It's a balmy day. The kind of day when your shirt sticks to you back, but not in the way it does in perfume advertisements. I can think of a hundred reasons why I shouldn't be stepping outside, but I have a date that I can't push any further unless I want to be pushed out of the boy's contact list. And why would that be a bad thing? Any suitable boy that you let go is a boy wasted. Instead, I do the most practical thing I can think of.
I call him over for lunch.
My dalliance with Seven aside, calling someone over on the first meeting is usually the heterosexual equivalent of 'Why-don't-you-get-your-travelling-toothbrush-along?', but Ten seems genuinely nice, or at least half an hour's worth of exhaustive stalking on Facebook makes him seem so. He's currently pursuing Business Studies from a deemed college in the suburbs, finding just enough time to go on photography expeditions with his friends (twice a month) and accept last-minute lunch invitations (once, with a chance of repeats).
Nevertheless, I keep my pepper spray handy. He's home, he's hungry. What do we eat?
Noodles? Too easy. Baguette sandwiches? Too messy. Egg fried rice? Too heavy. Well, what do we have here? There is nothing like home-cooked pasta to break some ice. I ask him to choose between some leftover wine and half a bottle of rum. 'I think I'll pass,' he says to me, so I put the wine (and the pepper spray) away along with all my hopes of getting him drunk.
I pour him a glass of coke, and pour myself two shots of Old Monk. He skips the alcohol, I skip the soda. That's how one restores the balance in the world. I notice that he's unconventionally handsome - tall and thin, his height only strengthened by his Beatles-like mop top and his caricaturish Jewish nose. (But his ancestors are all Maharashtrian, he assures me and we both laugh. It seems like the practical thing to do.)
He's the single child of estranged parents, living with two generations of mothers in a modest apartment in one fag end of the city. Every other day he travels to the other - attending morning classes for his MBA, enjoying the occasional cup of coffee with friends. Every evening he goes for a walk, shops for groceries and ends his day watching sitcoms on his computer. He couldn't have been happier. I love how normal his life is. It's surprising how everyone wants to be a performance artist , or an actor or a stylist, but not him. The world might have boys like Three, Eight and Nine but the world needs more of Tens.
'Do you watch Downton Abbey?' he asks me suddenly, and I notice the slightest hint of excitement in his voice. Well, at least he likes to adhere to one gay stereotype. I shake my head, and his smile droops a little. Saying that you don't watch Downton Abbey is like saying that you don't shop at the ZARA sale. I avoid telling him that I binge watched through six seasons of Gossip Girl, and download songs from Glee. (Side note: I find out later that he does too, and we both live happily ever after.) 'You should watch it, it's so quaint,' he says. I like the word, and I guess I like the boy. 'You will love it,' he tells me. What else does he love now?
His last relationship lasted all of five months and ended a month ago, but he's fine. I am no one to judge, the longest I've ever lasted is three. How did they meet?
'Heard of Grindr?' He asks. I don't tell him that I practically lived there most of last year. Meeting people through Grindr is like saying you met someone at Starbucks, it's so commonplace that no one even blinks an eye anymore. The break up wasn't a result of a roving eye or a wagging tongue - It ended simply because it had to - the boyfriend was moving away to grad school, and they mutually decided that long distance would never work. The unfortunate bit?
The boyfriend never moved.
'Maybe it wasn't meant to be. It seemed like the most practical thing to do,' he says, I am quite surprised. Practicality is not a trait that comes naturally to most gay men. I am fascinated by the complete lack of emotional baggage in his life. It's a gay requisite.
His plate is almost empty, but the conversation isn't. 'Would you like another helping?'
Too many carbs? Wouldn't that make me fat? Should we just jump straight into bed? - He doesn't go for any of these, instead - 'I thought you would never ask,' he grins.
Can I try any of my usual tricks with him? Stare him in the eyes and lean in for the kiss? Tell him how beautiful he is?
I don't. Instead, I smile, and serve him another plateful. He leaves an hour later, with a standing invitation to join me for lunch soon. It seems like the most practical thing to do.