Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
"Actually, I might have met someone."
There was a pause.
I earned this pause.
Three years of unrequited I love yous built up to this pause.
"What's he like?" Sora asked.
Who should I tell him about? The sweet, gorgeously nerdy drag queen? The stripper with the heart of platinum? The dancing actor with the scathing sense of humor and perpetual smile? Or #4, who had also just gotten out of a three year relationship, and who I was supposed to be meeting for lunch in a couple of hours.
"He's a dancer." I said.
"How old is he?"
Sora was, by far, the youngest person I'd ever dated. Eleven years younger. And our relationship made me pledge that I'd never date anyone with that much of an age discrepancy again. I was 32. #1 was 26. #2 was 24. #4 was 27. But #3, the dancer was "A month younger than you."
"What about you?" I asked. I was okay with answering questions about #3, but I really didn't want to get stuck on how old he was. He was only a month younger, calendar-wise. Maturity-wise, he was at least a decade older than Sora. Perhaps a couple of years older than me.
"Well, there's this guy online. He's 27, runs a motel in the suburbs, and thinks I'm an amazing artist."
"You are." He was.
"Speaking of...." Pause.
"Yea?" I asked.
"I finally got into MassART."
"Wow!" I said. "Congratulations!"
"There's just one problem." Sora said. And I could smell the bullshit churning in his brain. "I need to get married."
What now? "What now?"
"Well, you know that minority scholarship they offered me a couple of years ago?"
To be truthful, I probably wouldn't have remembered anything about the scholarship if it weren't for a night I spent in the kitchen with Ben and Celeste:
"It's bullshit!" Ben had screamed. "Why does he deserve a scholarship more than me? I'm much smarter than he is."
"Dude." Celeste said. "It's a minority scholarship. You know, to encourage diversity."
"So why does he get it? He lives in suburban Rhode Island.Scholarships are for kids from the ghet-toe."
I shot him The Velociraptor Look. "He's a gay Puerto Rican. As in born in Puerto Rico Puerto Rican. He's a double minority threat. Republicans hate him twice as much as they hate you."
"But that's only because they don't know you well enough." said my other roommate, Sir Trick. He was still pissed that Ben had once borrowed his Michel Gondry DVD without permission.
"Well." Sora said. "I got it for this year. But in order to get the scholarship for next year, I have to marry a Massachusetts resident."
I laughed. "No. Sora. All you have to is establish residency. We talked about this when we lived on Mission Hill. All you need to do is pay a bill in Massachusetts in your name. Like, an electric bill or rent or something,."
"No." He said. "For this scholarship, I need to be married to a Massachusetts resident."
"Is it a green card scholarship?" I asked.
"Sora, I'm not marrying you."
He sighed loudly. "I wasn't asking you."
"I..." Pause. "Some day. Maybe."
I no longer believed in our potential Some Day. I shouldn't even have been talking to him.
"Seriously!" #3 said, when I called him to schedule a make up date for our previous lack of encounter. "You need to change your address and phone number, and block him on Facebook."
"Yea, yea, yea. Look, I'm going out to lunch with #4 today. Do you want to go out for drinks after?"
"Seriously?" He asked. "Two dates in one day? And I'm the second one?"
"You're the headliner." I said. Which really was how I was considering it. #4 seemed cutely nerdy, but I was already pretty certain that #3 was The Keeper.
"Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine." He said. "Where should we meet?"
My initial suggestion was "Tuatara's." The bar I took most of my first dates to ever since the night I introduced Ben, Celeste, and Sir Trick, several years previously. But #3 had other ideas, and we spent forty-five minutes debating a hundred possibilities before he said "Let's go to Tuatara's."
First, though, was lunch with #4.
"My life is so weird right now!" He said.
"How so?" I asked.
"Well, ok! You know how I told you about my breakup last week, right?" I did. "Well, like, ok, yesterday, I got this awesome promotion at work. Which means I'm practically running the hotel now. And we have this regular customer who's just a huge pain in the ass, he comes every month for one weekend to visit his kid or something, and he's just this, like, total dillweed, and anyway, yesterday he he shows up with his kid, right? and he"
I so did not care about anything he, like, had to say.
"right in the pool?"
