I was sitting outside on a patio in North Buckhead Tuesday finishing lunch with a friend when this cute, clean-cut kid who looked to about 19 walked up and asked if we knew if there was a library in the area. I did and I described to him how to get there. He said he had just moved to Atlanta from Columbus, GA and wanted to get to a library so he could use a computer, but that he needed to stay in the general vicinity. I told him it was probably about a mile walk from where we were and he said that was fine with him. But I was headed back to my house anyway and I could easily go right by the library, so I offered him a ride. Of course, he accepted.
As soon as he got into the car a faint whiff of cigarette smoke wafted in with him. He was quite the chatty Cathy and it quickly became apparent he didn’t have much of a filter, so I started asking him questions.
Me: “So are you going to school here?”
Dustin: “Right now I’m just working and trying to figure out what I’m going to do. I work in kind of an unsavory industry. I’m a go-go dancer at a gay bar off of Cheshire Bridge, though I’m straight. But the guys kind of like me so sometimes I’ll act like I’m gay to get better tips. It usually works out pretty well.”
Me: (chuckling) “Well, you certainly aren’t the first person to dance to make money while trying to figure out what you want to do with your life.”
Me: (to myself) “I’ve known a couple of girls who stripped to put themselves through college, but you are the first straight guy I’ve met who is a go-go dancer at a gay bar.”
Dustin: “Yeah, I don’t have much money and I’m still getting a feel for Atlanta, but I really wanted to get out of that small town and go someplace with more fun stuff to do. Like, I went to this music festival last weekend and it was REALLY cool.”
Me: “Oh, which one?”
Dustin: “It was the Magnetic Music Festival at Kennesaw State. A friend of mine paid for my ticket. I’m really into EDM. There’s a really tight-knit EDM community here. You know, it’s great. The rave community is based on P.L.U.R., which stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect, and I’m all about that. I’m the kind of guy who, even if people try to start crap with me, I just don’t want to add to the negativity in the world, you know?
Side note: that’s Electronic Dance Music to the uninitiated – electronic club music. Think Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim in the 90s. Now, it’s acts like Flosstradamus
Me: (to myself) “Oh, I know about raves my little friend, and the last time I checked they were mostly about rolling on E and dancing your ass off all night while waving your glow sticks around.”
Me: (out loud to Dustin) “Oh, that sounds cool. Good for you for not adding to the world’s negativity.”
Me: (to myself) “Do I have a little hustler in my car? Let me see here: small town boy escaped to the big city, go-go dancer with little money and no car, raver, more than likely does some drugs. Glad I put my purse in the back. Pretty glad that this is a short ride.”
At this point, we are just around the corner from the library at a traffic light when Dustin pulls out a ratty looking flip phone and says to me, “So I’d really like to get a contact number for you.” He looks down at his phone and says… “Uh, yeah, this is a pay-as-you-go phone. My phone got stolen last night. I used to have a really nice Android.” …blah, blah, blah.
Me: (to myself in my head): “Why on Earth would you need my phone number? How best to handle this, Chris? How best to handle this?”
Me: (out loud): Awkward pause. Nothing but the sound of crickets.
Dustin: “I asked for your number because you are pretty and you are really nice and I know I’m only twenty-one, but I thought maybe I could call you and we could conversate sometime.
Me: (ranting in my head) “Conversate?! Jesus Christ. Conversate?!”
Me: (chuckling out loud) “Aw Dustin, that is very flattering. I appreciate it but I have been married almost longer than you’ve been on the planet. Thank you anyway though.” And I showed him my wedding band, which he had failed to notice earlier.
We pulled up to the library and I reached to shake Dustin’s hand, but he leaned over and gave me a hug and thanked me for my hospitality before he got out of the car. I wished him good luck.
Dustin: “Maybe I’ll see you at the library sometime.”
And there you have it. Just a typical Buckhead Betty kind of afternoon.