I was standing in line at the post office at the train station, waiting to buy stamps before running to work, when he suddenly appeared at my side.
A thin, small statured young black man with big ears that stuck out from his narrow brown face like miniature half moons.
“I need somebody to talk to,” he said. “Will you talk to me?”
His slow, childlike voice and wide, innocent eyes tipped me off. This brother was slow, developmentally disabled. His modest clothes were neat and he was clean. But he had white powder on his lips that looked like he had just eaten a donut.
Or at least I hoped that was powdered sugar on his lips…
“Look dude, I don’t have any money to give you but we can talk,” I said. “And look, I have a napkin. You need to wipe your mouth.”
I pulled a cloth napkin out of my satchel and handed it to him. He wiped his mouth but most of the white powder still clung stubbornly to his lips.
“Who do you live with?” I asked.
“My mom,” he answered.
“How old are you?”
“Do you work?”
“I work at McDonalds. I’m off today.”
I bought my stamps and he offered to walk me to my office building. I talk to anybody, including the the homeless guys who loiter around the train station in town. So I said, sure we can talk some more. But when we started down the slope to my office the real reason he was so eager to talk to me came out.
“Do you have anything against gay people?,” he asked.
Oh. My. God. I was being hit on by the developmentally challenged. I burst out laughing.
“Dude, I’m gay too it’s no big deal to me,” I said, immediately thinking “I just came out the closet to a retarded dude on a busy city street.”
“Well, my Mom thinks it’s a sin and unnatural,” he continued. He looked down at his feet as if he was ashamed.
“Well, it’s the way God made you. Don’t feel bad about it,” I answered.
“Can I take you out after work? I want to see you. What time you get off? I can be here when you leave,” he asked as we reached the door to my building.
I tried to let him down easy. “Look man, I’m flattered. But I got to go to work and you can’t come in my building because the security guards won’t let you.”
He eventually got the message and turned to walk away. I wished him a good day.
I went upstairs, went in the conference room, and called my buddy “Colin.” (See “Snowed In In the Suburbs”).
I was laughing before he could pick up the phone.
“You won’t believe this man. A gay retarded dude just tried to pick me up at the train station.”
“Oh my,” Colin said in his usual deadpan tone. “What were you wearing?”
“Striped pants, a polka dot shirt and a clown hat,” I answered jokingly.
“That figures,” Colin said.
But I had to admit to Colin, that dude had a lot more chutzpah than black gay men with three times his intellect and bank account. He saw a dude he fancied, walked up to him, introduced himself, struck up a conversation, revealed his sexuality and asked me on a date. Mind you, it would have been a fish fillet at McDonald’s but I would have gone.
Plus he was cute in a nerdy way.
I had to work later than usual today and when I came out of the building day was fading. I half expected to find him waiting for me, with that earnest look on his face. But he wasn’t there.