Plaisir


Curiosity Made The Gay Boy Really Uncomfortable: Part I
May 5, 2009, 5:53 AM
Filed under: Bi-curiosity, Binge Drinking, Sex

A college boy can be summed up in a few words and a few words only: beer, women, sports, more beer, and if at all possible, more women.  They chant, they screech, they throw things, butt heads like rams, arm wrestle, and “get pumped up” until they’re a goddamn Goodyear blimp.  This is, of course, a stereotype.  A specific one, actually.  One I have dubbed “The Doobra.”  Pronounced “doo-braaahh” (with strong emphasis on the ‘ahh’, although I’m sure you already knew that), this creature counts for about 85% of all male college students.  They are generally really attractive with horrible personalities.  They travel in packs of three to ten, and are usually the reason you wake up at night to a loud crashing noise outside your bedroom window.

So what about the other 15%?  Well, they love to drink as well, of course.  But the rest can be summed up as artistic, socially apathetic (which can be confused with artistic, but they have no actual talent), stoners (nearly the same as socially apathetic), and…my personal favorite…the confused.

We’re all confused in one way or another.  Some are confused about their social identity and wonder where they belong on the stereotype spectrum.  Others wonder about their place in life and if they’ve chosen the right path for themselves.  And then there’s the sexually confused.  The people who see a penis and a vagina on a menu, and have to consult the waiter to see which is more palatable.  The men and women of the world who have a desire to explore another body of their own kind, even if it’s just once, to see if what all the hype was about.

And me?  I’m here to help.

Beginner’s Luck

I had never, quote “popped a straight cherry”,  in my life until one fateful night at a random party in Shorewood.  In fact, even though I thought straight men were usually more attractive than gay men, I could never have the courage to make a pass at one, for fear of humiliation and wedgies.  But after that night, I decided it was much easier than it looked.

My friend Andrea and I had begun the night like we did most Friday nights: Fleischmann’s.  For the most part, I was surveying the party grounds and being a wallflower, sipping my drink casually while Andrea chatted.  Eventually, one of the guys playing beer pong in the living room caught my eye.  He was shorter than me, with blonde curly hair that poked out of his hat, a goofy smile that he wore adorably, and powerful green eyes.  I soon learned his name was Nate.  Nate.  Straight.  Straight Nate.  ‘Oh great,’ I thought, ‘Go figure.  The only guy I find attractive here is a muff diver, as usual.’

All hope was not yet lost, however.  Drinking has this wonderful ability to make you so uninhibited, that you actually regret saying things the minute they come out of your mouth.  In contrast, it also gives you the power say things you probably never would have said while you were sober.  And for me, at least, at the time, this was a good thing.  I had opened my sloppy, drunk mouth to one of the other girls at the party about Nate.  She beamed, “That’s so cute!”

I frowned.  ‘That’s so cute’ is not an answer.  ‘That’s so cute’ tells me nothing.  I decided to take the matter into my own hands.  I saw Nate sitting casually on the futon, so I casually sat down next to him to strike up conversation.  I believe the first words out of my mouth were, “I really like this song.”  Apparently, that was enough for him.  He stared hard at me for a second.  The next thing I know, we were making out on the futon at the party.  I’ll let your imagination run free as to what else happened that evening, but I’ll throw some random details in to help the process along: bathroom sink, creaky futon, pancakes in the morning.

We saw each other for about a month after that.  Nate was wonderful to me.  He was attentive, caring, and very good at the “extra-curriculars” as well.  He knew how to handle me when I was being unreasonable, and how to make me even happier when I was feeling great.  So what happened?  Another one.  A different one.  A much, much more confusing one.

Love and Real Estate

If I had to use one word to describe the relationship between Ian and I, it would be this: ridiculous.

Ian is, in a sense, perfect.  He’s smart, sophisticated, sexy, stylish, and a whole lot of other ‘s’ words.  He’s passionate and powerful and…well, you get the idea.  The one thing he’s not?  Gay.

I met Ian after my break up with Dave.  And when I say “after”, I mean almost immediately after.  In fact, as awful as this sounds, I was seeing Ian while I was still in the process of moving out of Dave’s apartment and finding my own.  In retrospect?  A horrible thing to do.  But worth it?  Abso-fucking-lutely.

When Ian and I would meet, it would be strictly for sex.  He would always tell me how hot I was and how he only wanted to fuck me.  There’s only a certain amount of crap I can believe after someone’s had one too many gin and tonics, but it’s nice to hear, just the same.  We were rendez-vousing almost weekly for about three months, and then the visits became more sparing.  Eventually by December of 2007, we were almost completely out of contact.

In February, I saw him again.  We had sex, but afterwards, I discussed a possibly relationship with him.  He laughed, “You know how hot you are?”  He answered a question with a question.  Wonderful.  I smirked, “Yes, but I never tire of hearing it.”  I kissed him, and then changed course, “I just think that maybe it would be something to try out.  I think we have really good chemistry, and you aren’t seeing any girls right now…so why not?”

He sighed heavily, “Chris, look…I don’t have time for a relationship.  You know I would if I could but…I just can’t.  I really hope you understand.”  It sounded like I was being let go from a job rather than a relationship, but that’s exactly what happened.  After that, Ian went on hiatus for another month.

During this month, I was seeing Nate.  While Nate was a welcome distraction from my feelings for Ian, I had to end it with Nate BECAUSE of my feelings for Ian.  After I broke up with him, I called Erin immediately and told her everything.  “Wow…it sounds like you’re problems are just getting worse and worse…all these boys all over you.  Whatever will you do?”  I told her I’d call her when her PMS forecast wasn’t calling for so much sarcasm.

The next day, I did the last thing you should do to a random straight guy you’ve been sleeping with for almost a year.  I called him and told him I thought I was in love with him.  Ian, the slippery devil, knew exactly what to say to me, which made him sound incredibly insincere.  Still, overall, he said he had still wanted to see me.  Just not right now.  I hung up and sat on my front steps.  I had lost the magic, and I was worried it was never coming back.




Becoming Beautiful
March 9, 2009, 4:25 AM
Filed under: Misery and Woe, Sex, Soul-Searching

Preface to “Becoming Beautiful”

While I’m not without my dramatic side, I’ll have you know that this blog is unacceptably emotional, not to mention atypical of me to write in the first place.  I just wanted to get that out of the way.

That being said, these feelings, at least at one point, were legitimate.  The blog was written the day after the event being discussed, so it’s rather choppy and nonsensical, but I kind of like it that way.  I was torn about even posting this for fear of judgment or even worse, sympathy.  This isn’t meant to tug at your heartstrings and make you feel bad for me.  If anything, this is for myself.  I’m hoping and praying that in a month or so, I’ll re-read this and rear my head in laughter.

I’ll also have you know that this situation has now completely passed, and I have had ample time to heal after the damage it’s done.  I am no longer the broken man who wrote this blog.  If anything, I am stronger, more resilient, and more capable than before.  I am posting this to remind myself of this time of weakness, because even though I was at such a low, there is something to be gained from taking a microscope to yourself.  You learn a lot.  And who knows?  Maybe you will too.

Becoming Beautiful

I was having a phone conversation with my little sister and, like most of our conversations, the topic of the day was men. I enjoy these conversations with my sister; while we have very different tastes in men, our approach with them is usually the same. We both tend to become involved quickly, letting our hearts do the talking while silencing our better judgment, only to get burned in the end. And as they say, misery loves company, so whenever something in a relationship goes awry, I dial her number and let the commiseration begin.

I brought up in passing that a man had recently told me I was beautiful, and at this, she giggled. “I’m sorry,” she said, “It’s just strange to hear a guy call another guy beautiful I guess.” I couldn’t blame her. Even for me it was a word I wasn’t accustomed to hearing. Cute, yes. Sexy, sometimes. But beautiful? It’s a rare word in the gay community, so her confusion was understandable, and on almost all levels, relateable. “Yeah, well,” I began, “It’s nice to hear sometimes.” To this she responded, “Yeah, I guess it would be.”

Excluding friends, family, and random drunk middle-aged men I met at Switch, I have only been called beautiful twice in my life. Whether I believed the statement or not, it was still said, which, oddly enough, made it that much harder to believe. Beautiful is a trigger word. For me, it’s all I need to hear. Once said, I’m a lap dog, a trained animal, willing to do anything to please the man who delivered the word. I mean, I may throw the word “love” around like a dollar store frisbee, but the word beautiful is reserved for the special people. My mother, for example. My best friends. My entire family. Bjork. It’s an elite squadron of those who are not just aesthetically attractive, but also impactive on my life in a positive and healing way.

