“There are two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.” -Mary Kay Ash
Likely off eating shrooms in Palm Springs with his friends, I haven’t seen The Writer since before he bailed on my party. But it’s the weekend, and true to my fiery young gay spirit, I’m ready to drink, dance, and get dirty! I call Trick Bradley, who answers with a prolonged “Hey.” First, I tell him that Turtle won’t be messing with us again and that Clark assured me that Turtle would apologize to us in person the next time we crossed paths. “Oh,” he says. “Did I tell you about the text he sent me when I got home Thursday night?” “No!” I exclaim. “He said, ‘I hope you enjoy your tragic fake friends.'” I bust out in laughter. “Is he serious?” But there’s more. Trick Bradley forwards me this message he got from Turtle some time after Clark “talked” to him: “You weren’t the one I was mad at the other night, I was just hurt that you ignored me because I thought we were going to hang out this week. I thought you’d at least text me and instead I run into you with The Writer’s friend? He was the one who really escalated everything by putting himself in the middle of something that was none of his business. And he took you away from me in the middle of our talk. That’s what pushed me over the edge. And I was drunk so…” There are just no words! “Did you respond to him?” I ask. “No. Should I?” “Definitely not. He’s like half ape, half mean girl.” I’m so embarrassed for gaykind that someone this immature even exists that I nearly forget to make plans with Bradley. “Wait! We have to go out tonight!”
Just before ten, I go through my wardrobe. What to wear? I consider a few outfits but ultimately decide I don’t feel like changing. However, I want to make a splash so I throw on a little black cardigan and my pink shades. A few minutes later, Bradley picks me up in his dad’s car. “Where’s your car?” I ask. “It’s in the shop,” he answers. “Oh. What happened?” “It crashed.” “It crashed, or you crashed it?” I inquire. “Technically, it crashed. I wasn’t conscious,” he shares. “Oh my god, what happened!” “I fell asleep and woke up crashing into the car in front of me going 95 miles an hours,” he says. Usually, this would be a rather alarming story, but in Bradley’s case it seems pretty typical. “Were you drinking? Were there cops?” “No the other people like got out and were like it’s fine. They didn’t want to call the cops I guess. But I wasn’t drinking, I was just like super tired,” he says. I shake my head, then facepalm.
Twenty minutes later, we’re in a gay bar that’s pretty low key. We each down a cheap drink, and I’m abruptly bored. Desperately so. So much so that I text Dan. “What are you up to tonight?” He tells me he’s in the bar next door–it has a good dance scene on Saturdays, so I tell him we’ll meet him. Hut when we go outside there’s a swarm of people waiting to get in. “I don’t do lines,” I inform Bradley. (This impatience is left over from my years in New York.) I text Dan and let him know that there’s a line AND cover, which is unacceptable. I grow impatient waiting for a reply, so I check out the bar patio wall. It’s perfectly hoppable, temptingly so. I look at Bradley, but he doesn’t catch on. Then I get a reply from Dan. “Tell the promoter you’re my friend.” Marvelous. I make my way over to the promoter and introduce myself then inform him that I’m a friend of Dan’s. “Nice to meet you,” he says. “I don’t know who Dan is.” Annoyed, I apologize and start texting Dan again when Bradley speaks up, “Oh. I know that guy.” The guy holding the list hears him, and his face lights up. “Hey! How are you?” Bradley does his oblivious act, flirting with the guy for a minute or two. He doesn’t really acknowledge me, which is fine because the guy is so into Bradley that we get to cut the line and get in for free.
I run into Dan the second we walk in, and he’s zealous as ever about our reunion. “Nice cardigan!” He says enthusiastically. “Where’d you get it?” Before I can answer, someone taps him on the shoulder, and I use the distraction to take refuge outside on the patio. Unfortunately, Turtle is also on the patio and as much fun as a public apology might be, I decide it’s best saved for another time. I grab Bradley and lead him to the bar where we take a shot. I leave the bartender a fat tip, and he starts to flirt with me between pouring drinks. Unfortunately, I’m fairly certain he’s straight. On the bright side, he tips me off to the open bar and promises to hook me up with a strong drink. Seven minutes and five dollars later, (see, I am an excellent tipper!) I’m double-fisting two drinks, one of which I pass to Bradley before grabbing a third, and we run upstairs.
