SEASON 4, EPISODE 46

Peter had been temping around the city to make ends meet, and he was getting good insight into industries like advertising, merchandising, and event production. “I feel like an intern again, in a refreshing way,” he said. “Mostly because I get to charge them 40 bucks an hour since I’ve got all this work experience.” He was seeming more like his usual optimistic, lighthearted self—a version of him we hadn’t seen much over the past year, as he had navigated a bad breakup, being arrested, and getting laid off. It had an effect on me too: coupled with the summer sunshine, I was feeling less concerned about my losses and instead grateful for all that remained. I liked the uneventful nature of things, that life felt normal, and that in this staid happiness, nothing seemed like it could be threatened.

“Tyler and I don’t have the same electricity we did for the first eight months,” Bart told Peter and me while we lounged in Sheep’s Meadow. “It just feels…normal. Unexciting.” “Just wait til the press tour for ‘Peril,'” I said. “Your first dose of the red carpet will spice things up. He’ll get exhausted and lonely from all the traveling and interviews, and you’ll get to miss him and have terrific sex every time he comes home, knowing he’s more and more desired by the general public but you’re the one who gets to fall asleep with him and pluck the hairs off his shoulders and do all sorts of boring, uneventful things.” Bart managed a smile and a “Yeahhh, you’re right” as Peter and I stared out into the sea of bodies, both tired of doing nothing with nobody.

“I can’t believe I’m that person who wishes he was in a relationship,” said Peter. “If only I had felt this way when Alex had come along.” Peter was referring to his doctor crush from a half year earlier. Alex had wanted to be boyfriends with Peter, but my darling friend wasn’t yet over his ex, Dale. “What’s Alex up to?” I asked. “He was crazy about you. Maybe he would take you up on a date?” “He has a boyfriend now,” Peter lamented. “I don’t think it would go over very well if I reached out, ha.” I bit my lip; I had never told my friends about what I had done to my own “ex” Jack a few months prior. “Besides,” Peter added. “I should probably get my professional identity sorted out before I bring somebody else into the picture. What I wouldn’t do to go on a really nice and uneventful date, though. You know, to have someone I love sitting across from me, not expecting sex. Just thrilled to be across from me.”

I downloaded “the apps” again that night. I never stay away for long, too curious about who’s new in the neighborhood, who’s new to the single life, who’s opened their relationship, who’s willing to talk to me, who’s willing to show me a private piece of himself, who’s cute or coy or alluring enough to get the same from me, and who’s going to outlast the others and end up in my bed or invite me into his. I uploaded a friendly, smiley photo to my profile, sent some “hey theres,” ignored a “yo bro” and an “umm yummy,” flirted with a man name Jono even though I had no intentions or desires reserved for him, and noticed that Omar was approximately 2,432 feet away, according to Grindr’s GPS. My instinct was to block him, to literally take him off my radar, but then I realized I felt nothing toward him, save for a bit of disappointment about his own cowardice. I closed the apps, put on a Rufus Wainwright vinyl, readied for bed, and plucked a few errant hairs off my shoulders before falling blissfully asleep.

“Google just asked me to interview!” Peter texted me and Bart excitedly. “It’s exploratory, but they have lots of communications and PR roles that might be a fit.” Things really were turning around for darling Peter; the introductory interview turned into a lunch meeting with a Vice President, and she already had a vacancy in mind that he could fill. “She asked my salary needs, and even laughed at my request,” he said. “In that they would pay way more. It’s like a communications director role, I think.” We toasted seltzers that evening before Bart scurried home to cook supper with Tyler. “Peter, let me take you out to dinner, for good fortune.” I told him. “And, you know, to have someone I love sitting across from me, not expecting sex…just thrilled to be across from me. And I’ll be thrilled you’re there, too.” He blushed a little, and smirked: “You spoil me, Eric Condor.”

Peter and I ordered an enormous prime rib and six sides, and I reminded him that this was all on my tab—I was taking him on the date he deserved. “I haven’t even gotten a job yet,” he said. “We aren’t celebrating anything,” I told him. “This is an uneventful, just-because kind of thing. We sit around waiting for big occasions, and we let all these nights go by without treating ourselves to any lavishness. This city takes enough out of us, so let’s just soak up the fancy. Besides, after you land this job, you can take me out to dinner, and then we’ll really celebrate.” Peter hesitated, and I could tell there was something he was afraid to say. “Peter, what’s up?” I prodded. He pursed his lips sheepishly to one side, and looked nervously at me: “The job isn’t in New York, Eric. It’s in San Francisco.”

“You can’t take the job, Peter. You can’t. Tell them right now that you’re not interested. There are thousands of jobs you could have and love here in New York. Google probably has a dozen you could do here. You can’t move. You can’t move to San Francisco. You don’t want to live that close to your mother, do you? She drives you crazy. And you’d have to commute every day to Mountain View on one of those Koolaid buses they make their employees ride. And, besides, what about me and Bart? What are we going to do? Peter, you’re supposed to be here, with us. I lost Talia, and Joanie. Sam’s gone. Jack and Omar. Simon. I can’t let go of anyone else, especially you….” That’s what the panicked voice in my head was saying. Peter stared at me, desperate for my actual response. “We’ll cross that bridge if and when it’s a reality,” I said. “Let’s enjoy our just-because dinner, shall we?” Impossible, now.

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