“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” (Maya Angelou)
The next day passed by uneventfully. Although I kept checking the app throughout the day, I did not think much about Rocky1234 since I was almost certain that this would turn out to be another disappointment. After dinner, I went for a walk, came back and retired to bed with a book. Before starting to read, I was tempted to check the app again. As soon as I signed in, I received the by now familiar hanji message from Rocky1234. His request was very simple – call me. This time I had no excuse to offer, but I was still not comfortable sharing my number.
An idea dawned on me. I asked him if I could call him via the app, without making it a video call, so that we could talk to each other. He immediately agreed. I remember thinking to myself: how can someone be so accommodating? Anyone else in his place would have been thoroughly annoyed since I had been making some excuse or the other, but not him. Dismissing any further thoughts, I called him. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and one of the first things I asked him was where he lived. When he told me his location, I again told him that it was very far. He insisted it was not, and there would be no problem in visiting me if I was open to it.
Of course, I did not have any problem! Who would, with his beautiful face and immensely appealing voice? We continued chatting and he asked me if I was married. I told him I was gay and could not get married in the conventional sense. In fact, I asked him, who would even marry me? He responded, in a soft but earnest voice, that I could consider marrying him. I laughed loudly and told him that he did not even know what I looked like (barring my shirtless, faceless photos) and he wanted to marry me? His response, again, was a soft but firm yes. Now I was starting to get a little bewildered. What did the guy want, I asked myself? Surely there were better-looking people than me on the app; then why this unusually keen interest in my profile?
His next question possibly allayed my doubts a little. He asked me if the photos in the profile were mine. I assured him that they were all my photos, and all were taken as recently as the previous week. He told me that he had really liked them and found me attractive. This was a first for me, and I found it quite unbelievable that someone could consider me ‘attractive’. I do admit, however, that the photos were reasonably appealing, and a few others had also passed on compliments to me. I resolved to work out harder in the gym from now on.
We continued chatting about sundry things, including what we did for a living. I was beginning to enjoy the conversation, and without giving away too many personal details, I managed to tell him more about myself than what was already in my profile. Out of curiosity I did ask him, though, as to why he was interested in an older man like me. His simple answer to that was – “you are not old, you are young. Moreover, I am also an average-looking person just like you. I am not handsome.” Although the last part was a complete lie (did I mention he was lovely?), his sincerity impressed me. I had the urge to reach out to him and hold him close, but he was too far away.
It was now quite late, and I was becoming mindful of the time since I usually sleep early. To wind up the conversation, I asked Rocky1234 if there was any way we could meet soon. He said that he was busy till the 15th of the month (which was at least 10 days away), and it was likely he would visit me after that. However, there was also the slightest possibility that he could visit me over the coming weekend (we were chatting on a Friday night), and he would let me know by Saturday. He requested me to find out about the earliest train/bus departing for his town so that he would not be late for work the next day. To me, this spoke volumes about his character. I promised to find out various options and let him know on Saturday night, which is when I expected we would chat next.
Next morning, after returning from the gym, I looked up various travel options and made mental notes for my conversation with Rocky1234 later that night. I wanted to spend a relaxed Saturday so resumed watching more episodes of my current favorite TV show. Right after lunch, I checked the app even though I was not expecting any message from him. It was around 2 pm and I was, as usual, deleting useless messages and responding only to the odd one or two. ‘Hanji’ suddenly popped up on my screen. I was pleasantly surprised and asked Rocky 1234 how he was online at this time. He mentioned that he was relatively free at work that day; moreover, he had just finished lunch and was taking a break. Talk about serendipity!
After inquiring if I had eaten lunch, he checked if I had found out about train/bus options. I told him everything I had been able to gather and asked if he would visit me the next day (Sunday). Never failing to surprise me, he asked me if it was ok for him to visit me that day itself (Saturday) since he had very little work and could easily request for a half day off. I confirmed that there would be no problem if he came that very day. However, he said he would come late, around 10 pm, and leave by 6 am the next morning. I told him not to come in such a case, since it would be pointless to travel so far and not even spend a little quality time together.
“What if I leave now and reach by 6.30 or 7 pm?”, he suddenly asked. There would be no problem in that, was my swift response. I explained to him how, after arriving, he would need to take the metro up to a certain point from where I would pick him up in my car. I told him to let me know soon so that I could plan my evening accordingly. I kept waiting for several minutes, even half an hour, but there was no response. He was offline by this time, and I thought there was no way he would come the same evening.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.