This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist deals with a close friend coming out of the closet, speaks to a Lobster Demon, and turns into a goldfish in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.
My sophomore year of high school, I got a Facebook message from a guy who once made himself hard during AP European History and showed me the outline through his sweats.
He was shorter than me, but with absolutely shredded abs and an attitude that was incredibly easy to fantasize about. Someone who hates every single person in school except for me? Someone who despite being sixteen told me he knew how to finish a guy without even touching their dick? I asked him for advice on how to get a body like his and he delivered anecdotes of sprinting shirtless in the coldest hours of the morning. A Katy Perry song played in my heart for him.
The message was short and concise.
Not sending this to very many people. I’ve learned a lot from watching you live. I just wanted to tell you goodbye.
If that reads like a suicide note to you, it did to me as well. I was instantly in tears, carpet bombing his phone with desperate calls and voicemails in a frantic scramble to prove he was alive.
After I cried in my friend’s arms for a good forty minutes, I finally got a call back, in which he told me that he was not planning on killing himself at all, but rather that he was too tempted to cheat on his girlfriend with me, and even though he hated his girlfriend, the whole dynamic was too “emotionally triggering” for him. He felt it best that we sever ties forever.
No matter how emotionally jarring it is to think somebody killed themselves, a screwed up part of me wondered whether a person who I knew only (fore)skin deep deserved being cried over. We certainly weren’t dating. It’s difficult to say there was anything romantic about the conversations I had with him.
After that, I spent a lot of time wondering if I actually like sex or if I just like attention. It’s become abundantly clear over the years that I’m attracted to men, or at least a cartoonish sort of masculinity– the second “guy” I ever fantasized about was a hard, red, angry lobster demon that came to me in a dream, which I suppose may have been Satan, but I digress.
But, when I think about what I like about sex, in most cases it’s the ten to twenty minutes of another person complimenting me in some form, either verbally or physically. When this is not the case, it’s for the fantasy of being obliterated by someone bigger than me- being small, being pursued, and being smothered.
This is a difficult fantasy to have when you’re 6 feet tall and pushing 200 pounds.
Over the holidays, I met up with some friends at a diner in my hometown for a reunion brunch- an idea so boujee that I should’ve seen what was coming from a mile away.
I took the last remaining seat at the table, late as always, and was greeted by the sort of mumbling chorus of “hey” that can only mean two things: everyone was talking shit about you, or something really awkward just happened. Being who I am, I assumed the former.
“Hey guys… what’s going on?” I offer.
“Um, I’m gay,” my friend says, stone-faced.
I laugh. I laugh.
“Anyway, what’s everyone getting? I sort of wanna shake it up, I feel like I always get the skillet,” I say, swiping frantically at the tension in the air, hoping to clear it with all I have.
“No, I’m serious. I’m trying to tell you that I’m gay.” He refuses to back down. I am in total panic mode. I am sweating a torrential rain onto my menu.
I spent three years of friendship with this particular person trying to convince myself that he was in fact, not gay. Before I knew him, when he dated a short, shrill blonde, I referred to him as “Tiffany’s gay boyfriend.” He’s shorter, but not damningly short- the sort that guys I’ve met would line up down the block for. He’s genuinely attractive, incredibly photogenic. He’s talented and it somehow doesn’t make me angry. He’s calm, casual, and level-headed in a way that I will never understand. Nothing seems to throw him.
In a lot of ways, we are opposites. Almost four years into our friendship, he told me his parents had sat him down on seven separate occasions to tell him they were getting a divorce- each time, they never did. I realized he had never told me anything that private about himself, and that I had told him everything private about myself. Different strokes.
Later on, our friend groups slowly merged, he let a girl give him head in our high school art room, and he and I started feeling more and more different. Our friendship hit a plateau- we had mutual best friends, were pretty much always together, and were capable of having fun together so long as we had others to use as a crutch, but left alone, it was a fight to keep conversation going.
Pretty quickly, however, the evidence started piling up against him, by which I mean he committed to art school.
Details of his awakening continued to pour out of him, my menu grabbed my attention.
