One day, while finishing my chicken and waffles at Cafeteria, a boy was seated next to me.
He was cute, but definitely straight in his baggy basketball shorts (I tried to guess if he was wearing underwear or not) (he totally wasn’t) and his SLU t-shirt.
I was surprised, naturally, when he asked the server if she knew any good gay bars nearby. “Oh, you wanna talk to Ian-Michael!” she exclaimed, pointing to me.
I’m not great at flirting. “Well, that depends,” I said, turning to him, “if you wanna dance, or if you’re just looking to get fucked.” Why did I just say that?
St. Louis blushed. “Uhm,” was all he mumbled.
I tried to save face, telling him about all the bars I knew in Chelsea. “I guess it also depends on the type of guy you’re looking for. I know bars that are all twinky boys like me, but I doubt you’re into that.”
“Why would you say that?” he asked. “You are 100% my type.”
“Then why are you going to a gay bar when you could be going out with me?” He blushed again, smiling this time. Redeemed. I stayed with him while he ate (not to mention a few rounds of rude margaritas), then we walked to the Strand Bookstore.
As we talked more, I felt something special. (Or maybe it was the margaritas, whatever.) He played guitar for fun; he was funny in a quiet, sarcastic kind of way; he had beautiful brown eyes.
When we got to Strand, I told him that we would each pick out a favorite book that the other hasn’t read and buy it for them, then discuss when we’ve finished.
I gave him “The Lover’s Dictionary” by David Levithan; he gave me “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. “We can Skype about it,” he said.
“Skype?” I asked.
He explained to me that he had a year left of law school in St. Louis, and that he was in New York applying for jobs. It was his last night here. I felt crushed, but said, “Then let’s make it a great night.”
We made it to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop just before it closed. My “Bea Arthur” ice cream fell out of the cone and onto the pavement just outside of the shop—they made me a new one, but I took it as a bad omen.
A month later, I got word that he wasn’t accepted to any of the New York firms, and would instead be moving to Washington, D.C. I was halfway through “Crime and Punishment” when he told me, and never read further.
So we weren’t meant to be. Maybe it was fate that we met, but if so, it’s also fate that he didn’t move here. All we can do is keep moving forward, reading on, and try not to drop our ice cream on the way.