There has been construction going on upstairs pretty much since we moved in. It's not every day, but at least two or three times a week. Today, they are blasting pan flute music while sawing, drilling, dropping heavy objects on the floor, laughing at whoever dropped the heavy object last. All the while, the You Are Waiting To Get On A Line At Disney World pan flute music plays, and in the background, Motherfucker is Howling for it all to stop.
Comrade: "Why would you buy a piano, a flute, a clarinet, a recorder, and a saxophone if you Can't Play Any Of Them? It's like finding out you own all these books and you can't read but every week or so you just open them at random, and stare at them until your eyes cross."
Earlier today, I thought I could actually pluck a melody out of their recorder playing but it turned out that they were just trying to play scales and every time they messed up a note WHICH WAS OFTEN they started over.
The upstairs piano playing neighbor leaves his car in front of our window, instead of parking it in the lot like a considerate person. Tonight, after he parked in front of it window, an unfamiliar voice asked "Do you like living here? Is it quiet?"
At which point, Comrade began making loud sex noises.
Vde: "I can't help but notice you got Double Stuf Oreos instead of Mega Stuf Oreos. If we're having financial trouble, just tell me."
Comraude: I have good news and bad news.
Me: How good? And how bad?
Comrade: The upstairs neighbors have stopped playing the piano.
From upstairs, the asthmatic fart of a misunderstood saxophone honks.
Last night's featured performer did a poem about former roommates who left their sex toys in their shared shower.
After the poem was over, I leaned over to Comrade. "One of my terrible ex-roommates used to leave their dildos in the shower all the time. So I used to drown their dildos in shampoo."
Comrade looks appalled. "Adam. Don't you know how much that would hurt?"
Me: "Oh, I would then aim the shower head to rinse the shampoo off. I wanted them to notice the clean smell, so that they would realize that I had noticed their dildos were in the shower, and that I thought they were filthy. I would never want them to feel shampoo burn in their sensitive area."
Comrade: "Ok. Whew."
Me: "Not when I had that whole kitchen cabinet worth of ghost peppers to rub on them."
The downstairs screamer is visiting again. She's been just talking loudly tonight. But I have been getting some cleaning done and when I burned my hand (not seriously it's not even red anymore), I screamed out "FUCK YOU!" way too loudly, considering the water was unlikely to react to my the tone of my voice.
From downstairs, I heard her say "See, everyone in this house screams sometimes."
To which I shouted back "I am not a good role model!"
It's the first time I've heard laughter coming from down there.
My Gay Roommate: “I was surprised. Every place in Provincetown carried Moxie.”
Me: “How are you surprised that a town full of people who voluntarily put their tongues in men’s buttholes think Moxie tastes good?”
Roommate: What’s half of forever?
RM: Don’t you mean twomaybe?
Me: No. That’s a quarter of it. Two is half of four, and maybe is half of ever.
When the Chinese restaurant under Asterisk's apartment started letting their trash pile up onto his fire escape, and blasted Chinese pop after they closed at 2 AM, Asterisk decided it was time for war. He made an offhanded joke to Ben that he was going to start posting missing cat posters throughout the neighborhood, forgetting that Ben had both copious free time, and access to an industrial printer. The next day, every lamp post, telephone pole, and wall of an abandoned building was littered with flyers for Snuffy, Shadow, Anabelle, Mr. Whiskers, Grape, Francis, Hamlin, and dozens of other fictionally missing felines. All with some variation of "last seen in the vicinity of Jade Panda" , many rife with misspellings, backwards lettered children's scrawl, and wet with fake tears. It was truly a work of genius. Wait. No. It was truly a work of racist. A genius plan would have actually solved the problems of the lingering trash and loud crimes against music. The posters didn't help with either of those things.When I use ironic racism, I try to stay far away from actual racist stereotypes. I may lament how those fucken Hawaiians drive me insane with all their fucken bowling tournaments, or how I'm tired of the waking up on Tuesday mornings to find a Navajo on my front porch trying to convert me to Shamanism.
So it is with great shame that I must include the elements of cats and Asians in yet another story, but the two things just seem to keep showing up to the same parties in my life, doing little dances, and then wandering off alone.
#3 exuded theater major in most of the common ways: flair for the dramatic, intense eyes, and the creepy smiling as a defense mechanism that so many actors seem to adopt. He was, however, missing one of the most crucial properties of a theater major: he seemed employable.
Months later I discovered that, while at no time was #3 not in a play, he was also, at no time, a theater major. "Bitch, please. Do I look like a theater major?" Again, yes, he did. "I am a psych major."