“So, this is the plan…we should just be friends. Nothing more. It wouldn’t work.”
“Yeah, I know…”

During the third or fourth month of mine and Dave’s relationship, he announced that he would be going to the Bahamas. Naturally, I was excited and couldn’t wait to take off school for a week of tanning, sight-seeing, and fizzy umbrella drinks. Of course, he had to reiterate that HE would be going to the Bahamas, not WE. While I was upset, I had to realize that I couldn’t even afford to pay Dave rent at the time, and I was foolish for assuming that he would have floated me the money for a ticket. Still, I was excited for him, but I also knew I would miss him, especially because we had just begun living together and I still felt like a stranger in the apartment.

Before I moved in, Dave had a roommate named Aaron. Aaron, on the surface, was likable enough, but he never formally introduced himself. In fact, whenever I was around, he, deliberately it seemed, made himself inconspicuous. It was as if he was camouflaged: sometimes I thought I might have saw something move, but usually I’d tell myself it was a trick of the light. It wasn’t until he spoke, murmuring a small, “Hey” or “What’s up?” that I would freak out, wondering where the hell he came from. Aaron was basically lint that graciously paid utilities with baby blue checks.

Aaron also had a cat named Milo. I assumed Aaron bought Milo to make up for the personality that Aaron lacked. For the first few weeks, Milo was viciously attentive, hopelessly adorable, and mind-boggling noisy. He always had something to say; it was almost as if Aaron had was using ventriloquism with Milo as his dummy to assert his authority in the house. Of course, it didn’t work, because Dave and I just saw Milo as a rowdy cat rather than a force to be reckoned with.

When Dave left, I was heartbroken. I didn’t go to school the entire week, which was not a smart move, because all that meant was that I was going to have to avoid Aaron’s passiveness and also Milo’s aggressiveness. I confined myself to our room for the majority of the week, sleeping until 4PM, escaping my dungeon for a quick bite to eat, and then sitting there for a few hours staring at the wall, wondering how many more hours I had to sleep before Dave returned.

“I have to be honest…I don’t regret what happened that night, do you?”
“I…can’t answer that.”

Dave came back right on schedule with a bag full of presents for me. They were all small and slightly hokey, but it was the sentiment that counted. After our break up, I threw away the shirt and the license plate with my name on it, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the mug that said “I ❤ My Soldier.” In fact, I still use it sometimes. You would think that after such a painful time in my life, that using it would only bring me more pain. It’s actually the opposite.

That night, Dave and I didn’t have sex. We did, however, share one of the most passionate moments of my lifetime. For the most part, our clothes stayed on, which was exciting because I knew that we were both dying to tear them off of each other. He kissed me, and I sunk into the kiss, letting him take command. He molded me, like putty, into whatever he wanted me to be in the moment, and I more than happy to oblige him. About an hour in, he stopped and looked at me with his crystalline blue eyes completely ablaze. It was the only time I ever saw that look from him. And it was right before he said, “God, you are so beautiful.”

“I meant it when I said that I think you’re a beautiful person. You are.”

To say one is beautiful is romantic. It’s beautiful in and of itself. To say someone is a beautiful person is a let down. Beautiful is all-encompassing. It’s like saying, “Wow, that car is fantastic!” as opposed to “Wow, that car is a fantastic blue!” Beauty is like talent. You’re just born with it. Saying someone is a beautiful person implies that it is a learned skill, something they have achieved, rather than something they were bestowed with.

“You told me I was beautiful. It’s not something I hear very often, you know.”

After Dave and I broke up, I became the gay man I promised myself I would never be. I was going out bar hopping at the age of 18, meeting guys, charming them, and fucking them. Then I would sit by the phone, hoping they would call, and they never did. Ignorance might not be bliss, but it’s certainly a welcome distraction from harsh reality. For a year, I was a revolving door. People would find me, come inside me, and then leave. For them, it was just another venue they yearned to explore. But what is there to explore when you’re the destination?

My relationships, or as I like to call them “jokes”, during that period were full of turmoil and disarray. Even when I was having fun and enjoying myself with someone, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would do the same as so many others had done to me. My trust in men and in people in general faltered. For a while, I lost the so-called spark that others had seen in me, and I became almost stationary. Stationary until someone found a use for me, and whether it was awful or painful, whether they were ugly or boring, I was grateful for the attention. I was glad that someone, if even just for an hour, had found use for my body, which was becoming less of a body and more like a piece of furniture you’d find at a rummage sale.

“That’s like that hat you were wearing when I saw you.”
“What?”
“When I first saw you. You were wearing a hat just like that.”
“You remember that?”

In March of last year, for some unexplained reason, I bought a fedora. It wasn’t expensive, or even anything special, but it made me feel proud, powerful, almost. It was black and white with a dangerously low brim that I would tilt to cover my face like I was a mobster carrying a venomous secret. When I was at ASQ, the ladies all called it my “pimp hat.” I embraced the title graciously, since even pimps are regarded highly to some, even if it is just their whores.

Shortly after buying it, my roommate Brittney asked me if I wanted to go to the Pancake House with her and our other roommate Jessie. I decided to go, donning my new outfit, fedora and all. My other friend and old roommate Hannah also worked there, and when we sat in her section, she was elated that we had decided to visit. A few minutes into my conversation with Hannah, and something else caught my attention, and it wasn’t the Canadian bacon.

A man walked by across the room. Usually when I see an attractive man, I get all flustered and excited. But this was a different feeling. A wrenching, sinking pain. The pain, however, only catalyzed my interested in him, as did his smile, which was almost too breathtaking to handle. Finally, I snapped my eyes back to Hannah, “Hannah…who…who is that?”

The man and I didn’t talk or see each other for a year after that. And then as what I like to call “rigged chance” would have it, we ended up meeting again and befriending each other.

“Are you still with him?”
“Yeah…but…C.J. I don’t want to be.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do anything unless you end things with him.”

The friendship continued, flourished even. I began to realize that not only was he stunning and sexy, but he was funny, charismatic, genuine, and a great conversationalist. I was falling for him, but of course, there were strings attached.

“I’m not looking for anything serious. I just want to spend time with you.”

I ended up telling him my feelings for him at the end of December, after we had hung out a few more times. Of course, I was completely drunk, but I was also curiously lucid: the conversation lasted for two hours, no tears, no hurt feelings. Just mature conversation. I felt better, and we were going to remain friends.

“When we had that conversation, I thought that was my closure.”

Closure is not real. You tell yourself that you talked and “got closure.” Nothing is ever finished. People walk into your life, and they walk out. But more than likely, they’ll walk right back in again, at the worst moment, looming over your head, punishing you with remembrance, with feelings, with emotions. Closure is what we call the end of a chapter. Death is the end of the book. I suggest not confusing the two.

“I’m going to be giving you so much attention in a few minutes.”

I’m incredibly naive, and apparently, easy to please. Drop a few lines on me, and I’ll become soft and malleable in any situation. When he and I had started hanging out more, this was one of the many messages I had received that made me malleable. But this one stood out in my head. Maybe because he realized I wasn’t really enjoying myself where we were. Or maybe because he was anxious to be with me. Regardless, I had intended on keeping this text no matter what, because I was amazed at the sweet perception of it. But a week later, I deleted it.

“Can I…try something?”
“Sure.”

And he did. Our first kiss was incredible. Wonderful. Exactly how I thought it would be.

“I didn’t come here for this. I just wanted to spend time with you. You’re so smart and sexy and beautiful.”

Beautiful.

We awoke the next morning. He fully intact, me ripped to pieces. What could I have done? I saw that same look in his eye as I did with Dave. Or maybe it wasn’t the same. But he still said it. And I wanted to believe him. So I forgot my sanity and my intelligence and everything I knew about the situation. I suddenly didn’t care. Now I was living with the reality of my decision.

“I’ve had guys tell me that they could see themselves spending the rest of their lives with me.”
“Well, don’t worry, I don’t think that.”
“I know.”
“I’m not like all the rest of them, you know.”
“I know.”
“I think you’re an amazing person.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Well, I do, I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want to hear it.”

It wasn’t that I couldn’t stand to be without him. It wasn’t that I wanted to even be with him. But to hear the word and not have the option was too much to bear. He may have said I was, but did he have any idea what he was saying? Beautiful. To him, it was just another word.

Him: “I’m sorry, but, I’m getting tired.”
Me: “No, it’s fine. I get it.”
Him: “But we’re not done talking about this.”
Me: “No. We aren’t.”
Him: “Alright.”
Me: “You’re going to be fine.”
Him: “I know. We both will.”
Me: “That’s right, we will.”

I left the car, feeling like the right decision was made, and in the end, it was. But the emotions were stabbing at my eyes, burning my retinas, and as soon as I entered the house, I began to sob uncontrollably. It had been such a long, drawn out process. So full of hopes and texts and closures and dinners and laughs…and it amounted to what? One night. One night, and I still have no idea what to make of it.

(I almost excluded this next part from the blog. I felt that this was almost too personal, that it was something that I never wanted anyone to know I did. But I thought about it. Yes, it was humiliating. Yes, I’m ashamed. But I still did it. And talking about it can only help.)

