I was at the gym on Valentine’s Day when Daryl came over. He’s big, Daryl, probably 6’2″ and stacked from long hours of lifting. He struts through the gym with his lats flared out and his chest jutted forward and can be best envisioned as an African-American version of the Michelin Man.
Even though he knows I’m straight Daryl always flirts with me. This would upset some men but it doesn’t ruffle my feathers too much. When he goes too far I tell him: Daryl, you need to stop patting my ass, and generally he backs off. On the whole he’s a very kind, thoughtful and engaging man, and despite his occasional difficulties in observing boundaries I usually enjoy running into him.
I was in the middle of squatting when he approached and said something I didn’t understand. I racked the bar and asked him to repeat himself.
“I hope your girlfriend appreciates all the work you’ve been doing on your ass lately.”
This comment came from deep enough in left field to throw me off. For a moment I simply couldn’t make sense of what he’d said. I shook my head and scratched my temple. I began to respond, “I don’t have a girlfriend,” when he interrupted me.
“I was watching you in the shower the other day and it looks Aaaaa-mazing!”
In a flash I understood completely what he’d said. As I did, two things became immediately evident: this was probably going to be the best compliment I would receive all day. And it was definitely going to be the creepiest thing I’d hear all day (there’s a world of difference between “I saw you in the shower” and “I was watching you in the shower”).
I smiled weakly and mumbled a wrinkle-browed Thanks. Daryl chucked me on the shoulder and ambled away. I finished my workout and decided to skip the locker room and instead head home for my shower. As I was leaving Daryl waved across the gym and called out, “See you later cutie-pie!”.
And that, kind readers, was my Valentine’s 2013.