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Diary of a Limpy Dick, Pt. I

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 4

They say that it happens to every man at some point in his life — that it isn’t uncommon. Maybe you’ve just had a little bit too much to drink that night. It could be that it’s too cold and you have poor circulation as a result. It is possible that the new antidepressants you’ve been taking per your licensed primary care physician — who takes no issue in prescribing you pretty much anything of which you ask — have negatively affected your sex drive.

For me, it was none of those things. I was stone-cold, stupid sober and hadn’t had a drink since the night Ezra had all but said he could never love me (or, at least, that’s how I’d heard it). I was a bit chilly, but I’d warmed up against the body heat of the gorgeous man lying on top of me. And all the pills I was on were ones I’d been taking for years with no such result.

Yet, there I lie, naked from the waist down with this Herculean man from Grindr on top of me. He was absolutely perfect. To say that he was the man of my dreams might be too literal, as he felt familiar to me in a way I could only recall as if I’d created him myself. Everything about him was perfect. His ass. His dick. His face. His slight facial hair. The way he held my left hand with his right. And as he kissed me, I ran my hands down his well-muscled arms, which had just reached down to find my penis … flaccid.

Sure, they say it happens to everyone … but it had never happened to me. And I couldn’t help but furiously try to imagine why it would happen when I was engaged in sex with a man who was quite literally the hottest man I’d probably ever sleep with.

Well, that is, if I’d been able to get it up.

What the fuck was going on with me?


Over the last three months, I’d been in something of a dry spell. No boyfriends, no Tinder or Grindr (not that I was particularly fond of either). Nothing.

Only, it wasn’t the kind of dry spell you hear your best friend talk about when their boyfriend they’ve been with for five years, have been engaged to for three, but still aren’t married aren’t having sex. It also wasn’t the sort where a person enters their mid-forties, suddenly finding themselves repulsed by what they see in the mirror for no real reason, and gives up on love altogether.

No, no. This was a self-induced dry spell … sort of.

It had been a day like many others, with Hayden and I drinking wine on the patio of Barnaby’s well before dark like good gay men, with plans of walking to Ripcord as soon as we’d polished off another bottle. At the time, I’d still been silently obsessing over Ezra and had just begun to feel comfortable talking about my feelings for him. This, of course, was well before my drunken party in which Ezra had mentioned how disinterested in me he was (I’m paraphrasing).

It was a particularly unpleasant day, as I’d just learned that Ezra had been reading my gay sex column and now knew the ins-and-outs of every sexual experience I’d ever written about since it’s inception into the literary world. These encounters included, but were not limited to, a threesome I’d had with an artist and a drunken bear (not the animal, obviously) from Grindr, my first Grindr hookup in which the bear from the aforementioned threesome took it upon himself to pee on me while I was kneeled down to give him a blowjob, and a gay orgy I’d attended on Coyle St. that ended with me fucking a professor from the University of Houston who claimed to be there as part of an “anthropological study.”

I relayed this information to Hayden with great haste.

“Okay, so here’s what you need to do,” Hayden explained as he yanked a cigarette out of his mouth and blew smoke in my face. “You’re going to have to stop sleeping around.”

“What do you mean I have to stop sleeping around?” I asked him. “You make it sound like I’m the Gay Whore of Babylon.”

“Given the current state of the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were and this were some kind of Revelations-esque nightmare.”

“Great. Thanks,” I sighed. “It’s not like this is about me being slutty. I mean, true, I kind of am. But this is moreso about the fact that it’s kind of my job. I can’t just stop doing that. I need the money.”

“It’s not that I think that you’re slutty. You’re a twenty-three-year-old, for chrissakes. But I’m also one of your best friends, and I know you well enough to know that you’re just doing this sleeping around for —”

“For validation,” I interrupted him with a shrug and another bite of my burger.

