Single Life

As I blow out my candles…

I celebrated a birthday recently. Not a major one. Turning this new age didn’t afford me any new privileges and the number it self doesn’t signify any major milestones. Nevertheless, it’s time to speculate wildly as to what the next 365 days will bring.

Inevitably, some one always asks what I wish for in the new year. Somehow, I’m never prepared to answer it. Sure, I could say something generic like “world peace” or “good health for all.” But as a person with a penchant for the fantastical, I take these wishes seriously. (I may or may not still make a wish every day at 11:11.)

For the record, world peace and health are important and I want them. But this is my birthday wish. I don’t take this request to the birthday fairies or whatever wish granting creature you believe in lightly.

Whimsy aside, the birthday wish, for me, is a challenging concept because it forces me to ask myself one brutal question: Was there anything missing in my latest year of life? The answer is not always easy to admit.

Before I divulge my birthday “wish,” I think I should operationalize the term.  A “wish” is different from a “goal.” A goal is something I’m actively going to try to achieve. A wish is something magic, something I want but something I hope stumbles into my lap unexpectedly.  Most importantly, a wish is a thing I can’t seem to obtain despite my best efforts.

The last time I posted, I took a firm “Who needs a boyfriend” stance which I proudly confess I’m still holding to. In the weeks since posting, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of single life without ever once thinking about the missing Future Husband in my life or getting fervent about any one boy.  Freeing myself from that tyranny has lead me to a personal renaissance.

BUT… in the objective interest in stating my wish for the Gods of Birthdays and Cake, I submit the following: Romance.

Now before you roll your eyes and click over to the another tab, hear me out. I think it’s time we all sit and have a conversation about Romance because I’m not entirely sure everyone is on the same page.

When we start thinking about Romance, there are certain images that come to mind: nice dinners over candle light, champagne, roses, jewelry etc. But that is a list of tangible and purchasable things. It’s more complicated than that.  Romance itself cannot be simply acquired with a Groupon.   It’s an elaborate sensitive experience.

You see, Romance is not simply a gift. It can be a gift.  Sure, you can hide a rare piece of jewelry (think heart of the ocean) in a chocolate cake at the most expensive restaurant in town. But for some one like me, I’m more likely to devour that sweet treat without ever noticing Billy Zane’s lost treasure until many hours later (which sort of kills the vibe.) So it’s not about showering some one with gifts on gifts.  When we behave romantically, we create moments that are surprising, thoughtful and personal.

Sometimes a simple act that shows some one you’re paying attention can create a moment that will imprint on their heart forever.  (Note to self: Sell that line to Hallmark.)

I first developed my concept of Romance when I was in elementary school watching an episode of The Cosby Show. I can never stress enough the impact this show has had on the type of relationship and family I one day hope to have. (Future Husband, please be prepared to stage lip sync numbers with our children for every major event.)

In this particular episode, Cliff challenges the two men courting his daughters, Denise and Vanessa, to a “Romance-off.” (Note to self: pitch “Romance-Off” to every major network. John Legend hosts from his piano.) At the end of the episode, the three couples sit down to dinner and the men demonstrate their Casanovic ways. Alvin (I think) and Denise’s guy do something for their ladies that obviously made no impact on me since I can’t remember it or their names.

Then it’s Cliff’s turn. He tells a charming story about one of his first dates with Claire. During this date, teenage Claire pointed out a wooden barrette she adored while they passed by a drug store. Cliff, being the penniless young man he was, could not afford it. That memory stuck with him for tacky braceletmany decades. And so to commemorate this special occasion, Cliff tracked down and purchased that barrette at last.

The other couples sighed being moved by this gesture. Claire, oh wise Claire, smiles coyly, seemingly touched that he remembered this relic of their history.

But this coy smile was a TRAP. Because she never wanted that barrette. Eunice Chantily wanted that tacky barrette. Claire wanted a green plastic bracelet. The other couples gasp and laugh in a mixture of delight and embarrassment.

Claire, fuming, admonishes Cliff for his most unfortunate careless mistake. She opens the box intending to pull out the barrette to prove how horrible it was only to extract the exact green bracelet she had just described. They embrace, the studio audience cheers, and a young man’s understanding of romance is forged in the fires of an NBC sitcom. Witness this moment here.

Even as a child, I was enchanted by that most perfect reveal. I still have to fan myself off before I catch the vapors every time I watch that clip (I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.) Cliff Huxtable, MD of Love, did not rely on extravagancies to continuously sweep Claire off of her feet. Instead, he created a lifetime of precious moments that were tailor made for her.  He presented his affections with a boldness that made Claire fall in love over and over again.

So I come back to my point about Romance. I worry that we’re not doing it right. These days it feels like we date without consequence. When we can open an app or go to a website to find a database of other dudes instantly to replace the one “that we’re just not into” it’s easy not to appreciate the beauty of starting a new relationship. Our investment in each other diminishes.

With most guys (that I’ve dated any way) I get the sense they are waiting to see if they are really interested before showing up with their A-Game. Like why waste all their romantic charm until we’ve reached some arbitrarily designated milestone (like the third date or first official Facebook photo or some other silly third thing.)

For some one who’s former Scruff tagline read “Modern Day Meg Ryan” this can be very disheartening. (Which might point to the very reason why I quit all of those apps.) I’m a chronic romantic and I have reason to believe that makes me very passé.

It’s not uncommon for me to surprise my gentleman callers with subtle but romantic gestures. Something to appropriately express that I enjoyed the first date and look forward to exploring a future.  I can’t say that it’s ever been met with the overwhelming response I had anticipated.  More often than not, those sweet nothings yield cold dismissive nothing. With each passing disappointment, I get more and more jaded.

Not everyone is good at Romance. And maybe not all of us have been brainwashed by a lifetime of exposure to romantic comedies to value it.  I get it. Starting out a courtship with a big romantic gesture requires a lot of balls.  Because behaving romantically communicates unequivocal interest.  Which is not the MO of any one these days.

However, part of developing meaningful relationships requires a certain level of vulnerability and risk.  As romantic interactions become more sterile, the signals get murky.  Dating, then, which can be a giggle inspiring affair, becomes like an awkward bro-session that may or may not result in dry humping where I’m not sure if he’s actually “feeling it” or just feeling me up.  And honey, you can save your ambivalence for some other girl.  Swipe left.

So 26 was awesome. But if you want to know what I wish for in this next year, which is to say what this year lacked, then the answer is romance.  And, yes, I am absolutely nervous that having told you this my wish might not come true.  But I’m here to prove a point #altruism.

***I have a feeling this may be received with mixed reactions. We all know “traditional” romantic narratives tend to enforce certain limiting gender norms. But I’d encourage us to keep breaking out of that mold. Because no matter who you are or what gender(s) you prefer, EVERYONE likes getting a thoughtful surprise from the apple of their eye. And I firmly believe we can do it without any sexual commerce attached. Like, be sweet simply because you want to see your honey smile, not just because it’s a guaranteed ticket to the bone zone.  But I digress…

 

 

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Let Freedom Ring

It’s been one year since the break up, since the Ex and I took a long hard look at one another and bravely admitted that our relationship no longer worked.  We spent an uncomfortable month living in the same apartment, sharing a bed and too many drinks in this weird nebulous state of obliged dYouve-Got-Mail-dont-cry-shopgirletached attachment. And then we were free.

I walked away bursting with a restored sense of romance and energy that months stuck in a failing relationship dampened.  As we all know by now, I fully expected that it was only a matter of time until I met Future Husband during a meet-cute scene that would make Meg Ryan herself wish she were lucky enough to experience love like that.

Well, I’m not any closer to that vineyard wedding and the matching set of his and his Subarus than I was a year ago.  I’m still as single as a slice of Kraft.  But the thing is, I kinda love it.  Like a lot.  Which is utterly shocking. This whole year of freedom has illuminated things about myself I never was able to see before, good and bad.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the person I was when I met the Ex. I moved to Philly shortly I graduating college having no job, no real plan and my friend group was basically my roommates.   I was utterly incomplete.  So in that emptiness, I was grasping at anything that would fill me.  (Insert dirty sex joke here.)

Enter the Ex.  He knew the city, had lovely friends, a killer job and for what it’s worth, always paid for dinner.  Those first few months were intoxicating because I finally found something that made me feel special.

And no it wasn’t just the emptiness that he filled.  All of my life, I had placed romantic love on top of my list of priorities even when I didn’t have it.  Maybe you’ve picked up on this by now, but I can be intense.  I bring a certain “all or nothing” energy that screams, “Because I’m interested, I will be single-mindedly focused on you.  Whatever you need, potential suitor, I’ll give.  Call me Effie White, because you’re gonna love me.”

The Ex was the first guy ever (and maybe ever again) to effortlessly pick up the intensity I was putting down. So our relationship took off quicker than it probably should have and we reached milestones a bit premature and we moved in before we were actually ready to. But damnit it was love and it was mine.

As time went on, I eventually found a job that was greater than anything I could have imagined and developed friendships that meant more to me than any relationship I’ve ever had. By the end, I didn’t need him any more and I’m not sure he ever needed me.

On Fourth of July weekend, 2013, I declared my independence.  (For the record: it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.)

titanicSince then I’ve maintained a healthy dating life. Much of which has been captured on this blog (and much of which will stay with me because if Titanic taught us anything, it’s that a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.)  Some guys were great, some god-awful.  Through it I’ve made new close friends and sworn enemies.  It’s all been like a wonderfully tawdry season of 90’s Melrose Place.  And like a smutty evening network drama, I was obsessed.

When I’m elderly and my grandchildren have gathered around and I force them to look through my old photo albums or whatever Facebook has created for the purposes of chronicling our every move, I’ll be amazed by what I have accomplished this year.  I’m not one to brag, but from July 2013- July 2014 I killed it all day every day. In this year, I have blossomed into the person I always hoped I would be.

But, and this pains me to admit, as a byproduct of my obsession, there was never a moment, even through all the successes and victories, that I wasn’t on some level lamenting some boy or lack thereof.  And that sucks a big bag of dicks.

I’ve treated Love this year like I was that same scared 22 year old with nothing else going for him.  I’d go on a few dates with a boy and suddenly I couldn’t think about anything else.  I’d check my phone incessantly, post on Facebook desperately hoping to score a like, and would be trying to schedule the next date before we even had the main course.  Love was distracting me from the abounding joy. Every time it invariably didn’t work out, it crushed me.

All of this led me to one shocking conclusion: Love, romantic love, has never made me happy.  The rare moments of happiness I have experienced were simply punctuation marks in an endless Dickens-esque run-on sentence of anxious misery.  It was the worst of times, it was the shittiest of times and once in awhile it was a’ight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve not turned into not some cynic certain that Love is pile of rotten garbage.  Obviously not.  I’m still the same hopeful romantic who believes Love is the greatest thing humans can express and share.  I’m literally listening to my favorite Love Song playlist as I write this.

