02 April 2011


I've often received a stern eye from those close to me when I regale them with my stories of lude sexual encounters. Or what I like to refer to as my "Ho-Phase." Having recently struggled my way through and over a 3 year on-again-off-again train wreck of what I pretend to call a relationship with a guy named Raj, I decided to get a taste of what I was missing. I'd never been one to divulge in the scandlous sides of sex. Always a stickler for the safe, I've rarely gone all the way with any random guy and I've always opted out of the group scene, video booths, and the like. However, the abrupt end to a relationship battle I'd fought so hard to try to win for years, left me wanting proof I was wanted in some capacity. Thus, the beginning of the Ho-Phase. And because I knew no other way to begin - I took a running start.

I had been invited to a low-key dinner party by an old work friend, Molly, and her boyfriend, Ben. The invitation was under the guise that they had finally set up their new apartment and they'd love for me to see what they had put together in just a few short months. As I hopped off the 6 and made my way to their Murray Hill abode, I texted her to ask her what I could bring on my way over. Her response: "Nothing! Just you. And oh, I hope you don't mind, we invited Ryan."

Now, to properly describe why this particular set-up was the equivalent to a fork to the eye, I'll have to travel back some several months to our first encounters.


Ryan is an acquaintance of mine through both mutual friends and work (he buys, I sell). There have been several failed attempts to ignite a spark between us, and it just doesn't happen. I'm 6'1, he's 5'4. He's Fire Island Summer, I'm Netflix Instant Staycation. I'm a bottom, he's "versatile" (Did I mention he's 5'4?"). It just doesn't match. However, through a series of birthday dinner parties, industry social events, and late night bar run-ins, we never seemed to be able to stop running into each other. The last time I had seen him, he cornered me on the dance floor at Bartini, a bar/club hyrbid that has had many facelifts over the years.

As the opening piano plunks of Kanye West's "Runaway" began to blare over the speakers, Ryan approached me and demanded to know why I wasn't into him. I finally decided to tear the band-aid off and say it was "honestly" that I didn't feel comfortable dating someone so close to my life both professionally and personally.

Note: Its not physically possible to read this as fast as it occurred, however, I'll try my best....

As the beat kicked in to Kanye, Ryan spun his head around once, leaned into my face and said in a whisper that would haunt small children "It's because I'm old..." before stepping back, screaming "I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG!", heaving forward and barfing all over the dance floor.


So as I stood on the street staring at Molly's text, I was at an entire loss for words. It had been my own fault for deciding to save Ryan's dignity and not repeat this story to those who knew us mutually. Yet, I was sure I'd told her of the countless other times where the ship had simply not sailed. Yet, I decided to suck it up and stew in my awkward silence as only a gay boy raised in an Irish Catholic family can.

The dinner started somewhat awkwardly, yet surprisingly went off without a hitch. Ryan immediately dove into a story about an awful date he had recently survived and we all drank our weight in wine and had a great time. It wasn't until the end of the evening that tension began to rear its ugly head. Ryan was supposed to attend a friend's holiday party following dinner. Molly, in all her wine-made purple toothed glory declared, "Oh! Take Lean!" I'm still unsure if it was the wine or the genuine belief that maybe I had given myself far too much credit in thinking Ryan was deeply scarred by my previous declaration of lack-of-love but I said, "Sure, I'd love to."

After kissing Molly and Ben goodbye, we headed out to the party and walked in as close to silence as possible for 20 blocks. When we arrived, the party was full of the professional gay-tarati - everyone at their charming and bitchy best. I barely saw Ryan until the end of the night. When he curled up to me and said, "Fuck this place, its tired. Lets go to Boxers around the corner?"

Boxers, for those who haven't had the pleasure of being introduced is this Gay/Sports Bar hybrid in Chelsea. Ikea-new and smelling of wings, it's a place where the counter tops are as shiny as the bare-chested bar tender's vasolined nipples. Not one to turn down a good gnosh while being my charming best, I happily obliged.

The walk to the bar was much more lively. Us laughing at seeing one of his old college professors leaving a hidden bathhouse on the way and me stealing a Shasta from a street meat vendor's cooler. As we rolled into Boxers, drunk-faced and ready to prowl, I'd finally surpassed the awkwardness of being in each other's company and actually started to think I'd found a sparkly new friend who I'd love playing with. We drank, laughed, and flirted our way through each corner of the bar before deciding we simply couldn't last another minute without a cig.

We crept into the back seating area and for the first time that night sat amongst ourselves. No company. No destination. Just us. A few minutes after sitting down, Ryan turned and through hazed eyes said, "You know, I'm glad we didn't date. I don't think you'd be a good boyfriend."

I just sat there, staring at him in complete and utter silence. It was as if he spoke Mandarin. Oddly though, that would have made more sense to me. I was shocked into silence. A typical human response would have been to say, "What?" or "Why?" A hearty chuckle would nicely accompany either. But I could do neither. So I just sat.

After what felt like 10 minutes of not looking at each other, Ryan said: "I'm going to home. I don't want to barf on you again" and left.

I couldn't say anything. Couldn't follow. Couldn't even stand up. I just sat there. Staring at the ground. Because really? What was there to say? Do? Three years of on-again-off-again mind mathematics had finally been solved by someone who wasn't even in my relationship with Raj. I wasn't thought of as good boyfriend material. That's it. End of story. I don't know why I was so upset it didn't work, because I'd make a bad boyfriend.

It wasn't until one of the bouncers asked, "What's up dude? You okay?" Didn't even look up. When I did, the man I saw standing before me was a 300 pound black guy wearing a ratty black hoodie and Jinco jeans. In my drunken, mind-fucked haze, I thought to myself: "Holy Shit. The kid from 'The Blind Side' is here to take care of me, too." Instead I said, "Yeah, I need to go home any way. Spanish Harlem misses me." Thinking he would just brush me off as another drunk, sad queen, I got up and began to walk away when he said, "No shit! I live up there too. I'm done in 10. Wanna wait and we can take a cab together?"


An hour later I was lying in his bed wearing nothing but my Superman under-roos, his Snicker Bar looking fingers all over my business. As he gently swung me over on my back and started to dry hump me, I thought to myself, "Lean, what the FUCK are you doing? You are a hot ass mess!" Yet, as I tossed my head to the ceiling praying for some semblance of a God to answer me, I laid my eyes on my own version of Karmic genius.

Held up above his bed by double stick tape was an all black poster. In bright red lipstick font was: "Runaway: A Film By Kanye West".

As I laughed out loud, I thought to myself, 'Let the games begin..."

Point of the conversation: The road to recovery is often paved with shit. However, along the way there are certain little nuggets that remind you you're moving on a path from someplace to one better.

- Lean


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