Charlie and I are kindred spirits for a few reasons. We are both Cancers. We are both deep thinkers. We can both quote Alanis Morrisette at the top of a hat (him more so than I -- I can admittedly only do so for her first three albums). And while he is six years my junior, we both love that era of WWF/WWE that was the "Attitude" era, especially when the women are concerned. My favorite will always be 7-time WWE Women's Champion Trish Stratus, and his will always be Terri "Marlena" Runnels, who had a remarkably long tenure in the business for a woman. While Terri was never a wrestler (although she *did* win the Hardcore Championship once), she worked tirelessly in different roles, as a glamorous silent manager to Goldust, a shrewd businesswoman in "P.M.S.", a horny little she-devil in a rivalry with The Kat, and finally as an interviewer who would occasionally get thrown into the ring to make one of the bad girls look even meaner (see the times Victoria or Molly Holly/Gail Kim beat her up to get the crowd to boo).
"Do you want to go meet Terri in Wisconsin?" Charlie asked me months ago.
"Sure!" I said. I thought nothing of it. I went to school in Menomonie, WI (about 70 miles east of Minneapolis), so Wisconsin wasn't a far away land to me. I didn't ask any follow-up questions. I assumed we would have a lovely day trip in Eau Claire.
"I'm so excited to see Terri!" Charlie said months later. "Did you take the whole weekend off work? It's in Milwaukee."
My trepidation was quelled when I found out Sean would be there that weekend, too! His family is from there and he was going to be in the city at the same time as us. Charlie and I booked a two-night stay at the Hilton. I felt bad for missing Jared's birthday party and suggested that my mother go on his behalf.
"I'll go if he's not so drunk he can't keep his eyes open," she said. "Maybe next year when he outgrows that kind of thing."
Charlie is from South Dakota and is used to driving for hours at a time with no interruptions, but when I wasn't complaining about wanting to sleep, I was complaining about wanting to pee! We stopped in Menomonie, Wisconsin, so I could relive my college days. We stopped at The Acoustic Cafe, where I was impressed by their gender-neutral bathrooms and horrified by coverage of Scott Walker. Scott Walker is the dirt worst. He is so bad that Republicans from Minnesota are writing letters encouraging businesses to open up shops in Minnesota. True story.
In the car, I asked Charlie for chap stick. "I don't share that kind of stuff," he said. "You need to trim your nose hairs, too."
"Oh, no, I didn't bring my nose hair trimmer!" I cried. "Can I use yours?"
"Ew!" Charlie scoffed. "No."
I understand not wanting to share a nose hair trimmer (and I thought I looked like Cousin Itt until I looked in the mirror and realized that it wasn't that bad), but the chap stick thing threw me for a loop. Charlie would later apologize and I told him it wasn't necessary -- I just found it an interesting quirk. I think of myself as someone who shares everything, but I suppose I am in between the extremes of Charlie and my friend Jacey, who will walk up to you if you are eating ice cream and ask for some and when you tell her you don't have a spoon, she'll say "I don't care" and use yours without even asking. I love her, by the way.
We had a few stops before the hotel room. We had to pee so we found a Burger King and both ordered a small fries. We were the only ones there and it took five minutes. I was going to ask for ketchup but one of the girls behind the counter was crying and I decided my ketchup could wait. Then we went to a store that was part liquor store, part grocery store, and part convenience shop where you could pay your light bill and things like that. We were going to stop at a vintage store Charlie had seen on Yelp but it was all boarded up.
"This is ghetto," said Charlie, who is from rural South Dakota.
"Stop saying ghetto," I said.
"It just ... doesn't seem right," I said. Yes, Milwaukee is 85% African-American and most of its income is in the greater suburbs, and therefore the public schools are not very good, and there are some neighborhoods the police don't even patrol anymore, and this was the first time I had been panhandled walking outside of a Walgreens. Still, I do not feel comfortable using the term "ghetto" when describing an impoverished, mostly black neighborhood. It feels icky.
