story time

Conversations With Naive Young Men at the Bar Are Almost Always Unfulfilling

Last night I met up with a long-time friend (OK, he’s an ex-boyfriend) at one of our regular gay bar haunts. I didn’t know he would be bringing anyone with him, because we had not seen each other for about a month, and had some catching up to do. But in he walks with this spritely looking fellow, who was probably 20 or 21. Cute, or cute enough, with hair that took a half hour to perfect, so it looks like it took a half minute. I wasn’t thrilled by the unsolicited extra body in the room, but fine, I’d make do. With a few Jack and Cokes. Turns out Mr. Spritely and I shared a few friends in common, as is always the case when you know more than 10 gays in the tri-state area. But we shared the wrong friends in common — the ones I always keep on the periphery of my life, having dubbed them not valuable enough to warrant much investment, but they make nice accessories at larger social gatherings, when I enter a party at an apartment alone and can quickly scan the room to find someone to “Hiiiii! How are you???” with. So there we are, standing at the bar, leaning but avoiding actually sitting on the wet bar stools that nobody has the good sense to wipe down, and there is a lull in the conversation, as my friend has now gone to the bathroom for the second time (but does not have a coke habit, swear it), and forcing me and Mr. Spritely to make or avoid eye contact. So, while avoiding it, I bring up up that recent report about Count Laszlo de Almásy, the WWII spy who inspired the main protagonist in The English Patient, and how he was actually gay, enjoyed romances with Egyptian princes, and was in love with a young soldier named Hans Entholt, and Mr. Spritely looks at me, locking eye contact, and in the same motion that his tongue finds the straw to the drink he’s holding in his left hand, asks me, “Who?”

When my friend returns from the bathroom, I cut off the beginning of some wandering statement he is about to make and mention that I have a birthday party to get to, and I’m already running late, and need to pick up a bottle of wine en route, so please excuse me. And I left.