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Romance His Pants Off

Less Than Butterflies Romance His Pants Off Romance Anthony Ramirez Sex

Less Than Butterflies, No. 22

Let’s get real about something: my love life has all the weirdness of a Wes Anderson film. Like … from falling in love with an asexual, to realizing I had feelings for one of my best friends that I kind of always just thought I hated and everything in between, things were nothing short of fucking ridiculous in that arena. So with all the abberance of emotion, I’d decided that it was probably time to figure out the one situation in my life that had been happening in a relatively normal way. I was finally ready to see where this thing with Mason is going. I know, I know. I literally just said that I wasn’t going to rush anything with him and that I’d let everything happen organically a few weeks ago. But here’s the thing about letting shit grow organically: if you water it too much or let it sit in the sun too long, it can die. All organic matter dies. Add into that my slight tryst and realization of my feelings for Sam, I figured it might be in everyone’s best interest to see which of those feelings carried more weight so that I didn’t invest myself into something that wasn’t going anywhere. So, before this little organic spark with Mason died, I’d resolved to push the envelope a bit more.

Therefore, in doing what I’d been trying to do all along, I mapped out a plan. Well … maybe not “mapped out”. But I had certainly conceived a plan; it just … hadn’t exactly incubated long. I figured that since I was already going to a party at Mason’s house that night, I’d have a few drinks (read: many, many drinks), wait until everyone left to go home, and then politely bring up the conversation in a cool and casual way.

“So, I don’t want to be weird,” I’d tell him as I poured us both a glass of Two Buck Chuck and made my way back to the couch. “But I thought you should know something just so that if you feel similarly about it, there isn’t hesitation to be upfront about those feelings.” That sounded cool. Right? Like someone who really had his shit together and couldn’t be bothered by the fact that this boy might potentially not like him. “I have really enjoyed spending time with you these last few months; and I think I’m growing to like you a great deal. So if ever you are interested, here lies an open invitation for an actual date.”

God how I’d matured.

Unfortunately, anyone who knows me could attest to the fact that the aforementioned example isn’t exactly how that conversation would end up going. In fact, it would likely be more along the lines of something like this:

Ahhh,” [blowing a puff of air]. “All right. Okay. I can do this. I’m a grown-up. Mason, I have feelings for you and if you don’t have them for me that’s totally cool. Fine. I get it. Why would anyone want to date me? Look at me. I have the personality of a 10, sure, but the face of a 6 and the body type of a circus freak.” [More air]. “This is weird. Right? I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m gonna go. I’m gonna go home and cry my eyes out and probably never talk to you again, but post less-than-vague Facebook statuses about how awful men are.” [Standing up]. “Then again, I’ve also had way too much to drink to drive. So would you kindly order and pay for a Lyft home for me, because I am poor after spending so much money on you last weekend.”

Jesus I needed to get a grip.

I explained all of this to my friend Hope while she was off of work one night, under the stupid impression that in her fifty years of life, she might have some insight into this.

“Well, have y’all had sex yet?” she asked. “Cause if so, I don’t think it’s really necessary to say anything at all.”

“No, we have not had sex yet,” I told her as if offended by the question. “I’m trying to get through one phase of this at a time.” That being said, I did want to have sex with him. God I wanted to have sex with him so badly that it nearly killed me. I’d been thinking about it quite a bit, wondering if it’d be like one of those sweeter, Davey Wavey-style porn videos where the two guys are really invested in making each other cry out in joy. But I also wondered if it’d just be like … hot. You know the kind that gets really loud and sweaty and you wish someone were recording it, but unfortunately no one actually wants to see what you look like when you’re having sex?

“Wait …” Hope stopped me as we sipped vodka from the bottle on the patio outside her apartment. “You two haven’t had sex yet?”

“No!” I exclaimed as I took another swig of the vodka. “We’re not even dating. And I am a lady about these things.”

“Oh, hoookay,” Hope told me as she lit a cigarette and then handed one to me.

“I am!” Why did everyone assume I was such a classless slut? I mean, a slut, yes; but classless? No. “I like this guy!” I whined with a stomp of my foot. “And if it happens, I want it to be romantic.” I lit my cigarette and spewed smoke into Hope’s face. “I’ma look real hot and romance his pants off.”

And looking hot I did. Whenever there was a man at stake, I made sure that the clothing options I had were anything but limited. I took a moment before picking out clothes to pray to God (read: Carrie Bradshaw) that I could find something in my closet that Mason hadn’t already seen me in and that would appear not only classy, but sexual. I donned my favorite black button-up from Express with its sleeves rolled up to the middle of my upper-arms — Mason had a thing for guys with biceps; I didn’t have biceps, mind you, but the tightness of the rolled sleeves gave the illusion that I did. I then slipped on a pair of Marc Anthony white linen pants and my nicest black dress shoes. I could tell something about the outfit was off. I looked … puffy.

It took someone else pointing out to me that my clothes were getting too loose from the slight weight that made everything look big. So I made the bold choice of pulling my hair back in an effort to accentuate what few vague, squint-worthy structural features my face had. Then I tucked my shirt into the linen pants — only to find that linen pants apparently don’t have belt loops — and pinned a silk, black scarf around my waist as if it were a belt. I left open all but the three lowest buttons to show off a little skin and the fact that my stomach was finally, after many years of not trying that hard at the gym, flat. I found a new, black umbrella to match the outfit, and glided off to Michelle’s car in the rain when she arrived to pick me up.

Damn,” Michelle said when I got into the car. “Look at you and your outfit!” She smiled. “C’mon, outfit!”

“Man trapping requires a little more effort than usual,” I said with a coy smile. Michelle and I had known one another since high school. It was amazing to watch her grow up and to get to be a part of that. Since high school – and especially so in the years after – Michelle had become an activist for POC queer people and was even currently working in politics for the Democratic Party. She’d also adopted a certain spirituality in that time, which included tarot card readings and speaking to her ancestors. That’s why I wasn’t necessarily surprised when I thought I smelled incense burning and asked about it.

“Uh-uh,” she told me, reaching for something from her cup holder and holding it up to show me. “Sage. I need a little purification if I’m gonna be around all these white people.”

“You know that you won’t be the only Black girl there, right?” I asked her as I checked my hair in the mirror. “Mason has quite a few Black friends. This is not an Affirmative Action invite.”

Hmm,” she muttered as if she doubted me while I giggled in the passenger’s seat. “Where the hell are we even supposed to park?” she then said as we stared down Center Street parallel to Washington Avenue where Mason lived. He’d instructed us to park on Center Street once we’d arrived, but from what I could tell, there was no street parking to be seen. We must have circled the block five or six times before finally finding a spot a little ways up.

“Can we park here?” I asked, looking around for a fire hydrant or a sign saying otherwise, but none were in sight.

“Yeah, I think so. I just saw someone else pull out of this spot,” she said as she put the car in park.