MARY’S PICK 3 BREAKFAST: A hearty morning meal including your choice of your fat ass, your sixth chin, and your decomposing rectum.
I look up in panic and see the joy of self-discovery spread across his face. He came out partially inspired by a relationship between a street-wise convict and his military-bound boyfriend on Shameless. I’m crying.
“Nick, this isn’t your moment, you don’t get to cry!”
“I’m sorry, representation is just so important!” I shake, spitting all over the table.
My menu shakes the bit of my thigh that chafes the one parallel to it in the summer.
CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST BLITZ!: A uniquely undateable platter of delights like your repulsive blend of jealousy, anxiety, bad genes (your choice of cancer, diabetes, depression, hyperhidrosis, or cystic acne), crippling body dysmorphia, sweat, sweat triggered by anxiety about sweat, flakiness, lack of time management skills, too many jokes about your butthole, too many past hookups that you’ve told everyone about, and a high likelihood of under-qualification for any and all paying jobs.
He finishes his coming out tale, and I express my undying desire to be there for him no matter what.
The waitress comes to the table and my check says “You’re the ugliest one of your gay friends now!”
I go to pay for the check, and looking down, I pull four rusting Chuck E. Cheese tokens out of my pocket. They melt in my hands and give me third degree burns. I don’t know how I know how to classify burn wounds. I look back up, and there’s the lobster demon that I had sex with when I was fourteen. He takes my hand and pulls me into the core of the Earth. I’m like, “aight.”
Pretty soon we are chilling in his room. We take like four Xanax each and he turns on an industrial fan, because y’know, we’re in the middle of the Earth. He looks at me right in the eyes.
“I’m the Lobster Demon of Gay Jealousy Present.”
“That job title seems way too specific to be real,” I counter. He has a platter of sushi next to his bed and adjacent to it is a stove that has a skillet on each burner, in which a goldfish is frantically flipping about in each. The popping and sizzling sound would probably be unbearable if I wasn’t barred out of my mind. I walk over and examine them.
“You must only speak in questions, or meet their fate,” says L.D. over my shoulder.
Seems fair enough. “What did they do?”
“Rammed their bowlmates until they died. That’s the thing about goldfish- by the time they remember not to kill one another, they’ve already forgotten.”
I tilt my head inquisitively. I am too high to notice this obvious metaphor.
“What did I do?” I want to know.
“You’ve committed the cardinal sin of gay jealousy. You must learn how to redeem yourself.”
“What makes it so bad?”
“Gay men were cursed by God to be the only ones in their high schools, and many never figure out how to find friendship without sexual tension, conscious hatred, or unconscious hatred. You have been blessed with an opportunity to create a circle of people who understand you.”
“Like on Queer as Folk?”
“Just like on Queer as Folk.”
I pause. I really like Queer as Folk.
“Will I ever not be mad at him?”
“That is in your hands.” Suddenly, the Chuck E. Cheese tokens are there in my palm again, shiny, jingling and intact again.
“My mom was really good at Skee-ball.”
“Not a question,” and one of the tokens melts into my skin once again.”No one cares,” says L.D. I grow scales. Still too high for the metaphor. He waves one of his claws and suddenly, we are at a party at my friend’s dorm. It is clear some time has passed.
I’m sandwiched between two of my friends on a love seat. One is the New Gay, who is now one month into his gayness, and has newly dyed purple hair. He has a mixed drink in his hand and is bopping his head rhythmically to music that I know he hates. On the other side is a tall blonde Old Gay, who New Gay thinks is hot, which is a correct opinion to have. Not my type- O.G. could be described as “pretty,” which is not my bag, but he is objectively hot. O.G. is passed out on the couch from one Dirty Girl Scout too many.
I wanted to hate O.G. when I first met him, much like I want to hate N.G. now. Even if they read gay, they have an air about them: a confidence, a walk, a facial expression, a fashion sense, that commands respect. Without saying anything, they say “I am a person, not a joke about a person.”
