Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Read an #Excerpt from Best Men by Sidney Karger

BEST MEN is an irresistible gay love story set in New York City following what happens when “boy meets girl’s fiancé’s brother”—think Bridesmaids meets Bros.

About the Book

Best Men
by Sidney Karger

Format: 368 pages, Paperback
Published: May 2, 2023 by Berkley
ISBN: 9780593439487 (ISBN10: 0593439481)
When two best men in a wedding party fall for each other, they realize love isn't a piece of cake in this hilarious and heartfelt romantic comedy debut by screenwriter Sidney Karger.

Max Moody thought he had everything figured out. He's trying to live his best life in New York City and has the best friend a gay guy could ask for: Paige. She and Max grew up next door to each other in the suburbs of Chicago. She can light up any party. She finishes his sentences. She's always a reliable splunch (they don't like to use the word brunch) partner. But then Max's whole world is turned upside down when Paige suddenly announces some huge news: she's engaged and wants Max to be her man of honor. Max was always the romantic one who imagined he would get married before the unpredictable Paige and is shocked to hear she's ready to settle down. But it turns out there's not just one new man in Paige's life--there are two.

There's the groom, Austin, who's a perfectly nice guy. Then there's his charming, fun and ridiculously handsome gay younger brother, Chasten, who is Austin's best man. As Paige's wedding draws closer, Max, the introverted Midwesterner, and Chasten, the social butterfly East Coaster, realize they're like oil and water. Yet they still have to figure out how to coexist in Paige's life while not making her wedding festivities all about them. But can the tiny romantic spark between these two very different guys transform their best man supporting roles into the leading best men in each other's lives?



