Month: February 2015

Friday, October 11th, 2013 (Part 2)

You didn’t ask me to do this, but on that birthday night I took it upon myself to make sure you got home in one piece. I wanted to tuck you in and make sure you slept on your side and not your back (we wouldn’t want you choking on any vomit), to make you a hearty breakfast the next morning to help with the monstrous and inevitable hangover that’d be assaulting your brain and every muscle. So I didn’t get too drunk on your birthday.

Don’t think that I didn’t have a good time, though. Because I did. It was a different kind of night for me, fun to go to new bars and to have a private table in the back. It felt a bit glamorous.

Do you remember what we did for your birthday? As a couple? I can’t really remember. I think I took you out to dinner, but I have no idea what restaurant. Your actual birthday was on a Thursday that year, so we went out after work. I do remember the gift I gave you, though, and how much I struggled with figuring out what you might like.

Your birthday was our first opportunity to give each other gifts. Sure we’d done the whole summer vacation tchotchkes thing where you brought me back this awesome wooden bookmark (I still use it in every one of the books I read) from the Outer Banks and I brought you back this cheesy shot glass and gimmicky Big Gay Dolphin Souvenir Shop t-shirt from Myrtle Beach. But those are fun gifts, unplanned things that are almost meant as throwaways. A birthday present is far more serious. It takes thought and planning. And it’s supposed to last. I knew I couldn’t make a rash decision.

To add to the pressure, we’d been dating for seven months at that point and whatever I got you would then define what you would get me two months later for my birthday and then again for Christmas. I’ve never been good at giving gifts, probably because I’m not that good at receiving them. I also had difficulty picking something out for you because I felt it would define the direction of our relationship.

We weren’t super serious yet; we’d only met seven months before. But we were more than something casual. At that point we’d already exchanged those three words – I love you. We’d also talked about the potential of moving in together, not anytime in the present, but down the road. We had already established the possibility of an infinite expiration date.

I felt weighed down by all of this pressure. Sure, you would have liked an iPad or a really nice bag. I could always have bought you a pair of Cole Haan boots or new designer sunglasses. I could have swung those on my budget. Nice labels, but nothing too expensive. But those things would just be stuff. I wanted to get you something nice, but more importantly, something meaningful. I wracked my brain for weeks, but couldn’t come up with anything.

Luckily, about a month before your birthday, I took a trip to Philadelphia for a mini-reunion with my college friends. All four of them had serious boyfriends at the time. I knew one of them would have a good idea for me. And they ever came through for me.

One of my friends had recently gotten personalized tumblers for her boyfriend. What a perfect gift for you! Imagine how excited I got at the prospect of you opening up my gift to see a pair of beautiful glasses with your monogram on them. You love going out and drinking. And there’s nothing you like more than a nice glass of champagne. I had my gift – a pair of monogrammed champagne glasses. It was fun, personal, lasting and unexpected. You’d hold onto them for years. And I could buy a bottle of good champagne to go with it and we could toast to your birthday on the spot. And then have really hot birthday sex made all the better by the awesomely thoughtful gift I’d just gotten you.

I know that it seems cheap to rely on someone else’s idea for your birthday gift, and I felt a little inauthentic in doing it. Something as important as the first birthday gift for your serious boyfriend should come from you. But my girlfriend’s idea was so good. And I had literally exhausted my brain thinking of what to get you. When I heard a great idea, I couldn’t help but take it and tailor it for you. You loved those monogrammed champagne glasses when you opened them. We had our first toast and it was wonderfully classy. At least, that’s how I felt.

We didn’t use them very often after that, though. It took me a while to remember I’d actually gotten them for you. I think you put them up in your cabinet and they got lost.

Come to think of it, that night on your birthday might be the only time we ever used them together. We should have pulled them out for our last Valentine’s Day. A missed opportunity, I guess. Maybe they weren’t as meaningful a gift as I thought.

Or maybe, and the thought makes me panic, you had an accident and one or both of them got broken. God knows you, me and your friends broke a few champagne glasses when game night got heated. Would you have told me, though, if they were broken? Shit. Now I really want to know what happened to them. If you get this far, can you call or text me the answer? Maybe take a quick picture with your phone so I can see that they do still exist. And if they do, I hope you still use them. A gift’s a gift, no matter where it came from. It still holds those feelings and sentiments I had for you back when I got them.

So that was your birthday last year. It was fun. I think I did a great job all around. I wonder what you’re doing this year…you always said you were going to do it big for 25. It’s a milestone birthday. I’m sad to miss it.

Friday, October 11th, 2013 (Part 1)

It’s your birthday today. So happy birthday. You’re twenty-five now. Welcome to a quarter-century. I enjoyed mine last year, mostly. I don’t think the second half is going to turn out as well as the first. And in case you were worried that I might forget, Facebook had you covered. I hooked my phone up to my company’s Wi-Fi this morning and literally the first thing to pop up was a message from Facebook, reminding me that today’s your birthday and prompting me to celebrate by writing on your wall.

