Thursday, June 14, 2012
Waiting for the second date to Tristan was worse than waiting for the first date because the first date had been an abstraction in his mind but the second date had substance. The second date had potential and limitations. Could he do all the right things? He had to think of something to do but he didn’t have a plan. What did two gay teens do in a town that was full of bigots? He thought to go back to the same restaurant but he doubted he could afford the meals.
He did a quick search on the internet for gay friendly restaurants and he came up with two bars, the restaurant he had been to and a coffee shop. A coffee shop wouldn’t be bad, he thought, maybe if he did something else like go to a movie... he liked the idea of the two of them in the theater. They could be two friends, two straight guys. He thought to buy tickets but was discouraged when he saw the price and the selection plus he didn’t know how long they could be at the coffee shop. It could be ten minutes or hours.
One step at a time, he told himself. Take it slow. We’ll go to the coffee shop, he told himself then maybe we can do something else like take a walk around town. He looked up the coffee shop on “street view” and saw that it was downtown with plenty of shops around. He did another quick search for museums in the area and found a ‘Asian -Pacific History Museum’ that closed at 9 o’clock and entrance was a ‘donation’ for the ticket. He began to dread the date after Mark had taken him to a romantic place.
Ten minutes before six o’clock he stood outside his home in his red leather jacket, hands in his pockets. His mother’s nativity scene was still in the window and his neighbor’s had also decorated their houses with multi-colored lights and a few lawn ornaments. He exhaled and liked the way his breath looked in the air. Sometimes he had liked to pretend like he was smoking. He heard a car and looked to the end of the street where he saw Mark’s car headed his way. He stepped to the sidewalk and waited until Mark stopped in front of him. He opened the car door and got inside.
“How are you doing?” Mark asked.
“Good,” Tristan said. He thought about Evan and that he had been happy when his mother had come home while they were in the Jacuzzi. Evan had taken to jumping out of the hot water, rolling in the snow then jumping back into the hot water. It was a shock to the system he had learned long ago and had taught Evan but he hadn’t wanted to do it despite Evan’s encouragement.
“How are you?” he asked before taking hold of his seatbelt.
Mark stayed focused on the street as he began to drive.
“Fine,” Mark said. “So where are we going?”
“I thought we’d go for coffee and then maybe we could go to a movie or if you’re interested we could go to this museum that’s nearby.”
“What kind of museum?”
“Asian Pacific,” Tristan answered.
“I’m not so interested in the museum but the movie could be interesting. What are the directions to the coffee shop?”
“Hold on let me get out my phone,” Tristan said reaching into his pocket. He pulled out his phone and unlocked the screen then went to the directions he had bookmarked. “Just a second it’s taking a moment to find us with the GPS.”
Mark thought to say something but he decided not to speak. He was thinking about the impossibility of it all. He wasn’t sure which would be better, to be out and worry about people talking behind his back or else stay ‘in the closet’ and worry about people talking behind his back, besides which there was the whole element of his father.
“Here it is,” Tristan said. “Make the next left.”
Tristan proceeded to give directions out of suburbia and to the highway and for a moment they each thought to say something as they drove but the silence was too big and then the phone and a new instruction and Mark turned off the highway to a side street of the downtown area. They found the place easily then circled the block until they found a parking lot. Tristan noted the additional three dollars and hour it cost to park. He gritted his teeth but decided to push ahead. They walked from the car to the coffee shop without speaking.
Once inside they were greeted by an air-conditioned, hipster atmosphere. They both looked up at the chalkboard menu.
“Have you been here before?” Tristan asked.
“No,” Mark said. “It’s kind of like the one on campus though. You?”
Tristan stuck his hands in his pockets and shook his head.
“Get whatever you want off the menu,” Tristan said.
Mark smiled then stepped into line with one other person ahead of them. He didn’t like coffee and he didn’t like tea. He didn’t like soda. Then he spotted the salad with chicken breast and decided he would order that with a water. Tristan waited and tried to calculate his own order.
The patron ahed stepped aside and Mark stepped to the cashier. Tristan leaned forward and said that he would be paying for both orders. The cashier was young and heavily tattooed with spacers and piercings in his earlobes. Mark gave his order then Tristan stepped forward.
“What will it be?” the tattooed man asked.
Tristan pretended to weigh the options. Two tickets to the movies for the evening show and snacks, he thought.
“Just coffee,” he said.
“Coming right up,” the cashier rang up the order and Tristan reached into pocket and pulled out his wallet. He looked over his cash, two twenties, a ten and loose ones. He counted out the money close enough and when the cashier handed back the change he left a dollar in the tip cup but it didn’t matter because by then Mark was looking away to a painting on the wall. Tristan stepped beside him and placed his wallet back in his pocket. Mark pointed to the square piece of paper beside the painting where the title, the artist and cost were listed.
“Do you think this stuff ever sells?”
“No,” Tristan said.
They looked to each other and laughed a little at the awkwardness of the situation before they made their way to a small table. The place was pretty crowded with individuals on their laptops but they found a spot against the wall.
“You seem preoccupied,” Tristan said.
“Sorry,” Mark said, “I was just thinking. It’s been a long week. I thought I would be able to let it go but don’t worry about it. We should be having a good time. How was your week?”
Tristan thought about his answer. He doesn’t know I am still in high school, he thought.
“School was okay. I actually saw my old boyfriend this week. He was being extra flirtatious.” Shoot, Tristan thought. Why did I just say that?
“Tell me more,” Mark said.
“It’s no big deal,” Tristan replied.
Mark sat back and crossed his arms.
“No really,” he said, “it’s no big deal. I told him I was on a date and he wanted to know everything. I think he’s just jealous.”
“Did you tell him anything?”
“No,” Tristan said shaking his head. He leaned forward and placed his elbows on the table. “How about you? Did you tell anyone?”
Mark shook his head and leaned forward. He stared Tristan in the eye then leaned down onto the table.
“Coffee huh?” Mark asked.
“And a movie,” Tristan said, “don’t forget the movie.”
“Do you have one picked out?”
Tristan shook his head.
“I figured we’d just pick one. I didn’t know how long this would take.”
Mark nodded then looked to where the cashier stepped out from behind the register and carried the tray of Mark’s food across the room along with a saucer of coffee. The tattooed cashier smiled at them.
“Here you go,” he said. He set down their items. Tristan looked at the salad then to his coffee and his stomach grumbled but he didn’t say anything.
“Do you want to share?” Mark asked.
Tristan looked around then shrugged his shoulders and said that he could use a bite. They ate in silence and even sat for a long time afterwards without saying anything. Mark had returned to his thoughts and Tristan to his worries.
“Well,” Tristan said breaking the silence.
“Let’s go,” Mark said.
They stood and walked from the coffee shop to the theater where they stopped in front of the marquee far from the people in line. Nothing looked good.
“Is there something you want to see?” Tristan asked.
“I’m not really a movie person,” Mark said.
“Do you want to skip the movie?” Tristan asked.
“Yeah,” Mark said. “I don’t know what else we’d do but I’m not really feeling like a movie.”
“We could go window shopping,” Tristan offered.