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The Make Out Club
Jeremy Lin

The green vinyl pouch is empty. That's where we keep the cash that Famous makes, cash-in-hand, his earnings while he lives with me here in San Francisco, undocumented, an illegal alien.

The green vinyl pouch is empty, so we have to take money out of the red one, this Clinique make-up travel case that I bought at the thrift store in Joshua Tree. I don't know what I was thinking. It's got this perforated pattern on it, and a layer of yellow comes through the little holes. The red one is where we put the special set-aside cash that we're saving for our road trip. Everyone knows about our road trip by now. They ask about our plans for it. We're definitely living in the future tense; something to look forward to. Open road. For his birthday, people bought Famous guidebooks, maps.

Famous leaves the house all beardy, wearing an orange cowboy shirt over a sleeveless basketball jersey. It's Tuesday, a precious day off; Tuesday, marked by the local emergency alarm drill, every Tuesday at noon. rrrrrrrrrrrr, heard throughout the Mission district.

All the jobs required of me in order to finish my zine -- make print outs, fold, staple -- I do wrong. Famous tries to be patient. I call him over. Ah, can you help me? Uh. Uh think uh broke the printer. Sheepish.

We listen to BPM 1991-1994 by Unrest. "The Make Out Club" comes on. You were the very first one... I put that song on the first mixed tape I ever made for Famous. That's when he was living in London; me in San Francisco. We'd just met.

Famous reluctantly takes money out of the red pouch. He has errands to run. He has to go to the post office to pick up a scarf that his mom knitted for him. Originally it was for Christmas, but eventually she got it done in time for his February birthday, almost.

My lips are rubbed thick and dark red. It's from blow jobs.

Last night, Tyler.

"I got a problem with kissing cause you've got a lot of stubble. I'm not used to the hair. Just, do it slow." So I did it soft, just tongue flickering, like a European porn, lips touching like butterflies, no smothering each other's mouths, no grip and suck.

This morning my lips are puffy and red, and usually I call that Kissy Mouth, but there wasn't much kissing with Tyler.

Tyler was, it’s true, a straight drunk guy who needed a blow job.

"Hey, we need blow jobs!" said him and his friends. They were, it would be revealed later, a construction crew. Tyler was the foreman. Well, as a matter of fact, said I. Famous appeared just then, great timing. Well, as a matter of fact. I gestured at Famous, who smiled big. He was wearing his engineer's cap. As a matter of fact, this guy’ll give you one, and we live across the street.

We were outside of El Rio, handing out flyers for our pirate screening of Dogs In Space. We had intended to go in and out, but we stopped for the $1 gins. And What's-His-Name took one look at us and said, "Oh, the troublemakers are here," and we said, Yeah, you got it, and we wound up staying.

The club was over. The three boys were out front, holding their bikes. Flyer? "We’re drunk," said the one named Andrew. That’s when they said they needed blow jobs, and I promptly offered our services.

"Hey," Tyler shouted at the other friend, the one named Chris. "They live across the street, hey!"

"Chris," Andrew pointed out, "looks like Chris Novoselic."

Yeah, I said. "Who's that?" asked Chris.

"From Nirvana, you know, from Foo."

"Uh!" said Chris.

Yeah, kind of you do, I said.

Chris was unappealing. We didn’t care whether or not he came along. He looked grumpy.

Andrew was saying, "I’m not gay, but I’m cool with that. I think maybe one time, if it was the perfect moment, but you know, it’d have to be perfect."

Whatever. So we turned to Tyler. Let's go. Golden brown curls, naughty eyes. He stood there with his bike, horny. He was short, almost. He and his bike: low machines. "Come on, Chris," Tyler whined. Chris was looking uptight. "Come on."

I felt warm in my jeans and I wondered if I'd actually cum in my pants. I felt dizzy. Famous and me gave them a moment, we passed out flyers to a bunch of assholes, tried to pick out the people who looked the least like yuppies, and when we got back, Chris was, "No way, no way" in his stance.

Tyler, come on, we called. We crossed the street. Green light, we crossed.

Tyler was on his bike, trying to reason with Chris.

