He She They by Richard May


He was in a straight bar but then so was I.  Friends from work had forced me out of the office, almost carrying me to Hannigan’s.  We huddled with our beers, yelling jokes and gossip over the high table and noise of the Friday night crowd.

He was at the bar, chatting up a woman.  Both of them were tall, blond and built, the kind of shiksas Jews like me supposedly want.  I hadn’t dated any ethnic group lately.  I mainly worked.  Stretching my head back to drain the rest of my beer, I wondered whether it my turn to buy a round or time to go home.

“My name’s Joshua,” a voice said close to my ear.  I turned to it.  We were face to face, almost lips to lips.  The man from the bar was smiling at me, looking confidential.

“Ben,” I answered, shaking his hand.  Peripheral vision showed my friends shifting away, giving us room.  They were married or dating and wanted me in a similar situation.

“Would you like a…?”  He looked down at my bottle.  “Heineken Light?” he finished, smiling.  I nodded and watched his muscular ass work its way thru the crowd back to the bar.  The blonde had vacated their spot.

My friends shifted en masse back to me.  “Who’s that?” they asked, like a Greek chorus.



I shrugged.

When he came back, they moved away again to avoid being introduced and interrupting.  He notice this time; we shared a knowing smile.  Smiles looked good on him but then probably everything did.

He was the kind of handsome you see in magazines.  Strong jaw, dimpled chin, nose like a Reynolds portrait, broad at the shoulders, narrow at the waist and a chest that gave off heat.  He was the birthday present you wanted to unwrap first.

After his beer and mine back at him, after my friends had waved goodbye two by two, he and I went to my place and settled into sex.  He looked like a Raphael angel lying on my sheets.  His face as I undressed confirmed my assumption.  He got off on dark, hairy guys.

It was the first sex I’d had in months and he was excellent, writhing underneath me all blond and golden, a summer tan under my still winter white.  It felt good to hold him while we fell asleep.  The next morning I woke up to his throaty gargle inside the bathroom.

Pulling myself up against the headboard, I crossed my arms behind my head and waited until he framed himself in the doorway.

“You look good in my boxers.”

He blushed, making my heart misfire.  “First time I ever wore any.”  I noted his briefs on the floor next to the closet and remembered sliding them off before fucking him against the mirror.  I threw aside the covers, and he came back to bed. 

He and I moved into dating without the usual will-he’s or won’t-he’s.  My ordinary caution never showed up.  Maybe it was because he was an attorney too.  It did help that he understood my schedule and was busy too.  We had briefs in common after all.

Our firms were close enough we could have lunch, which quickly became every day we didn’t have clients or best friends.  We met for very late dinners, followed by sex and sleepovers, usually at my condo because he lived uptown. 

I found out details.  He was from Utah.  He was a Mormon.  He was one of seven children, the second boy.  I bit my tongue a lot.  He probably did too.

We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Westchester, which pleased his mother.  “She was worried about my first Turkey Day away from home.”  He had graduated college and law school in Utah, all within an hour’s drive of Provo, his hometown.

It wasn’t our first trip to Scarsdale.  He said he wanted to go to a Jewish “service.”  I hadn’t even been inside a synagogue in Manhattan so I took him home.   My family all went with us, even my brother.  I think that’s when my mother began to think a man might be good for me after all.

The first week of December he told me he was going home for Christmas, looking like I should be disappointed.  We’d only been dating a couple of months so I wasn’t.  Anyway, I figured I might be a really big step for his parents.  He was for mine and we were Reform.

Before leaving New York, he gave me a beautiful Star of David.  I figured he’d buy me something so I was ready with a weekend in Boston at the Copley Plaza after he came back.  We’d only miss a Saturday at work.

I drove him to Newark, watching as he disappeared past Security to his gate.  Sharp, cold loneliness hit me hard but then he sent a text and warmth spread back in.

He promised texts, emails, and phone calls.  “I’m gonna miss you so much, Benny.”  That was his name for me, a name no one had used since sleep away camp.

When no communication came the rest of the day, I told myself he was busy, he was tired, his family went out to dinner and they kept him up late.  The next day was Christmas Eve so I went thru the same feelings and explanations but sent three texts and left a voice mail.  On Christmas Day I sent him a Happy Holidays but didn’t hear back.  I hadn’t expected to hear that day anyway. 

On the 26th though when I called again he answered right away.  Background noise sounded like a party.  It was 10 am in Utah.

“Where are you?”

“Skiing.  We should go when I get back.”  I’d never been skiing in my life but said okay.  A transcontinental silence followed. 

“Josh, is everything all right?”

More silence.  Finally: “I gotta tell you something.”  What it was was interrupted by a woman’s voice close to the phone.  It sounded like “we’re next”.  He spoke quickly.  “We gotta go.  I’ll call you tonight.”  I listened to the dial tone and wondered who the other part of we was.