Hayden sort of looked around the patio for a moment before saying, “I was going to say ‘for fun.’ But you may actually want to talk to someone about that.” He shook his head and looked up to the ceiling while he puffed his cigarette. Without looking back at me, he went on. “You don’t have to stop writing your column, obviously. That’s your job. But you do have to stop sleeping around so much.”

“Oh, this coming from the man in an open marriage whose Grindr alerts go off like a crazy coupon lady at the cash register who’s just been told she can’t double-up on Nabisco coupons.”

Hayden leered his eyes down at me. “If you don’t stop doing that and if you don’t stop binge-drinking every time you feel like you have something to celebrate, he’s never going to take you seriously or be able to look for a partner in you.”

I didn’t want to acquiesce to what I believed to be Hayden’s ridiculous demands. However, I had to admit—though I never would—that he had a point. It wasn’t all me. I’m not that slutty; and I’m not currently on Grindr; and I don’t troll the bars looking for someone to go home with. A lot more of this particular point rested with Ezra.

You see, Ezra was something of an anomaly in gay culture. While he was very much attracted to men, and while he himself admitted on more than one occasion that he didn’t mind jacking off to gay porn from time-to-time, Ezra was, more or less, asexual.

I know … gay anomaly. Though we’d discussed it more than once, I’d never felt too eager to ask him for many details regarding the situation. My understanding was that he just didn’t have the motivation to actively go out and have sex with men very often and that when he did, it often proved to be rather lackluster. And yet, like how he and I first connected, that didn’t keep him off of Tinder, nor Grindr, or other gay hook-up apps.

Not that it was my place to ever doubt him or how he felt about his sexuality, but I often pondered over whether or not this was a product of Ezra never having had really good sex. One night while at one of Stephen’s parties, my friend Courtney and her girlfriend, Jennifer, had asked me “what the deal was” with Ezra and I, to which I quickly replied that there was no such deal. I wasn’t all that comfortable talking with Courtney and Jennifer about Ezra. It wasn’t as though I believed that they’d do anything to upset him. I just felt that some things weren’t meant to be shared, even amongst friends.

Still, with my lack of responsiveness, Jennifer reeled the conversation toward Ezra’s aversion to sex, but also found it interesting that he enjoyed masturbation.

“Maybe he’s only had lazy boyfriends or bad Grindr hook-ups, but I just don’t think he’s ever had good sex,” Jennifer—a therapist—said after I, again, didn’t respond.

Although I did find it comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in this idea, I stepped away without another word, shying away from the two of them to find Stephen and Leo inside. I understood Courtney and Jennifer’s intrigue; don’t get me wrong. Still, it wasn’t my sexuality to be discussing and I didn’t feel comfortable doing it with those in which he had confided.

Nevertheless, I always knew that if anything ever became of Ezra and I, I’d have to be okay with a minimalistic sex life. Funnily enough, it didn’t take me long to accept that. In fact, Hayden’s no-sex challenge could have served as good practice for what might have someday ended up being the rest of my life.

As it turned out, the practice proved unnecessary when Ezra killed any dream of us ever being a happy, adorable, gay couple that I might have had.

Just a couple of weeks after the death of that dream, my pent-up sexual frustration was nearly pushing my hair follicles out of my skull. I’d abstained from having sex several times over the course of more than three months.

The time had come for me to … well … come.


Continue to part II.

Shot Me in the Heart

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 3

Here it is as best as I can explain it:

Love is something that happens when someone becomes so overwhelmed by the good in someone else that they can’t get enough of it. They crave it in their life at almost all times. At first, it creates a sensation of being high. It’s euphoric. It’s magical. After that, it’s something different. Like smoking several cigarettes in the car. Or biting your nails when you’re deep in thought. It’s habitual. Love, like all things, changes based on necessity and familiarity. That’s not to say that the emotion has changed. The care felt for another doesn’t go away. Sure, it takes a little more effort to make the heart swell or for the butterflies to take flight. But it is – all the same – now a habit.

