The Two Wheeled Competition.

Bikes line the front of the restaurant as if they are soldiers about to march into battle. I should know what’s ahead of me but I don’t even give the massive line of muscle powered machines a second glance.

The guy I am meeting in this restaurant has a simple profile. When you’ve been soul searching as long as I have, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell one unique person from the other unique person who’s also very quiet and very simple.

I’m beginning to think that I am a diamond in the ruff, but then scold myself for having superior thoughts. Just because people can’t express themselves on paper to save their life, that doesn’t mean they are soulless. I believe that I should say hello anyway, just to get the ball rolling.

Jamaal, the man I’m messaging, has the common buzz words sprinkled out his profile as well but there’s something that makes me want to keep reading. Sure, he’s just as calm, fun seeking, simple, and boring, as the other billion guys on the site who share the same traits, but he’s very much into biking.

He illustrates this with really in depth descriptions about how he really enjoys biking for pleasure and competition. He works on bikes, including motorcycles, and he even trains people on riding cross country. At the bottom of his profile, however, are the words,

” compatibility is VERY important to me. You MUST BE A BIKER TOO!”

I’m so eager that I’ve found a needle in this haystack that I message him right away, asking him if we can meet for tea or something. I tell him a bit about myself, making sure I note I did in fact read his page, by asking him questions about his bike passion. I follow up by telling him that, sadly, I don’t share the same feelings as he does about the two wheeled wonders, but I’d be more than happy to meet and greet and become friends, if nothing else. I briefly tell him my interests, and he asks me questions back. We’re educating the other and that’s epic to me from the start.

I ask him about his declaration at the end of his profile. The one that’s in all caps.

“Oh? That? That’s just to keep all the trolls and idiots away. It’s really just something to scare people away who are not serious about a relationship.”

I ask him, yet again, if he really meant what he wrote on his page because I am not a biker, nor will I become one just so I can marry a good looking fellow. I will continue to be an avid bookworm, through and through. I want to know if he really does get that. He says he does but he’d still love to hang out with me despite the fact I’m not into biking.

That message keeps nudging the back of my mind as I enter the hub of clinking silverware and delicious smelling seafood, making my nose twitch with fragment scents of sauce, meat, and fresh fruit. As I make my way to my usual table, I bring all of my first dates here when I can, I wonder if something isn’t right about what he told me the other day, about the fact he didn’t care if I don’t bike. I sit down and wait on him to show up. Seconds later, his brown head pops into my vision, flashing blinding pearly whites at me as we shake hands. He sits down, and I am taken aback by how good looking he is.

He resembles a beanpole. He’s tall and he’s skinny but clearly fit. His arms don’t ripple with muscles but they are toned and developed. He has a balled head, witch accentuates his alluring smile. His eyes are so open and expressive even I can see them. His face isn’t gaunt or flat. His face is like a neon sign and it’s refreshing.

“You know what? You’re really cute.” he blurts, causing me to gasp and choke on my pop. I recover before I die of soda suffocation and grin up at him.

“How’s THAT for a pickup line, eh?” He grins and folds his arms on the table, which makes me absolutely crazy. Those arms shouldn’t be holding thin air. Those strong arms should be holding me as I sit in his lap, or some other fun position.

“I’m so sorry I nearly killed you on our first meeting, but I really do think you’re cute. I like your smile, you have a very inviting smile.” I smile, and can feel my face grow hot

“Thanks! The feeling’s mutual. Honestly, it is.” he beams, and I nearly attack his face with my lips right then and there.

Instead of making out in a public place, we settle down to a discussion about ourselves. The topics swivel to our interests again, and we detail more about our hobbies. I am a gamer, he enjoys puzzles. I enjoy Crossword puzzles, horror movies, and dancing. He enjoys court shows. I love writing even though it’s my career and job, and he enjoys a bit of graphic design. He always ads, however, that biking is his true baby.

“I’ve got a question,” he asks, sounding as if he’s about to ask me why there’s a cat on my head, “so, I know you said you’ve never tried biking, or you’ve never wanted to go biking, but why not just try it, at least once. Biking is really fun to me. You’re really missing out.”

