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It’s Sunday evening and Stockholm has driven home after several naps and you’re lying in bed with the windows open, trying to make sense of the weekend. Chicago hasn’t called, but you weren’t really expecting a call from him anyway.
The phone rings and it’s the Marquee telling you to meet him at the local dive bar for a pool tournament. You walk over to the bar. He orders you both beers and you sign up on the roster.
He loses the first round to this good ol’boy from Birmingham.
You, by simple luck, win your first game.
The Marquee’s a good sport and the two of you continue to hang out and drink beer with this good ol’boy. You begin your next game while they talk. It turns out that Birmingham’s a special agent for the local ATF field office. He seems to be a good guy. He doesn’t seem to be sharking the tournament, but just here to hang out and relax.
A redhead walks by—what is it with the South and beautiful redheads?—and the Marquee opens with the impressive gambit of: ‘Hey, hey. Didn’t I see you out last week?’
But, somehow, the Marquee is charming enough to pull this off and she stops and starts talking to us.
‘My name’s Lisbon,’ the Marquee says, which is true.
There’s a story behind his parents naming him that, but knowing the story makes the name even more idiotic. You’ve grown used to it and the obvious jokes people make when they hear it. If an attractive female falls for the obvious Lisbon/Lesbian Maneuver, the Marquee can play that one backwards and blindfolded. If a guy makes the joke, he doesn’t find it that funny.
‘As in Germany?’ the redhead asks.
‘Wow,’ you say, sucking your teeth.
Birmingham’s eyes widen briefly and turns to face the bar, mumbling to me, ‘good thing she has nice tits.’
The Marquee gives her some slack, knowing that geography is not everyone’s forte. Everyone’s bad at something. You, for example, are having your ass handed to you in this round of pool and lose quite quickly.
The Marquee’s game also sucks, yet the redhead doesn’t seem to mind. You and Birmingham are still quietly heckling him.
Birmingham wins his next round. So does the Marquee, who makes his goodbyes and leaves with the redhead.
Birmingham says he’s going outside for a smoke. You ask if you can bum one.
The back smoking patio is warm and empty and he’s telling you stories about his life as an agent. You’re enjoying the stories, but your mind starts to wonder.
The average American male, you are remembering, falls in love six times in his lifetime. You knew you were past the halfway point in that calculus. It had been a while, and you’d suspected that it wouldn’t happen again until you left this town.
Then, this weekend, it happened to you. Not once, but twice.
And now you’re hanging out with this guy who could easily become your new best friend. You can’t believe how great this weekend has turned out.
If you’re anything like me—and I suspect you are—you’re feeling like a twelve year-old girl who just won a guest spot on The O.C. and your parents celebrated by buying you your very own pony.
You feel relaxed. You chuckle thinking about how, for all the strides that the gay movement has made, you understand what it threatens. Good ol’boys share this relaxed relationship with each other with no sexual tension. They have the purity of not having to think about what their options and choices are. They can simply exist and not have to clarify their intensions.
You’re enjoying that instinctual relaxedness, just smoking behind the bar, cigarette dangling from your lip. There’s a purity about the moment, like a Rockwell by way of Kerouac.
‘You know what a redneck says before he gets injured?’ Birmingham says, putting his hand on your shoulder and leaning in for effect for the punch line: ‘“Watch this.”’
You laugh, but he doesn’t take his hand off your shoulder. You turn to look at his hand and then turn your head just in time for your face to meet his as he leans in and kisses you. You, stunned, neither kiss nor resist him.
With him still kissing you, you open your eyes and look at him. He has dark black hair and pale skin. His cheeks are flushed. He is, you realize, quite handsome. His eyes are still closed. ‘Please don’t have blue eyes,’ you think.
The previous 48 hours loom large in your head. Chicago. Stockholm. And now Birmingham? What kind of fucked up world tour are you on? How is it that you can be in a town for two years and have a small handful of people you have found interesting for friends, and now all this in a single weekend?
You’re thinking of every cliché and folk wisdom in the book, birds in bushes, hands, and everywhere else seem to be flocking this weekend. You know you’re likely to loose Chicago or Stockholm, if not both. But this is just too much. You step back.
He opens his eyes which are, of course, pale blue. You both soften and thicken.
‘So,’ you ask, chuckling, ‘is a boy like you looking to take me to dinner sometime or to take me home tonight?’
‘Do they have to be mutually exclusive?’ he says, smiling.
Even if he’s taking you for a ride, it looks like it’d be a fun one.
When you get home, he’s following you through the darkened house, and kissing the back of your neck. You stop walking and let him fall against you. He kisses your ear and then stops. He turns you around and faces you. His game face drops and he’s suddenly awkward.
‘I don’t go out with guys,’ he says, stammering. ‘I mean, I haven’t dated a guy before.’
He pauses again and kisses your neck, this time a bit clumsily. You’re thinking, not moving, analyzing the situation. He stops kissing you and looks at you again.
‘You can send me home if that’s not alright,’ he says. You’re trying to get a read on him. You think about Stockholm and Chicago, but you’re looking into pale blue eyes—admittedly somewhere you think about the possibilities of his badge and gun and—do ATF agents carry handcuffs?
You let your head lull back and let him nuzzle against your neck.
In the morning, he wakes up before the alarm goes off at 5:15. You open your eyes and see him slipping on his khakis and white Hanes tee.
‘I’m brewing us some coffee,’ he says as you climb out of bed. ‘Hope that’s alright.’
‘It’s fine,’ you say, trying not to look at him as you realize—naked and scratching your ass as you walk into the bathroom—that you—undeniably, irrevocably, and unfortunately—have fallen in love, thrice.