This post is brought to you directly from the cutest new Christmas outfit and a view of the snow-capped mountains down Main Street. I cannot lie to you. I literally had to force myself out of bed this morning/afternoon in order to prop myself up in front of this cup of dark roast. It appears like everything else in life, I have taken this whole “Netflix and Chill” business way too far. By interpreting “chill” to mean “stay up till 5:00AM drinking red wine” I have kicked off the New Year on a very slow and groggy start.
Last night, I opened the restaurant for dinner service and cleaned up the remnants of the final hours of 2015. Sweeping streamers and blow horns off the dining room floor, I climbed up chairs to reach rogue party hats and erased each penis drawn on the features chalkboard. Once the mop was put away and the front door was unlocked, I breathed a sigh of relief there was no December to be found.
“Do you have any resolutions for 2016?” asked one of the handsome cooks from behind the line.
Grabbing a handful of tongs to polish, I replied, “That is an excellent question my good man.” And then I drifted off into thought.
Looking back, it occurred to me that two thousand and fifteen turned out to be quite an epic year for Mr. Fox. I quit my job restaurant managing and later left the Meatball Hut altogether. I flew to Florida to write an article for the National Post. I got into late-night trouble on Grindr and compromised my Credit Card in a virtual threesome. I flew to New York City for the first time, popped my Broadway cherry and got attacked by spiders in Queens. I appeared on a reality dating show in between flights across the country to marry off my best friends. I went skinny dipping with a straight man in Lake Okanagan.
Standing there with a pending question and cutlery in my hands, I began to replay the entire year that passed. If it’s alright by you, I think I am ready to share it with you now. Shall we begin?
Last February, I flew down to Florida as a freelance writer for the National Post and quit my job managing the restaurant in the same month.
By a set of extraordinary circumstances, I received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to report back to Canadians on an incredibly serious issue facing the country. The Oceanside town had proclaimed itself to be the new Queen (gay capitol) of the United States, and I was just the gay man to assess whether these claims were true.
I shall not get into the specifics of the trip at this moment (mainly because you can read them here) but what is important for you to know is that for three days I traveled with a team of rainbow stripe writers that included two lesbians from Brooklyn, two gays from Manhattan, and two trans-activists from Los Angeles. It was during this trip, riding along with these fine folks, that I rediscovered my dream of writing - standing under a palm tree.
My first day back to Vancouver, I knew that if I was ever going to achieve my dream, I had no choice but to pull the curtains down on my life as a restaurant manager.
I returned to the Meatball Hut dressed in my typical clip-on bow tie and outrageously-loud-patterned shirt a changed man. Placing down Hunter in the broom closet we called an office, I will never forget the moment I said goodbye to my General Manager and best friend Fran.
It was eleven o’clock in the morning when I found her sitting down at the computer in the office. As per usual, she was in a furious battle to stay on top of an inbox that was constantly overflowing. As soon as she turned around, the two of us screamed in excitement, hugged, kissed, jumped up and down and completed three side-to-side hip thrusts.
“I am so happy you are back!” Fran said, as the two of us caught our breath and regained composure.
“Me too!” I replied. I knew what I had to do next.
Grabbing both her hands tight inside mine, I looked her deep in the eyes and said, “There is something I need to tell you.”
“Are you pregnant?” she asked.
“No, it’s not that. Not this time.”
A laugh between the two us petered into a chuckle which faded into a smile before dropping into a look of grave concern.
“Then what is it?” asked Fran.
My eyes began to well up as I felt her grip close in tight around my two moisturized hands. I could feel a single tear try and make a break for it down my right cheek before getting apprehended in my beard. There was no turning back this time.
“Rugged,” she implored, “you must tell me what’s going on. Whatever it is I’ll fix it. You know that. Now tell me, what happened to you down in Florida? Oh shit … Is there another woman?”
I shook my head side to side and severed eye contact. I could no longer bear the pain of looking her straight in the eyes knowing what I was about to do. Dropping my head to the ground, I ripped my hands apart from hers and reached into my pocket where my two weeks’ notice sat folded in wait. As soon as she saw a shred of white paper we both knew it was over.
“No!” she gasped, covering her bright red lips with both hands. “Don’t do it Rugged – anything but that!”
Tears streamed down from my eyes as I held up the letter in front of her.
“It is time to say goodbye,” I sniffled, “I have no other choice.”
The silence was shattered seconds later with a sharp slap across my face.
“Sapporo and sake are on you tonight.”
Fran folded my resignation into her bra and I nodded, “I know.”
I knew that my decision to quit my management role at the Meatball Hut would crack open the iron-clad bond that Kelly and I had forged for the better part of two years. Spending every waking moment and most sleeping hours together, the two of us were like a bottle of pinot grigio and a glass of ice cubes – totally inseparable. We were lovers in a dangerous time except for the fact there was no physical love nor danger present.
Fourteen days later my co-worker stepped into my position and I recycled my business cards and washed my server apron.
To be continued.