Tyler watched his students carefully as they focused on the exams. His hawk-like eyes wandered around the room. The San Francisco State University lecture hall was more crowded than usual. All the student geniuses who skipped class were now invited in their final plea to survive Anthropology 2. Unfortunately, Professor Stonebrook was not in a very giving mood.
The students stared intently at their exams, pens fluttering and pleading for mercy. Tyler looked stoicly toward his victims. His red pen tapped on his desk awaiting justice. Tyler scanned the room- several blonde sorority girls littered their brains onto the blue books, wearing their Greek sweatshirts for good luck. A couple of computer science majors doing general education credit…
And one young Asian boy. His smooth, dark sphere of raven black hair gleamed with the fluorescent lighting. His brown eyes and midnight dark eyelashes fluttering lightly. He almost looked like someone Tyler knew.
Tyler had always liked Ryan, the cute and shy Japanese-Korean he first met as a college student at UC Davis.
He remembered the first time Ryan walked into the LGBT Center. Well actually, he was dragged in by Tyler. Tyler recalled that morning. He was busy watching “But I am a Cheerleader”* and stared dreamily at the Filipino guy on the screen, when another cute walked past the center.
A lone Asian boy wearing a soft, gray sweatshirt, white khakis and black shoes parked his shiny metallic black bike by the doors of the Center. He looked confused and lost. His face was crunched up in a cute puzzled- eyes focused on something but lips frowning if it were something he didn’t want. Probably a lost freshman like me, Tyler thought.
He resumed watching his movie, having missed ten minutes from staring at the outside performer. However, just as the two lesbian characters started to make out on the screen, Tyler noticed that the lone Asian boy hadn’t left his spot. Tyler walked out of the center. A soft breeze blew on a gray Davis day. The wind also slightly touched the Asian boy’s soft, short black hair, accenting his deep brown eyes and his gaze of wonder.
“Hi,” Tyler said. “Are you lost?”
The spell broke. The young man shook his head with sudden ardor. He looked cute when he was confused. “Oh no…” the boy started to blabber. “I just was looking at the tree.”
“Uh, the tree is over there,” Tyler replied with a smirk.
“Oh!” the Asian boy looked nervous. “That explains why I thought it was missing!”
“You and I know what you were really looking at, sweetie,” Tyler smiled.
The young Asian boy smiled too. His pearl white teeth emerged from his cute small lips. His face glowed with the sunlight.
“I’m watching ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’ at the Center,” Tyler said.
“I’ve heard it’s really good,” the Asian boy replied shyly.
Tyler grabbed the boy’s sweaty hand to his shock. “So let’s go!”
And that’s how it all started. That sunny day, Tyler met Ryan Hitomi. Ryan went on to visit the Center much more often. And Tyler saw him grow from the shy Asian boy to the handsome, intelligent, and out young man.
Tyler’s time travel took enough time for him to realize that the class was now empty. Except for two familiar faces sitting in the middle.
“You slept in your class, dipshit,” Barry replied. “And you call yourself a professor?!”
The clear pane glass of Stonestown Galleria allowed the sunny light to glaze ont the porcelain white second floor of the mall. Tables littered the second floor where several people sat and dined, including three familiar characters.
Tyler absentmindedly twirled the silky noodles of his Korean beef bowl. Devin slurped down a cup of sweet pink lemonade. And Barry wolfed down a juicy steak sandwich dripping with juices.
“So the word is that Ryoga has moved out of Ryan’s place,” Devin said happily. “That means the really cute Japanese guy is available!”
“Virgins are always trouble,” Barry groaned.
“And how would you know he’s a virgin?” Devin exclaimed.
“Trust me, I know,” Barry replied coolly.
“You guys are still going to Club Earth right?” Devin asked.
“Yeah,” Barry replied. “But just because my boyfriend wants to go. I usually wouldn’t be caught dead in those overclickish clubs and meat markets!”
“Well, I depend on those meat markets for produce!” Devin smirked. “Fine,” Barry muttered. “Go play and be your whore-y self!”
