We make a plan to flirt dangerously over unlimited wine at a fancy wine bar somewhere in town, him and I - Five, a self-proclaimed diva and a fashion intern who dresses to kill. The boy seems to take that bit very seriously - he's wearing something you would see on a model at a fashion show. Suspenders and a broach over a crisp button-down navy blue shirt. Paired well with refined wing cap brogues, a shade of dark chestnut, with tan shoelaces- wait, is he wearing a bow tie?
Yes. He's wearing a bow tie.
What do gay men do best? They accessorize. But it's not caricaturish, like how it is in the movies or Armistead Maupin novels. Instead, it's a deep shade of maroon - distinguishingly smart, it even looks nice on him. That's already two things that we don't have in common.
He makes my black shirt and jeans look ghetto, and my designer shoes fall flat. (Side note: like most of my belongings, I got them at a clearance sale, so I would survive.)
'You look great-' I say to him.
'You do too.'
Only one of us is lying.
He's tall but mousy - and I am scared that if I don't keep him in check, he might scuttle away from between my feet. That would be a big waste, we've not even started on the Endless Stem at the bar yet: Unlimited wine cocktails and sangria for only 999/-!
Hello, where have you been all my life? I've been so excited about this all day, I could barely sleep. Oh yes, and I get to see the boy too. Although, he's not a bad sight to look at - he's textbook pretty, in fact. Twinkling eyes, a beautiful nose and long eyelashes. And his hair?
There's only one word to describe his hair.
We went to the same college, we realize over our first drink (two glasses of mildly spiced Sangria Rosso) but neither of us remembers the other from 2008 - that's only fitting, we both decide, considering 2008 was a dark recess of ugliness. He was a sophomore when I was a senior, and we never took the same courses. He left midway, he tells me as I shift to a second glass (one glass of Sangria Bianco, please?) and moved to a different college, postponing our meet-cute to five years later.
He works under the creative head of a design lab now, but that's only part-time - so is my third, a flute glass of Sula Brut - he will be helping around at Fashion Week next month, scuttling between the models and the designers, helping them all get their act together before he heads to his post-grad degree in London. One of his friends is showcasing - hello, are you listening?
I am I am, I tell him. I reach for my glass. My fourth for the night (a delightful concoction of sparkling wine and peach). Exactly nine hours from now, I am going to wake up with a massive hangover that's going to make me swear off wine for months. That would last all of two weeks, but wait, I digress. This is not THAT story.
'I want to kiss you,' is it me or is the wine (Glass five, a vintage Chilean Pinot Noir) talking?
He smiles, and beckons me towards the washroom. It's definitely the wine. Swig. Wipe mouth. Smile. Follow.
We scuttle into the wide restroom, and I push him against the wall. He kisses me fiercely, and I am pleasantly surprised by how casually he takes control. I hear a faint buzzing somewhere in the background, and I smile. It's the clinking-of-glass sound that usually accompanies falling in love.
But we aren't falling in love. I look around. We've toppled one of the wall lamps. There's broken glass everywhere. And the usher outside doesn't look very happy. He mutters something about manners, as we scuttle back to our table, our faces as red as the Rosé that I would soon drink (Glass six, with slices of pears and pineapple).
But the boy is clearly unperturbed. 'Do I get to see you again?' he prods at my feet, as I finish off the dregs of my drink.
Does he? He's cute. He's funny. He's surprisingly smart. But I long to reach for my wine glass more than I long to reach for him (number I-lost-count-somewhere-after-six, red wine with soaked tangerines, and a hint of thyme.)
It's clear then. There's only one thing I want at the table, and unfortunately, it's not him. I still play footsie secretly; firstly, because I am drunk, and secondly, because that's the least I can do to stop myself from scuttling away.