But I was explaining this to my dear friend the other day and he aptly pointed out that it’s an important moment when we realize we have all the love we need.  I’m very fortunate in that way.  I am surrounded by so many people whom I love and love me back that sometimes I don’t know what to do with all of the feelings.

My skewed priorities insisted though that in order to really feel whole I needed some man to fill this specific role. Despite all the truly wonderful things I had, I still felt like I was missing something important.  I consistently clawed  and scraped at any chance to find Love, focusing so much of my attention on it as if knowing one person loving me in a romantically inclined way proved unequivocally my worth or value or whatever thing I hoped it would do.

scandalI’m no longer at the point in my life where I’m a naïve lost little boy looking for some one to hold his hand and guide him through the world.  I’m a grown ass self possessed man with literally everything to offer (except riches#artistlife.)  I’ve learned only recently that I don’t need to surrender all of my goodies for the first pair of cute eyes who gives me a sweet look. Today I’m Scandal‘s Olivia Pope and Love is Fitz trying to get back with me whenever it’s convenient but I’m walking up to the White House looking incredible shouting back, “If you want me, earn me,” loud enough to ensure the secret service agent in the hall way heard it so I know it’s recorded forever on a formal government document.

A year later and I am making another declaration of personal independence.  For I see now that being single I am complete.  No longer will I bend my desires or compromise myself for the sake of any silly boy.  Farewell to the tyranny of romantic Love.  God Bless America.

And so I leave you with this:  When you’re ready for me Future Husband, when you think you’re worthy, I’ll be here having a wonderful time eager to see how you’re going to contribute and share in my joy.  You still have my number.

With me, it’s all or nothing lately.

For the first time in a few months, Philadelphia wasn’t a frozen waste land this weekend. enchantedI couldn’t be happier.  I had a brunch date at a local doughnut and fried chicken joint (yes that is a thing, Non-Philly readers.)  I put on a light sweatshirt and sauntered out into the beautiful day where I would be greeted by an animated bird that rested upon my finger and joined me in a jaunty tune on my front stoop.

The Chicken/Doughnut shop was about a 30-minute walk from my place.  Four days prior, I would have been grumbling about it being too cold and too far from easily accessible public transit, but this weather had me head over heels in love with my city again.  I needed to strut.

So I’m whistling Dixie, on my way to a pile of deliciously unhealthy food and a guy I’ve been seeing with regularity when a few paces ahead I notice a man jogging towards me.  (Pfft, runners, am I right?)

As the runner got closer, I realized I knew his face.  I went on a date with him a few weeks ago.  He texted me a few times after that attempting to plan a second date but I never followed through.

This was the first I had seen him since that date.  I held my breath and felt a twinge of guilt in the back of my neck as I braced myself for what would be an undoubtedly awkward conversation.  I may have been a touch unclear about my lack of interest.  You see,  I did that thing I always do when I’m not feeling it; I politely explain I’m busy whenever they say they want to meet, promise I’ll get back in touch in a few days once I “get a better hold of my schedule,” and then never make contact again.

Somehow I’ve been able to convince myself that I do this because it preserves their feelings so they aren’t broken by the news that it’s not going to happen.  But really, I do it because I’m selfishly avoiding hard honest conversations.  And it’s making me feel like shit.

The runner passed me and without breaking his stride or smiling, greeted me with the coldest wave you ever saw.  I should have been wearing my winter coat.

In the past few months, I’ve dated a number of guys.   Very few of them have made it to the second date with me.  I keep taking an “All or Nothing” approach; either they are my Future Husband or I never need to see them again.  And their FH potential status is decided probably in the first ten minutes.

For some reason, I can’t seem to reconcile a place for them in my life if it doesn’t immediately involve a ring… wedding ring to be clear.  I started this post ready to argue that this is analogous to all gay men, but I don’t think that’s true.

mean girls walk

Over the past year, I’ve been developing a close knit group of friends, all of whom are gay men and the greatest people you will ever meet. (Yes, that is a Mean Girls reference.)  This clique has been together for a few years before I came into the picture.  I’m the new girl, the Cady Heron if you will.  (Don’t roll your eyes, Brian, I’m the Cady.)

In the early days of our friendship, I had a lot of catching up to do.  I adopted the group jargon easily enough and studied our herstory.  What I still find most surprising is that most of their friendship origin stories began with a date.  Their romantic encounters with each other turned into deep but (mostly) nonsexual friendships.

I don’t know that I’ve ever successfully made that transition.

Which causes me to realize that I am the anomaly.  I am the one with the issue.  I’m the asshole.

This is uncharted territory for me, this single, city life.  Seriously.  I moved to Philly in November ’09, fell in love the second weekend I was here.  Four months later it totally and utterly fell apart, I met the Ex maybe two months after that and was spoken for until this past July.

So maybe I’m doing it wrong.  Maybe I should be able to turn my luke-warm feelings into a friendship with my various gentleman callers.  Maybe it’s okay to keep a line of communication open even after I’ve firmly decided I don’t want to date.  I mean it couldn’t hurt.

I don’t know.

I don’t know if I want to.  I don’t know if I should have to.  I don’t know that I need to.

sad walk

I passed by the chilly runner and all of this was swirling in my head.  When I first moved here, I was 22, heart broken, wandering without direction, and working at a coffee shop.  I was every Taylor Swift song.  When I was overwhelmed by all the ambiguity of my early twenties, I would go on what I called my “Crisis Walks” where for hours I would roam the city streets reflecting on my choices.

The lush and unique landscapes of my city were always the perfect cure for the 22 blues.  Inevitably, I would applaud my bravery for taking this risk, moving here without a real plan, and enthusiastically dream of the possibilities that lay before me.  All of that terror and anxiety would wash away.

My walk to the Donut/Chicken Joint became a Crisis Walk.  (Sorry, fella! Though don’t worry, I got it together by the time we met.)

I started asking myself what is it that’s missing from my life right now.  What is this specific role I’m trying to fill that these duds aren’t satisfying? What do I want?  I have a job I love.  It fulfills me artistically, emotionally, intellectually often to the point of happy tears.  I freelance for another theater company on the side, which I totally dig.  I have a fantastic group of hilarious, ride or die friends.  My relationship with my family couldn’t be better (except, sure, I could visit more often!)  I have a great living situation with one of my oldest and dearest friends in a killer row home.

I’m pretty damn lucky.

But still, something is missing.  Something important.

This is a strange moment in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I really love my life and to sit here and bitch and moan is not my point.  In fact, punch me in the face if I ever do that.  But I’m starting to  contemplate my independence.  I’m totally free.  As much as I love my family and friends, we don’t need each other in any measurable way.  And with the exception of my professional responsibilities, no one actually relies on me for anything significant.  The success or failure of my life will only have a direct causal effect on me.  Suddenly “independent” feels very lonely.

So the short answer is a boyfriend.  That’s what’s missing.  But you all knew that, that’s why I’ve called you here each week.  I don’t mean some one to go to dinner with, or sleep with or see my shows or hang with my friends.  That’s easy.  I can make a patchwork quilt out of these silly boy swatches for that stuff.  It’s deeper than that.

What I’m missing is my partner in crime.  Some one that I can build my life with.  Some one who cares if I succeed because when I do, we do.  Some one who, when I fuck it up, is there to help me make it right.  Some one who makes me feel as important and capable as my work does, who makes me laugh as much as my friends do, who supports me like my family does, who wants me even when I have eye boogers.  Some one who is there to share the often crushing weight of existence.

Each day, I’m going it alone.  And I’m handling it.  But like Olivia Pope: flawlessly empowered while hopelessly fragile hoping Fitz is going to get it right.  And I’m not looking to rush into something because it feels safe and cozy.  I’ve been there before and it ain’t cute.  I know this thing I’m looking for is rare and special and I’m picky.  I know it takes time.

RestlessnessAnxiety and Disappointment are all names of magazines in the waiting room of Dr. Love’s office.

I reserve that right to be disinterested for any reason at all.  Because at the same time that I think I know exactly what this man will be like, I also have no clue.  I’m a fickle pickle.  And these boys that I could give or take, I am not obligated to make space for them in my life because they bought me a beer.  I don’t need to turn boring conversation into a life long friendship.  Besides, you would have to be pretty damn amazing to join the pantheon of my loved ones.

But in the meantime, I could stop being such a scaredy cat, put on my big boy pants and tell these boys up front, thanks but I’m not interested right now.  And maybe they will become a friend instead of another person I’m trying to avoid at Woody’s.

Something Worth Melting For…

I saw Frozen this weekend.  This was the cinematic experience I had been waiting for all year.  August: Osage County? Pfft, more like August: No-sage… HuntyAmerican Hustle? I’d rather hustle past your theater to see Frozen.  (But actually, I want to see these two before the Oscars.)

This should surprise no one when I say I found the whole thing utterly enchanting.  It was whimsical, musical, and delightfully awkward.  It was as if some one captured my essence, removed all of the potty humor and turned it into an animated feature film.

I wasn’t surprised that I liked it so much.  After all, I’ve been singing “Let It Go” for months now. Idina took me all the way to synagogue and threw me a Bar Mitzvah what that one.  And basically every one with a heart and access to Facebook has been singing its praises.

But I never ever expected to be so taken with this story’s depiction of “True Love.”  It broke the Disney mold I had so come to expect.   I arrived ready for a love story and found the central narrative had nothing to do with romantic love.  Even in the moments where that typical trope would rear its ugly head, BAM.  Some one would show up and Shut. It. Down!

I grew up watching Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, stories of women on a journey to achieve that one great True Love.  They sacrifice everything; their homes, families, freedom, fins, voices for it.  And we rejoice when at last they share that perfect kiss on their wedding day!

I can’t help but wonder how much of my real adult expectations of love have been based on that narrative.  If I’m being honest, probably a whole lot.

Like Belle and Ariel, I’ve spent my life dreaming about that sweeping romantic experience wherein I spot Future Husband across the room and in an instant, I know unquestionably that he’s “The One.”  I’ve ended multiple relationships because I didn’t feel that “spark.”

Allow me to describe my vision of a perfect relationship: I meet a man and we instantly know we are “meant for each other.”  We forge that kind of relationship where there is nothing on earth more important to us than each other.  If need be, we’d sacrifice our dreams and other relationships for the sake of our True Love.  And in some mystical way, we always have the perfect thing to say no matter what the situation.

