Once there was a boy – a quite amazing boy: indeed a truly lustral boy. He was spotted across a crowded bar in Hong Kong one evening not long after the handover. I had just arrived on the famous Asian island to live and work and I had rapidly taken to a Friday evening institution. Basically a late night venue, it opened earlier to a colourful crowd only on Friday evenings. It was a lovely way to unwind at end of the working week, greet old friends and see who was new on the block.
That evening for sure there were several lovely and quite lustral sights to be seen but nobody completely to knock the breath away. So having greeted one or two who I knew slightly and aware that I was due quite soon at a restaurant to meet some friends for dinner, I was about to leave when I suddenly spotted him. The boy. Not ostentatiously dressed though with great elegance – dark blue jeans offset by pale green V-neck and creamy white cardigan slung around the shoulders. But it was his face that captivated. Quite simply beautiful with huge haunting eyes, lovely tanned complexion and an alluring mix of confidence and yet youthful uncertainty. He was standing in a corner on his own but it was hard to believe that he would stay that way for too long so I knew I had to take my chance. Now I am not someone who finds it easy to introduce myself to strangers however lustral, but on this occasion the imperative was overwhelming.
Time has dimmed my memory of exactly how I made my move but once standing beside him, I think my opening gambit was as clichéd as they come.
“Where are you from?” I held my breath. This is the moment when lustral boys show their true colours. Would he simply turn arrogantly away without response or more likely make a monosyllabic answer uttered in that tone which in one sad but definitive moment conveys that no further contact is desired? For a moment he seemed startled to be addressed but then he looked straight at me and smiled the most lustral smile I had ever seen. “Let me guess: Thailand,” I ventured quickly. His smile broadened.
“Everyone says that: don’t know why.”
“Oh, that’s great. Well must admit I haven’t visited your country yet but I shall soon for my work.” I cursed inwardly as my words tumbled out all too fast and eager like some adolescent smitten with first love.
“Then we can meet again,” he replied simply.
I looked once more at his face. Absurdly handsome; and surely very young. “You are studying here?” He laughed.
“I wish. Uni seems long ago: I am 22. Here for my work.”
Yes the lustral Asian mystique. I should have known better. Whatever age such a boy appears to be, add at least five more years and you may be closer to their actual age: well at least he had not played the ‘guess my age’ game with me.
“What kind of work?”
“You must be in an important position to travel around like this.”
“Now you’re flattering me.” Well I was of course. “I am a junior,” he continued, “and this is my first trip to our HQ office here. Actually it’s my first time ever outside of my country.”
“An innocent abroad!”
“Yes, well quite innocent, I guess.” He smiled beautifully again, but more cheekily this time as he added, “but maybe not totally.”
We both laughed and I took my courage firmly in my hands. “You are really very good looking, I hope you don’t mind my saying that.” He blushed a little but seemed very pleased with the compliment, acknowledging it with a winsome inclination of his head. “Unfortunately I have to go now but I do hope for sure that we can meet again,” I went on, sighing at the recollection that my friends would by now be waiting impatiently for me to join them for dinner.
“Well I was wondering about something a little sooner and closer than that – if you like of course. How long are you around for?”
“I am staying on here over the weekend, back to Manila on Monday”.
“Perfect,” I said, thinking fast. “There is a so-called tea dance here on Sunday afternoons, though I never went to it before. Why don’t we meet back here then?”
“I would like that very much.”
And that is how I first met Raymond eleven years ago. His career has since gone from strength to strength and he subsequently moved to Hong Kong and then to Singapore in ever more senior roles. We have remained the closest of close friends even though since my return to Europe we have not been able to meet very often. And he has continued as lovely and handsome as ever, the years being good to him and even serving to enhance and define his beauty more powerfully and to ensure that he remains enduringly and truly - lustral.
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