It was my first visit to London, and I wanted to hang out with some young locals. I found Mark and Alice on Tinder. We arranged to meet at Leicester Square Garden at 9 PM. I took my first-ever ride on the famous Tube to Piccadilly Circus. They were waiting for me on the lawn.
I liked Mark right away. He was a shy, quiet gay man with a cute smile. I wondered whether we might spend the next few days together.
We went to nearby gay bar and chatted over beer.
“You’re cheeky,” said Alice in her British accent, laughing. She noticed I fancied Mark, who spoke little and mostly listened.
After two hours we got up to dance. This was my chance to make a pass at Mark. He looked into my eyes as he moved closer. We kissed. He then suggested we go to Alice’s house where we would have some privacy. Her parents had gone off to Scotland, and Mark was staying over.
We arrived around midnight. They gave me a tour of the typical English house: framed family photos in the living room, separate hot and cold taps, four floors, narrow staircases, and a dim basement that enticed me to grab Mark’s butt.
Alice caught me and said, “My God, who are you? Jack the Ripper? Not in the basement! We’re British, mind you.”
“Hey, Jack was after women,” I retorted.
We sat in the heated living room drinking white wine. Alice asked if I had a partner.
“No. I had a girlfriend last year, but we broke up a couple of months ago.”
“A girlfriend?” asked Mark.
“You sleep with women?”
“I’m bi,” I told him.
“That’s a turn-off for me,” he said.
“You’re a closet gay,” he said condescendingly.
“I’m not gay, I’m bisexual,” I said.
“Bi today, gay tomorrow. Sorry, not my thing,” he said in an angry voice.
Mark got up and went into the other room.
Alice gave me a sympathetic look.
“Is he serious?” I asked her, insulted.
“Don’t take it to heart. You don’t know Mark.”
I felt so down.
Alice and I stayed in the living room and continued talking. It was an open, emotionally-charged conversation, one I hadn’t had for a long time. She believed bisexual men could be the best lovers. For me, bisexuals suffered something worse than exclusion – their existence was simply not recognized.
I appreciated Alice’s openness and emotional intelligence.
“I like you,” I told her.
“Thanks. That’s awfully nice of you. I want to show you something in the basement,” she said, winking at me.
“What if Jack is hiding in there?” I asked.
“You’ll protect me. Come on,” she urged me, “let’s go downstairs.”
We entered the basement through a side door in the kitchen and went down the rickety wooden stairs. A small bulb hanging from the ceiling gave off a weak yellowish light. The walls were covered with posters and the British flag, and the room was full of old carpets and worn colorful sofas. I noticed a projector and a white screen on the opposite wall.
“You watch movies here? Cool.”
“It used to be my playroom back in high school. My friends used to come over, and we’d spend days down here.”
“You are amazing,” she whispered, not taking her eyes off me.
I stood still as Alice moved closer and kissed me on the mouth.
“The night is still young,” she said and began to unbutton my shirt.
“I thought you were British,” I retorted.
“What do you know about British women? Now close your eyes, Jack!”