I’ve always sought invisibility and thought that being an outsider was being exactly that, but I was wrong. Being invisible required me to look exactly like everyone else. Somehow, blending right into a crowd made me less noticeable, and being new to the city, I knew making friends should be my first and foremost goal.
The weather in Chicago has finally started to warm up again after an unseasonal summer of chilly days that often ended with rainy nights. I’ve finally decided to get out and give myself my first introduction to the Ardmore beach which is considered to be the best one in the city. My morning started with a 30-minute run and a quick haircut. I followed that up with a bit of cleaning before heading up north.
To get to the beach, I had to walk through a relatively small park-like area with a trail leading up to it. When I got to the sand zone, I took off my sneakers and put them in my backpack. I scanned the area for a secluded private spot; the whole beach was swarmed with people, but I managed to find a decent one, so I walked down to the sand. Halfway into it, I realized the sand was extremely hot it was burning my feet. I kept on going like I wasn’t feeling it but I was; it almost felt like my heels’ skin tissues were being ripped apart. It was like walking on charcoal. I tried putting mind over matter, but it wasn’t easy. However, being self-conscious, I didn’t want to attract attention or come across as a lunatic due to the sudden rush. I ended up taking a random spot, immediately spreading out my beach towel and stepping on it. I took a deep breath and waited for the excruciating pain to subside before loosening up again. I removed my t-shirt, a couple of men gazing in my direction as I did so. Once I was shirtless and in my black swimming briefs, I noticed a few guys eyeing me cravingly. They were wondering who this young newbie was.
I sat down and rubbed coconut oil on my body before lying on my back. I briefly took my sunglasses off, my eyes struggling to adjust to the intensity of the beaming sunlight, and surveyed my surroundings. The beach was split in two: on my left side, parents and kids hung out while the right side seemed exclusive to the gays. Most of the latter came across as phony with perfectly tanned ripped bodies. They all wore flashy swimwear, mostly briefs, that I found distasteful. I’ve learned that those types of boys were labeled as beach bunnies. I put my sunglasses back on and decided to relax and take a nap while listening to the pop music blasting in the distance. It wasn’t easy at first because of two obnoxious kids running through with their kites soaring over me. At some point, one of them fell right next to me which annoyed me. Teed off, I turned and faced the parents, giving them almost a threatening look. They immediately apologized and asked the boys to fly their kites elsewhere. I fell asleep as soon as I got back to my nap which isn’t always possible, at least not in such extreme weather conditions.
The first thing I saw were Hilda’s feet dangling over the water at Titisee Lake. She didn’t seem to notice me although I was sitting right next to her on the deck. The sun seemed to anoint golden, shiny stardust sprinkling down her hair. It was just her, and everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. I could only hear the sound of a muffled static white noise, slowly muddling me before taking me someplace else; a poorly-lit room. The view was grainy, blue and out of focus. I was humping something, but I couldn’t tell what it was. When everything came into focus, I noticed I was on top of a guy. I could partially see his chest and chin; never the face. I looked down at my body and realized I was a woman. I couldn’t tell who I was, but linking the previous scene, I figured I must’ve been her. The answer surrounding the identity of the man remained unclear. When I started making more sense of my surroundings, I realized I was in Hilda’s room which confirmed two things: that I was indeed her, and that the man was undoubtedly Stephen. I couldn’t feel any sexual stimulation at first, but then I did, and I wish I didn’t; I was experiencing Hilda’s loss of innocence, and nothing about it felt good. When the hymen broke, it was like a needle was stuck deep inside of me, and the tissue that stretched out during the intercourse ended up being torn and inflamed. The burning sensation took over my insides, and I immediately woke up, a shadow purposely covering me like a shade.
“My friend, Philip thinks you’re cute and wondered if you wanted to come join us over there,” the guy standing above me said pointing to a group of guys sitting nearby.
He introduced himself as Brian, and he was inviting me to hang out with him and his friends. I didn’t know whether his invite was genuine or just another way of cruising. He seemed nice regardless, so I accepted. As I packed my stuff, I stalled and looked over at his group, mostly consisting of mature and good looking men. They were all in shape and the fact none of them had the physique of a gym junkie made them seem more approachable. I used my mirrored sunglasses to fix my hair and make sure I looked decent before walking over to their spot.
There were four of them: Anders, Marshall, his boyfriend Brian, and Philip. Philip was very happy to have me join the group, but I wasn’t really interested in him. At first, the guy who had my full attention was Marshall, but Brian was his boyfriend, so I played it cool. When the three of them except Philip got up and went to buy us beers, I took advantage of the situation to familiarize myself with everyone’s backgrounds, and since Philip was practically throwing himself at me, I knew he’d be more than glad to get me all caught up on the men’s current lives.
Anders, forty-two, started off as a florist. After owning a flower shop and selling exotic, rare flowers and plants from around the world, he eventually turned into a plant architect, designing large landscapes in various cities. Marshall, forty-five, is an interior architect who specializes in modifying and altering existing buildings for new uses. Brian, twenty-four, is studying to get his law degree. Philip, thirty-two, is a librarian and occasionally helps Anders out at the shop for big events.
