When I first met Neil, he was drinking Heineken at Jim’s party. Well dressed and very drunk gay men stood around a veritable garden of potted plants; they watched each other watching each other and tried to appear disinterested.
A small crowd of three or four gathered around Neil. I didn’t know him then, but wanted to, so I drifted over.
Neil’s eyes were glassy and bright and returned my (light-hearted) stare far more often than he peered into any others’ eyes. He had black hair twisted and tangled like one of those lucky trolls that were popular years before. Beer in hand, he leaned his lithe body forward, one knee on the cushions. He was ten years younger than anyone there.
He was telling a story; his voice surprised me—it was too gravelly to come out of that face. I’d come in late, and caught only the punchline: “So I took down the sign!” His laughter made the room smile.