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SNAFU

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New York City, New York - June 22nd, 2010

 


Why can't I get him out of my head?

 

This kind of thing doesn't happen to me very often. I mean, it's not like I don't notice guys sometimes, everyone is attracted to people every now and again. But there's a big difference between noticing someone, giving them a second look on the street when you pass them, and being so fixated on them that you can't stop thinking about them even after they're gone.

 

That doesn't happen to me.

 

I don't have time for it to happen to me! I have a wife and four kids at home, I spend most of my time in the studio, or out on tour, or at the office making life altering decisions about what new merch to include in our online store. And when I'm not writing music, or playing music, or talking about writing and playing music, or traveling, or changing diapers, or watching The Wiggles with my kids, I have my little brother to contend with. We have a very... unique relationship. We're a lot closer than most brothers, we have been since we were kids. The older we got, the closer we became. And what we share is usually the one thing that keeps me sane, and keeps me going when I'm so stressed and exhausted that I don't want to get out of bed. But sometimes...

 

Sometimes he can be such a brat!

 

Take tonight, for example. Some friends of ours invited us out to a concert at the Nokia that they had some extra tickets for. It wasn't really my kind of music, but we hadn't seen them in so long, and I figured it would be fun to just hang out and relax, have a few drinks and let someone else put on the show for once. Ike wanted to get home to Nikki and the boys, but Zac and I decided to change our flights and stay in New York a couple of extra days for the concert. Which I stupidly assumed meant that he wanted to actually attend it. But no. My brother, spoiled brat extraordinaire, wanted to stay in our hotel room alone all night. And don't get me wrong, I love being alone with him, and being alone with him is becoming a rarer and rarer occurrence these days. But we could have done our thing after the show, after seeing our friends for the first time in months. All he had to do was compromise with me and be patient! Unfortunately those are two things he's not especially good at, never has been.

 

We got into a fight. He told me to go to the show if I wanted to, but not to expect him to just be lying around waiting for him when I got back. So I went to the show, and I had a great time... and now I'm sitting in a bar across the street from our hotel, delaying going back inside because even though he said he wouldn't be lying around waiting for me, I'm pretty sure he is. And I want to make him suffer. Petty? Yes. But he deserves it.

 

Besides... I can't go over there and be with him while my mind is still on someone else.

 

I don't know this person, I've never met him, never seen him before in my life. All I know about him is that he plays the bass guitar, and I couldn't stop staring at him throughout the entire show tonight. He's quite possibly the prettiest guy I have ever seen. I don't just mean good looking, I mean pretty. And I don't think it's because of the makeup.

 

That's another thing: he wears makeup! I've never been attracted to guys who wear makeup before. I have nothing against it, I just don't find it attractive. Or... I didn't. This doesn't make any sense! He's nothing like the guys I usually find myself checking out, not his hair, or his clothes, or his build. And yet I was completely mesmerized by him. I still am, and he's not even in front of me anymore!

 

“Blue Moon, please.”

 

I instinctively glance at the person who just sat down next to me at the bar, wanting to see who this stranger is that I'm now sharing some of my personal space with. And I end up doing a double take because it's him.

 

Of all the bars in the whole city, he walked into mine.

 

“Hi.” I blurt out unthinkingly, earning myself a brief once over and a raised eyebrow.

 

“Hi...”

 

“Sorry, I don't mean to bug you or anything, but... you play bass for Adam Lambert, right?”

 

A knowing look appears in those intriguingly dark eyes of his, and he gives a single nod of confirmation. “Yeah, I do.”

 

“You were amazing tonight.”

 

It's hard to tell since the light in this bar is so low, but I swear he just blushed. “Thanks.”

 

“Can I buy you a drink?”

 

The words have barely left my mouth before the bartender places a pint of beer in front of him, and he hands him a five dollar bill. It's then that I realize I heard him order the drink, and so offering to buy him one was a really dumb thing to do. He chuckles softly as he pulls the beer towards him and takes a sip, his tongue darting out to wipe the foam from his top lip before he places the glass back on the bar.

 

“How about you just give me four bucks and we'll call it even?”

 

“Sold.” I smirk, reaching into my pocket and pulling out my wallet.

 

“I was just kidding, dude.” He laughs, placing his hand on my arm to stop me. The second he does so, my whole body tenses, but luckily he doesn't seem to notice. “You can buy me one later, though. If you're still around.”