Anders has a daughter, Audrey, from his previous marriage. He met Marshall when his wife took him on a double date with Marshall and his ex-wife. They fell in love and started an affair which resulted in the ending of both marriages and getting their own. They’ve been together for twelve years before Brian made his way into the picture. Marshall broke up with Anders a couple of months earlier, stating that he no longer felt the spark and romance from the first couple of years of marriage. Anders is in the process of moving out of the apartment they share in Lake View.
Everyone seemed to enjoy my company and begged me to spend the rest of the day with them at High Dive, the most popular bar in Lake View. I didn’t hesitate to accept since it was exactly what I’ve been hoping for moving here. A new life was being presented to me, and after hitting rock bottom with all of my friendships and relationships ending ambiguously, a fresh start was exactly what I needed. Although I found myself physically attracted to Marshall, his distant nature was a turn off and my attraction slowly turned to Anders who had a more welcoming and warm personality. Being someone who’s unable to keep a conversation flowing, Anders made sure it did by being engaging and asking me questions; basic ones that I often found annoying, but how else was he supposed to get to know me? This rational thought was valid as well as his questions, so I tried my best to be nice and responsive. After all, I was the one in desperate need of friends since I practically knew nobody who lived in Chicago other than Hilda, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to rely on one single friendship. Besides, I wanted to make guy friends.
There’s no better bar in Boystown than the well-hung hot spot that is High Dive. The bustling glass megabar is famous for it’s multilevel layout and spacious sun deck. That’s where the majority gathered. It was the total opposite of what a sleazy bar would look like hence its popularity. It was constantly congregated with people; the good-looking ones. We moved around quite a bit before stationing ourselves next to the main bar. The inside smelled of vodka, cool air conditioning and chlorine. I listened to Brian talk about drinks and since my alcohol knowledge was down to the minimum, I listened. I ended up learning that club soda was considered the cheap drink, cranberry vodka, the basic, muscow mule, sophisticated, and long-island ice tea was cool, so we all had one of those. It was probably the first decent alcoholic drink I’ve had in a long while, the only downside to it being the fact it hit me like a tank. Two glasses, and I was ready to pass out.
As the night set down, more and more people started coming in and the place was soon packed. When the air in the room felt dense and the ambiance slowed down, we decided to leave. Anders insisted I accept his invitation to have dinner with them. On our way back to their place, we stopped at a convenience store to buy some groceries for dinner. As they ran through their list of needs, I walked around, unintentionally listening to a conservative journalist stereotyping the gay and lesbian community on the television inside. As I got closer to it and listened more carefully, I heard him assert how the community cared about only two things: pop culture and the beach. A group of flamboyant gay boys reacted outrageously, cursing at him and asking the store owner to change the channel. Me, on the other hand, I wasn’t appalled in the slightest. Although the journalist did come across as an asshole, he made a point; gays are hypocrites. Since I’ve moved here, all I’ve seen was the stereotyped community he pointed out. When they walked out, I joined Anders who was still trying to pick a nice bottle of red wine. After checking out, we continued our way back to their apartment located next to Wrigleyfield. Not much talk happened on our walk, and I was once again buried in my own, private thoughts.
I imagined myself walking into High Dive on a busy Friday night, around the time most people would be gathered there, wearing a suicide vest under my clothes. I’d walk to the main bar area located at the center of the space and detonate, offing myself as well as hundreds of gay men along with me. Compared to my previous crimes, it would be my biggest, most destructive and cruelest act of violence. After all, those people were nothing but an excuse of human beings so deserving of my deadly wrath. I wouldn’t feel any remorse or sorrow and certainly no shame. Doing any less than that would be insufficient. They need to pay the price for leading such wasteful lives.
Anders and Marshall’s hipster apartment was tastefully satisfying. It had minimum furniture, only the necessary, but the pieces were carefully chosen and placed together rather perfectly. It’d be a while before I could afford such similar luxury again. It didn’t really matter, though, because if we become close friends, I’ll be around that kind of luxury all the time. I’d be able to hang out with tolerable people, venture out with them and explore new and glamorous places, all of that without having to spend a dime. Being around pretty people and nice places may come off as shallow, but it puts me at ease and gives me a sense of comfort. I didn’t, however, know how things would proceed since Anders and Marshall are separating, and Anders would soon be moving out and back to the northern suburbs where he used to live before his divorce. I knew a disconnection would soon occur, and that if I had to choose between him and Marshall, I’d choose him. For starters, I’m more drawn and interested in him. Marshall seems like a piece of work, and I found him leaving Anders to be with someone like Brian repugnant. I’m sure him and Brian won’t last. He just wants to live out his youth again and will eventually realize he made a stupid mistake sacrificing a legit and durable relationship so he could enjoy temporary youthful thrills.