We finally arrived in downtown Milwaukee. Any fatigue I had left when we were greeted by handsome men in full formal military apparel. Our hotel was having a military ball!!! God is real. My favorite things are ladies in pretty dresses, Marines, and a good love ballad.
Sean was visiting with his parents and joined up with us about 10:00, while Charlie and I enjoyed the WWE Network (and being ripped off by the hotel which tried charging both of us for Internet access. Ugggghhhhh).
Charlie started drinking earlier, but I wanted to wait. If I'm going to be out at 2 AM, I don't want to be half in the bag at 11, y'know? We watched more wrestling and listened to sad Alanis and Mariah song, and Sean was our chaperone for the course of the evening.
First we went to a club called .... Liquid? ... They blur together. We saw some drag queens. It was nice. Then we went to La Cage, which had cash only cover. I was bitching about this because just before our trip Wells Fargo had completely decimated my checking account. It was between these two venues that Charlie was getting belligerent.
I played darts with Sean and two of his friends. A shot boy walked around with a tray.
I am the last person to make comments about somebody's body. When I take my shirt off, I look like an albino 16-year-old girl who is growing slight chest hair because her body is eating itself due to anorexia.
That said, I am not a shot boy. In Minneapolis our shot boys are people like my friend Tan Man who works at two different gyms and is 9% body fat, or my friend Robin who is a classically trained dancer and is 9% body fat. In Milwaukee, the shot boy had man boobs, stretch marks, and was wearing grey Hanes. If you would have asked him who Andrew Christian was, he would have probably thought you were drunk and talking about two of your friends.
Charlie somehow finagled a free shot. And then he continued being rude. He wasn't throwing drinks or anything, but he kept talking about how bored he was, and was generally acting like a 15-year-old girl that you bring to your grandma's house on the lake for a weekend. Also, at one point he made fun of someone's hair and apparently that person has had five rounds of chemo. Whoopsie.
In a surprising showing of maturity, Charlie agreed to go back to the hotel. I paid for his Uber and it was less than $5. And then I was able to see what Milwaukee is like on the town!! By which I totally made out with that shot boy. You can't shame the shameless.
Sean and I ended our night at This is It, which was really quaint and reminded me of the 19. And I met Season 7 RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Trixie Mattel!
No, she was actually there. I didn't just talk to a poster. She was out of drag and was super nice and friendly, and I'm sure I mortified her by trying to present myself as a peer ("I'm a performer, tooooo ....)". I'll be rooting her for this season (And Max, of course, because local girls gotta stick together).
Sean and I went to Toppers Pizza and I ate the whole damn thing. I think I gained a good ten pounds in Milwaukee.
The next day, Charlie felt terrible, both in terms of hangover and shame.
"Was I really that mean?!" he kept asking.
"Text Sean about it," I said. It was between the two of them. As embarrassed as I was about Charlie's behavior, he hadn't said anything mean to me, and I'm much more willing to forgive bad behavior if someone is trite about it immediately.
"That's why I don't drink that much," he said.
I do find this fascinating. I drink, um, a bit -- okay, a lot -- and I don't get mean. The worst thing I ever did was slap that kid's ass when he wore the Adrian Peterson family because I thought it would be funny! (Turns out his last name was Peterson and his boyfriend did NOT find this amusing). And there was the time a boy who was a thousand times better looking than me was going to sleep with someone I was in love with and I said "I know the score". Okay. Nobody is perfect, certainly not me. However, I don't get mean! I don't understand the concept of being a mean drunk. You drink to dull your pain, not maximize it. If you're a mean drunk, stay home or drink club soda.
On a lighter note, this is the AMAZING card that Charlie made for Terri.* How creative is he?? We went to Walgreens to buy 99 cent Wet 'n' Wild lipstick, and clearly Charlie is a better kisser than me. Then, on the inside, IT PLAYED TERRI'S THEME MUSIC.
*I suppose I can write here now a note about code names. By using real pictures and even evidence of real names, you might wonder why I am still bothering with the use of code names, at least for this particular "character". I can only suggest that, for this particular person, it is a matter of striving for consistency. There are few people who have never had code names, and they will stay that way.
