‘So, you and Jake went to college together?’ Amy said, politely.
‘We sure did.’ Jake had introduced this guy simply as ‘Schneider’ – as far as Amy could tell, he just went by the one name. ‘I’d say I remember a solid thirty percent of it.’
When Schneider had contacted Jake out of the blue to say he was visiting New York, Jake had been quick to invite him to join the squad at Shaw’s.
‘You’re not jealous, are you?’ he had said.
‘Why would I be jealous?’ Amy had responded. ‘I think it’s Charles you’ll have to worry about.’
And she’d been right – Charles had been eyeing Schneider suspiciously since he arrived.
‘So, tell me about you guys,’ Schneider was saying. ‘How long have you been together?’
‘Two and a half years,’ said Amy, proudly.
‘We’re engaged!’ Jake added, even more proudly.
‘Cool,’ said Schneider. ‘Coolcoolcoolcoolcool.’
‘I taught him that,’ said Jake.
‘Nah, I taught him that,’ said Schneider.
‘Another drink?’ said Jake. ‘I’ll get them.’
‘Thanks, babe,’ said Amy.
‘Just coke for me,’ said Schneider.
Jake got up to go to the bar, leaving Amy alone with Schneider.
‘You know, he is so different from when we were dating,’ said Schneider. ‘Not in a bad way, don’t worry! I just meant he’s, like grown up a lot, and-’
‘Wait,’ said Amy. ‘You and Jake dated? He just said you were an old friend.’
‘We are old friends,’ said Schneider. ‘Old friends who made out. And held hands sometimes.’
Amy wasn’t sure how she felt about this. Obviously she was fine with the idea of Jake dating guys – obviously. In fact, it had occurred to her to wonder a few times when her fiancé had made comments about certain men.
But why wouldn’t Jake have told her if he had an ex-boyfriend? Was he worried about how she’d react? Had she inadvertently led him to believe she would react badly?
‘Yeah, I mean, didn’t he tell you?’ said Schneider. ‘Did he tell you about John at least?’
‘John Mulaney. The guy Jake dated before me.’
Amy frowned. ‘John Mulaney, the comedian?’
‘Yeah,’ said Schneider. He looked as confused as Amy felt. ‘I feel like I’ve screwed up. I’m gonna, uhh, end this conversation.’
Amy watched him wander off and start a conversation with Rosa. And she had so many questions, but it was probably for the best that he had gone. She had questions for Jake first.
She went over to where he still stood at the bar and placed a gentle hand on his arm. ‘Hey, babe, can I borrow you for a moment?’
‘Sure!’ said Jake, cheerfully oblivious.
Amy took his hand and led him through the bar, stepping out into the cool night air.
‘Are you okay?’ said Jake.
‘I’m fine,’ said Amy. She leant against the rough brick of the wall, holding both of Jake’s hands. ‘It’s just something Schneider said.’
‘Was it the thing about being an honorary Cuban? You can just ignore that.’
‘What?’ Amy frowned. ‘No. It was… look, I don’t want to be nosy. But I want you to know that you can always talk to me about anything you want.’
‘I know,’ said Jake. ‘You’re the best. But what’s that got to do with Schneider?’
‘Anything,’ Amy repeated.
But Jake just looked confused.
Amy sighed. ‘Schneider said that you two used to… date? And I just wanted to say, that’s fine and obviously you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but if you do want to then you can.’
‘What?’ Jake looked even more confused. ‘We didn’t date. What?’
‘He said you made out sometimes.’
‘Well,’ said Jake. ‘That part is true. But it didn’t mean anything.’
‘He also said something about that comedian?’ Amy added. ‘John Mulaney?’
‘Oh, yeah, you know I went to college with him,’ said Jake. ‘I’ve mentioned that, right? I’ve definitely mentioned that.’
‘We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to,’ said Amy. ‘I was just confused.’
