He is sitting at the far end of the bar with his hands clasped before him. The semi-dim lighting of the restaurant gives his already copperish skintone an almost ethereal appeal. My best girlfriend Nej is talking my head off, but all I can see is him. She turns to see what it is that I have been staring at, spots Bill and exclaims loudly “Well, he’s not ugly.” Bill turns and looks in our direction – He heard us. I turn to Nej and laugh, but in my head I agree, and I take it one step further – he’s beautiful. Simply beautiful. Bill and I don’t speak that first night we see each other, but from that first glance I know that somehow, someway I would get to know him better.
Come to find out, that night Bill was being tried for a bartending position at LCY, the spot we were patronizing. Nej and I don’t find this out until a few weeks later when we head back there to go see the other bartender, Tee, who funnels us free drinks when her bosses are not looking. We step through the door and it is Nej who realizes that it is Bill, and not Tee, behind the bar. Although we know free drinks will not be happening that night, we take our usual seats at the bar and settle in for girl talk. That is the first time Bill and I speak to each other. I do not remember what our initial exchange consisted of (besides what I’d be having) but I do remember growing fond of him immediately. He came off shy, soft-spoken — the kind of man who knew that he did not need to raise his voice to make a point. I am…smitten. Immediately.
Over the course of the early winter months, Nej and I get to know Bill and his cousin, Van (who frequents LCY) quite well. Our conversations and laughs flow freely. We discuss matters that I don’t think most bartenders bother to converse with their clients about. I had always loved LCY, but now Bill adds a special twist for me. I find myself thinking about him when I am doing the most mundane tasks. I’d be filing away financial documents at work and I would remember a little joke he shared or a wink he threw my way, and find myself smiling. There is a part of me that feels as if I am going insane. It had been so long since I felt this way about someone. 2 years really. The last man who had made me feel as light as air hurt me to the point that I walked through 3 Brooklyn neighborhoods crying in the rain. In heels. Since that last disappointment I had hardened myself, built these great fortress walls around my heart to dissuade anyone or anything from coming too close. And yet, here I am daydreaming about a man whom I wasn’t sure even cared an iota for me.
I try to persuade myself that this is all a little crush. That sooner or later my feelings will go away and he’ll just be the man who fixes my drinks. But only about a week later when Nej and I go to LCY, I look at Bill and know that he feels something for me. We’re laughing and joking as always but when I look into his eyes, I see…I feel that the same tug I’ve been feeling towards him – he’s felt it as well. And when he kisses me goodnight on the cheek that night, I know there are lingering feelings behind it. My hope swells.
The next day on the ride home from work, I whip out my phone and I begin to write about him. He is the first man I have written about since Mr. Rain. I feel as if I am 16 again. I become so immersed in my little prose about him that I almost miss my home stop. As I walk quickly down the long blocks to my apartment I feel silly, but high. I cannot explain my euphoria to anyone, including myself. I feel alive. I have met a man who moves me.