Dear Ethan,

I’ve debated in my head about whether or not it would be a good or bad idea to write a blog entry about someone who may actually read the entry… like you. You may be reading this now. And if you are reading this now, I’m going to ask that you stop reading unless you want to deal with the consequences of what you’re about to read. Or, I suppose you could continue reading and then a) tell me that you did read it and then be perfectly okay with the consequences or b) pretend that you never read it and keep things going exactly where we left off. Or, you could stop here and simply deal with uncertainty. But then again, that’s really where we left off anyhow. At least the way I see it.

At the beginning of the summer, my colleague and friend Jen told me I should meet you. Why? I wondered, Why would I have any interest in meeting one of our college interns? Unless I had some sort of task that required an intern’s assistance, I’m not sure I had any desire to relive my college years and gallivant with the same folks who, at one of the earlier summer parties, ripped their shirts off and ran into the middle of the street downing beers before tossing them into some neighbor’s bushes. Yes, I thought at that very moment, that’s exactly the kind of presence I need in my life.

I ran into you at various functions through the summer: at a meeting after a panel or performing errands at our office, for example. All in all, however, you were in the periphery—just one of the many people running around our busy summer headquarters.

Then, on our last Thursday of the summer work calendar, I arrived at a bar to have a drink, and you were sitting with my friends. I sat beside you because it was the only seat empty, and in my polite small talk, you found ways to grab my interest. After comparing ever-so-superficially German and United States court decisions, it was pretty obvious: you’re very smart. And mature. I hadn’t met a smart mature gay man in a long time. I mean, I know a handful of smart mature gay men—most of which I met in college—but most of them aren’t in Texas. And most of them aren’t in their early twenties. In my two years of Texas living and bar-hopping, I hadn’t met any smart mature young gay men at all.

But what impressed me most was that I attempted to box you in as this elite private school academic snob and you kept breaking through that type. You ordered more drinks—not a cognac or wine as I wanted your type to order, but girly drinks: cranberry vodka. You forced me to take stupid online quizzes. You gossiped. You didn’t laugh; you giggled. And when you left early that night, our table grew a little more boring.

With our summer work calendar coming to a close, I thought that that’d be our only interaction, but the next day (and the day after that, and the day after that…) proved me wrong. The next night, I met up with some friends on your team at yet another bar… and there again you were. You were there, however, with another guy. Ah, I noted, of course. The smart ones are either awkward or taken. You were the latter. So I chatted with my friends and caught up with some folks who I hadn’t seen through the busy summer, and the next thing I knew, your man was gone. And so we talked. And it was, as was the night before, a good talk. I found out more about this balance that you strike—this socio-political scientist who also preys after donuts like nobody’s business. Again, you broke through the box. I wanted you to be vegetarian—maybe even vegan! Neither. To my disappointment, you were pretty normal. The intelligent kind of normal.

I found myself wishing that I hadn’t just met you in our last few days of work, but I checked myself. I knew you were really friendly, and it was in my best interest—and your best interest—that I read your behavior as that. In the closing days of our work calendar, I couldn’t think of our interactions as anything but. And also… you had a guy. I wasn’t going to interfere with that.

The next day was our organization’s end-of-summer party, and our overlap of friends decided to go to the same post-party at a local gay club. Your man-friend was going to meet you there, but in the time we passed waiting for him, you again proved to be good company. We talked about homosexuality and identity construction, and you asked me at some point if you had won the debate, and I said no, but I was just too afraid to say yes you did and admit my rusty sociological theory. I think I pushed your buttons too much and dropped the subject, and when we went inside the packed club—your first gay club—I dropped all thoughts of academia more permanently.

We danced. I hadn’t danced with a guy in a long time. I had forgotten how good it felt. You weren’t some random drunken guy. You weren’t looking for anything else aside from a good time on the dance floor. It was just us and the dance floor, the pulsing of the lights, the onset of fog, and the energy of the music.
It felt good to be dancing with someone who I knew was an even better person on the inside.

When your guy finally showed up, I backed off. Or, in your words, you asked me to Leave room for Jesus. I did. I avoided you for the rest of the night. And when I drove off with our friends and left you there with your guy, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed that I hadn’t met you first.

Less than an hour later, you called our friend Keena. She was sitting across from me at a late-night diner, and you didn’t know where your car was. She passed the phone to me, and I gave you directions to where you parked. We hung up, and three minutes later, you called again. Still, no car. She passed the phone to me, and this time, I said I’d be right there.

And at 2:30am, I drove back to the club and to your parking spot, and you were right: your car wasn’t there. That’s when I unlocked the passenger side door and let you in. This wasn’t the late night I was anticipating…

To be continued…

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