In the card, he wrote her a beautiful and heartfelt letter about how he was a gay kid from South Dakota and he found strength by doing the "Terri pose" against his fence (when Terri would enter the ring, she would lean against the ropes and do a kiss-face to the crowd, with her back leg raised up in coquettish fashion -- I would do the same thing climbing my bunk at summer camp). He wrote that he was here with his friend Jakey, who was also gay, also a Cancer, and also a fan of all things Divas.
He then wrote that he would love to take her out to dinner and gave her his phone number.
"Is that too much?" he asked.
"Well ... I wouldn't," I honestly said. Truth. I could be in an elevator with Channing Tatum and act like I didn't know him. "But it's also a now or never thing. When will you have this opportunity again? You are braver than me."
Of course, getting to the arena took forever because I left my debit card in the room, the ATM at the hotel wasn't working (but we did get to walk past the Broadcasters Hall of Fame plaques, and there was a guy whose name was legitimately Dick Record. I loved it!), and it was snowing! We arrived and the line to meet the wrestlers was a good 200+ people long.
The other wrestlers were Matt Hardy, King Kong Bundy, and Kevin Nash, the latter of which I was going to have sign my copy of "Magic Mike" and I forgot it. And I have two of them!! While in line we stood next to a young woman and her niece, and she went on and on about who she met and invited us to indie shows she was working on. While I don't follow wrestling nearly as much as I used to, it reminded me of conventions I would go to in Las Vegas with people on the forums of wrestling observer.com -- and as dorky as it sounds to someone not familiar with it, there is this instant connection of kindred spirit and brotherhood that happens with a fellow wrestling fan. Charlie and I driving six hours to meet a particular woman was ample evidence of this.
To meet the wrestlers you had to buy tickets to the hockey game, so we were at the Bradley Center, where the Milwaukee Admirals were hosting the Rochester Americans. The first period ended while we were in line. While I have never seen a hockey game, I was kind of bummed. Those tickets weren't cheap, and when would I ever see a hockey game again?"
"How long is a period?" I asked Charlie.
"Like ... a woman's?" he asked.
"No!" I cried. "In hockey!"
"Oh, I don't know," he said. "Probably shorter than a woman's, though."
"Well, no shit, Charlie," I said.
A burly man came up to us as we neared the pillar. The signing went from 2-4, and it was about 3:40.
"FOLKS!" he cried. "At this time there are NO PICTURES!! JUST AUTOGRAPHS!"
My heart sank in my chest. I had begun to think this trip had all been a bust. What if I had had cash on me to begin with? What if I hadn't forgotten my debit card? What if Charlie had come back from lunch with his professor friend earlier? Would we just get her autograph, smile, and walk away?
Matt Hardy was up first. He can still get it, girls. King Kong Bundy didn't say anything but smiled. Then. Oh crap. Here we go. Terri Runnels.
"Hi, Terri," I said in lightning fast fashion and handed her the card. "I made this for you." I totally lied! Charlie made it!
"Open it," I cried. "It plays your theme music!"
She was elated. "Oh my god," she cried. "Oh, just get one picture."
WE TOOK THREE BECAUSE CHARLIE IS MUCH MORE CONFRONTATIONAL THAN I AM AND ON THIS OCCASION IT WAS FOR GOOD. THE GUY YELLED AT US THE ENTIRE TIME.
Amidst the yelling, Kevin Nash graciously signed an 8 x 10 for my mother (who loves him!), and Charlie and I hi-fived like Terri and Jacqueline of Pretty Mean Sisters.
Then we were finally ready for the hockey game! Charlie was too much on a high from the Terri moment to focus, but I wanted to relish the moment. I decided that I LOVE HOCKEY. I think I was spoiled because the game itself was really good and went into overtime. But I also loved the aggression of it. 85% of my love for hockey was heterosexual, but there was a 15% equivalent of me hoping that at one point the dudes would take their masks off and start kissing.
Nevertheless, my newfound passion of hockey only led to positive things, BECAUSE THE ADMIRALS WON IN OVERTIME!!!
They actually won 6-5, but that's the picture that came up. Okay, then.
