12 September 2008

Lunch With Bruce, 30 Years Later

Today I went to lunch with Bruce at SoHo Natural, a restaurant around the corner from his workplace. We'd gone there once before and liked the food and ambience; today, the latter was a bit different as the place was more crowded and louder. But that didn't stop us from enjoying our food and each other's company.

It also didn't keep me from enjoying the waiter's, um, professionalism and service. Well, he was a really good waiter: He was helpful yet unobtrusive. But I wouldn't have minded if he'd been a little more obstructive.

We glanced into each others' eyes the moment he started to walk us to the corner table where he seated us. And he gave me one of the most winsome smiles I have ever seen.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bruce grin knowingly while my eyes followes that waiter's stocky yet nicely-proportioned body to the kitchen. And when he returned, he was practically cooing when he apologized that the restaurant didn't have any more tilapia filets for the dish I'd ordered. So, back to the reception area to bring back the menu. Another opportunity to do some, er, sightseeing.

If the boy next door had been a cross between a surfer, a New Zealand rugby player and a classical actor, he would've been this waiter. I don't know how he was seeing me, but I think I looked pretty good (at least for me) in my long flared Victorian/hippie floral print skirt in various shades of purple with a sort of parchment hue, my purple camisole and cardigan and a long scarf with bands of lavender, lilac and violet. I twiddled my rope-wedge sandals by their violet canvas cross-straps as Bruce and I talked and ate--and that waiter and I played stare-tag.

After he brought us our check, I turned to Bruce. His knowing smile had become even more knowing.

"He's cute," I cooed.

Bruce nodded. I've known him for close to 30 years, and I don't think he's ever heard me say something that was more obvious. "The moment we walked in here, I could see you were attracted to him."

"You won't hear any denials out of me. Just don't tell Dominick," I deadpanned.

Now I'm thinking of all those times he and I went to restaurants, galleries, theatres, stores, parks and a beach and looked at women. Sometimes we liked the same ones; other times one of us noticed someone completely different from whom the other saw. But deep down, I knew that he had more passion for his attractions to women than I ever would. Not to say he was obsessed; he simply was, well, straight--albeit a sensitive and gentle straight--man while I have always been, as he said, "uncategorizable" and my sexuality has always been "fluid."

In other words, he--like my mother--knew that I wasn't a straight guy. They knew that long before I came out to them--to my mother as gay simply because I didn't know how else to describe myself, and to Bruce as bisexual because I was trying to hold on to the myth I told myself about my heterosexuality. And, of course, much later, I would tell each of them the truth.

And it brought me to that visit I had with Mom and Dad last month. And to lunch with Bruce, where he caught me in the act...of flirting with a guy.

One thing hasn't changed: The hugs Bruce and I give each other upon meeting and departing. Wait, I take that back: I enjoy them even more now. They feel even more tender than they did before my transition. I don't know whether it has anything to do with my gender. But I can tell you this: I appreciate his friendship now in ways I never could before.

And I guess if it could survive all the mendacity on my part, well, we really are friends. He helped me to get to where I am now.

And, ya know, he's cute, too. But he's taken. And so am I. But we're still friends. It seems so much deeper yet safer now.

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