When it comes to getting another man’s phone number, I have never had much luck.
The first time I got dealt a set of digits was last summer at the restaurant. It was a rainy night in July, and I was serving cheap pinot grigio to a table of four gay men in the upstairs dining room. After cracking open the screw-top on the sixth bottle, I noticed that the man in seat three was paying more attention to me than the meatballs in front of him. By Fox standards he was cute. He had blonde hair, blue eyes and unlike the rest of the table, didn’t look like he had spent his entire paycheque on tanning minutes.
Once the chip on every major credit ward was inserted, I wished the boys a good night at the bar and asked Seat Three to save the last dance for me. Quite smitten with myself, I returned to the table afterwards and let out a girlish scream when I saw a note with my name on it. The message was followed by a ten-digit number and said. “Hey! It’s Marc (the guy with the white cardigan) Call me!” Like Charlie Bucket I could hardly contain myself. As if it were a golden ticket, I held the piece of paper right up above my head and proceeded to show everyone in the restaurant.
At the end of my shift, I went with a couple of friends to the Japanese karaoke bar across the street and dialled his number. Because he was either a) doing shots b) dancing or c) all of the above I didn't expect him to pick-up the phone right away. So when the dial tone switched to voicemail, I cleared my throat, waited for the beep and said, “Hey! It’s the redhead waiter from this evening, just wanted to let you know that I am down for coffee or pinot grigio or whatever whenever you are available.” Ending the call, I felt more refreshed than the cold pint of Asahi that was dropped off in front of me.
An hour later, it was last call and there were no missed calls or new text messages on my phone. The screen was completely black. In an effort to distract myself, I turned my attention to the stage where a drunk man was spilling his rum and coke all over the microphone, and struggling to keep up with the lyrics to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
"Has he called you back yet?" asked my good friend Bay Roberts, no doubt picking up on my feelings of angst.
“He’s out at the bar," I replied before pausing dramatically. “He’ll probably call me back tomorrow if he does at all.”
And then, just like that, there was light.
I scrambled to unlock my phone using my one free thumb while a chorus of questions rang out from around the table: is it him? What did he say? Who is up for Saki bombs?
I read the message and went silent.
Turn around bright eyes.
“Well?” asked Bay, "is it him?”
I chugged the last sip of my beer and passed him over the phone. He began reading the text aloud for everyone to hear.
"Hey, it’s Marc. Sorry my friends left you my number – not me. They thought it would make me feel better. Thanks for the service tonight."
I collapsed in to myself and ordered another drink. "Well, I'm glad he feels better because now I feel like shit. I hate gay men."
Every now and then I fall apart.
Months turned in to a year and my luck did not change, it got worse. The next time a man’s phone number found its way in to my hand was at the gay bar. I exchanged my tomato-stained server apron for a pair of chocolate brown chinos and met my girlfriend Joy for bubbles at 1181. To avoid the commotion, the two of us found a “quiet” spot in the back and caught up on the life while judging every man’s outfit that came within five-square feet of us.
“Rugged,” Joy interrupted me in the middle of one of my long drawn-out conversations about myself. “That bus boy keeps checking you out.”
“Not possible,” I said.
“See for yourself," she took a sip of her drink, "he has been looking at you the entire night.”
Trying not to look too obvious, I sucked my stomach in and straightened up in my seat. Casually, I glanced over in his direction and found his eyes locked with mine.
“Meryl Streep!” I turned back to face Joy, “you weren’t kidding.”
This Bus Boy was most definitely not like the others.
For starters, he wasn't dressed head to toe in black because he was barely dressed in anything at all. Save a pair of white CK briefs and tanned beach shoes, the only article of clothing on his body was tight pair of ripped jean shorts. To this day, I still cannot say with absolute certainty, but I’m fairly sure his upper body was stolen from Ryan Phillippe in I Know What You Did Last Summer.
The night went on, and after a few more drinks, the Bus Boy finally dropped his bin and came over to ask for my number. My skin flushed as my ego rushed every drop of blood to my head. Keeping it real/playing it cool, I exchanged his number with mine and relaxed in to the fact that Rugged Fox had finally got his groove back.
