I’m sitting in a bar with a friend. It’s a rainy Wednesday evening and we’ve met up without specific plans. We’re debating whether to make our way to a club, or if such a venture will just be a waste of a cover charge and an opportunity to get wetter in the downpour.
It’s not the kind of place that has table service, so I’m surprised when the bartender walks up and places a pint of beer I haven’t even ordered next to my nearly-empty glass.
“It’s from that guy over there,” he says, pointing to a chubby 50-something man with a brush-cut and a trim beard standing next to the bar.
I’ve seen this scenario in movies before. But I’ve never personally experienced someone sending me a drink as a way to spark a conversation. I catch the guy’s eye. He gives me a little nod and raises his glass slightly.
I turn back to my friend.
“What do you think he wants?”
“Clearly, he’s interested in you,” my friend says. “You should go over and say hi.”
The friend in question has a bit of a daddy penchant so I suggest he should be the one to approach, but he just shrugs.
“If he was interested in me, I’d be the one with the drink,” he says. “Just go and say hi. He seems sweet.”
I down the last of my previous beer, pick up the new pint, and head to the bar. He smiles as I approach.
“Thanks for the drink,” I say. “No one’s ever done that for me before.”
“No?” he says. “That’s surprising. You’re very handsome.”
“Thanks,” I say, looking down and feeling myself flush a little. I’m terrible at taking compliments, regardless of whether or not I think they’re accurate.
“I’ve never seen you here before,” he says.
“No, I don’t go out much,” I say.
“It’s Devon, right?” he says.
I freeze. Whoever this guy is, he clearly knows me as an escort. Have I met him before? He doesn’t look familiar, but maybe we had a date years ago and I just don’t remember?
“Yeah,” I say cautiously. “It’s Devon.”
I study his face.
“Sorry, have we met before? You look a little familiar but I don’t exactly remember you.”
“No, we’ve never met,” he says, smiling. “But I’ve seen your profile before. I was curious about contacting you, but never got around to it.”
So he knows I’m a working boy. Did he invite me over just to say hi? To call me out as a hooker? To book a date? To see if I might fuck him for free?
I just smile.
“That’s good that we’ve never met before — I mean not good that we’ve never met — but just good to know we didn’t meet and then I totally forgot who you were. That would make me seem pretty jaded.”
“You’re too young to be jaded,” he says with a wink.
I glance over my shoulder at my friend, who is now deep in conversation with a burly middle-aged bear. I’m still confused about to how to discern my new acquaintance’s intentions without making myself seem like an asshole, an opportunist, or both.
Do I ask if he wants to hire me? Should I just continue to bask in his attraction? I can see the rain intensifying through the window, so making the trek to a most-likely empty club is seeming less and less likely.
“So,” I say, cocking my head to the side and smiling. “Do you buy drinks for every guy you think is cute?”
“Only if I want them to come talk to me.”
“And what did you want to talk about, besides me being too young to be jaded?”
“I was hoping you’d come back to my place.”
Okay, so the activity is clear. Now I have to discern what he thinks the financial situation is going to be.
“And is this a . . . professional invitation?”
“Yeah,” he says. “If you’re not already busy.”
We both glance back at my friend who’s now in a lip-lock with his new buddy.
“I guess I’m free,” I say. “Are you far from here?”
A few minutes later, we step out into the rain and hail a cab. We haven’t talked money or time or even what we’re going to do. But I’m curious about his forwardness.
I’m not really paying attention to where we are, but after about 20 minutes we arrive at a medium-rise brick building. The rain has faded to a slight mist and we walk up the wet steps to his door.
His apartment is small and open concept, and looks like it belongs to a couple of college guys. There’s a collection of baseball hats — most of which sport the names of hockey teams — hanging in a square on one of the walls.
The coffee table is decorated with a spread of Sports Illustrated magazines, two empty beer bottles and one white sock. There’s a huge TV across from a beat-up blue sofa, with a Molson Canadian poster taped to the wall above it.
I kick off my shoes at the door and take a seat on the couch. He excuses himself to the kitchen and returns a moment later with two beers and a stack of $20 bills. I don’t bother to count, but I can tell by glancing at them it’s at least $400.
I take a sip of my beer.
“So,” I say. “We never talked about what you wanted to do.”
“Well,” he says. “I’ve been reading your profile and I see you’re into S&M.”
“Well,” he says. “I’m looking for a Master.” . . .