As always, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover this week, but I have to start with a little pimpin’.
You guys know I have my own advice column, right? Can you believe they actually gave me an advice column?
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I can’t even get my own love life up and running smoothly, how am I supposed to advise other people. Well, look at it this way. From my time as a bartender, I was asked for advice constantly, and over the years I managed to get pretty good at looking at a problem objectively. Provided, of course, it doesn’t concern, you know … me.
And now, back to the story.
Okay, when we last off, I had ventured up to Albany, New York, for a brief respite from the city and an opportunity to see my friends Mankey, Ethan, and Natalie. While on an apple-picking trip, I had a sudden resurfacing of a memory of a Halloween from a couple years ago.
After a face-kicking incident at a haunted hay ride, I found myself at an excessively libidinous party at the sprawling property of my friend, a saucy, buxom gal named Maggie. Attending the party was Gary, a hot-as-hell guy who I knew from performing in various community theater shows.
I had ventured down into Maggie’s basement — which I’m pretty sure is the set they used for at least three of the Saw films — to obtain more beer for the party. Gary, who had been ignoring me all night (just like he had for the past year) came down behind me, and when I turned around he shoved me bodily into the refrigerator.
“Oh, uh, hello,” I said.
“Did I scare you?” he asked.
“Totally. I thought you were the police coming to break up the party. Or maybe PETA. You know, on account of the ram.”
“What? Who’s Peta?”
“Right. So, crazy party, huh?”
And then, just like that, he was kissing me, and even though I knew he was kind of a dumbass and not worthy of my time, goddammit, he was a good-lookin’ dude, and there was so much sexual energy building up that night that I was helpless to resist. I had been crushing on Gary for so long, so feeling his mouth on mine and his hands being all like, “Heeyy-eyyy,” I just went with it.
After kissing for a while, he said, “Let’s go outside.”
Confused, I said, “Oh … kay.”
I grabbed two beers from the refrigerator — let the inebriates upstairs fetch their own drinks — and followed him out the basement/garage’s side door, which led out to the field, from which I could see the barn where Maggie’s super-hot straight cousin Joe headbutted a ram.
That was before I made out with Joe. Which he agreed to do so that three girls would bare their pert, 20-something ta-tas to him.
Look, it was a weird night.
I followed Gary out onto the field, up to a fence that separated the part of the field where the sheep lived. Yup, there were sheep and everything.
(Don’t worry, no one had sex with any sheep that night.)
“JT,” Gary said, taking a deep breath and looking up at the stars, “do you ever look up there and think, god, there’s just no way we can be alone in the universe?”
I tried not to roll my eyes. I was so not in the mood for one of those talks.
“Uh huh,” I said. “Hey, how ‘bout we get back to -”
“I just think,” he said, making a grand sweeping gesture at the sky, “there has to be more than just … this, you know? All of this … life that we see every day. Doesn’t it just fill you with wonder?”
It went on like that for a while, my eyes glazing over as he waxed idiotic and uninformed about the “universe,” but eventually his drunken mind ran out of words, and we fell into kissing again. He leaned me up against the fence and put his hands under my shirt. It felt good, and I leaned back, sighing.
But then I became acutely aware of someone behind me. Startled, I turned my head and saw …
Okay, if you’re like me, then you didn’t grow up knowing what an alpaca is. Wikipedia tells me that an alpaca is “a domesticated species of South American camelid.” Because of course we all know that camelids are, like, a thing, right?
So I turned and suddenly found myself staring face to face with an animal that looks like what would happen if Dr. Frankenstein took a crap, mixed it with the DNA of a camel and a touch of giraffe, and then added a dash of your darkest nightmares. The alpaca’s native habitat is the scorched remains of the earth that follow an attack by the Dark Lord Chthulhu, and it lives on a steady diet of human fingers, babies, and fear-sweat.
And it was all up in my face.
“Jesus f**king Christ!” I shouted, jumping back. “What the f**k is that thing!”
“Hsss,” the alpaca said.
“Hey, f**k you, buddy, I wasn’t even talking to you! You’re not even a goddamn human being!” I shouted at it.
“Not anymore,” the alpaca replied.
“Aaaaah!” I screamed. “Come on, Gary, let’s go inside.”
“I think it’s beautiful,” Gary said dreamily.
“Of course you do,” I said, marching around the house and into the kitchen, where there was the safety of other party-goers. Gary followed me in.
I found Maggie among the crowd. “Hey, there’s some kind of mutant dog with a crazy long neck in your sheep pasture,” I said.
“Oh!” she laughed. “I see you’ve met the alpaca.”
“The what now?”
“It’s an alpaca, they’re kind of like herders. They keep the sheep in line or something. I don’t know. He gets really territorial when he sees humans around the fence. You’re lucky he didn’t bite you!”
“If he did, would that turn me into an alfalfa, too?”
Maggie laughed and grabbed some liquor, pouring Gary and me drinks. “So what were you two doing out there by yourselves, hmm?”
“Just talking,” Gary said.
“I bet,” she said, giggling. “Oh, that reminds me, I wanted to show you guys something.”
