Brave New World
by Corey Saucier

My First Date with Magic Johnson
There are some things we just shouldn’t have to say

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You know they already have a cure for HIV. They gave it to Magic Johnson, and he doesn’t have AIDS anymore.”

This is what my date is saying just as the trendy Vietnamese waitress is asking us if everything is okay with our meal. I smile, nod, and take a sip from my small glass of ice water. It’s a stalling technique. I’m trying to think of something to do that doesn’t involve me looking him in the eye, because I’m sure he couldn’t have said what I think he just said.

I met Emanuel at church. He was dressed in a form-fitting dusty brown business suit. He’d smiled at me a few times over the years, so the last time we bumped into each other, I casually asked him out. Emanuel is thirty-five years-old and looks like the star of a telenovela: piercing blue eyes, caramel blond hair, and prominent (well groomed) eyebrows. He is beautiful to look at, but when we talked on the phone, he said something about wearing his “short shorts” to dinner—which of course I completely ignored, because I didn’t know what that meant; besides, it’s Los Angeles, and white people wear shorts here all year round—even in the rain.

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I invited the handsome churchgoing Emanuel to my favorite first-date restaurant in the heart of Hollywood. It’s a popular Thai restaurant with delicious food, reasonably low prices, and quick efficient service. He showed up forty-five minutes late, ordered two alcoholic drinks back to back, and immediately launched into conversations about his broken childhood. He was a foster child with a boozer father and an abusive birth mother in Arkansas. It was a very sad monologue. But to brighten the mood, he would intermittently break into full-volume musical solos (much to the chagrin of the paid live performer in the background). But I didn’t have an issue with any of that! We all have our quirks, and I don’t embarrass easily. Even the “short shorts” were something I could deal with.

Oh, what about the short shorts, you ask!?

High-cut, white-fringed, Forever 21 girl-shorts that revealed his glistening freshly shaven legs all the way up to his round hairless pale cheeks! Miss Thing was SASSY! But I can deal with fierce-fem-fabulousnesses; I’ve been known to dabble myself. You should see my collection of wigs and Tiffany pearls! And let’s just be clear. I am only painting his red flags so vibrantly in crimson because I’m the one with a regular column in a national magazine. If he were writing Red_Flag

about me, I’m sure he would mention my aloof condescension at the way he held his fork; he would go-on for a few lines about my fake blue eyes, and what they say about my own personal issues with race and class; and he would probably point out how I casually mentioned my intravenous drug use as if I were just telling a story about stubbing my toe. But he doesn’t have a column in a magazine, I do! So I get to frame the date the way I want to, and what I want to focus on, is what he said after I disclosed my status (which I always do between the first and third date).

“You know I’m HIV-positive.” I said, casually when the topic of sex came up.

And without looking up from his half-eaten plate of delicious shrimp fried rice, and without any sense of irony he said, “Oh I don’t worry about HIV. If God means for me to catch it, I will catch it. I have faith. Plus, you know they already have a cure for HIV. They gave it to Magic Johnson, and he doesn’t have AIDS anymore.”

I smiled and nodded; took a sip from my water, and asked the waitress for the check.

The date was over and I was done.

You see it’s not my responsibility to educate every gay man that I go on a first date with about HIV and AIDS. Been there done that. And it’s not my Red_Flag

responsibility to be the patient and kind voice of experience and reason every time I think someone is cute. Been there done that. But since this is an HIV magazine, and I can put words on a page, let me clarify. As of RIGHTNOWTHISVERYSECOND there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, and they have not “given it” to Magic Johnson.

Photo by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta
Photo by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta

Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.