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House of Love

by Anthony Paull
Tuesday Jan 3, 2012
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Did I miss the memo? Since when is it all right to solicit someone for sex in the middle of the day without offering food or money? I mean, I know that I look hot and virginal in my skinny jeans but come on. I’m not going to sleep with you just because you’re homeless and shake your nuts at me when I’m walking on Main Street. I mean, I might sleep with you if you had a sleigh bed or a spiffy shopping cart, but a bicycle? How am I supposed to get off on a bicycle?

"Remove the seat," says my friend Matt. Walking beside me, he laughs as a homeless guy flags me down, boasting about his penis. For some reason, the guy thinks I give a hoot. Like I’m an amateur who gets off on measurements. I mean, big is fine but I don’t need to be murdered by it.

"Is this really happening?" I question aloud. Avoiding eye contact, I cross the street. Still, the homeless man circles me with his bike. "Did I do something wrong?"

"Just...keep...walking," Matt replies. "Do not engage."

I fill with anxiety, pulling my hoodie over my head. "Good lord, am I so gay that some dude thinks it’s ok to tell me he’s going to screw me in pure daylight?"

We take the long route to my car, through the library, making a pit stop at the local coffee shop. I have a meltdown over peppermint tea. "Just relax. The guy’s crazy," Matt states.

"Probably," I agree. Still I’m upset. "I mean, it wouldn’t be a huge deal but it’s the holidays," I explain. "I’m having a hard enough time with all of my friends having babies and my dad telling everyone that I inherited the gay gene from my mother. I’m lost enough. I don’t need this shit."

"You’re just feeling what everyone feels around the holidays."

"What’s that?"

"Completely fucked," he says. "I mean you’ll be ok. Everyone gets sad this time of year. We’re all in the same boat."

I nod. However, I don’t think all of my friends are being propositioned by homeless men and puking at police stations at the stroke of midnight. Yeah, that happened too. But this is the life of a socialite. I try to wear my crown with pride but I’m beginning to wonder if being superficial is really worth the headache. I mean, shouldn’t I be having a Hallmark moment sometime soon? I thought that I would turn 30 and give a shit about something other than being a total heathen. I guess not. Oops. Maybe dad’s right. Being gay is just one party ’til the next. But it’s not my fault. Remember, I inherited it from mom. Therefore, I roll with the punches, refusing to bat an eye when Matt receives a text, stating there’s an orgy at his house. I kind of expect it. On vacation, he left his place, two hours away, in the hands of a loser ’friend.’ Thankfully, he had another friend advise him of the situation. The Craigslist ad indicates his gate code and address.

"Is this part of the holidays too?" I ask him.

Bolting, he tells me he has to drive home. He left his dogs at his house, and what if they’re involved in this? I mean, at this point, how low can it go? I join him to see.

"The ad says to take off our clothes at the door," Matt winks, as we drive to his place. "Someone is supposed to escort us to the master suite."

"You mean, your room?" I reply.

"Yeah," he says, making a joke of it.

"You think this is funny?"

"Kind of," he says. "It’s not a big deal. We’ll just kick them out."

I strain a laugh, trying to make sense of it. Here we are, battling holiday traffic, where Christmas trees are neatly tied to car roofs, where families head to unite with loved ones. Meanwhile, we’re en route to see lovemaking strangers. It’s going to be a white Christmas, yes, but splashed on some random guy’s back. The image makes me feel faint. "I just want to be normal," I admit.

"No you don’t," Matt returns, refusing to feed my drama. "You’d be bored with normal. With having a baby and sitting home every night. That’s ok for other people. Not for you."

"Why not?"

"Because you’re a writer. You need a story," he says. "That’s all this is, just a story. Can’t you enjoy it?" We pull into his perfect green subdivision, everything manicured, and I let out a breath. I don’t feel right, engulfed by such perfection. I feel bored, excited only about what waits beyond the bend. "I could take you to your dad’s house," Matt says. "You can spend the whole day blaming your mom for this. Is that what you want?"

I grin, telling him to go straight or gaily forward and together we laugh as he presses on the gas.

Anthony Paull’s debut novel Outtakes of A Walking Mistake was recently chosen as an NPR Finalist for Best Teen Novel Ever.

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