All We Wanted Was to Watch Some Damn Golf

On Saturday my boyfriend Graig and I went on a beautiful eight-mile walk along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. It was scenic, serene, far removed from the city, and this is apropos of nothing but I’m currently writing this blog post from the train and the man to my left is eating a very aromatic banana.

ALL I CAN SMELL IS BANANA RIGHT NOW.

Waiting for it to be over.

Keyshia Cole.

Okay, he’s done.

So after our walk, we ended up at what is steadfastly becoming my favorite bar/restaurant ever — a picturesque, waterfront tavern in a park where wealthy middle-aged humans like to hang out and heterosexual couples like to get married. (Why this recipe somehow spells out “Comfort Zone!” for me is its own sad problem, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Everything was going great at first. I had a Landshark Lager in one hand and a lobster roll in the other. There were also many oysters involved. We were watching the Masters on the bar’s only television, and I was inexplicably invested in every nuance of the event.

Love shocking my friends.

Love shocking my friends w/ my golf knowledge.

Things took a dark turn later in the day, though, and by the end of the night we ended up in a weird situation where our bartender hated us and wished us dead in her head, and yes, I just rhymed.

Something to note here is that I am cripplingly afraid of confrontation and/or ever saying anything that could even vaguely paint me as an asshole to a waitperson. I don’t say things like, “I’ll have some more water,” as my subconscious seems to believe that only a total dick would make such a demand. Instead I say, “Um. So. Can I have some more water, p-p-please?” in a very high, mouse-like voice. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved and really I’m sure waiters hate me even more for making it weird than they would if I just asked for water outright like a normal citizen, but whatever, this post isn’t even about water, so let’s just move on, Jesus.

Somewhere around Jordan Spieth’s seventh hole of the day, the lunch bartender decided that “nobody cares about golf” and changed the station. This caused a panic between Graig and I, but luckily with a very polite/awkward request (see above paragraph) we were able to get him to put the golf back on (and also bring us more oysters, which are delicious and bring me joy and should really just be called joysters IMHO).

joysters

But then.

An hour later we were forced to close out our tab with the lunch bartender and start a new one with his replacement, a sassy blonde girl with crunchy shoulder-length hair and baby blue nail polish. Immediately upon starting her shift, she grabbed the remote and proclaimed, “I don’t wanna watch golf!

“Bitch, you got some neeerve!” is what I absolutely did not say to her but should have.

Luckily, the outgoing bartender did the dirty work for us and whispered to her that we were invested in the men on the screen in the pants and the shirts with the metal rods and the balls. (I should have known that writing about golf would swiftly turn into erotica.)

She looked annoyed but changed it back, and then proceeded to pretend that Graig and I didn’t exist for the rest of the evening. Like, she was being a total gem to everyone else at the bar — engaging in friendly small talk, smiling, generally being a non-dick – but every time we tried to flag her down for another round it was like getting the attention of an angsty teen in possession of a smartphone and very severe resentment issues.

We managed to get the bar-back to get her to get us drinks when we could, but overall we just felt vehemently hated yet entirely invisible at the same time.

Once the final hole of the day was shot, we decided it was time to vacate and go somewhere where we weren’t de facto lepers. We tried for ten minutes to get the crunchy hair bitch’s attention—in what was not a crowded bar at all, I might add!—but she kept avoiding our hand gestures and actively sought out patrons to engage in lighthearted banter with instead.

“What’s wrong with us?” I asked Graig. “Are we THAT hate-able?”

“Apparently,” he said. “Should we just do a dine and dash?”

Before we could fully contemplate the option, a spunky woman in a mini jean jacket randomly approached us from behind.

“Hi guys,” she started as we turned around. She was pointing to another girl across the bar. “Do you see my friend over there? What do you think of her?”

“I don’t know her personally, so I ought not to form an opinion based purely on her physical appearance, because to quote alt-R&B songstress Janelle Monáe, who will tweet this two days into the future, a woman’s body is ‘not for male consumption,'” is another thing I did not say in response but should have.

“She’s a dish!” is yet one more. (Because Titanic.)