Come on, we yelled. Forget Chris, muttered Famous.

All of a sudden Tyler was coasting by on our side of the street, on his bike, with Andrew in the lead. He yelled out, "Andrew convinced me to go with him to The Phone Booth..." And he sailed away. Fuck Andrew, said Famous.

We were hungry and those $1 gins were burning us up. Let's go up to our place and eat some vegetarian dumplings or something.

Let's go to The Phone Booth, we agreed over the ravioli leftovers that we ate instead. Yeah, let's go. Fuck that Andrew.

In case we couldn't pull Tyler away that night, Famous wrote our phone number on a flyer as a back-up. He added: "Anytime you want it."

Then we flew down the stairs and out the door. Our steps were made bouncy by the gin. My cap was on, pull it down, push it up. I was feeling struttingly confident. It didn't matter what happened. We were going to go bug the hell out of Tyler.

When we got to The Phone Booth, Archie was out front. "Want whiskey?" he asked. Yeah, of course. He pulled a bottle of Jack from his hoodie. He told us, "My friend got hit by a car tonight, on her bike." We asked if she was ok. "Yeah, she's fine. There was an ambulance, cops." We swallowed the whiskey. Archie. He shook his head. That sucks, we said. "You're Archie, aren't you?" said a girl, kind of short, homely. "Yeah," said Archie, neck up, rock star. "Yeah, I'm so-and-so's friend," said the girl. Archie nodded without smiling. "She pointed you out. Said you were Archie." Archie nodded, smiled, kind of, look of pity on his face. "Do you have a cigarette?" the girl asked. "No," said Archie, "but you can have some Jack Daniels." We told Archie we'd see him inside. I could feel my feet itching for Tyler. To the guy at the door, we said, Do you need our IDs? He said, "Yeah, yeah, just so I know you got 'em." He didn't even look at them. It was crowded full inside, you could feel the swell. That song on the jukebox, kind of disco, kind of punk, familiar. What is it? "What's this song again?" said Famous. Go in, go in.

When we got our cat Clementine, she was fixed, supposedly, but she still gets horny.

Sometimes she meows a sound you wouldn't think could be a cat, and we find her up on the window sill, her tail swelled to twice it's normal size, and she's wanting to get out the window, two floors down, into the back parking lot, where the fluffy black tomcat, a real ladykiller, the neighborhood stud, is striking a brutal pose under a carefully chosen sedan.

Clementine is baying at the window. I have to pull her back and close it shut cause I'm nervous she'll get so excited she'll jump. Can you imagine the sight of her flying out the window? What a cat.


Where was I? Tyler.

First, into the rush of the Phone Booth. And could it be that the bartenders there are finally warming up to us, after all this time? There's a smile.

They were out of Pabst. "But Rolling Rock is two bucks tonight." I said ok even though I wouldn't be caught dead with a Rolling Rock, but I was drunk enough that I was open to suggestions, and sober enough to remember how Bud makes me bloat.

There's that guy Pat, there's that one girl, are they looking? But no Tyler. So we talked with Andrew. He had spectacles on, and he was dark haired and handsome. Underneath those glasses I detected a familiarity that I couldn't put my finger on. Over Rolling Rocks – bleg! – Andrew confessed to us that he has been in pornos. For what company? we asked. We've seen a couple of pornos in our day. "Stryker," he said. "Have you heard of it?" Well, yeah, we know, you know, the Famous Jeff Stryker. "I was working for that company and then I just did a few." How many porns you been in? I asked. "Four." You got a big dick? I asked. He gave me a look.

Hey, I said, I'm not coming on to you. Come on. You tell me you're in porn, that's the logical follow-up question, right? "Right," said Andrew. "I'm 8 and a half inches." That's pretty big, I said. Where's Tyler?

"Now, Tyler," said Andrew. "And I'm straight..." Yeah, yeah. "But I'm on Tyler's crew. He's the foreman. And Tyler..." Yeah? Andrew bragged, "has got a beautiful bod." We imagined these affable young men spending long days working construction. So where is he? we asked. As if on cue, there was Tyler, lifted off the ground by the booze, lit.