I perceived O.G.’s nonchalance toward me as resentment in the beginning, but it turned out that it was in fact my resting bitch face that had ran him away. We get along now, but we’re both bottoms and have mostly nothing to lose in our friendship. I respect his frank mannerisms and the way he seems to shrug about everything in a way that doesn’t seem rude at all, just truly indifferent.
The Lobster Demon has shrunk and made a home for himself in my shirt pocket.
“You look hot in your own way,” he whispers.
“Yeah. I hope I get hot in their way before they have time to hook up so we can be happy at the same time and I don’t have to resent them.” I grumble with a snarl.
Another Chuck E. Cheese token melts. I have gills.
I suddenly feel N.G.’s arm wrapping around me to drum on the shoulder of O.G., who is still mostly unresponsive.
“I’m too drunk to rap along to this!” I toss into the party, but no one even looks at me. Stinging in my palm. I have fins.
“Move, Nick,” says L.D.
I take a deep breath and say what must be said.
“I’m gonna go and pee, and you’re gonna slide over,” I say to N.G. But what I really mean to say is It is worth fighting my instincts to let you be happy because you are one of my best friends and your journey is more important than my stalemate with myself. Your experience has nothing to do with mine and I am sorry for projecting mine onto yours anyway. Nothing about you has to crash and burn. Nothing about you needs to be “figured out.” I understand that you need the trial before the error, and I am sorry for expecting you to wallow with me.
N.G. says nothing but I know that I did the right thing.
I come back from the bathroom and sit on the couch across from O.G. and N.G. A thousand Chuck E. Cheese tickets come out of my mouth like a clown’s handkerchiefs. No gag reflex. Dope.
I look at N.G. and I feel fear- the sort of fear that is mothering and protective, but he did not come out of my vagina and he could probably fight off any predator a million times better than I could. But there is still so much out there, more than I could ever list, that I want so badly to warn him about.
I want to tell him that there will always be someone taller and blonder and otherwise more Aryan than you, and it’s never personal, but it almost always feels that way.
I want to tell him that he doesn’t have to like drag queens to be gay, but I would really appreciate it if he did.
I want to tell him that becoming a guy’s gym buddy just means he’s going to take advantage of your pheromones and no matter how into it you are at the time, it always ends up feeling like pheromone rape.
I want to tell him that just because a guy says he wants you to text him when you’re home safe doesn’t mean he’ll text you back, and maybe it just means he doesn’t want your dead body traced back to him.
I want to tell him that boys who only very recently were allowed to be themselves will never be ready to settle down when you are. That the TV makes it look like gay people are just like straight people, when in fact they are very different, and that it’s unfair that we have to figure that out for ourselves.
I want to tell him that the first guy who tries to eat his ass will never also be the guy to ask first.
I want to ask him if being like me makes him embarrassed. I want to ask him if he thinks I am embarrassing. And then I want to tell him that he isn’t like me. And that I was embarrassed to be like me for a long time.
I want to tell him that I heard the song “Queen” by Perfume Genius and it changed my life. He sang “no family is safe when I sashay,” and suddenly I wasn’t embarrassing- I was terrifying. And that’s badass.
I want to watch him as he figures it out and hope he finds that song, that movie, that moment where it feels less like “experimenting,” less like an “alternative lifestyle,” and more like just living. I want to tell him that there’s a lot to like about being surprising.
But I know he isn’t me. And he will not have to try very hard to be a surprise. And he’ll probably never need that moment, because we aren’t all me, and I don’t get to be mad about that. I do get to be there to show him that he can be as far from me as he wants- because I wish someone had been there for me to shut the hell up, get off the couch, and watch me create the unexpected.
Nick Malone does not have a sugar daddy, he’s never had a sugar daddy, if he wanted a sugar daddy, yes, he probably could go out and get one because he is WHAT!? Sickening. You could never have a sugar daddy because you are not. that. kind. of. girl. Baby everything he has he’s worked for and gotten himself. He has built himself from the ground up… f**%$&*! Follow him on Twitter @VLRTUALBOY. You can try your best to find him on Grindr at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but he is no longer a user.