"Isn't that hilarious?"
"Yea. Wow." Two hours before I was supposed to meet #3 at Tuatara's.
"and he was all like aren't you going to get off the phone, and I was like but this is an important call, and he's standing there and his suit is positively dripping, and he's like what is more important than your customers and I was like"
He was, like, wicked fucken annoying. I pitied anyone who had to spend more than, like, an hour, like, listening to this guy and his dull dull stories. He was nice enough, but
"and then he asked me to marry him, and I was like what?"
"The customer asked you to marry him?" I asked.
"Not the customer, silly. Are you listening to me? The guy. The art student. We went on, like, two dates, and he actually, like, proposed to me. I mean, he says it's for this weird art school scholarship thing, but I think it's--"
Are you fucken kidding me? "Sora?"
"Yea." He said. "How do you know his name?"
"Oh. My. God." said #3. I was explaining to him why I needed to drink more than should be humanly possible that night. "So your date was proposed to by your ex? Your The Ex?"
"Yea." I said, taking a sip of Tuatara Tea (which was all alcohol, no tea). "Hey, do you want to try this beer punch?"
"What is it?"
"I don't know." I said. "But it comes in a pitcher."
"Bring it, bitch!"
We were about halfway through the pitcher when #1 texted me, asking if I wanted to come over.
"You should go!" #3 said.
"Fuck, no." I said. "I'm having a good time with you."
"Ok." And for the first time, his smile wrinkled into a half frown. "Here's the thing. I like you, but we're friends."
"Yea, I don't knoooooooow. I just think we're friends."
I chugged another glass worth of beer punch, and filled it back up. "Friends." It didn't sound as firm when I said it.
"You can still check out my ass, if you want." He said. "You just can't touch it."
We only made it through 3/4s of the pitcher before we had to call it quits. I wasn't going to end my eleven year not puking streak just because I'd had my heart walloped twice in one day.
"Awww, poor baby." said #1 when I took the T to his house. "Come to bed, daddy will make it all better."
"Really?" I shot him The Spock Eye. "Daddy?"
He kissed me. "Would you rather be Daddy tonight?"
"I would rather we not be related."
"Kinky." He said.
When we were done being positively no relation to each other, he looked at me. "I'm not the one, am I?"
"Don't be silly." I said "You're #1. That's as one as it gets."
He smiled, and pulled my arms around him. "You're sweet." He said. "But you're a terrible liar."
The realization that Elvis was a flat-assed liar didn't ruin my life, or lower my respect for him. I had none. He was just some guy with no ass, bad teeth, and a horrible dye job who had invaded my life to escape...well, I have no idea what he was escaping because he never told me the truth. Finding out he was a lying liar didn't take away from all the happy times we'd shared together. We had no happy times.
Things were different with Sora.
If you read The Insafemode Journals before they were deleted by a Russian hacker, you may remember that Sora and I had lots of happy times. I wrote frequently about the happy things we shared. Easter with Cheerio, Ben, Celeste, and Sir Trick; antagonizing Ben at a house party. There were other times, I know there were. But they disappeared in a whiff of internet hackery.
I didn't write about the lying, because unlike Elvis, I actually love Sora. But our entire relationship was built around a lie. And, no, not the epic He Never Loved Me lie. Though, yes, that, too. The first lie was an innocent one.
We met at one of my shows, I invited him to another competition. He told me he would come up to Boston, we could hang out, we'd go to my show, and then he was going to stay with one of his friends. And then, totally weird, right, his friend never called him back, so he needed a place to stay, and came home with me.
Of course there was no friend.
Two weeks later, he was supposed to meet me and Celeste around noon to go to one of Celeste's shows. At 1:30, Celeste was long gone, and I was thinking I had maybe overjudged our relationship, when he called to apologize for being late, that he was almost to my house. So I walked down in the direction of the T to meet him. I was halfway down the hill when he bounded up, a white rose in his hand. And the kiss. And the kiss. And the wow, okay, kiss. And a white rose. No one I had ever dated had ever given me any sort of flora. And no guy since.
