An Innocent Man

I am an innocent person.

For a long time, I did not feel like an innocent person. I felt just like everyone else, just living my life with the same ideals and passions as the next guy. But when person after person told me, “You have a really innocent quality about you!” I began to reconsider.

Growing up my parents taught me a very wonderful, inclusive view of the world. That there was a loving God who created me, who cared about me; that if I put my mind to it, I could do anything I wanted; that I was special and that I could make a difference. I have grown up never knowing anything different. And I am immensely grateful for it. I have never had a doubt that I was special. That may sound incredibly conceited, because it is. But I acknowledge that. I acknowledge the fact that I have a tremendous amount of privilege in the way that I was raised. Not everyone gets to be born into a family with two parents who love them unconditionally, and raise them in a home that values a relationship with God without forcing any negative religious principles on them. I recognize that, having had the upbringing that I did, I am in a much better place to make a difference in the world, in people’s lives, and to help them.

All I have ever wanted to do with my life was to inspire others. Through comedy, through my writing, through acting, through a simple conversation. The idea that I could help someone and have a positive effect on their life is incredible to me. Of course, doing this gives me a tremendous amount of validation, something I shamelessly crave and undeniably need- without praise, I crumble. Now, this is not one of my more attractive features, but it’s one I have come to accept and one that I hope to work on.

While I may be an innocent person, do not misconstrue this as any sort of naiveté. Just because I choose to look at the world as a loving place, at humankind as naturally good, does not mean that I am ignorant to the ways of the world.

All of the wonderful things that my parents raised me with did not and could not shelter me from the world, or from myself. I grew up an intensely lonely and anxious child, always terrified of what could happen. I didn’t make my first real friend until my sophomore year of high school. And, of course, I was a closeted gay kid from middle school until mid high school. People made fun of me for being gay before I even knew I was. I remember a friend of mine who I went to middle school with told me in college, “Oh yeah, I remember everyone used to call you gay behind your back in middle school.” I’m not sure if this was meant to make me feel good, but if it was, it did not.

One of my strongest and most painful memories is of my Freshman year of high school, when we were picking sides for basketball (of course, because apparently life is a teen movie). There were two people left to be picked, me and another kid. A boy named Spencer was the team captain who had to choose between us. As I stood there, hoping not to be picked last, he said, “Well, I would pick you, but I’m pretty sure you’re gay, so I’m gonna pick the other kid.” That was not the first time I remember feeling like I wanted to die, but it sure was one of the more powerful times. Luckily, we had a substitute teacher that day, who I remember said to the boy, “Hey, come on, that’s not cool.” That was, sadly, the first time a teacher had ever defended me. In hindsight it was remarkably little in the face of everything, but I still remember it as one of the kindest things someone has ever done for me.

The New Years’ Eve before I turned 17 I had my first drink. After that, the whole world opened up to me. I finally began to see a way that I could feel comfortable in my own skin, a few moments where I could escape the intense anxiety and loneliness that had plagued me since I was a little kid. I realized I could feel that way every day, and pretty soon I was stealing two bottles of wine a night from my parents. When I first got to the University of Virginia, I thought everything might change. I joined a gay organization, went to gay parties, and thought maybe then I wouldn’t feel alone. The end of my first semester, I got drunk at a party and made out with someone in someone else’s room, on their bed. Clearly, this is something you do not do, but drunk, stupid, first year me thought that life was like a teen movie and that that was okay. I received a Facebook message the next day from the man who’s bed it was, telling me that I was no longer welcome at his home and that I was a bad person. That was the worst message I have ever received, because it was the first time that I thought that it might be true- that I was a bad person. Quickly rumor spread among the gay community at UVA that I had had sex in this person’s bed (not true), and I stopped attending gay events altogether out of embarrassment.

My first experience on a Tinder date led to me getting groped by him in my car the night before I was meant to fly to Alabama for a national audition. I remember driving home after that, at first feeling in shock, laughing a little, and then feeling sick to my stomach. I googled online how women felt after being sexually assaulted, and was shocked at how I felt all of these things. I told myself, “Why do I feel this way? It’s probably my fault, we were on a date, I wasn’t clear enough, I’m a bad person, it’s not like I was raped, he just grabbed me.” I was utterly confused as to why I felt this way, and I calmed my nerves with aristocrat vodka.

I was no stranger to impulsive, alcohol-fueled sexual encounters, although I would never allow myself to go all the way, determined to hold on to some shred of dignity. Still, there were many nights where I would get drunk, feel lonely, download Grindr, go to some man’s home and do things that made me feel ashamed of myself. I am a virgin in only the technical sense- the rest of it went away a long time ago.

But still, even with my alcoholism, my loneliness, my anxiety, my inability to connect emotionally and sexually with another man, I am innocent. I am innocent because I believe that people are naturally good. I am innocent because I believe in a standard higher than the one I have held myself to in the past. I am innocent because I truly do believe that sex is something special that happens best with strings attached. I am innocent because I believe that everyone is capable of making a difference, and that there is good in even the worst of us. Lord knows at times I have felt like the worst of us.

Someone told me the other day, “You don’t seem like someone who has been through an awful lot.” Besides being the most offensive thing you could say to someone, it is also misguided. My innocence is not a result of ignorance, of a lack of exposure to things that would teach me that the world is a cruel and unforgiving place. My innocence is a choice, an optimistic outlook on life despite the inner turmoil I have dealt with. I know that I am only capable of making this choice because of the way that I was raised. The things my parents taught me about love, about respect, and about being a good person haven’t kept bad things from happening to me. But they have given me the ability to deal with them when they come. I wouldn’t be where I am without my parents. I wouldn’t be sober at 22 without my parents. I wouldn’t be alive without my parents. And for that, I am grateful.

Someone also told me recently, “You have such a good, innocent quality about you. Don’t let people take that away from you.” I won’t. I haven’t done so yet.

-Theodore Dandy

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One Gay Almost Gets Stabbed And Gets A Bad Yelp Review- Guess Which Is Worse?

Let’s talk about the time I almost got stabbed.

It was Monday night, September 7th, 2015- Labor Day. The time was approximately 2 am, the night air rife with excitement from the people milling out of bars and the potential for knife fights. I was closing up at the pizza place in West Hollywood when a man came in 2 minutes before closing. I told him that he only had a minute to order something, and he proceeded to dawdle around until 2 am, when I could no longer serve him.

When I told him as such, he responded angrily, “No, you have to serve me, I was in the building before 2 am, it’s the law!” (Not true).

However, I gave him the slice of pizza anyway, hoping he would go away and not pitch a fit, the thought of being stabbed nowhere near the forefront of my mind. He tried to leave through the front door, only to find it locked, as we lock it at 2 am. We leave the side door open in plain sight for people to exit through, but he wasn’t having any of that.

“Unlock this door now!” he shouted at the cook. “This is a safety hazard, you need to unlock this door!” (Not true).

“The side door is open, just go out that way,” the cook said.

“No, I want you to open this door now!” he yelled. I began to get nervous.

A man stood up to confront him. “Hey man, just go,” he said. The potential stabber was not pleased to have someone opposing him.