That’s because being in such deep infatuation – like biting your nails or smoking cigarettes or drinking in the early afternoon – is an addiction. It’s a compulsion. A preoccupancy. And like all addictions, once the snag is hit – the part that causes great pain – it becomes difficult not to love or feel great fondness. That’s because it is habitual, just like taking a pain pill every six hours or drinking eight cups of coffee every day. At a certain point, you forget what you did before you were initially so shot in the heart by Baby Cupid’s arrow.

I was not in love – although I did feel a great fondness – but I had hit my snag.

Like so many other things, it started over a $10 bottle of wine at Barnaby’s.

“So,” my friend, Hayden, began as he took a sip of his wine. “You met someone?”

My eyes darted up from the menu.

“He met someone,” Stephen answered for me.

“I have not met anyone. I mean … I did meet someone. But we aren’t dating,” I corrected.

“Do you like him?” Hayden asked.

Stephen nearly spit out his wine. “More than he likes these $10 bottles of wine.”

I choked on the cabernet and spit some of it back into my glass. “Fuck you!” I told him before looking back to Hayden. It was just after two o’clock and Stephen and I were fresh out of a Pride function. Hayden was there to drink with me after lunch, but that hadn’t prevented us from starting at lunch.

“What’s his name?”

“It doesn’t matter what his name is,” I replied, shooting my nose back down toward the menu I really had no intention of ordering from. In only its first moments, the conversation had already caused me to lose my appetite.

“His name is Ezra,” Stephen answered, again.

I slapped my menu down. “Could you please stop speaking for me?”

“Have you asked him out?” Hayden asked me.

“It doesn’t matter, because he’s just a friend and we aren’t going to date,” I tell the both. “Now, could we talk about something else?”

“Why don’t you want to date him?” Hayden inquired.

“He does,” Stephen chimed back in.

“Enough!”

“Why are you being so weird about this?” Hayden went on, pouring himself more wine and then ordering another bottle.

“I’m not being weird about anything. Ezra is just a friend. We hang out like friends. We talk like friends. We are literally not going to be anything more than friends, regardless of whether or not I want that, because he does not want it. And I’m being a grown-up and continuing to be his friend because he has very few other friends in the city and I like being his friend because we have very similar interests. Now, if neither of you would mind, I am going to the restroom.”

Anyone who has ever sat on the patio at the original Barnaby’s in Montrose may be able to tell you that one of the supporting beams that stands near the door alleged to be holding up the patio ceiling is actually of no use whatsoever. It’s screwed into the ceiling, but the bottom actually is raised about two inches off of the ground. It was a bit like my friends in that moment – appearing supportive, but providing no support at all.

As I stood up and downed the remainder of the wine in my glass, I whipped around to face the door and accidentally ran face-first into that very beam.

There it was. The corporeal manifestation of my snag.  


Hayden was the type of friend who truly wanted what was best for you, and was happy to do anything to help you get it. If it were sex you were desperately in need of, he’d happily take you to a bar, get you shit-face drunk, and poach out potential partners for the evening. If you needed to unwind and get everything off your chest, he would be there to listen, and then to take you out to a bar, get you shit-face drunk, and finally poach out potential partners. In reality, Hayden was nothing like that levitating beam at Barnaby’s. He’d do anything for anyone he cared about.

I returned to the table and poured more wine. “I’m having a party next weekend,” I said after a few moments of silence. “Bring booze,” I instructed.

“Who’s all coming?” Hayden asked.

“I can’t,” Stephen said. “Leo and I are going to see my parents.”

“Will Ezra be there?”

“What is your obsession with this thing with Ezra and me? Which, by the way, is not even a thing. You’re just insatiably obsessed with it.”

“Oh, honey,” he went on it. “It’s gonna be a thing.”

“What-the-fuck-ever.”

“I’ll help you,” Hayden said.

“I don’t need help!” I nearly screamed. It was fortunate that no one else was on the patio, otherwise I may have turned a few heads. So, I took a deep breath and downed the entire glass of wine before very quietly leaning in to say, “I just got out of a relationship with a man this summer, and I’m not looking for another one right now. And I most certainly am not in a place to set up expectations from a man that does not want to be with me and go through the same pitiful spiral of rejection I’ve gone through a dozen other times with a dozen other men.”