A few years ago, I fell head over heels in love with a man from Michigan the moment I met him.  And this Love had all the makings of that epic romance.  The circumstances of our meeting were beautifully serendipitous and he vaguely looked like a Disney Prince.  But like the poor grad student version.  I remember clearly, during our first kiss, before I knew he lived so far away, thinking, “Oh, this is it.”  I committed myself to him and our prospective future vigorously.

If he asked, I would have up and moved to be with him in a second.  (Instead, when I suggested I do this, he refused because I couldn’t possibly reach my full potential if I uprooted myself for him.  Ugh, whatever, he respected my goals and knew Michigan would be a dead end for me.  He’s perfect.  Moving on.)  Eventually the distance was too much and our wallets were far too tight.  Artist and Grad student, what are you gonna do?

This happened almost five years ago and I still I’m regularly visited by the nagging thought that he’s not only “The One” but now “The One that got away.”

In the past few months, partially due to this blog, I have scrutinized my concept of love and what it is I’m looking for.  Well, I’ve come up with the resounding conclusion that literally no one is good enough for me.  I told my mom this a few weeks while we were both complaining about men and she laughed and said, “Maybe we just demand too much. We expect everyone to be perfect.”

Duh.  Because I believe that my love story, my final ever-lasting love story, will be made of perfection and rainbows and I’ll sing songs with animals when it happens.

Why do I expect that? Have Disney movies and all the romantic comedies I’ve watched in my life informed my expectations of the kind of love I want?

I mean, YEAH.  I didn’t grow up witnessing that perfect true love at home.  My family is far from “traditional.” So I didn’t learn to value it by experiencing it.  (No, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything or I’m trying to compensate for it in my adulthood.  And if you or any one you know wants to talk to me about how children only thrive in a “nuclear family,” I’ll shout you the hell down.  But I’m not here for that today.)

Ok, so admittedly, growing up as a young boy, I was having alternative gendered experiences with Disney Animated Classics and Rom Coms by associating myself with the heroines.  As a gay man, I do allow my self the license to have a more fluid understanding of my gender.  That’s just me, not necessarily all gay men.  But still, the way I value love and, more importantly, the way I have come to expect Future Husband to value me have stemmed directly from these stories.

And in comes Frozen.  This film not only reinvents the rules of “True Love” for this genre (Animated Princess Musical Rom Coms) it blatantly criticizes them.

Early on, we meet Anna, the younger sister of the ice queen (really, guys?) who craves a life beyond her castle walls. (Ariel, much?)  Anna, eager to see the world, meets the charming albeit bumbling Hans, a young prince about five minutes after leaving the castle for the first time.   They declare their love for each other during a deliciously campy musical number ending in a sudden engagement.  And I believed it.

I sat and listened to their silly song and swooned thinking, “Aw, I wish my love life were like this.”  As she as she announces her pending nuptials, everyone is all like, “Anna, gurl, you just met this guy.  What’s his last name?  What side of the bed does he sleep on?  How much student loan debt does he have?  You’re really jumping the gun here.”  Her sister, Kristoff, and even the damn Snowman who has been alive for like 30 minutes calls her on it.

Like Anna, my first response was to cross my arms and fight back with a “You don’t even know him!”  And then, I calmed down, stopped shouting at the screen and realized that they’re probably right.  Maybe they should go on a few dates first or something.  I guess people shouldn’t jump into an engagement after only four hours.

Ok Hans and Anna aren’t the love story here.  I’m sure something will come up.

anna and kristoff

Enter Kristoff, the smelly reindeer guy who sells ice.  So every word I just used to describe him immediately would have sent me running.  And had Anna not actually needed his help she probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day. 

But because they had mutual objectives, they had to work together.  As they continued to overcome obstacles by supporting one another while also having friendly conversation, they started to notice an interest budding.  Ahh, here’s my romantic fairy tale couple.  It had all the tell tale signs; flirting, secret smiles, he caught her when she fell off the mountain.  Call me India.Arie because I am ready for love.

After all the build up and drama and other hilarious happenstances, Anna’s heart is frozen.  The cure: an “act of True Love.”  If every love story ever has taught me anything, a kiss solves all of the problems.  That’s the only way.  I was a little put off when Anna, Kristoff and Olaf conclude Hans has to deliver the kiss.  Didn’t we already establish that her relationship with Hans was stupid and Kristoff was her soul mate?  Whatever, she’s committed I guess.  So she finds Hans and, OH NO, he’s a secret villain! I knew it! She and Kristoff were the It-couple!

But once again, the movie totally obliterated my expectations.  Anna, on the brink of death (or ice death?), was faced with a choice: run to Kristoff for  20ccs of “True Love” by kiss injection or save her cold mopey sister.  The big dummy chose to save her sister, forever turning herself into ice.  When Anna froze because she chose Uteruses over Duderuses, I was really disappointed in her.  Doesn’t she get that True Love will break all spells and make life everything you dreamed of?  ISN’T THAT WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING WITH MY LIFE?

However, it turned out that the love Anna had for her sister ended up releasing her from a frozen death.  And I was floored.  Because really it should have been obvious that Anna’s love for her sister was the only thing that could be deemed “true.”  It’s literally the only significant relationship she’s ever had her whole life.   She may be crushing on Kristoff or even Hans but it’s unreasonable to expect that given the choice between these men she’s known for maybe a day or so and her life long (albeit cold and distant) sister, she would choose the Crush. 

And yet I never saw it coming.

Like most people, I’ve learned to expect certain outcomes from these narratives.  True love wins. A kiss breaks the spell. The hot couple winds up together at the expense of the heroines whole life.  And I love it. I dream about it happening in my own life.

!

The DREAM!

I grew up watching these movies and I base every romantic encounter on how much “magic” I feel.  And I won’t settle for less than Harry Potter.  Step aside Siegfried and Roy.  Get back in your box, Harry Houdini.  If it doesn’t feel “real” then I don’t want it.

The longer I live and the longer I’m single, I start wondering how realistic my ideals are.  Probably not very.  That’s why I find Frozen to be such a positive depiction of love.  Now that this story is part of the Disney cannon, it’s going to be as ubiquitous as The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast.  Frozen will be irrevocably tied to the childhood of so many young people (ugh, I feel old.)  Maybe they’ll see that love doesn’t come from magic and maybe you don’t have to give up your family or your power to find it.  Maybe two people who share similar goals will discover a mutual attraction while working together as equals and explore the possibility of a romantic and sexual relationship over time and through open communication.

Now for the record, I don’t think Frozen is a shining beacon of socially progressive children’s entertainment.  Actually, it’s quite problematic.  I mean, the central conflict of the whole thing is that a woman has too much power and is ruining everyone’s lives because of it.  The people of Arendelle only love Elsa once she learns to suppress her power.  (It’s cool as long as she used it for like fun stuff like ice skating or snowman preservation.)     Oh and every character is beautiful, white, able bodied, and straight.  So yeah, Disney has work to do.

But I imagine 5-year-old Tim growing up today watching a movie like Frozen.  First of all, I’d be belting “Let it Go” in the Disney Store at the mall instead of “Part of your World.”  The idea of a child me singing a song about accepting myself instead of giving up my identity for love already brings a tear to my eye.

I wonder if he would grow up into a person who has a healthy sense of romance but understands it shouldn’t come at the expense of his family, friends, or self worth.  It’s taken me a lot of years in my adulthood to figure that out.

That alternative-reality version of myself might still be single, sure.  But I bet he would be less hung up on it.  I bet he would scoff at the idea of having an online dating profile and writing this blog about desperately seeking love.

It may be too late to save myself.  Even now, I hear a not too quiet voice in my head screaming, “BUT LOVE IS REAL! Stop being a cynic!”

My heart, like Anna’s, is warmed imagining a future generation of little weirdos who understand that love isn’t a zero-sum game.

Frozen-Elsa-strut

Look out, I’m Fabulous!

14 Ways to Be Your Own Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day lovers of all sorts!

Can I be honest with you all? I love Valentine’s Day.

Before you give your screen a side eye and close the tab on your browser, hear me out.  I totally get that Valentine’s Day is stupid.  It is.  Greedy executives who are interested in making a quick buck by propagating heteronormative mores created it.  I went to a liberal arts college.  I get it.

But that doesn’t stop me from swooning every February 14th.  There is something magic in the air.  Valentine’s Day generates a kind of energy that puts people in a better mood.  It’s probably because every one is excited about shamelessly eating chocolate. In my case, I’m secretly hoping a secret admirer will step forth and confess his undying devotion (hint hint.)

This is my first Single Valentine’s Day in a long time.  I don’t have any dates set up and I’m not really the type to ask some one to be my Valentine or anything as lame as that.  This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Valentine’s Day.  After all, how much can we really hate on a day that asks us to tell the people in our lives we love them?

But for some, today bares the ugly moniker of  “Single’s Awareness Day” or other debasing epithets.  And that bugs me.  Because being single isn’t something to feel bad about.  It’s taken me some time to realize that and you’ve all sort of been witness to part of that process.

So today I say, Single is great! Valentine’s Day is for all who love!

To those of you who, like me, don’t have any plans, I’ve come up with a wonderful list of ways to spend this day celebrating your one true love: Yourself.

Please enjoy my recommendations while listening to my collection of the Greatest Love Songs of all time:  (The Beatles aren’t on Spotify, so you may notice a significant emptiness.)

The Cupid Shuffle

Take all of the digits of your birth date and add them up to find your Love Number.

For example: If your birth date is 2/14/1987, then you do the following:  2+1+4+1+9+8+7=32

Then go to your OkCupid profile (any Dating site would work.)  Set your Matches to “Special Blend” and search.  This will provide a random assortment of people not based on your alleged match percent, location, or how recently they joined.

Count from the first profile of the results all the way to the one that lands on your Love Number.  Without hesitation or qualification send that person, whoever he or she may be, the following message:

“Happy Valentine’s Day!

romeo and julie

Let’s make the most of it.  Meet me at (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE SPOT) tonight at 8pm.  I’ll be the one wearing (INSERT YOUR BEST OUTFIT)

Here’s to the magic.”

Then brace yourself for an exciting new encounter.

What you will need:

  • An OkCupid account or other dating app/profile
  • An adventurous spirit
  • Back up plans if/when he doesn’t show up

The Show Stopper

Everyone loves a musical.  Everyone.  I don’t care who you are; you love them and know all the words to at least one.  Tonight is the night to let your inner Sutton Foster shine, girl!

There are two ways to do this:

1)   Pick your favorite movie musical (Netflix has some amazing choices right now.  West Side Story?! If you need more, please contact me.)  Lock the doors to your home, put on your best cut off T-shirt, Jazz pants, and Capezios.  Hit play and perform the shit out of every musical number.

