Thursday, July 26, 2012

THE RATIONALE FOR RURAL LIFE: PART ONE

Why did I move here and will I ever be able to leave? 

Summer is a good time for me to truly appreciate the beautiful views on my jogs, bike rides and random drives.  Without a doubt, it's a stunning place.  Sadly, the gays stay away.  Since a picture is worth a thousand years, I shall shut up and let this photo speak for me.  I discovered this scene on a bike ride two weeks ago.  It's 7.5 kilometers from home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

HELLO STRANGER

For awhile now, I’ve felt that Vancouver and I are a mismatch.  But then I saw myself in a series of articles the Vancouver Sun ran a month ago.  Vancouverites are disconnected.  They avoid contact, even simple greetings while walking the seawall.

And I thought it was just me.

When I lived in an apartment in Vancouver’s West End, I never acknowledged the neighbors.  I guess I always assumed that was my intensely reserved nature, but then I remembered the quick hellos—nothing more—with neighbors in L.A.  I can even recall some of their faces.  Not so my West End mates.

The Sun series proves I didn’t start the antisocial thing.  It’s a Vancouver way of being.  And I certainly embraced it.  Why tax the vocal cords, eh? 

Oh, I am self-aware enough to know this is not healthy.  I have chided myself for regularly staring at my shoelaces and random spots on elevator walls.  What’s the harm in “hello”?

Still, I regularly rationalize my (in)action.  I am not the chitchat type.  The weather is self-evident.  My commentary—“Sure is sunny today”—adds nothing.  Maybe Vancouver folk are exceedingly rule oriented.  We were raised with “Don’t talk to strangers” and it just stuck.

I’ve actually stopped going to a Starbucks in West Van where the baristas are too friendly.  Just the coffee, thank you.  I’m not awake enough to tell you how my day’s going.  And you don’t really care.  Do you? 

Schmoozers make me cringe.  I know they don’t care where I got my worn out shoes.  Off-season Canuck talk is utterly irrelevant.  And, no, I have no opinion about whether Tiger Woods is back to his old self and whether you mean on or off the links.

If you want to talk about a work issue or gay marriage or the prospects of an NDP-Liberal merger, I’m in.  Conversation with purpose.  Your weekend plan to repaint the bathroom?  No thanks.  Again, just the coffee.

But I didn’t need a newspaper series to point out the obvious.  Give nothing, get nothing. 

At forty-seven, I wonder if this old dog can change.  I have made the first step, acknowledging that I am part of the problem.  It’s now up to me to follow the mantra on some mass-produced inspirational poster:  Be the Change. 

It’s hard to break my efficiency way of thinking.  It’s okay for talk to be mindless, I tell myself.  It doesn’t matter that I may never see the person again.  People are supposed to be social creatures.  Hermits are the exception. 

This past weekend, I went for a drive with the dog, heading for a hiking spot a couple of hours away.  Hadn’t been in years.  One of the things I particularly love about the destination is there is a bakery five minutes into the walk, a charming What-the-Hell-Is-This-Doing-Here stop.  I didn’t need a snack, but the place was a part of the experience.

I ogled the tarts and scones, waiting for the guy in front of me to get his refill.  Impatience simmered as the customer chattered with the counter guy about the drive out from Ontario and his daughter’s growing postcard collection.  One of the dinosaur place in Alberta, one from Moose Jaw,...got it. 

I tried to make eye contact with the counter guy who extended the conversation, talking about running the bakery for the past thirteen summers and winter travels to Mexico with his wife and son. 

This would have been the perfect time for me to practice my greetings.  Only my hello would have come off with an edge, a frustrated alternative to “Yoo-hoo?!”  Instead, I shuffled on my feet, pretended to rethink my choice of pastry and wondered if I had, in fact, asked for this state of invisibility.

