The Latter Gays

October 8, 2011

“I think I need a mint or something.” -Anna Faris

The morning sun creeps through the blinds of my bedroom, across my sheets. It stops on the pillow next to my head. I stare at the empty side of the bed. It’s one of the loneliest sights I’ve ever seen. I consider my life. I’ve spent the past three nights partying. Each night I’ve gone home and medicated myself to sleep. The past three mornings, I’ve woken up, expecting someone to be warmly lying beside me. Each morning, I’ve been sharply disappointed. You don’t become accustomed to being alone. It’s comforting to think you will, but you don’t. You won’t become used to the cold, empty space. It’s just something that I have to accept and live with.

It’s pushing noon, and the rays of sun are crawling ever closer toward me. I wonder if it’s pathetic that it’s a Wednesday, and I haven’t been able to summon the strength to peel myself off my mattress yet. But considering all that’s just happened on top of the fact that I’m unemployed and less two weeks from being flat broke, I’d say I’m doing just dandy.

Staring up at the ceiling, I think about my last conversation with The Writer. It’s strange that I’ve already forgotten so many of the prickly details when every breath, every movement, every word was so overwhelming in the moment. It’s strange that those details, despite being so bright, have already dissolved away into time. They barely even exist anymore.

I do remember the last thing The Writer said to me: “Call me when you’re ready.” How do I know when I’m ready? It’s been three days. Is that time enough? With the temptation of calling him stomping around my thoughts, I grab my phone and hold it up, over my face. Scrolling through my contacts, I find his name. I press the “delete” button next to his information. There. This isn’t the first time, I’ve banished The Writer’s number from my phone since our talk. I nearly threw my phone down a hill when I left his house. But seeing as how I’m broke, and a phone is kind of a necessity, I settled on giving his number to a friend for safe keeping before deleting all traces of him from my phone. That same night, I decided I needed his number again and re-entered it. Until I realized that I was being crazy. And deleted it. Again. The pattern of deleting and re-entering continued longer than what would probably be considered healthy, but this last time, my friend deleted the number also. I have no way of getting his digits back. It’s like solitary confinement. But healthy?

With a sense of relief, I toss the phone on the floor next to my bed, and it begins vibrating. “Fuck,” I say, thinking I broke it. I pick it up and see that someone is in fact calling. It’s a number not in my contacts. It’s his number. What’s worse is, I don’t just recognize it. It’s emblazoned in my mind. I realize I have it memorized. Fuck indeed.

I stare at the phone, distantly, as it continues to ring. “Call when you’re ready.” When I’m ready. I consider sending the call to voicemail. I should. Instead, I answer. “Hey…” I say in a great attempt to sound neutral. “Hi, how’s it going?” The Writer asks. His words give me the sensation of going upside down in a loop on a roller coaster. After a short pause, I answer: “Fine. I’m fine. How bout you?” “Good. I have a question for you…” Dread is my response. Gulping, I respond, “What is it?” “You know my friend, that producer? I’m applying for a writing job on his show, and I need to write an episode of something.” “OK…which show?” “Well, that’s what I was going to ask you,” he says. I fancy myself a television expert, and no, I don’t mean like the Kardashians. “I need to write a sample script of a big drama,” he continues. I shake my nerves and go into auto-mode. He wants to write Breaking Bad, which I tell him is likely too complicated, so he settles on a science fiction procedural. “How many seasons am I going to have to watch?” He asks. “There’s three, but you can skip about half of the episodes.” “Ugh,” is his response. “You’ll thank me later,” I assure him. “It’ll be an easy script to write.” “Can I just thank you now?” He asks. “Sure,” I answer.

After a short pause, I break the silence: “Is that all you were calling about?” “Yep,” he answers obliviously. Autopilot switches off, and I crash-land back in reality. I find myself nodding as if he could hear it. “Well, uh, let’s get dinner or something later this week,” he says. Some words fall out of my mouth, and the conversation is over.

