Gay Sex, Straight Guy

Less Than Butterflies Anthony Ramirez See Ya’ Later Masturbator Masturbate Love

Less Than Butterflies, No. 25

Here’s the thing about having gay sex with men who say they’re “straight” …

I gasped as he ran his hand ever so gently across the nape of my neck and pulled not me in, but himself into me before he laid his lips upon mine.

… not even just “straight” men; maybe just men

The kisses were long and slow, but not the suffocating kind that makes you wonder when you’re going to be able to come back up for air. The kind you sink into — no — the kind you melt into.

… You know, men who are just a little older than you, men who pay attention to you, men who aren’t only concerned with getting off, but making sure that you get off, too …

He ran his hand down from my neck, but not the entire hand. His palms raised up like the trunk of a car and his fingertips slid down the outside of my shirt and over my underwear just above my penis before they just … stopped.

… These men open doors for you; and they walk close by you in public; and they let you finish a thought without cutting you off mid-sentence …

He pressed just their tips — those tiny zones of flesh just halfway down the fingernails on the opposite side — between the elastic of my briefs and the the skin of my pubis. Then he swayed them from side-to-side, teasing me — making me wonder whether or not he was going to take them off. And as his hand pressed back down firmly over their fabric and the fingertips came out from beneath, he edged his hand down and around what was waiting for him, and brushed his knuckles against the inside of my thigh.

I gasped.

… they are so good with their hands.

He leaned in, hot breath hitting the exposed skin between my shirt and underwear; and as he removed my clothing with the ease of a sea mammal leaping out of the water and diving back inside like a subtle decrescendo, he whispered, “You are absolutely breathtaking.”

I could have come right then and there.


Lovesickness does something to me. As it cracks the shell of my heart before my soul slides into the skillet to be stabbed at and scrambled, it absorbs the heat of the fire that cooks it. Although not always at first, like it seemed to do this time. Usually I have to get through all the crying, eating, drinking, depressive stages of my heartache before I can even look at another man with whom I might want to have sex — even it it’s just sex. I think that’s how I knew my tears brought on by Pistachio breaking my heart weighed a bit more than those before it. I was so crippled by my own hurt that I couldn’t bear to feel that way for long. It was all-consuming. It was as though I was actually afraid for the night to fall because being alone with no one else in the world to suffer through this with was a sort of loneliness I’d never experienced before. But when I’d finally fall asleep and the sun would come up shortly after, I’d be tearful just as my eyes began to open that I didn’t want to get up and be amongst people. I wanted to stay there and be alone until this famished melancholy inside of me had finally gone away.

It didn’t leave, however. I’m not sure it ever will leave. Just when I think I’ve vacated its presence, I’m overwhelmed with a heaviness in my chest and the feeling of someone making a fist around my stomach. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t even enjoy drinking, because it only brings the emotions out stronger. The only thing that seems to be letting me forget, even if just for a short time, is sex.

I know, I know. That is an extremely unhealthy coping mechanism. It’s no better than lines of cocaine — done that — or drinking myself into a coma — that, as well. It’s not really replacing the feeling of loneliness, the one of a broken heart. It’s just replacing them emotional feelings with heightened physical ones that are so overwhelming in the moment that it provides respite, even if just long enough for me to close my eyes during climax.

Just in the week following me finally getting out of bed, I had successfully blown a man in the bar parking lot, had sex with another man in the bed of his pick-up truck behind a gas station, orally serviced a dad in his bathroom while his girlfriend slept in the next room, and gotten out of sleeping with a guy who looked nothing like his profile picture on Grindr by telling him a half-lie about being too devastated to sleep with anyone after I’d recently had my heart broken. As far as sex went, I was sort of killing it, now racking up my grand total of men to 106. It seemed impossible that there was anyone left I hadn’t slept with, although I knew this wasn’t true as most of the annoying, twinkier fellows I could hardly stand speaking to, let alone having sex with. But what I did realize was that the man who would be my 107th sexcapade was much closer than I could have ever imagined. Five houses down from my mother’s, in fact. But no matter how the adage goes, not everything is about location, location, location. Although if the sex is as good as the location, it may have just proved that this man wasn’t just my 107 … he was Lucky Number 107.

His name was Grayson — although I didn’t learn that until later — and goddamn was this man a motherfucking man. He was one of those Texas men that — even as a Texan — I believed only existed in Southern mythology. He stood 6’4” weighing 220 pounds of pure, cut, and tight muscle. Or at least — that’s what I could ascertain from his Grindr profile that I grazed over while staying at my mother’s house for a few nights while her husband was out of town. And almost as if he could feel me staring at the details of his profile, my phone hummed that ribbit-like alert notifying me that the 35-year-old jock had just sent me a message.

“I think you might be my neighbor,” he wrote, followed by, “It says you’re only 300 feet away.” That much was true, and I’d honestly been thinking of going around the neighborhood to see how close I could realistically get to him in an effort to fish out which house the man lived in and, in turn, his identity.

“Seems like it,” I wrote back with a winking emoji. I was going full-Samantha Jones on this guy. If a man of his build was at all interested in pressing his body against mine, I was all for it.

“Well,” he typed out. “Either that or you’re hiding in my pantry … because you look like a goddamn snacc.”

I loved when men called me a snacc. It combined my two favorite things: sex with boys … and junk food.

“You are correct about that,” I told this man who was so far removed from my league that I might as well have been playing softball with a pack of moving lesbians while he was winning the World Series — this baseball analogy will seem more fitting later. “And you are a very attractive man,” I added with an upside-down smiley face.

The banter continued, but we didn’t end up sleeping together that night. In fact, I’m nearly certain that I fell asleep while talking to him, or maybe he had. Either way, another day passed and I didn’t hear from this man. It wasn’t until I was leaving my office in the wee hours of the morning to go home and get some rest — although I knew I’d never be able to sleep, as I’d just taken an Adderall at 10 PM to keep myself awake long enough to get things done for the next workday — when I heard that annoying Grindr notification on my phone.

“You up?” he asked me.