"Pfffffffft." I replied. "Theater majors at least have a little bit of fun getting their useless degrees. Psych majors all end up bitter Starbuck's baristas wishing they'd majored in something more useful like theater or competitive Bocce Ball."
He shot me a Theater Major look.
Our first date was on my birthday. Which happened to also be my anniversary with Sora. Which, on the list of my great ideas, was probably not in the top ten.
After a delicious meal of Vegan Chinese food, we walked back to my house, and each had a piece of my birthday cake that my roommate, Koko, had made for me.
"What do you think?" She asked.
"Wellllllllllll, it's ok, but I'm more of a Red Velvet guy." Pause. "I'm joking. It's delicious."
All three of the people I had started dating so far were way gayer than I'd imagined. In fact, after our successfully chaste first date, I called #3 to schedule a second date. "Helllllloooooo?"
"Hey #3." I had been very up front with the numbers that they were, in fact, being labeled as numbers. "What are you up to?"
"Ohhhhhhhhhh, you know, I" and then there was commotion.
"Yo, Stone." said an unfortunately familiar voice. Goldschlager.
Goldschlager was a poet I knew from The Cantab. He had a long, hyphenated name, but had earned the nickname Goldschlager when he'd showed up at my house with a bottle of that glittery monstrosity that calls itself alcohol, as well as a date. He had brought a date to the writers' group I held at my house, and then had the nerve to be surprised when she broke up with him.
"I knew it!" He said.
"I knew you were dating Dallas. He said he went out for Chinese food with a poet, and I knew it was either you or Ben. I also know you have a thing for tiny Asians."
I dredged my brain for the logic in that statement. While I had certainly dated Bacchus since I'd met Goldschlager, I was pretty certain the two had never met. "What are you talking about, Schlag?"
"Ummmmmm." Not many people can make the letter m sound as nasally as Schlag could. It was a gift. One he should probably return to whoever gave it to him. "Well. Sora."
My brain exploded. "Sora is Puerto Rican, not Asian. He's also 5'8"."
"Right. Puerto Rican is a type of Asian."
The fuck? "No, asshole, Puerto Rico is in the opposite hemisphere from Asia, across both axes."
And in the background I heard #3 say "Sorry, Adam." It was very melodic.
Once Schlag gave #3 his phone back, he invited me to Guerrilla Queer Bar, a weekly event where a bunch of gays crashed an unsuspecting bar and turned it into their night.
Neither #3 nor I were especially amped about being completely surrounded by other gay and bi people, but we both agreed we needed more gay friends who weren't people we'd had awkward sex with, so we made it a date. 8:00 on a Friday night.
I got home from work at 6:30, took a quick shower, and headed into my room. Once dressed, I filled the cat bowl, and tapped it with my finger. Motherfucker came running to the bowl. Selina did not. I clucked my tongue in the universal Come Here Cat manner, which always caused her to either run to me or from me. Neither thing happened.
"Selina?" I called.
"Where the fuck is Sel---" the top half of my bedroom window was open. God DAMN it.
I called #3. "Hi. I might be a little late. My cat has gone AWOL."
"Reeeeeeally?" He sighed. "That's ok. I have a couple of friends who are going. We'll just....entertain each other until you find your cat."
I spent the next hour walking up and down my street calling Selina's name. I was relieved that, at least, it was her that ran away, and not Motherfucker.
At 8:30 my phone rang. It was #2. "Hi!" he said. "What are you up to tonight?"
"My cat ran away." I said. "And I can't find her anywhere. I keep calling her name, and thinking I see her, but it's always some stray cat taunting me. And there's all this caterwauling, and I had Selina fixed, but she's so slutty, and so cattractive that I know the longer she's out here, the more pregnant she's going to get."
"Oh, God!" He said. "I'm coming over right now!"
So, while #3 sat in a bar with a bunch of sparkly shirted flirters, #2 and I walked up and down my neighborhood, through people's back yards, searching for my slutty, lost cat. God DAMN it.
At 9:15, I called #3 and told him there was no way I was going to make it.
"You look really stressed!" #2 said. "It's cute how attached you are to your cat!"
The truth of the matter was, I was mostly stressed because I was missing my date with #3. I liked #2, he was cute, eccentrically fun, but there was no long term potential there. Apart from the sex, the only thing we had in common was that we both enjoyed reading and writing poetry. Sadly, there were centuries between the poetry we wrote and enjoyed. #3 was more than just a cute guy I wanted to fuck. He had...something. That stupid intangible something.
Maybe it was just that he was the first guy I'd gone on a date with in three years that I hadn't put my penis in the first night we'd met. Maybe it was his smile. Maybe it was the melodic sound of his voice.
