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February 4, 2012

There are two things I will always remember about my grandfather: he always wore red pullovers, and he had an extraordinarily specific scent to his presence. The scent closely resembled shaving cream but was entirely more distinct, and it drenched those pullovers.

They say scent triggers the strongest associations in the brain. When Pop Pop died, all my mom wanted was one of his red pullovers. It was her inheritance, what she was left. I was young then, so I found it curious that in the following years, there would be moments in which I became spontaneously and utterly overwhelmed by Pop Pop’s scent. I wasn’t actually smelling him of course–it was some cerebral sense. But when it came, I’d be overcome by memories–more emotional than circumstantial. These instances would simply erupt. Sometimes the scent would bring me great comfort and euphoria. Then other times, it would be immobilizing. My mom used to tell little-me that it was his way of saying he missed me.

I was sitting at the movies today with a friend, and despite the total sensory overload that is Transformers, that inexplicable sense kicked in. But this time I smelled The Writer–his raw, oppressive scent. It’d been weeks since I longed for him, but all of a sudden I was sick in my seat, so instantly nauseous that I thought I’d have to run out. My stomach settled, but my nerves didn’t. That’s when I realized: he doesn’t miss me. Not at all. I wonder why it took me so long to figure that out.

As it turns out, the red pullover isn’t as cozy as it looked when I was growing up. But that’s not its function, not anymore.

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It’s Not Enough

January 30, 2012

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” -Marilyn Monroe

What is that noise? I think to myself. I decide it sounds like a car alarm and then realize I’m still asleep. I awaken to discover that it is in fact a car alarm. Pulling my comforter all the way over my head, I roll over. And up. There’s an incline on my bed. I’ve piled clothes and bags and pillows on the empty half. A few nights ago, I discovered a little trick based on the supposition that it’s harder to be lonely when there’s no empty space. It worked for the first few nights, but as many Grindr users know, tricks are fleeting.

Rubbing my eyes, I reach over and dislodge my computer from the small mountain of junk beside me. I’ve received precisely three emails from The Writer and zero calls or texts since the premiere party. I secretly hoped that he might show up out of stubbornness as some valiant apologetic gesture. But wishes like that are stupid, and wanting someone to be who they are not is doubly so. Checking my email, I see I’ve received a fourth message. His emails are slightly desperate pleas of forgiveness disguised as attention: “These outline notes are great.” “We should get lunch some time.” “I started reading your script.” The one I wrote on my birthday. Truthfully, I’m dying to know what he thinks. It’s the first completed piece of mine he’s read. This morning, I decide to cut him (and myself) a break. Besides, a free meal sounds pretty nice to this unemployed homo. Read the rest of this entry »


Birthday Bashed

January 24, 2012

“And I’m up while the dawn is breaking, even though my heart is aching. I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians.” –Elvis Costello

A couple days later, it’s my birthday. I get up early and take my friends to the bus station. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?” They ask. They’re leaving for San Diego this morning. “I would,” I tell them again, “but I don’t have the money, and I really want to look for a job.” But mostly, today, I want to get my head on straight and that means getting some work done.

After sitting in traffic for an hour, I arrive home and finish putting notes on the movie outline that I’ve been working on with The Writer. I email it to him before sending him a text, announcing that I had done so, along with an invitation to write with me this afternoon. Feeling highly productive, I continue on my writing streak and decide that today I will finish another script I’ve been working on, inspired by my college years.

After two hours, the nagging sensation from being ignored strikes my last nerve, and I can’t take it anymore. Why is he ignoring me? Doesn’t he realize it’s my birthday? A sliver of me is furious, but I bury that temperament as I dial him. The phone rings. And rings, and rings. I can feel my blood pressure rise as my call is about to go to voicemail—except he picks up at the last moment. “Hey, you.”

I’m knocked on my ass—so much for being vicious. “Hi,” I say. From the noise patterns of the call, I can tell he’s in the car. And from his tone, I can tell someone is with him. “What’s going on?” He asks. “I was just going to see if you wanted to get lunch and maybe write.” The feeling I have while waiting for his response is akin to the butterflies that come with an intimidating job interview. “I’m actually on my way to lunch right now. Actually, can I call you later?” Actually, I have no air left. “Shah,” I answer, unsure of which word I am trying to gasp out. BEEP BEEP BEEP.

So that’s it. I’m all alone 1:30 in the afternoon on my birthday, and that how the remaining ten and a half hours are looking. This is good though. I wanted to be productive. Loneliness and productivity are great lovers, so I take out a concentration pill, cut it in half and swallow. I examine the remaining half of the pill and think, Fuck it, before swallowing that part, too.

*     *     *

Hours later, I’m around page 42 when it starts to bother me again. He didn’t even acknowledge that it’s my birthday. I decide to call again. “Hey,” I say a bit more aggressively when he answers the phone. Now I’m feeling (and probably sounding) slightly desperate. But it’s my birthday. I can do whatever I want, right? Read the rest of this entry »


Prideful Flailing

January 9, 2012

“Things were getting worse faster than we could lower our standards.” –Carrie Fisher

It’s Pride weekend in WeHo and just a few days until my birthday. To help me celebrate, my two best girlfriends from high school come to visit for the weekend, which is extremely beneficial toward my sanity, whose status is currently “in flux.”

