by: Johnny Gall
1. It’s okay to talk to people in bars
I genuinely don’t go to bars to hook up with folks; I go because I like to make conversation with new folks. The only issue with this is that, other than bringing my friend who’s hotter than I am, I have no idea how folks actually start conversations in bars. I mean, I recall a few instances where people started talking to me, but the only thing I can remember is that the beginning of the conversation was about something really inconsequential, like my tattoo or my scarf or the Golden Globes.
As far as that goes, I probably will not notice anyone’s scarf in a bar, and it’s extremely unlikely that I’m actually paying attention to what they’re playing on the TV. So far too many of my solo evenings out have ended after one silent drink.
2. How to cook
If anyone ever asks, I usually tell them that the only things I want out of life are a yard, a dog and a husband I can cook for. Which is why it’s ridiculous how little I can actually cook. Don’t get me wrong; I feed myself. But unless I happen to find the only other gay man in the world who has no problem with eating turkey sandwiches and scrambled eggs every day, I don’t see this getting me very far.
3. Hanging out at home can be fun
A couple months ago I had to have my appendix taken out, which meant antibiotics, which means no drinking for two weeks. Not drinking for two weeks should have been way easier than it actually was. It wasn’t that I was craving liquor itself; I just didn’t want to tempt myself by going to bars, and other than bars, I don’t know what the hell else there is for me to do.
I mean, seriously, what else does a New Yorker in their early twenties even do? So I stayed home, and I planned an enjoyable evening of ordering in, watching Queer as Folk and making up the Proust reading I had missed. Other than ordering in, I did none of those things. Instead I read internet articles all night and whined about not being able to go out and drink.
The problem is not that I don’t know how to have a good time staying at home; I’m just always so pissed off to be inside that I don’t let myself.
4. I shouldn’t talk in class unless I have something good to say.
I will never be the guy in the sweater vest who always makes good observations in class. I have accepted this; I’m just not an intellectual type. However, I would still have plenty of potential to be the person who occasionally says something brilliant, if only I didn’t feel like I was competing with the guy in the sweater vest.
Instead, as soon as a thought about the reading enters my brain, I dive right in, hoping that if I talk long enough, I’ll reach some really great, or at least relevant, conclusion. And I do, once in every four or five times. Every other time, I keep talking until I realize I’m not actually going anywhere, and then I’ll tell everyone I don’t know where I’m going and then I’ll look stupid and the professor will have to make something coherent out of the big mess that just came out of my mouth.
Really, this applies to life outside of the classroom as well. I suck at letting my thoughts ripen.
I am such an awful oversharer. I know that everyone on facebook doesn’t want to know that I was just pooping on that conference call I was on, or that maybe I should tell fewer people in the world that I once made out with a homeless guy.
But damn if I don’t just lay it out there. The thing is, I can be pretty good about keeping other people’s secrets, but I suck at keeping any part of my personal life the least bit personal. I just can’t seem to keep it in.
6. Volume control is important.
You know those people who walk down the street and sing along with their iPods, even though they look really weird to everyone else, and they’re off-key half the time? I am totally one of those people. I’m probably the worst one of those people you know.
That, in itself, wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except I also do so really loudly. Like, so people two blocks away turn their heads. Like, so random strangers make shush noises to me. Like, so the cops occasionally tell me I’m disturbing the peace.
I’m pretty much loud like that all the time, too. My mother is somewhat hard of hearing, so I grew up shouting pretty much everything I said, and I still haven’t quite unlearned that habit.
7. I am not responsible for taking care of everybody.
Have you ever been yelled at because you asked someone how they’re doing? I have, and that person was totally right to yell at me because it was like the fifth time I’d asked them that day. You see, I’m a Pisces, so I usually know how someone’s feeling, which wouldn’t be a problem except that if anyone is ever feeling anything but completely content, I panic. I badger them into telling me what’s up. I refuse to accept their promises that nothing’s wrong. I just flail around the person until I can figure out why they’re unhappy today.
Most people, though, do not feel better if someone they know is freaking out because they’re not happy. That does not improve anyone’s mood, and in many cases it makes people angrier. Which is something I always realize right after I’ve been yelled at for asking what’s up.
8. How to make use of learning moments.
As I mentioned, I just recently had my appendix out, which was my first operation ever. For several days after this, I realized that death is lurking everywhere. I would lay in bed terrified of my own heartbeat because it could stop whenever the hell it wanted and I had no control over it at all.
Then I just forgot about all of that. I didn’t quit smoking; I didn’t start exercising; and I still can’t remember the last vegetable I ate. See, a normal person would have become anxious about their health and then changed their habits. I, however, became anxious about my health, and then just figured it would blow over and I could go back to eating ice cream for breakfast.
Which was technically correct, but doesn’t really improve my life at all.
9. If I let myself fall for straight guys, I will end up miserable.
Someday I’ll figure this out.
Johnny Gall is so, so very close to completing his B.A. from NYU in English and Creative Writing. He has hopes of moving on to seminary, and then to ordained ministry and works with several groups which advocate queer equality in the Methodist church. He is a feminist, anarchist, person of faith, part-time librarian and an all-around good guy.