On Avicii, Top Shelf Vodka, And The Summer Love That Never Was

Louis Amal

I was sitting at the red concrete table in front of El Michoacano on the corner of Lankershim Blvd. and Sherman Way when my Grindr notification went off. Repetitive ranchero music was blaring from behind the counter, where they were taking longer than usual to make my burrito. I didn’t remember messaging him, but apparently, I did two weeks prior to no response. Two weeks prior, he saw my what’s up message and decided I wasn’t what he was looking for and passed on me for a more attractive profile. But now, he was horny and kept refreshing the app and it was pulling up too many familiar countenances and he decided to look through his messages to see if there was somebody new and appeasing he hadn’t fucked yet and I guess he figured he couldn’t do any worse than me tonight. I wanted to respond to his late nothin much text with disdain and snark, but I had nothing better to do aside from deepthroating a carne asada burrito while rewatching OZ, so I just replied, what are you gettin into? He was taking so long responding to my message that I was walking through my front door when the Grinder alert went off again.

Hopefully you 😉, masctop9.5 finally replied.

I forfeited on satiating my hunger and just sat the burrito in the microwave when I got inside. He only sent me a close-up dick pic with nothing typical to compare it in scale with, like a remote or can of Red Bull. Most likely nine and a half porn star inches (works for me regardless). I douched until the toilet water ran clear and drove my lemon towards Studio City. Approaching his apartment, I was filled with the same excited energy I always have when I’m walking up to a hookup’s house. The nervousness of not really knowing who or what awaited behind the door as you check your phone to make sure it’s the right address.

At least he wasn’t a catfish. He was just as tall and skinny as his profile indicated. His eyes were a deep grey they went past seductive and leaned more into demonic, and outside of them, he wasn’t that good looking of a guy. Endearingly ugly is a term a friend would later use to describe him and it always stuck with me (even though I wouldn’t necessarily consider him ugly-ugly; he just had odd features. Regardless, he was trading with, a legitimate, nine and a half inches worth of currency). When I came in, he must’ve sensed the nervousness because he asked if I wanted to take a shot and I obliged. The apartment reeked of Cool Water cologne, off-brand laundry detergent, and marijuana. Interchangeable euro techno pulsed from the hallway leading to the bedroom. Making small talk as he pulled out a bottle of Ciroc and two shot glasses, I asked if that was a Russian accent spilling out of his mouth. He replied Ukrainian and we threw back the two shots of something that wasn’t Ciroc (I wasn’t going to complain) and he offered up a pull from his bong after he hit it, but I declined because my cottonmouth can get so severe at times, it makes cunninglingus dry, sticky, and useless. Without another word, his dick was out and it was even more freakishly large than I expected (those Chernobyl genetics work both ways).

The sex started out with a bang but got increasingly annoying. Like most guys who are that hung, he could never get fully hard and ended up utilizing the porn trick of stiffening up and applying a vice grip around the base of his dick while sliding it in and out. Still, the sensation was good enough that I came too soon, and as always, the feeling of something inside of me after an orgasm becomes more tortuous than pleasurable, but I wasn’t going to be selfish. He finished off with one of the weirdest set of accented grunts and foreign swear words I’ve ever heard and collapsed on top of me with all his sticky weight, dripping sweat on the back of my head as his hard pants turned into a slight snore. When he came to, he got up and disappeared behind a bathroom door and I could only hear the muffled sound of a faucet running, water splashing and a succession of hard snorts, followed by a loud hawk and a spit. I was unsure of whether or not I should get up and get dressed or just lay there. There was a point when we were doing missionary that he stared at me with those possessed irises and we both cracked a smile and I kind of wanted to see what that would lead to. If he’d wanted me to stay the night, I wouldn’t want to disinvite myself by being dressed by the time he came out of the bathroom. I decided to gauge his reaction and go from there. If he looked quizzical in any type of way, I’d fake like I was waiting for a washcloth even though I was thoroughly dry by then. But when he came out, his expression was blank and he just asked me if I wanted to hear some of the music he made. He pulled up an Ableton session, colored lines stretching out across his MacBook Pro screen as the shitty techno (that was playing every since I arrived) was replaced by an even shittier amateur, douchebro EDM. He listened to the music intensely, eyes closed as he’s vibing. I feigned amazement because I was laying in his bed naked, taking another shot of whatever this was that wasn’t Ciroc and the bong appeared from somewhere and I’m clearing the chamber because his dick barely fit in my mouth regardless. I wanted to ask him to delete the picture I sent him on Grindr (front facing camera raised slightly above head towards bathroom mirror — no face shown, black Andrew Christian jockstrap, back slightly but not noticeably arched) because I was still planning on becoming famous in those days, but decided not to be a nuisance about it. He tells me about Beatport and that he’s bisexual and that Mila Kunis is also Ukrainian and I try to put him onto Gesaffelstein but he doesn’t seem impressed, so he maneuvered into a Kylie Minogue playlist he created full of dance remixes and we had sex again, both of us wet and sticky again as we passed out before midnight struck.

