My First Date: Under His Umbrella

200274044-001New York City has the best offerings a city can have. Whether you’re looking for a job, an apartment, or even a new boyfriend–what you discover here will always be one-of-a-kind and just as you’re about to give up the relentless search, the one thing you’ve been looking for–ends up finding you.

This past Tuesday was a big day for me because I had a meeting with a literary agent who wanted to represent me and work on a two book deal. I was on an all-time high, but also full of nervous energy because I also had my first date with a guy I met online the previous week. It was raining and New York City was covered with a freshness that only the rain could bring; it set the scene for my romantic first date with Santiago. I was inside Grand Central–off to the side–checking my e-mails on my iPhone when I got a text, “I’m here.”

I looked up and I saw him; he was slowly moving towards me. We had agreed to meet there because it was centrally located; he was getting off work and I was leaving my meeting. He was handsome, Mexican, had a perfect fit body and the dark hue on his skin gave him a natural glow. I had butterflies. As he got closer, he flashed a smile that changed his features. The guy walking up to me was sophisticated, manly, rugged–but the smile transformed his masculine nature into a sexy boyish-vibe. And although he’s 25-years-old, something about him said, old-soul.

Because of the rain, he suggested we go downstairs to a place he was familiar with that served good margaritas. The conversation was never-ending, flowing, and fun. I’ve never been out with a Mexican guy before so I found it interesting that we geared the conversation towards family. He also wanted to hear more stories about Cris–my bff. He found our relationship to be extraordinary, which it is–there aren’t too many people out there who can keep a 25-year relationship alive like we have–and anyone who has seen us interact will stare in amazement because it’s not even a friendship that we’ve created–it’s its own love/anger/surprise/fight/support/ramble/encourage/empower bubble.

In the middle of our date, Santiago reached over the table, grabbed my left hand and playfully started stroking it. The waiters came, he never stopped, the owners came to say hello to him, he never let go. In all my 34-years of being gay, I’ve never seen another gay Mexican show public display of affection in front of other Mexicans or Latin people–there’s just such a negative stigma around it. Santiago was definitely one-of-a-kind. He told me how his family practically disowned him when he came out to them years ago. The more he talked, the more Santiago became an extraordinary man in my eyes. He came from Mexico at the age of 15, struggled because he didn’t know the English language, but immediately found work–so many here in the US are willing to hire illegal immigrants because they get away with paying below the minimum wage. As he slowly accumulated funds to bring his own siblings over–remember, he’s making less than minimum, they kicked him out of the house forcing him to find another place here in Brooklyn to live.

As he spoke about his family, his grip on my hand tightened. It still affected him, how could it not, but his spirit was light and happy. He flashed another smile and the mood lightened up. We spoke about our childhood and how we both used to watch similar Spanish TV shows.

Nando: Yeah, did you ever watch El Chavo Del Ocho?

Satiago: Of course!

Nando: What about La India Maria?

Santiago: Yeah,I love her!

Nando: Oooh, and Chiquillalas? Did you watch that?

Santiago: No, I never heard of it.

Nando: What kind of Mexican are you? Sure, it was like in 1982.

Santiago: Nando (he put his head down) I wasn’t born then.

Nando: Oh.

Despite the age difference, which I found to be sexy, we had so much in common. It was getting late and after three hours of sipping on Margaritas it was time to leave. The check came and he insisted on paying–which I refused since I was the one who initiated the first date. And then he refused to let me pay, so we split the bill. I think we gay boys have advanced in dating–at least that arena–we aren’t stuck on who pays on the first date and we’re happy to split the bill–there’s no power struggle or expectations there. Don’t you just wanna be gay?

As we left the Grand Central, the rain never stopped pouring. And get this, we both ride the Q train and we’re only two train stops away from each other. You see, this first date was all about discovery and getting to know one another–we rarely texted, never called, and didn’t even exchange emails with one another–I followed my own 5 tips to follow before your first date.

Santiago: Mine is bigger than yours.

Nando: Excuse me?

Santiago: (blushing) Umbrella. My umbrella is bigger than yours, let just use mine, hold on to my arm, ok?

And just like that we walked through the rain in New York City sharing an umbrella. While on the train, he held my hand and when my stop was approaching he quickly asked, “When can I see you again?” As I got up and walked out of the train, I looked back and said, “Friday, let’s meet up Friday.” The doors closed and he train left, with Santiago–flashing his beautiful smile at me and everyone on the train platform.

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