I smirked. I was somewhat impressed by this guy. He had never once asked me to send him nudes, and he hadn’t sent any to me either. He had revealed to me only photos of his face and body — both of which were more than aesthetically pleasing — and he had actively engaged me in conversation that wasn’t laced with propositions for blowjobs or sexual innuendo. Even when I’d asked him what it was he was into, he’d replied with such naive sweetness, “I like going to the gym, catching games, concerts, etc. You?” I probably hadn’t laughed as hard as I did at that message since before things had really gone downhill with Pistachio. And in an effort to not make him feel dumb — which I could tell by his impeccable grammar that he was not — I replied that I too liked concerts, that I hadn’t been to the gym in a while, but needed to go back, and that I enjoyed the theatre and writing. It felt too soon to tell him exactly what I might be writing next, however. This guy, who I only knew by his headline of “Houston Jock”, was, as far as I could tell, actually a nice guy.  And as it turned out, we were, in fact, neighbors — sort of.

He lived five houses down from my mother’s where I often was to see my siblings or to help her with one menial and underappreciated task or another. So as I sped to my mother’s from the office without telling her I’d be spending the night at what was nearly three in the morning, I was certain this guy was going to be one of two things: 1. closeted and inexperienced to a fault, or 2. a total fucking creep. Still, I was horny and had emotions to suppress with sex, and I therefore elected to at least meet the guy.

Having not showered since I’d left to go to the office the morning before, I broke into my mother’s house — which was unlocked for god only knows what reason — ran up the stairs, jumped in the shower, blew out my hair, found an old varsity-style t-shirt that was just a bit too big for me and a pair of nice underwear I’d left there a long time before that really made my ass pop, and then put my hair up into a messy, sexy ponytail. I grabbed beer — which I almost never drink — from the garage refrigerator, downed two, tossed two more into my arm, and ran out to the driveway to have a cigarette before he came over. I even put on cologne — something I don’t normally even do for the men I’m dating.

I let this man know where I was, and he asked me if I could hear a truck running from where I stood. In the silence of the early morn, I could hear it and saw a red pick-up flash its lights a few streets down.

“Are we gonna fuck in your truck?” I asked him — unsure as to why we wouldn’t just go inside his house.

“Well, yeah,” he replied. “Didn’t you say that that was your mother’s house?”

I laughed loud enough so that he probably heard me five houses down.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have sex in there. The second floor is completely vacant. Granted, we probably can’t get away with like … full-on anal because it would be really loud and the bed is creaky.”

“I’m cool with that,” he told me before confessing, “I’m just a little nervous. I’m kind of new to this.”

And there it was! The answer to my question about why we couldn’t just have sex inside his house. I knew even before I asked the question — though I should have been tipped off by the part of his responses that included “watching games” — that I was about to have sex with a man who identified as straight. And if we weren’t going into his house, that meant he was likely also married, or he had children whom he did not wish to wake from their slumber.

“So … you’re not … gay?” I asked him.

He answered back with great haste.

“No.”

Uhhhh-huh.

“Are you married?” I asked him. “Like … I’m not judging and it probably won’t stop me from sleeping with you because as you can see, I’m the kind of THOT that stands in his mother’s driveway in his underwear smoking a cigarette and drinking Blue Moon before he invites a stranger to have sex with him in his little brother’s old bedroom. But I would just like to know exactly what I’m getting myself into.”

He was quick to respond, “I’m going through a divorce. We can talk about it more in a second. Do you have anything to drink?”

I downed the rest of the third Blue Moon and opened the last one that had been in the fridge.

Noooope!” I typed. “Just opened the last beer.”

As he approached the house from a few houses down, I noticed he was carrying a few beers in his hand himself. But that wasn’t all that I noticed. In fact, that was probably the least of what I noticed about him. The man was not only taller than me — a rare gem of a man that is incredibly hard to come by — but he wore the best fitting jeans I’d ever seen in my life and looked like a model for a Cavender’s catalog in his sparkling cowboy boots. His t-shirt was snug around his clearly well-cut body and I immediately began to question whether or not he would see me and run home to find someone far more attractive to have sex with.

But he didn’t. In fact, if there was a way for someone to like … super not do something, that was what he did. He super didn’t run from me. Instead, he reached for my hand, bowed down a little before me, and planted a kiss on the back of it.

“You are somehow even sexier in person.”

I felt my eyes turning into hearts like an emoji and it took everything inside of me not to yelp, “HUBBA! HUBBA!” at the sight of this godlike man. Even for so early in the morning, he smelled so fresh and looked so clean and I was just this sort of still kind of wet from the shower bog monster that only really washed his taint because this man had quite enthusiastically said he’d eat my ass without any hesitation. And by the looks of him — by the way he held the door open for me to my own mother’s house and squeezed my hand just the gentlest bit as he followed me up the dark stairway — he was the kind of guy who was really going to put those straight, pussy-eating skills to the test around my now very-hungry butthole.

He took off his shoes, then took his wallet and cell phone out of his front pocket while I scrambled to the restroom to brush the cigarette ick out of my mouth. When I returned, he was still clothed, but he’d made himself quite comfortable and asked me to sit with him so that we could get to know each other.

“Are you sure we won’t wake anyone up?” he asked as he leaned his head back against an arm pressed against the wooden headboard.

“Ha! No,” I told him. “But what are they gonna do? Ground me? I don’t live here. I’m 24 and hot. Why wouldn’t I be having sex with the even hotter stranger from down the lane?”

He laughed and shared, “Grayson. My name is Grayson.”

I smiled. “Anthony,” I told him.

And from there, he told me a little more about himself — what he did for work, how his divorce had come about, the time his wife almost caught him surfing the now-defunct Craigslists personals to hook-up with a man. As it turned out, the cowboy-country thing wasn’t a charade. He’d grown up in Lubbock — gag me — and had moved here for college when he’d gotten a baseball scholarship to some Baptist university I’d forgotten as soon as he’d said it. A Baptist, it turned out, he was not. A baseball player, on the other hand, he definitely was — and he had the body to prove it.

For an hour we just talked — he’d told me how he’d lived in the area where I’d grown up for a while and how he’d met his wife and how they’d fallen apart. When he asked me how well connected I was in the LGBTQ community, I told him about the magazine and that I had served as the volunteer coordinator for Pride Houston for a couple of years — two things he was shocked to realize. And at the end of it all, he’d asked me if I was comfortable — I wasn’t, but I was trying to give him space as his nervousness was quite palpable — on the other end of the bed. And like a gentleman — albeit, again, one in my mother’s home — he arranged a few pillows for me to lie beside him and rest my head on his chest while his fingers grazed that very same shoulder another man’s had not so long ago.

