In 7th and 8th grade I was a wrestler. It was natural to join because my brothers were both star wrestlers in our school. Plus, on the occasion that I swung by the wrestling locker room to grab my brother, I noticed that all the best jocks in school were the wrestlers. If I was too suppressed to date the pretty boys, at least I could surround myself with them, right?
Since my brothers were such wrestling heroes in our town, I figured that talent should be my birthright. Right? Except my mentality was different: I didn’t know how to fight. I’m not saying physically fight. There were coaches to teach me that. I’m saying go head to head with another person who treated the situation like it was life or death. Win or be thrown to the lions. Not that there were a lot of lions in Pittsburgh. They weren’t just lyin’ around. Get it? Lion – lyin’? (I guess it’s one of those puns that’s better in aloud).
For two years in middle school I only won a wrestling match for two reasons: either the other wrestler didn’t show up or he did and he just cared less than I did. Toward the end of my second year, something snapped. I was against a guy who had lost very few matches when I decided, this is the one I’m going to care about. After two rounds of overtime with every point he scored being followed with one of mine, he finally beat me. I didn’t mind though. It felt damn good giving someone a run for his money. I enjoyed the adrenaline so much I forgot I was a closeted gay kid rolling around on the floor for ten minutes with an Adonis from two towns over.
I continued to give it my all until my last match of the season. My opponent was ahead in points and was starting out on top of me toward the end of the match. I had minimal time to bridge the gap between us. You know what the little jerk did? Run me as off the damn mat every time the whistle blew. That was his big defense. Get ahead and squash every chance I had of countering. After I had lost the match I was pissed. Granted, what he did was fair. Just dick.
The following year I did two sports: swimming and track. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that I could lose because of someone else’s stupid tactics. At least in these types of sports, I was the only one involved in how well I did while I was racing. Plus I also was no longer at risk of getting cauliflower ears. Google it.
Another reason I wasn’t as successful in wrestling was because I knew I didn’t want it as badly as my opponent. I knew I wasn’t ever going to be good enough to get a wrestling scholarship, so why not just endure it as well as I could so that I could get home and watch Full House?
Now, over twenty years later, I hate confrontation. Despise it. I had an ex who loved to fight, and eventually I just gave in to most times because it always seemed more important for him to win than for me. I didn’t need to win at 3 am. I needed to sleep. For me, sleep is a victory. As a result, he continued to believe he was often right because I folded. I didn’t fold because I was wrong. I folded because who has the energy to battle that long?
Recently I was talking to a friend about being nervous in certain situations. He said to go into every situation imagining everyone is scared of you. I thought it was hilarious. Have you met me? I’m about as intimidating as Grumpy Cat.
What do you do to imagine yourself more intimidating? Scary? Do I walk differently? Lower my voice? Stare people down and take long pauses when I speak because I’m worth the wait? Do I stage a fight and leave someone with a black eye (make-up of course) as a warning for others not to mess with me? Obviously somebody’s been watching too much Orange is the New Black.
I’m starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu again tomorrow. If being able to choke someone into submission doesn’t make me feel intimidating, what else can?
And you know what else? Full House ain’t gonna be on this time, bitch.
(How was that? Scary?)
love and lions,
“Keep pushing that stereotype of gays you two!!”
That’s the only really negative comment Teddy and I have gotten so far on our “Besties for Cash” video on YouTube. Honestly, Teddy and I were more bothered by any comment asking, “who are they?” because we thoroughly enjoy our disillusions of fame and self-importance. I would blog about those comments, but reading 600 words where I whine about how to win the hearts of America would be about as interesting as hipsters talking about their moustaches. So I’ll spare you.
What’s also a bore are you self-hating gays who throw the word stereotype around to shame any gay who doesn’t act like what you feel a model gay dude should act like. The critic felt that our talk of sex perpetuated the stereotype that gay men are whores. First, I just love when someone watches a comedian and takes every word for face value. Second, a lot of gay men like sex. Guess what, a lot of men like sex. A lot of people like sex. Who knew, right? Many gay men simply feel liberated to talk about it.