Nothing came in from 801 that night.  The next day, the 27th, I took an unusual day off work to drive back to Newark International as promised and stand in the crowd outside Security.  I was tall enough to see him coming towards me with a blonde.


She was my first real girlfriend.  Junior year of high school she moved to Provo from Salt Lake.  I could tell right away she was a do-over for me.  I asked her out and we started dating and didn’t stop.  People kidded us about getting married before we graduated, and my dad repeated his explanation of where babies came from. 

She’s beautiful: blond and tall like me.  Great figure.  After high school we went to U of U in Salt Lake City.  We lived in separate dorms of course and drove home weekends to Provo.  The end of freshman year, she pledged Tri Delt and I went KA like my dad.

Senior year, every family member and friend expected to get a wedding invitation but I had law school and Jessie got a job in Salt Lake.  She also rented an apartment for us.  I still got my mail at the KA house though.  Neither my mom and dad or hers would have approved of anything else.

I also still had sex with guys once in a while.  Before Jessie that was the only sex I’d had.  Fooling around really.  The first time I got fucked though was after I met her.  I figured it would make me a better lover.

I came to New York because I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Bradley, Evans, Shapiro & Greene LLP is the biggest law firm in the universe.   They recruited me.  I was Phi Beta Kappa undergrad and number one in my law class.  I could have gone to Palo Alto, Chicago, Philadelphia, anywhere but I chose New York.  It seemed like an adventure and my dad said BESG would be great on my resume when I came back home.

Jessie said she understood.  I said she could come to New York, work in a big PR firm.  She said no: she was doing great at Finley and was expecting a promotion.  So, I packed two suitcases and flew east, moving in with a friend of a friend of a friend.  It was the smallest apartment I’d ever seen.

I started at BESG in August.  New York was 90/90 my first day: 90 degrees and 90% humidity.  I bought a bathing suit when new friends invited me to the Hamptons.  I got my first New York blow job from a guy out there.

At first Jessie and I kept in touch daily, even when she got promoted and I was working my ass off as a first year.  And then I met Benny.  I was talking with a girl who reminded me of Jessie when I saw him across the bar.  He was with a bunch of people.  I loved the way his Adam’s apple jerked when he leaned his head back to finish his beer.  I figured he might want another one.

I didn’t plan on having a relationship with a man.  I never had.  Besides, Jessie and I had been dating almost 10 years.  We got engaged before I left for New York.  She was so happy with the ring.  But Benny was different from the beginning: handsome and hot like the rest of them but deeper.  His eyes seemed to know me.  And I love that he’s hairy.  His stubble scratches my face, and his chest hair gets caught in mine.

Benny didn’t make me forget Jessie.  She still called; I still sent texts.  Nothing had changed in my life.  Utah and New York were separate places.

When I went home at Christmas, I missed Benny a lot on the flight to Salt Lake.  I felt like using the air phone to call him but he would have just said it was too expensive and made me hang up.  I could hear him; it made me laugh. 

At the airport she was there with my family and looked so good.  I scooped her up in my arms and couldn’t stop kissing her.  My family laughed but no one tried to stop me.  Public displays of heterosexual are encouraged in Utah. 

I remembered Benny in moments all day but was never alone except in bed.  By then it was late in New York.   So, when he called me again I had to answer, even though Jessie was right next to me.  I knew Benny and I had to have a conversation: Jessie had invited herself back to New York with me. 

“We can go to Times Square for New Year’s!” she said.  Yes, my plans with Benny crossed my mind but what could I say: I’m already doing something with my boyfriend?

She sprang it on me at the ski resort our one night together.  I should have at least told him she was coming back with me but when he called we were riding the chairlift to the summit and our turn was next.  There was never any time.

Besides, I was confused.  That night with Jessie had reminded me how much I loved her and, yeah, I do dig sex with women.  At first it was strange though, being with her again, just us, in bed.  I realized I’d already gotten used to Benny being on top and taking over but Jessie’s pretty aggressive and anyway it really is like riding a bicycle.  She booked a room in New York at the Marriott but I know she was expecting to stay with me.  She brought two bags.

At Newark, when I saw Benny waiting for us--for me--I felt so happy.  I wanted to run the rest of the ramp and jump into his big hairy arms but I was holding Jessie’s hand and when I automatically leaned forward she held me back.

“What is it, honey?”

I let her catch up the half step.  “It’s my friend Ben.  He’s here to meet us.”

She looked ahead at the strangers waiting outside Security.  “That’s so nice.  Which one is he?”


They shook hands just like guys do, clutching hands and bumping chests.  Ben looked a little strange but then I didn’t know him.  As far as I knew, that’s how all New Yorkers looked.  He smiled when Josh introduced me and shook my hand.  He didn’t hold on very long though, certainly not as long as their hands did.

He had a really cool car, an Audi convertible.   “Graduation present,” he said when I commented.  I thought his family must be rich but I didn’t say anything.  I’ve learned a lot working in PR.  When I started I was so naïve, like Miss Congeniality at the beauty pageant.  My boss says I’ve matured.  I should hope so.  I’m 27.