“Why are you trying to tell me what to do? You’re black too, don’t forget that,” said the stabber, diverging on a point that I don’t think any of us understood.

The opposer got in his face. “You think because we’re both black I won’t kick your ass?” he said. It was at this point that I began dialing security, afraid of a fight breaking out. I wasn’t paying close attention to what was being said at this point, but the two men were doing that strange homoerotic thing that straight men do when they’re fighting when they put their face right in the other person’s face as though they’re about to kiss them.

Finally the opposer’s female friend stood up and tried to get the potential stabber to leave, and he pushed her against the wall. I could tell a punch was about to be thrown, and it was. The opposer punched the potential stabber in the face, and he was down on the ground. Security was not answering the phone, so I immediately took out my cell phone and dialed 911. The opposer and his friend began kicking the potential stabber on the ground, and I heard someone shout, “He’s got a knife!” over and over again. I was terrified. I saw the opposer begin punching the man on the ground repeatedly. It was behind the counter, so I couldn’t see his hands, and I didn’t know who had the knife. I thought I was seeing a man get stabbed repeatedly to death. My heart stopped.

Finally a woman came up to me and handed me a knife. At first I thought it was one of our kitchen knives, then I realized it was the potential stabber’s knife. I realized that he was the one with the knife, and that he pulled it out and dropped it while he was being punched. I took the knife reluctantly from the woman and put it under the counter, detailing to the police what was happening.

“What do they look like?” the man on the phone asked me.

“Well,” I said, “they’re both black, and they’re both wearing black baseball hats.”

Helpful.

“The one with the knife has on a black shirt with colors on it, and the other one has on a white shirt.” For some reason I couldn’t identify the colors on the potential stabber’s shirt. Was it mauve? A burnt sienna? Did it really matter? To me it seemed like the most important thing in the world, as though the police would arrive and arrest the wrong man who just so happened to have a knife, a black hat, and a black shirt with cyan on it instead of turquoise.

Eventually the opposer and his friends left, and the potential stabber stood up. I was relieved to see that he was alright, but terrified of what he would do. I was still on the phone to the police. He began pacing around the store.

“I dropped something, where is it?” he asked us menacingly. I looked away and hoped he wouldn’t leap over the counter and attack me. Eventually he stole our bottle of olive oil, headed outside, broke it against the tree, and went after the opposer.

I’m told he got the crap beat out of him, and that no one else was injured.

Keep in mind, our store is literally across the street from the Sheriff’s station. Literally. The police are across the street, and this guy decides to pursue the other guy with a weapon instead of leaving and keeping himself out of jail. All this over a slice of pizza.

Needless to say, I was pretty shaken up. I had to stay and talk to the police, as well as clean up the broken glass. Pretty much everyone who I’ve told about what happened has said, “Oh man, that sounds so exciting! I wish I was there.”

Yeah, it was a real thrill.

At least I made it out without any knife wounds, but I’d still rather it not have happened at all. It’s times like this that I wish all of my customers were like Raven Symoné.


The next time I worked, a woman came in with several friends and ordered 2 slices of pizza and a drink. Ten minutes later she came up to me and asked to use the bathroom.

“I’m sorry, it’s closed after midnight,” I said. It was 12:30 am.

“What? Even though we got 2 slices of pizza and a drink? What the hell?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry, it’s closed.”

“I don’t think it’s legal to be running your business without an open bathroom,” she said. (Not true).

“I’m sorry, m’am, we don’t make the rules,” I said.

“This is unbelievable.” She and her friends began to leave. “Fuck you guys, and fuck your pizza!”

Ten minutes later she was back.

“I just wanna make this clear,” she said. “You don’t care that my friends and I ordered two slices of pizza and a drink? You still won’t let us use your bathroom? Even though we ordered two slices and a drink?”

“I would if I knew what you ordered,” I wanted to say.

“You don’t care, even if we talk so much shit about this place, even if we never come back, and we tell everyone not to come here, and we smear you all over Yelp, you don’t care? And we’re not even belligerently drunk?” She said, belligerently drunk.

“Would you like to speak to our manager?” I said.

“Yes I would,” she said. I gave her the menu with the number of the store on it.

“He should be working tomorrow,” I said. She took a picture of it with her phone.

“Fuck you guys,” she said, and left. A minute later, one of her friends came back in, set their empty pizza plates on the table, and left.

“That was actually kind of polite,” I said. “I would have just thrown it on the floor if I was that mad, not delicately placed it on the table.”

We thought we’d seen the last of her, but a minute later, we heard her shouting at a customer entering the store.

“HEY, HEY YOU, DON’T GO IN THERE!” She shouted at the startled Hispanic man entering our store. “COME HERE!” She yelled. I assume she told him about the harrowing incident she’d just been through where she’d been denied her First Amendment right to drunkenly pee in our store. However, it must have worked, because she successfully scared off several customers over the next five minutes. We would have called security, but we were laughing too hard.

The next night a drunk gay man was paying for his pizza when he said to me, “You are so nice, I am gonna write rave reviews about you on Yelp.”

“Great!” I said, “It’ll balance out the other lady!”

-Theodore Dandy

*Update*- Here’s the Yelp review:

Untitled

Vignettes From The Ninth Circle Of Hell: Customer Service

A man in a robe walked into the pizza place.

“This is a hold up!” He yelled. “Nah, I’m just kidding. Can I get a slice of pizza?”

I rang him up, afraid. 


“Can I try the anchovy salad dressing?” A woman asked at healthy chipotle. “I’m allergic to fish.”

My coworker paused midway through squeezing the bottle.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” the woman said. “I’m allergic to all sorts of things, and I’m convinced that they’ll go away sooner or later. Go ahead and give me a second salad dressing on the side though in case I get sick.”

“Would you like an epipen with your salad?” I wanted to ask her. 


“How big is the pizza?” A man asked.

“Extra large,” I said.

“Does it have sausage? I want a nice thick sausage,” he said.

“It’s sausage mushroom,” I said.

“Is it cut, or uncut?” He asked.

“They’re in slices, sir,” I said.

“You’re no fun,” he said. I began to wonder if I was turning into somebody’s prudish mother.


“Can I get a new cup?” A man asked me. “Your finger touched the rim.”

You know what else my finger has touched sir? Your salad, your hand, your money, every inch of this store and, if you’re not careful, your throat while I strangle you. 


“Is there pork in your pepperoni?” A man asked me.

“Pork? In our pepperoni? Which comes from a pig? Yes, sadly,” I said. 


“Is there a tip jar?” Mena Suvari asked me at healthy chipotle.

“We don’t accept tips, just keep coming back!” I said, like they told me to say.

She glared at me. “Why?” she snapped at me. 

“I-I… I don’t know, we just don’t,” I stammered.

She scoffed. “Well i hope they treat you well,” she said.

“They do!” I said, like they told me to say. 


