Monday, June 19, 2017

Glimpses of Gay, part 2

Since June is widely considered Pride month, I was thinking about how I might celebrate on my blog.  My coming out story is easily accessible here on my blog using the 'coming out' tag.  But I came up with the concept I'm calling Glimpses of Gay.  This is where I will share occasions that occurred before I came out where I had a glimpse of gay life or an interaction with someone I understood to be gay.  Here's part 2:

It was July 3rd (I'm sure) of 1988 (I think).  I was 24 and lived in a 2-bedroom apartment with a roommate.  I was grocery shopping and noticed an attractive young man (probably a little older than me) reaching for something off the shelf.  He looked at me as I was looking at him.  I smiled innocently and wondered if he was gay.  I pushed my cart down the isle, around the corner, and up the next isle.  I stopped and picked an item off the shelf, pretending to examine its ingredients while I waited to see if the guy would follow me.  Sure enough he stopped near me and also pretended to look at products.  From my peripheral vision I saw that he looked over at me, but I didn't look back at him.  Instead I placed the item back on the shelf and pushed my cart away.

A few isles over I stopped to look for laundry detergent which I actually needed.  I was not brand loyal so I looked to see what was least expensive and/or on sale.  I momentarily forgot about the guy as I narrowed down my detergent choices.  As I reached for my final selection, out of my peripheral vision again I saw the guy approaching me.  This time I couldn't help but to look at him and he smiled and said hi.  I said hi back and left the isle with my heart beating at least in double-time.

Later as I got into the check-out line I quickly scanned the other registers to see if the guy was in line.  I didn't see him, so my heart rate returned to normal as I loaded my groceries into my car and drove home to my apartment.  I took the 1st armload inside and as I returned to the car for the remaining bags, the guy from the grocery store walked over to my car!

He said he didn't mean to scare me, but that I'd left the store before he'd had a chance to introduce himself, so he followed me home.  Looking back on this now a big red "STALKER" flag goes up, but at the time his explanation sounded reasonable.  Or maybe I was just flattered.  

He offerred to help me carry the remaining bags inside and I allowed him to do so.  We talked for a couple minutes (where do you work, where do you live, etc) and then he invited me to go see the July 4th fireworks with him the next day.  I thanked him for the invitation but told him I'd be out of town.  (I really was going to spend the entire July 4th at my relatives' home in MD.)  He asked if we could exchange numbers and perhaps get together another time.  I said OK even though I knew full well it would never happen.  As he was leaving my roommate was coming in the door.  My roommate was a Jehovah's Witness too so we knew each others' friends.  He asked me who that guy was.  I casually brushed it off by saying it was an old acquaintance from high school I'd run into at the grocery store.

The guy did call me a couple times and left messages on my answering machine (remember those?), but I never returned his calls.  I wasn't ready yet.


anne marie in philly said...

that would be creepy today, to have someone follow you home.

anne marie in philly said...

PS - I still have an answering machine on my home landline. shut up.

Fearsome Beard said...

These encounters are all too common early on. Back in those days I'm not so sure I'd call him a stalker, without today's internet and if he was partially closeted that may have been his only chance at connecting.