Read Chapters One & Two here.
* * *
I think my problem is that I care too much.
He appeared as the jester of the premises but his job was guarding the door. His Levi’s had small tears in the knees, his cowboy hat tipped forward as a toothpick flicked up and down like a light switch from the left corner of his mouth. He was checking ID’s. Eddy went first, then Bryson. Then it was my turn. He examined my photo for a smooth ten seconds.
“Sorry, I couldn’t tell if this was you. Your hairline is farther back now than it is in your photo.”
But still, I was allowed to pass.
I trickled inside. The guy who charged for cover let me pass by. Boys don’t have to pay cover at a place like this.
Country music blared over the speakers. Disco lights spun around the room as men danced in congruent circles wearing cowboy hats and flannel tucked in the waist of their skinny blue jeans, belt buckles glistening in the mirrors that faced them. Onlookers cheered on, some joining in who knew the proper moves to hang. Young men, old men, fat men, lanky men and strong odors of cheap cologne painted the room in such a way that made me feel like I was being watched – my every move to be judged and looked at like a runaway splash of paint that wasn’t meant to land on the canvas. My mouth rested slightly ajar, eyes like the moon, nose pointed to the ground, never looking straight ahead but all around me, checking my surrounding corners. A door to the patio swings open, letting in cold air and making me wish I had worn a jacket. But I knew I would get hot eventually. Dancing was inevitable. But one thing is for certain—I did not want to be here.
And I think it’s because I care too much. I care too much about what people think. But I think subconsciously it’s because I don’t feel like I’m one with who I am here. My ego is cracked like eggshells. My shyness seeps through in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. My energetic zest for life shines best when I am most secure. This was I, in my least secure state.
Oh, I need a drink.
Eddy ordered me a Red Bull-vodka. He can sense when I’m low so he does what he can to make sure I perk up. You know, be the guy everyone expects me to be. Not the sad hamster in the corner. I slurp that straw like a gas station soda pop and in about 30 seconds the drink is gone. I need to feel more comfortable. I run to the crowded restroom to pee. As I’m washing my hands, I see a figure of a man staring at me through the mirror. I look up as I rinse off the soapsuds.
“I love your shirt,” he says. “I’m from San Francisco.”
I didn’t know why this was relevant until I realized I was wearing a shirt that said the fucking words, “San Francisco.” His voice was deep and comforting, his skin dark and eyes brown, I felt like I could trust him. His aura was friendly, he was a gentle soul, I could tell. My gut doesn’t lie. When you’re good, you’re good. He was a good guy and not to mention—sexy as hell. I couldn’t understand why he was following me out the bathroom.
“You’re so cute,” he said.
I played coy. It’s what I always do. Appear humble in a way that let’s people know you know you’re hot even though deep down you really don’t feel that way at all, but you don’t want to disagree with the compliment because then you look super insecure. And guys don’t like guys who are insecure.
“Aw thank you,” I blushed.
He followed me as I sat down where Eddy and Bryson were at the bar. He stood looking me in the eyes, genuinely intrigued by our conversation. I learn he is a stylist for Banana Republic’s corporate office. We exchange Instagram information. His photos are incredibly well put together. He has his aesthetic down.
“My cousin and I are going to BS West if you’d like to come,” he says.
Eddy and Bryson urge me to go. Eddy whispers in my ear, “he’s hot, go with him.”
But I decline the offer. I don’t go with the hot Banana Republic guy from San Francisco who clearly makes a lot of coin. I stay here with Eddy and Bryson.
And it’s probably because I care too much.
* * *
3 HOURS LATER
At this point I’m wishing I hadn’t stayed.
I’m wandering around wasted searching for attention and trying to get sympathy from anyone who will listen to my wretched thoughts. Why didn’t the good-looking guy buy me a drink like he did Eddy and Bryson? Why do I even care? Why am I on the outside always? I continue to come here hoping I’ll find a way to fit in, to feel wanted, to feel like I belong somewhere.
Perhaps I don’t belong here. But my problem is that I care too much. And suddenly I begin to lose it.
to be continued…