Later that night, I laid on my bed and began to take my clothes off, slowly. My shirt, followed by my shoes, socks, pants, and finally my underwear. I stopped for a moment, letting the hot tears roll down my cheeks and onto the pillow. And then, gently, I touched myself. Within minutes, I was pleasuring myself. Screen shots of the week before were flashing through my head.

“Can I try something?”
“Do you want to go to your room?”
“You’ll be wearing…just…your…tie.”
“Ohh, CJ…”

I orgasmed. I laid back again, taking in the scene, my body. I examined the crevices and imperfections. The twirly and straight hairs that peppered my chest and stomach. The blemishes on my arm, the scars on my thigh. And just like that, I began to cry again. I didn’t cry for him. I didn’t cry for anyone. I cried because I was beautiful. In that moment, even with everything that had happened, I was still beautiful.

“You’re so smart and sexy and beautiful.”

Now I believe him. I just can’t see why he didn’t want it. I can’t see why nobody does.



Food For Thought
February 18, 2009, 4:04 PM
Filed under: Adolescence, Food and Beverages, Indulgence

I was lying in bed earlier this week reading, as I usually do before I lay my head to rest, when I realized something.  I took my hand out of the popcorn that I had been scarfing down while perusing David Sedaris’ new book and thought to earlier times this week when I had readied myself for bed.  Today it was popcorn I had been munching on, but the night before it was cheese.  A block of cheese, cheddar actually, sharp and creamy.  The night before that it was peanut butter and jelly.  I even recall laying down with a small tin of lasagna, all of which I had devoured before I got through one chapter.

Eating is fun for most, and with me it’s no different.  It’s a hobby almost.  I enjoy trying new things.  New tastes,
new flavors, new textures.  However lame this may sound, it’s kind of thrilling.  Show me a menu with dishes
I can’t pronounce, and I’ll show you one massive credit card charge.

I had always been this way, ever since I can remember.  But there was a point where it was difficult to control, almost impossible.  Whenever I would play video games, I would eat.  Before or after practicing clarinet, eat. T.V.?  You bet there were chips in my lap.  Movie?  Not without the Jiffy Pop.  Outings, sporting events, family gatherings…you could always find me, as long as you followed the smell of freshly baked cookies.

It had gotten so bad that my parents actually restricted what I was allowed to eat and when.  This of course, never stopped me, as I was a crafty child, but not a very subtle one, unfortunately.  Yes, I could certainly hunt and retrieve my prey and return to my lair in the basement, but the evidence I left behind was mounting.  It’s hard to lie
when an entire unopened box of Fruit Roll Ups are suddenly gone and your mom finds six wrappers in your favorite pair of blue jeans on laundry day.  Everyone knows how they got there.

One night, after these food restrictions had been made, my mom had, per usual, passed out during a marathon of Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet.  I could always count on Sundays for pillaging.  My mother would be conked out by seven and my father upstairs on the computer or reading shortly after.  It was always then that I made my move.  I specifically remember seeing a new pack of  Ho-Ho’s in the cabinet when my mom asked me to grab the chili pepper while making dinner.  I had to be smart about this though: since the package was unopened, I had to immediately make my lunch after and slip on in so that everyone in the house would assume that they were used for lunches, which was indeed their purpose.

I crept into the kitchen, sensing only argument from my Collie-Lab mix, Sheba.  Not so much argument as genuine wonder.  And with a  beautifully stupid look in her eye, she followed me with her head cocked to the other half of the kitchen, hoping that if she was my partner in crime, she would somehow get a cut of the spoils.  But because she was a dog, she had no clue how I operated.  With me, it’s every man, woman, and canine for themselves.

I silently climbed the first step of the stairs to see if I could clicking from the computer room.  After a few seconds, I had decided that my father was probably in his room with the fan on, and couldn’t hear the debauchery taking place below him.  The worst thing about our snack cabinet was that it squeaked.  Not creaked or even slammed, but squeaked.  And this was no gentle rubber ducky squeak.  It was the squeak from Hell; The noise of a thousand chipmunks begin hung by their necks.  Open the cabinet in the middle of the night, and there was on off chance
that you’d wake the neighbors.  This was always my biggest problem.  When my family was preoccupied with other things, there would be bustling about the house, and the noise would be swallowed by the drone of casual everyday life.  But on a Sunday, it was the emphasis.  A loud, crackling fanfare, alerting the house that there was an intruder preparing to scarf down some snack cakes.

I had one of two options: open the door as fast as I could, or open the door as slow as I could.  Both had their own unique appeal,  but in the end, the same noise would be made.  If it was a fast swing, it was usually amplified, and dogs around the neighborhood would burst into song.  If it was slow, the noise would be drawn out, giving too much time for other ears in the house to figure out what the hell was making the racket.  I opted for slow because it seemed more stealthy and spy-esque.

I peeled back the wood, praying to God that someone had the decency to treat the hinges with WD-40 earlier in the afternoon.   The noise was both strained and somewhat gentle, like a soft fart on a leather couch cushion.  It was just enough to make me pause before I searched the cabinet.  It was also just enough for my father to leave the computer room and come storming down the stairs.

Of course, the spanking I received for being a deviant wasn’t enough humiliation for me.  Sheba, even though she had essentially been an accessory to the crime, got to watch jauntily, as if it were a new game she had never played.  I could tell what her inner monologue was saying though: “See, if you would have promised me a snack cake, we could have gone through this together.”  I suppose I’m just a lone wolf when it comes to boxed desserts.

By my senior year in high school, I had lost a considerable amount of weight.  I was much taller, yes, but the most noticeable thing to me was my clavicles.  They were strong, protruding, almost desperate to escape my body, believing there was something better for them out there in the real world, outside all of the tissue and blood.  They were proud, poised, and slightly gallant.  Even with the body image issues I was trying so hard to work on, I could take one look at my clavicles and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

After my break up with Dave, I began a downward slump in food consumption.  That is, when you live in an attic in Riverwest, it’s safe to say you probably can’t afford Ahi tuna every night.  My grocery cart consisted purely of bread, cans of tuna, and Ramen noodles.  I would usually only eat once a day, after work, mostly to conserve the food, and spend the rest of my night reading, wishing that I had a tin of lasagna to keep me company.

Because I literally couldn’t afford food, my weight dropped from a stable one-thirty-five to a Mary-Kate one-twenty.  My ribs resembles marimba blocks and my pants would sigh and sag if I walked anywhere.  I felt healthy, of course, but I could tell that I wasn’t.  There was, fortunately, a cure, but I wouldn’t discover it until I moved into 1811.

For whatever reason, I was completely against marijuana in high school.  I had only been offered once, my freshman year, and I immediately turned it down.  I was positive that even one puff would make me sink into a depressive haze.  I would become lazy overnight, eating mayo on my Doritos and growing dreads.  To me, weed turned decent, civilized people into zombies that laughed at window shutters and slept until four in the afternoon.

When I moved into 1811, I felt no different.  When my current roommate Brittney asked me if I smoked weed, I kindly told her no, and that was the end of it.  But all it took was one bad day for me to change my mind.  I came home from work, angry and agitated, most likely from something Marie or Christine said.  Brittney, Jessie, Alex, and Ju Muthafuckin’ Bizzle were all smoking out of a bong in the living room when I came home.  When I told Brittney about my day, a strange grin covered her face: “Well, you could just smoke, it will definitely make you feel better.”

For whatever reason, I didn’t have to think twice.  Once all of the finer points of using a bong were explained to me, I lit it and took a rip.  It left a heavy, sinking feeling in my lungs and tasted like burnt graham crackers.  I didn’t feel very different, even as I began to discuss the way I liked to get fucked to Alex and as I devoured hot wing after hot wing.  Later in the evening, I raided my panty for anything I could possibly find, just wanting to taste something new and different in my mouth.  I ate and ate until I couldn’t eat anymore.  I went to bed that night and got the best sleep of my entire life.

Weed made a considerable dent in my bank account during the months to come.  I never bought it; I had no need to, since Jessie and Brittney were always well-stocked.  What actually made the dent was the munchies I got after smoking.  I checked my Pizza Shuttle account at the end February and learned that, even though I had no job and couldn’t afford rent, I had somehow managed to spend almost one hundred and fifty dollars in pizza, calzones, salads, and those little cheese curd things they serve with honey.  And that was just Pizza Shuttle.  There was still McDonalds, Chopstix, Jimmy John’s, Domino’s, and Zayna’s to consider.  Marijuana hadn’t turned me into a zombie, but it sure came close to turning me into a fat ass.

