“Starbucks Boy” by David Levithan from Best Gay Stories 2009 by Lethe Press.

I somehow didn’t pay attention to the title of this story or the name of the author before re-reading it. I remembered from the first line that I’d loved it, and so dove right in. Consequently, as it was unfolding I was trying to figure out who wrote it.

Gabriel is in the city for the summer, staying with his aunt while taking a pre-college course. Or at least, that was the plan. Turns out the course was cancelled right before he arrived. Now he doesn’t want to go home but doesn’t know how to justify staying. Thankfully, his aunt Celia has a plan. She sets him up with a gig babysitting her neighbor’s six year old, though, as it turns out, Arabella doesn’t really need anyone to babysit her. She’s definitely running the show. Right off she engineers a trip to Starbucks where Gabriel, up to now unlucky in love, starts to fall for the dreamy guy behind the counter.

Subtly funny, heartfelt, and featuring a young gay man’s experiences as caretaker to a little girl in the city who is wise-beyond-her-years, this reminded me of stories by several folks I’ve come to admire over the past few years but was, in fact, written by David Levithan, whose novel Boy Meets Boy I found wholly original and uplifting. I also enjoyed the movie based on the novel Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which he wrote with Rachel Cohen. A little research reveals that he penned this and the rest of the stories in his collection How They Met while he was still in high school, a humbling fact indeed.