Please refer to these author's links to read more Tasters.
Learning How to Love Again
Helium balloons hung along with birthday banners down the driveway of the front yard and down the walkway to the backyard. Recordings from Donna Summers, Sylvester, and other disco groups blasted party music out the speakers into the backyard and down the wooded canyon behind Billie’s house. Billie took special attention to make sure everything was perfect.
As the guests started to arrive, they helped themselves to a full cocktail bar, the alcohol supplied by Dave. Billie played host, vacillating between serving drinks from the bar and barbecuing chicken and salmon on the grill, and ribs, slow cooking on the Weber.
A conversation buzzed in reference to the cutest guy in town, down at the bar, Whispers, from a few arriving people, who had recently departed the bar. Several of the men repeated the news, inquiring why he wasn’t invited. The name of the bar lived up to its name of spreading gossip rapidly.
Although Billie was curious, he was much too busy cooking and greeting others to contemplate who the man was. He seldom dated, after spending too much wasted effort in failed relationships, over the past twenty-five years. He still looked but seldom acted on his interests. When he did initiate a conversation with another man he found attractive, Paul deterred any possibility of sparks igniting a date. Sometimes, Billie would drop Paul off at his home after making the rounds of the bars at night. Then, he would go to the after-hours disco, The Spoiled Brat, drinking until two a.m. Then he switched to coffee. Occasionally, he acted on his observations. He would send a drink to a man he who caught his attentive eye, hoping the gesture might be returned, if not to be engaged in a conversation that might lead to jumping in bed. But, usually, his moves were ignored. He would only receive an approving smile or a word of thanks. So, he seldom contemplated having sex with a man at age forty-five. He continuously related his worries about being too old to date to his closest friend, Paul. He told him he was going through a midlife crises, complaining he had not experienced sex with a man for fifteen years. Paul insisted he was extremely attractive and not too old to date. That is when Paul started setting his aspirations on Billie to move into a physical relationship. It was a tenuous situation for both of them. Billie did not want to hurt Paul’s feelings by telling him he was not attracted to him on a physical level. He only wanted to have a platonic friendship. Paul could not separate his sexual feelings of attraction for Billie from his best friend status. So he continued to pursue Billie as a sexual partner despite the rejection every time he expressed his feelings.
“Surprise!” Everyone screamed, above the blasting dance music, when Dave ushered George and Paul through the sliding glass door of the house to the backyard.
A few minutes later a tall dark, handsome man arrived at the back gate.
Billie heard the chatter of the others, referring to the attractive man at the bar who should have been invited. And now he was actually a guest.
George, overwhelmed, wrapped his arms around him, hugging tightly. “Glenn, I never expected you to be here, you of all people.”
“You’ll have to help me. I’m new to this and I don’t know anyone.” Glenn responded, privately to George.
So he’s George’s best friend. Billie realized who the new arrival was. Is he gay? If he is, I’d like… well…
Billie was in turmoil, rushing haphazardly to make sure everyone had a drink, while cooking the food, preventing him from visiting with guests, especially his chance to explore any possibilities with the new man in town.
Everyone was having a great time, refreshing their cocktails frequently and laughing, boisterously. Most of the men, even those hooked with partners, gravitated toward Glenn.
Around three o’clock, Billie yelled from the deck. “The food is ready. “