I sit down on my floor, Indian style. Then, I remember number six of my reasons why: “He’s remarkably selfish.” Got it. But I’m still having difficulty processing the fact that he just called me. Just like that. And then, I remember number seven: “He doesn’t realize it.” But does ignorance exonerate the sin? That’s a question I’m not ready to answer. I do, however, consider his honesty during our conversation. And I can’t help but appreciate how resoundingly responsible he was with me in my most fragile state. It makes me think of those victims of kidnapping, who fall in love with their captors. God, I would have the worst Stockholm Syndrome.

*     *     *

After eating dry Frosted Mini Wheats for dinner, I call Trick Bradley. “I need to go out tonight,” I tell him. “That’s fair. Where are we going?” “You’ll see.” I know Trick Bradley well enough now to know that on the other end of the call, he’s sitting there, blinking with a blank expression on his face. “O.K.” “Great,” I say. “Come by around nine.”

*     *     *

Driving into WeHo, Bradley asks where exactly we’re going. “Take us to the most crowded elderly bar you know of.” “Gross. I am NOT sleeping with some old guy,” he says sticking his tongue out. “Keep it in you pants, skank. No one’s asking you to put out. Listen Bradley, tonight’s agenda is going to be a little unorthodox. I have no money, and I need to feel better about myself…” “Why do you need to feel better about yourself?” I hesitate. “Ask me again after I’ve had two drinks,” I instruct him. “Anyway, tonight is Geezer Night. The way I see it Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Not My Party But I’ll Cry If I Want To, Part 4

September 7, 2011

My Those Quiet Eyes Become You

“It’s like the smell of burned toast. You made the toast. You looked forward to it. You even enjoyed making it, but it burned. What were you doing? Was it your fault? It doesn’t matter anymore. You open the window, but only the very top layer of the smell goes away. The rest remains around you. It’s the walls. You leave the room, but it’s on your clothes. You change your clothes, but it’s in your hair. It’s on the thin skin on the tops of your hand. And in the morning, it’s still there.” -Seven Types of Ambiguity

I pull up in front of his house and put my car in park, then turn off the engine. I sit frozen for a moment and then open my mouth: “You don’t have to do this. You can just leave, go home. He doesn’t have to know you were ever here. Just drive away and pretend…” But that’s what I’ve been doing, isn’t it?

I’m ready to get out of the car, but I find myself clenching the wheel like it’s the only thing preventing me from falling off of a cliff. My sight isn’t blurry, it’s like it’s nonexistent. My eyes well up with tears, but I keep them at bay and clench my jaw. Shaking, my hand pulls the keys from the ignition. I open the car door and take a step out. Walking is challenging. It’s like there’s a force pushing against me, a gravity pressing in the direction opposite the house. My body is fighting me. Then I see his car, and I find my calm.

61. He always drives when we’re together.
62. I’m his front seat friend.
63. He puts his hand on my thigh when he’s driving and hasn’t seen me in a few days.
64. His car is the only thing not cluttered in his life.
65. Except that his trunk is overflowing with junk.

Climbing up the steps to his front door, I feel like my shoes are made of lead. When I finally make it to the stoop, I clam up in front of the door. I feel dizzy just looking at it. It’s hard to breathe. I can feel the heat in my face. It must be red. I shut my eyes. Take a deep sigh and summon the strength to pull my hand into a fist. As I raise it up to knock, it freezes inches from the door.

66. He has an adderall prescription despite having graduated college nearly a decade ago.
67. It changes the smell of his sweat.
68. His natural scent.
69. How it makes me lose my mind.
70. And then nauseates me.

My right arm is paralyzed. Even if I could get my fist to knock on the door, I wouldn’t be able to hit it hard enough for The Writer to hear from inside. I grab my right wrist with my left hand and pull it close to my chest. A dog barks. Its owners, a couple with graying hair walk past gabbing about their new car. I turn around, holding myself, eyes glossed. They don’t notice.

71. His tumor, which I named Fred. (He doesn’t really have a tumor.)
72. But he thinks he does.
73. How he absolutely cannot dance.
74. The way the length of his hair goes from perfect to ridiculous in just a day.

