At some point in my early days, maybe 16 or 17, I hooked up with this guy from South Africa by the name of Aiden. He was goofy looking but cute and really fun. He came to America on his rich families dime and wandered into the pizza parlor that I worked at. Actually, I don’t think he wandered. There was a girl who worked there that was going to C.S.U and she was from South Africa too. I think their families knew each other.

She was playing hard to get and I remember thinking screw her I’m gonna have fun with this guy. He is buying my drinks (I had a fake ID by the time I was 16) and taking me to dinner. He wanted to go to San Francisco for the weekend and didn’t want to go alone. I said I would love to go but I have no money. No problem, he would cover everything, hotel room, food and we would see some shows. I’m thinking we are going to the movies. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to appear as unworldly as I was at the time.

We hopped a greyhound bus and headed for the city. It would be several hours before we got there. My home town of Chico is north of San Francisco. So there we were riding the bus and he is sharing some pictures of where he is from and from his travels. There is a seedy looking guy sitting across from us that is listening in and invites himself into the conversation. I don’t think too much of it because I am used to seedy looking guys by this time in my life.

Aiden asks him where is a good place to stay and Seedy guy tells us about a cheap motel not far from the bus depot. So that’s where we went. We check in and drop our bags then head out for some adventure in China Town. It was here that I was introduced to my first taste of curry. It was good and spicy and green, which I thought was weird. What a blast we were having and after dinner we went to a show.

He took me to a real theater to see A Chorus Line. I was in shock and awe. I had never seen anything so spectacular in my entire life. The energy of the place and the dancing blew my mind. I had never been exposed to anything like this. I couldn’t tell him that because of where I came from and how old I was. To me it didn’t matter we had fun together, but I didn’t want to get caught in my lie.

After the show we went to a local bar around the corner from where we were staying. Seedy guy from the bus was there and he joined us. Aiden asked me to stay there while he went back to the room for a minute. He went to get more money I think. Seedy guy went with him. I had no idea where Aiden was keeping his money and I didn’t ask him, but Seedy guy did. When they got into the hotel room he pulled out a gun and took all of the money and Aiden’s passport.

Luckily he didn’t shoot, but he scared the shit out of Aiden. When he came back to the bar he was shaking and we went straight to the police. I was thinking crap I’m gonna get in trouble because of my fake ID, but it was a non-issue for sure. We went back to the motel that night and spent most of the next day at the South African embassy.

His family was rich so they wired him  more money and the embassy helped him with the passport issue. It took most of the day but I didn’t care I was on an adventure. We drank tea in the afternoon and he took me out to dinner again that night and another show. We saw Fiddler On The Roof and the following night Evita. I felt like a million bucks.

I learned so much in the few days we spent together on this adventure. I learned about the theater,guns, drag queens and a new drug that you sniff from a vile. I can’t to this day remember what it was called but it kept people up all night. It was a strange scene for me. I never had another guy try to steal my date before. The last morning together Aiden decided to stay on in San Fran and sort out his passport issue and enjoy the rest of his journey from there. I had my bus ticket to get back so I wasn’t worried.

He walked me to the taxi and we said good-bye. He lit up my world and I was so happy that he did. It wasn’t love, but lust. A lust for him but also a lust for more. More adventure, more traveling and more of everything. I was smiling  from the inside out. As crappy as my life had been up to this point, none of it could take away how I felt at that moment.

The taxi driver looked me in the eye from the rear view mirror and asked ” You are Cherokee Indian aren’t you?” I said yeah how did you know?” He said “there is no mistaking those Cherokee Smiling Eyes”.