I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts
When I was 6-years-old, I made my mother sew together a devil costume. When I was 7, I made her buy me a Peter Pan outfit. By the time I was 16, I decided to buy my own costume in the form of a fake ID so I could go out to the bars as Alfonso Jones, a 21-year-old college student.
Flash forward to last Saturday, I found myself in costume again, this time as a metrosexual pussycat with pierced cat ears and a furry leopard print tie that took two Marilyn Monroes and a Tigger to properly tie. It was in the midst of my preparation for the Halloween costume party that my friend Owen gave me a call, having been spooked by a revelation about his now ex-boyfriend.
"My ex-boyfriend did porn," he bemoaned. "Just when I got over him someone decides to send me a copy of it." He paused. "I'm sending you a clip."
Two minutes later, I found myself seeing Owen's boyfriend in a new, albeit poorly lit light.
"Do you think it's really him?" he asked me.
"The whole leather mask thing kind of makes identification difficult," I sighed.
"I can't believe he did porn," Owen sighed. "He didn't even like getting his picture taken."
"Apparently he got over that in spades," I giggled. "Who knows, maybe this can be a whole new venture for him. I mean, his acting is a little wooden and he comes off stiff in front of the camera, but that might be a plus in the porn industry."
"You're getting far too much enjoyment of this," Owen hissed. "This is going to haunt me forever."
Owen quickly logged off and then I found myself suddenly confronted by one of my own demons: The Russian
"How are you?" I asked as I adjusted my cars.
"The world sucks," he replied. "I'm depressed and I don't want to talk to anybody about it."
"Well if you need to talk to somebody I'm here for you," I said to him before logging off and heading to the party.
A few hours and a game of UV lemonade pong later, I was out on the back porch of the costume party with my friend "Julia," telling her about The Russian.
"What bothers me the most about all of this is that I care at all about how he feels," I sighed.
"It's like I need a Russian exorcism."
"We can do that as long as you promise not to puke green pea soup," she giggled.
"I can make you no promises," I laughed.
At the bars, surrounded by angels and devils and cowboys and other things that go hump in the night, I kept thinking about those ghoulish figures that continue to haunt all of our lives.
"A drink for each one of you," the bartender said to Julia and myself, pointing down to the end of the bar.
There he was, Julia's ex. Apparently, I wasn't the only being haunted.
"He's like Casper but with a bar tab," I smirked, waving hello to him.
Several more drinks and more hours of dancing, include some sweet moves from a Napoleon Dynamite impersonator, I decided to drag my pussycat tail home.
Before I went to bed, I decided to log onto messenger to see who was online. I smiled when I saw a particular name lit up as bright as a Jack-O-Lantern.
"Hey there," I said.
"Hi," he replied. "How are you Jon?"
"I'm good," I answered.
And even without spells or a witches’ brew, I still somehow had managed to revive a seemingly dead relationship.
"How are you Mr. Ridley the Rugby Player?"
Whip-Smart: Episode 8-"Doctor, Doctor"
In life, there are certain things that should never be resuscitated-interest in acid wash jeans or Nick Carter's solo career for example-and then there are some things that just can't help but be brought back to life.
Though my friendship with Ridley the Rugby Player had seemingly flatlined, we recently got it out of its vegetative state. But while our friendship was going strong, Ridley's interest in rugby had apparently taken a turn for the worst.
"I quit my rugby team," he told me.
"That's too bad," I interjected.
"And I'm thinking about taking up extreme fighting," he continued.
"Couldn't you do something that isn't such a health risk?" I advised. "You know, like extreme sewing or extreme bread making?"
"Where's the adrenaline rush in that?" Ridley countered.
And from one health risk to another, I decided to ask Ridley's diagnosis on my current bout of The Hot Fever.
"So are you two hitting it off again?" he asked.
"Oh who knows," I replied. "It's more like he hasn't pulled out any of his old tricks."
"Not to sound like an ass," Ridley began, "but does he have any new tricks?"
"Well now he's doing this nifty thing where he pretends like he's a human being with a working heart," I cracked. "But I do like this new guy, a bartender/philosophy teacher."
"Interesting combo," laughed Ridley. "You should totally clone him for me."
"I will if you make me some of your wheat bread for me," I replied.
"Sounds like a deal," Ridley nodded.
And from a clone deal to a surgical ordeal, my friend Gavin recently had surgery which definitely led to a cramp in his sex life with the cowboy due to the strict orders of Gavin to not be the recipient of the cowboy's affection for three weeks.
Yet Gavin, never one to be patient even he was one, found the antidote to this problem.
"I got the cowboy to bottom for the first time," he told me cheerfully.
"How did you manage to swing that one?" I asked.
"Beer and Vicodin," he giggled.
"Is that like the new millennium's wine and roses?" I laughed.
"But before that, he came down and took care of me after the surgery," he sighed. "And he was here for most of the day."
He paused for a moment.
