The Apple of my (Queer) Eye
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
The story of how a boy (me) ran into his celebrity crush at a coffee shop in New York City.
Let me start out with a question: Have you ever been in a situation that feels totally scripted and fake and seems like something that only happens in a movie? A very gay movie? Maybe a movie starring a male protagonist with social anxiety issues and a sensitive heart who sees a celebrity he loves and feels like he’s been struck by lightning?
No? Well, I have. And that moment occurred when I spotted Antoni Porowski from across the room in a random café in New York City.
At this point, I assume many of you are asking yourselves who Antoni Porowski is, to which I say: Get. On. Board. I mean, I really shouldn’t have to explain this to you, but I guess I can talk about how amazing and beautiful and talented he is for a minute. If you insist.
Antoni is one of the five fabulous gay men (read: Fab Five) who stars in the new Netflix show Queer Eye, which is a modern reboot of the original show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The reboot is everything you imagine it to be, and so much more. Without actually watching, one may think it to be silly and vapid and a dangerous reinforcement of harmful stereotypes - but no. The show isn’t about gay people or straight people or black people or white people. It’s about acknowledging our differences and seeing past them to find the crux of what makes us all human, which is a deep desire to connect with other people.
Just watch it.
I digress. I’m supposed to be gushing about my love for Antoni. He’s the Food and Wine expert on the show. Each of the five guys has a “specialty” that they use to help shape the lives of the men they are nominated to help. Antoni’s job is mainly to help the guys learn how to cook simple yet elegant things, but he also serves as the nicest human on the face of the planet and someone beautiful to admire. His beauty is physical, obviously (do you have eyes?), but his beauty for me stems more from his kind heart. Sometimes you can just tell when someone has a good soul. Antoni has a good soul.
There’s your background. I love Antoni, Antoni is the best, I would throw myself in front of a bus to save Antoni’s life, etc.
Let’s bring this back to the moment when I thought I had died and crossed a rainbow into homosexual heaven. I was in New York City for work. We were only there for a couple of days, meeting with a few business partners and doing other things, the details of which I will not bore you with.
It was a Tuesday afternoon. My boss and I had just finished a meeting and we needed some coffee. As we began our hunt for a coffee shop, fate began to wring her little hands and intervene in my life. We went to a coffee shop nearby that looked cute, but it was totally full with nowhere to sit. We kept walking. We found another cute coffee shop, and yet again it was totally full with nowhere to sit. So, we kept walking. And then we stepped into the third place - the perfect place, the one destined to change my life forever (okay, dramatic, I know. I can’t help it).
I don’t even remember what the place was called, but it was cute and artsy and busy but not too busy, so we were able to get a seat. After a quick half hour of work talk and chai lattes and chocolatey desserts, we were getting ready to wrap up. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I was a little bit sleepy, so I sat back and looked around the room.
That’s when I spotted him. ANTONI.
When I first saw him, my brain was very casual about it. Like, “oh, there’s Antoni, how nice.” I don’t think I was putting two and two together at that point to realize that I wasn’t watching Queer Eye in my apartment at the time but was instead living my life and seeing this man in the flesh, sitting at a table for two with another man and having a casual conversation over coffee. When reality hit, I felt like someone had electrocuted every nerve-ending in my body and I thought the proper response to this situation, which was “holy SHIT, that’s Antoni.”
Then I did what any sane person in my situation would do, which is to completely shut down and do nothing at all except stare at him for a solid two minutes, ignoring anything and everything happening around me. My boss could have told me that Trump finally launched us into a nuclear war because of a scuffle about the orangeness of his spray-tan and I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash. I was too focused on processing how I could possibly be staring at Antoni Porowski in the middle of a coffee shop in New York City at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon.
But alas, there he was. I eventually snapped out of my stupor for long enough to tell my boss that there was a celebrity in the room and that I was not mentally prepared to handle anything other than discussing that topic. She didn’t know who he was (shameful, truly) so I had to explain it to her. And then I was having a crisis of conscience, because I really wanted to talk to him, but I also didn’t want to dehumanize him by pretending he was a prize to be won and interrupting him while he was trying to live his life.
