I hadn't heard from G. in a while. My "straight boyfriend" as he referred to himself, definitely vacillated between the first and second parts of that phrase. We'd had a very intense time together, followed by a difficult breakup. Over a year had passed, and we would talk from time to time and occasionally get together, usually in the company of some nondescript female whose presence seemed designed to reassure us both of his heterosexuality.
He called on a Monday afternoon to say that he was down the street, and asked if I would like to meet him for a Martini. I hesitated only a moment and then agreed, and we decided to head out to La Loggia, a little spot in Studio City where they make what my friend Ken refers to as a Vodka Slurpee. I'll just let that phrase speak for itself.
He picked me up at work. Within minutes, something intangible seemed to have clicked, because we were back in our old "groove". It was as if the breakup and the ensuing year had never happened. Finishing each others thoughts and sentences, grinning stupidly at each other, the whole spiel. One Martini became two, then an appetizer, a bite of pasta, and we even stayed for dessert. During the course of the evening, we had attempted to call Ken and John, close friends that lived nearby and introduced us to the restaurant in the first place, but we reached only the answering machine.
We lingered over coffee and dessert, and finally it was time to go. As we left the restaurant, I remarked what a beautiful summer night it was, and looked up a bright and full moon. We jumped in G's black GTI and headed back toward my office. "Did you see that?", he asked. "There's a green Bentley in front of the Wine Bistro." He looked at me with his brown puppy dog eyes and asked - "should we stop?" The presence of John and Ken's car in front of their usual hangout explained why we couldn't reach them. "Of course", I replied. "But just for a minute. We'll just run up and say "Boo" or something, and then leave."
Plan agreed to. We stashed the VW in the alley behind the Bistro and walked up to the entrance. The 1961 Bentley Flying Spur glistened at the curb. We turned the corner and approached the front door, where we found John and Ken seated at an outdoor table. Both broke into big smiles. "Sit down and have a drink", Ken insisted. John looked a bit more tentative, and said they were having a discussion. G assured them that we were well fed and watered, and that we just wanted to say hi. They both gave us big hugs. I told John I'd call him later in the week. We ran back to the car, agreeing that we had done exactly the right thing and to stay two minutes longer would have been obtrusive. We pulled the VW out of the alley and sped past the restaurant. They were talking casually. The moon reflected on the black hood of the GTI as we drove.
We were ignorant of the significance of the moment. It was the last time the Universe would seem normal to us. We were mercifully unaware that John would die suddenly less than twenty-four hours later. We had no idea how many lives, including our own, would be tumbled wildly as if we were all inside a snow globe. We didn't know that we would be thrust back together, galvanized by the experience and inseparable for the next six months, until once again the desire for "straight" exceeded that for "boyfriend". The Universe decided to give us, unknowingly, a moment to say goodbye to someone we loved dearly before he departed on his journey.
I'm enormously grateful.