THE EIGHTH ENCOUNTER
THE FIRST ENCOUNTER:
As he spoke my eyes drifted up and down his firm, stocky build not like a searchlight or a spotlight but rather like mental x-ray gathering mapping data for later use… I tried stretching our conversation feeling the tension between us, neither one of us wanted to leave but neither wanted to be the first to ask for a number or to pass a business card because it meant we might not follow up. I didn’t want to leave that variable floating and wanted to eloquently affirm that we were no longer just “conversating” anymore, we were flirting. But there is something in the male machismo that cannot acknowledge itself when that self raises questions about power, vulnerability and manhood as it might be seen in the eyes of others; it needs to exist but cannot or will not classify itself. It needs to be verified in the eyes of others. Until a man feels comfortable with his image and in spite of whether or not he perceives the reflection of himself is favorably mirrored in the eyes of others he wants to take precautions to conceal his truth perhaps conveniently inside an easily dissolved association or a convertible friendship that is both casual and sexually intimate whichever suits the purpose of camouflage. It is ultimately a man's natural desire to keep intimacy private which he must more than ever reconcile with a society that has become more intrusive in its attempt to unravel the guilt and shame humanity has o'erburdend human sexuality with in the name of religion. Admitting to be gay in spite of the fact that a man is a man in every stereotypical and natural sense of the word requires a different kind of inner strength that machismo cannot sustain because it is overly concerned with how a man is externally perceived. Admitting to be sexually attracted to another man in lieu of the immanent possibility that the other man may not be gay requires an heroic and fearless and patently mature brand of manhood that one cannot get by wearing a popular football jersey and memorizing sports trivia. We both navigated through that singular obstacle, who will come out to the other first, who will be vulnerable first as if truth could be possessed of some kind of weakness. The man who is able to confront his passion without having to fight his superego is the stronger man in the end because he is not weakened by the opinions of others! So although we both wanted to say, “Hey man I think you are a sexy brotha and I’d like to get to know you better lets exchange numbers so that we can contact one another when we have time to focus,” we stumbled around the way people who do who do not know each other and do not have time to enjoy the first promising moments of a romance do. Modern life has put love on a timecard.
THE SECOND ENCOUNTER:
“This is Jimmi Banks nice meeting you today in the Farragut West subway station. I’m on the train to work now and wanted to text you before the day pulled me away from our pleasant encounter. I’ll be off at 5:30 by the way that station is my transfer point so if you are around at that time maybe we can meet for coffee. By the way I have to say you were so handsome this morning and I noticed that you were wearing Jean Patou, it smells so sexy on you. Let me know your availability, if you are interested, by texting me back promptly.”
THE THIRD ENCOUNTER:
“Hi Jimmi, Brandon Scruggs here", the man wearing Jean Patou replied, "and please allow me to return the complement, you were the handsome prince I saw on the platform this morning and it was so difficult to tear myself away and but for the early meeting I had I would have stayed longer. Well I have another meeting at 6:30 but I’d love to meet you for coffee around 5:45 while I wait for my clients to arrive, we can steal about 15 minutes at least to chat. I’m going out of town after my meeting but I’d like to have breakfast with you this Saturday if you will be free.” See you at 5:45 at Baldwin’s Café; and yes I am wearing Jean Patou!”
“Hi Jimmi, sorry I’m late, my clients phoned me with some last minute details they could have just saved for our meeting. I see you already ordered for me, how did you know I liked heavy cream in my coffee and that I liked dark roast? I’ve been thinking about you all day man, really, I wish I could take you with me to Cincinnati tonight! I travel a lot for my job and I hope to close this account in Ohio in the morning. If I can get that business closed by noon Thursday I’ll be on a plane back to D.C. Friday evening and in my bed by 8:00 Friday night. So do you have any plans for Saturday morning, if not we should have breakfast on me handsome?”
As Jimmi listened intently to Brandon’s calming voice it suddenly dawned on him that Brandon was married or intimately involved, he just knew it! So he rudely cut Brandon off in mid-stream asking him. Jimmi went silent for about ten uneasy seconds during which time his usual confident swagger suffered an unexpected turbulence but as soon as he was able to assemble a partially reconstructed one it was time to go! He promised to call jimmi as soon as he got settled in his hotel room puckering his lips as if in a goodbye kiss and disappeared into the busy rush-hour sidewalk traffic of tired office workers heading back to the suburbs.
Brandon came by Jimmi’s house around 1:30 A.M. and with little conversation they immediately undressed each other and had some of the most beautiful lovemaking either of them had experienced in many years. Brandon drove Jimmi to his job that morning having spent the night. They made love of course, first thing in the morning and it was even better than the first time… strange as it may seem they bonded that morning in a way neither of them had expected and neither of them really paid attention to what had happened between them because it happened so darned fast!
THE FIFTH ENCOUNTER:
“Hello Jimmi, just got settled in my room. I’m having a late dinner with my colleagues and we are going to make a late meeting to develop strategies for the morning. You’ll be the first one to know the good or bad news tomorrow. Can’t wait till I see you again Saturday morning man, Cheers!”
