Column

Home Column

Here’s What: A Letter from Ezra

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 10

It was August, I believe. One of the hot months. My life had just calmed down after the Pride celebration, yet had picked up speed with a live performance of a sitcom I was writing at the time. At that point, I’d known Ezra all of two months. But in the interest of the man I’d begun dating a week or so after Pride—Jacob, we’ll call him—I’d sort of taken some off-time with Ezra. We’d hung out twice, I think. Once at Freaky Friday: The Musical, and again at the Idina Menzel concert. Both were fun—immense, fun, actually. Still, nothing had come of either, and I’d moved on … well, I’d moved coupled with Jake. 

Jake was 37—a doctoral student who I’d agreed to help with his dissertation—and our relationship was nothing short of intense. He was tall and slender and he drove a truck—a man’s man. The country-music-listening-but-still-voted-for-Hillary type. But he also cried … like … a lot. Coming from me, someone with the emotional threshold of a Goodwill shoe, that was saying something. 

Nevertheless, it did intensify the relationship ever more so. And although I never fell in love with Jake completely or maybe just not properly, that intensity was something felt universally. Others saw it when we sat together at bars or in restaurants, staring into one another’s eyes for minutes without blinking. Jake saw it bouncing off of me when we’d sit at patio tables where, as I began to laugh, the umbrella poking out from its center would begin to spin on a windless night. It was evident when we’d pour shots of Fireball at his apartment, raising glasses to the days to come after his graduation, and the shot glass would explode between my loosely-gripped fingers before ever making its way across the island to clink his own.

The trouble began when I lost myself somewhere inside of Jake for the time. I couldn’t go without thinking of him, or dreaming of him, nor could I be apart from him without physically aching. It was that force we had created, painfully drawing me nearer to him, and in its wake I was no longer myself.

Our love—or whatever variant of it we were experiencing—wasn’t just intense. It was powerful. It could have fed off the stars that aligned for us to meet, or maybe it was the witchcraft I practiced in solace  that I sometimes believed led him to me. In any case, there was power there, and an insurmountable amount of power at that.

But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. And unfortunately, that responsibility became too much for Jake just nights before our live show at the Room Bar. We’d broken up and said our goodbyes. And for the first time in our short-lived relationship, Jacob shed not a single tear. All the same, he showed up to support me at the show, which was kind enough in spite of the fact that he had brought a date.

As I watched them across the bar, doing my best to maintain myself while preparing lighting and sound before the show, as my eyes sank into his from afar while I sang a song of heartbreak all but to him, I learned that night that I didn’t need a man to wield great power, nor to shoulder the burden of great responsibility. I was surrounded by my closest friends and family, people who knew what I was capable of and had come to see me wield that power in complete autonomy. That night, even strangers saw it—lightning bolts boasting from my hands and chest as I delivered line-after-line almost breathlessly, cracking jokes with ingenuity likened to Dorothy Parker and Phyllis Diller. Still, my knight on noble steed was riding something—or, someone—else now. And the thought of him sitting there, taunting me with indignation the likes of which I’d never seen as he whispered to his trollish new beau beside him, I relinquished control of my power.

Enter Ezra—the last person I expected to see entering the bar to watch me whip my tongue in ingenuity and fall apart on stage for the sake of telling a story that was near and dear to my heart. Yet, there he was: the boy I’d forgone without him even knowing  I’d done so because I’d lost myself in a man that it would take me months to forget about.

“I didn’t know you were coming,” I said, approaching with two shots of Fireball and embracing him upon reach. He returned the hug awkwardly.

“Well, I almost didn’t come when I realized how far away this place was …” he laughed, as did I. “But I always want to come and support my friends.”

We took our shots and smiled.

Without even knowing it, he’d ridden in on his own steed—something more akin to a Mini Cooper—and, without knowing it, reminded me that even if Jacob had  turned out to be a total fucking prick, there were people in my life who were capable of going above and beyond without trying to prove some sort of selfish point.

I don’t know that I would have gotten past Jake if I hadn’t had Ezra to distract me with the friendship that would follow.


Dear Anthony,

It’s Ezra … obviously.

Okay, first of all, that’s far too many apologies just to compliment someone. Work on that.

Second of all, fuck you for making me cry about anything other than an animated movie. You know those emotions are foreign to me.

For real though, thank you. You’re too sweet and I feel so lucky that you were persistent enough to accomplish our friendship single-handedly because, as you helpfully pointed out (many, many times) my natural state is ‘uncomfortable’ and it’s difficult for me to manage fostering a friendship with anyone, much less if they don’t put in any effort (like I didn’t). That was unfair of me, so I guess—in some weird, cosmic way—your letter is payback for that. However, this cosmic duel isn’t over.


In October while at a conference in Indianapolis, my phone had suddenly decided to shutter. I could neither receive nor accept calls or text messages. I might be lucky enough to connect to the WiFi, considering it was available. Even then, I felt pretty shut away from the entire world. I was in a city I knew nothing about, incapable of communicating with those back home I missed even after only a few days away. And though I was in the company of friends—new and old—I couldn’t extricate those I’d not seen that week from my mind.

I’d gone to a Verizon in the mall downtown to get my phone looked at. That’s the funny thing about Indianapolis: much of downtown is connected by skywalks leading from building-to-building. So, reaching pretty much anything you needed was no great traverse.

On my way back to the Westin, I passed a Hot Topic—a store I’d not seen the inside of since buying black clothing during a brief bout of depression in high school. But that day, a window display featured a collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts memorabilia. My friends at home on my mind, I ventured in, knowing Fantastic Beasts was Ezra’s favorite movie (in spite of J.K. Rowling’s questionable decision making in the time since its release).

I browsed for a moment, finding scarves and t-shirts and keychains. Still, nothing caught my eye right off the bat that I felt would really suffice as a souvenir. 

Then, just as I was getting ready to leave, a plush toy left to be forgotten in the store corner caught my eye from my peripheral. As I turned to look, I realized it was a niffler—a platypus-like creature from Fantastic Beasts known for stealing shiny objects and collecting them in its pouch. No contemplation needed, I snatched the damned thing up and checked out at the register.

Returning to the conference center for lunch, I found Lauren sitting with our new friends Tamara and Micah where Ft. Lauderdale Pride was hosting an elaborate and certainly obscenely expensive lunch for the other Pride organizations. When I sat down and placed the Hot Topic bag in the vacant seat next to me, Lauren looked down and poked her fingers inside of it.

“What the hell could you have gotten from Hot Topic?” she inquired.

“Oh, I got a souvenir for Ezra,” I told her as she pulled it from the bag to examine it.

“Why haven’t you gotten souvenirs for anyone else?” she asked as she toyed with it.

“I bought Alice and Jackie souvenirs yesterday, asshole,” I explained without any real reason to do so.

Mhmm …” she teased. “And what exactly is this?”

“Something from his favorite movie,” I told her. She cut her eyes down at me. “What?”

“Did you also get Alice and Jackie gifts that personal?”

I snatched the niffler out of her hands.

“First of all, fuck off. Secondly, I didn’t go scavenging for it. I just happened to pass a display in the mall.”

“I see …”


I’ve told you before, and I’m not sure if you believed me or not, but you really are the only friend I’ve made since moving to Houston four years ago. Unlike you, I don’t make a lot of friends—I lack the required social skills to maintain casual friendships, which has the happy consequence that all of the friendships I do manage to establish are deeply meaningful and fulfilling. Ours is no exception to that rule.

You are, in a word, intense. You feel and express emotions so deeply and passionately, and in ways that I don’t think I will ever be able to understand. And even though you don’t mean half the things you jokingly say, you somehow still manage to be both brutally honest and sincerely well-meaning … pretty much constantly; and all that through a consistent haze of questionable substance abuse and rampant alcoholism. It’s equal parts inspiring and intimidating, if I’m being honest. You’re crass; you’re loud; and you make all the terrible decisions that parents threaten their children with disownment for making.


