Adam’s sobriety party was at 8 on his anniversary date, the 23rd, so I didn’t get to stay with the boys the night of their first day of school. All the Parrots were able to make it, except for Dave, who moved to Las Vegas because this was no town to be a waiter during COVID . David’s still with us, though, as are Trey, Travis, Sloppy Joe, Keaton, Josh, Adam and Ryan. Dylan came along, too, and it’s no secret that Josh wants to convince him to take Dave’s place in right center. The cool part of there being so many of us was that they gave us the table at the back with the lazy susan with the effigy of the Pope’s head on it. I know it sounds macabre…but you get kinda fascinated by it as it spins around.
We ordered a shit ton of food, and all of it was great, including the extra meatballs Sloppy Joe and I made sure we ordered. (Sloppy Joe: “you better watch what you eat if you wanna keep your six-pack, pretty boy…don’t forget those abs are your moneymakers.” Me: two words.) In addition to the obvious spaghetti and meatballs, we had eggplant parmesan, baked ziti, lasagna (never had theirs before, it’s bombass…don’t go there and not order it) and shrimp fra diavolo, plus plenty of garlic bread…and somebody ordered broccoli in the midst of all the pasta. I know it’s not exactly the most authentic Italian food in the world, but I gotta admit that I like it. I know Josh’s Italian wife turns up her nose at Buca, but most everyone likes their kind of food…and you gotta admit it’s great food to share, especially if everyone’s got a healthy appetite, which definitely describes us Parrots.
We all had cokes since it was a sobriety anniversary party, which was fine. Beer doesn’t go so well with all that pasta anyway…or is that me starting to think about my six-pack lol??
The good news is that, even with the quarantine and everything, everybody’s ok. A few of us got COVID, including Josh’s wife (who had a bad case), and David and Sloppy Joe (neither of who got too sick; they both agreed that the worst part was losing their sense of taste for like a month.) When we started talking about it, it turned out that we’ve all been different degrees of careful. Travis was the most careful of all, since he’s living in a state-licensed facility and, from what he says, they’re absolutely nuts when it comes to COVID precautions. They make Maya seem relaxed about it in comparison.
Turns out we’ve all been vaccinated, including the guys who had COVID, which makes no kind of medical sense, but both David and Sloppy Joe said that they both had pressure from work to get the vaccine, and it was easier to get it than to argue. I joked to everyone that I wanted to write a post entitled “How the vaccine has changed my life” – and to leave the post blank lol.
Josh had some great news: finally Major League Softball is getting its act together and there’s going to be a fall season. Los Cervezeros have been playing baseball all summer long, but for some reason softball has been refusing to put teams back on the field, even though people are desperate for exercise…and we know that the odds of transmitting the virus outside are next to nothing. So the Parrots will be back on the field come September 14, which is totally awesome. We’ve stayed connected during COVID, but, however much we’re a bunch of friends, we’re also a softball team…and softball teams belong on the field. We were all super excited when Josh made the announcement. Josh said we were even going to get jerseys to celebrate. (Keaton: “Just don’t get them in some gayass parrot color combination.” Josh: “too late, man.”)
Travis was sitting between me and Keaton, so we took advantage of that to suggest what we both decided when we were hanging out together last week was a great idea. Travis is coming to the end of his program at the place where he’s been living and so it’s time for him to move on and get back to living a normal life. His suicide attempt was two years ago now, and I reckon he’s done a good job of bouncing back from it. He says his medication’s working and that his moods have been stable for a while now.
He’s going to go back to taking classes at PCC come the winter, but he needs to take things one thing at a time, and finding a place to live comes first. I reckon the obvious choice would be to go back and live with his folks, but his therapist and psychiatrist are against that, since it would mean putting him back into the same situation were he got himself into trouble. He’s been away from his parents for eighteen months now, and going back to your parents after you’ve been out on your own is never a good idea. I know that first-hand from when I moved home after I realized I didn’t have a future in baseball.
So, anyway, my and Keaton’s great idea is that Travis move into the apartment next to Keaton’s which it just so happens is going to be available on September 1. He can be on his own as much as he wants, but he’ll have someone he trusts to make sure he stays safe.
“It’s win/win,” Keaton said after we pitched the idea. “I get a good neighbor and you get a place to live.”
“There are even washing machines in each unit,” I said. “And the location’s dang good…and not too far from your folks’…”
“But not too close, either,” said Travis, “although it’s not like I’m going to be totally cut off from them. They’re going to have to sign the lease and pay the rent.”
“Asking your parents to pay your rent is a lot better than living on the street, hoss.”
“Yeah…but I liked being independent of them. I don’t know,” he added with a shrug as he spun the Pope’s head around so he could get the platter with the eggplant. “Anybody want more of this?”