I doubt I am missing out on anything that I will enjoy. I can definitely talk about biking, and I can support him since that’s his passion, I just don’t want to do it.

“I mean,” he continues, “I thought you had an open mind. Just try it. It wont kill you.” I add that, in some cases, it will kill me, and other people, but I stress, again, that I just don’t want to.

“You have no idea what you’re missing, at all.” he lectures. I don’t feel like I am on a date anymore, I feel like I am sitting across from my grandmother telling me I should try to eat a salad. I smile, and try to brush off his patronizing comments.

It doesn’t work for long, however, and soon, he’s back to how shocked he is that someone doesn’t like biking. I’ve lost all apatite and want to leave. I do want to see his bike though, and I tell him this. He takes me out to the front where all the bikes rest. He introduces me to his bike, the husband I can never compete with.

I’m feeling a bit like I’ve stepped into an intimate make-out session. Jamaal rubs the bike’s seat as if he’s petting a spouse before turning to me with a gleam in his voice.

“So, do you want to ride him?”

“Honestly, I don’t think I like biking all that much. Remember? I told you that and you said it was fine on the website.” his face morphs into an expression reserved for pinching one off in a hurry.

“What? You mean you wont even TRY it?”

“To be honest with you, I didn’t come all the way here to have medal between my legs. I came here to enjoy YOUR company.” his constipated look becomes more profound, and I feel like I am watching someone on the throne. I feel like I’ve walked in with his pants down as he looks at porn on his laptop. I’ve verbally slapped him. I don’t know how to make it right, but I can’t let it go. He pats the seat.

“Here, you can ride, and I will run beside you. Just try it. Please?”

“I don’t feel confident on a bike,” I say. His eyes light up and he blurts out, “so, you’re scared, then?” I nod, sadly. He’s done with me, and I know this as he turns to shake my hand.

“It was really, really nice to meet you, Robert!” sadly, I can’t say the same for him.

An hour later I am back in my apartment, perched at my window listening to the various traffic noises below. Cars swoosh by, bikers peddle their way past drunk people on the streets, skid to blast around corners, and people just now entering bars are chatting with gusto about final exams and their recent graduations. Suddenly, there’s a sound of a biker swearing as he skids to avoid a woman who is trying to walk towards the street corner. As he pulls away, she yells, “you stupid prick!” I nod to her outburst as I turn away from the window.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

The Boy on the Bus

Usually, I work from home, where a bathroom trip equals twenty steps and the effort it takes to pull my pants down and sit on the porcelain throne.

Since I started my new internship, however, I’ve become just as adventurous as a new prostitute. I suddenly decide to take the bus to work one day because I’ve always wanted to experience a catastrophic success.

It’s a Monday when I step onto the CTA bus that carries me to my work. As soon as I sit down I can feel someone staring at me as if I am a new kid of tongue depressor. I look up and about the small cabin where people clamber as they await their destinations, wondering where the other is going, as every head fixates on a mobile device.

My eye finally spots a dark face looking at me to my right. Immediately, I wonder if he’s going to give me an Xbox One, because that would be the only logical conclusion an attractive black boy is staring at me, inches away from me.

His shirt is a dark blue shirt with white buttons on it, complete with a collar and speckles of wrinkles. His shirt looks as if it had been ironed by a depressed kangaroo. his face however, is drop dead gorgeous. Big brown eyes rest on a friendly open smile. He has thin cheek bones.

“hi,” I say, instructively. I wonder if he’s as observant as his shirt illustrates. To my delight, a smile creeps on his lips and he scoots closer to me with a hand outstretched, determined to pump up my attraction.

“hi there sir!” a powerful voice bellows, sounding like a weatherman announcing a storm of kittens, “the name is Jason, yup, it’s Jason. What it do my fine fellow!” the bus lurches over a pothole in the sidewalk, causing our hands to bounce in each other. I take the ear-buds out of my ears because I figure he can tell me the weather instead of the internet radio. His smile is infectious, and his nerdy voice intrigues me slightly.

