I wasn’t dying to make it out to Fire Island but my friend was working out at “the castle” in the Grove, and so a free place to stay after the conclusive demise of my recent long fought-for monogamous relationship was enough impetus to either go try and have fun and/or do the work (therapy). I’d been negotiating my negative association with gay men. 48 hours, in and out. 

 

On the ferry I texted my best friend telling him I was nervous to try this again, to have fun with other gay men. His response came five hours later. “How is it?” After I deboarded the ferry I dropped my bag off at my friend's studio, downed a few Rose’s Lime and gin at his work, then trudged my way through the dry sludge that is now the beautiful but useless meat rack. 

 

At the Sip and Twirl, I sat next to a man at the bar who asked if I was straight. “Yeah babes, we’re at Fire Island.” He said that I could pass for straight and should take that as a compliment but I didn’t and instead assumed it was a leftover thought of an earlier repressed time since he had admitted his age (53), a rare disclosure of anyone past 30 on this gay sacred land. He then asked me if I was a top or bottom. I pretended not to hear over the music. He asked me if I was happy. “Sometimes,” I said. The nature of any emotion's existence is “sometimes”. They come, they go. Just like the hordes of horny worked-out squads teeming on the Sayville ferry. 

 

He offered to buy me a drink, but I had already dropped eighteen bucks for my Stoli soda, was already holding the plastic cup, and was already making my way to the open-air deck past the sped-up pseudo-techno diva remixes that plagued gay spaces where dance was possible but often hijacked. He followed me outside, lit a cigarette, and admitted he had paid nearly 6,000 dollars for the house he had to himself for the week. I had heard enough. Pretending to make my way to the bathroom, I exited out the other side of the dance floor where I found a trash can and threw away the Stoli soda. 

 

I wandered the elevated boardwalk and made my way past Reflections, the house-turned-venue. Nothing was going on. It was dead. I couldn’t tell if I was horny, bored, or sad and so I made my way back to the Grove.  

 

The next morning my friend and I found a spot to park on the beach where I attempted to read Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask. Yukio Mishima was a Japanese nationalist and a closeted homosexual in post-imperialist Japan. Confessions was his grappling with love for other men. 

 

My reading was intercepted by my friend going on about a recent lost love with a man who lived and worked in the Pines. The erosion of their summer fling had ruffled my friend but I was more curious about the socially conservative disposition of his ex-lover, who apparently hated the public sex life of “faggots.” I too was secretly communing with the fear that maybe I was a social conservative. But I didn’t really know what “conservative” meant anymore. Or “liberal.” Or “gay.” 

 

Low Tea was high energy. The men worked their playful and ironic gender-bending fashions. I’ve never had a severe sense of social anxiety but I found myself unable to approach the intense performance of fabulosity. My friend and I ran into a mutual friend and they introduced me to some of their friends who were on the hunt for dick and drugs. I hoped he wouldn’t reveal our frugal stash as Low Tea had reassured my belief that I would need some chemical aid. 

 

The coke was a bit dry, clumped in the corner of some leftover baggy. The molly was sparse. A single capsule found on the ground of my friend's place. Split between me and Mutual Friend, I was unsure that I’d reach enough euphoria and the approaching night would have to rest on my uncertain personality. 

 

My friend bailed and so Mutual Friend and I made our way to the Sip and Twirl. No one was dancing and I couldn’t tell the difference between this DJ and the one the night before. I saw 53-Year Old, shirtless and bouncing off beat. I asked for the baggy of coke and like the night before, I snuck out the other side of the club. Slightly geeked up I found myself in a group sex situation facilitated by the app I’d become addicted to. The drugs made it impossible to get hard. Some skater boy decked in baggy pants and a tee joined late. His undressing revealed a skinny body flanked with small muscles and a paleness that baffled the sun-drenched days. We kissed. I had lost interest in the sexual happenings on the fringe. He acted like he was into me. My hand grabbed his cock but our faces were fully involved with each other. Just as things got a bit heavy between us, one of the other boys announced that they were wrapping things up. Jealousy, I inferred. Yeah, you could score a hole, but could you win a kiss? 

 

We got dressed and I followed Baggy Pants out, hoping to score some future date with him. But he fled the scene. It was after 4 and so I decided to head back to the Grove where my friend had left some weed out for me to combat the waning bump of the uppers I’d taken. I made a pit stop at the Dick Dock, my residual horniness unsatiated by the group sex. Some fellas were fucking, and Mutual Friend was there masturbating on site. It was time to get back. 

 

I sat outside my friend's place fumbling with the dry weed and little bowl. I jumped on the app one last time. The handsome bartender from my friend’s work was on. He didn’t realize it was me until I showed up at his place. He was tan, hairy, and worked out. Just how I like my men. We made out quietly because he lived in a workhouse and one of his coworkers vetoed these random late-night hookups. I wondered if he could taste Baggy Pants on my lips. Neither one of us was prepped and so we settled on an exchange of blowjobs and swift cuddling. I had imposter syndrome in the company of his handsomeness, feeling as though he must have chosen me at the lack of options so early in the morning. He told me I needed to get some “fun” underwear and then gave me a quick fashion show of his collection. Neon straps and zipper-bound pleather BDSM moments. “Uncomfortable,” I thought. I rarely wear underwear. He said things might be weird since he worked with my friend but I let him know I wouldn't tell. 

 

Next morning I told my friend about sucking off his coworker and he told me that Mutual Friend let him know that I ran off with the coke the night before. Things were hazy and I wondered where to get coffee. 

 

On the ferry back I realized I had not responded to my friend’s text from two days before. “How is it?” The comedown was tingling my temples making it harder to unpack an honest and complicated response. It was a shame to experience such conflict in other people’s paradise. It was as if I’d only half landed on the island, a part of me constantly looking for my now lost ex, the other part hiding from myself. The saltwater chopped up and as it caught wind and sprayed my face I moved seats, practicing my response over and over in my head. “I had fun. I had fun. I had fun.”