I check the time as I exit the elevator. I’ll be right on time. A have a hunch this guy is prompt. On the street, I practice my smile on strangers. After two blank stares, I grin at my shoes. I eye a syringe resting in the crack of the sidewalk. Yes, I chose this neighborhood. When I get to the intersection closest to Revolver—a coffee snob hangout in Vancouver, nothing like the gay bar in West Hollywood—I spy a lanky guy across the street, walking toward the café. He’s dressed in some long, draping thing, more cloak than coat, and he’s got busy sneakers—higher than high-tops the tongues the size of beaver tails. What a mess.
That’s my date. Of course it is. I consider walking on. It would be rude. How long would he sit inside? At least he’d get a great cup of coffee.
But I’m not a ditching kind of guy. I turn toward Revolver. Go. Talk. Be pleasant. At least I’ll get a great cup of coffee.
I greet him—was it a handshake, a wave, a nod? I don’t remember—and we get in line. He’s a competitive swimmer. It’s common ground. (I’m a regular swimmer, at least, with a sideways roll for a flip turn.) As I ask him about his morning workout, I notice how much I’m looking up. He’s 6’4” to my 6’1”. More than that, I gaze at very high cheekbones and pretty eyes. (In an authentic Elton moment, I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue.)
I’m suddenly nervous. And it’s warm in here. Please don’t let my green tee develop pit stains. He goes off to find seats after his cappuccino comes up minutes before my pour-over. I’m interested. And I’m all too aware there is another exit from the other room. It would serve me right if he ditched me.
But he doesn’t. We chat for the next ninety minutes. The swim talk is a surface-level thing we have in common but the conversation gets more animated as we talking about our writing projects and about favorite authors. This guy’s genuinely nice. It’s exciting to talk to someone else who is so passionate about writing. There are moments when I think he’s better than me. He’s giving Salman Rushdie a break; I’ve never even given Rushdie a chance. But we’re connecting. It’s going really well. Even a chronic doubter like myself can see that.
As we’re leaving, I notice our cups have been cleared. So engrossed in the conversation, I didn’t see it as it happened. That’s a very good sign. On the street corner, the very same one where I considered bolting, Craig says, “That was really enjoyable. I want to get together again.” I smile, and not at my shoes. We hug and go our separate ways.
It’s a promising beginning.