If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

A young interior designer is nervous about her Shaadi.com date with an engineer. She drinks some wine while getting ready, and a cocky cable guy arrives to fix her wifi—she’s so late for her date. Too late, turns out. Her date waited, but not quite long enough.

When she returns home, she realizes the cable guy left his tool belt behind. It’s very late now, but she calls him anyway. He comes over.

A young blond guy meets a 45-year-old Indian man, Ashwin, at the Babylon nightclub. The blond guy is in a tank top and jeans. Ashwin wears a pink ascot and fancy shoes. They meet in a restaurant on the outskirts of town, they meet in motel rooms. The young man asks Ashwin if he has a boyfriend. Ashwin says he has a wife. But that’s not Ashwin’s secret. 

In Neel Patel’s first collection of short stories, If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi—just out in paperback—queer and/or Indian-American characters make choices they regret, and then they hurtle forward in time to meet their consequences. Or to find there are none. They may find cathartic reunions, or they may find they’re not remembered at all.

Samir takes an Urban Groove dance class to get out of gym. He just wants to move to Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time”—until Jordan shows up. Jordan from school, who seems seductively oblivious until he kisses Samir like the thought just occurred to him. Meanwhile, Samir’s father disappears, and reappears, as does his father’s mistress, Lisa. 

Two brothers come completely, completely apart. One says seven words to the other. The titular words. PLEASE READ

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel, from Flatiron Books