My bus ride to campus was as uneventful as always. Problem was that the commuting there was on a Saturday morning. How awful, traveling to school on a weekend. Midterm month was approaching, and I had asked a friend to help tutor me in Japanese, since I desperately needed the help and was more than lost in class. I forgot which bus I took that day, either the 22 or Rapid 522, but their journeys towards downtown were not so different. Only difference was that one was about 10 minutes faster than the other one. Either way the buses didn‘t matter to me since I was always on time and managed to be everywhere earlier than I should be.
I got off at 7th and the streets were more barren than usual. There was no homeless person asking for money like other days, in which I would always have to decline politely, insisting that I had no change. This was downtown after all and the unexpected should always be expected. But my expectations were still blown.
A beat-up l car pulled up towards me by my right side as I was walking towards the library. The driver leaned over to look through the passenger window and even though he was tan like me, he was somewhat toned, with short-ish spiky hair. He was either a really dark Caucasian male, or Hispanic. I could never distinguish anybody’s race really well, but I was suspicious nonetheless.
“Excuse me, but can you help me?” he asked.
I took off my earphones and walked closer to the side of the window. I wanted to ignore him, but it was a direct encounter and it would have been more than rude to do so. He seemed nice enough. Although, I’ve always had trouble speaking up to people at first, especially strangers, with my voice usually coming out as an inaudible mumble.
“Sure. What is it?” I remember asking him, being somewhat suspicious.
“Where’s the nearest big store around here? Like Wal-mart or Target.” He looked down and around in the interior of his car, as if he was fumbling around. Reminded me of, well, me. I was amused on how he described a department store, referring to it as a “Big Store.”
“Um. I’m not sure where any are around here, but there’s a -” I pointed behind me, lazily towards a direction ,“Walgreens over there.”
“Oh, thank you,” Big Store Man said, his head still down. “Can I ask you another question?”
God, how I hated answering questions. I always saw them as generic pointless time wasters. Plus, I didn’t want to be late to being early for my tutoring.
“Sure. What is it?” I vaguely remember wondering whether or not he was in an emergency or not, and if I was taking too much of this time.
“Are you straight?” He asked bluntly.
“No…wait, yes,” Now it was I who was fumbling. But who could blame me? What kind of question was that?
“Are you straight,” Big Store Man asked again, misunderstanding my answer, “Can I have your number?”
Yup, I was not expecting this. I was confused, no, I was fucking bewildered. I shook my head and said, a bit louder now, that I was indeed, straight. He gave me a look with what I could only describe with a hint of disappointment as he mumbled okay, and drove away. I started walking away a bit faster than when I started. What in the world just happened?
Thinking back on it now, I would exaggerate the scenario, if given the chance. Something like, he was straight, but saw how sexy I looked and wanted some of the V. That the mere sight of me turned straight men gay. Of course, I was still a bit taken aback, you know, being hit on by someone who seemed normal. By normal, I mean not like that time the elderly Hispanic man riding a bike stopped near me when I was walking home to come over and caress my cheek and mumble something in Spanish. Nor like that time the tall, black, man/woman in the dress with the deep-ass voice at McDonald’s near campus told me that they liked their men with a soft voice, upon hearing me order a milkshake. Wow, can I really attract them or what? But this time, this was a normal person who noticed me for “me.”
I wish I knew whether or not he felt defeated that day. Was his plan really to meet a random guy that day and try out some lady, or in this case gentlemanly, luck in order to reel someone in? Maybe his catchphrase involved saying “Big Store.” After I denied him, did his heart sink down deep into his nave, past his chest filled with them anxious butterflies?
I wonder if he has a story about me, just like how I have a story about him. Or was I just one of many? Then a thought occurred to me. How could this man, perfectly normal and seemingly reserve, pull up to a total stranger like me on the street and ask for my number, while I sat in class, unable to speak to that girl literally ten feet away from me, and instead, twiddle my fingers away like a moron. If I had just half the courage Big Store Man had, I would’ve probably spoken to this girl now and something might have come of it. Or it might’ve not, but at least I would’ve known. It’s as if my world is just a fantasy world, filled with opportunities I purposely miss in order to fill my pseudo storybook, while people like Big Store Man acts from his balls and does what he wants, not allowing his life to be hindered by his demeanor. Big Store Man, I truly hope you found that big store, along with a guy willing to give you his number. As for me, well, I guess I can say that a gay/bisexual man has given me a new outlook on life. Hell, who knows, maybe one day, I’ll pull up to that girl on the street and ask for her number. Hopefully I take rejection as well you did.