I turn around and stand closer to the door. There’s no air inside me. I’m a balloon, ready to float away. I wait for a gust of wind to take me into the sky like the nannies in Mary Poppins. But southern California isn’t stormy London, and this certainly isn’t a Disney movie. The best I can do is lean up against the door. It’s so comforting having something else hold me up that I can hardly fathom the thought of having to support my own weight again. I truly wonder if I’ll ever have the strength to even ring the stupid doorbell, so I shut my eyes and try to pass the moment.

75. How he’s surprised every time I remember something special about us.
76. How sparse his facial hair is.
77. How his memory is about as short as his emotional capacity.
78. His innocent, quiet eyes.

I open my eyes. I pick my forehead up off The Writer’s front door and stand up straight. “What the fuck are you doing?” I ask myself. “Seriously, what is your fucking problem? Are you stupid?” I smack myself across the face as hard as I can, which honestly isn’t that hard. I sit down on the top step and bury my face in my arms. “You’re fucking pathetic!” I scream into my arm, trying to muffle the noise.

79. How much I can tell about him based on the state of his hair.
80. I know every piece of clothing in his wardrobe.
81. How he uses axe body spray because he thinks it makes him seem younger.
82. I definitively know more about one thing, and he respects me for it.

I hop up and manically jump up on the stoop. “Do it. Just do it. Do it. You can do it.” I stick my hand out flat, ready to hit the doorbell. But it’s like my arm is petrified. “No. No, no, no.” I turn and sit again. When I pick my head up, a woman in her 50s, wearing a bright pink shirt and white pants has stopped to look at me. When she notices I’ve spotted her, she turns and scurries away. If it weren’t so psychotic, it would be hysterical. Or at least endearing.

83. I have a toothbrush at his house.
84. He has one at mine even though he almost never sleeps there.
85. He hates conflict.
86. How terrified I’ve become at the thought of losing him.

Stepping up for another round with the doorbell, I use my left hand to support my right hand as I try to smash it into the little button. But I really just can’t. “I can’t. You can’t. Don’t ruin this. Please, don’t do this. Please.” I get my hands far enough that they’re touching the bell, but not pressing it. I feel like I’m going to die. But you see, I’m a clever kid, so I use my right foot to kick in my left leg and fall over, my weight pressing into my arm and by extension, my hand mashes into the doorbell. I hear it buzz as I collapse against the wall. (I did just trip myself.) I scramble to collect myself, not wanting him to see me crumpled up on the ground. But even as I stand up and hear him shuffling out of his bed and toward me, it feels like an eternity. And I panic. Then am overwhelmed by nausea. Please don’t throw up. I gulp and know I won’t. I have no idea what I’m going to say. Well, what’s important? Why are you here? I ask myself. I recite about three sentences before my thoughts clam up. And then it happens. The door opens.

Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Not My Party But I’ll Cry If I Want To, Part 3

August 28, 2011

On The Car Ride Down

“You cry, but you endanger nothing in yourself. It’s like the idea of crying when you do it. Or the idea of love.” -Angels in America

The next morning, I wake up feeling a little Zombie like. I can’t manage to stay out of bed, and at 1:30, I remember I have to go to Sunday Funday. I assume The Writer will be there but have neither the critical nor emotional faculties to even deal with his presence, so I bite another xanax in half and swallow part, slipping the other half in my pocket.

When I pull up to Noah’s house, I realize a couple of problems. First, there are only four cars on the street. The second, none of them belong to Clark. Luckily, my janky ass car isn’t spotted by anyone. So naturally, I drive away. I don’t even pretend to pretend to think I can hold a conversation with a couple of strangers right now. Driving through the hills, however, is wonderfully calming. Except when a car comes speeding around a bend and there’s about two inches between me, it, and certain death.

