On a typical Thursday, Tony sat in the teacher’s lounge, swiping through Tinder with one hand and holding a half-eaten sandwich with the other. His students were in the middle of recess, so he had plenty of time to relax and do nothing. He had some papers he needed to grade on like, ancient Rome or something, but… he could do that later.
The small room was empty, aside from him, a refrigerator, a microwave, a table, a few chairs, and a vending machine. He was normally accompanied by at least one other teacher, but they were all absent. This was a good thing, in his opinion. He didn’t have to listen to his coworkers complain about their misbehaving students, and he could stretch his legs out and lean back in the comfy desk chair while judging people on the mainstream dating app.
He wasn’t sure why he had the app, other than as an easy way to kill time. He doubted that he was going to actually end up dating anyone he matched with. Most people didn’t respond to his messages, or the conversation would die and never pick back up.
After swiping left on another person that abused the dog filter, he found a familiar face. One of his coworkers, Colin Stevens. Twenty-seven years old, less than a mile away. He only had two photos, a selfie that appeared to have been taken in the same room Tony was sitting in, and a full-body photo of him in a 3-piece suit with a dark background. Colin was a very tall, very skinny person. Tony probably could have picked him up. He was blond with short hair, and wore a large pair of rectangular glasses. Tony could also admit that he had a pretty cute smile in the suit photo.
His bio was fairly short. “5th grade math teacher. looking for something long-term.” Tony stared at his profile for a few moments. His thumb hovered over it, contemplating. He was curious to see if Colin would match with him, but he was afraid of the awkward conversation that would follow if they did. He didn’t know him too well. They didn’t really have a reason to talk to each other, seeing that they taught different subjects. Colin also seemed to spend most of his free time with the other math teacher, whom Tony tried not to interact with too much. He was a bit creepy, in Tony’s opinion.
Tony finally made up his mind and was ready to swipe left, but the door flew open, and the same man Tony was about to digitally reject stepped into the room.
Tony dropped his phone in surprise. “Oh fu— god— whoops, uh.” He had tried to grab it before it slammed on the table, but it bounced off of his hand and flew toward Colin. Colin tried to grab it, but it bounced off of his arm, and landed screen facing down on the carpeted floor.
“I didn’t mean to scare you!” Colin laughed. He leaned down and picked up the elusive phone. He turned it over to find his own face staring back at him. “Huh.”
Tony chuckled nervously. “Uh, sorry for hitting you, heh.” He looked away when Colin glanced up at him, staring at the medium-sized refrigerator, instead. I wonder if I could fit in there. Maybe, if I really forced myself in.
“It’s okay, ah, here’s your phone.” Colin reached out, and Tony glanced back. He had put on an awkward smile. Wow, cut e. “Sorry for scaring you, wait, I said that already, whoops. Sorry. I mean, sorry.”
“Thanks…” He took the phone back, not sure what to do, now. Colin was looking right at him. He would be able to tell whether Tony swiped left or right. Maybe if he just closed the app for now…? But Colin might take that as a rejection. God, what did I do to deserve this situation?
Colin sat down in the chair next to him. He used his ridiculously long arms to reach into the refrigerator from where he was sitting to grab his lunch box. “So… were you maybe thinking of swiping right on that cute blond dude?” he said, cheeks pink as he opened his lunch box.
“Uh…” Tony wished that he had a bite of sandwich left to shove into his mouth. Speaking was hard. “M-maybe? Why?” I wish I knew what he was thinking.
“Well I just, ah, I think that you might have a good chance of matching with him and going on a date with him, and hopefully having a good time I guess? But that all depends on if you’re actually interested… aw dang I dunno what I’m saying!” He laughed, his face red, now. He bit into an apple and stared at Tony.
Tony’s eyes widened. “Oh. Oh! Huh.” Well, wish granted, I guess! His face hurt from blushing. “I guess, if you think I have a shot… He has a cute smile. I just hope it won’t be too awkward.” He laughed as his thumb pulled Colin’s profile to the right. The screen flashed as it notified him that it was a match.
He sent a quick “Hi ” to Colin and glanced up, seeing that his coworker had his phone out already.
A moment later, he received a reply. “if i had to write your report card, i’d give you straight F’s… for ‘freaking adorable’!! ”
Tony burst out laughing. “Oh my god, why?? That was terrible.”
Colin grinned. “But you laughed!”
“Only because it was unexpected!” Tony wiped a tear from his eye, still chuckling a bit. “I can’t believe you would fail me, I’ve been in fifth grade for like, four years!”
“Good, I hope you stay there.” Colin began to type, again. “would you like to go to dinner with me saturday evening? ”
Tony smiled at Colin and typed, “Sure! ”
Tony pulled into the Applebee’s parking lot. The sun had just begun to set, the dimness allowing the Applebee’s sign to glow. He settled for the first available parking space he could find. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a walk.
He turned his car off and hopped out, jogging to the entrance. When he opened the door, a blast of cool air hit him. It was a nice contrast to the hot and humid outdoors.