“She’s super pretty,” is what I actually said, trying to sound stereotypically gay enough for her to realize that she was barking up two entirely homosexual trees. But somehow I failed. (I blame the golf.)

“So why have neither of you hit on her yet? Come on, guys!”

Graig then jumped in and cut to the chase: “Actually, we’re boyfriends.”

And then the girl was all, “Oh my God, really? We’re lesbians! I just wanted to boost my girlfriend’s self-esteem and also try to play you guys for some free drinks.”

…WHO THE FUCK?

“Well, even if we wanted to buy you drinks we couldn’t because the bartender is very mean…” I started to say to her, but then her girlfriend stormed out of the establishment in an emotional tizzy and she abruptly chased after her before anyone could even say bye.

I felt bad for the girlfriend, who was clearly having a rough time in this Bar of Broken Dreams. I wondered if maybe she just needed to feel sexy for a moment, as her GF obviously sucked at satisfying that need on her own. Or maybe she was dehydrated because the bartender was being a vindictive goblin to them, too. Or — wait! Perhaps the whole thing was just an elaborate ruse designed to enable THEM to ACTUALLY DINE AND DASH. You know what? Those lesbians were evil geniuses.

Meanwhile, Graig and I ended up waiting another ten minutes for the bill, which we paid, because we plan on going back for the U.S. Open.

 

The White T-Shirt Debacle of 2014

There are few things I enjoy as much as a fresh pack of plain white undershirts. (Those few things mainly being cheese, Mariah Carey, and water.)

Plain white undershirts are perfect because they have this strange psychological ability to make me feel magically shielded from the harsh realities of the world, and that’s important. They also provide a nice foundation for all my super fashionable real shirts to rest on while ensuring I don’t destroy them with my repugnant perspiration problem.

I don’t have a repugnant perspiration problem; I swear.

So anyway. Last Sunday I was at Target in search of a new package of these miraculous garments and found a five-pack from Hanes that included three bonus shirts. Eight shirts for the price of five, I thought. This is heaven on a stick! So I bought them and went home and slept really well that night with the delightful knowledge that I’d have the blissful pleasure of wearing a fresh undershirt every day that week.

But then. Upon emerging from the shower the next morning and hastily tearing into the tight plastic packaging, I peeled off the first shirt of the bunch only to find that IT WAS REALLY SUPER fucking TINY. It was labeled “Medium” but was in fact extra-extra-extra small.

I wondered if maybe I had gotten really fat and no one told me, or if maybe Hanes had fucked up and accidentally shipped Target a package of miniature doll shirts to sell to humans, or if maybe there was a dark, evil spirit in my midst shrinking my brand new T-shirts and generally trying to sabotage my life (successfully) just for sport. But the truth is that I had accidentally purchased an eight-pack of boys’ shirts.

Like, for children.

shirtdebacle

Is it just me or does it kind of look like a Taylor Swift-esque crop top?

Since I had destroyed the packaging entirely when opening it (because that’s how I do), I decided to just eat the cost of the boy shirts and return to Target the next day for redemption and a second chance at happiness.

I found a five-pack (no bonus shirts for men, though, which frankly I think is rather ageist and fucked up of Hanes, but whatever) and double-checked to make sure they were definitely not for children. They were not, and so I bought them and went home and slept really well that night with the knowledge that I’d at least have the pleasure of wearing a fresh undershirt for the remaining four days of that week.

But then. Upon emerging from the shower the next morning, I excitedly peeled off the first shirt of the bunch only to find that IT was a FUCKING V-NECK TEE and I only wear crew neck tees, and again it was all my fault because I was so fixated on getting a pack of shirts marketed to adults that I had totally forgotten to make sure they had the right kind of neckline.

And so then I just gave up on life and ate, like, eleven donuts.

Luckily my boyfriend loves white V-neck tees (that weirdo), so I was able to fob those off on him, but still, I’m left asking myself how it’s possible that I could be so absent-minded not once but twice in my attempts to buy a simple pack of white T-shirts. What does this say about my attention to detail in other areas of life? What does this say about humans in general? What does this say about America? Why do I still have eight miniature T-shirts in my possession? Why is life so difficult and confusing and crazy and cruel? WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?

