Love

Another Mostly Unwise Decision

Last night, on a date, I had a conversation about what artists I absolutely had to see live in concert before I die. Actually, I’m not even sure it was a date. We were eating salads in a Cosi; that’s an ambiguous nether-region, like the lingerie section at Walmart. Ever since Cosi stopped being XandOs, the romance has just gone out of that place. But can we talk about this date for a second? (I’m, literally, one sentence into this blog post and I’m already off-topic). I don’t really know what’s happening with this guy and the ambiguity is kind of making me a little nuts. Well, it’s not making me nuts. Life is making me nuts. The fact that the thing I search for the most on Yelp is “brunch for one” is making me nuts. brunchI am making myself nuts. I know.

Anyway, I have learned in the past that it is a terrible idea to write blog posts about people you may or may not be dating. Terrible. Here is a 10-minute story about the last time I wrote a blog post about someone I was dating. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well.

But it’s okay, guys, because I thought ahead! Last night the Cosi guy asked me “Should I be reading your blog?” and I replied “It’s not essential” because I’m really good at false modesty. So, there’s no way that he’ll come across this blog! This is a foolproof plan.

We’re not even Facebook friends, so it’s not like it’ll come up on his feed unless everyone in the world shares this. (PS everyone in the world please share this; I want a book deal more than I want a functional relationship.) I did emphatically invite him to Google me, however. This isn’t a euphemism. It just occurred to me that it could’ve been. I have literally no game. Hash tag forever alone.

Anyway, we were in the Gray Zone eating salads and talking about concerts. Side note: I hear that’s the next Marvel movie, Thor: The Gray World. In it, Natalie Portman spends an hour complaining that Thor never calls her back until finally Idris Elba is like, Bitch you are just friends. You need to stop slapping him all the time; that is not a good look. Here, I made you a friendship bracelet that says “He doesn’t like you like that.” He lives IN A DIFFERENT UNIVERSE. I’m just saying, maybe give J-Date another try.natalie-portman-thor-2

ANYWAY, my date was listing all kinds of bands and artists from different genres, all good choices. He said, “What about you?” I was like “BEYONCE. CELINE DION. BETTE MIDLER. END OF LIST.” And if we’re being honest, I’ve already seen two out of the three. I eat, sleep and breath Beyonce. And I went to a Bette Midler concert when I was 13, which is why I’m gay.

He said, “Honestly, Celine Dion does nothing for me.” I whipped my scarf dramatically around my neck and said, “It’s clear that you have terrible taste and I bid you adieu. Just kidding, do you want to get married? I have a marriage license in my car. Just kidding, I don’t have a car. The license is in my pocket. Seriously though, have you heard her cover of ‘Alone’?”celine_edge

P to the S, I just remembered I was on another “date” this weekend with someone else and we also started discussing Celine Dion’s cover of “Alone”. Guys, I might need to diversify my areas of conversational expertise. I think Celine maybe cock-blocking me.celine2Anyway, I’m pretty sure this other instance wasn’t a date. I mean, I don’t know. We were at a coffee shop, drinking coffee, talking and laughing. Sometimes I get confused and think that’s what dating is because that’s all I really want. When I’m old and crotchety and still good-looking (black don’t crack), I just want to sit on the porch with my husband, sippin’ coffee and laughing like children. Also: living like lovers, rolling like thunder, etc. I don’t think that this is too high an expectation for life. It might, however, be too high an expectation for romance.

In any case, we were sitting at the coffee shop and Heart’s cover of “Unchained Melody” came on. I Shazam’d it as he correctly identified it. I was super impressed. Trivia skills are an aphrodisiac. A rousing game of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire is like porn for me. Another Heart song came on next, and then another and we realized this hipster-ass coffee shop was playing the entirety of The Essential Heart. We decided, even though it was getting late, the sky was dark and the wind was kicking up, we didn’t have a choice but to stay until we heard “Alone”. Because we’re self-respecting homosexuals and this is still America, dammit.

We almost gave up after about an hour. We started to put on our coats when all of the sudden the deceptively light opening chords came sailing across the bustling coffee shop. We threw our vestments to the ground, tilted our heads back and cried “The night goes by so very slow and I hope that it won’t end though… ALONE!!!”

Guys, if this were a romantic comedy you would already be pre-ordering the DVD/Blu-ray.