A week or so after returning from Indianapolis, Ezra accompanied me to my cousin’s Friday the 13th wedding. My mother’s side of the family is a bit backwoods and the wedding in Cleveland, Texas only furthered that point. On the way there from my mother’s house in Kingwood—a snooty Houston suburb—Ezra mentioned, “This place is making me feel rather at home.”

Ezra was born and raised in Arkansas.

Arriving late, we’d missed the ceremony, which didn’t bother me too much. Straight weddings have a tendency to nauseate me. Still, the reception proved to be a good time. The drinks were strong, and after a while, my cousin had changed out of her wedding dress and came down to take tequila shots, a tradition I very much wanted to be a part of.

The first shot went down fairly easy; and, for me, the second shot did, as well (as did each that followed). However, the moment that the second tequila shot hit the inside of Ezra’s mouth, he immediately gagged and spit the liquor out of his mouth … all over my cousin, Lara, the bride.

“Dear God,” I muttered before erupting into a fit of laughter.

One of the funniest things about Ezra, something he probably doesn’t even realize is comical, is the way in which he can do something embarrassing or klutzy, turn red as a Target ad, and then shrug it off and look up at the sky or ceiling as if nothing happened at all, arms crossed and lips pursed.

When the elders of the family had left, the bridal party, the groom, and his men met behind the garage to pass around joints. I wasn’t driving and didn’t really need to worry about what would happen if I cross-faded. Ezra passed on the weed, and Lara regaled me with stories of how her mother, Sam, had nearly fought the groom’s brother earlier that day when he arrived belligerently drunk. At another point, she leaned into me and whispered some sort of dirty joke, only to comment, “Ezra’s cute. How’d y’all meet?”

“Oh, we’re just friends.” I felt telling the Tinder story might make it seem like I was lying. “He’s here for moral support. Too many straight people in one place.”

It was after that wedding, and then a straight bar, and then a trip to IHOP, that I presented Ezra with the niffler.

He seemed to like it—even impressed by the fact that its pouch was actually functional. 


All of those traits have gotten you to where you are today, the same way that my walls and avoidance of risk have gotten me to where I am today. And, for that, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. Your journey has been something I am fundamentally incapable of understanding, much less would I be able to try and reproduce it. I believe the fact that we are so radically different plays a massive part in our dynamic and is the driving force allowing us to build off of one another as effortlessly as we do, because I also guarantee that you have helped me become a better person as much as, if not more than, I have helped you do the same. As long as we’re friends, I have no doubt in my mind that you will accomplish every goal you have and then some, and I would love nothing more than to be there celebrating with you when you do.

Which also means this is going to be way more unfair of me than yours was, and I know it’s going to hurt; and for that I truly am sorry. But it’s important to understand how much you’ve had an impact on my life, as well:

You are the sole person who allowed me to fully realize and accept my own asexuality.

Most people reading this (especially you) would probably consider that a slap in the face, but trust me when I say that I mean it as a genuine compliment.


July – the Miller Outdoor Theater – Movie in the Park Night

The film was La La Land, and the only person I knew I could talk into going with me was Ezra. Both lovers of musicals and the theatre, I suspected it might be pleasant for him.

I brought the cheap, boxed chardonnay—the Miller doesn’t allow glass bottles on the hill that overlooks the the giant pavilion-style theatre. Pavilion seats have to be reserved and picked up, but really aren’t worth the trouble, even if they are free. You can’t bring outside food and drinks into the pavilion. The hill provides a full-view of the stage and the sound can be heard as far as the neighboring zoo on the other side of Hermann Park.

Ezra, on the other hand, brought the premade popcorn and his dog—an absolutely dog-ified manifestation of Ezra’s personality. Naturally skittish, anxious, and wary of humans. After a while I realized that they actually sort of look alike, but I chose not to dwell too much on that unsettling fact.

I’m not sure that Ezra really would have enjoyed the film, as I’d later find out that, despite it being a musical, the subgenre wasn’t quite in his favor. Regardless, I’d probably never know. We talked through most of the movie and I fed Dorito—the dog—popcorn through the entire thing to keep him from tripping out over the ridiculously populated hillside.

I looked nice that night. I’d bought a new outfit. It wasn’t for Ezra, mind you. But I’d recently lost twenty pounds and wanted anyone I might run into to be cognizant of that fact.

As we left, however, the sweat had trickled down my face secondary to the intense Houston humidity and the $10 boxed wine that would later give me the worst hangover I’d ever suffer.

On our way out, a few women stopped us to pet Dorito, who was not having any of that nonsense, and sparked a conversation with Ezra and I as they tried with Dorito to no avail.

“So, what are you two up to?” one of the women asked. “A blind date?”

I looked from the woman to Ezra and then back to the woman.

Pardonne moi?” I asked, slightly offended. I’m not sure what made her think that our not-date was a blind date. If it had been a date, would it have been so shocking that we could have been on a date?

Fuck this bitch.

I immediately reached to pull my hair into a ponytail in the event that this escalated into a physical altercation.

However, before it could get to that extreme, Ezra piped up and said, “Oh, God, no. This is like … the furthest possible thing from that.”

This time, I looked from Ezra to the woman and back to Ezra. I could feel the whiplash setting in from how quickly I’d jolted my head back and my eyelids were so widely set apart that I feared an eye may fall out of socket without the support.

I chose not to ask questions about what the fuck the furthest thing from that could possibly be, simply because it didn’t really matter to me. At the time, I was still with Jake. Still, the insinuations sat firmly in the forefront of my mind as I downed the remainder of the boxed wine in my car before driving home.


Young Ezra wasn’t unlike Young Anthony—seeking butterflies. Only, Young Ezra didn’t even know what the butterflies he was seeking were supposed to feel like. Maybe, he would often think, they hadn’t had time to flutter in before the door to his heart was barred shut. Or maybe they made it just in the nick of time, and then the door was sealed too tightly, and they suffocated. In either case, he felt he was on a fruitless journey. The hopeful boys and men who came along with lock-picks and skeleton keys and even crowbars eventually wandered off, not leaving so much as a scratch on the handle. I had convinced myself that the door was barred for good; early-childhood-development Ezra was somehow a genius architect and a masterful bricklayer, able to permanently block off parts of himself from even himself. Nobody until then had been able to prove me wrong.

Enter Anthony, poised on a platform rising up from center stage, surrounded by his vanity lights and wielding a fucking sledgehammer. Down came the door, and the surrounding wall with it.

Unfortunately, that was just an outer wall. Once the dust cleared, I was surprised to see it had revealed something like the hedge maze from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, comprising the interior—constantly rearranging itself to throw off any would-be adventurers from getting to the center, defensive warding spells, probably a sphinx somewhere. Difficult, perhaps, yet finally—triumphantly—navigable.

But no sign of butterflies, alive or otherwise.

I was furious. Here was this wonderfully intense and engaging guy who had brought change and self-enlightenment crashing down on my head in the only way either of us could have managed it. He was wildly successful, charming, witty, genuinely funny, and every other thing you’re normally forced to lie about in your Tinder bio to get people to swipe right before the inevitable non-conversation.

So where were my goddamn butterflies?!


That weekend in Austin, the night following the tumultuous argument at Rain, Ezra, Alice, and I elected to stay in and watch a movie rather than go out with the others. After all, we’d been out since early that morning doing Pride-related work, and I’d already had to pull the car over once so that Ezra could get out and throw up on the side of the road.

A musical was decided upon: The Last Five Years, a favorite of mine.

The thing I hate most about musicals is watching them with other people. I always want the person I’m watching with to enjoy it as much as I do, and often that isn’t the case. Normally, for Ezra and I, we’re capable of enjoying the same shows, but I wasn’t so sure how he’d feel about this particular movie. For one, he wasn’t a fan of Anna Kendrick’s singing voice, which should have been a dealbreaker to begin with. Through the entire movie, as the three of us lay in the bed of our hotel suite, I kept stealing glances at Ezra just to see his reactions to what was happening onscreen.

