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Less Than Butterflies, No. 21, Pt. II

We pulled through a McDonald’s the next afternoon on our way to take Morgan to the airport only for me to realize that for the second day in a row, I had left my wallet at Rich’s.

“I’ll pay for it,” Sam told me as he turned into the drive-thru and smiled looked around. “You’ll pay me back eventually,” he said.

 

“I almost paid you back for a lot of things last night,” I muttered before I could stop the words from coming out of my mouth.

“Ew! I don’t want to hear this!” Morgan shouted from the backseat.

“Oh, grow up,” I told her with a roll of my eyes. “Like you’ve never had sex before.”

“I was in the next bed!”

“We didn’t do anything!” I snapped.

I’d been right about one thing: things were definitely different. Awkwardly and more times than once, Sam and I had tried to have a conversation about what had happened the night before. For a while, it felt as though he was looking for some kind way to let me down easy.

“It would’ve just been sex, Sam,” I told him as we drove down the Hardy Toll Road. Christ it wasn’t as if I’d been expecting a marriage proposal. “You’re the one being weird about it. Not me.”

I was lying through my fucking teeth. I remembered every last thing about that night. I remembered every last thing about that night; from the nipple-clasping to the cuddling to the erection that lasted into the next morning. And I remember every single thought that went through my head the entire time and that continued to circulate through into this morning.

“I know, but you’re my only friend I haven’t had sex with and that I haven’t ruined my relationship with by having sex with them. And I’d like to keep it that way. You were supposed to be the one.”

That was a shitty excuse for a compliment.

“Okay, whatever,” I told him, turning to the window and looking out the forest along the toll road. I had resolved to silence until I could start drinking again, but of course, that wasn’t going to work with Sam. No, no. The man could never stop talking until he felt like he’d proven a point to you; but in this case the point was fruitless and had already been made:

He was glad he hadn’t fucked me. Cool.

“But it sucks, you know,” he went on as I rolled my eyes and popped a nugget into my mouth from McDonald’s. “Because when we hang out and go and do hoodrat shit, I have so much fun. But it reminds me of how much I really don’t have in common with Tucker.”

Are you fucking kidding me, man?! I’m in your front seat sitting next to you having an existential crisis as I try to sort out what my feelings for you mean and you’re gonna lay that shit on me?! For fuck’s sake …

“I have nothing to say to that,” I told him as I tossed the remainder of my nugget into the bag.

I’m just gonna say it. I don’t like Tucker. Not that he owes me one, but he’s not ever left a very good impression on me. I’ve never said that to Sam, because it’s really none of my goddamn business. But he’s a sniveling little shit who — upon our first and only interaction with each after I had done him a colossal favor that could have landed me in jail — did not say a word to me. Not a thank you, not a hello, not a it’s nice to meet you.

Not. A fucking. Word.

Sam blames it on the little popsicle twink’s anxiety, but I call bullshit. Bitch, I have anxiety, too. But I take pills as prescribed (to someone) and drink through it like a fucking grown-up.

Nope, nope. I was getting ragey.

The rest of the afternoon was, in a word, unusual. Before we’d even made it to a bar, I’d already grabbed two bottles of Prosecco and two packs of cigarettes from the grocery store and downed one of the bottles. In an unexpected twist of events, we ended up visiting (and me meeting for the first time) Sam’s mother and sister, as well as his mother’s hairdresser who you may remember from a previous column as an artist I had a threesome with once upon a time when I was like eighteen. I spent a while on the back patio smoking cigarettes with the strange pack of people who had had gathered there. Each was delightful and entertaining, but the time was short-lived as I could see Sam’snatural instinct to hurry setting in on his face. There was something about Sam’/ mother’s home that was oddly reminscient of my own mother’s. Both were cluttered with odd things collects here and here. The difference was that Sam’s mother was actually quite delightful and boasted about him while mine was just a pain in my ass. But when we got ready to leave and hugged her goodbye, and she said to the room somewhat rhetorically, “Isn’t my son so handsome? He’s like a movie star,” I had to draw back in a smile, despite the fact that I was feeling quite obliged to agree.

At the Rosemont rooftop bar, Sam took two the bar and ordered us each one of their pitchers, as well as scoring two Molly’s off a friend of his. He handed one of each to me as we caught back up with Aaron and Chance, who’d already begun their rolls into ecstasy. Consequently, Sam could not finish his pitcher and handed it off to me when I’d finished mine.

We danced around the neighborhoods from bar to bar, and a few things began to strike me about t the time I spent with Sam that had never really stuck out to me before. For one, anything he did the entire night, he did in twos. Two drinks. Two Mollys. Two seats. Always an extra for me. He’d never been that way with me before. Sure, Sam was the type of guy who did like to take care of people. And he was thoughtful and kind and normally did his best to make sure his friends were taken care of. But when it had come to me I’m the past, I was something of a cast-aside in those situati me. In fact, look at how he’d blown off a the show when he’d first arrived.