2) Invite over your most talented friends and cast them in your favorite movie musical.  You’re the casting director, remember?  So no one gets to call dibs.  You are always Maria or Effie or Mimi.  Perform a concert version of that musical and maybe a second one to make sure everyone gets a featured part.

effie white

What you will need:

  • Beers or Wine (in bottles) as these are the best vessels for alcohol/microphones
  • Ample floor space
  • A solid warm up
  • Preferably a dance studio style room with a mirror on one wall and Ballet Barres.

*Costumes optional.  Nay, mandatory.

The Lady with a Past

In the grand tradition of every role Jessica Lange has ever played, put on your sexiest outfit and head to a dark, romantic spot.  Take a seat at the bar where you are sure to grab the attention of everyone in the room.

Jessica Lange

Flirt casually with the bartender (so every one looking on see’s how charismatic you are.)  Order only whiskey or scotch on the rocks, the world’s sexiest drink.  Sit and sip alone as if you’ve just gotten out of a terrible situation.  Appear vulnerable yet resilient.   Look off into the distance with an expression that tells everyone the weight of the past is heavy on your heart.

Drink the whole night and laugh with the bartender until some gentle yet commanding man comes and rescues you.  And don’t worry if you sit alone all night.  That just means you’re broadcasting an air of mystique so powerful, it’s intimidated everyone.

What you will need:

  • Your sexiest black dress (or whatever appropriately gendered equivalent you have)
  • Whiskey.  Lots of Whiskey.
  • Optional: Cigarettes to help the mystique but only if you have a cool cigarette case to store them and you find a bar that allows smoking.  Better though if it doesn’t.  You’ll seem infinitely more dangerous.

The Text Mess

A personal favorite.  Start by drinking a whole bottle of wine.  Then send the following text message to all of your Exes:

“That was a lot of fun.” 

Immediately reply with the following:

“Oh my! I’m so sorry this was meant for a different (INSERT THEIR NAME).  This is awkward.  Hope you’re well.”

Oops

I’m not suggesting you do this with the intention of rekindling any type of romance.  It’s just a way to stir the pot.  In my experience (because I have done this many many times) you may get to hash out some painful feelings, exchange some kind words with each other that might surprise you, or (in one particular case) offer one of the greatest loves of your life some relationship advice while also confessing that you will, in fact, always love him.

Somehow this will feel great.  It literally can not go wrong.

What you will need:

  • Wine.
  • Extra Wine.
  • Not a shred of dignity.

The Undercover The Bachelor

So I just love The Bachelor. Not because I think it’s compelling television or how I think love should work, but because it’s about a bunch of crazy people committing to strong feelings.  I’m here for that.   And I’m also certain that if I were to compete I would win the $250,000 grand prize. (Wait, that’s not what they get if they win? Nevermind.)

Any way, send a text to all of the people you’ve been sort of dating or flirting with over the past few months.  Tell them you’re meeting a few friends out at the bar and you’d love it if they would join.  When all of them show up at the same time, act as though this is a Bachelor group date.  Pull them a side one at a time and “get to know them better.”  If possible, create a group challenge or two. the bacherlor

At the end of the evening, tell the guys you’re going to another bar.  Bring them to a previously selected alley where you have already hidden a dozen roses.  Then reveal that they’ve been part of your Bachelor challenge and present a rose to the guys you’ve liked the most.

 What you will need:

  • A Camera Crew
  • No sense of decency
  • As many roses as you have guys you want to bang

The Cake War

This may be the best one.

First, decide what your favorite type of cake is.  Set aside plenty of time.  This is a decision not to be made lightly.  You may think, “Oh, I like chocolate cake, I guess” but what about cheesecake? Or Carrot Cake? Or Angel food?! There are too many options.  Don’t jump into this without considering all of them.

bruce cake

Once you take the appropriate amount of time to decide, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to visit every known bakery in your neighborhood and try a piece of their version of your favorite cake.  Once you finish, post your results on all social media.   You’re supporting local business or whatever!  Mostly, cake. Lots of cake.

What you will need:

  • A journal to record your deep spiritual thoughts about the cake experience
  • Loose pants.  You know what, just wear your pajama bottoms!
  • Any extra Weight Watchers Points you can save.  (Yes I did say Weigh Watchers, because if it’s good enough for J. Hud it’s good enough for me.)

The Yoko Oh-No You Better Don’t

Find a band that’s playing locally.  If possible, look them up online to find out if any of the performers are dreamy.  Or at least cute enough that with enough booze you’d make out with them without feeling bad about it tomorrow.

sexuality

Work your way back stage using your secret weapon… your sexuality.  Pay close attention to the group dynamics of the band.  Identify the leader and then flirt with whoever comes across as the weakest band mate.

Subtly convince the weakling that he is the true talent of the group and encourage him to confront his band mates in front of you.

If all goes well, the band should be broken up by morning.

What you will need:

  • Sexuality
  • Powers of Manipulation
  • Filthy Band T-Shirts

The Cultural Elite

For the fancy ladies,

Get your self some culture! Put on your finest tweed blazer complete with elbow pads and begin the night with a visit to your nearest art gallery.  Stare long and hard at paintings that make you think of sex and war.  As Future Husband comes up to look at the same painting, try this move:

Cross your arms and bring your left hand to your chin as if you’re stroking your beard (actual beard not required.)  Look the piece up and down with a furrowed brow.  Let your gaze land at a specific spot, stare at it for a moment, let out a “hmmm,” reach your left hand towards the work of art and before you touch it, stop, and then return it to your chin.  Turn and walk away.  As you leave, look back with a knowing smile and make sure he’s checking out your rear.

Grab a glass of wine and then let him come to you.

janet snakehole

If he doesn’t come to you, get yourself to a damn theater and experience more art! It’s good for you!

What you will need:

  • Maybe smart looking glasses
  • A sincere interest in art
  • Something to say 

The Gwyneth Paltrow in that movie about karaoke.  Duets, I think

Drag your best friends to a Karaoke Bar, even if they hate it.  With your BFF in tow, strike up a conversation with another group of people, making sure one of them could possibly be your Future Husband.

karaokeOnce you start talking with the new guys, demonstrate how fun and witty you are but make sure you seem a little demure.  Eventually, you are going to be called up to sing.  Create a rouse like your BFF signed you up without telling you and act so embarrassed.  In reality, you’ve had this song prepared for months.

Once you wow everyone and the ovation dies down, drop the mic and run right into Future Husbands arms

What you will need:

  • A Legendary song (Celine Dion or Salt-N-Pepa come to mind)
  • Three months of practice with a vocal coach
  • A BFF ready to go along with this whole charade

The Survivor

All the Single Ladies! All the Single Ladies!

Gather your best friends over to your place for a night of  trash talking the exes and celebrating being the Independent women you are.  It’s your Destiny, Child.  Build a quick trashcan fire to burn old pictures/items from your Ex and proclaim loudly, “I’m a Survivor, I’m not going to give up!”

Then head to the club with just your friends.  No Tops allowed! survivor

**For added authenticity: Invite your three best friends.  Just before you leave, kick two of them out of the party and meet a new, better third person at the bar.

What you will need:

  • The flawless sexuality of Beyoncé
  • The Horrible style of Tina Knowles (aka just buy, like, camo T-Shirts and cut them up)
  • A Fire extinguisher or some one ready to dial 911

The Mom-mom

Affectionately named for my grandmother.

michael

Movie tickets are expensive.  So plan accordingly.  Make a list of every movie you’d like to see.  Then based on all of the show times and running times, create a schedule for the day.  Buy a ticket for only the first one on your list and then sneak from theater to theater until, like Pokemon, you’ve caught them all.  The apathetic security guards at the movie theater are likely 1) not to notice and 2) not to care.

What you will need:

  • A large trench coat to hide all of your refreshments.
  • The organizational skills of a Type-A Gay (Eyes on you, Brian and David)
  • 3D glasses should any movie on your list require them.

The Barechest Contessa

Create a dinner party as elegant as Ina Garten.  Spend hours watching her show and choose the recipes you like best.  Once selected, invite your most fabulous gay friends over for a meal they’ll not soon forget.  Spare no expense.

barefoot contessaIf you aren’t a good cook, incept a friend who is a master chef into thinking it was his the whole time! He’ll be super excited to host a glamorous dinner party and you’ll get to gorge yourself! Every one wins.

For added fun: Invite that hot friend of yours.  You know, the one who is sort of part of your group and is very attractive and flirts with you once in while but it never really goes anywhere.  Tell him it’s an underwear party.  This is in no way related to food or the meal but if you ask me, sexy men are the only thing missing from The Barefoot Contessa.

What you will need:

  • A shopping spree at Williams Sonoma
  • Elegant table settings
  • A breath taking home in the Hamptons and an aloof husband who is always out of town

The Puppy Party

puppy kisses

Head to your nearest animal shelter, pet store, or neighbor’s house whose dog just gave birth.  Lie on the ground and allow yourself to be showered in unconditional love and slobber from no fewer than 5 puppies.  Their soft fur and energy is sure to pull even the most hardened of hearts out of a grump slump.

Note: Kittens, while adorable, will not work.  I have two cats and I love them (yes, I know, I’m single and own two cats.  Spare me the Cat Lady jokes.)  The only thing you will get from them is a cold sense of ambivalence and maybe a nuzzle when they want food or their litter box cleaned.  I get enough of that from my gentleman callers on a daily basis. 

What you will need:

  • Puppies
  • No animal allergies or tons of Claritin
  • A lint roller

The “Best Gift is the Gift You Give Yourself” Gift

Whatever it is you decide to do today, make sure you take a moment to love on yourself.  Being single can be hard especially on a day when the world wants to celebrate everyone who happens to be committed to some one else.

People in relationships are no better or happier than those of who are not.  Valentine’s Day may be a silly Fauxliday intended for people who lead a certain life style, but this year, let’s allow it to be a celebration of all kinds of love.

Remind yourself of how wonderful you are and don’t be defined by your relationship status.    Relationships come and go, but you’re stuck with you forever.  Make the time to love yourself.

Today, you are all my Valentine.

With love,

Tim

blow kiss

Showing up is half the battle.

I went out with the Ex this weekend.  This was the first we spent any one on one time together since the Great Break Up.

On Friday morning, he and I were part of a group text with another friend; something about Catwomanalive, which is not an unusual topic of conversation.  I asked the group what the plan was for the evening.  Drinks? Dancing? Painting the town various shades of red?  It was Friday morning and, baby, I was alive!

As it turned out everyone was busy except for him.  He said he planned on eating a pizza alone and I was welcomed to join.

I wasn’t sure if that was a sincere offer or one of his classic snarky remarks.  But I accepted and was surprisingly exciting.