Invasive, right? It weirded me out. Especially considering that today is also my friend Dhani’s birthday and it didn’t prompt me with a message about that. Come to think of it, it’s never alerted me to write on someone’s wall for their birthday, never on my phone. Facebook’s creepy analytics at work, no doubt.

Still, it’s strange. I wonder what they flagged that linked us together. We never named names in our “in a relationship” status and we have few pictures tagged of the two of us. We don’t even have that much Facebook interaction – little writing on each other’s walls, no tagging each other in posts. We saw each other in person and talked on gchat and over text messages. Why would we Facebook each other?

But still, somehow, Facebook knows. They know we are (or were) connected on a “more than friends” level. And they wanted me to wish you a happy birthday.

I wonder how often they refresh their statistics and inferred connections. How long will it take them to update and correct this analytics error? As long as it will take me to get over you? Or will I be prompted to write on your wall again next October 11th?

Also, is it a paired connection. On December 6th, will your phone ask you to write a happy 26th birthday message on my wall?

The mechanics of Facebook aside, I do hope you have a happy birthday and an amazing night out. I broke my pact of not speaking to you (kind of) and wrote on your wall. Just a short message, three sentences so I stood out from the pack of zombie well-wishers, most of whom you haven’t spoken to in years. But also short enough so as not to seem crazy or overly hung up on you.

(I caveat this to say that, yes, I am still hung up on you, but to a natural degree. My affection is waning. It’s a slow process. But I’m by no means fanatical. I’m not going to crash your party or text you drunkenly. How embarrassing would that be? No surprise gifts mailed to you, either. Even if I were a planner and had gotten you something back in June before you ended things, I still wouldn’t send it to you. I’d selfishly use it for myself or re-gift it at Christmas. So no, I’m not “crazy” about you any more, just “fond” of you. So what if I miss you on your birthday. That’s totally natural. It would also be natural if you missed me. Somewhere in the delusional part of my mind, I imagine that you’ll get really drunk tonight and text me, saying that you miss me. I wouldn’t fault you for wanting birthday sex. And the sad thing is, it wouldn’t take much to get me to come over. Just for a quick roll in your bed. I know it’s not going to happen, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking what if…)

You always get way into your birthday. You’re a celebrator. You take on all the responsibility of planning it, and then even pay for part of it (which I thought was ridiculous last year). But you love your friends and you want to show them a good time. You have a good time just knowing that they’re having fun.

Do you remember last year? I do. For a couple of reasons.

You had reserved a table/couch area at this awesome club in the Lower East Side. I can’t remember the name of it now; that night was the one and only time I’ve been there. It was ritzy, though. We had a table up on the second floor. They had a great cocktail menu and little appetizers that we could share around the table, egg rolls and fried chicken. They classed it up, though.

You invited a bunch of your friends — your roommates Tyler and Jared, your good friend Aaron and his new-ish boyfriend, Kevin, one of your coworkers, your friend Brian and his boyfriend (who was also named Brian), and me. Then a few other people came as attachments, Kevin’s two girlfriends (both lesbians).

(That’s when we met Kevin, right? Aaron’s terrible and (thankfully) short-lived boyfriend. Never have I seen a guy more insecure. He didn’t even know you and was throwing money around like you were brothers. He must have bought five or six bottles of champagne for the table. And I know that you and everyone else thought him so generous for doing this, but I was somewhat sober that night and I had dated a rich, insecure guy before, so I saw the signs of a douche bag from the start. I kept it to myself that night, though, and just observed, letting you have your fun, letting you get drunk out of your mind. Which is what everyone should do on their birthdays.)

I remember you started the night annoyed, though. It seems no one knows how to be on time for a birthday party. It was just you, me and Jared for a half hour. But then people started rolling in and things took off. It was a fun time. We had round after round of drinks and ate plenty of food for two or three hours. They had great music playing. We only had the table for so long, though, and our time was running out, so we got the check to pay with plans to take the party to another bar. It was still early in the night.

When we got the check, I was super annoyed with some of your friends (really just Jared) who refused to help out with the tab. I think Jared paid for one drink. And then boasted about how drunk he was because other people had bought him drinks all night. He had about six of them, but only one that he had “ordered” himself. He didn’t count the glasses of champagne the Brians and Kevin had bought for him. He didn’t even include a drink in there for you!

You ended up paying…on your birthday! That’s not okay. I tried to convince you not to, but you insisted. More of you wanting your friends to have a good time even though it was your birthday and we all owed something to you. I remember your coworker and I chipped in. But you paid the rest of the balance and tried to do it on the sly so no one else would notice and cause a fuss. Really, you’re too good to your friends.I don’t understand people who won’t contribute, especially when it’s someone else’s birthday. No one gets their friends a birthday gift when they’re in their twenties, that’s why you buy them booze, it makes up for the giftlessness. I guess some people don’t get this concept.