Second best.

I knew that soon my time with Sam would be coming to an end, and he’d be driving back home. And the more the Molly hit, the harder that thought became. As we drove from one bar to the next I all but begged him to come and spend one more night with me rather than driving home that night after drinking and driving, and when we arrived at Guava where Gwen was hosting karaoke, I knew I only had a good hour or two left with him.

I couldn’t explain my sadness. Leaving him behind —or vice versa — had never had this effect on me. It was always a simple, “K thanks for the fun times. Bye!” And there I was on the brink of tears throwing fits like a petulant child whose mother was dropping them off at summer camp asking him not to leave me. It was all so stupid and set it surreal and nothing I could have wanted from that situation could have been realistic, but when I went to his car to collect my things and he told me goodbye and hugged me and said he loved me, I spun around to walk away, I cried and cried and cried.

Fuck.


As he made the long trip home, we talked on the phone for a few hours and I did my very best not to let myself cry again on the phone.

He asked me about Mason and if I was still mad, but I didn’t want to talk about that. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about. So I laid in bed and listened to him talk about the trip, and then about Tucker, and then finally he came to the fact that we’d almost had sex the night before again. And I wasn’t in a place where my filter was intact or where I could have rebuilt it if I’d tried. He went over the sex with friends bullshit talk one more time, and again I was disappointed and upset and irritated.

So I told him, “It wouldn’t have just been you having sex with another friend, Sam—”

“I know that but—”

“You’re safe with me. I am a safe place. And I felt safe with you, and that is what meant the most to me that night. I’ve never had that with a man before. Everything after that was just … different. Good different.”

As I began to hang up the phone, he said goodnight and that I love you. But I hung up without saying I love you, too.


As I talked this out with Gwen the next day, she offered me good advice as she sucked down weed smoke from her bong and I chain-smoked cigarettes and prayed it would begin raining wine.

“Why didn’t any of you dumb fuckers tell me I was in love with Sam?” I asked her as I dragged down a cigarette.

She shrugged, “Honestly,” she said as she took a heave off of her bong, “You and Sam have always made sense to me. I’m surprised it took y’all this long to figure it out.”

“There’s no ‘y’all’ in this situation. I don’t know what he’s thinking or feeling. For all I know he’s regretting the whole thing. I mean he’s so mean to me!”

“You’re mean to him to! You’re mean to all the men you like!”

“Yeah, but he started it—” I shut my mouth immediately as Gwen nearly choked on the smoke from her bong. “Omigod we are third graders.”

Wendy shook her head and raised her eyebrows without ever taking her eyes off of me. “Did he pull your hair on the playground?”

I rolled my eyes and lit another cigarette.

“I hate this feeling,” I told her.

“He opened the door, man,” she told me in typical stoner fashion. “You closed that door a long time ago and walked away, and he opened this one. This is not your fault.”

My eyes brimmed with tears again. “I hate it. Because I had no idea what I was feeling until I was in the moment and it is fucking with my head. I have not stopped crying for two days. I have been dreaming about him since the moment he left and I wake up terrified because I know In this situation, it doesn’t work out for me.

“I’ve had my heart broken so many times this year …” I wiped my silent tears out of my eyes before she could see. “And I don’t think I can live through having it broken by my best friend.”

“You may not have to—”

“No,” I cut her off. “He loves Tucker.” I planted my feet on the ground to go inside. Mosquitos were biting me and I was getting cold. “They always love someone else more.”

As I turned to go inside, Gwen stopped me by asking one last question. “What would you tell him if he were here right now?”

I sighed, hot air blowing out of my mouth and onto the screen door, fogging my reflection.

“That I don’t know how this happened, but it did, and I’m not sorry that it did. I would tell him that he makes me really happy — even when he’s pissing me off to no end—” I laughed and sniffled. “I’d tell him that I’m so tired of fooling around with boy and it felt so nice to be with a man— well .. a manchild. But a man nonetheless. And that I have never felt the way I felt that night — never that safe or comforted. I’ve never felt that kind of affection.”

“Anything else?”

“Yeah, actually. That I’m not ever going to be one of those pretty little twinks from Montrose and that I’d never want to be, because I am so much better than that and because I have so much more to offer.” I paused. The last part was the hardest. “I’d tell him I haven’t seen him happy like he was this weekend the entire time we’ve been friends; and that it made me happy; and that I love him; and that I think he deserves that all the time.”


I didn’t want to cry telling this story. This isn’t even the story I’d planned to tell. I don’t have any answers, and my serotonin is shot to hell and back, and I may lose a friend over this. And I don’t have any answers right now. I probably won’t ever.

However, a few things are for certain:

I am through being second best.

I am through being underestimated.

I am through with other men making the rules.

I am through accepting the limits created by others.

I am through giving up before something is truly over.

This could be the real thing. And that’s terrifying.

Tap-tap, Motherfucker.

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