“Hello! Are you ready to be seated?” a waitress asked him, smiling.
Tony pulled at the collar of his shirt. “Oh, uh, I’m meeting someone, can I check to see if he’s here already?”
“Sure!” She watched him for a moment as he headed into the dining area. He passed by several tables and booths, not seeing his date. Oh god, if he’s not here I’ll have to go back to the waitress and that sounds awkward—
Luckily, he rounded a corner and found a booth with Colin sitting, staring at a menu with a glass next to him. Colin looked up and beamed at him. “Hey!”
“Oh, hi.” He slid into the seat opposite Colin. “Have you been waiting long?”
“No, just a few minutes.” He coughed. “So, ah, how are you?” He leaned forward with a cute smile.
God, has he always been this cute? Tony wondered, blushing. “I’m okay, well, I guess I can’t believe that we’re doing this, heh.” He put his gloved hands together. Belatedly, he wondered if he had overdressed for the occasion. Applebee’s wasn’t the most fancy place in the world. He’d worn a black button-down shirt with a yellow bowtie, and white gloves. Looking at Colin, he supposed he had under-dressed. Colin was wearing the same 3-piece suit that had been in his Tinder photo, along with a black necktie.
“I can’t, either, to be honest! I mean I’ve liked you for a while but you didn’t seem interested, actually you seemed to avoid me and I was worried you didn’t like me?” Colin nibbled the side of his hand, looking as if he wanted to end himself for the word vomit he’d just expelled.
Oh lord that’s cute, poor Colin. “I wasn’t avoiding you, sorry, I definitely don’t dislike you.” Tony smiled. “It’s just you seem to always be with the other math teacher outside of class, don’t tell him this but uh I kind of avoid him a little bit…” He laughed nervously, looking away. “But yeah it was him, not you.”
Colin scoffed. “Hey, Baldi’s cool! But I won’t tell him. He might smack you with his ruler.”
“I don’t see how he can be ‘cool’ when being smacked with his ruler is a real fear.” Tony crossed his arms and looked at Colin pointedly.
Colin shrugged. “His taste in music is cool? And he’s never smacked me. ”
“Hi, sorry for the wait!” A waitress, different from the one at the front, approached them. She looked at Tony. “What did you want to drink?”
“Is Coke okay?”
“No, I’ll just have water,” he said, dejected. My caffeine addiction will have to wait, I guess.
“Alright, what did you guys want to eat?”
Tony realized that he hadn’t looked at the menu, and he’d never been to Applebee’s before. “Oh, crap, um…” Man, I’m dumb.
“Do you like chicken parmesan?” Colin asked.
“Okay, we’ll have two chicken parmesans, if that’s okay.” Colin smiled at him, and he nodded. My savior!
“Okay,” the waitress said, writing it in her book. “We’ll have that right out for you, and I’ll be right back with your water!” She grabbed their menus, and left them alone.
The next few moments were silent, other than the quiet chatter of the other patrons.
“So,” Colin began, “what do you normally do outside of work?”
“Hmm…” Tony wondered how to answer the question without sounding boring. “Well, I read a lot, listen to music, play some games on my phone… cook… visit museums… that’s it, I think…” He chuckled. Well, the plan to not be boring failed.
“Oh that’s cool! I like music, and dancing, and games, but mostly on the computer.” Colin scratched his head. “I actually play a lot of games, heh. I’m also kind of popular on TikTok, where I dance.”
“What is ‘TikTok’?” Tony asked.
“Wait, really?” Colin looked at him as if he were crazy. “Well, I guess it’s something that mostly kids use, but a student showed it to me and it’s pretty fun. It’s this app where you can make short videos, and put different sounds to it, or make your own sound. I choose different songs I like and make up dances for them.”
“I see! I’m a bit intrigued. So you dance well?” The waitress put his glass of water in front of him.
“Yes! Or I would like to think so. I have a couple hundred followers, and I guess that they think I’m good, or they wouldn’t care…” He rubbed the back of his neck. “It might just be that I choose songs that they like, I dunno.”
“I’m sure you’re good at it.” Tony smiled. “Well, I won’t truly know until I see it… Can I?”
“Oh, sure!” Colin pulled his phone out, tapped a few times, turned his volume down low, and turned the phone to him. Colin was standing in what appeared to be a bedroom, and a high-pitched electronic song began to play as Colin moved to the beat, putting on a good 11 second show.
“Wow, that was really good! You have talent!” Tony beamed. “That sure was an… interesting song, though.”
“Heh, that was just a meme, not my normal stuff… it’s not a bad song, though…?” Colin looked at him hesitantly.
“Not really, but I’ve never heard anything like it, can people really sing that high?”
Colin laughed. “No, it’s purposely sped up so the singers sound higher pitched than normal.”
“Oh, that’s a bit weird.” Why did I say that? Dumb.
