It is a lonely life being a baker. Up long before dawn to begin the days bake. In bed as most are getting home from work. No time for relationships, no chance of intimacy and no energy for even the most casual hook up.
I’ve not always been this way. After college I sprang onto the corporate ladder and was climbing high. I worked long hours, make shit tonnes of money and was having the time of my life.
I made a great group of friends in college, we stayed close after all living in the same city. In our early twenties we lived together and partied together but as one by one they fell into long term relationships clubs gave way to house-parties which gave way to dinner parties which became weddings, christenings and children’s birthdays.
I loved my friends, I loved attending their events, I was godfather to countless kids and truthfully didn’t miss the clubs or the hangovers. I worked long hours all week, saw my friends on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays I would spend with my Great-uncle Gilbert.
Uncle Gil owned a bagel shop, I worked with him every summer growing up, I loved to bake. Uncle Gil had a long term partner Jones who died the year I graduated high school. They had been together nearly 50 years and Uncle Gil never to my knowledge looked for anyone else.
He closed the shop but continued to live above it and we would bake together on a Sunday, cakes, pastries, learning together. As time went on he mostly watched. I loved Gil far more than anyone else in my family, he was the only one who really understood me.
The time we spent together on a Sunday would reset me physically and mentally for the week ahead. Gil never once hassled me about my single status or my lack of gay friends. He accepted me as I was and let me live my life. In return I didn’t hassle him about his increasingly hermit like behaviour or push him into seeing the rest of the family.
When Gil died I knew I’d lost the best friend I’d ever have.
He left me the shop, he owned the building outright, and a sizeable portfolio. I knew the shop was coming but not that he had socked so much away. I had a decent nest egg myself and I quit my job the next day.
Instantly the investors were circling, Gil’s working class neighbourhood had become an area for middle class families, it was where most of my friends now lived. The building was worth a mint. Of course I didn’t sell.
I quit my job and turned the bagel shop into a bakery and coffee shop. It was exactly what the area needed and was a quick success.
My friends were delighted for me, saw it as my version of settling down. I saw more of them than ever, in the morning as they grabbed coffee and pastries, the ones that gave up work would come by with the kids after pre-school and I’d still go and share their lives on weekends as we closed early.
But what of sex.
Ahh man I missed sex.
When I’d been a high flyer the last thing I wanted was the complications a relationship would bring and so I made good use of craigslist. Anonymous sex was my drug. I’d get guys to come to my office, at lunch or in the evening and get fucked good. I’d be all ready for them to make the encounter as to the point as possible. It was sordid and satisfying.
Of course it didn’t always go to plan, guys would flake, try and demand cash or be unable to perform but for the most part it was incredible. Me bent over my desk, fucked hard.
The best time was also the worst. As soon as he stood in the doorway I recognised him as the fiancé of my friend Maggie. Neither of us said a word and we continued as if we didn’t know each other. I came twice, harder than ever before.
I never saw him again, he called it off with Maggie shortly after. I never found out if due to fear I would tell or because he knew he was gay or because they had just run their course.
Ahh that encounter still keeps me hard at night.
Now I don’t have the time or energy to even match someone on an app. The cafe takes all my energy and brain power. I know I should hire more people but I am a control freak and could never step away too far.
And of course I love it. I love the heat of the basement bakery. I love preparing the various doughs, I love shaping loaves and sending everything into the oven to bake. I love teaching my staff how to make and decorate the cakes and pastries.
I love my life, but I wish I had someone to share it with.
I guess this is what happens when you spend your hot years shunning dates and all things relationship related. I have my business, my friends, my godchildren. It’s not like my life is empty but there is a hole.
One Saturday I close the cafe at 3 as usual and head over to my friend Sarah’s house. Maggie whose fiancé had fucked me years ago was married to my good friend Jack, I’d introduced them shortly after her engagement ended and they’d been married with in 6 months, they had a toddler and another on the way. Today we were having a shower for them.
