A couple of weeks ago, there was a gay and lesbian potluck in my area.
I didn’t go.
For someone who feels isolated, it was a stupid (non)move. Brought me back to high school, with my mother coaxing me away from my MTV. Go on! Get out there and socialize! I’m sure they’re a very nice bunch. Futile words then and now.
Oh, I thought about it. Yes, I’ll go. No, I won’t.
There is an annual Pride Dance here each summer. This year’s got cancelled. Not enough people volunteered to plan the event. Based on postings on the gay and lesbian listserv, the summer potluck is the only other annual event. I went once. Five years ago. Trying to mix with people I don’t know is always a struggle, but I put on a snappy outfit, bought some sort of pre-made vegetarian munchies and, after moments of hesitation in my parked car, schlepped on in.
I may have lasted an hour. It was a strange scene. The women clustered in their staked out zones, the men flocked to other spaces. Everyone sat. I neglected to bring a lawn chair. I stood on the fringes. In time, I inched toward the safest looking male pack. Two, four, six, eight...I made nine. Odd man in so many ways. Everyone was partnered. They spoke in we’s. “Oh, we spend our winters in Florida.” “We moved here fifteen years ago.” “We take the ferry as little as possible.” As someone announced it was time to eat, people marched two-by-two toward the food tables. I made my exit.
In the years since, I have tried to get single friends to come over on the designated weekend. They politely decline.
It’s not just my single status that holds me back. Under any circumstance, I am not a potluck guy. I have a specific diet and I call unwanted attention to myself when the only food on my plate comes from my dish. In a restaurant, I have a quiet conversation with the waiter and, after a check with the kitchen, he returns to tell me what the chef can do for me. It attracts some attention, but I’m not turning my nose up at anyone else’s contribution.
Reading the online thank-yous after the potluck (from Josh and Kevin, Mary and Sara), I decided I needed to stop waiting for someone else to plan an event that suits me. I would rather hike, kayak, see the natural beauty of the area I have chosen to call home. The weather has been disappointing this summer so I waited until yesterday write an email to the listserv, inviting others to join me this Saturday on a forty-minute easy trail walk at a local park. One fellow emailed me, saying that he (and his partner) could not make it. He, however, liked the idea. There have been no other responses yet. I won’t take it personally. It’s short notice to walk with a stranger. And no bundt cake. Where’s the appeal?
I’ll do the walk regardless of whether anyone replies. With lots of shade, a few streams and a couple of waterfalls, it’s a favorite trail for my dog and me. He is my “we”. If nothing else, we’ll connect with nature. It’s all good.