Monday, March 27, 2017

Loring Park Episode #68: After Winter Must Come Spring

Hello, children! I know. It's been a while. We'll talk about why in a little bit.

There is no Previously on Loring Park for Episode #68. I took Episode #67 down for a while. I'll put it back up eventually -- it's an important part of our story -- but that chapter, when shit really hit the fan and got dark, doesn't need to be out there at this moment. I also understand that there's no takesies-backsies in real life, but at this point it is important for me to be present and look forward instead of the other way.

Now we're gonna listen to Lauryn Hill and see if I even remember anything from the last two and a half months.

February started with stand-up! I did two shows at Ric McCloud's Comedy Cabaret, which is in the basement of a tavern in Arden Hills. I house-sat for my parents' that weekend, although the gag is that I stay there all the time anyway and I wasn't even attempting any kind of responsibility. This meant I had to miss Jared's birthday party, but I had to open the day after it anyway and nobody could have switched to me. Of course I had fomo*, but I had to get my coins! The crowds were a lot of fun and I had great conversation with the real Ric McCloud after the show was over.

Speaking of comedians, my mom and I went to Andy Erickson's birthday party at Sky Deck! How fitting that I look horrendous in a picture with a star of Scream Queens. We sat by a family who she met through her work educating the world about Marfan Syndrome, and they were incredibly kind. The mom's name was Ruth and that killed me because when I go out, I am Debby and my friend Lee is Ruth. After twenty minutes of discussing Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, she begged the table  to stop discussing politics. I was fine with this because I had spent a week fielding calls from angry Trump supporters at work (no guessing my day job, y'all). I also made an ass of myself when I introduced someone to my mom as "______'s wife, _______." "You can just say I'm ______," she said. "You don't need to introduce me as _____'s wife." It was a good lesson. Sometimes I think because I'm a gay man that means that I am automatically going to be woke as hell about everything, and I'm really kind of a social dunce.

On the way back to the car, my mom and I ran into Paul Ryan, who has some kind of a corporate job at the mall right now.

"Hello, Jakey," he grinned.
"Hi," I said. "We were just at Smash."
"This is Smash," he said.
"I meant Sky Deck," I said. I was all flustered!
"He's such a charmer," my mother said when we walked away.
"That he is," I said, and pretended to flip my hair even though I don't have any. Damn you, Paul Ryan and for how good you look in a Hugo Boss suit!

I wasn't stressed out about being single on Valentine's Day because I had a big gig that weekend.

The show at Running Aces was sold out, and I was nervous as hell. The contract said I had to do a "clean-ish set." What did that mean? The crowd was predominantly Caucasian heterosexual couples in their forties. Not exactly my demo, but what can you do? Also, when you're the emcee you're the first person up, so it's up to you to figure out what kind of crowd they're going to be. I debated if I was going to do a joke I've done for years that's kinda dirty. Would it take away from being "clean-ish?" Will they like it? What if they hate me? I debated for twenty minutes and was full of anxiety.

I did the joke**. It took them a while to get. Most of them laughed and one guy yelled "Gross." My job was done. Sherlonda Sharp was the feature and John Bush was the headliner and they were great. John was super nice and asked for my contact info and I left before giving it to him because I am a dumb shit. It was an incredibly professional atmosphere and I loved it.

I still went out way too much. On a Sunday night, I ran into Paul Ryan and he spent the entire time trying to get me to get him a twink's phone number. Rude!

"Oh, Jakey," he said. "You're still the only woman for me."
"Thanks, Paul," I said.
"But seriously. Get his number."

Paul invited me to go home with him and cuddle, but I was too annoyed to take him up on his offer. I didn't want to be in his arms while he talked about how much he wanted to bang this twink the whole time. I will always wonder what would have happened if I had left at 12:30 that night.



We're gonna talk about this as quickly as we can, and I'm gonna try not to get super specific. If it seems like I'm leaving a lot of stuff out, it's because, um, I am. I want to say right now that I have to take full responsibility for my own destructive behavior, and that no one owes me anything.

My best friend and I had been kind of distant lately and there had been a lot of triangle communication going on where I wasn't sure where we stood with each other and he showed up at 1 A.M. and, short story long, we got into it. AND I STARTED IT, so by no means am I the victim in this situation. On the contrary, really. But things blew up, he let me have it, and I did not realize how (rightfully!) angry he was.

"You're not hearing me," was the last thing he said, and I felt my eyes glaze over. I was hearing him, I was just too much of an intoxicated chicken shit to admit that I didn't want to because it wasn't in my favor. I wanted everything to go back to normal, but we're not kids anymore, and how I had been acting was not normal.