I have no answers. Only miniature T-shirts.

 

Being Gay is Simple

Being gay doesn’t happen online. It doesn’t happen on “Gay Twitter” or on a Hookup App or on HuffPost’s Gay Voices or in a misguided Advocate article titled “6 Gay Cliches That Are Totally True.” It doesn’t happen in NYC, at fancy dinner parties, or during brunch. Mimosas have nothing to do with anything.

Being gay happens when you’re on the couch with your boyfriend and he puts his arm around you and it smells distinctly like him and that makes you feel safe so you lean over and kiss his neck. It happens forty minutes later when his arm falls asleep and you trade positions.

It happens when you don’t have a boyfriend, too—when you’re home alone drinking a glass of water and thinking about how cute that guy at Target was. Being gay is drinking water and finding guys cute. It’s also breathing air.

Maybe you’re young and still figuring it out or maybe you’re old and you thought you had it figured out, but for some reason you’re lonely or angry or just disheartened that we live in a world where the Advocate publishes articles with titles like “6 Gay Cliches That Are Totally True.”

You don’t have any gay friends and you wonder if you’re doing it right. You’re sick of defining yourself, sick of being defined, and mostly just sick of having to think about this shit.

Or maybe you don’t care that much. I don’t know. You can like Madonna and football or video games and cupcakes. Maybe you like nothing. Do you love to sing? Maybe you’re crazy and overweight or maybe you’re boring and have a six-pack.

If I know you’re gay, all I really know is that you drink water and you find guys cute.

You also breathe air.

10689771_936772713392_5065515524980736380_n

But all gay men do take selfies with giant rainbow teddy bears… right?

 

Here’s a Mountain Metaphor

Six people: the maximum capacity for a bench on the ski lift in the small mountain town my friends and I visited for Octoberfest this past weekend. Our group consisted of two couples and me, and given that the sum of our bodies allowed for a one-person buffer between us and what I imagined would be a macabre, weight-driven tragedy, I had never been more ecstatic to play the role of fifth wheel.

We excitedly jumped on board but soon morphed into jittery hot messes once we reached the specific altitude of the mountain in which shit officially gets real. We got stuck for a moment and dangled and whined and sweated and prayed and got ready, basically, to die.

I tried to take comfort in the family-like closeness of our group—clinging to the dark thought that at least we’d all go down together—and it almost helped, but just for a moment.

“You guys, we’re only freaking out because this is like, the ultimate loss of control,” I heard my friend say from across the bench. “We have to trust that we’re not gonna fall. Why is it so hard to let go and believe that the people who constructed this thing knew what they were doing?”

“My balls are actually in my throat right now, so,” I replied, apropos of nothing and everything, and didn’t finish.

I could continue with a play-by-play of the hyperventilating and melodramatic rambling and meaning-of-life thought spiraling that ensued on my part, but I won’t. Instead I’ll just say that eventually I accepted that whether or not I freaked out, the outcome of this experience wouldn’t change. Like a lot of things, it was entirely out of our hands.

So I exhaled, the lift picked up again, and tragedy didn’t strike. And I realized that (one) friendship is everything, and (two) mountains are beautiful when seen from the safe distance of the bottom, but the views from the top are un-fucking-believable.

1511810_10203970113946791_3371027000287880472_n

Are My Ripped Jorts Destroying My Life?

Last week, after having a few beers at a live fantasy football draft (which I dominated, by the way), I impulsively agreed to meet a random dude from OkCupid for an impromptu first date in the city before heading home.

Ordinarily, this would not have been a noteworthy experience. But on this particular day I had decided to wear ripped jorts to work.

Jorts, for those of you with taste and/or lives, are jean shorts.

jorts

Me channeling Miley Cyrus while wearing jorts in what appears to be the rainforest, which is a caption I never thought I’d write.

I’m not exactly sure why I love my jorts, but I do. Maybe it has a lot to do with Mariah Carey’s 1993 video for “Dreamlover,” in which she frolics through a meadow in a pair of her own; I don’t know.

