Last night, I went to my friend Ryan’s apartment just off Union Square. Whenever I feel faced with one of life’s inexplicable dilemmas, I dart for the nearest taxi and park myself at Ryan’s.
Ryan lives like a straight frat boy. In fact, there are no stereotypical gay elements anywhere in his apartment. No expensive Diptyque candles burning (one time Ryan complemented Michael on his Gardenia scented candle-he looked at the brand and called it, Dippy-tiki, honestly i couldn’t make this shit up if I tried); No wiping the kitchen countertop milliseconds after I put my hands on it (Daniel’s pet-peeve), and finally,
There is no decor, unless you count a couch from Jennifer Convertibles as a design aesthetic.
Physically, Ryan is just plain hot–in that awe shucks kind of way. He’s a little over six feet and he’s got that cornfed, muscular body–a body that’s muscular from actually playing sports (he plays hockey at Chelsea Piers and is part of a gay basketball league) and not doing endless sets at the gym. Moreover, despite living in New York for nearly nine years, he has managed to shield off the dreaded infection…New York cynicism. The biggest question I have about Ryan is:
Why can’t he put his penis in me?
Come on, is he not the straightest gay men EVER?
Anyway, I brought over a bottle of Santa Margherita in the hopes that I could just sit with another human being, and not have to say a word and just be. That is, in a nutshell, my relationship with Ryan. I’m not saying he’s dumb by any stretch; he’s got a great job with Merrill Lynch. He just isn’t one for the fine art of conversation.
I continued to down my Pinot Grigio in silence, while he turned on House Hunters for MY benefit. (God I love Suzanne Whang-she’s got the best job on television. They put her in the alleyways of Beverly Hills and pretend it’s some exotic locale. Hello? Can you say president of the fucking lucky club?) After watching back to back episodes, Ryan couldn’t take it anymore and asked if we could play Mario Kart for Wii.
If you’re unfamiliar, uncool, over the age of fourteen, or like most (not all) gay men and straight women–you haven’t a clue as to what it is. Let me explain. You’re given a steering wheel and the characters from the old school Super Mario Brothers characters get together and race these tricked out go-kart/bumper cars around a bunch of tracks. Obviously the goal is to come in first place and achieve the fastest time.
Cut to an hour later, I still hadn’t won a single race, or for that matter, scored higher than sixth place. I was consistently either sixth, eighth or ninth out of a field of twelve. After the last race, I stared at the empty bottle of Pinot and then at Ryan.
“You’re not going to try and make-out with me again, are you?” he asked.
“No,” I said indignant. I quickly followed with a hopeful, “Why? Would you have?”
Ryan shook his head no.
“I was just thinking that this stupid race in this video game is a lot like my life.” Ryan looked me at me quizzically. I continued, “I can never seem to break out of the middle. Everything seems to be middle of the row for me. Just when I think I’m going to break out and things are looking up I slide back down but not far enough that I hit some sort of bottom.”
Ryan followed with a quick, “You’re seriously crazy. And you’re drunk.”
“No, honestly,” I said. “Every date or relationship I’ve had has never been special. They’ve been average at best. And my job? I’m a junior publicist. A JUNIOR? I’m not a newbie and I’m not senior level. Fucking middle yet again,” I said, and then I began to cry. Yes, I’m mortified that I turned into that girl, but I couldn’t help it.
Ryan was speechless, until finally he asked:
“Are you getting your period?”
You see? What gay man asks that? He’s straight, right? At least so I thought, until Ryan did what most straight men were afraid to do when a woman is on the verge of hysterics. He threw his arms around me and then squeezed me. I cried some more until he finally broke away. He said he had to check his email. I think I freaked him out. Actually, I know I freaked him out. Nonetheless, I continued to lay on his couch with the friggin’ Wii steering wheel in my hand and I didn’t say another word.
After a few minutes of drifting in and out of consciousness, I realized that even though I may be “in the middle” in some areas in my life, that wasn’t what was making me so terrified. Up until now, I had my pack with me and that made me feel secure. We’d been each other’s support system. And hand in manicured hand, we were navigating through that bewildering time in a person’s life when thirty is no longer within arm’s reach and that grown-up milestone of forty is on the horizon-leering like one giant impending, apocalyptic cloud.
But suddenly, my pack had gone pfft in some big, gay, matrimonial haze.
The next thing I remember was Ryan tapping my forehead, like a little brother would do to torment his older sister.
“Hi. Sorry. How long was I out for?” I asked.
“Awhile,” he said and smiled.
Still groggy, I looked at him and said, “I guess that’s what happens when you drink and drive.”