When I was growing up, I was always considered the shy, quiet, introverted one. I didn’t have a lot of friends in grade school or middle school, and while I had a few close friends in high school, I still wasn’t exactly in the popular club. I’m sure part of this was due to my own insecurity of my sexuality. Although it was barely budding, I knew enough deep inside that something about me was different, but I didn’t know exactly what, and I knew I couldn’t really talk about it. Remember, this is before the internet, cell phones, or social media, so the sense of isolation could be much greater than it is today.
Things did change for me a bit when I got to a Junior College (they now call them Community Colleges). I slowly began to acknowledge my gay identity. There was still a lot of denial, to be sure, but some conscious realization as well. I also had a short term job in a show, which ended up bringing out a much more extroverted side of my personality I didn’t know I had.
Perhaps because of that new growing confidence did I do something that was out of the ordinary for me at the time, and even now (but even more so then). I was shopping in a trendy young, trendy clothing store, similar to Billabong. I was more or less the only person in there at the time. A blonde male employee, a bit bohemian yet babyfaced, struck me up in conversation. I can’t even tell what most of it was about now, but I recall he mention that he played the cello, which I thought was unusual and cool. I had a great time. I did also find him somewhat attractive. As I was still young and rather naive, I didn’t know if this guy was hitting on me, being friendly, or just giving me a very long sales pitch. I left the store and went home, still not really sure.
It was here I made an unusual decision. I wrestled with it for a while by myself, wondering if this was the right thing to do. But finally I told myself I had nothing to loose–I called the store and asked to speak to him by name.
He did answer. I said I was the guy he chatted with earlier today. He merely grunted, as if he barely remembered. I probably should have took that as a sign then, and I sort of knew, but again, I told myself I have nothing to lose. I asked him if he wanted to continue our conversation over dinner. I could tell I totally shocked him, and I still have a pretty clear memory of him verbally stumbling around and saying, “Hey man, I don’t go that way,” and very abruptly hanging up. I was totally embarrassed, but even then, I did have the sense to know that he didn’t know me from Adam, and he’d forget about me pretty quick.
I did tell a close friend what I had done, and she was shocked I had done it, saying that it was very “not like you”. I had to agree, it wasn’t like me. I’ve never done it since. It probably wasn’t a great idea, but even now, I’m still glad I had the courage to do it once.
There’s an even more bizarre epilogue to this story. Approximately ten years later, I was involved in another show (for a brief time, I did catch a bit of the performing bug). We were to perform with live musicians, but we didn’t get to actually meet them until a few nights before the performance (up to that point, we had be rehearsing with a recording of their music). Imagine my surprise when I recognized the cello player, even all these years later. He didn’t recognize me at all, and suffice to say I didn’t talk or even approach him. I had learned my lesson. But the mere fact of seeing him again turned part of me into that nervous college guy again.
I will say, though, he was still cute.