Gary and I followed her, drinks in hand, up the stairs and into her bedroom. “What’s up?” I asked.
“I was just getting bored down there …” she said.
She went to the door and closed it, and …
Bow chicka wow wow …
Look, I’ll be honest with you guys, I was really trying to think of a funny, aloof way to tell this next part, but the fact is it just gets SUPER porn-y. I’m sure you can guess what happened.
Three young adults, all horny, all completely wasted, you can do the math. It wasn’t my first time having sex with a woman, but it was my last, and let me tell you, the act itself is much more enjoyable when there’s another man there to distract you with his … stuff. But yeah, that happened. Wild oats. You know how it goes.
The next morning, after a super-awkward final show where we all tried to pretend that it wasn’t super-awkward, we had dinner as a cast and I finally returned to my apartment where I was living with Mankey. On the way home, Ethan texted me to tell me that he and Natalie were expecting their first child.
I was feeling a lot of things. Exhausted. Dazed. Very, very dirty.
This was basically me.
I walked in, and Mankey was on the couch playing a video game. Mank and I met my junior year of college when we were randomly assigned to rooms in the same suite, and he immediately clicked with my group of friends, becoming one of the gang right away. We had lived together on and off for years, but the year before I had wound up living with a girl who was OCD about cleaning the apartment.
Sure, it sounds like a good deal to have someone around who feels an unstoppable urge to clean (it’s like living with your own free maid!), but it turns out OCD isn’t as funny or charming as Glee makes it out to be.
Your freaky Bambi eyes aren’t fooling me, Jayma Mays!
I came home one day to find her sobbing in a heap on the bathroom floor because there was a spot behind the tub that she couldn’t reach. And because she couldn’t get to it, she couldn’t bleach it.
If you can’t reach, you can’t bleach.
For her, no floor was truly clean until she had gone over every spot with bleach. Twice.
Now if there’s a tiny part of one’s house that is unreachable and, thusly, unbleachable, a normal-minded person would probably shrug it off, content to clean the rest of the place to whatever fits their standards of human decency. But to this girl’s frazzled mind, that spot kept her up at night. She obsessed over it. After six or seven months, she begged me to let her out of the lease before the year was up, lest that spot achieve sentience, become mobile, and strangle her with its filth in the middle of the night.
Though I sympathized with her mental problems, I had grown tired of her judgmental attitude if I walked into the house with shoes (she had long ago declared our apartment a “no-shoes zone”), and was more than over her habit of putting magnets of Jesus and Mary on our refrigerator, as they clashed with my erotic magnetic poetry set.
It just so happened that at the time Mankey was looking for a new place to live, so everybody won out. But no one more than me, I think, since I got to swap a heaping bag of neuroses for one of my best friends.
Mankey looked up when I entered. “Hey!” he said. “I haven’t seen you in days! How was the final show? Did you have fun at the party?”
“It’s kind of a blur,” I said, dropping heavily onto the couch. “I can’t really remember everything. Definitely can’t remember the order things happened in. All I know for sure is I had sex with a girl and there was a dude fighting farm animals. Oh, and Natalie’s pregnant.”
Mankey blinked a couple time. “Wait, what?”
“Huh.” he said.
We sat in silence for a few minutes as he blasted aliens out of the sky.
“You want to play Halo?” he asked.
“Oh, god, yes. More than anything.”
There really is nothing like declaring war on an alien species to make you feel like your life is getting back to normal.
Aaaaaand scene. Back to the present..
I laughed as we walked along the apple orchard, not having expected to fall into such an elaborate flashback. (You have to look carefully where you’re walking. You never know when you might step on a literary device.) Natalie and Ethan’s two boys were running ahead of us on the trail, laughing as Mankey chased them, and the sun was sinking low into the sky. I breathed in the fresh, apple-y air, happy to be out of the city and missing it at the same time.
That night, after the kids were asleep, the four of us gathered in Ethan and Natalie’s living room and reminisced over a few beers about the wacky hijinks of the past. It made me feel for a moment like I had my old life back. But weekends are, of course, brief, and soon enough I was back in the city I now call home.
As I meandered through the streets on my way back to my apartment, my thoughts drifted to my dating life. The Australian had left almost a month ago, and ever since I just couldn’t bring myself to check my Match.com account. I thought of the men in my life. Morris out at sea. The Australian half a world away. Rock Star … I don’t know, presumably in a sling somewhere.
Deciding it was in my better interest, I pulled up Match.com.
I had a few new messages, and the one that caught my eye was from a handsome African-American guy. He had a number of appealing qualities, but it was his dreadlocks that made me notice him. I’m a sucker for a man with dreads.
Meet the man responsible for that little predisposition.
In his message, he asked if I was free to grab a drink some time. I wrote him back and asked if he was free the next week. An hour later, he responded that he was, and we made plans to meet up on Wednesday night.
And suddenly I felt a little lighter. A first date is exciting for its infinite possibilities.
Here we go again, I thought, smiling wryly to myself.
But if there’s any barnyard animals, I’m out.
And remember to check out Ask JT, my new advice column right here on AfterElton!