Back at the house, Sir Trick was watching MXC. "Hey guys." He said, flashing a rare smile. He hadn't been smiling at me, partially because he wasn't a full time smiler, and partially because Ben, who I wasn't talking too very often, had borrowed one of his DVDs, and had now had it for several months. And I, being an associate of Ben's, was guilty of overborrowing by association. But, at that very second, Sora had committed no wrong, and was, thereby, smileworthy. "What happened? Thought you were going to be here at noon."
"Oh." Sora said. "I forgot to take my medication, and I passed out on the train, they had to stop it and call an ambulance."
Which was news to me. "You passed out?"
"Yea, it was no big deal."
"What condition do you have?" Sir Trick asked.
"Oh, I don't know."
Because, of course, he had no condition. He was not on medication for a condition that he didn't know about. He did not pass out on the train. He missed a train, because he was completely unreliable. He would miss train after train in the coming months. He would get caught in traffic that didn't exist. I would lose entire days waiting for him because I loved him and knew he was lying and didn't care because I loved him and.
There were many, many little lies littered throughout the happy times. But there were happy times, so why focus on tiny, little harmless lies?
In August 2007, after four months of knowing each other, and three months of dating and living together, I went to Austin for a national poetry slam competition. On my second day in Austin, I got a call from my friend Don, who happened to also be Sora's boss at The Truffle Shuffle chocolate store. "Hey, Adam, tell your boyfriend he's late for work."
"Ugh. Really? Sorry, Don, but I'm in Austin, so I can't exactly dump him off the couch or wherever he fell asleep. I"ll call Celeste, though, and see if she can wake him up."
Well, Celeste said he wasn't home. I told her to call me when she saw him. I told Don to have Sora call me when he got to work. I called Sora's cell a few times.
No one called me back that day.
The next morning I got a call from Sora that his dad had a heart attack, and he had to spend some time helping take care of the house, and he didn't know how long it would be for, but probably not too long, and he missed me, and was really sorry, but "Don't be mad. It's an emergency."
What were the odds of me dating another compulsive liar with a supposedly dead parent who would leave me by telling me a close family member was ill and he had to take care of them?
Apparently, pretty good.
Socialist Steve, the guitarist in Celeste's band, has dreadlocks the way Allston has bedbugs. Ben has decided that the dreadlocks are a separate, sentient life form. He firmly believes that the reason Steve is always late for rehearsals is because of his hair. Oh, he's not grooming it. It's just that while Steve is tuning his guitar, and getting ready to leave, his dreadlocks are playing XBox. When he says "Hey...guys? I've got to go, or I"m going to be late." They reply "ssssssss ssssssssss ssssssss" which is Dreadlock for "Fuck off, if I don't help Ryder shoot the guards, I'm never gonna get past this mission."
Tonight, Steve is on time, which is good, because this will be one of the last shows the band has before Celeste moves to LA. The show is in a huge house in Jamaica Plain. The kind of house with constant parties, a sweat lodge, and a stripper pole. I am sitting on a couch with Sora and Lola, who are discussing how cool it is that they're both Puerto Rican, when Ben walks in the room and announces that he's high. This is glaringly obvious.
Shortly after Ben's arrival, a band begins to play. I whisper back and forth with Sora and Celeste. Ben stands in front of us, swaying, but not to the music. At one point, he walks over to the couch, says something to Sora and walks away.
"That, DOUCHETRUCK!" Sora says, gets up, and leaves the room.
I put my head in my hands. Celeste rubs my shoulders. I count to ten, and prepare to go after Sora. But before I can get up, Sora is back. He grabs my right hand, opens up the palm, and places a tiny orange squirtgun in my hand. I shoot him the Velociraptor look. He takes the gun, and fires it at the back of Ben's head, then quickly, moves it into his pocket.
Ben touches the back of his head, looks to his left, sees Socialist Steve, makes a disgusted face, then turns back to watch the band.
Sora squirts him again. Ben glares at Steve, then stumbles over to us and says "His hair is PEEING on me."
Sora says "ssssssssssssss."
This goes on for about ten minutes, at which point Ben leaves the room. Sora and I follow. The three of us end up on the porch, where someone is passing around a hookah. While I am inhaling, Ben begins a rant on Socialist Steve's hair, which somehow ends with him talking about how I'm dating a toddler.
Sora pulls the squirtgun out of his pocket, and says "Bad Ben! Bad!" and squirts him like a cat.
