Face Fuck, Part 2
At our distant cousin Cleo’s wedding, Laura grilled me about guys I might want to get to know, pointing out some handsome spray-tanned douche in unironic seersucker and emphatic pink. Either she has given up worrying about my contracting HIV, or she has realized I’m incorrigible. I brushed off her suggestion. I mean, sure, he was good looking in that sleek, self-important way. Probably had a cache of coke-nosed sorority girls back home in Flahrida. But I was not one of them. I could do better. I could do different. I had eyes only for the bartender.
Introducing Garnet Garrett, Ginger God. To protect the guilty, normally I don’t include pics of men. But he is innocent. Unless he has a girlfriend. Or boyfriend. No judgment!
Pick-up dialogue is the lowest form of communication. Might as well have winked and grunted to get my point across. The thing with being a girl is, either they want to stick it in you or they don’t. And usually they do. As long as you don’t raise any red flags and unless you want to elicit a specific response in a vetting process, what you say is largely incidental. The body language and tone are more important than the words. SOMETIMES I LOVE HAVING A VAGINA!
Painting on my prettiest game face, I stepped up in line and stepped into the ring.
Narrowing my eyes then widening them as they met his, “Hmm, I’llll haaave: the Mango Margarita.” I had rehearsed this for 30 seconds as the man ahead of me swizzled his Manhattan strategically.
“You got it.”
“Look at that: the drink matches your hair!” As if what I ordered had been a coincidence of color. Hey, it was one of the signature cocktails. Too easy! If there is anything I learned from Clueless: Oops, that’s my fluffy pink pen that I dropped there, right in front of you. And now I’m going to bend over to pick you, I mean it, up.
He raised the glass up to his face and smiled kittenishly, sweeping his left hand under it in perfect Vanna White form: Look at what you’ve won. Come on down and claim your prize!
“You sell it so well, you could advertise it!”
Light reflected by the ice cube prisms bounced off his fiber optic eyelashes, “Also works with drinks that have a little ginger in them.”
Goes without saying: I could use a little ginger in me.
In my vocal fry best, “Mmm, ginger drinks are delishhh. I luv gingerrrs!”
At the handoff, I lingered long enough to let that suggestion shimmer. I mean, simmer. Exit Genie.
“I’ll go with the Mango Margarita again.”
“Oh yeah, how was it?”
“You sold me on the presentation alone. And it was great, not too fruity.”
Did I hear what I thought I just heard? How could I have missed the telltale signs: naturally radiant, well-groomed, flirtatious, in LA. Most likely an actor moonlighting. This is bullshit. I will not be defeated in the second round.
Back to physical observations. So he knows I NOTICE him. Just putting ya on notice.
“You’re not wearing your cater waiter bowtie.”
“Ha ha, yeah, our uniforms are a little more subtle.”
That’s when I dropped in a few details, so he knew I was from New York, a real adult. Lest he confuse me for some 16-year-old starstruck hillbilly weirdo. Felt the need to show my true colors as a cosmopolitan, weathered ginger-fucking creepo. Reviewed the costumey uniforms at overrated mixology bars in the city, how I will forever get carded despite my dazzling maturity, that the last time I bought a bottle of wine (okay, so mabes it was rosé) the clerk glanced at my DOB and called me “well preserved” as if I were garnish in a careful curated cocktail.
Redirecting the conversation to him, intimating flattery, I went in for the kill: “So, are all of the bartenders in LA actors?”
“Most of us. I do other stuff, too. Act, write, direct, consult for TV shows… have my YouTube porn channel.”
Pretty sure he was joking. Dead serious, especially if his sexual proclivities were what I had feared, “I’d watch that.”
If you won’t have me tonight, my hand will.
Sheepish smile. Exit Genie.