"You remember us?" I asked.

"Huh," said Tyler, that noise that cocky straight boys make, barely there, huh, it comes from the bottom of the lungs, from the diaphragm. "Huh," said Tyler. "Course I 'member you guys."

We tried to make conversation but we were strapped, and drinking Rolling Rock which was embarrassing, and then Tyler was all over this blonde bimbo, who was smiling obligingly. He was being aggressive, Tyler was, all in her face. He nuzzled up to her.

"Get rid of the floozy," Famous demanded under his breath.

Tyler was posing in profile, looking up, eye to the corner of the room, to show off his jaw.

Next Tyler was all over an Asian girl, who was doing the same teasing giggle as blondie did. If me and Famous were women, we'd probably hate this guy. But from our viewpoint it was hot watching him be a total heterosexual sleaze.

"Who is this guy?" said a tall young bloke, a real hero with a blonde bowl cut and everything. "Who is this guy? I don't like him."

Tyler was kissing a warm neck beneath a drape of black hair.

The hero was pointing his thumb at Tyler, like a hitch-hiker. "Someone's gotta get this guy to cut it out." Tyler was dancing, doing the sex roll, very MTV Beach House. The hero leaned up against the bar next to Famous and started talking with him about skateboards. "Hey, where are you from?" he asked. England, Famous told him. "Man, not all Americans are dumbasses. I gotta say. I'm just so embarrassed. These days. When I meet someone from another country, I just gotta say." He went on, apologizing profusely on behalf of all war-mongering yanks, while Tyler stumbled back from his latest conquest, somehow wedging himself between her and the first girl, who was sitting at the bar, everyone pushed together, so I grabbed Tyler's ass.

The girls had a couple of guys who were standing nearby, monitoring the situation, making sure this guy doesn't get too out of hand.

I slipped my hand down Tyler's trousers. His butt was a smooth square rock.

Tyler leaned back and without making eye contact, eye to the corner of the ceiling, whispered to me, as if he was just talking about scamming on chicks with a pal, he said:

"I gotta say your hand on my ass is a whole lot more tempting right now than these girls."

Hey, Famous. I pulled him forward a little, I pulled Tyler back. Feel this.

Famous slid his hands right down Tyler's pants. You know the stiff waist of a pair of work pants, they stand square on a pair of narrow hips. And no underpants. Famous couldn't hide it on his face. His eyes rolled up, his tongue curled against the back of his front teeth. Come on, let's go.

Tyler slipped away, busted a dumb break dance maneuver, tossed his head, looked up at the corner, down to the floor, all chin, very Travolta. His eyes were glazed over. Somehow his shirt had come undone to the naval.

"Yeah," said Andrew, boasting his buddy's body like show and tell. "Look at that slab."

Famous couldn't hide it on his face. Tyler did the sex roll. Let's get the hell out of here. I think we had ordered another pair of $2 Rolling Rocks by this point in time. Tyler had a fresh Bud. Let's go. "Listen," said Tyler, buddying up close. "You guys go ahead, I want to try to slip out, Without Anyone Noticing."

Famous and I split immediately. Man, we were on the ball. Out the door. We were standing outside on the sidewalk and I saw a couple of the cute young dykes from the other bar, Lynn, another girl, they were cruising by on their bicycles. Is he coming out? Suddenly I felt a little pathetic, waiting out in the cold. But not pathetic enough.

Finally, I said, Ok, Famous.

He looked at me, alert, buzzed on gin and beer, bouncing a little. His eagerness and his cap made him look like a cadet. I played sergeant:

Ok, Famous, I said. Go get 'im.

It must have been the gin: Famous is such a shy boy. But as soon as I'd said it, he was skipping back to the bar.

I've been thinking about those blue bowls from Chinatown, the ones with the thin, wobbly brown lines. We're using them now for the cats, Isabel and Clementine, on the kitchen floor, one bowl for water and one for food.

We got them when we moved into the place on Porter St. A basement on a dead-end street. Everyone called it the End of The World.