"Oh. You. You little. I thought." and at one point a noun comes out of his mouth, but it is entirely unmemorable.
A short while later, we go back upstairs, watch Celeste's band, and drink.
When the show starts to die down, Sora, Celeste, Steve, and I head into the kitchen to get more beer, and make snide comments. Ben is already in the kitchen talking to someone "...and I totally shouldn't be eating chips because they're not on my 700 calorie a day plan, but I can't seem to stop myself, they're just so good, of course, I'm a little high right now, but, you know. Did I mention I'm in a band? We just had a show a couple of months ago, and"
"We?" I interject. "You're the only member of your band. Remember? No one else in Boston is talented enough to work with you."
"You just. You shut up. Why don't you take your little THING there, and."
Sora takes out the squirtgun again. "Bad Ben. Bad!" And he squirts him.
Ben's eyes explode. "STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!! I'M NOT FAT!!! WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING ME FAT???"
And the room goes completely silent.
"Ummmm." Steve says. "No one called you fat."
"YES HE DID!" Ben screams, then takes a deep breath. "All night long, he's been following me around, squirting me with that ridiculous little gun, and calling me fat."
"Actually," Celeste says "he's been calling you bad. And then squirting you. Like a cat. Like a BAD cat."
Ben turns red. Steve shakes his head.
I used to give my roommates, Celeste and Sir Trick, who were a couple, a hard time because every week or so I'd need to take a piss while they were busy fucking in the shower. When my boyfriend, Sora, moved in, I had to decide whether to take the high road, and not seek vengeance by long shower-fuck sessions, or take the low road, and see if we could make more noise.
For once in my life, I took the high road.
Apart from a couple of noise battles (when you try to prove how much better your sex is by increasing the volume of moans, shouts, and smack noises), we tended to let our sex remain private.
One afternoon, Sora and I were in the kitchen arguing over something stupid, and we heard the roommates getting it on. We ignored it. And after a half hour or so, Celeste came into the kitchen, with a huge glob of come on the front of her shirt. Sora and I contained most of our laughter, and didn't even say anything when she said "Oh my god, dude!", turned around, and ran into her room to change her shirt.
Later that night, after drinking enough Coronas to be declared official citizens of Mexico, Sora and I stumbled into our room for some loud, sloppy, lights out, almost sex. Because Sora had a nasty habit of falling directly asleep after orgasm, we had a standing/sitting/laying down agreement that I always got to come first. So I did. Once devoid of sperm, I knelt down to reciprocate, and Sora promptly rammed his cock into my nose. After the requisite name calling (I chose douchenozzle for this particular occasion) and ass smackage, I forged ahead with the fellatio.
Once he'd come, we made out for a bit, and then Sora decided to take a shower before he fell asleep. He threw a towel around his waist, and walked down the hallway to the bathroom. He was too tired to hear the water running, so when he opened the door, the apartment was filled with all three of my roommates screaming. Sora screamed because he'd walked in on Celeste and Trick's shower sex, and Celeste and Sir Trick screamed because Sora's face and belly were covered in blood. Apparently, he'd rammed my nose harder than either of us had realized.
The next day we put memo boards up on our bedroom doors, and the bathroom with "Occupied" and "Vacant" signs.
“You’re moving?” Ben asks when we get back to his apartment.
I’ve been thinking about it since he got back from New York. And the phone call I made at work was to Celeste. Her roommate is moving to North Carolina on December first. He’s leaving behind his old computer, his bed, a few shelves, and most importantly, a room of my own. No van seat perpendicular to Ben’s bed.
“Is that why you’ve been so happy? Because you’re leaving me?”
“Leaving you? Since when are we together?”
He fluffs his hair. “You know what I mean. Good for you, though. You do need to get your own place. But now where will I get my crab cakes and coconut shrimp from?”
And I reassure him that I’m not disappearing out of his life. Celeste’s house is a half-hour walk or ten minute bus ride away.
“Oh, good.” He says. And we don’t discuss it again until December first, when I throw all my stuff into my backpack, and one of his suitcases, and tell him I’ll be back in an hour.