"I'm so glad he visited, not just because of the sex, and I'm sad he left," Gavin said. "It's just that I now realize I really do like him."
"Oh that's precious," I smiled.
"I'm going to get some rest," Gavin said. "I'm sleepy , took a couple Vicodin before talking to you."
"You in pain?" I asked.
"Nope, just bored," he replied with a laugh.
I IM-ed The Scot to discuss our critical condition but before I could, he asked me a vital question:
"Why do you even talk to me?"
"I thought we were friends," I replied with a sigh.
There was this painful silence between us. I realized that trying to love a man who had the inoperable condition of being emotionally unavailable was another thing that didn’t need to be resuscitated. I pulled the plug on the one relationship I knew would take a lifetime of me supporting it to stay alive.
Later that night, as I danced with my friends in the middle of dance floor at The Library, I enjoyed myself more than before because I finally had clean bill of relationship health. And when that happens, the best thing to do is to dance and find a new, better person to play doctor with.
Always a Bridesmaid
When you’re in a relationship, there is always that first rush of joy. The sky is bluer, the air is crisper, and everything seems to be saying that you and your love are perfect.
“The cowboy and I had a fight,” Gavin sighed.
For Gavin and the cowboy, the honeymoon was over. Ever since his surgery, Gavin and the cowboy had engaged in arguments over Gavin’s treatment for his back issues.
“He keeps telling me I should go to a chiropractor and I kept telling him that I don’t,” he continued. “He says it’s an unbiased opinion but I said it couldn’t be since his dad is a frickin’ chiropractor.”
“What is going on with you two?” I asked.
“It’s just that things aggravate me now,” Gavin replied. “Like how is this relationship going to work with me in Eau Claire and him in the Cities.”
“Sweetie,” I sighed, “it’s the Cities, not Beirut. You’ll figure it out.”
“I guess,” he replied.
And from a couple whose honeymoon had ended to a couple that had just booked theirs, I spent a recent evening with my friends Agatha and Duran as they went shopping for a bridesmaid dress for her sister.
“I am in hell,” Agatha sighed to me as she, Duran and myself went to the Mall of America. “Oh wait, I won’t be in official hell for another couple of miles.”
“So they just ran out of bridesmaid dresses?” I said, flicking my cigarette.
“They had me jump through all these hoops and they end up running out of the style,” she sighed.
I laughed a bit. Evidently, even if a bride tries to save herself for her wedding day there is still a high likelihood that she’ll still get screwed before the ceremony.
“I know the bridesmaid isn’t supposed to look better than the bride,” Agatha whispered to me as we searched through racks of dresses and held up a leopard print number, “but nobody deserves this.”
A couple hours later of shopping through dresses, Agatha finally stumbled upon a beautiful beaded gown.
“It looks good on the hanger but I don’t know if it’d look right on my sister,” she sighed. She paused for a moment, her eyes glancing over to Duran. “Duran Duran, you’re about the same size as my sister.”
“What?” he stammered.
Ten minutes later in a plush changing room, Duran proved just how much he loved Agatha by putting on the dress and slowly turning around on a stand.
“You,” he hissed at me, “be quiet.”
“I think it’s a cute outfit for my sister,” Agatha commented. “What do you think Jon?”
“It’s adorable,” I agreed. “I just don’t think Duran has the boom boom pow to pull it off.”
And in Eau Claire, Gavin and the cowboy talked. Though, they didn’t resolve all of their problems, but they slowly started talking about them.
That’s the thing about relationships; where the honeymoon ends, the real relationship begins.
With a day of dress shopping and amateur drag out of the way, I settled in my dorm to listen to some music and got a pleasant message from Denton the bartender.
“Are you in La Crosse yet?” he asked.
“I will be soon,” I replied. “So what do you propose we do on our date?”
“I don’t care,” he replied. “I’m just interested in spending time with you.”
“Cool,” I replied.
“Whatever else happens,” he typed, “that’s just a bonus.”
After a long period of time of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride, I finally got the indecent proposal that I was looking for.
Thanksgiving is all about traditions. My mother tries out one new recipe every year in her bid to be the other version of Martha Stewart. My father always says grace before dinner and our whole family doesn’t discuss the big pink elephant in the room - my column.
As I gorged myself on food during break, I was happy I had broken one of my holiday traditions: Hot Scot-centered drama. Instead, this year I was determined to forge a new custom by going out on a date with Denton.
“I got drunk and propositioned your Scotsman friend for sex,” Denton told me a few days before our planned date.
“I’m sorry, what?” I stammered a bit, less angry and more confused.
“I just got really smashed and was horny and ran into him at the bars,” Denton continued. “He turned me down. He even said something to the effect of ‘Aren’t you going on a date with Jon’”.
“So let me just understand this,” my friend Jeremy said as we walked around my neighborhood the day before my date. “You had a thing with him who had your dad for a class at the university and now this bartender guy, who is going to be teaching at the same university as your dad and was going to go out on a date with you, tried to get into his pants?”