When the time finally came for me to order, I realized the tourist wasn’t totally to blame for the gift of gab.  The owner tried to engage me in a yakfest, too.  “Was I spending some time in the park today?”  Isn’t that self-evident?  “Was I hungry?”  Uh, again, let’s go with self-evident.  “Was the barking dog mine?”  Yes.  And he wasn’t barking for the first five minutes.  I said as little as possible, paid and got on with the solitary hike.  (That beast, pictured on the path, is my dog, leading the way away from civilization.)

Okay, so my casual social skills are a work in progress. 

Yesterday, at my coffee stop in town, I asked the server, “How was your weekend?” 

“Good,” she answered.  “How was yours?”

“Good.”

And this is getting somewhere, right? 

I’ll keep at it.  If I ever do make a big move, to a city other than Vancouver, I may need to actually know how to say something.  And nothing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

DOWN BOY: KEEPING THE BLOG AT BAY

I blame the blog.

When you create a blog focused on a crazy decision to live as a single gay man where there are no other single gay men, it can be a constant reminder of a part of life that’s not working. 

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  When I moved from Vancouver seven years ago, I wanted to step off the treadmill.  I felt like I was putting in a lot of work and getting nowhere.  I was tired of wasting time idling at traffic lights.  I longed for a night’s sleep, uninterrupted by sirens. 

Hindsight is a humbling thing.  I don’t yearn for the sound of sirens, but my move may have been extreme.  Perhaps the answer wasn’t going from the city to nowhere; perhaps I was just supposed to try another city.  Victoria?  Toronto?  Ottawa? 

I know now that I was not alone in feeling alone in Vancouver.  A month ago, the Vancouver Sun ran a series on how disconnected residents are.  They don’t reach out to one another.  They don’t even nod or say hello in passing.

To hammer home the point, the newspaper published a story two weeks ago about the struggles of singles in the city.  The focus was on single straight women, but I took liberties to apply their woes to single gay men.  I certainly don’t see any evidence to the contrary.

So I got things half right in leaving Vancouver.  I’m not a big baseball fan, but I know a 0.500 batting average is a marvel.  As for life changes, it adds up to nothing.

The pessimist in me grew out of adolescence when I learned that I was a pimply faced, athletically challenged loner whose best friend was a pop radio station on an AM radio in Hamilton, Ontario.  The pimples and pessimism multiplied when the family moved to Texas, with me perfecting teen disconnect on the drive down in the family van.  I pulled away from family, but struggled to find another place to attach.

I found good friends on a swim team in high school.  We were basically Sweathogs in Speedos, a frightful sight.  I was two years younger than my peers and never figured out the East Texas dating scene with class rings, Friday night corsages and, well, boys dating girls.

The pessimist in me could see the future:  I’d be alone for life, like my great-uncle in Ottawa, whose sexuality was never discussed.  I could pass time cementing my knowledge of Billboard music trivia and experimenting with ways to spice up Kraft Dinner for one.  (Oh, to get my hands on what the Barenaked Ladies referred to as “all the fanciest Dijon ketchup”!)

Seeing “Moonstruck” in 1987 proved a game changer.  No, I did not develop a completely unwarranted crush on Nicolas Cage.  Or Danny Aiello.  While part of me identified with Cher’s grandfather, walking around on his own with a pack of dogs on leash, one scene with Cher hit me then as it still does when pessimism tries to take control.


I love how she slaps the mopey Cage across the face.  It’s the kind of gumption one would expect if the outstanding Olympia Dukakis really were your mother.

And that—along with a song from a 1986 animated mousemovie—is when hope clawed its way back into my life.  Hope’s a tricky thing.  It can be a taunting mirage, that out of reach oasis in the desert.  I see it at the gym, not in any of the grunters who talk of deer hunts and drunken Tuesday nights, but on the muted TV screen as a nicely dressed, well coifed political analyst or author gets forty seconds of glory on CTV News.  Intelligent, decent looking, knows how to dress (or at least take advice from a producer),...my kind of man.  All playful nods to my favorite newscaster aside, it’s not the “star” factor.  I just crave conversation with a well-rounded man who happens to glance in the mirror before heading out for the day.  There’s a difference between vanity and a healthy self-regard.