After my daily dose of near-death, I need a little grace, a little soothing; I call Ann, one my dear friend from New York. We haven’t been keeping up like we should, but she remembers most of the boy details from my visit. “Listen poodle, do what’s good for you. You know what that is. And if he doesn’t want something, you can’t force it on him. These things have to work themselves out…” My phone keeps cutting out. The Hollywood hills have notoriously poor reception. I call her back, but we’re cut off again almost immediately. She didn’t say what I wanted to hear, but she did say the truth. And this talk with The Writer is for me, not him. That’s why I’m the one initiating it. I just hope I don’t do something embarrassing like faint and fall into Noah’s pool or walk into a giant window…again. That would suck.

I sit, parked in front of some random house for five more minutes. Some yard-workers look at me, and I realize how pathetic this is. I put my car in drive and take my foot off the brake. The wheels roll backward as I slide down the hill a bit before slamming on the gas and narrowly dodge a mailbox. I’m pretty sure I hit a garbage can, but it didn’t fall over, so I’m going to say it doesn’t count. Did I mention I’m not the best driver? I plug in my iPod and blast “Who’s That Chick” by David Guetta and Rihanna. “Who’s that chick? Who’s that chick?” I sing shaking my shoulders and dancing. “I’m that chick!” I yell at the top of my lungs, cruising back toward Noah’s.

I park behind the line of expensive cars, and pump myself up. Normally, I’d feel ridiculous, but…really no I wouldn’t. I have no more shame. Who’s gonna stop me? No one. I bounce on my heels and roll my shoulders then launch myself up Noah’s driveway with a hip little strut, which would probably look better if I actually had an ass. I decide to tone it down a tad when I reach the house. Taking off my sunglasses, I spread my arms and yell, “the party has arrived!” Noah and the half dozen guys I don’t recognize look at me blankly. Me…cuz I’m the party. An exceptional start to an awkward Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Not My Party But I’ll Cry If I Want To, Part 2

August 20, 2011

I’d Like To Tell You All About It

“I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.” -Billy Joel

The next night, I’m feeling under the weather. I consider skipping Wolf’s party. My throat is soar, my eyes are scratchy, and I have a slight cough. But how could I miss this? What would it say about me? No one would really even notice, but I would know. Besides, all of the ridiculous drama that I imagine will climax tonight will make for a wonderful story to share over drinks with friends. So I ready myself, and get in my car. I’m pumped. I feel a little adrenaline. A little anxiety. Dread is the exact emotion I’m feeling actually. But whatever. Who doesn’t have a precise fear of the unknown? What’s on my mind, you ask. Well, I’ll be meeting Dalton for the first time, which frankly doesn’t sit well with me no matter which way I angle it. He’s predetermined to hate me. I have no idea how I’m supposed to begin to interact with him. We’re sharing what in some way belongs to the other. I’m nervous about seeing Wolf and meeting his other “boys.” It’s immature, but I’m genuinely curious how I compare. I don’t really care about seeing Turtle or Warren, but I am anxious about what they might say to or about me. I know what I’d say to either of them; something along the lines of “oh, hey.” And while I’m considering all of this, one thought lingers above the rest. It’s like a constant static shock somewhere near the top of my spine. What will I say to The Writer? I promised myself to talk to him the next time I see him. Talk about everything. And that time is tonight. I don’t know where to begin. What I have to say is simple. The situation? Not so much.

I start my car. Before I switch gears into reverse, Clark calls. Relieved, I turn off the engine and remove the keys from the ignition. “Hello?” “Hey buddy, what’s up?” I used to hate it when people called me buddy, but Clark has the kind of authority where it doesn’t bother me. “I was just calling to check in with you,” Clark continues. “Oh, I’m just heading to Wolf’s party,” I tell him. “Cool, me too. I’ll see you there then,” he says conclusively. “Great! Can’t wait.” It’s extremely comforting knowing Clark will be there. He always has my back one way or another, and my back is going to be rather exposed this evening. Especially because I’ve decided not to drink, given my not feeling so hot.

