Thursday, August 25, 2011

MONOLOGUE FOR TWO

I had a date last night and I’m barely awake this morning. Are the two related? Read on.

Who am I kidding? How could they be? (And, really, I wouldn’t want them to be.)


Date first: Rennie and I agreed to meet at a Starbucks in the West End. 7 a.m. I squeezed in a jog along the seawall beforehand and, after showering and walking the dog, arrived two minutes late. There was nobody resembling Rennie’s online photos in the café. I got in line to order. The line moved slowly and a couple in front of me seemed to think they could entertain the queue by speaking loudly and making ha-ha annoying comments about others in line. I must have clearly conveyed my patented standoffish stance because I got a free pass.

At 7:10, while awaiting my drink, I spotted a guy who might possibly be Rennie outside Starbucks. He checked his iPhone, then walked away. Once my drink was up, I scurried out and tried to spot him in the crowd walking up Davie. White t-shirt. Yes, I see him. Crowd obstruction. No, he’s gone. Vanished after a block.

Was it him? Maybe. Maybe not. Why wouldn’t he have walked inside? I tired to visualize the original message. There are many Starbucks in the West End and I have been known to show up at the wrong location, but I was sure I recalled the right street intersection. 80% sure.

Perhaps he’d said 7:30. Lucky I’d ordered a venti. I perched on a stool, skimmed the barebones news coverage in the free dailies and continued to cool off from the jog.

At 7:40, I headed back to the condo. Perhaps he decided at the last minute to catch the latest “exclusive” insider information about that Kim Kardashian wedding on “Entertainment Tonight”. Perhaps he was raised in a military household where being two minutes tardy meant you were shunned for the next seven months. Perhaps he saw my sty from three blocks away and frantically made his getaway.

I walked up Davie, thinking about dinner for one. A cauliflower and a tub of hummus. For some reason, I glanced in a hair salon a block and a half away and there was the guy with the white t-shirt, sitting inside, not looking like he needed a trim. Very attractive! I stopped, hesitated. He looked at me. “Rennie?” I mouthed. He didn’t have time to think otherwise so he nodded.

“Your hair looks much better in person,” he said as we introduced ourselves inside. Thanks. “In your photos, it’s too yellow. Uh,...thanks?

“Do you still want to grab a coffee and go for a walk?” I asked. Another out, but he didn’t take it. We walked to a Thai restaurant. Cauliflower and hummus could wait another night. Hadn’t been a craving; just a convenience.

The monologues flowed. His time in Montreal after moving from Beirut. The unfinished renovations at the condo of his ex. The new, hostile boyfriend of the ex. His homophobic Greek boss at the first salon where he worked in Vancouver. The discovery that he was a diabetic.

All interesting. I made comments and asked questions to show interest. The Rennie Show continued with only two breaks: “Do you speak French?” and “Your profile says you’re a writer. Are you published?” Perfunctory answers. And now back to how he quit his job at that first salon.

No chemistry. How could there be?

Déjà vu. What has happened to the art of conversation? Is there a glut of self-absorbed middle-aged single gay men or am I at fault for failing to jump in and perform my own monologues? How I learned to conjugate être.

Is there a cultural difference? Other Arabic acquaintances I’ve known have seemed assertive, but I recall us talking a great deal about politics and they were genuinely interested in hearing my perspective.

For whatever reason, Rennie and I failed to connect at any point.

The lack of sleep? No, I did not toss and turn in despair over a lackluster date. I’ve built up an immunity after having plenty of them. It was my first night back in my ex’s vacant condo (after he’d had a meltdown in June and told me to get out). All summer I’d stayed in my rural home, sleeping in a silence only occasionally punctured by howling coyotes and screeching Stellar’s Jays. With the summer heat, I had to leave the condo windows open and the racket of revving motorcycles (I’m at the beginning point of the Burrard Street Bridge) and screaming sirens (I’m also a few blocks from St. Paul’s Hospital) and noisy buses (the condo is along a major bus route, with a stop directly across the street) kept me wide awake until 3:30 in the morning. My venti Starbucks had nothing to do with it. I’d ordered a decaf.

Second day back to work after five weeks off and I feel just as tired and woefully single as before the break. I’ll pick up a fan to drown out the din. If I suffer another sleepless night, perhaps I can work on a decent monologue.

2 comments:

Rick Modien said...

Cute title, Greg. I've been with a few people like that. You think it might have something to do with a bad case of the nerves on their part? Or are they simply too much into themselves to give anyone else a chance?

Anyway, I'm curious if you found out why Rennie took off from the Starbucks. Was there miscommunication around where specifically the two of you should meet? Did you ask him? Just curious.

Again, well written and engaging to read. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Rural Gay said...

When we arranged a meeting place and time, I had said, "I might bring my dog." He looked around, saw no dog and assumed I was a no-show. As we headed to the restaurant, he said he didn't have patience with online dating. This is not a guy who waits around.