"You owe me big time." He said, during the 9:15 phone call. "I am. Not pleased."
I sighed as I hung up the phone. Across the street, #2 was shining a flashlight in the neighbor's hedges, softly calling Selina's name.
An hour later, we were in The Slut Across The Street's back yard when he #2 said "Oh my god! Oh my GOD!"
"You found her?" I asked. I wasn't hopeful, we'd had a series of false alarms. There appeared to be more stray cats in my neighborhood then there were houses.
"No!" He said. "But I just realized this is your fortune!"
"The cat in a broken airplane! Your terrible journey! It even involves a cat!"
It was too dark for him to notice that I was rolling my eyes. "Right. Look, I'm kind of tired, and thinking of just putting some food out on the porch, and sleeping. That way I can get up early, and look for her when it's light out."
"Oh! That's a good idea! Want me to stay over, so I can help you look tomorrow?"
And he looked at me with the most hopeful eyes. Nothing sexual, an honest I Want To Help You More stare.
"That'd be great." I said.
I made him some tea, and poured myself a Cherry Coke. In my room, we talked about his insane roommate.
"Yesterday, after you left, he started shouting at me because you stayed over!"
"I'm sorry." I said. "I didn't mean to cause drama.
"It's not you!" He said. "I pay rent, I can bring over whoever I want to! But last night, he decided he loves me!"
"I know! I locked myself in the bathroom when I got tired of talking to him, and he knocked the door down!"
I put my arms around him. "Jesus."
"I know he doesn't actually love me! He's totally in love with this other guy! When he came home last night, he had just finished getting fucked by the other guy! He is SO fucked up!"
"You need to get out of that apartment."
"I know! I know! There's this guy in Philadelphia who thinks he's totally in love with me! He bought me a violin last week! He's creepily possessive, though! But sweet! I think, if things don't get better by the end of the summer, I'm going to move down with him!"
"But," I asked, "do you really want to move down to a city you've never been to in order to spend time with some creepily possessive guy you don't even know? One who thinks he can buy you with gifts?"
"Oh! I think it's a terrible idea! But I cut up an apple last night, and it revealed that I would soon be taking my own journey! That it would be hard, and filled with awfulness!"
"Yikes." I said. "So, I'm going to throw it out there that you probably shouldn't go."
"But I have to!" He replied. "The apple said I'm going!"
I let him go, and looked at him. Really, looked at him for the first time. At the end of my first date with #1, I'd been shocked to discover that he was a Drag Queen, and then sat back and thought about it, and realized I really shouldn't have been shocked. I was having the same experience with #2 now, only instead of realizing he was a drag queen, I was realizing he was out of his fucken mind.
"You think I'm crazy! Don't you?" He asked.
And I thought about the the split apple, the many dying plants in his basement apartment, the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. A cat in a broken airplane.
"You will soon go on an adventure!" He had told me on our first date. "That's the airplane.! But see how it's split in the middle?" I did. "That means it's going to be a sad journey!"
"Ok." I said. "What does the cat mean?"
"The cat is a sign of deceit! Your journey is going to be littered with lies!"
At the time, I thought that maybe, instead of reading my future, he had read my past. That the tea leaves represented my life with Sora.
Tonight, #2 had decided that the cat was not a metaphor for deceit, but actually Selina. "Which is great!" He said. "That means I was wrong about the lies!"
And now here we were in my bed, him looking at me with that stupid, hopeful expression. "You do! Don't you?" He asked. "You think I'm crazy!"
And I looked him straight in his gorgeous eyes, and said "No."
July 2006: He crashes a car again and again into a van. Low speeds. No injuries. Slight damage. He has no insurance. Back at the house, a kiss, an argument, his body, a slammed door.
August 2006: A vacation. A lie about his father's health.
January 2007: He picks up the belongings he left behind. A kiss on the forehead. Never coming back.
April 2007: An apology. His body. A war with a horrid roommate. His body, loud.
October 2008: Sora calls with the same as usual story. His father and he blah blah blah fight and out of the house and what to do. I offer him a chance to stay with me, no strings, no implied relationship. He does not take it.
After a couple of months of me offering over and over a place, he comes up to visit. I ask my roommates if they mind if Sora stays with us. As long as he helps pay some bills, they don't mind.
Just before he moves up, I offer to do deliveries for the company I work for while the usual driver was on vacation. The usual driver never comes back from that vacation. And so, for the winter of 2009, I spend a few days a week driving a giant maroon van with a cartoon on the side. I drive blocks out of my way to avoid playgrounds and schools.