I arrive at Wolf’s about an hour after the party kicked off. But the sun is still glimpsing over the horizon…a sign that I’m here too early. I knock on Wolf’s door, and no one answers. I hear people around back though, so I let myself in. My eyes dart around searching for Turtle first. Turtle has the temperament of a scorned overweight junior high cheerleader, and while he doesn’t pose any real threat to me, I’d prefer to steer clear. Number two on my search-and-avoid list is The Writer and/or his ex. I haven’t met Dalton, but I’ve seen pictures, so I know what he looks like. I feel some kind of weird kinship with him. He’s what came before. Deep down, I pray to whatever someone like me would pray to that Dalton flaked out and The Writer would come solo. It would take a lot of stress of the agenda I have for the evening. And it’s not too much of a stretch, especially considering Wolf and Dalton never really seemed tight. And finally, Warren. At this point, I’ve come to believe he’s insane. Like truly unstable. As luck would have it, not a single one of them is present. By the time I make it through the house and onto the back patio, I know I’m in the clear. That’s when I realize…my anxiety about who would be there was misplaced. What I should have been worrying about was who wouldn’t be there. I don’t recognize anyone except Mr. Wolf, and it’s his party.

Wolf and I haven’t really spoken in a couple weeks, and all of a sudden I feel guilty. Other than a couple of simple misunderstandings, he’d always been very genuine and kind toward me. Not to say that I plan to rekindle our fling, but I displaced frustration I had with myself onto him. My shoulders tense up and my breathing becomes shallow. That’s when Wolf notices me. I do have impeccable timing like that. “Hallo, you!” I give him a weak smile and a strong hug. “Happy Birthday,” I muster up with appropriate sincerity. “I see you’re cooking. Your favorite!” I inch closer. “Well, grilling but yes.” He has to correct me. If I wasn’t so uptight at the moment, I’d find it charming. I even go as far as to grin but imagine my expression looks more like a wince. As more people arrive, Wolf greets them, and I stand, watching for a moment unsure what to do with myself. I lean on one leg and pull out my phone, pretending to text someone like I used to do at high school parties where no one wanted to talk to me. I’m literally making myself crazy. My shoulders are so tense, they’re practically touching my ears, and I think of more things, more reasons why I can’t free myself from the man I care for so deeply:

16. He’s the only person I’ve ever liked sleeping next to.
17. He made me fall in love with cuddling.
18. How weak I’ve become to not give that up.
19. How hard he tries to do right by me.
20. How often he fails.

I hear a laugh. That’s when I snap out of it. Clark and Noah are sitting at the table right behind me. My chest heaves a heavy sigh. I slap on a smile, which I hope is big enough to blanket my enormously exposed insecurities. “Hey cuz,” Noah says with a wink. I bend over to give him a hug before embracing Clark. He hops over to sit on the cooler, offering me his seat. “You’re the best,” I tell him. “What have you been up to?” He asks me. I tell him about New York and we talk family matters, which calms my nerves. Then Noah interrupts to introduce a friend. “I don’t think you’ve met The Model,” Noah says. I turn to shake his hand and nearly swallow my Adam’s apple. The Model is gorgeous. Perfect teeth. Perfect hair. Perfect skin. Perfect jaw. Everything. The reason I’m really so faint though is his uncanny resemblance to Jake, the first boy I ever fell for. Same facial hairline, beauty mark on the same spot on his cheek, exact hue of his eyes. Noah elbows me, getting the wrong idea. The Model, just like Jake, is way out of my league. And for those of you tuning in, I’m buried under a mountain of someone else’s emotional rubble. “H-hi,” I sputter. “Nice to meet you,” The Model says, making me feel much more comfortable. The four of us carry on some conversation, and I mostly say things that make me feel stupid. I actually feel kind of drunk despite not drinking anything but water.

When I feel I’ve worn out my welcome with the people I know, I do the rounds…only to discover I know no one else. I recognize a couple of lesser-known actors, who I have a lot of respect for but can’t summon up the courage to introduce myself. Everyone’s mingling, so I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes. Where is The Writer?

21. He uses wipes instead of toilet paper.
22. He only takes baths.
23. If he was here, I’d probably be just as quiet. But I’d be content just standing beside him.
24. He expects me to wait.
25. But doesn’t care if I don’t Read the rest of this entry »


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