Why do I even want to address this? Because everyone should feel free to act how they act. That video was how Teddy and I act. If you hated it you should probably steer clear of our dinner parties. I know! Gay guys having dinner parties – how stereotypical!
In high school I had a friend who was desperate to stray from the norm. More than once he said, “I actually really like [insert new trend here], but I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. I was confused. I didn’t understand the bandwagon aversion. If you like it, do it. If you hate it, don’t. What’s the issue?
So now are gay men growing up desperate to break away from the gay bandwagon? The stereotype? Is there someone out there who loves Cher, but doesn’t want to play in to that role so he’s listening to Eminem on repeat? Yes, I actually DO love Selena Gomez and have the entire album on my iTunes. My music tastes align with a tween girl, and I’m pretty okay with that. I mean…Demi Lovato is freaking catchy.
I also love a campy joke, have seen every episode of Golden Girls and live for a group exercise class. I haven’t an ounce of talent when it comes to interior design, I hate to dress up, and I don’t even turn my oven on once a month. That’s the kind of gay I am.
And one more thing: I enjoy sex with men. I’m not saying I’ve slept with all of them, but a good handful. Mikey, that’s so stereotypical! You’re gay, and you like sex with men? Gawd!
I’ve had everyone in the room say, “Oh my god, he’s a queen!” Then last week someone asked if I had a girlfriend. (Shut up – it happened). When we start modifying our natural behavior only to move closer to or further away from society’s understanding of a gay man, we lose. We battle this much so we can be ourselves, whatever that is. So do it.
love and Lovato,
A writer’s block experiment.
That’s what this is. See, I knew I wanted to write a blog tonight because I’m trying to do that whole one blog a week thing, and I already skipped a week. Even though a blog a week doesn’t seem like much, if you’re anyone in my life you know I have a tremendous fear of commitment, whether it be a boyfriend or plans for Tuesday. Not because I’m one of those who always wants to see if something better comes along. Or maybe I am. Maybe some of the best things happen when you’re waiting for something better to come along because you don’t overanalyze what’s already coming.
As I said in an earlier blog, I really didn’t feel that close to too many friends in high school. So when sophomore year arrived, and the friends I did hang out with all had lunch a different period than me, I freaked. High school lunch is the one opportunity in the day to parade your social behavior around for the world to see just how you interact with your fellow humans.
If I had no humans to interact with, I would be that broody guy reading or doing his homework in the corner of a table. I would probably write some teen angst poetry. I would spend a weekend half filling a composition book with obscure lyrics and sketches so that when Erin McPherson, my high school crush, came over to say hi, she would think I was a broody mysterious biker type who could only get his true feelings out in these pages. She, nor anyone else, would know that I had carefully crafted my notebook of brood over a weekend to act as a prop should anyone come over. It would have never worked though, since I didn’t wear black, something broody notebook keepers do, and I was on the morning announcements, something broody notebook keepers never do.
That first lunch sophomore year I failed to plan. I should have scanned the room while others were getting their lunches to see whom I met know and join. But I wanted the damn pepperoni roll as soon as possible. I went straight into the lunch line. Upon exiting I found myself at the front of the cafeteria, holding a tray, with nowhere to go. I scanned. Quick, Mikey. Quick!
The first table was a few seniors I knew from my previous year as a member of the marching band. In high school, band is a commitment. We’re talking weeks out of the summer in a hot uniform learning how to march across a football field while playing “On Broadway.” What did we learn, kids? Mikey’s afraid of commitment. I lasted freshman year in band before I decided to chuck it for a public speaking class. Six or seven four-year band enthusiasts were now in front of me at the very first table.
