Saturday, April 12th, 2014
A faint song was playing in the background as Theo slowly awoke and became aware of reality. He was getting a call. He grabbed his phone from the bedside table and checked the caller ID. “Mom,” it read. Why was she calling so early? He swiped his phone to answer it.
“Hey Mom,” Theo tried to shake the sleepy tone from his voice.
“Oh Theo, did I wake you?”
“No...Well, kind of, but I wasn’t going to sleep for much longer anyway.”
“Oh, I was just calling to let you know we just got back from Japan and we brought you some souvenirs,” his mom excitedly continued, “Japan was beautiful. You would love it there! And the food was delicious!”
“That’s great, mom! I’m glad you enjoyed it. How’s dad?” Theo fiddled with his messy bed hair.
“He’s fine,” Theo could hear his father’s voice in the background, “we’ve both missed you. When will you come over?”
“I could drop by tomorrow. I am kind of busy today,” he stretched out his leg, his toes peeking out from under the duvet.
“Perfect! Can’t wait to see you again. I’ll see you tomorrow then! Honey, say bye to Theo!” Theo could hear his mom passing the phone over to his dad who was telling Theo that he would see him the next day, before hanging up.
Hopefully, he wouldn’t get too drunk that night. He didn’t really want to see his parents while nursing a hangover. Would the dancer perform that night at D2 again? Theo was hoping that was the case. He checked the Grindr app to see if he had gotten any replies, but no such luck. Noah hadn’t even seen his message. Theo let his phone drop beside him and groaned. What was wrong with him? He had slept with several guys since Jason but he was acting like a lovesick teenager over someone who was a mere stranger to him. He didn’t even believe in love at first sight, he thought that idea was ludicrous. At most, it could be considered lust at first sight. Theo knew he needed to get out of the house and rid his mind of those irrational thoughts.
Checking the time on his phone, he noticed it was a quarter to ten. He decided to grab some breakfast before going out for a walk. When he stepped out of his room, he noticed Alice’s door was still shut. She had probably gone to sleep late. Hopefully, she would be up on time for yum cha.
Theo prepared himself a green smoothie with some frozen berries, spinach, a banana, greek yogurt, and some chia seeds to start the day off with a nutritious breakfast. He was too lazy to cook and it was just easy to blend everything up.
He poured the mix into a tall glass and headed to the balcony to drink it. He sat down on the folding chair and admired the view of the high rise buildings that surrounded him. There was something about living in that claustrophobic urban jungle that Theo had loved ever since he was a child. He had visited the US a couple of times, but he felt a bit out of place there. Unlike him, his sister, Katie, preferred living in the US, having never fully embraced life in Macau, but she was 7 when they moved to Macau, so she had had a harder time adapting.
Once he finished his breakfast smoothie, he heard some noise coming from the living room. He turned around and noticed Alice yawning and stepping into the kitchen.
“Morning, Allie!” Alice jumped in surprise, clutching her hands to her chest, appearing to be startled by Theo’s presence.
“Jesus Chris, Theo! I didn’t see you there. You almost gave me a heart attack. Have you been up long?” She poured herself a glass of soy milk and grabbed a banana before sitting on the couch to have breakfast.
“Got up like half an hour ago or something. My mom called. They just got back from Japan, so I might drop by my parents’ place tomorrow.”
“Oh cool! I love your mom! Tell her I miss her apple pie,” Alice was almost like an adoptive sister of Theo’s in his parents’ eyes. Even Katie got along well with Alice whenever she visited. As her family was on the other side of the planet, Theo’s family had welcomed her and become her home away from home.
“Will do. You should come over sometime. I’m sure they won’t mind,” Theo suggested as he placed his glass as well as the blender pitcher into the sink basin and washed them.
“I would join you tomorrow, but I will probably be at Jamie’s.”
“Of course. When are you making things official?” Theo smirked as he asked the question. He knew what Alice’s answer would be, but he still enjoyed poking fun at her.
“I don’t know, Theodore,” she knew Theo hated it when she used his full name. No one really called him by his complete first name, not even his parents, but Alice liked teasing him with it on occasion. Theo knew he had deserved it, but still turned around to glare at her.
“Please don’t call me Theodore,” Alice just laughed at his annoyed expression, “But seriously, I can see that you really like Jamie and she seems to like you as well, so why not just make it official?”