“And the next time you see me, I won’t be your roommate, I’ll be a guest, so you’ll have to start treating me better." Though I know he doesn’t treat his guests any differently than he's treated me for the last three months.
“So, what now? Am I supposed to hug you goodbye or something?”
I wrap my arms around him. There is a split second where I debate kissing him, notbecause I’m still in love with him (I’m not sure I am), but because I know it will infuriate him.
Instead, I smile, pick up my bags, and walk to the elevator. Fucker didn’t even offer to help carry my bags.
In an IM conversation with Dmitri, I mention that I am catsitting for Ben while he's away, and that I'm in the midst of reorganizing the apartment. Dmitri says "You make such a good wife." Me? A wife? I have a beard, and it's not a woman with self-esteem issues, it's facial hair. Ben is the one who wears eyeliner.
And so it is that I spend the last day of my Ben free time, cataloging a list of my exes in my head.
Before Jennifer dumped me for my supposed best friend, Scott, she listened to Billy Joel, Phantom of the Opera, Milli Vanilli, Roxette; the music that all the cool kids were listening to in 1989. Before Jennifer admitted that the first time we dated, it had been exclusively to get closer to the little greaseball bastard who played the role of friend when it suited his snobby, rich, not very well-shaped ass, she wore cute white sweaters, was a straight A student, and really wanted to be a writer.
After Jennifer dumped me for that whiny little reminder of why the pull out method doesn't work, she abandoned English for Science, starting listening to Sir Mix-A-Lot, Young MC, LL Cool J, and other artists that I would grow to like once the nineties started, but we were twelve and not supposed to be listening to cool music, yet. Sure, she continued to take violin lessons, but everything else changed. After Jennifer crushed my heterosexuality between her fingers in order to date someone that I know for a fact had a smaller dick and intellect, she switched from glasses to contacts, from modest clothes to garish pink sweaters and other Debbie Gibsonesque fashion that caused an entire generation of women to "lose" any photos taken of them from, say 1987-1990. Her beautiful straight hair had teased bangs and clumsy curls. I hated the new Jennifer.
Once Jennifer dumped Scott for someone way hotter, way gayer, someone I ended up trysting with nine years later, she put her glasses back on, she kept her interest in science, restraightened her hair, found a moderate stance for her clothes. Once Jennifer realized what a little douche-trucker-hat Scott was, and started dating someone with way more style, and a body that convinced me that male artists tend to be homosexual because, fuck, men are works of art, she started listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, bands that wouldn't break on MTV until 1992. Once Jennifer and Scott went the way of Brandon and Dylan, we decided to be friends again. Actually, I never told her we'd stopped being friends, because then I wouldn't have had anyone who wasn't a complete loser to hang out with at lunch.
When Jennifer abandoned her poor, soon to be oversexed, tan skinned, boat owning boyfriend for a much older (seventeen!!!) AV geek with bad teeth and halitosis, she got rid of the glasses again, started wearing mostly black, listened to prog rock bands like Dream Theatre, Queensryche, Rush, and early Genesis, and picked up an unplaceable accent that hurt my ears so much that, not only did I stop hanging out with her, I told my parents I wanted to go back to public school.
I couldn't be friends with someone who didn't have their own personality. All she ever did was assimilate her taste to her boyfriend's. She would take one, and only one of his traits when they broke off, and reinvent the rest of herself. She kept the complicated love of Jesus that she learned from Chris the Old. Her compassion, and willing to listen to people came from Ryan the Perfect. Her sarcasm and since of humor, I wish I could claim, but actually came from Scott. It wasn't until I started not dating Ben that I realized what she got from me.
"Did you hear that they're getting rid of Vanilla Coke?" Ben asks, as we wander around the CVS in search of light bulbs.
"Yea." I say. "They're gonna replace it with Cherry Vanilla Coke, which is way awesomer, anyway.""
"Ewww, dude. Anything with that fake vanilla is so nauseatingly sweet."
"I like sweet things." I say.
I shoot him the You Have Got To Be Fucken Kidding Me Look.
He stops looking at the Christmas lights display, shoots me a hurt look. "I'm sweet."
"Sometimes." I say. "But you also have that tang of bitterness that I find so hot."
"Oh, sweet Christ, you like your men like you like your alcohol. Booooo." He picks up a box of lights. "They don't have any blue lights, ugh."
