Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Adults

Austin is attempting to tell me the ending to Oblivion, but I can't understand him because he's whispering.

"Wait," I whisper back. "I don't think I heard you right. That sounds exactly like the plot of Moon. Say it again. What's going on with Tom Cruise, now?" "YOU'VE SEEN MOON?!" yelps Austin. Mrs. Jana and Jill stop their conversation and shush us. I mouth "sorry," even though I wasn't the one who raised my voice, and me and Austin continue our conversation about the nuances in Sam Rockwell's performance with exaggerated facial expressions and elementary sign language.

In the master bedroom, Austin and Jill's baby, Emma, has just fallen asleep. Here in the living room, we're enjoying quiet discussions peppered with reminders that "the baby is sleeping." Mrs. Jana, Jill, and Granny sit in high-backed chairs across the room while me, Austin, and John lounge on the couch. John's dad is in the kitchen listening to Anita Baker and scraping Granny's birthday cake off of plates and silverware. So far, this has been the type of Sunday most families picture themselves enjoying but never seem to get all the pieces together: late sleeping, coffee on the back porch, phantom hangovers, mimosas at brunch, outdoor shopping, sunshine, an intimate birthday party, easy conversation, and the sweet victory of winning the Didn't Do Shit Olympics. It's fucking sublime.

Jill put Emma down nearly ten minutes ago, but I'm still anxious that she'll wake up and start fussing. I'm not very familiar with the sleeping habits of two-year-old people. Come to think of it, I'm not familiar with babies at all! We don't have any in my family. Not that I know of, anyway. Being the oldest of three, male, 24, and a Southerner, I feel like I should have fathered something by now. But as my exboyfriend, Wit's End, used to say, "Butt babies don't live."

I think about Emma on the other side of the wall, stirring while her mom, dad, uncle, grandparents, and some fruity gentleman her uncle dragged over talk about their co-workers and the plots of awful Tom Cruise sci-fi movies, and then it suddenly dawns on me. We are the adults in the other room. I AM ONE OF THE ADULTS IN THE OTHER ROOM. 

This can't be true, right? I know I'm in my mid-twenties, but how did this happen? I still watch cartoons for Christ's sake! Seriously, I regularly watch Adventure Time, Bob's Burgers, and Gravity Falls and I'm sure I have episodes in my DVR right now that I'll watch when I'm finished with this. I also watch ThePuppyChannel.com, [but in my defense, I learned about it from Ira Glass]. I wear TOMS to the office and child size briefs from Target. I want a tattoo that says "Don't go. I'll eat you up I love you so," because I love Where The Wild Things Are and another one that says "Adventure is out there," to honor Up. Sometimes, I shotgun buffalo sauce. And at this very moment, I'm wearing a neon yellow zipper bracelet that I bought at a gas station.

I've slept with cruise ship dancers and hairdressers and delivery boys and bag boys and go-go dancers and cheerleaders and art students and general studies majors and lifeguards and DJs and waiters and aspiring singers and aspiring gymnasts and aspiring actors and aspiring anythings. Clearly, ambition is not a quality I require in a sexual partner. Actually, one time I had a one night stand with a guy who later claimed to have been released from prison the day before. I burn things after I get dumped. I think gumbo tacos sound delicious. The last time I searched for free porn on Google, I just typed in "two guys doing it."

Whenever I visit a bar bathroom and I'm shitfaced, I set my beer on the urinal and I talk to it. I'll usually say something like, "Hey, buddy. I'm holding my wiener right now, but it's not for long, so try not to get all room temperature, okay?" or "If you can hang on this incline for like ten more seconds without sliding, we'll be cool."

Even though I used to write the housing market report for my parish, I still have no idea how a mortgage works. I don't know who the Secretary of Defense is and I just learned today that John Kerry is the Secretary of State. And I'm the guy who wore a Kerry/Edwards button on his backpack when he was 15 years old. One time, I asked a transgender woman if she "wanted some fries to go with that dick." One time, I told a guy who I was dating "I can barely function as a human, let alone a top."

I genuinely care that Chloe Grace Moretz and the Fanning sisters succeed.

And my hidden talent is chugging beer without swallowing my gum. 

