Brad’s Search : Part 4


It’s more crowded than usual at the bar, probably due to lots of people celebrating that all couples are now allowed to marry in Washington. I guess you can count us among them.

We find a table near a window, and I offer to buy the first round on account of my domination at the bowling alley. I grab the three beers and return to the table, where Gary and Harry are already scoping out a potential match for me.

“Don’t even bother, guys. I just broke up with Stan. I need some time to myself.”

Gary takes a swig of his beer. “You mean you weren’t by yourself enough when Stan was staying out late at night?”

Harry nods his head in agreement. “That’s right. Plus, there’s no time like the present. If we find you another guy, he will make forgetting Stan a lot easier.”

“I don’t know, guys. I’ve had relationship after relationship fail. Maybe I just need to be single and figure some things out on my own for a while. You know, lay off guys for the time being.”

“As opposed to laying on them...”

Just then, all three of us spot, not a guy, but this beautiful, slender woman wearing a black cocktail dress. She apparently spotted us, too, because she starts walking toward our table.

Gary leans his head in, as if he’s about to share the nuclear arming codes. “Harry, that is one smoking lady!”

“You’re right; she’s almost too smoking!”

The smoking woman, who is luckily not literally on fire, makes it to our table. “I consider myself a pretty smart girl, but what I cannot figure out is: Why are three straight guys hanging out at a gay bar?”

Gary, suave as always, smiles. “Probably for the same reason you are - supporting our gay friends and family who just gained the right to marry.”

She raises her cocktail up. “I’ll drink to that!”

We join her in toasting to this historic occasion. “Thanks, guys, and congratulations.” And with that, she walks away.

Gary grabs Harry’s arms a little tightly. “You need to go talk to that girl.”

“I don’t know, Gary. She seems kind of intimidating. Plus I think she is a bit out of my league.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m way too nervous to talk to her. Just not tonight. There’s probably someone else here that she has her eyes on.”

“At a gay bar?”

Gary and Harry’s eyes both light up at the same time, and they slowly turn to face me.

“What are you guys concocting in your heterosexual brains?”

Gary, always the voice of reason, starts grilling me. “How many so-called failed relationships have you had?”

Harry chuckled. “You’d need about two or three more hands to count them all.”

“Shut up, Harry. I don’t know; five or six?”

“And they have all been with other men, yes?”

“Yes...”

Gary and Harry both made insidiously-evil grins.

“What the hell is going on, here?”

Gary was the first to chime in. “Well, Brad, you just said yourself that you’ve had way too many failed relationships...”

“...And all of those failed relationships were with other guys...”

“So maybe this means it’s time to start dating women.”

I glance at Gary, then Harry, and back to Gary. They seem completely serious, but I have to ask just to make sure. “You’re not kidding, are you?”

“It’ll just be a little fun- almost like an experiment. Just go on a few dates and get to know her. What could possibly be the harm in that?”

“Perhaps the fact that I’m not at all romantically or sexually interested in her?”

“Just give it a shot, Brad. Gary and I are pretty open minded; you should try to be, too. Who knows where it will end up?”

“You should talk, Harry. You won’t even go out with her and you’re straight.”

“I’ll make you a deal; you ask her out tonight, and I’ll ask out someone else the next time we go out for drinks. Deal?”

“Deal.”

I down the rest of my beer and take in a big gasp of air. “I can’t believe you guys are making me do this.” All they could do is put on the cheesiest grins I’ve ever seen. Wisconsinites would be put to shame.

I stand up and walk toward the beautiful, slender woman in the black cocktail dress. My heart is racing, just like it did when I approached a guy for the first time and asked him out. He turned me down; I ironically hope for the same reaction tonight.

She notices me as I get closer. “Well, hello there!”

“Hi; are you with anyone tonight?”

“I am! These are my friends, Shawn, Jeremy, and Linda.” She points all of them out, and I shake hands with them. “Shawn and Jeremy are going to the courthouse at midnight tonight to get their license.”

“Congratulations, guys! I’m so happy that all of us now have the chance to get married.”

“Of course! And my name is Kelly.”

“It’s great to meet you, Kelly. My name is Brad.”

“Well, Brad, it’s great to have you as a supporter. How about I return the favor? Would you like to meet me sometime for dinner, perhaps?”

I am caught off guard and don’t say anything.

Kelly chimes back in. “Is that a yes, or did you just go into a coma?”

“Uh, sure, that would be great!”

I pull out my phone and enter her number as she says it to me.

“Don’t wait too long to call, now.”

“I won’t. It was nice to meet all of you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Brad.”

I put away my phone and turn around to try to get as far away as I can. I run into one of the other bar patrons and apologize. I make my way back to the table as quickly as possible without running into anyone else.

Gary is the first to congratulate me. “That was beautiful, Brad! You looked just as nervous as a middle-schooler asking someone to the homecoming dance for the first time.”

“So did you ask her out?”

“No; she asked me out.”

“Wow. Well, I guess that counts, too.”

“I guess that means it’s your turn next time, Harry.”

“Guess so.”

“You better not break your promise, Harry, or I’ll kick your ass in every bowling game after tonight.”

Gary and Harry finish their beers and we stick around for another hour basking in the celebratory ambiance. When the alcohol has all worn off, we pile into Gary’s car and he drives us home.

* * * * *

I unlock my door and head inside. I sent a text to Kelly: It was great meeting you tonight. Are you free this weekend? Dinner would be great!

I walk into my bedroom and start taking my clothes off for a quick shower before I go to bed. My phone buzzes, and it’s a text back from Kelly: This weekend sounds great. How about Saturday around 7? I text back: Saturday around 7 works for me. Let me know where you have in mind, and I’ll see you then!

I hop into the shower and wash off my bowling victory scent. The shower is quite relaxing; I don’t have to worry about when, or if, Stan will be coming home. It’s not really any of my concern anymore. And that feels great. Maybe I am ready for another relationship. And like Harry said, maybe I should be more open-minded. My relationships with other guys haven’t been so successful. Maybe getting to know a woman will give me a different perspective.

I finish up my shower and dry myself off. I crawl into bed, trying to quiet my mind from all the buzz and excitement that happened today, and eventually fall asleep.