Well we pretended it was a shower and showed up with gifts but it was an excuse to get together, it was just our core group and the kids and there would be no silly games or party favors. It was a warm day and the kids were let loose in the back yard.
We were sat at Sarah’s long outdoor table, she hosted most of the parties these days I swear because she was the only one who had a table big enough for all of us adults to sit round.
Kelly the only unmarried woman left in the group was recently single again and people were making suggestions of who they could set her up with. It was a conversation that happened every 6 months to a year depending on how long her latest relationship lasted. No one wanted to leave Kelly to the perils of internet dating and the women were on a mission to get her married off.
I suddenly felt very sad and then incredibly pissed off and I stood up to leave.
“Where are you going Matt?” Sarah asks me.
“Home. I’m sorry I can’t deal with this.” I say.
“With what?” Sarah pushes.
“I love Kelly I do and would love to see her married too but she’s been single a month, a month and you guys have sorted 6 dates for her. I’ve been single since college and never once have any of you tried to set me up with anyone. You’ve never invited a friend along that I might like. Never passed my number on to a colleague, your florist or dentist. At least two couples here are married directly due to me introducing them. When are you going to return the favour? How long do I have to be single before I’m worth your attention? A motherfucking month.” I tantrum and leave before they can say anything.
I’m tired of being the token gay guy in the group. Tired of being single. Tired of being godfather not father. Best man not groom. I’m so fucking lonely.
I take an indirect route home, walking for an hour or so to try and let my anger subside.
At home I shower then work on the dough for Monday, once everything is ready I go upstairs and let myself go.
I miss Gil, I miss sex, I have so much in my life but I want more. I cry and wallow in self-pity until I fall asleep.
My alarm sounds and I feel like I haven’t slept. My eyes are crusted shut and every bone aches. I remember my outburst yesterday afternoon and I feel embarrassed. I make a note to send flowers to the girls to apologise and I stagger into the shower.
The first bakes in the oven I go into the shop and make myself some coffee and eggs. I sit at the counter and try and get my head together for the day. It is not like me to be morose. Usually i have no time to think.
I make a second coffee and try and come up with a plan. Surely somewhere there is a man who can put up with my crazy hours. Someone who can have this coffee ready for me when I come up, who will enjoy sharing the first loaf of the day with me hot from the oven slathered in butter.
I clean up and start taking the chairs down from the tables, setting up for the day while I continue to indulge my daydream of a life with a writer or artist or househusband. Someone who takes care of our kids while I bake.
Back down to the bakery I go. I sort the trays ready for delivery to local hotels and other shops and hand them off to the drivers then take up the first lot for the shop. The first shift have arrived and are working in the upstairs kitchen on the cakes.and sandwiches. We only sell things we make in house.
I go back downstairs and get back to work.
I go back upstairs to help with the morning coffee rush. None of my friends come in this morning. I’m not surprised. After the rush I call a florist and get flowers sent to Maggie, Sarah and Kelly. With some time to think about it I’m glad to have everything off my chest but know it wasn’t the time or place and feel bad for spoiling the occasion.
The afternoon is busy and I am rushed off my feet until closing.
Once everything is clean and prepped for tomorrow I head to my bed. I need some stress relief. I wash up briefly and strip off. I play with my ass a little before inserting my prostate massager and enjoy wave upon wave of pleasure. As I grab my dick for a nice finish the thought of Maggie’s ex pops into my head and I jerk myself into a frenzy, the combination of pleasure leads me to the biggest orgasm I’ve had in years.
I lie back for a few minutes just breathing and recovering before taking a scolding hot shower. I strip and remake my bed and just before I fall into a dead sleep I vow to look that guy up.
The next day is much like Monday. All the girls pop in at some point during the day and we apologize to each other. Sarah is the last to come in, she brings her kids after school and asks me to join her for coffee which I do.