We met at our favorite pizza place having already agreed to split a large pie.  He’s one of the few people on the planet in front of whom I can unabashedly be my grotesque self.  I don’t need to feign modesty or posture like eating a half of a pizza is something I wouldn’t typically do. There were no “oh I can’t believe I’m pigging out like this!” or  “I haven’t eaten anything today” conceits.  Because clearly I had already eaten Chinese food for lunch AND dinner earlier that day.

I caught him up on everything that had been going on at work and provided hilarious updates on the state of my family (which could easily be a spin-off blog.)  He briefly filled me in on his work and family, things he never liked to talk about any way.  Everything had a familiar ease to it.

We finished the pizza and decided to find a spot to drink too many martinis, a once frequent past time of ours.  It wasn’t long until we started talking about his new relationship.  Previously, this was a powerful source of tension for me.

He started seeing this boy shortly after we split.  (I’ll henceforth be referring to New Boyfriend as Shelly Stewart, after Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in The First Wives Club.)  And, no, he didn’t leave me for Shelly Stewart.  They met on a camping trip we were supposed to go on together with some friends that I opted out of after the break.

The first time the The Ex, Shelly Stewart and I were in the same room, I found myself sitting next to them on a sectional sofa with the rest of our friends looking on while they were blissfully canoodling and I was eating the loneliest hamburger you ever saw.james_franco_sad_burger

 

But with each passing time the three of us are together, it gets less and less awkward.  I had to get used to my newly single life and his rapidly attached status.  Seven months out and I’m finally at peace with the whole thing.

Can I be honest?  I’ve never admitted this to any one before now, but they’re a wonderful couple. Really.  They’re happy.  Like actually happy.  The Ex is not a particularly warm and fuzzy kind of guy, and yet, in the few times I’ve been around the two of them, he’s affectionate.  And kind.  And shows Shelly compassion in ways that are foreign to me.  And it’s weird, frankly.

But seeing this new side of him, this side that I only caught glimpses of in rare private moments, I know something there is right.

We were never right for each other.  Never.  We didn’t exactly make sense.   I tend to be effusive and carefree while he was… well… more rigid and exacting.

This was the unspoken truth of our relationship.  Neither of us admitted it until we finally had the relationship-ending talk.   Unless, of course, you count the time at his parents’ home, when his sister asked if we were ever going to get married after a couple (hundred) drinks, he replied “Oh no, we know we aren’t perfect for each other.”  (He’s honest, god bless him.)

We were both operating under the assumption that eventually this would end.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work.  And I don’t begrudge that.  Sometimes two people aren’t meant to be in love.

But when the wound was still raw, I found myself frustrated.  Mostly at myself, mostly for staying so long in a relationship that just wasn’t doing what I had expected that kind of thing to do.  I’ve burned considerable hours since then trying to understand why I got so stuck.

But the longer I traverse the world of singledom, the more I’ve figured out which spell this dark wizard cast on my heart and judgment. The answer is simple.

He showed up.  Everyday.  Without exception.

There were no wicked games in the beginning.   I didn’t have to do that thing where I obsess about if I would hear from him again or try and decide what’s the sexiest number of days to wait in between communiqués.

During the first few months of our relationship, when everything is so tenuous and one wrong move can ruin everything, he avoided the biggest mistake of them all.  He never made me doubt his interest.  And damn it, that’s a turn on.

How many guys have I started talking with recently only to wait days for a reply?  How many dates have been cancelled, rescheduled, politely avoided?

The Ex spoiled me because I’m finding now even the best of men seem to lack this ability.

For example, a few months ago, I was dating a guy pretty regularly.   He had a lot going for him: handsome, smart, super good body, a doctor… or, more specifically, a resident.  I still don’t exactly understand how the whole medical career system works but from what I can gather being a resident means you work insane and irregular hours rendering yourself hopelessly unavailable.  Only fueling my desire.

We would see each other at least once a week and I was starting to develop significant feelings.  But things weren’t without complication.   His demanding job made it challenging to get a hold of him or make plans.  And I like to keep a schedule.

If you read my bio somewhere on this page, then you know I’m a theater artist.  Meaning I work tirelessly to put together performances and am constantly brimming with feelings.   AND I work with children who absolutely amaze me all of the time.  So, yeah, I get being swept up in your career.

When the Doctor and I started dating, I had just cast my latest production and started rehearsals.  The show was a regular topic of discussion.  As was his job.  We both happened to be two people who were just as eager to share as we were to listen, a truly rare combination.

The week leading up to my show, we were able to squeeze in a dinner date somewhere between my hectic production schedule and his ungodly rotation that seemed like it might have been killing him.  But there we were, sitting in an Indian restaurant, both worn from work but appreciative of the company.

I expressed my concern for our well-beings over a casual joke.  But he laughed and said it wasn’t too bad.  Anyway, he would finally have time off that weekend.  (The first time in a month.)  How perfect!  That meant he’d have an evening free to see the show I’d been blabbing on about for the last three months.

And then he broke eye contact and started stammering.  “Yeah, you’re right.  I guess I could see it.”  I ignored any notable ambivalence and instead listed all of the dates and times of the show.  He didn’t confirm that he would come to any of them but he said he would “check his calendar.”  I’ve heard that before.  I’ve said that before.  I know what it means.

And yet, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  He definitely wasn’t prepared to receive such an aggressive invitation and maybe he did need to check his schedule.  The subject was dropped.

A few days later, I sent a Facebook message to some of my friends, including the Doctor, letting them know I had two comp tickets if any one was interested.  I won’t say I wrote the message solely with the intent of sending him a subtle reminder.  I really did want my friends to come as well.  But I had hoped that that would have given him a kindly nudge without seeming too pushy (read: insane and needy.)

I never heard back. He never came.  He sent me a text a few days later asking how it went.  “Brilliantly,” I responded but I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t disappointing.

Rationally, I can understand all of the reasons why he wouldn’t want to be there.  Sure, it was his first weekend off in a month.  And, ok, maybe watching a bunch of anonymous kids perform isn’t the most exciting thing a grown man can do with his time.  And maybe I wasn’t clear about how important my work is to me.   But I couldn’t have made it any easier for him to show up for me.

The Ex, who hated theater, came to every one of my shows.  Even a tragic little one I was in only a month or so into our relationship.  He was there for everything that was important to me.

I told my mom this story and she hit me with a harsh truth. “Well, say what you will about the Ex.  He was always there.”  But then she did that perfect mom thing where she followed it up with a slight dig at him as if to remind me she’s on my side. “You might not have wanted him there, but he always showed up.”

The Doctor and I never dated or made contact again (except for one unfortunate time a few weeks ago when we both happened to be on separate dates at the same restaurant.  I would later text him to finally hash out my feelings.  Because I can’t stop myself.)

It was hard enough scheduling dates and harder still to get a reply to a simple “How’s it going” text message.  But to actively miss something as significant as that was for me for a reason I can only assume was as callous as “I don’t want to” was unforgivable.

The importance of presence cannot be discounted. And I don’t just mean to show up at a performance or family function or random theme party thrown by an acquaintance.  We show up for people in all sorts of ways.  It’s the act of letting some one know that you are making space for them in your life.

So often, I feel like I’m constantly fighting an up hill battle with these trifling boys.

I get what it’s like to be uncertain of my feelings.  But texting back takes all of two minutes.  You can do it on the toilet for crying out loud.  And it goes a long way.  If I’m not worthy of a “Sup” while you’re pooping, then I say “To the left, to the left.”  (And yeah sure, I should probably take the hint.)  All I’m looking for is confirmation that I’m somewhere on a list of priorities.

I give it up to the Ex.  He’s a man who got it right, who never let me doubt he was interested.  And because we didn’t waste any time emotionally terrorizing one another, our relationship blossomed quickly and into something that for a time was as lovely as any relationship could be.

At the end of the day, we made the right decision to call it quits.  We’re now on a path towards greater happiness and have been able to salvage our friendship.  I’ll always love and care for him.  But now in a way that makes sense for us.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he has set the bar pretty high.  Damn, that’s depressing.  Oh well, cue the Dusty Springfield!

you don't own me

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program…

I started this blog so I could share funny stories from my woefully tragic dating life.  I started this blog because I was spending too much time trolling the dating apps, sites and bars and it was driving me crazy.  I started this blog to entertain and to fill the hole that being single created.

But once in a while I come across something so ignorant, so virulent, so damaging that I must stop what I’m doing and call attention to the big pile of bull shit some one is trying to pass off as a red velvet cupcake.  (Can you imagine a more heinous offense?)

The other day, I read a post on Thought Catalog that was entitled “I’m Not Racist, I’m Just Not Attracted to Black Men.” (I’ll give you a moment to let your eyes roll back to the screen.)  The author, Anonymous, bravely explains how his distaste for black men does not mean that he is a racist.  It’s simply a preference and is not meant to hurt any one.

He continues on bemoaning the response he receives from people on Grindr when they see his “white for white only” tag line.  As if everyone who reads that and takes offense, black, white or otherwise, is patently wrong for chastising him.

I won’t waste my time summarizing the whole thing but if you wish to read it, click here.

I know I’ve made sweeping statements like that about a whole type of human being.  We probably all have.  And I’m the first to admit it’s pretty fucked up. But everyone is entitled to having preferences and a type.  For example, my type is a hilariously intelligent, gorgeous, wealthy, single, non-sex offending, sane man who texts back (If you know any one who matches this description, please send him my way.)

Identifying what we want in a partner is a critical part of finding love.  So if Anonymous here “just doesn’t feel a sexual attraction to them,” (“them” meaning black men, in case you forgot) then shouldn’t we respect that that is his preference and back the hell off?

Sure.  But the problem, and what is really rubbing me raw here, is that he is trying to justify that his preference isn’t racist.  It is.  It is undoubtedly racist.  Whenever you lump a group of people together on the basis of race and then draw one conclusion about them, you are being definitively racist.

By claiming that Anonymous is not attracted to any black man on the planet, what he’s really saying is, “I will only see you, black men, solely for your color.  And because I feel that your skin color and all of the assumptions that I make because of it are undesirable, I will never allow myself to consider the possibility that we might enter into a meaningful intimate relationship despite any compatibility of our personalities.”

What’s worse is that he references a conversation he had with his many gay black friends as if it validates his statement.  A “Don’t worry, my black friends are cool with it” ethos.  Only he doesn’t actually reveal to them his Whites Only sexual policy.  Rather he expounds upon an argument he had with a black friend who shares his proclivity for the White wiener.  (For the record: I would also argue that the black friend is being sort of racist too.  And no “reverse racism” isn’t a thing, but I’m not here for that right now.)

