Whip-Smart: This L.O.V.E., Part One
“If I could learn to love you, could you learn to love me?
Lust will only get us so far now.”
The Thrills, “The Irish Keep Gatecrashing”
A recent Thursday night, I went out to dinner with an old friend. While glancing over the menus we talked about who had gotten fat; over our entrees we talked about who had gotten gay; in between bites of our desserts we talked about who had gotten married, which pretty much included everybody we knew.
“Do you remember So-and-So?” my friend said as she sipped her water and flicked her long, golden locks over her shoulder.
I nodded my head in agreement. So-and-So had dated What’s-His-Face in college and ended up getting married a year or two after graduation, moving down South. My friend informed me that they had recently held a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser of sorts since So-and-So and What’s-His-Face had lost a large number of their personal possessions.
“I’d feel more sympathy for them if they hadn’t been so delayed on leaving because What’s-His-Face was dead-set on throwing a Hurricane Katrina party instead of packing their crap,” my friend said, scraping her fork around her plate for the last few tastes of apple pie.
“Whose mind works that when they hear the words ‘deadly hurricane a-coming’ they immediately think it’s time to secure a rental of a keg?” I asked.
“Who knows,” my friend said her in usual sing-song voice.
After dessert, we sat at the restaurant for another hour, trading sordid tales of our college experiences and laughing about all the things we remembered doing and all the things that our friends remembered for us.
“So you had a pretty good time in River Falls?” my friend asked, wiping away tears of laughter from underneath her eyes.
I paused for a moment. My mind raced through my four and a half years there. Images of keg parties, cramped dorm rooms, letters to the editor, UV lemonade liters, Mall of America trips, late nights at Boomer’s, early hung-over mornings at class, the Gay ‘90s, Anti-Valentine’s Day party at Agatha and Duran’s, break-ups, breakdowns, and the occasional breakthrough all collided together to form this one snapshot of my life of the past four and a half years.
I smiled. “Dear, you don’t know the half of it.
Gavin had been dating Austin, a gay cowboy of sorts, for about five months and things had been going splendidly well. After each of their weekends together, Gavin always came back with some salacious tale and the week following my return from River Falls after my birthday proved to be no different.
“Austin bought a cock ring,” Gavin wrote to me, his enthusiasm practically seeping out of his instant message window. He quickly added, “And some whipped cream.”
A man that could combine Gavin’s love of food and fucking was no less than a Prince Charming in his eyes.
“God, I need to take some medicine,” he said randomly. “My stomach hurts.”
“Maybe you got food poisoning from the whipped cream,” I offered.
“Maybe,” Gavin said, adding a winking smiley face. “You know what else Austin did?”
Without the assistance of inflection, I didn’t know whether this was going to be a good or bad thing so I decided to not make any “I wish I knew how to quit you” jokes.
“He asked me if I’d do a sextape with him,” Gavin continued.
“You wouldn’t go to a Toby Keith concert with him but you’ll make a sextape with him?” I typed.
Before Gavin could make a full response, I ask that question every friend is obligated to ask when a friend is about to do something like get a lover’s name tattooed on them or move in together or some other serious leap forward.
“Have you two even said you loved each other?” I asked.
“He did once,” Gavin replied, “but I just think it was one of those post-climax things.”
“Now you’re just gloating,” I interjected. “But seriously, shouldn’t you say you love him before Lights, Camera, KY?”
According to the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, 16 million families had a least one child over 18 living at home in 2003. In 2006, I added myself into that statistic as I moved back in with my father in our family home after graduating from The Farm.
Between searching for jobs and working on my résumé, I had become a twenty-something shut-in. Even my father was going out to the bars on Thursdays while I stayed in and watched Mischa Barton try to emote and make a face that meant serious and not constipated.
“You need to get out of the house,” Denton advised me.
He asked me if I had any plans and I told him that I’d just be settling in for some Saturday Night Live.
“Well you should come over here and watch it,” he suggested. “We could go out for a night cap and then watch SNL.”
“I think I just agreed to a date thing with that bartender guy,” I typed franticly to my River Falls friend/spiritual sister Carmen, in between searching for my other blue Converse and a suitable shirt. “I’m not a good date person. I do far better with emotionally self-destructive trysts.”
“I love how you overanalyze things just like me,” Carmen said. “You’ll do fine.”
With her last bits of encouragement, I headed out the door and went down the street to meet Denton. As I nervously smoked a Marlboro Light and waited for his car, I calmed myself with a little internal pep talk. He drove up in his and I stubbed out my cigarette. As I got in and we exchanged friendly greetings, I determined that if Gavin could consider getting his Paris Hilton on for love that I should at least allow myself the chance to enjoy a first date thing in the pursuit of l.o.v.e.