When I got my job at ASQ, I was making double then what I was at the Rep, so not only was take-out much more accessible, I felt less guilty ordering it.  By September, I stopped grocery shopping all together, living mostly off of the vending machine at work, the food court in the mall, and Pizza Shuttle for dinner.  Finally I could afford food, but I was still eating like it was going out of style, as if my five dollar and thirty two cent sub was the last five dollar and thirty two cent sub in the world, or at least the tri-city area.

Months later, here I am, eating just to fill time.  People tell me not to worry: “Have you seen yourself lately?  If anything, you need to eat a sandwich!”  I’m constantly asked by friends if I’ve begun any “unhealthy lifestyle choices.”  I shrug to this, since I feel like I’m starting a new one everyday, but if they mean laxatives or running eight miles a day, I have no interest in doing either.  Genetically, my family is prone to weight issues, and while all of the children in my family are stick thin, I can’t imagine this is going to last forever.

I decided to sit down and figure out why I associate sleep with eating, or why I associate reading with eating, or whatever it is.  What I found was strange and actually kind of unnerving.  Every night so far this week, I have eaten nothing before I went to sleep.  In fact, I’ve barely eaten anything at all.  It might have something to do with stress, but I, and doctors around the world, were probably under the impression that when you were stressed, you tended to eat more.  I, however, found out that I ate when I was content, happy, and reassured about things.  Once again, I get to be the exception to the rule.  Too bad I’m getting tired of it.

I think back to a simpler time when food was mostly used for enjoyment.  I ate Ring Pops because they were fun.  Mashed potatoes satisfied me.  And even Ramen noodles seemed like an adventure.  Now, food has become something I have to worry about.  I have to worry about having it, preserving it, not eating too much of it, not eating enough of it, eating the right kinds, realizing the wrong kinds…with all of this stress, I feel like I want to throw up my hands and start munching on grass.

I still love food.  Food is, and will probably always be, my one and only true love.  As they say, “There is no love that is more pure than the love of food.”  But food is a fickle lover.  The secret?  Coddle it before you go to bed, and chances are you’ll be able to make it through the night.



The Numbers Game
February 8, 2009, 8:59 PM
Filed under: Age and Maturity, Indulgence, Love and Relationships

“Age is just a number.”

This is a phrase I’m told frequently, usually by my subconscious or through newspaper clippings of the Anna Nicole ordeal.  I believe it, but that’s not saying much, since I tend to believe anything if it’s repeated enough.  When you think about it, age is almost too definitive.  People say to me, and to others, “Oh, can’t you just act your age?”  That’s when I wonder when the age etiquette handbook was released, and if I can still buy it in paperback.

I was having a cigarette upstairs with my new roomies, when one of them put her face into her hands.  When she emerged, the expression she had on was a mix of uncertainty and mirth.  She said: “Oh, man!  I can’t believe I’m going on a date with an eighteen year old!”  I’ll have you know this girl is twenty, hardly the correct age to yet be considered a cradle-robber or a cougar.  She begged others and herself to confirm that this date was a good idea.  Of course, trying to be as biased as possible, I told her that I had dated men with relatively large age gaps before, and we never really had problems, except for the fact that we were at completely different stages in our lives.  But eighteen and twenty was, at least in my eyes, the same word with a different spelling.

My other roommate said it best: “It’s not the number, but the maturity level.”  I can’t even begin to explain to you how true that statement was, but I suppose I’ll try.

In my past, I had the tendency to date older men.  We’re not talking hospice old, or even mid-life crisis old, but generally the man of interest was anywhere between four and ten years older than me.  I justified my apparently inexcusable choice by saying that I needed someone with a higher maturity level then the guys I dated who were my own age.  But in order for that to even be viable, I had to date someone who indeed was my age, otherwise the jig was up, and I would go from looking like a noble, headstrong young lad to a lonely teenager searching for a sugar daddy.

When I went on my first date with Thomas, I knew it was doomed from the start, because I didn’t treat the situation correctly.  I saw of him more as a lab rat than a boyfriend.  He was my test subject to prove to myself and, more importantly, others, that I was right.  I was too sophisticated, too witty, and too worldly to date someone my age.  My cockiness clouded my ability to even have a good time with him, but his cockiness made it impossible to want to try.

We went out for coffee at 10 PM, which used to be a normal coffee hour for me.  The conversation was carried, not surprisingly, by me.  Because I’m a big fan of flowing conversation, I won’t shut up if the guy across from me has nothing to add.  I’ll talk about seedless grapes, the hair on my knuckles, or even radiology, so long as there isn’t the awkward first date silence I dread so much.  But I honestly wonder sometimes which is more awkward: the silence, or the silly queen who goes into detail about his childhood love affair with orca whales.

During the conversation, Thomas was staring into his soup, which meant there was no eye contact.  ‘There’s one strike’ I thought.  If there had been something in the soup, a finger, a fly, a bone, I could have understood, and maybe even forgiven him.  But with this soup came no surprises.  It was chicken noodle, just as he had ordered.  What did he expect?  The soup to begin a whirlpool and suck him out of this horrible, miserable date he was on?  Not on my watch.

I spun the conversation toward music performance, a topic I can never fully cover, because no one ever wants to hear what I have to say.  I figured Thomas would interrupt me whenever he got too bored, as most men do, so I began my speech.  As soon as I mentioned I played the flute, he did indeed interrupt, but not with the comment I was expecting.

“Well, of course you play the flute.  You’re gay.”

I tried to hide my incredulity, but being a homosexual and an actor, that was no simple task.  I waited for a “Just kidding!” or “I was being sarcastic!”  All I got was him somberly spooning at his broth, as if it was his last meal before his happiness was finally sucked out by my constant jabbering.  The gall!  The nerve!  I wasn’t actually mad, in fact, I was secretly quite pleased.  This meant that I could go home and prove to all who doubted me that I was meant for something better than this.

“So, how did it go??”

“How do you think?  He was nineteen!”

They would all cringe, console me, and remind me not to waste my time unless the man I was with was finishing his doctorate.

I learned not too long after that date that it didn’t matter what degree a man, he could still be an immature dickweed.  About a month later, I had met the man that I, at the time, figured to be absolutely perfect for me.  His attractiveness was staggering, as was his passion in the bedroom.  His wit was sharper than mine, which took some getting used to, but I ended up actually enjoying laughing at someone elses’ jokes for a change.  He love classical music, poetry, and art.  He was bright, charismatic, opinionated, and strong-willed.  He was also twenty four with the demeanor of a sixteen year old.

Sal and I had our first date at Cafe Hollander.  I looked like a complete fool, which usually happens when I try to hard to impress someone.  It’s one of the most obvious statements you can possibly make that says, “I really like you, and I’m probably not worthy.”  It was exactly how I felt, but not how I wanted to look.  I ended up calling Erin before the date and I couldn’t shut up about how I knew that he was more attractive than I was, and that this was going to be a total disaster.  She promised me it wouldn’t be, but she said if it was, that I should try and steal his leftovers when he goes to the bathroom.

I was unbelievably nervous when he sat down, mostly because the anticipation of his arrival had made me even more skeptical about the date.  I could feel my armpits getting wetter and wetter every time I spoke.  I double-checked my sentences before I let them out, and I tried way so hard to plaster a smile to my face that my chin was actually trembling at one point.  I was no longer appeared to be a sophisticated young lad.  I appeared to be a heroin addict suffering severe withdrawal.

I nearly fell off my chair when he asked if I wanted to go back to his place for a drink.  A sensible first date answer, no matter how well it went, may have been a simple “Thank you, but no, my cat needs feeding.”  But this was no sensible first date, and I was no sensible person.  I graciously, almost eagerly accepted his offer, and we drove to his condo when we had finished eating.

His condo was exactly how I imagined it.  Nearly pristine, but not like a museum.  The architecture and furniture gave the impression that it had been lived in, but the cleanliness gave off a pompous air that smacked me across the face as I entered.  There was a breakfast bar, stainless steel everything, a fancy T.V., and of course, a balcony, for the finishing touch.  “Cigarette?” he asked, pointing to the balcony.  I nodded, the lump in my throat making it nearly impossible to talk.

I ended up spending the night that night.  Judge me all you want, but after three glasses of gin and tonics, an entire CD of Prokofiev, and a beautiful man constantly reminding you that you, as well, are beautiful, I’d like to see you try and take a bus home.  We saw each other the next day as well.  And the next.  And the next.  He quickly became a staple in my life, and for two weeks, we would call each other, not to see what day we would hang out again, but what hour.  We also attempted to do daily runs, something I killed immediately after we first tried it.  He was so regal and impressive on a treadmill.  I, however, looked like a greasy pig that needed a severe hosing down.

