Monday, April 23, 2012


Like Meg Ryan in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, I consider myself low maintenance.  I may even have a stronger case.  I don’t ask waitresses for meal components “on the side”.  I once bought a two-in-one shampoo/conditioner.  And my Starbucks order has never included the descriptors “extra hot”, “no whip”, “double tea bag”, “grande in a venti cup”, “three-fourths decaf”, “room for cream” and/or “served by a barista singing the Armenian national Swahili.”  (In my early Starbucks days, I did go through a phase of ordering a tall dark Italian, but when I kept get nothing more than a strong cup of coffee I reverted to my standard venti brew.  I now leave the dreaming to my lottery quick pick.)
In truth, I am not as low maintenance as I’d like to think.  A colleague once said, “You have lots of quirks.”  Not sure what’s the less offensive label, quirky or high maintenance, but I could never respond with a successful slander suit.  I blame Miss Piggy.  And Chicken Little.  And Dory and Babe and the cow that jumped over the moon.  Yes, I am a strict vegetarian whose REM visions of eating a thick slab of steak are not dreams but nightmares.  (Seriously.  While you dream of appearing in meeting for work in boxers, I dream I’m force-fed filet mignon.)  Ordering off a menu can be a complicated process.  Servers try mightily to suppress annoyance over my inquisition about broths, cooking oils, gelatin and that cursed cheese ingredient, rennet.  (And now I have to ask about crushed beetles?! )

A few weeks ago, I went on a promising first date with another vegetarian.  His choice is based on a cholesterol count, not a love for Bambi but it still makes dating and eating out easier.  If we don’t go to a vegetarian restaurant, we at least opt for a place where there is something more than a soggy pasta primavera on the menu.  In the past month, I’ve visited favorite restaurants that I can’t convince friends to go to (“Didn’t we go there last year?”)  and explored a new haunt, immersed in a hippie culture while dressed in a Michael Kors outfit en route to the ballet.  Yes, you can eat granola without looking granola.  (Tie-dye only accents my pastiness.) 

Being a vegetarian isn’t a dating essential like non-smoking, but it sure is refreshing.  I don’t have to defend or justify my diet.  There is no need to look away as my dinner mate gnaws on a heaping plate of buffalo wings at T.G.I. Friday’s or cracks open lobster bits.  I don’t have to think about kissing someone with beefy residue on his tongue. 

To be sure, if there were hordes of gay vegetarians on the planet, I would cruise tofu turf, but dating is challenging enough for me.  I once did a worldwide search on a gay dating site with 22,000 members.  When I added “vegetarian” as a search term, the pool shrank to seven.  Yep, that guy in Helsinki looked dreamy. 
When I do date a vegetarian, I become more hopeful, perhaps even desperate. 

Please let this work.  Maybe I can overlook the fact he dresses as Spock on full moons.

Sure he rambled for an hour about igneous rocks, but he makes his own vegan cheese. 

When we’re both eighty, how wonderful that we can order one item and ask for a share plate!   

I do not know how things will turn out with my current broccoli beau.  He has admitted that his vegetarianism is selective.  He’ll eat fishcakes and turkey tacos at a catered work function and I was startled that his Lexus had a leather interior, but matching my values isn’t going to happen.  I’ll appreciate what we have in common, enjoy the dining experiences and see how things play out.  If things go kaput, I have a backup plan:  I’ve bookmarked this website.


Rick Modien said...

RG, it may not be my place to say this, but you've put it out there, so here goes.

Stop finding reasons not to like someone, or not to think someone is compatible with you.

Great example: My sister is about as strict a vegetarian as you are, right down to not buying anything with leather (car seats, shoes, apparel).

She met a fellow through an Internet dating site. He is not vegetarian. He eats all kinds of meat. For Christmas dinner, he made a full turkey and all the fixings for guests they had over (including Chris and me). My sister ate the meal selections she could and made a few other items for herself. It worked perfectly.

Day to day, unless the dish is strictly vegetarian, my sister and her partner make separate meals. She never picks at him for not being a full vegetarian.

Yes, I made a leap there. They've been together for quite a few years now, have lived together for nearly two years, and are completely happy with each other. My sister didn't meet Brett until she was in her late forties. I'm thrilled to finally see her so happy.

Here's the important part: IT WORKS.

Just because someone isn't exactly like you doesn't mean he's not right for you.

If we all waited for the kind of person who exactly matches us in all respects, we'd stay single forever (and, contrary to what we think, we wouldn't end up with the right people for us, anyway).

So stop it. Pick on bigger issues than how strict a vegetarian he is to decide whether or not you're suited to each other. Because, I don't need to tell you, there are MUCH bigger issues.

The question is, are you prepared to overlook how selective this fellow is about being vegetarian sometimes and not other times? I'd hate to think you'd turn down real honest-to-goodness love over something you can make work if you really want to.

If you choose to let this get in the way, you might want to look at if there isn't a bigger issue beneath the surface that's really the reason why you don't want to be with him. I'm just saying...

Rural Gay said...

Hi Rick,
To be clear, I've dated meat eaters and it's been okay. It's not a make or break issue even though, in a perfect world, I would find a match regarding this value. Like your sister, I am accustomed to making my own food. I have made a choice for my life and my life alone. I do not attempt to impose my belief system on anyone else.

What is nice about dating Jim is that I don't have to defend myself or demystify my choice. I have been a vegetarian for twenty-seven years and every so often it is nice to connect with someone in this regard.

Whether I continue to see Jim or whether I choose to date anyone else in particular does not depend on his steak stance. While I can be a dreamer, I am also a realist.