Dear pervy customer:
It’s beard oil. Beard. Oil. That is not a euphemism. It’s just oil. For your beard. It has no “additional effects.” I promise it’s really beard oil.
I will pay you not to buy the beard oil.
A friend of mine recently asked if I’d like to work a few hours a week at his fetishwear shop. I’ve still got my property management job and pick up the occasional mobile notary gig, but to be honest, I’ve always missed working in retail. Evil customers and low wages aside, I like being behind a counter, especially in mom-and-pop (or in this case, daddy) establishments. It makes me feel like I’m in a sit-com.
The shop itself has two locations: The first is a freestanding building next to Ripcord, Ye Olde Townne Leather & Levis Bar, and the other takes up a large corner inside the bar itself. I’ve been patronizing Ripcord since I was a wee little baby gay, and when I got sober, I mourned all the misadventures I’d had there. However, a little over a year into my recovery, I agreed to meet a date there and found myself surprisingly comfortable in the environment. I was neither triggered nor overcome with the urge to drink, which threw me off a little, until I realized that for as raging an alcoholic as I was, I never actually drank very much at Ripcord — I just showed up there drunk.
That epiphany, coupled with Ripcord being the Misfits‘ home bar, resulted in me spending an inordinate amount of time there, much to the
withering judgment concern of a number of sober acquaintances. “If you hang out at the barbershop, you’re going to get a shave,” they chanted while placing bets on how long it would take me to slink into a meeting and collect a new desire chip. But despite their hopes the odds, I’ve done remarkably well at the Rip. Everyone from the owner to the barback knows I’m sober, and it’s become an unexpected safe space for me, where I can sip club soda and get merrily groped by strangers without incident.
With all that in mind, I agreed to come aboard as a sales clerk, although I changed my work status on Facebook to read, “Notary Public at the Montrose Forge,” because I think I’m hilarious. And of course, within 30 minutes of me clocking in for my first shift, one of the Misfits texted me all, “Where are you?! I need something notarized yesterday,” so I took that as a favorable career omen and added a notary rate chart and that repellent sign to the shop’s décor, which amused the owner to no end. Especially after I told him he could charge $30 to have me schlep in from across town and notarize shit for walk-in clients.
Caught up as I was in the joy of getting back into retail and becoming the official notary for drunk leatherdudes everywhere, I managed to overlook one little glitch in the system: The store sells what are commonly referred to as “solvents,” or “polish removers,” or, back in the heyday of adult arcades, “video head cleaners.” And I say “commonly referred to,” because it is illegal in the great state of Texas to sell amyl nitrate or any of its derivatives for recreational purposes.
In other words, we don’t carry poppers. Poppers are bad. We would never promote nor encourage the purchase or use of poppers.
Which is good, because Drunk Me was a right proper fool for poppers.
For my 2.5 straight readers, poppers are an inhalant, which cause a brief but intense sense of euphoria. Along with the enjoyable head rush, poppers also lower blood pressure and relax muscles, which means they allow you to fit pretty much anything in your butt, hence their popularity in the gay community. I personally have not used poppers for any reason since before I quit drinking, but their acrid odor brings back fond semi-memories of drunken shenanigans, and in early sobriety, I found myself craving them more than cheap whiskey. I held firm and eventually lost all attraction to them, but I’ve also just put myself in a situation where I spend 12 hours a week with a display case of NOT POPPERS/POLISH REMOVERS a foot from my face. And that doesn’t strike me as 100% brilliant.
The original purpose of this blog was to document my recovery from alcoholism, but as I went from hiding in the rooms of 12-step meetings to functioning successfully in the Real World, writing about recovery seemed less and less relevant. Now, though, I’m starting to see The Second Coming of Bacchus as a tool for accountability. As I once told a roomful of recovering alcoholics who were not at all thrilled with my life choices (see barbershop above), I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I’m doing, so long as they know I’m doing it. It’s when I start keeping secrets that I get myself into trouble.
So. No secrets. I’m coming up on five years sober, and I’m working in a bar, selling video head cleaner to horny men who have never owned VCRs. And I am okay.
Thank you guys in advance for helping me stay that way.
