What I was looking for was to kill a few hours in Manila between my late 2pm check-out from Antel Spa Suites and my 11.15 flight back to Bangkok. So when he messaged me on Tuesday morning asking to meet up, after a weekend and a day spent avoiding him, I finally relented.
We arranged to meet at 2.30 at the Starbucks in Ortigas Center. What was the worst thing that could happen? He might be a total jerk, but I'd still get to see another part of the city. I arrived at the appointed meeting spot on time, and he was waiting for me outside of Starbucks. We shook hands, and he asked if we could go to his car and talk. Why? Yes, I was wondering that, too. He said his cousin was inside Starbucks, and he was trying not to be seen.
Oh, just what I needed -- another closet case. But that's not the only reason I was reluctant at first. I kept hearing voices in my head. They belonged to my friends, and they were repeating those horror stories about Americans being kidnapped in the Philippines and held for ransom. I looked at Malcolm. What could this baby-faced guy wearing braces possibly do to me? I sat down but kept the car door slightly ajar.
"These are for you," he said. "You're a journalist, so maybe you will need them."
Random, but cute. I shut the car door. After a bit more chit chat and a moment of uncomfortable silence, he got down to business. "You know, there are a lot of hotels and motels around here." He gave me that look. I knew exactly what he was getting at.
"Well, I just checked out of a hotel, so the last thing I want to do right now is go back to one," I said with a chuckle. "And it's so nice out today." Indeed, it was the first day since my arrival in Manila that the sun had bothered to come out. I wanted to enjoy it while it lasted.
He seemed to catch my drift, but then again...
"Ah, okay." Pause... "So... do you want to have some fun?"
I struggled to hold in my laughter. I asked him why every guy in Manila talks like that. What was this obsession with "playing" and "having fun." I didn't have a better euphemism for "Wanna fuck?" Still, I would have preferred one that didn't make me think of slides and monkey bars, especially from guys who looked like they were only a few years removed from them.
"Do you want to have some fun?" he asked again, apparently, hoping for a different outcome.
This time I levelled with him. "Actually, no. I only have a few hours left in Manila, and I want to do a little bit of shopping and get something to eat afterwards." I felt kind of like a tease, but it's not like I'd promised him a rose garden, or a roll in one. (Ouch! That would hurt!) I was hoping he wouldn't want to tag along. How awkward would that be?
He was disappointed, but he was such a good sport that I almost considered backtracking. He asked what I'd like to do then. He offered to take me to Robinsons Galleria, one of the nearby supermalls, but he couldn't go inside with me because he has a lot of friends who work there, and they'd ask questions.
"What questions?" I played dumb.
"Like who you are. They know all of my friends, so if they see me with a guy they don't know..."
Yeah, they'd put two and two together. I understood. I've been around my share of closet queens, so this road we were headed down was an all-too-familiar one. He started to back out of the parking space.
"I'm really sorry," he said. "The reason I'm being like this is because I took some Cialis, and I'm really horny and really hard."
"What?" I asked. I'd heard him clearly, but I hadn't been expecting him to say that. I thought it was kind of presumptuous of him to think that I would be a guaranteed score. And furthermore, wasn't he a bit young to be popping Cialis? At least the pens finally made sense.
"Do you have erectile dysfunction? At your age?" I couldn't believe what I was asking him.
"No," he said with a laugh and explained that he'd gotten the pills -- and presumably, the pens -- from a friend who's a pharmaceutical rep. I thought to myself that a nursing student in year one of the master's program should know better, but I held my tongue. I glanced in the vicinity of his crotch to see if there was any evidence -- exhibit E, for erection. Nothing.
"Are there side-effects?" I felt like we were filming an infomercial.
"Yeah, there are some. Like you get a headache. But I'm fine."
I've always wanted to try it myself, and I already had a slight headache. For a split second, I thought, this is my chance. But I wasn't in the mood for "fun," and I knew the libido enhancer would make me want it as much as Malcolm did. And speaking of libido enhancers, I kept thinking of the episode of True Blood in which Jason Stackhouse overdosed on V Juice and ended up critically rock hard in the ER. With my luck, that would be me!
"Well, if you decide later on that you'd like to meet up before your flight, give me a call," Malcolm said, interrupting my inner dialogue.
"Do you think you'll come back to Manila?"
"Cool. Next time you are in Manila, we'll have to go out one night for drinks."
He didn't have to say it. After what I'd heard over the course of the last four days, I understood him perfectly.
*The name has been changed to protect the disappointed.