 

“I think there's a good chance I will be.” We share a smile that feels incredibly flirtatious, but it's probably just wishful thinking on my part. I doubt I'm his type. Then again... he's not mine. “Sorry, I didn't catch your name during the show. There was a lot of screaming going on.”

 

With a roll of his eyes, he shakes his head and breathes another bashful chuckle. “Yeah, it gets kinda crazy sometimes. I'm Tommy.” He holds out his hand, and I shake it gladly, the skin-on-skin contact making me shiver a little while he adds “Ratliff” as an after-thought.

 

“Taylor Hanson.” I introduce myself easily, almost professionally, the way I have been for over fourteen years.

 

Immediately, his hand freezes mid-shake, and I watch as his eyes narrow slightly and he leans a little closer, studying my face before his mouth falls open a little. “Holy shit... you really are!”

 

I don't know how I always manage to forget that I'm a 'former child star', and therefore people who haven't paid any attention to my career since MMMBop need a moment to deal with the shock of seeing me as an adult. Most people seem to be under the impression that we never grew up, we remained frozen in time. Forever teenagers, with long hair and barely broken voices.

 

“Sorry.” He apologizes as he finally lets go of my hand. I'm not going to pretend that I don't miss it. “This is just really trippy. I can't believe I'm sitting at a bar with Taylor Hanson. It's like... of all the things I thought I'd end up doing tonight, or even this year, I would not have put this on the list.”

 

“I wouldn't have pegged you as someone who'd even remember my name.”

 

“Are you kidding? You're one of the MMMBop guys!” I guess that's better than MMMBop kids. “You made the late nineties a living hell for anyone who owned a radio.”

 

I can tell from his smirk that he's only half-serious, and so I decide to be only half offended. “Thanks a lot, man.”

 

“No problem.” He takes another sip of his beer before reaching into the pocket of his pants. It's hard not to notice how snugly they fit him, even though I shouldn't be noticing that kind of thing at all. “This is gonna sound really creepy, but can I get a picture with you?”

 

“Very funny.”

 

“No, I'm totally serious!” Maybe I'm a gullible idiot, but... I think he really is. “No one will ever believe this happened unless I have proof.”

 

“Uh... yeah, go ahead.”

 

After playing around with his phone for a second, he shifts closer to me on his stool... and then he practically leans against me. His cheek is almost pressed to mine, I can feel his hair brush lightly against my skin, and even though I know that he's only doing it so that he can get us both in the shot, it still makes my heart beat that little bit faster. He turns the screen towards us to examine the picture, laughing at what he apparently considers to be a failed photograph.

 

“Let's try this one more time.”

 

“O-okay.” I stammer, trying to focus on making my lips form a smile rather than how good he smells.

 

“Better.” He nods approvingly over the results of his second attempt. “It's still kinda dark, but at least I don't look completely stoned in this one.”

 

“What're you doing?” I pry as his thumbs type away furiously. “Are you sending it to someone?”

 

“I'm just posting it on Twitter.” He explains, suddenly stopping to look up at me. “If that's cool with you?”

 

“Sure, go for it. Actually, could you send it to me so I can post it, too?”

 

“Yeah, definitely.”

 

Once he's done on Twitter, he holds his phone out to me, and I take it from him uncertainly. When I glance down at the screen, there's a blank 'new contact' form staring back up at me. Again, I try not to read too much into it as I quickly enter my name and phone number. And my e-mail address, just for good measure.

 

“Now that I think about it, I probably could've just told you my Twitter name and then you could've re-tweeted it or something.” He muses, taking the phone from me and slipping it back into his pocket. “This works, too, though.”

 

“Yeah.” Giving a pretty guy I barely know my phone number definitely works. It's not foolish at all. “So... where's the rest of the band?”

 

“Oh, well, we were hanging out after the show, but they were all pretty wiped. And I wasn't tired, so I figured I'd get out and have a few drinks, try to get rid of some of that post-show energy, ya know?” I nod understandingly. I know all about post-show energy, but I rarely drink mine away. “Anyway, the guy working the front desk at the hotel told me about this place, said they had cheap drinks and free popcorn.”

 

“Yeah, they do.” I laugh quietly with him as I glance down at the empty bowl beside me. “It's pretty good.”

 

“And I liked the name.” He shrugs, raising his drink to his lips once again. He has really nice lips. I don't know what it is about them, they're just... really, really nice. Maybe it's the lip gloss. “Snafu is a good name for a bar.”

