I’d met J. at a bar soon after I moved to Chicago. He was short and sexy and naturally tan with one of those freak-of-nature perfect bodies. In fact, in our early conversations, he casually—and completely without pretense or self-aggrandizement—talked about strangers stopping him on the street to offer him modeling gigs and the invitations he’d gotten to appear half-naked on Pride floats and to participate in A-list sex parties.
He was hot, but he was also human—and he seemed perfectly unaware of the powers of his beauty. And—aside from the occasional long riffs about him, him, him—he was impish and goofy and fun to talk to.
Over the course of a couple dinners and even a chaste sleepover, he also told me about his abusive ex-boyfriend who had beat him repeatedly, waited until after months of sex before disclosing that he was HIV-positive and engaged in a whole raft of retrospectively obvious modes of psychological manipulation. But the boyfriend was in the past, he had told me—with a palpable sense of triumph in his voice.
We weren’t able to see each other much, but I had thoroughly enjoyed the few dates we’d had together. And I had been excited all day one Friday waiting to meet him that night for a movie and whatever other adventures the evening would bring us.
So imagine my surprise when he showed up at the theater with a friend in tow. A hot friend, which immediately kicked my insecurities and jealousies into high gear.
And imagine my surprise when this hot stranger turned out to be … the ex-boyfriend. Who brings along an abusive ex-boyfriend on a date? Who?
A man who was completely single again before the movie was over. That’s who.
R. was a sometimes-gregarious, sometimes-workout-focused guy at my gym. His tall, lanky body and his boyish good looks first captured my attention, but he captured my imagination for good the day he wore a smallish sleeveless T-shirt that revealed little tendrils of what looked to be a HUGE tattoo covering his back from shoulder to shoulder and neck to waist. Woof. He was definitely a good little boy with an edge—and I liked it.
We started talking, and he also turned out to be an intelligent, fascinating guy: trader by day, artist by night and well-connected man-about-town no matter what time it was. He did admit to being obsessively closeted at work—never a good sign on the self-respect front, in my book—but he was definitely out in his real life. And he was so damn charming.
I finally worked up the nerve to ask him out, and he readily said yes. Yay! He proposed we meet that night at Sidetrack—only the most crowded bar in Boystown on what happened to be the immeasurably crowded night before the Pride parade … a giant red flag that I was waaaaay too excited to notice. Besides, he gave me his cell number, so we’d be connected no matter what the crowds threw at us that night.
So we met up at the bar—and aside from our friendly handshake, his eyes never met mine the rest of the night. And he was easily distracted by every cute twink boy that drifted through the crowd by us.
We eventually decided it was too crowded in the bar to do anything—even talk—and we headed out to people-watch on the street. A block north of Sidetrack we stumbled on two overstuffed chairs sitting improbably in the middle of the sidewalk. So we plopped our butts down to watch the parade of horny, half-dressed men prowling up and down Halstead. And more than once, I’d look over to find yet another twink boy sitting in R.’s lap. Classy.
I was just about to call the whole thing a dismal failure and head home when a fully pimped-out car rumbled by, thump-thumping up a storm and rattling the windows behind us.
“Who would ever niggerfy their car like that?”
It was out of his mouth a full minute before I believed I’d actually heard him say it.
First of all, people just don’t use the N word. Not the kind of people I hang out with. Not ever. Not. Ever.
Second of all, if you’re going to verb a noun in my presence, you’d better be clever about it. Niggerfy gets a D- for effort and an F for style. And I’m a licensed copywriter, so I know what I’m talking about. You lose, R. You lose big time.
As soon as he was distracted by another lap-sitting twink—which didn’t take long—I quietly got up from my chair and disappeared into the crowd without a word.