It was Saturday evening and there was a buzz at my door. It was Benjamin returning to the Love Shack, the very Love Shack he had been so swiftly booted from less than twenty-four hours ago after drunkenly uttering an ex’s name during what would have been a sex-tacular time in bed. After accepting his apology this morning, we had reestablished our original Saturday night plans to have a nice dinner and head downtown for an indie play that my friend was producing. What Benjamin didn’t know was that I was bringing two of my trustiest sidekicks along for the ride.
After a quick make-up make-out session that left us both wanting more, we were obliged to leave our racing hormones behind in order to make it to dinner on time. As we walked to Nick’s around the corner, happily hand-in-hand, I informed him that our dinner for two was no more. Benjamin didn’t seem to mind that two of my dearest friends would be joining us, but after last night’s slip of tongue, how could he argue? He had met Annie Smalls the night before and was well aware that she packed a punch, but there was no way to prepare him for Juan Jose.
Juan Jose was my token gay sidekick, something that every girl in the fashion industry is presumed to have. Juan Jose hailed from Spain and was a makeup artist to celebrities and socialites alike, jet-setting to Hawaii one day and to Paris the next. He rarely had anything in common with the men I dated and had not approved of even one boyfriend to this day.
Juan Jose had seen me at my best and seen me at my worst. During an emotional breakdown/drunken stupor after my second heartbreak from The Attorney, Juan Jose came to my apartment, threw me in a cold shower, and told me to get my shit together and my ass to work. He was an honest man, but a damn good friend.
As we ate dinner, I could feel Juan Jose judging Benjamin, his stare across the table silently asking me why I had allowed a man who shopped at Sears into my pants. Hell, all seventy-five and a half inches of Hershey had been impeccably dressed from head to toe, and he hadn't even passed Juan Jose’s inspection. I knew this scientist from Belmar wouldn’t stand a chance under Juan Jose’s critical eye—but for once, I didn’t care. I was positive that after spending an evening with Benjamin, Juan Jose would see why I gave this St. John’s Bay-Rockport sporting science geek a second chance.
A few hours later we had made it through dinner on the Upper East Side and an off-Broadway play on the Lower East Side. It was time to start drinking. Per Juan Jose’s suggestion, we ventured a few blocks north and headed to Beauty Bar, a nail salon by day, a hotspot for non-hetero’s by night. But Benjamin never flinched. As soon as Benjamin excused himself to use the restroom, Juan Jose gave me the third degree.
“So do you really like this guy? Exactly how long have you been seeing him? Why is he so touchy-feely with you? This is the same guy who called you the wrong name last night, right?” he inquisitively rattled off.
“Umm, yes, a few weeks, is it awkward? Yes.” I quickly answered as Benjamin returned. Juan Jose and I immediately returned to our conversation about a pair of Dior Homme sneakers that he had just purchased while Benjamin silently wondered who Dior was and how could anyone spend over $100, let alone $500, on a pair of shoes.
After two rounds of drinks, we headed a few blocks away to Bar 13 where one of Benjamin’s friends from college was having a birthday gathering. In my opinion, our night had improved with both time and vodka consumption. I could tell that Benjamin was growing on Juan Jose by the drink—until suddenly, I was pushed off my bar stool. I angrily turned around to find an average height, average looking guy sporting a bedazzled Ed Hardy t-shirt and a New Jersey guido attitude.
“Umm, hi. Excuse me. You just pushed me off my seat. I was sitting there.” I bitchily snapped, pointing at the bar stool where The Guido now sat.
“Oh really? Well it didn’t look like you were using it.” The Guido replied with dickface attitude.
“Really, dude? She was f*cking sitting on the stool.” Juan Jose quickly stepped in while I tried to reclaim my seat.
“Aren’t you going to do something?” Juan Jose grumbled to Benjamin while staring The Guido down.
Benjamin was silent for a moment and then replied with embarrassment, “Ummm, that’s actually my friend.”
Juan Jose and I looked at each in disgust and disbelief while Benjamin tried to awkwardly introduce us.
“Oh, you know them?” The Guido chortled as he turned his back to us to order another drink from the bar.
Before either Benjamin or I could say another word, Juan Jose grabbed my arm and steered me to the corner of the bar.
“I don’t like this and I don’t like either of them.” Juan Jose irritably informed me as we walked away. “We need to go.”
Before I could respond to Juan Jose’s demands, Benjamin walked over to us to apologize for his friend. He informed us that the rest of his friends were upstairs and would we please come meet them. Juan Jose and I reluctantly followed Benjamin up the stairs to the bar’s rooftop. I could feel Juan Jose’s eyes burning through the back of my head as we weaved through the crowd towards Benjamin’s friends.
Upon introduction, Benjamin’s friends coldly said hello and quickly returned to their private conversations, turning their backs to Juan Jose and me. I could see Juan Jose’s face getting redder and eyes wider, bewildered at our current situation, while Benjamin didn’t even seem phased by the aura of impoliteness that encircled his group of friends.
Juan Jose grabbed my arm and excused both of us to the bathroom. Before we could walk away, Benjamin quietly suggested that we leave the bar. He could tell that we were both angry and uncomfortable, not to mention completely unimpressed with his choice of friends. We agreed to meet Benjamin outside—he would say his goodbyes while we hit up the bathroom.
But rather than heading towards the line for the bathroom, Juan Jose pulled me outside.
“We’re leaving. Now.” he ordered as he hailed a cab.
Suddenly I was in a cab, headed towards the Upper East Side—without Benjamin. I looked at Juan Jose with knowing eyes. He was right. Benjamin was not for me.