"Are we all set, then?"
He frowns as he picks up another box of not blue lights. "Mmmmmm. No. Don't forget to get some sort of munchy thing. We're going to be completely...yea."
"At a CVS? I want something substantial."
"So get one of those microwavable meals." He says.
"Bleurgh. They're so...unnatural." And since when do I give a fuck about something being natural or not? When do I care what type of food goes into my body? Since Ben. I got my occasional nicotine habit from Elvis. From Liam, I learned my appreciation of how absurd sex really is. From Ryan, I got my compassion, and ability to listen to other people's problems. Beckee taught me to be devious. And Jennifer? This is what I'm not sure, did I absorb my habit of adapting my image to fit the people I love from her, or did she get it from me, or was it the one product of our love that survived?
Yes, I'm vanishing. Yes, life is more complicated than explaining calculus to someone who doesn't speak the same language as you. Yes, Asscat scratched the blood out of my hand last night. Yes, taking three hits of acid on your first time is an incredibly stupid idea. Yes, I'm fine now, thanks for not asking. When Ben asked me to feed Rufus while he went back to New York, he said "And this time, I promise the power won't go out."
Celeste, who I called to keep me company while Lissabelle torments Ben, smiles at me through thirty-seven coats of lipgloss. "The whole arrangement is just decidedly weird." Ben and Lissabelle are in his apartment, packing, unpacking, repacking for their return trip. The acid was so good, Ben's going back to buy one hundred hits. Celeste and I are in the hallway, passing one of Ben's Gauloises between us.
I inhale and then try to flick the cigarette, but the filter catches under my nail. "How so?" Twitchingly.
"Well...." And I hate the way that word hangs between us, as though I'm going to tell you something you already know, but don't really want to hear right now is sandwiched between the e and the first l. And I know what she's trying to say, it's weird how I met and fell in love with Ben so quickly, and then unceremoniously moved into his apartment, even though he doesn't really love me. And it's weird how Ben, who doesn't love me, and who hasn't even known me for very long would let me move in with him. "You know, the whole, uh...living situation."
In the reflection of Celeste's lip gloss, I see Ben open the door. "Hey, hun, you're gonna want to get your shit off my bed, because everything that's on my bed in three minutes, gets put in my bag and taken to New York."
I head into the apartment, collect the notebooks Celeste and I have been writing in, place them on the piano, and then lay across his bed.
"No. I'm not taking you. Nice try." He pushes me off the bed, and begins throwing things from the bed into his bag. "Oh, check these out." He picks up a pair of argyle knee socks.
"Hot." I say, because they are.
"You are sooooo gay." Lissabelle says. And I'm not sure whether she's talking to me or Ben. Sure, Ben is the one who has pink hair, eyeliner, and knee socks, but I'm the one who's attracted to him.
"He didn't used to be gay." Celeste says. So they're talking about me. "You know, apart from the whole sleeping with men thing."
I should be saying something clever and catty, but I have been abusing my brain and body for the past week or so, and they are both decidedly unhappy with me.
"Fascinating as your socks are," Lissabelle says, "we are way late right now, so you need to pack so we can get out of here."
"Bitch, we're only late because you forgot to pack." Ben says, fluffing his hair. "So, no more from you. Shhhh. Shhhh."
And then they are packed and gone. And it is Celeste and I alone in Ben's apartment. She is standing in front of the mirror, "Adam, do my lips look puffy?"
"No." They look varnished like the hardwood floor in a sports arena, but they don't look puffy.
"Ok." But she continues to look at her face in the mirror. This is Ben's apartment. There are mirrors everywhere. "We should go out for a walk. Moving would be really good."
Yes, yes it would. "Where should we go?"
So we head out to the streets of Allston, where the colors are vivid and the wind is a word I can't come up with. We don't go anywhere exciting. An ATM and the ice cream shop. Then we are back in the apartment, and it is time for Celeste to go home. "Bye, Adam. See you later." And she smiles, again. I can see myself in her lips, alone in Ben's apartment, looking at the calendar, trying to figure out how long it will be before Ben comes home.