“you know,” he questions, staring at me as if I am a confused meteorite. “I’m a curious feller. I always have been, so, my fine looking person, what are you listening to?” I decide to open up to him and show my propensity for nerd culture.

“A Star Wars radio drama.”

“really? As an MP3 or on an actual FM frequency.” as he talks I am conscious of other people looking up from their mobile devices to smile at us. They think, either, we’re deranged ice cream robbers or a very cute couple. His interest in what I’m listening to excites me, and his powerful voice captures my attention as well. We both know the other is gay. There’s a flash in his eye as he scoots closer to me, the wrinkles in his shirt disappearing as he slides closer to me. For some reason, being around him makes me want to watch the Weather Channel.

“as an MP3. Duh! they provide a good alternative if anyone hasn’t seen the movies, and can’t see, or, a bit extra for a nerd like me.” he pops one ear-bud out of my lobe and listens without asking me. Somehow, he looks utterly cute. Since I’m staring at his face, I notice that his ears are regular sized, resting on a balled head. Immediately I feel sorry for him, because in a minute he will have to deal with my weird way of flirting.

“you know what there dude?” he says, sounding exactly like a white surfer with no black accent, “these are the same people who played in the movie. They sound the same, anyway.” I confirm that he is correct, and he beams, and this makes me lose it. To my shock, he holds out a bud to a woman who’s tapping her IPhone like she’d tap a candy depressor, or something else.

“check this out! The drama is even more impressive when you’re wearing headphones! Ain’t it cool how the characters bring more life into the drama than on screen?” she listens with a smile, stretching my cord to it’s limit.

After a few minutes, we’re laughing and giggling as if we are little schoolgirls. Our interests lie in almost everything the other is into. We like video games. He likes Pokemon. I like Star Wars. He loves Shrek. I love books. He loves audio books. Whatever we like, the other likes as well and this makes conversations soar. What’s more, he works for Dell. Today, he has done something very strange to see if anyone will call him out on it.

“I decorated my office like the inside of the first Death Star. I don’t think anyone will notice, but it was definitely a blast doing it!” his energy is infectious. I want to kiss him right here, right now. As the bus lurches to a stop, however, he rises slowly, as if this is the last scene in a horror movie.

“this is my stop.” he informs. I blurt out, without thinking, “do you have a car?” my heart skips a beat waiting on the answer. He smiles, leans in close, and says with a twinkle in his eye,

“nope. I fly to work on a privileged society. I use the power of the white man to propel myself to work every day.” his sense of humor is really wonderful. I love it.

“Well,” I admonish. “Don’t trip on oppression.”

For days, I ride the bus, meeting James on the same route every day for a hole week. He brings me hot tea one morning, I bring him a doughnut and a classic paperback book another morning. Roots, of course. He loves my sick humor.

Soon, it’s as if we have our own routine. we settle down side by side, day after day, being nerdy and brightening others day with our lively conversations. He isn’t possessive, which I love, and he isn’t needy, which I love even more. He even suggests we go out for sodas one afternoon, and this makes me swoon that he just gets I’d rather ditch alcohol for a soda. My eye gleams when I say, “on the bus? I take it? Or using the power of the white man to propel ourselves to a food court in a mall. ”

He usually wears T shirts and nicely ironed pants, which accentuate his muscles resting on his thin arms. I like the fact that he doesn’t offer to take me to a bar. He seems to just automatically understand I’d say fuck alcohol, even on a good day. One morning, he wears a batman T shirt, and a Graphic Audio T shirt after that. This makes me want to marry him even more, and I’m scared of marriage.

Our rides turn into daily meetings, where we laugh, talk about things that bother us, debate, even causing people to root for one or the other, and enjoy Graphic Audio titles together. Soon, however, my CP is too much on me, and I have to stop riding the bus.

On my last day on the bus, I get on expecting to see Jason. Instead, an old lady who smells like carpets occupies his seat. She glares as I sit in the designated handicapped seat. She pokes me with her cane, telling me to move, but I scan for Jason. I don’t see him or hear him the whole way to work. This causes me to ride for a few more weeks until my legs can’t take it. I don’t see Jason again.

