When Brad told me he was gay, I responded with the one word you are not supposed to respond with: “Duh.” Luckily, he laughed. “Everyone else at least acted surprised!”
It’s not that I have award-winning gaydar or anything. It’s just that after a handful of years on this planet I’ve learned that when straight guys seek you out as a friend, you will soon receive those long, lingering glances that so clearly mean “LET’S GET NAKED ONE DAY PLEASE I LOVE YOU,” and since Brad called me pretty much daily, and I’d never received one such glance, no matter how many beers deep we were, I knew something was amiss.
But enough about the “hows” of finding out — I now had a bona fide gay bestie, a thing that is far more fun than a closeted gay bestie, of which I have had and continue to have, many. Why? Because you can hook them up with boys, of course!
This is the thing gay dudes hate more than anything. Basically, straight people have a tendency to set their gay male friends up when the only thing the two guys have in common is that they both like other dudes. And well, I was pretty much about to do just that to poor Brad. I only knew one other gay guy in the area: Justin. Did Brad want to meet him? PleaseIt’llBeFun! Brad rolled his eyes at first, but eventually said yes — why not, fine, whatever.
About Justin: He was quite a catch. Cute, funny, sardonic, stylish, the whole package. I’d met him at summer camp when we were kids, and we’d stayed in touch over the years. He now lived in San Francisco and I’d learned, through mutual friends, was gay. I called Justin out of the blue and asked him to meet us at the Beauty Bar in San Fran. And he said yes!
When we walked in and saw Justin, Brad was visibly relieved. After a whole cab ride of telling me, “if I don’t like this guy, I’m leaving,” Brad turned to me and joked, “you can go now.”
Since Brad had become officially g-a-y, we’d gotten a lot more physical together. It is one of the many perks of having a gay dude friend. You can hug and kiss and cuddle and he can even grab a boob, and none of it counts. It’s great! So we got drinks and a table and I hopped from lap to lap and petted the boys like the little skank I’ve always wanted to be, but never could with straight guys.
When Justin went to the bar to get the bazillionth round, Brad told me he was over it. He wasn’t feeling the love.
Brad was gone by the time Justin returned with drinks. I asked Justin what he’d thought of Brad, and he answered with the vague “he’s really cool’s” that mean someone is not so into someone else. Justin and I finished our drinks and walked out to hail cabs.
Outside, we promised to hang out again soon, and Justin gave me a big hug. Then he stuck his tongue down my throat.
“WHAT?!” I yelped.
“What?” He asked.
“I thought you were gay!”
“You thought I was gay?”
“Your friends said you were gay!”
“My friends think I’m gay?”
And that is how I learned, about five hours into the night, that Justin was not now, nor had he ever been, gay. His friends were just, well, wrong. When I called one of them later to ask how he’d gotten so mixed up, he replied, in his signature stoner drawl, “we thought he was gay.”
It didn’t take long for Justin to realize he’d been set up on a date — one that had gone horribly awry. I felt so bad about the whole mixup that I snogged him on the corner for a bit. He was a good kisser, and we ended up making out now and then in the years that followed.
In the morning, I called Brad to debrief, and even though I could have gotten away with not telling him, I had to. Because he was the only one who would appreciate the story.
“Will you forgive me?” I begged, after I’d clarified the whole mess.
“On one condition,” he said.
“Don’t ever set me up again.”
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