Cryptic Messages Lead to Love

Disclaimer: The following may contain vulgar language and content related to drug abuse, sexual activity, violence, and suicidal attempts. Reader discretion is advised!

An Everything Happened in the Bathroom Excerpt – The Love Story of Ann Mathews & Kristopher Brown

I often find myself contemplating what Robi would say. Oh, how I wish Robi were here. I yearn for his presence, for the opportunity to converse, share laughter, and seek his advice. What would Robi’s advice be? Would he advise me to upload this memo?  I ask myself this question daily, and the truth is, I don’t have a clear answer. The Robi of 2010 would likely encourage me to go for it; he always spoke highly of Kristopher. Josh Randolph, on the other hand, not so much, but he had positive things to say about Kris. Would the past 13 years alter his perspective? I’m constantly curious about what Robi’s opinion would be.

The first time I ever came across the name Kristopher Brown was in 2006, approximately four years before we started dating. I was in my Tucson apartment, browsing his Myspace profile and examining photos of Josh and him together. I even documented my discoveries in a journal entry that day, discussing them with Justin. If only I had known that four years later, Robi would no longer be with us, Josh and Kris would have gone their separate ways, and I would be the one in Kristopher’s embrace. It’s quite amusing how life’s twists and turns bring about unexpected outcomes.

Later on, I pieced together fragments of the truth from both Kris and Robi regarding those three years Kris and Josh spent together. Social media photos never provide an accurate portrayal of someone’s life, but to an outsider, they certainly seemed content. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that Kris and Josh made an adorable couple. Josh was quite attractive in his prime. I often referred to him as a “Neil Patrick Harris” doppelgänger. Robi had a strong admiration for Josh, and Kris consistently mentioned that a part of his heart would always belong to Mr. Randolph. I’ll never fully grasp the entire narrative of what transpired between the three of them, but I do know that, in the end, Robi held Kris in high regard, and that meant something to me.

When I returned to Lakeworth and reconnected with Robi in 2009, there were numerous occasions where Kris and I nearly crossed paths at gay coffee nights. For some reason or another, I always missed the nights Kris attended. He didn’t make regular appearances, and each time I found out I had just missed him, it left me disappointed. I had always wanted to meet the infamous Kristopher Brown, the attractive gay man I had once stalked on Myspace in 2006, the one who had dated THE Josh Randolph, and the person Robi had always spoken so fondly of. 

Amber had the opportunity to meet Kristopher on the Thursday prior to Labor Day weekend in 2009. I couldn’t attend because I was taking my parents and grandmother to California to visit my sister that weekend. I distinctly remember feeling profoundly envious. It’s rather ironic that the one night I chose not to go, he made an appearance.  Amber spoke highly of him and had a fantastic time that evening.  But, naturally, being the Amber she is, she mentioned to him that I was eager to meet him. Really, Amber! Why would you inform a guy I had never met in person, the one I had stalked on Myspace back in 2006, that I was so enthusiastic about meeting him? He must have been wondering why this seemingly enthusiastic girl wanted to meet him so badly!

Following that night, Amber decided to connect with him on Facebook. Even though I hadn’t met him in person, I followed her lead and sent him a friend request. Surprisingly, he accepted my request, and I was absolutely thrilled! I remember discussing this with Robi, and as always, he chuckled at my gay crushes. I distinctly recall him humorously commenting about how I’d be adding Kristopher to my “gay wall of trophies,” alluding to the numerous gay men I had developed crushes on over the years. He wasn’t mistaken. I indeed had a fondness for having crushes on men who later revealed themselves to be gay. However, in that moment, I never once considered that one of them would reciprocate my feelings in the same way I felt about them.

I didn’t come face to face with Kristopher until Halloween 2009. It was a brief encounter, but both of us would remember that small moment with fondness for years to come. He claims it was the night he first fell in love with me. Little did I know, he had been quietly keeping tabs on me through Facebook ever since I had sent him a friend request just over a month prior. Honestly, on that Halloween night, I had assumed he was gay, so I might have had my gay infatuation, but I never once thought that he and I would be anything more than friends. That’s not to say I didn’t entertain fantasies about it, though.

