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BEING CONTINUED Judge, Jury and Jackson Pollock
by AK Miller
2012-11-21

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You know when you were a kid and by the end of the school year your lunchbox had that permanent peanut butter and jelly smell? That's what he smelled like. Not the best way to start out a date. I agreed to go because Diane swore that he was gorgeous—and he was—but the entire time we were at the museum he was chewing his gum like he'd never read a book. People can fuck up pretty so easily. He was the one who suggested we see the exhibit, via text. When we met there, he didn't seem the least bit interested in the history of abstract expressionism ... or me. I'm not sure what Diane was thinking. Are we the only two gay guys she knows and therefore she assumed we would hit it off? It's partially my fault. I should have pried for more information about him. I agreed based on a cell phone photo of the two of them at the beach with his abs in the sunshine. I tried to force conversation with this aloof Abercrombie clone, but nothing seemed to trigger any sort of discussion. All I really knew about him was that he was a teacher, so I asked about that. "Yeah," was his response. By the time we had been through the exhibit twice, I figured that we had both had enough. I assumed a guy looking like him probably took one look at me and decided I wasn't good enough, for whatever reason. I was already composing a strongly worded email to Diane in my brain, eager to get on the subway and start writing. At least it was only 6 p.m. on a Friday; I could at least salvage the evening by meeting up with friends and turning this whole fiasco into a story over dirty martinis. When we got to the steps of the MCA I turned to him and extended my hand for a shake and a quick goodbye. He looked at my hand and then up into my eyes. It was the first time we had actually made eye contact. He said, "This was kind of a disaster, huh?" Caught off guard I said, "No. Well. Sort of." He let out a little sigh and rubbed his forehead. "Look," he said, "I teach kindergarten and had a troubled student who needed help after school. So I didn't get a chance to run home before meeting you. Not thinking, I ate pesto for lunch. I've been a nervous wreck this whole time, afraid I'd say something to make me look stupid. Diane told me you liked art, but I honestly have no idea what we just saw; I just figured you'd like it." Floored, I told him, "You were fine, really, just very quiet." I watched him start to smile and loosen up with that. "You know," I offered, "the night is still young. How do you feel about martinis?" He laughed and said, "I'd love one." As we walked down the steps he started suggesting places we could go, based on the quality of bar art on the walls. My brain began hitting the delete key and started over. Dear Diane: Thank you.

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