The Cheap Trick

“I wish that I could have this moment for life.” -Nicki Minaj

I wake up late Saturday. I’m starving, so I call The Writer to invite him to a strictly eating-only lunch (Saturday afternoons have become prime writing time, and I’m full-on anti-work today), but he is of course still asleep because he sleeps always. When he finally gets up, I drive over to his house, and we select The Waffle in Hollywood as our dining destination. On our way, he calls his creepy friend Warren and invites him to eat with us, which makes me cringe. “The thing about Warren is he’s insane when he’s drunk. Like mad scientist bat-shit crazy, but he’s normally a very sweet person.” I nod discouragingly, remembering our last encounter, which ended with him drunkenly yelling something about Wolf and I on the street in WeHo.

When we arrive, The Writer insists on sitting next to me in the booth because we’re by the door and it’s quite drafty. He then stands and wanders around the establishment for the next five minutes in search of a different table until finally someone leaves. His shamelessness both embarrasses me and amuses, but this is why I like The Writer—he’s weird and unapologetically so. Just as we settle at our new table, Warren joins us and turns out to be an enjoyable conversationalist, which makes up for a less-than-stellar brunch (because what I really want is a cheeseburger.) Conversation turns to boys, and they pull out their phones to check Grindr.

What is Grindr? According to its website, it’s a “Free Gay iPhone App [that] finds local gay, bi and curious guys for dating or friends for free on Grindr. Meet the men nearest you with GPS, location-based Grindr.” Basically, it’s an actual gaydar. Grindr locates the nearest hundred gays and displays their profiles, which contain, among other things, naked to semi-naked photos of the user, their sexual roles, and other excruciatingly personal details. Users can then message whoever is in the vicinity and potentially hook up. What’s more is pretty much every gay I’ve met in L.A. has Grindr and uses it with as much frequency as Facebook. Grindr grosses me out, but the concept is admittedly fascinating.

Warren leaves to meet his personal trainer—he’s making big strides to improve his life, including not drinking and working out six days a week. The Writer and I leave shortly after, and I let him in on my anti-work leanings, so we agree to see a movie. “We have an hour before it starts,” he informs me. “Let’s go back to my place and take a nap.” “I’m not tired,” I tell him with legitimate naivety. When we get back to his house, The Writer suggests I read Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl while he naps, and we climb into bed. He reaches his arm out. “Come snuggle,” he says in a cutesy voice before scooping me over to his side. I’m a little cold on this given our history, but I don’t resist. I make it through a page and a half of the stripping memoir before I drop the book and reciprocate his embrace.

Half an hour later, it’s time to leave for the theater, so I poke The Writer. “We have to go,” I whisper. “Five more minutes,” he begs. “Fine.” Five minutes later, I shake him. “We’re going to miss the movie!” I exclaim. “No we won’t.” He rolls over. Yes we will, but I’m not going to win this battle. I kind of don’t want to anyway. Four and a half hours later, it’s nine, and I decide we really should get up, if for no other reason than my hunger–despite consuming every crumb of my last meal, I am already starving again.

Turns out waking him up was only half the battle. The Writer missed about twenty phone calls and thus spends the next half hour playing catch up. While he is texting, chatting, whatevering, his ex calls. The Writer answers, and I’m silent, shoving my nose into the book he gave me, trying my best not to look like I’m eavesdropping. I know a few things about his ex, having pieced together remnants of a someone-else in The Writer’s bedroom and from conversation between The Writer and his friends. This phone call, however, is my first real peek into their dynamic, even if it’s one sided. The Writer asks his ex about the guy he slept with and how his job is going—the ex moved to New York a few months ago to pursue modeling, a move that I suppose is comparatively as dumb as moving to Los Angeles to be a writer. However, I’m still afloat (for now), but the ex has since landed in the food services industry. The way things sound, the ex will be moving back to L.A. “I love you too,” is the last thing The Writer says before hanging up, and there’s a pause. “Who was that?” I ask casually. “Just my ex. He’s been living in New York for a few months and not doing so great there,” he says nonchalantly. “We were together for almost three years,” he volunteers. “Wow, that’s a long time. Did you live together?” I ask. “Yes.” “Here?” “Yeah.” “Oh,” I say slightly surprised although I’m not sure why.

