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A little over six years ago, I was still living in Minneapolis, pining over a player. A recently-out butch man with a buzz cut, an ex-wife, and a four year-old son. We had met at a bar and cruised each other, and within a half an hour were making out, much to my friends’ amusement. We drove in his enormous pick-up through the icy streets to my apartment. Walking to the front door, he drunkenly took my hand and we half-skated the sidewalks together. Inside, in the darkness of my room, his naked, sturdy body felt amazing. He hadn’t done this with very many men. “So that’s what’s it’s supposed to feel like,” he said. I was hooked.

Fool. I learned quick that getting involved with a man just coming out wasn’t wise.
One night we met at the bar, had a drink together, and I watched as he proceeded to make out with another guy. This happened a lot. He wanted sex, I wanted more. Though we slept together a couple more times, each time hotter than the one before, we never became more. I nicknamed him “Trouble” and spent some time feeling all melancholy and unrequited.

I thought about him when I read this. Around the time I first met Trouble, TLC had come out with Crazy Sexy Cool, which I bought solely for the single, “Creep”. I wore that tune out over the next few months. Her tale of cheating, the down-beat, the trumpet’s notes got under my skin and said it all for me. Though I didn’t care much for the rest of the album, and hated the preaching on “Waterfalls”, “Creep” stuck in me and with me. I still have the CD.

He slept with a lot of men. (Listen to me. A slut is anyone who’s had more sex than me.) Over the course of time, his mannerisms began to, uh, change. The “girl” speak, the tearing down of other boys, the all-gay-men-act-the-same-way view of life. Each time I’d see him, I’d ask about his son, to whom he was devoted. Over time, he became less animated when discussing the boy, hinting the ex-wife was becoming increasingly impatient with him. The last time I saw him, he hadn’t seen the boy in awhile.

I met the man who would become the Ex, and fell for him. The Ex had jealousy issues, to say the least, and he always hated Trouble, the last guy I slept with after I met the Ex. They once had words in front of me. I should have taken heed of that jealousy, but that’s another tale. We moved to San Francisco.

We visited Minneapolis over Christmas of 1999. I was trying to quit speed, hiding the majority of my usage from the Ex, but failing miserably. We ended up at a party with some friends, where I could see that Tina was fast making friends in the Midwest. Three boys stood around a fourth boy sitting at a computer looking at porn. My dealer was in the bathroom, making out with another boy. The Ex and I made small talk with others in the living room. I was too high; jittery, fucked-up. After a couple of hours of teeth-gritting conversation, we got up to leave. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. The front door opened and Trouble walked in with this young blonde boy. The kid was wearing nothing but a frilly pink apron, carting a vacuum cleaner in one hand and an enormous dildo in the other. Trouble stood to the side, smiling weakly, as his boyfriend pretended to vacuum the floor. Everyone laughed. All I could think was that it was winter, incredibly cold, and we were in a very quiet residential neighborhood. My friend who owned the house disappeared into the basement, leaving his boyfriend to deal with the party-goers.

What did Trouble say, that last time? “You were always the biggest sweetheart. I wasn’t ready when I met you.”

Neither was I, apparently.

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