I heard his name said a lot of times even before we met. Usually it came from women. Sexy, chubby, confident, shy, long haired, short haired, even lesbians. All these women say and act the same way when his name gets mentioned, "Do I know Neil?!" eyes would widen with excitement and a smile would break their face then they would say "Yes, I know him" and in a tone lower they would whisper "He's so cute" and then a giggle would enthuse.
They said he had boyish features like a freshman and nerdy glasses that made him cuter and his forever tousled bedhead made all my female colleagues want to get closer to him and get his number. When he smiles at snappy clients they quiet down and relax. This made me curious, I wanted to meet him. But I've learned to rein my curiosity already and not to ask for any introductions. A few weeks later my boss said that I will be working with him for a year. Cool.
My boss introduced us and as I smiled at him and looked at his face, his eyes conveyed curiosity and doubt. I on the other hand agreed with the rumors but (yes there is a BUT) he was not my type. Something was off, I can't put a finger on it, but I knew that something is different about him. As we both stared at each other with cautious smiles and a firm handshake we both wondered what kind of relationship lies ahead of us.
We became a good team, better than most. His charisma was able to increase clientele. My cut throat attitude and decisive nature ensured delivery. Together we had the customers all smiles and coming back over and over as new customers became regulars too. He balanced my temperament with his good natured laugh. I handled emergencies and roadblocks as he watched helpless. It was one hell of a tandem. It was a match made in BusinessManagementLand. People got curious. And then the rumors of an office affair started. When Neil and I heard of it we laughed and work more like conspirators on a big cover up. All along, I had the feeling that I was not his type too. That meant peace.
And like all good things, the year was over. I said goodbye to the industry to start fresh somewhere else while he stayed and decided to become more competitive. There was no formal goodbyes, no exchanging of number, no false promises of emailing each other.
That was five years ago. Today, out of the blue, I decided to see him. I knew where he worked all these years but I was too busy to visit.
He was smiling when he looked at me as he stepped out the office. I invited him for lunch and we tried catching up to each others deeds and misdeeds all the time laughing at each other's fiasco. He still looked the same even if he has no bedhead anymore... cute, boyish, sweet. I was looking down on my fish when he asked "So do you have a boyfriend?" I paused for a second and tried not too look too focus on my fish but at the same time wished I would be able to pick a bone out this fillet tuna so that I could change the subject make him forget he asked and move along to a safer topic.
The opposite sex doesn't ask if one has a beau without any intention behind the question. And the intention was something I wasn't prepared for. And I could not find a single bone on the fish. Damn. Just eat the fish and try not to teeter over his questions, Darla.
Me: "No I don't have a boyfriend."
Neilski: "What!? No boyfriend?!? You!?!"
Me: *groan* "I don't"
Neilski: *still looking shocked and in disbelief*
Me: "Okay, I had one. We broke up. We're still friends. But it's over." *bracing my shoulder*
Neilski: "Why did you break up?"
Me: "He was getting started to do things that I want to retire from already. I respected his choices. I love him but I love myself more."
Neilski: *looking quite solemn* "What are did he wanted to start?"
Me: "Be a gigolo."
Neilski: "Like being paid or just the regular playboy?"
Me: "I didn't ask him that. Maybe the latter."
Neilski:*extends his arm and holds my left hand* "I'm sorry"
Me: *grinning but my mind was climbing up my defense wall* "I'm not sorry. It was sad but it's better now."
Neilski: *nods and let my hand go*
Me: *sighed because my mind was being prodded by a societal taser* "Well, do you have a girlfriend?" *chews a forkful of fish, it tasted bland*
Neilski: "No girlfriend..."
Me: *looked at him and waited* *my mind hoping he would say anything besides getting on my pants or shredding my clothes, he's not my type, he's not my soul mate*
Neilski: "I went out"
Me: *poking on my fish* "Mmhmm" *did I hear him say he went out?*
Neilski: "I went out" *saying it a little slower*
Me: *looked at him* "Okay" *did he mean out like I think he meant out?*
Neilski: *pulls at his phone and starts clicking then passed it to me*
Me: *looked at the screen and then smiles*
Neilski: "He's my boyfriend. I went out."
Me: *looked up grinning* "I think I knew all these years."
We planned to get drinks later tonight and meet his boyfriend. I felt suddenly ridiculous for worrying, foolish of my presumptions and relieved to hear the confessions. As I said goodbye, he kissed my cheek and I felt safe. He said he will call me later so he can pick me up but I couldn't concentrate because I can feel his hand on my butt.