After showing the girls around town for a bit, we head back to the hotel where they’re staying and choose a place for dinner. “I think I’m going to invite The Writer,” I announce. The slight hesitation before their response indicates to me that they think this is a less than stellar idea. But I’m already aware of that, and I’m pretty sure they’re a little intrigued. A few minutes and a text conversation later, The Writer agrees to meet us.

The girls and I arrive at the restaurant a few minutes early, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous. Partially because this whole thing is super fucked up. But also, I want my friends to like him. In some weird way, he’s like a badge of honor.

By the time we’re seated, The Writer still hasn’t shown. I get a text from Trick Bradley: “I’m wasted in WeHo.” “Good job!” I respond. That is what you’re supposed to do during Pride, after all.

The Writer is now fifteen minutes late, and I’m a little irked. Finally, he bustles in with his dumb grin, and slightly mismatched outfit. I know this look; it’s the haven’t-done-laundry-in-a-month. He spouts out about 50 words in ten seconds—a mixture of an apology for being late, annoyance about the status of LA traffic/parking, and what a lovely restaurant this is. His grievances melt into an introduction to my friends. I’m interested to see how this goes.

As the conversation starts, The Writer is surprisingly normal. I find myself at a loss or words, but that is how a good observer is supposed to behave, right? I get another text from Bradley: “I’m with David. We’re getting back together.” David is Bradley’s ex, who he’s been heartbroken over the past couple of months. Only, I’m confused: “Wasn’t David with his boyfriend as of yesterday?” His response? “We’re in a three-way relationship.” Gay polygamy—now there’s something to write home about!

Focusing my attention back to the matter at hand, I find myself astonished. The Writer is giving insightful advice about the menu items without sounding like a major doucher. After we order, he starts into engaging, knowledgeable discussion about the universities my friends attended. Who is this person? He’s unbelievably charming and an exceptional conversationalist.

You know that imaginary competition that people have when the break up? If one person lets himself go or gets a fugly new lover, you know you’ve won? Read the rest of this entry »


Thank You Should Go

December 24, 2011

“Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.” –Tender is the Night

The Writer calls me the next day. When his name pops up on the screen, I ignore the call. My life was one way before and today it’s not. It wasn’t my choice, and that makes me feel helpless. I’ve recoiled.

The voicemail he leaves is concerning the movie pitch that we’re supposed to write together, so I give it a few minutes then call him back. “Hey,” he exclaims like a little boy, excited to hear from his father who’s been away on a business trip. “Do you want to come over and work on this outline?” “Sure. When?” “Come now.”

It’s rush hour, so it takes me almost an hour to get there instead of the usual ten minutes. He texts me as I pull up in front of his house: “Are you still coming?” I ignore it, as I hustle up the front steps. When I ring the doorbell, the door opens almost immediately. It’s Dalton, his ex. I choke Read the rest of this entry »


Guess Who’s Coming to Party

December 22, 2011

“I believe we’re all in denial about the people we love.” -David Geffen

I was wrong. Things didn’t get better. The next day, I survived the worst hangover I’d had in years and have since remained thoroughly unemployed. But I’m determined to pick myself back up. I continue to go without seeing The Writer and do my best not to correspond with him. And it works. Sort of. Despite being in an unprecedented state of denial, I find myself manically productive and thriving socially. Between my strengthening friendships and returned interest to forging ahead on my career, I don’t even think about The Writer. Until I get home at the end of each night, and I lie down in my cold, empty bed. I find him in my dreams. He infects the thoughts I am already thinking the moment I awake each morning. That, plus I find myself spooning my clumped-up comforter. It’s a surprisingly decent lover despite its lack of body heat.

But even as he’s not here with me, I cannot seem to fathom my not waking up with him.

*     *     *

It’s Sunday afternoon, and my friend Cash gives me a call. “Man, I haven’t seen you in forever!” He says. “What are you up to?” I ask. “Smoking a bowl at home, you should come.” “I’m good,” I answer. “Well, I’m headed up your way later to go to a party. You should come with,” Cash tells me.  I agree and we meet at a trendy build-your-own burger joint around six.

“The sweet potato fries are delicious,” he tells me an insisty kind of way. The waitress approaches and greets us. Cash puts his serious black man face on and very directly inquires about the exotic burger sauces. After answering, she pauses then nervously opens her mouth. “You’re a no bullshit kind of guy, aren’t you?” “You know it,” Cash says. I start cracking up. Cash concludes about 80% of his sentences with laughter. “Oh, and this bitch will have himself some sweet potato fries,” he says melting into a chuckle. “Don’t tell me what to order,” I say in a mock-catty way. “I’m paying. You’re poor.” “That’s so sweet of you,” I say.

By the time the food arrives, we have caught up. “So what exactly are we doing tonight?” “We’re going to my friend’s birthday party.” “Who’s your friend?” I ask. “Dalton…The Writer’s ex. Have you met him?”  “Where is it going to be?” I ask without answering him. “The Writer’s house.” I look around like I’m about to make a dash for the door before realizing I’m only in a restaurant. “I can’t go,” I say with a certain amount of urgency. “Why not? You get a booty call or Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


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