I wonder why he doesn’t tell the room filled with black gay men that he’s not buying what they’re selling.  I wonder if on some level he recognizes that it might not be well received by this dinner party of wall to wall black gay men when he admits that by virtue of their skin tone he finds them all sexually repugnant.  I bet he knows he would be casting a shade so deep we may never again see the light of day!

I’m going to make an assumption that this man is probably some where close to my age because he’s writing on this blog that seems geared to people of my generation.  Like me, he probably first learned what “racism” is in social studies when our teachers covered the Civil Rights movement (because no one calls it “racism” when they are actually practicing it.)  They taught us about segregation, sit-ins, fire hoses, lynchings and other horror stories from the Deep South.

But things are different now and we don’t live it that world with those overt displays of hatred, right? We live in a world where black and white kids go to school together and a black man is even president.  We get that we need to be tolerant of all peoples.  We’re not like they were in the Jim Crow South.  So we’re ok, right?

Wrong.  And what Anonymous is demonstrating here is that he doesn’t actually understand what racism is.  Sure, he may not be depriving gay black men the ability to be employed or sit where they want on a bus, but he is replacing their individuality with their color. And he’s trying to justify it publically.

I’m very lucky.  Like Anonymous, I grew up in an almost entirely white community (wait, that’s not why I’m lucky. Keep reading!)  In fact, when my hometown was established just after WWII, the sale of homes to any person of color was strictly prohibited.  Racism runs deep there.  But many of my mentors, collaborators, peers, and friends (some of whom are more like family) are of various races, ethnicities, orientations, sexes, and levels of crazy.  And they have challenged me to have these hard conversations.  I have learned from them because I have listened. (Admittedly, not always without crossing my arms, pouting my lips and getting defensive but I’m a work in progress.)

I’m not a paragon of equality and political correctness and, honestly, I’ve never dated any one outside of my own race (this probably has more to do with their lack of interest than mine… which is actually a trend that seems to transcend all races at the moment.)  But honey, I work at it every damn day.  I don’t think anything Anonymous’ gay black friends said at that dinner party sunk in.  I get the distinct impression that Anonymous hasn’t been paying attention.    And I’m pretty sure he’s not the only one.

Sometimes, my fellow white gay men make me uneasy.

A few months ago, I had a one-night stand with a white man.  Let’s call him Cranston.  (Prepare yourselves for a bad date story because I can’t help myself!)  This isn’t something I do often.  I met Cranston at a bar.  He was relatively funny and looked vaguely like a man from Michigan I once loved.  So I invited him back to my place.

We were in my room and I started asking him probing questions in an attempt to get to know him better. (I’m really bad at these casual encounters.)  Eventually, we started sharing our coming out stories and talked about our families because seriously I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.

He told me coming out was challenging because his family is “very small minded.”  Sure, I get that.  My coming out was a struggle too.  But he insisted his family is worse than mine or anyone else’s for that matter.   Then to demonstrate how bigoted they are he tells me this charming anecdote about a family party where his grandfather went on a racist rant.  And in order to further prove his point, Cranston dropped at least 4 N-bombs recounting Pop-pop’s tirade right there in my boudoir.

I delivered a side eye so wicked, my cats scurried under the bed.  Aware that he said something wrong, Cranston looked confusedly at my cross face and said, “What? That word? It’s ok. I’m not a racist, I’m gay.”

Alllllrriiiight.

Let’s decode the meaning behind his cryptic choice of words, shall we?  The idealist in me wanted to believe the subtext was, “Please understand that now being a part of a marginalized group, I am critically aware of systems of oppression.  I decided to appropriate that word so I may further the discourse of hate speech.  I meant no harm or disrespect.  I’m sorry.”

But I wonder if what he was really saying was “Hey man, we’re minorities now.  We have license to say anything we want because we’re in the Oppressed Peoples club.  We get it what it’s like.  Don’t be so offended.”

But, really?  We were two people, absolute strangers, and he made an assumption that he could freely use that word because somehow the fact that we were two gay men together granted us that permission.

This isn’t the first conversation I’ve had like this.   And so I worry.

We, as gay people, understand oppression.  I starting noticing my attraction to men at puberty, I had my first gay experience when I was 17 and didn’t come out until I was almost 21.  In all that time, external factors of my environment made me afraid and ashamed to admit who I was.   That is a system of oppression.

But our queer identity is quite unique when you look at other marginalized people.  For many of us, it’s not something that is necessarily visible.   Stick with me for a minute.

For a number of years I worked in a coffee shop in a massive office building.  Every day, I would serve hundreds of 9-5ers, many of whom were much older and had probably not interacted with (m)any gay people.  I’m not particularly masculine; I’m usually gesticulating with my hands too much and referencing some broadway show or pop diva in conversation.  I sit into my hips when I stand.  And yet, I could regale you with countless stories of when a male customer would make an inappropriate comment about my female coworkers and their attractiveness when they weren’t around or of when a female customer thought that my lady coworker and I would make a cute couple.

They were so conditioned to expect that everyone is just like them that they compulsively assumed I was heterosexual.  I “passed.”

For many of us (but certainly not all), we can tuck away our sexuality.  How many times have you been to a grocery store and some dick drop an F-bomb to his friend at the check out counter?  Do we always confront Joe Dumbdick?  Probably not.  Should we?  Absolutely.  But sometimes, I’m just trying to get my eggs and get on with my day.

We face these little coming out moments every day and sometimes, for the sake of our own convenience, we keep ourselves closeted because ain’t nobody always got time to be teaching life lessons.  But I worry that sometimes those of us who are white gay men forget that in these little moments when we decide to “pass,” we jump back into our seat of white male privilege.

So what am I getting at here?  Opinion pieces like the one written by Anonymous, by a gay white man, horrify me.  Because they make me think that we, white gay men, forget that there are people out there who have it worse than us.  Who undergo more layers of oppression that are far more complex and damaging then our own.

Don’t get me wrong.  Being gay is a struggle for all of us.  We face laws that block our basic freedoms, bullying, being disowned, violence, and a host of other fucked up shit.  And arguing over who has it worse is pointless.  I think most people at some point have a shitty go at life.  The actual amount of people on this planet who have never felt marginalized in some way is probably ridiculously small.  It might just be George Clooney.

But when we, white gay men, come out and accept ourselves for the beautiful creatures we are and join this community of love and support, we are not freed from the responsibility of critically examining our culture and ourselves.  No one is.  So when some Anonymous boy says something as foolish as “I think black men are icky, but I’m totally not a racist for that,” it’s our duty to politely say, “Yes, ma’am, you are.  I love you, but you are.”

We don’t need to run out and have sex with a person of every race like we’re trying to earn our “Egalitarian Lover” badge at the next troupe meeting. (Oh man, if the boy scouts gave out badges like that I might have lasted longer than two meetings.)  But why draw a firm line in the sands of sex and love and declare that one type of person may not pass?   Aren’t we just closing ourselves off to unfathomable possibilities.

Rant, over.

audra mic drop

Because I could never resist this GIF, not in a million years.

The Mysterious Case of Rolf Frankenfurter

*Disclaimer: All important names and identifying details have been changed to protect the innocent.  Namely, myself.

I turned 26 this August and couldn’t help but feel like this was my year.

The first half of my twenties was wrapping up in a most pleasing way.  I had cultivated a wonderful group of friends in my adult life. My career was finally taking shape in a way that excited and challenged me.  AND for the first time ever I felt confident wearing cut offs and tank tops that summer.  After finishing the Insanity Workout  and the added acro and parkour training for a show I was in, my body was right.

It was like the world finally saw me as I saw myself. My inner life was always a Janet Jackson video but up until this point I seemed to be broadcasting Tracy Chapman. Finally, I was serving Velvet Rope Realness on a silver platter.

sexy tom

Ugh, Tom can’t stop talking about me!

No one was ready for me at 26.

On the eve of my birthday, I invited some of my closest friends over to bid farewell to a year of great struggle and transition.  My plan was simple: drinks at my place (for the last time before I moved), my traditional Funfetti Birthday cake and then out for dancing and general mayhem.

ron dancing

We were all enjoying cocktails and conversation until some one (me) started playing Miley Cyrus on Spotify.  “We Can’t Stop” was just released that summer and I was feeling it in a big way.  I announced to the room that it would henceforth be my personal anthem for 26 and that I, too, could not be stopped.

One party guest was a man with whom I was having steamy affair. He was in an open relationship and, like so many “other women” before me, I thought that we were starting something real.  (Spoiler alert: we weren’t.)  In my new, unstoppable mindset, he and I escaped the party for some canoodling in the hallway.

So let’s put all of this together: an engorged feeling of confidence and sexiness, lots of booze, some of the people I loved most in the world, my current and former gentleman callers, and a soundtrack provided by Miley Cyrus.  Oh there’s my recipe for Disaster.

You may be reading this thinking, “Tim, this sounds more like a psychotic breakdown and less like personal liberation,” but you’re wrong.  If TV and movies have taught us anything, you’re not having a real breakdown unless there is a shot of you cutting your hair in a mirror.  And I’ve been rocking the same haircut since then.  I was fine.

 liz lemon haircut

The truth was, I wasn’t concerned with how I was behaving or what the reaction might have been.  I was getting my life in a way I had never done before.  I never really had that (stereo)typical reckless youthful queer experience like so many other men I know.  I went to college with a limited gay population (I loved my school but it was like being gay in a vacuum where you dated (read: ate at the dining hall) the 15 other gay boys in one semester and then spent the rest of your time playing Mario Party with your best friends.) And shortly after graduating I moved to Philly where the first few months were spent pining over a man from Michigan and then dating the Ex.

So I decided that it was my time to have a little fun on my terms.  Thankfully my friends understood.

The party ended and so did 25.  The next night, on my actual birthday, the Ex and I went out for birthday drinks with another couple.   They missed my party for what looked like the most beautiful lesbian wedding ever.  I wasn’t invited but I probably shed as many tears as the guests did looking at Facebook pictures.  Again, disaster.  But controlled.

We sat outside at the classy (older) gay bar and ordered more martinis than was appropriate for a Sunday.  As the liquor kicked in and the laughter erupted, I noticed a cute boy sitting at the table behind me.  I didn’t say anything at first.  I just kept making excuses to turn around and get a better look.

He had an inviting face and wore boat shoes, that classic J. Crew Summer Catalogue look but maybe in a smaller less sculpted body.  He sat across from a femme man with swooping bangs and guy liner (though I may be embellishing that part.)  It was a surprising duo.  Our  chairs were back to back but eventually he turned his chair so that the back was up against the window of the bar.  We were sitting perpendicular rendering my glances utterly obvious.