You know how sometimes you’re dog-sitting your sponsor’s Yorkie, and you give him (the Yorkie, not your sponsor) his anti-anxiety medication, and he calms down pretty quickly, but a little later you’re like, “Wow, he’s… really calm,” and then your sponsor calls and is like, “You gave him how much?! Shit, don’t let him wet himself,” so you immediately take him out, but you have to carry him because he’s suddenly baffled by stairs, and then when you get outside he eventually pees but only after staring blankly at a tree for a full minute like it’s trying to explain calculus to him, so you pick him back up and think, “Well, at least there aren’t any witnesses,” and right on cue a girl walking her own dog goes, “You’re Thomas, right?” and so you try to make casual conversation like everything is normal, even though the Yorkie in your arms is drooling and clearly lost in a canine version of the Aboriginal Dreamtime?
Or is that just me?
SHIT PEOPLE SAY DURING GLUE WEEKEND, 2016 EDITION
“I suddenly have a burning desire to go to Pier 1.”
“All I’ve had are crackers, coffee and half a Viagra.”
“It’s for your balls, Steve.”
“Show it to some white girls. They’ll buy it.”
“My inner thighs are sweatier in a kilt.”
“I got a picture with Spider-man before he disrobed.”
“I don’t care about your BMW… I don’t care about your education… I don’t care about your statistician…”
“If there’s a dead hooker under this mattress, I swear…”
“All I need is Adderall and the Serenity Prayer.”
“Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. Fuck all of you.”
“You don’t post CBT classes on Facebook.”
“I made ankle restraints as well. I wanted a matching set.”
“I was back in my room by 1:30… and in a different room by 2.”
“Did he really feed us experimental meat?”
“I picked the butchest color of toenail polish available.”
“You’re holding a 12-step meeting in the hospitality suite, where all the alcohol is. Brilliant.”
“I have to take my ‘top’ pill, or else shit happens. Wait. That came out wrong.”
“Do NOT quote me, Thomas.”
“My swimsuit… I rolled it up in my towel and put it in the bin…”
“I’m undetected, and we really need to fight the stigmata.”
“I’m a pup. I don’t have thumbs.”
“It’s Endora, bitch.”
“Film me jiggling my boobs.”
“So Google has a White Trash translator?”
“Hey, handsomes. Wanna have sex? No? That’s cool.”
“I just got back from Barnaby’s, and I got a piece of carrot cake I need to shove in your hole.”
“Last night was so bad, I fell into a wall.”
“I did not actually expect you to bend over the pool table. That was intended as a joke.”
“He drank all my alcohol and was like, ‘Yay, I love alcohol.’”
“Some of us are Jenny Craig challenged.”
“You have a penis. You should know how to do this.”
“Wanna fuck an old showgirl?”
“‘Throatcunt,’ like ‘love,’ is a verb.”
“Was that a squeaky sperm?”
“If you’re going to do burpees, you might as well do them plastered.”
“You… blow-dried… his… back hair. I can’t even talk right now.”
“Is that blowjob blue or buttsex blue?”
“There is somebody very, very gay in this bar.”
“I need to borrow your shirt. There’s butt sweat on my glasses, and I can’t see.”
“I got bad ass. I got ass poisoning.”
“That was awesome. Hail Satan.”
My parents and I saw Agatha Christie’s “Spider Web” at the Alley Theater last night. All three of us are obsessed with murder mysteries, which makes us a) overconfident but dangerously accurate amateur detectives, and b) horrible, horrible audience members.
[Warning: Spoilers below.]
Everyone else in our section: “I can’t wait to find out who the murderer is!”
My mom: “ALRIGHT, PEOPLE. THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN TRAINING FOR.”
Me: “BRING IT.”
My dad: “MISS PEAKE HAS TO BE THE ONE WHO MOVED COSTELLO’S BODY.”
My mom: “COSTELLO IS THE MISSING LINK IN SELLON’S NARCOTIC RING.”
Me: “PIPPA IS PRACTICING WITCHCRAFT BUT DIDN’T ACTUALLY KILL ANYONE. WHICH MEANS…”
My dad: “WARRENDER MURDERED COSTELLO TO PREVENT HIM FROM STEALING THE RARE STAMP HIDDEN IN THE SECRET DRAWER OF THE ANTIQUE DESK.”
My mom: “BAM.”
Me: “CASE CLOSED.”
Everyone else in our section: “Goddamnit.”