“What’s an example of an ugly name?”
“I mean, right? Who can actually pull that off? Maybe a total dad hunk with a lush, silver beard?”
“No, not even.”
“Barely! Still a no-no.”
It was another Monday night at Bianco e Nero, a quiet bar from downtown that had always populated by single people. Perhaps it was the West-ly 50s-inspired (and ‘ironically poorly’, as Megan would say) decor that people frequent the establishment, or it might be that those that just vacated The Pretty Palace needed a place to cool down.
It was three a.m. and there’s still a line in front of Palace, made up of patrons and jumpy first-timers, while at the opposite were faces poured into phones – tipsy-smoking while hurriedly checking out questionable dating profiles. It was the ‘rush hour’.
“Aah, the need to find whomever’s available to accompany for the rest of the stagnant nights,” Megan said. “Ruh-late.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in front of that line,” Chris said, as he handed Megan and her friend, Der, their second pints of lager. Chris was working the Monday shift in a handsome vest and his for-everyday shirt.
“I don’t want… whatever they’re serving,” Megan said. “Besides, we got you, you tight ponytailed tall dude who makes the best quesadilla.”
“You know I don’t cook here, right?”
“Sure, sure,” Derrick slurred. “But you, bow-tied cutie, are all we need.”
“You said your friends were coming?” Chris asked. “Those them?” Chris pointed out at a confused looking trio just outside, visible from the window.
“I’m gon’ get them,” Der said, balancing himself and then heading straight to welcome Aya, Ed and Tori.
“I swear right now feels like the end of a very long bad dream.”
“Or the beginning.”
“Or the beginning.”
“The night is young and we’re all ugly stupid.”
“I’d drink to that,” Megan said as the foursome approached the bar.
“You want to move to the table? I’ll set one up for you.” Chris then proceeded to remove the reserved sign that was sitting for a few hours.” You’re not working tonight?”
“Not this week, no. Who knew that as a writer you’d actually have to write something?” Aya said. “And what’s with the line outside?”
“Some hipster bar for hedonists,” said Der.
“Ooh, should go. But not tonight.”
“Not tonight!” Ed agreed while smile-staring at Chris.
“I mean, haven’t we all, at some point, done something stupid for love?” Megan said, while staring at her gimlet where the low lights and the neon sign on the bar that said ‘LOVE’S A FART’, slowly flickering from cyan to pink, reflects on.
“Oh, please. I’ve pissed so many people, I’m like the entire run of The Bachelor condensed,” said Ed.
“We’re all just shitty people trying to make it through the day, aren’t we?”
“Like, I know I need to be productive and shit, but all I do is project myself at works of fiction.”
“What is this you two are arguing about so early in the night?” Megan asked Tori and Ed.
“Ed here,” Tori said, “is on some sort of funk. I had to pull brooder from his bed.”
“She caught me rewatching Her. It’s so sad.”
“So sad,” Tori agreed, proceeded to drink down her tonic. “Let’s do more shots!”
Judith, the shift manager, asked Justin and Jason to attend to their table.
‘LOL. Sorry, you no longer exist to me.’ That’s what the screenshotted text read on Ed’s phone.
“What a man-hoe,” Megan said.
“I know, right?”
“And you really saved it? How insane are you?”
“He does this to himself,” Tori said. “Romanticizes loneliness like music to his muse.”
“So we’re all in toxic emotionally-abusive quasi-not-even-no-not-really-even-just-barely-relationships in our heads, huh. That’s been established,” Aya agreed.
“The thing is,” Ed said, “I could actually picture myself saying the same thing to him. Some sort of fantasy, I guess. Where he’d wave at me in some coffee shop and I’d just stare back, blankly, and tell them off: I’m sorry, who are you and where did we meet?”
“Who are we talking about here?” Der said, after having gone to the restroom and missed a short conversation.
“Ed’s drama,” they said in unison.
“Mkay! So, let me paint you this picture.”
“My favorite kind of painting and picture! Ed’s sadness.”
“Ooh, shush. This isn’t as sad as yours and whatstheirface.”
“So, I just came home from a hella emotional sexathon–”
“I can already feel him breaking somebody’s heart in advance,” Tori interrupted, then taking a shot.
“I think I just committed myself into a relationship. One that I’d decide not to pursue when I’m sobered up tomorrow.”