“It’s all yours,” said Sloppy Joe.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t mind living next door to a bipolar freak?,” Travis asked, turning to Keaton.
“Fuck that shit,” said Keaton. “Just remember to tell me the next time you plan to hook up with a sketchy bitch named Lola so I can stop you.”
“Sketchy chicks named Lola?,” asked Sloppy Joe. “Where do I get one?”
“You’re taken, remember?,” Travis said. “And you didn’t miss anything, She wasn’t worth it. Unless you’re idea of fun is wandering around Rosemead at 2 AM trying to find your uber.”
“Rosemead? 2 AM? Shit, man. I hope you at least got laid,” said Adam. That got a big laugh, since Adam is usually pretty proper in his language and doesn’t usually get involved in conversations about straight sex.
“Yeah, yeah, I got laid.”
“Before or after Rosemead at 2 AM?,” David asked. Everyone was getting in on the conversation. It was making me a little uneasy, since not everyone on the team knew Travis’ full story, especially as we haven’t been together enough for the gossip to trickle all the way down. I could see that it was making Dylan uneasy as well.
“Before,” said Travis. “But not after. I pushed her bitch ass into the gutter – where it probably came from – and told the driver to leave her there.”
“Holy cow,” said Adam. “And I thought I did some risqué things at 2 AM when I was young.” Everyone laughed. “I should tell you about some of them sometime. It’ll make your hair stand on end. Trust me…there’s nothing a sketchy chick named Lola can do that’ll surprise a gay man with a drinking problem who spent his 20s in New York.”
“I’m not sure my virgin ears can handle your war stories,” said Sloppy Joe. “And don’t forget there are children present.”
“Fuck you, man,” Trey said. “I’m sure there’s nothing that Adam can tell me that I haven’t heard already…”
“You wanna bet?”
“I’ll bet you dessert,” Trey said.
“I hope you brought cash,” Ryan said from his side of the table. “I don’t know what Adam’s gonna say, but gay guys an usually beat straight guys for fucked up sex stories 99 times out of 100. And not just because we can freak you out by telling you about what we do with other dudes.”
“Ew,” said Josh, with a laugh, although I could tell he meant the ‘ew’ lol.
“See what I mean?”
Adam leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head, like he was trying to come up with a story that would shock us just enough. I’m sure he must have done a whole mess of shit that would freak out a bunch of straight guys in their 20s. I don’t know a whole lot about gay sex, but I’ve heard a few things that sound pretty fuckin messed up. I mean, most of what people do in the bedroom is ok in my book, although I don’t mean really fucked up shit like what Ryan went through…but there’s a lot of gay stuff that I don’t get. I mean…I get the basics and all that, even if they’re kinda gross…but I’ve heard about shit like… Well, like Josh said: ew lol.
“Ok,” Adam said, “so there was this bar called the Eagle down near the meat-packing district. It was a leather bar…catering to what we can call an S&M clientele…”
“You mean like those gay dudes you see in black leather?,” Sloppy Joe asked.
“Dude, what have you been looking at in your spare time?,” asked Keaton.
“Ok, so…I was still this wet behind the ears kid and it was my first time there. I was real nervous, but I was also really curious to see what it was like. I’d never been in a back room before…”
“What’s that?,” asked Trey, literally all innocence.
“That’s where guys have sex in public. It’s kind of a free for all.”
“In a bar???”
“Yes,” Adam said, “in a bar. And some of the stuff going on in there really did surprise the shit outta me. I’m gonna spare you the details, since they would win the bet too easily.”
“You ain’t gonna shock me,” Keaton said. “I lived surrounded by nothing but gay guys for over a year. Y’all do some fuckin fucked up shit.” There was no judgment there. He probably was imagining the back room of that Eagle place pretty accurately.
“I was pretty intimidated by the whole thing, and a little scared, to be honest. I got out of the back room and ordered a drink in the main part of the bar…and just kinda stood there. There’s a lot of standing around in gay bars waiting for someone to hit on you. I guess I looked too much like a preppy art school boy, because no one came over and hit on me.”
“Wasn’t this back when dudes had bandannas in the back pocket of their 501s?,” Ryan asked.
“What?,” said some of us at the same time.
“There used to be a whole system of color-coded bandannas in your back pocket to show what you were into. And depending on which side you had it meant whether you wanted to do it or have it done to you. See, the thing you gotta remember about gay sex is everyone has all the moving parts.” There was a little cringing at that one. I could tell Adam was enjoying it. So was Ryan. “But that was more a 70s thing, before AIDS, and, besides, I was never sure which color meant what. One friend told me blue meant one thing, but then someone else told me it meant…”
“We can guess,” said Josh, cutting him off.
“Oh no you can’t,” said Ryan.