Charlie and I prepared for a quiet night in, watching the Grammys. My favorite performance was Rihanna w/Jay-Z and Paul McCartney. I loved Sam Smith's speech about thanking the man who broke his heart. It was just like when I wrote a show in the Fringe Festival only not at all. Also, I have realized my celebrity doppelgänger is Beck and I am not sure how I feel about that.
We invited Sean out for Round Two, but he decided to stay in (a decision for which I couldn't entirely blame him). As the Grammys came to a close, Charlie's phone went off from a Florida area code.
"Who is ... oh, crap," he said. "I think it's Terri!"
"Answer it!!" I cried.
Charlie did his best impression of a teenage girl who is finally getting asked out by the star quarterback for spring formal.
"Hello?" he asked, trying to keep his voice from shaking.
"Hi, can I ask who I'm speaking with?" the demure voice on the other end said.
"This is Charlie," he said.
"Oh, good," the woman said. "This is Terri. I just wanted to call and let you guys know that I fell in love with you two from the minute I saw you, and that card was so creative and warmed my heart. I just got back from dinner with Kevin Nash."
We invited her out to the gay bar but she said she was too tired. Maybe next time.
Oh, but this was the best part.
"If you guys ever need anything, let me know," said Terri Runnels. She, who kicked Marc Mero in the nuts and formed the first ever female stable in the World Wrestling Federation. She, who was sprayed by a milk truck by Kurt Angle. She, who had The Fabulous Moolah in her corner at WrestleMania 2000. She, who in the very building we had met her, was tarred and feathered by Stacy Keibler after a lingerie pillow fight and legitimately almost died because one of the feathers got stuck in her throat from the syrup. Okay, they're not all glamorous.
I decided to let Charlie keep her number under lock and key. I don't need to be texting Terri Runnels at 2 in the morning next time I'm sad about a dude.
But I love him, Terri, I will write. Even if he comes and goes like inclement weather.
You need to find a man who will be like Florida, she will write. Always warm and comfortable ;)
A boy can dream.
Oh, also, this:
I was so saddened to find out that we had lost Linda Reed to esophageal cancer. I have worked at the Mall of America for six and a half years, and Linda, who was a cashier at Holiday on the first floor, was always a highlight of my day, especially on those in which I was sleep-deprived or hung over or crabby or broken-hearted or all of the above. She genuinely *loved* that job and the people she interacted with every day, and there was not a mall employee who wasn't affected by her genuine joy for her customers and occupation. They had this posted on the counter for about a week. I was most moved by the discovery that she had a family. I had no reason to think she *didn't* have one, but to all of us she was Linda. I had no idea she was a "wife of", a " mother of", a "sister to", or that her father was a reverend. I will think of her every day.
News & Notes About Life & Stuff
Sean, Joey and I went to Jetset one evening for a nightcap. Celebrity was smiling at me. But was he smiling at Joey? Or at my receding hairline? Christ. I don't think I could ever get over it. I could get my car stuck in the snow and he would push me out, and I wouldn't even say, "Wait, aren't you ...?"
I decided to consolidate my debt. I am working with attorneys for three years and thus will not pay any money to Capital One, Discover, or Wells Fargo. I am with a teeny tiny credit union now. I currently don't have a debit card or checkbook because they are still in transit. It was a terrifying but necessary decision. I won't quite be debt-free by 30, but I'll be pretty damn close.
I'll probably be getting a studio/one-bedroom apartment again. I have loved living with Jared and will always think of him as my nonsexual life partner. But I have to learn to be truly independent, financially and otherwise, at least for a year. I'll never forget when Casey asked if I would date myself and I said no. And yes, I could be a chicken shit and say "Well, I would never date myself because I'm not into skinny dudes, I like broskis or jocks hahahahahaha" but that would deflect the issue and I don't think that was the point.
I never heard from St. Thomas. I think it's okay.
My friend Greta wanted to go out because she hangs out with older gays who go to bed early and she was bored at 11 PM. "I am going to The Saloon," I said. "It's lube wrestling night!"
