by Sean Thor Conroe


I pulled up early to the house I used to live in.
For the New Year’s party my ex-roomies were throwing.
I showed up on time, but no one besides my ex-roomies were there, since on time was early at parties.
I hadn’t been drinking or going to parties for months now, so I’d forgotten.
But here I was.
At a party.
So I started drinking.
Last year’s New Year’s got ugly.
Happened here, at this house, only back then I still lived in it.
Had just moved into it.
Into the third floor ‘closet room.’
I had, since, graduated into a new ‘closet room,’ across town.
Well . . . ‘closet-sized.’
This new room itself had a closet.
Which I think disqualified it from being a closet.
But same feel.
Same claustrophobia.
Same shitty ventilation.
But last year.
The beginning of the end.
Or end of the beginning.
Or maybe just beginning.
Of everything.
Of the sadness.
Of Reality.
When ex bae and I decided to open things up.
Or maybe when ex bae got a firsthand look into how I polyamorized when she wasn’t around.
Before we’d agreed that polyamory was what we were doing.
Side bae coming on strong, all of us coming up, and me shrugging like Hey, ex bae, whattaya want me to do?
Side bae tryna get it.
That’s her right.
All about equal rights here.
Just like it’s my right to be a spineless fuck with no loyalty or resolve.
Molly, y’all. 
That dang molly!
This year though.
This year wasn’t last year.
This was a New Year.
Side bae showed up around eleven with the beans, like she’d promised.
I’d insisted No, not this time around, I was done with that.
Right up until the moment she procured my double-dose capsule.
Till she handed me the beer to wash it down with, watching to make sure I swallowed.
Right up until then, I resisted.
But how assertively she asserted.
What other choice did I have.
Yes ma’am, I said, swallowing.
Too much activity going on, all around.
I returned to the middle-room couch.
Next to the roomie, who showed up with his wifey not long before side bae did.
He was on something too, wasn’t sure what. 
But we started talking faster and faster and more emotionally and less judgmentally.
I’d cut my hair, dolled myself up, and washed for tonight.
Felt prettier and prettier the more people showed.
Still didn’t interact with anyone besides the roomie and those who approached me—in the corner, on the couch—but began conducting myself in a more and more performative way.
Not performing for anyone.
Just aware of being watched.
Laughing more.
Once the bean kicked in I started wilding.
Flirting up a storm.
Up and off the couch.
No one was off limits.
Anyone could get it.
Whispered into peripheral bae’s ear “We both know we both want it. Have wanted it. Tonight’s the night. Tonight you can get it.”
Then winked and backed away, into a crowd.
Told ex-roomie bae’s out-of-town, pretty-boy bestie “No you’re right, I guess I don’t know until I’ve tried it. So what are you gonna do to try me?”
Went up to unfamiliar bae, in the middle of a convo, and corralled her into my dancing vortex when ‘Starboy’ came on again.
Went “Ayyy, college!” when other ex-roomie said “Her?! She’s still in college, bro!” after I asked him if he knew unfamiliar bae and, if so, what her deal was.
Side bae was less than impressed.
Cornered me in the packed kitchen, by the drink station.
Said You need to focus.
Gestured circularly in her face area.
On this.
On me.
Then put her hand on her hip and cocked her head like And? What do you have to say to that?
Oh side bae.
Side bae, she was a grown-ass woman.
Had two years on me.
Sexy when she told me what to do.
She knew what she wanted, and how to make known her terms and conditions.
Thing was, that was only the half.
Making them known. That was one thing.
But getting them . . .
“Hahaaa, ayyy, woah,” I said.
“Whattaya want from me, bae?” I said.
“Skiddly doot pop?” I said, handling her hips, touching groins, and smelling her all over—neck, pits, tummy.
Side bae said: “Dance floor.”
Grabbed my wrist and led me two rooms over, through a crowd, to the front room.
To the dance floor.
Danced with a coy pout on her face, directed towards me until I gave her my full attention; then away from me once I did, but dancing for me, wanting me to watch; and then towards me again when she noticed I wasn’t watching.
But confusing.
I couldn’t stay focused.
So many baes.
Too many feelings.
Multidirectional feelings.
And never enough to fill the hole inside.
Got ensnared in unfamiliar bae’s dance vortex.
Got sent spiraling her way.
Wasn’t two two-steps in when I felt myself yanked another way.
Side bae pulled me into a corner. Hard.
Harder than she meant to, maybe, because immediately after she went small again.
She’d initiated it; but somehow, I felt like the dominant one.
Like she wanted me to be the dominant one.
Like she was testing me.
So I did the only thing I could think to. What I coulda sworn she wanted.
Grasped her by the neck—firmly enough for her to feel it, gently enough to not leave a mark or obstruct her breathing, just like she’d taught me—and pinned her to the wall, leaning in to nuzzle her ear.
She grabbed my wrist. Hard.
Said No.
Not here.
Not in front of people.
Not unless I say to.

Sean Thor Conroe is sus.

Image: Starboy