“So after standing there for a while, I’d had a bunch of gin and tonics without realizing how many I’d had…and I was pretty loaded. Not so loaded that I wasn’t gonna be able to find my way to the subway, but loaded enough to…let’s say ‘impair my judgment’. So I got outside, and there were some guys standing out in front trying for a 4 AM hook-up. And that’s when I caught the eye of some random dude…”
“And you asked him to go home with you?,” Trey asked.
“Hell, no. He put his hands on my shoulders and forced me down to my knees, and pulled a bottle of poppers out of his pocket…”
“Amyl nitrate,” explained Ryan. “It’s the stuff they give people to smell when they’re having heart attacks. Popular gay sex drug.”
“That’s fucked up,” muttered someone. I didn’t catch who since all eyes were on Adam.
“So there I was on my knees with a bottle of poppers being shoved up my nose and the dude…”
“Okay okay!,” said Trey. “You win!”
“I’ll have the cannoli,” said Adam, with a huge grin on his face. “And don’t let them forget the candle.”
“That reminds me,” said Josh, picking up his coke, “here’s to Adam on his 26 year anniversary!”
We all stood up and toasted the anniversary boy.
“We got you a present, too,” said Josh. “I looked it up, and it says that the gift for a 26th anniversary is pictures…so here’s this.” It was a team picture that we took right before COVID that Josh had blown up to 11 x 17 and that we all signed. It was a real nice picture of us, looking kinda sweaty and dirty after a game.
Adam looked real pleased with it. “This is probably the straightest thing we’ll have up in the house,” he said with a laugh.
Then we had dessert (most of us got the cannoli – and Adam explained to us that cannoli was already plural as soon as Trey ordered ‘cannolis’ for him), and Trey made good on his bet.
After dinner, Keaton suggested we go across the street and have a cigar at the lounge, but most of everyone decided they needed to go home, since they had work the next day and it was already 10:15.
“It’s a school night, too,” I said. “I have to be up with the boys at 7.”
“Just a Short Story,” Keaton said. “We gotta figure out when Travis is gonna move in. I already texted Juan Diego that he was interested in the apartment.”
I was super full, and a cigar to help the digestion sounded like a dang good idea, but it was just me, Keaton and Travis who went across to the cigar lounge. It was pretty empty on a Monday night, but the owner was there and was super nice to us, especially when he found out that this was gonna be Travis’ first cigar. We each got a Short Story and sat down.
The owner, meanwhile, kept looking at me funny…not like he was coming on to me or anything, but like he was trying to figure out where he’d seen me before. I get that a lot. I’m still not good at handling it, but I’m used to it.
“You’ve been here before?,” he asked me. “You look very familiar.”
“Yes, I’ve been here before,” I said.
“But you’re probably recognizing him from the TV,” Keaton said.
“Oh, of course!,” the owner said. “You’re the pool boy on At Home with Maya. I didn’t recognize you with your shirt on.”
Keaton got a kick out of that one.
“My wife never misses an episode,” the owner continued. “We’re Armenian too, and all Armenian people love Maya Bedrossian.”
“You know Maya Bedrossian?,” said one of the three guys who were in the shop. “Is she as hot as she looks in her movies?”
“Pretty much,” I said, although it was kinda weird talking about my boss that way. It’s not that I don’t still think that Maya is hot…but I also take care of her kids.
We all kinda got into a general conversation about everything from Armenian culture to the Dodgers (nobody there was a huge baseball fan, but they knew that the Dodgers were in a race with the Giants to win the division.) It was a good chill time; the only thing is we didn’t really settle any of the details about Travis’ move. Keaton’s off on Thursday, so I invited him and Travis over then so we could discuss it.
Then I really did have to get home. When I got there I left my ball cap out on one of the pool chairs to air the smoke out of it (Keaton taught me that trick.) I showered the smoke out of my hair and was good and relaxed from both that and the cigar, so I figured I was gonna have no trouble falling asleep, only for some reason I did. I fuckin tossed and turned until 2 in the morning, when, finally, after I got up and had a dish of ice cream, I managed to fall asleep. I didn’t have anything on my mind or anything, I just couldn’t sleep.
And of course the fuckin alarm went off at 6:55…which is when I have to leap out of bed and make sure the boys are up and getting ready for school. Then I remembered the camera was coming along to film the ‘first’ day of school that morning and that I should have gotten up earlier to shower and shave. It was too late to do anything about it, so, when y’all see that segment, you’ll know you’re getting me realistically tousled. Maya, of course, came down with perfect make-up (which she didn’t have the morning before when no one was going to see what she looked like), but she didn’t say anything about how I looked. That’s one of the good things about being a dude: you can look good when you’re tousled. No one ever said that about a chick lol.