“Ezra is not other men,” Hayden insisted.

“That well may be,” I snapped. “But if he doesn’t have feelings for me, then I am perfectly content with remaining friends. I may be a jaded, hopeless romantic who’s been screwed over more times than I can count by men, but that does not make me a fool.”

Stephen’s eyes shot to and fro between Hayden and me throughout the entire exchange. I knew Hayden meant well. I knew he wanted good things for me. This, however, was something I’d come to learn was not going to change. I had accepted that.

“Well,” Hayden went on, seeking the last word. “You know how it goes. You say you’re fine with it. You get in a little too deep. You don’t say what you’re feeling. You go crazy. You self-medicate with alcohol.”

I huffed out a shot of hot air from my nose, completely over the conversation.  But instead of getting upset or irritated, I settled back into my chair properly, grabbed the open bottle of cabernet, and poured myself another glass. Then, as I lit a cigarette, I fumed the smoke over our heads and told him, “I’ll have you know that I drink regardless of how I’m feeling.”


By 8 o’clock the night of the party, I was royally fucked up. It was the kind of drunk you could really only get if you were having a party in your own home where you didn’t have to drive or try to navigate your Lyft app. I wasn’t quite sloppy drunk, but I knew I wasn’t far from it. There were about fifteen of us gathered at the house, though at varying times, and each of us had had more than our fair share to drink amongst other recreational proclivities. Someone had brought weed, which had never really been my thing. But the fact that I had so many people around me all at once had heightened my anxiety, and I hoped it would take the edge off.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t considered the fact that I might, at some point, begin to cross-fade between being drunk and being high.

At a certain point, the entire group was pretty heavy in conversation of which I had little-to-no interest. All I remember is listening to Ezra make a point next to me as we all stood around the island in my kitchen and my phone suddenly dinging in my hand. I turned down to look at it, seeing a text from Hayden, who stood just across the room.

Oh, girl. You’ve got it bad.

I whipped my head back up to look at Hayden so quickly that I feared the affliction of whiplash. I moseyed around the island, put my arms around his waist, rested my chin on his shoulder, and whispered into his ear, “I will kill you.” He laughed it off, not even humoring me.

“You should have seen the way you were staring at him,” he told me with another chuckle. “And you can, because I took pictures,” he went on as he held his phone up to show me.

“I’m stoned out of my mind. If a Southern Baptist minister were talking to me I’d be looking at him like that,” I told him as he scrolled through the photos on his phone. “And stop being such a creep.”

I turned around and dashed up the stairs of my house to the second floor, opened the door to my bedroom, and locked myself inside. I needed a moment.

Having just moved, nothing in my room was assembled or put away, so I fell to the floor onto the mattress I’d be sleeping on that night. I watched as the ceiling fan slowly spun around over my head, mesmerized in all my highness. It wasn’t long before one of the ceiling fan blades transfigured into the image of Ezra, running around in circles. Another one shifted into the shape of my ex-boyfriend, Parker, whom I’d only been out of a relationship with for a few months. A third blade morphed into a man named Taylor I’d once been quite enamored by, and the fourth and fifth turned into myself and a bow-and-arrow with which I chased the three men around in circles, shooting little red arrows at them like Baby Cupid.

Parker and I had little in common other than the fact that we were both staunch liberals who had amazing sex. Taylor, on the other hand, I’d only met a few times and developed a weird crush on because of our short yet impressionable interaction. Ezra was a little bit different than both of them.

If I listened closely enough, I could almost hear them screaming for me to leave them alone.