In any case, below is the entire story arc of the date in which I wore jorts, as told through a truncated series of Facebook IMs between my friend Steven and I.

En route to the date…

  • Me: The draft is over, my team is amazing, I’m drunk
  • Me: now I’m meeting some dude for more drinks
  • Me: I’m wearing topped jean shorts so
  • Me: he’ll definitely think I’m hot
  • Steven: topped jean shorts?
  • Steven: omg do you mean RIPPED?
  • Steven: because if so, you must change
  • Steven: are you a twink in the West Village circa 1985?
  • Me: it’s too late!!!
  • Steven: you have an affinity for ripped jeans
  • Me: If he’s the One he would accept ripped jeans
  • Me: and or jorts
  • Steven: omg
  • Steven: you own jorts don’t you?
  • Me: I’M WEARING THEM NOW!
  • Steven: omg it didn’t even register I was so focused on the ripped part

During the date…

  • Me: Truly he is peeing
  • Me: RAPPER
  • Me: he’s herring us more beer
  • Steven: you don’t need more beer
  • Me: Shonda Rhimes

After the date…

  • Me: Ok I’m overrrrrr it with this dude
  • Steven: Why?
  • Me: we just parted ways
  • Me: it was just like very abrupt
  • Steven: sounds gross
  • Me: Haha idk I’m confused!!!
  • Me: this is the first date in a long time where
  • Steven: you were drunk from the start?
  • Me: no where he was clearly NOT into me
  • Steven: Which of course makes you want him
  • Me: Meh this guy was boring
  • Me: if I’m getting honest
  • Steven: Ha
  • Me: His only appeal is that he’s Italian and from Staten Island
  • Steven: OMG Mariah is on Twitter asking fans about songs for her tour
  • Steven: and tweeted: “Side Effects or Petals?”
  • Steven: I CANNOT
  • Me: Nooooiii
  • Me: I’m too impaired to deal with this
  • Steven: Hahahaha wait why? They’re both gems
  • Me: I mean what’s her mental state?
  • Steven: if she’s thinking about either of those songs, she’s clearly angry
  • Me: They’re so different
  • Me: [FACEBOOK STICKER OF CAT WITH DOUGH ROLLER]
  • Me: Like what kind of a weird a
  • Me: Ass match up is that
  • Me: [FACEBOOK STICKER OF CAT WITH DONUT]
  • Me: I didn’t mean to do those!
  • Me: /
  • Me: whatever it’s probably the jorts that made that guy not into me
  • Me: Your silence indicates that you write
  • Me: Age*
  • Me: Agree****
  • Steven: the ripped jorts have to go

SO IS IT TRUE?

Are ripped jorts a crime? Do ripped jorts ruin everything? Are ripped jorts the reason why Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola got divorced in 1997 and also why things are now on the rocks with her and Nick Cannon and therefore why she’s taken to Twitter to survey fans on their favorite jilted-Mimi songs? Are ripped jorts to blame for the fact that I went home alone after my date that night and ate an entire box of Annie’s Party Mix?

Maybe. But actually — you know what? Fall is soon to be upon us. So I can probably just shelve this discussion altogether until next year. Time to break out the full-length jeans with holes in them and continue evading the underlying issues that draw me to ripped denim in the first place! Yay!

ADDENDUM

Below are some highlights from the “Jorts” page on Urban Dictionary (followed by my thoughts in bold):

Jean shorts. Worn mostly by children and douchebags. Jorts are perhaps the easiest way to recognize people you will not like. If you wear jorts, you probably don’t talk to girls. (I mean, that last part is true in my case.)

Slang for jean shorts. These are most often worn by the fashion illiterate. (I prefer ensemble-y challenged, asshole.)

Jean shorts that are unusually short, generally worn on men, was fashionable in the 80’s not now. (Steven is this you?)

F*ck you, I can dress any way I want. (Right on, sister!)

Jean-shorts. mostly worn by queers and cute bus drivers. (OMG I’m both of those. Except I don’t identify as “queer” and I’m not a bus driver. But I am cute. When I’m not wearing jorts, at least.)