My boss at the pizza place, Benji, is a tall, thin Creole gay man with a soft, high voice. When he first called me to come in for an interview he left a voicemail and I thought it was from an Indian woman. He always has a bottle of rubbing alcohol that he carries around with him. Every so often he lifts it to his nose, closes one nostril, and inhales deeply. At first I thought this was some sort of quirky way of clearing his sinuses, but after a few weeks of it I grew concerned. I googled “sniffing rubbing alcohol” and got a bunch of articles about the different health concerns caused by inhaling rubbing alcohol. My coworker eventually asked Benji about it, to which he replied, “Oh, I just do it because it gives me a rush, like I’m high.”


My boss at healthy Chipotle, Bjork, is a tall thin blond woman with a hoarse voice. I imagine her going in the back and screaming at the top of her lungs, straightening her headband, and coming back out with a smile on her face. She tosses salads like she’s stabbing a small animal, and I like to think that she’s drunk at all times that she’s not at work. I could easily see her in my mind popping an ecstasy pill the moment she steps out the door, and Lord knows she needs it. The woman works every weekday 6 am to 7pm, and she schedules herself for that. No one makes her come in that long. Every time we comp a drink or do something nice for a customer, she shouts, “Sweet touch!”

“I was sweet touched once,” I want to say. (Disclaimer: I was not.)


“Are you guys still delivering?” A man asked me over the phone at 230 am at the pizza place.

“No,” I said. “We’re closed for deliveries for the night.”

“Please,” he said, “I need a man. I need a man to bring me pizza.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “we have no men and no pizza to bring you. Goodnight.”


“Is there any more of the ginger drink?” A customer asked me at healthy chipotle.

“I’m sorry, there isn’t.” I said. I went to tell Bjork. “Bjork, we’re out of the ginger drink,” I said.

She then, and I’m not kidding you, growled. “Grrrhhmm,” she muttered, and stalked off to make some. I stood there in shock. 


A group of people were gathered around a woman at 2 am, while I was closing the pizza place. They sat outside at the tables that I needed to bring in while she sang a drunken rendition of “I know where I’ve been” from Hairspray.

“Cause Ah knoooooooowwww, hawhere ahve baaaaaaaahhhhhhnnnnn” she sang, and everyone was silent.

“Shit, I don’t know,” she said, and then everyone burst into applause. 


“Reneé isn’t coming in today, her daughter fell down the stairs so she’s taking her to the ER,” Bjork said to us. “So positive thoughts for her. Now, have you all been briefed on the new way we wash the vegetables?” 

Reneé quit later that week, citing the commute as her reason for quitting. This leads me to believe that perhaps her daughter didn’t actually fall down the stairs, or that perhaps Reneé pushed her in order to make the lie true.


“I can’t wear V-necks, my neck is too long,” a tall skinny African-American man said at the pizza place.

“Like a swan!” I said.

“Like a black swan,” he said. “I’m going to put that on Facebook. Black swans matter.”


“I like your twins!” my coworker shouted at a woman exiting healthy chipotle.

“What did you just say to her?” I said.

“She was wearing a Minnesota Twins shirt. That’s my team,” he said.

“Oh,” I said. “I thought you were talking about her breasts.”

“I was,” he said.

“You’re going to hell,” I said.


“Don’t I know you?” A drunk man said to me at the pizza place. 

“Nope!” I said, putting his pizza on a plate. 

“No, I totally know you!” he said. “Where do I know you from… Tinder!”

“I don’t think… Fuck,” I said. I did know him from Tinder. We had matched and spoken shortly before I had deleted the app.

“You’re cool! I like you,” he said. “You deleted your app though.”

“Was that me?” I said, handing him his change. “That doesn’t sound like me.”

“Or maybe you just unmatched me…” he said sadly.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Nothing,” he said, and left. I felt bad, but I wasn’t about to tell a drunk customer that it was in fact me he saw on a dating app for desperate millennials.

-Theodore Dandy

Hot Tub Revelations

One of my favorite things to do is change into the short bathing suit that I bought at an h&m in Kansas City because I wanted to look more gay, hop into the hot tub in the apartment I’m living at and turn on the bubbles. I then hold my nose and go beneath the surface of the water and just sit there. There’s something calming about seeing nothing, hearing only the hum of the jets and knowing that nothing can touch you. I haven’t done it since I was a little kid, because I always had this fear when I was younger that if I closed my eyes underwater then, when I opened them, I would all of a sudden be in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks. Clearly as I grew up I knew that this was impossible but, ever superstitious, I refused to do it. Finally, one day in the hot tub, I decided to face my fears. By the way, this autocorrected to “face my Sears,” which I enjoy because I find the thought of conquering a department store frequented by the Brady bunch hilarious. Anyway, getting back to the hot tub, I pinched my nose, closed my eyes, and hovered under the water. The fear of sharks quickly arrived, and I almost surfaced, but, suddenly, the fear abated as quickly as it came. There I was, an adult sitting underwater, afraid of nothing save the intimate touch of a man. I began to feel a sense of excitement, not because of the lack of oxygen, but because of something else. It was a sense of adventure; of possibility. It was the idea that the things I’d feared in the past weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be, and that, like a chubby girl with rage issues at a whack a mole machine, I could knock out all of the things I was afraid of, one after the other, until the only thing left to face was myself. What had I been so afraid of? It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I have always been an anxious person, ever since I was a little kid. I was always living in constant fear of getting in trouble, of something bad happening, of what lay ahead. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to just relax and not worry about anything. Yet, here I was, doing something that used to cause me intense anxiety and feeling completely serene doing it. It seems silly, but to me, it was the beginning of the idea that things could change, that I could change. And with that, maybe I could be happy.

-Theodore Dandy

Flirty Gays And That’s So Raven: One Gay’s Attempt At Playing It Cool

“Come here…” he said to me, playfully. He was drunk, but he had piercing blue eyes and a cute, scruffy face. He had been standing at the register for some time now, not buying anything but standing and flirting drunkenly with my straight coworker and I. The pizza place was empty, my boss nowhere to be found. I didn’t know what to do, so I walked over to him.

“Can I hug you?” he asked, stumbling while attempting to stand still. I looked around, hoping my boss would tell him to leave so I wouldn’t have to decide what to do. I was alone. My coworker was busying himself with folding pizza boxes in the corner, hoping that the man would leave him alone. There was no escaping this situation- I would have to do something.

“Maybe if I hug him he’ll leave,” I thought foolishly.

“Sure,” I said, and gave him a hug. He turned his scruffy face to my neck and started to nuzzle. I immediately pulled away, realizing that I was, in fact, an idiot.

“Alright, that’s enough,” I said.

“Aww, why’d you stop? I want you to be my husband,” he said to me.

I didn’t know what to say, so I walked away and hoped that my boss didn’t see me hug this drunk customer. The customer walked away, thankfully, and headed down the hallway towards the bathroom. A few minutes later, my boss, who I’ll call Benji, came up to me.

“You might have to call 911, I think he’s passed out in the hallway,” Benji said to me. I looked down the hallway- the man, who I’ll call Alfie, was passed out standing with his forehead resting against the wall. A woman was talking to Alfie, trying to get him to respond. Benji put his face right next to Alfie’s and began talking loudly.

“EXCUSE ME, SIR, YOU CANNOT SLEEP HERE. ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? DID YOU PEE HERE? WAS THIS YOU? PLEASE WAKE UP, I NEED YOU TO LEAVE.”

