tristan popped a cherry tomato stuffed with smoked trout and topped with scallions into his mouth and smiled at me. "Thanks for bringing me to this," he said.
"You're welcome." We were standing on the promenade deck of a large yacht, surrounded by white toques and silver platters and well-heeled guests grabbing the hors d'oeuvres that were whizzing by with blinding speed. "Do you see anyone you know?"
Tristan scanned a map printed on heavy cream paper, trying to decipher the calligraphy. "It says here the desserts are on the Sunshine Deck. But I don't want to go up there yet. What's that?" he asked a toothy, tanned waiter who stood by our side.
"Duck quesadillas with a salsa crème fraîche," he replied. "Would you like a napkin?" He offered one to Tristan, winked and moved away.
"Hey, wait a minute ..." I started, then gave up. "You know, thank God you're here, Tristan. Otherwise, I doubt I'd ever get any of these waiters to stop at all."
"You gotta work it, honey," said Tristan, taking a swig of Chalone Pinot Noir. "Listen, what do gay men and straight women have in common? Answer: They can go out and get laid anytime they want. Now think about that for a second. Want a shrimp?" he asked as he grabbed a skewer of pink prawns, each as large as my fist, that was passing behind me.
I grabbed a glass of Duckhorn Merlot and drank it in two gulps. "What does that possibly have to do with anything?" I asked with a sigh.
"Think about how infuriated that must make straight men. They have to rely on the kindness of strangers to get laid. They have to beg, plead, cajole ... think about it. It's the root of misogyny and homophobia, I'm telling you." He dipped a tiny cookie spoon into an even tinier root beer float served in a candy cup.
"Well, I don't know about that," I said, glancing down at my white shirt. Somehow, tiny dots of a purple sauce had managed to strategically land on my left breast. I looked like a lactating alien, and for the hundredth time that night I mused on how unattractive I felt among these Donna Karan-ed women and Ralph Lauren-ed men dining and cruising on this big yacht in the San Francisco Bay. Break-ups tend to do that to a girl.
"Hey, isn't that Fred?" I asked, spotting one of Tristan's co-workers, clad in a white chef's coat, calmly ladling an electric-green sauce onto individual dumplings.
Tristan craned his neck, but not before Fred suddenly looked over at us, turned 17 shades of red and ducked behind a palm tree, busily arranging tortilla chips in little anally retentive rows. "Now why ..." I started to ask. Then I remembered. "Jesus Christ, Tristan!" I grabbed his sleeve, pulling him back in a violent arc and splashing champagne on his lapel in the process. "You told him. I can't believe you. You told him!"
Tristan looked startled. "Told him what?"
"You know what," I hissed. "You told him about 'Didja ever.' " God, how embarrassing. I tried to remember what I said: about how Tristan was telling me about Fred's sexual tastes -- how much he liked to go down on girls, how he liked to be a little dominating, how he liked girls to be a little ... what was the word Tristan had used? Oh, yes, Ripe. And how I responded that Fred sounded like my kind of guy and that it was too bad we were otherwise engaged and that if he ever felt like just coming over to have sex with me to just come on over, he didn't have to phone. It was all coming back to me now.
"Just how much did you tell him?" I demanded.
Tristan was dabbing at his coat. "I don't know," he said impatiently. "What difference does it make?"
"It makes a difference," I said. "Because how am I ever going to be able to look him in the eye again? Jesus, Tristan. Is nothing sacred with you?"
"In this case, no." He defiantly gnawed on a baby pork spare rib. "You should be thanking me. So what if I told him everything you said? It's true, isn't it? You like to be gone down on, he likes to go down. You like fellatio, he likes to be fellated. Now, if you two can come to some sort of arrangement ..."
"Grilled tongue on foccacia?" said a waiter brightly.
"No, thank you," I said.
"Yes, please!" Tristan said. "Listen, why are you straight people so uptight? If you two were gay, you'd be secreted in some broom closet right now, as we speak. I just cut to the chase for you two. Go over and talk to him. You don't have a boyfriend anymore, what do you care?"
"Thank you for reminding me," I responded acidly. "I'm sorry but it just doesn't work that way with straight people. You didn't cut to the chase, you plain eliminated the chase. And us hunter-gatherer types thrive on the chase. Now, since you told him what I like, and I know what he likes, all the mystery is gone. All that's left is embarrassment." Fred clearly felt the same way. He had his back to us, intently reading a metal sign on what to do in case of a marine emergency.
"Oh, honey," said Tristan, putting his arm around me. "Let's go get some of that roasted garlic paté with the cilantro salsa on brioche bread. I know you're not feeling good about yourself right now. But I honestly think if you would go get laid, it'd make you feel a lot better. And why not with Fred? I've paved the way ..."
"No. It's too fucked up now. And I was just being playful when I told you that ..." well, sort of, "... and I'm sure he was too."
Tristan rolled his eyes. "You straight people need to loosen up," he said as led me through the crowd. Diamond-clad arms were thrusting between the palm trees, grabbing chocolate covered strawberries and glasses of champagne laid out on trays. "Think Machiavelli. Remember, with sex, the end always justifies the means."
"Wonderful," I said irritably. "And someday, my Prince will come."