I put Pistachio out of my mind, looking up to focus on the man before me. It was one thing that I’d already called out his name while having sex with someone else — another story for later — but I certainly would not be distracted by him while I was lying in bed with a man who actually did want to be with me.

We drank some more and talked and touched and tickled. After a while, we both had to pee, and I waltzed toward the bathroom to go first, fearful that when I returned he might be preparing himself to make an escape. But when I exited the bathroom, I had to hold my breath as I saw him coming down the stairs, as well. Only, I noticed immediately that neither of his boots were on, and the pocket that had previously held his wallet and cell phone lay flat against his thigh.

“What’s wrong?” he asked in a whisper, my mother’s room just feet away.

I chuckled nervously and played with a loose strand of my hair while looking down at the ground.

“Nothing, nothing,” I said with another nervous laugh while looking down at the ground. But as I did so, I noticed two other feet step toe-to-toe with my own, then felt a hand gently press my chin up to face the man before me.

He whispered, “I’m not going anywhere,” before leaning down just a tad and planting a kiss on my forehead.

As he peed, I had to smoke my anxiety away through a Marlboro on the porch. I was completely and totally unprepared to have sex with this gorgeous man. And why did he want to have sex with me anyway? Mind you, I was in much better shape than I had been in at any point in time since high school. And as of late, men were trying to scoop me up left-and-right. But they weren’t men — not a man like this, anyway. And even the cute or hot ones held no candles Grayson. Physically and at this point in my life, he is the most attractive man I have ever had sex with. He had a cute face, a hot body-ody, and from what I could tell through those Levi’s, likely a perfect penis.

What is it about men? Like … how is it that sometimes the most gorgeous men in the entire world can turn out to also be the nicest, but the ones who are still kind of cute, but not cuter than you by any stretch of the imagination, feel like they have the right to do as they please with you, toss you aside, and then make you feel like shit about yourself? And don’t get me wrong — the gorgeous men can do that, too. All men can. All people can. But something about men and their baseless superiority over my lifetime — most recently so and maybe even most significantly so with Pistachio — had left me feeling like I was something less than I am. In turn, when a man who was literally created in God’s image decides he wants to bless me with his sex, I’m left wondering why the fuck that could possibly be — suspecting an ulterior motive.

But goddamn … bless me with his sex did he ever.

For nearly the next three hours, Grayson and I fucked like we might never fuck again. His hands left me trembling and his mouth closing around any part of me sent mine flying open into sounds of ecstasy. There was no chance in hell that we were going to be quiet. We were so involved with one another, so rhythmically in sync and so lost in not only our own pleasures, but those of the other that we couldn’t have stopped even if we had woken everyone in my mother’s house and his soon-to-be ex-wife five houses down. And when he said that to me at the beginning, called me breath-taking after my glasses were off and the pudge of my stomach was noticeable even in the darkness, I really could have orgasmed right then and there. He hadn’t called me hot or sexy or cute. He had even bypassed beautiful and gorgeous, passed Go, collected $200 dollars, and spent that money on the sweetest compliment any man has ever given me in my life:

Breathtaking.

And just as certain as I could have ejaculated then, I could have also begun to cry had I not been reveling in the most pure state of absolute rapture I’d ever known. This was a man — again, a man — who didn’t know me, who didn’t know my faults and bad habits, who didn’t know I could be a raging cunt or that I fell in love too easily or that I had just had my heart broken. And while the attraction to the personality is an absolutely integral part of any relationship, it was so validating after having to hear Pistachio tell me that I’m not attractive to hear a man far more attractive than he tell me I was breathtaking.

I didn’t need the validation, mind you. But I’m certainly glad that I got it. Because I think that had I not heard that word come from that man — maybe just some sex angel sent down by God to get me out of my feelings — I might not have found the confidence I needed to get up the next day and dress myself in an adorable outfit with hair and makeup completely done the wedding of two of my dear friends. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to expose my midriff while wearing the shirt I’m wearing right now through the Galleria earlier tonight. I don’t think I would have had the strength to tell Pistachio last night that something he’d said to me was not okay and to give myself the space from him for a few days to decide how I felt about it until he was ready to apologize and until I was ready to accept that apology.

I am a strong fucking person. Willful, determined, talented, and a motherfucking snacc.

Breathtaking, even.

And if this man could see that natural beauty in my messy ponytail, with my glasses off somewhere on the floor, without any makeup, and with all my physical imperfections on display, there were going to be plenty of other men who could do the very same thing. And I pity my friend, the man who broke my heart, for having to miss out on those things and all the other incredibles parts of me this man who called me breathtaking didn’t even know.

When the sex was over, he pulled me in, and he held me. I’d come three times, as had he, and the room smelled of sex and sweat and the sheets were drenched and I knew in the days to come that muscles I didn’t even know I had would ache. He kissed me and he laced his fingers between mine again and I told him that since it was now just minutes before seven AM, he probably should get going — even though a really big part of me wanted to stay in his arms and fall asleep.

“Yeah, I know,” he told me with a smile and another kiss. “Just a few more minutes, though.” He played with my fingers and ran his toes up-and-down across my calves. “You really are gorgeous,” he told me, this time. “I have no idea how you’re single.”

“Well you really are good at having sex with men,” I said with a laugh. “I have no idea how you’re married to a woman–”

Divorcing a woman,” he corrected me with a laugh before kissing my neck and turning me right back on.

I gasped a little. “Are you sure you aren’t gay?” I asked him.

He pulled up some and looked at me.

“No,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’m straight.”

“I don’t know, man,” I told him as I rolled over, cracked the window, and then lit a cigarette. I inhaled. “That was some pretty gay shit we just did.”

It was disappointing to hear, but I didn’t let it bother me. It was his life. If he had to live unhappily in a closet, that was his business. I wasn’t going to burden him with questions and self-doubt. As confusing as it was, I figured he probably was a little gay, but that he just couldn’t be open about that for whatever reason. I had to respect it. That said, I’d happily fuck him six ways to Sunday any other chance I got.