Having chugged half of my what is essentially cranberry flavored vodka on the way up the stairs, I’m appropriately buzzed and begin to break it down to my current favorite club beat, “Who’s That Chick.” I decide that I’m going to be the song’s titular Chick, and (as classy as possible) draw enough attention to myself to have everyone wondering who I am. I pull my pink shades off of my head and onto my face, then break it down. I definitely look at least a little ridiculous, but I’m having a blast and don’t care who knows it. Bradley’s a little shy at first, so I force-feed him the straw to my second cran-tinted vodka on the rocks, and he loosens up and dances a little slutty with me. That’s when I notice everyone’s starting to check us out. As the song ends, this little party monster eyes his favorite WeHo drag queen. I wave her and down and shout in my exuberant voice, “You are motherfuckin’ gorgeous!” “Thanks sweetie!” “No, thank you! You are like my hero!” I have no idea what I’m talking about, and I’m fairly certain this is the longest conversation I’ve ever held with a drag queen, but this man in all of his make up and lady attire has such a natural feminine presence while being so forcefully proud at the same time. The resulting effect is like a nuclear reactor to my party spirit, so I dance around, and I think she enjoys it. When the next song ends, I grab her hand. “Can we take a picture together? I never want to forget this night.” And I don’t. There’s nothing particularly grand about this evening, really. It’s just two guys in their early twenties dancing without a care in the world, but I haven’t felt so free in forever. “Of course!” Is her response, so we snap a photo, and I get a European kiss.
At this point, I decide I should leave my favorite drag star alone for the evening (besides there are other drag queens abound, waiting to be friended…not that any of them are as marvelous). Bradley and I continue dancing when someone he knows taps him on the shoulder, and we follow him to a back corner for a break. We stop in a circle of young LAGs…and Turtle. The second he sees me out of the corner of his eye, he turns away and take a long sip. I put a generic smile on my face and think of what to say. “Nice to see you Turtle,” seems appropriate, but just before I say it, he shoots the nastiest, cattiest look that a middle aged man could manage and without making eye contact! My smile widens, becoming closed-lip, and I give a single nod to acknowledge this wonderfully contained farce. That’s when Turtle turns away without a word and heads down the stairs. “I guess we’re not getting that apology then,” I say to Bradley sarcastically. “What was that about?” one of the baby LAGs asks. “Nothing. But hey, do any of you know that guy?” I ask. All of them shake their heads “no” except one punky looking kid. “Yeah, sorta,” he says. “Watch out for him. He’s bad news,” I warn.
Without another word, we head back to the dancefloor. Now I’m not one of those people who needs to be shitfaced in order to dance. In fact, I can get my freak on completely sober. But, I am pretty hammered. So glasses on, I turn into a “Woo Girl,” screaming and wooing every few seconds while shaking my ass. Then I see Turtle has ascended once more to the top floor. He’s talking to the punky kid, who points right at me. I take my glasses off and wave at them with a big intentional smile. Turtle looks angry and pulls out his phone. Then a Britney song comes on. My Britney song to be precise, and I feel the need to strip. So I pull my t-shirt off from under my cardigan and stuff the end of it in the side of my pants so that it’s hanging down. Putting my glasses back on, I roll up my cardigan sleeves and start into a part sultry/part clumsy variation on the parts of the choreography that I can remember from the music video. I see a few camera flashes, and I’m flattered that people are taking my picture although realistically, they’re probably not. Let’s just pretend they are though. Bradley and I dance the rest of the night away, not leaving until last call. It’s perfect.
* * *
The next morning, I get a call from Clark. When I answer, he says my name, dragged out like he’s my dad, and I’m a teenager in big trouble. Knowing exactly what this call is about, I can’t help but laugh. A 40 year old man called my cousin to tattle on me. “Just let it go,” he says. I do my best to restrain my laughter and promise not to involve myself in any more conflict where Turtle is concerned. “Listen,” Clark starts, “it’s not worth your time and…” “I know I shouldn’t have even said anything…” “…he has a reputation. He’s done this to everyone who’s ever stepped foot in WeHo. Just be careful about what you say to anyone because he has a little army of twink spies who report back to him. They’re like Glory’s minions from Buffy.” I chuckle at how profoundly ridiculous this whole situation is, but I know I’m not a big enough deal to hold Turtle’s interest for long, so this should all blow over in a few weeks.