Love Handles: Chapter Three

2.13.2005

By Bob Merrick

Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely true'although some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?

Part Three: What Happens In Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay In Vegas.

As the big rubber ball made contact with my face, smacking my cheek like a bitch slap you would see on Ricki Lake, my vision went dark for a split second. When I looked to see who threw it, jumping up and down across the court was my producing friend Wendy, who was now smiling with an evil intensity like Nellie Oleson. 'Got you sucker! You're out!' It was a side of her I had never seen. But the tides turned and she was the one going out, because in Extreme Dodge Ball, you are supposed to keep the balls below the neck. Where they should be.

We were petrified when we arrived at the gym. Everyone was incredibly athletic and insanely aggressive, and they couldn't stop telling us how lucky we were that so and so's husband wasn't there that night because he leaves bruises. When they asked us to sign a liability waiver, I told Wendy we were out. She wanted to give it a try but told me, 'If it gets too scary, just start crying and I'll tell everyone I have to take you home.' She really had a way of getting to my competitive side. Before I knew it, I was no longer a 30-year-old overweight gay male with a lifetime of closeted demons, but a carefree, competitive, and surprisingly agile child on the playground at recess. Finally a cardio exercise I enjoyed, in spite of the fact that the next day I looked like a bruised banana.

Afterward, Wendy and I headed over to the Olive Garden for some all-you-can-eat salad. As Wendy put her third (not that I was counting) breadstick into her naturally thin body, she invited me to spend the upcoming weekend in Las Vegas with her and three couples. Since she's single, she wanted to ensure that she would have a fun playmate. 'One of the guys is a real estate billionaire, so everything will be paid for. And with you and me together, we will turn up their weekend with a kick and a woo!' As she said, 'woo,' her voice went up an octave and two tables looked at us. I knew I had no choice.

Somehow Wendy had failed to mention until we arrived in Vegas that we would be staying in the posh Real World suite at the Palms Casino. It was designed for seven strangers to live on top of each other with no privacy and full exposure. Not the best place for a 'nevernude' like myself. We got there just in time to throw down our stuff and head to dinner, which was already in progress. Wendy's friends were all incredibly good-looking and lacking in body fat, but at least they were all nice and I felt reasonably comfortable with them.

The thing I didn't expect to bother me so much was everyone being coupled up. I was used to being the token gay in the group, but suddenly my Spidey senses were tingling. I was tired of being the 3rd wheel at coupled events.

In 12 years of being a confidently out man, I have never had a boyfriend. In the past it didn't bother me, but now that I am on this expedition of personal awareness (I'm now down to 280 pounds), the prospect of a boyfriend has been weighing on my longing heart. It certainly didn't help that Valentine's Day was approaching. A holiday where Hallmark spends an entire day'and the weeks leading up to it'reminding me that if I had loved myself more, and Yoo-hoo and Hostess Cupcakes less, the target for Cupid's arrow wouldn't be hidden under a fat roll.

When I looked at the prices on the menu, I nearly had a heart attack. I had $22, a Shell gas card, and a $10 Starbucks gift certificate. I really had no business being there. Wendy reminded me our dinner was comp'ed and enticed me with the promise of going to a strip club. So I threw caution to the wind and allowed myself a vodka martini.

After a month of no sugar and minimal carbohydrates, my body's reaction to my third martini was to whoop it up. I don't remember getting into the limo that drove us to the Golden Horseshoe Gentleman's Club. I do remember watching one of the women who was with us crawling around on her hands and knees on the floor of the limo in a sequin dress looking like Liza Minnelli on a bender.

Once we arrived at the strip club, I felt bamboozled. I had never seen so many nipples and was sad to find that only the women would be taking their clothes off. Because the people we were with had no problem flaunting their wealth, the strippers flocked to our group and our waitresses were beyond attentive. Which could explain why after consuming three shots of something called a sparkplug, the last thing I remember is Wendy having a lap dance 'just for the fun of it.' I'm still having frightening flashbacks of blonde hair, boob jobs, and g-strings.

The next morning I awoke to a lot of commotion coming from the shower area where one of the hot 20-somethings was showering. He just giggled as two of the girls stuck their camera into the shower. Admittedly, if I had his body, I probably would pump my gas in the nude. It was like bathing in a fishbowl, and the people I was with didn't seem to bat an eye.

In the afternoon, everyone finally lay down for naps. I took the opportunity to climb into the shower to rinse my hung-over body. I was so afraid of anyone seeing me naked, that I literally climbed into the shower stall with my clothes on, with the water running, before I stripped down. I look forward to the day I too giggle when someone snaps a pic of me showering.

We had another wild night where Cristal flowed like Evian and I ended up in a stretch limo full of female hookers'one buffet I had no problem turning away. It was time to get home and get my focus back on the prize. While the playing was fun, finding someone to play with would be more fun.

That afternoon, after a long drive home (and a stop in the Calico Ghost Town thanks to Wendy's endless begging), I carted my hung-over body to the gym and paid my penance on the elliptical machine. It was perhaps a bit early on in my journey to have fallen off the wagon. Being part of a weekend of couples was good inspiration to make sure that the next time I go away with a group, I'll be part of a couple. I also noticed my bruises from Dodge Ball were beginning to fade, which meant it was time to get back to the type of playing that was actually good for me.

To read part two click here

To read part one click here

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