 

“Yeah...”

 

Part of my brain is aware that I'm staring at him, and I become even more aware of it when he starts staring at me, too. I should look away, because this is getting weirder and weirder by the second, but I don't want to look away. His eyes are so striking, there's something so enticing about them. It's as if they're pulling me in, holding me captive... it feels dangerous somehow. But it's so exhilarating that I'm not afraid at all.

 

A group of giggling girls pile into the bar, making so much noise that they snap us both out of whatever the hell kind of moment we just found ourselves stuck in. He looks down at this drink, and it's impossible for me to see the look on his face in this light (or lack thereof). It makes me nervous that all I can see of his eyes is the smokey color of his eyeshadow, I can't tell what he's thinking. Not that I would be able to read his mind if I could look him in the eyes, but I might be able to tell if he was completely freaked out or not. I struggle to think of something to say to him to break the tension between us, but my mind is completely blank. The only questions I can seem to come up with are really pathetic, and I refuse to ask them.

 

“Wanna relocate?” He asks suddenly, finally looking up at me again. “I think they have some seats up there.”

 

I look over my shoulder when he nods behind me, seeing a small staircase that I never even noticed when I first walked in. It leads up to some kind of split-level loft or something, with what looks like couches and a wall-mounted TV. It's... cozy. Maybe too cozy.

 

“Let's go.”

 

He grabs his glass and slips off of the bar stool beside mine, and I do my very best to ignore the way his hips thrust towards me a little as he does. My faintly shaking fingers close around my own drink as I move to follow him, ignoring the voice in my head that's telling me not to. I know that if I don't follow him, I'm going to spend the rest of the night, possibly the rest of my life, wondering what might have happened if I had. That might sound over-dramatic, but that's how it feels right now.

 

So I get off of my stool and walk across the bar towards the staircase.

 

By the time I make it to the top step, he's already picked out a spot on the red loveseat in the far back corner. We're the only two people up here, and even though we can still hear the voices and the laughter of the people downstairs, and the distinct clacking of pool balls knocking together mingling with the indistinct background music, it feels as though we're in a separate place from it all entirely.

 

He has an icebreaker all set to go as I drop down onto the opposite end of the loveseat from him, and I spend the next twenty minutes trying to give him the abridged version of everything I've done since MMMBop. For the most part he simply listens, nodding his head in that way people tend to do so that you'll know they're still paying attention. Or so that you'll assume they are, but really they're just thinking about the episode of House they watched the night before. But I know he's listening, because he almost chokes on his drink when I tell him that I have four kids.

 

“Four?!”

 

“Yup.”

 

“And you're how old?”

 

“Twenty-seven.”

 

“Shit.” He shakes his head in awe, downing the last of his beer to take the edge off. “I'm older than you and I don't even have one. I don't even have a girlfriend. I feel kinda pathetic right now.”

 

“Hey, don't worry about it. I'm a bit of an over-achiever when it comes to reproducing.”

 

“You're not fucking kidding! I don't think I've ever met anyone who had four kids before the age of thirty, it sounds like one of those cable reality shows. When did you start?”

 

“Nineteen.”

 

“Wow...” After taking a moment to consider it, he sighs in defeat. “Nope, I have no clue what I was doing when I was nineteen.”

 

“It was a busy year for me.”

 

“Yeah, I bet!”

 

“Want another drink?” I smirk, already getting out of my seat and picking his empty glass up off of the table.

 

Need another drink.” He corrects me, still staring at me in disbelief. “A couple of those five dollar Jager shots oughta do it.”

 

“I'll see what I can do.”

 

While I'm waiting at the bar for our drinks, my phone vibrates in my pocket, and I pull it out to see what it was for. The effortless smile that had been on my lips fades when I see the dark blue notification box on the screen. It's a text message from Zac.

 

where are you?

 

With an indignant snort, I turn the screen off and put the phone away. He doesn't have any right to know where I am. If he wanted to know, he should have come with me instead of acting like a child and refusing to leave the hotel room. If he could have just done what I asked, just once, then I'd be with him right now. But he chose to throw a fit because he couldn't get his own way, so I'm here instead. Buying drinks for the most ridiculously pretty guy I've ever met.

 

Maybe I should feel guilty about that, if not because of Zac, then because of my family.

 

Maybe the fact that I don't makes me an awful person.