It’s a Friday night and I’m sitting at the bar of one of the popular gay bars in Seattle. I look to my left and smile at Mike, my BFFWB* of 10 years who came with me tonight. He’s making some snide joke about this place being a “meat market.”
[*BFFWB – Best Friend Forever With Benefits]
“James,” he says to me. “What do you want to drink?”
“Don’t care. Any beer is fine,” I reply.
“Why did I ask?”
I look around at the sea of college students. Why did I even come here? Yes, the energy of the people here is infectious. And it’s nice to be among people who celebrate being part of the LGBT spectrum. I feel like I can relax and not be judged. There are so many beautiful people here, but I always end up going home with Mike.
Someone just brushed up against me on my right and I look to see a guy who is trying to get the bartender’s attention to make an order. He looks at me briefly and smiles—an attractive smile. He’s Asian. I’m White. Not gonna happen. He must be in his mid-twenties. I’m 43. Not gonna happen. He’s handsome. I’ve been told I’m a good looking “daddy.” Damn.
I look down and see that the back of his hand is stamped with the same green star that mine is, signifying the cover charge was paid and free reentry is permissible. He’s also wearing a few things around his wrist, notably an old-school rainbow bracelet. Do people still wear those? Did I mention I am old?
I look back at my beer and take a drink. Just being so close to this guy is making me nervous. I dare not look again or he might think I’m some old gay that wants a piece of him. Why do I think that? I was that boy 20 years ago and that’s what I thought. Karma came back to bite me in the ass.
I turn to listen to Mike chat on and on about work and his ex-wife and his daughter’s new boyfriend. I’ve heard it all before so I’m not really paying attention. I’m still thinking about this guy standing next to me.
After a bit, the bartender brings over the guy’s drinks. Just the excuse I need to look at him again without being weird about it. He’s so hot. He gives the bartender his card and tells him to open a tab, who then promptly swipes the card and returns it. The guy then collects the three glasses of beer and smiles again at me as he turns and walks away.
I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding in. Mike, ever the jokester, says, “He’s cute. You should get his number.”
I smirk at him. “Yeah. Right.” I’ll be going home with Mike again.
Mike smiles back at me. It’s a handsome smile. Some might imagine that Mike and I should date, but I discovered early on that he doesn’t have any romantic interest in me. It’s purely sexual, and that has never changed. It’s fine. I’ve come to terms with it. He’s been a good friend and it’s not like I have had anyone else to date in the past 10 years.
It couldn’t be more than 15 minutes later when the same guy came back to order more. He smiled at me again and I smiled back. I think I’m too old to blush, but just in case, I look at my phone on the counter and press the button to wake it to check the time, pretending it’s something important even though the guy probably couldn’t care less. He probably didn’t even notice. I’m sure he’s just being polite. He couldn’t be interested. It’s all a silly pipe dream.
Again, he comes by and I take the opportunity to say something at least. “We meet again,” I say to him. I instantly regret saying something so stupid.
He smiles at me and says, “Yup.”
My insecurity reasserts itself and I break eye contact and look back at my beer. I suddenly wish I wasn’t sitting here next to him. I also feel a little annoyed that this pretty boy couldn’t go order somewhere else. It’s a long bar. Why did he have to keep ordering right here? Why do I keep holding my breath every time he stands here? I turn to look at Mike, still pretending to be listening to him.
The guy orders twice more before Mike wants to go. Each time we smile politely at each other. Yup, I’m going home with Mike again. Just before we leave, my stupid heart makes me take one more look around for that handsome guy, but I don’t see him anywhere. Why am I doing this? Why do I feel a little disappointed?
When we got back to Mike’s house, he wants sex. I don’t but participate anyways. There have been lots of times I could have wished Mike wanted more than this, showing some sign of romantic interest. But, that’s not gonna happen.
Probably doesn’t help that I’m not thinking about Mike the whole time, either. My mind is on a certain cutie I just met. But, that’s not gonna happen either.