I’m moving in with the first man who ever kissed me.

Three months ago my current roommate asked me to move out on account of he wants his girlfriend to move in. I counter offered that perhaps he should be the one to move out, maybe join an Alaskan fishing company or take up migrant farming. Alas, my size advantage and intellectual superiority are trumped every time by his lease rights. It was time to move. If ever there was an event that would precipitate me moving away and giving up on New York City, this was it.

Apartment-hunting here is a ghastly experience. The realtors are especially sharky; they charge a huge cut and human-traffick you from dump to dump until you give up and sign something. Darn near zero details matter in the NYC apartment hunt. I can count two. Is it cheap? Are there bed bugs? If the answer is yes, followed by no, then it’s a miracle. Otherwise, I’m going back to Seattle, all beat up and defeated, no throne, no belt of scalps, no trophy to brandish to the locals. Then we all bought a fish.

It’s true, we did. The first warm day of spring happened to fall on a friend’s birthday, and we were throwing him a party. He’s the kind of guy who buys all the crap he needs and wants for himself anyway, so if you want to get him a present, it has to be outside the box, carved out of wood, shaped like a swordfish, and mounted above the fireplace. The trouble with purchasing a gag gift is trying to hide your disdain for the saleswoman who holds sincere feelings of sentimentality and appreciation for the tacky monstrosity in her possession. We were a large pack of 30-something artists, half drunk from brunch, piling $10 bills on the counter and asking, “How much for the tuna?

This woman had a wounded face, she knew the fate of her pet. Nemo or Wanda or whatever this beast’s name was, he wasn’t going to a loving home or a kitschy seafood restaurant where he belonged. He was going to serve his time in hell as a fantastical symbol of glorious hipster irony. Imagine the conversation piece he would become.

“Nice fish.”

“Hey, thanks!”

“Goddamn, you are interesting.“

“Yes, I am.”

Fish party was fantastic. Strange Greek sausages grilled slowly over the coals. Someone passed around a bag of ribs-flavored potato chips. There was beer, and margaritas, and salad for no reason, and a man mowing the grass behind an adjacent apartment building. The birthday boy, prescient of the mortality of my residence, turned to me, “Hey man, you want to know why that guy is cutting the lawn? He’s renting the apartment behind all that grass. You should go live there.”

I grabbed Bruner, and we checked it out. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Very clean, definitely no bugs, brand-new bathroom and kitchen, lots of lighting, and a back goddamn yard. In a city choked with concrete, we had our own patch of grass. We could start a garden, co-parent some peonies, install an above ground plastic kiddie pool, forge a future in the fiery womb of cohabitation.

Bruner is a good dude, fiercely loyal, sensitive and passionate. He’s no coward. Bruner steps up and does the right thing for a friend in need. Two or three months before fish party, I was having a bad day, cratering. I went to the local watering hole. They call it Sparrow Tavern, but we call it The Bird. I was chasing good beer after bad, exacerbating my mood with liquid depressant. Worse yet, I got the hiccups. Aside from being socially annoying, hiccups have the tendency to precede projectile vomit. I needed a cure, ASAP.

The bartender at Sparrow is a bit of a witch doctor. His name is Mister Free. Behind the bar he’s an ace mixologist, has a tender manner with even the most brutish of customers, and multi-tasking comes as naturally to him as breathing or digestion. “James, I have the solution. It will only work the one time, and I can’t give it to you.” I told him the fuck he couldn’t. He shook his head and kept drying the glass in his hand. My hiccups persisted, and so did I.

“Goddamn you, Mr. Free, fix what ails me, you son of a bitch!” Free wore the pause on his face, eyes cold as if to say, “shite, another mortal found my doorbell.” He whispered in Bruner’s ear. Bruner laughed. “What is going *hiccup* on? What are you two *hic* talking about?” Bruner shook his head. Denied. Consensus was taken, and I was left to suffer. I sat in a rage, grinding my teeth, tearing my beverage napkin, hiccupping miserably on my bar stool, looking for faces to punch, choking back tears and vomit. Why wouldn’t anybody help me? I didn’t understand, I was in pain, I was in discomfort, why let me suffer? “Cure me, assholes!”