“Want to sit down, Mikey?” It was Jackie, a majorette two years older than me who I’d had a crush on the previous year (yes, even I could have a crush on a girl every now and then).
“Sure, I can sit for now.” I said. Jackie started laughing.
“Until you find the real people you want to sit with?” Sorta. People didn’t hop around the lunch tables after the first day. Unless you found yourself in an Orange is the New Black drama, you stayed at your table for the year. Did I know this group well enough to stay with them for a year? Would they want me to? They were older and part of an establishment I had relinquished: high school band. It wasn’t quite Nicole Kidman escaping Scientology, but it was close. Was this just a pity invite because they saw me scanning the room and secretly planning my brood notebook in my head?
I laughed back at Jackie. “Nah,” I said. “I thought another friend of mine was here, but I think he had to move his to 6th period.” I lied. Then I sat down and…gasp…committed to the table. Me and a group of senior class flute players who were…awesome. Hilarious. Fun. Other than all of them graduating and leaving me at the end of the year to fend for myself again, I was happy I took what came up under my nose while I was “waiting for something better.”
Is that what writer’s block is like? I sat in front of this keyboard tonight for an hour waiting for inspiration for the perfect blog to come to me. I examined anything I thought would give me this inspiration. Then I thought, hell, the keys are right there, might as well just type. Eight hundred words later, and I’m trying to figure out how to end it because I’m enjoying this little trip I took to high school lunch land for the night.
This blog, maybe not the best thing I’ve ever written, but it’s made me content. Those lunch friends? I barely keep in touch with a one, but if I knew at the beginning of the year what I knew at the end, they would have been the group I was scanning the room for in the first place. Is there a moral? Something like don’t wait for perfect and you’ll find it? Or maybe on the benefits of joining the high school band, at least for a year. I don’t know.
Oh, and if anyone would like to buy a hand crafted brood notebook in case you don’t find your group of friends, I sell them for $9.99 in the gift shop.
love and pepperoni rolls,
I recently joined this phenomenon called Tinder. I was curious and felt I could always use the opportunity to take my self esteem down a few pegs. Though I am confused about this mysterious app. Is it for hooking up? For dating? For both? And if it’s both, how do you know which you’re going to get?
Whichever it is, I will say that the concept of swiping right or left, yes or no, within seconds of seeing someone’s photo is insane to me. And somehow incredibly fun. It feels like the Candy Crush for dating.
Plus, I have become a Tinder snob. Friends will watch as I swipe left within seconds, asking, Mikey, how could you possibly know? I realized I developed a subconscious set of rules. Most of these are completely unjustified, but hey, they’re not your rules.
Automatic left (no) swipes from Mikey:
Your main photo is your dog. Just your dog.
Hey, I think a guy with a pup is great. They’re lovable and fun…most of them at least. If you’re that obsessed with Fido that he gets the lead role on your dating profile, I’m sure you’ll find a lovely dude equally obsessed with dogs to take you on. I’m not him.
You’re with a group of dudes.
I’m not looking to play a game of Where’s Waldo here. I feel like to pull this off you would have to be absolutely confident that you’re the shining face amidst the group. I’m not that confident. I crop those bitches out.
You have no head.
I’m a face person. It tells a lot. Not showing one tells a lot, too. Like, “Hey, these abs or so nice who cares what the rest is like?” I do; paper bags now cost ten cents.
Every photo is a selfie.
You pucker your lips in every photo.
Once can be cute and funny if you have a good pucker face. More than that and I wonder what you do to the mirror when you brush your teeth in the morning.
Every photo is the same with a different Instagram filter.
Mikey, do people really do this? Yes. In this guy’s defense, one was cropped a little differently, but they were ALL THE SAME PHOTO. Unless you’re the Tinder Andy Warhol, you go to the left.
You didn’t write anything in your bio.
“Hey, I’m so pretty I don’t need to have a personality.”
You say something way too serious in your bio.
