Long time without writing in first person. Anyway, I wanted to write something fun and cliché. So I did.
"You know how women are always saying that all the good guys are either gay or taken?" Melissa looks across the café with a frown. Swallowing what's left of the omelet in my mouth, I raise my eyebrows. She glances at me out of the corner of her eye, waiting for a response.
"I… guess?" I actually haven't heard that, but then again, it's not like many women have ever been interested in me. My mother always told me it was because I was too handsome and they were thrown off by my good looks. My dad just said it was because I was obviously gay.
Melissa swishes her drink. "I'm starting a new one," she says, straightening in her chair and lifting her hand in the air, probably to signal the waitress. "All the good ones are either small-dicked or secretly spying on you when you shower and go to yoga class."
"Somebody's cynical," I say, picking up my glass of water and glancing away for just a second towards the cute guy sitting at the bar. He's still not looking at me. My parents never had a reason for that.
She scoffs. "It's not cynicism. It's realism. Based on my track record, and my apparent taste in guys, they're never going to have a dick big enough to satisfy me."
The waitress laughs as she approaches our table. "And here the entire world has been thinking gay men are size queens." She drops the check to the table. "Have a good day," she says, before leaving with a smile.
"You're trying too hard," I tell her, still glancing at the counter guy. Melissa sighs. "Let the guys do the chasing for once. I've heard straight men are into that."
Taking her checkbook from her purse, Melissa rolls her eyes. "If I let a guy chase me, I'm going to be eighty by the time I get laid next."
I set my drink back down on the table and look back to her. "Getting laid and getting a relationship take two totally different perspectives." My eyes travel back to the guy at the counter. He's leaving, laughing with the waitress as he takes the check from her hand.
"Okay, that guy? Totally straight."
"You thought Elton John was straight," I say, turning back to her with a frown. "You read homosexuality like my grandmother."
"It's not there to read—" she starts, but cuts herself off when the guy at the counter stands up, pulls on his coat, and, as he's leaving, winks towards our table. "Jesus. Okay, so maybe he's not straight."
I can't help the grin that spreads across my face. "Told you."
"Don't get cocky," she says, returning to her check and signing it with a flourish. "He winked. He didn't come up to you and say you were hot or that he'd really like to spend some time getting to know each other in private. It's not like he just propositioned you for sex or anything."
"Wow, you're a barrel of fun today."
"Hey," she says firmly, pointing the tip of her pen at me. "Number 18 just broke up with me. I have a right to be a bitch."
Pulling a few dollar bills from my wallet, I shake my head. "No, you have the right to be a bitch for about a week after the fact. This is day eight." She scowls. "Stop saying that he just dumped you, because it stops being just hours after the actual dumping. Oh, and you're gonna want to stop saying that he broke up with you eight days ago, because when you say that to homeless people on the subway, it just makes you seem desperate."
"I thought gays were supposed to be happy."
I smile, lifting myself out of the booth and tucking the bills under my empty glass. "You're thinking about the gays that get laid on a regular basis. It's been—" She reaches up, clamping her hand over my mouth just as I say six months. "Thanks."
"That's why you keep me around, to keep you from committing a faux pas every time you walk out your front door."
"What did I just say about being a bitch?
Shoving her purse checkbook back into her purse, she shoves away from the table and tucks the chair neatly back underneath. "Whatever. I'm closing in on twenty ex-boyfriends and it's only June. That's almost a boyfriend a week."
"You're rounding down," I say, smiling at the waitress when I catch her eye on my way out of the café.
"Come on, I only passed math because of you," Melissa says, gripping my shoulders as she squeezes out the door past a man on his cell phone, staring at the floor. "We still on for dinner tomorrow night?" When I send her a blank look, she sighs. "With my parents, Craig."
"Shit." I rub my face. "I forgot."
Melissa groans. "They've been planning to come up from Hawaii since January. I told you, like, the day after they made plans."
I drop onto the bench just outside the café. "It's not like I forgot that my parents are coming to town! Come on, I've been busy. My office just relocated halfway across town, I've had to double my gym visits because you're getting dumped every other week, and—"
"Watch it, puny," she says in a dark tone.
"—been eating ice cream and watching bad romantic comedies with you when you show up at my place crying." I sigh, trying to ignore the look on her face. "Look, you gotta stop telling your parents that we're dating."
"I'm twenty-seven!" Melissa throws her arms up. "My sister got married when she turned eighteen. That means that they've been waiting almost ten years for me to find someone. That's an entire decade."
A bus hums down the street. I'm almost positive that I'm supposed to be on it. "I really don't want to be called a homewrecker when one of us finds a guy. Either way, your parents are going to end up walking in on one of us and knowing how much they already dislike me, they'll just go with thinking that I'm a cheating asshole and keep thinking you're the perfect angel that still hasn't lost her virginity."
She sighs. "Jesus." The bench creaks under our combined weight as she sits down next to me. "Sorry. I guess I hadn't really been thinking about that."
"You generally don't," I mutter, but know she heard me—she twists her toes inwards and clears her throat. If she hadn't heard me, I would have said more. "I'll have dinner with you and your parents one more time, but you have to tell them we aren't dating." I turn to look at her. "Otherwise, I'm going to tell them. Probably at dinner. Or when I accidentally burn the food and end up having to call the pizza guy and start making out with him in the doorway of your apartment."