Possibly the ugliest article of clothing one can wear. Usually worn by people who do not have friends, because a true friend would tell you that you look like a faggot. (Listen, Urban Dictionary, your Eminem-esque homophobia is out of control. I’m beginning to think you’re the gay one. And BY THE WAY, the term you’re actually looking for is “twink in the West Village circa 1985,” so bye.)

 

Not All Thinking is Relevant: Why I’m Done with Thought Catalog

I’ve only been close with one transgender person in my life so far, and she happened to be somewhat famous. Her name was Octavia St. Laurent, known by many from the iconic film Paris Is Burning. There’s nothing I can write here to convey how effervescent and lovely she was, so instead I’ll just state the facts.

Octavia lived about a half hour away from where I attended college in Connecticut. My campus-leader boyfriend hit it off with her after she came to our school to give a lecture on HIV for an event he organized one day. The chemistry was instant and Octavia quickly became something of a den mother to us. She schooled my boyfriend and me on safe sex, emotional wellness, and the importance of being our authentic selves. She gave us sassy yet wise life advice and told us mind-blowing stories from her salacious New York days. She never talked with us about her journey to becoming Octavia. She had nothing to prove; she just was Octavia.

One time the three of us got stuck in traffic for two hours during a thunderstorm, and Octavia and I passed the time by singing and harmonizing to Toni Braxton’s “How Could an Angel Break My Heart” (the Babyface duet version, of course) on repeat. Though it seemed insignificant in the moment, this has since become one of my all-time favorite memories. An 18-year-old white boy from rural Connecticut and a trans woman of color who happened to be a legendary LGBT icon, bonding over nineties R&B together in a Honda Accord. It was a lesson in just how not different we all are.

Octavia passed away at the end of my junior year. This was over a year after my boyfriend and I had broken up and we all lost touch, but the news fucked me up. I regretted not keeping in contact and not acknowledging that although she was a strong, nurturing figure to us when we knew her, Octavia was fighting for her health behind the scenes. I cried for days.

I realize now that briefly knowing Octavia was an incredible gift for the development of my character. I cared about the T in LGBT from my earliest gay days, because I had someone there to translate that T into an H for me. Human.

***

Earlier this week, I finished reading the stellar, capable-of-changing-hearts-and-minds memoir Redefining Realness by Janet Mock, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a work event a few months ago.

Redefining Realness is a movingly honest account of one woman’s journey. It’s elegant yet raw. It’s the type of story that, even having known Octavia (who I was delighted to see quoted at one point in the book), I had never actually heard before in such authentic detail. I’m much better for having read it.

You can imagine the visceral reaction I had, then, when not even 24 hours after finishing Janet’s book and subsequently reminiscing over my favorite Octavia memories, I came across a severely transphobic rant by Gavin McInnes published by Thought Catalog. If you don’t want to read the piece, just know that it’s a hot mess of misinformed hate speech.

At first I felt enraged toward McInnes for writing something so offensive. But I got over that quickly, as I realized that he’s entitled to think and write whatever the fuck he wants, no matter how horrible it is. So then I just felt disappointed. So, so, so, so, so disappointed in Thought Catalog for publishing it.

For giving hate such a major, influential platform.

***

I have something of a history with Thought Catalog.

The story starts in 2010, a few months before I moved from my small town in Connecticut to New York City for grad school at NYU. Please note ahead of time that I was 22 years old and remarkably callow.

Faced with a lot of free time that summer, I decided to write a book.

This was random, as I majored in music during undergrad and always had my heart set on singing. When it came to writing, I merely had experience crafting longwinded Live Journal essays that were never intended for an audience. They were self-serious and “deep” and little more than personal therapy.

But then I discovered Chelsea Handler books and fell in love with the sensation of laughing via written storytelling. I soon got into the deeper, more literary humor of David Sedaris. And then I read this hilarious and engaging memoir in essays called Bitch is the New Black by Helena Andrews. I proceeded to read every humorous memoir I could get my hands on until I started to hear my own voice developing in my head.