Devin grinned. “Sure but he’s not my type. He is Tyler’s though.”
“Oh and what’s that supposed to mean?” Tyler snapped.
“Oh c’mon, like you didn’t make it obvious that you liked Ryan to!” Barry said. “Look at all the guys you have dated!”
“The cute Chinese foreign exchange student,” Devin said. “Or that Japanese businessman…” Barry added.
“And that Filipino lawyer…”
“…the Hmong professor…”
“…that Korean artist…”
“I’M NOT A RICE QUEEN!” Tyler shouted angrily. “I can’t help it that Asian guys are attracted to me!”
“And you’re attracted to them,” Barry added. “And that’s a good enough exchange!”
“And Ryan…like when did I ever like him?” Tyler snapped. “And I never said that I liked him in that way…” Tyler twirled the rice bowl a little bit too because he just could not believe what he had just said.
Late. He was always late.
Tyler sipped his mug of warm coffee. The crowd at Café Flore* was pretty small today. Only a few single college kids using their laptops to write last minute paper assignments sat at the long tables of balsam wood. Tyler stared at the watch on his finely toned arm one more time. Fifteen minutes late. .
And there he was once again. Ryan Hitomi And still with that stupid smile on his face.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Ryan said. “I got stuck working on police briefs. No, not those kinds! I never knew there was so much crime in San Francisco.” He put his backpack on top of the table.
“I thought journalists were supposed to be punctual,” Tyler groaned. “I talked to the administration and we have you scheduled.
“I’m so excited about this lecture,” Ryan said. “I just got copies of the reader! Isn’t it gorgeous?” He pulled out a fiery red notebook. “I even found my old analysis of the theory of Homosexual Asian American Orientalism! But everything else in here is great.”
Tyler flipped through the reader. Asian American Lesbian Experience...Asian American Parents reacting to their children...Queer Korean-Americans. The boy had done his work. “It looks tangible,” Tyler said with soft disdain.“Are you doing anything tonight We could go to Fuzio’s for old times! I heard they’re making a really tasty carbonara special tonight.”
“Actually not this time, I have to pick up a friend tonight,” Ryan said. “Really old friend.” He started tossing the documents in his bag. Tyler looked somewhat crestfallen.
“Will you look at the time?” Ryan added. “I gotta get back to work. This was so much fun!”
“Oh good!” Tyler said joyously in the phone booth next to Café Flore. “So you did find his number.” He fumbled for a small notebook and a tiny pencil and started to scribble the digits furiously. “Thank you very much!
Seeing Ryan again had driven Tyler’s hormones crazy. He remembered times when Ryan would flash him in his silver thong. The shiny material clinged to Ryan’s muscular and tanned thighs. Whenever Tyler saw Ryan even in the casual business suit he wore for The San Francisco Chronicle, he only saw Ryan in his very skimpy underwear.
But this time, Tyler didn’t let his fantasies about the Japanese-Korean take over his head. Not this time. I need to get over Ryan! He is going out with someone who is probably smarter and more attractive than me. Tyler pulled out a cigarette and lit it, letting the white pole lightly touch his pursed lips. As he felt powerful pufts of white smoke come from his mouth. Finally, he pushed the buttons on the telephone. Tyler waited quietly, holding the phone to his ear. Finally, he heard the gruff sound that he had been waiting to hear.
“Hello?” Ryoga asked on the other line.
"But I am a Cheerleader" is a gay film released in October 2000 at Sundance starring Natasha Lyonne as a lesbian cheerleader who is sent to a straight-rehab camp where she finds herself and her lover. It is one of the few sweet lesbian love stories that actually does have a happy ending. It is also one of my sources for the Shampoo sequence. Except, Shampoo is a sorority girl.
Cafe Flore, located in the center of Castro and Market, is the center of the Gay Mecca. The place sells warm coffee, vegetarian cuisine and is known as a good hangoout (and cruising spot) for college students in the coming out process. I started writing my story there. Try the mochas. They are great!