oh, no, please say it's anything else". He spelled it differently than the one who, by no fault his own, owned my heart and then ripped it out and then peed on it, so then I decided it was okay. Also, said boy unsolicitedly texted me after a three-month absence from my life and said "I will call you in a few days" and that was only nine days ago so I am crossing my fingers for us, you guys.

I spoke to someone who is openly HIV-positive and I told him how that inspires me, because I deal with depression on an off-and-on basis (currently ON, obviously) and the day he wrote on Facebook of his status was a day that I was emo and depressed and did not want to get out of bed, and his presence was a reminder that y'know what, you CAN get out of bed and you CAN choose to live and you CAN realize that life is short and you better grab it by the balls and embrace who you are. There was another boy that I used to be afraid of because I thought he was so damn cute, but I was at some weird confidence level where now I was able to call him by his last name and make him stand next to me.

Despite having no make-up on, I went and talked to one of my biggest crushes of last summer (not anyone I "know" in real life or had a faux-relationship with, but a boy who who makes me unable to use syllables), and he was very kind and gracious. I looked in the mirror and I realized that I am not Channing Tatum but that I did not look nearly as awful as I imagined myself to be.

tl; dr

Depression is lame. But it is also real, so don't dismiss it, or view it as weakness. My mother did the best she could with no role models. Don't open a second credit card. Find humor wherever you can. Telling someone you feel like giving up is better than actually giving up.

I will so delete this in the morning.

Yeah, that's blatant Emmy bait right there. I still think I've chosen this episode as my submission.

A week after I decided that I was going to LIVE, I totaled my car on the way to work. At first I was devastated, but then a cute boy named Kevin pushed me out of the median. "Brb," a hilarious friend wrote. "I'm off to go spin out and find Kevin."

The silver lining is that if I did file for bankruptcy, my car was my only real possession. I replaced it with a Toyota Yariz, which is such a lesbian car.


A few months ago, Chuck and I met a boy who goes to St. Thomas and is such a Republican that I am going to call him Paul Ryan. Anyway, Chuck and I went to Paul Ryan's house (Ayn Rand books were everywhere!) and Chuck got bed privileges while I stayed in his roommate's bed and watched wrestling clips on my phone. We were across from the campus of University of St. Thomas, so it was appropriate that I was having a college-like experience. I didn't think much of it, although I did make out with him because he kept talking about Mitt Romney and I wanted to keep him from talking (this was a week after I had kissed Wesley, and I found it ironic that this meant at the time that the last two dudes I had kissed vote Republican. Yay for bipartisanship!)

Paul Ryan texted me out of the blue last week and I hung out with him and his posse at Marvel Bar. He had texted me the night before, but by the time my nocturnal ass arrived to The Saloon, he was already making out with somebody else.  There were six of us in the group and I was the third-oldest. One of them is 24 and graduated from NYU and has a fancy job, and words were used like "vacuous", "flabbergasted" and "stepdad". I clearly fit right in. Nevertheless, we went from Marvel to The Saloon to the 19 to my studio apartment, where I pulled the douchebag move of making people watch my stand-up because my DVD player wasn't working. I know.

"Sorry," I said for the state of my apartment. "I'm poor."
"No you're not," Paul Ryan said. "It's just ... where you live." He sent me a flirty text message on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve!

I ran into him that weekend after getting stage time at Corner Bar. He asked if I wanted to "fool around frat-boy style", which I think meant we had to play beer pong first. Jared and Joey were at The Saloon and I promised I would meet them there, but I decided a cameo at Jetset wouldn't be awful. Besides, Tan Man was going there, too, and I wanted to say good-bye to him before he left to celebrate New Year's in New York!

I was happy to reunite with Tan Man -- I hadn't seen him in ages -- and wasn't sure how I would interact with Paul Ryan. Two Grey Goose lemonades later, and we were making out while the elites at Jetset stared daggers at us, and rightfully so! Jetset is a classy bar! Who sucks face at Jetset? Honestly!

"I have to go," I cried. "My friends are at The Saloon and they will be upset if I don't meet them there."
"Jakey," Paul Ryan scoffed. He has a baritone voice like a 1920's Congressman and when I first met him I thought it was an affectation. "The Saloon? That place is so gauche. I thought you were older and had lived in New York. Surely you can do better."
"I like you," I said. "But I have to go."
"But, Jakey," said Paul Ryan. "I'll wear my St. Thomas hat backwards."
"Damn you!" I cried, and I pulled him into me again.