Alice shrugged her shoulders and said, “I like how things are right now. I don’t want to rush things like I usually do.” Alice had always dived headfirst into relationships, but would only notice the red flags a couple of months into the relationship.
“I get it. For what it’s worth, I like her more than any of your exes. Anyway, I gotta get dressed,” Theo had finished washing the items in the sink and dried his hands before heading to his room.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going for a walk before joining you at the yum cha place.”
“Oh, okay. Just don’t be late, otherwise, we will eat everything before you get there.”
“Fatass. I won’t be late. I just want to get some coffee outside. I’ll probably get there before any of you arrive,” Theo stepped into his room and checked his phone. Still no reply on Grindr. He sighed and went over to his wardrobe to select his outfit for the day. Having settled on some denim pants and a plain grey T-shirt, he decided to make his bed before placing his pajamas on top of it and getting dressed. He went to the bathroom to fix his hair. His bed head wasn’t too bad, so it didn’t take him long. Once he was ready, he returned to his room to gather up his wallet, phone, and keys before stepping out of the room.
“See you later,” Theo said to Alice as he left the apartment.
It was around a quarter to eleven when Theo left the building and headed to the closest Starbucks. It was a lovely day out and not that hot, making it perfect for a morning stroll. He stepped into Starbucks and ordered a cold brew coffee. After getting his drink, he left the establishment and wandered around the neighborhood. Eventually, he wound up in front of the Garden of the Flower City and decided to have a stroll around it. Kids were playing around the park, being watched by their grandparents, and observing that scene made Theo miss his grandparents. He hadn’t seen them in a while, as it had been three years since the last time he visited them. He made a mental note to send them a message on Facebook.
Around half-past eleven, he made his way to the restaurant where he and the gang usually went to for yum cha. He lit up a cigarette and smoked it along the way, managing to arrive at the restaurant before anyone else with five minutes to spare. Yoyo and Ivy were the next to arrive.
“Hey Theo, where’s Allie?” Ivy asked as she tied her long raven hair into a ponytail.
“She should be arriving soon. I left the house earlier to get some coffee at Starbucks,” he answered.
“Maybe we could head inside and I can tell her and Eric to head in once they arrive,” suggested Yoyo.
“Sure, that works.”
Ivy told the waiter in Cantonese that they wanted a table for six people. The waiter walked them to a round table, where they sat down, as Yoyo typed out a message to send to the two absent friends.
“Six people?” Theo asked Ivy.
“Yeah, Allie invited Jamie to join us as well,” Theo nodded in acknowledgment before Ivy continued, “So, Allie mentioned that you wanted to go to D2 tonight...”
“Yeah, we haven’t gone out in a while, so I thought why not.”
“You usually only want to go to D2 when you want to get laid,” Yoyo spoke as she raised an eyebrow at Theo. She had been spending a lot of time with Allie. Out of the two girls, Ivy was the more lively and playful one whereas Yoyo tended to be the plain-spoken one. She definitely didn’t mince her words.
“Sue me. So what if I want to?” He said defensively and added, “It’s been a while...”
“Well, maybe if you ask Eric, he won’t mind,” Ivy teased. The girls knew about Eric’s interest in Theo. When he and Alice first started hanging out with the rest of the gang, the young Filipino man’s persistent attempts at flirting and Theo’s constant rejections had even been a running gag.
Theo first met the girls and Eric when he had just broken up with Jason, so he wasn’t interested in sleeping around at that time. He had to admit that Eric’s incessant flirting did cheer him up in some ways because it wasn’t as though Eric were unattractive, but the timing was just not the best. It took him over a year to even get back into the dating scene and by the time he was open to the idea of indulging in casual sex, Theo could only see Eric as a friend. Eric would still playfully flirt with him, but Theo knew that Eric only saw him as a friend as well.
“Very funny. You do realize that is never going to happen,” Theo felt a pair of hands land on his shoulders.
“What is never going to happen?” He heard Eric’s voice behind him.
“You and Theo,” Yoyo deadpanned.
“Oh, that could definitely happen. Why? Are you interested, Theo? I’m sure I could make it worth your while,” he winked at Theo before sitting down between him and Ivy.
“Please, don’t give them ideas again,” Theo groaned. Ivy and Eric laughed at Theo’s annoyance.
“Have you already ordered? Oh, where’s Allie?” Eric asked the group.
