I look at the door of the Japanese restaurant I visited yesterday. I had so much courage up until this very moment. Now I am not sure I can even open the door.
A young couple come out the door and hold it open for me. I say thanks and walk in. Again, I’m without a copilot. No parachute to save me.
It’s self-seating so I find a booth and have a seat. I look around and Ken was right, it’s dead in here. After mere moments, Ken comes out from the kitchen in the back. My heart leaps into my throat again. I’m generally pretty flexible about people’s looks. But if I had a “type,” it would definitely be him.
“You came,” Ken says to me with a big smile.
“Yes,” I reply with a simple smile.
“You said ‘maybe,’ so I figured that was a no.”
“Well, I like this place,” I say with a grin. “Great food.”
Ken looked a little disappointed. “And here I thought you came to see me.”
“We both know that’s why I’m here.” I can’t believe I just said something so cheesy. I feel flushed admitting something so embarrassing.
Ken smiles as he is definitely blushing. It makes him look even more cute.
He sits down opposite of me with his pad and pen in his hand. “What do you want for lunch?”
‘You,’ I thought to myself for the briefest moment. “How about the beef teriyaki?”
“Green tea is fine.”
He looks at me for a few moments after he jots down my order. I feel self-conscious and look down at my hands. Last night’s stamp was a red heart. Ken has one too on his hand. I wish I could have his heart.
Ken gets up and says, “I’ll put in the order. It will be a few minutes.” He smiles and walks away.
My brain hurts. Why am I here again? Why am I doing this to myself? Us? Not gonna happen. He’s a college boy with his whole life ahead of him. Years and years of love. I’m middle-aged. My youth is spent. What could I possibly offer him? I already know what his gay friends think of me now. What of his straight ones? Is he out? What of his parents? Do they know? If they did, would they accept someone that is their age dating their son? Or would they see me as a freak? Oh my god, my head is starting to pound as loudly as my heart. I ache all over.
Ken interrupts my thoughts by placing a plate of food in front of me. Then he places a plate of food on the other side and sits down.
“Lunch time,” he says. “I’m starving.”
I’m surprised by him sitting but I try to hide it by saying, “You were right. This place is not busy.” I start eating. I’m not sure what else to say to him.
“Yeah, most Asian places aren’t even open on Sundays. But my parents want to be different. So, I’m stuck here while they’re off playing.”
I laugh. “Filial Piety eh?”
He laughs. “Something like that. Or the fact that I owe them for putting me through college.”
I point to the heart on his hand, “Your parents know?”
He eats a few more bites before he responds. “No. Nobody knows except Marla and Josie.”
“Ah.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“You?” he asks me.
“Oh, well my mom passed away years ago and she never knew. I told my dad once and he made it clear that I should go back to women. We’ve never spoken of it since.”
“You’re really bi?” he asks with a serious look.
I worry a little. This is where everything typically goes south. When I admit to being bi, people think I’m a cheater, that I can’t be faithful. That someday I will undoubtably leave them for a member of the opposite sex. I can’t say I blame them for being insecure. But it still hurts to be shot down before anything even starts.
“Yes,” I reply. “Funny thing, my ex cheated on me with another guy and had the audacity to tell me, after we broke up, that she didn’t want me to go back to dating guys.” Why did I say this was funny? It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I’ve been afraid to love ever since.
“Which do you like more?” he asks.
I knew this question was coming. It always does. “Depends on who I’m with. If I’m dating a guy, he’s all I’m interested in.” Wonder if now would be a good time to admit that I’ve never actually dated a guy, at least not a real relationship that has lasted for more than a couple of dates.
“What about you?” I ask.
“Oh, I’m a 110% gay. Known it since I was a small boy.”
We eat in silence for a minute. I can’t help but keep glancing from my food to him and back. His looks are so mesmerizing. I wish he would allow me to simply stare at him for a while so that I could admire his beauty. Perhaps I’m shallow. I really don’t know him that well. We met two days ago. I need to get my head out of the clouds.
He looks up from his food and meets my eyes. I break eye contact and look back at my food. How long was I staring this time? Get a grip, dude.
“Whatcha doin’ tonight?” he asks me. I believe he’s fidgeting a little. Strange.
“Nothing, probably playing a video game,” I reply rather nonchalantly.
He looks at me with a slight smile and says, “I just got a new game yesterday but haven’t had the chance to play it. Wanna come over?”