After the second week, Sal didn’t call.  For an entire week.  Day after day, I would call, my confusion slowly moving to suspicion, to anger, to a state of sheer panic.  It was unfair of him to say, when he finally did pick up, that I was being crazy and neurotic, since I wouldn’t have acted that way if he had just picked up the phone.  It’s the romantic equivalent of water-boarding.  It seems cute and harmless at first, and then…

When he finally did pick up the phone, I tried immensely hard not to scream at him for ignoring almost ten calls in six days.  Even before he began the sentence, I could tell by the tone of his voice, that it wasn’t going to end well.  Something was different about the way he spoke to me.  His manner was curt, almost business-like, and highly inappropriate for a break up conversation.  “Listen…this…just isn’t working out.”

I knew I should have just went home to feed my cat.  “Wait, what?  What…what did I do?”

He paused.  “Well, you didn’t really do anything.  It’s just…you’re still very young.  You have a lot to learn.  I just don’t feel like we fit, you know?”  What he meant, in uncertain words, was that I was immature.  I can’t always pride myself on my looks, or on my intelligence, and sometimes even on my own natural talents.  But the one thing I can pride myself on is my maturity level.  This set me into what Webster’s Dictionary defines as a “gay tizzy.”  I shouted.  I cried.  I begged.  I stomped all over what was left of my integrity, just to convince him to stay with me.  It’s not that I didn’t think I could live without him or anything crazy like that.  It was mostly because I wasn’t about to let a guy break up with me because I still had “growing up to do.”

In the end, all of my efforts were futile, and to a point, they made matters worse.  After the tears and the yelling, I was near positive that he thought I was even more immature than before.  At that point, I was too livid to give a damn.  We left it on what he would consider decent terms, and what I would consider “I need a shot” terms.  I drank myself into oblivion that evening, hoping that even just the stench of liquor on my breath would make me feel fulfilled.  Of course, all it did was make me puke.

I respected Sal in the days to come for handling the situation so well.  I was over it quicker than I thought I would be, but the bad news was that I would still have to see him, as some of my things were being held hostage at his condo.  I sent him an email while I was at work one day asking him nicely to return my favorite pink tie at once.  He obeyed, and said he would drop it off after work.

I walked up to his car and opened the door.  There he was, all grins as usual, and I could feel the lump in my throat rising, choking me.  “Hey,” I said.  He continued to smile.  Then, without warning, he started driving.  I shot him a strange look as he said to me:  “So, are you hungry?”

‘Do I even have a choice now?’ I thought.  Since I was kidnapped, things were, as usual, completely on his terms, and I continued to ride as a passenger.  We went to Beans and Barley where the conversation flowed seamlessly, as it usually did with us, and as the check came, he paid for it.  I objected, but only slightly, since he was, you could argue, the reason I had lost my entire helping of Qdoba nachos during the vodka binge.  ‘Eh, you owe me.’

Turns out, he never even brought the tie.  Which meant that we would have to return to the condo, the once active set of our former relationship, to retrieve it.  Saying that I was upset is an understatement; it was the last place I wanted to be.  Yet the butterflies that I had felt that night at Cafe Hollander were fluttering again.  I had seriously considered downing some antifreeze and killing all of the fluttery fuckers, but I couldn’t see a bottle anywhere.  It was probably in the trunk.

After we got the tie, he dropped me off and said he wanted to hang out Friday.  For some stupid reason, I nodded and smiled.  I justified it to myself by saying that I did have a fun time, and now we could just become really good friends.  I should have known better.  Two people who make the bed springs squeal that much can never become just good friends.

We ended up going for a “run” on Friday, so when I got over there, I was already dressed the part.  He however, was sprawled on the couch watching reruns of Golden Girls and looking sorry for himself.  I didn’t listen to Four Minutes the entire way over there just to join a pity party, but I asked anyway: “You okay?”

“Eh, I just…I don’t know, I don’t feel well.”  This wasn’t a statement.  It was a whine.  It was cute while we were dating.  Now, it seemed infantile and off-putting.

“Well, we don’t necessarily have to run.”  The honest truth was that I didn’t enjoy exercising with Sal.  I don’t enjoy exercise at all really.  For me, it has to be cleverly disguised, like putting a pill in a hot dog for the family dog.

“We will.  But can we just finish up watching this?  It just started.”

“Sure.”

I sat on the opposite side of the couch purposely, which annoyed both him and myself.  ‘Look at yourself, playing games.  He doesn’t want you anymore!’  I hate my conscience sometimes.

He gave me a quick look, “You know…you can sit next to me.  I don’t bite.”

‘Yeah, maybe not necks, but souls are fair game, right?’  I moved anyway, to avoid awkwardness.  I began to feel awkward though, and I turned to him to see a pained expression on his face.  Again, I took the bait: “What’s up?”

“I want to ask you something, but I don’t know if I should.”

Blank stare.

“It might be inappropriate.”

Blank stare.

“Never mind…never mind…”

‘Oh, GOD, just spit it out already!’  I wanted to shake him.  All of the mixed messages were driving me closer and closer to sawing my leg off with a steak knife.  But I blinked a few more times, and eventually he asked.

“Would you…mind giving me a head massage?”

‘Of course I would, you twit.  I used to hold that head when you…’  But he had some sort of strange effect on me.  It was his eyes, I’m sure of it.  One look, and you can fall right in.  So I shrugged, told him to sit on the floor, and began my assault.

Sal begged me for head massages constantly.  He claimed that my fingers were magic, but it was a statement that, no matter how many times it was repeated, I couldn’t bring myself to believe.  He would coo and purr as I kneaded my fingers through his hair, grazing his scalp, and felt all the creases of his brain.  Sometimes I would imagine that I was reading a crystal ball, as if by doing this, I could learn something new about him through osmosis.

The massage apparently made him sleepy.  So we moved the massaging into his room and against my better judgment, onto the bed.  And his bed, I guess, made him horny.  I hate to quote Genie in a Bottle right this moment, but I find it not only applicable, but absolutely necessary: “My body’s saying let’s go, but my heart is sayin’ no.”  It was exactly how I felt.  Oh, the passion!  The ardor, the fire, the spark!  It was heady, potent, making it’s way through my veins with no apologies and no reassurance.  Just simple pleasure.  And, within twenty minutes, it was over, and the reality check hit me like a drunk stepfather.

I left immediately afterward, canceling all plans to run, as I was sure we had had enough physical activity for the day.  He gave me a kiss and said he would call.  He didn’t.  Ashamed, used, and downright depressed, I knew I couldn’t use alcohol to fill the void this time.  Good thing we had weed.

That wouldn’t be the last time he pulled something like that with me either.  In months to come, he would use me as he saw fit, knowing full well that I still had an emotional connection with him.  Regardless, I would come running like a lap dog, eager for some of my master’s, err, milk.  And every time it happened, I was given the same line.  “I’ll definitely call you tomorrow!”  Tomorrow became weeks, even months.  It was the third and final time that I realized he was not only immature, but selfish and slightly cruel.

It’s strange.  I told myself that older men were better, because they were bound to be more mature.  Yet I almost exclusively date older, even if it’s just a year, and the relationships usually don’t work out because of maturity issues.  They say I’m the problem, but really what they’re doing is projection.  I’m not perfect, and yes, I do have a lot to learn.   But the men I seem to snag are constantly stuck in the past.  Maybe because I’m younger I bring it out in them.  Maybe they feel they need to “sink to my level,” so to speak.  Or maybe men are just, in general, wild and untamed.  They live and roam free until they find the one that can give them a reason to domesticate themselves.  I guess I just wasn’t that person.

Thinking about all this as the conversation in the attic continued made me snap back into focus.  My roommate was still talking about this boy, who was, apparently, cute, charming, cordial…all good and wonderful things.  And yet she couldn’t seem to place why this was bothering her so much.  I smiled, because I understood all too well.  I lit my cigarette and said, “Babe, age is just a number.”

Realizing that is half the battle.  I’ll let her figure out the rest for herself.



I Was A Teenage Beauty Queen
January 21, 2009, 4:13 PM
Filed under: Adolescence, Self-Expression, Work Bitch! | Tags:

Parents are annoyingly perceptive, it seems.  Maybe perceptive is the wrong word.  All-knowing, maybe?  Or intuitive?  Certainly observant, if nothing else.   They claim that they have “eyes in the back of their head,” when I actually think they just having homing devices planted deep within the walls of our small intestines.  It’s really the only logical explanation I can think of.

I say this because my parents knew the most intimate secret of mine before I ever decided to expose it to the world.  I guess you could argue that the play dates with Barbies and the constant testing of my mother’s foundation was a dead giveaway, that there was hardly a secret to begin with, but I wish my parents could just be like the rest of the world when they see these things and just deny them until they become invisible.