I am the subject. Am is happy to be helping. In is the preposition I'm currently stuck with. Love is the real object. See? Ben, David, Dmitri, CSB, Ryan, it doesn't matter who, does it? Fuck who is the object of my desire, desire is the objective.
I've been mocking Ben for lamenting that no one he's attracted to is attracted to him. I haven't met anyone gay or straight who doesn't think he's attractive. Of course, I suffer from the same affliction (the no one I'm attracted to is attracted to me thing, not the everyone thinks I'm attractive thing, I wish). Should have gone for the guy on the T with the staring problem. Dealt with that musician guy from the Lizard Lounge. Dmitri who's far away and already has a boyfriend. Or David, who I'm starting to realize is from another planet.
Celeste says "It sucks that Ben led you on for so long." But he never led me on. I led me on. Ben is always direct with what he wants, needs, expects. I'm not. This is why no one ever knows what I want. This is why everything.
Trick says, "Ben doesn't deserve you. Go for David." But Trick has never met David. And when I question the accuracy of the word deserve, he recants.
Deserving is a stupid word. The bitch that moved into my old apartment and posted a Craigslist ad of my room deserves a snatch full of razor blades and rubbing alcohol. And may the blades be lubricated with leprosy and Hepatitis C. What she gets is an asshole ex-roommate who refuses to be in the same zip code as her, thus not paying his share of the bills. And since that's me, I deserve the heavy backpack grinding away what's left of my spine.
I need to relearn the ability to be direct. You there, in front of me in line at the Store 24, you've got a great ass. Clarissa, if you weren't so silently judgmental, you'd be happier and have more long term friends. Celeste, thank you. Ben, I love you, and thank you for putting up with me at my most awkward and freakishly dependent. We need to go see Serenity. We need serenity. Serenity now, goddamnit.
I need to relearn the ability to object. I can't work seven nights a week. No, I won't meet you halfway if you live in an abattoir. I'll just leave what you need by the front door. I'm fine. Thanks for not asking.
This is as up front as I get. Seven years ago, the only man I ever trusted when he said he loved me, killed himself. I only think of him every time I feel anything like love. So fucken what? Everyone has ashes under their scars. You either get over it or you don't. Either way, life is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. If you don't make a decision, you're stuck on the same boringly inconclusive page for the rest of your life.
I only love improbable relationships because they're uncomfortably familiar. I love Ben because I don't know, his voice makes my ears twitch, he's starting to write like breath, he doesn't talk like FM radio, he doesn't act his or anyone else's age. I love him because it feels natural.
He deserves better.
When I get back from Connecticut, and Ben gets back from New York, he is all apologies and duct tape band aids. He takes me out to the movies. We go to the Different Twist for dinner with Trick and Celeste. He tells us about his trip. "It was awful. I decided to try two hits at once, and I ended up spending most of the night outside, trying to talk to the rocks or some shit. When I came back in, I borrowed Lissabelle's cell phone to call you, but you didn't answer. Thank God. Anyway, I gave the phone back to her, or at least, I thought I did. When we were getting ready to leave this morning, she said she couldn't find it. So I cleaned the entire commune. Twice. No phone. I unpacked all my stuff, and repacked it, and unpacked it, and repacked it. No phone. She kept screaming at me and telling me what a terrible person I was. And I wanted to find the phone, not just to shut her up, but so I could call you, because I desperately needed to hear someone say something nice to me."
Trick coughs conspicuously. Apparently, Celeste told him about the I Don't Love You Conversation.
"Anyway, she had one of her friends hypnotize me, to see if that would help me remember what I did with the phone. I didn't. And when we finally gave up, Lissabelle put her coat on, and the phone was right there in her pocket, and the bitch didn't even apologize."
"Wait," Trick says, "you thought to get hypnotized in order to find her phone, but you didn't think to have her check her pockets. Why not just burn the house down and use a metal detector to find it?"
"Booooo. Anyway, we're going back next week because I was only able to get a dozen hits, and I have friends coming down to visit tomorrow. Oh, Celeste, can Safey stay with you while my friends are in town?"
I flinch. Trick flinches. Celeste rolls her eyes. "Of course. Did you think of, I don't know, asking Safey how he felt about it before asking me."
And he dribbles forth more apologies. And he pays for my pizza. And whatever.