But on the other hand, I do listen to NPR and podcasts of Selected Shorts. And I've only had to ask my parents for money once in my life. Speaking of my parents, I did move out of their house when I seventeen and I've been supporting myself ever since. I came to Lafayette without virtually any friends, but now I can't get a haircut without seeing someone I know. I've worked my way up from intern to part-time copywriter, to full-time copywriter, to Senior Copywriter, and now I work as an Associate Creative Director. I have bills and a 401(k) and my resume is loaded with advertising awards. I honor my own word. And I keep my promises.

I look around the room at everyone, and I take in this moment of adulthood. It feels comfortable. I smile at John just because, and I can tell he's anxious to head back home. "You ready?" he asks. I look down at the neon yellow zipper bracelet and I say, "Yeah. I'm ready."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Once Around The Block

I get writer's block more often than a writer should. But normally, it's nothing a walk around the block can't fix.

Yesterday afternoon, I drafted an entire blog post about the uncomfortable small talk that happens before sex with someone you barely know. I was going to call it something like So, Where Are You From? Watch Your Teeth! — focusing on pre-fucking banter feeling a lot like the social equivalent of microwaving popcorn. I thought it was kind of funny, but the tone was all over the place and I couldn't really get a grasp on the message. So before publishing it, I decided to sleep on it. And I did. Now, I'm editing the post to meet a fantasy deadline, and I still don't really care about the story. So fuck it. I'm going for a walk.

I slip on my wayfarers and say "I'll be right back" to no one in particular. I exit the side door of my office building and head west down Congress with my back to the park. Before I make a left onto Jefferson, I decide I'm hungry for breakfast food, so I round the corner and walk a block to the nearby Subway. Across the street, a guy and girl are waiting for traffic to stop before coming over to my side. The guy is wearing a t-shirt and jeans with tennis shoes and a navy blazer, and looks approximately 20 years old. The girl, a few years younger and six inches shorter, has red and gold highlights and has chosen a lovely cropped baby t-shirt that is showcasing both her midriff and her basketball-size tits. Together, they cross Jefferson and head for the Subway, just as I'm reaching for the door handle. The guy slides between me and the door and pulls it open for his lady friend to enter. She does, and then he turns to me and says, "I like your haircut."

This haircut.
Last Saturday, I asked my hairdresser, Katie, to shave two lines into either side of my scalp, inches above my sideburns. Coupled with long curls on top and tightly clipped sides, the lines complete what I consider an edgy haircut — especially for a professional. Since leaving the salon, no less than 80 people have commented on it, which is highly unusual for someone who has spent a major percentage of his life deflecting insults about his coarse, puffy, ginger afro. So standing here in front of Navy Blazer Guy, I still find it difficult to accept compliments. But I say "thank you," and walk past him, towards the counter. 

Basketball Tits immediately sits down at a table and Navy Blazer files in behind me. The three of us are the only customers in Subway at 9:30AM on a Thursday. I'm greeted by the Sandwich Artist, but before I can order, Navy Blazer pokes me in the shoulder and says, "I was going to say that your haircut was pretty, but I didn't want to offend you." I'm mildly started, but I half-smile and say, "It's fine. Pretty's fine." I turn back to the Sandwich Artist and order a subwaysunrisescramblesurprise on flatbread. Then, Navy Blazer clears his throat and asks, "Hey, are you gay?" I stare at him for what feels like five seconds, then I do that thing Jennifer Aniston does when her character is charmingly confused by her male opposite; where she mouths the first syllable of the word she's searching for while making glottal sounds and blinking. I do that, and then I manage to say, "I am." I can feel my face getting warmer and I'm pretty sure the goddamn Sandwich Artist overheard us. Navy Blazer shakes his head, clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and then he says, "Man. That is so cool."

I nod to myself and ask Sandwich Artist #2 to add spinach, tomatoes, black olives, salt, pepper, and honey mustard. I ask for a Vitamin Water, too. At the register, I hear Navy Blazer ask Sandwich Artist #1 if they're just serving breakfast or can he just get whatever. Sandwich Artist #1 tells him the whole menu is available. Navy Blazer responds, "Oh, we're from Denver. Didn't know if it was the same rules." Then he turns to Basketball Tits and asks what she wants. "Let's just split a sandwich," she says. "Like what kind of sandwich?" he asks. "I don't know," she says. "Chicken?" "Chicken and what, motherfucker?" he says, exasperated. I look at the cashier, he looks at me, and I can tell we're thinking the same thing: These two are either retarded or assholes or both.

