This is part 3b of an ongoing series. In case you missed previous installments, here they are:
This is part 3b, where I do one more introduction and present the setting in which Date Number One takes place.
Story time with Crabs
After a night at the dance club then known as Kajmere, a number of us ended up going to the house of my friend Chris Turner (a fellow DJ and alumnus from Crazy Go Nuts University, and one of Shift magazine’s most prolific writers) for more drinks and conversations.
Crabs was there and he had us enraptured with his tales from the gay extreme dating scene.
“So this guy and I, we leave the Toolbox,” he said, dropping the name of Accordion City’s most hardcore bears-in-leather bar, “and he drives us out to the Bluffs. We park for a while, and then he wants to get into some water sports.”
“Ewwwwww,” said Ashley, who couldn’t stop giggling.
“And it dawns on me, while I’m doing it,” continued Crabs, “I think to myself: ‘This guy has offered to give me a ride home and I’m peeing on his face.‘”
We couldn’t stop laughing.
He launched into another story, which placed him at a party.
“I was at this table, and we were playing Strip High-Low…”started Crabs.
“High-Low? Doesn’t that make the game…um, go rather fast?”
“Oh yeah,” he said with a smirk.
Any faster and they might as well have saved themselves the bother of shuffling a deck of cards and just flipped a coin.
“And we had this extra rule,” Crabs continued. “If you lost a round and ended up naked, you were automatically the slave of the guy who got the high card.”
“Fascinating,” I said. “You know, sometimes it’s a lot of work just convincing girls to play Strip Poker, never mind games like this. Wow. Straight people suck.”
“I drew the high card and this guy ended up naked,” he said, pausing for effect.
“So we’re both facing this mirror while I’m doing him,” he continued without skipping a beat, “and we’re goin’ at it pretty hard. I accidentally push him into the mirror. It breaks, but most of the glass stays in the frame. But he broke it by going head-first into it, so I ask if he’s okay. And he’s like ‘Oh yeah, I’m fine, you just keep going.’ So I do.”
“Whoa. Now that’s hardcore. I know some girls who’d stop if they heard a funny noise in the next room,” I said.
And on the stories went.
I secretly was jealous of Crabs; not of the hot man-on-man action nor of the odder proclivities. He may find it pleasurable, but I’m quite happy not to have some fat naked guy pour hot candle wax down my bum crack, thank you very much. You might even say I’m overjoyed.
What made me burn with a little envy how easy pairing up was for him: here he was, going through partners as if they were Kleenex, while I was getting stood up and not getting phone calls returned. I knew that there were a couple of factors that I probably couldn’t duplicate — namely pairings where both parties had testosterone and the fact that Crabs was 100% id — but even then, it felt as if he had some kind of edge.
I felt like a pariah on the playground watching the cool kids. I was aware that the cool kids were doing something different that made them cool, but at a loss for what that something was.
Crabs had a boyfriend — a stage actor and dancer who was getting a number of opportunities to perform in Manhattan. He managed to stay faithful to this guy despite his extended absences, partially with my help. He sometimes drugged his better judgement into submission, often with poppers — amyl nitrate — his poison of choice. During those times, I was his better judgement.
The dance club and the indecent proposal
Buddies in Bad Times is a theatre that caters largely to Accordion City’s queer community. In addition to being a place where plays can be performed, it also functions as a dance club on the weekends. In the late nineties, the friendly crowd, large dance floor, eclectic music (from Pavement to Fatboy Slim to AC/DC to ABBA to Puff Daddy (he was still called that) to the theme from The Jeffersons) and silly names for their nights (Fridays were Viva Vulva, and Saturdays were Sissy Saturdays) made the place a hit with all sorts of people of all sorts of sexual orientations. It didn’t matter if you were a rocker, raver, glam queen or a punk or if you straight, bi, gay, or maybe even vegisexual — the crowd was good, the DJ would eventually spin something you’d like and the drinks were cheap.
One night, Crabs and I were sitting in the lounge area of Buddies during Viva Vulva. You could tell it was Viva Vulva night because it was Friday and because there was a ten-foot-tall paper mache vulva hanging from the second-floor DJ booth.
“So you mean to tell me that you’ve never done anything with a guy,” asked Crabs, “not even let him have a tug?”
“No,” I said. “Not really my scene.”
“Never had a cock in your mouth?” he asked, sucking suggestively on his bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
“Ever…wondered what it’s like? I could show you…”
You’ve got to admire male-male sexual dynamics: direct and to the point, always on, and the rules are far simpler.
“You, my friend, need to get laid. You’re uptight and tense all the time. You’re becoming an angry person, and that’s not…well, it’s just not like you to be that way.”
“Look. It’s just a little dry spell, that’s all. This too, shall pass.”
I said it with almost no conviction.
“Excuse me,” said a portly guy in clubwear. He’d come up to us from the bar. “I noticed that you two aren’t…together. You,” he pointed to me, “are most definitely not a fag, while this guy,” he said as he parked his ample buttocks on Crabs’ lap, “most definitely is.”