The next morning was a Saturday, but he had to work. He cleaned the plaque off his teeth with the inside of whatever shirt he wore the night before and threw it towards, not inside of, the hamper. He disappeared behind the bathroom door again, this time to the muffled sound of a stream of piss followed by an asshole fluttering fart and a chuckle. This was never meant to last forever, but I was still interested in seeing how far we could take it.

The summer commenced and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” dropped, and Vlad, being the connoisseur of great taste, listened to it religiously. Yeezus dropped and I didn’t care for it initially but forced myself to like it. We seemingly survived on a diet of cold pizza, Dollar Tree burritos, and Arnold Palmer Half & Halfs. Gesaffelstein’s ”Pursuit” video dropped. Vlad marveled at it for a few days and I felt a sense of hipster validation for putting him onto it. I’d lay in his bed reading his dog-eared copy of The Master and Margarita while he watched YouTube tutorials and illegally downloaded the VST’s his favorite producers used. I was forced to listen to various strains of house, trance and trap EDM. He’d scrunch up his face and tell me the music I liked sounded like ghosts committing suicide (KID A!!!). My thumb became calloused because I kept burning it while lighting the big, blue bong full of Girl Scout Cookies, and when that ran out, we’d head up to Van Nuys to donate blood plasma to buy another eighth to last us until payday. “Wake Me Up” would still be leaking out of his headphones as he squeezed the blue foam ball and passively flipped through the copy of Complex magazine I bought with The Weeknd on the cover while I’d be nursing a copy of Glamorama (which I kept in my book bag the entire two years I was in LA and have yet to finish) and feeling lightheaded. Sex consisted of the same routine positions (I’d blow him, he’d rim me, cowgirl, squatting cowgirl until my leg gave out, reverse cowgirl, spoon, doggystyle, in front of bathroom mirror, on the bathroom counter, doggystyle again followed by the money shot).

Elisa Lam’s mysterious death was still haunting the city and he wanted to stay at The Cecil for a night. People on the elevator said there was somebody knocking on their door the previous night, but this is Los Angeles and I can never be sure if people are actually serious or just playing it up. We fucked around ghost and an incessant knocking on the walls that wasn’t coming from our headboard. Somebody on our floor was loudly playing Top 40 radio (Top 10 is more accurate) to drown out all the cacophony but only succeeded in adding to it. “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” and “Can’t Hold Us” and “Get Lucky” played in a loop and the knocking kept getting louder, so we decided to just check out and go back to his apartment.

He was an attention-seeking Leo and for his birthday, I bought him a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones. We did molly at a warehouse party and I wanted to hug and kiss him all night but he didn’t want to have any type of physical contact since there were straight men around. Instead, he danced around with a bottle blonde, Slovenian chick with a retroussé nose (bitch looked like an elf) and gave her bumps of the molly that I paid for. When the night was ending, he told her he was going to the bathroom and we snuck out the back. We went back to his place and he fucked me through the mattress, but he wasn’t able to cum.

