Doni was competing in a drag show in Singapore and I was thrilled to have the chance to watch his counter-ego Mona Kee Kee perform on stage. I knew how much this means to him and I was happy that I'd be there to support him. For some, it may just be something for fun ... katuwaan ... but I knew that Doni was passionate about being a drag queen and this competition meant the world to him. I invited Nestle to join me and he brought along a couple of his friends.
Dan was rather quiet and shy. We barely spoke at first. I was intent on watching the show, shouting my heart out, cheering for Mona until I got hoarse. The crowd was having so much fun, and Mona was clearly among the crowd favorites.
Eventually, after the show ended we transferred to Tantric to drink and party. By then I was tired. A week's worth of exhaustion, a generous amount of alcohol earlier that evening, and lack of sleep were piling up and making me feel sleepy.
I sidled up closer to Dan and made small talk. Up close, I noticed that he was cute. He wasn't the classic head-turner; his charm was the kind that reveals itself slowly. The big smile on his face, his steady demeanor.
We chatted a little, I was a little tipsy so I don't know how exactly but after awhile we found ourselves flirting a bit. Hands briefly touching. My arms around his shoulder. The teasing smiles and grins back and forth.
But then he suddenly straightened up and turned serious."I have a boyfriend," Dan confessed.
Was it just me or did the room feel suddenly a little tighter? I slowly disengaged myself from him and we stood a little far apart. "Ahhhh ... matagal na kayo? (You guys been together long?)"
"Four years," he replied. "Pero hindi na kami nag se sex. (But we don't have sex anymore.)"
I was surprised. "Oh ... wow."
"Kelan pa? (Since when?)"
"Two years. I guess para na kaming magkapatid? (I guess we're more like brothers now?)" he said hesitantly, and gave me a tired smile. I wanted to hug him, to comfort him but I didn't know whether it was appropriate. He suddenly seemed frail and fragile under the bright disco lights.
Much later, we were about to go home as the bar was closing. We've lost Nestle, he was flirting and dancing with a guy the last time we saw him. Dan and his friend offered to drop me off at the hotel. His friend knew something was up between us and sat at the front of the cab.
Inside, we sat quietly and made small talk. I turned to look at him and suddenly, I couldn't resist it. I kissed him and Dan ... he kissed back. It was quick, furtive, and the knowledge that there were other people including an old man in front made it more exciting.
"Gusto mo bang sumama kahit sandali? (Do you want to go with me for a little bit?)" I asked him in a whisper.
"Hindi puede eh. Magagalit siya (He'd be angry)," Dan answered. I knew who he meant.
"Kahit sandali lang? (Even for just while?)" I said.
He looked at me and I could see he was struggling. I knew he wanted to stay, I also knew he wanted to go.
I stepped up the game. I kissed him again and unbuttoned my jeans a little. Then I took his hand and guided it to my crotch. I moaned softly. Tang-ina sarap. (Fuck) I knew Dan would never do that on his own. He would feel guilty, but I suppose having someone lead you to it eases the guilt a little. Our kisses were becoming more urgent. I was biting his lips, caressing his body. And then suddenly, we were at the hotel.
We both got off and stood at the driveway. This is it, I told myself. What I would say and do next would determine how our night would end.
"So ..." I started, giving him a devilish grin. "Sige na. Kahit sandali lang?" I coaxed.
"Kane ..." he implored. "Hindi ko pa kaya (I can't do it yet.)"
"Hindi ko pa kaya (I can't do it yet)," he repeated slowly. And then he gave me a look. That look which said --- Please huwag mo na akong pilitin dahil alam kong bibigay ako and then I'd hate myself afterwards (Please don't ask me again because I know I'll give in and then I'd hate myself afterwards.)
We stood quietly still looking at each other in the wee hours of the morning. I moved closer and hugged him.
"It's okay,"I told him. "I understand. You're a good guy Dan." And then I turned around and walked away.
That night, I slept with an ache in my groin. Dan slept beside his lover with an ache in his heart. Somehow ... I knew which one of us had it worse.