When Anna Kendrick sang, “I Can Do Better Than That,” I briefly considered telling him a secret about the song I’d never told anyone—something about what made the movie special to me, that song in particular. But when I looked over to tell him, his face was solemn and unmoving, and I made the decision to keep the secret to myself. Maybe after we’d known each other longer, been better friends in the future, I’d share it with him.

I’d never really thought about telling anyone before that.

Instead, I just looked back to the screen and mumbled, “I sang this in a cabaret last year.” That much was also true.

When the film ended, he said nothing, and I immediately turned off the movie and laid back down between he and Alice—who passed out somewhere in the first hour. I didn’t ask anything at first. For a while, we all just laid there in silence, the exception being Alice’s occasional snores to punctuate the quiet. Still, without having to ask, I knew he didn’t have the reaction to the film I’d hoped. If he’d liked it, he would have just said so without prompt.

“So, what did you think?” I asked anyway.

“It was okay,” he told me. “I mean … I feel like there wasn’t really a plot. Nothing really happened.”

I did my best not to scoff and roll my eyes. “It’s about their tumultuous relationship.”

“Yeah, but that’s kind of it. Nothing else goes on.” He sat up and rolled off the bed to go back into the living room. “I’m just not really that into romances.”

I pulled a pillow over my face, suddenly relieved I hadn’t shared my “I Can Do Better Than That” secret.


I felt betrayed by every musical and romance I’d ever seen, betrayed to my very core—which both of those things had played a tremendous role in forming! What was wrong with me? I re-lived every phase of being young and not knowing why I felt (or didn’t feel) the things I was feeling (not feeling?) all over again in rapid succession, only this time porn wasn’t helping.

Then, through an errant Facebook post by a recent acquaintance, I was alerted to the full meaning of the A in LGBTQIA+: asexual/aromantic. After doing some cursory research, I realized this explained how I was feeling to a tee, then proceeded to experience the relief of being able to identify with a minority sexuality all over again, as well. It was a roller coaster, to say the least, but one I’m always glad to ride again.


Twas the night of Friendsgiving, and I was cross-faded to hell and back. It didn’t stop me from drinking, mind you. Lord knows, I’m nothing if not a trooper. Everyone had left but Ezra and Hayden, the latter of which was preparing to leave after telling us about a man with whom he’d be engaging in sex after he left.

“I thought he was married,” Ezra asked me as we sipped the Robert Mondavi Cabernet he’d brought with him.

“He is,” I told Ezra, seated on the barstool next to his in my kitchen. “He and his husband have an open relationship.”

“How does that work?”

“More or less, they can sleep with other people, so long as they don’t do it in their house, and as long as they don’t talk to each other about it.”

Hmm,” Ezra muttered as he watched the refrigerator as if waiting for it to dance. He was high for the very first time in his life, having smoked a ton of weed in the garage with the rest of us earlier that evening. “I think I’d be okay with that,” he went on, sipping his wine.

I looked over at him and asked, “Okay with what?”

“An open relationship,” he muttered. “I mean … if I can’t give someone what they need, being that I’m asexual, and I care about them enough to be with them anyway, I’d be okay with it.”

I stared at him, unresponsive.

Ezra never stopped looking at the refrigerator.


I know it’s probably no real solace to you and you’ll be catching crap for the rest of your life (mostly from yourself, probably) for somehow managing to turn someone away from sex completely, but it has opened the door for me to finally be able to explore and better understand myself as a person after 20+ years of being locked out of my own heart. And that really is incredible.

You are incredible.


While he was to be away visiting his best friends in San Antonio, I volunteered to babysit Dorito at Ezra’s apartment for a few nights. He’d given me the key after we’d seen a movie he’d had his eye on. When he handed it to me, I was struck, forgetting I’d agreed to watch the dog at all.

It was the first time a man had ever given me a key to his apartment—not even Jake had done that. The whole illusion, of course, was only shattered by the reminder of the chore.

“You’re watching my dog this weekend,” he told me.

Riiiiight.

I didn’t stay over, didn’t rifle through his things, didn’t open closed doors (well, except for a closet that I thought was the restroom, where I found a very large, strange, pink unicorn). As I looked around, it was clearly the apartment of a single young man. There were video game consoles at two separate TVs, a couple of dishes in the sink, a bar with loose change and gum resting atop it, but clean nonetheless. He had a nice collection of books in his dining room that I looked through and noted I’d mostly read. Beyond that was a piano keyboard, where some sheet music sat with pencil marks scribbled across it. In his bathroom, where I went to pee, I took note of the cologne on his counter I’d recognized when he wore it. I’d worn the same scent a few years back.

But what caught my eye was what sat next to the television in front of his sectional when I was coming back out of the bathroom.

Perched atop the small entertainment center was the niffler, looking at me almost as though it recognized me. I approached it with the sort of care used to handle ancient manuscripts of alchemy in museums. I was almost afraid to pick it up, to touch anything at all, for fear some sort of alarm might trip. Certainly the niffler had only just been placed there when Ezra was straightening up his apartment before having company. For all I knew, it could have been in the trunk of his Mini Cooper or in Dorito’s cage in the months that had passed since the wedding. Maybe he’d only set it out because he knew I’d be by. 

But I chose not to consider why it was there … just that it was. As I sat down at the keyboard and transposed the key up 6 steps, I pressed gently down on the keys to play the chords of Adele’s “Someone Like You” with my left hand and the recurrent sixteenth-note rhythm with my right.

E-flat.

And, as I sat there with my eyes closed, the niffler seated next to the sheet music before me, humming the chords along with the keyboard, I realized that it didn’t really matter why the niffler was seated on the ledge of the entertainment center.

G-minor/D.

It was there. Something I’d given a friend, because I’d seen it and thought of him, was now a part of the place he lived.

C5.

And, sure, it may someday end up in the closet with that weird, pink unicorn, or maybe it would become a chew toy for Dorito when he was old and crotchety with a heart full of angst.

A-flat.

But at least I knew that when Ezra looked at it, when he came across it while spring cleaning or packing his apartment to move to Denver, he’d know it came from a person who cared enough to remembered these things about him—his favorite movie, his disdain for Anna Kendrick’s singing voice, his open-mindedness to open relationships. He’d know who saw him in the things like that niffler and who smiled at the reminders. 

E-flat.

Whether or not there would be more Jakes in my life would be perennially in question. One thing was for sure, though. 

There certainly wouldn’t be any more Ezras … not even close.

Still, much like being his friend because he might live his whole life with far less than butterflies, I was okay with that. It isn’t his fault that he can’t feel butterflies, despite his efforts over nearly 28 years. If they aren’t hiding in that labyrinth he’s comprised of, then they just aren’t there.

At least he is.

And if that was the worst that came from all of this, it didn’t seem like such a bad thing. In fact, it seemed pretty great from where I was standing. At least I got to know him in a way that most people would never be able to say they did. At least there was really nothing left we couldn’t say to each other when necessary after the openness we’d communicated through these letters. At least we were closer, and maybe as close (or close to as close) as either of us were capable of being. 

Because that’s what love should be, regardless of what weird, singular kind of love that happens to be.


And I do love you.

Just, sans butterflies.

Ezra


For more information about asexuality/aromanticism, please visit the Asexual Visibility and Education Network’s website here.

… and the Asexual Wonder: A Brief History

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 9

What the fuck have I done?

It was after nine. I was wide awake. My friend Gwen was Marco Polo-ing me and had just read my open letter to Ezra.

My very open letter.

My letter that was supposed to be a catharsis—and was!—but that I also publicly published for him to read.