The next time I crossed paths with Kris was at Robi’s funeral in April 2010. Even 13 years later, I haven’t fully come to terms with Robi’s passing. I miss him every single day, and I wish he were here now to reassure me that uploading that memo was the right decision. But he’s not here, so all I have is guidance from a man who strongly dislikes Kristopher. Go figure, right? I’m sure you’re up on a cloud somewhere, laughing at me, Robi. I got what I wanted, didn’t I? I finally got the gay man. Was it everything I had ever imagined? No. But was it worth it? Absolutely!  

I made a journal entry for the day I first met Kris. In it, I wrote about how he mentioned following me on Facebook and enjoying my blog. I was overjoyed! Kristopher Brown reading my blog? How amusing! Once again, I found myself infatuated with gay men! Following the memorial service, Kris joined us all at the bar called Fireside. We played games, shared memories of Robi, got a bit tipsy, and then he departed. Afterward, I left with Justin and went back to his hotel, but the details of that night aren’t meant for this book. This isn’t about the Ann Mathews and Justin Lenox story; it’s about the Ann Mathews-Brown and Kristopher Brown tale. So, let’s keep the two separate. Different books!

I completed my college degree in May of 2010 and ended my two-month relationship with Charisa in June. It wasn’t because Charisa wasn’t an attractive and intelligent woman; she certainly was. She was deeply smitten with me, and in an ideal scenario, we might have made it work. However, there simply wasn’t that connection between us. She had a passion for the outdoors and enjoyed spending weeks backpacking in the Grand Canyon. While I could handle an occasional camping trip, the idea of weeks outdoors didn’t align with my interests. I believed it was better to end things now rather than waiting a year when our feelings had deepened.

In June of 2010, I heard through the grapevine that Kristopher was in the hospital. I already knew about his HIV-positive status. I had known since 2006 when Justin Lenox informed me. That part of the story wasn’t a surprise at all. I was fully aware of what I was getting into when I agreed to date him. I want to emphasize that point. He also disclosed his status on our second date. So, to anyone suggesting I had no knowledge, I did. Let’s put that rumor to rest, please. After learning about his illness, I decided to send him flowers and had everyone from our coffee night group sign a get-well card for him. It would be years later that I learned this one act of kindness was what prompted him to attend coffee night the following month to seek me out.

I had never engaged in such gestures before, by the way. The 23-year-old me was rather extravagant and quite self-centered. For me to invest the time in ordering flowers and arranging for a card to be signed by approximately 10-20 people for a guy I barely knew was exceptionally unusual. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, I did it. I still can’t provide a clear explanation today, but it felt as if fate was orchestrating our connection. I’ve often attributed it to Robi.

I’m not a religious individual. In fact, I identify as an atheist. I always have, and I likely always will. However, the sequence of events that led me to Kristopher undeniably felt like fate. I don’t know how else to express it. I’ve consistently believed that Robi wanted us to be together. He’s the primary reason I even knew of Kristopher Brown’s existence all those years ago while sitting in my Tucson apartment. Then, in 2010, he played a pivotal role in our reunion. I genuinely wish Robi were still here. I truly do. Perhaps things might have unfolded differently.

The next encounter I had with Kristopher occurred on July 15, 2010. I remember that day as vividly as if it were yesterday. It happened to be my Grandma’s birthday. We had dinner at Mudsharks and returned to the house to share some cake with a few of her friends from church. My initial plan was to stay home and enjoy the cake. I had informed Amber and Robi that I couldn’t make it to coffee night that night due to my Grandma’s birthday. However, around 7:30, Amber called me and asked me to come. 