As I led him out of the house again, he pressed me up against the brick wall of the front porch and kissed me again and I could feel myself growing erect, as I could he through his jeans. It was such a powerful kiss — even for it to have just been with a stranger. I knew I’d see this guy again, and certainly I’d fuck him again, but if we never again traversed those five separating houses, I at least had the memory of those four hours we spent together, that electrifying kiss, and the sound of him calling me breathtaking resounding against the walls of my mind.

What. A. Man

To All the Men I’ve Ever Loved

Less Than Butterflies Anthony Ramirez See Ya’ Later Masturbator Masturbate Love

Less Than Butterflies, No. 24

“I have been dating since I was 15. I’m exhausted. Where is he?!”

— Charlotte York

This entry in the Less Than Butterflies column series is not a story, per se. Rather, it is an innocuous statement to all the men I’ve ever loved, all the men I’ve ever fucked, all the men who have ever put their hands on me, and all the men to come.


This past year, I fell in love with someone who — quite frankly — has hurt me without meaning to do so. I’d like to say I fell in love quickly, but it seems as though it didn’t. I’d been nursing these feelings for months on end without ever knowing I was letting them grow — without knowing they were there to begin with. It wasn’t until we shared an intimate night together and a wonderful weekend with one another that I truly realized what was happening and how long it had been going on without my cognizance.

I’d fallen in love with a man I did not find physically attractive, that I’d never have considered a true contender to spend my life with, and that I really wasn’t sure I even liked that much.

But in truth, he was, and remains to be, a wonderful man; and he was my very best friend by the time I’d realized what happened. It’s important that I say that, not because I’m afraid he’ll read this. Rather, it’s important I say that because I don’t want anyone to think badly of this nameless, faceless man. He’s a good person, with a giant heart that he shares with so many people — some worthy, some not. I don’t think I’d have fallen for him in the first place if he weren’t so wonderful. He is giving, and kind, and funny, and a wonderful friend who keeps me calm when I am all but ready to throw up my hands and give up. He makes sure that his people are taken care of, and he jumps hurdles to ensure that they’re happy with him. He does so with me, especially. And I don’t take that for granted. Every single check he’s picked up, every last night he’s spent with me either on the phone or in person while I was upset, every last smile he’s greeted me with — those things do mean something to me. In fact, they mean more than just something. They mean everything.

This isn’t a man-bashing column. This isn’t me picking fights. This is me genuinely and earnestly trying to say something I’ve been trying to tell him and that he’s given me every opportunity to say. But because of who I am — I haven’t been able to say it to his face. Maybe that makes me a coward. Maybe not.

As of late, he told me that he didn’t think I was being honest with him about all of my feelings — and he was right. So I tried to be more honest with him about those feelings, but like I said, I never could quite get them to be honest as I was talking to him. I was embarrassed and I was ashamed.

Why? Because that’s how all the men before him — reaching all the way back to my father — have made me feel about my emotions all my life. That’s not his fault, of course. I know that; and I hope he will know that I don’t say that as a means of blaming him for my issues that were conceived long before ever meeting him. It’s just one of those things that needs to be said; because even though he and I are both aware of this, others who may read this may not be.

So I’m going to use this opportunity to be more honest with him. He may read it. He may not. But I know now (as I revise the final draft of it) that I feel immensely better having had the opportunity to get these things out of my system. And, yes, I’m going to do this in writing, because that’s the way I know to do it best — and about that most of you are already well aware. I do hope he’ll understand that I’m not saying these things out of anger. Quite the contrary, I’m saying them because I have so much palpable, uncontrollable love for him. I’m saying them because I have to — and because this is the only way I’m ever truly able to be honest. Right here. In writing. In this column. Every single week.

Be advised, however, that this column — while specific to him — is not only for him. This column is for every single man that I have ever given my love to, and even the ones with whom I’ve never made it quite that far. That’s because while the more specific details of my relationship with this man may not be applicable to each and everyone of you, many of the issues I had to confront because of the rest of you were very similar. If not in circumstance, they were so in the emotions they brought out of me. So, dear men — the ones I have slept with, the ones I have let put their hands on me, the ones I have been raped by, the ones I have had crushes on, the ones who told me I wasn’t good enough, that I was too fat — but especially so the ones that I fell in love with: this is for all of you. Read it as if you are the man I address in this next line:


Dear Pistachio,

You asked me to be honest about how I was feeling; so here goes. And I don’t want you to be upset with me for this, because I’ve tried saying these things to you every other way possible (on the phone, on Facetime, in texts, in person), but I haven’t been able to do so. And I know we had put this to bed just the other night, but it’s kept me from sleeping in my own because I know I haven’t been honest with you as much as I should have been. So I need to do this. I need to get these things off of my chest before I implode into a showering dust of my own bitterness and self-hatred. And when I’m done, I hope that we can then really try to be best friends as we were were just before that fateful September night, right before everything changed.  So, again, here it goes:

Your fat jokes gave me a complex about my weight. I know they weren’t meant to hurt my feelings, and that you thought I was in on them, too. I’m not angry about them now. But looking back, I realize that I was, and that every single time I heard one, I had to fight back tears or take a breath before I could respond. After each one, I would skip a meal, or snort cocaine, or pop an extra Adderall that day, or stick a toothbrush down my throat over the bowl some filthy toilet. When I tried to tell you that they hurt my feelings, you told me I was being too sensitive and that we should be allowed to joke with each other like that, because that’s what friends do. But do you know that you’re the only friend I’ve ever had in my entire life who has made a joke about my weight? Do you know that I thought about those comments every single time I had to eat in front of you — in front of anyone, for that matter. Do you know that I thought about that time you said to a mutual friend of ours right in front of me that you’d never sleep with me, and I thought that it was because I was just too fat for you? I didn’t know why I cared then — we’d only just begun to get to know one another — but now I do; it was because for some reason, I felt like I needed to be validated by you. Because maybe, just maybe, even back then I wanted you to love me before I ever knew that I loved you.