I looked down and saw that the floor was covered in water. Had Alfie peed himself? I hoped not.

“That wasn’t him, someone spilled something,” the woman said. Thank God.

Finally Alfie woke up and was escorted out of the building by the woman. She sat him down outside and started asking him questions, what was his name, where did he live, etc. “Shouldn’t you guys call the police? Someone needs to come pick him up,” one of the customers in the store said.

“Let me ask my boss,” I said. I ran to the back to ask Benji what to do about Alfie.

“Who cares? He’s outside now, he’s not our problem anymore,” Benji said. I didn’t know what to say to the customers so I just started folding boxes, hoping they didn’t think I was a bad person. Alfie eventually wandered off and hopefully found his way home, although to this day I still wonder what happened to the man who drunkenly asked me to marry him.


Yesterday when I arrived to work at 10 pm, I entered the pizza place and ordered my employee meal. As I sat down, I looked at the two customers sitting at the table next to me and immediately recognized one of them as Raven Symoné.

Let me tell you something about Raven Symoné. I was a huge fan of her show “That’s So Raven” for the better part of my tweens. I remember that there was once this contest where if you bought Danimals yogurt you could win the chance to go shopping with Raven Symoné, go to the beach with Ricky Ullman, or record a rap with Orlando Brown. I desperately had my parents purchase Danimals yogurt in an attempt to meet and hang out with Raven Symoné. I remember thinking that I should probably choose to meet Ricky Ullman, as that would be more manly as opposed to going shopping with Raven. But I knew in my heart of hearts that if given the chance I would have chosen Raven over anyone else. Sadly, I never did win, and shortly after the contest ended I gave up eating Danimals yogurt out of spite.

Back to last night. She was eating pizza with a female friend of hers, and I was instantly starstruck. What should I do? Should I play it cool? Should I say something? I decided to do nothing. I would pretend I didn’t know her- that was the safest course of action. I got a token for the restroom and immediately made a Facebook post about it. As I stood in front of the mirror, washing my hands and readying myself to go back out, her friend walked in on me.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” she said, slamming the door shut. I turned off the sink. Raven Symoné’s friend just walked in on me in the bathroom. I would treasure this memory forever. I exited the bathroom, and she was waiting outside. “I’m really sorry,” she said.

“It’s fine,” I said. Little did she know.

I walked back out to see Raven throwing out her trash. I went to her table to pick up the bottles of parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. It was then that she spoke to me.

“I’m sorry, I should have put them back,” she said.

“It’s fine,” I said, “nobody puts them back.” I went behind the counter to clock in, tingling from such direct exposure to fame. Her friend rejoined her and they left.

“Thank you! Have a nice night!” I said, hoping she would speak to me again.

“Thanks!” she said, leaving. As soon as she walked out the door I unclenched. I had made it to the promised land. My first interaction with a celebrity and I had played it totally cool. We might not have gone shopping when I was 12, but we did share a moment and her friend did walk in on me in the bathroom. What more could I ask for?

-Theodore Dandy

How Working At Healthy Chipotle Prepared This Gay For Real Life

Last week I worked 57 hours. Last week was tough. Last week tested the very core of my being. I woke up on Monday morning for my personal training session, excited to take my fitness journey to a new place.

“What are your fitness goals? Like, walking up a flight of stairs without being out of breath?”

“Wow, he must really think I’m out of shape,” I thought, out of breath from the flight of stairs we’d just walked up.

“Yes, actually,” I said.

I left my personal training session with sore thighs and an optimistic view of my weight loss journey. Then I went to work at the pizza place, where people continued to hit on me, one of whom was a friend of my boss.

“Who’s this cutie?” asked the 30 year old Latino man with braces. (Side note, every man who has hit on me thus far has been Latino. Is there some sort of memo I didn’t get?)

“I know, right?” said my boss. “Why do you think I hired him?”

Now, I couldn’t tell if my boss was kidding, but if he wasn’t, that would explain why I had not been fired after all the mistakes I had been making. Never before had I thought I would be able to use my looks to get anywhere, but it seems I was mistaken. I feel like Nicole Richie.

I worked until 245 in the morning, and went home exhausted, knowing I would have to get up at 630 to be ready for work at 8 am at my new job. My new job was at a salad place that was set up like a healthy chipotle. I had training scheduled for 5 days in a row, from 8 am to 330 pm. It would be a long week.

I awoke at 630 feeling like death. After my morning meditation, I closed my eyes for a moment. When I opened them, it was 745. Shit. I ran to my car, hoping I wouldn’t be late on my very first day. Stuck in traffic on crescent heights, I called the man who hired me to tell him I would be late.

“Sorry, I thought I left myself time to park but I didn’t,” I said. It was true, I knew I would be even later because parking would be impossible to find.

“That’s okay, just tell Bjork (not her real name) that you called me and maybe leave earlier next time,” he said. Sound advice.

I parked my car in a two hour parking only space, knowing I would be there for more than 2 hours. I prayed I wouldn’t get a ticket. (Side note- I did). I ran to work, having parked a ten minute walk away. Finally I burst through the doors at 810, and by burst through the doors I mean I ran into the locked door and then embarrassingly shuffled to the correct door. I saw an stern looking blond woman walking around behind the salad bar as the other employees were setting up.

“Bjork?” I said. I felt like we were meeting for a blind date.

“Imsosorryimlateithoughtileftenoughtimeforparkingbutididntandthisdoesntreflectthekindofemployeeiplantobe-”

“It’s fine!” She said. “Calm down and have a seat over there.”

I took her advice and sat down at a table near the front. “How do I look calm?” I thought. I gazed serenely out the window. Finally she approached me. She asked me questions about my previous job and what I knew about healthy chipotle, as I smiled kindly and practiced my listening face, hoping she wouldn’t notice me sweating. Wow, I really needed more personal training.

“What’s this?” She asked, pointing to the folded up piece of paper I had on the table.

“Oh, I printed out the certificate from my food handlers card at staples but it accidentally printed out really big,” I said, unfolding a diploma sized certificate that identified me as a person able to handle food in Southern California.

“Maybe we can hang it on the wall,” she said, handing me my official work shirt.

I went to the bathroom to put it on. It was two sizes too small- on the plus size, my breasts looked great. I changed back into my regular shirt. “I think you gave me the women’s size shirt,” I said.

Clothed in the correct shirt, I tied my apron and put on my hat backwards like the rest of the guys. I felt like I was back at UVA. I shadowed a man who was leaving the next day to work in the new store in Santa Monica. After everything we did, he would say, “Don’t do it this way, I’m just doing it like this to save time.” I learned a lot from him.

All in all my first day was very stressful. I felt like I did everything wrong, and Bjork would correct me in a way that made me feel like I was a small child who had broken the rules. She  would disappear at random moments and return with a fresh coat of red lipstick for no apparent reason. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on her. Every time she spoke to a black employee she would say, “Hey brother! Good job yo!” She was an enigma.