I was serving as a board member on the recently established LGBTQIA Lakeworth Advisory Committee and was in the process of capturing images of the board members for the website I had recently created. Amber told me it was crucial for me to take Joe’s picture because they wouldn’t allow anyone else to do it. I initially told her I could do it the following Thursday, but then she dropped the bombshell that Kristopher was at coffee night.

“What?” I excitedly exclaimed, coming to an abrupt halt. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes! Do NOT let him leave!” I rushed to grab my shoes, quickly brush my hair, and snatched my car keys, all the while informing my parents that there was an emergency at coffee night that required my immediate presence.

Although it was wonderful to see Kristopher that evening, the majority of my attention was directed towards Joe and the task of obtaining a photo for the LGBTQIA website. Joe was a transgender man who had transitioned very successfully, to the point that, in my opinion, it was impossible to tell his gender history. He presented as male from an outsider’s perspective. Despite this, he was new to the group and quite hesitant about having his photo on the website.

I must admit that my actions were inappropriate. However, if I hadn’t reacted the way I did, I probably wouldn’t have come out as bisexual the following day. That disclosure was essential for Kris and me to be together.

Due to Joe’s reluctance to have his picture taken for the website, an argument erupted between some board members and myself, which ultimately led to my resignation from the Committee the next day. Along with resigning, I also decided to move on from identifying as a lesbian.

Let’s get real, because that’s what the pages of this novel are for, right? Honesty! I’m attracted to women. I enjoy being with women. But, I also have an attraction to men. Not all men, mind you. I’m not a fan of muscular, hairy, or your typical heterosexual male. That’s probably why I consistently fell for gay men. I have a soft spot for men who wear eyeliner, sport skinny jeans, and have a touch of femininity about them. Maybe I should just identify as a lesbian who’s into gay men, right?

Nevertheless, the day after meeting Kristopher at coffee night, I found myself essentially “going back in the closet.” Maybe I was just so fed up with the gay community at that point that I said, “Screw it.” In the days that followed, I ended up composing a “going back in the closet” letter, proclaiming my unwavering crush on Kris Allen from American Idol, and planning an “I’m Going Back In the Closet” party. You should know that I don’t do things half-heartedly. If I’m going to “go back in the closet,” I’m going to do it with style, and that meant throwing a party.

In the process of “going back in,” Kristopher started hanging out with Amber and me.   In fact, these exact words were posted on my online blog the night of July 15th: So Kris showed up tonight!  It’s always so nice to see him!  He’s such an amazing person!  : )  He needs to come out more.  So if I have to be all IN YOUR FACE, Kristopher, I will be!  Because you are going to be my new gay man!!  -nods-  I’m ganna take you EVERYWHERE with me!  Haha!  I <3 Kris!

Yes, those words were indeed typed verbatim and published on my public blog, AnnMathews.Com. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t read that post and make a quick exit. I probably would have in his shoes, but for some reason, he didn’t. He later confessed that it was my outgoing and eccentric demeanor that he fell in love with. Someone actually fell in love with my wild, manic self?  Honestly, I never thought that would be possible, let alone with my fantasy gay man.  

During those initial days, I regarded Kris as my new “gay male best friend.” Justin and I weren’t really on speaking terms for reasons I will not get into within the confines of this novel.  So, I found myself in need of a new gay bestie, and Kris appeared to be the perfect candidate to fill that role. I never entertained the idea that he and I could be anything more than friends until the night of Brian’s 26th birthday party.

I vividly recall the moment I first laid eyes on him as he entered Brian’s party that night. My inner monologue chimed in, proclaiming, “He’s the most attractive guy in the room.” In my mind, I undressed him with my eyes and indulged in fantasies about him as he waved and approached to say hello.  But then I abruptly returned to reality, reminding myself of two crucial facts: 1) he was gay, and 2) Justin would be furious if he ever found out I was fantasizing about Kristopher Brown.  Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about how irresistible he appeared throughout the entire party. It certainly didn’t help that Brian’s birthday cake was shaped like a penis.