My letter that basically said, “Hey, brah. Umm … so not to be weird or anything, but I have these like feelings for you. And I don’t want to make things awkward, but I felt like you should know. And it’s not like I wanna date you or anything, but I do like being honest. Soooo, anyway, we’re gonna still be amazing friends, but you need to know this and you make me a better person and I think you’re special. K thanks bye.”

Yeah … that letter.

“So he hasn’t said anything to you?” Gwen asked me via video message.

“It’s only been an hour, Gwen. He may not say anything at all. He doesn’t have to. It’s not like he comments on all my other columns. Besides, it’s not a grand gesture.”

“Oh, it’s a grand gesture.”

“No, it’s not. Grand gestures are what you do when you want to be with someone. I do not need to be with Ezra.”

“That’s not what you said,” Gwen told me.

“What are you talking about? Yes, it is.”

“No,” she went on. “You said first that grand gestures are what you do when you want to be with someone. Then, you proceeded to say you don’t need to be with Ezra. Those are two different things.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes. “It’s applicable to both.”

“So, you don’t want to be with him?”

“I’m very happy being single,” I told her. “I do like him, obviously. But we have  a great relationship as it is, and I really adore that friendship. And he’s not relationship-y anyway. Plus there’s the whole asexual thing.”

“Asexual thing?” she asked me.

“Yeah. He’s asexual. And I’m kind of a nymphomaniac.” I looked out the window. It was dark out, though my room was lit up like a soundstage. I stood and closed the blinds.

“How did that conversation come up?” Gwen asked me.


It was the first time we’d ever done anything together. Our first not-date. We were driving back from the bar … what was it called? That terrible hipster bar with the expensive food and nearly liquor-free drinks?

La Grange. Yeah, that’s it. It feels like much longer ago than it was.

We were driving back to take Ezra and Lauren to their cars, neither drunk. It had been such a weird night, when I think about it now. The conversation was so effortless when it was just Ezra and I at that mildly dangerous Mexican restaurant. Granted, we were drinking. But the moment we were out and around our other friends, it felt different. At least, it did to me. It was almost like everyone else—Lauren, Courtney, and Jennifer—was watching us under a microscope waiting for something to happen, wondering what we were going to say, how we would engage with each other. Like bringing home a puppy to the dog you’ve had for years for the first time and seeing how they’ll interact.

But then, when the crowds were gone, when it was just us talking in the car—sans Lauren, who was in the backseat in her own little world—the conversation was easy again.

“I’m so tired of having sex,” I joked as we drove down West Alabama. “It’s exhausting and it takes so long. Plus, the men are rarely even good at it.”

Yeahh …” Ezra agreed. “I’m pretty sure that I’m asexual.”

I nearly wrecked the car.

When WHAT?! didn’t seem like an appropriate response, I instead said, “That’s sort of how I’ve been feeling lately.” But I knew for him, even then, that this wasn’t just a passing thought the way it had been for me. He was serious. It was a thought that he’d been sitting on for a minute.

“Yeah. I just don’t like sex. And when I have the urge, I have a hand for that,” he said with a laugh, though it wasn’t meant to be funny.

I tried not to bring it back up again until he did.


Sooo … I have tickets to this Idina Menzel concert in a few weeks, and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me. But I was thinking maybe we could go like … on a date?”

It was the very first time I’d ever asked anyone on a date in my life. The second would follow shortly after, though.

All day at work I waited for Ezra to reply. Courtney had been talking me up in an effort to get me to ask him on a date proper.

“C’mon! You guys looked so cute together the other night. Plus, you’re awesome. How could he not like you?”

Because Courtney’s a jaded liar, that’s how.

I was terrified. Why I was terrified is lost on me even today. After all, Ezra is literally the most harmless person I think I’ve ever met. Then again, aren’t those the ones who always turn out to be serial murderers? Not that I think Ezra is a serial murder. He’s too noncommittal.

Alas, the day turned to night and my anxiety got the better of me. The darkness fell, and with it my hopes as I quickly turned to a bottle 2002 Chardonnay someone had given me as a gift that I was saving for a special occasion.

… rejection kind of felt like a special occasion. Or maybe the special occasion was asking someone out on a date for the first time. I’m usually the one who gets asked out. Or I just sleep with men until they start buying me things, and then I assume we’re a couple or they’ve assumed I’m a prostitute.

When the wine was gone, however, I was worse off. Now, it was after midnight and I knew if the response hadn’t come by then, it wasn’t coming. So, doing what I was best at, I drunkenly called an Uber to come and take me to the bar.

It was a drag show night, and the bar was busier than I’d have liked. I wanted to just talk to my friend, Hope, not play games with Blackberri and Estella Blow—both of whom I do love—for prizes. I just wanted to take shots with my friend and bartender, while simultaneously crying about something that may not have even warranted any tears. But at least by Estella and Blackberri being there, I was able to enjoy myself, get drunk, and even win a prize (two concert tickets I think I ended up giving away).

When I finally Ubered home—blacked out and ready to sleep—I sat down to pee, as I knew there was no way I could aim for the toilet being that drunk.

“Well, if Ezra won’t go out with me, I’m sure someone will …”

I opened my phone and grazed through my contacts, stopping at Matt Kersey’s name.

Matt Kersey (God, I love that name) was a very cute boy I’d met all of twice at the bar on karaoke nights who once made me feel really good about my body when my ex-boyfriend was being a dick. I’d always found him attractive and assumed one day we’d probably end up sleeping together, anyway. There felt like no time but the present.

I don’t even remember how I asked him. I remember waking up the next morning hungover and ashamed to have done it in a message and while I was that drunk. I immediately deleted the entire thread and didn’t speak to Matt Kersey again for months. And thank God we did speak again. I kind of want that to be my married name, just because it’s such a great name. Anthony Ramirez-Kersey? Anthony Kersey?

It doesn’t sound so hot with my Anthony. Meh.

At work, though, I was surprised to find that Ezra had texted me back.

And while he was sweet about it, not to mention apologetic for taking so long to reply, he said no. If I still had the message, I’d quote it here. But again, I was ashamed that I’d been presumptuous with him, so I deleted the thread. Not that anyone could blame me. We did come to know each other because we matched on Tinder, after all. Still, I was embarrassed for a while following that, unsure of how we could manage a friendship if I was feeling anything for him.

But we did. And we did see Idina together … just … platonically.

I should probably stop buying him things (mind you, he did just buy our Hamilton tickets) …


Alcohol might be a good place to start tightening the purse strings.

Austin, TX – Austin Pride Parade – October

I believe the bar was called Rain. It was on 4th Street, but the details aren’t important. Out that night were Alice, Lauren, Ezra, and myself. We were staying at the Westin on the other side of downtown, and we’d all been drinking. A lot, actually. I know we’d been drinking a lot because according to my credit card statement, I spent roughly $200 on drinks that night.

I’m an alcoholic through-and-through, but even I can’t drink that much alone in a few hours.

The details are unimportant, but the rest of the night happened in a flash.

Lauren and I got into an argument—a screaming match, really. I went outside to smoke a cigarette while they were in the bar. I went back into the bar to find them, and they were all gone. Just like that. I’d been outside the bar for all of seven minutes and they’d abandoned me in a city I was unfamiliar with and a hotel all the way across town on a cold, October night.

Fuck ‘em, I thought as I took off, pad-and-foot, down 4th Street toward Congress. As I walked, my fury grew so quick, I swore that when it began to pour down rain on top of me that I had made it happen. These were supposed to be my friends, not just people I did volunteer work with. It shouldn’t have mattered that Lauren and I had a work-related argument. It was a classic mean girls move, and not one of them had even bothered to text me and ask where I was. When I finally did get a text, I was crossing Congress in the pouring rain and Alice had only said, “We’re going to Courtney and Jennifer’s room.”

Thoughtless fucks, was the last thing I thought before my foot fell into a pothole in the intersection and I went crashing down to the ground and slammed my face against the curb.