I am working while he moves up. He calls to let me know there is a party going on across the street, and that I should come.
"A party?" Manny says. "So there."
So Manny and Jim hop in the back of my cartoony van, and we drive to the party across the street from my house. We are barely parked when someone is bouncing drunkily toward the van, befreckled of smile and hugs. And it is not Sora.
"Hi!" The Slut Across The Street swoons. "Who is Sora?"
Here's how it ends: Over a table mugged up for beer pong, The Slut Across The Street asks me if Sora and I are dating. We aren't. We are most specifically not dating to the point where I even said that just because he needed to live with me, didn't mean he was beholden to a relationship with me. But we are sleeping together. And he does kiss me before I leave for work. And while it wouldn't kill me if he dated someone else, it would deeply wound me if he chose this drunk, worthless slut over me. So I lie. "Yes. He's my boyfriend. Don't."
Here's how it ends: Sora and I head back home together and make out. But he has left his iPod in his car, and goes out to get it. The Slut Across The Street intercepts him with his face. His fucken tongue. His bloodshot eyes.
Here's how it ends: For once, Sora is honest. He tells me about the kiss, prepared for my anger. Is surprised when I say "Look, the guy's a total slutbag. You're hot. He kissed you. Are you going to start dating him?"
"No. I don't even really like him."
"Then we're fine." Right?
Here's how it ends: I still love him. I know he spends time with The Slut Across The Street when I'm at work. I know something is happening. I don't like it, but it's not how we are supposed to end. So I try and pretend everything is fine. And it would be except there's another party across the street and no one invites me. I call Sora, and when he does not pick up, I call one of my roommates. And there is planned karaoking, but Sora doesn't want to go and The Slut Across The Street doesn't want to go, so they come to the house, and everyone else leaves. We play Mario Kart, and The Slut keeps looking at me with more desire than guilt.
I am not drinking. His face is a plaster bust of plaster. Sora is prickly at both of us.
It is the next day when my roommate tells me that eveyone went to karaoke because The Slut Across The Street told everyone that me, him, and Sora were going to have a threesome.
Here's how it ends: An ultimatum. "Sora. Please. You don't owe me anything" but money "but not him. It's making things....difficult."
My roommate is friends with The Slut Across The Street, but he doesn't like his ethics. Doesn't like the potential drama always brewing in his always beered up brain. "It needs to stop."
Here's how it ends: My roommate gets him a job so he can contribute to bills. He spends his money on I don't know but not me or bills.
"Adam, it needs to stop. You need to talk to him."
Here's how it ends: We talk. Via Instant Messanger. I come up with an arrangement. A terrible terrible arrangement. Our relationship will be purely sexual. He can fall in love with whoever he wants, safely fuck whoever he wants, but as long as he lives with me....
"Your life." JBoB says, when I explain the arrangement to him, "is not real. Relationships like that don't happen. They don't work. They destroy everything."
But it's so much worse than that.
Here's how it ends: Sora comes home from work and says the arrangement is fine.
But I couldn't really treat a stranger like this for sex. Certainly not him.
Here's how it ends: A drifting. Sora passing out on the couch.
One night he insists on playing a video game to the end. And when the credits roll he starts calling out for his mother and then blacks out.
Here's how it ends: Slumped over my shoulder for the third night in a row. I carry him to a bed we share nonsexually. I can't keep doing this. I can't keep doing this.
"He can't keep doing this." My roommate says. "He just sits at home all day when he doesn't work, playing video games on my TV. He doesn't pay any bills. He just...It's not that I don't like him. He's a good kid." kid kid kid kid kid kid kid "I just don't know how much longer I can put up with him."
Here's how it ends: My roommates throw a fake prom at a local bar. The Slut's favorite bar. And we all go. And we're all excruciatingly nice to each other. But it's actual niceness. We all appear to be okay. And there is dancing. And Sora is drunk, but not horribly so. And he says something funny, and I lean in and kiss him. And I say "I love you."
And he says. "I know."
Here's how it ends: In the living room. We are talking about whether or not we're in a relationship. I make some throwaway joke about how he moved out of our last apartment while I was in Texas to take care of his father.
And he finally says it. "My father never had a heart attack."
"I know. I've always known."
"I just didn't love you. I don't love you."
Here's how it ends. A fucken cliche. I am for the first time I can remember crying, actually crying. In the shower so no one will hear me. This is entirely my everything fault. I told him I wouldn't do this. I told him we'd be fine as just friends. Why do we keep lying to each other?
Here's how it ends. A party at our house. Everyone from our house and the house across the street except the slut. A cook out. Beer pong. Promise of dinner and karaoke. When no one invites me, I invite myself.