Cocktail hour was through. Dinnertime: Everyone take your places. My seating arrangement was perfect. Next to Cleo’s cousin from the other side of her family (read: we aren’t blood related). He is 6’5’’ with a name as Waspy as they pop out in Jay Kos, straight off the Mayflower. Let’s call him Bartholomew Cushman. In an attempt to tell off his blue blood, he is an aspiring musician in Brooklyn; wore his tight, kinky, blondish curls in a topknot that begs to be picked out; and accumulated a year’s worth of lumberjack beard growth with cigarette smoke clinging on. We have the same cultural references, he appreciates off-color humor: I figured our relationship might extend to New York.
Dinner wound down, the doors to the cocktail patio reopened, we ventured into the mingling mix. Now seemingly indecent, here is a photo of me surrounded by two men, 6’5’’ and 6’3’’. If only you could see my look of wide-mouthed joy. Me, surrounded by men. Commanding their presence. The way Our Father intended it. My face height halfway between their faces and crotches. Open wide!
Laura joined us, looked up at Bart and inquired whether I had told him about my injury.
“Yeah, I told him all about my colon, my back. You know how it is.”
“But did you tell him about your INJURY? How it happened.”
“No, uh, it’s not an injury. It’s a little worse than that. I just haven’t told you yet…” my voice trailed off, ashamed. Slinking away.
Why was she alluding to Clyde breaking my fucking back? Yo, that bitch tried to blow up my spot!
When she moved on, to mitigate the ensuing awkwardness and squelch Bart’s curiosity, I attempted an infantile joke about my history with oversized men, my flagrant morphological incompetence, my undying fear of big parts.
And that is what you call dramatic irony.
We used to see in color
Now it’s only black and white
Yeah it’s only black and white
‘Cause the world is color blind
Does anybody know how the story really goes
How the story really goes
Or do we all just hum along
—STP, Big Bang Baby
In a last ditch attempt, I went back for one, final drink that I did not need nor want. A reunion with Garnet Garrett before it was too late. Parting would be such sweet sorrow. During our previous conversation we had established that he used to live in the city: Williamsburg, Bed Stuy… Chelllseaa? Ambiguous. Considering his artistic aspirations.
Out of both hope and material, this time I let him take the lead.
“When are you going back to the city?”
“Tomorrow, morning. After brunch.
“Aw, too bad. I wanted to show you around LA if you had time.”
Not. A. Homosexual. Whyyy. Eyyy. Esss!
“I do. Later tonight. How about you show me around, tonight?”
Read: How about I show you around my body. I mean, hotel room.
“Sure,” squinting slyly. As if to discern whether it were too good to be true. “I should be able to break this down and get out of here around 12.”
“Cool. Wanna text me when you’re done?”
“Yeah,” fishing it out, “Here’s my card.”
He hands me one of his New York/LA bicoastal PR company cards. For real, a jack of all trades entertainment.
“It’s the 202 number?”
“Yeah, text that one.”
Sliding out my phone and scanning the card, “You’re a manager. Can I call you Mr. Manager?” Wink. Wink.
“I am a manager. I know how to take charge.”
Definitely. Not. A. Homosexual.
Cannot wait ‘til we reconvene at the end of the evening. He could be the gingerfuck to replace Reed the Rugged Redhead as my Fuck of the Year. Knock his Fuck of the Year plaque off my mantelpiece. Just kidding. We don’t have fireplaces in the city. Though that boy was a true masterpiece. A chiseled work of art.
As the night winded down, the olds and borings cleared out, making way for the cool kids—the afterhours crowd. Again, there I was, surrounded by many men. Each one I had talked to throughout the course of the evening resurfaced. And that’s when they began fighting over me. Competing.
A pretty, skinny one clung to me magnetically. Pulled me over to the Polaroid area with him, for commemorative photographs of our 5 minutes together. Was very handsy. Cute, for sure. Lived in the city a few blocks away from me. Sooo, longish term prospects. A two-night stand, at least, I could squeeze out of it. He didn’t have a hotel room for the night, was lugging around his suit bag, toiletries. Was leaving for the airport at 3amish to catch a 5amish flight. Easily invitable back to my room, imminently disposable if the sex was no good. He was handsome in a generic way. Everything in a generic way. Unimaginative.