Maybe it was just my drunkenness, but I’m pretty sure I laid there for a moment before I got up to move. People passed by me—more than a few—but not one offered me help. When I did stand, my nose was bleeding and my glasses were a bit bent at the hinges. But I stood up, drunk, and tall, and too proud for this bullshit, waltzed my ass in the pharmacy where I could see the clerk staring at me out the window, and bought a pack of Marlboros.

The rain stopped before I reached the hotel. I went to our room and cleaned my face, then went down and joined them at Courtney and Jennifer’s room as if nothing had happened.

There, I walked in on the brunt end of Ezra telling Jennifer he thought he might be asexual. I tried not to intrude on their conversation. Besides, I’d heard this information before. Lauren sat on the floor, puffy-eyed and quiet, when Courtney told me she wanted to talk to me. Lauren left a moment later, but since Alice and Jennifer were still drinking and talking with Ezra, I told her we should talk about it in the hall.

I’m not sure why Ezra accompanied us there, or into the stairwell where the next fight ensued. Maybe I’d asked him to come, too. All I remember is spilling my wine on the floor, in which I sat down, and Ezra sitting next to me. What followed was Courtney, standing four feet above me scolding me for making Lauren cry. Her words were sort of lost on me at that point. Everyone’s were. And for a while after she left, I cried, and Ezra let me, not asking questions, not making me get up and go back to the room. We just sat there, barely saying anything, and I cried, not just because my friends had abandoned me and most of them had turned against me, but also because I was literally at my worst—the screaming, drunk, broken-faced, crying lunatic version of myself that only surfaces once in a while.

Ezra and I barely knew one another, but he let me be at my worst and never judged me—at least not to my face.


When I awoke on the pull out where Ezra and I were sleeping in the hotel suite the morning after next, the covers were mostly pulled off of me. Lauren had kept the room at a crisp 65 degrees. Ezra was facing me, but asleep still. So, I did my best to pull them back on me without waking him.

His eyes flew open and met mine, and for a moment I stared into them, taking note of what exactly they looked like. But in a motion as quick as a bolt of lightning, Ezra closed his eyes and rolled over onto his other side to face the wall before going back to sleep.

I still laugh when I think about that.


After Hurricane Harvey, a bunch of us from Pride were trying to get out in the city and volunteer where we could. The trouble was that so many people had come to the aid of others, that when Ezra and I met at the Pride office to go out and volunteer, everywhere we called turned us away for having too many volunteers. No one would take us. We spent time calling shelters, animal hospitals, retirement homes, churches, dog pounds—nothing. It seemed they had so many volunteers that they didn’t know what to do with them all.

An acquaintance, Gabriel, had joined us there on breaks while he volunteered with another organization in the building. They apparently needed no extra hands either. Instead, I poured vodka-cranberries for the three of us and we drank as we watched Practical Magic and played card games.

“I had sex with a guy that peed on me once,” I told them during a game of Ring of Fire.

“What?!” Gabe asked.

“He did,” Ezra answered.

“How do you know that?” I asked him as I stared him up and down.

“I read your column,” he told me. A part of me felt embarrassed. Certainly it was no secret at this time that I was a bit of a slut, but I didn’t really know how I felt then about Ezra having such a detailed knowledge of my sexual endeavors, which were anything but sparse.

“Interesting,” I said as I put my card down on the table.

“I’m mostly just waiting for the story about me to come out,” he teased as he drew a card of his own.

“How do you know I’m writing one about you, you narcissist?” I asked him, my mouth so wide open it could have sent birds flying out of it.

“Are you two like … best friends?” Gabe asked a moment later. “Like … how long have y’all known each other? Cause you talk to each other like sisters.”

“We actually just met right before Pride,” I told Gabriel.

“Yeah, but I mean, you kind of are my best friend in Houston. I mean, you’re the only person I ever spend any time with,” Ezra told me as he sipped from his drink. “Actually, you’re the first friend I’ve made in the years since I’ve moved here.”

My eyes cut up to him. Was he being serious? He’d been in Houston for three, almost four, years. Had he not made any other friends in the city before me?

I cut my eyes away and shut my mouth.

“There’s one more coming out next week, and yours is after it,” I told him. “My editors are working on it, now.”


I wasn’t panicking or anything. In fact, the moment that I published the letter, it was like there was this knot in my stomach that instantaneously untangled. I hadn’t even realized that I was still having these feelings for him, until he started being all cute and stuff in front of me when he was at my house. Granted, we’d both been drinking. And, in typical Anthony ‘I-can’t-deal-with-this-shit’ form, I waited until I couldn’t see his headlights as he was leaving, went upstairs and got dressed, and went out an alcohol and drug-induced spree through the city until I literally could not stand up any longer and passed out in my friends’ guest room.

And why? Because I’m not good at dealing with things. Sure, I can write about my feelings all day long. But don’t ask me to talk about them or try to sort them out or—worse—deal with them. Instead I’ll drink through them and maybe take a pill or smoke something that takes the worry out of my mind.

So, that’s what I did. And when it was over, when I was sober again and the world suddenly materialized around me, so did those feelings. I mean, they were never really gone. It’s just that they’re easier to ignore when you’re drunk off your ass and your nostrils hurt and a cute boy are playing with your hair while you pretend you’re ignoring him. When really you’re wondering whether or not he lives inside the loop so that you don’t have to go far to get home after you join him at his place to engage in what will probably be some rather mediocre sex with him. You do bumps in the bathroom while your friends pee right in front of you and you take the shots that everyone is buying you and pretend that one more drink won’t hurt. You do whatever you have to do not to feel anything, even if the feeling your feeling isn’t sadness or hurt … just an affection you aren’t ready to feel.

And if doing another bump means that you aren’t going to sleep, that’s okay. Because what does being awake mean but not having to face the darkness? After all, you forget that you’re afraid of the dark until it’s there with you, lying beside you in the bed that you felt was so lonely before. Only, when the darkness is lying there, still and unbreathing, you don’t wish for the light. You don’t wish the darkness away. You wish for company—someone to suffer through it with. And when you know that going home and to bed means greeting darkness alone, you do everything in your power not to do that. You, instead, do a line of coke, or pop an Adderall, or dance with your friends. Sometimes you even accompany strangers home. And it’s not because you expect anything to come of some mediocre sex in their dirty Montrose-adjacent apartment. But sucking their dick and lying lifelessly underneath them as they insist on calling you filthy names before they ejaculate on your face and chest and expect you to smile about it sometimes seems somehow more appealing than being home alone with the darkness and feelings you aren’t ready to face.

And the next day, you wake after falling asleep when the sun was coming up, and you look into your own tired eyes sometime between washing your face and brushing your teeth. And for a long, lonely moment, you realize that those feelings are exhausting … at least the way in which you go about not dealing with them is exhausting. You realize that you look five years older than you are because all you do is work and try to fit in so that you don’t have to feel. But that’s the real irony. Isn’t it? As you stare into your own cold, soulless eyes, staring at the shell of a person you used to know, you realize how much it would mean to you if you could just feel again.

It was nearly midnight, at that point. And Gwen and I were still talking. Then, as I was just about to fall asleep—with the lights on—my laptop pinged.

There, in the top right corner, was an email from Ezra. The subject line just said, “Ezra’s Response.”

Boy, was I about to feel again.

Finally … Butterflies (… Now What?)

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 8

Dear Friend,

You know who you are, and I know that you’re reading this, as you often make a point of telling me that you read this column. Actually, it’s less so a point that you’re keeping up with my sexual escapades and more so getting in your digs. But I appreciate it, regardless. Anyway, I’m going to tell you a story and explain something to you here that I would never have the nerve to explain to you in person. But before I do, let me just say one thing:

This is not in any way a grand gesture.

