Wednesday, June 22, 2005

So what's your deal?

I was sitting on HSNB's patio, talking with some of his friends, most of whom I had met before. This one guy who I had not met suddenly turns to me, the only gay man (as far as we know) at the gathering, looks me straight in the eye and says, "So what's your deal?". I was taken back a few years, when I had heard that before...

It was summer. I was struggling to make ends meet as a young college grad in the big city. My day job didn't cover all of the bills, and I had taken a job in a club as a waiter. I soon learned that quick service, a smile, and allowing myself to be groped meant big tips! Oh sure, I am shy and demure, but I am also actor you know.

I was doing so well, that I was asked to fill in as a bartender during the week. Tuesday nights were notoriously slow, so I was able to get to know the regulars' personal lives. The chatty ones anyway. There was one guy in particular that never really said much, at least not to me. He stared a lot, but then again they all did. Bartender is high on the food chain in gay nightlife. I had a quick reputation as being "unattainable" because I didn't just follow home any guy who asked.

But this guy had the most piercing blue eyes that seem to stare through you. He obviously took care of himself for his age. Very hard body. Always an Izod shirt and jeans, gold bracelet, gold watch. Always twenties on the bar, tipped well, drank Scotch Rocks. Chivas. Always polite. But never said much past hello.

Until one night, he looked at me as I put his drink on the bar, and he said, "So what's your deal?".

His name was Paul. He was in Securities. And he was into me. I was only 22 at the time, and he was in his late thirties. Scandalous I know! But I was attracted to older men at that time, and for quite some time after he was gone from my life.

I don't remember how I answered him the first time he had spoken, but I remember that no one had said that to me since. Until now. One little phrase brought back a flood of memories of that summer, and the man who treated me like gold. He had asked me on a beach abroad that summer to spend the rest of my life with him. Many times you wonder - what if? Had I spent my life with him, who would I be now?