“I’ve been burned before, and I don’t want that to happen again. So please don’t contact me if you’re a flake.” Why don’t you just wear a shirt with a red flag on it? Way too much pressure for me to even consider this chat.
You don’t smile in a single shot.
Whether it’s in bed or at the movies, I want to know the person I’m going to spend a little time with can have and can be fun. Call me old fashioned, but I find the inability to smile not fun.
“So Mikey, with all of these rules, how many Tinder dates have you been on?”
But when I do, he won’t be arriving at my door wearing a weird pucker face.
love and red flags,
There’s a bottle of Celexa in my drawer right now. It was prescribed to me three weeks ago when I went to see a psychiatrist. I’m kind of embarrassed to even tell you this. My first reaction was everyone will say, “Mikey? You’re always so happy. Why the heck do you need an antidepressant?”
Okay, that’s a lie. My first reaction was, wow, Celexa is a great name for a drag queen. My second reaction was the whole why do I need it when I’m “happy” thing.
I was shocked when I got the prescription after a 20 minute consultation with a psychiatrist. Apparently that’s what psychiatrists do? I anticipated something more along the lines of Violet from Private Practice. Remember that Grey’s Anatomy spinoff that eventually was too depressing to stay on the air? Yea, that was my emotional compass.
I wanted a doctor like Violet…someone who would talk it out with me a while and had the option to prescribe if she thought it was necessary. My doctor seemed to be filling out a questionnaire.
Why are you here? Check.
How’s your relationship with you mother? Check.
How’s your relationship with your father? Check.
Do you think pills would help? Check.
That’s why I came. Do you think pills would help? The general consensus between her and a variety of friends who had at one point been on these things was, “hey, couldn’t hurt, right?”
I bought in for a minute. I had that prescription filled in an hour. That was three weeks ago, and I haven’t taken once since.
The friends I told asked me why I went. It was pretty simple. There’s a certain amount of unhappiness in my life, and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t like to judge people, but it seemed like an obvi answer to me. Another reason I went is because I’m almost 34 and still say the word “obvi” way more often than I should.
They also asked me what the doctor said. Truth is…nothing. I spoke. I gave myself a certain sense of freedom to say things to a woman filling out an evaluation, not making nearly the amount of eye contact that Amy Brenneman made with her clients, all the while in an office that was less comforting than the optometrist at Kmart.
But what did I say? I complained about things. Stupid things. Real things. Things that should bother be. Things that shouldn’t. When she asked about things I couldn’t complain about, I was taken aback, wondering if I should find a way to complain about them, too, since I was there.
“Why did you come here?” she asked me.
Because I wanted to see someone who had the option to prescribe something if they saw fit.
“You don’t seem depressed, but we can try something out. Take one every day, and if you think you need to start taking two, do that.”
I realized two things.
A. Real psychiatry seemed nothing like Private Practice and I should have gone to a therapist.
B. What if I made a list of the things I complained about and tried to eliminate them before I tried to medicate them? The things I can anyway. It’s not like that Celexa was going to cure my disappearing hairline anyway.
I also realized something else. If I decide to take the happy pills, that might not be a bad thing either, right? When people are sick, they take a steroid to heal faster until they’re in good shape right? So is this just an emotional steroid? Something I’ll take for a hot minute while my mind gets to the point to say, “Hey, things are cool now, no need to call the pharmacist.”
Some people even need them permanently in order to have the power to change the things they would complain about. So what is supposed to happen first? Do we take the pill to give us the drive to change things up? Or do we change things up and take the pill when and if we see that the mood stays even when the circumstances change?
I’m not even sure I want to publish this. But I want to be honest. Not enough people are honest these days. Probably why there are so many depressed people in this town, because so many other people are painting pictures of their absolutely perfect life. Then there’s comics, who paint perfect (and hilarious) pictures of a seemingly miserable life.
So these pills are still in my drawer. What do you think I should do with them?