And now, not even a year later, I’m 50 lbs lighter than I was when we first met. And I’m not upset about that part. I’m not, really. I’m hot as hell, now. But I wish you’d have just said you were sorry, then. Because even that thing from so long ago still eats up at me all of the time. It was enough to make me wonder, even now, if it was my weight that categorically thrust me out of line with the people that were good enough for you to have sex with, to fall in love with. Is that the thing that’s wrong with me that keeps you from looking at me as a person worthy of your affections and attractions?

I used to think it was; but now I don’t think so. I mean … it didn’t stop you from putting your hands on me that night. It didn’t stop you from holding me; it didn’t stop you from running your hand between the back of my pants and the skin of my ass at that godforsaken dive bar we went to after partying all night. It didn’t stop you from grinding your ass against my pelvis, and it didn’t stop you from reaching over to hold my hand. Most significant in my mind however is the occurrence most recent: it sure as hell didn’t stop you in that weird, giant booth near the bar right before you told me you had to throw up when you slipped the fingers of each of your hands between those of my own and spread my knees apart with your legs and slipped between them and leaned down and tried to kiss me.

Do you even remember that? … Honestly. Do you?

I do.

And I don’t think my mind is ever going to let me forget it; and that’s because I wanted to so badly. I wanted to feel wanted by you, even when you were as messy as you were that night and I had to control my own Molly roll to make sure that you didn’t dehydrate and die and that I didn’t leave you with any kind of memory that would have made it seem as if I’d taken advantage of you. That’s why I didn’t let you kiss me. I wasn’t going to do that to myself — putting myself through the agony of thinking it meant something you’d say later it didn’t and having to feel rejected by you once again.

But that’s just the problem, sir. Deny it all you want — it did mean something. You can blame it on the alcohol or the Molly, if that makes you feel better. You can say that we all do things we shouldn’t do when we’re fucked up; but any person anywhere will tell you that in that state, we aren’t making choices we wouldn’t make when we’re sober because we wouldn’t want to. We’re making choices we wouldn’t make when we’re sober because we’re too afraid to. Those are mutually exclusive causes. The night I crawled up next to you in bed, laid my head on your shoulder, let you wrap your arm around me while I traced circles on your hip and your nipple and you ran your fingers over my shoulder and moaned quietly as you gritted your teeth together — I made a choice. Maybe it wasn’t the right choice. I even apologized, and you told me not to be sorry.

You made a choice, too, that night. I made a choice that I probably would not have made if I’d been sober that night, but I made it because I wanted to and my inhibitions were down. And, in turn, I unlocked the Pandora’s Box I’d been hiding in my chest for most of the time I’d known you. It was so well hidden, in fact, that I didn’t even know it was there to begin with. And I can say with certainty now — in hindsight and with weeks worth of thought — that it was a decision I wanted to make for a very long time, but I was too afraid to let myself make because I wasn’t ready to be rejected by you.

I may not have known early on that I had these feelings for you; but one thing that I always have known since the moment we met that if this were to ever happen — if these feelings were to ever come to be — that you would reject me. I do not fit into the aesthetic that pleases you from one person to the next. Or, at least, that’s what I thought for a long time. I thought that it was my weight, as I said before, or that it was just that I wasn’t the kind of guy’s guy that was attractive to you, or one of the twinks that parades around in circles around you vying for your attention. I thought it was because I wasn’t conventionally beautiful. I still don’t know what it is — and I kind of, in a very sick way, want to know. There’s a part of me that needs that closure. But I think hearing that reason might actually kill me. It might actually push me over the edge of my own insecurities. Because, as it stands, you’ve at one point or another slept with or have been attracted to or have had feelings for all of your other friends. And let me be quite frank:

I’m a fucking supernova in comparison to most of them. I am the funniest person I — and most other people — know. I am hyperintelligent and quick-witted, and insightful. I am talented in ways that shock even me sometimes. And despite what your own jaded, convoluted, bigoted ideas of beauty might tell you, I am fucking gorgeous. Since just this evening (that’s less than 12 hours ago) I’ve had exactly twenty-five different men try to sleep with me on Grindr, 15 Tinder matches, a couple at a Halloween party try to invite me to have a threesome with them, one of my closest friends ask me to go home with him, another man ask me to dinner, and a stranger tell me I am the most beautiful person he’s ever met in his life.

I’m. A fucking. Snacc.

And I should feel like one. Because I am beautiful; and the fact that I have slept with 103 men in my life should tell you that men really like me. And, honestly, it isn’t just about the sex for them. I mean … the sex is great, don’t get me wrong. I literally rock men’s worlds because I’m really good at it. But it’s all the other stuff, too. It’s my laugh. It’s my jokes. It’s my smile. It’s the way I twirl my hair and bite my lip and stand my right foot up on its toes when I get butterflies in my tummy. It’s the way I make them feel important and heard because that’s how I treat people.

It’s how I’ve always treated you.

What I have to offer that I do not give to those men — I don’t know that most of them could handle. I don’t know if you could handle it. Because it’s a lot of fucking love; and I think that’s really where this all has come to its inevitable impasse. I have spent my entire life shelling out love to people I thought deserved it, only to have it sloughed back into my arms to the point that the serving tray is now spilling over and there’s enough to give the population of Brazil.

I don’t want to be presumptuous here — but I think that’s exactly why you can’t accept it. You can say over-and-over again that you just don’t feel that way about me; and I will believe you. Because right now, I don’t think you do. I think that if you did, this would be easier. But your actions have spoken volumes in comparison to your words. And those actions, they actually are those of a person who loves the person for whom they’re performed. I should know. My entire life I’ve wanted someone to give me the goodness that you’ve given me; and I have gotten every other thing from every other person until I met you. And now I’ve gotten the thing I wanted all along — even if incompletely; even if it’s stolen from another or fleeting and momentary. It brings me so much joy. Spotty, yes. Punctuated, of course. But joy, nevertheless.

