Summer has three significant anniversaries in my relationship with my ex, Lucy. This year, like last year and the year before, all will go unacknowledged between us.
First up on the calendar is the anniversary of the end of our cohabitation, Independence Day.
Next month will come our wedding anniversary.
Today marks the anniversary that she would never recall, the one that I would always surprised her by remembering: our first date.
“How do you remember the exact day?” she would ask every year when I reminded her. “That’s too much!”
“Easy,” I would kiss her. “It’s exactly one month and three years before we got married. You do remember the date itself, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do remember that.”
Lucy and I met in the middle of my senior year of college. I was assistant manager at a book store, and she had been hired to help with the Christmas rush.
She had finished college the preceding spring, and was enjoying the freedom of being out in the world.
She worked out for the holiday season, and so she was asked to stay on.
It was, we would later joke, the last time I was the boss in our relationship.
For months, we were co-workers, but that was really the extent of things. I was busy with school and tending to my own social circle. She was much more relaxed, socializing with the crowd at our bookstore.
Our first impressions of one another were friendly enough.
She chain-smoked as she sat in the back of the store, receiving books and talking politics. She was wiry and acerbic, wound tight with nervous energy.
I thought she was a Commie lesbian.
I gravitated to the front of the store, taking orders and directing customers to titles they half remembered from reviews. I read reviews diligently, to fake a greater knowledge of books than I actually possessed.
With my long hair and art school association, Lucy took me for a spacey art fag.
She wasn’t far wrong. I was mentally preparing to resume my life as a bisexual after graduation.
My school was small and something of a fishbowl. Everyone knew one another’s business. The prevailing aesthetic code was set by Dischord records. Everyone was in a band or knew someone in a band. Straight edge punk was the order of the day.
This never quite fit me.
I was a vegetarian, but that wasn’t strict enough for the vegans.
I didn’t do drugs, but I drank, which was just as bad in many eyes.
I had sex. Fuck that, I was bisexual. A lesbian girlfriend, Lisa, took me aside to explain how that was a challenge for some in our crowd to accept. When Guy Picciotto had confided his bisexuality, she told me, it damn near caused a riot.
Gay was scarce enough in the mosh pit. Bisexuality was elbowed further aside, being neither black nor white, the preferred color spectrum of the straight edge set.
So I tended to play my cards close, waiting until graduation to relax my sexuality. Meanwhile, I drank beer at shows, listened to Husker Du and the Replacements at home, and fucked my straight roommate.
Shortly after graduation, my roommate and I gave up our apartment. He moved home to save money. I moved into a group house.
About that time, Gabriel came to work at my bookstore.
Gabriel was a preppy Catholic boy, with owlish glasses, wavy brown hair and a penchant for chino shorts. He cared not a whit for straight edge. He gravitated to New Order, Roy Orbison and house music.
How refreshing, I thought.
He lived with his girlfriend. They were caretakers for a gay bed and breakfast. I stopped by to visit on many occasions, flipping through the issues of Bear and Inches on their coffee table.
Gabriel called me all the time. At work, he followed me through my various tasks, laughing at my jokes, picking up my slang, happy when I listened to music he recommended.
Lesbian Lisa diagnosed a crush.
“No way,” I said, pulling my hair into a ponytail. “He’s straight. Got a girlfriend and everything.”
“Whatever you say,” she smirked.
Did he have a crush on me? I wondered. He was cute . . .
With my roommate no longer available for regular sex, my eyes were open for something new.
I fooled around with Marcus.
Marcus was so sexy. Funny, handsome and living in a cool studio apartment decorated with tribal art and a toilet he had transformed into a fishbowl.
But Marcus had a girlfriend of some sort, so he wasn’t really available.
I fooled around with Marcus’s friend Curt.
Curt was gay and wry. He had curly blonde hair, a quick smile and he smoked like an old lady. Unfortunately, he also had sex like an old lady, taking care not to undress fully, or to kiss too much.
He also had an odd symbiotic relationship with a guy who was not his boyfriend, but territorial nonetheless. I saw too many red flags on that.
And Gabriel was cute . . .
He confided in me that things were not going well with his girlfriend. They got into screaming fights. He was scared they would be asked to leave their caretaker’s job at the bed and breakfast due to the racket.
“Screaming is not cool,” I agreed. “You really can’t do that. When things are that bad, just come crash at my place.”
“Really, you mean it?”
“Of course, Gabriel. No fight is so bad you can’t make up later. But screaming is just so out of control.”