“God, I wish I had cocaine,” I muttered as I stepped out of the car. “I’m not even sure how to get into his building.” That alone proved to be a nightmare. If it hadn’t been for running into our friend Lana on the way up to the door and a girl who lived there letting us in past the gate, we might not have ever made it. “See,” I told Michelle as I pointed to Lana. “I told you there’d be other Black people here.”

Michelle actually seemed relieved, which I could understand to an extent. It’s hard enough being the gay person out in a pack of straight people – the longing to be around people like yourself. Now dissect that into being the only Black, gay person in a crowd. Understandably it could be uncomfortable. And thankfully, from the beginning, Lana and Michelle hit it off, which was good for me. That meant that I’d have one less pair of people distracting Mason from our inevitable conversation he was not yet aware we’d be having.

When we finally found his fourth-floor apartment, there was already a handful of people in the apartment spread around chatting and eating finger foods. Mason opened the door and smiled at all of us, hugging first Lana, then Michelle, and then myself. He looked nice, too, in his pale blue button-up and dress pants. Hearing his voice and watching him smile, I could hear the music in the back of my head, my insides swaying from side-to-side with it while my exterior tried to lock its feet solidly to the floor without visibly swooning.

He had the apartment of a real grown-up. His room was tidy and uncluttered, his laundry in a hamper tucked away in his closet – yes, I was snooping – his living room complete with a couch and a TV, and a bathroom that didn’t reek with the scent of boy or the rogue hairs to be found in any given place there.

As in any situation that required me to move at all, I was sweating my ass off, which, of course, noticed.

“The bathroom is right around the corner if you need to pat down a bit,” he said with a smile, handing me a paper towel. I jerked the towel from his hand and patted myself down right there in the kitchen – from my forehead to my neck to my chest and inside the openings of my shirt.

“I’m okay,” I told him with a smile. “Your new place is niiice,” I told him with a smile as I began putting beer in the fridge that I’d brought, as well as a bottle of champagne that Michelle had made a point of bringing.

“Thanks,” he told me as he pulled some large, frozen pizzas out of the oven to cook for everyone. “I really like it. I’m exhausted though. I pretty much did all of this today.”

The small talk was – to say the least – killing me. If it had just been the two of us, we could have been talking about anything. Anything. Our past hookups, embarrassing shit we’d done while we were drunk, his depression, my mania – the options were limitless. But around all these people – many of them straight – the topics were not allowed to be quite as broad. So, like a lady, I politely took four Solo cups, opened a giant bottle of tequila, and immediately began pouring four shots for Michelle, Lana, Mason, and me.

“To your new place,” I told Mason, holding up my cup and handing each of them theirs.

“What is this?” they all asked.

“Shut up and fucking drink it,” I said with a roll of my eyes, each of them pouring a bit of their shots into my cup. “Pussies.” Nevertheless, we took our shots – all their faces contorting to something reminiscent of Picassos.  And if that hadn’t set the precedent for the rest of the evening, I’m not sure what would. Michelle and Lana played games with some new friends they made – from Jenga to Spades and more – while I watched in the corner and laughed along with them. A few times, I had to take work calls out in the hall, which gave me an excuse to step out and smoke cigarettes.

Social settings always stressed me out far beyond what people would believe. Put me on a stage and give me a microphone and tell me to talk, okay; I’m fine. But stick me in a room full of people engaging socially and wanting to get one another – noooo, sir. I never know what to say or what information to share; and when I do it always comes off so braggy. “Hello! I’m Anthony. I run one of the largest LGBTQ magazines in the state and I have four published novels. What inferiority would you like to share?”

Nevertheless, having had already so many not-so-wonderful experiences around Mason’s friends, I felt it bet to ingratiate myself into their pods so as to get on their good sides. Nothing irritated me more than when two people began dating, and one of those people tried to push away the other’s friends. Well, one thing did … when the person’s whose friends were getting pushed away let their friends be shoved out of the picture. It was silly to me. After all, these are the people who helped sculpt you into the person that your partner fell in love with. Why would you alienate them? Whether or not something more came from my friendship with Mason, I wasn’t going to let that ever be the case between us. If I wanted my friends to be important to him, I had to give him and his friends the same respect.

So the next few hours were filled with uncomfortable small talk, forced laughter, and two invisible hot air balloons holding up either side of my mouth into a smile. But the longer that I participated, the more I watched Mason at ease around his friends, the more comfortable I became, and the more I was able to finally enjoy myself. When most of the crowd had cleared out, the only people left were Lana, Michelle, and two of Mason’s other friends whose names I hadn’t caught – Alexis and Monica, for all intents and purposes.

We’d resorted to playing beer pong – or, at least in the case of Mason and I, because we’re gay, rosé pong. The two of us battled it out against Michelle and Alexis across the table. From what I could gather about Alexis, she was a personal trainer and a lesbian who left no question as to whether or not she was flirting with Michelle. In my head I encouraged this coupling — Yas, queer girls! Couple up! Present and mate! Meanwhile, Mason and I sat on the other end of the table watching as the pair of them suffered through a couple of long rounds of the game.

I’d forgotten how good I was at beer pong until I was actually put into the position of utilizing my skills. The game was a heated match, Mason and I vs. two very competitive and short-tempered lesbians. Beating them would prove to be difficult; but my years of extensive beer pong tutelage under many lesbians before them had led me to that moment and prepared me for it. And as it turned out … I was pretty fucking good. It seemed as though Alexis – who was built like a professional athlete and probably was one – might have the athleticism and hand-eye coordination only attainable by women who have sex with women to beat us; but at every turn she seemed to be just a bit off her game. Cup-after-cup, I managed to get most of the balls to land where I wanted them to, and Mason even made a few lucky shots himself. We gave each other double-handed high-fives, whooping and hollering anytime either of us made a cup, trash talking the lesbians and pretending to jinx the cups before they took their shots.

And when it came down to the final cup, the hardest shot in the entire game to make, we were both so drunk that I was certain neither of us would be able to score the winning goal. I took a step back from the table, drunkenly eyed the glass and measured out the degree of the bend of my elbow, but haphazardly let the ball go too soon. I swore to the gods and stomped my foot loud enough to wake the apartment below us. But then Mason – as if none of it mattered to him in his flippant, careless form – tossed his ball like a 5-year-old playing under-handed tee ball.

I couldn’t look.

Sure, if he missed the cup, we still had plenty of chances to make it up. The girls were far behind us and there was no end on their side in sight for quite a while. But now my competitiveness was getting the best of me. If he were to miss the shot, I would summon the level of anger not seen in sports since earlier that day when Serena Williams was wrongly fouled at the US Open. Still, my own nosiness couldn’t keep my eyes away from that last shot. And as I turned to look, I dug my fingernails into the skin of his biceps while the world and game around us seemed to carry on in slow motion.

HOLY SHIT!” we both shouted when the ball somehow managed to land in the cup. “Holy fucking shit we won!” I yelped as I excitedly turned around and slipped my fingers between his in the air.

And, yes, it was stupid … but after winning that second game of rosé pong, all I wanted to do – even if drunkenly so – was kiss Mason.