When They First Met, Love Was Afoot." That was the New York Times wedding announcement headline my best friend Paige had jokingly imagined for Greg, my ex-boyfriend, the podiatrist, and me even though we were never engaged nor had we even remotely discussed getting married one day. Our actual wedding, in my head, wasn't exactly planned out because I don't really have that gay-wedding-planning gene, but it probably would've been a super-casual affair for three hundred and fifty of our closest friends and family on Pier Sixty overlooking the Hudson River, with Greg and me wearing tuxes while we had our first dance together as husbands to "This Charming Man" by the Smiths. Okay, maybe I thought about it a tiny bit.
This increasingly distant memory pops into my mind right now because, like a tourist, I'm standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk on Twenty-Third and Eighth on a hot summer Thursday evening, grinning at a text from Greg. I feel a tiny warm tingle in my undercarriage as I reply, Yep.
Oh, I didn't tell you? I'm still seeing my ex for sex. Wait-is that a Rascal Flatts song? Right before entering the subway on my way home from work, Greg texted, Free before dinner? which is code for "hook up," so maybe after we do the sex, we'll grab a bite at Pepe Giallo, our once favorite Italian restaurant in West Chelsea that we'd been going to since we first met eight years ago. (In fact, it's where we had our first date.) Then, over a bottle of red wine and plates of deliciously gooey chicken Parm, he'll admit he misses us and say he desperately wants to get back together.
Greg asks to meet at six thirty, in forty-five minutes, which means I'm early, so I slip into a diner called the Rail Line. It used to be called Moonstruck Diner, and I imagine they wanted to name it the High Line Diner, after the nearby High Line elevated park, but couldn't get legal clearance, so they ended up with this weird, off-brand name.
I take a seat at the counter and order an old-fashioned along with a basket of bread and butter. There's nothing weirder-or more fun-than ordering a cocktail at a diner. It's like the opposite of ordering chicken nuggets at some fancy French restaurant.
Scanning the room full of silver-haired early birders, I spot an extremely handsome fella sitting alone in a booth, texting, waiting for either his food or a companion. Occasionally, he looks up from his phone and eyes me. Doesn't he know I'm about to have complicated relations with my ex-boyfriend? I'm taken, sir.
My seen-it-all Polish server makes me the strongest old-fashioned I've ever had, and I love it as I tear into the stale bread, butter a piece and look up again, noticing Cutie in a Booth is still staring at me. This time I really clock him. He seems slightly younger than me, definitely more chiseled and somehow more New Yorky. But then, that's pretty much everyone in this city. I also notice he has a June-in-New York sun-kissed face and looks like the kind of sophisticated urbanite who wouldn't be caught dead in a mediocre diner. Unlike me. Mediocre diners give me life.
I decide to smile. I may be in an unhealthy relationship with my ex, but I'm not dead inside. Now he squints at me. Did I do the smile wrong? Was I creepy? A grizzled server probably named Margie or Bernice arrives at his booth and takes his order. Now they both look at me. Was I that obvious? A sudden thought occurs to me, so I look over my shoulder and realize he'd been reading the chalkboard of tonight's specials the entire time. He was literally looking right through me. He probably didn't think I looked as good as "Virginia Ham Steak," and he'd be correct.
Knowing that Greg doesn't like when I'm late, I finish my drink, forget the guy in the booth and leave. I arrive at Greg's place at exactly six thirty as his not-so-friendly doorman, Dario from Staten Island, who's dressed in a tight, all-black suit like a mean bouncer at a high-end gentlemen's club, lets me in. I still can't believe Greg moved into this crazy upscale building-designed by the British-Iraqi starchitect Zaha Hadid, he always likes to remind me-after we broke up. It's incredibly cool but expensive, and I don't get why you'd want to pay this much to overlook the High Line, filled with tourists staring up at you, wondering why you'd want to pay this much to look down at them.
Dr. Greg has his own private, extremely successful practice as a foot doctor in Tribeca. He always knew he wanted to become a podiatrist, even in high school, he told me. I'd always thought this was an interesting quirk, and his nerdy but compassionate determination to treat strangers' toenail fungus was one of the many reasons I was drawn to him. Some people may assume a person wanting to professionally hold feet all day has some kind of foot fetish, but it's more like Greg is one with a foot and a foot is one with Greg. He just "gets" feet the same way Cesar Millan gets dogs. Greg is New York City's number one foot whisperer.
The elevator plops me right into Greg's apartment. His own private entrance. No common hallway up in this piece. Adele's "When We Were Young" plays on his Sonos speakers with the irony right on cue. I don't see Greg anywhere. I just see his overpriced sofas and chairs and coffee tables and modern art he bought at auction all staring at me like I can't afford them, which I can't. Except for a nice-looking bottle of chilled rosé and two wine glasses sitting there, his envious all-marble kitchen is empty too. Wanting to ride my diner cocktail buzz, I sidle up to the Carrara kitchen island, pull out his high-tech wine opener and go to town opening the bottle. I'd prefer an ice-cold beer on this hot summer night, but Greg is signaling he wants to be romantic, so I don't mind hitting the pink vino-
"Stop!" Greg enters, scaring the crap out of me and simultaneously turning me on in his half-unbuttoned white dress shirt. Something looks different about his slightly exposed chest, but I'm not sure what.
"Why? It's chilled," I say. No hellos. No kisses. No "how are yous."
"I'm sort of saving it for later," Greg says with a slight smile. And slowly, I realize something that I've tried not to think of since we broke up. He's seeing someone new. Greg and I are no longer together. We're free to see other people and have been for a year. I guess this is my life now. Don't mind me while I slip into a warm bath of heavy denial.
Any jealousy I have immediately disappears as Greg grabs the wine opener from me, sets it gently on the marble and then starts mauling my mouth with his. There is nothing greater than kissing Greg. It's pure masculine warmth sizzling with electricity. But tonight feels off. It's animalistic, impassionate and rushed. Cold. We don't even move to his giant Hästens king-sized bed-made with the finest horsehair, Greg likes to remind me-as I unbutton Greg's shirt right there in the kitchen. That's when it hits me what's different about him. He shaved his chest hair? I've never seen or felt this on him before. It's already started to grow back as rough stubble, and I can't help but wonder who this new guy is that has such power over the usually very hairy Dr. Greg.
Quickly after he's naked and my pants are unbuttoned, I'm watching Greg watch himself pleasure both of us in the reflection of his glass refrigerator door, and I suddenly realize he's gone full Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. Even weirder is that I'm enjoying his transformation, but then it's over before I even know it. He finishes. I don't.
"Doing anything this weekend?" he asks me, completely bulldozing past what just happened and moving as far away from me as possible. No snuggling here. We're officially fuck buddies.
"That was incredible. How was it for you?" I say.
"Hysterical," he says as he moves the bottle opener next to the wine glasses in a perfectly straight line like he's a goddamned footman lining up silverware at Downton Abbey. I give him a look. A look he should recognize from torturing each other romantically for the last year plus.
"What. I'm just . . . I have something tonight," he says.
"A date?" I ask.
"Sure. I guess you can call it that." Way to keep me in suspense.

About the Author

Sidney Karger is an award-winning screenwriter for film and television. He is a former writer/director with Comedy Central, MTV and AMC, among other networks, and contributing writer for Saturday Night Live, Billy On The Street and McSweeney's. He currently lives in New York City with his partner and their Australian Labradoodle, Zelda. Best Men is his debut novel.

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