“She’s late. Can’t say I’m surprised,” Theo answered nonchalantly. Everyone in the group knew that Alice was always late. Almost as if she knew she had been mentioned, Alice suddenly appeared behind Theo with Jamie right behind her.
“Hey, guys! Sorry, we’re late! Jamie missed her bus,” Alice said as she sat down next to Theo and Jamie sat down next to her.
“The fucking bus driver didn’t stop even though the bus was nearly empty. So I had to wait another ten minutes until the next bus appeared,” Jamie explained.
“It’s fine. Let’s just order,” Yoyo said, raising her arm to call the waiter over.
They ordered a whole feast with all the usual trimmings of a yum cha: oolong tea along with several servings of har gow, siu mai, black bean sauce chicken feet, turnip cake, cheong fun, char siu bao, black bean and garlic steamed ribs and steamed beef meatballs with water chestnut. They poured some tea into their bowls to rinse them before the food arrived and then Ivy offered to serve everyone a cup of tea.
“So, Theo, Allie here has told me that you want to go to D2 tonight,” Jamie said to Theo, who nodded his head, “Cool! You guys can come over to my place to pregame if you’d like. I live closer to D2 than you guys.”
“Ooo yes! We’ve never been to Jamie’s house! This calls for a housewarming party!” Ivy excitedly said.
“Well, I did move into the house recently, if you consider two months recent,” Jamie said.
“Doesn’t matter! We’re gonna party!” Ivy was always enthusiastic about parties and clubbing. During the week, she would work as an administrative assistant at a hotel, but during the weekend she was a complete party animal.
“It’s not too late to back out now,” Theo said to Jamie as a waitress appeared with their food.
The group of friends talked about their plans for their evening soirée as they ate, occasionally making comments about the delicious food and leaving the lid of the teapot ajar for a refill. Ivy asked the waiter for some chili sauce, as she liked her food spicy. “I like a little spice in my life,” she said the first time Theo had gone for dim sum with the gang. In the end, they ordered some egg custard buns for dessert.
Once Theo was full, he felt the urge to check if Noah had replied to his message on Grindr. He fished his phone out of his pocket and checked. Still no reply. The dancer hadn’t even seen the message. He put his phone back into his pocket, but couldn’t really pay attention to his friends’ conversation any longer. His mind was traveling back to that night at D2.
“Excuse me, guys. Gonna go outside for a ciggie,” Theo said as he stood up.
Theo stepped outside of the restaurant and headed to the closest trash can, on top of which there was an ashtray. He lit up a cigarette and fished his phone out of his pocket as well. He looked at the profile of the dancer once again as he smoked and wondered if the guy had been on the app since he last saw him online. Maybe he didn’t really go on Grindr much. Theo looked at the only profile photo, hoping he would be able to see that face again that night, his heart skipping a beat.
He put his cigarette out and threw it into the ashtray, before heading back into the restaurant. His friends were already sorting out the payment arrangements. After the feast had been paid for, Alice, Jamie, and Theo parted ways with Ivy, Yoyo, and Eric who had to head to the supermarket to buy some groceries. Ivy and Yoyo lived in the same flat and Eric coincidentally lived in the same building. Theo, Alice, and Jamie all headed towards Theo and Allie’s flat. On the way, they stopped in at 7-eleven to buy some drinks for the evening.
Once they had returned to their flat, Jamie and Alice retired to Alice’s room and Theo went to his own. He turned the air conditioner on and basked in the artificial fresh air and connected his phone to a small speaker in his room via bluetooth. The volume was never loud enough for Alice to complain about it, but he enjoyed having music in the background when he spent time in his room. He connected his phone to a charger as well, to ensure he had enough battery to last him the entire night, before sitting at his small desk and turning his laptop on.
His room wasn’t very big, but he had managed to fit a small desk into the corner closest to the window located to the right of his bed. The walls were plain and white, his windows framed by a pair of sage curtains, matching his cotton duvet and pillowcases, and he had a lamp that painted the room in a golden hue at night. His bed was queen-sized and the epitome of comfort, at least to Theo and some of his past partners who were worthy enough of spending a night.