I didn’t, for what it’s worth. That would have been moronic and uncalled for. Still as we stood their with our hands gripped in the air, smiling and staring at each other as Michelle and Alexis cursed and playfully accused one another of not pulling through, I had never been more attracted to him in the entire time we’d known one another.

I wiggled my fingers loose a bit, but Mason clung for a second longer. I’d turned away from him, afraid that if I met his eyes, he’d see my lips turning up and the blush splotching across my cheeks. Then a moment later, he let go, and Michelle and Alexis individually prepared to leave.

“Do you want me to take you back to your house?” Michelle asked me as she gathered her things.

I turned and watched Lana, Monica, and Mason gabbing in the corner.

Nah,” I told her while trying to pretend to be a little sober. “I’ll Lyft home or something,” I said with a smile.

Michelle raised her eyebrows and pointed at me with a wagging finger. “I see you,” she said with a laugh.

“Hey,” I called to the others, “I’m gonna walk Michelle down to the street where she parked real quick,” I told them before heading out the door behind her. And that’s exactly what I did. I did not go any further than the sidewalk – mostly for fear that someone might remove my shoe from beneath the gate and lock me out of the building – before bidding her adieu and heading back up the four flights of stairs (I was far too impatient to wait on the slow ass elevator in Mason’s building). And as I traced up them, I began to talk myself through all the red wine and tequila and vodka and rosé that I would make myself have this conversation with Mason I’d been planning to have with him. After all, by now we were both sufficiently drunk enough to at least not be awkward about it. And if worse came to worst, I’d at least mustered up the courage to do something I’d not been able to do properly with so many men before him. It wouldn’t kill me not to be dating Mason. Sure, I liked him. But I wasn’t in quite deep enough to catapult myself down into ruin if he broke my heart. In fact … I wasn’t even sure that I had the feelings for him to do that.

When I walked back up to Mason’s apartment – which was gaily decorated with a papier-mâché ‘M’ attached to the wall and a row of tiny, colorful, donkey-shaped piñatas that lined the ground along the threshold – I could hear him talking to someone, pausing where there was no response, and talking again. I pushed the unclosed door open and found him sitting in the window seat overlooking the street as Lana stood and rushed past me to head downstairs.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“It’s Michelle,” Mason told me. “She can’t find her car.”

“What do you mean she can’t find her car?” I asked. “I just walked her down to the block where she parked.”

“She says it’s not where y’all left it,” he told me with a shrug. He then covered the phone with his hand, “She was a little drunk. Maybe you should go help her find it,” he suggested.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I muttered, turning around and flying back down the stairs. I stuck my shoe in the gate again to hold the door open, then trotted down Center Street with a limp toward Michelle, who I found standing on the corner nearest to where we had parked her car. “Are you serious?” I asked her, looking around and realizing that her car, in fact, was not where we’d left it.

“It must have been towed!” she shouted to the empty street around us. “I knew this wasn’t a parking spot!” she went on as I walked into the empty space where her car had been, then backed up toward her without turning around.

“How could it not be?” I asked, still facing the street and walking backward. “There’s no tow-away sign or anything—”

As I was saying it, I’d backed into something hard, cold, and sturdy. When I whipped around to see the street sign before me, I looked up a few feet to realize that there was, indeed, a sign at the top indicating that this was not a parking spot.

“Well, shit,” I muttered as I stared up at it. “How the fuck did we miss that?” I asked. “We weren’t even drunk yet …”

Traversing back to the fourth floor, we met Lana along the way, who reported that her car, too, had been towed away before reentering Mason’s apartment. The realization that everyone’s cars were missing laid upon me an even thicker realization:

I was not going to get my talk with Mason tonight.

I drew in a heavy breath and relinquished a sigh just as great, grabbed a marker and a paper plate, then handed them to Michelle while asking Lana to come to the counter.

“Write your license plate numbers down,” I told them with a roll of my eyes as I reached across the counter to pour another glass of wine. “I’ll find your cars,” I told them.

“Are you sure?” Michelle asked.

“Yeah,” I told her as I took a giant gulp of Shiraz. “My car’s been towed so many fucking times in my life that I ought to know how.”

I spent the next thirty minutes calling the Houston Police Department, and in turn numerous tow yards, in order to find out where exactly their cars were before returning with answers. I pulled Michelle outside the apartment.

“Okay, listen,” I told her, sipping my wine. “It’s going to be $235 to get the car out of impound. Do you have it?” I asked. It wouldn’t have been the first time I had to get someone’s car out of impound, but I certainly was not as financially prepared to bail hers out as I had been before if she didn’t’ have the money. Luckily, she did. My next question pertained more specifically to myself than it did to Michelle, but I asked anyway. “Do you want to wait here a minute to sober up before we do this?”

Michelle’s shoulders dropped and her head tilted to one side. “I am sober. You on the other hand—”

“Hey, hey, hey!” I interjected. “I may be drunk, but I was still able to successfully locate your cars. Was I not?”

Michelle shrugged, then shoved past me to get back into Mason’s apartment. If nothing else, Michelle and Lana could still go to their respective vehicles and I might still have a shot at having this conversation with Mason. Still … part of me would’ve felt like a shitty friend had I let Michelle and Lana go to some dark ass tow yard in the middle of one of the worst neighborhoods in Houston at 2 AM to retrieve their vehicles.

Therein laid the dichotomy that had been haunting me since I was old enough to start dating:

Friendship … or dick?

“Lana, do you want to share an Uber down there,” Michelle asked, sort of making the decision for me.

 

“No, no, no!” Mason – also drunk – interjected – as he stood up and began fumbling around his apartment for his shoes and keys. “I’ll drive y’all down there.”

Jesusfuckingchrist,” I muttered under my breath, downing the rest of my wine and then pouring another. I rolled my eyes and reached across the kitchen for my umbrella. “Well, let me get my things, considering I probably won’t be coming back here.” I reached for the recyclable grocery bag I’d also brought with me that had previously held beers I never planned to drink from my own house. Feeling silly for taking the bag with nothing to put inside of it, I – for no real reason – reached across the bar and grabbed two bananas off a bunch and tossing them down inside.

“Why are you stealing my bananas?” Mason asked me with a roll of his eyes.

“I’m a kleptomaniac!” I shouted as I made my way – Solo cup full of wine in hand – out the door and toward Mason’s parking garage. I jumped into the front seat and placed my wine down in the cup holder as the girls in the back chatted and Mason did his best to maintain enough composure to not be caught driving drunk. After taking a sip of my wine and placing it back in the cup holder, I felt Mason’s hand brush against mine, although not in the drunk, romantic way he might normally to hold mine. As my hand came up, his continued to go down until his fingers wrapped around the rim of my cup and pulled it up chest-level.

“What are you doing?” I asked him, unsure as to whether he was going to drink it, which I’d not have minded.

“I don’t want it to spill,” he told me, clinging to it a bit tighter.

