“You know, James, if you don’t like beer, you don’t have to drink it,” Cameron says as we sit and talk at the bar. I have to say I think I misjudged him. We’ve been chatting for a while now, and he’s not just some dumb frat boy. He’s nice, funny, and even kind of sweet. We even have a lot in common, including how we like to go for long bike rides.
“What makes you think I don’t like beer?” I’m not ready to admit he was right just yet.
“Oh, just the fact that you grimace every time you take a sip. And the fact that I’m almost done with my second and you’ve barely had any of your first.”
“That could mean many things,” I reply.
“Well, I think it can mean two things. One, I’m right and you don’t like beer, and you’re just drinking it to prove a point. Or two, you’re nursing your drink because I’m actually pretty good company, as promised, and you don’t want this night to end. Now the question is which poison will you pick?”
Still a tad arrogant, but also perceptive, I’ll give him that.
“I pick option three.”
“And what would that be?”
“That I’m enjoying the beer so much that I’m taking my time to really savour the taste. Your company is just an added bonus,” I add throwing him a bone.
Fuck, and there is that smile. Damn, I’m weak.
“I’m glad you see me as a bonus,” he says with the biggest grin. At the same time, his leg casually brushes against mine. I’m sure it was just an accident, but I immediately move my leg back. “So, tell me, why psychology and history?”
“I’ve always been fascinated with the brain, I suppose. How it works, the way people think, their behaviour. And then history because I like learning about where we were and where we are now. I think that can also teach us a lot about how the human mind works, to see how we’ve progressed, how our thinking has progressed, or in some cases, regressed I suppose.”
“Do you think people have the ability to change the way they think?” This is the first serious question he’s asked all night.
“Absolutely. We all learn as we grow.”
“I don’t know, I want to believe we can, but sometimes I’m not so sure. I think sometimes we just fool ourselves that we can change, but deep down we remain just as rigid and fundamentally flawed. We say we’re learning, but in reality, we really just hold onto our beliefs, our biases, our assumptions about other people.”
“We all have ingrained biases, and it’s not necessarily because we’re bad people,” I say. “It depends on what we’re exposed to as we grow up, what we see around us. But I think if people acknowledge their biases, they can change how they think.”
“I’m not so sure. Take homosexuality,” he says, “there is still a lot of ignorance.”
That’s true, there is. I know many gays guys who are still deeply in the closet. I came out to my family just before I went off to university. They were surprised, and my mom was a bit upset at first, but they’ve been nothing but amazing. Also, I’m not sure if he brought that up because he can tell I’m gay, or if he is referring to himself.
“There is, absolutely. But at one point in time homosexuality was a criminal offense. It still is in some countries. But the way people think is slowly changing. I admit the slow pace is frustrating, but at least it is something. So yeah, I do believe humans have the ability to change.”
I have to believe that.
“I guess, but it feels at times we take one step forward, but then two steps back. It seems at times that people haven’t changed. With gay rights, people tolerate each other more now, sure, but they don’t necessarily accept one another for who they are. I don’t want to be tolerated. I want people to accept me for who I am. I don’t know, I just feel there is still so much ignorance and bigotry in this world. You say attitudes are changing but take the same-sex marriage debate. It makes me so angry. Even people who say they’re not against homosexuality, are against same-sex marriage. How does that even make sense? I honestly don’t know if it will ever happen.”
Okay, I’m pretty sure he just outed himself. Right?
“Absolutely, I agree, there is still a lot of ignorance and bigotry, and you’re right it’s not going to go away anytime soon,” I reply. “But maybe if we all do our own little part, we can make a difference.”
“Maybe.” He’s clearly not convinced. “So, what will you do when you’re done?” And just like that his smile is back.
“I don’t know yet. For now, I’m just soaking it all in.”
“I wish I could find something I’m that passionate about,” Cameron says.
“Drama,” I respond.
“Drama?” he laughs. “Because of my Hollywood good looks?”
You can add cocky to the list. Though, again, he is without a doubt sexy as fuck. That jaw line alone! Damn. I’d kill for one of those.
“You seem theatrical,” I say.