What I love about music is that it always legitimizes the huge feelings we all sometimes have or the insane scenarios we (well, I) make up. Heart is blasting across a coffee shop and I am transported to a rainy fire escape, wearing a leather jacket and kind of being a little stalker-y. “How do I get you alone?” I’m pretty sure that’s the super-objective of every villain on Cold Case.prince john

But when you sing it, it’s not so crazy. And I love that. When I fell in love, I was amazed, literally amazed, that every love song was totally true. I was like “Omg Taylor Swift is so right right now!” And then when that love ended I was amazed, sadly amazed, that every song about heartbreak was totally true. I was like “Omg Taylor Swift is so right right now!”

Despite my love for music, I almost never see live concerts. I get uncomfortable. The general public really seems to not understand that I need a lot of space for jauntily swinging my elbows, I need the crowd to not sing too loud, and I need the headliner to wrap it up so I can get home at a decent hour.

Nevertheless, I went to see Big Freedia in concert a few weeks ago. It was fantastic, of course: raw and gritty and sexy and utterly ridiculous. At one point, Big Freedia started spinning her arms above her head as her dancers began to orbit her in a traveling booty-bounce brigade. Eventually, the show dissolved into a full on twerk-magedon. It was dazzling!

Actual footage

Actual footage

Ass! Ass everywhere. I started singing Aerosmith. “I don’t want to close my eyes! I don’t want to fall asleep. And I don’t want to miss a thing.” I got it all on video for posterity. But apparently I’m too old to figure out how to not delete the one good video on my phone, leaving only pictures of food and Oprah GIFs.

I will say, though, the concert had one major drawback. There was this tall dude standing right in front of me who felt the need to dance extremely expressively in a way that was just unnecessary. He kept poking me and shoving his ass into me and grand-jete-ing in my personal space. Finally, I decided I needed to say something.

“Ma’am! Ma’am!” The woman in front of me turned around. “No not you miss. I’m talking to the tall man beside you flailing like Yo Gabba Gabba. Yes, the gentleman right there. I’m  addressing you, ma’am. Excuse, I don’t mean to be rude but you’re doing too much right now. I don’t profess to be an expert on booty bounce but I can assure you that it’s much better for everyone if you don’t do it whilst spilling your drink down my arm. Yes ma’am. I know we’re all here popping our toots and whatnot but you’ve added a new permutation to the dance. I call this addition ‘getting on my last damn nerve.’ Yes ma’am. See you’re all gesticulating hands and yoga extensions and flipping those forlocks and that’s lovely and all but it’s too much, honey. You don’t need to whip your hair, sweetheart; it’s past Willow Smith’s bedtime anyway. Let the beat come through your taint. I don’t want to have to fight you in this twerk pit, but I will if I make the acquaintance of your elbow one more again. I’m from Baltimore, baby. I’ll take out my booty bazooka. Plam plam!”

He was unmoved. I sulked the rest of the show.

I think I’m too old for concerts. Not that they’re an inherently young thing, but a lot of perfectly acceptable concert behavior falls on my list of “tomfoolery and nonsense”, so maybe I just need to stay my ass at home.

And that’s okay. I can blast Beyonce all day long in my bedroom and never once get hit by a stranger’s flapping Single Ladies hand. And there’s a certain freedom in saying, “I like this thing but it’s not me anymore.” And maybe “too old” is the wrong phrase but it’s a nice shorthand for “I’m going to let this go.”

In that sense, I’m too old for a lot of stuff:

monicaI’m too old to keep track of the earbuds to my iPhone. Sorry, people of public transportation you’re just going to have to sit there while I blast a really sad episode of This America Life followed by “The Boy Is Mine” in this otherwise quiet subway car. You can’t expect me to commute in silence, can you? My internal monologue will overtake me. Chaos will ensue. Thanks for understanding.

I’m too old to take a good selfie. You ever notice how after a certain age people’s selfies get weird and uncomfortable? They always have facial expressions like a baby going poo poo in its diaper. The angle never makes any sense and seems physically impossible. Did you break you arm to take this picture? Why do you look like you’re enlisting right now? Get off of Facebook and go watch the new Murder, She Wrote.