I perceived it as an abrupt ending to something very valuable, and I cried for a week. I would drive around on my lunch breaks so no one at work would see me (I didn't want to be THAT GIRL!). My go-to ugly cry song was "Warwick Avenue" by Duffy, because she cries in the video but she looks really pretty in it, like when Rose Byrne in Bridesmaids says she's a pretty crier. When I cry, I look like a dying blowfish.

How I wanted to look in the car:

How I really looked in the car:

I saw him that Saturday and rolled my eyes at him when he walked by, because that's what mature adults do when they are hurt. It was so fucking petty, to hurt him like that and act like I wasn't affected at all. That Sunday he went to lunch with everybody else and everyone got annoyed with me by the night's end because I was trying to insert myself in the group when my company was not wanted (and why would it be? I was a LUNATIC) and I was trying to make fetch happen***, and I slept over at a friend's to feel bad for myself. The next day, I asked my friend Diva what to do.

"Well, you need to apologize to him," she said. "You can't swallow your pride on this. Your ego is not your amigo." Diva should write self-help books about how to improve yourself and your makeup skills at the same time.

I drafted a novel of an apology but pared it down before sending it. I didn't want to make it sound like I was making excuses for anything and took out any sentence that began with "I".  He responded right away. We agreed that things were over, at least for the time being, but he was very kind and lovely about it, in a way that he didn't have to be. This was a month and a week ago.

It sucked.

I cried for another week. For a while, I could barely get through the work day. On one lunch break I drove around Richfield and called Reid while I bawled my eyes out. My life was going to be dramatically changed and I wasn't ready. Of course, I was still focused on the stupid stuff.

"What am I gonna do for Pride weekend?!" I sobbed. "I don't even want to have a birthday party!"
"Well, those things are very far away from now," said Reid, in the same tone of voice mothers use when their 4-year-old is acting up. "And I'm sure you can invite a lot of other people to your birthday party ... which is not until July. It's February."
"BOO HOO!!!!" I cried, and then I went on 494 in the wrong direction. They sent me home early that day.

Considering that the combination of alcohol, immaturity, mental illness, and my general state of being a garbage person dumpster fire had contributed to the biggest loss of my adult life, I told myself that I would finally cut back on boozing after saying I would a month ago only for that to all be bullshit. I threw myself into planning my Oscar party. In further proof that I am self-absorbed, I forgot to buy liquor because I knew that I wasn't going to be drinking.

"I have been sober for eight hours," I told B. Louise that Sunday at LUSH, and then I ordered a terrible cranberry mimosa. Ugh.

I bought last-minute food items, picked up Greta and Steve, and hoped to finally win my Oscar pool that year! Seriously, I have done Oscar parties since I was in tenth grade and I think one year I tied with my dad and that's the only time I've won. It was my own party and I didn't even have $5 cash to contribute to the pool since I spent the last cash I had at LUSH! What is wrong with me? I hoped that I would win and no one would notice. I was worried about the show because I knew it would be very anti-Trump and I'm pretty sure my friend Julie voted for him and my Grandma Shirley is a raging DFL hardliner, but she was really chill whenever anything was said about it (and I thought Kimmel toed the line pretty well).

Anyway, I lost by ONE because I chose "Audition" for Best Song over "City of Stars" even though I knew "City of Stars' would win, but I really really loved "Audition". (I was also the only present to get Best Live Action Short correctly, but Steve was the only person in the room who had actually seen all of them). I was out of it by Best Picture, but then we had to re-tally when that whole Moonlight/La La Land snafu happened! My dad and my friend Adam ended up splitting the pot, and now I owe my dad $2.50.

Who are you in the Oscar moodboard? I am always Meryl.

"Would anyone like some wine?" my mother offered.
"Aww," I said.
"You don't even drink wine," said Steve with annoyance.

We dropped off Greta and stopped at The Saloon, and I ordered a vodka lemonade.

"You got a drink," Steve said, and I wasn't sure which one of us was more disappointed.

Then I really went without for 6.75 days. And I'm not saying that like it's some major accomplishment -- oh my god, you almost went a full week, wow! It's not like I went to AA or went to rehab -- but I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would (or maybe I missed other things more, y'know?). I even did a Sunday Funday and was on Team Diet Coke all afternoon. I was a lot quieter, sure, but that didn't need to be a bad thing. I went to The Saloon because I forgot to bring my keys to the Eagle so I had to bring Steve his (good to know that sober me is still a space cadet), and I felt bad because I knew that since I was there and it was 2-for-1's, I was going to drink, and I did, and I didn't get hammered or anything, but I felt like I was letting everybody down. Again.


I stay at my parents' a lot more than I used to. I know it's not the most adult thing to do and my mom can't take care of me forever, but it's an ironclad way for me to not go out to the bar, and I usually open on the weekends while my roommate has the day off, and it just works for me, all right? I talk to Penny Ann a lot because we are both chronic night owls. However, she doesn't get up early for work the next day and I do.

