Life and Liquor

Tap, Tap

Tap, tap, tap.

Christian carves and cuts, tap-tap-tap, the sound of plastic on glass.

I raise a skeptical eyebrow at him, my way of saying “You know this makes Paco uncomfortable you ass” and add a roll of the eyes to say, “And I’m not the biggest fan either.”

Christian is a dentist I wrote a brochure for. Paco is an Arizona State University student I tutor. He’s brilliant with math but weak in writing and social sciences. The three of us are in Christian’s high-rise apartment.

Work hard, play hard.

Paco has a crush on me because Paco has a crush on everybody.

Christian is short and pale, Paco is tall and dark, but they share the qualities of black hair and light stubble.

Christian is wearing a white button-up shirt tucked into tight jeans. Paco’s wearing a technicolor shirt of reds and blues and yellows that leaves me dizzy if I stare too long.

It’ll be almost romantic when they’re making out later. I can feel the static from the backs of their necks. Christian has had two lines and Paco has had two shots.

Stir until steamy.

Paco offers to pour me a shot. I accept the offer with a tap of a glass on the coffee table.

Tap, tap.

One beer later and Paco excuses himself to the bathroom.

“He’s cute,” Christian says.

“Papi he’s half your age with twice the stamina,” I say. Papi is one of those words that’s found its way back into my vocabulary since moving to Phoenix. It’s been less than a year and I’m already planning my departure from the desert.

I can already tell that Christian is up for the challenge of romancing Paco, but I don’t have the heart to tell them there is none.

Later the three of us are at the bar of Paco’s choosing.

Two dollar beers, Spanish music, dancing everywhere: that’s all that needs to be known about this bar. It feels welcoming to me in a way that I rarely feel.

Fourteen dollars later and Christian and Paco are dancing. I’m standing on the sidelines talking to some guy in a cowboy hat who keeps laughing at everything I say even though he clearly has no idea what I’m talking about.

Tap, tap. Two fingers tap my shoulder. I turn around and see a porn star from the group I teach. We’ll call him Mac. Mac is short, Latino, and muscular with spiky hair and a goatee that actually works for him.

“What you doing here white boy?” he says with a smile. I don’t even bother to excuse myself from the one-way conversation with the guy in the cowboy hat and follow Mac to the back patio. He holds a cigarette in his left hand and his phone in his right.

“So I’ve been doing that stuff you told us about,” he says, “I started one of those Twitter accounts.”

Tap, tap. With his thumb he navigates his phone and opens his Twitter app.

“Look,” he says with a wide grin that brings out his dimples

2,017 Twitter followers. 513 following.

“Well fuck my face…” I say. I add that his following/follower ratio is incredible. I ask questions about what he was doing and how he did it.

He tells me about the Tumblr he started at my suggestion, the studio’s efforts to make the actors more social friendly, using his Facebook page to funnel new followers, his new YouTube account, how he uses Buffer to schedule posts and uses analytic tools to track what’s working and what isn’t. He talks about how he’s found a good ratio of self-promotion, flirting, and humor.

He does it better than most of the people that do it for a living. But he has a cute butt. That probably helps.

“And look at this,” he says eagerly. With a few taps of his fingers he opens his messages, one of them from a local club, “They want me to host and promote a show for them next month.”

On impulse, I hug him.

We go inside to find Christian and Paco making out on the dance floor.

After a few more drinks Mac offers me a ride home. I send both Christian and Paco a text message to let them know I’m leaving with somebody. Christian texts a wink. I text “piss off.”

As we’re leaving I tell Mac where I live, adding that it isn’t that far from the bar.

“You’re a barrio boy, too?” he says. He follows it with something in Spanish.

“Not exactly,” I say.

“Oh my God,” I say from the passenger seat, watching Mac attempt to enter the gate code to gain entry into the condo community, “What are you even doing?”

The panel beeps and buzzes at him. He curses at it in frustration.

“Jesus fuck I think you’re calling someone,” I say. The box hisses static at us.

“It knows I’m Mexican! It’s blocking me out!” he jokes. I unbuckle my seat-belt and climb over him, resting on his lap. Five buttons later and the gate opens.

As we pass the pool and the flowers and the smooth buildings, Mac lets out a long whistle.

“This place is nice,” he says.

“It’s not real,” I say, “It’s fake wealth. The entire valley is fake wealth.”

“What?”

“I think I’m too drunk to explain.”

He stops in front of my place. We exchange a hug and he leaves a platonic kiss on my cheek.

As I lay in bed and the ceiling swirls, I keep my left foot on the ground to calm to spinning.

The constant anxiety that no drug or alcohol can reduce slips in, and my foot taps on the carpet.

Tap, tap, tap.

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