On the walk back to the office, I decide the weirdest part of the experience is this: The guy in the navy blazer is the first person to ask me to my face if I am gay since my freshman year of college, which wigs me out a little bit. Because today I'm wearing a v-neck shirt with tiny pockets on the sleeves; skinny, red chinos; brown combat boots; a leather cuff; a leather Coach bracelet; and this wonderfully attention-seeking haircut. I look gay, don't I? There really shouldn't be any question, right? I live my life in a way that no one should question my sexuality. From the way I stand to the way I scream when I see a lizard in the house, I'm gay-on-sight and I know it. Hold the phone. Do people still walk around asking one another if they're gay? Was that ever a thing? Nothing makes sense. I'm starving.

I toss my wayfarers onto my desk and unwrap my subwaysunrisescramblesurprise on flatbread. It's delicious. And in this moment I'm grateful for three things:

1. This heavenly breakfast sandwich.
2. The idea that someone out there (asshole or not) genuinely thinks it's "so cool" to be gay.
3. A remedy for my writer's block.

Friday, April 5, 2013

45 More Gay Things That Give Me Anxiety

A lot of things give me anxiety. Most gay things give me anxiety. It's a wonder I leave the house.

15. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
  1. Otters
  2. Bear Night
  3. The New Normal
  4. Scoop neck shirts
  5. When someone refers to his "bussy" in public
  6. Shorts with dress shoes and no socks
  7. Whether it's acceptable to wear TOMS with socks or not
  8. Twirling
  9. Bicep tattoos
  10. Public screeching
  11. Capri pants 
  12. The thought that one day, David Sedaris will be dead
  13. Upgrading from gay fat to fat fat
  14. Fashion shows [of any kind]
  15. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka's relationship [because I want it to work forever]
  16. Tina
  17. Gaybies
  18. The "Mean Gays"
  19. When drag queens high kick
  20. When boyfriends move in together
  21. XS t-shirts
  22. Tricking with a stranger you meet on Grindr
  23. Hosting
  24. Sounding
  25. Docking
  26. Fisting
  27. Fleet Week
  28. Whatever's on Bravo right now
  29. NeNe Leaks' hair/wig
  30. Circuit parties
  31. Joan Crawford references I don't understand 
  32. RuPaul's Drag Race references I don't understand
  33. People who still watch Glee
  34. People who still want me to care about Britney 
  35. The pressure to get married once it's legal [because then, I'll be out of excuses]
  36. The pressure to grow facial hair or not grow facial hair [because I can't and I don't want to]
  37. House remixes
  38. Tim Gunn's opinion
  39. My own obsession with Ann Coulter
  40. Having "disposable" income
  41. Pooping during
  42. The idea that we as a community aren't reading enough
  43. The idea that we as a community don't love one another
  44. The idea that I'm not doing enough activist work
  45. What people think of my outfit at brunch

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Man In The Park

I pass Joey and Jacque on the track and notice that Jacque is smoking a cigarette mid-jog.

Joey is two weeks into his Ideal Protein program and he’s taken up jogging to increase his weight loss chances. Now, he and Jacque go to Girard Park every evening around six to run-walk a couple laps around the mile-and-a-half track. Today, I’m tagging along. After stretching, we take off in separate directions, me against traffic and Joey and Jacque with it. I run anywhere from three to seven miles a day through the Saint Streets, but I haven’t run in Girard Park since I was a freshman in college. It’s familiar territory, but the track is made of loose dirt and I’m used to running on pavement. At a quarter-mile, I can already tell my ankles will be next to useless in the morning. But three laps sound manageable.

I keep right, but still have to weave around skinny, determined sorority girls and large, oblivious women in nursing scrubs. In my earbuds, Madonna’s “Turn Up The Radio,” roars followed by Diplo’s “Butter’s Theme” and TV On The Radio’s “The Wrong Way.” I pass a basketball court and catch glances of nearly 30 black guys jeering and hustling and sweating. Each one is ripped within an inch of his body, and upon seeing them, I’m suddenly aware of my bitch tits and back fat.