When I came out to my parents, there was no battle to fight.  There was no struggle, no argument, no fires to put out.  At best, there was a wry smile, a shrug, and a subtle cough coming from my mother from this tickle in her throat she’s been having for a while.  I couldn’t believe it.  The most life-changing and pivotal moment in my young life and my parents reacted as if they were watching a re-run of According To Jim: “Eh…well…yes, we did see that coming…”

It wasn’t like I was actually offended, I was more so relieved.  The only disappointment came from the fact that I didn’t get to do something dramatic like flourish out of the room and say, “If you can’t accept me for who I am, then you can’t have me as a son!”  I’d pack my bags, take a bus to Montreal, get completely wasted and go home with the bouncer.  He’d tell me that I was beautiful, fuck me ruthlessly, and we’d live happily ever after.  My parents would call me every once in a while to check up, but I wouldn’t answer.  I was too busy learning how to make papier mache.

Again, not that I actually wanted to do any of that, but it was more exciting then what actually happened.

Coming out to my friends was just as easy, which was tolerable.  They were mostly happy and, once again, hardly surprised.  “Well, of course I knew, I was just waiting for you to say something!”  It’s really unfair if you think about it.  What if you walked into a room full of people who were all chatting and you just came back from the bathroom with your genitals still hanging out.  Instead of someone coming up and saying, “Dude, put that away,” everyone just stops talking and stares until you notice.  Embarrased, you zip up and ask the person next to you why they didn’t tell you your penis decided to join the party, they just smile and say, “I was just waiting for you to say something!”  How rude.

When I came out, my entire countenance changed.  I rejected my old wardrobe of cargo shorts and hawaiian-print button downs and started shopping around in my sister’s closet.  I began to walk with a swagger, and not the kind that Johnny Cash had (think J-Lo).  I wore Calgon and flipped my hair.  I constantly checked my nails for any sort of imperfection and peppered the word “girl” into almost every sentence.  I went from being a dorky gamer to a transexual beauty queen.  Hyperbole applied, of course.

One of my favorite changes was going from sweet to sassy in about a week.  Fortunately, I had the perfect punching bag in mind for my newly found inner bitchiness.  Mrs. Jacobs, a registered Nazi and flowered frock enthusiast, was my English teacher for half the year that I came out.  She ate psalms for breakfast and always walked a little faster when she passed a black student in the hallway.  She claimed, quite adamantly, that gay squirrels were a figment of our imaginations, much like evolution and 100-calorie snack packs.  And worst of all, she heartily supported a “vaccination” for the homosexual disease.  I didn’t learn much about English that year, but I sure learned a lot about hate, as the incarnate of it was writing assignments on the chalkboard.

During class, Mrs. Jacobs and I would terrorize each other, her more so than me, but her way was always much more, for lack of a better word, dainty.  Mine was much more renegade and clever, but yet she always appeared to be unphased by it.  Regardless, the argument that I never got to have with my parents, I got to have with her every day at 10:14 AM.

One day, I brought a bright red beaded choker to her class, so that I could wear it, simply to piss her off.  My friend Jessie was sitting behind me, so as Mrs. Jacobs was talking, I nodded towards her so that she could put it on for me.  As Jessie was hooking said choker to my neck, Mrs. Jacobs stopped in mid-sentence.  “Chris…take that ridiculous thing off right this instant.”

This was one of my favorite games.  “But…don’t you like it?”  The class snickered.

She rolled her eyes. “Please, just take it off, it’s distracting.”

“I think it’s quite exquisite.  Don’t you?”

“Just…please…take it off…”

Suddenly, I had a better idea.  I took it off and got up, “Here…why don’t you try it on?  It’d look great on you!”  I took one step and she staggered like a wounded elk.  “Enough!  Sit down and stop interrupting my class room with your shennanigans!”  The fear in her eyes was like sweet nectar, and I drank it all in before I finally took my seat.  I crossed my legs, set the choker down, and gestured for her to continue.  It was, in my opinion, one of my finest hours in high school.

However, Mrs. Jacobs wasn’t the only one that had something to say about my openess.  Kids I barely knew in the hallway began to talk about me, and it usually whatever they were saying wasn’t very good.  I was called a faggot usually around once a week, and people would even start throwing things at me in the lunch room.  For whatever reason, it wasn’t as easy to confront them as it was to confront Mrs. Jacobs.  My peers were different; I wanted them to like me, no matter how many milk cartons they beamed at my head.

It was second hour my sophomore year, that I realized I couldn’t have both, as is typical of high school.  You have two choices.  You either be yourself and have everyone hate you for it, or be someone else and be popular.  Second hour was jazz band, which I played clarinet in.  Besides the other clarinetist in the band Ali, everyone else was a guy, and the guyiest guys were the trumpet section, and they sat right behind me.  I was putting my clarinet together when one of the guys made a wretching noise, as if he had just swallowed hot oil.  “Sick!  Look at his fingers!”

I looked down at my fingers pressed against the clarinet keys.  I had painted them a bright blue yesterday so they would match my shirt for today.  I could feel the heat rising in my face, and I knew that he wasn’t going to let this go.  “Why the hell would you do something like that?”

I remember opening my mouth to say that I was gay, but then for some reason, I thought better of it.  I didn’t say anything at all.  I turned back, my face swollen with embarrasment.  I went home that day and took the nail polish off.

So began my second transformation, into a person I never was.  Into someone that the trumpet player may have found socially acceptable, but not me.  I chose being liked over being happy, and for a while, I may have been happy being liked, but I wasn’t me.

Regardless of the outcome, there’s really nothing like the freedom of expression.  While the phrase “coming out of the closet” may be a bit cliche, it’s exactly how I felt.  Like I was sheltered and alone, locked in a room, being kept from my true self.  When I told everyone I was gay, the enormous burden was lifted, and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone.  I felt like I had to explore my sexuality, discover what it was to be a gay man.  I would never take it back.  But I can honestly say that you will never find me wearing nail polish ever again.

Well, I can say it…but maybe not honestly.



The Resolution To End All Resolutions
January 9, 2009, 7:42 AM
Filed under: New Beginnings, Sex, Soul-Searching

R.I.P. 2008, we barely knew ye.  I say that with complete conviction too: I don’t understand how a year can manage to fly by almost entirely unnoticed, but I suppose with someone like me who can search for their keys for twenty minutes only to realize they’re in your pocket, I shouldn’t be that surprised either.  

A new year may have begun, but I guess you could say I’m less than overjoyed.  There’s a lot I’d do differently about last year, of course, but the hurdles of this new year are daunting to say the least.  Good thing I bought my Studs and Spurs calendar to help me through it, the August man is so naughty!

The worst part about the new year is a question.  It’s a question everyone asks, because everyone wants to know the answer.  Well, actually, they don’t, they just ask in hopes of the same rebuttal question so they can show off their self-absorbed and high society demeanor they learned from watching The Clique (side note, Tyra Banks must be dismantled somehow, someway).  It’s the question I fear every year, because even if I have an answer, both me and the person I relay it to know that I have no intention on following through with it.  It’s that one small shred of hope that people desperately cling to as they make feeble and shallow attempts to reinvent themselves.  It’s the new year’s resolution.

Forgive me for being pessimistic, and perhaps even overly judgemental, but I can tell you that from experience, claiming that you will “loose 30 pounds by summer so you can fit into that new bikini” is, to me at least, naive.  And to say that you’ll quit smoking or stop drinking on January 1st is almost a sell-out.  Why pick the new year?  Since when did a day have to have symbolism to be able to accomplish something on it?

It’s also possible that I’m just incredibly bitter about the fact that most, if not all, of my new years resolutions have all come to a screeching halt.  If I said I wouldn’t eat any more McDonalds, I was scarfing down a Big Mac a week later.  If I said no more casual sex, I was hailing a cab on Wisconsin avenue with my underwear in my back pocket in less than a month.  Sooner or later, I succumb to the temptations that I despise, maybe because they’re familiar, or maybe because I really don’t despise them as much as I think.

This year, my resolution was to not have a resolution, but soon after I decided that the decision was both cliche and, at the same time, too rebellious.  When I was talking to Vynnie about the new year, it had already passed.  It was last Thursday, around four in the morning, and we were having a party the very next day.  So, naturally, we got on to the topic of who would be attending, who would being wearing who, etcetera.  Somehow the conversation shifted from regular chit chat, to heavy and depressing content, the kind that’s perfect for that time of day.  

“You know C.J., I think maybe we should just think about ourselves this year.  But not in a bad way.”

The smoke from my cigarette was in my eye, so I rubbed them and let her finish the statement, since I didn’t really understand the first half.

“I mean…I’ve always let things just…happen to me, you know?  Sometimes I feel like I’m just not in the drivers seat and…I don’t really know how we put this into a resolution but…what’s the best way to say you don’t want to feel like you’re not being yourself anymore?  And that you’re fed up with the way people treat you?  And fed up with…”

“Okay, hang on,” I stopped her, looked away for a second, only to see Jackie’s amber eyes glowing back at me through the smoke.  “Respect.  That’s all.  We’ll just demand respect.  Respect for ourselves.  After all, we deserve it, right?”