My allegiance was pledged to Garnet Garrett. Even though I wasn’t sure he was a sure thing. There was no way I could juggle the two.
I sauntered back to the circle of popular kids, clunk down my window-dressing drink on the nearest tabletop. The groom’s older brother invited me out afterward to barhop with him and his college friend. What is a night in LA without a little nightlife? I would have accepted outright if not for my prior engagement.
“For sure, I’m down. But I already made plans with the bartender for later tonight.”
All eyes on me. Watch. And. Learn.
“Ohh. Really? Which bartender, the Black one?”
Quizzically, “Is there a Black bartender?”
The brother and his friend cocked their heads, smirked at each other, and looked back at me, expectantly, “Seriously? This one really is colorblind.”
“Of course I’m not. No one is. I’m color enhanced: Only have eyes for the ginger.”
“Can I invite him along? He’s not gonna be off work for a while anyway.”
“Yeah. Of course.”
Pulling my phone out of my purse, there was already a reply to my “This is Genie” introductory text. Two replies:
“You’re kinda rad :)”
Ah ha ha, so LA. Had to resist writing back, “Totally tubular.” Or, “The waves were gnarly, man. Did you hear that Brock’s parents are outta town and he’s throwing a rager after the show? Cowabunga, dude!” Contemplated whether I should text him our plans and head out or walk back over to feel him out.
That’s when Bart intervened. Tried to siphon me off of him. “Can I convince you to ditch the bartender for me?”
Ah, intrasexual competition. Mate Poaching. So primal: the animal kingdom in action. Was it survival of the fittest? Not exactly. More like conquest of convenience. Circumstances make decisions, after all.
“Is he prettier than I am?”
“Well, chaaa… But it’s not just that. I figure we can hang out in the city. Tonight is my only chance with him.”
He looked a little defeated. Not quite annoyed. Win some, lose some.
“I mean, maybe I shouldn’t annoy you because there is more of a chance for us to hang out on a long-term basis. But I figure we can hang out in the city. Just being practical.”
Look at me, maximizing my chances of reproductive success. Spreading my seed. It was a ballsy maneuver. And I think it inadvertently increased my mate value. Like if this girl thinks she can get away with that, she must be hot shit. And I am. Also, there is something attractive in admitting your assholery. Like, when one employs the construction, “No offense, but…” the other person can’t be mad, riiight?
I upped the ante. Made him feel like I was cutting him a deal. And this, my friends, was the ballsiest maneuver of all. Watch and learn.
“How about I use you as my fallback plan if things with Garrett don’t work out… Whhaat’sss your number?”
Ready to receive his digits, I swooped up my phone before he had a chance to say no—retain his pride. Hey, before then he wasn’t getting fucked at all tonight. No chance. No one’s turning down a chance to dream. A vote of confidence. A concession, better than nada.
He gave me security, a sexual insurance plan. In exchange for a half-stiffie. Win-win, right? Nice doing business with you. Of course, I would have preferred the skinny, pretty as my fallback plan, but no way even I could have orchestrated that. Win some, lose some.
Now I should mention what a mark of a good man I believe offering oneself as a backup plan is. It says: I care more about penis strokage than ego strokage. And no one wants a dude who is full of himself, who doesn’t acknowledge your sexual superiority. As a woman, a hustler. That’s how my sexual relationship with Allister commenced and look what that, in combination with his insistence on enthusiastic consent, got him: 9 years and counting of easy access to me. I would never have gone with him as option numero uno, but once you are in the ‘gonna get fucked tonight’ mindset, settling for less is better than going home with a heavy heart and empty vagina. Me and my machinehead. Better than the rest.