She clasps her hands together over her heart. "I promise. Thank you, Craig, this means—"
"You owe me," I say, standing up. There's a taxi sitting on the other side of the street at a stoplight, and I plan on making it mine. "You owe me so much."
"I know!" She nods vigorously, grinning. "Thank you! You don't have to buy me a birthday gift this year."
I shake my head. "Whatever. Call me later, I have to get to work."
She screams out more thank-yous as I dodge cars to the taxi, and I ignore them as best as I can. People in cars honk their horns as I squeeze between them, but I ignore that too. My eyes are set on that taxi, because if I get to work late again and have Melissa to blame, my boss isn't going to slap my back and call me a stud.
I have the address to my office on the tip of my tongue, but by the time I reach the door, someone's beaten me to it already.
Based on his laugh, I must look absolutely defeated. I glance up at him, ready to say that it's fine, he can steal my taxi, but I stop before I can even take a breath.
It's him, the guy from the café. The winker.
He grins. "Sorry. You must have had your eyes on this one."
I scratch the back of my head and can't help but think that he's a lot hotter up close. "Uh, well. You know, I was just—you can have it."
He claps a hand on my shoulder and tells me that it's fine. "Where are you going?" he asks, dropping his hand from my shoulder. "Maybe we can share."
Despite the voice in the back of my head telling me that just because he's hot doesn't mean he's not a psychopath, I tell him my office's address.
"Small world," he says, opening the door to the taxi and waving me in. "My uncle works there. We're actually going over some marketing techniques before lunch today."
Uncle. Great, that's probably really going to help his views of me as an employee. As I climb in, I ask, "Oh, yeah? Who's your uncle?" Except I already know the answer.
"Robert Maddox." He slides in after me and closes the door. "How long have you worked there?" He relays the address to the cab driver before he turns back to me.
I grin. "Last five years."
"What do you do?"
"I'm an accountant."
Looking at his lap, he laughs. "My brother works in accounting. Well, used to. My uncle just fired him." He turns back to me. "I'm Grayson."
"Craig," I tell him, then shake his hand.
"Maybe we could get together for lunch or something. Robert has a standing date with his wife, so I won't be bothered into that."
I'd just like to interject that I really, really don't do this. I have to have something a little more definitive before I go on a date with somebody, like a pick-up line or a drink at a bar or something. I like to know that whatever guy I'm dating isn't a complete waste of my time. I mean, I don't do a lot, but—
When I look up at him, Grayson has this big smile that pulls up into his eyes, bright green and sparkling and damn it, fine.
"Yeah. Yeah, let's do it."
Throughout the morning, I see Robert and Grayson wandering around the office, meeting some of the other employees. Since they don't hit the accounting section, I spend the morning doing what I gotta do and the rest of it on the phone with Melissa.
"Grayson?" she asks. I can hear the dislike in her voice. "What the hell kind of a name is Grayson?"
"I don't know." I say, hitting buttons on the keyboard as one of my supervisors wanders through. "I haven't had time to learn his entire history or anything, and besides, knowing the inner-workings of his parents' minds would be way weird."
She excuses herself and starts talking to someone else—probably a customer at the pet store. I sit up in my chair, peering over my cubicle while she asks whoever what kind of a dog they'd like. "Try to sell that bitchy Chihuahua in the back room," I say, sitting back down when I see Grayson and Robert standing at the door of his office.
Melissa doesn't listen to me, just keeps talking to the customer and eventually looks back. "I gotta go. I'll talk to you at lunch, all right?"
"Ooh," I say, biting at a piece of skin on my lip. "Can't. Have a man-date with Grayson."
"A man-date? Jesus—Are you sure you should be—"
"It's not like he asked me back to his apartment or anything. Chill out."
Melissa scoffs. "I'll talk to you about this later," she says. "I gotta go help an old woman find a dog."
"Cool," I say. "I'm gonna go get laid at a sit-down restaurant." I'm not, I don't think, but it's fun to hear her voice hitch up when she thinks I'm going to sleep with guys I haven't known very long.
"You're an asshole."
I click my tongue, sitting up again—Grayson and Robert are walking towards my cubicle. "You still owe me for dinner with your parents. But I gotta go, so I'll talk to you later bye." I hang up just as Robert says my name.
"Palmer," he says. Grayson smiles down at me. "I'd like you to meet my nephew, Grayson. Grayson, this is our best accountant, although his track record of tardiness wouldn't suggest that."
Grayson leans over my cubicle. "We met this morning, actually. Shared a taxi."
Robert raises his eyebrows. I try not to seem guilty about anything, because I'm not. "Shared a taxi… Interesting." He glances at his watch. "Well, I'm sure you two know each other well enough for me to leave then, hmm? Grayson, I imagine we'll be seeing you for Martha's birthday?"
Nodding his head, Grayson extends his hand towards his uncle. "I wouldn't miss it for the world." With that, Robert shakes Grayson's hand.
"Palmer," he says, nodding his head at me, before he turns around and leaves. Grayson turns back to me and smiles. "Lunch?"
"Sounds great," I say with a grin, pulling my suit jacket from the back of my chair.
Grayson claps his hands on the wall of my cubicle.
"So," I start, shoving my arms into my jacket. "That's your uncle."
"So," he says back, "that's your boss."
We leave it at that—Robert's not exactly something that I'm interested in talking about, and apparently he's not Grayson's favorite subject either.
It can only be a good sign. Any man that isn't willing to talk about his uncle over any meal definitely gains points from me.