I think something about that terrifies you. I think it terrifies you to even entertain the thought that I might actually be able to make you happy, or that you might have the capacity to love someone like me — someone so vastly different than what you’re used to. I can say that with a great deal of certainty because that same terror is the exact bolt of lightning that struck me in my stomach when I finally came to the realization that I was having these feelings for you. And I struggled with it like a sinner trying to escape the ninth circle of hell. I struggled with it because it’s not what I wanted. It isn’t what I planned. It isn’t the future I pictured when I thought about finding someone who really made me feel safe, and whole, and at home. Yet, that night — for the very first time in my entire life; with years of neglectful parents and asshole boyfriends and an absent father and men who had raped me and left me feeling dead inside and out — that night that I laid in your arms and kissed you on your chest and listened to you breathe and absorbed every last stroke of your fingers against my skin into my memory, I finally was able to exhale. And I thought to myself, This is where I’m supposed to be.

I hate that right now. I hate it so much. As my heart crumbles and descends to the pit of my stomach to weigh it down with dread like sand in an hourglass, this love begets hatred. Not for you. I could never hate you. I don’t even hate what has happened. I feel this intense loathing because I’m out here feeling this way all alone. And I know — because I felt that way the last day of September — that it isn’t a matter of you not loving me. I know that you do, even if not quite the way I do you. This is all a matter of the fact that you won’t let yourself. Instead, you choose to perpetuate a cycle of vicious and heartbreaking tragedies in your own life and to numb them with substances and hollow friendships that are not what they once were. And sure, I may not have the history with you that those friends and loves do — and I’m never going to. I came into your life well after they did, and each year that I know you, they’ll always have known you longer — known you more. But that, as well, is not something I can control. I’d have come earlier if I could have; believe me. But I’m here now for a reason; even if neither of us know just yet what that reason is.

Although, I do know that this isn’t the reason. It isn’t so that I can exist in this misery and self-doubt and conscious thought spiral of what it is about me that isn’t good enough for you.

I’m plenty good for you. I know that for a fact, even if that knowledge falters at times and leaves me in doubt and tears and heartbreak. Because I am the brightness of the day, and the comfort of the night; the warmth of the summer, and the crispness of the winter; the quench of water, and the passion of fire. And I am as certain as the tides will roll to the shore and as embers burn to ash that no matter who loves you in your life, no matter how much they love you, or in what way, or for whatever reason, it will not ever be the same as the love that I have for you.

I know I’m saying ‘love’ a lot. And I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. But you did ask me to be honest; and that’s all I’m doing.

This isn’t a letter of expectation. One of hope, maybe; possibly even one of defeat. A sheet of copy paper with words scribbled across it that has transfigured into a white flag of surrender. But I do have hope — even at surrender — that when you do realize that I’m not making this all up in my head, that when you can do the very thing you’ve asked of me — and you will; I know that much — that it isn’t too late. I hope that someone else won’t have swept me off my feet that I won’t ever love nearly as much but will have settled upon because enough time has passed and I’m complacent in taking the next best thing. I hope that you won’t deny yourself the fervor of these feelings, because you deserve them. From the worship I lay down upon the ground you’ve traversed, to the feeling of wanting to come home because it finally feels like home, to the excitement of waking up to foray a new adventure or to lie in bed and let the world pass by just to soak in another moment that is sure to end sometime, I hope you get to have that with me. Not for my sake.

For yours.

Because, sir, I knew this that night I realized I was right where I was supposed to be:

Even before we’d ever met, before we’d ever crossed paths, it has always been you.

And it saddens me to think you might deny yourself that happiness, that love. Because you deserve — more so now than ever — to know love and happiness without a sell-by date; and that is what I want for you. And it may seem like you’re happy now, and that’s amazing. I hope you are. Though history will soon repeat itself, and we’ll be back at square one. And I’ll be your friend then, and I’ll listen, and I’ll do whatever you ask to make it better for you. Just know that to deny yourself a real opportunity to be happy because it isn’t what you thought it would be, or because you’re afraid of what others might think or say is stupid. Because guess what.

True love — true happiness — true success — they are never what we expect they will be. And as for all the things people might think and say: they’re already thinking them; already saying them.

I should know.

I’m the one who has to stand there and correct them when they ask. Caught somewhere between a half-truth and a half-lie, I have to tell them that we’re just friends, nothing more. And we are — I know that. I’m not delusional. But this has not been just a friendship since that lone September night. I don’t know exactly what it has been, because this is all uncharted territory, but I know it’s been a friendship and then something else. Something weird. Something I can’t explain. And try as we both might, it never will go back to being just a friendship. Some lines you can’t uncross. Some walls can’t be rebuilt. Some fabrics cannot be sewn back together once they’ve been cut.

And right now, we’re a little cut from our own cloths. But the beautiful thing about that is that even if we can’t ever go back to being what we were before, we can still be sewn together to create something far more beautiful … no matter what that something is.

When you’re ready, be something beautiful with me. When you’re ready, take a breath, close your eyes, open your own Pandora’s Box that rests deep within you, feel my love, and take a chance on the thing you would have never expected to be the very thing you’d been looking for all along. Because none of this is coming from nowhere, honey. All these actions — all these things you feel the need to explain with reaching rationalizations … they’re coming from somewhere. Every touch, every almost-kiss, every thought you wish you’d kept in your head rather than on your lips — you’re putting them out there for a reason; and that reason isn’t a drug or a drink. But you’ll figure that out when you’re ready. Or you won’t.

I just hope it doesn’t take you seeing someone else who already has it figured out with me wrapped around their finger for you to get there, because I don’t want you to suffer this pain with which I’m living. You deserve so much more. So very much more.

But then again … so do I. And though I have waited to be loved my entire life, I have never let that stop me from moving forward with my life, reaching for successes, garnering acclaim, making mistakes, learning lessons, or anything in between. I will not now, nor have I ever, wait in the wings for any man. I stand in the spotlight, because I’m the goddamn star. And while my heart may have been yours before it ever pumped its first beat, that does not mean it can’t be stolen by someone who treats it better while you aren’t paying attention to it. Ask any of the other men I’ve ever loved.

The only difference is that I loved them a helluva lot less than I love you.

But lastly, just know this: I told you just the other day that if circumstances were to change, I would fight for you. But I’m telling you now that I don’t think I will. I’m done fighting for men; and I refuse to do it for you unless I know that you would do the same for me. I’ve been fighting for the love of men for as long as I can remember; and in order for you to ever take me seriously, I need to stop doing that. But that isn’t why I won’t fight for you — and it isn’t because I don’t think you’re worth fighting for — I do. I honest to God do.