The Writer and I decide on dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Studio City that serves strong margaritas. On our way, he calls a boy, whose name comes up as “Trick Bradley” on the bluetooth display in his car. I nearly choke when I see it, but manage to hold it together as the kid picks up. The conversation reveals that a) Bradley is rather dull and b) he will be joining us for the evening. “Let me explain,” The Writer says before I have the chance to ask about his name. “Bradley is this kid I met and didn’t find very interesting, but I thought we’d hook up, so I put him in my phone as ‘Trick Bradley.’ We didn’t end up hooking up though.” “I see. So why are we hanging out with him?” I inquire. “He called me while I was sleeping, so I was just returning his call.” Right.

At the restaurant, The Writer prods me for details on my sexual past, but I’m selective in my sharing. The history of my sex life is somewhat sparse, despite the past couple of months, but interesting in its diversity. I recount the horribly failed five sum and hint that it wasn’t necessarily my first. (Although my other experiences with group sex were with people I knew much better and were intermittently heterosexual.) The Writer takes this as an invitation to share his heterosexual past. “I dated this girl, who would climb into my bed naked and would just hump me silly. She knew I was gay, and I was just like, ‘can you tell nothing’s happening down there?’” His story conjures amusing imagery, which immediately sours into unpleasantness. “How old were you?” I ask, imagining the scene set in his late teen years. “…last year,” he admits. “Are you kidding me?” I say, cracking up. He’s not. “What? Why? How?” “I was very confused,” he says with an embarrassed smirk. (In the moment, I don’t manage to make the connection that the timing coincides with the departure of his ex.)

A few minutes later, a vaguely cute kid awkwardly shuffles toward our table, and I realize this is Trick Bradley. “Hey,” The Writer says, forgetting to introduce us. “Hi,” he says before briefly eying me. I take it upon myself to make the introduction and internally giggle when he tells me his name. I’m so mature. Trick Bradley wants a drink, but I sincerely doubt that he’s of age. However, when the waitress takes his order, he presents ID. It’s fake, but decent. This kid reminds me of myself a couple of years ago, only stupider and correspondingly less neurotic and uptight. This only furthers my annoyance. The Writer orders one last margarita, and his infatuation with our previous conversation about the five sum has turned to borderline obsession. “Let’s make a five sum happen tonight!” he says loudly, only half-joking. Our neighboring diners look over bewildered.

When we get the bill, I put in my share and Trick forks over the exact amount of his somewhat pricey drink–failing to include tax or tip. I hate stingy people. We drive back to The Writer’s house to consolidate cars, and Trick Bradley is designated driver.

Half an hour later, in WeHo, we’re another drink or two in and standing on the upper balcony of a packed gay bar when the rain starts coming down. “Fuck!” I yell, annoyed. “Let’s get out of here,” The Writer says. I don’t know why, but The Writer leads us to another bar that has an entry cover along with a getting-wetter-by-the-second line filed down the sidewalk. The Writer gives a couple $10 to let us cut in front of them and when we make it past the bouncer, we sneak past the cover-collector and run up the stairs. The place is pretty chic, but not worth whatever money they charged. The Writer buys me a drink, which I only take a few sips of, before he dives straight into pre-production on that five sum. He starts off approaching a young couple that looks rather self-involved. I roll my eyes at his tactics and his could-be targets when my phone buzzes. It’s Mr. Wolf. “What are you doing?” “I’m out with The Writer and some trick,” I respond. “Come over.” I don’t want to. “I think we’re leaving soon,” I tell him, but he doesn’t care. “I’ll come meet you.” Since he’s not listening, I ignore him. The Writer makes his way through a few more boys as Trick Bradley holds his drink in limp disinterest.