I was on Concerta for a month. My brain liked it but it turned me into a literal shit monster. I got switched to a low dose of Adderall. This means I got fucking tiny. It's gross.

I love therapy! She wants to see me twice a month. She gives me homework. Last time we learned about cognitive thoughts and that our emotions, feelings, and situations are all different things. It's like that whole mantra that Katya and Rosie O'Donnell have always told me (well, okay, not me personally), that FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS. Things may have been so much different had I truly believed this earlier in life.

Tan Man was in town for one night only! He and Rene met me at LUSH because it was a Thursday and I was staying at my mom's house. We watched the first half of Drag Evolution, which is their amateur show and the winner gets to perform on Saturdays. There were gorgeous men around them who didn't give me the time of day, but there were twinks I knew who did, so there. I need to find a name for who I am when I'm around the children and not drinking. Maybe that is when Auntie Debby is Aunt Deborah.

After the first half of the contest, I dropped them off at The Saloon ... and I didn't go in! I went home instead to watch Baskets. My mother was shocked at this development. "Who are you and what have you done with my son?" she demanded to know.

The theme of cancellation continued to dominate March. The Mariah Carey concert at the Xcel Energy Center went from being postponed to cancelled (I can't have nice things! The lamb I was going to attend with is seeing her in Vegas this July). I was booked to feature for a week at the House of Comedy and it turned out that the headliner brings his own feature with him on the road, so I was cut. He was incredibly kind and gracious about it and encouraged me to do a guest set (which I did that Saturday -- the first one was good and in the late show I bombed) and even offered to get me stage time if I was ever in New York. And I also think I really manifested the situation. I had convinced myself I was too sad to do eight comedy shows a week, and the universe listened and took them away from me. My goal for 2017 is to learn how to manifest things the other way. Every negative thing that happened over the last few months was already there in my head!

The blessing of the gigs being cancelled is that -- even though I was out $300 -- Steve and I went to the Ariana Grande concert on a last minute whim! She even did "One Last Time"! I didn't know if she would but my friend Kara was reviewing the concert for City Pages and had seen the setlist. Ariana did not do ANY banter at all -- after every song she would say "St. Paul" as if to remind herself where she was and that was it -- but she was on time and sang live. The crowd was mainly teenage girls and 21-year-old gay men, so there was a lot of high-pitched screaming.

Oh my god, and she did "Moonlight" too and I jusssssssssttttttttt

We took the light rail to The Saloon after the show, where we ran into pretty much every gay man we had seen at the concert (when we first got there, Steve wanted to play "Gay or straight?" with strangers, but we couldn't really play because we kept running into gay guys we knew). Quinn was our navigator to get us to the train and thank God, because to me St. Paul may as well be Amsterdam.

Our brushes with greatness continued into the next week when Alyssa Edwards was at The Saloon! I was nervous about the idea of Friday night viewing parties for RuPaul's Drag Race -- bars and patrons really loved having them on Mondays -- but The Saloon pulled it off without a hitch. Alyssa got there at 11:30 and The Saloon turned into a gay mosh pit. And it was mainly women who were being offensive! Steve and I were getting pushed around so much that I thought we would be going home in body casts. Drinks were getting thrown and people were swearing and it was incredibly stressful. Thankfully we had bigger men by us that provided a sense of safety and security, because I think Steve and I are maybe 250 pounds combined. Speaking of bigger men, Miles Davis Moody of the RuPaul's Drag Race pit crew was next to us and kept accidentally elbowing me while he made out with a stranger, and it was the closest thing I will ever get to making out with Miles Davis Moody, so I wasn't even that mad about it.

Anyway, Alyssa was EVERYTHING. She did lip-syncs to the songs she did on her last season of Drag Race and did a very brief Q & A. The first question was about her personal life and you could tell she was really thrown off by it, but she handled it like a true pageant queen. She really exemplified the point that you can be successful even if you don't win the show (or, like the pageant queen that she is called it, "the fourth alternate"). I'm not sure if we'll always like the Friday night viewing parties, especially since I usually open Saturdays, but RuPaul's Drag Race in my life gives me a sense of normalcy. We could all use more of that. Because I want to end this episode on a happy note, here is a picture of me being carried by a shirtless muscle stud.


*fear of missing out
**the joke is about straight guys in college who are like "Dude, I swear I'm not gay." And I go, "Of course you're not. You're using way too much teeth." GAY HACK REALNESS.
***Another thing to cry about is that my friend Carla and I played Mean Girls trivia at The Pint and missed placing in the finals by one point! Uggghhh.

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