Scott and the man who has been with him through bitter and sweet.
He had been there for me through thick and thin, hot and cold, good and bad, sweet and bitter. That last part might make you think what? But it’s true. My coffee man has always been there for me.
I first met him because a new café opened near the radio station where I was working at the time, and with me being a coffee fiend curiosity got the better of me. I walked into this modern, spacious, bright café overlooking Dublin’s Grand Canal, and the manager’s eyes were aimed at the door to greet me. In that instant, not only did I know he was gay, but he was intent on getting something from me. I wasn’t so naïve as to think that it was just my money, as his eyes were practically glowing with either lust or madness. The latter comes free with every Irish passport, so I’d take a chance on going with the former.
At that time, I had been dating someone else, so I wasn’t intending to get his number; a harmless flirt was all I would be open to. He was handsome, and his gift of the gab made me sure that he hadn’t just kissed the Blarney Stone; he probably gave it a love-bite. All that said, he was a bit too camp to qualify as the type of guy I’d go for, so I let the banter continue as a source of entertainment if nothing else.
Flirtation aside, he seemed to be a nice guy, and it was to his café that I brought some friends when I broke the news that I was moving to Belfast for a big media job, thinking at the time that I wouldn’t be returning to Dublin for a long while. He eventually found me on Facebook while I was up north, and we kept in touch during my time there with messages slipping between friendly catch-ups and flirtatious quips. When I let it slip some months later that I was back on the market, his reaction made it seem like he was ready to jump on a train up to see me. But there was no need, as I was already planning my homecoming.
As I slowly got back into my social stride in the capital, we ended up bumping into each other in some gay bar or other every week. We’d both be with friends, so we never exchanged much more than a hello and a tiny bit of small talk, but the cheeky smiles told much more. We’d send a message to each other online the following day, saying we looked well, but it wasn’t until he announced his new job at another café did he suggest that we meet up intentionally. It was an unusual invitation in some ways, because he’d be technically working, so I wasn’t sure how I’d get to know him better.
His new café looked like somewhere I’d easily relax – in fact, I wrote some parts of my column there – and he’d come over every few minutes with either cheesy chat-up lines or free coffee. I was warming up to him, but then after about a week of flirts and free coffee, he came out with the most unexpected line ever:
“Can I set you up with one of my friends? You two would be perfect together!”
I laughed heartily facing the ceiling, making him think that I loved the corniness of being set up. In fact, with every millisecond spent laughing, my brain was trying to process whether or not he was joking. Realising he was serious, I couldn’t figure out why he had been flirting so much all this time. I was so utterly confused,
“Hold on, this is too weird.”
“Because for months I thought you were trying to get into my pants! Now you wanna be Cilla bleedin’ Black!”
Then the explanation to his flirting came. He had a boyfriend who was living abroad, and they seemed to have had some sort of agreement. “Whatever happens happens,” he explained. “We both know we’re men, and men get horny. I love him but I’m not gonna rule out anything.” His philosophy was one I’ve heard amongst many gay men before, though it was one I never shared. I nodded to show that I understood, but I didn’t say anything more on the issue.
Slightly relieved that he wasn’t trying to bed me – although it was somewhat of a bruising to my ego – I said I’d go along with his suggestion provided he’d show me a photo of his friend. He showed me his Facebook profile and true enough, he seemed quite handsome, but there was something . As soon as I said so, he gave his best Cheshire Cat impression.
“Great,” he shouted, “because he’s on his way over.”
No pressure, then.
[To be continued!]
‘Scottie’ Illustrations by Stephen Charlick