The day following Brian’s party, Kristopher was meant to hang out with Amber and me, alongside a few other friends from our gay coffee night group. Unfortunately, he had to assist his cousin in a situation, leaving the afternoon with just Amber and me.  I casually mentioned that I found Kris rather attractive at Brian’s party the previous night. Amber responded with curiosity, “Did you see his cryptic Facebook post from last night?”

“No,” I replied with intrigue.  “Why do you say it was cryptic?” I asked.

Amber went and grabbed her phone to pull up the post.  “He wrote: I have a crush on someone that I never thought possible.  He posted it right after he got home from Brian’s party.  So, who was he crushing on at the party?” Amber questioned.

My mind drifted back to the previous night as I pondered who he might be referring to. During most of the night, Kristopher was in the company of me, Amber, and Pamela. It couldn’t be that he had a crush on Brian, no offense meant. Brian was a gay man, but he was a paraplegic, and I had trouble envisioning Kris and him as a couple. Not that it was impossible. “Hmm, I’m honestly not sure,” I responded, feeling a bit perplexed. “Did he drop any hints last night about having a crush on someone?” I inquired.

“No,” Amber replied.  

“Well, I’m going to respond,” I giggled getting my phone out and posting a reply to his post.  I replied: Just go for it! Ya only live once so just tell the person how ya feel! : ) Ps – I’ll tell u my crush if u tell me urs? hehe!

Later that afternoon, I had a hair appointment. While I was in the salon chair, I happened to check his post and noticed a reply from Kristopher. His response read: “Well, when Amber said I don’t swing both ways she was wrong.” My jaw dropped, and my heart felt like it had sunk into my chest as I read his reply. “Holy shit,” I whispered to myself and promptly dialed Amber’s number. “It’s one of us!” I exclaimed excitedly over the phone.

“What?” she questioned.

“Kristopher! He’s into one of us!” I exclaimed with excitement as I shared his reply with her. “Do you have a crush on him? I mean, if he ends up liking you and you like him, then I think you should go for it,” I suggested.

Amber chuckled, replying, “No, Ann! I’m not like you! I don’t fantasize over gay men!”

“Do you think he likes me?” I inquired eagerly. “You have to find out! Text him! Find out who he’s interested in!” I urged with enthusiasm.

After my hair appointment, I returned to Amber’s house for dinner while we eagerly awaited the text from Kristopher. I was trying to keep my hopes in check. To be completely honest, I wasn’t even letting my mind entertain that possibility. I’d had so many crushes on gay men over the years that it seemed improbable that one of them would actually like me in return. But then it happened. He finally messaged Amber back and admitted he liked me.

“Tell him I like him back too!” I exclaimed. “Wait, no, don’t do that! I don’t want to appear too eager. Oh my God!” I exclaimed like a giddy teenager at a boy band concert. “Kristopher Brown likes me! Oh my God!”

“Calm down,” Amber laughed as she was typing into her phone.  “There.  I texted him back and told him you like him too.”

“Amber!” I screamed.  “Well now what?”

“Now he comes over and asks you out?” Amber shrugged.  And that is exactly what happened.   The rest is history.   We started dating shortly after that.  

Our relationship began with a cryptic Facebook message, and had it not been for Amber spotting it and my subsequent response, perhaps I wouldn’t be here today, reflecting on the past thirteen years with Kristopher Brown.

Cryptic messages remained a consistent part of our relationship throughout, so it came as no surprise that on a Tuesday night, a little over 13 years later, I found myself contemplating uploading the memo I had written to the court website.

In the spirit of honesty within the pages of this narrative, I must reveal the truth. I was fully aware that he might lift the protective order if I uploaded the memo. Well, there was a 25% chance he wouldn’t, but our entire relationship had been built upon cryptic messages. So, yes, I was fully aware of what I was doing when I clicked the “upload” button. I had sought advice from two individuals before taking that step—my lawyer and the one person on this planet who despised Kristopher more than anyone else. Obviously, I chose not to follow my lawyer’s advice.