At work, the next day, I am so far beyond overtired, that I strongly suspect the ASL sign for coma was invented to describe the way I feel. Ben calls the work phone around eight to ask me to bring him some food. I say "Sure thing, baby, I'll see you when I get home."
Things wrong with that statement:
1. Baby? What the hell?
2. Ben's apartment is not home.
A few minutes later, one of the new waitresses, Hill, taps me on the shoulder and says "Ben is on the phone for you again."
I decide to be funny, to go way over the top with the whole baby thing, so I put on my sexy phone voice and say "Hey, baby," (shudder) "what's up?"
"Baby?" Says Ben my boss, not Ben my future ex-boyfriend. "It's Ben."
And I say "Uhhhh....Hey?"
And when I weasel my way out of that conversation, David (my almost mutual infatuation partner), who's been standing around the corner the whole time says "Baby? Who's your baby?"
And I say, "No one. I'm just really drunk." And it's true, four Peachtree Schnapps, Smirnoff, Peaches, Chambord and Champagne will do that to you. But, given how stressful this week has been, the solution seems to be, drink more. So, after work, David and I take the T together, discussing everything but the word baby. I get off the T and head to Ben's house where we take loads of digital pictures, change our LiveJournal layouts, and drink Rated X liquor, thus keeping everything I've drunk, a fluorescent shade of pink. And while we drink and take pictures,we play En Vogue's Funky Divas album.
"This is so gay. You're not allowed to tell anyone about this." Ben says. "Especially not the part about how I got really into it and sang the lyrics in the most sincere way possible."
"Ok." I say. "I won't."
Before leaving for New York, Ben and I were eating breakfast at our favorite diner, when he said: “You always order the Eggs Benedict, and you manage to get like three quarters of the way through breakfast without cracking the yokes. That’s damned impressive.”
Later that night, during a poetry event, Zuzu asks “Are you aware of how many times you mention Ben’s name in a sentence.”
“Only about once a sentence, thank you. It’s just that I usually run said Ben sentences together.”
My grandmother called today to let me know that my grandfather just got out of the hospital, and that my dad, who I haven’t seen since...let’s not speculate on that one...is staying with them for a while. So I’m going to Connecticut. Connecticut, place of my birth and adoption, where I nearly grew up, but for my father being transferred to Cape Cod when I was six.
Ben plans on arriving sometime early this morning, possibly giving him enough time to sleep before he goes to work. I leave at fuckall o'clock tomorrow morning, so that my grandmother can cook a meal large enough to cover the two years since we’ve seen each other: potato pancakes, waffles, bacon, and Eggs Benedict.
There’s a variety of reasons why I haven’t gone to visit them since I moved back from Arifuckenzona. They’ve been dealing with a sick relative (my not so great great uncle), selling off a house (my great grandparents’), and spending as much time waxing the floors of God’s house as their local church allows. I’ve been busy with work, moving, writing, sodomy, and coming up with excuses why I can’t go visit them. There’s never enough time. But there’s nothing like the possibility of imminent death to inspire family members to take personal time off from work to de-guiltify.
Before I go, I make a run to the grocery store to buy jello, soy milk, and rice. Things Ben likes that I don’t. It doesn’t occur to me until I’m back at the house that I’m hungry but I haven’t bought anything for me. I don’t know whether I neglected to buy groceries for me because I knew I was leaving tomorrow and didn’t want to waste money or because I’ve never been good at putting myself before others. You’re more or less than welcome to draw your own conclusions, just draw them with pencil because you may change your mind later.
Celeste calls during my walk home to let me know that yesterday, someone broke into the coffeehouse and stole the cash register. In addition to the physical presence of the register, they also got away with all the money inside of it. Approximately forty cents in pennies. Somewhere, there’s a very winded, very pissed off thief. I’m presuming they ran, because it’s hard to look nonchalant when ambling around Boston with a cash register under your arm or trenchcoat.
I’m tired now, but not sleepy. I’ve got a million things to write about, but can’t seem to get them to lineup properly in my mind. I’m still hungry, but not motivated enough to go out and get something to eat. Tomorrow is a banquet. I will eat every bite that’s offered, and with any luck, won’t crack until the very end.