I’m too old to get into jogging. Look, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. I always think it sounds fun and then I start and I get to the corner and it’s like I’m the guy in Memento. I’m like, “How did I get here? Why am I dressed like this? I can see my house from here, why don’t I just go back there?” Jogging defies logic. I’m sorry. It’s logic; you can’t fight it. Now who wants a Frosty? We’re already outside, we might as well.

I’m also too old to be freaking out about stuff that happened years ago. Hakuna matata!

And I’m too old to be freaking out about stuff that hasn’t happened yet. I said, hakuna matata, bitch!

And I’m too old to be fretting about whether I’m on an actual date with a boy I like. I’m too old for shyness and semantics. I’m too old to be worried about somebody not texting me back. As my girl Tracy Chapman says, I’m too old to go chasing you around, wasting my precious energy.

…okay, that last paragraph’s not altogether true. Dating can bring about all kinds of neurotic thoughts: Am I good enough? Does anyone like me? Who’s paying for dinner? (Not me.) So I do enjoy the occasional over-dramatic internal monologue, the romcom fixation. Like a Celine Dion ballad, it’s so serious that it’s ridiculous. Love songs and crushes and uncertainty and twerking and irresponsible blogging all exist in the same plane. It’s not a place I want to stay forever but I’m still young enough to visit. And that’s important. It’s essential. It let’s me take a step back and laugh at myself. It let’s me protect my heart.celine3

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Love

This is Just a Test…

Guys, I might have accidentally fallen in love with the guy who gave me my HIV test. What’s the proper term? HIV tester? Test administrator? Precept? Docent? Whatever. Whomever. I love him.

It really must be love because I’m not usually one to talk about my, um, sex life. And, okay, testing is actually just responsible behavior and self-care, but baby with the bathwater, I say. easyaWhile in theory I believe in normalizing regular testing for sexually active adults of all stripes, I am also a prude. Philadelphia, where I live, has a great number of sex-positive organizations, which is all well and good, but I have a long history of sex-negativity. I’m all for sex, but don’t like to talk about it, think about it, or acknowledge that it happens. I’m kind of a Puritan at heart; I’m still not convinced that The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter weren’t black comedies about appropriate responses to rips in the moral fabric of a level-headed community. My parents used to tell me that they tried for so long to have me and I honestly thought that that meant that they prayed really hard.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, my impending nuptials!

The other night, I popped into a local testing center run by a wonderful organization called GALAEI because it was time. I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for two years. It ended in July and I figured it behooved me to restart my regular practice of getting tested every six months. Climb back on the horse, as it were. Okrrr?!

falling-off-the-horse

I wasn’t looking for love, but they say that’s when it strikes. Like a serial killer in a movie. The super cute scrub-clad doctor led me to the private room, pricked my finger (like Cupid!) and started the clock. All doctors are hot, aren’t they? Like physically attractive. Their faces are symmetrical or whatever it is that makes people hot. They have small pores. I don’t know what it is. But they have it. Even the ones with slightly less than symmetrical faces are hot. And it’s not just the money; it’s the confidence, I think. They’ve got that Fitzgerald Grant Alpha-personality going on. And I’m a firm believer in making all my life decisions as if I’m Olivia Pope. Live every week like you’re wearing sharkskin gloves.

I twiddled my thumbs. In previous HIV tests, I’d been ushered out to the lobby (is it really a lobby if there isn’t a concierge desk?) and browsed through old issues of Entertainment Weekly while the test developed. Clearly he wanted to keep me around.

“What do you do for fun?” the doctor asked. I immediately got confused. What was he looking for?

“What do you mean, fun?” He cast me a look askance. I was like, Gurl, don’t come for me, gurl. It’s unclear whether you’re asking me about possible risky behavior or just shooting the shit. I’m not sure whether I should answer “Well, for fun I like take home intravenous drug users I just met on the street” or if I should say, “You know, brunch.” Is this a first date or an interrogation?!

He’s like, “I was just making conversation.”  Okay, okay. Okay. No need to get snappy. Okay.

He took off his glasses, leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the desk. “I hope you don’t mind; this is my 14-hour day.”

I said, “Make yourself comfortable!” But in the back of my mind, I thought “Honey, if this test comes back sideways, you’re going to need to adjust your bedside manner right quick.”