Yes, I do know that figures on the TV screen, even those many rungs below dear Anderson, are not attainable.  However, they present a look, a standard.  Unfortunately, my present life doesn’t present any such men in the flesh. 

It would be nice to put my thoughts completely on hold while my life remains on hold.  And yet, the blog hovers over me.  Post something.  But what?  Got the “rural” thing down.  Nothing new on the “gay” front.  There’s no real pressure.  I only post when I feel I have something to say.  But just checking in a couple of times a week—“Anything to write today?”—can be haunting enough.  Yes, Fievel, I still hear you.  But “Somewhere” can seem so far away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

IS FIDO A LIABILITY?

A week and a half ago, the Vancouver Sun ran an article, “Wherefore art thou”, featuring local single women bemoaning the difficulty in finding a few good men.   I read with interest.  Even though I’d like to think there is a clear distinction between straight and gay men, I can commiserate with anyone over the apparent man shortage. 
Since I no longer have a daily subscription, I don’t know what followed in the letters to the editor section, but today’s inclusion from Kean Krytenberg of Burnaby caught my eye.  It appeared under the caption, “A dog isn’t a dating woman’s best friend”.
What?!  Blasphemy! 
It would be easy to dismiss Krytenberg.  Vancouver, like no other city where I’ve lived, has clear divisions:  East versus West, drivers versus cyclists, Starbucks versus everything else, dog lovers versus dog haters.  Oh, very few people dare come right out and say, “I hate dogs.”  No one wants his effigy burned during a lantern festival on Commercial Drive.  The Anti contingent usually confines canine conversation to specifics about owners who view the entire city as an off-leash playground, muzzle-free Chihuahuas and “My dog didn’t do it” clumps of doo.  All dog owners are lumped in with the not-insignificant band of rogue dog owners.
Anti letters are always followed with reactionary Pro letter writers who momentarily set aside Rex’s sticks and bones to toss some old-fashioned names.  Dog hater!  Human supremacist!  Cat lover!  Intolerant inflictor of your wishes on others!  I know where my sympathies lie, but I am also aware that nothing will sway a rigid Anti or a calm an it’s-always-about-me Pro.
Rather than take potshots at the letter writer, I pondered his message.  According to Krytenberg, single women get dogs as “a replacement for human males” which then “precludes these women from ever bonding with the real thing.”  Okay, that smacks of Anti extremism.  Dogs to replace men?!  We single folk know that dogs won’t sit for hours watching pro football and acting like they could do a better job in every position on the team.  We know you can’t dress a dog for long in socks and sandals before it tugs the fashion eyesore off.  And we know that dogs won’t ramble on about how many points they scored on the newest app on the latest and greatest tech toy.  Clearly, Krytenberg’s assertion requires no further response.
But then there are some specifics.  He cites dates in which women want him to come over early so they can walk Fido around the block before grabbing dinner.  (Could it be she wants more time with you?)  And then he bemoans the 11 p.m. curfew, for the next round of the never-ending game of Walk the Dog.  (Again, it sounds like she just invited you back to her place.  Do you really need another Bud at the bar?) 
Krytenberg sums things up as follows:  “[I]f you choose to bond with a dog because there is no emotional risk involved, do not be surprised if your pool of prospective mates is reduced to near zero.”
It is easy to get into Sic ‘Em mode against poor Krytenberg who may have just reduced his own dating pool.  I’ll leave the ladies to that.  (Hey, Antis, he’s all yours!)  But have I missed out on dating opportunities due to my own strong canine bond?
In a word, yes.  Undoubtedly. 
When I had two dogs, I’m sure it was even worse.  There are many single gay men in Vancouver still confined to condos in the West End.  While the area is loaded with dog walkers, many buildings prohibit pets.  I recall a date cut short with hugs on the street as my dog lounged in the car on a chilly February night, unable to come up for a home tour.  I could curse the condo bylaws, but I think the dog simply provided a welcome excuse for the man to call it a night.
Perhaps my photo of me and the dogs on Plenty of Fish deterred a few hunky AND brainy suitors, even the rumored-to-be-out-there Perfect Man.  (Yes, I believe in the Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster, too.)  The photo and the “Pets” line on the standard profile serve as a way for dog-hating date shoppers to weed out the ruff-raff.
More often, however, I think my dog tendencies have helped establish a superficial initial bond.  (After that, unfortunately, everything rests on the other guy and me.)  The first online dating message I ever sent was to a guy who had two miniature schnauzers.  Uncanny, I thought.  I have two miniature schnauzers!  Surely this is kismet.
Sadly, it wasn’t.  But it got this classic Wait-and-See guy to act.  That’s something.
My greatest “success” story from online dating was a nine-month relationship with a guy who messaged me after seeing my schnauzer shot.  Yes, he too had a schnauzer.  Tragically, it’s a long way from Vancouver to Toronto.
My most recent date was with a guy who clearly wasn’t a dog lover.  “I’m allergic,” he said.  It was hardly a tragedy of “Love Story” proportions.  I recovered quickly and I’m sure he did, too...after the recommended dosage of Benadryl. 
I’ve gone on dates where meeting the dog was the best part.  (I am realistic enough to know others felt the same on a date with me.)
Okay, Mr. Krytenberg, you made me think, but my beloved pooch is not a liability.  I just hope your letter doesn’t make a single woman Shepherd-shy.  Life doesn’t wait on hold while singles pine for partners.  Dogs don’t replace Mr. Right.  They do, however, for many of us, make life richer.  I can respect the fact a dog owner wants to and needs to exercise his/her pet.  I’d be more than happy to be invited along.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