“I’m sorry we have been so blind to your needs. You always said you didn’t want a relationship but I realized half of us used to say that when we were working all hours. None of us had time for love. You’ve not said that in years but you’ve also never said you would like it. But it cannot be fun going home from every party to an empty home. I’m really, really sorry.” Sarah says.
“I’m sorry for making a fuss and ruining the party. I can’t expect you to treat me like you do Kelly. I know I’m just not that close to you guys anymore.” I say.
“You really feel that way?” Sarah asks.
“Yes. This is the first time you’ve asked me how I feel in years. I love all you guys but you stopped seeing me as a real person a long time ago.” I say.
“Don’t be like that Matt. We all love and care about you.” Sarah says.
“Can we just forget it?” I say. The café is getting busy, I get up and wash my hands so I can pitch in.
Once we close and everything is clean and prepped I sit at my laptop and log in to facebook to see if Maggie’s ex is there. I wonder if he’s married, if he ever came out, if he’s still in the city.
I think I find him, we have a couple of mutual friends but the rest of the profile is closed off. If it is him he’s hotter with age. Before I can come to my senses I send a friend request and shutdown and go to bed.
Wednesday is like Tuesday and Monday. My life is full of routine repetition. Although in the afternoon as I’m working behind the counter a guy starts to chat me up. I’m flattered and a little weirded out as it feels out the blue. Until he mentions Kelly recommended the place and I realise she’s sent him as an extra peace offering.
I’m polite and friendly but decline to take his number.
Thursday and Friday follow the same pattern, complete with visits from guys sent in by my girlfriends. I feel bad, my friends have done what I wanted but none of the guys spark any interest in me. They are exactly the type of guys my friends would go for if they were straight, not my type at all. I guess my friends don’t have much to go on.
Maybe I should stop and have coffee with one of them but it feels awkward given this is my workplace and my employees would be looking on.
On Saturday after closing I have some time to myself. No social engagements, no chores. I make soup and a sandwich, put some music on and sit at my kitchen table with my laptop.
I open facebook and Greg, that’s Maggie’s ex’s name, has accepted my friend request. I’m stalking his pictures to work out his relationship status when the messenger box pops up, it’s him.
My heart starts beating a million times a minute. I grab the table with my hands and try to breathe. I try and put things in perspective, he was a onetime thing a million years ago. He was a cheater and closeted.
“I’m good. It’s been forever what have you been up to?” I ask trying to keep things low key.
“It has been forever. When I ended things with Maggie I quit my job, sold my apartment and went travelling for 3 years. I taught English here and there, volunteered for wildlife organisations and children’s charities. I saw the sights, made friends and lived a dream life.” Grey types.
“Wow that is a huge change. What about now?” I ask.
“I write. It’s a bit of a cliché I had this amazing experience, blogged and got a book deal. The book did not sell, nonfiction is not what I’m good at but I liked writing and now I write a teen series, I don’t need much I inherited my grandparent’s house and I turned it into 3 apartments, I lease 2 and live in the third. How about you I hear you left the corporate world too?” Greg asks.
“Like you I had an inheritance, I turned my Great-uncle Gil’s bagel shop into a bakery and café.” I say.
“Wow, I think I know it. You do a great Chelsea bun.” Greg says.
“I can’t believe I didn’t see you. Next time be sure to say hello, stop for coffee.” I say.
We chat on for hours. We talk about our mutual friends, the café, his travels and his work. We talk about sports and movies and nothing much at all. It’s heaven.
I sign off urging him to visit for coffee.
My dreams are the sweetest sweatiest kind.
I have to take myself off to the kitchens at work as I keep jumping every time the door opens. My crush feels ridiculous. Based on one fuck and one online chat I feel head over heels in love.
I think about before our hook-up when he was Maggie’s fiancé, I don’t remember him too clearly. I guess we never talked much. I try and remember what Maggie liked about him but I’m drawing a blank.