Healthy chipotle has a rule that you must be smiling at all times. Each person has a “smile word” that someone says to them when they’re not smiling and it makes them smile. Bjork’s is freedom. Mine is Lady Gaga. I was stirring watermelon cilantro juice alone in the back and she said to me, “smile!” I stirred the juice, grinning wildly and thinking, “I’m having a nervous breakdown.”

I got off work, went home, and slept until 6 the next morning. Then I did it all over again. The proceeding days became a lot easier as I began to get the hang of it. I heard rumor that David Beckham came in and ordered a Kale Caesar without the kale. Maybe this place would work out after all.

After a few days I began to really enjoy the other people there. I felt like I finally had a handle on Bjork, and I wasn’t making quite as many mistakes. I became friends with two of the Australian girls who had trained me. I went on the email chain we had gotten for our schedule, and emailed one of them asking to hang out. I am aware of how creepy and desperate that was. Luckily for me she didn’t think so and me and the two Aussie girls went to the beach at Santa Monica. We stopped at the healthy chipotle there and one of the founders was there. One of my friends hugged him.

“You know what you should do?” I said.

“Sleep with him?” She said.

I think I’m going to like working here.

-Theodore Dandy

Homosexuals In Hollywood- Navigayting New Terrain

I have been looking for work for the past month, and I just recently started a job working part time as a cashier at a pizza place in West Hollywood. I initially went in for an interview a few weeks ago. After 5 minutes, the manager said to me, “Joe, I like you. I’m gonna go ahead and give you an okay.” That was easy! I left with a pep in my step, walking past all the rainbow flags and gay bars in West Hollywood. A shirtless bartender smiled at me and waved. I blushed. Please let me get this job.

I had applied for another job working as a cashier/coat check at a “gay hot spot”. They later emailed me with more information, saying, “We are known as a stand up sex club for men”. OH. I had not realized it was that kind of club. Naturally, I was thrilled to work there, because what kinds of kooky experiences would come out of that! Probably many. Also, my job would be coat/clothes check. This was rife with comedic potential.

They called me in for an interview. I drove to the place at 1130 pm, thinking to myself, “Hey, this is really close to my classes!” As I pulled in, I realized it was literally across the street. 30 feet from Stella Adler was a gay sex club for men. It was kismet.

The valet came up to me. “Hey, it’s free valet parking!” he said.

“I’M JUST HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW!” I said.

“Cool!” he said, taking my car. I entered the club, holding my resumé in my hands. There sat a flamboyant looking gay man behind a bulletproof glass wall. He smiled at me.

“I’M JUST HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW!” I said. He directed me into the back room. There was one man sitting alone at a table smoking a cigar. I feared death. Finally, a man who looked like he worked at comic con came out of the office.

“Right back here,” he said. I followed him into the office. He interviewed me for about half an hour, explaining the job to me and talking about comic con. I nodded and smiled. “You might have to break up some fights,” he said. “And they’re always trivial. Never ‘oh he stole my wallet,’ usually just something like ‘oh I wanted to suck that cock at that gloryhole but he got to it first.’ Grown men acting like children,” he said.

“Oh right, that age old argument,” I said, filing this conversation away in my mind under “Things to write down for my blog”. I left praying I’d get the job so that I’d have more material. Also, the buildup of getting a job there and THEN telling them that I was a virgin was too much to pass up.

The next Monday, I got a call from the pizza place asking me to come back in for another interview. “Joe, right?” The manager asked on the phone. “I vaguely remember you.” I was slightly baffled since he told me when he first met me that he “really liked me”, yet now he “vaguely remembered me”. Regardless, I went back in for the next interview.

“I called you back in because I want you to join our team,” he said. Wow! I had gotten the job!

“Thank you!” I said.

“I really like you and I think you’d be a great addition to our environment,” he said. Again I was baffled. I thought he vaguely remembered me?

“I think so too!” I said.

“The only problem is, we train during the day, and you have class then,” he said.

“Right,” I said.

He smiled at me. I waited. Was he expecting me to say something? I was confused.

“I’m kind of bound to these classes,” I said. “Maybe I could work Saturday-Monday during the day, since I don’t have classes then, or I could start August 7th?”

“Oh, August 7th would be too late,” he said. There was another pause. What was I supposed to say? This was uncomfortable.

“Yeahhhhhh….” I said.

“Alright, well I’m going to call Caroline, one moment,” he said, leaving to make a phone call. My dreams were dashed. The only consolation was that I’d have to work at that gay sex club after all. He got off the phone and came back.

“Alright, we’ve scheduled you for Friday night and Monday morning!” he said. I was in!

“Thank you!” I said, ecstatic. I had arrived. I was in the literal gay mecca of West Hollywood, I finally had a job, and I was going to serve pizza. Heaven. I was sad that I wouldn’t get to work at the gay sex place, but I knew I had to take the first job offered me. Plus they were for the same hours. At least I’d be able to use the pizza place on my resumé. I knew I would never want any future employer to know that I worked at a gay sex club.

I started my job that Friday night, and it was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I made a dozen mistakes, it was super fast paced, and my boss kept telling me to calm down when I literally wasn’t doing or saying anything to indicate that I was losing my cool. I also burned my hair on the pizza cooker. I left feeling like I was about to explode. As I walked past the gay bars full of shirtless men dancing on tables in their underwear, I knew I’d never be like them. I’d never be a West Hollywood gay. I couldn’t find my car, and I ended up walking through a film shoot.

“Why are there dozens of bodies on the ground covered in blood?” I thought as I searched for my Nissan Altima.

“GET OUT OF THE SHOT!” someone yelled at me. I ran away, wanting to cry. How was I going to make it if I couldn’t even handle my first day?

The next Monday was a lot easier. I worked during the day, it was super slow, and I got the hang of things. Maybe things would work out after all! I worked again the next Friday, and things went swimmingly. Yesterday, however, they were back to the beginning. I forgot things. My boss got frustrated. I burned my hair again. “Why does it feel like this is your first day on the job?” my boss asked. I didn’t know what to say.

The only consolation was that like 5 people hit on me. One guy ordered 2 slices of pepperoni. “We can’t ring him up for that until it comes out of the oven, unless you remember him,” my boss told me.

“You’ll remember me, won’t you?” The guy said to me, smiling.

“Sure,” I said, hoping my boss wasn’t angry.

“I’ll make it something to remember,” the guy said. I laughed uncomfortably.

“Could you sign this?” I asked, handing him his receipt.

“Sure. Look what I wrote,” he said, handing it back to me. Next to his signature he had written “I love you.” No tip, though.

“Thanks,” I said. He blew a kiss at me and left. I was flattered but also feeling stressed. Later that night, another man came in and hit on me.

“How long have you been working here?” he asked.

“This is my fourth day,” I said.

“I thought so. I haven’t seen you around before,” he said. “You’re really cute, by the way.”

“Joe, it’s unacceptable to deliver cupcakes without the proper cupcake container,” my boss said. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if I wasn’t here.”

I didn’t know what to do. This was an emotional roller coaster. I had men throwing themselves at me at the same time as my boss was chiding me for my mistakes, and I was stressed up the wazoo. Is this what LA was like? High emotional stress combined with an overactive libido? I missed working at the UVA dining hall, where all I did was swipe people in and nobody talked to me. But, this is my life now. Hopefully I’ll get used to it soon. Or at least before I burn the rest of my hair off.

