“Fuck this, this can’t be my life…” – Jay Brannan, “Can’t Have It All”
They say that love happens accidentally, or at least accidentally on purpose. Because It happens on accident, we are completely defenseless against its power. Imagine my surprise when love beautifully struck me in the eardrum, harder than a Q-Tip.
Trading Retail Hells
In March of 2010, I was leaving my retail job serving the public their electronic addictions of choice at Verizon Wireless. I was off from slinging cell phones to America’s youth to jump into selling less than quality clothing to them at American Eagle Outfitters. At AE, I would be encouraged to live my life as an assistant manager who cared about his job.
When I did leave VZW, I gave them about a month’s notice, feeling obligated to make sure they would have time to fill my shoes. I also wanted to be certain that I would actually receive my lofty bonus. Although I had been there and been eligible for it, it was rumored the check would not be cut if I was not still employed there to receive it. It made sense, but it also made walking out the door and never looking back (something I thought about on a daily basis) nearly impossible.
A Well Deserved Vacation
When the time finally came to say goodbye to the world of wireless service, I had an entire week off before beginning work at AE. I spent that time mostly by myself because my roommate and I had begun to dissolve our friendship. She started staying at her sister’s apartment that was a bit closer to her job. The commute was less but the real reason she stayed there was so she could sleep later. Oh, and avoid me. Working at Verizon Wireless, I’d taken to using my Blackberry for just about every function of my life. My roommate at the time was quite jealous of the technology afforded to me (there was very little she didn’t end up being jealous of) at half price and was often very rude about it (near the end of our friendship there was very little she was not rude about). That, of course is not the reason that our friendship ended, but the jealousy and rudeness did take a toll.
A Concert with Pandora
While cleaning our mostly empty apartment, I opened up Pandora on my Blackberry to play my “Wicked (Original Broadway Cast Recording)” radio station. Sometimes, I am just that gay and all I really want to do is belt showtunes. I sang a few songs at the top of my lungs without an audience. I performed a flawless rendition of “The Wizard and I” from Wicked and then brought the house to tears with “Maybe” from Annie.
Even though I love the randomness of Pandora, I usually want to hear something very specific. Through my concert, I was skipping more than the number of songs allowed by Pandora in one hour. Sure, I could pay $3.99 per month and remove the ads and limitations, but then I’d have to you know, pay $3.99 per month and I could easily spend that money on more important things like cheese roll ups at Taco Bell. I was always able to deal with having to listen to a song or two I didn’t completely favor in order to save the four bucks. I can’t remember what it was that I wanted to hear that afternoon, probably a song from RENT, or really anything that I knew the words to. But that’s when love walked right through my Blackberry speakers.
Beautiful(ly) Jay Brannan
I heard a song I had never heard before start to play. It didn’t sound like a showtune so I immediately gave this intruder the thumbs down. I wasn’t upset, Pandora can screw up from time to time – but for the most part – Pandora just… got me. Our relationship had mostly been a steady one, and we usually did not disappoint one another. When I navigated my track ball over the thumbs down button, I got the dreaded message. “Sorry our music licenses force us to limit the number of tracks you may skip.” A normal person might see this as a reason to pay them $3.99 per month, but I saw this as the perfect opportunity to suck it up and muddle through whatever this song was. Fine, Pandora. Whatever, I wanted to listen to this song anyways, I thought to myself. As long as I have to listen, what is it anyways? The screen said the song was “Beautifully” by a Jay Brannan from the album, In Living Cover.
Jay Brannan Beautifully Lyrics
Being forced by my mistress, Pandora to listen to the song, I began identifying with the lyrics.
It’s not that you’re not beautiful
You’re just not beautiful to me
She said, how beautiful do I have to be?
When I look in the mirror, you’re the only thing I see
And I have loved you beautifully
I felt like these very words had been said to me before or I’d found myself saying them to others who I wasn’t sure I would ever love the same way they loved me. Hearing the song gave me hope for my future.
Well, she’ll burn that bridge
And build a house
And swallow the smoke in her mouth
She’ll feel the burn
And then make the choice
To put the fire in her voice
Suddenly nothing else mattered. All of the guys who asked for my number and then never called me, or the guys who lost interest after I wouldn’t sleep with them on the first date weren’t making me crazy anymore. Even my future mustard stealing roommate’s self-centered take on life was no longer bothering me. I quickly picked up my Blackberry and right before it was too late, I navigated my trusty track ball to change my previous thumbs down rating to thumbs up. Jay Brannan was definitely an artist I wanted to hear more from. All of the trials I had gone through my entire life had lead me to this point, and it was up to me to figure out the next move.
