It all started with ice cream. Nash had gone to the Ice Creamery to indulge himself with his favorite food fetish, a blueberry-rocky road ice cream cone. An extended hot spell had sent the temperatures in the hundreds for a week. The air conditioning had failed in the shop that day but people were lined up to buy their favorite scoop. When Nash had paid for his delicacy, he turned and bumped the young woman behind him. His ice cream, already melting with the scorching heat, plopped in a liquid slop on her Bruce Springsteen tank-top, above her left breast.
Nash expected outrage but was floored by her response.
“Well, don’t just stand there crying over spilled milk, lick it off.” She laughed.
Nash, completely outwitted, began blotting her shirt with his hand filled fist of napkins. Seeing the futility, he started to remove his sleeveless muscle shirt, apologizing, “Let me clean the rest with my shirt.”
The woman started laughing boisterously. “Take it off. Let me switch your shirt for mine. You’re making a mess. You must be gay.” She rebounded with more chuckles.
“Oh, yes, of course.” Nash disposed of his cone in the trash, nervously, and thought. How’d she guess I’m gay?” Is my shirt that obvious? The yellow tank top was embellished with a logo of two parallel, yellow bars set in a royal blue square.
“Let me buy your ice cream, while you change.” He handed her his shirt. “What flavor?”
“You’re too kind. I’ll pop into the restroom and change. Peaches and Cream, double scoop.”
Momentarily, she returned, extending her washed tank-top to Nash. “You might as well wear my mine. It’s wet but it might keep you cool.”
“I’m Susan. What do your boyfriends call you?”
“Nash or Klutz. I’m clumsy.”
“Yes, I’ve seemed to experience that first hand.”
“How’d you know I was gay? My shirt?”
“No, although now that you bring it up it does ring “gay”.
“It was your GayDor.”
Gaydor? She knows that word.
“The way you ogled the guy serving you. And the two buck tip. But your beautiful green eyes, most of all. Any man with such awesome eyes has to be gay. You’re probably single too.” Susan’s tongue licked a large melting drip of a cream, encrusted peach from the side of her cone.
“You must have a close friend who’s gay.” Nash, finally, laughed, easing his embarrassment.
“Yeah, Tristan. We’re like sister and brother. I’m meeting him at the airport, after we finish our lovely discussion. I think you two would hit it off. He’s single too.”
‘Really?” Nash passed off her suggestion as a passing comment as one lacking commitment.
“He’s one hot man with a delicious sense of humor.”
Nash was picturing his introduction to Tristan, a man who would look past his awkwardness and see his inner finesse for perfection.
“It’s time to go” Susan had finished her double scoop cone shortly after Nash had eaten his. ” You don’t want to be late to meet Tristan, do you?”
“You’re not being serious, are you?”
“Of course, I am. Tristan expects my mischief. I know you will, too, once we become better friends. Come on let’s go.” She grabbed Nash’s hand, dragging him, from the Ice Creamery.
Susan and Nash stood watching the airplane taxi to the gate, where they would be greeting Tristan.
Susan proudly wore Nash’s Marriage Equality muscle shirt.
Nash’s sweat kept Susan’s Bruce Springsteen’s T-shirt wet.
His stomach churned from anxious expectations. Will he see me as a desperate gay man? Especially since we’ve never met, not even had eye contact.