I let Josh sit up front with Ben.  I thought there would be more leg room for him, but the rear seat had plenty of room too.  I could see Ben looking at me in the rearview mirror a lot while Josh was talking.  I smiled every time.  Sometimes he smiled back.

I was glad when I heard they’d become friends so soon after Josh moved.  He had never lived more than 50 miles from home, never even been out of the country until we went to Cancun and skiing at Whistler.  I’ve been to Europe twice.  For Josh, moving to New York was so out of character.  I worried about him and about our relationship, which he took care of when he proposed and gave me a gigantic diamond.  I noticed Ben looking at it.  Maybe it’s too ostentatious. 

I asked Ben to join us for dinner.  He gave Josh another weird look but said yes.  Maybe he had other plans and would have to change them.  I felt honored he would do that for me. 

Then he drove us to the Marriott and I checked in with my hotel bag.  Before we went inside, I gave Ben a goodbye hug and so did Josh.  They held on like one of them was drowning.   

Upstairs, I decided we should rumple the bed and suggested we take a nap or something.  Wink, wink.  Josh looked like a scared jack rabbit said he’d see me at 6.  That was disappointing--sex had been so good in Utah--but I know he’s busy.

When he came back, we took a cab downtown to the neighborhood Ben lived in, Tribeca.  I laughed when Ben explained the word. 

Josh was unusually quiet in the cab and at dinner.  Ben and I did our best to keep the conversation going but Josh seemed tired. 

“You should have taken a nap, honey,” I told him.  He looked at Ben.  They stared at each other for several clicks before Josh shook his shoulders like he was waking up and started talking about what we were going to do while I was there.

Nothing seemed to include Ben so I asked him to join us for New Year’s at least.  “We’re going to Times Square!” I told him.  He laughed.  He seemed much happier than at the airport.

He was so handsome when he laughed.  He was handsome anyway, just moreso when he looked happy.  So dark.  Not many people like him back in Utah.

After dinner Ben asked us to his place for more drinks.  I thought it would be fun and really wanted to see his apartment, but Josh said we’d better not and told Ben he’d meet him Monday for lunch.

Sunday we went thru museums, which I loved.  I knew it probably bored Josh silly but he never let on.  In fact, he sounded as if he were really interested. 

“When did you get all cultured?” He blushed.  He is so cute when he blushes.  I could barely hear what he said but it was something about Ben. 

Both weekend nights we wound up staying at the Plaza.  Sex was fantastic.  It was like he’d been taking lessons.  He wore a condom though, even when I swore I was still on the pill.

We did see Ben a couple more times for dinner.  One night they both had to work late so they met me at a restaurant near the Marriott.    It was after nine when they called from the lobby.  I was a little angry because Josh had said 8 and then called from the taxi at 8:45 but I forgave him.  They were both so cute when I met them downstairs, like little boys who’d been bad.

I didn’t meet any of Josh’s other friends but then we were busy.  Besides the three dinners with Ben, we went to a Broadway show and a club in Brooklyn so I could say I’d been there.  Magazines said Brooklyn was the place to be.

I kept myself occupied during the daylight hours Josh had to work.  He told me a great place to go shopping.  Anyway, it was only three days.  New Year’s Eve was Thursday, and Josh was taking the day off.  I wanted to see where he worked but he never suggested it so Wednesday after he left I decided to surprise him.  I even took the subway.  That would shock him.  Josh still thinks I’m that little girl from Provo but I’ve grown up.  We both have. 

I found his building and went upstairs.  The receptionist said he was already at lunch.  I decided to wait outside where I could watch for him. 

Ten minutes later I saw them.  Josh was with Ben.  They were walking side by side, fingers accidentally touching, eyes only on each other.  People walked around them like love has the right of way. 

I stepped out of view, my world spinning.  They were together.  I had been so stupid.  All those study nights with friends, the looks from guys and his looks back, his new “friend” in New York.  Even I could tell they weren’t just friends.

I waited until Josh went inside his building, until Ben had watched him go and walked off.  I could tell Ben hated to leave him.  I knew the longing Ben felt; I had felt it too.  I also knew that Josh would come downstairs again to find me.  He would know I knew.

I stepped to the curb and held up my arm for a cab.  Three tries later I was inside one and pulling away.  I didn’t look back. 

The driver asked me where I wanted to go.

“Newark Airport, please.”

“No bags?” he asked.

I shook my head.  “No bags,” I repeated and let myself settle into the seat.  It was the beginning of a long trip.

Richard May is the writer of the new book GINGER SNAPS: Photos & Stories about Queer redheaded people.  His short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including most recently ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK, a collection of gay ghost stories.  He lives in San Francisco and is from New York by way of Sacramento.

Bay Laurel  /  Volume 1, Issue 2  /  Winter 2012