I never even thought he might be bi. I assumed he was gay
By: Aris Apostolopoulos
I was 18, he was 25. I was a first-timer and his name was written on every gay man’s heart in the city I used to live. I was afraid to delve into a world I didn’t know, but he was more than happy to take my hand and guide me through.
I was a typical teenager; he was the Prince Charming out of the chick-flicks that everybody watched when I was a high school student. I was a good guy; he was a bastard. The engaged-to-a-woman type of bastard.
In 2005, while trying to recover from a disastrous love confession to my best friend, I had already decided to let the year pass me by quietly. However, when mortals plan their destiny, destiny laughs last and always best. And Mrs. Destiny (I know it sounds like a drag queen name) laughed really good.
His name was Tom and the first time I came face to face with his amazing looks was in an old, filthy convenient store next to my parents’ house where I stayed as a student. As I was getting a box of butter and he was holding a pair of black socks, our eyes met and everything went into slow motion.
I straightened my body, fixed my hair, removed my glasses and, trying to pretend I was indifferent to that Chris Evans lookalike, I turned my eyes away and looked to my right. I was standing next to the condoms stand which was right next to the meat refrigerator. Someone could say I had just found love in a hopeless place. Being 18 and shy, I left with my head hanging down.
All I did for the next two weeks was try to come across Tom again. I don’t remember visiting that convenient store so many times in just fourteen days and my mother was shocked that “I had finally matured so much that I knew I had to get her stuff for our household.” Little did she know. The fifteenth day arrived and so did Tom.
I entered the convenient store and there he was, holding more than ten pairs of socks. “What is he? A centipede?” I asked myself. “Maybe he puts them inside his pants,” I continued and took a quick look at his penis.
The problem was that, at the same time, he was looking at me too. I took my eyes from his manhood, looked him in the eye and he did the unpredictable. The most romantic move on planet Earth.
All a gay man could ever ask for. Right out of the best fairytales ever written, he smiled and his disturbingly perfect, white, robotic teeth showed up. “If he is not a centipede, then something else must be wrong with this guy,” I told myself. At that moment, everything looked perfect. Two months later, all hell would break loose –and Tom would be King Lucifer.
- “You look amazing,” he told me in a way that it was impossible for me not to believe.
- “Thank you. You too,” I said with my mouth shaking.
That was it. I had fallen. I was down. I was a mop he could wipe the floor with. His pet. If he was a witch, I was his familiar ready to make him happy. Three hours later we were still strolling around my neighborhood which actually was his neighborhood as well.
He told me he knew where I lived and my house was just five doors down from his. “Want to see my place?” he asked. I created a checklist in my head:
- Descent underwear
- Groomed body hair
“Sure,” I said. Two minutes later I was getting inside –his house I mean. And it was so good I felt underdressed just by standing still in there. I looked around for pictures but the place’s design was too minimal to go along with frames. I sat on the couch and he poured two glasses of wine. One hour later, we were making out and the checklist kept playing in my head.
“Let’s reschedule for tomorrow,” he whispered. “Let’s have a normal date, not a random hookup.”
I saw butterflies, unicorns running around the living room. His minimal house was now the most romantic garden anyone had ever seen. Flowers blossomed, birds were singing and we were there, dressed in our white tunics enjoying nature and each other’s lips. It was love at first sight. “Sure,” I said. He kissed me goodnight and I left.
I am pretty sure I did the Fred Aster dance on my way home.
The first date was marvelous. The first time we had sex was mind-blowing. We became the couple everyone would notice. We were it, that, this, to be. We went out on dates every day, I discovered the mysteries of sex every night, I was skipping school just to be with him, he would skip classes just to give me a kiss and go. I was literally on cloud nine. But, as it turned out, my head was in the clouds as well.
A couple of months after our first date, I decided to surprise Tom and appeared on his doorstep. It was our two-month anniversary (yes, we were that kind of couple, constantly seeking for reasons to celebrate). I rang the bell. Tom opened. His face turned pale yellow, dark yellow, white, red, and then went back to normal. “If he is not a centipede, he must be a chameleon,” I thought.
- “Hey, dude! Please, come in,” he said. Yes, he called me dude. Me, the babe. Dude.
- “Is everything ok?” I had to ask as I was walking in.
- “Yes! Let me introduce you to my girlfriend. This is Eva,” he said smiling.
Everything went in slow motion again. Eva was there, sitting on my couch-spot, smiling with her perfect 32 teeth, flipping her amazing, glowing, blonde her, dressed in a Stella McCartney jumpsuit. I was numb. Shocked. But I smiled.
- “He doesn’t like calling me his fiancée,” she said in a soft Mean-Girlish voice.
- “You are so beautiful,” I said. This was (and still is) my personal self-defense mechanism.
When I am out of words, I always compliment someone. It is the perfect ice-breaker and you get the chance to come up with another topic while your interlocutor says “Thank you” or something like that. However, I felt like I couldn’t come up with any topic ideas.
I wanted to destroy her. Break her teeth, rip her perfect hair out, take her McCartney dress and give it for free to someone who would never appreciate its value. After some time, I got to know that the couple had been living a five-year fairytale.
She was the Prom Queen who would marry her Prom King. Her father was a ship-owner and she was studying to become a doctor. Tom looked like a social anxiety disorder patient –I guess because he was afraid I would expose him to his fiancée as a bi man and a Jerry Springer fight would occur. And then it hit me. If Tom was so happy with Eva, was I the snake in their paradise?
I chose not to say anything. I sat there for about five minutes which felt like an eternity and I pretended that nothing weird was going on. I left in pain, in misery, in anger, disappointment. I felt devastated. With my heart in pieces and my head in confusion, I went back home and cried. And cried. And cried even more.
Two days later, Tom waited for me outside my house. I’m not going to lie; I was happy he was there. He told me his family was really conservative (not the Trump conservative but the Why-Do-Gay-Prides-Even-Exist conservative) and he was obliged to live his life the way his parents wanted. At first, I felt sorry for him but I asked him to leave.
The next day, he told me he would break up with Eva if I wanted him back in my life. I did. He left her and we were free to get back to writing our romantic story. My heart was happy but my brain was thirsty for revenge and, soon later, my heart turned into a black, full of anger body part as well.
I broke up with him two weeks later hoping he would stay alone and learn from his mistake. He didn’t try to win me back again but, instead, he chose to fight for Eva. They got married in January 2007.
Five years, three mistakes and a lot of experience later, on a sunny day, while I was heading to work, I came across Tom. He looked exactly the same and he seemed very happy to see me. He asked me how I was and, as I was telling him that I was doing well I knew I was lying. Like he had done five years ago.
- “So, how are you?” I asked with a pretentious smile on my face.
- “Married. Two kids and a successful business,” he said without even blinking.
I knew this was his way of telling me he lived a life full of sadness and regrets. The thing is, I was not that happy for him either.
Aris Apostolopoulos is a full-time freelance writer and journalist. He has written (and still writes) profiles, stories about science, world news, and he works with magazines and websites all around the globe. Plus, he never sleeps. His work can be found at ArisApostolopoulos.com