“Thanks, Jefferson, that could really help.”
Not long afterwards, I got the call at work.
“Jefferson, she is really angry at me and swearing all kinds of things. I can’t stay here.”
“Gabriel, go to my place.”
“The back door is unlocked. Go. I’ll be home after my shift, and you can tell me about it.”
“Okay, Jefferson, I’ll see you after work.”
Weeks later, he was still living in my room.
He had gone back to the bed and breakfast to collect clothes, CDs and his word processor. He broke up with his girlfriend.
Staying with me was clearly a preferred option. Even if things had gone south with his girlfriend, Gabriel had a room waiting at his parents’ house in the suburbs.
He wanted to be with me.
Every night, we slept in the same bed.
I usually slept nude, but I wore boxers to accommodate the new arrangement. We would listen to Wire and talk until all hours, our voices humming under the sound of the fan.
It was soon out at work that Gabriel was shacking up with me.
“That didn’t take long,” Lisa teased.
“We aren’t sleeping together. I mean, we are sleeping together, but not like that.”
“All things in time.”
“He’s straight, Lisa.”
“Yeah. So was your roommate.”
Well, she had a point there.
One night, as we lay in bed, no longer talking, drifting to sleep, I summoned all my courage.
It took an eternity.
But I did it.
In the warm still night, under the covers of the bed we shared, faint lights tracing shadows on my ceiling, Wire playing low, I allowed my hand to touch his.
He recoiled as if a snake had bitten him.
“Sorry, Gabriel. I didn’t mean . . .”
“It’s okay, it’s okay, let’s just . . .”
“Okay, it’s cool.”
“I’m sorry, I like you and all, but as friends . . .”
We lay in silence as the album played out.
I pretended to be asleep, and eventually, I was asleep.
“He’s not into me like that,” I told Lisa.
“How can you be sure? He is such a puppy dog to you . . .”
“Trust me, I know.”
“Whatever. Case closed.”
A few nights later, I walked home from work, picking up a six pack a few blocks from my house. It was around midnight.
When I reached the front porch, I saw Gabriel sitting with Lucy.
“Welcome home, Jefferson,” he grinned.
“Hi Jefferson,” she smiled.
“Here’s a pleasant surprise,” I smiled back.
It was anything but.
I wasn’t sure what was going on with Gabriel and me, but I knew one thing for certain.
He wasn’t bringing girls over to my place.
I was not sleeping in the living room so he could get laid in my bed.
“Want a beer?” I put down my bag and handed them each a sweating bottle.
“Thanks,” Lucy said, twisting the top.
Makes sense, I thought. Here’s how Gabriel asserts that he is straight—he brings home a girl. How fucking awkward.
Gabriel had a shit-eating grin.
The three of us went up to my room. We sat on my bed.
I turned on a fan and a lamp, and put on a Meat Puppets album.
Lucy pulled out some grass and papers. We got high.
We opened more beer.
We were talking, giddy and fun.
After a while, Lucy reached across my bed to pick up a deck of cards on my bookshelf. She laughingly suggested we play strip poker.
I thought she was kidding, but she was dead set on the game. She shuffled the deck as Gabriel giggled and re-lit the joint.
I was not at all sure where this was going, but I did know the first rule of strip poker: lose quickly. The sooner everyone is nude, the sooner things get more interesting.
I kept getting winning hands.
Gabriel was soon down to his boxers. He lost them, fair and square, but he was reluctant to doff them.
“Oh come on, that’s not fair!” Lucy complained. She was down to panties and a tank top.
“You lost, sucker. Lose the boxers,” I said, sitting shirtless.
“I can’t,” he blushed. “I’m shy.”
“Lame. Okay, you are out of this hand,” Lucy said, dealing the cards. “You and me, Jefferson.”
I put two back. I had one pair of tens in my hand and one pair of shorts to bet.
Lucy took one card. The tank top was at stake.
The game was down to the wire. Tits if she loses, cock if she wins.
I put down my pair.
She put down two pair.
“You lose, I win,” she laughed.
“Okay, then, I’m ditching the shorts.”
“Lose them, loser!”
“You sure talk a lot, loser.”
I stood up and unbuttoned my shorts. “Here goes!”
“Put up or shut up,” she giggled.
Gabriel sat, eyes on our interaction.
I unzipped and dropped my shorts. I kicked them across the floor.
I was naked in front of my friends. My cock was swelling.
“Get an eye full,” I said, raising my arms. Lucy and Gabriel convulsed in laughter, smoke snorting from Lucy’s nose.