Two identical plates of steaming food were in front of them, all of a sudden. The sharpness of the marinara mixed with the chicken smelled like heaven. Tony hadn’t realized how hungry he was, even with a glass of water in him.
“Wow, this looks really good.” Tony began to cut into his chicken. “Smells good, too.”
“It is good! To be honest, this is the only thing I’ve ever ordered here.” They both laughed before taking identical bites.
“You’re right,” Tony said around his mouthful. “Thank you for introducing me to such a delicious dish, I might marry it.”
“Oh, shoot! Mission failed. Well, if you marry it, you’re paying.”
Tony giggled. “Well, I guess I can keep myself available if we split the bill.”
“Then it’s a deal! As long as you only keep yourself available to me.” Colin gave him a cute smile, his cheeks dusted pink.
He giggled again, looking away from his adorable date. “Hehe, okay… Hey… I can’t help but be a little bit curious, but… how long have you been, uh, interested in me?” What a rude question, Tony, you’re lame.
He glanced back at Colin, who contemplated the question for a moment. “I dunno, since I saw you… maybe… I just thought you were cute, I guess, but then I saw you with the students, and how nice you were, and they almost always tell me that you’re their favorite and I’m their second favorite which I guess isn’t relevant, but I thought it would be okay to lose to you because you’re nice, and pretty, and nice.” Colin facepalmed. “Sorry, I’m bad at shutting up.”
Tony grinned. “No, it’s cute. You’re cute, heh.” Truly, no normal human being can be as cute as this. He thought, I could probably fall in love with him.
The rest of their dinner continued beautifully, with a few jokes, several blushes, and some more word vomit from Colin. I could stay here all night with him, oh god, I think I am falling for him.
“Oh, we should probably go,” Colin said, as they looked around their booth to see that all of the other patrons were gone.
“Yeah… probably…” Tony frowned.
“Yeah, I don’t really want to.” Colin chuckled and smiled at him. He waved the waitress over to them.
“Are you ready to pay?”
“Yup, we’re splitting the bill,” Colin said to her, getting out his wallet. Tony mirrored him, getting out a bunch of cash. He counted out $15, while Colin handed her his debit card. She smiled at them and left with the card.
Tony placed the rest of the bills on the table for her tip. “Do you have any plans after this?” he asked.
Colin chuckled nervously. “Ah, well there’s a game I play with some friends on weekends in the evening, I know that’s pretty lame, but yeah…”
“That’s fine, I’m lame, too!” Tony said. …And you just proved it with that response.
The waitress came back with Colin’s card, and they got up to leave, with Tony following Colin. Stepping out of the building was an uncomfortable experience, the contrast that had been so satisfying before was awful in reverse. The absence of the sun didn’t do much good, at all. After a few steps, Tony’s long sleeves were already sticking to his arms.
Colin stopped at a car at the end of the front row. “Well, this is mine.” He turned to look at Tony, looking reluctant. “I’ll text you when I get home?”
Tony smiled. “Okay, be safe!” He began to turn to walk toward his car.
“Wait!” Colin said. Tony turned around again. Colin looked sheepish, wringing his hands together and avoiding eye contact. “Ah, I know this is the first date, but, can I kiss you, anyway?”
Tony’s face grew hot. “Oh…” I can’t believe this is happening. He stepped toward the taller man, looking at his feet. “Sure. I mean! Yes, I would like that…” He looked up. They were so close, now. Colin’s dark eyes were soft, and Tony could see from the street lamp that his cheeks were pink.
Tony closed his eyes and leaned in. Their lips met, and they were warm, and wet. Tony leaned in further, resting his hands on Colin’s face. It was rough from a small amount of facial hair growth. Tony thought it was a nice texture.
He breathed in through his nose and pushed forward some more, lightly sucking on Colin’s bottom lip. Colin let out a quiet squeak, and Tony giggled at the sound.
Colin leaned back, holding Tony by his shoulders. He looked like the happiest man in the world, and Tony was astounded at the thought that it was him that caused such a reaction.
“I really like you, Tony.” He grinned impishly. “Even though your pedo ‘stache itches. Have you considered a shave?”
Tony stared at him for a moment, and then laughed. “Never. I love my mustache, you’ll never take it away from me!”
Colin cupped his cheek and gave him another kiss. “Well, I guess I could live with it. But don’t keep any razors near your bed, or it might mysteriously disappear.”
“Oh, I’m so scared.” Tony snickered. “Well, I’ll see you… Monday?” he said hesitantly.
“Well, if you’re not doing anything tomorrow…”
“Just grading papers.” Tony shrugged.
“Oh, shoot, I gotta do that, too.” Colin put his finger up. “You could bring yours over to my place and we could grade them together!”
“Oh my god, that sounds like the lamest second date ever, I’ll do it.” Tony grinned. “Text me your address?”
“Yep!” Colin leaned in for another kiss, Tony meeting him in the middle. They smiled at each other, before Tony turned away for the last time. He found it easier to walk away, now that he knew they would be together again tomorrow.
He could hardly wait.