I think what I’d found so devastatingly attractive about Ezra was how much unalike we were. I mean, certainly, he and I had more in common than almost any of the people in my life interest-wise. But that didn’t mean everything about us or our likes and dislikes was entirely congruent. For instance, Ezra could be found eating Panda Express at 7 o’clock in the morning at an airport lounge if he’d missed a flight. I, on the other hand, found Panda Express to remind my palate of hot dog water. Ezra was nerdier than I, though I found that to be endearing. I was much more emotionally driven than Ezra, who at times could come off as devoid of any emotion at all, despite the fact that I knew there to be some in him. We were bred of different genera, and no one who knew us well enough would say otherwise.

But it was that about him – coupled with the fact that he was constantly unimpressed by me – that I found most compelling. He didn’t applaud my every triumph nor did he boast of me to others. And although the attraction to those qualities could simply be traced to having a childhood exclusive of a father, it made sense to me.

Ezra was, to the say the least, a pastiche of incongruities. A mosaic of non-matching tiles. He had a way of surprising me with the words he said and the things he did. Like showing up unexpectedly when I performed onstage, or taking up for me when I was backed into a corner. It was the culmination of things that you don’t notice about a person when you first meet them, but that come with time and friendship. And true, it did sadden me that he didn’t have feelings for me. But I wasn’t going to be devastated by it, either.

Rejection is one thing. It’s hard, but manageable.

The humiliation of letting someone see how they can affect you – that’s a dragon much more difficult to slay.

The sound of the door opening distracted me, and I turned to see my friend Iris standing in the doorway looking down at me.

“You good?” she asked me, just as our other friend, Miranda, popped up behind her at the door.

“Never better,” I replied, looking back toward the ceiling fan to watch myself shooting at those boys. Only now we were all gone. The ceiling fan was just a ceiling fan, and I had been better than I was in that moment.

Back downstairs, the number of people was slowly decreasing. We drank a little more, smoked a little more, but soon the only people left were Hayden (who was mostly sober, but leaving soon to go to the bar), Ezra (who was just as cross-faded as I was), and myself. Hayden was washing the dishes, of which Ezra was extremely complimentary.

“He’s doing your dishes for you. You’re going to owe him big time,” he told me at one point.

I could only roll my eyes and say, “If only you had any idea how many of his messes I’ve had to clean up.”

“Can’t you just put some kind of spell on these dishes to make them clean themselves?” Hayden asked me as he stuck a wine glass into the dishwasher.

“I don’t cast spells on dishes. I only cast them on boys,” I mumbled, drinking more.

“As long as you aren’t casting them on me,” Ezra muttered.

In my life, I’ve probably only been left speechless a handful of times. I’ve got one of the quickest wits of anyone that I know, and my flair for histrionics only amplifies this when I need it most. But sitting there at the island, looking at Ezra with his sleepy eyes and his foot bobbing up and down, I couldn’t quite summon my ingenuity. And maybe that’s because Ezra had done it again. He’d found something to say that had taken me by such surprise that I wasn’t sure how to react. Sure, I knew he didn’t like me. What was shocking was that this normally kind creature had the sharpness of tongue to bring up the subject with such little sensitivity.

I looked away, finally muttering, “Don’t be such a narcissist,” before walking away.

Soon Hayden dismissed himself, but Ezra was still too far gone to be driving anywhere. Instead, he ate, and we found something to watch on TV while we rested on separate ends of the couch. I think I may have tried talking to him about nothing in particular, and a few times, I think he even mumbled something back. But when I looked over at him, he’d fallen asleep. So, I leaned over a little onto the cushion behind me, still a safe distance away, and did the same.

As my eyes fluttered open and then closed over-and-over for the next few minutes, I kept them glued to him. There he was, the maker of the snag just resting on the couch next to me without any idea of the complication in my mind. He was complicated, which – as much as I may have hated to say it – only intrigued me more. Still, I had been right when I told Hayden that nothing would ever be between Ezra and me but a good friendship. And even if I’d not doubted it for a second, he had made that vocally clear tonight.

