Look. The first guy I dated in Chicago after my break up with Doug was Brian C. Not to be confused with Bryan O. or Brian B. I know a lot of Brians. My name is Brian. Anywho, we met at Berlin. My friends Jody and Karla and I would ogle him every night, wishing we had the nerve to talk to him. He was really tall, and usually wore a black motorcycle jacket with long fringe on the sleeves, which accentuated his broad shoulders, and he had big, spikey, dyed black hair. He had pale white skin, and wore silver eyeliner! He looked fantastic. Especially when he danced in his black leather pants. We would try to dance by him, giving him furtive, longing glances. But he was usually there with a girl. Either a tiny petite one, or a zoftig gal. Both were cool beyond words. Cool in that aloof, bored, perfect way, because they knew no matter what happenend, they would always look fabulous. They could fall out a 10 story window and still look great. You know the type.
So there's the rub: was he gay? was he straight? was he single? We were dying to know. One night we found out that one of the girls he was often with wasn't. Plus in my column. The petite one was actually a very pretty boy, named Leo. Whom I still see around on occasion. And the zoftig girl was caught by Karla making out in the bathroom with a different guy. A plus in their column.
Finally, one night, we get to Berlin, and there is our friend Brad talking to him. He was the type of person to do whatever he wanted, and to talk to whoever he wanted, so it was always a fun time when he was around. After Berlin we would often pile into Leona's for a late night bowl of pasta; 7 or 8 kids with too big hair and too much junk jewelry, smashed, and smashing into one of their booths, laughing too loud and spilling stuff everywhere. Brian asked me out later that night. I think our first date was shopping at Bonwit's. I didn't know how to use the trains or busses to get downtown, so he showed me how to take the train there, and the bus back. Bonwit Teller was a glam department store that was where the Cheesecake Factory in the John Hancock is now. Then we went across the street to I. Magnin (H&M), and Mark Shale (they tore it down to build the Bloomie's mall) and finally, to City. City was an amazing modern furniture store near the Mag Mile. It may sound trite now, but I fell in love the second I walked in, for the first thing I saw was a giraffe-skin-patterned dining table. "That's the coolest thing I ever saw!" At Bonwit's, he bought me an amazing pearl necklace with a jeweled crown pendant. (Sadly, I was to quickly lose it one night when I was bombed out of my mind at a party at a Holiday Inn in Wisconsin. [were you there, Jody?] I searched the snowbanks the next day to near frostbite, to no avail.)
Later, we went to his apartment. It was a gorgeous place on Sheffield by Cubs park. It was immaculate, with low lighting. There was a Zen-like perfection to his cool vintage furniture that was everywhere. It was my dream."What is that?" I said pointing to a big clip holding several pieces of paper.
"Those are ticket stubs to all the concerts I've been to."
He named some of the bands, few of which I had heard of. And most of the shows were in London. He'd been many times. He was just as fascinated with London as I was. But he'd actually been there. And he wasn't much older than me. There was a copy of I-D magazine on his coffee table.
"What is this?" I asked.
"I-D. The best magazine about London. I've kept every issue I've ever bought." He starts pulling stacks from a closet. "Look, Madonna's cover before she was famous here. Want me to make you a sandwich or something?"
"Food? You have food?! I'm way too lazy/broke to have food in my house."
Soon, we were on his bed, making out. I was sneaking glances around his room. The blonde wood bedroom set. The bottles of cologne sitting on black glass. His rubbings of knight's tombs from England. The Siouxsie poster. I had to end it. I had to go home. It was just too much for me to absorb. Too much to take in.
I stopped dating him soon after that. "Why?" I asked myself. "Why didn't I stay with him?" Was it because I had just moved to Chicago, and I was in my own place for the first time, and as perfect as Brian was, I didn't want to give that up? Or was Brian too giving toward me, and I knew he would give me what ever I wanted, and I knew I should be on my own self-supporting path? Or was it because I had just dated someone right before I moved to Chicago (Brian B) whom I was extremely attracted to on every level, (who had set me free to live my dream of a life in a big city) and I was only attracted to Brian C on some levels? Or was I afraid of love, sabotaging my happiness? All, some, none of the above, probably.
I can tell you something for sure, as corny as it sounds: I've been to London many times, I've kept all my ticket stubs and I-D magazines, and I've tried to create that minimalist, vintage Zen in my home, where plenty of food is always at the ready. I guess Brian C wasn't someone I wanted to date, but an ideal of a man and a life I wanted to achieve for myself. And some years ago, I got the priviledge of telling him face to face.