THE SIXTH ENCOUNTER:
“Hello Jimmi, I got the account. Man we met from early this morning until 10:00 PM. so I missed my flight out of Cincinnati tonight but I booked one early Saturday morning, my flight will be arriving in Dulles Airport around 7:45 A.M. I’m sure I’ll be hungry as ever man. Did you think of a place yet? Let me know it’s completely my treat man I just want to see you in person again and not have to be watching the clock. Be sure to text me back all the information so I can meet you there, this time I’ll be on time man.”
THE SEVENTH ENCOUNTER:
Brandon picked Jimmi up Saturday morning around 9:00 A.M. having just driven directly into D.C. from Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia after his flight landed. It looked as if they had finally got some time to enjoy each other’s company without any distractions. They ordered breakfast at a restaurant called “Yo Mamma’s Kitchen” but decided to take carryout so they could eat in a more relaxed environment at Jimmi’s place. In the back of both of their minds was the expectation of round 3 of their inspired lovemaking. The food and the conversation seemed to be just a backdrop for what they were really waitig for which was to be alone and in one anthers arms. Brandon ordered catfish’n grits and some buttermilk-cornbread hot cakes with a honey-maple syrup. Jimmi ordered country ham’n grits with fried okra cakes served with an oyster crème sauce. They were on their way to Jimmi’s townhouse when Brandon’s phone began to blow up. After the uncomfortable silence begging the question that was never answered Brandon picked the phone up and entered into a neutral discussion that seemed to be about business.
“Baby,” Brandon started, “I have to take some luggage to one of my colleagues who is going back out of town at noon. I forgot I had his bag in my car he left it when I drove him to his rental from the airport. I have to take it to him it’s his laptop and credentials. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes I’ll just drop it off to him in Arlington and turn right back around.”
Jimmi responded, “Okay, cool Brandon I guess it is what it is man, I’ve waited this long so what’s a few more minutes? Just call me when you are headed back so I can have the food warm and ready in the dining room.“
Jimmi was clearly disappointed but the story seemed reasonable to him at the time. In the meantime he busied himself with some household tasks in the basement which he had long neglected. While he worked he did not even notice how much time had passed. Brandon had dropped him off at home with the food at around 10:15 A.M. promising to return in 20 minutes but it was now 5:00 P.M. almost 7 hours later and Brandon had not even called him. Jimmi had been so busy he feared he had missed Brandon’s call and immediately checked his phone for a text or call around 10:45 A.M. but there were no calls or texts from Brandon. Suddenly Jimmi felt hungry and that is when he realized breakfast had been sitting on the dining room table all this time which he ended up paying for because Yo Mama’s only took cash and Brandon only had plastic. “Dayum!” Jimmi said, “I knew that bastard was married. He just forgot about me or couldn’t call me once he got home, back in the hotbed, he probably pulls this same stunt with a dozen brothas and always gets caught by his wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever! But I’m done! No more!”
THE EIGHTH ENCOUNTER:
Jimmi was hurt like he had never been before and it bothered him because he did not even know Brandon but he felt something strong and special with him. He thought that every time he was hurt it was always different but the older he got the harder it was to recover. Jimmy was only 42 but he had a great deal of experience in the life and everything he knew he taught himself. He never had a mentor in the gay lifestyle and so he learned from his own mistakes and wisdom. Fortunately he had come through life pretty much unscathed because he had such a positive and philosophic nature. He thought on it for several days before coming to the resolution that Brandon was not going to ever call him or contact him with an explanation. Jimmi was not a confrontational man but he was a man who handled his business and did so as a gentleman. He realized that Brandon had committed the ultimate betrayal of disrespect. They were not lovers thankfully but now it was clear they never could be. Brandon’s failure to communicate with Jimmi, leaving him dangling was inexcusable, and Jimmi knew that no matter how much he loved Brandon he could not ignore this blazing red flag. So, Jimmi decided to call Brandon if for nothing else shock value. Brandon answered the phone from his hotel room someplace in New England or at least that is what he said. Jimmi asked him why he did not return for breakfast and Brandon had no explanation to offer only a standard plea for forgiveness. Brandon had decided not to get emotional, not to give in and not to go off because after all they hardly even knew each other. The lovemaking they shared which had once seemed so special now seemed cheap and premature stripped of all the warm hallmarks of man to man perspicuity. Jimmi knew better but he had somehow fallen in love. He wondered if his having been single for so long had weakened his judgment? He felt as if he had finally lost the iron-clad edge that had got him through his younger years unscathed, he had been worn down by time. But there was still some strength in him yet and for this last chapter with Brandon he had to muster all of it. So he told Brandon how hurt he felt and he advised him that he just called to bring closure even though Brandon’s actions had pretty much bought closure anyway. He wanted to part on a positive note and he wanted to hear Brandon’s voice again but never again after that call had ended. Brandon called Jimmi and texted him several times later then more and more sporadically until he stopped altogether. Jimmi stopped dating not because he no longer could feel love but because he no longer desired to feel pain at the loss of love…
WRITTEN BY BIGDADDY BLUES