Paris, Pudding, Cancer, Catechism
Last night I met up with Ronnie to have dinner at one of our favorite places in WeHo, Fresh Corn Grill. The food is tasty, but more importantly, there’s always a herd of gay men. We were standing in line waiting to order when Ronnie pointed out the Mercedes key chain in the guy’s hand in front of us. He and I scan differently: while I look to see which hand the watch is on, he looks to see what brand it is. Ronnie waited at the counter for our wine as I grabbed a table. The place was packed with plaid Bermuda shorts and tank tops, but I found an available table in the back. I sat down and put our number on the edge.
The guy who was in front of us earlier stood at the dirty table next to me, deciding if he was going to sit down or wait for the busboy.
“You can sit here if you’d like,” I said.
“Oh, are you by yourself?” he asked.
“No, I’m waiting for my friend. But our table is big enough.”
“That’s alright,” he said and then continued looking for a different table.
Ronnie arrived with the wine.
“Lily is here,” he said as he sat down. “Don’t act like a fool.”
Great. That bitch. Ronnie and Ms. Collins have been good friends since grade school, but ever since that time he canceled lunch with me to meet up with her, I started a friendly rivalry and promised that if I ever met her I’d call her an asshole.
“Hi, nice to meet you,” she said stretching out her hand. “I’m Lily.”
“Hello,” I said cordially. “I’m Jim.” She was too sweet to call an asshole, so I kept it professional. She was with her mom and they chatted with us for a second, but I was completely uninterested. I was too busy thinking about that guy I talked to earlier. I spotted him through the window and we made eye contact. He nodded and I waved.
Ronnie and I had just ordered dessert when he walked up to our table. He confidently, but clumsily, scooted past my chair and sat down at the table, dropping his jacket in the process. He was trying his hardest to be cool, but obviously nervous.
“I’m Tommy,” he said. He was 41, from New York, with a nose that Ronnie swore had work done. The conversation was honest yet awkward. It’d bounce from Catechism to pudding to cancer to Paris. When Ronnie stepped away to use the restroom, Tommy reached for my hat and lifted it off my head.
“I just wanna see what you’re hiding under there,” he said.
“A brain,” I said calmly. “Wow, that was ballsy of you to do.” It was the nicest adjective I could find because what I really wanted to do was stab him in the neck with my fork.
“I’m from New York,” he said as though I had complimented him on his brazenness.
“Hmph, well that was a very L.A. thing to do,” I said then reached for my hat and put it back on my head.
He felt like a douche and apologized, to which I just smiled. Ronnie finally returned and we said our good-byes.
“Well, let’s exchange numbers,” he said as he pulled out his phone. Of course, like the true searcher of stories I am, and a single 33 year-old gay man, I gave him my number.