It’s just like I said before: I deserve to be loved by a man who thinks I’m just as much worth fighting for. And someday, in the future when things are just as different in our lives as they are now from a year ago, I hope that you’re that man. Because I think we could be really happy.

More than just happy, even.

 

Anthony

See Ya’ Later, Masturbator

Less Than Butterflies Anthony Ramirez See Ya’ Later Masturbator Masturbate Love

Less Than Butterflies, No. 23

I’m not going to lie to you here: I’ve had sex with a lot of men. And I do mean a lot. 103, to be exact. I’m the type of person who has such a terrible short-term memory that if I don’t document information, I’ll never remember it in the long-term. That’s exactly how my little black book of men I’ve slept with got started as an adult. I’ll never forget when I slept with the one hundredth man, either. Well … maybe I will. I mean, it wasn’t particularly special, nor was it even really that good. He was there. I was there. We talked about his job for like an hour before anything ever even happened, then he came about ten minutes later and I finished the job by myself because he was breathing so heavily that I suspected any additional work might throw him into cardiac arrest. That part I will likely forget.

Still, it’ll be hard to forget the occasion, if not just the man, simply because it had been my 100th partner, and that felt like something worth bragging about. Therefore I immediately made sure that Gwen knew what had happened on a Marco Polo chat, to which she proclaimed, “We shall call him Centennial Man!” Although that name lasted only a few minutes due to the fact that her son had heard her say this from down the hall and had sent her a text message saying, “What are you guys saying about Ten Tentacle Man?”

Most of the men, however, I could remember pretty well, while others were harder to recall. Some were in groups of three, some were in groups much larger. Some wanted to skip the kissing and hand-holding, others were more inclined to cuddle afterward and follow-up hours later about getting together again. Some wanted to be tied up, others wanted to tie me up. From one man to the next, there was at least some tiny uniqueness about them that made them stand out to me in my head; but if it hadn’t been for that one quality that was so nearly unnoticeable, they’d have all looked the same in a police line-up of undersized dicks and bad personalities.

But — Jesus, I’m blushing — there was this one guy that was unmistakable as I think back on him now. His body, his thick head of hair streaking into sexy shades of silver in some places, the thickness of his calf muscles on otherwise scrawny legs, the way he put his certain hands on me — sure he wanted me as I did him, but gentle enough to assert his nervous hesitation — all of those things stood out about him. Not just one small feature or aberrant quirk. No, no. This man was a man. Sweet and gentle, sexy and dominant, giving careful whispers containing unwavering words. And since I’d been with him, he was all I needed to think about for arousal to set in and goosebumps to ascend from my flesh. Just the very thought of his legs wrapped up in mine — hair brushing hair, toes tickling the bottoms of feet — was enough to send my body writhing around and rising upward from my mattress.

He had a name, but we’ll call him — for now —  Pistachio — simply because Gwen has always wanted me to name the men of this column after different kinds of nuts. And in spite of how badly I wanted him to then and how much I often still yearn for it now, he never made love to me. His name never blotted the pages of my little black book, neither in ink, nor blood, nor semen. But in the days since we almost had — probably should not have, but nearly did — I didn’t have to turn my attention to pornography or imagine illicit scenes of ravenous men clawing at each other’s backsides to get off.

All I needed to get myself to climax — and often very quickly — was to think about how he’d touched me and — if I was lucky enough to last that long — how he would have.


The story of how Pistachio came into my life will come later, but here’s what is important to know now:

“I want him. To put himself. Inside of me,” I told Gwen on her back patio one evening.

“Boundaries, Anthony,” she told me as she took a hit off of her bong. Of this much she was correct: Pistachio was not single and he certainly should not have had even as much physical contact with me as he’d had several weeks before. That’s not even accounting for any emotional contact that may have existed between the two of us. “If he were single, I’d encourage you to go for it. Until then: boundaries.”

I groaned and kicked my feet like a petulant child in the hammock chair in which I hovered above the ground. She was right: sleeping with Pistachio now would not have been the right thing to do. Had it been my boyfriend getting intimate with some other guy, I’d likely have a four-part Snapped special dedicated to me and my own verse of song in the “Cell Block Tango”. But the question wasn’t whether or not I was going to engage in an affair with a man I knew had a partner already. I certainly would not. I’m no fool; those situations never benefit the mistress (master? Nah. Mistress has more zeal) in the long run. After a year of pining after an asexual, a few wasted months with a man I called by the wrong name in bed, and at least 102 other sexual encounters I’d rather not explore again here, I’d learned my lesson:

Anthony Ramirez would wait around in the wings for no man. Anthony Ramirez stood in the spotlight and made them sulk in the regret at the loss of their chance with the star.

“I’m not going to do anything, Gwendolyn,” I sputtered through gritted teeth. “I just need to do something to tide me over when I get lost in these thoughts about him eating my ass and drilling me like an offshore BP rig.”

Gwen sighed.

“That is … I didn’t need you to be that descriptive.”

Chance — a newer addition to my friend circle — offered what was probably somehow the most annoying and yet most sage advice one could get. “Do you have feelings for him?”

“I don’t know! My penis certainly does. Not to mention, there’s always the …”

“The what?” Chance asked cluelessly. Clueless was sort of Chance’s thing. He was an extremely talented production designer and Montrose personality, but at the end of the day he was still a twink in his late twenties with holes in his cognition the circumference of the bottom of a bottle of poppers.

I leaned in and whispered, “You know … the … the hungry butthole.”

Chance’s jaw dropped.

“I thought you were a top!”

“I mean normally, yeah; but Pistachio is just one of those guys that you see and you want to make him feel like a man.”

“Gross,” Chance nearly gagged out.

“It’s not just the hungry butthole, though!”

“What else is there?!”

I leaned over the table and looked around to make sure I wasn’t within earshot of any old women or small children. “I want to put his penis in my mouth and suck his soul out of it like I’m trying to get to the bottom of a milkshake.”

“Well, in this scenario, you would be the bottom of the milkshake.”

I threw my hands up. What about this was no one understanding?