Once that voice started screaming, it was decided: I had to write one of these collections myself.

Based on the deluded belief that my writing was far too quality to be given away for free on the Internet, I shaped my essays in private, trusting that when I was finished I’d somehow just send it to a random publisher and it’d become an instant bestseller because that’s how life works.

I got about sixty pages into my book project before grad school started and I shelved it. Living on my own in the city for the first time, interning at a music label, and having my pretentious views of the world shattered kind of took precedent. I had some life to live before I could write about it.

Though I didn’t want to publish my work on the Internet, I started blogging during the summer between grad school semesters upon reluctantly accepting that book deals generally aren’t just given away to first-time authors with absolutely no platform.

I fell in love with blogging once other people started telling me how hilarious I was, and by the time I graduated in 2012 I was prolific. I measured my worth as a writer in laughs and reasoned that if my blog wasn’t funny, then no one would give a shit. But I was writing about my life, and my life wasn’t always a joke. Sometimes it hurt or sucked or just confused me. So I eventually allowed myself to write about that stuff, too.

Once I achieved a vague balance of hilarity and introspection, several readers of mine started tweeting and sending me links to Ryan O’Connell’s work on Thought Catalog. “This guy’s stuff reminds me so much of you,” they’d tell me in various phrasings. “You should write for this site, too!”

I read Ryan’s work. He published pieces at a rate faster than most people publish tweets, so some of it was fluff while other pieces were absolutely brilliant. I placed my focus on the fluff because, frankly, I was jealous. My readers were right—Ryan and I were similar. Except he was Internet-famous and had a book deal while I had a tiny (though dedicated) following and was nowhere near being a safe bet for a publisher.

Recognizing that Thought Catalog had a massive online presence, I decided that maybe I should go for it. I submitted an old blog post of mine called “Not OK, Cupid.” Within a couple hours, I got an e-mail from an editor at the time, Stephanie Georgopulos, who informed me that they’d love to run it (for free).

Being published on TC led to a spike in readership on my own site, so I did it a few more times. I noticed that with each new post I’d get maybe a thousand new hits and a handful of Twitter followers. It was validating and exciting at first, but then I started reading some of the content on the site that wasn’t written by the small handful of great writers (Ryan, Stephanie, Nico Lang, Gaby Dunn, and some others) whose work I admired. I noticed that much of everything else was unedited, uninformed, unaware, and generally sophomoric.

The low editorial standards of TC made me self-conscious about my own work, so I stopped writing for them and instead decided to focus on my own site and my manuscript.

A few months later, Stephanie reached out to me through my blog e-mail, totally unaware that I was the same Nicolas who’d submitted a few pieces to the site already. She loved my latest post and tried to sell Thought Catalog to me as a place to republish it for more exposure.

Feeling particularly validated that an editor had found my blog on her own accord and specifically reached out, I agreed, reasoning that, “So what if this isn’t a ‘quality’ site? It’s expanding my reach and I need to build a platform.”

I wrote for TC on and off for over a year after that. Throughout, I focused on my craft and submitted to many more reputable publications, but when the rejections poured in, being published on TC was always a bittersweet consolation prize.

***

My most recent pieces for Thought Catalog were posted just last month, weeks before they decided to run Gavin McInnes’ hate-fueled diatribe.

Their choice to publish that piece has made this long-time-coming decision of mine easy: I’m done. It’s over. I deserve better. Octavia’s memory requires more of me. We all deserve better.

The next time I get published outside of my own blog, I want to be proud of the accomplishment. I want to be able to say, “This publication has standards.” At the very least, I want to be able to say, “This publication doesn’t troll for clicks by publishing harmful, misinformed rants by raging transphobic assholes.”

But beyond my own writing career, what I’m more upset about with this whole thing is the fact that McInnes’ piece remains out there and continues to attract thousands of views and shares.

As the experiences I’ve recounted in this essay attest, I haven’t always been an educated, smart reader. I grew up in a small town where many issues (like trans ones) simply aren’t discussed. I was a naïve 22-year-old and an even more naïve 18-year-old. If Thought Catalog had been around back then, I can almost guarantee that I would have read it and taken it seriously.