“Who doesn’t love the theater. Alas, no, good sir, I am no actor.”
“There must be something you’re passionate about?”
“Many things. Many people,” he says with just a hint of a smile, and mischief in his eyes.
Again, is he flirting? No. He wouldn’t flirt with someone as ordinary as me.
“I mean in terms of education.”
“My dad wants me to get my MBA.”
“That’s good for your dad, but what do you want?” I ask.
“If I could do anything?”
“Physical or occupational therapy, or something along those lines. I want to help people get better when they’re hurt. It would be sort of my way of giving back to the world, you know.”
Caring and compassionate. Interesting. Or he feels guilty because he hurt someone. Also interesting.
“The school has programs for both physical and occupational therapy.”
“True, but unfortunately, some of us aren’t nerds and didn’t pay enough attention in school and didn’t get straight As like you.”
“You really like to assume facts about people,” I say.
“And you like to challenge people,” he responds. “You know I’m right.”
“Maybe,” I say with a smile.
“You’re studying psychology at a university with one of the best medical and science programs in the country. Programs that, I assume, are really, really hard to get into. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out you probably got As in school.”
“And you really don’t like beer,” he says with a huge smile.
“Fine, I don’t. Happy?” He actually makes me laugh.
“Yes! I am! Was that so hard?”
“A bit.” Other things are starting to get hard too. I just need to shift in my chair a bit. There you go. “Any more observations or judgments,” I emphasize that word because of our earlier conversation, “you’ve made about me in the oh, hour you’ve known me?”
“Fine. I’ll admit, I did judge you at first. And you judged me too,” he says. “As for observations, let’s see … you hide your personality. You have your guard up, and you don’t trust people easily. You’re an introvert. You’re defensive. You like to be right. You’ll drink a beverage you hate just to prove a point. But behind all that, behind that feisty and sarcastic side, which I kind of like, you’re clearly very smart, but also very funny, and incredibly sweet. Oh, and an optimist. Am I right?”
“I don’t know if I’d describe myself as an optimist,” I say.
“You think people can change, that we can be better. I’d say you’re an optimist.”
“Fair point.” He really did read me well. “And to be fully fair, you like to be right too.”
“I do! I cherish those moments because they don’t come often. Now my turn, analyze me brain doctor!”
“I’m not a brain doctor,” I point out.
“You know what I mean. What did you think when you first met me? I know you formed an opinion. And what do you think now?”
“You sure?” I ask giving him a fair warning.
“Hit me with it. I’m a big boy, I can handle it.”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’ll start off nice. You’re friendly, I’ll give you that. You’re funny, in a clownish, carefree kind of way. You’re definitely an extrovert. You’re confident; it takes guts to approach a stranger, which I have to admit, I admire. I’ll also admit, I did misjudge you at first, but that’s because of the friends you keep. I thought you were like them, a douche, someone who thinks highly of himself, someone a bit pretentious, and just a bit too cocky. Now you are cocky, but I think that’s a bit of an act, which is why I thought maybe you’re into drama. Though the more I get to know you, the more I think that act is really a defence mechanism. While you are confident, I think deep down you’re also insecure like the rest of us. That’s my very brief initial assessment.”
And yet he continues to smile. I just told him I think he’s insecure and he’s smiling! I should add he clearly comes from money, just look at that watch! It brings back a memory, but it’s obviously just a coincidence.
“You really will make a fine brain doctor one day,” he says.
“Again, not a brain doctor, I’m not a psychiatrist. But do you agree?”
“Maybe,” he shrugs. “And here I thought you liked my cockiness.”
I hate to admit this, but I kind of do. There is this bad boy vibe to him that I know I shouldn’t, but I find really, really attractive. I’ve heard people say that before, and I always thought they’re crazy. Who wants to be with a ‘bad’ person? But right now, I get it. I really get it! Also, is it just me or did he overly emphasize the word cock?
“A drink to you successfully analyzing our crazy brains for years to come,” he says lifting his beer.
I reluctantly lift my own glass. “Cheers.”
“You know you don’t have to finish that if you don’t want to,” Cameron says. “In fact, how about this time you pick a drink for both of us.”