After sending his grandparents a quick message on Facebook, Theo loaded up his YouTube homepage to catch up on his subscriptions. He didn’t spend much time watching videos during the week, so he had a couple to check out. In between videos, he decided to sort out his laundry, as he was running out of clothes for the week. He also took the opportunity to tidy his room up a bit. Time flew by and soon his room was engulfed in pink and orange tones, as the sun was setting outside. He looked at his phone once again to check if he had received any notifications. He had gotten some messages on Facebook as well as some emails, but no new notifications on his Grindr app. He logged onto his account and checked the offer once again, seeing if there were any potential new suitors for the evening, as he didn’t want to contact Flávio if he could avoid it.
Although there were a couple of new profiles, his eyes kept lingering back to the only one whose reply he was awaiting. He clicked on the profile again. 6′1" tall, almost as tall as Theo who was 6′2", single and mixed. No wonder he looked exotic. Even though he didn’t look local, he didn’t look Chinese or European either. Theo wondered what the dancer’s background was as he stared at the profile photo. He exited the Grindr app and logged onto his Facebook to do some stalking. He felt creepy and weird for doing so, but he wanted to see more of Noah. He typed ‘Noah’ onto the Facebook search bar, but there were many results and none of them seemed to be the Noah he was looking for.
Theo decided to take a shower and get ready to go out. He was certain that Alice would want to have dinner out before heading over to Jamie’s. He turned the air conditioner as well as the speakers off and headed to the bathroom.
Once inside the bathtub, he washed his hair, scrubbed his body with some shower gel and rinsed it off with water. Dirty thoughts wandered back into his mind and he felt himself getting aroused. Theo closed his eyes as he took care of his swollen member, his mind involuntarily drifting back to the dance he saw at the nightclub. It didn’t take him long before he climaxed.
Upon his release, he waited until his breath was back to normal, before rinsing himself off and stepping out of the bathtub. He patted his body and hair dry with the towel, before wrapping it around his waist. He looked at his reflection staring back at him and used a comb to smoothen out his hair. He had gotten a haircut a week prior, so luckily it didn’t require a lot of maintenance. After being satisfied with the way his hair looked, he stepped out of the bathroom and went back to his room.
As he stepped into his room, Theo turned his speakers on again and connected them to his phone via bluetooth before looking at the time. It was a quarter to seven, so he still had time to get ready. He selected ‘You’ by Gold Panda before placing his phone back on his desk and heading to his wardrobe to select his outfit for the soirée. He ended up choosing a black button-up shirt and some grey denim pants. He got dressed and folded the sleeves up until they were a quarter of the way up. It was too hot outside to wear them all the down. He finished his look off by spraying a bit of cologne on himself.
He checked the time and it was seven o’clock, so he decided to interrupt the girls in the room next to his to inquire about the dinner arrangements. Knocking softly on Alice’s door, he heard some steps on the other side of the door before Alice stood before him with her lips slightly swollen.
“What is it?” She asked Theo, trying to hide her disheveled appearance. Theo appeared to have interrupted a make-out session.
“Was I interrupting something?” Theo asked in a teasing manner, as he leaned against the door frame.
“Kind of, but now that you’re here, what do you want?”
“Well, it is already seven, so I was about to ask you girls if you would like to join me for dinner. We could get some Thai food,” Theo suggested.
“Hey, Jamie, what do you think?” Alice asked Jamie who was still lying on top of Alice’s bed.
“Sounds good. Should we get going?” Jamie asked.
“Yeah, whenever you’re ready,” Theo said.
“Just give us a second to finish getting ready. We’ll be out shortly,” she slammed the door in Theo’s face and he knew it would still take them a couple of minutes to get ready, so he returned to his bedroom and checked his phone. He had received a message from Flávio.
"U free tonight?" It read.
Theo didn’t want to reply. He didn’t want to lead Flávio on, knowing that they weren’t on the same page regarding their relationship. Flávio wanted more from Theo than he was willing to give. He ran his fingers through his hair and groaned. Part of Theo didn’t want to end whatever he had with Flávio, because it was a guaranteed affair. He could always count on the Brazilian man for a casual hook up. However, his rational side told him he should end it.
"Going to D2 with some friends,” he replied. He couldn’t end it over the phone. It felt a bit impersonal to do that over the phone to someone who he had been seeing for almost a year.
"Let me know if u want to come over afterwards ;) I will be up till late,” Flávio replied.
Theo looked at the reply and wondered if he should reply to the message. Luckily for him, he heard Alice opening her door, so he locked and pocketed his phone before standing up to join the girls.
