‘Just wait until he gets here. I’m going to beat the crap out of him,’ I fume. ‘I mean it. He totally deserves it!’ My so-called best friend Will is late, again. I’ve been waiting at the campus bar for half an hour already. But of course, because it’s Will, he’s late. The bartender was kind enough to let me use the bar phone to call his apartment. Cell phones aren’t all that common because they’re still so expensive! But Will didn’t answer. He’s a goof. Against my better judgment though, I still love him (platonically, of course).
“Still not here yet, eh?”
I look up to find the smoking hot bartender leaning against the bar, a few strands of his dark brown hair falling on his forehead. He casually brushes it back, tucking the loose strands behind his ear. He really is the definition of sexy, with his blue eyes, perfectly groomed stubble, and kissable lips. I’ve been stealing glances at him every chance I get, especially when he turns around (those pants are tight in all the right places). He is one fine specimen.
“Um, no, not yet.”
“You sure you don’t want a stronger drink while you wait? Or anything else?”
I’ll take you. Or rather I’ll let you take me any way you want. Okay, so I may be a bit horny. It’s been a while. But who am I kidding? A guy like that would never fall for a guy like me, what with my average looks. He’s probably not even gay, just being flirty so that I’ll leave him a big tip. Granted, I’m really racking up the bill with my multiple orders of tap water!
“Um … sure, why not,” I relent. Might as well get this party of one started.
“What would you like?” the bartender whose tight shirt I want to rip off right here right now asks. Okay, I clearly need to calm down.
But before I can respond, someone else answers for me.
“The fag will take a screwdriver – you!” A drunk guy yells, thrusting his hips forward while one of his friends crudely mimics jacking off.
Fucking immature drunk morons. Before I can respond they stumble out the door.
“Sorry. Don’t mind them,” one of their friends says hanging back. “They’re idiots.”
That they are. I saw them all earlier, or wait, I should clarify, I heard them first. They were extremely loud! That’s despite the fact that they were sitting in a booth at the other end of the bar, and this place is packed! Yet, I could hear them. You know the type, the douchebags who think they’re the centre of the universe.
“Yeah, whatever.” I’ve been called worse. It doesn’t matter. I am who I am. I don’t hide my sexuality, but I’m not fully open. I assume they were able to tell by the way I was eyeing the bartender just now.
“Let me get you that drink.” Before I can even blink, he takes off his jacket and sits down on the empty barstool next to me.
“It’s fine. Besides I think there are some idiots waiting for you,” I reply coldly. I don’t look at him, hoping he’ll get the message if I ignore his presence.
“Oh, I’ll catch up with them later. What would you like? You seem like a gin and tonic kind of guy, not a beer drinker.”
Douche and I should add pompous. First off, he just assumes he can sit next to me, that I want his company. Second, that he can order me a drink, and third, he assumes he knows what I like or don’t like. I know his type. The cocky, arrogant, confident, jock who people fawn over, but none of that will work on me. I can see through his façade. Though, he’s actually right, I do like gin and tonic, and I absolutely hate beer. But he doesn’t know that, and I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s right.
“Actually,” I say turning to the hot bartender, “I do like beer. I’ll have whatever’s on tap, the one you told me about earlier.” I’ll have whatever’s on tap because I’ve heard people say that before! I don’t drink beer and have no idea what to order!
“Make that two,” the guy next to me says.
“Will do.” With that the hot bartender leaves. I’d much rather the bartender stay and this guy leave. Life’s so unfair.
I pretend to study the random artwork on the wall.
“I’ve never seen you here before. Do you study here?”
I don’t look at him when I respond. “Yeah, just one of the 50 or so thousand students who go to Clifton University. Could be why you’ve never seen me before.” Okay, I’m normally not this cold, but I’m a bit pissed.
“Oh, I’m sure I’d remember seeing you,” he says. “I’m Cameron, by the way.”
I guess we’re doing this.
“James.” I reluctantly tell him my proper name. I switched back to it years ago. My family and some childhood friends though still call me Jamie. I tell him my name because I really hate being rude, and to be fair, despite his early misstep, I can tell he’s kind of trying to be nice. His friends are the jerks. It’s the first time I actually look at him. He is the hot jock type, so I was right on that front. But there is more. He seems familiar in a way. No. I need to stop doing this, looking for him in other people. He’s gone.
