Sometimes you have a miserable night. Not a bad night. Just a night that clocks you in the face, makes you feel like shit.
I was in some small fake park in Williamsburg. With this guy I know. And he told me, angrily, that I never listen to him. And I don’t. I don’t.
It’s hard when someone tells you something true about yourself. Something you know but you don’t know. Something you know, but you wouldn’t like to see.
So we sat in this little park. Just scrubs and benches next to the trucks trying to climb onto the BQE. Just trucks desperate to get onto a highway, onto a bridge. And Thomas just told me the most miserable things about his life.
I’ve known Thomas for years. I have this hazy memory of meeting him at Akbar in Silver Lake—that Moroccan themed gay bar—on the edge of Sunset and nowhere. My friend Charlie had just moved to LA. And I said let’s go to Akbar, they were throwing some version of a circuit party called Bears in Space. It was Labor Day. Too hot and sweaty. And me and Charlie went, but maybe too late. Akbar is next to McDonald’s. So you see all the Los Angeles gays in shorts too short, tipsy in the heat waiting in line. And just across the parking lot you see McDonalds. Indifferent, just cars moving through the drive through, tick tok, everyone grabbing their soft serve in the Indian Summer heat and high tailing it out of there.
I remember this party because of Thomas. I don’t remember why, but I was sad. I was miserable. And it was one of those hot days when you just paint on a smile. I remember meeting Charlie somewhere near that mechanical snake that kept plopping out one happy ice cream customer after another.
Inside, me and Charlie felt far too sober. So of course we did a lot of shots. Of tequila. Nothing wrong there. And then, as things do, they got hazy. I was so drunk I took off my shirt. I was so drunk, I remember kissing Charlie. Silly, of course. I was so drunk, I got kicked out! Now I pride myself on being a coherent drunk. This night I was not. And this is how I remember meeting Thomas. Him coming up to me. Him telling me I was sexy. Me getting pushed outside. Who could imagine why? (I certainly don’t remember.)
And the rest of that night was a blur. Labor Day. Indian Summer. I guess I went home? I guess Thomas gave me his number? I do have an image in my head of one of the bouncers counseling Thomas. “He’s trouble.” And I remember, looking across the baked concrete, doing my best to look sexy and not wasted. When I think back to that night, I don’t disagree. I’m trouble. I’m a disaster. Tonight three years later in some scrubby little triangle when Thomas is crying and I can’t help but laugh. I think: “Yeah, I’m trouble.” And what?
Then things get brown. I have some bits and pieces. But maybe those are from Uber receipts. You would be surprised what little bits of evidence make you think you remember. But I do remember I think… I went home. I got a shirt. I remember an Uber. Nothing special besides me being so drunk it felt aquatic. Just a squid undulating along those hillside switchbacks.
And then…hmmm. I remember a bed. I remember Thomas kissing me. Nothing untoward happened. It was, as far as I remember romantic. He didn’t fuck me. He could have. But he kissed me. I remember him above me. I remember his weight on my body. And then…hmmmm. When I woke up. There were two dogs licking my face to death. A big standard poodle—chocolate—and a little terrier. (I would later learn his name was Ruffus. Thomas’. Both silly and sentimental.) I looked up embarrassed. From a window I could see Silver Lake Reservoir.
Thomas was bemused. I was his little drunken conquest. We dragged ourselves down to the deck. He smoked American Spirits. I spoked Parliament Lights. It was one of those awkward too bright mornings where everyone pretends the questions you ask eachother weren’t asked the night before. He said he was in TV. I said I was a “brand strategist.” (God, am I? Who knows at this point.) He laughed. Chuckling in shorts, a distressed, very American cap, next to some big silver grill. “Of course you are…”
I got an Uber home. I slept. I was hung over. That night I was supposed to go to my friend Eric’s house. Some annoying poker game I had gotten roped into because my friend [REDACTED] was trying not to drink. I dragged myself out of bed in the evening. At that apartment, we had a porch with a little fire pit. All a bit downtrodden in the sun, but nice at night. I remember sitting there, in some plastic deck chair.
I sent Thomas a text. “I really like you.” And he replied immediately: “I really like you, too.” It’s so dumb. These little things. But they mean so much. How many times do you tell someone you like them, you felt a connection, you felt something. How many times do they say, “Yes, me too.” I could see Glendale Boulevard down below. Slow, but fast. Shitty cars creeping up towards Sunset. I said, “Let’s hang out again.” Thomas said, “I’d like that.”
And then tonight. So many years later. We tried once. We failed. We tried another time. Failed again. I really don’t know anymore. Did we try tonight? Did we fail tonight?
I’m not so young anymore. I wonder how many more people I can love. Sitting in that little triangle next to the BQE, letting Thomas stick his face in mine and tell me: “Don’t you get it? I love you? Why don’t you listen to me?” And I laughed because I don’t know how to be with a man. I don’t know how to love someone. I know how to laugh though.
And so Thomas left. And gave me a kiss. And not a peck. He gave me a kiss. Because he told me he wanted me to listen to him. He told me he loved me. And I just sat there listening to cabs whizz on the BQE. Because… Because… Well, I don’t why. And I guess that’s why Thomas went home alone. And I went alone too.