We chatted for a bit. I told him I work in theater; he said he recognized me from advertisements for a show I’d done. I flipped my hurr.

pw

The conversation turned to dating. I told him I was recently out of a long-term relationship and I was surprised by how soul-sucking dates can be. We take each other apart and judge the pieces. It’s a consumer activity or, worse, a clinical one. We forget that these boys we’re assessing at an arms length are people. And then, in turn, we forget that we’re people, too. He agreed with me. “I dated someone for a 6 weeks and then he just stopped calling,” he said. Out loud, I said, “Aww, that’s terrible!” but inside I was screaming “HE’S LETTING ME KNOW HE’S SINGLE! Ooh! Look at his pretty hair.”

I asked him whether testing was his full time job. He said it wasn’t and his eye lit up as he told me about his day job working with teens at a non-profit. It sounded wonderful and good for society and totally not medical. I was shocked.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “You’re not a doctor? Why am I being honest with you?”

“Why would you think I was a doctor?”

“Um, maybe because you’re wearing scrub bottoms and an expensive plaid shirt, and you’re handsome and I want to marry you.” I mean, is it even legal to wear scrubs bottoms if you don’t have a medical degree? Can I just wear scrubs? This changes everything. Most of my dating criteria are contingent upon the question “Is he wearing scrubs?” I’m not TLC; I want some scrubs. I want all the scrubs. A scrub is a guy who can pay my student loans. He can get some love from me.

Still reeling, I asked him about how he got into testing and what the training was like. “The training was a breezy two weeks,” he said. “There’s not a lot of support.” He told me that’s why he found it so important to make a personal connection with the people he was testing. A lot of the community’s needs extend far beyond a diagnosis and it’s hard to talk about serious issues with a stranger who had only been through nominal training. It was important that when a person got tested, they felt like they were still a person for those 20 long minutes. I swooned, even as a small voice whispered in my ear, Fool, he’s just doing his job. He’s not flirting with you! BTW, do you think maybe you should maybe get a Frosty after this?

Let me just say, that voice is an asshole. And, of course, I’m getting a Frosty. What are you, new?

I have a long history of falling for anyone who is nice to me. Salesmen at J. Crew, convivial ticket-takers at the movies, bright-eyed busboys–they all made my heart go pitter patter with tiny acts of kindness. It really doesn’t take much.

Beyonce_hemyhusband

Tell me that this expensive sweater you want me to buy looks great on me and I will start a wedding registry for us at Target with a quickness.

Whether or not he was in love with me (he was) and whether or not he was actually a doctor (I’m still not convinced. There were scrubs!), his friendliness was a welcome tonic to most medical experiences I’ve had. Getting tested, even if it’s just out of practice, can be a nerve-wracking 20 minutes. And one that’s shrouded in shame. As much as we talk about sex in America, there’s not actually a lot of sex-positivity going around. I got into an argument on a first date a couple weeks ago with a guy who said he could never date someone who was HIV-positive. He said, “It would freak me out. And it’s not fair. They’ve had their fun; that’s how they got it.”

That’s the kind of attitude that keeps people out of their friendly neighborhood testing places (that and the fact that they don’t clearly advertise that there are hot “doctors” inside). The logic goes: good people do good things and that’s what keeps them “clean”. They don’t have risky behaviors. That’s not true. All sex is a risk. Morality exists in the ether; bodies exist in reality.

Dino was the first documented gay dinosaur

During the Jurassic Period, we wear pink.

At the end of my 20-minute dream date with the doctor, I told him “This was the best testing experience I’ve had in all my 9,000 years of being gay.” He laughed. “I like that, 9,000 years of being gay.”

“I’m serious,” I said. “I’ve been gay since before the dinosaurs. I used to kiki with this triceratops who would do drag at Bob & Barbara’s under the name TriSara Vaughn. Fierce bitch. She’s dead now. Ice age. When will they find a cure?”

He wrote me a reminder for my next test. 1/24/14: Our second date.

“Normally, every 6 months is a good frequency for getting tested,” he said. “But with the breakup and the likelihood of increased sexual activity, I’m going to recommend you come back in 3 months.” I was like, “Well, thank you, but you highly over-estimate my game. But okay. I’m picking up what you’re putting down, you sexy sumbitch.”

He smiled at me, “Have a good night. See you in 3 months.”

Clearly just a ruse to see me again. Guys, this means we’re engaged, right?

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