Please don’t mistake it for one. I just have things I need to say that I don’t think we could discuss in person. And truthfully … what’s the point? It’s not like any of it changes anything … not like it really matters. But I think at this point, you know me well enough to know that there are some things that stick with me until I say them aloud—or, until I put them in writing, in this case. It’s not about spinning an outcome. It’s not about needing or wanting anything. It’s just one of those things that I can’t fully process or make sense of (if there’s any sense to be made) until I can organize my thoughts in writing. 

I also want to say that I know this is extremely unfair and selfish of me to do right now. And, for that, I really am sorry. You have enough going on. But the real point I want to impress upon you is that this (again) isn’t about any normal crazy white girl shit. It’s not about expectation or anything like that.

I just believe that omission is as bad as being dishonest. So, instead of writing a story here the way that I normally do, I figured I’d just address you. Because, like I said, you’re going to read it anyway, and at least this way it doesn’t seem so much like just another story. But, for the sake of being friends, and having a friendship that I truly enjoy, it does need to be said. And I know that that’s literally the exact opposite of how you deal with things. So, as helpful as this may be for me personally, I am (again) sorry that it’s a selfish thing to do.

So, here’s the story. Don’t freak out. It’s literally just me needing a catharsis. And since you’re gonna read this anyway, I may as well just address you. 

Once upon a time, there was a young man named Anthony who dreamed of what his life what the man he was going to marry would be like, and what it would feel like to be so in love with someone that loved him back just as much. For years, he spent his time acquiring deep infatuation for men that would inevitably treat him like shit and leave him hanging out to dry. And all the while, through all the bad dates and late night booty calls, Anthony found that with each unwarranted dick pic or it’s-not-you-it’s-me, he died just a little bit on the inside. For you see, only one time in his life had he ever been with anyone who made him feel the thing he’d been imagining the feeling of his entire life:

Butterflies.

Each time the person who caused this would come near, or hold his hand, or kiss him atop the head, he could feel wings fluttering inside his tummy. Just that boy’s very smile could wake them up and set them bouncing about inside of him until it nearly tickled. And in his journey to recreate that feeling, Young Anthony found that this seemed less-and-less possible.

However, the days of longing stares and nervous smiles have ceased. It wasn’t all at once. Fast, yes; but like a quick decrescendo more than an abrupt slam on the brakes. In the place of those stares and smiles now were only filthy messages on Grindr and unwelcome hands grazing his body in bars he didn’t really want to be in. And while, for the purposes of getting off, he often welcomed these substitutions, it was never what he truly longed for.

But Young Anthony is a different person now.

I am a different person now. I’m cynical, at times; and I know that butterflies are just scientifically a symptom of the body’s fight-or-flight reaction; and I’m drunk a lot; and I am tired—no. Exhausted, really. I feel like Sex and the City’s Charlotte sitting at a cafe table as she kvetched to her friends, “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted. Where is he?” That’s how many men I’ve been through looking for one decent one who isn’t going to pee on me, or tie me up (that story is for next week), or fetishize my weight, or kiss me and then never speak to me, again. 

… and that’s just a few.

Still, I guess somewhere along the way, through all of the white noise that Tinder pings have faded into, I’ve lost sight of the butterflies. And it isn’t because I don’t want them. It isn’t because I don’t miss the feeling. It’s almost as though they just seem so far away that I’m not sure I quite remember what they felt like when I had them. It’s a bit like not being able to see the light at the end of a tunnel, but feeling the heat the entire trek through. Recognizing that feeling now would be hard … or, at least, that’s what I thought.

Then, when I least expected them—maybe even forgot about them—as I was lying there still as I could be while watching a movie with you—someone I’d long-since given up on—those tiny little butterfly feet began to dance around inside of me. From a long dormancy they woke and, as if no time had past since their last adventure, they began to flutter around inside of me.

And it wasn’t a special occasion. It was just us hanging out like we do. You needed a friend, and I was happy to be that friend for you.

It was shocking, at first. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sick or if I’d eaten too much. But as the movie played over us, you, Ezra recited every last word in broken tandem with the cast. All the while, those butterflies flew around overzealously. It felt like the first day of school mixed with getting a birthday present sprinkled with the relief that follows a sneeze.

But I couldn’t help it. And I wanted to. I really fucking wanted to be in control of what was happening inside of me. Yet, it was endearing and cute and you seemed really comfortable. Which, for the record, I think is really saying something considering how uncomfortable you pretty much always are. And, if I’m being honest (after all, I’m already past the point of no return), all of that scared the living shit out of me.

Why? Well … you’re like one of my closest friends. I have a lot of friends, but not a lot of close ones. Certainly not ones that are easy to be around, that aren’t after something I have, that are almost completely free of drama and histrionics.

Ezra, you came into my life as a Tinder match-turned-friend that not only rejected me, but then had the nerve to be my friend afterward. Granted, that was my doing, which is why, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t mad about that. I embraced it, actually. Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a bad habit of catching feelings for my friends. My first love was my oldest friend in the world; and now I have to be the best man at his wedding … to a woman. But in order to settle the flames that burned when he inadvertently broke my heart, I had to put space between us. Hell. Most of my boyfriends have been people that started off as friends; and in each case, when the page has turned and that chapter has ended, I’ve never been enough of a grown-up to keep the friendship going after.

And that’s another reason I’m not totally uncomfortable saying all of this. It is a bit different with you. I like being your friend a lot, and I haven’t yet behaved that way in this situation. And trust me when I say that the timeline for that has come and gone. And maybe that’s because I barely knew you when you told me you weren’t ready to date anyone (the nicest of the rejections I’ve received in my life). Or maybe it was because you’re actually just a really good person who I think makes me a better person with your friendship. Maybe I’m just drunk too much and have a nasty habit of self-sabotaging. (Truthfully, I think we both know that it’s that last one). Whatever the case, I have somehow gotten really comfortable with just being your friend. And even that freaks me out.

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and for me to launch into hysterics. And, yet, that moment has not yet manifested. Granted, some might argue that I’m having a mental breakdown now, and that this column is me going is symptomatic of that. After all, how many sane people use their platform of 12,000 people to have a discussion with their best friend about their feelings? But the fact of the matter is that to be as freaked out as I am, I’m not actually freaking out. 

…do you see the difference? Does that make sense?

Yes, I’m insane. Like … the real kind. And for a while, I couldn’t figure out why I’ve been behaving so rationally to something I—even just a year ago—would normally be devastated over. But then I did figure it out. And it was that night, after eating lukewarm takeout and singing along to a musical we’ve both seen more times than we can remember.

It’s just that I actually think you’re a really special person.

I know, I know. That’s not exactly the most eloquent way to put it. But I’m not sure how else to put it. Because I realize that the things I seem to like most about you as my friend are all the opposite things of all the opposite people I’ve ever felt something for. Because as I sit here thinking about all those opposite people—exes and sex partners and unrequited emotions and best friends and even strangers in bars who tell me I have a beautiful voice and then don’t speak to me for nearly a year after (not bitter, Taylor Kyle)—I cannot even think of a single reason as to why I had feelings for them in the first place.

But, I do know what I like about you. You’re smart; and you don’t take my shit; and you are kind of wonderfully weird. But you also are a person who doesn’t do things they don’t want to do. And despite the fact that I, yes, forced my friendship on you (you’re welcome), you saw it through anyway. And even now you are taking the time to get to know me without my normal, habitual forcefulness playing much of a factor into it. And you don’t write me off as vapid or high-maintenance (although, I know that you do acknowledge the latter) or annoying and loud. You just let me be me. No pretense. No show. No facade. Just me.

That, too, frightens me. I’ve never been someone who waltzes around in their ‘eat me’ short shorts with their hair up and scarfs down chicken tenders and cookies and white wine in front of someone I like—or even my closest friends—and yet there I was the other day doing just that.