I’ve made my way to “Shoelaces” by The Submarines when I look to my left and stare at the sun-bleached plaster building on the hill. This is Fletcher Hall, home of UL Lafayette’s College of Arts. The music fades to a low hiss and I hear the florescent lights above me steadily hum in unison. I wind around the crotch-level stools and the intrusive, cement columns that bear Fletcher’s ceiling. Somewhere, someone is using a jigsaw to cut wood and someone else is spraying workable fixative on a piece of newsprint, though I can’t see anyone around. It’s dark outside and I’m alone in Fletcher in 2009. In my four years of undergrad, I never took a single class in this building, nor was I even a student of this college. Mine was Burke-Hawthorne Hall, the Liberal Arts building on the other side of campus. Even so, I spent a lot of time in Fletcher over the course of my third and final years. I round the corner and see a man who appears to be tinkering with a glass structure at one of the sprawling worktables. He is sitting with his back to me and he is wearing a baby blue t-shirt, yellow gym shorts, and a navy blue baseball hat. Walking closer, I notice the structure isn’t glass, but the clear plastic covering of one the overhead florescent lights. The man is bending the strips of textured plastic into what looks like a corset. He’s still facing away from me and even though he’s sitting, he’s still taller than me by about two inches. His arms and legs are beefy and the nape of his neck is covered by shiny, platinum blond hair. I don’t have to see his face to confirm that he is my boyfriend. “Hey, stud,” I hear myself say. He doesn’t turn around, but in a deep, baritone voice, he says, “Hey, sunshine.” Neither of us know it yet, but in one year, we will break-up. In three years, I will start a blog and I will call him by a nickname. And in between this moment and the present, I will have five other boyfriends, but my grandmother with still ask me how he’s doing. Behind me, someone yells, “Right!” and I snap my neck over my left shoulder to see a tall, Middle Eastern guy sprinting up behind me. “I Love It” by Icona Pop picks up and my stride falls back into the beat.

I finish my third lap, and out of breath, walk over to the south end of the park to meet my friends. Jacque carries a stale loaf of bread, and he and Joey stand at the edge of the pond tossing whole slices at the frenzied ducks.

"I'm whipped. And now I have to dump out," I say.
"What are you doing this weekend?" asks Joey. "We might be coming here for Holi Fest."
"My friends from Los Angeles are gonna be in Nola and I'm gonna meet them in the Warehouse District Saturday night," I say.
No one says anything.
"That might be the coolest sentence I've ever said," I say.
I grab a slice of bread and piece it apart with my fingers.
"No Gourbon?" asks Jacque.
"Nah," I say. "If I don't ever go back to Gay Bourbon, it'll be too soon. There's nothing for me."
"There's something for everyone on Gourbon," says Jacque.
"You can get a house in Vegas," says Joey.
"I think I'm good. I'm always one step ahead of butt crickets, anyway," I say, lobbing a pinch of bread at a duck the size of a Rottweiler.

There's a cypress tree behind Jacque and at its base sits a man with dirty blond hair and the build of a baseball player. He's wearing a pullover v-neck windbreaker and khaki shorts. He's holding his knees against his chest and he's staring into the water. And when I take all of him in, I lose my breathe. I can tell he's aware of us. I mean, how couldn't he be? Three screechy homos in short-shorts? We couldn't be more present than if we were twerking on his face.

He looks at me and smiles. I pretend I don't see him and flex my calf muscles when I toss a piece of bread in the air. Holy shit, he's hot. He turns back to the water and I snap my fingers at Jacque. Jacque looks at me and I mouth the words, "Give him a piece of bread." Jacque looks confused, but then taps him on the shoulder and says, "You wanna feed the ducks with us?" He smiles, nods, takes the slice, and portions it before throwing the pieces into the air. 

I should go talk to him.
But what if he's not gay?
So? He looks friendly.
I'm all sweaty and I didn't wear underwear and I smell European.
Wouldn't it be nice to meet a guy in a park?
No one meets anyone in parks anymore.
Unless they're "meeting up" in a park. But no one does that anymore either, right?

We three run out of bread and the boys start walking away. I'm left alone, ten feet from the man of my dreams. I look at him and notice the white waistband of Ralph Lauren boxer-briefs stretching across his lower back, poking out the top of his shorts. That's my favorite type of underwear. Joey calls to me and I start walking back up the incline towards the car. I look over my shoulder to see if he's looking back at me. He isn't. C'mon, turn around. He doesn't. You think I'm sexy and you want to see if I have  a nice ass. He's still staring ahead. I reach the sidewalk and Joey blows the horn. I turn around and he's looking at me. I smile with one side of my mouth, nod my head, and whisper to myself in a voice only I can hear, "Hey, stud."