A Series of Unfortunate Gay Boy Events: Chapter Three
BY BENJAMIN SPACE
CHAPTER THREE — NEW HABITS
It’s raining in the city, not in a romantic way, though I feel lots of gratitude. That’s what the rain means to me right now. I’m in a cab on the way home from the movies with one of my friends in an independent theatre that reminds me of the first screening I’d been to, my first date, and the night when I had gotten too intoxicated so I had to call an ambulance from home. But the theatre isn’t the only place where I hold many stories, it’s in every single road and street of this city where I remember my walks, the ones I used to take. This city seems like a dusty antique store to me but those stories — they’re so fresh and they stick with me — and they remind me of my scars. No, not just the physical ones that I got after tripping on the sidewalk, outside of a frat party, that I’d gone to in search of my ex-boyfriend. It was the emotional scars: the ones that remind you that you’re okay, you’ve made it, and you’re actually stronger than you think you are.
I left the theatre, again, it was the one where I held hands with the person I loved, for the first time, publicly. Then I passed by campus where I was reminded of the late night walks, where he’d take a break from studying philosophy and smoke, and then he’d ask me to join him. He would inhale then exhale, sticking his hand out, to offer the joint, he’d ask me if I wanted to smoke it. I would. I would innocently cough then he’d tell me how to properly inhale the joint, every single time. I never listened because I never cared that much. Today, at this moment, the cab passes by each piece of this city like it wants me to remember, playing all those memories in my head, both good and bad. Each street bleeds into the other like veins producing a movie: the story of an innocent and clueless person I was back then.
We’re now in Yorkville, where every now and then, I remember that one surprise birthday party he planned after taking me out for dinner. He used to care, I would think, followed by my palms pressing down on my chest as though a hole was expanding and I had to fill it urgently. Now I remember him fondly as that guy who taught me how to be self-compassionate because all we have, at the end of the day, is ourselves. And that self-compassion comes from allowing yourself to be okay with who you are, exactly at this moment, and while I never listened or believed, his words would come back into my life in a future heartbreak. And so I say:
Do you remember that philosophy paper you asked me to read over when we stayed up late that night? You probably don’t because you were too drunk and high. But I do. It was about whether or not human beings are inherently good people. I don’t exactly remember what you were saying in your paper but I do believe that human beings are inherently good. I believe all people are, especially those who come into my life. I thought you were so good, St. Louis.
We lived together with five other people. It was our first year of university. He was a year older, taller, and in my opinion, really handsome. St. Louis was very loud, always drunk, and he never cared about what people thought. So he was reckless and lousy about everything. It was the night we went to a frat party, the exact fraternity he would later join, that I fell for him. This is going to be a mess, I thought then. I wasn’t wrong; my younger self always believed I was never wrong. He insisted we all go and check this frat party out; he had been invited by a guy in his history class. So we did. I remember not knowing how to play beer pong but he suggested that I’d give it a try. The frat guys kept giving me drinks. Next thing I knew, I was drunk. I had never been this drunk or drunk at all, before. I mean, I would sip a drink or two in High School but I never experienced this. I wasn’t talking to people properly anymore, only with slurred speech, and I couldn’t find my five roommates. The room was spinning fast, way too fast, but I was moving slower than usual.
Then I saw a familiar frat guy in the hallway and went up to him. “Do you know where my roommates are?”
“No.” He said, laughing then cringing. “You’re drunk, bro.”
“I need to find my roommates,” I said, breathing in and out, my chest was feeling pretty heavy now. He looked at another girl, who giggled and whispered into his ears how I was another typical first year. She kept telling me how cute I was and that I would find them, eventually. I was breathing faster than usual like I was preparing for to hyperventilate like I normally would when I was seven, and suddenly the scent of alcohol triggered a queasy feeling in my chest like my stomach was ready to explode with a newly formed concoction. I could smell everything — from the beer, that I had chugged with the frat guys, to the shots of vodka I took in. Suddenly, at that moment, I threw up on the frat guy with vomit all over my hands as I tried to cover my mouth. Everyone was looking at me now.
“Get the fuck out.” He yelled then punched me in the jaw. “Fucking fag.”
I fell to the ground. My lip was bleeding. I didn’t know whether or not I should have retaliated in defense or if I had done the right thing to remain silent and still. Now, I would have done things differently but the eighteen-year-old me didn’t know better. I remained still. Shook. This was my fault, I thought. I always took the blame for things. I felt guilty about the entire night. I mean, I should have stayed home to study chemistry. Why did I think this was a good idea?
“Ben, what happened?” an elated familiar voice said, behind me. It was St. Louis, shaking his head in disappointment and embarrassment. “You drank too much.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said, hugging him. “I threw up on him.”
He laughed, “why are you hugging me when you threw up?”
“I can’t walk. And he called me a fag. Then punched me. I can’t really see too. I’m too drunk”
I remember feeling twice as sensitive about the fag comment, I had just come out a few weeks ago to my five roommates, who have all promised me that life outside of the closet is better. But the frat guy’s comments did the opposite. I still felt insecure about being gay. This would be one of my biggest insecurities in the next few months. He saw how upset I was, cringed, then turned around and looked at the frat guy.
“Why did you punch my boyfriend?” He yelled. “
I cringed and looked at St. Louis. I am not your boyfriend, I thought. I kept whispering in St. Louis’ ears and reminding him to stop. I just wanted to leave the place. But he kept going and this fuelled the frat guy.
“Your fag boyfriend threw up on me. You should tell him to clean this off of me.” He said, smirking. “I’m sure he’d love that.”
Right then and there, he went for the jab, landing the punch on the frat guy’s eye. “Don’t punch him again.”
There was blood all over the floor. They kept trying to punch each other but people were holding both of them back. Before we knew it, a group of frat guys had asked to leave the place immediately or else they would call the police, they said. Both St. Louis and I were bleeding except St. Louis’ left jaw was terribly bruised the next day. I just had a cut on my lip.
“You’re both banned from here.” The frat guy at the door said.
“Thank fucking god, we are,” St. Louis said. “This is the worst frat ever.”
“Stop,” I said.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Ben.” St. Louis said. “Would you stop being so timid? You can’t let people walk all over you like that.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“No need to be.” He said, putting his arms over me then smirking. “Did you try to make out with him?”
“Alright, let’s get you to bed.”
The next morning everyone wondered what had happened to me. It turns out that everyone else had gone home earlier and realized they had left me. So St. Louis had gone back to get me. St. Louis was good. But no one is perfect, especially when you join a fraternity. Things would soon change in the next three years. It was noon and St. Louis was still in his room, asleep, with the door closed. I decided to make him breakfast as a small thank you for getting me out of the frat party. I paced back and forth five times, in the hall, before knocking on his door. That night made me realize a couple of principles I’ve created for myself.
One: there are good people in this world. The universe places them in front of you with your best interest in mind. We meet them for a reason. And to never lose sight of that. Two: after that night, I had developed a fear of being drunk to the point I couldn’t coordinate myself properly and learned the power of no to drinks, which I carry to this day. Three: I am never ever letting anyone punch me like that again. I look back fondly and feel amazed; these are one of the few things that I’ve manifested then that have actually come to fruition now.
“Are you awake?” I knocked on St. Louis’ door.
“What’s up, Ben?”
“I made breakfast for you,” I said. “Oh and I’m never drinking again — and I signed up for a boxing class.”
About A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE GAY BOY EVENTS:
A series of short essays on the ramblings of a twenty-something gay boy who is trying to figure out what all the mishaps mean in a world that functions from manifestation and the law of attraction.
About Benjamin Space:
He’s a gay boy. You don’t want to know him.
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