I don’t remember for sure how I met #77, but I’ll hazard a guess and say it was through the LGBT society. And I don’t remember kissing him either, but I imagine it happened when he held a party in his flat in Dalry, and that we kissed just for the fun of it.
#77 was an art student, really creative and endearing. I don’t think he ever had a mean thing to say about anybody. He came from a religious background, and turned to the Bahá’i faith when he was at university, but I guess this didn’t do a whole lot to address the conflict he felt over being gay. I doubt I was much help when he told me he wished he was straight: I think I responded with a slightly more tactful, but still glib, version of There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Queer, Get Over It.
The day that I got the letter from #78, the letter that basically dumped me, I was supposed to go to class but I was too much of a wreck to get through it. I came back to my flat and sat around and had no idea what to do with myself, until I thought of #77. I remember thinking very clearly: He’ll know what to do! I called him on his mobile and sobbed down the phone. He sounded startled and said he’d be right there. I was relieved as hell.
When he arrived at my flat, I told him what had happened. There was a brief pause and then he exclaimed “Welcome back!” and gave me a giant hug. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of that, and while I was searching for a response he changed the subject: “Hey! I’m going to have an art exhibition!”
“That’s great!” I said, because it was.
“Hey!” he continued. “Why don’t we go out for coffee?”
I really didn’t want to face the outside world again, but since it was what he wanted to do, I figured I should go along with it for the sake of having some company. Outside, it was either grey and rainy and miserable, or it was a beautiful sunny day: I can’t remember any more, I just know it either mirrored my frame of mind or was its exact polar opposite. We headed for Café Europa, which was mercifully only around the corner. But just as we got there, he met a friend of his in the street.
“Why don’t you come with us?” he enthused to her.
I experienced mild panic.
She joined us, and I sat awkwardly in the café with them. I decided to order food while I was there, because I was too depressed to have an appetite and I knew I wouldn’t bother to cook anything at home, so maybe if I did it this way I wouldn’t waste away to nothing.
“Hey!” said #77. “I just remembered! I’m fasting! I can’t eat or drink anything anyway!” He started to gather up his belongings. “And I should really just get back and work on my exhibition! But I know you two will get on brilliantly.” And he was gone.
Suddenly I was in an awkward scene in a film. I desperately wished I hadn’t ordered the fucking food, so I could just leave. “Sorry if I’m a bit quiet,” I offered, “I had some bad news today.”
“Oh! Ha, ha!” The girl, whose name I completely forget, laughed, perhaps in an attempt to lighten the mood. “What happened?”
This was in the days before I learned about boundaries, about how you don’t need to answer a question just because somebody asked it. “I, uh, I became single today,” I said clumsily.
“Oh! Ha, ha! And what happened after that? Did your fridge stop working? Did your landlord evict you?”
I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I guess it went along the same lines.
I avoided #77 after that, and when I ran into him several months later he was happy to see me and seemed to have forgotten how things had gone that day and how I had been, you know, kind of heartbroken and wretched. So I took him to a party with me that weekend. It was nice to catch up after so long, and then, once I’d had a few drinks, I asked for a private word with him, and then I explained, briefly, why that episode had gone so badly. I didn’t need to dwell on it, I just wanted him to know, and then we could move on. We did.
The last I heard of him, and this information is from years ago, he was apparently living in Japan and working as some sort of performance artist with a show which involved making out with the audience. I can totally support this.