But then my boss whispered into my ear “you’ve gotta shoot your shot. Go say hi.” I was spurred into action. Fate put me in that situation. I had to listen to her, right?
I walked up to their table, taking deep breaths and chanting “be normal be normal be normal please just be normal” to myself. Then I did the totally normal thing, which is to stop in front of their table and stand there for a good six seconds just staring at them, not wanting to interrupt their conversation. I looked like a waiter who was too nervous to do his job, or maybe a dog who wanted attention but didn’t have a voice to ask for it. I was off to a wonderful start.
The man who Antoni was with (his friend? Boyfriend? The world may never know. But he was a cute and friendly guy) looked up at me and immediately realized why I was there. He smirked and said “Antoni, I think he’s here for you.”
(Me: screams internally).
I looked at Antoni and said, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but I’m a huge fan of Queer Eye and I saw you sitting over here so I just wanted to come say hi.”
Antoni, being the kind and gentle soul that he is, said “Oh, thank you. That’s so sweet.” Or something along those lines. I think I was partially blacked out at this point.
I then asked if we could get a picture, which seemed rude as a conversation starter, but I was too shaken up to think in a way that would imbue me with proper manners. He said “of course,” stood up, and put his arm around me. I put my arm around him. We stood there, bodies pressed together, smiling like buddies, and I think a little piece of my soul detached from my body and floated away, never to be seen again.
After the picture, the guy Antoni was with (I’m rude and never asked for his name, so let’s call him Mark) looked at me and smirked and said, “Isn’t he cute?”
To which I looked at Mark and then looked at Antoni and said, “I mean, obviously.” Was I flirting with Antoni? Was I really doing that? Objectively, probably not. But in my head, we were totally flirting.
Antoni laughed and then said “Wait, what’s your name?” And then stuck out his hand to shake mine. (He asked for my name? Who does that? Who cares about that when they are a celebrity meeting a random fan? Antoni does, that’s who. I told you – he has a good soul).
I told him my name and he said it was nice to meet me and we shook hands (his hand was warm and soft and totally holdable, not that I was taking notes) and then Antoni sat back down, presumably ready to go about his life. Then I, being rude and shaken and not ready to say goodbye, said “So when can we expect season 2 of Queer Eye?”
To which Antoni said, “We get the ratings in next week. Then we’ll see.”
And I said, “But we know there’s gonna be a season 2.”
He chuckled and shrugged, so I smiled and cocked my head and basically conveyed everything about the gesture of a wink without physically winking and said “… but we know.”
Looking back on this, I don’t even know how I managed to speak to him. I think Mark’s presence was helping. Mark encouraged me from the get-go to talk to him and chat with him and he even made me admit to Antoni’s face that I thought he was cute. I’m on team Mark, whoever he is.
After that, I slapped Antoni on the back (what am I, a heterosexual?) and said it was nice to meet him. He said something along the lines of “you as well,” and then I turned to Mark and said it was nice meeting him, too, and then I hightailed it out of that café to collect my thoughts and pinch myself enough times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming or high on opioids.
I later posted the picture of us on Instagram with a lengthy caption that essentially begged Antoni to put in a good word for me to be the 6th Queer Eye on season 2 of the show, but I’m not sure my sales pitch worked. I personally think it’s totally natural for a group called the Fab Five to have six members, but others may not agree. Regardless, Antoni liked my post on Instagram and sent me into another bout of cardiac arrest.
In summary, Antoni Porowski squeezed my little gay heart into a pulp and left it on the floor of a New York City café. But in a good way.
Maybe he will see this. Maybe I will get wildly famous and we will be friends someday. Or maybe I will hold on to this memory and be content with knowing that sometimes life’s little pieces fall perfectly into place.
Here’s to the future. May it be bright and full of struck-by-lightning moments like this one.