Him – Here, I got us some drinks. You sure you don’t want anything stronger?
Me – Yeah, I don’t drink much.
Him – Why’s that?
Me – I just don’t.
Him – But you said when we were chatting that you tended bar for a long time when you lived in NYC.
Me – No, and I still am never far from being behind the stick. That’s a Brooklyn term. “Behind the stick,” refers to standing behind the beer taps.
Him – I love that. I loved Brooklyn, when I was an East Coaster. So you don’t drink?
Me – Haven’t had anything to drink in almost six years.
Him – So as far as addicts go, you’re one of the saner ones?
Me – Sure. Even if the data doesn’t bear that out, I’ll cop to it. I’m one of the sane ones.
Him – Oh no, what does sanity even mean, though?
Me – I have a theory.
Him – A homo with a theory, do explain?
Me – It’s predicated on a few natural, logical-yet-fully-emotional assumptions.
Him – So, it’s total bullshit.
Me – Correct. So, the idea is, nobody is fully sane in the world, so much more truthful of big cities, and so much more truthful of people who flock to coastal cities like LA or NYC. You follow so far?
Him – Crazy people move to the coasts, I got it.
Me – Crazy people move to coastal cities. NYC, Baltimore, Miami, The Bay Area, Trampa, St. Pete, they all have one thing in common – lunatics.
Him – Okay, but don’t all cities, and towns for that matter, have kooks and ne’er-do-well types?
Me – Sure, but there was a longitudinal study done by Harvard School of Psychology that showed a correlation between coastal cities and incidences of being interred for observation in psych wards.
Him – What did they find?
Me – Living less than one mile from the ocean makes people less crazy, but more likely to seek treatment for mental health issues. Living in urban settings in general, however, has a negative impact on mental health until the median income hits 75 grand.
Him – It sounds like you’re saying people who live on the beach are sane, while people who live in cities near the beach are insane.
Me – Per-capita, that’s how the info bears out. But maybe I’m saying, beachfront rent or mortgage is too expensive if you make less than 75 thousand.
Him – Where do you live?
Me – Far, far from the beach.
Him – Oh, no, are you insane?
Me – Certifiably.
Him – Stop it! Don’t joke like that. Mental health jokes are awkward.
Me – Why’s that, you think?
Him – It’s ableist, for one.
Me – Oh dear, not the A word!
Him – Stop, my cousin is retarded.
Me – Retarded! He’s using retarded and ableist in the same breath!
Him – No, stop, that’s just how we describe it. Louis said he prefers that label, and he’s pretty stubborn.
Me – Anyway, I’m not being ableist. I’m actually certified as a crazy person.
Him – Typical. You’re a caricature of a stereotype.
Me – That I am. I’m a chronic-but-not-acute-hypo-maniac. Just under mania, most of the time. Served up hot, fresh, and now with a side of medicated self-awareness.
Him – What medicine do you take.
Me- Medicines, plural. And, that’s not a first-date disclosure. My drag name is HIPAA Violation.
Him- Ha! Really?
Me – No if I did drag my name would be Grace Period, and I’d always be trying to get a stain out of my dress.
Him – Even funnier. Hey, I think I see a guy I did summer theater with, like, a million years ago.
Me – Oh! Did you…
Him – I should go over there and say, hey.
Me – You totally should.
(a long pause, then…)
Me – Uh, anyway, you’re cute, so if you wanted to keep chatting after-
Him – It’s been a long time, Michael, since I’ve seen him.
Me – Sure, so… I’ll finish my drink.
Him – And head out?
Me – I have a few people to say hi/bye to, but yeah… Did you…
Him – What?
Me – Did you want to meet up again? I feel like we didn’t get to-
Him – Honestly I don’t know.
Me – Oh.
Him – You’re good looking enough. It’s not anything about you, except, just you as a person.
Me – What?
Him – When you said what you said about being medicated. It was kind of a turn off. Not that you’re medicated, that’s responsible, that’s a turn on, actually, but…
Me – Was I manic? It’s like a mutant power – I take medicine to suppress it, but it pops out around the edges, sometimes.
Him – No, you’re not terribly manic, but I’m just getting red flags right and left from you. Why would you challenge my use of “retarded? It’s still in the DSM, you know?
Me – Actually, yeah, I do know that. I guess I was just trying to be extra sensitive?
Him – Okay, well, stop doing things like that, and while you’re at it?
Me – Oh dear…
Him – Stop telling people you’re mentally ill on the first date. How about that? How’s that for a first-date disclosure?
Me – Wow. Okay first of all, it’s not an illness it’s a condition. Society is the illness, and this is my body’s reaction. And secondly, me saying I have a mental condition does not predicate me having to tell you every single medicine I am on. And third of all – if you find it awkward, imagine what it’s like inside my brain, 24/7.
Him – Wow. Sorry. That was too frank? I’m mortified, suddenly.
Me – No. Don’t be. You have every right to your feelings. Indulge them as you see fit.
Him – See, it’s that sort of thing. “Indulge your feelings if you must…” You sound superior, but I know you’re not. I researched you. You’re a struggling artist, like everyone else in this town.
Me – I’m struggling less than I ever did in NYC.
Him – And resting on your laurels, it would appear. Do you remember when you used to blog about awkward dates? You always ended on calling the other person a jerk. Well, what if it’s you? What if you’re the jerk?
Me – Hundo percento, guapo! The monster under the bed is always us. Always.
Of course I’m the jerk. And I get it. You don’t scream into the void, pointlessly, for ten years – without some self-aware moments of realizing – hey, this has more to do with me, than the endless stream of faces on Scruff, or Grindr. Of course I’m the jerk, kiddo.
Him – And don’t call me kiddo.
Me – Done.
Him – I went on this date on purpose, to teach you a lesson.
Me – Do you think I learned anything?
Him – I don’t think you’re listening. I think you’re just here to gather material. More jerks to shout about into the void.
Me – Sounds like you’re describing a victimless crime.
Him – Maybe, but it’s not something I need to participate in.
Me – And yet, you scheduled this meeting.
Him – And now I’m scheduling my departure. Goodbye Mr. Jerk!
(a long pause as he walks away, then…)
Me – Maybe I’m not the only chronic-but-not-acute-hypo-maniac at Akbar tonight?
(a smaller pause, then…)
HIPAA Violation is a good drag name, though.