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Less Than Butterflies, No. 21, Pt. I

I wanted to tell this story without crying.

I wanted to.

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

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

I wanted to.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

That really hurt.

I was so fucking tired of being second best.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then where?

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

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

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

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

Fucking idiot, I scolded myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d never had that before.

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

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

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

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

Tap-tap.

Continue to Part II

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