I. Was fucking. Horny.

“Are we even sure this is just a sex thing?” Chance asked as the waitress popped by. “Can you give us a sec?” he asked her without looking up as he signaled her dismissal with the upward point of only one finger. “Because it sounds like you’re catching feels.”

“I don’t know, Chance! It’s a little hard to be that introspective when all I can think about is how introspective he could be with my anus.

Chance shrugged, clearly not that interested in the details of whatever else I had to say on this matter. “You could always sleep with someone else.”

“I don’t want to sleep with anyone else. I want to ride him like I’m training a horse for the Kentucky Derby while I call him daddy until he’s so orgasmed-out that his hair turns completely gray and he comes down from the bedroom looking like he’s just spoken to a burning bush.”

Chance’s eyes widened and his ballcap nearly fell off of his head.

“My best advice: jack off.”

I let out a sigh as the waitress rounded back to our table. I had been masturbating on the matter for weeks. It wasn’t enough. Or maybe I wasn’t doing enough. I didn’t know.

“Can I get y’all anything else?” she asked politely, albeit a bit frightened by Chance.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “A milkshake.”


The way in which I came to think about my intimacy with Pistachio was nearly always the same. It didn’t necessarily happen at a specific time nor were my urges and fantasies necessarily concerned with what else I might be doing at the time. Still, the process of thought always began the same way.

It could have happened when someone approached from behind and was wearing a similar fragrance, or if someone gently laid a hand on my shoulder, or if I fell into bed in exactly the right position. But the thoughts started with his arms around me, his breath hot against my forehead, his fingers grazing skin over my lightly freckled shoulder. Then it fell into my fingertips, which gently touched his waist, then up to his chest, spinning gold out of chest hairs and playing Ring Around the Rosie along the perimeter of his areolas. It was the impression of my lips against his skin, my nostrils taking in his aroma — good cologne with just a hint of sweat. My legs wrapping up inside of his and his toenails scratching the skin of my feet like the paws of a puppy. The sound of him moaning as he wrestled with his conscience about whether or not to take the next step haunted me like an undeparted spirit seeking finality to its unfinished business.

But that’s what we had. Wasn’t it?

Unfinished business.

So much unfinished business.

Because that’s where it all ended. With gentle kisses on his chest and erect, untreated penises and the knowledge that we had done the right thing by doing nothing at all, even if instinct — maybe just carnal, maybe part emotional — was to keep going.

It ended, most usually, right there — with me dozing off to sleep as I told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me, too. With me wondering in what way and just how much he loved me. With me wanting to never leave that bed, never leave his side. Usually that was enough to bring me to climax, smothering myself with a pillow to drown out my screams.

But when it didn’t, when I couldn’t let go and let it end there, when the fantasy drew me in too deeply, he rolled on top of me and slipped his fingers between mine. He tore away my clothes with his teeth, and he kissed my chest and tummy as I relinquished self-consciousness to the earth who gave it to the gods to vanquish. And I wished to press my fingers into his skin, but I couldn’t, for he held my arms back against the bed by my wrists as he tasted me, held me in security yet yearning for him to cling tighter still. And when my briefs slid off, he slid his tongue down the inside of my right thigh, his eyes cast up toward mine, as he pushed my legs apart at the knees and drifted further down between them.

Ecstasy. Ecstasy unmatched by any other feeling I’d ever revelled in took over then. In my head he touched me in a way no man ever had before — with uniqueness unlike any of the 102 men that came before. They were nothing now. They didn’t even exist. It was him. There was only him. Men around the world evaporated into thin air, puffs of smoke gone up like boiling water from a stove, and all that stayed behind was us — he and I — now one being joined by flesh and spirit and heart. Our movements were commands — motions of a magic spell that’s rhythm sent strong and steady ripples out into the universe to make change. He was the Devil, and I the Witch made to worship him.

And when he finally accepted entrance into me, I wasn’t just feeling him in my mind anymore. The premonition of what could have been turned corporeal, even there in my bed alone. I needn’t even touch myself where I imagined him touching me or slide my hand down to my pubis in order to orgasm. This was a man who touched me telekinetically from afar, who I felt pressed against my skin when he wasn’t there. This was a man who now not only touched the mind, grazed the body, but who grappled the heart and squeezed until all the blood inside it was drained and wrung out and replaced with a feeling warm as liquid gold and much more beautiful.

This was literally the man of my dreams. The first man I’d ever been intimate with after I’d been raped by some stranger — even if all our advances never amounted to anything more than subtle intimacy and loving exchanges. This man was the only man in the entire world — the first and maybe the only man in a sea of dangers I’d been drowning in for so very long — a man who had the power to put me in his arms and tell me that he loved me and make me feel safe with the ease of a newborn child taking their very first breath.

But this man of my dreams, this man who took my pain and buried it in the earth to be recycled into euphoria — he had never been mine. Not to begin with. Not even that night in bed. Those short moments were stolen from another, even if they’d never turned to sex, and I was the thief who’d come in the night to take them.

Still, I thought he should’ve been — mine, that is. And maybe I still think that. Because even after climax — a screaming, writhing affair — I always found myself crying. Crying to live it just one more time, even if nothing more took place. Crying to realize as I rolled onto the pillow next to me that his chest was not there to lay my head upon. Crying to know that, it was true, he’d never been mine, and that he may never be. Crying myself into dreams of him and I and a life so happy in a way I’d never known before.

Chance had been right before — this wasn’t just about sex. This wasn’t just a fling between two people who only thought they knew about one another. So I had to stop masturbating and I had to learn to curb my thoughts away from him when they approached the borders of territory still uncharted. At least for now, while he belonged to another.

Because I was falling in love, and about that I could do nothing while he maintained a partner.

But that last time I ejaculated, thinking of my fingers running through that thick, silver hair as I clung to him behind me and he kissed my neck and nearly left his skin in rapture of the love we could have made, I told the empty air around me, “I love you,” hoping that even though he was nowhere to be found, he would somehow hear me, and wake from sleep, and think of me.

I had slept with 103 men in my life, and he was not one of them. But by God if there ever came a time when I could just be held by him again without hurting another person, I swore then and there that I would.

Romance His Pants Off

Less Than Butterflies Anthony Ramirez See Ya’ Later Masturbator Masturbate Love

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.