Unfortunately, my next moves were a little, how to put it? CRAZY. I took to my computer, and although I wouldn’t work in online marketing for a few years, I knew how to perform a Google search. I quickly googled Jay Brannan, finding his YouTube page where I watched every video he had. Every single one. Then being the cheap person that I am, I converted every video to mp3 so I could listen to them without having to be on Youtube. Then I could burn them onto a CD and take them everywhere. Don’t worry, I eventually purchased every song from iTunes, including two music videos. That really was not enough, though. I needed to purchase physical copies of his two albums. And as long as I was buying the two albums and had extra money from my VZW bonus, I went ahead and ordered two Jay Brannan t-shirts.
“I wanna have his baby… I want to wear his ring…” – Jay Brannan, “Housewife”
Reasons to Marry Jay Brannan
I wish I could tell you that I stopped there, but I just didn’t. After finding his official site where I ordered the merch, I discovered Jay’s email address. What I forgot to tell you is that I felt like I needed to order this merchandise to prove to Jay Brannan that I was dedicated. I thought that if I ordered enough merchandise, he may just reach out to me to say thank you, or simply invite me to take his hand in marriage. The usual things that happen. I had already read up on him through my Google. The following are the reasons I had used to convince myself that Jay Brannan and I would be married shortly:
- By my estimation, he wasn’t a huge celebrity, so he was absolutely still in the realm of possibility to fall madly in love with me. Mark Wahlberg is not in the realm of possibility, but Anderson Cooper, Jeff Lewis and Ben Bailey from Cash Cab definitely are.
- He is gay. According to many people setting me up on dates, this is more than enough for a lasting relationship. I was following him on Twitter (and he was following me back! OH MY GOD!) and his tweets about looking for a boyfriend were my first hint that he was into dudes, but another quick search for “is Jay Brannan gay?” gave me all the answers I needed to know that he and I were made for each other.
- He was located in New York City, and I was only living two hours outside. I’d had a “successful” relationship with someone living six hours away, so we could surely work it out. Two hours would be nothing!
So obviously, Jay Brannan was my soulmate and he would be falling in love with me immediately. Yes, all of these thoughts actually happened. Even I realized that I was being a little crazy and just went to bed… listening to the sound of his voice. In my defense on that one, I frequently went to bed listening to Coldplay, so it wasn’t all that unusual.
I woke up to the sweet sound of Jay Brannan and began staring at more photos of him online before I’d even eaten a bowl of cereal. I discovered he’d been in a movie I’d seen recently, Shortbus. I remembered enjoying the film so I immediately put it back on my Netflix in the top position, along with another film, Holding Trevor. According to his IMDB page, he also appeared in that one. I devoured both films and still wanted more. Before the two CDs and two t-shirts arrived, I found myself wondering if I should purchase more. Then it happened.
I Emailed Jay Brannan
Although I’d restricted myself the night before, I suddenly found myself writing an email to Jay Brannan. I explained to him all about Pandora and how I’d initially thumbs-downed “Beautifully” and the fact that I’d changed my mind about the song even though it wasn’t a showtune. I was very crazy to not let my crazy come out in the email. However, I now realize that the next few lines I wrote were probably truly insane. I referenced an interview Katie Holmes had done about Tom Cruise. It’s pretty insane to reference Katie Holmes or Tom Cruise no matter what, but it got better. The interview I was referring to was one in which Katie talked about seeing Tom Cruise in a movie as a child. Katie said easily “I’m going to marry him one day,” truly believing that she would. Of course, this story was much more charming back then at the beginning of their relationship than now at the end of their divorce. But at the time, I thought that was so sweet and absolute truth that fairy tales do come true. I was sure to tell Jay Brannan all about it. I realize now that my email is the kind of thing that prisoners write and that make celebrity publicists encourage their clients to pursue restraining orders. The thing is, I totally believed every word I wrote. I told Jay that I felt like Katie Holmes saying all that about Tom when I had heard his song “Beautifully.” I was certain that I would marry him one day. I don’t think I actually wrote that, but I surely believed it. I told Jay that all I wanted was the chance to take him out to dinner. While I’m a firm believer than anything could happen, I still had my doubts that anything ever would. I hit send and wished for the best.