Crabs, even though he didn’t weigh more than 110 pounds soaking wet and with lots of change in his pockets, went for the burly, hairy type. The kind of guy who has to undo his belt in order to sit down. The kind of guy to whom you’d say, “Hey dude, nice sweater,” before you realized that he was going shirtless.
The guy who just sat down on Crabs’ lap wasn’t excessively big, but pudgy enough for Crabs to find attractive.
During a break in the conversation, when Pudgy Guy ran to the bar to get the next round of drinks, Crabs leaned towards me and whispered “Isn’t he cute?”
“If you say so.”
“Oh, you’re such a fucking breeder, Joey! Look, I did poppers earlier and I’m dying to have something up my ass.”
“Can’t say I’m familiar with the feeling.”
His look and tone of voice became a little more serious. “Look, uh…I’m trying to be good here. If I get, um, out of control, you’ll stop me, right? Buddy?”
“What is with you? If you don’t want to go home with this guy — because you already have a boyfriend — can’t you, well, I don’t know…NOT GO HOME WITH HIM? Is that so fucking hard?”
I caught myself. Here I was, trying to be the voice of reason, and instead was coming off as the voice of bitterness. What was happening to me?
Taking a deep breath, I said, “Okay. I’ll keep you good. But try to do the same. I can’t always be your wingman.”
“Thanks, buddy,” he said.
Another break in the conversation left me alone with Pudgy Guy while Crabs ran off to the bathroom to relieve himself, and perhaps to snort more amyl. Earlier in the conversation, we found out that Pudgy Guy was a salesman at a computer store that specialized in laptops. Meanwhile, I was a contract programmer who needed a new machine but lacked the funds.
“Look, I can cut you a deal,” said Pudgy Guy, with a somewhat conspiratorial tone in his voice.
“You help me get laid with your sweetmeat friend [Did he actually
call him sweetmeat? I thought, Ewwwwww!] and I’ll cut you a deal on a Tosh,” he said, using the hipster computer dealer short form for Toshiba. “A discontinued model, but still nice and fast. Whaddaya say?”
Crabs was already pretty fuzzy thanks to hormones, poppers and cheap drinks made with low-grade vodka. Pudgy Guy didn’t really need to cut a deal with me for “insurance”.
“I’ll think about it,” I said, declining in the most non-committal way I could think of. I really could’ve used the computer, though.
A candy raver boy and a punk rock girl were engaged in a passionate liplock. Pudgy Guy turned noticed them and grimaced.
“Ugh. Breeders,” he said with a click of his tongue, an exaggerated wave of the hand and feigned distaste.
“And somehow, offering me thirty pieces of silver for [Crabs’] ass is better?”
“What do you mean, ‘thirty pieces of silver’?”
They’re called “books”; you should read one sometime, you ignorant, illiterate horndog,
I thought. Then I caught myself again. The bitterness was rising. I wasn’t making out with anyone, and no one was bargaining for me.
I had bile, not blood, running through my veins.
Later that evening, the DJ was spinning Sneaker Pimps’ Six Underground, a tune with a languid pace, and many people were slow dancing. Crabs and Pudgy Guy were dancing spoon-style, with Pudgy Guy grinding behind Crabs. I was above their position, on the balcony, looking at the crowd.
Crabs looked at me and mouthed the words “Help me”. Somehow, he seemed both pleased and distressed at his predicament.
Pudgy Guy looked at me and mouthed the word “Laptop”.
I looked out at the crowd, a good number of them in pairs, and thought, I hate you all.
My evil ex, the two girls who stood me up, those who wouldn’t return my calls, every couple on this goddamned dance floor, The Artiste, the whole damned lot of you, I HATE YOU ALL. Damn you all to Hell.
It wasn’t always this way. I’m a happy guy, not an angry guy.
I want my life back.
The end of the night came about, and after getting my jacket from coat check, I looked about for Crabs. I asked my friends at the door and in security if they’d seen him, and they told me he was making out with some fat guy in the park.
I went to the small park beside the club, and there they were, each attempting to suck the other’s internal organs out through his mouth.
In one smooth motion, I walked by them and grabbed Crabs by the scruff of the neck, dragging him towards the street.
“Playtime’s over, loverboy. You have a boyfriend, remember?” I asked as I grabbed him.
“Wait a minute! You can’t just do that!” yelled Pudgy Guy.
“Yes. I. can,” I said through clenched teeth. “Don’t fuck with me. Not in my mood.”
Pudgy Guy backed off.
Cool, I thought, I put The Fear into someone. For the first time that night, I felt some kind of satisfaction.
As we walked to Carlton Street to put Crabs into a streetcar, he said “Thanks, man. Look, when it’s your turn to hook up, I’ll be there for you.”
That time would come sooner than we thought, and yes, he was there. Just not in a way that either of us expected.
Next: At long last: Date Number One, complete with adult situations, violence, butterscotch schnapps and ABBA.