At some point, the memory is fuzzy, we got to talking.  He told me his name was Rolf (fake names, remember) and had some career that I found especially desirable.  Let’s say he was a world famous Nacho Chef.   I invited him to accompany me to the next bar and since it was my birthday he couldn’t possibly resist.  He did.  Unfortunately, he had to pick up a friend at the airport or something convenient like that.  We did however exchange numbers.  So maybe all wasn’t lost.

ariel sigh

A few weeks went by.  I was more or less settled in my new place and that birthday was a fond bleary memory   But that ineffable feeling of confidence was ever present, if untapped.

I was sitting at my desk one day and I received a text from some one named  “Rolf the German.”  Something about this name seemed familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.

 “Hey.  I hope you’re doing well. How was the rest of your birthday?”

 Ah there it was!  The cute boy from the next table.

 “Hey.  It was a great night.  Please excuse my silly behavior… it was my birthday after all.”

 We chatted via text for a few exchanges.

 “By the way, I have you saved as Rolf the German.  What’s your last name?  This is ruining my contact filing system.”

 “Frankenfurter.”  Rolf Frankenfurter.  German indeed.

There’s something very intoxicating about a text message relationship.  It starts innocently enough.  You meet some guy at a bar or party and there is at least a mutual attraction.  The conversation pleases so you ask for the number in hopes of capturing this moment again later and for longer.  (Or better yet, he asks YOU for the number.)  From then on, every buzz, every beep from your phone catapults you into a full on frenzy of excitement and nerves that it could be from this once interesting guy.  Pins and damn needles.

A day or so went by and I heard from Rolf Frankenfurter again.  More flirtatious chit chat.  The conversation ended with this:

“I’m going away for a few days.  Family emergency. Let’s get together when I get back.”

“Sounds good”

praise him

Finally, my new attitude was reaping fruit! A date with what I sort-of remember as a charming, smart, world famous Nacho Maker was nigh!

Key word: sort-of.   Admittedly, my birthday weekend was… well, it was what it was.  So I had a picture in my head of Rolf Frankenfurter but was it necessarily accurate?

Only one way to find out!

A few days until our potential date meant plenty of time to find him on Facebook and create a more thorough sketch.  We weren’t Facebook friends at that point but I’ve found a lot more on a guy with a lot less.

Perhaps one of my greatest skills is stalking a person using only the Internet and social media.  I once  had only a guy’s first name and that he “liked comic books” and tracked him down.    (Just saying, if you have or will ever date me, a full investigation is in the works.)

That evening, I curled up in my bed with my computer and began the hunt.  Surprisingly, little was coming up.  He didn’t even seem to have one of those profiles with super high privacy settings.  According to FB, Rolf Frankenfurter  didn’t exist.  This can’t be!

This would require the big guns.  Enter, Google.  It’s a dangerous game.  We don’t necessarily control what comes up about us from a Google search in the way we curate our Facebook persona.  I wouldn’t usually search a guy with this vigor but given the circumstances he could have been a giant space spider for all I know.  My search would give me a visual thus confirming his attractiveness/non-spacespiderness.  (I’ve Googled more than one guy before… not a euphemism.)

Google has this handy function where it starts completing your thought while you’re typing into the search bar.  It’s a real time saver when you’re trying to search “Best recipes for… “ and you don’t really have any idea about what you want to make/order for dinner.

So I start typing “Rolf Frankenfurter” into my search bar and below it appeared some suggested search options in this order:

Rolf Frankenfurter world famous Nacho Maker”

Rolf Frankenfurter German philosopher”

Rolf Frankenfurter sex offender”

Oh I’ll just search… wait, come again?  The operation shut down.  Sex offender? That can’t be him.  Not even remotely possible.

He’s a Nacho Maker so let’s search that.  OK, some wonderful reviews of his food and even a picture or two. Yes, this was him and he was as cute as I remembered.  A bit more frail perhaps.  Does he look creepier than I remembered?  No, no, Tim, that’s just the “Sex offender” suggestion that’s messing with your head.

But “sex offender” was the third most relevant search option on that list.  Now I know Rolf Frankenfurter, handsome J. Crew Model and world famous Nacho Maker who won my heart, was not a sex offender.  He couldn’t be.  That has to be a coincidence.  But I should check….

Rolf Frankenfurter, sex offender.  Full case report complete with a mug shot.

demon pheobe

I didn’t know what the hell to do.   I was lying in bed with my laptop clutching literally all of the pearls.  I sprang forth and ran to my new roommate’s bedroom.  If any one could make sense of this she could.

My roommate, Stacey, is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She and I have been pals since the first grade when we realized we were the smartest kids in class (we were the best Challenge 24 players.)  She has always been a calm collected person with a good head on her shoulders, a perfect foil for some one who tends to let his imagination get the better of him.

photo (3)

Actual page from the biography she wrote about me in 2nd Grade.  (My bio of her is lost)

At first, she laughed hysterically because obviously.  After we wiped away the tears and composed ourselves she asked all of the right questions.  Does it explain the charges?  Maybe it’s something understandable.  A person caught peeing in public becomes a registered sex offender and I’m sure we have ALL done that before.  That doesn’t make one a pervert.

Fortunately (I suppose), all information about sex offenders is made public and with a simple Google search you can find the exact offense, location and date of the transgression and sentence.

I won’t get into the detail but the offense in question was severe.  And even though it happened almost a decade ago, I could never justify inviting some one like that into my life.

This made me feel terrible.  Was I really going to draw a firm line in the sand and cut off communication because of something a man did almost a decade ago?  Hasn’t he payed back his debt to society? What if he’s changed and is better for it?  Girl, you must have lost your mind! These aren’t the compromises you need to make before the first date!

you in danger girl

Most fitting use of this GIF ever.

The debate went on into the wee hours of the morning.

I decided never to contact him again and for reasons unknown I never heard from him either.  I felt uneasy about this whole thing.  Partly because on some level I felt guilty holding some one accountable for a mistake they made when they were much younger. But mostly because I came so close to inviting real disaster into my life.

I started 26 feeling absolutely untouchable which was decidedly unlike me.  The whirlwind of change and excitement was seductive.  I was finally going to live that Queer as Folk lifestyle.  But QAF is fiction and the real world can be a scary place with real consequences.

I’ve always kept a good head on my shoulders, allowing myself to take big risks but remaining ever aware of my surroundings.  At the end of the day, I have to be me.  I’m not that party boy wild child and for my own good reasons.  No shade or judgment for those of us who do like to have that kind of fun.  I love you and support you.

But maybe Rolf Frankenfurter was an angel sent to me by the universe to say “Hey, girl, you look real cute in those cut offs and tanks and I’m glad you’re feeling good about you, but keep it together.  Being a wild child is not the way to Future Husband’s heart.”

I still feel like 26 is my year.  But feeling confident and sexy does not mean I need to come in like a Wrecking Ball (SHADE, Miley.)  Anyway, I’d much rather be a living depiction of Beyonce’s “Rocket.”

rocket

Cupid, draw back your bow. No, seriously.

Perhaps the most complicated relationship I’ve been in is with my OkCupid account.

It all began in February of 2010.  I moved to Philadelphia the November before that and very shortly after I met and fell madly in love with a man who lived in Michigan.  Suffice it to say it did not last.

During our brief courtship, Michigan Man off handedly mentioned that he had an OkCupid Account.  I, having remembered this detail, created mine solely with the purpose of remotely monitoring his love life in Michigan.  (Oh, yes, by the way, I’m a crazy person.)

After finally accepting the fact that Michigan Man’s trysts were beyond my reach, I started using OkCupid for its intended purpose.   I went on one date that ended with the guy saying, “Well, you were a lot nicer than I expected.  Let’s do this again.” And then I met the Ex.

Truth be told, the Ex and I never closed our accounts.  I did change my status to “Seeing Someone” and honestly, I never initiated a conversation with anyone while we were together.  But I guess deep down I knew I would need it again.  Ok, so it wasn’t buried that deeply.

The first Monday after the Ex and I called it quits, he went on a date with the man who ultimately was the catalyst for the break up (that’s another damn story for another damn time.)   He was beginning a new relationship while I was home rekindling an old flame.

link wink

The world of online dating is a strange one.  In theory it’s great: an open play ground for single people trying to find Mr. or Ms. or Mx or (ideally) Dr. Right.  More often than not, however, they’re mostly just a breeding ground for uncomfortable encounters and weird sex stories.

I kept things casual that first month.  Not only was I moving to a new place, a show I was performing in was opening.   I didn’t exactly have time for innocuous messaging.  Eventually, the show wrapped up and my boxes were unpacked.  I was ready for love.

We all know how these things go.  You browse around, see a profile you like, visit it one or nine times until you finally summon the courage to send a message, and then if you’re lucky, three days later you get a response.

One fateful night, the most miraculous thing happened.  I messaged a guy who not only was “online” BUT he responded right away.  He even asked me a question he sincerely wanted me to answer.  This cycle went on all night.  We had a full-blown conversation!

Our correspondence wasn’t limited to that one night, either, like so many of these fleeting cyber romances.  Over the next two days, things started getting digitally real.  We were learning about each other’s families, sharing deep dark secrets of our pasts, we even created an inside joke!  AN INSIDE JOKE! Something about opening a Pumpkin Beer Brewery and running ourselves out of business drinking the whole supply… swoon much?

This was getting serious, folks.  He convinced me to meditate! Like I was some rich lady or a bike messenger!  I fell asleep doing it but still this was big.  The Ex had tried many times over to get me to meditate with him only sort of succeeding twice in three years.  Even the silly X-Box mediation game he bought couldn’t fool me.

Kristen-Wiig-Aunt-Linda-Oh-brother

“Oh, brother indeed”

It was time to meet.  I don’t remember who initiated the plan but we set a date, time, and location.  At that point in the online dating process, I typically close communication until the real meet-up.  You know, so as not to exhaust all of the usual first date prattle.  And, still, he continued to message me! Some one was certainly gunning to be Future Husband.

The big day arrived.  It must be said, I don’t get nervous before a date.  I don’t.  Small talk is my jam.  But, this guy, he had me on edge.  And I’m not talking like a little extra nervous sweat.  In the frenzy that was my pre-date preparations, I actually locked myself out of the bathroom and had to remove the door from the hinges using only a butter knife.  (Did you know you can do that?)  I was a mess.

calm down woman

The text I sent myself

It was 45 minutes before the date and a message came through the Cupid App, POTENTIAL_FH says “Hey, I had a long day and need a drink STAT.” (he was a med student, bonus points!) “I’m heading over now.  I’ll see you when you get here. :)” Well, I put on my favorite blue plaid shirt, did my hair, and peddled my cute little buns over to the bar as fast as I could!

