“Nobody dies from lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from.” -Margaret Atwood
I sleepover with The Writer again the next night–it’s getting to be an every-other night kind of thing. Thursday, he asks me to come over and write with him. “If we get a lot of work done, maybe we can go out for one drink,” he says, sounding unusually disciplined. I agree. Around eleven, he’s ready to go. “Where are we going?” I ask. “Tigerheat…where else would we go out on Thursday?” Our mega-gay weekly dance party–not what I was expecting for tonight, but okay.
The Writer’s usual parking spot, a block from the club, is taken, so we go splitsies on a $10 parking lot charge. “How late are you here?” He asks the lot attendant. “All night,” the guy responds. We park, and The Writer locks his car. “Can you hold on to these?” He asks, handing me his keys. He has a tendency to lose stuff.
We cut the line and get our VIP wristbands, then make our way to the bar. Pretty much everyone I know is standing near the entrance, including my cousin Clark, his best friend Noah, Clark’s current boy, Chase (half of my friends the gay couple) and his best friend Cash, a decidedly free spirit.
I first met Cash, who you might guess was straight, despite his utter abandonment of social barriers, at a party a few months ago. After only a few minutes of talking, his sights wandered onto a handsome boy with a Huntington Beach shirt on. “I’m in love with Huntington. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together,” he announced before proceeding to walk over to him, pull Huntington out of his conversation with two other LAGs, swoon him, and collect his digits, all in under two minutes. Granted, Cash had consumed several alcoholic beverages at this point, but that’s just how he is. He’s not afraid to talk to anyone.
Standing near the bar, a tall guy, who I remember from last week is eying me…just like last week. Apparently we know a lot of people in common, but I’m standoffish with him. We exchange a few words while standing in the same circle, but our group quickly breaks up. The Writer walks off, having a one-on-one conversation with some emotional-looking twink, and Clark moves his entourage elsewhere. I end up shifting back and forth between talking to Noah about his recent world travels (he just got back from a two week trip at the start of the week) and Cash, who is super high and already two or three drinks in. I get bored with this, ready to dance, but I also wonder where The Writer is. I text him and tell him I’ll drive home if he wants. I’m recovering from a cold and don’t want more than one drink…which is what the original plan was.
An hour later, I’m just off the dance floor chatting with Clark. “How is everything?” He asks me. “Great,” I say. “Seems like you’ve been making some friends.” “Yeah. I’ve been spending a lot of time with The Writer–he’s a really great guy,” I tell him. He says something back, but I can’t really hear anything that is coming out of his mouth, thanks to the blaring music. Clark proceeds to introduce me to a few nearby LAGs, all of them a few years older than me. They seem nice but are also a little cliquey, so I decide to go look for the Writer. I find him almost immediately. He’s talking to a guy he works with and introduces us. “Till The World Ends,” my favorite club anthem at them moment, comes on, so I ask the guy if I can borrow The Writer to dance. He agrees, and The Writer enthusiastically leads me into the crowd, the same dance floor that we shared some magic one week prior.
Then he stops and grabs my head to yell something in my ear. “Would it be okay if we were just friends?” My heart sinks below my stomach, but I catch myself just in time, flexing my brave face like never before. He said it as if he were actually asking me a question. I take just the right amount of time to respond: “Definitely,” my inflection fit for a Vegas poker table. “It’s just I’ve been having sex with the same person for three years, and I really want to fuck a lot of…” I stop him there because I really don’t want to hear anymore. “You can have sex with whoever you want to,” I interrupt. Because he’s certainly not fucking me. Someone might as well get some. He gives me what he thinks is a reassuring smile then takes the opportunity to walk past me, drunkenly stumbling toward the bar.
I’m OK, I tell myself. And I am for about 15 minutes, but holding myself together like that takes it out of me. Keep on dancing, I coach myself. But then I see him dancing with two girls, and I almost throw up. He would rather dance with some chubby underage hags than suffer through three minutes with me? The lights and blasting bass start to tear through me, and I go outside for some fresh air. Or rather, I’m bombed with second-hand smoke. I know I can’t face anyone I know, at least not for a few minutes. My first instinct is to come up with a reply, something melodramatic. “What are you afraid of?” or “What am I doing wrong?” but this just makes me sad, and I know I can’t really say those things. I have to play by the rules–this is after all, some kind of game, right? I go stand in the corner, alone, blowing out several scenarios per second. Anywhere but here, anywhere but here, I wish. And I decide I need to get out of here.
It’s already 1:30, when I decide I’m collected enough to return to the group. The Writer’s made a pit stop to the bar, where I inform him I’m ready to go, but I’m met with resistance. “I have work tomorrow,” I remind him. “You hate that job. Don’t go.” Wow, do I know how to pick ’em. “I am leaving in 30 minutes,” I inform him, “let me know if you’re coming.” He disappears back into crowd, and the tall guy, who was eying me earlier, walks up behind me. “Having fun?” He yells. “Oh, yeah,” I say although my sarcasm doesn’t translate through the interference. Tall Guy continues with the small talk, but a) clubs are not for talking and b) I don’t do small talk. There’s still a New Yorker inside me, don’t forget. As Tall Guy sheepishly tries to dance into me, I move to the bar, where I find Cash and Chase. “Shield me,” I beg them. And they do, but I make the mistake of dancing slutty, which attracts more attention–something I really do not want at this point. Tall Guy tries to get closer to the action, but I sandwich myself and move us away. When the song ends, Cash runs into the crowd, so I’m left defenseless. Fortunately, tall guy has backed off, and it’s almost time to go.