“Oh, but how rude of me to go on a rant without having to ask about your months yet. How’s your month, Aya?”
“My month is irrelevant!” Aya said. “Tell me about this relationship you got yourself into!”
“So my tale starts about two weeks ago, with this guy, Elijah. The yuzh, lots of seeding and googly eyes and shit. But then, three days after we were texting constantly with ‘I miss yous’ and whatnot, the hoe ghosted and had sex with somebody else. To which I thought, meh, that’s fine.”
“Uh-huh,” Tori said.
“But hold on to your horses, because, as it turns out, I wasn’t!”
“That’s not a big twist but proceed with your tale of skankness.”
“Okay. Back to Elijah. So, he had this friend, Josh or something, who knew about me and El being kind of a cutesy couple in the making and all that crap. But Josh also knows that El is a slut who can’t keep his legs shut to whichever dick is presented his way.”
“Feisty! I love it!” Der said.
“So, there,” Ed said. “We ghosted on each other. And so, after a week, I had a threesome. Not a disgusting Dickensian threesome but a tasteful threesome, or so I wanted it to be..”
“Haha,” Aya said. “You said ‘Dickensian.'”
“Whether or not Dickens wrote about a menage a trois is not the point of this story. It was me having a sex positive experience, but guess who shows up in the middle of it! Josh!”
“Wait, what?” Der said. “Josh joined your night of intense passion?”
“No and no! Goddamn it, Derrick! He didn’t join! And it wasn’t exactly that intense. It was more… chill. Yeah, that’s a perfect description. Sex to the soul… Wait, where was I in the story? I think I forgot something important. Whatever. The point is: I had a lot of sex that week.”
“I want to know why Josh appeared during,” Aya said.
“He boards with the owner of the flat, apparently.”
“Also, I think we’ve established that bit about you screwing lots of guys before.”
“That, we had. And Josh didn’t exactly care. Not one bit. And whether or not he relayed the news of this Ed sighting to Elijah, ain’t the point of the story anyway. Besides, the lack of chemistry in that room was underrated… So, after a few days, I had sex with another rando at a motel.”
At this point, Tori went to the bar to buy some calamaris.
“The rando left early because he still had work that day, so I invited someone else. This Bryan guy, who I met a month prior when I jumped to his room – same motel – and he blew me until his partner arrived.”
“Was the blow sweet?”
“You bet that blow was!” Ed said to Tori, who came back with more snacks.
“After that first encounter with Mr. B, I had sex with this youngyin, Ram. He’s irrelevant, but I thought adding another name to this list would be hilarious. Then, I had sex with some other dude, then some other dude, then some other dude. All of them irrelevant… And then, I realized Elijah was actually at the next room of the motel that day! Riding some rando!”
“That heartless hoe!” Aya said.
“So I put on my Nancy Screw detective skillz with a Z to work and stalked this supposed guy he hooked up with online. And you bet I found the wrong person to stalk.”
“Figures,” Der said. “I’m imagining you went all MTV Catfish at this part?”
“A hundred and twelve percent accurate. Which made me realize I wasn’t exactly over El. So I texted him to call a cease fire, hoping for godknowswhat. And he replied with, ‘New fone, hu dis?'”
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuudge!” Aya said, to which Tori added her classic, “Snap, snap!”
“So I explained to him on a step-by-step about our night, and who I am and shit, and while doing so, I remembered I fuckin’ entered my number with my complete name on his stupid cellular phone because he asked me to.”
“Elijah the Heartless is messing with you?” Aya said. “Where is he? I’ll crack his skull.”
“Thanks, friend,” Ed said, laughing a little. “I’d still hit it, though. I felt so wasted, opening up to him and all that, and for what?”
“‘Least now you know?”
“‘Least now I know. So all this happened while I was alone in the motel room, waiting for Bryan to arrive.”
“Hehe,” Der said. “Arrive.”
“Mature. Bryan and I had been planning to resume our interrupted sodomysochism for a few days now, and I’m just thankful he came through. I was a mess, though, because of the way El treated me. I felt more conquest that lover.”
“Aww,” Aya said, patting Ed on the shoulder.
“Wait,” Tori said. “Is this the Bryan you told me about the other night? Bryan with the tight schedule?”
“Yes!” Ed said. “And he also had a tight ass. God bless Bryan.”
“God bless Bryan!” they all cheered, then proceeded with shots.
