Another story I didn’t know where I was going with. In-class writing. This time we were allowed to choose names and location from a few choices. I picked Christopher and Om, at the bar.
We Found Love
Christopher tugs my arm relentlessly.
“Dude, for the last time” -I pry his fingers off of me- “no.” I end up saying much louder than I had intended.
He hangs his head, his long black hair covers his eyes. He gathers his papers and books on the table without a word.
The drastic jump from his usual overly enthusiastic behaviour to whatever this is, is impossible not to notice. And he knows it too. He does it on purpose.
“That’s not going to work this time.”
He raises his eyes to mine.
I wait for the scowl that would be followed by a middle finger but it never comes. Instead he just nods and continues packing his bag. “I know. It’s okay.” He grabs his bag and starts making a move.
Watching him wrings my heart dry and before I know it I find myself reconsidering his favour, gazing around the empty four-hundred seater auditorium.
This idiot. He might be majoring in Chemistry but his psychological games are excellent.
He looks at me over the shoulder still with the same look of dejection. I clench my fists already knowing I’m going to regret this but- “Fine. Just once. Okay?”
His downturned lips slowly but surely as hell change direction. The tension in my hands ease seeing it. He rushes back to me. “Really? Om, Really?”
I nod. “Are there any gay bars you have in mind or-”
“The Outsiders. It’s in town!”
The look of pure joy in his face lightens up my own. “Let’s go then.”
“Are you sure this is a good idea? What if everyone thinks I’m gay too? You won’t be able to meet anyone,” I ask as we wait for the bouncer to return. From the outside this two storey shophouse looking building just seems like any other building – only with tinted glasses. On the corner building it faces an intersection of streets lined with more bars and restaurants. I’ve walked past this building many times before on my way to get wasted but I didn’t realise this was a gay bar. From the outside, it just seemed quiet. Never a long line, never loud music seeping out into the streets.
“Yea. It’s fine. I just want to have a feel for the place. If I like it then I’ll come back another night.”
Christopher has long changed out the shirt and berms he wore to class today for a white dress shirt and pants complete with suspenders. And there’s no sight of his feet. The slippers he always wears has become a pair of formal black shoes.
“Sounds like you put a lot of effort into this plan.”
He just grins.
The bouncer, a smiley guy in an all black attire, walks out of the door and escorts us to our table on the first floor. It’s a dimly lit place, with a red tint. The familiar stench of beer fills my nostrils. They even have a live band that plays a mellow pop song. The girls and guys listening to them as they chat glance to us as we pass them by. They all give us a look, that’s followed by a polite smile. The look, I expected. Not everyday you see an Indian guy with a Chinese guy in a gay bar – not that I would know. But the look was why I was apprehensive about coming here. I have nothing against people of other sexualities but the idea of having everyone think I’m gay when I’m not just didn’t sit well with me. I stop in my tracks as the realistion hits me.
“Ey, you coming?” Christopher voices out. He has a calm face, with wrinkles only by the side of his mouth from smiling too much. That’s the kind of guy he is. But I never thought what it must have been like for him. I never actually thought about the pressure he must have gone through whenever he walked into a room full of people who just assumed he was straight. I never thought it was something he might have felt. Feeling like a liar, like a disappointment, like he… I don’t belong.
He puts his arm around my neck welcoming me further into the bar. “Lets go,” he says with a wide grin quashing all my unease.
We sit right at the centre of the bar and order our drinks with the waiter, a man wearing a white shirt and black pants but it’s the rainbow-coloured bow tie, that’s striking. Christopher gives him a compliment on how nice it is to which the waiter asks if we would like to have one. Christopher agrees excitedly – agreeing for me too.
“So how do you like the place?” I ask Christopher while we wait.
He gazes around the high ceiling-ed building. Seated right in the middle of the establishment, we enjoy a full view of the second floor patrons who line the edges of the building. Chattering fills the air but not loud enough to drown out the music even though the well-dressed patrons move around to other tables mingling with each other. I’ve never been in a bar this calm. Even I’m starting to like it.
“It’s great,” he says with a wide smile on his face.
“Good.” I say, “I’m going to order some sides too. Want anything?”
He asks me to get him a serving of truffle fries and I head over to the counter near the bar through the crowd of people. But no one’s at the counter. I whip out my phone to pass the time as I wait.
I lift my head up from a funny video of a dog running into a transparent glass door to see a Chinese girl with a bob haircut in a mid length black dress.
I look around me. “Me?”
“No, I’m with a friend.” I point towards the back of the room.
“Oh you have a boyfriend, I’m sorry.”
I let out a laugh. I thought I’d hate getting mistaken, but this is actually funny.
“No, he’s just a friend,” I say. “It’s his first time at a gay bar so he just wanted company.”
Wide-eyed, she says it with so much conviction even I wonder if I’d said something inaccurate. She takes a step towards me, I lean back.
“It’s my friend’s first time too” -she points to an Indian guy- “And I came here to support him.”
“You were supposed to help me, Om, what’s happening?”
I turn to see Christopher behind me. But before I can acknowledge him, he extends his to the girl. “Hi, I’m Christopher.”
“Rose,” the girl says as she takes his hand. She offers him a bright smile. “Give me a moment.”
She goes back to her friend. The counter staff returns. I place an order for a serving of truffle fries and barbecued chicken and give him our table number.
“Is she straight?” Christopher asks.
I nod. “But her friend isn’t.”
Rose returns with her friend a lean guy with short hair. His name’s Vignesh. We exchange greetings and the pair invites us to their table that’s bigger than ours.
I turn back to the counter staff. “Can I change the table number from forty-three to twenty? Thanks.”