“Where the hell is Teni”
Leon questions at a quarter to 9am when he first notices the sound of shuffling footsteps from guests being escorted into the multi-purposed reception hall where their wedding ceremony is to take place. Allowing him twenty more minutes to slowly implode in hopeful reservation that his partner was only running late, his usual fashion. Along with the proscecco and a bowel of kush encouraged to ingest before stumbling into eternity together.
Leon mentally checks off each item that was essential to this performance, exuding his willingness to be prone. The aroma of exotics assisting in unclenching….well everything, he begins to map out contingencies and fatalities on the road to what was supposed to be purest expression of fidelity, the big fuck you to a world that would gladly stay complicit in disavowing the second class status of its denizens.
“He better show up!” was the one verbal exclamation Leon allowed, up the deepening doubt that this day would work out as plan. Besides, he argued “T was the one who needed this; I would’ve been fine with a domestic partnership.” A usual comfort in moments of panic in the year of planning it took to get to this point, him steadily self medicating on one side of the door, as friends and family bare witness to a necessitated ceremony.
Careful not to stain his lips with the red wine, but needing the dry, bitter taste to replace the more intimate soar place in his throat that’s still hoarse from his and Tenir fight this morning.
“Leon, what do you think about domestic partnerships?”
I cough on my drink, briefly marking all clues that the guy in front of me was in fact the same one I’ve been sleeping with for the past six months.
“In general, they’re fine, I hope to be in one eventually.” I state, already scripting the narrative of this conversation for when I retell the story to my sister and close friends tomorrow morning online, when I get in to the office. “What about you?”
“Well I’m trying to get my life together…” Shawn begins, regretfully I’ve already began detaching myself from this scenario, become all too common since same-sex marriage became legal in New York. I have nothing against legal recognizing a relationship, but I’ve never seen a marriage I would be in. “…you know what I mean?” I nod, hoping to convey empathy. I suddenly remember a line from one of the liberal arts courses I took “Freedom vs. Obligation” and can’t be sure if I was intentionally cornered on the night that I intended to be our last.
With the finality of an open casket funeral, we finish drinks. We leave separately, both of us finding reasons to wake up early in the morning: agreeing to meet tomorrow night.
The conversation at G lounge with Shawn leaves me feeling anxious. Over the past couple of months since I ended my last failed relationship, it seems like every guy I met has either been completed void of emotion or frantically looking for someone to claim as their better half. Maybe the scene has changed more than I thought. Still feeling restless I send a quick text to friends that may still be in the city. Chelsea long considered the gay ghetto of Manhattan didn’t necessarily cater to its darker hues of the gay rainbow, but some of us still came here occasionally, like tourist in a foreign land vaguely remembering that a close relative first ventured here.
Even for a Thursday night, I’m surprised no one responds. I need something. I need a pre-emptive measure to prevent the impending feelings of doom, which drove me to my current therapist, after that last night with Keavin. So I go to rawhide the older, liberated cousin to G Lounge and only a few blocks down, I would prefer to find some weed and go home but the odds of finding any in this area are slim. Not because it’s not sold, I just wouldn’t know how to access it. I quit smoking marijuana years ago when Keavin gave me an ultimatum – the first of many.
I show my id to the bouncer, order a rum in coke; although I hate the taste them. I make my way to the intersection between the pool table and small circular stage. In gay bars there is usually a space to observe without being observed back, generally on the fringes of areas intended to show case sexuality in one form or another. It is temporary though changing positions throughout the night as flirting becomes more frantic.
Leave in an hour, I repeat, the onset of a depressive state and early morning meetings already compel me to keep drinking until I’m numb enough to submit to the lingering hours before the weekend finally begins. To past the time I exchange eye contact with those that linger close enough to me, strangers furtively trying to get my attention, convinced that my lack of access is what would drive me to them. I feel sorry for any black nerd that doesn’t eventually learn that their perceived weakness is their strength.
My favorite game, anyone worth challenging has to know how to be both and accommodating enough to allow me a chance to be both preyed and predator. In this jungle, the odds are you’ve learned to do all but play with your meals.