“It’s not going to spill in the cup holder,” I told him. “It’s not even half-full.”

“It’s fine,” he told me, sighing as if exasperated. “I don’t mind holding it.”

Ill hold it,” I told him as I jerked the cup out of his hands and back into my own. I took another swig from it just as Mason was approaching a railroad track before us. Most people, when approaching a railroad track, might take the time to slow down enough as to not sending all their passengers flying across the cabin. Most people, however, were not as drunk as Mason. And when he haphazardly flew over the railroad tracks without coming to a slow, the cup did fly out of my hands and spilled all over my lap … onto my very expensive white linen pants.

I’ve had a lot of men do a lot of shitty things to me, a lot who have made mistakes I was able to let go of and move on from. But in my short dating life as an adult gay man, I’d never had a man inadvertently ruin my favorite and most expensive pair of pants while driving drunk.

I could have killed him.

At the impound lot, I did my best to continue unreactive, but could not help myself. More than once, I reminded everyone how much those pants had cost, and I could see the guilt of it all squirming across Mason’s face. And it wasn’t just the matter of my pants … it was everything, most important of which was the situation with the cars. Here was the awkward, flirty, tactile 25-year-old who’d wanted nothing more than to have his closest friends over to celebrate his move into his brand new, very-adult apartment. Meanwhile, two of the attendees had found themselves $235 poorer after bailing their cars out of vehicle and me – arguably one of his closer friends – throwing a fit over a pair of pants that probably wouldn’t have even been ruined to begin with if I’d just let him hold the stupid cup like he’d said.

The ride back to his apartment was … awkward at best. Michelle and Lana had made their ways home, Monica had been dropped off outside of her apartment building, and Mason and I sat silently in his near-empty vehicle trying not to make things any weirder than they already were. When we parked back in the parking garage, I stumbled out of the car and inadvertently dropped the bananas on the cement ground. When I reached down for them to toss them back in my bag, Mason stopped me and reminded me that there were more bananas in his house – which was not the point. Still, I was willing to forgo them if I was going to get to have this weird conversation with Mason upstairs. But the closer we drew from the garage to his apartment, the more of a bad idea that seemed to be. After all, the poor guy had just had to take his friends to the impound to free their cars, and I had just bitched him out about ruining my favorite pants. Say this conversation weren’t to go the way I’d hoped. Then we’d just both be drunk and Mason would have yet another awkward weight sitting on his shoulders to burden after the catastrophic close to an otherwise successful night.

So by the time we reached the hall, I stopped in my tracks and threw my arms down beside me.

“I’m gonna go home and let you get some rest,” I told him with an intonation that wasn’t necessarily sympathetic, but rather one that resonated my own irritation at the futility of my plans to define the relationship.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “Do you want to stay here?” he asked.

“No,” I told him with a shake of my head, looking around to see if I could navigate myself through the halls to get back down to the street.

“Do you want me to pay for your Lyft?” he asked. “It’s the least I can do considering that I ruined your pants.”

I rolled my eyes. “No,” I replied even more aggravated by this guilt-trippy suggestion.

“Well, why don’t you give me your address and let me take you home?” he asked.

No,” I impressed again upon him. Jesus. What was up with this guy? Couldn’t he just take no for an answer? What was all of this annoying, gentleman bullshit? Chivalry is dead, dude! I found my inner-monologue shouting at him. Annoyed, I turned away from him and began walking in what I thought was the right direction. Less than a second later, however, Mason was grabbing me by the shoulder and dragging me in the opposite direction.

“Well, let me at least walk you down to the street,” he told me, leading the way to the nearest staircase and out the gate. When we reached the ground level and I began to trek away from him without saying goodbye, I could still hear his footsteps right behind me.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“I’m walking with you,” he explained.

“I’m just going to the front of the building so the Lyft can find me,” I lied. I had no plans of catching a Lyft. My only plans at that point were to stomp off by foot down toward Pearl Bar a few blocks down and get sufficiently drunk with the lesbians before last call. I wasn’t going to tell him that, though.

“Okay, well then I’m walking you to the front of the building and waiting with you,” he told me.

I rolled my eyes and groaned. Why, oh why did this man have to choose now to be a gentleman? Where was the guy who touched me somewhat inappropriately when we were drunk and who sent me embarrassing Snapchat videos of himself when he was browsing the aisles of CVS when he certainly shouldn’t have even been driving? Where was the cute boy who laid back on the weird, boot-shaped bench outside Neon Boots and inched his hand nearer and nearer to me to be held?

“You don’t have to do that,” I told him, still sounding aggravated as ever.

“Okay,” he sighed, defeated, though probably just ready to get into his own bed and go to sleep.

“You really don’t want me to walk with you?” he asked.

“No,” I told him again – a broken record.

“Well, can I have a hug?” he asked.

“No,” I muttered out in a way that wasn’t even slightly capable of stifling my irritation anymore.

He hugged me anyway – not a long hug, not the kind that might have made my heart skip a beat on any other occasion. It was just a hug. Plain. Dry. Routine.

“I love you,” he said as I pulled away from my already unenthusiastic reciprocation.

No.

I turned away from him and walking down Center Street toward the intersection to head back to Washington Ave. And when I knew he was no longer watching, I bolted in the opposite direction toward Pearl Bar. A large part of me wanted to cry – and later I would. But for the time being, I was going to drink at the bar where the doorman knew who I was and let me bypass him without checking my ID. I was going to get lost in my own, unnecessary, drunk thoughts wondering why on earth every little thing I tried to carry out with this guy always went awry. I was going to let all those memories of Ezra and my father and every other man I’d ever loved remind me that maybe this was just the soft end of a much more difficult blow I wasn’t quite ready to suffer. I was going to have Gwen come and pick me up from the bar – but only because she offered – and get mad at my friend Sam simply because he was a man – and cry silently on the way back to my house. And it wasn’t because Mason had done anything or said anything – it wasn’t even really because I hadn’t gotten the chance to have the conversation with him I had finally mustered up enough courage to entertain having.

It was just that everything that I’d been waiting for – all the gratification I wasn’t even yet sure would come – had been, once again, delayed. I was tired of delaying my happiness because of other people. Whether it have been a year of my love life gone because I was too hung up on Ezra or years of my childhood squandered waiting for just one adult to look at me and see something in me that they thought was special, I was tired of waiting. I liked Mason, godddamnit. I liked him a lot. And he was the first man in a very long time to make me think he might actually like me a little bit, too. And certainly, I had no one to blame for the fact that I hadn’t had this conversation with him tonight but myself. I shouldn’t have gotten so drunk, and I should have paid closer attention to the street signs around Michelle’s car and I shouldn’t have gotten irritated when I finally did have the chance to talk to him.

