Friday, January 18, 2013

Jock Jam

DISCLAIMER: The party scene described in this story does not take place in south Louisiana. Let's just go ahead and say that it takes place in — I don't know — Georgia. Also, some names and details have been altered in order to protect everyone's feelings. Enjoy.

Right now, I'm wearing a large pair of boys’ briefs that were purchased in a four-pack from the Super Target across town. Like the other three, this pair was packaged into a clear plastic bag after being tightly rolled and secured with a sliver of long, clear tape. This is an actual pair of underwear that I own and frequently wear. It’s cheaply-made, unsexy, and economical. They are the exact opposite of a designer jock strap. But I own both.

I am, for the most part, a practical person. And I don’t really own anything luxurious. My most expensive possession is my Jeep, and I bought that for $2,300 on Craigslist from a nineteen-year-old criminal justice major named Lorenzo. His girlfriend at the time was named Kayla. I remember this because her orange Hooters nametag is still pinned to the passenger-side visor. I used to look at the nametag and hope that Hooters didn’t get in the way of their relationship. I hoped that Lorenzo didn’t fuck with her too much when she returned home from work, and that she kept her flirting within reason; batted eyes, bitten bottom lips, and the tops of hands graced only when the customer was close to ordering Daytona Beach Style Wings — which is technically an up-sell anyway, right?

Now valued at what I’m guessing is the price of a really nice Fossil watch, my Jeep barely serves its purpose. But like my pair of colorful, child-sized skivvies, it does what I need it to do. I'm not cheap, just simple. Nothing but the basics for little ol’ me.

So what do I need a jock strap for? I'm clearly a no-frills kinda 'mo. I think cock rings are frivolous and gladiator sandals are overwhelming. Plus, the idea of a high-end jock strap doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Your ass crack is completely exposed, making your pants subject to smearing. It's basically just an anxiety attack on a string. God forbid you gamble and lose in one of those.

Last week, John, Nick, and I went to an underwear party at a men's boutique [in Georgia]. Which is an extremely gay sentence in itself. The store was introducing its new inventory of Andrew Christian underwear and celebrating with a DJ, open bar, and tables of food that no one would be caught dead eating. Under the classroom-quality florescent lighting, the three of us migrated to the bar, exchanging panicked eye contact with the other herds of homosexuals along the way. This place was my nightmare: bad lighting, house music, exboyfriends, pointy dress shoes, one-uping, beautiful models, air kisses, and an entire wall of impractical underwear. When we weren't shotgunning vodka, we were outside chain-smoking and making each other laugh.

Somewhere between the first cigarette and the seventy-five times I said, "Girl, I love your scarf," I got really drunk. And then I stumbled over to the underwear wall and I bought myself a jock strap. This jock strap:
Fear the smear!
Behold: The Almost Naked Infinity Brief Jock with Anatomically Correct Pouch. Right now, mine is snuggled in a nest of fully manufactured underwear in my closet. So far, I've worn it once, and that was only to try it on the morning after buying it. I stretched the waistband and adjusted the butt straps before spinning to face the mirror. Upon seeing my reflection, I thought, "This label might say 'small,' but this Anatomically Correct Pouch was definitely designed for a professional basketball player." Disappointing, yet expected.

I may be the type of guy that strips in Mexican gay bars and screws cruise ship dancers, but I'm not the jock-strapping type. I have simple taste. Probably because I'm so complicated. The guy with the baggage, and the imagination, and the anxiety finds comfort in the plain things. I'll keep spinning and you stay still.

Besides, I don’t need assless underwear to feel sexy. I have alcohol for that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Love Handles

I don’t need a sassy fruit to tell me what I already know: I’m gay fat.

I should support this statement with quantitative data – like my weight – but I won’t. Because I can’t. Because I haven’t stepped on a scale in years. In fact, the last time my ass saw a scale was in 2009 when I was a lifeguard at the university’s Student Aquatic Center. I was also a swim instructor, and the dual titles were enough to entice any potential bar trade. I’d quickly follow “I’m a lifeguard,” with “But I also teach kids to swim,” and be balls deep by the time I said “swim.” It also helped that I was in the best shape of my life, and had somehow found a way to tan my ginger skin. Since birth, my skin has maintained a nice “newborn mouse” tint, but after years of burning my flesh while cutting the front yard, I miraculously turned brown after prolonged exposed to the July sun on the lifeguard stand. I was golden, full of energy, and best of all, skinny.

I should also mention that this was the summer of Extreme Body Reshape. I forget exactly how I found out about the mystical weight loss pill, but my source had led me to Korean nail shop on the south end of town. I paid the woman wearing a bird flu mask 75 dollars for a box of 30, and popped the first one before pulling out of the parking lot.

The little bit of fat that was on me had fallen off within the first week, but my relationship with my boyfriend at the time, Wit’s End, had been stretched like a rubber band. Extreme Body Reshape caused violent mood swings, and I would go from belly laughing to chair throwing within seconds, and Wit’s End got the full force of my manic outbursts. One day, I came home from a shift at the pool to find him sitting Indian-style on the floor of my living room, eating chicken off of a styrofoam plate.

“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Eatin. I got me some barbecue from that Rupaul place by Albertson’s,” he said without taking his eyes off of Judge Mathis.
And then something inside me shattered like an ice sculpture.
“The restaurant is called 2Paul’s, you fucking hick!” I yelled.
“Stop hollerin at me! Wait, who’s Rupaul, then?”

I threw Wit’s End out of my apartment three more times that month. Soon after, I finished the pack of Extreme Body Reshape and I went back to my anxious, ambivalent personality – only skinnier. And following several new boyfriends and three years, I’d still managed to maintain the approximate weight. And then I started dating Heath.

From the day I met Heath, I've lived in a thick culture of comfort – the kind that fills the room when we're together. I mean culture in the tangible sense; the kind that ferments. We'd lounge on his bed or sit across from each other at dinner, and I'd feel steeped in satisfaction and content. It wasn't long after we started dating that my happiness began to breed something else. Fat.

Across my first few months as Heath's boyfriend, I ate like Kelly Clarkson. My daily 5K runs had turned into eating marathons. I wanted to spend every free moment with him, and since neither of us cook, most meals were served to us by someone wearing a name tag. One morning, I caught myself in the mirror and noticed a visible difference in my side profile. I was suddenly a victim of the boyfriend layer.

Let me be clear: although my new torso looks like it's being tortured in a pair of skinny jeans, I wouldn't call myself fat. Just gay fat.

My people's culture (not fermented) conditions many of us to work towards being muscular, skinny, lean, or at the very least, toned. Any body that veers away from the American gay male archetype is fat. So I guess that's me now: straight skinny/gay fat/human happy.

For the moment, I like the extra poundage. Actually, my gut and love handles are the least frightening of my excess baggage. But who knows? Maybe tomorrow I'll find myself face down in a plate of barbecued chicken and realize that I need to get back on the weight loss wagon. Thankfully, I know better than to shoot for that image of a plucky, skeletal, bipolar lifeguard again. Instead, I'll shoot for something closer to home. And if it means I get to stay with Heath, I'd be willing to keep the love handles.

I mean, they're technically the first gifts he ever gave me.