BLISTER 


I'm not sure how this happened. Through some lubricated loophole in the gay-card charter, my razor-sharp matrix of cynical bones has landed itself in a sloshing pool of heterosexual sincerity, a swelling, smiling bowl of vodka, wit and fraternal camaraderie taken completely out of context and slapped down right in the Lower East Side of New York City. It doesn't get any better than this. I'm on a bro-mantic man-cation with five of the best-looking men I have ever met, and for once, I am out of words.

"Babe," David arches a brow from underneath his fedora. "You alright, babe?"

"Yeah, babe," I fall in love for the 37th time this weekend, then pout. "Baaaaabe."

Tonight's the last night of our ecstatic expedition, and by now all of the once-loose shoelaces of reasonable friendship have wriggled and wrapped their way into something far more severe. These are the feelings of summer-camp boys who blow up lizards with firecrackers before pricking their fingers and blending their blood, boys who wrestle, laugh and cross streams while pissing by the oak tree. There is no sex, no competition, just some abstract feeling of foreverness tinged with togetherness. This is how it used to be before I sprouted pubic hair. Sex ruined everything.

"I'd like to make a toast," I slur, grabbing a giant bottle of Ketel One encased in an enormous block of ice. "I love you guyzzzzzz!"

Ah, but it's not all about the sop of this soggy frat-boy cracker dangling from my drunken mouth. There had to be some kind of pointed ejaculation leading up to this fading little death at Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse, some series of vignettes that would have brought me to this sliced-meat ledge. It's funny how you start to remember things just before you pass out.

One, two …

There's Schiller's Liquor Bar, the hipster haven four blocks over from our rooms at the Off Soho Suites, all lined with haircuts and subway tiles and models and broken dreams made for boulevards. The hot Eastern European waiter who stopped being hot when he started baying like a cat for no reason. The bacon macaroni and cheese that stopped being good after two bites. The underground bathroom with the giant urinals and trough sinks almost mistaken for urinals. The hopeless diner vibe cluttered with Ayn Rand conversations. The home base we nearly never left.

Oh, and there's David raising jazz hands at something the kids do called "Roxy" that was intended to make our night more explosive but only ended up making me half-heartedly converse with an ad rep from Fox News ("Doesn't that, like, kill your soul?") before running back to the room to itch myself to sleep while watching a documentary about the Jonestown Massacre twice.

And then there's David throwing up. Babe.

Let's not forget Brad's grunting fetal position — as described by Neil in his Australian accent — the one from which Brad arose only to piss directly on Neil's leg in his sleep, thus earning his temporary nickname, the "one and only urinator." Oh, Brad.

Then there's Neil sneaking into the Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, Justin staring like a statue of manhood at the stars, all of us in some jubilant tumbleweed tearing our way through restaurants and bars, and life effervescing like it's meant to.

Somebody, somewhere, screams "OFF THE WALL!"

And lastly, there's Danny, who's nicknamed Peaches for no apparent reason, spinning mischief yarn out of his wild eyes in the direction of whatever adventure his woolly hat feels like falling into, stirring up trouble and tripping over it just for the sake of being alive. There he is taking a picture of me, in a hat, in front of a graffiti'd wall inexplicably reading "Tall Black Girls," then calling it my album cover. And right there is a giant heart forming around his face just outside my squinting eyes.

"Babe," David nudges my arm. "OK, babe?"

"Yeah, babe."

Sammy's is swirling with wafts of preposterous beef and bread, while a little old man sits at the front of the restaurant plucking out the hits on a Casio keyboard. Out of nowhere, Danny grabs my hand and we slow-dance in front of God and everyone, and everything else starts to blur away.

"I love you guys," sputters from my lips.

A muted attempt is made by me to recover some kind of nightlife momentum — namely, dropping names to get us into a bar on the Bowery for a birthday party for a friend of somebody who works with Duran Duran, natch — but that's swiftly followed by my loveworn corpse being dragged down Chrystie Street on the shoulders of David and Brad. That, you see, is what friends are for.

Later that night, Danny picks up a writer from The Onion on a street corner — because this is New York and that is Danny — and whisks her back to one of the rooms for some biting and poking.

"Just promise me you won't have sex with me," she grunts in his ear.

"No, of course not," he grunts back. "Sex is dumb."

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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