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.