The Situation’s Embarrassing is still embarrassing on Our Big Gayborhood!

Walking down Seventh Avenue the other day, I waved to someone I thought I knew. He was hunched against the brick wall outside of Elmo in a server’s apron smoking a cigarette, while my partner, Melinda, and I were on our way to Williams-Sonoma for wineglasses. As we passed, I gave him the waving version of a cordial, casual I-see-you nod, and he did the same in return.

“Babe? Who ya waving at?” Melinda asked me, gently.

“That guy we know,” I answered.

“You don’t know him.”

“We do,” I said, pointing over my shoulder at him.

No. She nodded her head, definitively, “We don’t.”

“He’s our favorite server at Klee.”

Melinda continued to shake her head no.

“Who works at Elmo…no…Alpha too,” I trailed off, starting to puzzle. “His name’s Ryan.”

“Yeah, that’s Ryan, but he’s not our server. He’s from that show.”

We stood stopped at a crosswalk. I stared at her, totally blank.

“The challenge show with what’s-her-name, Evelyn.” Melinda prompted.

As the light changed and pedestrians started to move en masse around me, television scenes blipped across my mind’s eye in HD. Ryan drunk and careening in a zillion dollar mansion. Ryan seriously strategizing with an alliance of beautiful idiots. Ryan carrying a tree trunk in Panama one minute and making out in a hot tub the next. Ryan and Evelyn queering up British Columbia. Ryan, oh that Ryan, on MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat.

I never would have admitted that I watched the show…Season I or II…or that I DVR’d it, or that I felt a genuine sense of Pride when Evelyn won, or that I was familiar enough with a show’s contestant that I recognized him out of context in his work uniform and waved to him as if we were really, truly acquainted. I especially wouldn’t have broadcasted it on the street, during rush hour, in my own Manhattan neighborhood.

“Oh,” I said, flushing brighter than traffic light.

“It’s okay,” Melinda patted my hand in hers.

“But he waved back? Like he knew me.”

Or was a Reality TV celeb accustomed to being recognized. Which must have happened all the time, but nonetheless the situation was embarrassing.

I sped toward Williams-Sonoma. I rushed inside without looking back. Luckily, opening the store’s door felt like changing the channel. I quickly forgot about Ryan as I sought out glasses that I didn’t mind getting broken, when things inevitably got a little rowdy after Melinda and I invited our real friends over to watch this season’s Cutthroat.