One afternoon, I had the fortune of seeing my friend over a cup of tea. He’s a man who takes fifteen minutes to do his hair every morning. He likes to take good care of his skin and is slightly regimentalabout his Clinique three-step skin care program. He loves shiny shoes and spends an inordinate amount of time shining them. He also loves his leather. No, not in the S&M way (at least I’m pretty sure – for all the years I’ve known him, he just never struck me as an S&M kinda guy – but hey, you never know). He just likes looking for that perfect leather bag. You know, the one that’ll be good for those days when he only has to carry a little bit with him.

And then there’s search for the perfect leather weekender bag, and then the one that matches his more casual outfits rather than his more formal ones. This man also likes interior decorating. He’s got quite an eye for design, to be honest. He can tell you what color you should pick for your drapes so that it matches the color of your walls and carpets. Oh, did I tell you? He also loves Broadway and musicals. He wishes he could go see Hello Dolly!. ‘I absolutely love her voice, it’s just so sonorous, isn’t it?’ he asks me. ‘Ughh, what I would give to have her voice.’ He gets really entranced by musicals. I could see it in the way his eyes turned dreamy.He doesn’t really like sports. He finds it dull and uninteresting. He likes to cook though. And he’s in the process of learning how to be a great host to his friends. He told me that one day, he’d like to get an apartment where there was enough room to buy this fabulous three-piece furniture set: it’s a chic pair of love seats and an arm chair. He thinks his apartment right now just really isn’t that conducive to entertaining.Anyway, he hasn’t been that lucky in love. I can feel his pain. I mean, the guy hasn’t been in love more than once in his life. Isn’t that a shame? I think everybody deserves love.

An episode of Everybody Loves Raymond was playing on the television, and the big doofybrotherRobert was questioning whether or not he was really gay. And you know what? I wondered aloud to my friend, “Maybe you’re gay.”

And then everything seemed to fit together. The search for the perfect leather bags? The desire for more shoes? Interior decorating? Musicals? No luck with women? I mean, not to be cliched, he has so much love to give, and I know he’d make someone very happy. Why not double your prospects by being open to men? I submitted.

Sitting back down after he put on the Hello Dolly musical on DVD, he toyed with the idea for a little bit. But then we both noticed that he didn’t have a limp wrist. He didn’t talk in a “gay” voice. And he wasn’t much of a gym buff. As we discussed this quietly with the musical playing in the background, he took a sip from his little tea cup and lo and behold: his pinky wasn’t raised!

We laughed it up over our stupid stereotypes of what a gay man should be. We were sure that there were other gay fellas out there who didn’t fit that, well, stereotype. All of that was just that: a stereotype.

That’s when we happened to look into each other’s eyes. And we saw such a soft and tender kindness, mixed with a longing that came from years and years of loneliness. Somehow, in the face of this ugly world, we’d come to recognize a sort of innocence in each other’s eyes and our smiles. We sat there, across from each other, wondering how it was that we’d never met someone in all these years.

The song changed, and our gazes broke off. That’s when we both came to realize that we were one and the same. And that’s when we decided that perhaps all the love we needed to give could be given to ourselves. Love thyself, someone somewhere had once said. And that was what we promised we’d do: to love ourselves and to be complete in ourselves.

Some time in the coming weeks, we’re going to go out and find that perfect leather weekender bag. Nothing like a little retail therapy… ¶

Yes, this is categorized under writing. I’m getting stuck again.