It must’ve been a Monday because I only ever went to Hydrate on Dollar Drink Night. I’d been in Chicago for about a month, and I was already living the Party Monster lifestyle. This was my Rock Star Era. I was living in the city temporarily for an exchange program, and I was going out every night with no one to report to. I was barely 21 and I used my young, white boy, southern twink charm to get everything for free.
No matter the club, the routine was always the same: Shots at home; Get to bar; Buy first dollar drink; Do reconnaissance lap around bar; See same beautiful boyz; See new beautiful boyz; Locate prey; Settle in at bar next to prey; Time drink perfectly to be finished at same time as prey’s drink; Strike up conversation by asking what prey’s delicious-looking drink is; Accept drink that prey inevitably buys me (I learned a a lot about mixology this way); Go home with boy (not necessarily the same as prey).
So on this one particular Monday night at Hydrate 12 years ago, I followed the same routine. But there was a new player in the mix. It was this black guy. Or this Indian. Or…it was hard to tell in the light. But this guy was conducting sexual health outreach surveys for a nonprofit. (Sexual anything, mind you, certainly does not happen in public in the south.) I noticed this guy was pretty standard when asking others the questions. But when he came over to me, he got quite chatty. Definitely flirting. I was getting good at figuring that out. He started asking some really personal questions about my sexual activity. The answers to which had been much different only a month prior. He took my number in case I was eligible to do a paid survey in the future.
A few drinks and a few boys later, I’m standing in line behind him waiting to use the restroom. Drunkenly I stated, or slurred rather, “you know, it’s not fair that you have my number and I don’t have yours.”
So he gave me his business card and told me to call him. Excuse me? No. I don’t call boys. They call me. But I did. The very next day. I met him at Roscoe’s two days later. And he was black. For sure. Or Indian. Maybe. And we started hanging out every day after that. Twelve years later, this guy became The Ex and we are living together in a Pigeon Hole. And he’s black. For sure he’s black.
We were doomed from the start, though. The very first time The Ex came over to my cute little studio apartment in Boystown, we got into a major screaming fight. I kicked him out and slammed the heavy metal door in his face. It was two in the morning and this resulted in a noise complaint from the landlord. A week later we were celebrating his birthday. That’s when he introduced me to his loser friend we’ll refer to as Mr. T. I hated Mr. T. But I always ended up partying with Mr. T because Mr. T was always there.
I never believed in true love. Not in the romantic sense at least. But to stick with someone through all the shit we endured together meant that it had to have been true love. So on this very day 12 years later, I raise my glass to a toast. Though we weren’t meant to be in this moment in time, I will always love you, my star crashed lover.