And I knew the opportunity would come again soon – we were, after all, going to be spending a weekend out of town together for a conference in Austin just two weeks after. And I knew that at that time, I’d finally manage to have him alone long enough and that we’d both have a drink or two to take the edge off in the event that things did turn awkward. But even that latter thought frustrated me. Why did I feel I had to be drunk to have this conversation with him? What was that going to help really? It wasn’t going to really dull the pain I may feel if he said he didn’t like me, too. It might prolong some of it, but it was all certain to come regardless. And my dumb, drunken acts tonight were clear indication that this was not a conversation I needed to have with him when I was under the influence of alcohol. I couldn’t realistically romance Mason’s pants off if I were too drunk to function. And that’s what I wanted from this:

If it were going to go the way I’d been hoping, I at least wanted it to be mildly romantic. I didn’t want it to be the ramblings of a drunken homo trying to settle down with a well-to-do man before I ran out of all other options. My feelings for Mason were sweet and affectionate.

I wanted to present them in a way that was representative of that fact.

 

I just still didn’t know if they were greater than those I had for Sam.

Still, in the three days that followed that party, I wasn’t sure if I’d quite have the nerve to bring it up again then. If only I’d known then as I was beating myself up that the return of a man I’d long-since given up on holding out my affections for would soon galvanize me into a place where I would be forced to confront the status of my relationship with not only Mason, but Sam, as well. This little trifecta was only going to complicate itself by spiraling into insanity because another man — and then another — would soon shake things up and make me reconsider everything.

The first of those two men, ladies and gentleman, was a certain fellow I’d once known from the Room Bar by the name of Taylor Kyle.

Charli XCX and Dorian Electra in Femmebot Fantasy Dallas

Charli XCX and Dorian Electra bring Femmebot Fantasy to Deep Ellum in Dallas tonight.

UPDATED 13:36 PM

(DALLAS) — Join About Magazine on Saturday, October 6th in Dallas, Texas for Charli XCX  and Dorian Electra’s Femmebot Fantasy. The concert and party will be at Deep Ellum Co. at 10:00pm, with doors opening at 9:00pm. Tickets are 35 dollars for general admission. The show is 18 and up only.

Performers include, Charli XCX, an electro-pop artist and feminist icon famous for such hits as “Boom Clap” and “Boys”, as well as Dorian Electra, a gender norm-defying up-and=coming pop artist. Charli XCX and Dorian Electra have been on a mini tour since August, visiting cities such as Atlanta, Miami, and, more recently, Houston. Other performers include, FEE LION, p1nkstar, Belladonna, Mood Killer, Banoffee, Ceci G, DJ VIP, and more. Charli has been opening for Taylor Swift on her reputation tour, which closes its North American leg in Arlington tonight before the event.

dorian Charli XCX and Dorian Electra in Femmebot Fantasy Dallas
Dorian Electra

Femmebot Fantasy is an electro-pop party with a great lineup of high energy performances. Bring your femmebot attire and fierceness along to this ferocious femmebot party. About Magazine is sponsoring the party and will be in the house all night long.

Deep Ellum Art Co. is a mixed-use creative facility. It combines an art gallery, indoor/outdoor event spaces, food trucks, and lots of taps and cocktails. It was once a printing press repair shop and many other things before that. Now, there is art on every wall. Deep Ellum Art Co. gives young artists an opportunity to work alongside other established artists and was created to showcase the art of local artists.

Feminism Isn’t Just for Women

About Feminism Feminism Feminist Equality Women

About Feminism, No. 1

Let’s talk about feminism. Shall we? Because apparently to a lot of people, feminism is something that should be swept under the rug. At least, that’s what I’ve found.

When I was younger, I didn’t really think on the topic of feminism much. I’m originally from Maine, a very liberal state. Feminism isn’t much of a debate there. I’ve never had to fight people on my views or had to convince people that feminism is okay. Admittedly, feminism has always been important to me. It’s a drive I feel within myself; and even if I don’t always need it as much as others as a white, cis-gender woman, I’ll be here to advocate for the people that still do. But right now I’m a college student in Florida; and while a lot of the people I’ve met have been fellow feminists, I’ve also met a fair share of people who hear that word and want to go on a rampage. One of the first experiences I had when I moved down to Florida was with a group of friends that I met at a party. These people (most of them straight, cis, white, and male) began to make jokes about women and jokes about feminism. I — feeling completely uncomfortable and also regretting aligning myself with these men — clearly looked miserable. One of them must have thought, “Maybe I should figure out what’s going on with her and why she isn’t laughing at my hilarious and totally not-at-all ill-conceived joke.” So to solve this problem he looked me right in the eyes and said, “You’re not a feminist. Are you?”

Now, I’m not the same person I was when this happened last year. Now I know better. I know that it’s important to stand up for what that you believe in. But then, I didn’t. And I had just moved to a new place and they were my only friends, and I didn’t want them to cast me aside just because I’m a feminist.

I shrugged. “Kinda.”

I actually said that. I told them that I was kinda a feminist because I didn’t want to have to deal with the argument or the judgment that would have followed if I told them that I’m a women’s rights-marching, straight-up feminist. Just as an aside here: if you have to sacrifice parts of yourself so that your friends won’t judge you, maybe it isn’t worth it to stay friends with those people.

Looking back, if I’d have had the confidence then that I have now with thanks to feminism, I definitely would have stood up and given them a three-hour dissertation on how feminism is something this world desperately needs. I would have pulled out a sixty-point slideshow and educated them on everything. But I didn’t. Because I was afraid. I didn’t want to be judged and I didn’t have the backbone to tell them that they were wrong. After that, I found that this is a very real fear for many people — namely women — who believe in feminism but haven’t grown into their inner-advocate yet. A lot of men have a way of making us women feel small and, at some times, even useless. It’s hard to stand up to someone of whom you are afraid. This fear comes from past experiences and stories we see on the news. This fear, we are told, is invalid. But, look at the news, look at the women who have been hurt — or worse, who have been murdered by — their significant others. How are we supposed to see articles about how three women are killed every day by an intimate partner, and not be terrified? That fear alone is the reason it’s difficult to stand up against a male in a place of power. We never know what could happen. We are murdered for saying no, we are murdered for ignoring them, we are murdered for walking down the street. The fear that men in power have instilled in women since the beginning of time isn’t new; and we’re seeing examples of that with men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and countless others being brought to light in the age of Me Too and Time’s Up. Men who have sexually assaulted and abused women physically have thrust their power against women to ruin their careers and livelihoods, silence them, and traumatize them for as long as men have had power, and it is only just now beginning to be given the attention it deserves. But this is only the beginning of the solution to a much larger problem.

This is something that a lot of people think about every day. There are so many people out in the world who are feminists, but won’t admit to it because they’re afraid of what people will say to them. And to that I say, “Fuck those people.” Be who you want to be. There’s always going to be something that people can judge you for; and if there are men out there who are going to judge you for being a feminist, you probably don’t want them in your life anyways because your association with them takes away from your own power and goodwill.

