Monday, March 31, 2008

Stranger in a strange land

This past weekend I attended an engagement party for my friends Thom and Dana. Thom and I met when we were both New York City Teaching Fellows, and he's a great guy. Dana is very sweet, and I also got to travel to the party with my friend Chris, another former Fellow. (Of the three of us, only Thom is still teaching, bless his soul.) It was great to see them all, but this was decidedly not my scene: held at a function hall in Long Island, the event was the most spectacularly heterosexual thing I've been to in quite a while. While Chris scoped out the girls-- and there were some cute ones, since nearly all of Dana's former high school classmates seemed to be there-- I felt decidedly out place. I guess I should have known I was in trouble when our train passed the "Hicksville" stop, and no one else found this funny. I just felt awkward surrounded by all of these people I didn't know, and slowly but surely everyone I had been talking to either left or became unavailable to me. Thom's best friend Jacob headed out with his girlfriend after a couple of hours, and Thom's brother Sean and parents soon followed.
I had been chatting with Sean, who is in the seminary studying to be a Jesuit priest and seemed like a nice, interesting guy. My friend Patrick was also in the seminary for a time, but ultimately opted out-- in large part because he realized he was gay. (I decided not to mention this particular tidbit to Sean, but I did tell him I had a friend who had once been in the seminary.) It's apparently a long, drawn out process that can take up to twelve years. After all of them left, I went back to the function room and found Chris talking to someone else; before long he was flirting with one of Dana's friends and I didn't want to linger about and salt his game. After the cake, the dancing started, with a string of increasingly lame songs that did little to lift my spirits. It didn't help that there was no one to dance with; I didn't know anyone there except for Thom and Dana, who were constantly occupied, and Chris, who was otherwise engaged. I would have loved a girl to dance with, but I hadn't made contact with any of them and I'm a little rusty at approaching girls at this point. (I felt like I was in middle school all over again.) In the bathroom Dana's brother was on his cell phone inviting a friend, and raving about the free drinks. "Dude, come down here," he enthused. "There's an open bar and this thing's gonna go till, like, midnight." This same brother eventually took one of the massive decorative cups and filled it with beer. I wandered outside and called my friends. "I am a stranger in a strange land," I told Ashley. She laughed. I joked that I should try to find the house from The Amityville Horror. "Chris is macking on some honey, and I don't want to salt his game," I explained to Ed. "What, did you become black out there?" he teased. Eventually I decided I needed to escape. I used a partygoer's iPhone to find a cab. Just as it arrived, I saw Chris's crush leaving, so I told the cabbie to wait. I ran back inside only to see Chris dancing with *another* girl. Well, I had been trying to build up his self esteem; earlier I told him that in my qualified opinion, he was "not exactly a train wreck" in terms of looks or appeal. (I can't understand these straight girls who complain about the lack of good men. I meet hetero boys that I would date all the time.) So I went back to the cab. "He found someone better than me to go home with," I explained, and we were off. On the way we passed a street sign for-- you guessed it-- Amityville St. At the station I waited another fifty minutes for a train; once it reached New York I endured an agonizing wait for two separate subway lines. I got home around 4 in the morning. I was bemused and exhausted by the experience. All I can say is, I'm car pooling for the wedding-- and I'm taking one of my gays with me!

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