PART 1 - LANDING AND LIVING LARGE The truth of the matter was, I didn't want to go. My mom had been wasting her breath over the last few weeks attempting to coerce me into going to Africa with her, but I wouldn't have it. Normally I love travelling--the cultures, landscapes, history--but this summer was going to be my own. "Christopher James-Alexander Dupont, why can't you just trust me and come? I know you'll love Somalia!" "Mom, it's not that I don't trust you, or that I think I wouldn't like going to Africa. This summer I just need to do my own thing," I said, not lying. "It's Joey, isn't it? I can easily get another ticket," she pleaded. "Mom, please--" "You can't do your own thing if you're doing it with a boy!" She wasn't far off the truth, but I knew she didn't entirely understand... I'm Chris, just your average suburban kid...yeah fucking right. I was born in France eighteen years ago where my mother fell in love with my father, and I have essentially never stopped moving since. I've lived on five continents and visited seven, including Antarctica, landing most recently in Vancouver. My mother is also a Royal Historian for the British Crown, and author of several books. Did I mention I'm gay? Two years ago, my mother decided that Vancouver was the place she was to make home. She, too, tired of the constant travelling and misguided friendships that inevitably occur with instability. I gave her an incredulous look when she broke the news to me: I, like most 17year-olds, could not bear the thought of life without my friends. Who knew one flight from London to Vancouver could change a life so much? * * * * * "Good evening, welcome to La Vie Grande. Table for two?" the hostess inquired. I nodded curtly. Vancouver was already on my bad side and I had only been there two hours. Our flight was delayed seven hours because of poor weather, my luggage had been misplaced and it still had not ceased raining since I had stepped foot out of the airport. As the hostess led us past a nervous-looking couple, I glanced around at the decore. Untrue to its French name, the restaurant had a more medieval-style theme, with an authentic-looking British Knight's suit of armour as the centrepiece in the front entranceway. My mother and I took our seats and began to survey the scene, familiarizing and adjusting to our new home. We had not yet gone to our house, but we flew over several weeks prior to see the finished product: my mother had a villa custom-built on the outskirts of the city, which sat lakefront and contained natural hotsprings on the property. "Hey, I'm Joey, your waiter for this evening. What can I get to drink for you tonight?" I had to stop my jaw from falling open. The man in front of me was an Adonis in his own right, but 'Joey' literally personified my dream man, physically at least: his cropped, yet shaggy dark brown hair; the light stubble on chizzled jaw; and the toned body that I could see even through his shirt. Apparently I was staring, because when I finally brought my thoughts back to reality, the waiter was simply beaming at me, and my mother was staring in my direction awkwardly. "Hmm?" "...Drinks," replied my mother, burning quite a large hole in my face with her eyes. "Oh, yeah. Can I get a Long Island iced tea?" "Sure. So that's one Long Island and Diet Coke with rye and lime. I'll be right back" he said, smiling. Luckily for me, I looked older than my age. Since about 16, I could usually buy my own drinks with my mother at any restaurant (except in the U.S.), and at most bars and clubs. I always had a fake I.D., though, just in case. "That was bloody difficult" "What was?" "Ordering drinks," my mom said, breaking into rather hysterical laughter. Apparently 'staring' was an understatement. "I half expected you to start salivating and drooling" she continued, still in a fit. I looked for a moment, then laughed, not able to say anything. I usually kept my composure around guys! I managed to get through the rest of dinner without making a fool of myself again. My mother and I discussed plans to go to Fiji and surf, and how she had an upcoming meeting with the Governor General and Prime Minister. The Steak au Poivre that I ordered was delicious, and I always had at least a little eyeful of the waiter during dinner; perhaps Vancouver was not as bad as I had thought. "Can we get our bill please?" my mother asked after dessert. I was certainly glad that we were going to take a taxi or limo home, because I would certainly not have trusted my mother driving by this point---about 8 drinks and an Irish Coffee in. "Certainly. I'll be right back." replied the waiter, turning on his heel and walking toward the open-style kitchen. "So, are you going to ask for his number?" "Yeah right, mom. I'm not that desperate. I'll openly gawk at him, but I'm not going to hit on him at his place of work." I said, grinning. "Splendid value system you've got." "Here you are," Joey said, striding over and placing the billfold on our table. "Thank-you very much, it was a pleasure. Hope to see you back soon." "It was lovely," my mother said. "Can I pay via Interac?" "Of course, but you have to go to the server booth, and my manager will take care of you." My mother got up as he motioned the direction, and stumbled slightly towards the booth. Joey began to pick up our dessert plates and cutlery. "So, what's your name, dude?" "Chris. You?" Fuck. That was so stupid. I already know your name! "Umm..." he said, chuckling. "Haha. I know, I'm really moronic sometimes. Only sometimes, though, I promise," I said, grinning at him. He returned the smile. I saw my mother waving me over, signalling she was done. "Anyway, bro, I've gotta go. Mama's calling." "Have a good one, man." I got up and started leaving, when he tapped my shoulder. "Chris...um, I don't usually do this at work, and I know it's a bit forward, but do you think I could get your number?" He paused shortly, perhaps expecting a reply. "I'm getting off in about half-an-hour, and if you want, we could go grab a coffee?" he asked with a hesitant smile. Until this point in the night, I had not seen Joey demure or shy at all. He constantly walked with his shoulders back, and had an air of confidence (not arrogance, confidence) about him. As he asked me this question though, he looked rather vulnerable and, admittedly, adorable. "Uhh..." I said, stuttering. "Oh. Shit, man. I apologize...I didn't know...I thought..." "No, no! Of course I'd like to get a coffee, it's just a little unorthodox and unexpected, ya'know?" "Yeah. Yeah it is," he said smiling, less deflated. There was a pause. "Here's my number" I said, writing it down on a serviette. "Let me go ask my mother if I can stay around here and take a taxi back later. I don't think she'll like the idea, but she won't stop me." "Where are you supposed to be going?" "Do you know where High Park is?" "You're kidding me, right?" Apparently it had a reputation. "No. But I'll be right back" I said, walking post-haste towards my mother.