-Theodore Dandy

The City Of Angels: A New Modality Of Life

Before I begin, I would like to apologize for not writing the last two weeks. I just started this new Film Acting program and have been looking for work in Los Angeles, so most of my free time was spent sleeping and watching Web Therapy with Lisa Kudrow online. However, I’m back, and now, thanks to Web Therapy, I know what the word “modality” means.

I did stand up last week, which was a completely new modality of performance that I had never before experienced. I found the opportunity on Craigslist, which we all know is dark and full of terrors. Nevertheless, I was given a 6 minute set at The Comedy Store provided I brought 5 friends, who had to buy tickets. Luckily for me, I am likable and people are willing to spend money to hear me tell jokes, so I indeed had 5 friends come and see me.

One of the guys there was also new at this, and asked me backstage, “Do you smoke weed? Man, you definitely smoke weed.” I politely said no and excused myself to the bathroom. His excess energy and unbridled enthusiasm made me uncomfortable. When he ended up performing, I could hear him talking about some time when he and his friends had group sex with a married woman. My first thought was, “Ok, not only are you the type of person to engage in group sex, you’d also sleep with a married woman. I already don’t like you.” He was then cut off before he finished as his 6 minutes had ended, so he called the sound guy a dick and left the stage. I had quite the shoes to fill.

I was incredibly nervous before the event, because I had always told myself that if I ever did stand up, this is how I would begin it. I would walk up to the microphone, wait for people to stop clapping, and then say,

“One time my father sat me down and he said to me, ‘Son, did you shit in the kitty litter?’

I said to him, ‘Dad, why would you ask me that? Of course I didn’t shit in the kitty litter.’

He said, ‘Are you sure? Because your mother and I looked in there and we saw a pretty big shit. We’re not sure how the cats managed to squeeze that one out.’

I said, ‘Dad, I promise you, I did not shit in the kitty litter.’

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, though.

I did.

I did shit in the kitty litter.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.”

Then I’d greet the crowd in a normal way and begin my set.

However, I decided that since I had an actual opportunity to do stand up right in front of me, I did not in fact have the guts to tell that story. So, I stuck to the basics. Luckily I got many laughs, and it was quite an ego boost.

I also signed up for a free workshop on Commercial Acting, a modality that I was interested in learning more about. I arrived at the place with friends from my acting program, and the sign up room was in a makeshift lean-to. We arrived 15 minutes early as instructed and filled out a form. At around 5 after the program was scheduled to begin, the teacher came out and said, “I appreciate those of you who got here early, LIKE I ASKED, so you could fill out the forms. Come with me.”

I was confused by his desire for punctuality but inability to adhere to it himself, but nonetheless followed him into the room that the workshop would take place in, which was in an actual building. His name was Coach Mike, and he was very enthusiastic. He had many things to say, a few of which I’ll state here:

  • My wife and I used to be called “The Black King and Queen of Commercials.”
  • People nowadays are so sensitive, when they get sad they go, “Waaah, I’m gonna jump off a bridge.”
  • Agents will tell you, “Oh, it’s been slow this year,” or “It’s been slow since 2008,” or “It’s been slow since 9/11.”
  • Theatre sucks. I don’t do that shit. You don’t make money doing Theatre. Commercials is where it’s at.

He spoke for 2 hours about things that could have been summed up in 30 minutes, and spent most of the time off on tangents or doing impressions of people he didn’t like. He then told us the importance of listening, followed by playing several “listening games”, such as, “How do you spell silk? SILK. What does a cow drink. Milk. No, water!” All in all, a very good use of his time and ours. He ended by saying, “Everyone who wants to do the paid class can stay and pay the deposit, the rest of you can leave, but take this letter.” He then handed us the letter on our way out, which I have attached below.

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Basically the gist of the letter was, “You suck”.

It has been an eventful last few weeks, having just moved to LA, finding work and taking classes. It’s an entirely new modality of thinking and I think I’m settling in quite nicely. I’ll write again next week, and I promise to never leave you again.

-Theodore Dandy

Diary Of A Gay Driving Cross Country- Part 2

Wednesday

9 am: Jon and I skip the jog and eat egg sandwiches with my aunt and uncle. I tell my aunt about the first article I wrote where I called myself a “lonely homosexual virgin”. I regret telling this to her.

10 am: I say goodbye to my uncle and aunt, to whom I am especially grateful for housing and feeding me. We hit the road.

2 pm: Jon and I stop at the Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria, Kansas. It’s a giant church that’s incredibly beautiful, and no one is inside. The walls begin to bleed due to my presence so I leave.

7 pm: We arrive in Denver, Colorado. We stay with my aunts, whom I’ll call “Aunt Tegan and Aunt Sara”. Aunt Tegan takes Jon and I out to dinner and we discuss the gay scene in Denver. Turns out, Denver is very gay.

8 pm: My Aunt Tegan takes us by the apartment she and my Aunt Sara are moving to. There is a Noodles and Co near it. I am pleased.

9 pm: We sit on my Aunts’ back porch and sip San Pellegrinos. We talk about my Aunts’ upcoming wedding. I am excited to attend my first lesbian wedding, and pray it won’t be my last.

11 pm: Jon and I have another philosophical conversation, this time about my need for validation. Jon is purposely withholding of any validation. I cry myself to sleep.

Thursday

9 am: We have bagel sandwiches for breakfast. My Aunt Sara teases me for liking blueberry. I stay strong in the face of criticism, knowing that blueberry bagels are delicious. 

10 am: We drive to Boulder, Colorado to hike Mt Chatauqua. There are many shirtless men on the hike and I am pleased. One of them looks rugged and has a beard. My expectations of Colorado are fulfilled.

12 pm: We reach a high point on the mountain overlooking the city of Boulder. 

“Can you see your home from here?” I ask my Aunt Sara.

“Well, we live in Denver, so no,” says my Aunt Sara.

I am embarrassed.

2 pm: We have lunch at a nice restaurant. I’m asked when I first knew I was gay.

“Well, Just Dance by Lady Gaga came out and it all happened very quickly after that.”

4 pm: We stop at a bookstore in Denver. I buy two books on acting and a card for my aunts. I find the gay section of the bookstore and inspect a large picture book entitled “Beefcakes”. I am pleased.

430 pm: We go to the music store next door. I buy a Sara Bareilles cd for my aunts without them knowing.

“What did you buy?” my Aunt Tegan asks.

“Nothing,” I say sneakily.

She is not convinced.

6 pm: We arrive back in Denver. Jon goes on a jog while I apply to Starbucks. I call a Grassroots campaign as well to set up an interview.

“Are you willing to do a canvassing job?” asks my Aunt Tegan. “That seems difficult.”

I realize what I’ve signed up for and decide to call and cancel the interview at a later date so as not to seem fickle.

8 pm: We eat dinner and discuss the wedding. I am nervous about finding housing and a job. I call my parents and complain.

