So there I was at the gym; doing something I wasn't used to. Working out.
My friend Gino is tall, dark, skinhead, muscular and he has that thing most gay men want: abs. He had taken it upon himself to teach me to work out and to work out properly.
"Remind me again why we're doing this?" I said, my face red with exertion after the fiftieth squat exercise.
"Para mas maging hot ka."
"But, (pants) I don't want (grunts) to look hot," I said, panting and sweating. "Okay na ako na ganito."
"Hay naku. Ang tamad mo talaga. Tapusin mo yan. (You're so lazy. Go finish it.)"
After our workout, we grabbed something to eat and the conversation eventually turned to men.
"So how was your lunch date?" Gino asked. He knew I met with a guy from Grindr earlier.
"Oh God Gino!!!! He's sooo cute!!!" I squealed. "I think he's the one."
"Hahaha. Parang tanga nito. He's the one agad???" he replied, laughing.
"Well, it really was a great lunch. He was so funny and cute and … he smiles a lot," I said, recalling the memory. "I kinda liked that."
"Hay naku, kung gusto mo, may ipapakilala ako sa iyo mamya. Mas okay ito, I'm sure. Ano… gusto mo?"
Well, I thought to myself, if you really want to know if he's the one, perhaps you first have to meet everyone.
And that was how I found myself drinking on a weekday night ahead of a full day of work the next day. The bar was unusually full, packed with people downing cocktail concoctions and waiters lighting dishes on fire.
I was already dreading the consequences of a hangover … except that John was really good looking. He reminded me of one of my crushes; except he's the younger, hotter version.
"Hey Kane, this is my friend John. John, si Kane."
John nodded. I gave him the smile I'd been working up. A pleasure, I said. A nice set of eyes, I noticed straight off. Boyish. Lean. I turned my back on him, knowing there would be an interval of not talking before the talking begins.
A nice man. Sigh. Is that too much to ask for? Once I went out with a guy who invited someone else to my apartment while I was away. I wailed and cried of course, when it was all over. Sometimes, I'm tired of praying "God, please let this one work."
"Anong inumin natin? (What do you guys wanna drink?)" Gino asked us both. I'm fine with anything, I told them. I was a little exhausted and I was spacing out.
Pay attention, I told myself. Smile. Get on with the plan. I was not being perky at the very moment I needed to be all brightness and charm.
John was nice enough so far. But I suddenly felt unexpectedly weary with the whole business. The flirting, the gamesmanship, the jockeying for positions.
I knew you were supposed to get all energized and breathless at the prospect of courtship, the teasing and maneuvering. Well, most of the time I am. But sometimes, it only makes me feel tired. Adventurer or not.
I noticed a couple at a corner, the girl was laughing at some joke the guy said. They seemed to be having a great time. I missed that about my past relationship, if nothing else. The comfort of taking each other for granted. Not having to worry if you look fat or if your hair is messy or the color of your shirt is nice. Sometimes the heroic effort to arrange and rearrange and coax and prop yourself up, to work out and dress up seemed just silly, you wish …
But … there was this man I must talk to, and talk to in a way that is charming, provocative, piquant, interesting.
"So what do you do?" John asked.
"I'm a struggling writer."
"But I am," I protested. "I mean, I'm a writer, not cute."
He laughed. I knew I got him.