Have you ever had one of those life experiences that renders you utterly speechless? Read on and let me know if anything I’m about to tell you leaves you as astonished as it did when it happened to me.
Picture it – Earl’s Court, London, 1988, the height of the summer, and me working as a part-time barman in one of the coolest gay bars in the city.
In the bar, the biggest catch in town. And it seemed he had his eyes on me. He’d been showing some interest in me for weeks, or so I thought.
Sometimes, when I caught him looking at me, I’d blush so much that my face resembled a sun-dried tomato. At the same time, my heart would skip a few beats while the butterflies in my stomach felt like they were rioting.
Neville, my best friend, made a bet with me that if ‘catch’ (as we’d nicknamed him) asked me out on a date, he’d do all my washing for the rest of the year. How could I decline a bet like that?
At six-foot-tall, mid-thirties, with a stocky build, short dark hair, moustache, piercing brown eyes, and always wearing the tightest of Levi 501 jeans, it wasn’t my washing that needed a cold wash. It was me!
He was what I called a ‘man’s man’, and nobody would have ever guessed that he was gay had they seen him walking down the street or standing on the terraces at Stamford Bridge.
Nobody knew much about him. Not even his name.
He always stood on his own, and nobody ever approached him. He ordered one drink that lasted the whole evening and always left the bar on his own.
I didn’t want to make the first move. I hated rejection, but the prospect of having my washing done for the rest of the year was tempting.
The other barmen had noticed that ‘Catch’ was giving me a little too much attention. Make the first move, they told me, but I couldn’t.
Then, in the early hours of an unusually warm and humid Sunday morning, having just finished my shift, I left the bar and started to make the short trip home.
“Hi” came a deep voice from behind me. “I’ve been watching you for weeks and wondered if you fancied coming back to my place for a coffee?”
As I span around, the butterflies in my stomach rioted again as my eyes were met by ‘Catch’ smiling at me. For some reason, it took what seemed like ages for me to accept his invitation.
Jumping into a taxi with him, I felt as if I was floating on cloud nine. We sat silent like two lovebirds, just looking into each others eyes.
As soon we reached his apartment, I’d hardly given ‘Catch’ time to close the front door before grabbing him and forcing him to do some tongue dancing with me.
What happened after the tongue dancing didn’t seem to last long, but neither of us seemed to care very much. There was still time for rounds two, three and four.
I had the feeling that he was the one and that we’d be doing lots more of what had just happened, only at a much slower pace.
“Would you like a beer, Peachy?” were his first words to me since we got to his apartment. Peachy? Was he talking to me? Well, that’s another story, but the cold beers helped cool us down while we continued to look into each others eyes.
After rounds two and three, we were both exhausted, and he asked if I wanted to stay the rest of the night.
As much as I wanted to stay, I had to get home because I couldn’t wait to see Neville and tell him what had happened.
While quickly freshening myself up, ‘Catch’ made us some coffee.
Grabbing my clothes and walking to the kitchen (because I didn’t want to miss another second of being with him), I realised I still didn’t know ‘Catch’s’ real name. Should I ask, or should I wait until he asked me for mine? After all, he couldn’t know me as ‘Peachy’ when we went on our first proper date.
Having convinced myself that it wasn’t me doing the chasing in this relationship, I decided to wait until he introduced himself to me.
While the coffee went cold, our tongues had another long dance.
“Would you like to make this a regular thing?” ‘Catch’ asked me, as he came up for some air.
I had a fleeting vision of Neville doing my washing, so didn’t take long to respond.
“What? You bet!”
“Good, I was hoping you’d say that.”
After a little more tongue dancing, it was time for us to part and ‘Catch’ escorted me to the front door.
However, suddenly stoping, ‘Catch’ told me to wait, and off he wandered (while muttering something about having forgotten something). I watched as the man of my dreams disappeared back into the bedroom. Surly not round five, I thought.
With my heart playing the drums in my chest, I was positive I could feel those first dewdrops of love welling up inside of me. He was probably writing down his phone number for me.
Then it all started to go wrong. Very wrong!
I couldn’t take my eyes off ‘Catch’ as he walked towards me. “Here you go,” he said, thrusting a wad of ten-pound notes into my hand. “You forgot to ask for your fee. I’ve deducted a little for the beer and coffee you had.”
Shocked, my jaw hit the floor, and for the first time in my life, I was speechless; completely speechless! And, before you ask, no, not because he’d made a deduction for beer and coffee.
‘Catch’ had mistaken me for a rent-boy.
Still openmouthed and unable to speak, I walked out, turned around and, as ‘Catch’ closed the front door, heard him say he’d recommend me to anyone looking for the same kind of fun.
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