“Sounds like a fair assessment,” I laughed.
“You sure know how to pick them,” he giggled. “And didn’t he dump his last boyfriend by just not calling him?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “That was the same week he asked me out too. The longer we walk and talk, the harder it is for me to see his appeal.”
“Are you for real?” Gavin exclaimed the following day after I told him the story.
“Like I’d make up a story where The Scot comes out looking like a decent person!"
“That’s true,” laughed Gavin. “Still going on the date?”
“I have no idea,” I replied. “I think I’ve spent so much time choosing the wrong guy, it’s become as traditional as cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner.”
“Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner,” Gavin interjected, “The Cowboy actually wanted to spend Thanksgiving with me. I told him he should spend it with his family so he went home after we hung out for a bit and had sex. Without beer or Vicodin, let the record show that.”
“Failed relationship for me and the sexual escapades of a friend,” I smirked. “Those traditions still stand.”
That Saturday, I put on my first date best and stood in front of my bathroom mirror as the snow came down outside. There were neighborhood kids making snow angels as I was having a devil of a time trying to figure out what I was doing.
“So what time are you coming downtown?” Denton asked me. “I’m working tonight.”
“I can’t,” I replied. “I just can’t. I can’t go on a first date that’s going to be consisting of me trying to get face time with you in between you making people’s Long Islands.”
“You should come downtown,” he told me. “I’ve really been looking forward to it.”
“Denton,” I sighed. "It’s cold outside.”
Later that night, I met up with Jeremy to go on a walk around the neighborhood like we did every time I was home.
As we laughed and traded stories, it crystallized in my mind that though some traditions like bad relationships should be broken some others like family and friends are traditions for good reasons.
When you’re in college and about to graduate, your life can be consumed with announcements and it all can be taxing unless you have somebody who lives for it and I do - my mother.
“I want to make it clear about the ground rules for this,” I told her over brunch. “No speeches, no programs, no brouhaha over this.”
“Of course not,” she said, averting her eyes from me.
“I’m serious,” I said. “You put together a Power Point presentation for my high school graduation. My life flashing before my eyes by way of Microsoft technology.”
“Okay no presentations,” she said. “Just some bonding with family.”
“Then there better be booze at this,” I suggested. “I bond better with a buzz.”
And from one announcement to another, my friend Owen called to tell me all about his potential haircut that, to him, was the biggest news ever.
“It’s going to be like Jake Gyllenhaal’s,” he said.
“‘Bubble Boy’, ‘Jarhead’, or ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Gyllenhaal?” I asked.
“‘Brokeback Mountain’,” he scoffed.
“What’s with the sudden hair change?” I questioned. “You’ve always loved your hair. It’s your trademark like Elton John’s sunglasses or Paris Hilton’s vagina.”
“I wish you’d come to the MOA with me,” Owen said. “There are more gays in The Buckle than an audience at ‘Rent.’”
“Well be wary of any spontaneous dance numbers,” I advised. “Unless it’s from ‘Newsies’, then I give you my blessing.”
“Since you’re going back to La Crosse are you going back to The Scot?” Owen asked me, out of nowhere. “You two keep colliding together like it’s fate.”
“It’s not fate just the gravitational pull of his sadism and my masochism,” I replied.
“Well nothing like a little S&M to spice up a relationship,” Owen laughed.
The status of my relationship with The Scot wasn’t the only thing in flux.
“I’m scared the Cowboy and I are going to break up over break,” he told me. “I’m working all these hours and won’t get to visit him.”
“Are you scared that you’ll break up or are you scared of a future of actual happiness?” I replied.
“I am a bad person,” he sighed.
“You’re not a bad person,” I said. “You do realize that I’m going to write about this.”
“Of course,” he smirked. “That’s what I’m here for.”
“You’re here because you’re my main gay and don’t you forget it,” I replied.
Later that evening, I stopped fighting fate and talked to The Russian.
“You know I graduate soon,” I told him.
“Well prepare for hell then,” he replied. “I’m a realist, not an optimist. That’s my downfall.”
“Just that?” I playfully retorted.
“I’m sending you a song,” he quickly snapped.
“He sent me Macy Gray’s I ‘Try’,” I bemoaned a few minutes later. “And it could mean something or it could mean nothing.”
“Probably nothing,” Gavin assured me.
Saturday night, I went out with some friends and ended up getting more drunk than one of President Bush’s twin daughters. After getting home, I decided to send out some instant messages under the influence of one too many UV Lemonades and then promptly passed out.
The next morning I awoke, the smell of bar all around me, and saw my computer was still on. I closed all of the instant message windows still opened, most just filled with drunken announcements of how wicked awesome I am.
And then I stumbled on one last instant message window box, which took me a second to figure out what I had written. But when I did, I let out a shriek of horror.
“I love you Campbell.”
I had drunkenly announced my love for The Hot Scot.