On Thursday I am bringing some break up into the bakery, ready for the after school crowd and he’s here, sat in the corner on his laptop typing away. My breath is gone. I stock the bread baskets and then ask Lily who is manning the counter how long he has been here.
“A while.” She says.
I make 2 coffees and fill a plate with treats.
“Hi.” I say sitting opposite him and offering him the fresh coffee.
“Hi, I love this place. I only ordered to go before, I could write here every day.” He says.
“I’d like that.” I say unable to play it cool.
“Are you a feeder? These look so good.” Greg says gesturing the plate.
“Maybe. I always take a batch of something when I go to a party but I’ve never cooked for anyone here, well only paying customers.” I say.
“Well I would happily be an eater if everything you make tastes like this. I already had a sandwich and the bread was fantastic.” Greg says.,
I blush, I’m too flustered to reply for a moment.
“Are you working on a book?” I ask.
“Yes, almost done on this one. I’m feeling creative today and so I’m working on a new one. Though maybe I’m just feeling inspired as I don’t want to work on the notes from my editor.” Greg says laughing.
He has a hearty laugh. His face lights up, his eyes dance and his dimples deepen.
“Stay as long as you like. Just shout if you need more coffee.” I say.
“Do you have to go back to work already?” Greg asks.
“Not yet but we’ll be busy in ten minutes or so.” I say honestly.
“I always wanted to get to know you better. You always seemed so confident and smart. You were really the centre of that group making everyone comfortable and welcome.” Greg says.
“No, Sarah and John were always the driving force, they might not be the only ones with kids but they still are the parents of the group making sure we get together often, every event celebrated, every kid’s game attended.” I say.
“Ahh they may be the organizers the ones who take the credit but you were the one who made sure everyone got their say, no one could dominate a conversation when you were around you wove conversations with such skill. I was always fascinated.” Greg says.
“Yet we never really talked.” I say.
“No, I was also scared of you. Scared that you’d out me.” Greg says.
“I had no idea you liked men until that day you showed up in my office.” I say
“I thought it was written on my forehead. I wanted the perfect family life, wife, kids, and suburbia. I suppressed every desire I had, told myself I was in control but every couple of months I’d answer an ad like yours. I was a sick fuck.” Greg says.
“Does Maggie know? Did you come out after breaking it off?” I ask.
“Yeah I told her when I ended it. Not about you or the other times I cheated but that I was gay. I asked her to keep it to herself if she could. I still wanted to control everything. I think that I couldn’t is in part what lead me to taking off on my trip.” Greg says.
“She never did tell our group, or at least she never told me.” I say.
The door is opening at a faster and faster speed.
“Look I need to help out. But I really want to talk more. Stick around or come back soon.” I say.
Greg gives me that smile. I know we’re at least going to be close friends. We already are, I’ve been more open and honest with him than with anyone since Uncle Gil died.
When the rush clears and the Moms and kids make way for the after work crowd Greg comes over to the counter.
“I have to get back. Can I get 2 rye loaves and settle up.” Greg says.
I bag up the bread and add a bag of buns.
“On the house. I hope you’ll be back soon. I really enjoyed talking to you.” I say.
He doesn’t come in the next day or over the weekend but on Monday afternoon he’s back. I join him for coffee and a chat again and it is wonderful. I feel really alive around him.
He comes in every afternoon and I soon find myself counting down the time until he arrives. Each day our conversation flows easily and it is as if we have been the best of friends since childhood.
The following week I am telling him about Uncle Gil and how he was the only other gay man in my life for a long time. I get a little upset talking about him. It’s closing time so I send the staff on home and ask Greg to stay for dinner.
He watches as I clean up and prep for the next day. He doesn’t talk just lets me get on with it, he can see the tasks are calming me down. He already knows me so well.