“Who said I’m sticking around for a second drink?” I try my best to be coy. “If memory serves me correctly, I only agreed to stay for one.”
“True, but one can dream.”
Okay, honestly, fuck, those eyes! He really knows how to use his body to charm others. I am melting like ice cream on a hot summer day. Keep it together!
“And if I stay, I can pick anything?”
“You can have anything you want.”
Okay, I must be crazy, because it sounded like he was offering himself!
“Excuse me,” I say to the hot bartender to catch his attention.
“What can I get you guys?”
“I’ll have a vodka tonic, and my friend here would love a cosmopolitan,” I say. “He’s feeling a bit fruity tonight.”
“It’s true, I am,” Cameron says without missing a beat, “who doesn’t like to be fruity sometimes?”
He’s definitely gay. Or maybe he’s just a confident guy who doesn’t care what others think. I honestly don’t know. What I do know though, is that I enjoy the vodka tonic much more than the beer. I order another. And then another. I know I was only supposed to stay for one drink, but I’m long past that. I don’t even know how many I’ve had. And I don’t care. There is just something about Cameron. The more we talk, the more I want to hear his voice, and his laugh. Again, they feel familiar.
“You should let your guard down more often,” Cameron says at one point, this warmth in his eyes, “you really come alive.”
“It’s hard. I’ve been hurt before,” I blurt out without thinking. It’s rare for me to be this honest, this vulnerable. Yet here I am.
“I’m sorry,” he says placing his hand on top of mine. It sends a chill down my spine. “I’d never hurt you.”
We just look into each other’s eyes. The moment is shattered by a bell, last call.
“Holy shit it’s almost 2 a.m.!” I say looking at the clock on the wall. “I should go.”
“One more for the road,” he pleads.
I was only supposed to stay for one. “I shouldn’t.”
Oh, those puppy eyes! How can I resist. “Fine.”
When I catch the bartender’s attention, I order two vodka tonics.
“Actually,” Cameron starts to say, “I was really hoping for some sex on the beach.”
My mouth goes dry.
“I’m a pretty good bartender, but I’m not sure I can make that happen tonight,” he says.
That makes us all laugh.
“You never know,” Cameron says. “I should clarify, I’m talking about the cocktail.”
“Sex it is then,” the bartender says, “coming right up.”
“That’s a bold drink choice,” I say when we’re alone again. Was there a hidden message there for me? Or maybe for the hot bartender. Ah, that’s it! He probably wants to sleep with the hot bartender. That makes way more sense! Ugh, I hate that that makes me feel sad.
“This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Interesting quote choice. “You can quote Shakespeare, impressive.” That’s not sarcasm. I find that impressive, and holy shit did that just make me horny! I am a nerd. A line from Shakespeare just gave me a boner! “Maybe you should consider drama.”
That makes him laugh. “I told you I’m more than just a pretty face. Now, just don’t ask me for any context. I know it’s from ‘Hamlet’ and I think it’s about being honest and true to yourself, but I’m not really sure!”
“You continue to surprise me,” I say.
“Oh, I have many more surprises up my sleeve for you tonight.”
“Gentlemen, vodka tonic, and sex on the beach. Enjoy the sex,” the bartender says with a wink as he places our glasses in front of us.
“Oh, we will,” Cameron says. “We will.”
We? Okay, I need to get to the bottom of this.
“So, Cam, can I call you Cam?”
“You can call me whatever you want.”
“Handsome guy like you, Saturday night, I’m sure there is a girl waiting to be wooed.”
“Probably. But I’m busy wooing someone else right now,” he says looking directly at me as one of his fingers dances across the skin on my hand.
Maybe it’s the alcohol – okay it’s definitely the alcohol – but all of a sudden, I feel bold. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re flirting with me, good sir.”
“I believe I am.” Fuck, that mischievous smile!
“I should warn you, that’s a dangerous game to play with a gay guy.”
“Good thing I like danger.”
A bit of a slow start (sorry!) -- but the recap of the night before is now done. I promise, the next chapter will start to reveal answers about their past together.
As always, let me know what you think. Feedback and comments welcome below. Thx! 😁