“Alright Parky, I’ll cure you.” Bruner downed his whiskey, pushed off from the bar, and stepped brazenly into my personal space. I opened my mouth to protest and he kissed me full on, hard as he could. I tried to pull away, but his hands were clamped around the back of my skull in the unrelenting vice grip of tough love. Resistance was both futile and unnecessary, I squeezed my eyes shut and took my medicine like an adult. Though his tongue stayed in his own mouth, his beard scraped against mine. The kiss lasted maybe fifteen seconds, but it left a permanent mark. And my hiccups were gone, without a trace, perhaps forever.

So that’s it? That’s what everyone in North Carolina is upset about: gays getting married? Gays existing, walking around doing gay things, making gay decisions because they are gay. What’s the fucking problem exactly? Gay marriage isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that happens for someone else. It’s entirely avoidable if you don’t want it. I personally would not like to be gay-married. Bruner is the prettiest man who has ever kissed me, but he is a man and he smells like a man and has facial hair and big hands and that’s simply not sexually relevant to me. Am I glad he kissed me? Yes, in that it banished my hiccups and gave me a great story to tell. Would I like him to kiss me again? Not especially, no.

But I want to be able to marry him, do you understand? I’m not going to; someday I’ll marry a pretty girl with soft skin and weak ankles, but it pisses me off that a plurality of North Carolinians say I can’t marry Bruner in their state even if I want to. Religion. The Bible. Homophobic group-think. I’m so sick of that shit. They don’t fight fair and they don’t make sense. Anti-gay references in the Bible are vague and rare, and none fall under the Commandments category: the only clear list of rules in the book.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Well then, Leviticus. Your book was co-authored by 40 other dead guys and you’re the only one getting specific about this. You channeled the will of God into a statement of eternal bigotry, are you sure you heard him right? Because this is important, this affects the species. If you are right, we’ve got a lot of undoing to get done. First things first, off to the gallows for Ellen, Elton, at least one of those Jonas virgins, and Dumbledore. If you are wrong, well, we’ve got a problem, because an awful lot of gay folks and friends out there would like to be treated like human beings with dignity and respect.

The trouble with using an ancient text transcribed and translated several dozen times over is that you end up with an even gayer orgy of scrambled-up ideas and irrelevant, contradictory bullshit that doesn’t work for most folks. If we write every passage in Leviticus into law, there would be no bacon cheeseburgers, or cheeseburgers for that matter—ain’t kosher—and it would be perfectly acceptable and vigorously encouraged to trade and own human beings. The Bible has a lot of pretty passages about how the Earth came to be, and who begat who back in the day, and there are a couple Love Thine Enemy passages that ought to be followed by all of us, but as a comprehensive existence rule book, it’s a lousy piece of shit.

What an inglorious mess, all of these registered voters cherry-picking a passage from the Bible as the leveraging agent for their knee-jerk reaction to man on man matrimony. It doesn’t make one damn bit of sense. If you hate gay people, you’d better hate the cheeseburgers because there’s way more Biblical God-speak about keeping milk off meat than there is about keeping meat off meat. Man meat. In 1883 a perfectly human Black guy was trying to play professional baseball—he was a catcher named Moses—and some dingleberry asshole named Cap Anson yelled, “Get that n***** off the field!” and other such crap until we made a national mistake for the next 70 years. Baseball played by white people. Can you imagine? Now let’s all sit down, talk to each other like adults, and consider learning from our mistakes before history tells us how much of an asshole we are being right now.

We got the apartment. It’s been a weird week. I got dumped—by a woman—and the weather report calls for warm temperatures with 100% chance of calamitous change. I have to fill an apartment somehow. There’s a furniture void; we are a couch and a rug short of even Spartan-status living. Priority number one is going to be the yard. We need outdoor thrones, some kind of flooring to stave off the mud, citronella candles, oil lanterns and a grill. Our yard—the garden—shall be the newest iteration of Rome, the capital rotunda at the epicenter of Western thought. This is our olive tree, where we’ll cross our own Rubicon and declare yet another list of mandatory amendments to the Self-Evident Rights of All Mankind. When we’ve done that and propped up half a dozen tiki torches, we’ll get around to calling the electric company and throw a rug down.