‘There’s nothing to be confused about,’ Jake insisted. ‘Me and John just used to, like, practise stuff. Like kissing. You know, normal friend stuff.’
‘What about Schneider?’
‘We made out a few times. You know what college is like. I was drunk, he was… I’m pretty sure he was on a bunch of drugs.’
‘He said something about holding hands?’ Amy said, gently.
‘Yeah, I mean, I guess. And we hung out a lot – we used to go to bars together and get food and stuff.’
‘Jake…’ Amy didn’t know what she should be doing here. She really didn’t want to press Jake if it would make him uncomfortable, but he still somehow seemed oblivious to what they were talking about. ‘That sounds like you were dating.’
‘Nah,’ said Jake. ‘We were just… oh my god, we were dating, weren’t we?’
He stared at her in open-mouthed shock. Like she was the one who had revealed something.
‘I had a boyfriend!’ said Jake. ‘How did I have a boyfriend without realising? I had two of them.’
‘Did you really not know?’ said Amy.
‘But I don’t like guys, do I?’ said Jake. ‘I mean, do I?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Amy. ‘Only you know that.’
‘Cool.’ Jake frowned. ‘Coolcoolcoolcool. Yeah, obviously, only I would know that. I mean, obviously I can appreciate when a guy’s attractive. Like if someone’s just out there being attractive I’m gonna notice, but that’s not the same as being into guys, is it?’
Amy didn’t know what to say. All she should do was hold his hands and simply be there for him as his words and thoughts raced.
‘But maybe I’ve had crushes on guys too? Like there was this one guy in high school… Is that normal?’
‘It is normal,’ said Amy, cautiously. ‘But I wouldn’t say it’s…’
‘Normal for a straight guy?’ Jake suggested.
‘Yeah,’ said Amy.
‘Okay,’ said Jake. ‘Cool. No doubt. So does that make me bi? That probably makes me bi, right? Coolcoolcoolcoolcoolcoolcool.’
‘Are you alright?’ she said, squeezing his hands.
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘I’m having a minor identity crisis. But I’m okay.’
She pulled him into a hug. ‘I’m sorry for pushing it. We can talk about this as much as you need to – we can figure it out.’
‘Thanks, Ames,’ he said. He pulled back so that he could kiss her. ‘Well, this isn’t how I was expecting the night to turn out.
‘Are you really okay?’ she said.
‘I actually think I am?’ said Jake. ‘I need to think about it more though. But it kind of… makes a lot of sense.’
‘Ready to go back in?’
‘Yep.’ Jake took Amy’s hand and they walked back into the bar together, finally getting the drinks that Jake had ordered before Amy had dragged him outside.
‘Hey,’ said Schneider. ‘I was wondering where you guys had got to.’
‘Hello, Schneider, my ex-boyfriend from college, who I dated,’ said Jake, cheerfully.
Schneider looked bemused, but soon they had re-joined the rest of the squad and everything felt gloriously normal. They drank and talked and laughed, and Schneider kept trying to talk to Amy in Spanish, and Charles pointedly referred to himself as ‘Jake’s best friend’ four different times.
‘Well, that was interesting,’ Jake said afterwards, as the two of them were getting ready for bed.
‘He seems nice,’ said Amy.
‘Do you think I should tell people?’ said Jake.
She didn’t have to ask what he meant. ‘You don’t have to,’ she said, sinking onto the bed. ‘But you know everyone would support you if they did – look at how great they were when Rosa came out.’
Jake nodded, thoughtfully, as he came to sit beside her. ‘I feel like I should tell Rosa first. Also, I kinda feel like I should call John from college?’
‘To let him know that you used to date?’ said Amy.
‘Yeah,’ said Jake. He laughed. ‘I don’t know. Like “Hey, John, how’s being a famous comedian going? Oh, and by the way, I just realised that we used to be boyfriends.”’ He gasped. ‘Bi the way! Amy! This opens up so many pun opportunities!’