The thing that is really going to cheese me off is the fact that this will wind up being not very unremarkable at all. That I'm not any more special than anyone else.
This is me.
And not someone else. And it's kind of astonishing that I would be here. In this place.
So anyway, full of self-loathing and abandon, I was standing in the Haagen-Daas boutique store where the prices for their ice cream is even more expensive than their store pints. I had just ordered my Dulce de Dulce w/ Bananas and Caramel Dulce, and had given the shopkeep a piece of my mind in doing so. More than ANY meal from McDonalds it was going to cost me! He took it in good stride. He knew I was there to pay regardless of my outrage.
"Where are you from?" he asked.
"5 miles from here--up Broadway." I answered, prouder than I'd been all week.
So while I stood there waiting for the poisonous concoction to brew, in walked a pair of fellers in mid conversation. "...wait until you taste it. It's crack, I tell you." Or something to that effect.
I did what one does when alone while waiting for your stuff when other people are yapping. I said and did nothing. The two chatted a little more and I did what one does when the conversation of strangers continues, and continues. I stole a look.
Well, the one chatting and chatting was pretty much what he sounded like. A crisp, late twenties white dude, very earthy and yet ivy league. Like maybe from a working class family who made good in the business world. He wore a dress shirt and slacks, and was very animnated. I could easily see him in a "How I Met Your Mother" set bar with his buddies, throwing darts after work, crying foul with a tenor's trumpet. And while I was taking his full stock from my half a second's worth of glance, I dimly register that he's talking to me as well.
"Sir. Sir, have you ever had a Bailey's shake?" with the sudden familiarity of a frat brother.
Well. What could I do but get a better look at him?
The boy was handsome. Fratman all the way. Flat belly, open collar, hints of chest hair poking out of darker tones like maybe there's some Italian in him or one of the more swarthy Irish. Clean shaven, straight perfect teeth in a big open smile.
Who were these guys? Lovers? The older one also trim. A little taller than the both of us. Visiting NYC, according to the content of the previous conversation before I got included. Salt and pepper hair. Darker still, like maybe Greek or East Asian. Dressed more casually than John Bailey's-Shake.
I smiled. The boy was smooth. He was a talker. He was not afraid of the black guy standing in the ice cream store with the Reed Richards sideburns. "No," I said. "Never did. But I'm going for that golden cup of sunshine, myself," and I pointed to the poster on the wall that had brought me in here. They had to admit that mine looked real good too. But Johnny insisted, the Bailey's was amazing. "Not sweet like regular Bailey's."
"Oh," I said, "Then it's not for me. Sweet is what I'm in here for." And yes, I was. Flirting, that is. Ol' Johnny wanted to play? 'Ight. Let's play.
"It's about a million calories," said Johnny to his companion and me, "But so worth it."
"And about a dime per calorie," said clever, flirtatious little me.
They laughed. Oh, yes, I can make them laugh. I'm a funny guy. "He's payin' for it!" said Johnny. "So that's on him...!"
Then the awkward silence descended as it does, while shakes and sundaes are being made. Then mine came out. I handed my ransom over for it. Then I took more opportunity to show it off. "See," I said to them, "This is what ya need."
"It does look good," said Johnny. And then he said the following, as easy as a breeze. "If you want to stick around you could get a taste of our Bailey's."
And there I was. Trumped. Oh, Johnny B gooooooood. He was very aware of his ability to seal the deal, was our little flat-bellied, handsome-ass Johnny with the big smile and the dark eyebrows.
And I thought, me? This guy wants me to stick around? Me? What about his buddy here, who's buying his Bailey's? What about my fat belly? What about the fact that I'm not ready to be gay yet?
Johnny saw my hesitation. My expression. And he said, with nary a moment passing after his offer--in fact he made it the closing of the same sentence, "But if you're on your way to something, that's cool."
And I nodded, not shy or repulsed or even afraid, but very aware and even flattered, and not ready. "Yeah, I'm on my way to something. But you guys enjoy your shakes."
And out I went thinking, "You betta work, Johnny, with your handsome self."
And as flattered as I felt, or as delusionally giddy (for Johnny may have just been a really open and frathouse kind of guy, as genuine and friendly as My Super Hero is, with a sexy-ass wife waiting in their 775K condo around the corner) I also felt again, for the first time, "I'm not ready."
My fat belly. My self-consciousness. My fear.
I'm not ready.
But damn, is it always going to be that easy?
Because if so--then wow.
I better buy some condoms.