“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name — we call it recycling.” -Neil LaBute
I spend the rest of the week alone, not seeing anyone I know until one afternoon my aforementioned relative (let’s call him Clark) invites me to dinner with some of his friends. I want to tell Clark about The Writer, but I think better of it. Although I don’t know Clark super well, he is an incredibly friendly guy with a lot of influence, which translates to him knowing pretty much everyone ever, so I figure I’m in for a nice dinner with some interesting new people. I meet him at Boa in WeHo, one of the nicest restaurants in town, but when I arrive it’s just Clark, his best friend Noah (both are around 40), and a boy who appears noticeably younger than myself (despite my actual age, I’m frequently told I could pass for 16). Our party of four is seated at a table of six, which I find peculiar, but this thought is immediately interrupted by Noah, who begins recounting his exchange with the valet. “The valet asked if I was his dad, and I said no,” Noah says, referring to the boy. “Then the guy asked if I was his older brother. I said no. Cousin? No.” I look at Clark with a smirk. “Teacher? No. Coach? No.” “I would’ve accepted coach,” Clark chimes in. (He has a bit of a sports fetish.) “I told him we’re ‘friends,'” Noah concludes, uncomfortably attempting to land a punchline. I suppose it would help if I knew their actual relation. But then again I already do, I’m just being politely naive for my own sake. Not that it’s any business of mine or the valet. I learn Boy Toy is in from New York for the long weekend to visit Noah. “Cool, I just moved here from New York,” I offer. A weak smile is all I get in return. I try again, asking about his plans in LA to which his excitement climaxes (weakly), announcing his amusement park trip for the following day. I’m not one to judge people’s sexual preferences — ever. There are certainly acts that I would never be party too, and I admittedly carry some deeply rooted stigmas that I’m sure would give Freud a total woody, but I don’t condemn people for their sexual desires, short of anything blatantly criminal. However, I’ve always been a little weird about age. And frankly, this dinner is starting to recall some scenes from True Blood, in certain ways painting its fangs = fags metaphor as vividly accurate. So while I’m definitely not judging Noah, this situation does make me a little uncomfortable — admittedly because of my own insecurities. “What do you do?” Clark inquires. “I used to be a lifeguard,” Boy Toy punctuates before curling up into Noah’s arms sleepily. “It’s past his bedtime,” Noah jokes. But really, it is. All that’s missing are some footies and a pacifier. And maybe a diaper if one of them is into that kind of thing.
Clark then asks me to move to the seat next to his so that the two empty seats remain together. “Some other people are joining us.” Good, I think. “Anyone I know?” “I’m not sure. Do you know The Writer?” Thank god for Boa’s mood lighting because the color drained right out of my. “Yes. Yes, I do,” I answer awkwardly. Fuck. I then began to panic because my skin is completely broken out, at its worst in almost eight months. Plus, I’m wearing my low self-esteem glasses. Shit. There are two empty seats. Is he bringing someone? And Clark doesn’t even know about me and The Writer. Fuck. I probably wouldn’t have even come tonight if I knew he would be here, much less with a date! As I’m thinking all of this, The Writer and his nearly identical younger brother walk up behind me. Relieved by the obvious resemblance, I turn to greet him, and he flinches. Ha! Score for Team Me, but also score for Team Writer because I look like shit. The Writer makes sure to wedge his brother between us although this backfires as we’re positioned directly across from each other at the table. Not that it matters. His brother leaves almost immediately for a 40 minute cigarette break. “Didn’t you tell me he’s gay, too?” Noah asks The Writer quietly, as to not awaken the catnapping Boy Toy. “Nope. He fooled around with a guy, but he wasn’t into it.” The Writer tries his best not to look at me, but during appetizers we exchange countless fleeting glances. His brother returns. The table finds him a little obnoxious, especially The Writer. This makes me feel confident; out of the three younger guys, I’m the stable one. The Writer’s brother tells us he plans to move to China. “So you’re into Asian chicks?” asks Noah slyly. (Attraction to Asian girls ≈ Gay.) His answer is cut short by the waiter, who lists the specials and explains the side dishes are often served family style. “You guys look like family anyway,” he says. Noah cuts the ensuing awkward pause short: “Yeah, most of us.”
I catch another glimpse from The Writer, who quickly looks away as Boy Toy stirs and comes to, cheeks flush. We order our entrees, (I get a fillet,) and we are then served the most divine Caesar salad you could possibly imagine. Actually beyond what you can imagine because I had no idea a Caesar salad could taste this good. By the time my steak arrives, I am so involved in the exquisite food that I completely forget The Writer. (I’m sure the large glass of wine helped, too.) Before everyone finishes eating, Noah gets the check because it really is past Boy Toy’s bedtime. Noah practically carries him out of the booth, and we say our goodbyes to the odd couple, who hurry out. Clark tells me he has to run to the bathroom, so I wait for him outside the restaurant and find The Writer all alone. “Hi.” “Hey, where’s your brother?” “Bathroom,” he answers, looking away. I try to think of some clever joke about his brother’s boy-on-boy experience and being in the bathroom with Clark or even a dumb one, but my attempts are shattered by the piercing silence from his direction. I consider confronting him. Why would you invite me over, exclusively to spend the night with you only to completely blow me off? I pull it together. “How long’s your brother been in town?” I ask, hoping that’s the reason he hasn’t called. “He just got in last night.” “Oh,” I say let down. There’s another stretch of pause before his brother and Clark rejoin us. I muster up an “It was nice to meet you” and shake his brother’s hand, which is followed by a hug and “goodnight” from Clark. It’s time for The Writer and I to say goodnight. He hugs me, probably out of obligation, but I’m not sure. I don’t know what it means or if it means anything at all.