Later that night, (at approximately 4:17am. to be exact) I woke up to a phone call from him.
“Hello?” I said, trying to sound sexy and not like I was wearing my retainer.
“Hey, sorry to call so late, it’s Sam from the bar.”
“Hi Sam from the bar, what’s going on?”
“That girl that was with you tonight… the really hot brunette, are you still with her?”
“No,” I said.
“Oh, you’re not?”
“Well I was wondering if-”
I hung-up before he could say anything else.
So now you can understand why I hesitated so much when my good friend B called me last month, to tell me that a guy I had served the night before, had left his number for me at the restaurant. Surprised by my lack of reaction, she ordered me to grab a pen and paper and start writing it down.
“Do you know who this guy is?” she asked.
“I think so. There were only two gays in last night and I served them both.”
“Are you going to call him?”
Days passed and all my thoughts turned to San Francisco. I had managed to lose the paper with his number on it; but I wasn't all that concerned until I heard a voice while packing my suitcase. It wasn't the usual shallow voice I hear while packing, "you are going away for three days, you don't need eight pairs of pants," it was much deeper. It came straight from Meryl Streep herself and said: no matter what you do, find that number. You might think this is crazy talk and I don’t blame you; but if I have learned anything over these last three years on the Coast, it is to listen whenever she decides to speak.
So like a well-dressed disciple, I fumbled through the papers on my desk until I finally managed to find the Winners receipt with his number on it.
Rather than calling, I texted him first.
“Hey, it’s the redhead server from last night. Let me know if you want to meet for coffee or a drink sometime.”
Despite my apparent lack of enthusiasm, he texted me back right away.
“I would love to! When is good for you?”
Automatically, I felt like my luck had begun to change. I chose my next reply carefully. I didn’t want to tell him that I was flying to the end of the rainbow for a week; because I didn’t want him to think that I was going to sleep with ten-thousand men while I was there. And so I went with a more general approach.
“I am going on vacay for the next ten days, can I text you when I get back?”
“For sure! Whenever is good for you, just let me know. Have fun on your vacation!”
When I returned from San Francisco, I arranged to meet him at Abigail’s Party in Kitsilano. Abigail’s holds a very special place in my heart. It is where I met my two best friends Love and Joy, and where I spent many a late-night with my sister and her partner while they were still on this continent. Two blocks up from the beach, it seats about 20 people and is lit only by the candlelight on each table. The music on the speaker is bartender’s choice and ranges from: old school Neil Young to The Postal Service, Bon Iver, Radiohead and my all-time favourite: Robyn.
Early to meet him I sat down at a table between two couples engaged in the throes of Cabernet Sauvignon. I wasn’t sure which guy I was going to meet; but I crossed my fingers under my legs it was table 2:seat 4 and not table 5:seat 3. As soon as I saw him walk in, I knew that I was finally in luck. Spotting me in the crowd, we made eye contact and I felt my heart skip a beat. I know that sounds horribly cliché but this shit is true yo.
Standing six feet and two inches tall, with short brown hair and the nicest biceps I have ever seen, I knew I had found my Prince. We hugged and took a seat across from each other. It occurred to me then, that apart from his first name and phone number, I knew absolutely nothing about him. Unlike my other dates, I had no online profile or Facebook photos to stalk. All I knew was that even though he was 2% away from being a total stranger, I felt more comfortable with him than any other man who has sat down across from me in the last five years.
After two drinks (Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger’s rules!) he offered to give me a lift home and kissed me goodnight outside my front door. That first kiss led to a second, which turned in to a third and a fourth, and now I am officially off the market. I am not sure whether it was the stars or the change of seasons; but in the space of a month it seems like my entire life has changed – and there is not ounce of me that isn’t incredibly grateful.
To lay out all my cards on the table, I am not accustomed to writing about these details of my life; and for the longest time, I truly believed I would jinx any good man that came along the second he became a "character" in my misadventures. Most importantly, however, I would like to note that I have no intentions of becoming one of those skinny blogging “in a relationship” bitches that update their site every time their picket fence is coated with a new shade of white. That said, this paper bag princess seems to have finally met a Prince, and for once his name is not Ronald.