“Nice to meet you, James,” he says offering his hand.
“Nice to meet you as well.”
“So, what are you studying?” he asks.
“Master’s in psychology, and I’m also taking some history courses.” After I finished my undergrad, I decided to work for a few years before going back to school. I never thought I’d still be in school in 1992.
That makes him smile. Damn he has a cute smile! Makes it hard to hate him. Wait, why do I hate him? Right, the drink comment.
“That’s an interesting combination. You must be really smart!”
I just shrug. “You?”
“Oh man, nothing that interesting. I’m just starting my MBA.”
“That’s also impressive. It’s not an easy program to get into.”
“Yeah, well, unless you have powerful connections. It took me a while to figure out what I want to do and I’m still not sure; I have commitment issues,” he laughs.
Fuck, those dimples!
“Don’t we all,” I respond.
“So, what brings you to the campus bar on a Saturday night. By the number of times you’ve looked at the door, I’ll wager you’re waiting for someone who is quite late.”
Observant. Or just a creepy stalker? Haven’t decided yet.
“Yeah, I’m waiting for a friend, but I’m starting to think he’s not coming.”
“His tardiness is my luck. I hate it when people change plans at the last minute.”
“You mean when they can’t commit?”
“Ha, good one!”
I thought so! Okay, his laugh is really, really sexy, and familiar. He’s making it really difficult to hate him.
“It’s just the way people are, I guess.”
“They don’t have to be,” he replies.
“Here you go guys, enjoy!” The hot bartender says placing our drinks in front of us. Please don’t leave hot bartender! Stay, take off your shirt! And … he’s gone. But maybe now that we have our drinks Cameron will leave too. No. He just sits there.
“You sure you don’t want to join your friends? They may need your help. They are, as you put it, idiots after all.” It’s only 9:30. I’m surprised he parted ways with them so soon.
“Oh, no, they took off. I’m good.”
I guess I'll just have to make small talk then. I've never been really good at that with strangers. I have no idea what to say now! I’m saved by the return of the one of the other bartenders.
“Are you James?” he asks looking at me.
“Your friend, uh, Will, just called back on the bar phone, said to give you a message that he can’t make it. Sorry dude.”
Fuck, stupid Will! Well, I just wasted forty-five minutes of my life.
“Well, I guess that means I should go.” I pull out my wallet to pay for the drink. “It was nice meeting you. Have a good night.”
“First off, the drink is on me. And second, why? The night is still young, and you didn’t even have any of your beer yet,” he says.
“You can have it.” One bright spot, I don’t have to drink that!
“You should stay. The beer’s already here. It’s free and it comes with, if I can say so myself, some pretty good company. Please.”
I can’t help rolling my eyes. But also, fuck, that smile! The inner voice inside my head, the one that is almost always telling me not to trust anyone, is screaming at me right now. Run! Run! Run! He seems like one of those guys. The douchebags I hate, the ones who hurt me before. His friends clearly are part of that group. History proves that his type are never friends with people like me. They always want something. It’s always a trap. Yet, I don’t know, there is something about him. Something about his smile. I sense there is more to him than I know. Fuck! I wish for once I could just stop over analyzing everyone or everything or every situation. After all these years, I’m still so messed up. Maybe, just maybe, he’s being friendly for the sake of being friendly. Maybe he doesn’t want anything. Maybe he’s just a nice guy. Maybe …
“So … is that a yes?” he asks coyly when I don’t respond or move.
“I guess one drink won’t kill me,” I say sitting back down. I’ll stay for one drink only! Then I’m gone.
“That’s the spirit! Cheers!” He says lifting his glass.
“Cheers,” I reply as our glasses clink. Great now I have to actually drink this! Holy shit this is awful. Why do people like this stuff?
“This is really good,” Cameron says putting his glass down.
“Yeah ...” God, I need a mint.
And so they meet! As always, feedback and reaction welcome in the comments below. Thanks!