The sunlight that early Friday evening blazoned the nearby storefronts. I had already watched one group of commuters emerge to start their weekend, backpacks slung over their shoulders. At that hour of the day, it was a rare car that came to the stop sign at the intersection with Walnut Street. I settled on one of the sidewalk benches that faced the intersection.
I was ready to start an early June weekend. Pride weekend, as it turned out. This quiet old suburban neighborhood felt an odd place to begin the observance. The vegan and vegetarian restaurant to which I would shortly be heading provided carefully seasoned dishes to an informed clientele, women wearing their gray hair with ease, men smiling gently and nodding wisely. All fine but not what I would call a typical Pride venue.
Though "out" for decades, the man I was meeting for dinner had a spare history with regard to Pride celebrations. Articulate, intellectually acute, well read, symphony subscriber and balletomane, museum-goer and gardener, my friend selected the cold beet soup appetizer so readily that I followed suit. With no need to sound an opening Pride note, he set his gaze on me and settled into hearing my stories of the day and into telling his.
His stories growing up had not always been easygoing ones. Well, whose are? Here he was, though, only slightly my senior, launching his Friday evening alongside mine. We each raised a soup spoon carefully to our lips, savored the flavor of cucumber alongside the beets, and kept rhyming mood and pleasure and relaxation at week's end. The voices around us became for the next hour or two the sound of our village.
Wasn't this it, though? Two men in their late twenties sat at the table next to ours, immersed in some version of being a couple that needed the occasional note of petulance to be convincing. Andrew and I, meanwhile, felt the air around us and above us and smiled that so little was needed to make this evening as fine a Friday as two men could ask for.
At my apartment later in the evening, we slipped a library-loan DVD into my archaic Sony. Undertow was not a first viewing for either Andrew or me, but we may have been starved for the kind of message this 2004 film delivers about the kind of falling in love that two men can sometimes expect. With the great sigh of tears at a certain point from one of us, the comforting hand of the other reached out.
I call that pride. I call that Pride.