Since my breakup with Smiles, I’ve been making greater efforts to spend more time with friends. I didn’t neglect them while I was dating him, but I certainly didn’t shower them with attention either. They’re very important to me, and I wanted to make sure they knew they were appreciated. Of course, I also just loved hanging out with them, otherwise they wouldn’t be my friends.
One of my old roommates asked me if I wanted to go out to the bar. It’d been a long time since he’d done this. It came quite out of the blue, but I was very happy for the invitation. Since we don’t live together, we get along much better. It wasn’t that we fought all the time while we lived together or anything. It’s just much simpler now. I look forward to bar nights with him.
At the same time, one of the girls who I know from my annual Martha’s Vineyard trips was planning a birthday gathering the same night a block from my office. I asked my old roommate if he minded going there for happy hour. I thought it would make things convenient so I could spend time with both. It’d been a long time since I caught up with both friends.
My old roommate and I arrived at the bar early. We made our way through the crowd at Gingerman to the bar to order some beers. I offered to pick up the first round, as I generally do. I handed him his beer and we cheersed. It was at that moment I learned it was his birthday. I had no idea until he said something. I felt like such a sh*t. He was a close friend, and I was usually up on that sort of thing. I have everyone’s birthday in my phone, so I checked to see how I missed the date. It turned out I didn’t have his birthday in there, but with more investigation, I had scheduled it a month later on the same date. I told him how bad I felt, but also added, “At least I offered to buy the round! Haha.” He laughed and quickly forgave my mistake. I thought about it for a second, and realized I was the only one meeting him for drinks. I was the one he wanted to spend his birthday with. I was touched and happy.
We stood by the door because it was the only place we could stand, drink and have a discussion. He told me his plans to go to Atlantic City that weekend for his birthday with a busload of people. I wished him luck since it sounded like such a complicated situation.
After some time, the birthday girl arrived. She came in and gave me a big hug. I introduced her to my old roommate, and we quickly caught up. She decided to make her way to the back of the bar to see if she could grab a table when the bouncer chased us away from the front door. My old roommate and I had already been back there and knew there were no tables, so I let her find out for herself after telling her that. He and I made our way to the front corner of the bar. Just as we did, a couch opened up. I texted the birthday girl to come join us. About ten minutes later, she finally did and brought the rest of her group over.
I talked with my old roommate as more and more people filtered in. It was becoming an intimate little circle. I introduced him to everyone that joined that I knew. When the evening was dragging on, I decided I was read to head home. I had to take equipment home from work, so I was going to book a car service from my office. I invited my old roommate to join me since he still lives in Hoboken as well, and he accepted. I pointed out how I bought all his drinks and provided him a ride home, proving I wasn’t a bad friend who forgot his birthday after all.
We said goodbye to the birthday girl and the rest of the group. She pulled me aside and told me how cute he was. I explained to her he wasn’t a love interest. I pointed out how she’d met him at my Christmas parties, as well as his girlfriend. She was so confused, but I realized what happened. He was guilty by association. Because he was sitting on the couch with me, and because of my status as a gay man, everyone who knew this bit of information also assumed he was gay as well.
As we walked to the car, I pointed out to him what happened. Even though there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, I apologized to him for it. He was oblivious to it, and he laughed it off.
That night, I also had to say goodbye to another ex-roommate. He was still a good friend and tennis partner. He was moving to San Francisco for work, which meant I would probably see him once a year like my other San Francisco friends. I was very sad to see another friend go. Slowly but surely, all my friends were moving away or pairing up and falling off the face of the earth. I know this is part of getting older, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.
My sister and I went to the bar where he and his friends were gathering. It was nice to get to see him since it had been so long. He’d been quite busy with his new job, but now I’d see even less of him. After I got to chat with him for a bit, I texted my other friends, D and his girlfriend and asked what they were up to. They wanted to meet up for drinks, so we decided to go to Cooper’s Union, where I know the owner and bartender.
We met them there, and the whole lot of us wasn’t charged for a single drink the entire night. He always took great care of me and my friends when he worked at my usual watering hole. Now that he branched off and opened his own bar, the attention only got better.
I had a great time with everyone that night. I got to see so many of my friends. Normally I’m too lazy to do any of these things. I always bail last minute out of selfishness, but I was trying to be better about it. It was already paying off. I had a really great time.
In the middle of all this, a gorgeous man walked into the bar. I’d seen him many times before. I’d actually seen quite a bit of him as well. He was a usual at my favorite bar, and he was a usual at my gym in the city. Apparently we both lived in Hoboken, and we both worked in the same neighborhood. I’d had a crush on him for a looonnnggg time, but had a very strong feeling he was straight. He was still gorgeous and fun to look at.
At the same time, I noticed he caught my sister’s eye as well. It’s ironic, but we have the same taste in men periodically. We both acknowledged shared interest in him, but I pointed out to her it wasn’t even worth a battle. She’d already won. There was almost no question in my mind he was straight “How do you know?” she asked. “I can just tell. But, I can also tell you he looks great with no clothes on — At least from the backside anyway,” I added. We both laughed and she continued to ogle him from afar. I did as well, but I was much more discreet about it.
When I was tired and it was time to go home, I gathered everyone to make our way home. Of course I wasn’t going to walk out without paying. I gathered cash from everyone and handed him a wad of cash before walking out the door.
I had a great night. I saw a lot of my friends in one night, I got to scope out a hottie I’ve had my eye on, and I had cheap drinks. Maybe single life was working out well for me. Maybe it was time I tried that for a while… Maybe not…Follow @onegayatatime