I’m comfortable. Probably too comfortable. Which, not to sound like a broken record here, is saying something for someone who—like you—is generally uncomfortable.

Because I live my life in front of people. With my job, with Pride, with my books, even with this column. And some of those people really like me, and some of them cannot stand me. And both of those things are okay, because I’m not playing a role in front of them. I am the person they see. I’m just not always up to being that volume of that person at all times. And you provide a very lovely respite from playing that part. No makeup. No watching how much I eat or drink. No worrying that I’m bitching too much about boys or my mother. And that level of comfort for me is very difficult to come by.

We’re different people in a lot of ways—like … vastly different. You are quiet and like to be alone and you don’t have the sort of highs and lows that I do. You’re walled up. And as much as I may not understand entirely why, that’s who you are. I wouldn’t change that or anything else about you (except your profile picture. It’s not your best. But I’m digressing). But it’s that part of you that somehow brings me down to ground zero (or, at least, my version of ground zero, which is still well above sea level). It’s that part of you that reminds me of how much joy there is to be had in just lying around in short shorts, scarfing down carbs, and talking through the entirety of a movie with someone who doesn’t expect anything of you—that just enjoys your company.

It’s that part of you that brought back my butterflies. So, thank you for that.

And here I am trying to tell you about why you’re great, and I’m simultaneously finding some way to tell you why I think you’re great. I don’t try to be this self-involved, but it always seems to be the case. I’d like to chalk that up to anxiety, honestly. Regardless, I’m sorry about that. And I’m sorry that you are having to get all this weird honesty seemingly out of nowhere and while you’re dealing with your own problems. But I promise I’m almost done. I just want to say a little more.

All the men I’d ever fallen into bed with shared one thing in common:

I’d never fallen for them.

On my quest to revive that feeling of butterflies in my tummy, I’d always come up short. It had always been just that: less than butterflies.

We never did that, thankfully and for lots of different reasons that don’t require reiteration here. And in not doing so, I came to yet another realization.

Maybe the secret to letting those beautiful creatures loose inside me was to not fall in bed with someone at all, but to let them get to know me well enough so that the butterflies felt comfortable enough to take flight.

So, thank you for taking the time to get to know me, in spite of how different we are and in spite of how much I can be at first glance. And thank you for the cookies and the laughter and, of course, the butterflies. And know that this isn’t me expecting anything of you or trying to change anything. I adore our friendship because you are one of the only people in my life who is pretty much down to do whatever I want to do because we have very similar interests (and then some that are not so similar).

But most importantly, thank you for helping me grow up some; and thank you for the lesson that continues to accompany that progress.

You’re going to make someone very happy someday—I don’t need tarot cards to tell me that. And I’ll be so happy for you then. I won’t be surprised, though. Because, it’s as I said before … I just think that you’re a really special person. And sometimes I think that you don’t know how extraordinary you are. Especially now. And a lot of this is coming from that place that I think you deserve the reminder. Granted, I probably won’t remind you that often, because that’s not who I am as a person, but I’m doing it now. You deserve to know. And you deserve to hear some nice things about yourself that maybe not enough people tell you (although that could just be me being presumptuous). Mind you, now I’m just kind of like, “Okay … soooo … now what? I gotta do this all over again with some other dude?” Like … that’s a lot of work. I may just become celibate. Or at least feelings-ibate. I’m too slutty to be celibate.

So, again: I’m sorry to drop all this on you. I don’t really need or want anything. I really didn’t mean to make you feel out of place or weird or put you in an uncomfortable position. I don’t want there to be any sort of rift in our friendship, and I certainly don’t want it to become cumbersome. All of this is coming from a really positive place, and I feel like if we’re going to maintain this wonderful friendship we have, you have a right to not just know (because we both know that you know), but to understand it. And also, it’s kind of just like Paulette says: I just felt like it had to be said.

So, don’t be fucking awkward about it. Jesus. Face value, babe. Face value. And, if you take anything away from this, I hope it’s the reminder that you are cared for, and that there are plenty of people in this world whom you make smile, and some (“for better or worse”) whom you give butterflies. 

Anyway, that’s it. Sorry this was so fucking long. I’ve never been able to say anything succinctly in my life. 

Love ya long time.

Anthony + the Butterflies (#dibsonbandname)

P.S. Please don’t hate me until after we see Hamilton, please.

… and the The Hungry Butthole

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 5

It was one of those fairy tale moments; a guy I’d been swooning over for a year or so and I had asked me for a date once he returned home from the holidays abroad. In my fairy tale, I was the princess (or maybe just the gay prince) who met another gay prince at the ball, fell for him, and was asked to dance with him before his entire court and all of his constituents. They watched in awe, knowing how wonderful a couple the two princes were, happy to see their separate kingdoms (his Cypress and mind Washington Heights) may someday become one. Only, in my fairy tale, I was also sleeping with another prince who hailed from the Kingdom of the Woodlands, but we weren’t exclusive, so it didn’t make me slutty.

But just like in every fairy tale, there arose a slight … complication.

Let us say that one of my many loyal subjects—in this case, my ex-boyfriend, Kevin—ran into me (still a prince in this scenario) at a local peasant pub, where I’d gone incognito to enjoy a drink with my lessers. There, Kevin stated he’d heard of my impending courtship and was happy I’d found someone new. He had but one question:

“What are y’all going to do about the sex?”

“Huh?” I asked Kevin, my kingdom suddenly under attack.

“Well … you’re both tops,” he explained, as though this were off-hand information I should have known. And just like that, my fairy tale was over. The dragon couldn’t be slayed. The land had been plagued by famine and locusts. Evil had triumphed over good; and, apparently, evil was a top.


Just like any athlete preparing for a big game, it felt necessary that I practice bottoming before the big night with Tyler, the aforementioned prince, which was still a week out. I figured that seven days was plenty of time to prepare myself not only physically, but also mentally for the pounding I was about to take.

I hadn’t the slightest idea as to what I was looking for when I entered the sex shop and was greeted by a wall of cocks in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and girths. The saleswoman was helpful, if not a bit intrusive, about what I was looking for and what I was hoping to do. I let her know immediately that I wasn’t there shopping for a new Bible. She responded to my cattiness the way most straight women react to gay men—with amory.

Soon, we’d settled on the Billy P-spot vibrator by Lelo, as it came in a lovely Bordeaux color in which I briefly considered painting an accent wall in my kitchen. I soon decided against it, unsure of how I’d sneak my new vibrator into Lowe’s to compare the color to paint swatches.

Next came the more technical and often confusing side of the shopping: lube, toy cleaning products, a little weed, and—for better or for worse—an enema. I knew before I’d even locked myself in my bedroom that this process was going to take time. I canceled plans; I poured myself a glass of wine; I lit enough candles to warm the inside of a frozen Hot Pocket;  I put my phone on airplane mode; I smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves, and then a bowl to actually calm my nerves. I was absolutely certain that I could not screw this up, but was almost just as certain that I was going to end up doing so anyway.

You have to keep in mind that my entire adult, gay life, I’ve only ever topped. Maybe it would have happened differently if I’d ever been in a situation where I wasn’t the only top. But in the years I’d been slutting it up from The Woodlands down to Galveston (not to mention a few times in DC, Indianpolis, Denver, San Diego, Orlando, and a few other major metropolitan areas), I’d always had the good fortune of falling into bed with bottoms. This was a new experience to me, yet not one to which I was vehemently opposed. In fact, I’d always told myself that I would someday do it if I were to fall for a guy that I liked enough to try.

But that was just the thing: it had to be the right guy. And in spite of how I’d opined over Prince Tyler for so very long, I wasn’t certain that he was anything more than just a frog in this fucked up fairy tale. Although, it was lucky that I now had Billy the Vibrating Wonder to use as a magic wand to find out.

So, stoned out of my mind, I laid down in bed after cleaning things out … you know … downtown. I sipped my wine through a straw, pulled off my clothing, and began to lube up.