“Ready to go?” He asked Alice and Jamie.
“Yes, let’s go!” Alice said. Theo grabbed his keys and his wallet, as Jamie put the beers and ciders they had bought at 7-eleven in a plastic bag.
They walked to Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen, occasionally exchanging some words, embracing the fresh breeze while they could before the hotter summer weather arrived. Fortunately for the three friends, the restaurant wasn’t too packed, so they were seated as soon as they arrived. Theo was partially distracted throughout the entire meal, barely savoring the deliciously spicy food, as he thought about what he should do regarding his arrangement with Flávio and whether he would see the dancer again at D2. Alice would occasionally tease him, as she usually did, pulling him out of his sea of thoughts even if only temporarily.
After eating and paying for the meal, they hailed a cab to head to Jamie’s house. Alice texted Ivy Jamie’s address once they were inside the taxi. Theo looked out the window, watching the dancing lights of the city where he grew up fly by. He checked his phone to see if the dancer had replied to his message, but the only notification he had gotten was one informing him he had received a spam email. Frustrated, he decided to pocket his phone and focus on getting excited about the party.
“What time are they arriving at Jamie’s?” Theo asked Alice.
“Ivy said they are just having dinner and should be at Jamie’s in about forty minutes. It’s still early anyway. We’re only heading to D2 after one, right?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Theo said, facing the window once again.
Soon after, they were stopping in front of Jamie’s house. Jamie lived close to the city center, not too far from the Tap Seac area. She had been lucky and found a great deal for a room about ten minutes away from D2 on foot. They stopped in at the Royal Supermarket on their way to Jamie’s place to buy some vodka and tequila as well as some plastic cups and limes. After acquiring the remaining necessary items for their hedonistic gathering, they headed to Jamie’s apartment, where they set up the living room table with the drinks they had bought as well as the plastic cups. Jamie also grabbed a set of speakers from her room.
“My housemate is out this weekend. She went to Hong Kong, so we don’t have to worry too much about the noise,” she explained.
“That’s good to know,” Alice said as she winked at Jamie.
“TMI,” Theo said.
“Shut up, Theo. Do I need to remind you why we are going to D2 in the first place?” Alice teased her friend who was glaring back at her. Jamie was laughing at their interaction as she set up the bluetooth speakers and chose a playlist for the party. Before Theo could retort, Alice’s phone started ringing.
“It’s Ivy,” she said to Jamie and Theo, “Hey girl, where you at? Oh, you’re already downstairs? I’ll meet you downstairs to open the door for you.”
Jamie’s building was pretty old, so they had to go down to open the building’s door for guests. When Alice left the apartment and went down to let the rest of the group in, Theo decided to ask Jamie a question that had been on his mind.
“When will you make things official with Alice?”
The petite Macanese woman froze at Theo’s question. Maybe he had crossed a line.
“Sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable,” Theo quickly apologized for asking such a personal question, “I just haven’t seen Alice that happy in a while and I know it is because of you.”
Jamie gave Theo a small smile and said, “I do like her a lot as well, but we are taking things one day at a time for now. I know Alice doesn’t want to rush things.”
“That’s what she told me. I really do think you are good for her, even though you haven’t known each other that long, so I’m rooting for you guys” Theo said sincerely.
“Thank you, Theo,” Jamie couldn’t contain her smile at Theo’s words of support. Alice and the rest of the gang chose that exact moment to ring the doorbell, thereby ending Theo and Jamie’s short exchange.
“Look what we brought!” Ivy enthusiastically showed off two bottles of wine. The night already looked promising in Theo’s eyes.
By half past midnight everyone was already feeling the effects of the alcoholic beverages and the joints Alice had so kindly provided. The playlist Jamie had prepared was leaving the group feeling hyped and ready for a night of dancing at their sinful haven of choice.
Theo checked his phone for the first time since the cab ride and logged onto the Grindr app. He checked the one-way conversation with Noah and noticed he had seen the message but hadn’t replied. This left Theo discouraged and with an even bigger urge to get completely wasted. If the dancer had seen his message and not replied, did that mean he wasn’t interested? His thoughts drifted towards Flávio’s message, knowing he could always hit him up if he felt like it.
Before he could even think of getting completely drunk and believe that texting Flávio was the best decision, Ivy handed him a shot glass with some vodka. After downing the shot in one go, he had a feeling that his fate for the night was sealed.