Whether or not the editors want to acknowledge it, Thought Catalog has major reach and influence. In today’s world, social media presence is power. And with nearly half a million Facebook followers, Thought Catalog has got a fucking lot of it. And to quote Spider-Man, because apparently it’s come to that, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Thought Catalog routinely evades this responsibility (not to mention editorial integrity) by crouching behind their indifferent slogan, “all thinking is relevant.”

Problem is, that’s not true. McInnes’ 1950’s-esque hate speech is not relevant.

It’s straight up fucking dangerous.

 

Help! I Was a Total Asshole to the Girl Who Works at My Favorite Sandwich Shop

I have this routine where I eat healthy-ish throughout the entire week and then reward myself by getting ratchet on Friday night. Then I’ll wake up on Saturday and go straight to this delightful little neighborhood sandwich shop across the street from me and order a bacon, egg, and cheese on a whole wheat bagel with a medium iced coffee, and the ritual of it all (or maybe just the bacon) fulfills me in ways that the unconditional love of another human being a healthy, balanced breakfast never could.

So this past Saturday I hobbled into the sandwich shop at about ten o’clock. Please note that I barely slept the night before, so I was tired and weak and generally struggling to not sound like Christian Bale’s Batman.

  • Me: Hi. I’ll have a bacon egg and cheese on a toasted whole wheat bagel, and—
  • Girl taking my order: A medium iced coffee with milk only? I remember! [Smiles warmly.]

In my head: Oh! This is the moment in which I befriend the girl who works at the sandwich shop because I’ve been here so many times. If this exchange goes well, my future visits will involve her being all, “Hey Nic! How was your week? Getting the usual today?” and I’ll be like, “Yeah, girl!” and we’ll probably live happily ever after (or something).

I wanted to answer her with a self-deprecating and light response to ensure the above fate, maybe something like: “Haha, yep! That’s me. I’m boring and my order never changes. [Chuckle/smile.] Thanks.”

But on this particular morning my brain wasn’t working, because as stated before, I was tired and weak and generally struggling to not sound like Christian Bale’s Batman — so while I tried to formulate a sentence like the one above, I just couldn’t do it on such short notice, and so, fucking THIS ended up happening:

  • Me [Dryly]: Well, I’ve only ordered it about a hundred times, so… good.

WHO SAYS THAT TO SOMEONE? I’m sure this is exactly what I looked like in that girl’s head at that moment:

bageldebacle

After the dust settled, I gave an awkward half-laugh/half-look-of-disgust as I realized that I had responded to her in the way a total asshole – a total asshole for no reason, nonetheless – would have.

Meanwhile, she gave me a look that was half-shocked and half-“Ew, your attitude is fucking gross,” which, really, was generous. Because if the shoe was on the other foot and I was working at a sandwich shop and a customer talked to me like that, I’d have totally been like, “GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN, DICK. AND MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN ICED COFFEE.”

I spent the rest of my time in the shop waiting for my sandwich in what can only be described as a severely uncomfortable state of debilitating embarrassment and shame, which is yet to wear off entirely.

As another Saturday approaches, I find myself fraught with anxiety over how to move on with my bagel-eating life. I’ve narrowed down my options to the following:

  1. Banish myself from this particular sandwich shop (in a dramatic fashion and while listening to that “deception, disgrace” song from the Lion King 2 soundtrack, perhaps) forever.
  2. Continue on as if it never happened and just hope that the girl forgets about it and/or has a forgiving heart and/or has better things to do than give a shit about my antics in the first place.
  3. Explicitly acknowledge the blunder the next time I come in and say something like, “Hey, remember that time I was a total dick to you? Haha, sorry. It was a weird thing where my brain stopped working and couldn’t formulate the kind of sentence I wanted it to, and again, sorry. Sorry! Sorry!! LOVE ME.”
  4. Crawl into a hole and die… ?

Please feel free to cast your vote — and/or offer a better option — in the comments below.

P.S. When I told my brother this story he was like, “Really? You’re putting that much thought into this? Nic, you have issues.” So I guess Option 5 is to agree with him.