I half expected her to laugh and say it was a lame idea and half expected her to cheer.  What I got was a nice combination.  She nodded, smirked, and said, “I think that’s a great idea.”

So we wrote it on our bulletin board, for all to see: “Respect 2009: You’re Worth It.”  I sighed off my tensions and smiled.  This was going to be a good thing.

Except for that whole thing about me not being able to follow through with resolutions.

The next day was the party, and Vynnie had spent most of the morning cleaning and tidying up for the guests, while I proceeded to pass out on the couch, which was probably better anyway, because I would have just gotten in the way.  I woke up around 4 to find the place freakishly spotless, complete with spit-shiny floors and a pile of clean dishes that looked like it’d fall over with even the slightest disturbance.  I grinned, “Hey!  Can’t wait for tonight!  And don’t forget…”  “Respect!  Got it.” She laughed.

The worrisome thing about this party was that we just had one on Wednesday for the new year, so we, Vynnie especially, assumed there would probably be a smaller turnout.  Before the party started, I brought over my boyfriend to talk to him, and I all I kept thinking about was that damn word: respect.  Did he respect me?  Yes, he did, excluding the snide comment about the Mountain Dew.  But did he respect himself?  For the most part, no.  So there I was, faced with another question: am I keeping this respect to myself, or is it my duty to convert others?

After he left, my decision was clear, mostly because the talk didn’t ease any of my thoughts.  I called him and told him that I liked him very much, but that I needed to sort things out and work on myself before I could be in a relationship.  He agreed, and the problem was solved.  That’s one way to say it, but another way…well, I guess you could say it was just beginning.

At 9, Gloria, Vynnie, and I were sitting around the old dining room table smoking cigarettes, sipping wine, and telling stories.  At 10, two more people showed up.  At 12, a few more.  If I remember correctly, the attendance was a whopping nine, an enormous blow to the ego for both Vynnie and myself, but that didn’t stop me from getting completely hammered.  Nothing ever does.

At around 2, I was feeling conflicted about the break-up, and I was really craving mashed potatoes.  I didn’t know what would help me feel better, or even if there was a cure-all, with the exclusion of time, of course.  I decided that hipocrisy is always the best policy, and with a few keystrokes, I was the old C.J. for one horrible and oddly lonely evening.

His name was Zac.  He was cute, more than cute actually, but not what I would consider hot.  He was an actor from New York who was in town to do a show.  He had a fantastic smile and during the very short conversation that we had, I also realized he wasn’t as boring as poured concrete.  All of these elements mixed with alcohol and a dash of confusion, and before I knew it I was calling myself a cab to pay this Zac a visit.

Vynnie’s severity about the situation caught me off guard.  “I don’t approve, C.J.  What if you get murdered?”  I laughed, “People don’t get murdered at the Hyatt, sweetie.  Maybe abused or raped, but never murdered.”  She scoffed, “I really don’t think you should go.”  My eyes met with hers, and they were full of both anger and genuine worry.  I scratched my head, “Here…this is his number,” I wrote it on the back of a receipt, “I’ll call you as soon as I get there, alright?”  This seemed to soothe her slightly, but I could still tell she wasn’t sure of the situation even when the cab arrived.

On the cab ride there, I was still pretty inebriated, so I sort of laughed when I first heard my cab driver speak since his accent was so thick.  I learned that his name was Bo, and that he was originally from Poland.  It was dark, but I think he was missing three teeth, and his newsboy hat on his head had certainly seen better days.  But he spoke with such gusto, with such ardor, that I quickly forgot about all of these minor imperfections.  We talked about weather, about relationships, about money, about families…all in the span of 15 minutes.  And when I got out of the car, he said something so profound and yet so simple to me: “C.J., you, I think, you will be alright.”  I smiled and, even though I couldn’t afford it, tipped him 50% for the insightful comment.

When I got inside, I immediately felt regret for even coming, and thought it better to just get back in the cab and cry on Bo’s shoulder.  The concierge was eyeing me as if I was a convicted felon, as I paced up and down in zig-zaggy lines, trying to decide what I really wanted to do.  I thought back to all of those times in 2008 and how they made me feel.  The pleasure.  The sadness.  The pain.  The sensation.  In the end, as it always is with me, sin triumphed over virtue, and I found my way to the elevator, wondering why I was still doing this when all I wanted to do was sit on the floor and cry.

Zac was a gracious one-night stand host.  He didn’t offer out too much information and spoke almost completely in circles, which only made sense because he didn’t want me to know anything about him.  His charisma could induce vomit and his laugh was that of a baby meerkat, but above all else, he was attractive, and in any case, I was here to get something done, so I figured I should stop picking him apart and just get it over with.

After we had finished, I hoped that I would achieve some clarity.  I imagined myself going, “Glad I got that out of my system, time to go!” or “Never doing that again, guess I learned my lesson.”  But instead, I felt even more conflicted.  I searched my coat pocket for a cigarette and huffed.  He rose from the tangled sheets, “What’s up?”  I rolled my eyes, “Stupid me forgot a lighter at home.  I’m a terrible smoker.”  He chuckled, “Looks like they’re gonna revoke your license!”

See what I mean?

I went down at 4:30 to ask the concierge for a lighter or matches or something, but mostly I just wanted to get out of that room and away from Zac.  I approached the counter, reeking of booze and lubricant.  “Excuse me, do you happen to have, you know, matches or a lighter?”

He shook his head, “This is a non-smoking facility, sir.”

I paused. “Right, well, I’m not going to light up in the bathroom, honest, I just want to go outside for a cigarette.”

He asserted his so-called entry-level authority and swelled up like a robin. “I apologize, but we don’t even have matches in the hotel anymore.  I can’t help you.”

I glared at him suspiciously, “Then…how do you light those candles?”  I pointed to a row of candles to the right of me.

He looked back at me, stoned-faced, yet in his eyes he was dumbfounded.  Incredulously, I laughed at him and went back up to the room.

The next morning, I got a rude awakening.  A dry mouth, a headache, and a man next to me who literally said the phrase, “Ready for Round 2?”  The stupidity of my decision the previous night was finally sinking in, so I told him I was late for a rehearsal, packed my things, called a cab, and walked out of the hotel with whatever small pieces of dignity I could carry in one hand.

On the ride home, I kept thinking of my talk with Vynnie.  “Respect, you’re worth it…” ‘Am I?’ I wondered, ‘Or do I have yet to earn that?  Is it possible that I’ve made so many mistakes that I can’t demand respect from other people if I’m having trouble respecting myself?’  I still don’t have the answer to this question, but it’s another one of those new years questions that’s bugging me, mostly because it’s so specific.

When I got back, I told Vynnie about the experience.  She appeared indifferent, but I could tell she was somewhat disappointed.  “How was it?” she asked.  I pursed my lips, “Well, the sex was good, but, uh, that’s about all.” She frowned, “So, how…how do you feel?”  I shrugged.  It was the only honest answer I could give her.

While yet another resolution goes down the toilet, I am somewhat confident that my new one will not only be easy, but therapeutic as well.  I consider it the resolution to end all resolutions.  I’ve decided that the only way to be able to respect myself is to read myself, candidly, openly, and without shame.  To make no apologies for my actions and to view all of them as an experience, maybe not a good one, but an experience.  That is, after all, the entire point of this blog.  And this way, I hope that I can see myself for what I truly am, with no bias and no slant, so I can truly begin to find answer to that question: am I worth the respect I wish to achieve?

I really hope Bo was right.



Scott (Part Two)
December 14, 2008, 2:36 PM
Filed under: Chatty Kathys, Prehistoric Homosexuals, Roommates

When my mom and my sister left me after everything was finally moved in, I took in a breath of fresh air in what would be my new home.  I joyfully hopped over to the dining room table, where I found a note, written in almost perfect Helvetica, that said: “Welcome home!”-how cordial!-“Make yourself as comfortable as possible while Huberto is staying here.  I’m sure he’ll be out soon.  Any questions, feel free to call! Ok!”

‘Wait, I have a question,’ I thought to myself, ‘Who in Hades is Huberto?’  I went over to look in my new room, only to find that there was articles of clothing strewn about, a suitcase completely open, and a whole bunch of old man stench.  While I was angry about this, there wasn’t much I could do, and seeing as I had rehearsal in twenty minutes, I didn’t have time to do anything anyway.  So I begged Doug to come pick me up and told myself to deal with it whenever I got back.

I got home from rehearsal around 9:30, and the first thing I see when I open the door is, what I assume, a Huberto.  He resembled an oversized Gremlin, which frightened me when I realized he was drinking a glass of water.  His accent was thick, like a cream-based soup, and his smile was so crooked you could have shot pennies clear through the gaps in his teeth.  I was certainly overcritical of him when first meeting, and I had every right to be.  The man was an intruder in my house.  I didn’t know him, and because of him, I had to camp on the couch for the night.