One afternoon, there’s an announcement over the intercom saying that my ride is here. It’s a good twenty minutes before I clock out, so I am amazed they are even here on time. I pack everything up and head down to the lobby, ready to endure another evening of Chicago touring on the short bus.

Instead, I bump into a dark skinned man standing by the elevator.

“I’m sorry,” I mumble as I fixate on where I’m going.

“that’s OK dude!” a familiar voice sings. I look up, daring to hope. Jason stands there with a big grin, his stance straight as an arrow. I fleetingly notice his shirt with the Grinch on it. I can’t believe it.

I am so happy to see him that I hug him in the lobby. Straight people be damned. Fuck all them homophobes. I begin to ask how he knew where I worked but remember he seen me get off here when I rode the bus.

“you done riding the bus?” he asks.

“yes. I’m done.” I say.

“really? That totally sucks… worse than the directors of Star Wars explaining the Force.”

“ditto, but my CP won’t let me handle it.”

“I think I have a solution, captain nerd!”

“what’s that?” he fixes my backpack before jutting his elbow in my direction. I presume he’s going to take me to a jet pack store, so I eagerly follow him.

Instead, he takes me to a car. A black Mercedes parked outside. I grin as my eye rests on the image on the side of the car. It’s the Star Wars X wing fighter, taking off. He goes to his side of the car and opens the door, before queuing a song on Spotify. It’s the Power Rangers theme song, the heavy metal version.

“well, you gonna get in the front, or the back?”

naturally, I choose shotgun.

The Job applicant

If someone tells you to always expect the unexpected when dating, believe them with every inch of your soul. It isn’t that people will fall out of the sky unexpectedly, but people will definitely do some weird things. To them, however, everything is utterly normal. Poodles could be laughing about the end of the world and to some people, that’s utterly normal.

As I’m sitting in a rickety old chair in an apartment complex that could be the birth child of a direct hurricane hit, I am comparing my own level of weirdness as I watch a very attractive brown head look for something in his bag. I assume that we’re going to have sex, just as I assume Denzel will come out of the closet so I can marry him, but neither prove to be coming true at the moment.

The brown head belongs to a striking fellow named Anthony. Anthony had a basic profile, just like all of the rest of the contestants I haven’t wheedled out yet, but his writing is utterly stellar. It’s actually something that keeps me writing messages to him, back and forth. Our longest debate has been about Gummy Bears and if they would be good on pizza.

The phone conversations were just as flawless, even though he sounds as if he has stepped out of a stereotypical sperm. usually, I have to check in with guys when we want to meet and or, even, if they want to keep talking to me, despite my gummy bear love and other weird thoughts.

Anthony, however, immediately makes me like him because he has been checking up on me when he does not hear from me for a day or so. The texts are polite, and sincere, which makes me feel guilty and immediately want to buy him gummy bears as a thank you.

Hey Robbie. I hope you’re doing OK. I am good. I am just relaxing at home and thinking about the book I will read next, text me back when you can. I hope you have a good day.

XOXO

It’s a rare feet that someone can have me so starstruck via text messages but I can’t help it. Something inside of me swoons when he sends me a message.

It didn’t take me long to give him my Google voice number. His picture emphasizes his words beautifully. He displays photos of casual poses, with a slight smile in every one of them. He always has a hat on, and his muscles are a bit larger than I’d expect in a guy that is 6.5.

What draws me to him are the pictures of him engaging in various activities. There’s one where he is smiling with a PS4 controller in one hand, sporting white teeth that accentuate the slight mustache. His eyes are big and inviting. They scream friendliness. There’s another picture where he and a great Dane are laying down in the grass at a park. These entrance me, because it demonstrates that he is active and he engages in many types of discussions.