I talked to a few people in the past week about what feminism means to them and why they think feminism is important to have. I spoke to men and women of different sexualities. I suppose I wanted to prove a point, as it is important for the world to know that feminism isn’t just for women and it isn’t just for men. It is mutually beneficial. After all, that is what equality is. Isn’t it? Why would someone say no to equality? Well, that’s simple. Some men say no to feminism simply because of the way it’s named. One popular argument being, “If feminism is really about equality, then why don’t we just call it that?”

First of all, feminism is called feminism because it’s about bringing females up to the same status as men. We’re fighting for the rights of females, because we don’t have the same every day rights as cis men. We could call it equality; we could, because that’s what it is. We aren’t going to, though.

It’s actually kind of hilarious that cis men want to take a word away from us, not to mention the fact that it drives home the point. They want to take the female out of feminism. They don’t even want us to have the rights to one word. They can have the rights to our bodies, to our minds; why should they get our word too? But that’s fine. There’s a reason most cis men hate feminism and it’s because they don’t know what feminism is. Sure, they know it’s about equality and equal pay and all that. But they also think we’re insane. They label us a “feminazis” and “irrational”. They don’t take the time to sit down and learn about it. And why should they? In one of the conversations I had, bisexual woman Annika said, “It’s kind of our fault that people don’t understand. We don’t take the time to teach people about feminism, we just get angry with them and refuse to comment.” And I agree, it’s definitely part of the problem. People who oppose us don’t take the time to learn. Of course not. They oppose us. Why would they want to learn? It needs to be our responsibility to teach in order to bring people over to our side. Getting angry is only going to reinforce their beliefs that feminists are all crazy. We need to educate. There are people like Gloria Steinem, who has used her platform for decades to inform the community about feminism. We need more people like this. We need women in powerful positions to stand up and to educate.

A person who wishes to remain nameless said, “I try to see from everyone’s perspective, even if it’s maddening.” There’s an importance in listening, just as there’s an important to being heard. If we ignore the needs of the people around us, what are we doing to make our communities better when most minorities intersect with the feminist movement to large and varying degrees? It’s easy to see equality only from one side of the spectrum. Looking to the other side, thinking as a man, that’s hard. I think if we do this, if we listen to the needs (no matter how maddening it is) we will be able to better educate the people who don’t understand. And we need to realize that there are people out there who are radical. There are feminists who take their beliefs too far. Does that mean it’s all of us? No. Does that mean it’s most of us? No. But they are out there. We need to see this from the other side’s perspective, and like Annika said, we need to take the time to educate, even if it’s maddening that that responsibility has fallen to us.

In an interview with Gaige, a gay man, he said “We have plenty of white, cisgender men in power who want to stay in control; and they feel that letting women and people of color or different orientations have any power will ruin everything. As an American you should stand for equal rights for other people.” There is so much intersectionality within our community; there are people struggling with more than just one problem and we need to be there for each other as much as we possibly can. If we’re not supporting each other, then what are we even doing in this life? There’s no point in bringing the people around you down. The LGBTQ+ community should be one of support and love, and this includes feminism. In his interview, Gaige also stated, “I completely support equality not just for different genders, but for different ethnicities and sexual orientation no matter what you believe in.” I think this is a viewpoint we should also shoot to have. Supporting everyone no matter what, that’s what our world needs.

Trans man, Kris, was asked if he would call himself a feminist. In response he said, “Fuck yeah, I’m a feminist. I am proud to be a feminist. I’m proud to be an intersectional feminist, meaning I view trans women as needing feminism, women of color as needing feminism, white women as needing feminism, and even men. There’s a common misconception that men have nothing to gain from feminism, but men do benefit from feminism. That’s not why it’s important. It’s important because it helps women, which helps society as a whole. I’m proud and thankful to be living in a society in which I can openly express my opinion on feminism without fear of retribution.”

Cis, white, straight feminism is easy. I’m not saying that these feminists don’t have it rough, they still face a lot of problems with violence and unequal pay. But, we need to look at the statistics. 44% of lesbians, 47% of transgender people, and 61% of bisexual women encounter sexual assault. 53% of trans women of color are sexually assaulted. These numbers are too high. These numbers are almost half, or above, and there are people out there telling us not to be afraid? These numbers are not a joke, they are real life and entire gender. White, straight, cis women need to start calling for the support of their fellow feminists. Putting pads on walls not only isn’t going to help, but it separates women into unnecessary categories. Step up and stand up for people who need us most

Feminism isn’t just for women. It isn’t just something that straight, white, cis women benefit from. It affects all of us — woman of color, transgender people, and as Kris said, even men. Sure, supporting feminism is a good thing to do because feminism is important. But it’s more than that, it’s coming together as a community for something that’s important. It’s supporting each other when the cause doesn’t line up with your direct needs. It’s knowing that that support will help your children and your sisters and your friends. It’s supporting other people selflessly. And with that support, it’s being able to proudly say, “I’m a feminist,” and know that the community will have your back.

Tap-Tap, Motherfucker, Pt. I

Less Than Butterflies Romance His Pants Off Romance Anthony Ramirez Sex

Less Than Butterflies, No. 21, Pt. I

I wanted to tell this story without crying.

I wanted to.

But I’ve been bawling my fucking eyes out all day and I don’t know how to make it stop.

I wanted to tell this story with some fanciful, Carrie Bradshaw-like beginning, where I pose an existential question. Then, throughout the course of the journey, as I foray from scene-to-scene, things get easier to understand a clarity sets in and I don’t feel like crying anymore.

I wanted to.

I wanted to tell this story without hating myself. I wanted to look back in retrospect and learn a lesson and not feel stupid and not lose a friend and I wanted to feel nothing and none of that seems to matter anymore.

Because that’s the trouble with wanting things to work out a certain way — and in turn it is the depleting moral of this tale: we don’t always get what we want.

So now I’m crying, and I’m hating myself, and I’m feeling stupid, and I don’t have a pretty, prose-like way to tell this story, and I will likely lose my friend.


It was the night before the upfront table reading of our new TV show we would be presenting to potential advertisers. The Bible of scripts, schedules, and speeches was compiled, my assistant Morgan was finishing up the slide show to run in the background to set the scenes and thank our sponsors, the voice over clips had been recorded in Gwen’s studio, and my friend Sam was coming into town to help finish the production side of things.

I was excited to see him. He lived out of town and though he, and Gwen, and I talked every day, we didn’t get to spend much time together because we lived so far apart. The last time Sam had been in Houston, we’d spend three consecutive days doing hoodrat shit — lines of coke and parties til morning at townhouses in EaDo and after hours clubs until we were nearly dead from our blood turning to foam right in our veins. This weekend, there was work to do, but we were going to turn the fuck up the moment it was over, to celebrate what was hopefully going to be a successful event that Saturday.

I was stressing myself to the brink of suicide trying to get everything done leading up to the event, and it was Sam who quelled my terror by telling me that whatever I didn’t finish before he got there, we would finish together that night st the hotel one of our sponsors had booked for us for the next couple of nights.

