The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.
~William Shakespeare, Othello
It was over—over in the most ambivalent of ways. I still smiled at the thought of him but knew he’d be nothing more than an ideal in my life—just the right combination of intellectual, emotional, and sexual rise was (and perhaps still is) inspired by the mere flashes of his picture on Facebook or the occasional flashback to a memory together.
In conversation, he’d often come up as an ideal guy. He’d managed to resolve his issues with Mormonism and being gay as I was attempting to do the same in my life. However, that remained a secondary or tertiary variable in my attraction. Not long after my decision to give up pursuing a relationship with him, a chat window popped up on Connexion. The picture had a Cheshire quality—a large smile and a rounded face:
“It seems we went to the same school. You write pretty well. Do I detect an influence of Nellie in your words?”
“Nellie Carter?” I responded.
“How did you guess? I took a column writing class from her.”
“I just have an eye for words. Anyways, I’m Rick.”
“I see we’re both friends with Evan Davis.”
“He’s perhaps the cutest of my friends on here.”
“He’s definitely a sight to behold.”
“That’s a good way to put it. His type doesn’t come around often. I’m having a hard time getting over my crush on him.”
“Interesting. It looks like I’ll be meeting him at the club tonight.”
“Yeah? I’m meeting up with him for some coffee beforehand with a few friends.”
“So I guess that means we’ll be meeting up, too….”
After a tennis game of flirty retorts, we said our goodbyes and I noted the fortunate coincidence that I’d be meeting another cute and intelligent boy that night.
I made my way to Salt Lake with my clubbing buddies Ezra (who’d just moved into the Wood House) and Alberto. We met Evan on his doorstep—the one I’d hesitated on that night of the first date. The place and that moment took me back even though it was not the two of us. I didn’t want to leave and the unhealthy desire to somehow claim him clouded my head. He was distant because he was healing and I had no reason to impose my feelings as I had been in a similar enough position to understand, albeit in glimpses.
On the way to the coffeehouse, he conveniently mentioned that Rick would be joining us. A smile came to my face as a result of the coincidental conversation which had occurred earlier that day.
Waiting for Ezra and Alberto to do each others’ hair, Evan and I sat across the table from one another. Almost defensively, I turned the conversation to the connection we shared which would not send me into some sort of emotional hailstorm:
“How’s your brother doing? Erik and I talk once in a while after the mission but him finding out about my dating life and… preferences… would make that somewhat more difficult.”
“That’s the truth. Try being his brother for eighteen years and having that discussion.”
“He seems to be doing well. I mean, he's the definition of Peter Priesthood. Isn’t he in like eight different church choirs?
“Ha! Yeah. he practically lives in the church building,” he said rolling his eyes.”
“I think that’s actually part of the reason we became good friends so quickly.”
He smirked knowingly. “Yeah. That’s part of it.”
We paused, expecting an explanation or question to fill the air.
“That’s all I can say,” he said with the same smirk as he sipped at his chai.
“Hey guys,” Alberto said, interrupting. “How does my hair look.” He’d just come from the bathroom with a Macy’s bag filled to the brim with hair products.
“With Alberto, hair is never perfect. He just abandons it when we all get tired of him asking about it,” Ezra said. “I’ve been listening to him bitch about a single cowlick for the last twenty minutes.”
With that, the direct conversation with Evan ended as the discussion turned to common friends and how long it had been since we’d all been dancing. My mind vacillated between topics—my inescapable attraction to Evan, his cryptic mention of my missionary friend and his brother, and the distraction that Rick would hopefully provide that night.
Rick’s arrival came with some knowing smiles on my part and his. “This is Rick,” Evan announced to the guys sitting around the table.
“Hey everyone,” he said—a bastion of confidence. All aglow, he plunged into conversation with a half-dozen people as the waitress—a friend of his—brought over his regular quad-shot mocha. After some meandering around the table for a few minutes, he finally took a seat across the table next to Evan.
The conversation continued as I found an unexpected anxiety creep up on me and press against my chest. Rick took his arm and placed it around Evan, caressing his back on occasion. It was hard to swallow, but the reality was that the cute intellectual wasn’t after me after all. Painfully, my sense of alienation doubled over itself with every signal of affection that I could not bestow upon Evan—an arm around him, a chivalrous opening of the door, hours spent together on the dance floor.
The sinking feeling of jealousy left me powerless. Rick taking Evan’s hand at the end of the night to hold it left me with a deep sent of resentment for my over-sensitivity. It has always been me weakness, I thought to myself.
Rick knew my feelings for Evan and I wonder at times whether, as he smiled and glanced in my direction, his pleasure was somehow augmented by my overpowering anxiety. My frustration of not being able to read a simple assemblage of teeth and muscles also left me questioning for weeks whether my romantic quest would ever amount to anything more than a series of heartbreaks. If I could not rely on my sensitivity or instincts, what could I rely on?
In the end, I was reassured by a simple, genuine smile.
“That guy does not know how to take a hint,” Evan recounted at a party. “I’d pull my hand away, but he didn’t pay any attention. I took FOUR trips to the bathroom that night for some alone time. He was kind of upset after I turned him down for a date a couple days later.”
The reassurance that my respect was more than hyper-sensitivity put the confident smile on my face that I needed as the desire to enter a relationship would finally be satisfied.
End of series.