She came over with a bottle of blue Kinky. "Will you guys drink this?" she earnestly asked.
"Oh, sweetheart," I said. "Jared will drink anything with alcohol in it. He would suck a pine needle if you told him it made gin."
"Do we have to go to The Saloon?" she cried.
"Yes, Greta," I said. "I said that's where we were going!"
"But I don't fit in at The Saloon," she whined. "I don't fit in anywhere."
"Well, that's probably why we've been friends since tenth grade," I said glibly. "Now hurry." We were supposed to go for Casey's birthday but he had already gone home but then my friend Tan Man said he was going out and Tan Man hardly *ever* goes out and whenever he does, I am always showing up late.
Because it was lube wrestling night, I decided to bring my toy WWF Light Heavyweight Championship belt! I did not look ridiculous at all. I was too short to see most of the wrestling, but the first person we ran into was Football Guy.
"You can sit on my shoulders," he joked.
"You should," Greta said too loudly. "HE IS SO HOT."
"Shut up, Greta!" I cried. "Be normal." Then I stared at Football Guy and couldn't say anything. How could I? The man is perfection and he is quiet which scares me even more. He later told me he doesn't like the clubs here a lot and we agreed to go somewhere else together at one point.
"Do you like Sneaky Pete's?" I asked.
"Ugh, no," he said. "It's so ... bro-y. Which is probably why *you* like it."
"I do," I grinned. "You can't shame the shameless. Maybe we can go to The Pourhouse or something."
"Okay," he said. "You promise?"
"Yes," I said. Then we pinky-swore. I still haven't contacted him. I don't know what is wrong with me.
We vamoosed to T.J.'s bar for one last time. As I have lamented, T.J. is moving to Taiwan. I went with him to unpack all his clothes at Plato's Closet and Buffalo Exchange before dropping the rest at Goodwill, and then we stopped at my parents' house so I could pee, and I totally could have tried to make out with him on my childhood bed but what if he turned me down? Talk about an awkward car ride. Nevertheless, while T.J. uplifting his life across the globe has nothing to do with me, it was therapeutic for me to be there in that moment, and to see the emptied-out apartment and to see the eight bags of his life disappearing before my very eyes. It visually helped me prepare for his departure, and for that I was grateful. We had margaritas at Salsa a La Salsa, and I was grateful for that, too.
"My favorite memory of you will be when [redacted] basically threw you around the bar for an entire night," he smiled.
I smiled, too. "It wasn't an entire night," I said. "It was two songs. And he slammed me on the same table twice and I felt so bad for the people sitting there." I only felt bad because I felt it was like repeating the same joke. Maybe there should have been more tables that night.
Then I turned tomato red from the margaritas. This is why I stick with Jakey Emmerts*.
*ketel one vodka with extra cherries
Sunday was my 12th annual Oscar party!! I have never won! Beforehand, it was Sean's birthday party at The Eagle.
"Sean, that's Oscar night," I had told him on Facebook.
"Surely I have been around longer than the Oscars," he said. There is a joke there about 36 being 87 in gay years, but I'm not that far away from 36 either, so I held my tongue/keyboard.
It was at this time that our toilet literally broke. Just stopped working. Would not flush! And I have IBS. This whole predicament was a real crap shoot.
I commenced with my master plan: Drop Jared off at LUSH, drop off my computer and Oscar book at my parents' (where I was having the party. Don't act surprised), use the toilet if necessary, drive back to LUSH, and drive Jared to Sean's apartment where we would pre-game before show tunes at the Eagle (where I could stay for approximately five minutes).
This all began to work out well, although getting Jared to leave a bar at any time of day is like herding feral cats.
"Aren't you sad about TJ?" asked Phil. Phil is one of the few people I know that is smaller than me so I am oddly threatened by him. If he ever goes into comedy I will have a nuclear meltdown.
"I am," I said. "But I went with him to get rid of all his clothes and that was soothing to me."
"You're in love with him, aren't you?" Phil asked.
"No," I said. Love and in love are two different things. The man had seen me fall in (and out) (and back in) love in that very bar, and he will always have real estate in my heart.