Once done I take him upstairs. As I’m chopping vegetables he stands behind me, hugs me and kisses my neck. It’s like a thousand bolts of lightning run through me. I turn and we kiss gently, firmly just for a moment. Then he steps back and I return to task.
He makes no other moves and I’m too shy to, though I want to so much. We enjoy dinner and after an awkward minute or two the conversation begins to flow again. He makes to leave, knowing I will be going to bed shortly and kisses me on the cheek.
Over the next few months he comes into the café most days to work, he stays for dinner one midweek day and on Sundays. Sundays we close at 3 and we spend time together wither watching sport or movies or we go for a walk together. It’s very chaste dating.
I go back to my social circle on Saturdays and the occasional midweek event. I never mention Greg. If any of them come into the café he tends to exit without talking to them. I don’t mind. I don’t want things to be awkward.
One Sunday about 6 months after Greg came into my life he doesn’t appear. I don’t know if I should text or call to see if he’s sick. We talk so much every day and spend such good quality time together that we’ve never got into a texting routine.
Well obviously I’m in a dark mood all day, every time it’s not him coming in the door I practically growl at the customers until I get ushered into the kitchen on sandwich duty out the way.
Just as I’m about to go upstairs after cleaning up I hear a knock at the back door. It is him.
Well my mood lifts and I just throw my arms around him in a hug. Since that kiss we haven’t been affectionate at all and I kind of surprise myself.
“Can I come in?” Greg asks still stood in the doorway.
I usher him upstairs and ask if he wants a drink.
“Not yet. I have something to say.” Greg says.
“Okay. Is everything okay?” I ask.
“I think so. I hope so.” Greg says.
“Good, you had me worried.” I say.
“Just come here and face me.” Greg says.
I do. He takes both my hands in his.
“Six months ago you came back into my life and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I had a boyfriend who I lived with. That night when I kissed you I went home and ended it. W had been together for over a year and so it was a big deal to end it. But I knew I had to because of how I felt about you.” Greg says calmly as if he’s rehearsed it.
My heart sank at the mention of a boyfriend but swelled as soon as he said it was over.
“I always liked you but never dreamed anything would happen. That one time stayed with me for years after unlike any other encounter I had.” Greg says.
“For me too.” I say.
“I needed to be sure that this was real. I needed to be sure I wasn’t using it as an out for my relationship which was already close to the end. I needed to be sure you weren’t a rebound.” Greg says.
“Is that why you didn’t make another move?” I ask.
“My feelings for you have only deepened. I love you with all my heart.” Greg says.
Before I can tell him I feel the same he slips his hands out of mine and to the floor. Oh my God he’s on one knee.
Brandishing a ring box Greg looks up at me.
“Matt would you do me the honour of being my husband.” Greg says.
A million thoughts are going through my head, it’s too soon, we’re not officially boyfriends even, will he move in, all the thoughts are swimming and swirling but the main one pushes to the front.
“Yes, YES, YES! Of course I will marry you.” I say pulling him to his feet and kissing him.
“Wait I need to put the ring on.” Greg says.
“I love it, it’s beautiful. Do you have one for yourself? Do I need to go and get you one? Do you want the same?” I ask.
“I got myself one. I was pretty sure of your answer. Not being arrogant I knew you loved me back deeply.” Greg says.
“I do, I do love you very much. Let me see the ring on you. Can I put it on you?” I ask.
He hands me the second box and I slide the ring onto his finger. I kiss him again. Happy that I don’t have to hold my affection back any more.
“Oh god how will I tell my friends? Tell Maggie?” I ask suddenly coming down to earth.
“We will tell them together and they will be happy for you or have me to deal with.” Greg says.
“Thank you.” I say.
“We’ll tell our families, tell our friends then we’ll have an engagement party and a wedding and live happily ever after.” Greg says.
“With lots of sex.” I say.
“With lots of sex. Want to get started on that?” Greg grins.
I give him my best smile and drag him to my bedroom.