After that, we went to Boiler Room. The first bar had been straight, so really, we needed to end the night gay. You hung out with Kevin and his lesbian friends. He bought you shot after shot of Petron. I tried to avoid him. He reminded me so much of my first boyfriend, trying to buy the approval of his new boyfriend’s friends. Maybe I was too negative and should’ve have given him a fair chance. Whatever, that’s all in the past now.

The funniest part of the night came at the end when we headed home. We couldn’t find a cab to save our lives and started walking west from the East Village. It was pretty chilly out and you could barely walk in a straight line after all those tequila shots. And you also had to pee. Eventually you found a nice corner and pissed on the side of some building, ignoring the equally drunk girls who walked by and gawked.

No cabs would stop for us and we all started shouting and cursing on the streets at all the cabbies passing us by. We made it all the way to the West Village before one picked us up and we headed back to your place.

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

My parents and brother are heading back home today. It’s been a good visit. Lots of dinners and a musical. We went to see Matilda, which was overrated if you ask me. But it was a fun show. The dancing was great. The little girl was fantastic. But it was kind of kid-ish, which makes sense, I guess. I don’t know. The music was kind of forgettable, though. And the guy playing the headmistress was only so-so. I had high expectations going into it and they were not met.

It’s a sad relief to see them go. Sad in that I do wish I got to see them more often and a relief in that now I can go back to my regularly scheduled life. It’s hard putting everything and everyone on hold for  a few days when they’re here. And stressful finding places to have dinner that I think they’ll like. After three years of visits, I’m running out of go-to restaurants to take them to. At least there’s a new season of shows each year, so that’s always an easy pick.

As I said goodbye to them I was thinking about their last visit when they met you. It was months after your mom had been in town. We were pretty serious by that point. I wasn’t nervous for you to meet my parents, but I could tell that you were nervous. You did well, though.

(“Did well.” As if you were giving a performance or something, putting on a show so that my parents would be impressed with you. Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of guys see it. I think as gay men we worry more about meeting the parents, just because we think we have that extra hurtle of being gay to overcome. When in reality, at least for me, I could care less what my parents think of my boyfriend. They’re allowed to have an opinion, good or bad, but it’s not going to sway how I feel. For a lot of guys I guess it does, though. Which is sad. As long as I’m happy I don’t care what my family thinks about my choice of boyfriend.)

They liked you, though. So you didn’t need to worry.

We ended up doing the normal with them. We went to dinner and then to see a show. I want to say that we went to see the revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, though I go to a show every year when my parents are in town and I can’t keep them all straight in my head. I remember I was very careful when buying tickets, though. Because one time when they were coming for a visit I accidentally booked tickets to see A Little Night Music (with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch, a must-see) for the week before they came. So when we got to the box office to pick up at will call they didn’t have our names. Luckily they gave us three extra tickets they had, though we weren’t together. We probably ended with better seats anyways.

I didn’t mess up with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, though. We had pretty good seats. I made sure to sit you on the end so that I could be a buffer between you and my parents. They’re very enthusiastic people, which is great, but also alarming when you don’t know them. My dad’s a high school math teacher, so he’s programmed to talk to anyone about anything. He can be overly-familiar when he’s known you for only ten seconds. Which again, I think is great. But I completely understand that it’s overwhelming for someone new. Especially a nervous boyfriend.

After the show we went our separate ways. That was the only scheduled parents/boyfriend time for the week. But then the next day my parents invited you to come walk the Brooklyn Bridge with us and you surprised me by agreeing to it.

The Brooklyn Bridge, while giving amazing views, is one of my least favorite of NYC attractions. It’s this narrow walking lane that’s split between pedestrians and speeding bicyclists. I’m always certain that I’m going to get run over when I’m walking it. And with the wind always whipping, it’s really hard to have any conversation while you walk. At least not when there are four of you in the group. We took our time meandering across the bridge, dodging the stream of protesters taking up the right side of the walking lane. (For whatever reason they were having a march across the bridge. I think it was something to do with immigration.)

When we got to Brooklyn we had a nice little lunch at this famous pizza place there in Dumbo. This was the moment for my parents to talk to you more and get to know you a little better. Again, things went well.

After lunch my parents decided to walk back over the bridge to Manhattan. I wasn’t looking forward to this trek, but luckily they offered us an out. (Sometimes they surprise me by how much they get it.) They wanted to give us time to hang out with each other, since they had monopolized most of my time that week. So we ended up catching a subway to your place while they walked back over the East River.

I have good memories of that visit, them meeting you. This year’s visit was a little different, spent with just the family. But it was still good. My mom asked about you, about how I’ve been doing. She knows how much I cared about you and how much I hurt when things ended. It’s nice having that support, that empathy, even though she never dated anyone but my father, so I don’t think she has firsthand experience in how awful it is to lose a love. She gets it, though.

I wonder when and who the next boyfriend she meets will be. Hopefully they’ll do as well as you did.