So, I fell asleep, still high enough to dream of chasing a boy with a bow and arrow. Only, this time as I shot the arrow, it hit the boy directly in the back, then he tripped over a root in the ground and fell on his face. And when I finally caught up to him and stood there to try and help him up, it became quite clear that the boy I was chasing was neither Taylor, nor Parker, nor Ezra.

It was me.

It was me having been struck in the heart, having hit my snag, and finally crying about something I’d told myself I’d be okay with because I hadn’t been in love.

Just great fondness.

Tricks and Treats, Pt. II

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Halloween

Less Than Butterflies, No. 2

At a certain point, I was undoubtedly drunk. Between Stephen’s specialty Nerds-flavored shots and the shots of Fireball in conjunction with all the vodka, I was just moments away from trying to play Someone Like You on the piano in the living room over whatever Bebe Rexha was shouting about. I refrained.

The party was fun and very much alive, but I was tiring quickly and wanted to see what was going on in Montrose before I retired for the evening. Courtney and Jennifer had already made their way to Pearl for the costume contest. Carter was flitting around the party, coming back every now and then to get a little handsy as the night progressed. The drunker I became, the less I fought it off. After all, I may not have been interested in Carter, but I was alone at a party and somewhat sadder than I had been before I was this drunk. The attention wasn’t killing me.

After goodbyes with Stephen and Leo and a few other people I’d met at the party, Carter and I dashed down the stairs to our cars to meet a couple of other friends at JR’s. Montrose, however, proved to be impossible to navigate thanks to street closures for Halloween and the perennial road work always taking place throughout the neighborhood. I must have parked six blocks from JR’s (and probably illegally, at that) before I was able to make my way to the bar.

The temperature had dropped significantly in a very short time, but it hadn’t prevented anyone from wandering the streets. Even the patio of JR’s was packed with people, as was every room of the bar. Finding Carter, as well as my friends Casey and Nick, proved to be much more difficult as I squeezed my way through the unnecessarily sweaty patrons.

When I did finally find them, I had trouble keeping my attention zeroed in on the conversation. This could partly be chalked up to drunkenness, but my distraction was due to everyone else in the bar. From Casey and Nick to every other pair, it became depressingly obvious that nearly everyone in the bar was coupled off.

Where had gay Christmas gone? Where had the twinks in wings and colorful underwear tottered off to? Even the bears in leather were partnered-up. Long gone seemed the days of going out on Halloween with the intention of hooking up or meeting someone interesting who may only seem attractive at the time due to their costume. Looking around, I obsessed over the fact that out of 5 million people in the city of Houston—granted only a minority of them gay—everyone out for Halloween was already spoken for. Where were all the single people? Was there some sort of single, gay, Halloween party I hadn’t been invited to where everyone drank wine and watched Practical Magic until they’d become so drunk and suicidal that they decided to join hands and jump off the roof like Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman at the end of the movie?

Why hadn’t I been invited?

The clock struck 2 AM sooner than I’d have guessed, and Carter and I made our way through busy Montrose hand-in-hand toward our cars.

Unfortunately, like on so many occasions before, I couldn’t find my car anywhere.

Fuck,” I swore, irritated with myself for not thinking to pay more attention when I’d parked.

“It’s fine,” Carter told me as he led me to his car. “I’ll drive you around until we find it.”

If ever there came a day when I didn’t have to rely on a man to help me find my car, I might actually wake up a different person. Sadly, that was becoming more and more a trademark of who I’d become.

Finding the car didn’t take long. Once we’d passed by JR’s, I began to remember how I’d walked to the bar from my car. Carter pulled up right behind it to let me out on the corner like a hooker who’d lost her way. He leaned in to hug me, lingering a bit before he kissed me on the cheek. Once he had, I kissed his back.

What happened next I could blame on the alcohol, but I’d be lying. Being drunk had never made me do anything. I knew better than that. Still, as I moved just a little bit to the right and kissed Carter on his lips, I couldn’t compose a justifiable reason why I’d done it. He kissed me back, and we did so a little more before my senses returned to me and I pulled away.

