by Connla Stokes
On a cool April evening, Thuy is sitting with some friends in a chic, cocktail bar near Saigon’s iconic/ historic/ illustrious (or whatever you want to call it) Dong Khoi Street in District 1. She is a touch distracted as lately she has been imagining meeting the 100% perfect gay man. She hasn’t mentioned this to her girlfriends, who are busy gossiping about someone who isn’t there, but during this latest long, insufferable dry season, she has been bingeing on American romcoms, sitcoms, dramadies and comedies, and has come to this conclusion: a gay man is the fun companion she’s missing in her life. He is the answer to the question she has finally thought to ask.
It doesn’t matter so much where he’s from but like Thuy the 100% perfect gay man will no doubt be très moderne, multilingue et cosmopolite. She guesses that he will be a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend as no friends of hers have any gay friends of their own. Or maybe she’ll see him at the bar and know instinctively that he is the 100% perfect gay man for her. Either way, once they get talking, she likes to think that he’ll also know instinctively that she is the 100% perfect straight woman for him. They would hit it off over a couple of dirty martinis or a glass or two of Prosecco. His mischievousness will pollinate her naughtiness. Soon they’ll be having their own little tête-à-tête and giggling away at each other’s observations and anecdotes. She will lavish praise on his elegant sense of style and ask where he bought his fabulous retro-style shoes. He will compliment her on the glamorous Audrey Hepburn-esque dress she’s wearing—she’ll twirl for him like a model and he’ll say, “Troi oi, you know you have an ass that just won’t quit—I want one like that!” And she’ll laugh with delight at that (and thereafter have renewed confidence about her perky ass).
They would have such fun when they meet that they’d agree to have lunch the very next day. She will adore his wit and whacky nature but he will also be considerate and insightful. That’s important as he would have to be tender when appropriate, hilarious when required and flippant at just the right moment. He would know when to listen and be supportive. He would know when to say, “Cheer up—it’s margarita time!” He would be just the tonic no matter what her mood might be. Of course he would. After all, he wasn’t going to be 80% perfect or 50% perfect—he was going to be 100% perfect!
She liked the idea of listening to his confessions. This would help her grow as a person. She would nod sympathetically on hearing about his latest heartache or woe—she would know when to offer sound advice on what he should do about his on-again-off-again boyfriend. This would make her feel worldly and wise. She would also know when to tell him to shut up and stop being such a drama queen. He’d laugh and apologise and say, “Oh my god, you’re right—I am being a total drama queen.”
Maybe she’d have a fling and complain about whoever was being flung for being such a man-child, falling asleep straight away after he got what he wanted, peeing all over her toilet seat, or drinking a dozen beers and talking trash whenever they go out; and the 100% perfect gay man would make sure she knew she was way too good for that idiot, so she’d text the guy who was being flung and say, “Newsflash: we’re done—and FYI: it’s so not me. It’s YOU!” She’d show the 100% perfect gay man her text and he would say, “Oh no, you didn’t!” and she’d smile, all empowered and footloose and fancy free, and say, “Oh yes I did!”
Naturally, they would soon be doing everything together: shopping, brunching, pampering sessions at salons and spas. They would always meet up for pre-drinks before swinging-by an event—an evening soirée, a pool party, or the opening of a swanky rooftop bar, perhaps—or they might be attending a fashion show or an exhibition opening. Wherever they went, they would arrive a little tipsily and fashionably late.
Sometimes they’d go out for dinner in whatever happened to be trendiest restaurant in District 1 at that moment in time. All of the other customers would look over, some perhaps enviously, as Thuy and her 100% perfect gay man erupted with laughter as he told her way too much information about a recent dalliance he had; and after a few glasses of sparkling wine they’d soon be howling and slapping the table as if they could take no more of this hilarity.
She’d be invited to a wedding at a fancy hotel like the Hyatt and she’d take the 100% perfect gay man as her date. They’d get all dolled up—she would wear a heads-turning risqué dress; he’d come in a vintage tuxedo with tails and a top hat—and they would surely be the talk of the party. The guests who knew her, would think, “Wow, I never knew Thuy was so audacious and free spirited or so dazzling and sexy. Straight men would desire her, straight women would envy her; the bride would feel a little upstaged, especially after she notices the groom ogling Thuy from a short distance.
If she didn’t want to go out, he’d say, I don’t want to go out either. They’d order take away pizza, gorge on chocolates and slurp red wine and watch a really stupid reality TV show and feel better for having each other in their lives. He would call her sweetie. She would call him hon. “Here you are sweetie.” “Thanks hon.”
There would probably be a crisis—his or hers, it didn’t matter. What is important is that during this crisis, whoever was not in a crisis would be there for whoever was, even if it meant driving through the flooded streets of Binh Thanh District in the middle of the night. One of them would be weeping, the other would be consoling, and afterwards, they’d wipe away some tears, and one of them, the one in a crisis, would say, “What would I do without you?” and the other one, the one not in a crisis, would say, “Don’t even mention it—I’ll always be here for you.”
But would they? Probably not—she might meet a handsome and nubile man, settle down and have a couple of kids. Soon the 100% perfect gay man would find himself marginalised. He might try to visit her and arrive with a bottle of bubbly hoping to relive the glory days but her life would now be a flurry of runny noses, play dates and botched efforts at baking cupcakes. He’d feel defunct upon realisation that his erstwhile partner-in-crime is now a changed woman.
Or perhaps the 100% perfect gay man will be the one to meet a handsome and nubile man, settle down and adopt a child from a Vietnamese orphanage. He would be a changed man and have no time to paint the town pink with his old girlfriend. Suddenly, Thuy would feel her age, like a spell had been broken, cruelly reminding her that she is but a spinster, alone and childless.
Thuy shook her head at that thought. She had let her mind wander too far down the track. This didn’t need to be a sad story. Meeting the 100% perfect gay man should and would be fun. She returned to listening to her girlfriends, who were still gossiping about someone who wasn’t there, but she would keep half-an-eye out just in case the 100% perfect gay man walked into the bar on this April evening—she had previously imagined walking up to him and saying something a little corny, something like, “You may not believe this, but I think you’re the 100% perfect gay man for me.” But she wouldn’t want to come across as too forward and scare him off. She would play it nice and cool even if it’s obvious that they were destined to be together (at least until they drifted apart).
Editor’s Note on On Meeting the 100% Perfect Gay Man One April Evening:
This is not the first story by Connla Stokes that Eastlit has published. His previous work is listed below:
- The Foreign Man is Prepared to Take Everything in His Stride was in Eastlit July 2014.
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (about Uzbeki Fred in Hanoi) featured in Eastlit September 2014.
- The Writing is on the White Board appeared in Eastlit February 2015.