Jared agreed to leave, I took a few photo-ops, ordered a Diet Coke (yay!), and drove to Sean's lovely apartment.
"Let's pretend we live here," I told Jared as we walked into the elevator. "I'll work in PR for Thomson Reuters and you'll be a high-end prostitute."
We took the elevator up to Sean's and I was already on edge because I was on a time crunch and Casey was going to come to Sean's too and whenever you are going to meet Casey he will text you and Snapchat you and the whole thing was giving me the vapors.
Casey arrived imminently and tried to fix Sean's computer while Sean went to smoke on the balcony with Jared.
"How ya been, sugar?" Casey and his teeth asked.
"Fine," I said, and I stared at the kitchen cabinet.
I tried to be an adult and talked about debt consolidation (sexy!) and Milwaukee (sexier!). "It turns out I like hockey," I said as Sean and Jared came back in from their cancer sticks.
"I played hockey for 12 years," Casey said.
"Really?" I asked.
"You think I got this ass and these thighs by myself?" he asked. Then Jared's eyes fell out of their sockets and rolled around the kitchen.
I enjoyed my time with him. I wouldn't say it was flirting because any flirting was marred when the alcohol hit Jared and he decided to talk about my genitals and how I take a shower after every bowel movement. Then I jumped on Casey but he wouldn't let me lift him up. Jared destroyed Sean's bathroom and Sean was remarkably decent about it. Then it was time for the Eagle! I didn't feel like driving so Casey graciously agreed to take the wheel while Sean and I camped in the back seat and Jared rode shotgun and the "Beyonce" album was played. I could sadly only stay at the Eagle for twenty minutes, because I have a history of being late to my own Oscar party (one year I was driving from Winona and I stopped at the casino! Loretta was furious!). I said good-bye to everyone and while I wouldn't say that shamelessly climbing all over a former hockey player had led me to become sexually frustrated, I did have a moment when "Rocket" by Beyonce came on my drive to St. Anthony.
I LOVE MY OSCAR PARTIES. I have only seen two movies nominated this year. One was "Maleficent" and one was "Gone Girl". I invited my usual suspects (I swear I only see my friend Julie once a year and it's Oscar night, and then we say we'll fix it, and we never do). My friend Hallie and her husband came, and I haven't seen Hallie in ten years!
I DID SO BAD. My dad won for the umpteenth time, with 19, and I was second with 13. And there are 24 categories!! Joey didn't participate this year and he's usually really good. Two categories (Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Mixing) didn't have a single winner! Ander and I were the only ones who got Best Editing so we hi-fived. "Birdman" is the first Best Picture to not be nominated for Best Editing since "Ordinary People" in 1980. Julie hated Patricia Arquette's speech because she felt Patricia Arquette probably has her husband pay for dinner. My aunt and uncle were beside themselves. I was trying to say that Julie was comparing social norms to equal pay for equal work and they're not the same thing, but I was too uncomfortable trying to get everyone to agree. I love her. I love the Oscars so very much.
The following Thursday, I hit the airwaves on KFAI Fresh Fruit to discuss comedy with the very funny Sarah McPeck.
I clearly have a face for radio.
We had a lot of fun in our half-hour with the talented and passionate Peter Gokey and Andy Birkey. I especially enjoyed it because Sarah and I have a lot in common (we were both greatly influenced by the incomparable Margaret Cho, for example), but I also loved that there's a lot we don't have in common. She's a self-described "middle-aged, overweight lesbian" who has two children and came out later in life, and I am a twink-adjacent bar star who has never been in a relationship. Also, they asked us good questions. At one point Sarah had to ask Andy to repeat himself because "that last part sounded really smart and I didn't quite get it".
They asked if it was harder to be a GLBT comedian and if there is still a "boys' club" mentality. I can't answer the "boys' club" part because I am still a boy (Sarah eloquently said that she didn't know, and that she doesn't think there's a force against women -- it's just that women are taught to be quiet and not to talk about things that aren't ladylike, and perhaps that's why there's not as many women doing it). I think being a minority in comedy is a double-edged sword. I have a surprisingly full calendar over the next few weeks (they come in waves). Half of those are "regular" shows and the other half are shows that are gay or queer-themed. I often see shows advertised on Facebook that are just women comics or just black comics.