The (drunk) Writer makes his way back to the couple he started with, and this time they bite. He yells my name, waving me over and introduces me to the one he’s not interested in. “Thanks,” I say through my teeth. The kids turns out to be even more self-involved than he looks. He voluntarily tells me about himself as if it were some kind of chore while his fingers dance across his phone screen. “Who are you talking to?” I ask. “Some guy from Grindr,” he says. I glance at the message on the screen and see the name of the sender—it’s Wolf’s first name. I roll my eyes again. “It was nice to meet you,” I say stepping away to wait in line for the bathroom. “Are you messaging a short, twinky kid with spikey brown hair in WeHo right now?” I text Wolf. “I don’t know. I’m messaging a lot of people right now,” he replies. “Do you know his name?” I can’t remember and become irritated with the length of the bathroom line, so I grab The Writer’s arm and tell him we should move to the downstairs area.

“I want to have an after party!” The Writer proclaims. “And a five sum.” Oh boy. “Let’s have the after party at Dan’s house! He lives like two blocks away!” He yells. “No!” “Why not?” He asks. Shit. “I…we fucked…” “What?” The Writer asks in disbelief. “Twice,” I continue. “Mostly I just felt bad about myself, and I really don’t want to see him again.” I really don’t. “Suck it up,” he says as he texts Dan. Luckily, Dan is pre-occupied with some ridiculous sounding birthday party in another part of town. “You didn’t tell him I was with you, did you?” I ask although I’m not sure why I care. “No, but maybe I should. You’re such gay bait!” He laughs at me, and I give him a little shove.  I then remember the name of the boy Wolf was messaging, and it turns out it was him. “Who are you texting?” asks The Writer. I tell him about how Wolf was messaging the boyfriend of the boy he was chatting up. “Wolf is such a player. Scratch that. Such a fucker,” he slurs. “I would know,” I tell him. “No you didn’t!” “Yes I did!” “Really? No. I can’t believe that.” “Why?” I ask. “What’s the big deal?” “Nothing,” he says. Whatever.

I’ve enjoyed the night, but I’m the type of guy who likes to leave on a high note, so I announce that we should head back to The Writer’s house. “I’ll have the after party there!” He proclaims. I know he doesn’t really want to host and that it’s a bad idea because his roommate and Connor were falling asleep to a movie on ABC Family when we left the house hours ago. And I don’t want to have a five sum tonight. Not with Trick. Plus, my stomach hurts from the Mexican food.

Trick drives us home, spouting some ridiculous opinions, which earn my most grievous facial expressions. “Is he serious right now?” I text The Writer. He laughs and texts back, “play nice.” “I’ll try,” I say, “but I can’t promise anything.” After some more incoherent texts between us, I write, “You’re my best friend in L.A. Thanks.” I have a moment of panic immediately after hitting send. Is it safe to open up this much? I don’t know. But I do trust him, and he is my best friend in this strange new world. I’m being honest, what more can I do, right? “Aww…your great,” he replies. Not a great response, but it could be worse.

When we get back to the house, the couple that The Writer was flirting with calls and asks for his address. The Writer tells Trick and me that they said they might come over, but he doesn’t think they really will, so we play some jams and Trick helps himself to another drink. The Writer disappears and after a few minutes I look for him—he’s in bed. Again. “You CANNOT be tired,” I tell him. “You were awake for a total of like five hours today.” “Leave me alone,” he laughs, and then I jump on him. Trick comes and lies on my other side. I play some more music, which is well received until I decide on The Boss. “Maybe you should play something more contemporary,” Trick suggests. I’m so impressed with his use of a multi-syllable word that I do.  At this point, The Writer has rested his head on my chest and laid his arm across my belly. “What should play next? Cheaptrick?” I suggest with a smirk. “You LOVE Cheap-Trick,” I say to The Writer, who shoots me a dirty look. “Maybe we should just go to sleep.” So we turn out the lights, three pigs in a blanket.

The Writer and I get a little closer. Trick leaves a few minutes later.

One Response to The Cheap Trick

  1. seriously, Grindr? Omg! I can’t believe it. You’re right, it’s a full on Gaydar system. Bizarre.

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