The bar was crowded as it was a Friday night during Happy Hour in Center City.  I did a lap and couldn’t find him.  This didn’t raise any alarms immediately because his pictures were sort of vague.  In one picture he was wearing sunglasses and the other had a grainy Instragram Filter.  He could have been any blurry sunglass wearing 20 something in the bar that night (which if you’ve been to Moriarty’s is half of the crowd.)  No matter.  I sent him a message telling him I was here.  He didn’t give me his number when I gave him mine so my communiqués had to come through the app.  Wait, is that weird?  No.  It’s fine.  I’ll just grab two seats at the bar.

Two pumpkin beers, please.  How lovely.  He’ll find me, sitting here; prepared with the drink that was so important to us.  (If you know me at all, you know I almost never offer to buy the first drink.  I was in it to win it.)  I started sipping my beer while waiting for a reply or for Future Husband himself to tap me on the shoulder and say something cliche like “Waiting for some one?” or “What’s a beautiful lady like you doing drinking alone?” Ugh, he’s so lame, I thought, blushing.

My beer was getting emptier until eventually I finished it.  No reply.  Ok, I’m a bit nervous so I guess I’ll start drinking his beer now.  Calm the nerves.  He won’t know I bought it for him any way.  A half hour passed and I was nearly two beers deep.  I checked my phone because, you know, sometimes it doesn’t send you an alert.  Nothing.

I suddenly started to notice the frustrated patrons around me.  I had been holding this seat for thirty minutes now while at least 5 people were standing behind me eyeing it up like we were a group of people stranded on a dessert island and I was holding the last Luna Bar. Didn’t they get I was saving this seat for my Future Husband?  Back up! BACK UP! And wipe that look off of your face! He’s coming, dammit! Won’t you look stupid when he gets here and you see what a great time we’ll be having!

But still…

I sent a text to my friend David.

“How long do you wait for a date to show up?”

“15 minutes.”

“I think I’m being stood up.”

“Girl, get out of there.  I’m going to a party.  You can come with me.”

I order one more beer because it’s happy hour for ten more minutes and beers are half priced… and I can wait ten more minutes, I guess.

I finished the third beer, paid my tab, offered my seat to the guy wearing a Phillies Hat and his lady friend with the high pony tail and headed directly to David’s.  This was my first time being stood up.  I sort of thought it was something TV writers made up so they could play the sad music before the commercial break.  Good thing there wasn’t a composer scoring my life right now…

Oh what’s that?  A homeless man playing “Memory” on a broken violin? Yes, that is PRECISELY what was awaiting me outside of David’s apartment.  (He lived on South Street so this probably wasn’t an uncommon occurrence.) You’re a sassy bitch, you know that, Universe?

David’s the perfect friend to have when a man wrongs you.  He gives you his version of the “You is smart” speech from The Help, plenty of alcohol, and when possible will walk up to that scumbag and read him to filth.  He is the perfect medicine for a broken heart.

help gif

After my treatment, we hopped in a cab and went to this party for his friend’s birthday.  Unfortunately, no one told me it was “Pink” themed for a group of gays my friends and I affectionately refer to as “The Plastics.”  (Can we gays go a day without a Mean Girls reference?)  So there I was, the only man in a sea of pink-clad, perfectly quaffed, ripped gays wearing blue and feeling blue.  (Also, I was the only one eating the enchiladas.  Did the caterer really think these boys would be caught dead eating?)

The next morning, it dawned on me!  Maybe something terrible happened! I didn’t want something bad to happen to him.  But if the last thing he said was “I’m on the way” then doesn’t it stand to reason that just maybe he was hit by a cab or something?  Was this my An Affair to Remember?  Now, that was of course this last thing I would wish for him or anyone.  But I have to admit, a cab accident would have really pulled me out of a funk.

an affair to remember

So I messaged him.  I told him if he didn’t want to see it me it would was OK, I can take it, but I’m genuinely worried now that maybe he was lying in a hospital room somewhere.  I asked that he please write back with an explanation post haste so I could at least put my worried mind at ease.  No reply that day.

It was Sunday night and I was tending to my usual post-Saturday hangover, which in light of recent events was particularly heinous.  My phone started buzzing.  “POTENTIAL_FH has sent you a message.  You better take this.  And, hey, whatever happens, you’re great,” alerted my OkCupid app.

I’ll give you the abridged version of his reply: “Hey, so listen.  I’m not dead or in a coma. The truth is these pictures are not mine.  The profile is fake.  I am recently single and just wanted to see what was out there.  I didn’t expect to find some one I would be so interested in so quickly.  I was at the bar but I was too afraid to come clean so I left.  I hope you understand.”

Wait, what?

what-the-what

I think my reaction was a mixture of utter shock, blind rage, and the gluttonous hunger.  Do you mean to tell me that you’ve been lying to me?  That you were at the bar?  That you may have been even sitting next to me?  You watched me order beers for the two of us, hold a seat for you, drink alone and said nothing!?!

Now usually when presented any type of fuckery, I am inclined to flick my wrist with a “Girl, bye” and go about my business with nary a hair out of place. But this was fuckery on a new level.  This was some Lifetime Original Movie starring Gina Gershon shit.  Some one better get my erasers and chalk because I’m about to school this child.

grumpy amy

I won’t make you read my whole long response but I will give you the most important part:

“You might see this [OkCupid] as a safe fun place to anonymously browse hot guys.  But there are real people here hoping that we’ll find the person we’re looking to potentially share the rest of our lives with.   You’re not responsible for the way I react to your bullshit, but you are responsible for treating ALL people with respect.  You’re not ready for this, little boy, and you don’t deserve to be here.”

He closed his account that evening and good riddance.  I sometimes wonder if I was too harsh.  After all, he was 22 and lord knows 22 year olds don’t have a good goddamn clue.  I don’t care what you say, Taylor Swift.  But some one needed to set the record straight for all of us out there.

tswift shock

There is no room for some one like that in the world of online dating.  While most people probably aren’t so irresponsible, I think we take for granted how difficult online dating is.  Simply by signing up for a profile we are all broadcasting to the world, “I’m utterly single and lonely and desperately want to find love.”  And yet most of us, myself included, seem to forget that behind the carefully selected album of pictures and diligently crafted personal essays beats a real heart riddled with insecurities and vulnerabilities just like ourselves.

We’ve all been there.  You send some one a thoughtful message; you see they visited your profile, implying they have read your greeting, and then nothing.  Something, a face you made, an answer to a question, a movie you like, your interests, your size, shape, race, penchant for cats convinced them you aren’t worth the courtesy  of a “hello.” We’ve all done that too.

I know I’m guilty of some online dating transgressions.  I’m not perfect.  And I’m not necessarily suggesting we develop LTRs with every guy who notices you.  I don’t have the time or money for that type of consideration.  But it’s important that we remind ourselves once in a while that we’re dealing with people who feel and hurt and are more than a few pictures and words.

That little boy was probably exceptionally offensive.  But I think this story is indicative of our growing lack of empathy that stems from these sterile online interactions.   When you can’t see some one’s face, it’s way easier to act like a total dick and think nothing of it.  If some one came up to one of us at a bar and said “Hello,” would we look them up and down and turn away as if nothing happened?

I hope not.  I hope our communication doesn’t regress to that.

But if you did, you’d be a real douche-toot.

Epilogue:

A few weeks later, my dear friend Brian updated his Grindr picture, which just so happened to have my face in the background.  We’re not posed together in the picture.  I’m just part of the mis-en-scene, like an extra bush or cloud.  Brian’s profile states he is in a relationship so every now and again some one would figure I was the boyfriend and suggest the three of us get together (obviously we’d make an adorable couple.)  One evening, Brian sent me a screen shot of a conversation he was having where the person said “Tell Tim I said hey.”  The guy also included a picture.  I wasn’t familiar with his face and asked Brian to find out how he knew me.  The guy replied “Tell him I’m sorry I missed him that night for our pumpkin beers.”

Girl, bye.

bernadette gif

Nice to meet you…

Six months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of three years.  It wasn’t explosive or malicious.  We didn’t fight or cheat or say things we would later regret.  Instead, we sat down and had a reasonable discussion about how we still cared for each other but we no longer loved one another in the way we felt we ought to love our significant other.  It may be the most grown up thing I have ever done.

We found separate apartments and divided our things.  Obviously, I got the cats.  He got the furniture (it was mostly his anyway.)  I said goodbye to him and the life I had created during the early years of my adulthood.  My first night in my new home I laid awake almost all night fantasizing about all of the new adventures that lay before me.  I was down right giddy.  And how could I not be?! Real Love was waiting for me, outside my window holding up a boom box in a trench coat. (Oh that’s just a bum who lives in my new neighborhood? Whatever, he could still be the man of my dreams!)

I joined just about every platform to meet men: Grindr, OkCupid, Tinder, Scruff… ok maybe not all of them (note: they’re all free, because I’m on a budget.) My ex started a serious relationship two weeks after we broke it off.  No, we hadn’t  moved out of the apartment we shared yet.  No, that didn’t make me jealous.  But, Yes, it did convince me that I was bound to find my Future Husband any day.

It’s six months later and I’m still single.

I jumped into the virtual and often real world of dating expecting to find the man of my dreams faster than my browser can play a Beyonce video, search a recipe for mac and cheese and post a clever Facebook status.  Instead I’ve found a whole lot of malarky.  Between the seriously awful guys, the uncomfortable first dates and, lest we forget, the series of rejections I’ve amassed a small volume of stories that I need to share with the world/my few friends who might offer me the courtesy of a read (and then a READ.)  A handful of my friends have said I should write a book of all my dating disasters.  First of all, I’m probably not that good of a writer.  I don’t believe it was a serious suggestion but I thought it would be entertaining.  Truth be told, I didn’t immediately take to Microsoft office because I was convinced I was going to meet Future Husband right away and didn’t want to invade our privacy by chronicling our early courtship online.

Part of this is a desperate attempt to get attention (and maybe some extra money from ads placed here.)  The other more sincere part is my way of sharing my grief, processing the complicated nature of being a single gay twenty something (how do I survive?) and possibly opening up a conversation about the way we treat each other.

I’m still single.  I’m actually ok with that.  I actually like it.  But what I need to remember is that real love, the one that you build with some one over years and years, the one that creates memories and families, takes time.  So while I slowly walk the bumpy sidewalk of Singles Lane straight on to Future Husband’s home on Bliss Avenue (which I think is also the name of sexy lingerie store) I invite you to come tag along on my journey.  (I will also accept date offers in the comment section.)

I feel really good about this.

(PS I really want to add GIFs to this but I haven’t figured it out.  Please send help.)