This was not the magic of Halloween. This was a drunk, lonely gay who’d been thinking of another gay all night while taking advantage of his friend. And though Carter didn’t object and reciprocated the kiss, I was taking advantage of his kindness, and for that I felt like shit.

I bid him goodnight, then sped off in my own car. I was embarrassed. Not because Carter wasn’t cute, he certainly was. But because I’d escalated to a new level of sluttiness—the kind that involves and can harm your friendships.

I guess I really had put the ‘trick’ in trick-or-treat, even if only by way of innocently kissing a friend in whom I had no romantic interest. Worst of all, though, I felt unfulfilled. This kiss hadn’t meant anything, though maybe part of me was hoping that it would have coming from a boy who at least paid attention to me and made me feel attractive. But the magic—Halloween or otherwise—simply hadn’t been there.

Even on a night when witches were supposed to fly their broomsticks across the night sky, and spirits were said to creep from one side of the veil to the other, and twinks paraded around in their underwear and angel wings, maybe the magic of gay Halloween wasn’t resting in how much we had to drink or how slutty we became thereafter. It laid in our friendships—the unexpected ones that started off as silly crushes, and the ones that we kissed by accident that we’d never crushed on before and probably never would. Those were the people who made Halloween—a night of needless celebration—fun. They were the ones we could count on no matter what.

Return to Part I here.

Tricks and Treats, Pt. I

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Halloween

Less Than Butterflies, No. 2

It’s no secret that Halloween is gay Christmas. It’s not as though we’ve ever needed an excuse to dress up in costume or drag and attend some hedonistic party in Montrose where someone will certainly be distributing ecstasy in the bathroom while remixes of every song by every pop icon are blared in the dark, trembling background. But Halloween poses a different sort of spectacle than every other party in Montrose. Inhibitions are lost; time seems to slow; and there’s an affection for our friends that provides a kind of high not brought on by bathroom ecstasy or specialty shots.

Plus, we get a little bit sluttier. At least I do. I being the person who puts the ‘trick’ in ‘trick or treat.’

There’s no logic or rule that dictates why Halloween puts us in such good spirits. Maybe it’s something psychological. Maybe it’s all hype. Or maybe, just maybe, there is something truly magical about Halloween.

Even in my exhaustion after two long weeks with work-related affairs, I couldn’t move myself to peel away from the idea of attending my friend Stephen’s boyfriend’s Halloween party. It was an annual event—or it was at least becoming one—that had the year before proven to be like any other gay Halloween party: a genus of twinks in brightly colored underwear donning body glitter and angel wings. This, mind you, was at an American Horror Story-themed party. Stephen’s apartment was small and the air conditioning was hardly working. An hour in, everyone was sweating and trying to escape into the 90-degree outdoors just to catch a breath.

This year, however, Leo (Stephen’s boyfriend) had relocated the party to a friend and co-host’s townhome off Washington. The theme? Netflix’s GLOW—appropriately retitled as the Gays and Lesbians of Wrestling.

As per the usual, I was dateless. I’d invited Ezra to accompany me, but he was to visit friends in San Antonio for the weekend. Luckily, my friend Carter tagged along with me. Carter and I hadn’t been friends for long. Like most of my friends at the time, we’d met through Pride. Carter was 30, single, and sweet, and not at all my type. Still, he was a good friend and an intent listener and the kind of person who would do anything for anyone.

We drank a bottle of wine at Barnaby’s before heading toward Washington for the party. Upon arrival, it was clear that Stephen had already been drinking well before our arrival. My friend Courtney and her girlfriend, Jennifer were also there, dressed from neck-to-ankles in incandescent Lycra. Just as the year before, a large portion of the attendees had taken it upon themselves to ignore the theme of the party—myself included, as I was not sure I had the body type to be wearing fabrics with such elasticity.

That’s not true. I was sure. I was certain that I did not. I did, however, dress nice enough and put on some black lipstick just for the hell of it.