Just then Noah, who is wildly intoxicated stumble up to me. “Where’s Clark?” I ask him. “Oh, he just left,” he tells me. He strings the words “Want to dance?” together with a mild difficulty. “I’m actually about to leave,” I tell him politely. “Oh, you got a date?” “Nope, just going home,” I say. I promise to say bye before I leave, and I head into the crowd to find The Writer, which takes a few minutes. “Let’s go,” I say. “One more song,” he says. I roll my eyes and comply as he tries to flirt with a boy, who looks a little afraid of him. He is pretty drunk…and has been since our “talk.” The song ends, and I make a “sorry” face to the boy, nearly having to peel The Writer off him. “I’m not going,” he says. “Please. I am so tired,” I say, but mostly being here is breaking me. “Take my car home, and I’ll just take a cab,” he says with resolve. “I’m not doing that,” I reply. “Why not?” He asks. “Because I feel bad…it’s your car.” Also, I’m not entirely sure how to get back to his house, and I really want to rip him a new one while he’s strapped into his little car next to me for fifteen minutes. “I’m not ready to leave,” he says. Even though the understanding that this would be a one drink affair, I give in. “Fine, I’ll wait.” And I do—in misery. Noah walks up next to us; “Is he your date?” He asks me. “What?” Asks The Writer. I know how this looks and sounds—not good. “No Noah, I don’t have any date. You made that up.” Good grief. “He’s probably more drunk than you are,” I tell The Writer, who disappears again a moment later. “I wish you weren’t Clark’s cousin,” Noah says abruptly rubbing his hand up and down my side. If Noah weren’t Clark’s best friend and also a genuinely kind person, I probably would have lost it on him, especially after all of tonight’s events. Instead, I endure some uncomfortable grinding—after all, he’ll probably barely remember this in the morning anyway. Pretty much everyone I know has left at this point and after a few songs, I excuse myself to walk into the crowd.
I find The Writer, who grabs my shirt and leans on me for support, wrapping his arms around my neck. “You’re adorable,” he says. I can feel the blood vessels in my eyeballs constrict with frustration. “You are horrible,” I say with a calculated exactness. “Yeah, but it’s all right,” he says. I take a few deep breaths. “Want to have a threesome?” He asks. “Whatever,” I say. I wouldn’t, but I don’t feel like arguing with him. He approaches a boy out of earshot–about six inches–but quickly comes back to me, rejected. He points to another boy, “I tried talking to him earlier, but he didn’t seem interested. Maybe you should ask him.” I shake my head. “Come on!” He whines. He points to several more boys for my approval, and he even talks to some, but the lights come on, and his orgiastic aspirations disappear like the darkness. “That was the last song,” The D.J. announces, as a flood of boys pour out the doors.
We run into Noah outside the club, and The Writer starts chatting. “How was your night?” Noah asks. “It was fine. I found out my ex is moving back to L.A.” I’m completely floored for the second time tonight–I wasn’t ready for this bomb to be dropped. After making sure Noah gets a cab, I grab The Writer’s hand. “We are going. Now.” It’s 3:30. “But…” I yank his arm, and we cross the street. We’re not even to the car yet, but I can’t wait. I’m upset and hurt, and I want hurt him back. “If we’re going to be friends, at least have the decency to be sober when you want to talk to me about something important. And really? You’d rather dance with girls than me? What is wrong with you, you asshole?” I go on and one, but I realize that none of it escapes my mouth. When I go to say it, I turn and look at his face. I don’t want to hurt him, and I don’t even know if I really want him to know that he hurt me. What’s that going to solve? This is what it is.
And then his expression abruptly changes to alarmed as he looks ahead. I panic for half a second, wondering who or what might be there. It’s his car: it’s covered in bird shit, or at least that’s what I think it is. “Who the FUCK paintballed my car?” He yells, extremely upset. “And where the fuck is that guy? He said he’d be here all night!” “I don’t know,” I say, wanting to tell him he probably went home to sleep because it’s 3:30 AM. I’m still very emotional, and even enjoying the karmic irony of the situation, but I realize I need to be the strong and comforting one here. “I think it’s okay,” I say rubbing off the paint. “See there’s no denting.” The Writer stresses for another minute or so before he calms down.
When we get back to his house, he doesn’t get out of the car. “My life should be better than this,” he says. “Then make it better,” I tell him. He has a bit of a breakdown, and I ask him if we can continue inside since I have to be up for work in five hours. When we get in his bed, he lays on his back and says, “The First time I met you I was so attracted to you. I just wanted to take you in the bathroom of that house and blow you. I kept trying to hint, but you didn’t get it.” I laugh. “Well, I’m naive. And that wouldn’t have worked out well,” I say with a smirk. “Why’s that?” He asks with an attentive curiosity. “Because I was so nervous that I was about to shit my pants!” I’m super sleepy, and he says something bullshitty that I’m pretty sure was at least partially orchestrated to deal with me: “I don’t know, I separate emotions and sex. They’ve never really gone together for me.” “Can I ask you a personal question?” I ask. “Do you find me attractive?” “Yes,” he says. “Do you think you’ll ever want to be sexual with me?” “Yeah, probably.”
I turn to face him: “That being friends thing, you said tonight…am I doing something wrong? Is there something I’m doing that you want me to stop?” “No! No, I just don’t want you to get hurt.” “I can take care of myself,” I say with a certain boldness. Even in the darkness, he looks away for a longish moment before turning back to me. “I think you’re wanting something is all.” I fall asleep with his assertion echoing through my thoughts.