10 pm: Jon and I have another philosophical conversation on the front porch. We are quickly running out of things to talk about. I begin to make up traumatic events in my past to seem interesting. He doesn’t buy it. We go to bed.

Friday

9 am: We awake and agree not to jog. I hide the card and cd in my aunt’s kitchen for them to find, like planting a bomb- a kindness bomb. I eat a blueberry bagel and my aunt makes fun of me, but I know what’s what.

10 am: We hit the road. We stop by a marijuana dispensary on the way out of town, to see what one looks like. They don’t let us in because we have vertical ID’s. I feel the need to make it clear to the man working there that I was not going to buy anything, because I don’t smoke pot.

“I just wanted to see what it looked like!” I say as I leave. “I don’t smoke pot, I’ve actually been sober for 6 months now.”

“Great,” he says.

“No but for real. Just so you know. I’m not a pothead,” I say.

“Ok,” he says.

“No but really.”

I leave without further incident.

5 pm: We stop at Goblin Valley in Utah on our way to Teasdale. We go for a hike on one of the trails, and quickly get lost. I take the opportunity to pose on some rocks.

“What’s this one called, Desert Flower?” Jon says. I allow it.

530 pm: Jon and I discuss what it would be like to be a serial killer in Goblin Valley. Rather, I discuss it and Jon tries to ignore me.

“I mean, think about how easy it would be. You hide behind some rocks, kill someone who’s walking alone, wait till dusk, then go and move the only car left in the parking lot. You could bury the body literally anywhere out here. Plus you could move from park to park and be undetected,” I say.

“Please stop,” says Jon.

I write the word “Death” in the sand with an arrow pointing towards the end of the path.

6 pm: Jon and I find a cavern. We aren’t sure if we are supposed to go in it, so I do. 

“Do you think we’re the first homosexuals in this cavern?” I ask.

I play “Ghost Town” by Adam Lambert on my phone.

“No one’s ever done this before,” I whisper.

7 pm: We get back to our car. We continue the rest of the way to Teasdale. Finally we arrive at a gas station. My card doesn’t work and I have no cell phone service. I begin to panic. Finally I manage to get a bar, so I call my dad.

“Dad, I can’t talk long. You need to call Well’s Fargo and tell them I’m in Utah so not to cancel my card. Tell me if you understand.”

He does.

10 pm: We arrive at our motel. We drop off our stuff to go get food. Everywhere is closed except for a cowboy bar. I am intrigued but Jon is concerned about danger. We have gas station subs and beef jerky for dinner. 

11 pm: Jon watches I Love Lucy as my nose begins to bleed. I hear him laughing from the bathroom as I plug tissue after tissue into my nose, cursing the dry air. There are ants on the floor. I do not like Utah. I curl up in bed, trying to fall asleep in the 100 degree weather. Halfway through the night I realize there is an air conditioner. I am embarrassed.

Saturday

9 am: I wake up, tired.

“I’m setting the alarm for 10,” I say. Jon grunts.

10 am: I wake up, still tired. I set the alarm for 11 without telling Jon. I go back to sleep.

11 am: I wake up, again tired. I fall back asleep without setting the alarm.

1130 am: I wake up. Jon is up. My sinuses feel like the Mojave Desert. I watch with envy as Jon uses his nasal spray. He offers it to me but I refuse, resolving to suffer in silence.

12 pm: We go to a café for lunch. Soft Native American choral odes play in the background as I feel guilty for manifest destiny. We both order the BLT and plan our hike for the day. 

1 pm: We go to the Visitor’s Center and get a map. I choose the Cohab Canyon route for us. It is moderately strenuous and I am feeling moderate today. 

130 pm: We arrive at Cohab Canyon. We pack two large water bottles and two granola bars. We begin our ascent.

“I want an active boyfriend so he and I can do stuff like this,” Jon says.

I resolve to get an inactive boyfriend who will never subject me to something like this.

It is extremely hot and sunny. I reapply suntan lotion every 5 minutes. The first part of the trail is climbing the side of the mountain. I need to stop for a water break several times.

“I love that whole colonial gold-digger history. If I lived back then I would have loved to have done that,” Jon says.

“I would have been a lady of the night,” I say.

“You would have been the town concubine?” says Jon.

“If it means I don’t have to do any of the manual labor, yes, absolutely. Take my body just don’t make me work in the heat,” I say.

2 pm: We reach the top of the mountain. There are two trails- one that leads downhill and one that is a steep climb.

“Let’s take this one!” Jon says, pointing to the climb. I nearly push him off the mountain.

We take the downhill path.

230 pm: I begin to feel adventurous and start climbing on rocks. Jon is more hesitant. I fall off of a rock and scrape my arm. Jon is even more hesitant.

Finally, we begin to feel lost. We can’t tell if we’ve gone past the end of the trail, but I resolve to keep going. It’s not until I reach the side of a cliff that I begin to realize that my life may be in danger. I am sitting on a small plateau on the side of this cliff, realizing that I don’t know how to get back up.

“I’m not helping you,” Jon says.

“I know,” I say.

My life flashes before my eyes. It is a lot less exciting than I thought it was. I resolve to do more fun things, as long as they don’t involve mountain climbing.

4 pm: I find my way back on top of the mountain. My desire to live renewed, I am more careful on our hike back. Finally, we arrive back at the front side of the mountain where our car is located. I am tired and thirsty, and probably sunburned.

“That was so much fun,” Jon says as we descend. “I wish we could hike some more.”

I stop myself from pushing him off of the mountain again.

6 pm: We arrive back at our motel, and I take a shower. My nose bleeds again. I am completely over Utah at this point.

7 pm: Jon and I go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. I order the steak and try and seem heterosexual. We are in a rural town in Utah, after all, and I don’t want any trouble. I then pull out my rainbow wallet to pay for my dinner. I do not think my waitress is convinced.

9 pm: Jon and I park on the side of the road and wait for the sun to go down. I do that thing where you close your eyes and wait for the stars to come out before opening them. 

“It’s going to take at least half an hour,” Jon says. “What are we gonna talk about in the meantime?”

“Did you know that the reason Voldemort died at the end of Harry Potter is because Harry Potter was the true master of the Elder Wand, and so when Voldemort tried to kill him using it, the wand wouldn’t harm its true master and so it rebounded on Voldemort?”

“Huh,” Jon says.

10 pm: I open my eyes. There are many stars and it is very pretty. We get back in the car and drive home. We sit out behind the motel, watching the sky and listening to Sara Bareilles. I am still feeling anxious about finding a place to live, so Jon and I play a game where we go back and forth saying things we’re grateful for. It is cheesy but it makes me feel better. 

11 pm: I become afraid of serial killers so we go back inside and read scary stories online. This doesn’t help. I fall asleep with the covers pulled over me.

Sunday 

9 am: I wake up, excited to finally arrive in Los Angeles later that day. I take my last long luxurious shower before I have to start conserving water in California.

10 am: We stop at the gas station for beef jerky. “Let’s go!” Jon says. Within 3 minutes of leaving the station we get pulled over because Jon was speeding. The cop lets us off with a warning. Jon drives like an old lady for the rest of the day.