And that was helpful. Knowing I had someone on my side was helpful. I knew that there were others on my side; I knew that I wasn’t really alone. Gwen and Morgan and the rest of our team — a cast of thirteen and a team of ten writers — had been busting their balls to make sure everything accorded to the plan, as well. But Sam’s reassurance was nicer somehow; maybe because I wasn’t used to getting it.

Sam and I met through a Pride Houston dinner sometime back, and by god did he look good in a suit. A PR manager for a handful of select celebrities across the country, San had started his career young and was somewhat known throughout the community based on the many people with whom he worked. I was nobody. I was nothing but a columnist at a gossip rag magazine who was there to help make sure the show ran smoothly who’d taken way too much Adderall that night and downed a water bottle full of vodka to try to take some of the edge off. We said hello in passing, and then we didn’t speak again for quite some time, at which point Gwen would introduce us and I would be a somebody.

At the beginning of our friendship, Sam still looked good in a suit, and he and his on-again-off-again boyfriend, Tucker, had taken a hiatus from their relationship after a series of events I never asked about because it was really none of my goddamn business. I can’t lie here: in the beginning, I’d had a crush on him and it was probably because he’d looked so good in that suit. But that door closed just as quickly as I’d opened it, as Gwen put it. Aside from the fact that I was emotionally involved — in whatever weird, convoluted capacity — with Ezra, Sam often it made it apparent without prompt that I was not someone in whom he could ever take a romantic or sexual interest. It started off as jokes — jokes about my weight, jokes about the way I looked, jokes that hurt more than I could have expressed to him. And those jokes made it much easier for me to close that door and to never open it again.

I locked it. Dead bolted it. Melted the frame into the door itself. Sam was my friend — as mean as he was to me — and I never saw him as anything but that ever again.

Until Saturday. The day of the upfront. And it wasn’t on purpose. And I didn’t plan for it. Hell … I’m not even the one who opened the door.


Sam was in such a hurry to get out and see his other friends on Saturday night that before I’d even had time to put my bags down in the hotel room, he was nearly halfway out the door. I should’ve known then that things weren’t going to go the way they should’ve, but I tried not to get too upset. Mason called me, sensing my upset and asked me what color flowers I wanted him to bring me to the show the next day, and my heart swelled and I felt those butterflies he’d been giving me for the last few weeks and my mood improved. But Sam went out into Montrose to meet his friends, and Morgan and I joined my cousin and another friend at Neon Boots for a few drinks, and by the time one o’clock rolled around, I knew Sam wasn’t going to get his work done before the show started at 11 AM the next day.

I could feel my anger surging out of my body and into the air around me. Other people felt it, too. But what was even more evident was the supreme amount of disappointment I felt for my friend that I’d trusted to do a job for a show I had created and that told my story.

Sam called and called, texted and texted, and a few times I made myself answer. By the last time we talked, I was shouting at him. It was well past two and I was back in the hotel and Morgan was asleep and my friend — my best friend, really — had betrayed my trust. To his defense, he was in the process of trying to complete a task after leaving the bar; but he was so wrapped up in spending time with of the obnoxious and air-headed thinks he’d fucked around with in the past that the work I’d poured my heart and soul and blood and sweat and tears into came out to be the second best matter in his opinion.

That really hurt.

I was so fucking tired of being second best.


The next morning, Sam rolled over in the bed next to me and grabbed me by the shoulder and whispered, “You’ve gotta get up.”

“I am,” I mumbled sleepily as I rolled away from him and heard him shuffling out from underneath the covers and into the bathroom. I closed my eyes a moment more, doing my best not to be angry at him any longer. I’d woken up throughout the night and heard him working; I’d see him grab his things and leave the room to go to the copy store to print the Bibles. He’d tried. That was good enough for now.

When I opened my eyes again, Sam was crouched down in front of me, an Adderall in one hand and a glass of water in the other. I did my best not to let him see me smile, then I took the pill, asked Morgan for my laptop, and got to work finishing preparations for the day, which was to start in just a few hours. We finished our work, and we drove to Rich’s to put on our show; we got on the stage and performed for a small crowd, and I smoked somewhere between 10-15 cigarettes in a very short time from my nerves; Sam went to get his haircut down the street, and I joined Hope and my friend Connor for a late lunch at BB’s in the Heights with Morgan.

Sam’s haircut didn’t take long, and soon he was with us at BB’s before we’d all go back to the hotel and rest and before he’d go see his family. As everyone ate and chatted amongst themselves, I dozed off a bit into my own little world. I thought about the show, how Mason had dressed up and brought me flowers, how the audience had laughed, how I was so nervous during the song I was supposed to sing that my pitch was all over the place. And as I was trailing off in my own little world, my phone vibrated in my lap and revealed a text from Hope.

iphone-CCcm Tap-Tap, Motherfucker, Pt. IMy head popped back up and my eyes darted toward Sam across the table who was now looking at his own phone. I hadn’t heard a single word he’d said; and a part of me was glad that I hadn’t. It’d been a long enough day without anything new or bizarre coming up this late.


When we went out that night, I was in a shitty mood. For one, I was not the biggest fan of Sam’s vapid, shallow, twinky friends; but that much I could have gotten past after a few drinks. More than anything, I’d spent a little time scrolling through Snapchat stories and had stumbled upon a few photos Mason had shared captioned with the words ‘date night’ from what appeared to be a very nice restaurant I was not present at, followed by a visit to see Les Miserables at the Hobby Center. I wanted to cry or be angry or to murder him or something; but all I could do was sit trying to be angry and growing more and more furious with myself for not being.

What was the deal with that? This dude was like the perfect guy for me and I really liked him and here he was out on a date with someone else and I felt nothing.

We headed to Rich’s with Twink #1 and my friend Courtney where my mood only got worse. Walking in the doors, Courtney and I headed to the restroom where we each did a bump of coke, then were met by Twink #1 and Sam at the door and led up to a booth upstairs where we were met by our friend Chance and his boyfriend Aaron. Upon seeing us, Chance pulled from his pocket two small capsules, handing one to me and another to Sam, which I inspected only to realize that it was Molly. Without even thinking twice, I popped the fucker in my mouth sipped a bit of Chance’s drink that sat on the table and wait oh-so impatiently for the roll to begin.

“Do you feel it yet?” Sam asked me loudly over the music about fifteen minutes later before leaning in closer and lightly tapping me on the shoulder with his onomatopoeia, “Tap-tap.”

Chance ran to my other said and did the same with one of his index fingers while saying, “Tap-tap.” I shrugged and pulled away from the both of them. I was not feeling my tap-tap just yet; but I sure as fuck could not wait for it to hit.

Everything that night happened so fast and in such a blur. Chance and Aaron were gone before we knew and the remainder of us were dancing downstairs — me rhythmless, Sam like a dad, and Courtney like a fanny-pack wearing lesbian. It wasn’t until we were outside standing under a fan, however, that the roll really began to kick in. I noticed it as the fan overhead blew down on me and the wind it produced seemed to be wrapping its arms around me in a hug. But what really set it off was the moment that Sam reached over when I was looking, clasp two of his fingers around my nipple, and tugged.  