Stephen grabbed me by the wrist just after I’d made a drink and dragged me to a wet bar in the living room of the townhome. “Let’s do a shot!” he suggested with all the charisma of a Beyonce drag impersonator. But like with all things when it came to Stephen—shots, bottles of wine, valid points in a heated debate—one shot turned into several shots.

My background with Stephen was relatively short, but fast-paced in some rights. He was one of the very first people I’d met at Pride Houston when I was a first-year volunteer. To be completely honest, when we first met, I thought Stephen was cute. True, he was gross and sweaty from working all evening in the sun and was about 15-pounds underweight. But in his glasses and seemingly-nerdy disposition, I was initially attracted to him. For a while, my friend Alice and I couldn’t figure out his last name and took to referring to him as just Hot Stephen.

But much like books, a boy should never be judged by his cover. As I transitioned into my role as the volunteer chair for Pride, Stephen and I encountered each other more frequently. Real Stephen was vastly different from first-impression Stephen. He wasn’t as tightly wound and I don’t think I ever saw those glasses again. True, Stephen was a pretty boy, but he was also a boy who was spoken for and whose personality—regardless of whether or not he’d ever admit it—was too much like mine. Opinionated, mildly neurotic, a little slutty, and often drunk.

As my first year as a chair dragged on, Stephen and I saw a lot more of each other. Pride events and workdays eventually turned into drinks at the Eagle or numerous bottles of wine at Barnaby’s or birthday and dinner parties. The conversations that had once just revolved around our work with Pride grew inclusive of similar interests. Soon we’d become friends.

After a few more shots, I found myself standing outside on the balcony smoking a cigarette with some strangers from Mexico. One of the two was in medical school and in Houston for her internship. The other was presumably her boyfriend. A moment later, Stephen found his way outside to the patio.

“I knew you’d be out here smoking. I’m gonna lock you out,” Stephen said before engaging with the medical student and her boyfriend. When their own cigarettes were finished, they made a quick exit and Stephen and I had changed the topic to the busy week we’d had with Pride work, the party, and our friends inside. It wasn’t until the tail-end of the conversation that Stephen asked, “So, how’s Ezra?”

“I think he’s fine. He’s in San Antonio right now, if I’m not mistaken.”

He took a sip from his straw while gulping down some vodka as he goes, “Mhm. Mhm.” Once he’d swallowed and removed the straw from his mouth, he asked, “And what’s the deal with that?”

I paused just long enough to roll my eyes. “Nothing . . . ? We’re just friends.”

More, “Mhm. Mhm,” until he was slurping what remained of his vodka out of bottom of his Solo cup. “I’m gonna go get another drink. Have fun, though!” he told me as he slipped back inside. However, before he’d closed the door, Stephen poked his head back through the threshold and said, “You know, I’m really glad we became friends.”

I couldn’t help but smile a bit. Formerly Hot Stephen I knew nothing about had graduated into Close Friend Stephen, which turned out to be a good fit for him.

“God. You’re so gay,” I told him as I rolled my eyes, relatively unable to ever reciprocate kindness. He stepped back onto the balcony for a second and pointed to his cheek. I laughed, then gave him a kiss there, leaving a large, black lipstick stain under his cheekbone.

“You’re my favorite person in Pride,” he told me as he slid through the door and closed it behind him.

That was gay Halloween magic at its finest—bringing two very unlikely people together to be friends . . . even if both were extremely drunk.

Oddly enough, however, Stephen’s momentary mention of Ezra made me wonder what he was up to. I nearly pulled my phone from my pocket to text him, but realized it was late and that I shouldn’t bug him while he was out of town with his friends. I could gather, however, that Ezra probably wasn’t at some rager in San Antonio like I was in Houston. A part of me missed him. 

Regardless, I resolved to wander back inside and drink through it like a grown-up.

Although, as I turned to open the door back into the townhome, I made an attempt to turn the knob, rattling and shaking it until it became increasingly clear that Stephen had, in fact, locked me out on the balcony.

“Bastard.”

Read Part II here.