“Hey, got time for a coffee?” asked Charlie, running into Marc outside the off-licence.
“Love to, but no…” replied Marc. “I’ve got to go get my hair cut and have a shave.”
“You’re going to Cutt Throat? The Turkish guys?” asked Charlie. “Such a weird name.”
“I think it’s kind of funny…” shrugged Marc. “They use proper blades when they shave you. I like the masculinity of it all. You go there?”
“No, I do it myself…” replied Charlie.
“You shave yourself?” asked Marc. “Like an animal?”
“I used to go there…” explained Charlie. “But I had a bit of a misunderstanding with them.”
“What do you mean?” asked Marc.
“It’s a bit of a long story…” replied Charlie.
“Give me the short version…” insisted Marc.
“Well, do you think they know that you’re gay?” asked Charlie.
“I always think that it’s fairly self-evident…” shrugged Marc. “But it’s never a topic of conversation. To be honest, we don’t really talk about anything. I don’t speak Turkish, and they never speak much English.”
“I think the older guy understands pretty much everything, but I’ve never heard him use more than a few words of English…” agreed Charlie. “The younger guy obviously speaks English, but the official language of the business is clearly Turkish.”
“This is the short version of the story, remember?” smiled Marc.
“Oh, yeah - sorry…” apologised Charlie. “Anyway, I needed to get my hair cut. The younger guy was there, there was no sign of the older guy. I didn’t have long to wait, and once I was in the chair he was surprisingly chatty. He was asking me what my plans were for the weekend.”
“He’s never asked me anything like that…” said Marc.
“I know, right?” nodded Charlie. “I told him that I was getting my haircut because I was going away for the weekend. He asked if I was going away with my girlfriend, and I said - yes.”
“Why would you do that?” asked Marc.
“I don’t know…” shrugged Charlie. “I guess I’d created this illusion for myself that they maybe thought I was straight, and I didn’t want them to think less of me by telling them the truth.”
“You’re ridiculous…” sighed Marc.
“It got worse…” admitted Charlie. “He kept asking me questions. How long have we been dating? Do I get on well with her family? Do we live together? Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. I just kept lying - making up this completely fabricated straight relationship. By the time I left, I just felt like a total fraud, hating myself. I can’t go back there.”
“You’re such an idiot…” laughed Marc. “Are you coming for Vietnamese tonight?”
“I don’t think so…” replied Charlie. “Things are still a bit icy between me and Kellen after what happened at New Year.”
“So, you’re just going to avoid him?” asked Marc. “Shouldn’t you try and talk about it?”
“I’m not having a Real Housewives style confrontation about it!” exclaimed Charlie. “Especially not in a crowded Vietnamese restaurant on a Friday night!”
“If you don’t come, I’ll tell the Turkish barber that you lied to him and that you’re a total homo!” threatened Marc.
“You wouldn’t dare!” gasped Charlie.
“Watch me!” declared Marc. “You might not be living for the drama, but I’m auditioning for the Real Housewives of Hoxton!”