Hey. Looking for the guy at the Strawberry Festival last Friday. I first saw you in line for the famous strawberry shortcakes. You know, there are two lines, you were in the other one. If you saw me, I was the guy in the red tank and wearing suspenders, tattoos, and the NP hat. It’s a look that’s kind of hard to miss.
I was there alone. I know it sounds depressing. And here’s the thing, I’m gonna unload some baggage here. I go every year because we did, my deceased husband and myself. At first, going after he died was a tribute. Still is, in many ways. But I go to enjoy myself, now. Took years to make the festival to feel fun again, but it does now. And just like the feeling of coming the fair is different, so are my feelings about finding another partner.
I first noticed you in the shortcake line. You’re tall, and country looking, a winning combo in my book. I saw you wear boots and a cowboy hat stained with sweat. Clearly you are a man who works hard because your arms bulged through those ripped off flannel sleeves.
You were with another guy, someone you were close to. He’s good looking too, and I assumed- perhaps hoped- that you were gay. I thought maybe you were a couple, but I couldn’t tell. Either way, I sort of felt like I wanted to be friends with you two. Especially you. I also knew that gay men were thin in Plant City. There’s not many guys looking for guys here.
But it came time to build my shortcake and the lines split. You went one way, and I went the other and I thought that was the end of our time together, the university bringing you in proximity no closer than twenty feet away. I found a spot at the concert to eat my shortcake. I checked the animals, then moved onto the diving show. This year, I treated myself to a ride wristband, and I love riding rides alone because I go on the rides I want as many times as I want. Hungry, I went back to explore the vendors and find some more food to eat. It had been hours since I had the shortcake. I find a place doing twisted taters and I filled up.
I don’t smoke much. Usually the occasional cigar socially. But I walked by the smoking section, and something hit me. I had a pipe in my truck and I run back, fill it with shredded tobacco and heads towards the smoking area. To my surprise, you and the other guy were there, on the bench. He was upset, and with a little eaves dropping into your not to quiet conversation, he didn’t want to take a break to smoke, but you wanted to try one of the corn cob pips you had just bought and some strawberry tobacco. He walked away in a huff and you pulled out your new kit. You packed in the tobacco like you should. Hard, compact and then lighter on top. I walk over. This might be the part you first remember me, but I offer you a light.
“Nice to see another pipe smoker. Cigars and pipes occasionally for me.”
You smile, and give a furtive “Thanks, me too,” and I felt you were not in the mood for conversation. I finish up my pipe, drop it back in my pouch, and slide it into my tight jeans. I swear I saw you watching me as I slid my hand into my back pocket.
A few hours later, after many more rides (and a particular rough ending on the coaster) and too much food, I mosey over towards the tram to take me back to the car. I saw you and the other guy again in line in front of me. You’re maybe ten feet away, but I can hear you two. You’re parting ways because he’s headed off to meet a girl. He hugs you and you tell him to say hi to mom. I realized then you were brothers.
The tram arrives, and the lines load up. It’s busy and I’m the second to last to get on and had to choose one of two seats next to strangers, and I chose the one next to you.
“Hey,” I said.
You smiled. “Hey. Sorry I wasn’t much up for talking earlier,” you say.
“It’s alright,” I replied.
The tram kicked off and sped up. There was a gust of wind with almost knocked your hat off and blew my NP hat off, but somehow, you catch it while you’re holding onto yours. You hand it back to me.
“Nice hat. I like their stuff. Wearing a pair now.” You say.
I chuckled and grimaced.
“Same,” I say.
You’ll remember this. There was a pause. I wanted to say something else. But I couldn’t think of anything. But sitting next to you was nice. I could smell you, a little sweaty from the day in the sun. Your leg bounced against mine, and you hummed a little tune. I was comfortable at that moment. I felt at home, cozy, peaceful. I felt feelings I hadn’t felt in such a long time. Before I could think of much of anything to say that made sense to say, you nod at me and hop off and walk into the rows of truck, SUVs and cars.
To the tall ginger cowboy at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida, please message me. We don’t have to do much if you don’t want. I’d be happy to just sit next to you.Recommended1 Simily SnapPublished in