It isn’t long before I agree to step into his studio apartment, the apartment I am in now, watching Anthony dig around in his bag as if it holds a can of string cheese.

so,” I say, looking a bit closer at my surroundings. “what you looking for?”

i almost gots it.” he trills, lowering his head deeper into the bag. I feel as if I am being punked, so I look around for some hidden cameras or a roommate to play his video game system with. I have been sitting here for almost twenty minutes. This isn’t what Anthony promised me. I was sure we wouldn’t be having sex right away, but I didn’t expect him to sort out his mail, muttering to himself as he reads the envelopes, all of which he has to pay soon. I don’t listen to this red flag, however, as I think he’s been really busy at work and didn’t have much time to fill anything out.

Even though I didn’t ask, I assumed he had a job. As his head goes even deeper into the tenth compartment in his bag, I stand up and have a walk around the apartment.

The apartment is really bland. There’s a 30 inch TV set with an entertainment center resting across a love seat that sits against a white wall. My journey takes me to a very clean kitchen. In fact, it’s so clean, it looks as if it hasn’t been occupied at all. The black counter tops are so glossy that the overhead light bounces off of the surface and onto a gray wall near the refrigerator.

Because I am very adventurous, I open the refrigerator. What I see in there is all sorts of healthy foods, such as yogurts. the cabinets show clean plates that have been stacked carelessly on top of each other. Dog food rests on the counter. This is for his dog who greeted me with more attention and affection than Anthony had once I stepped in the door. The dog barrels me over as soon as I step in the apartment and Anthony has to rescue me from having to force that dog to attend my funeral.

I make my way into the bedroom, where it is an utter pigsty. Clothes cover the bed in a pile that’s as tall as my stomach. There’s a spot with a pile of clothes surrounding it, like it’s a reserved seat in a public bathroom. I wonder if he sleeps with his backpack. The room can’t hold much, just a bed and a few dressers, all of which have a huge array of colognes and deodorants lined up, as if I am at the store or something.

Next, I make my way into the bathroom. I look in everywhere I can think of, but I can’t find anything of the sort. There’s a note with math equations scribbled on it resting on the toilet. I have no idea what that’s for. In the dining room, I can actually hear him talking to himself as he starts opening another bag. I am amazed he isn’t looking for me. I know I’d be watching anyone who enters my house.

I flush the toilet, just so I can have an excuse to my disappearance. Though, something tells me that he does not notice and will never notice, even if I strip down to my boxers in front of him with a backpack on.

The dog meets me at the bathroom door and it stares at me with eyes that make me instantly melt inside. When I start petting the dog, it immediately snuggles up to me, almost knocking me over. The longer I scratch and pet, the happier the dog becomes. It even smiles.

My hand travels down the thin body, where I can even feel his ribs. This definitely isn’t the same dog I saw in the pictures. This one is thinner and looks a bit older. I stand up again and return to where Anthony is returning from the center of the earth.

yo dawg. Hea it iz yo!” he plops down a piece of paper on the table before smiling at me. “i be finding it!”

Due to my limited vision, I peek at the paper with a magnifying glass. It’s a McDonald job application. Holy shit. Taxes will never go down in this country.

great. You can leave that here, and we can finally hang out!” I say, unable to hide my annoyance at being left to snoop his home for almost an hour.

but first I gots to fill dis out.”

“do you need any help?” I ask. I am sure he doesn’t need any help, and I am correct because he shakes his head. I want to spend some time with him though. that’s why I came here, after all. As soon as he bends over to begin the application, I immediately race into his room, grab one of his socks from the bed, and turn to the sad looking dog trotting behind me.

“you want to play fetch?” I ask. The dog nearly yips with excitement.

For about twenty more minutes, we’re playing fetch with his sock when I have the urge to check in on Anthony. I have no doubt that our tax dollars will be worth him working. After all, McDonald has health benefits.

I approach the employee of the year and gently take a hold of the application. To my shock, it’s complete.

“totally cool!” can I read it?” I ask.

“yeah!” he exclaims, as if I asked him if I could teach him how to give oral sex. I start reading.

NAME: ANTHONY DIXON

DATE OF BIRTH. 09/09/1984

SEX. NOT AT WORK PLEASE.

Five minutes later, I am in a cab, speeding away from the best employee I have ever met. Before I leave, however, I give the dog a dozen of his socks to play with. I know he will need them.