a few weeks ago, i found myself enjoying my first proper night out in weho. crammed around a v.i.p. cabana in the back of the abbey, josh’s mom emily was holding court, celebrating her birthday as only a diva mom could—slamming back apple martinis with her son and a myriad of gay boys.
it was crowded on this friday night, and my eyes were darting constantly, absorbing my new surroundings. whereas in london i might be scanning for familiar faces [current boyfriends], cuties [future ex-boyfriends] and landmines [ex-boyfriends], here i was just trying to recalibrate. everywhere my eyes rested i saw gleaming white smiles and bulging muscles… exactly what i used to hate about l.a.
eventually i spot james, a lad i’d met months ago. a straight friend of josh, i’d spent just a few minutes nervously conversing with him when i first landed in l.a., before i began my househunting, before i finished my move. seems like years ago.
james is tall, has a wiry frame, but is a bit tough-looking. he’s wearing a white tank top, tattoos peeking through. i watch him light up a cigarette, nervously suck on it, and the smoke trickles out between his lips, rolling out over his little soul patch.
i wait for him to recognize me. he doesn’t. i go to the bar to get more drinks for the birthday girl, which takes 20 minutes. looking around, all i spot again are gleaming white smiles, and muscles. yet, all i hear are queeny bitchy accents. gotta love l.a.
i return to the cabana, set down the drinks, and make eye contact with james. he’s chatting with amber, the girl who i’m certain is his the object of his affection. he stops mid-sentence, turns to me, and says you are so cute!
hours later, we’re in his pickup truck dropping off his friends all across l.a.. racing along empty freeways at 3am, we head towards dodgers stadium to deposit mike, the last of his friends in our late-night carpool. we pull up to mike’s house, he jumps out and says goodnight.
james turns to me with a wicked look in his eye, and smiles. we kiss. i feel his soulpatch on my lips, i spot his tattoo out of the corner of my eye. we separate, we smile, and for minutes we look out over the valley, the orange glow of streetlights shimmering across l.a. at 3am.
can you drive? he asks. sure. we swap seats.
as i race his rickety pickup down the 101, he starts blaring some 311. dude, this is my favorite band, they fucking rock. he lights up a cigarette, and passes it to me. i smoke it. this is significant—i’ve never been able to smoke a cigarette before. but, sitting behind the wheel of his pickup, so-cal ska blaring from his tinny speakers, it feels right. i feel tough.
i thought you were straight? i challenge him. he laughs and looks out the window. no, dude. definitely not. his hand is on my knee. he’s staring at me smiling. i take my eyes off the road to stare back. for 10 seconds, i ignore the road in front of me, and gaze into his eyes. e-lec-tric-i-ty.
i love you, he tells me. i smile. no, really, i love you he says again. he inches closer, and kisses me. i sigh. he kisses harder. the truck swerves, i squeal.
i laugh as i hear myself say, dude, you gotta… dude, you gotta stop… mmm… bro, dude, you gotta… there’s no stopping him, i just pray i don’t get pulled over. the last thing i need is a moving violation on my first night out in l.a.
you know what? i love him too. just for tonight.