There’s something bottoms don’t tell you about lube … it’s fucking messy. I briefly considered watching porn during this journey into my entertainment center, but it only took a few seconds before the lube was already getting everywhere, and I decided a laptop may not be the best thing to have nearby while that was the case. Instead, I let my mind wander, turning on the vibrator to its lowest setting and pressing it against my body. Obviously I didn’t go straight for home base. I worked my way around, actually enjoying the vibration against my neck, my chest, my penis, and my perineum (that’s science for “taint”).

And the truth of the matter was that I was really turned on. I mean, if my penis were a teapot, it would’ve been whistling like a lesbian gym teacher during volleyball season. And after a while—and I do mean a while, as I was still pretty freaked out at this point—I began inserting Billy into my end zone.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in way over my head … or at least … my legs were.

“It was awful,” I said after gulping down a glass of cabernet.

I was joined at Barnaby’s on Fairview by my friends Elaine (straight, married, ginger), Jackie (straight, married, not a ginger), and (oddly enough) Ezra.

“It’s not for everyone,” Ezra told me, a sore reminder that if he could have just fallen in love with me when he had the chance, I could have bypassed this entire situation for the rest of my life.

“I’ve always wondered, how do two men decide how this is going to go?” Jackie asked. “Do you have a discussion before hand? Is there like a sign?”

“A lot of times,” Ezra answered before I could, “when people meet on apps, it’s in their biography. Top, bottom, versatile. Or, yeah, there’s a discussion.”

“But if there’s not?” Jackie asked.

I looked around, trying to keep my volume down as not to disturb everyone that still had an appetite inside the restaurant. “It’s kind of like when you and I go to Olive Garden,” I told her. “You know, because we’re human garbage. But what happens when the waiter puts the breadsticks on the table? We shove them into our gaping mouths. And why? Because we’re—”

“Fat,” Jackie interrupted.

“Okay, well, I was going to say hungry, but that’s fair.”

“So … what you’re saying,” Elaine picked up, “is that there’s …”

“A hungry butthole,” I said. “It’s okay to say it. There are signs. They’re not the signs of real hunger, like your stomach growling or light headedness. They’re signs like a guy wrapping his legs around you when you get into bed to have sex. Or sometimes something a bit like …” I struggled with my verbiage, “… presenting.”

“As in a guy just flashes his anus to another guy like a mating chimp?” Elaine asked.

“As in his body language isn’t as phallocentric as a top’s might be. He dances and shows off his ass. He moves your hands down there when you have your arms around him. He sits on your lap. Those sorts of things.”

“I don’t know that there’s any fact in what you’re saying,” Ezra laughed.

“There is. It’s not like there’s a study on this somewhere. It’s just observation. You wouldn’t know because … well … you’re a bottom.”

“I’m glad you bring this up,” Elaine chimed in. “Because there are times when my husband gets a little fiesty and thinks that we’re going to go down there for that particular activity. And I’m not about it. For women, there isn’t any pleasure. We don’t have a prostate to stimulate. It’s just a lot of soreness and feeling like you’re shitting yourself the entire time.”

Everyone laughed as the other patrons of the restaurant darted glares at us.

I poured more wine. “The soreness is the worst. You’re lucky I could even come here tonight. I feel like a Mormon after a very long bike ride.”

Ezra nodded toward my wine glass, “Just drink your medicine. It’ll get better.”

“Listen, there’s not much I say no to in bed,” Elaine went on. “But I told Charlie,” (Elaine’s husband), “that it’s not that I don’t love him. But he’s very well endowed; and if he wants to do anal more often, he’s going to have to let me shove something up his ass and see how he likes it.”

“He might just,” Ezra pointed out.

“Yeah, straight people are apparently doing that now,” I said. “Pegging, they call it. All our lives straight people have wanted to point out all the things that are wrong with being gay, and yet they want us to decorate their houses like ours, and be their best friends like we are with each other, and help them pick out clothes like we do. And now they’re wanting to have sex like we do!” I knocked back the rest of my wine. “It’s appropriation, and it’s insulting.”


Screen-Shot-2018-01-09-at-3.25.21-PM ... and the The Hungry ButtholeA few nights later, once my not-so-hungry butthole had stopped aching, I received a text message from the other man I was sleeping with on the regular—the Prince of The Woodlands and, in spite of the fact that our relationship was mostly sexual and not exclusive, the man I had saved in my phone as this while drunk one night:

 

Most of our conversations started out that way. We’d hooked up a few weeks ago after chatting on Grindr, and he had turned out to be one of the sweetest and hottest guys I’d ever had sex with in my life. A part of me sort of felt I might be catching feelings, but I tried to scrub these away as often as I could. His name I hadn’t learned until well after our first sexual encounter, but turned out to be Dylan.

I grabbed a bottle of wine from Spec’s and headed from my house to the Woodlands—no short drive when you live in Downtown Houston. Still, I was horny and Dylan was hotter than a ghost pepper in the heat of a Texas July. I was still struggling with this aspect of our sexual relationship. Dylan was certainly way out of my league and I struggled to meander my mind away from my own self-deprecation to just appreciate his hotness when we were fucking around. Still, he kept coming back.

While having sex that night, I noticed that something was different about Dylan. He was not presenting as he had the last few times we’d hooked up. In fact, Dylan had taken on a much stronger dominance in the bedroom than he ever had before. Every time I reached my hand down for his ass, he’d push me down on my back and crawl on top of me to kiss me.

The sex was incredible, don’t get me wrong. In fact, his newfound assertive attitude was a great turn-on; and somewhere there in throes of passion, I found Dylan spreading my legs apart and crawling between them.

A part of me panicked, as I knew exactly was about to happen. Dylan was going to try to stick his dick inside of me and I was going to have to be that person who shut down a good thing because it took a turn I wasn’t there for. After all, Dylan’s penis was huge for a white dude four inches shorter than me, and I certainly didn’t want something even larger than Billy the Vibrating Nightmare inside of me after the other night.

But Dylan did something I wasn’t expecting, in spite of its commonplace nature for him. He took his hands and placed them on mine, palm-to-palm and fingers intertwined. Then he kissed me, and he whispered to me, and he nibbled on my neck and traced lines up and down my body with his tongue. And all the while that he performed these magical sex acts, my legs crawled and curled around his body like ivy up a trellis.

I was in an unexpected euphoria and an unwavering state of ecstasy. I was sweaty and writhing and my hair was likely knotted in the back from moving around so much on my back like an upside-down crab. But suddenly I found my legs not only wrapping around Dylan, but pulling him in closer to me, pushing his pelvis into me and wanting him more and more. It was in that moment that I realized it was me! I was the one who had the hungry butthole! I was suddenly back to my fairy tale in which my sage keepers—fairies or dwarves normally, but in this case, Billy the Vibrator—found me at my journey’s end to tell me that what I’d been looking for was inside of me all along.

Or at least … now it was.

The orgasm was insane. It was not like any other I’d had before. I screamed at one point, which is dangerous when you’re fucking against a wall against which neighbors sleep on the other side. I was clutching at Dylan’s skin like a cliff I had to take hold of as not to fall to my death. But when it was over, I didn’t hang around to chat like I normally would have. I didn’t drink any more wine and I barely kissed Dylan goodbye. I bolted. Right out the door, right down the stairs, right into my car, and right to the bar.

At some point when the endorphins had subsided, it had occurred to me as I lay there, soaked in sweat and semen, that my rule had always been that I would bottom if I ever met a guy that I liked enough to go through with it for.

And as I arrived at the bar, taking a shot and downing a drink, I couldn’t help but ask myself the same question over-and-over again: Was Dylan the right guy? Or, conversely, was it possible that every now and then, under the right circumstances and with a man who knows exactly what he’s doing, every gay man is capable of possessing a hungry butthole?