It's a busy Thursday evening, and I am waiting at a busy intersection. I am not very busy, and I dawdle on my phone as I wait. He's two minutes late; I was told a place, and a time, nothing else. A car pulls over, and a man pulls me in. It's Eight, a busy celebrity stylist who, as he assures me, seldom kidnaps his dates to whisk them off to mysterious faraway places.
He studied at a textile school in Canada and lived there for five years, but ultimately left behind a dozen acquaintances, a start-up job and a live-in girlfriend to move back home. I nod away, without batting an eyelid. I could ask him why he came back. I could ask him what happened to the girlfriend. I could ask him whether he's sure about his sexuality.
'Where are we off to?' I ask him instead. You can't blame me for being suspicious. He had been strangely cryptic on the phone. He laughs, and tells me he's got a fun evening planned. His favourite band is performing at one of the more upscale mills in town, and he's been dying to watch them ever since he got back from the Great North. Would I like to get a drink before?
'Where do I sign up?', I ask him.
He laughs again. But first, we have to take a slight detour.
He is assisting the celebrity wife of a celebrity director in styling their latest film, and needs to drop in a parcel at their home before 5 pm. I glance at my watch, we are only twenty minutes away. The parcel looks nondescript, unlike the task at hand. I am intrigued, what is in it?
It's a package, there's nothing more to it. I ask no further questions. He disappears into a palatial apartment complex for a couple of minutes as I try beating my score on Temple Run. Two diamonds and three lives later, he's back. 'You don't mind another detour, do you?' He looks slightly panicky.
I sigh. What is a date without a detour? I ask him.
(Answer: A proper date)
'Which one should I buy?' he asks, holding up a bottle green thong and a pair of classic white briefs. We are sourcing at a luxury clothing store, sifting through essentials that sell at the price of gold. I cheekily point out that both will be covered with at least one layer of clothing, so would it really matter? He doesn't look very amused.
The underwear is question is for an A-grade superstar whom the boy is personally styling for an upcoming superhero franchise. The actor is a perfectionist, and pays a lot of attention to detail. Did I mention that he's also a strapping six feet of solid muscle?
Well, if we are doubling between a date and a dress fitting, I might as well as make the most of it. I am momentarily distracted daydreaming about said actor in said underwear: it's very 50 Shades Of Gay. 'Are you listening to me?' The boy asks me. He seems agitated.
Wait. What was he saying again?
He's really hungry. Underwear shopping does that to gay men. I sigh. Where do we go next?
'I know just the place,' he grins.
'Are you sure you don't want to eat anything?' he asks, digging into his chorizo and smoked chicken salad.
I tell him I am good, taking in the storybook-like interiors of the bistro we are in, as he takes in his salad. The restaurant is his favourite, he tells me, and he often comes here to unwind after stressful days at work. There are many of those, and now he knows the entire menu card by heart. Perhaps I would like to try their devilled tenderloin bites? Or taste their high street chicken and noodle soup? I tell him that they both sound lovely, but would have to pass. He smiles.
The boy seems more relaxed, and is listening to me drone on about my writing. Is this the same boy from two hours ago? I decide I like the 6'o clock version of him. I almost forget about his inherent bisexuality. 'Do you like your drink?' he asks me, interrupting my rant about being a career waiter.
It's a watermelon cooler, there's nothing more to it. His eyes dart to the wall clock, and I notice the familiar flutter of panic on his face. Once more, and he can patent it. 'Listen, I think-', he starts. Uh-oh. Here we go again. This time I am prepared, I pick the lint off my sweater as he picks the tab. We leave our salad and conversation unfinished.
We buy ourselves a glass of Shiraz each and slide into a pod nearest the stage. He sings along to songs that I've only heard today. Do I like them? Yes. Do I like him? I can't say. This day seems like a to-do list, there's nothing more to it. An hour later, he leans closer. It feels momentous. Three, two, one...
'I think it's getting late. Do you think we should leave?'
Mission abort. Now it's time to take off.
We are home. He hugs me goodbye. We keep it PG-13. At least one of us decides to. No points for guessing who.
'Do you want to come up for some coffee?' I ask him as I get out of the cab. There's no one home, and I fail to tell him there's no coffee either.
'I would have loved to, but I think I shall be too late,' he grins apologetically before he speeds away in his waiting taxi. The car vanishes into the night, just like my unfinished love story. He's like Mr. Rabbit from Lewis Carroll's novel, I think now - always late, always running. But I am no Alice, and this is no Wonderland.
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