For the rest of the week, I came home after rehearsal, only to find this Huberto character maxin’ and relaxin’ all up on the couch.  I continued to ask Scott as to when I could actually move in to the room, and he told me that Huberto would be gone A.S.A.P. “I’m sorry about this…I’ll make sure and give you a refund for some of the rent money because of this-ok!”  That made me feel a little better, but when Huberto began to disappear mysteriously even though his stuff was still there, I began to worry that this would quickly turn into my permanent, dysfunctional living situation.  Scott, me, and the estranged Mexican immigrant Huberto who wouldn’t go away.

I remember one of the first nights I moved in, I had decided to take a shower.  It was around 10:30, and Huberto had already gone to bed, considering it was noches and all.  Scott informed me that he was almost always home around 11:30, so when I got out of the shower, I had left all of my clean pajamas sitting outside the door.  Wearing only my bikini-cut underwear (just for you ladies), I creeped out of the door, hoping and praying that Scott would still be making his way back.  Unfortunately, he was the first thing I saw.  Fourteen seconds and an awkward greeting later, I was completely clothed and completely mortified.  I had never expected him to see me practically naked, especially within the first week of my living there.  A few weeks later, I found a Crisco tub-sized container of lubricant in one of the bathroom cupboards, and after that, I vowed to make sure that I never showed too much skin ever again.

Unfortunately, I also discovered that Huberto wasn’t just a house guest, but a house boy as well, if you will.  As much as the thought of them comparing bojangles disgusted me, I was relieved that I at least wasn’t the first cut of meat being primed in the apartment.  But the Three’s Company act was getting very old very fast, so luckily Huberto packed his bags and flew back past the border before I tore all of my hair out.

During my most recent show, the relationship between Scott and I was strictly professional, which was good, seeing as befriending a creepy old gay wasn’t on my list of things to do.  We would communicate mostly via email and little notes that he had left me which, albeit annoying, I found were somewhat effective at the time.  I was too busy to be dealing with him anyway, I figured, and so far, everything had been okay.

One night when Scott came home from work, I was still awake, making myself something to eat.  He began to vent about work, even though I never asked him how his day was.  What would have been a ten minute conversation quickly turned into a forty five minute conversation.  During most of it, I was tuned out and thinking only about how I wanted to go to bed.

“…They make me do so much work there, it would make your eyes pop.  I mean, seriously, just because I’m good at my job doesn’t mean they can just take advantage of that, you know?”

I yawned.

“But it’s better than my old job.  Much better people.  Where I used to work, there was just too many black people.  Seriously, it was incredibly ghetto there, and that’s just not my scene.  I eventually had to put in my two weeks because I just couldn’t stand the way they talked anymore.”

‘The way they talked anymore?’ I thought, ‘What the hell does that mean?’  It was then that I started to question whether or not Scott was a Quaker.  Between the dislike of black people, the frugality of his ways, and the fact that voting was quote “against his religion” made me seriously believe that his ancestors landed on Plymouth and ransacked all of the Indian land.  On the plus side, his great-great-great-great-great grandparents probably invented Thanksgiving.

One of my good friends, I found out, lived next door, so every couple of days, we would have a cigarette outside before I went to bed.  I relayed the story above to her once, and it left her stunned and slightly amused.

“He really said that?  Who says stuff like that anymore?  For real…”  I nodded.  There were fundamental differences between Scott and I, yes, but how comfortable could I feel living with a bigot?

Later, that same week, I informed Scott that I would be grocery shopping that weekend.  Apparently, this was unacceptable, and he became huffy.  “Why are you going grocery shopping?”  I figured it would be moot to inform him that humans need proper nutrition in order to live, and that Deerfield yogurt raisins really didn’t count as food to me.  “I mean, I have a lot of food here…and you’re welcome to it, didn’t I mention that?  I don’t want the food to go to waste.  And I know how expensive food can be…”  I cut him off, “Well, okay, I’ll do a small shop, just a few things then, right?”  He smiled, “That’s fine.  I’ll make some room in the fridge.  Oh, and by the way, you should try that kilbasa.  Not to toot my own horn, but it’s positively to die for!”  

It was alright.

I bought only a few things that weekend, like I promised, but even with what I bought, he had so much food that it was a task to fit all of my food in any of the cupboards.  I ended up having to put some of the canned food in my closet in my room, which wasn’t really all that big of a deal.  As the days went by, I ate my newly bought food, but I also heeded his counsel and ate some of his too.  I admit, I was ruthless with the Swiss cheese, but other than that, I tried to contain myself, because I knew that I wasn’t the one who payed for it, and even though I was given permission, it just felt slightly wrong.

On Friday, I got an email from him that was unexpected, malicious, and downright strange.  

“Morn.

Keep dishes clean-ok!

Also, don’t forget to lock door when leaving.  Intruders are unwanted in my home.”

Two things: 1. The definition of intruder is someone who is unwanted, correct?  I guess I should have remembered redundancy was his forte.  And 2. MY home?  ‘I pay half the rent here, you dinosaur!’ I thought to myself.  But there was more:

“I understand that you are not purchasing your own groceries and only eating my food.  Are you really that busy that you can’t go to the store?  Or is it just laziness?  I don’t feel like being taken advantage of, so if this is a problem, let me know.”

I was, for lack of a better word, flabbergasted.  He threw a diva fit when I told him I was going to go food shopping.  So I did exactly what he wanted.  I ate his food.  I told him all of this, and the response I got was so dramatic, even Perez Hilton would have been like, “Okay bitch, relax.”

“Well, would you rather us talk about this like civilized men, or how about I just start looking for a new roommate?”

I figured that once the cocaine he was clearly snorting wore off, so would his crazy power trip.  The funniest thing about reading these emails was that Scott, in person, resembled a rejected Build-a-Bear.  A rejected Build-a-Bear with no soul and a thirst for young gay blood.  I told we needed to talk, and he suggested we had a “meeting” later that weekend.  I sarcastically told him I’d pencil him in, but being the anal retentive fool he was, he said he’d do the same.

The meeting was creepily similar to the ones I have at work.  There was notepads, adjusting of pant legs, pencil tapping, and, at least on my part, grogginess.  He had made a list of all of the things that he wanted to address to me.  Here are some of my favorite highlights:

Number 3: “Now, I know we all brush our teeth, but after you’re done, make sure and wipe down the mirror.”  How patronizing!

Number 7: “If you eat my chocolate, I will kill you, your family, and anyone that makes you happy.”  Luckily, I don’t eat dark chocolate.

Number 11: “I wouldn’t sing in the shower after 11:30”  Really?  I would.

Number 14: “I can’t really hear your flute, since I’m deaf in one ear.”  Why the hell is this important?  My Saturday is dwindling away!

On and on this went, and we barely even discussed the food situation.  All he said about it was, “Look, I don’t care what you eat.”  ‘Wow, that’s vague,’ I thought to myself, ‘And strange, since you seem to care about everything else I ever do.’  When the meeting was over, we pushed in our chairs, shook hands, and continued on with our lives.  At least, for the time being.

Scott quickly became a hindrance on my happiness and my social life.  I couldn’t bring friends over, since he lived in a museum and as curator, was too afraid to let anyone in that might tarnish the art work from Big Lots that retails for about $19.99 plus tax.  I couldn’t bring over guys because the next day he would suddenly act as if we were best friends and wanted to hear all about it: “Tell me everything!  Leave out no details…seriously, I’m not squeamish or grossed out by sexual things, you can tell me.”  When greeted with this, I would just shrug and say it was fun.  He didn’t appreciate this lack of openess, so he just pursed his lips and went to his room to masturbate, I assume.

A few weeks later, I couldn’t take it anymore.  He sent me an email that was so disrespectful and mean-spirited, I began to look for a new place.  Fortunately, I found the perfect house with two amazing girls (where I’m currently living), and I informed him two weeks before hand that I was planning on moving.  I was way too nice in the email, apologizing profusely and saying that it was a lot of fun living there.  What I got back was short and bitchy, fitting for his personality I suppose.

“Please fix any damages before vacating apartment-ok.  Move all belongings out of apartment.  Other than that, nothing-ok”  

Well thanks, Scott.  I had no idea how moving worked.  Thank you for clarifying.

I’ve officially been out of Scott’s oddly sexual and parental clutches for two weeks now, and I couldn’t be happier.  The two months I spent with Scott made me realize that some people are just not meant to have roommates, and Scott was definitely one of them.  Everything had to be by his rules at all times, and if he changed them on you, you were supposed to infer and adapt, like a good little boy.  “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”  Michael did warn me, and, like everyone who gives me advice I don’t follow, he was right.  So this may sound like common sense, but do yourself a favor.  Stay away from OCD gay gentlemen who have bipolar tendencies and can openly talk about their hemorrhoids for a good twenty minutes-ok!