Over and over again (at least in the limited social media circles that I frequent) there is the encouragement to take good and respectful (and properly vetted) online relationships into the real world whenever practicable. Over the past couple of years, several gentlemen (and two ladies) have gone out of their way to visit with The Gentleman Mystic, enjoy some good food and drink, and engage in what has always been stimulating and pleasurable conversation.
I had looked forward to meeting Alexander Cortes (@AJA_Cortes) almost from the first moment he and I began interacting with one another on Twitter back in early 2018. When I learned late last Spring (2019) that Mr. Cortes would a few weeks hence be attending an event in the Atlanta area I immediately reached out to see if he would be interested in making the short trek north of the city to spend some Time together before turning his full attention to other things. To my delight, he responded immediately and in the affirmative; arrangements were quickly made to meet at my favorite steakhouse the evening after his plane touched down.
Arriving fashionably late (in all fairness it wasn’t his fault; Atlanta traffic can frustrate and delay even the most seasoned local, much less an out-of-town visitor), Alexander greeted me with a broad smile and a firm handshake. Taking a draw from the adult beverage I had waiting for him, we sat down and began to chat.
Where many would start a first Time conversation with small talk, we immediately began to expand on topics we had discussed previously via direct message channels, in effect getting “caught up” though we had never before met. Next, our shared interest in old-school physical culture was given its due and soon our dialogue settled into a pleasant rhythm, new topics and directions commingling effortlessly, one with another.
If I feel a certain level of comfort and mutual ease with someone and if I think they are open to subjects less in the mainstream, conversations can get very heady and very arcane very fast in my world. As Alexander was putting the finishing touches on the appetizer he had ordered, I directed his attention over his shoulder and upward to the waxing Moon that hung like a golden and somewhat lopsided wheel in the sky above. Through my action I was looking for something and Alexander did not disappoint. Rather than dismissively acknowledging the “pretty” Moon and quickly returning to our conversation, his gaze lingered. He drank in the fullness of this ancient orb that so many take for granted. The Moon was beautiful and he consumed her fully before reluctantly returning his attention to me.
What happened next gave me a profound Measure of the young man sharing my table. Our dinner arrived; Alexander had ordered himSelf a bone-in ribeye steak with a side order of corned beef potato salad. As my similarly laden plate was placed in front of me, Alexander excused himSelf and made a quick visit to the facilities. I sat fork and knife down until he returned; my wait was not to be long. Reclaiming his seat, Alexander cut into the steak and nodded approvingly at what he saw. Whatever words he may have thought to speak stopped abruptly as he put the first bite into his mouth. Chewing slowly, he looked at me and then leaned back deliberately in his chair, an expression of rapture in his eyes. After swallowing the bite of steak, he then grabbed a fork full of the potato salad. His reaction was the same. Without uttering a word, he looked at me and shook his head slightly as if to express his disbelief at the repast before him.
The entirety of our meal was consumed in silence. No words needed to be spoken; the silent joy we both shared spoke louder and clearer than any words ever could.
After we cleaned our dishes of every morsel of food and they had been taken away by the waitstaff, our conversation then resumed. We chatted at length about our shared appreciation for Beauty in all its forms, enjoyed some key lime pie and coffee (both of which were received with the same ardor as our main course) while broadcasting via Periscope to the Twitter community at large. After the ‘scope was concluded we carried on talking about Important Things for close to a half hour more before finally ending our Time together with an obligatory selfie.
Much was discussed that should not be removed from the context of the moment. It is enough to acknowledge that I have nothing but the highest regard for Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes and expect great things from this young man. He gets it. That Real Life matters. That Life is to be savored. That Beauty is the highest attainment.
It was a good meal.
©Billy Red Horse