1 pm: We switch places so I can drive. My nose starts to bleed again. Instead of stopping it, I snapchat it. Jon judges me. I decide not to send the snapchat. I bleed all over everything.

4 pm: We stop at a gas station in California. The sign on the bathroom door says “3 people can use the waterfall urinal! Don’t be shy!” I am confused. I enter the bathroom and there is a giant waterfall that you pee into. I’m not sure what I was expecting.

7 pm: We arrive in Los Angeles. We stop at In n Out Burger. I am convinced I saw Chris Brown driving behind us and Iggy Azalea ordering a number 3. 

8 pm: We get to the building we’ll be staying at. It is nice, but the rest of Los Angeles is dirty and scary. I go to sleep for the night. The rest of my life begins!

Diary Of A Gay Driving Cross Country- Part 1

Sunday

9 am: I wake up, ready to embark on the road trip that will effectively kickstart the rest of my adult life. As I leave Charlottesville, it’s hard not to feel more than a little sentimental.

10 am: My friend Jon and I get into my car, bags packed, and we’re off.

“I forgot my check. I think it’s on my desk,” Jon says.

We head back so that Jon can find his check, which he doesn’t.

10:30 am: We’re back on the road, stopping by Bodo’s and Starbucks one last time. Finally we hit the road, driving west and not looking back. There’s standstill traffic for two accidents in a row and a torrential downpour of rain that lasts approximately thirty minutes.

2 pm: We switch seats, Jon driving and me in the passenger seat.

“What’s cruise control?” Jon asks. I fear I may not make it out of here alive.

6 pm: We arrive at the airbnb in Louisville that we’re staying in for the night. We’re greeted by an older woman named Janice, who tells us fun things to do in Louisville for the night. We go to a Mexican restaurant and I fill up on chips and salsa. The waitress looks at me weird when I order an appetizer for my meal but I’m too full on chips and salsa to eat any more. The waiter at the table next to us was hot and I imagine his name was Ricardo.

8 pm: We cruise down Bardstown road, and I’m amazed to see Louisville has a Noodles and Co. I love Noodles and Co.

9 pm: We walk the Waterfront bridge. I buy a Spiderman popsicle and drop it. Jon laughs at me. I resolve to secretly dose him with laxatives for the rest of the week.

9:30 pm: I call my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. It is not Father’s Day. I feel foolish.

11 pm: We sit on Janice’s back porch, watching the fireflies and drinking the tea she made us. Jon and I have a philosophical conversation about whether or not there are gay fireflies. We go to sleep for the night.

Monday

9 am: We awake, and I shower. We then jog around the neighborhood as I lament having already taken a shower.

10 am: Janice makes us a bunch of things for breakfast and gives us a giant glass jar of tea for the road. I question whether or not I want to move to Louisville instead.

10:30 am: Jon judges me for not showering after the jog. We buy ice and gas and hit the road. I feel much more energetic today since Janice gave us breakfast cups and smoothies to go. I find a hair in mine but I don’t care because it’s Janice’s hair and she was so lovely.

2 pm: Jon and I stop somewhere in St Louis for gas. It is very scary and I fear we will be murdered. We leave without further incident.

6 pm: We arrive in Kansas City, to stay at my uncle and aunt’s. My uncle takes us to Oklahoma Joe’s for dinner, the restaurant my cousin and her husband Joe run. Jon and I argue whether the restaurant was named after me or my cousin’s husband (It was named after neither of us).

“You guys aren’t vegan, are you?” my uncle asks as we walk in. We are not.

7 pm: My aunt meets us at the restaurant as we wait in line.

“You guys aren’t vegetarians, are you?” she asks. We are not.

730 pm: As we eat, my uncle tells me stories about my dad that I file away to use as blackmail at a later date.

8 pm: We drive around the neighborhood, looking at all the houses. We drive by the house I grew up in. I take a picture and send it to my dad.

“What’s that?” he asks.

“We lived here,” I say.

“Oh right,” he says.

9 pm: We stop by the plaza in Kansas City and it’s beautiful. We get lattes and I have to poop badly. I check out of the conversation for the next half hour because it’s all I can think about.

10 pm: Jon and I sit on the back porch watching the fireflies and drinking the tea Janice gave us. We have more philosophical conversations and compare mothers. I step on dog poop on the way back inside. We retire for the night.

Tuesday

9 am: Jon and I jog around the neighborhood. I lament agreeing to jog with Jon as I frequently have to slow down to a walk to catch my breath. Jon jogs in circles around me. I pray for his bad knee to give out.

10 am: My uncle takes us to breakfast at Eggct. We discuss burqas as Donald Trump’s announcement about running for president plays on the tv in the restaurant.

12 pm: We drive up to the lake in Lawrence where my uncle has a boat. We take it out on the water.

“The water’s high today,” my uncle says.

“Is it because of high tides?” I ask.

He pauses.

“Tides are only in the ocean,” he says.

I am embarrassed.

2 pm: I fall asleep on the boat. Jon and my uncle talk about God knows what.

3 pm: I awake in a daze. I see bald eagles and feel like a true American.

4 pm: We head back to Kansas City. We stop at KU and my uncle tells us stories about when he went there. Dirtbikes, pumpkin helmets, and the police are involved. I am impressed.

5 pm: We stop at Freddy’s for dinner. I ask Jon if he ever thinks of us as Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.

“I can honestly say I’ve never thought that,” he says.

“Really?” I ask. “A blonde and a brunette, one who’s a slut and the other one who’s pure.”

“So you’re the slut then?” he asks.

I am offended.

“Clearly I’m Jackie,” I say.

“Then who’s JFK?” he asks.

We ponder.

6 pm: Jon and I walk around the plaza and stop at H&M. I buy underwear and a bathing suit. As I wait in line, a gay guy behind the counter calls for the next person in line. The woman in front of me doesn’t hear him.

“EXCUSE ME, I CAN TAKE YOU NOW,” he says.

The woman rushes to the counter.

I pray that I don’t get checked out by him. I don’t.

8 pm: My uncle and aunt take me to see my cousin. My cousin and I chat in his kitchen.

“So are you and Jon doing the long-distance thing?” he asks.

I am confused.

“We aren’t dating,” I say.

“Oh. That’s not how it was presented to me,” he says.

I wonder if anyone realizes that homosexuals can be friends.

Jon and I play with my cousin’s dog and vie for his attention.

“He’s JFK!” Jon says.

We both try and get the dog to look at us to see which one JFK will choose.

The dog licks my tooth. I am grossed out yet flattered.

“I win,” I whisper as I wash out my mouth.

9 pm: We go to see my other cousin. We sit around the tv and talk about Rachel Dolezal. I take her aside to ask her for advice about applying to Starbucks, since she used to work there.

“Just tell them you love to learn and you care about the customer experience,” she says.

“So lie,” I say.

10 pm: Jon and I roast marshmallows with my aunt and uncle in their backyard. They go to sleep as Jon and I finish off the last of Janice’s tea. We talk about my desire to be famous so that I can finally get the attention I so desperately crave. I step on dog poop again on my way inside for the night.

-Theodore Dandy