It looked just like this, except totally not. (Also, he's over half a foot taller than me...)

"I mean it this time," I said, fixing my chap-stick. "I must go."
"Did I tell you I got accepted to grad school at NYU?" he asked. We made out for the third time and this one involved lip-biting. Who am I??? It was time to go.


Oh, not to turn this into a sex manual, but I had another gentleman caller over last week and I thought it would be cute to put on a movie before fooling around. Unfortunately, I chose Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. He did not stay for breakfast.


"Jakey," Quinn said once at the bar when I put on "Always Be My Baby." "I hope you're okay and you stop being sad about ... whatever is making you sad."
"You're just trying to get a rise out of me!" I yelled. "She hates you, too! She wakes up every day in her mansion and cries, 'I hate Joey''!"

One night Jerry walked by and totally shoulder-checked Quinn.
"I fucking hate that kid," Quinn said. "I'm gonna say something."
"No! Don't!" I cried. "It's awkward! He ..... yuggghhhhhhh......."
"Jakey," Quinn said with an audible eye roll. "That chapter of my life has long been over." First I got over Quinn being Kevin and Wesley's first choice, but now I had to be jealous that he was now another thing I wasn't: Over It.

My friend Julie's boyfriend had his birthday party at The Imperial Room, and I looked across the street while "We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus played (that fucking song). I remembered the night Wesley had picked me up on this street, after I had done comedy at Johnny Tequila's in front of five people. Johnny Tequila's is closed now. The comedians who ran that room moved to New York. Wesley has gone AWOL. It reminded me that life is fleeting, and that I missed the randomness of it the most.

Oh, HIM.

I drunk dialed him at 3:30 in the morning while I was staying at Joey's. I suppose I just wanted answers or a sense of closure. I sort of got it. I won't go into details because I am trying this new thing called integrity. Well, if I had any integrity at all I would have stopped writing about him when he first asked me to or not written a play about him or not talked about him onstage, but I am working on it.

At my most mentally ill, I convinced myself that Loring Park really was a TV show and that the actor playing him was not on contract and got a lucrative movie role and that is why his character just disappeared from the series.

I texted him a week later (during the afternoon!) saying I was hooking up a Breathalyzer to my phone and I wished him a Merry Christmas.

He texted me "Merry Christmas! ;) " the morning of Christmas Eve.

It could have ended there and that would have been acceptable. But I kept having dreams about him. Not those kind of dreams. In one dream he married my cousin -- who is heterosexual and has three kids. Maybe it was a military connection. In some of the dreams he simply texted me. In some of the dreams we were friends. In some of them we weren't speaking, and I would leave the room before his arrival.

I was even finally getting some. I had encountered men who strangely found me desirable, attractive and likable, and I was trying to go with it. I was over the whole thing when I was awake. My stupid subconscious was failing me.

I could have written him a novel, full of emotional and powerful statements that I knew I could never take back. I could have shipped him all the clothes I had been buying for him over the last few months. As for the clothes, I don't know what I was doing. You know how in The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion does the funeral and everything but then she won't get rid of her late husband's shoes because he's going to need them when he comes back? It was the shallow gay fake dating version of that.

I decided I did not need to tell him anything that was about me or my feelings -- it would not do him any good. This year I learned that love is selfless. I learned that if one boy thinks you're hideous and disgusting, it does not mean the entire world does. And maybe I finally learned how to let go.

"Happy New Year. I am sending this early because I wanted to do it sober. I miss you and I understand. Behave in 2014. ;) - JME"

And I will swallow my pride
You're the one that I love 
And I'm saying good-bye

I love you.

And I love Minneapolis, especially Loring Park.

And I love my friends who make me laugh until my face hurts and who call me out on my shit.

And I love my mother who has been trying her best and understands that there is no reset button.

And I love The Saloon and the 19 and maybe even Jetset.

And I love stand-up comedy and the Fringe Festival and the people who have supported me in those endeavors.

And I love the element of surprise.

And I love nostalgia.

And I love that I am the most goddamned emotional person I have ever met.

It was a hell of a season.

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