Famous had decided to stay. We had been long-distance lovers for over three years. I would go to England, he would come to California, we'd meet in New York City. We'd go for months on mixed tapes and masturbation, not seeing each other once. Finally, it was summer, Famous was in San Francisco, he was finished with school, we are so in love, no reason not to stay, he didn't get on his flight.

Staying at the house on 17th wasn't really an option. It was a nice place, but there wasn't really room enough for the both of us. The roommates were Lovely girls, really, but a little... Well, one of them told me I needed to learn to dry off better before stepping onto the bath mat after a shower cause it was getting too damp.

So we decided to move, and moving in together is weird when it's not a marriage thing, or something so legit as that, but involves subterfuge. In this case, one partner is making the conscious decision to become an illegal alien. We pretended to the landlord like it was just me going to live there.

We needed bowls, which brought us to Chinatown. We were looking, in that 3-story emporium, my favorite shop there, down in the basement we were looking for dishware with slightly wobbly lines, not traditional designs, but almost. Organic, sort of. Brown and blue. We were going to move in together just like real adults, except we're both boys and Famous was going to be overstaying his visa in order to live here. Illegal. So it was kind of fake, and all the more real. It was like playing house. I said thank you in Mandarin to the lady at the cash register, but she wasn't going there with me. She said, "You’re welcome." I always pay a dollar extra for the plastic "San Francisco" shopping bag.

Eventually, that apartment was invaded. Spores of mold did naughty dances on the ceiling in the bathroom, on the shoulders of our jackets in the closet and in the valleys of the woven carpet under the futon. Dared each other to jump onto our pillows and ski down the slopes of our noses. The mold was persistent: Silent and barely-there, it dotted the pages of our paperbacks, abstract punctuation. An army squatted in circle formation near the window frame, like a neurotic Yayoi Kusama painting. That house knew how to emulate my disintegration.

We lived in that place on Porter St for two years and I think we played house well. Because despite the mold, a lot of people came to visit us, came for solace and tea, and Galaxie 500 through my cherished old Harman Kardon stereo receiver.

I asked Tyler, what kind of music do you want to listen to? What would be appropriate for this scenario? He responded, "ambient." I thought, ok, what have I got? My current favorite record to fuck to was This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About by Modest Mouse, and somehow it didn't seem right. I said, Uh, like Massive Attack? He agreed. We put it on in the lounge, and we sank into the big green couch. We lasted maybe a song, and I suggested that we take the CD and ourselves into the bedroom. Famous went to the bathroom and when he joined us in the bedroom, I was on top of Tyler, kissing him. Famous climbed up and then I was down, face to face with the monkey imprinted on the snap of Tyler's Ben Davis trousers, and then that snap was off and the pants were pulled down off his hips. I cherished that pull. Everything was rocks on Tyler. Rock boobs, rock biceps, rock thighs.

"I'm a little weird with the kissing," said Tyler. "The stubble." Okay. I slowed down. Gave him a little flickering tongue, like the silly boys in European porns.

Famous was so pleased to hear the cliché was true:

"You guys just...," said Tyler. "Girls just don't..."

His glazed eyes would look off, to the right and up, posing, just like in the bar, drunk, and proving he wasn't that into it, just being serviced. In profile he looked classical. I'd made him a promise, back at the bar, whispered, and I did it. Pushed his legs apart and rolled them back and put my lips to his asshole. The crack was perfect, just slightly fuzzy, clean. Down there he placed no restrictions on French kissing.

I started putting my fingertip in, and then Tyler said, "Do you have lube?" which I kind of ignored until he said it again, and I realized he wanted to be finger-fucked.

I went to the bathroom, teetering. Please let my roommates' lube be on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet, where it usually is. It isn't. Er. Oh, yes, it is. "Put it in," said Tyler, "like that, yeah." I thought I felt a turd. I imagined a wrinkled fig. I hoped it wouldn't cause a scene and obligingly it went away. "Okay," directed Tyler, "now back towards you." I made a c-shape with my finger. A comma, a hook. "Right there." Bingo, prostate. Usually, I never get it right. Tyler knew what he was talking about. Later me and Famous admitted to each other how impressed we were. Famous said, "Jeez, I think I need to take one of those sex-positive classes where I squat over a mirror and learn about my anatomy." I thought of the diagram they have up on the wall at Good Vibrations. Oh? I thought when I first saw it. Oh, I thought tonight.

