It was a very special day for Andrade. Not only because it was Valentine’s day but mainly because he would have dinner with his young boy.
He felt like a teenager, excited but fearful at the same time. At the age of fifty-eight he had never done anything like this, he had always kept his wishes secret.
José, or Zé as he liked to be called, was only 22. Andrade took him off the streets. When he met him, the boy was a homeless prostitute that earned for his food and vices. Three years had passed but Andrade still remembered his black eyes, covered with much goo, which stood out of José’s thin and dirty face. Now, he can’t get tired of repeating it was love at first sight. Zé laughed and mocked him.
Andrade is a famous pianist who is very well off. What he earns from his piano lessons, and most of all from his concerts, which are mostly abroad, allows him to live wealthily. So, he helped the boy to come out of the streets, paying for the first rents and, later, he pulled some strings and allowed him into the show business.
He could still remember the day that he had desperately declared his love for the boy. He started laughing.
– I knew that already… – said Zé. It was funny to see someone around his fifties blushing as an ashamed child.
After that, the man did never give up investing on the boy. He got him some auditions and finally a job in show business. He bought him the first paint box and taught him patiently to make up. He attended very nervous to his first show as drag queen. He was fierce of every movement Zé made on stage delighted as in the presence of the true Maria Callas. He was so excited that all other people had stopped and Andrade was still standing and applauding. When the boy asked him how the show was, he simply couldn’t speak.
They dated already for almost a year. Andrade arrived home and, after a long bath, he was choosing what to dress for the evening. He took his black suit out and noticed it was well ironed. He placed it on the bed and went to the bathroom to shave. Carefully, he let the shaving blade run through his face. He put some perfume. He went back to the bedroom. He put on a white shirt and started dressing his suit. He decided not to wear a tie, today. He put on his black socks and then the shoes. He looked into the mirror and thought… he was way too formal, as if going to work, or maybe as if going to a wake. He felt old and ridiculous. He took a deep breath and went back to the wardrobe. He looked and looked and nothing pleased him. He scratched his head and still nothing pleased him. He looked at the grey suit which he didn’t wear for a while because he thought the trousers had a cut “way too modern”. He took the trousers from the hanger and put them on. He felt OK. He went to the drawer in the closet and took a navy blue polo shirt that his sister had given him and he had never dressed before. He tried it over the white shirt. He took a look at the mirror. He shrank his belly a little and felt young, while laughing at what he was doing. He grabbed his car key and went out.
He arrived at the restaurant and went to the Head Waitress giving his name for the reservation. The girl showed him to the table. He sat and waited for his boy who should be arriving any moment, as beforehand was settled. While he waited, he ordered a red wine bottle, Quinta do Noval Douro, 2007 Reserve. He tapped his fingers on the table as well as he watched his watch. He was getting impatient because it was twenty-five minutes past the settled time. Thirty. Forty. Andrade was getting annoyed. The restaurant was filled with couples and he was feeling abandoned and lonely in the crowd. He tapped his foot. It was past an hour.
What annoyed him the most was the waiter that kept asking if he wanted the menu? He wiped his mouth to the napkin. He felt like crying, feeling abused.
He finally saw the expected figure of Zé talking to the Head Waitress. Dressed like an angel, Zé was looking for his mate in the crowd. Finally, he spotted Andrade’s hand waving at him. The older man’s heart pumped with joy.
– I am sorry… I had to visit a store! – said Zé.
Andrade couldn’t already remember how nervous he was feeling while he waited. He stood up and offered his hand to greet the boy.
– No such thing… – as he said this, Zé bent over him and gently kissed his lips. Andrade was astonished and exhilarating at the same time. He sat and gulped. He didn’t look at the gifts and nobody cared for what was happening at that table.
– You have been drinking… – mocked Zé, smiling at him. At the same time he put his hand in his pocket and took a little wrap. A really tiny wrap.
– Take it. It’s for you. That’s why I took so long.
Andrade took the little wrap and took a tie pin from it.
-Thank you… I didn’t buy you anything… my head!…
– You don’t have to give me anything… you gave me a soul.
They chatted all dinner long until the moment Zé started telling jokes.
Andrade laughed out loud at the faces the boy was making. He laughed so much that he wetted his pants. Ashamed, he told it to Zé.
– No problem. It just means you are happy.
– Your’re crazy! Now, as soon as I stand up everybody will look at me and laugh! How ashamed I am… I will look ridiculous.
José waved his head. He took half a glass of water from the table and poured it into his own trousers. He stood up and offered him his hand.
– Come on, we will share the ridiculousness.
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista