There was something distinctive about the way he inhaled his cigarette in the thick, humid night air.
It wasn’t like he was James Dean or anything, but the ember on the tip of his cigarette glowed with the same kind of confidence that was reflected in his eyes as we stood outside this hole-in-wall gay bar. I wasn’t immediately attracted to him, though. He was from Orlando and was so Central-Florida it hurt. Highlighted hair tips. Orange skin. Assorted tribal and Chinese-symbol tattoos, 14 of them I would learn. And an obvious plastic surgery enthusiast. But like I said, there was something irresistible in the way his eyes narrowed at me through the smoke produced by our Marlboro Lights.
We all have them. Awkward, sidelong glances on the bus. Inadvertently reaching for the same head of lettuce at the grocery store. Or sometimes these connections go even deeper. That really close friend you’ve had for years. The one that watched chick flicks with you. Sometimes you snuggle. Sometimes you don’t. But you never cross that line. You know, that line.
So, what do we do with all of these chances we get? Well, we blog about them I guess.
I always knew that I liked boys.
I just didn’t know that liking boys meant I was gay until probably around the seventh grade. For most of my adolescence, I thought it was normal for all boys to like other boys. Truly, I would say it was about the time that I hit puberty, really, before I figured out I was different.
And it made me scared. Really scared. Other boys at my school had already come out of the closet, and I saw the way they were treated. Most of them were bullied. And the ones that were socially accepted, were still introduced with, “Oh that’s Jimmy, he’s gay.” Kind of like it was a sweater they were wearing. Like, you know, you had to wear this sign that you were gay. You couldn’t just be you. You couldn’t just be Jimmy, or Steve, or Luke. You had to be those things with a qualifier. You had to be you, in spite of you.
I envisioned meeting him in person for the first time over coffee. We would discuss the latest headlines and we’d hit it off so well, that he would ask me to join him for a walk in the neighboring park. Birds would be chirping, the sun would warm our backs, and children would giggle as we walked by the swing set holding hands. I would look up into his towering, dark chocolate eyes, and I would smile with no words. He, in turn, would lean down slowly to meet me, and just before his lips would place themselves so tenderly on mine, he would whisper, “I love you.”
“Shit,” I cursed.