After the interview, Sarah and I both performed at Open Stage at Honey. I was the emcee and kinda sorta bombed. It was a light audience but I hate when people rip on a small audience. They're still THERE, gosh darn it.
After the show, it was Flip Phone at Honey starring ROBYN!!
This is me and the lovely Nickita Kyle. They played "Show Me Love" and I had a moment, children. There were lots of cute guys there, including one who I only see at Flip Phone. Doug wanted me to talk to him and I ran away. I was feeling really down on myself, especially about my looks. I was dancing with Steve and I even thought about kissing him and then he made a comment about my hairline and then I went home crying. Maybe I was just sleep-deprived.
I also didn't get to sleep that night because I had nothing but Diet Coke all night and then Jared was snoring and then I was late to work and I'm getting written up. On we grow. Well, not my hair.
Friday night, Joey, Jared and Jacey had the admirable idea of frequenting places close to our house that they had never been to. Alas, I could not join them because I was in the bathroom (they fixed the toilet). While I was vowing never to again eat so much candy and to remember to add fiber to my diet, they were gallivanting to Salsa a La Salsa, Ryan's Pub and eventually Devil's Advocate. Since I was in between checking accounts and couldn't even Uber (the horror!), I would need cab money to Devil's Advocate. Since Sean had been invited, I asked if he wanted to pre-game at his place and then we could meet the kids at Devil's Advocate. He graciously picked me up (he needed cigarettes anyway).
"I still have your phone charger," he said when I arrived.
"Keep it," I said. I stay at Sean's so often I practically have a drawer there. We had a cocktail and then took an Uber to Devil's Advocate, because we were hoping they would have Engine Room, which is a great gay dance party they have on Fridays. Celebrity told me the bathroom didn't lock last time I was there.
"Sugar" by Adam Levine came on the radio.
I totally realized that I wrote "Adam Levine" instead of "Maroon 5" on accident. I AM NOT CHANGING IT.
"Everyone says that Joey looks like Adam Levine," I said. "I only think that's true when it comes to this video." (See also: The Artist Formerly Known as Wesley as Chris Hemsworth in Cabin in the Woods, or Kevin as James Franco when he's dressed up).
"Oh, Joey," Sean said.
"Sean likes Joey," I told our cute heterosexual Uber driver. "What? It isn't a bad thing." Then we criticized the make-up of a girl in a car next to us.
We arrived, but there was no Engine Room! Joey was beyond dismayed when he found out they only do Engine Room when it's warm out! We still enjoyed cocktails and I enjoyed shamelessly flirting with my friend Sexy Jesus, who works there as a host.
The Devil's Advocate menu looks amazing and Joey and I promised to venture their for brunch should our schedules ever correlate. Sexy Jesus was bummed that the TV kept showing TNT, but then they showed Hawaii Five-O and it had hot guys on it, so we called a spade a spade. We stopped at McKinley's, which is a great divey bar close to The Saloon and the waitress was super nice. Sean discussed his promotion at work, and his struggle as to if he wants to take it. It will be a substantial bump in income, and also a substantial bump in work load.
"Will it kill your soul?" I asked. "Don't do it if it will kill your soul."
"I would never work at a job that I genuinely hated," Joey said. "And if I felt disrespected, I would leave."
I am sure it was hard for us to relate because we are younger and don't work in a similar field. Joey, Jared and I all work in retail. While Joey is in management and I am not, we also do freelance work in our respective passions (for him it is film editing, and for me it is comedy/writing/performance). Maybe we weren't the best people to talk to about working 9 to 5 just to stay alive (hi again, Beyonce). Sean said that Casey is good at compartmentalizing and not necessarily bringing his work home with him, and he is not like that. Jared is the same way. We'll work the same shift and then come home and he'll bitch about work. And I tell him he has five minutes and then we're going to change the subject, and then I'll talk about boys for three hours. It's fair, really.