Sora follows me into the house when I go to get changed. "Adam, we shouldn't go." He says. "This is a bad idea. Let's just stay home. You and me."
The Slut will be there. So my roommates don't want me there. They are afraid of drama. Which hightens the drama, because I no longer worry about Sora and The Slut, but I worry that The Slut and Sora's non-relationship is hurting my living situation, my friendship with all the people we mutually know.
Here's how it ends: We go out to dinner. And when I announce I am going, several people decide not to go. It is me, Sora, one roommate, one of the guys who lives upstairs, and his girlfriend, who lives with The Slut. We are to meet The Slut for Mexican food, and then go to karaoke.
The Slut is there before we are. He is smoking and not very much talking, so Sora goes gattling tongue. "Mexican food poop is the worst." kid kid kid kid kid kid kid "....poop....poop...."
My roommate laughs uncomfortably. "You know, every time we end up going out you always end up talking shit. It's like you do actually know shit, but nothing else."
Here's how it ends: I left my wallet in my other pants when I got changed, and I need to go back and get it. I tell everyone not to wait up. I'll be back. And I run full-intentioned back home to find my other roommate crying.
"It's over." She says. "He doesn't love me."
And we hug, and we talk, and we play Mario Kart, and I call Sora to tell him I won't be back. And she calls my roommate, to tell him we're not going to meet them there. And we laugh a lot. And things are okay.
Here's how it ends: Things are not ok. The couple fights. Sora and The Slut flirt enough that my roommate decides the night is over, and everyone should go home. So they walk home.
He arrives first. He sits down at the kitchen table and says "Everyone else is about five minutes behind me. Look. Adam. He's got to go. This was a nice drama free house before he got here and now....He's a nice" don't say it "guy" thank you "but I hate all of them right now, and I need a break. And I can't break from him if he's living in the same house with me."
Which is reasonable. And he lived here first. He invited me into this apartment. "Okay."
"It doesn't have to be now. Or tomorrow. Or in a week. Just...he needs to start working on a plan out of here." And my roommate takes out a knife and stabs back and forth between his splayed out fingers. "I'm sorry."
"No." I say. "It's okay."
"We'll all be single!" My just dumped roommate says. And we laugh. And we laugh our way through a full hour with no Sora and no couple and no Slut.
After two hours, the others go to bed.
After three, I am looking out the window, and watching The Slut's house. The guy upstairs and The Slut's roommate, walk across the street and upstairs to his apartment.
"Was Sora with you?" I ask.
Which is worse than a yes.
Here's how it ends: Hour four I pack his belongings under the guise of cleaning the room. I am not kicking him out, I'm just....organizing.
"Hi." says Sora. He is all smiles and drink. "You're cleaning your room!" There is no y in our. "That's...." and the smile fades."that's a box full of my stuff."
Here's how it ends: He won't stay. Not another night. Not another minute. "It's embarrassing." He says. "But I get it. I definitely get it." And he starts carrying boxes out to his car.
"Don't leave." please don't leave please don't leave "I am packing all our stuff while I clean."
"You want me to go."
No. "Eventually. But not tonight."
"We didn't even do anything."
"It's not...look. My roommate got you a job, hoping you'd contribute money to the house, and you haven't paid us a cent. You're always drunk."
"What's so funny?" I ask. Also laughing. Though I don't know why.
"The last time we lived together it was all lies. I lied about my feelings, about my father, about everything. And this time...I like you. I don't love you, but I really like you, so I tried to be honest. But it's the same thing. We just don't...we just don't."
Here's how it ends: We are standing apart on the porch. We are both smiling. "Promise me something."
"When you write about this. Let it end with the word pathetic. Because that's what we are. That's what I am. Pathetic."
"No. No you're not. And we're not. I'm sorry it's over." It's actually, I'm pretty sure over. "But it's not...I'm not sorry we met. I wouldn't give up knowing you. I l...I'm glad for the fun times."
"Pathetic." He says.
But I mean it. I would erase Ryan if I could. I never liked Elvis. David I could go either way with. I wouldn't rid my world of Ben, but I don't even understand how I used to be attracted to him. Everyone inbetween felt like filler. But Sora. I don't think I will ever be able to say I loved Sora. Because I don't think I will ever be out of love with him. I don't always like him very much. I kind of hate what the lies put us through, but you can't really have hate without love. An enormous weight of fucken love. Even if what we had wasn't noble, the fact that we kept trying was. I don't think that or him was a mistake. I will move on. I will find someone else. I will be happy. And I hope he will be too. And I think that's enough. I think we were worth it.