After sending the email and telling all my friends about it, we all laughed at how absolutely insane I was. As time passed without a response from Jay, I began a relationship with one of my associated at American Eagle. That was obviously against the rules and that made our doomed love affair even more exhilarating. Shortly after we started dating, I received a response from Jay Brannan.
I opened my inbox and saw an email from Jay Brannan. Immediately my mind was flooded with more insane thoughts. Here they are in order:
- Should I break up with the new guy to run away with Jay Brannan?
- Should I tell the new guy that I’m madly in love with Jay Brannan and that we’re getting married and that it’s actually not so unfair because technically I was interested in Jay before him, anyway?
- Should I start packing to move to NYC? Because even though it’s only two hours, most long distance relationships are doomed from the start and obviously, Jay and I would be together forever.
“I can’t figure out why you’d put forth such an effort to win me over just to turn me down…” – Jay Brannan, “String-A-Long Song”
Again, all of those thoughts actually happened. There would even be a time in the future when Jay would write on my Facebook wall and make me consider my future with D, and he is well aware of my love for Jay Branan (check out The Story of Us – D and I, here). Then I opened the email. It was a personal response from Jay himself, not some automated nonsense and that thrilled me to no end. The email was a polite, witty, beautiful, passionate… blow off. Jay Brannan wrote that he didn’t think we were a good match since I had a penchant for showtunes and he absolutely hates them. I CAN CHANGE, I thought to myself. But I knew that I couldn’t and I gave up on our wedding.
I Emailed Jay Brannan… Again
You may think this is where the story ends. Boy falls in love with musician, musician says no, takes out restraining order. It’s a tale as old as time, right? A few months after Jay’s reply, I found myself replying to him. With pictures of myself. You see, I had in my possession the tickets to see him play live at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC. I eagerly tweeted my excitement over the date (did I mention Jay was following me on Twitter? OH MY GOD) which happened to be the same time my roommate was planning to move out. Since everything was about her, she was upset that I was so excited about it. But even the thief of mustard could not upset me. I found myself revisiting Jay’s email and wanting to write things like “I no longer love Broadway!” or “I renounce all stories where characters burst into spontaneous songs!” Instead I wrote something like this:
Haha that’s too bad that you hate showtunes! But… maybe we’ll bump into each other at your show at Le Poisson Rouge!
And then I attached four photos of myself. Four. In my very interesting logic, I thought that if Jay saw my picture, he would recognize me at the show. Then he would fall in love with me immediately. Then at the concert, he’d pull me onstage and we’d sing a duet of “Beautifully.” At the end of the song we would passionately kiss our first kiss in front of the crowd at Le Poisson Rouge.
Instead, I barely found someone to go to the concert with me and almost didn’t go myself. My friends were still very supportive of how insane I am. Although, I was still technically dating someone, I had barely heard from him and knew we had already experienced the end. I was completely free to run away with Jay Brannan. One of my friends thought I should buy Jay a case of Ramen noodles to prove my love. Jay had tweeted so much about his love for the noodles that I’ve never actually eaten. That supportive friend couldn’t come with me to the show so I lost all my bravado for the gesture. At that point, my roommate had already stolen the mustard along with a few of my other possessions. So even though she had no plans, she wasn’t going to ever be in my presence again. I invited a friend from college at the last minute and she gladly met me to go to a free show.
After having a few drinks at the bar inside Le Poisson Rouge, we watched the show. I loved it more than she did and I sang along to most of the songs, even the ones not on the albums I purchased. If you remember, I still had most of them on CD from YouTube. The show came to an end and Jay didn’t end up pulling me onstage and proposing to me. So that was disappointing. My chances were drawing slim to meet Jay Brannan and charm the pants of him (literally and figuratively). I had a choice. I could stay at Le Poisson Rouge and try to meet Jay Brannan after the show or I could catch the next train out of the city. The very same train that I would become more familiar with when our love affair began, before I would eventually move to New York City to be with him full time. If I left, I could be walking away from the love of my life.
Hot Dogs & Breaking Up with Jay Brannan
“It’s been 12 hours since I ate… I think I’m finally losing weight…” – Jay Brannan, “Bowlegged & Starving”
In the end, I chose a Papaya dog and the next train out of the city (that I ended up missing, by the way) over a life of happiness with Jay Brannan. I guess it’s better that way. Jay Brannan I both have dreams of being a housewife and I’m not willing to give up my dreams for any man, even if it is love at first sight sound.