In truth, Alejandro had dated only men in his native Guatemala. But when he moved to the District after medical school and started taking classes at Kaplan Test Prep, he met a woman with whom he got along and decided to give it a try.
“Which is not uncommon,” said Alex, who had tried dating women in his teens and early 20s. “Sometimes you just want to know what’s like to be considered normal. Not that that’s normality, but the perception of normality can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.”
Alex, who taught LSAT prep courses at Kaplan, occasionally liked to tease his friend that he was going to steal her boyfriend. But of course he wasn’t serious.
Soon enough, however, Alejandro and the woman broke up. By then Alejandro had taken a part-time job at Kaplan and was working the front desk one day when Alex was teaching.
During breaks, the two men talked about their favorite Spanish folk singers. “Which was rare — we had really weird taste for people our age,” said Alex, who was raised in Miami by Cuban parents.
After discovering a shared love of musical theater, Alex invited Alejandro to a production of “Master Class” at the Kennedy Center. “And there was something in the way he said yes that I knew it was a date. And he knew it was a date.”
Alex’s nerves morphed into excitement over dinner. “It’s that buzz that you feel in the air when everything is just going correctly and time flies,” he said. “It was very easy because we share a culture, we share a language in addition to English, we share a history. We were both raised in very similar environments.”
The attraction was mutual, and soon they were seeing each other almost daily — a development they confessed to Alejandro’s ex, who reacted with great maturity. But when Alex asked where the relationship was headed, Alejandro balked and suggested they just be friends.
With the exception of one previous relationship, Alejandro had never been in a committed romance before, “and I guess I was just afraid of not knowing what to expect,” he said.
Alex explained that he didn’t need any more friends and cut things off. But the day before he was to leave on a trip to Spain, Alejandro called. “Didn’t I send you to hell?” Alex asked.
“What if I don’t want to go to hell?” Alejandro responded.
“It was completely disarming,” Alex recalled. “How do you respond to that?”
Alejandro went to Alex’s apartment that night and explained that a friend helped him realize that connections like the one they had found don’t come around very often. Alejandro stayed the night, drove Alex to the airport the next morning and spoke to him by phone during every day they were apart. Soon the two were inseparable.
“I didn’t think that I needed to look for anything else,” said Alejandro, who now works as a consultant and is as quiet and calm as Alex is loquacious and excitable.