“So after Bryan with the tight ass, who, by the way came to the motel room in his uniform and left after two hours because he had to log in to that day’s shift–”
“God bless Bryan!”
“God bless Bryan! …So after him, I had sex with this guy… Forgot his name. Freddy? Frank? Frankie? Francis? Something with an F.”
“No, doofus!” said Ed. “After, like, eight hours or something.”
“Bless Bryan for putting you on his itinerary though.”
“GOD BLESS BRYAN!” They all took another round of shots.
“To Bryan The Tight!” Aya said.
“To Bryan The Tight!!!”
“So, I hooked up with Ferdinand, who kept calling me ‘Daddy’,” Ed said. “And it was soul-opening, in terms of experience. I actually liked him. The highlight of my month is the time I spent in Floren’s bed.”
“LOL,” Der said. “I thought you already remembered his name!”
“I wish,” Ed said. “But I know I should stay away from this Felix guy. It was just too real. And he asked to keep my undies. No. Not asked. Demanded.”
“Dang, that some sort of kink!” Tori said.
“Federico was a good lay,” Ed said. “That, he was. Still, after the plethora of guys I messed around with, the only person who gets me down is still Elijah. His ass is so soft and I loved kissing the hell outta them.”
“Yeah,” said Der. “But the winner for best side character goes to Bryan The Tight.”
“GOD BLESS BRYAN!” Another round of shots.
“Have you told Melissa about this?” Aya said.
“Why would I? They might be one of the people I know the longest but they’re still hella judgy. That and the fact that they’re always on this high horse when all their relationships are just online relationships.”
“And online relationships aren’t real relationships.”
“But that’s all they have, so why take that away from them?”
Aya sipped the free wine and went, “I’m detecting hints of shade from this here vineyard.”
“We’re talking about Melissa. You know, the one you hate the most.”
“They’re always asking to explain my jokes! What a bummer!”
“That, and they called you freeloader.”
“Puh-lease. Freeloader be my middle name,” Aya said. “And I don’t think anybody cares enough for them because they’re just some gossip-loving trash who surrounds themselves with what more important people are up to, y’know, because they boring!”
“And when was I ever an agreeable entity?”
“I just don’t understand,” Der said, “How people could treat other people like that. Make you feel like you’re the most special snowflake in the world and then meet you with apathy when they reset their days.”
“In my mind, I’m reading that text he never sent. ‘Hi, Edward. This is Elijah. I miss you, and I hated most days I spent without you. Come back to me. You and I together makes more sense than anything possibly imagined.'”
Aya sighed. “Well, that bummed me out.”
“You and me both,” Tori said.
“I liked him,” Ed said, “in more ways than he could imagine. It made sense. It made perfect sense. But he went on and made me feel replaceable.”
“I’ve had someone like that,” Aya said. “He was the one, and he never fought for me.”
“I mean… We fucked in the balcony!” Ed said. “In daylight!”
“God bless– but, no. With Elijah.”
“Do you want to see him again?”
“I don’t know. I just wish he didn’t write me off that easy.”
Aya gave Ed a hug, then forced a shot to his friend. At this point, their snacks were almost depleted so Der signaled to Chris.
“I guess,” Tori said, “The point of your story is that you’re entering dad stage now?”
“Oh, no. I shall rage. Rage, rage against the dying of the twunk.”
“What the fuck is a twunk?”
“Oh, it’s like the next level in the evolutionary stages of the gay twink.”
“Is there, like, some online course about it I should take because I honestly don’t think this could get any more confusing?”
“Good god, I hope so… Wait up! Where the fuck’s Megan?”
A few days after, Ed actually did cross paths with Elijah again. They didn’t approach each other but at the back of his head, Ed muttered, “When you hear only what you want to hear, you’re not a person worth talking to. I have to delete you from my brain, El, because you are not someone good enough to emotionally invest in… Cao ni matherfuckers.”
For every Earnest Edwards, there are Elusive Elijahs. For every Random Rams and Forgettable Fabios, there are Busy Bryans. (GOD BLEEESS!)
Ed went home to Tori on that cloudy afternoon, watched some Bravo!, and slept like a goddamn log. At least this time, he no longer needed to drink himself to slumber. Ed rested easy. That day was his day. Comfort had been elusive, but he finally jailed it to his gruesome chest.
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