“You have nerve,” I taunted Gabriel. “This should be you standing here.”
“No, no way, I can’t,” he waved his hand.
“Shit Gabriel, you are such a coward,” Lucy said. She tugged the tank top over her head.
Her breasts were small and firm, her nipples dark and full.
“Your nipples look like erasers,” Gabriel observed.
“Okay, loser, you’re next.” I lunged and wrestled him to the bed. I lay over him, holding his arms back. He squirmed, his eyes nervous and aroused. “I’ve got him, Lucy. Take the shorts!”
She gave Gabriel a mischievous glance, and stood.
“No, wait, wait!” he squealed, crossing his ankles.
“We waited,” I said. “Now you give.”
I was getting harder.
Lucy took the waistband of his boxers and tugged them to his thighs. His cock leapt out, hard and throbbing.
“Oh come on, move your ankles,” Lucy said.
He went limp under me and did as she directed.
I released him.
Well, I thought. Now what?
Lucy rolled another joint.
I flipped the album and dropped the needle on “Mirage.”
Gabriel relaxed, laying on the bed, his cock flopped on his hip as he watched Lucy. His eyes were on her breasts.
We decided to take the joint up to the roof. This was accessible from a ladder in the sleeping porch adjacent to my room.
The roof was much cooler. The sky was clear and filled with the chatter of animals from the zoo across the street.
We passed the joint.
I kissed Lucy.
Lucy kissed me.
Gabriel rubbed Lucy’s back as we kissed. She turned and gave him a little peck.
I removed Lucy’s panties.
We rolled on the rough shingles. I took care not to touch Gabriel and to give Lucy time with him. I was, I thought, crashing on their date.
Thing was, though, she wasn’t interested in him.
She kept reaching for me.
After a while, she turned to Gabriel and asked him to let us be alone.
“Really?” he asked.
“Yeah, really. Do you mind?”
“Well, no, I guess not.” He stood and crouch-walked over to the ladder. His cock was still hard. “See you guys downstairs.”
“See ya,” I said, surprised by Lucy’s bluntness. “You aren’t here to see Gabriel?”
“No,” Lucy said, averting her eyes. “I came here to see you.”
“I had no idea you were . . .”
“I am, now, as of last week.”
The previous weekend, we had been at a party hosted by one of our co-workers. I remembered talking with Lucy there. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it—we were two friends talking.
But, it seems, she had suddenly seen me in a new light.
She had taken note of my tight black jeans with rhinestone studs.
She had liked the way the bare bulb on the porch haloed my hair from behind.
She noticed, all at once, that I was hot. But what she didn’t know was this: what’s Jefferson’s story?
Earlier this evening, she had asked Gabriel to join her for a beer after work.
Once they had downed half a beer, she cut to the chase.
“So, what’s up with you and Jefferson? Are you guys lovers or what?”
“No, no,” he said, shocked. “No way. We’re straight.”
“Sure I’m sure. Wha . . . why do you ask?”
“Well,” she said. “I think he’s hot. Is he seeing anyone or what?”
“No, no.” Gabriel smiled. “This is great. You have to tell him. Let’s tell him tonight.”
“Tonight? But how . . .”
“Just come to our place! Let’s get some more beer. He’s going to be glad to hear this!”
And so it was, when I got home from work, Gabriel and Lucy were on my porch, waiting.
And so it was, hours later, that Lucy and I were nude on my roof, under the stars.
“You thought I was hot?” I said, a little shocked.
She kissed me in response.
I licked her body in gratitude, tasting her for the first time.
“Hey, you know, the roof is a little rough,” she said as I sucked her clit. “Let’s go back to your room.”
“Good idea. My knees are shredded.”
We climbed down the ladder. I went first to help her down, holding her slender waist—unnecessary, but allowing me to touch her, to be a gentleman.
We found Gabriel sleeping on my bed, flat on his back. His arms and legs were extended to the corners, leaving no space untouched. His cock was still hard.
“Faker,” I whispered.
“Where else can we go?” she whispered.
“One of my housemates is gone. He would hate for us to be in his room, but . . .”
“. . . what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
We crossed the hall.
Lucy latched the door behind us. “Gabriel is a pest,” she said, walking into my arms.
We kissed in my housemate’s room. His walls were covered in Grateful Dead posters, his floor supporting methodically organized shelves of paperbacks and concert tapes.
We lay on his pallet on the floor.
We made love for the first time.
We made love and talked as the sun came up.
We made love.
We fell in love.