[The following story immediately proceeds the events of No. 19 | Broken Hearts Day]
Walking into the Palace Pool Club felt like walking into the past—like I was 16 again, when underage drinking was cool because that was kids in our school were known for, and I felt like I belonged somewhere. We got drunk with strangers, and didn’t care who saw us dance. What set that night apart was the age difference. Being 16 was five years ago, and that night, not only was I dressed better, I was more confident, too. I was determined to kiss a boy.
Audrey introduced us to Mar, who had gotten us on the guest list. He was one of her Tinder matches from ages ago, and although they didn’t go for a relationship, they remained friends. He then introduced us to his friends, the faces and names of whom I don’t really remember, but they were pretty cool. One of them bought the table drinks. Another took an interest in Audrey, and put his hand around her waist, whisking her away from the table and taking her around the club.
Getting bored and the air getting awkward, Mar proposed we play a not-so-innocent game of Never Have I Ever. The rules were simple: we would each take turns saying something embarrassing, and if we had already done that embarrassing thing, we would take a shot. Feeling frisky, I told the group that I’m going to pass out early if we played, adding that there is nothing I can think of that I haven’t done yet.
“Never have I ever been kissed.” I took a shot.
“Never have I ever had sex.” Shot.
“Never have I ever been in a threesome,” someone asked. “Do orgies count?”1 I said, raising a drink and winking at the guys. They all cheered on me, and we all took a shot in unison to celebrate my promiscuity. Now it really felt like I was 16 again, being cheered on by a group of strangers for doing something stupid, like I was a varsity player who had just made the winning shot.
It was my turn to say something embarrassing. I looked at Astrid in a way that asked her, “What can I say without outing myself to these straight guys?” We both looked at each other in terror, but it was a night to celebrate, to be gay! I thought, fuck it, took a shot and said, “Never have I ever kissed a girl.”
As soon as I let that go, I could hear the music die down in that noisy club, replaced with the sound of crickets. One of the boys caught on to what I said and asked me, “Wait, you’re not a virgin, but you’ve never kissed a girl before?”
I nodded in confirmation, but all of the boys just looked confused. By this point, Astrid and I were laughing at how slow they were. To cut the silence, I said loudly, “I’m fucking gay!” That prompted a round of laughter around the table, and what I got in return, I never expected in a million years. I got affirmations that that was okay, and we continued our little game.
Later, running out of things to say, one of the guys sat in front of me. His name was Rex, and he was the most decent-looking among our new acquaintances. Talking to him, I decided that he was the boy I wanted to kiss that night. Our conversation revolved around homosexuality, but I think a better way to describe what we talked about was him trying to understand how it worked.
“When did you decide to be gay?” he asked.
“You don’t really decide to be gay,” I explained. “It’s like having black hair—you’re born gay.”
“So you’ve had sex with guys?”
“Do you swallow?”
“Only when surprised.”2
“Wait, how are you sure you’re gay? You’ve never been with a girl.”
“How do you know you’re straight? You’ve never been with a guy.”
That got him thinking, and that opened a window for me to bring up kissing him. He was already holding my hand, and looking deeply into my eyes. He was about three convincing sentences away from locking lips with me. But I failed.
He wouldn’t budge. He said that he’d kissed his gay friends on the cheek before, and that he’d do the same for me. And he did. Twice. Mar offered to “take one for the team,” and joked that if I made out him, Rex should let me do the same to him. And that made me do a 180. I didn’t want to kiss anyone anymore. It was weird catching myself be this predatory gay, when that wasn’t who I really am. What happened to going for what I really wanted?
He ended up kissing Astrid, and I didn’t mind. The ride home was silently awkward because we all knew that she got the kiss I wanted.
- I promise to write about this sometime in the future.
- Line stolen from Samantha Jones.