Jacob was your average sort of guy. Or at least that's what he told people, and the people believed him. Sitting in a coffee shop on a Wednesday afternoon in March, he realised for the first time that perhaps he was not what you might call, average.
Sure, Jacob had grown up that way—he had gone to a decent state school, alongside other kids who ranged from working class to lower middle. In truth Jacob's family were probably lower middle class, but he would have always told people that his was working class. He had very little money and a job as a barman which paid a few pence over minimum wage, but he had been to University—a red brick—and achieved a first in his BA, so what class that made him now, he was unsure.
Jacob had always been classical attractive: dark hair which, even at 26 when many of his friends were beginning to thin, still stood thickly and textured around the full expanse of his head. His complexion he owed to his grandfather who had left Greek Cyprus half a century before. He was good at sports in school and in true high school cliché, his first girlfriend had been the equally attractive Mel, captain of the netball team and all round Queen of popularity. Had he been American, Mel would have been the flyer in the Cheerleading squad, but he grew up in Essex where cheerleading didn't exist. Average, right?
He looked across the room to a couple sitting in a secluded booth. They stared into each others' eyes and talked just inches away from each others' faces. It was as if each word merely tantalised the promise of another kiss between them. They didn't touch the coffee—after all, they had only bought it as a way of being allowed to sit in out of the rain. They were only a few years older than him, he thought, but somehow they seemed more like adults.
Around the corner, in another seat, there was a woman with two children. The eldest was a boy of around 5 or 6 wearing a Spiderman Tee-shirt and finding the messiest way to consume a Belgian bun. His younger sibling looked about 2 and was clearly fighting off a cold. Pools of snot ran from her little nose as fast as her attentive mother could wipe them away leaving an almost constant glean on her top lip.
Just ordering at the counter, an older couple in grey coats were asking what a cortado was and despite the barista's many attempts, they were none the wiser. They didn't ooze "happy couple" but there seemed to be an understanding between them. Each knew when to speak and what it was they were supposed to say. The man know when to back up his wife and when to try and calm her down. The woman knew what she wanted and how to get it. Jacob couldn't visualise them cuddling up in front of the TV, but he imagined they were great at parties.
This was his future. He would have seduced his girlfriend in the booth seat. He would have had children who ate buns and got ill. He would have understood how to live a quiet life in marital exception. That would have been his life if he and Mel had stayed together past the first term of University. He blamed himself for cheating on her, but then down line he heard that Mel had been as bad, just not as honest, at her own Uni. That would have been his life if his girlfriend from Uni hadn't broken up with him to go travelling after graduation. That would have been his life if that one night stand two years ago, which had lead to a brunch date and an afternoon stroll, had carried on past three texts on the Monday evening. That would have been his life. His average adult life to match his average childhood.
But as he sat there, in the coffee shop, on that Wednesday afternoon waiting for his date, his date with Adam—a dental nurse from London—he saw that he was no longer average. Or was he? Statistically, he was now part of a minority. About 7% of the population were LGBT+, he had read. 7% is far from average. But then again, here he was waiting in a coffee shop for a date at age 26. "That's average," he thought.
Adam was a dental nurse, he was 29, and he came from London, though he now lived in a village not far from Colchester, where Jacob lived and was currently sitting. Was he average? Or was he extraordinary? His photo suggested he might be beyond average, but what's in a look?
Jacob sipped his cooling latte. "An average drink," he thought.