P.P.S. When I told my friend Steven this story he was all, “I’d have spit in your bagel if I were her,” and then I was like, “Yeah but can we talk about how difficult it was for ME?! At least she had the luxury of being the victim,” and really I’m only including this exchange here because I find it kind of hilarious but also a little fucked up that it was so easy for me to use “the luxury of being the victim” in a sentence without even a trace of irony, which I guess proves my brother right in that first P.S.

 

Why Do We Hook Up With Our Exes?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by Regina George hooked up with an ex.

That’s probably almost everyone, right?

Okay. Raise your hand if you’ve ever hooked up with an ex on a totally sporadic basis but nonetheless repeatedly since breaking up four years ago and you almost don’t know why the fuck you do it but you’re also fairly certain that it’s because you’re so automatically comfortable in his presence and he’s your least laborious booty call option when it’s a quarter after one and you’re a little drunk and YOU NEED HIM NOW, and also maybe you still care about him a little but you’re not sure if it’s just because you miss “the idea of him” or because you actually miss him, and now you’re really questioning your life choices because you’ve managed to quote both Lady Antebellum and When Harry Met Sally in one longwinded run-on sentence about what is ostensibly your real-world love life but is clearly nothing more than a series of personal decisions you’ve made based off messages that pop culture has fed you over the years of what your love life should look like, and fuck – when did everything become so meta?

First of all, I understand if your arm got tired at some point during the above soliloquy and you’ve put your hand down by now. It exhausted me too; it’s fine. I also understand if you need HIM NOW a glass of water.

Secondly, who the hell knows why we hook up with our exes? Do we have our reasons, or are there no reasons at all? Maybe it’s healthy. Maybe (usually?) it’s not.

In my case, I’m going to go ahead and assume that it’s a mixed bag but mostly the latter, because my actual relationship with Lionel (dude on which the above is based) was kind of a schizophrenic shit-show that more or less inspired a literal book.

But of course mixed bags are mixed.

Lionel and I love each other. Yeah. Lionel loved me before I ever wrote about love on the Internet.

Are we in love? Well. We live far enough away from each other to forget that the other exists within 72 hours of most of our hookups. Moving on with our everyday lives without each other is an easy enough process for me to reasonably conclude that the answer is no. Or at least: not nearly enough.

Normally I don’t lose sleep over Lionel, but I recently got drunk at a barbeque my brother and his wife were throwing. I requested Lionel’s presence at the last minute, he showed up, and it was like fucking Homecoming Dance 2014 as my various friends and family members giddily caught up with him while declaring, “WE’VE MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!” in tones that were totally riddled with a Nic-has-devolved-into-a-tragically-hot-mess-of-a-psychotic-gay-man-since-you-guys-broke-up-and-he-moved-to-New-York subtext.

So that’s been a thing on my mind.

Whenever Lionel and I get together, though, I end up emerging from the experience in a peculiar, emotionless haze. His tattooed arms are a time machine back to 2009 when I was 21 years old and blissfully callow; it’s the easiest thing ever to drunkenly fall asleep in them.

But then I’ll wake up the next morning and it will be 2011 or 2012 or 2013 or, as of late, 2014. And it will be different, because I am. And he’ll drive us to grab iced coffees before we officially go back to our everyday lives that have nothing to do with each other, and I’ll speak in micro-sentences with a Lana Del Rey monotone and he’ll have to talk nonstop to keep the car from descending into a vacuum of awkward silence.

He won’t say anything about my coldness, though I’m almost certain it’s weird for him. How could it not be? Back when we were together, I was a high-strung emotional wreck totally incapable of reaching a middle ground between “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH” and “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.” Now my general attitude is just “thanks for the coffee, bye.”

“What are we doing and why?” is what I probably should be saying.

I’m about as sure that we both have our reasons as I am sure that there are no reasons at all.

Geese1

I couldn’t think of a good picture to accompany this post, so I had to improvise with this shot of some geese I encountered on my way home from the gym recently. Frankly, I’m impressed at just how well this all worked out for me.

 

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