We went to The Saloon and I realized that I had left my keys at Sean's apartment! I called Devil's Advocate just to be sure. I told Steve I was made at him for making fun of me but then he gave me poppers and I forgave him. Then the boys were playing darts without me and I pouted and if I would have had my keys, I would have gone home!
"Jakey, chill OUT," said Jared. "You're always talking to people anyway."
"Whatever," I whined. Someone I knew walked by and I talked to him and his girlfriends for three minutes. Okay, fine. Point Jared.
We played again and Sean went to order a Jakey Emmert from TJ.
"He asked me short or tall," he said. "I said I didn't know, and TJ said, 'well, Jakey's short, so I guess it's a short drink."
Awww. Broseph. I miss him already.
Then KEVIN showed up! He invited me to his house the next day. I miss him and his mother and his smell and his snuggling skills.
After a game of Gotcha, I continued schmoozing and mingling and greeting and doing my usual socialite shenanigans. I never saw anything occur out of the ordinary.
Jared, Sean and I walked out together. Keep in mind that we had to leave with Sean anyway because my dumb ass had left my keys in his apartment.
Joey was standing at the cab stand with someone I didn't know.
"SEAN!!!!" he yelled with a raspy voice. "FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!"
Sean started booking it to his apartment. Jared and I followed in hot pursuit.
"What the fuck is going on?" I asked Jared.
"Oh, you missed it," Jared said. "Sean grabbed Joey's face and threw a drink in his pants. They both got kicked out."
I didn't even feel cold. I was so full of shock and panic and adrenaline. We got to Sean's apartment. My keys were there. Jared said he would get an Uber. I wanted it to be dawn and for all of this to blow over ...
...and I looked at Sean's Facebook, in which he was completely blaspheming Joey. Someone I had never met had already chimed in with negative comments of his own.
"What are you DOING?!" I cried. I tried to delete it and he pushed me away.
"Don't forget my phone charger," I told Jared. "We won't be coming back."
I am still in a state of sadness and shock. I will forever think good feelings about my former friend, and I realize that is a cognitive dissonance. Someone can still be kind and generous and loving and intelligent and also be influenced by the lethal combination of unrequited love and alcohol and do things that are unforgivable. I know there are classier ways to think of it than comparing people to animals, but the best way I can wrap my head around it is to think that I had a dog, and the dog was nothing but awesome and loving to me, but then the dog bit my best friend, and I can't keep the dog in good conscience.
Yes, I would like to think someone over a decade older than the person he's trashing would have a bit more tact and maturity than that. And I get it. Honey, I wrote the book about being in love with someone who will never see you that way. Okay, I didn't write the book, but I wrote a lot of blogs about it, and a hell of a lot of sad Tweets and Facebook posts about it, and a play in the Fringe Festival about it. Would I have ever thrown a drink down his pants or tried dragging him in public? NO. BECAUSE THAT IS NOT LOVE. THAT IS TOMFOOLERY.
As if that sudden loss wasn't enough, Sunday was TJ's good-bye party. Apparently the biggest night was Saturday, which was his actual last day working, but I chose to quiet my mind and play bingo with my parents and Erin. None of us won.
|TJ's mom, Loretta, and TJ's dad. I want this framed.|
Even my mom came for a bit! I don't know what memory I'll love more: TJ saying "Hey girl" when he hugged her, discussing Milwaukee with his parents (who are natives), my mother saying the F-word for the first time in her life when she quoted TJ saying "I fucking love that kid", her meeting TJ's parents, TJ's mother being speechless when I asked "Ed Sheeran.... would you?"
The event was calm and low-key, and it was probably better that way. I didn't even cry! I have understood that our lives come in chapters. Also, I wrote him a ridiculously long and sappy card and that kind of zapped my emotions for the day. TJ had a front row seat to my ups and downs, from falling in love to heartbreak to sluttiness to yelling at Jared to making up with Jared (often in the same ten-minute span), to writing "I DO NOT LOVE WESLEY STEMPER" on my bar tab. He was a quietly important part of my life, and I will miss him every day. Especially Thursdays and Sundays.