it’s 712pm, and i’m sat in a spanish tapas bar down the road from where i live, with a half-drunken pint of stella artois in front of me. there’s not much to do except stare at the couples at the bar. the men wear suits and look at their latin women with hungry eyes and laugh through yellow teeth. they catch me staring but i don’t mind and i just take turns staring each one down. they’re so boring that i’m not even bothering to eavesdrop.
i actually showed up early, and i never ever show up early. for anything. i’m always late for meeting up with friends, especially good friends. i’m late to job interviews and meetings. i show up at the airport just as check-in is closing. it’s my style, i suppose. but, tonight, i showed up early.
maybe he said 730pm and not 700pm?
i like the candles they have on each table.
maybe something has suddenly come up?
i wonder if this place gets busy later.
maybe he’s standing me up as secret revenge for some unknown crime?
nah, can’t be.
i glance over to the door and see him coming in, looking dashing and handsome and cute and delicious and 12 minutes late. i’m not mad in the slightest, but i sense that he’s a bit perturbed for some reason. he explains, i’m more of a meet-you-outside kind of guy and i realize he’s been outside the whole time. we go through precisely 2 minutes of polite awkwardness as he sits down and i go to the bar to order him a drink and stand there for 2 minutes while they pour his pint and i look back and smile even though he’s 10 feet away we still haven’t said anything to each other and and and…
i come back and we sit and cheers and smile and sip and smile and our knees touch and i blush and he blushes and i grab his hand and we chat. effortlessly, deliciously, passionately. we dig deep into our career paths and the world of consulting. we debate robin cook and madeline albright and he doesn’t dare make me defend my americanism. we touch on travel and family and relationships and finances and all those important i-want-to-get-to-know-you-as-quickly-as-possible topices.
we admit to both being ridiculously excited about tonight, and laugh at how we both failed miserably at ~`playing it cool’~.
we order some tapas… some spicy but greasy chorizo, some garlicky but chewy squid, a fab tangy tuna steak, and some sort of couscous salad which i’m convinced was either sand or catlitter. i swoon when he orders a delicious bottle of rioja… for once i don’t have to argue the merits of a hearty red wine with dinner.
the tapas bar fills up, but it’s really just him and i and a candlelit dinner. hours go by, we get a second bottle of wine, and conversation digresses into sheepish smiles and averted glances and la quenta por favor.
oh, this is where you should stop reading. please!
i drag him back to mine for coffee [really!] and we’re sat, looking over some skyline of london, friggin’ dido playing on the stereo [i know, i know!], sipping from our mugs. i’ve stopped being the chirpy happy lad i was all evening.
he asks me several times, what’s wrong? and what’s on your mind? and oh no, have i said something? he’s thinking that i’m about to drop some bombshell on him, like actually, i’m straight or actually, i have a boyfriend or actually, i have an exorbitantly long penis.
i excuse myself to allow the mixture of black coffee, rioja, greasy sausage and squid and all the rest to go back out the way it went in. gross. i flush the toilet, brush my teeth for 3 hours and come back out.
he laughs it off, puts me to bed, demands a kiss and sees his way out.