The relationship gave off the air of what I assume is teenage love even though I was in my early 20s and he had just landed in his 30s. Like most non-cis men, we had to forfeit these type of relationships early on due to societal pressures and fear during our formative years. One night, under the influence of Ace of Spades (which in actuality was a $20 bottle of champagne called Veuve Clicquot Brut that he’d pour in the gold bottle. The aforementioned “Ciroc” was New Amsterdam. Appearance is everything, I guess) and Super Rush, while performing formulaic missionary and staring into those dubious greys again, I told him I loved him even though I didn’t really mean it. He hesitated, then told me the same thing back with an ambiguous smirk. The same tone as telling your boyfriend you’ll be together forever before walking across the graduation stage and into your first taste of the freedom that college brings. We never repeated those three words again.

I caught him wearing a gold wedding band I’d never seen previously and he just shrugged and told me he bought it because it made him more marketable to gay guys. He began inconspicuously checking his phone during the night, so I opened up Grindr for the first time during the summer and saw that he was still active. The next morning, he acted aloof towards me. I knew he was fucking somebody else, and although I couldn’t get mad because we weren’t a couple-couple, I became extremely jealous. I spent nights wondering if whoever he was fucking would knock me out of my spot. The come thru texts were coming less frequently. He just told me he became real busy lately.

Nothing Was The Same leaked just as the summer was coming to a halt. I got fired from my job and moved from North Hollywood to Valley Village, maybe thinking that being closer could mend whatever had broken, but mostly because rent was cheaper. I hadn’t watched porn or masturbated all summer and forgot my password, so I had to “Forgot My Password” it and create a new one. It took a week before he came to my new place. We tried to fuck on the air mattress, but it made too much noise, so we just did it standing up. It was the first time our routine had altered.

A change in location meant a change in Grindr and Scruff profiles. I replaced him with a barrage of random dick coming in and out of my life. He didn’t text much and stopped calling completely, but I already knew I was months away from going back home, so it didn’t matter much anyway. Sometimes men just go cold like that. I’ve been ignored in social situations immediately after having sex with a guy—it’s whatever. Our last meeting happened the following spring, the day before I left Los Angeles to return home as another sad statistic. It consisted of us reminiscing about the previous summer. Our summer. The barrage of music that would always be associated with that time period (All those mindless effects, pitch-shifting, buildups and drops now having significant meaning to me). The cheap GMOs we digested and shat out. The sphincter-stretching, sometimes painful, but mostly great sex. There was only the veneer of keeping in touch. There was never any explanation or real reconciliation about our distance. There was no need. We already knew. It was fun for what it was.

When Avicii died, my social media feeds were inundated with embeds of “Wake Me Up.” I hadn’t heard that song since that summer when it annoyed the living piss out of me. I hadn’t thought of masctop9.5 much since then either. Curiosity took hold and I went to Google to see if I could track him down. After a few unsuccessfully tries of remembering (followed by remembering how to spell) his extensive last name, I finally found those haunting greys. The Ciroc and Ace of Spades aged him and he was now a rough mid-30s. Vladyslav never became the big time push play and fist pump DJ that he wanted to be. His stint in Los Angeles didn’t seem to pan out much better than mine either, as he’d moved back east. The prophecy became true. Like a lot of bisexual men, he used his sexuality to be openly intimate with men while knowing he’d always end up settling down with a wife and having kids to satisfy his religious family. He’d get into these mini-relationships but leave quickly to minimize the hurt he was causing to the men he strung along. His timeline was flooded with pictures of him cradling newborns and hugging the bride and smiling a coffee-stained smile as he lurked over everybody in family photos. Any life before that was erased. I wondered if his wife knew that he probably fucked more men than she had. I wondered if the kids knew that he was probably switching out the breast milk for Similac. I wondered if he would be thinking about our summer together for the rest of his life every time that shitty song comes on.

RIP Avicii. TC mark

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