"There," said Tyler, and I hit it. "Not so hard." Okay. But I wanted to poke the shit out of this straight boy. "Not so hard, not so hard." Ok. I slowed down. I caressed. I felt proud of myself. Caressing just like a gentleman would. I always think of making mom proud in moments like that. She used to read me Highlights For Children magazine, and the "Goofus and Gallant" comic was my favorite. "Who do you want to be?" Gallant, I'd tell my mom. I want to be Gallant. I wanted to be Gallant, so I caressed Tyler's prostate gently. But then I got into a rhythm where I'd rub a little and then kind of hit it and dig in. Shit, I thought. I knew I should've clipped my fingernails. I always hate having overgrown nails. Now I saw a practical reason as to why. I could feel my nail cutting into Tyler's slimy cave wall. I wanted to scratch my initials there. I slipped my middle finger in. Two fit so easily. We teased him: Bet you want something thicker.

Tyler was breathless. Famous sucked him off ferociously. Tyler edged off the bed and his arm reached back and braced the floor, balletic. He went, "uh." I looked up. Famous got his mouth off of Tyler's long, thin dick. "I'm gonna..."

Afterwards, I went into the bathroom and Tyler was taking a piss and I joined him at the toilet. It was sweet. Cause I know even some other gay couples don't take a waz at the same time. And I always think it’s one of the advantages to hanging out with other boys. Here was me and Tyler with our dicks out, peeing together. We looked down at our dicks. Tyler remarked on my girth. Bet you want something thicker. He pushed his upper lip with his lower lip, a tough move. A cocky smirk, but almost feminine, almost a pout.

The next morning, it was a shock to see Tyler’s handsome profile between us. That slight smack of the lips you do when you awake. He had a considerable hard-on, so we started sucking on it despite our filmy, bad-breath mouths. We wanted Tyler to jack his dick off for us, put on a show. We egged him on and he stood up and stretched out his strong body for us, pulled on his dick. But he decided it wasn't going to happen, so he just put the extra lube from his fingers into his curly hair, pushed his upper lip with his lower lip, a smirk, and pulled on his Ben Davis. Paint splatters on midnight blue. Paint-splattered Pumas. A green nylon windbreaker.

We made Tyler coffee and bagels. We have a freezer full of bagels, leftovers passed on to us from our friends who work at a coffeeshop. He asked for another and he scarfed that one down too, as well as the strawberries my parents had brought up from the suburbs a couple days before. Tyler broke off pieces of bagel and stuffed them into his mouth. He talked through it all, about how he’s taking ballet classes. He wants to be a ballerina. He wants to go to Italy and to the Louvre. About his plans for his crew for the day. Who'd get there early (Chris), who'd get there late (Andrew). And what would they think? How they’d make fun of him. We gave Tyler the upper hand by ratting Andrew, how he confessed he’s been in pornos. How frustrated he is that Matt, who hasn't been laid in two years, wouldn't go with the flow last night. We didn't tell him we didn't care.

We told him about a friend of ours who needed house painting jobs. "Yeah," he said, considering. "We paint in two weeks." She's a she. "That's something we haven't had in a while, we haven't had a girl on the site," said Tyler. "We had a girl painter, and get this, her last name was Picasso." Tyler told us that Chris's last name is Sander, and how all he ever seems to do on the job is sand. And his boss, a gay man, his last name is Fairy.

"And what's your last name?" asked Famous. "Quest," smirked Tyler, bottom lip pushing upper. "That's perfect for the hero," said Famous. "I made it up," said Tyler, pushing up his lip. "I had it changed." He told us a little bit of the long story behind the name.

He lifted his bike, carried it down the stairs.

As Tyler cycled away, Famous watched him through the window. "Damn, that ass," said Famous. And his shoulders, so broad and freckly.




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