He pushed the food around on his plate and then asked, "where did you meet your girlfriend?".
At work, or maybe school, I couldn't hear.
Long pause, "I'm thinking of trying internet dating".
My ears perked up. The dating one wandered off, leaving me and the dateless one sitting at the counter of my favorite coffee shop.
"Excuse me, I was snooping, you are interested in internet dating?"
Had an armed pack of wild dogs burst into the shop he could not have looked more scared.
"Well I ask, I mean, if you are wanting to try that, well maybe then, would you be interested in, oh let's call it...counter dating?" The dogs began to gnaw on his leg.
"Oh, oh dear no, not me, I just thought, well maybe would you be interested in going out with my sister?". The dogs backed off, he shuffled, squirmed and then, "oh, well, um...I'm gay".
Oh for Pete's sake, I did it again. Twice now I have asked gay men if they would like to go out with my sister.
Rather than spill my tea, which would have been less awkward, I started talking.
"Really? Well, I am just not getting that from you at all. You know, my best friend is gay, he is, and he says I have great gaydar, which clearly...I DO NOT!"
It is important, when faced with an awkward situation, and one that could parlay into any sort of phobic experience to point out that you know a gay person, or a black person, or a vegetarian person. This does absolutely nothing to allay your idoitness but does serve to further the complete horror of the conversation. He smiled, "I don't put much stock in gaydar, really".
"Well of course you don't, clearly, because, as we just witnessed, unreliable, just completely unreliable. And let me tell you, you are not the first one, just before Christmas I asked another complete stranger if he would like to go out with my sister and, are you ready, gay! Of course that time I was with friends, and my husband, and they all did their best to quiet me, but not today, just me. You know I am going to have to call them all when I leave and tell them, woops! I did it again. And my gay friend, I'll have to tell him, won't he be surprised!"
The dogs circled back, and his friend returned to save this poor man, foolishly calling him by name, Will.
" What, oh no, you're kidding, your name is Will? Can you imagine? Wouldn't that have been too much? Will!"
The friend looked at me, looked at Will, who was sweating profusely, and said "Will? Why would that matter?"
And rather than listen to the voice inside my head that begged me to stop I continued, "well, oh dear, you wouldn't know of course, but William was my dad's name, he went by Bill, generally, but yes, my sister would surely be over the top for someone named Will. He died a few years ago, just much too soon, and she misses him so much, too much sometimes I think, but then so do I so who am I to say. Oh Will, that would have just been wonderful. Had I only known your name was Will."
Will was now looking for the pack of wild dogs to come and take him away, perhaps fearful that the gallons of sweat pouring from his body would act as a deterrent to his bloody escape route. But rather than run, he leaned in and said "you're a good sister".
Wouldn't you know it? Adorable, perfect name and kind. Wanting to reach over and pat his hand, but thankfully just not close enough, I smiled warmly and said "thank you", and nothing more.
My gaydar may be off but sniffing out the nice guys, fabulous. Happy Valentine's Day Will, and Ashley.