Hoooooly shit, I remember thinking while at the same time trying to keep my mouth from hanging open.

Several more times he did this throughout the night, and I could feel a stir inside my pants that I should not have been experiencing at the hands of dear old Sam. But each time that he did it and pulled and squeezed just a little bit harder, things downtown got … well … a little bit harder. At one point I had to swat him away with my hands because I was not wearing underwear and there was no way I’d be able to conceal an erection in the pants that I was wearing.

“Not here!” I shouted as i jumped and giggled a bit.

Was that the thing I chose to say? “Not here”?

Then where?

I should have known then that the things would go downhill soon, but I chose to ride my roll instead and have a good time with my friend that I almost never got to see in person. So the partying at Rich’s led to an after party at some rando couple’s townhouse on Sutton St. in Midtown. I smoked a cigarette and waited for a Lyft Sam had ordered Courtney to arrive, all the while wondering how the fuck I’d gotten there in the first place; and finally joining him upstairs in the kitchen. Around the counter stood a pack of seemingly judgmental — albeit nice — 30-something-year-old gays that were mostly coupled up and drinking wine from large, Olivia Pope-esque glasses who were clearly not rolling on Molly like we were.

I could feel my roll depleting after we took a tour of the house and Sam and I lounged snuggly on the couch with Chance and Aaron a little while later. Chance and Sam had not been speaking for quite a long time, and so the fact that they weren’t killing one another and were actually friends again was quite the relief to me. I loved them both a great deal and it sucked not being able to spend time with the both of them with Sam was in town. Besides that, I could see how happy it made Sam; and that was something beautiful all on its own.

Sam got another Molly capsule and we split it in half to keep our high going just a little bit longer. As Sam laid back against the couch and I rested my head on his shoulder and my hand on his exposed thigh, I knew already that it was not a good idea. Twink #1 had danced off into the abyss that was Rich’s dance floor sometime ago, and all the other gays in the room looked not only tired, but coupled-up and not looking for guests; which concerned me simply because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when the new Molly hit our systems. Oddly enough, however, after another half hour of chatting with Chance and Aaron and strangers I didn’t know any better than the other friends of Sam’s we’d met throughout the night, I was kind of exhausted, and it seemed as though he was, as well.

“You ready to go back to the hotel?” I remember him asking, to which I for some reason chose to reply, “I’m up for whatever you want.”

Fucking idiot, I scolded myself.

We waited downstairs for a moment for the Lyft to arrive and take us back to the hotel, and Sam played with my nipple again while he cautioned me that the car ride may make the roll a lot worse. I’d never had that problem with Molly before, but figured he knew his body’s reaction to chemicals far better than I did. As it happened, the car ride didn’t bother me at all, but Sam did, in fact, have an intensified reaction to the drugs once the car began speeding us from Midtown to the Galleria somewhere near three or four o’clock that morning.

What happened next is hard for me; and the spaces between getting out of the car and returning to the hotel room are sort of fuzzy. I remember going upstairs, peeing, changing into a pair of volleyball shorts and a t-shirt. I remember lying down in bed and watching as Sam tried to dance off some of his roll to music that only existed in his own head. I remember smiling because of how silly he looked, but asking him to sit down and to be still because he was making me anxious with all the movement. I remember him turning off the lights and getting under the covers with me; and I remember inching in closer to him, lying my head on his chest, and telling him, “I’m still rolling pretty hard, so I’m gonna lay my head on you.”

The rest is pretty clear in my memory, though; because I hadn’t been rolling that hard by that point. I still felt the Molly in me and I knew I was still high. It just wasn’t as intense as I wanted to believe it was. Sam shuffled a bit and told me, “Let me readjust,” after which I sat up, as did he, and he took his shirt off, and he extended his right arm outward and invited me back to lay my head against him as he wrapped his arm around me and placed his hand on my shoulder. I snaked my right arm over his stomach and clasped it upon his side, and then traced my fingers in funny patterns along his skin, and he did the same against my shoulder.

Tap-tap was putting it lightly at that point. I wanted to be tap-tapped.

In all the time that we’d been actual friends, I’d never found myself attracted to Sam. I knew that others had been, and I’d been guilty of my little schoolgirl crush when we’d first met. But the door had long since closed. He’d closed it; and I’d been walked away and back to Ezra and then onto Mason, but now another door was opening. Only, I wasn’t the one turning the knob. I was sitting in a lobby waiting for my name to be called by some man — any man — would take the first step and open it for me. And there he was, Sam the PR Man and my best friend. His skin was warm, and it smelled like his cologne I recognized any time I smelled it anywhere else. His fingers were scratching my shoulder and mine were tracing his tummy, then his chest, and then his nipples. I twined my legs into his own, and I ran my fingers into that ticklish spot under his arms that made him jump and giggle. I kissed his chest when all I wanted to do was reach up and kiss his neck, and the space beneath his ears, and his lips. But I didn’t do that.

I couldn’t do that. We were already crossing the line.

But when I kissed him, he writhed and moaned, and I panted out little high-pitched breaths of submission, but stopped myself from going any further. I knew then how bad I wanted it … how bad I wanted him. Even if I’d never wanted him like that before, I could feel my body — whether it be from the Molly or not — aching to let him inside me, to make me cry out his name, to whisper daddy in his ear as he fucked me into another dimension. And I could feel he might have wanted it, too. After all, he was hard and his penis was pitching a tent under the comforter and if I’d cared less about myself, less about him, even less about his boyfriend back home, I’d have taken it further.

But I knew that once I did it, it couldn’t be undone. And the sex would have been great; and yes, I’d wanted it. For fuck’s sake, when I went home the next night and masturbated thinking about it for an hour, I’d have an orgasm like I’d never had before and half to smoke six cigarettes to get enough nicotine in my body to stop the shaking. But what felt better than all of that — the sex that hadn’t been, the fountainous ejaculation after jacking off, the way his skin smelled and how soft it was against my lips — was how comfortable and how safe I felt with his arm around me.

I’d never felt that before. I was being cradled by a man I genuinely did love, in one capacity or another, and who I told my secrets to, who knew as much about my life as I could remember in one sitting, and who made me feel secure and cared for.

I’d never had that before.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled as I pulled half an inch away.

But Sam kept his clasp around me and said, “Don’t be sorry,” and hugged me a bit tighter.

And I could have stayed there like that forever. I don’t know why. I don’t know where it came from. But I could have stayed there like that and been okay, because I felt safe.

I wasn’t sure quite what it meant just yet, and maybe when the Molly wore off and I was clear-headed again, I’d feel differently. But what I did know was when I woke the next day, nothing between Sam and I would ever be quite the same again, no matter how hard either of us tried to keep it the same. It was evident when my soot slid beneath his while he was sleeping, waking me up, and I gave a gentle tap-tap to the bottom of his foot with the top of mine; and a few moments later, I felt one reciprocal return.

Tap-tap.

Continue to Part II