Boy meets girl. They date, then separate. Love can be a fickle fiend, but hope springs eternal.
For many college students, the dating game is as simple as that. But for a gay man in a small town, the pre-dating courtship phase is a time of worry and woe, with enough pitfalls to make even Lara Croft consider turning back.
I’ve never been one to feign sexual guru status but I can say this, when it comes to dating balks and sexual frustration, I know my stuff.
Every story begins the same, with that fateful glance.
My eyes catch those of a strapping gentleman at the bar, and I instantly know there’s something special between us. He may later claim that he just liked my X-Files T-shirt, but I know better. There was something special.
Taking initiative, I strike up a devil-may-care saunter and make my way toward him. Meanwhile, my mind is racing faster than a rabbit on an intravenous espresso drip.
What am I doing? I don’t even know if he’s gay or straight. He seems interested. But I do have a cool shirt on, maybe it’s just the shirt. But he does have a big mustache. No, the mustache thing is just a myth. Oh God. I’m at the bar. What do I do? What should I order? Long island? Too sloppy. Vodka martini? Too cliché. Screw it, beer it is.
We introduce ourselves and strike up some quick, easy conversation. Things are going well, we have similar tastes in music, we both like to read and he hasn’t noticed the foam from my Pale Ale spilling over the glass, running down my forearm and condensing into a puddle on my lap.
My demeanor is a calm, cool, amicable. Meanwhile, my mind is processing louder than my grandma’s Macintosh that still runs on dial-up.
Does he seem interested? Yes. But does he seem “interested?” God only knows. (Don’t bring religion into this, that gets weird.) Jesus, what should I do? Should I be more obvious? No, that’s weird. And what if he’s a homophobe? What if he invites me over to his place, leads me into a back alley where all his bros are and then beats me within an inch of my life? Don’t be stupid, this isn’t Crazy Horse Saloon. Just relax. Have a good time. Stay in the moment. Enjoy this.
The night wanes and our time together is pushing on two hours. Before we part, he asks for my number because the goddess Aphrodite in all her splendor and glory has smiled upon my plight and delivered unto me the love I’ve always deserved.
We exchange numbers, part ways for the night, and it doesn’t matter how many piles of broken glass litter the sidewalks, I’m walking on air.
In two day’s time – the appropriate time cushion before following up, for the record – he sends me a text and wants to hang out. Feigning nonchalance, I reply:
“Sounds good. How about Thursday night?”
“Can’t do Thursday, driving the gf back to the bay. Friday?”
Aphrodite, you cold, heartless bitch.
Zach Phillips can be reached at [email protected] and @ZachSPhillips on Twitter.