TOTALLY JOE

By James Howe

(Atheneum, 2005)

If only there had been a Joe (aka JoDan) Bunch in my class in grade seven or eight.  I’m thinking selfishly here.  Poor Joe would have been brutalized by peers who would taunt him for painting one fingernail, streaking his hair and just being, well, as the title says, totally Joe.  But I would have had someone to set the gay standard.

Some people have their identities whispering at them in sometimes conflicting inner voices.  Not Joe.  His identity loudly came into being at a young age, back when he was a four-year-old, walking the neighborhood in a dress and playing with his collection of seven Barbies.

If only I had had parents who were as enlightened, who did not fear what their inner voices told them about their young son, their Great Hope to become a doctor, the Prime Minister or a Right Winger on the Montreal Canadiens.

I thank author James Howe for introducing a younger generation to a memorable character with an irrepressible personality.   

I can’t recall any Joes from my childhood.  As far as I could tell, I was as Joe-y as it got.  I came to know several Joes in my twenties, once I left Texas where even The Irrepressibles might have found a way to repress, given the unchecked speeches about eternal damnation and the occasional article about gun-toting good ol’ boys hunting for gays.  In Los Angeles, I met Mason, an affectionate, often obnoxious force who learned to dish it out as a means to survive.  I dated Evan, a makeup artist who scared me off with too much talk about my dire need for skin moisturizer.  Sadly, Joes struggle for acceptance, even in gay circles.

Totally Joe is structured as a class writing assignment, an alphabetical autobiography, a year-long journal with Joe’s entries ranging from Addie, his strong-willed best friend, to Zachary, his newest friend who may or may not be gay.  The alphabet is not just a listing of names—L is for Leftovers, P is for Popular (Not).

Joe survives school by hanging out as one of The Gang of Five (which then and always consisted of only four).  It’s hard not to be envious, reading how Joe is completely accepted as he is by this close co-ed group.  Although Joe only comes out midway through the book, fully encouraged and supported by an amazing Aunt Pam, he never strives to pass as straight.

Yes, there are nemeses—namely, a hateful classmate named Kevin Hennessey and his sidekick, Jimmy Lemon.  And then there is Kevin’s mother who leads the cause against establishing a gay-straight alliance at Joe’s school.  This is just the plot point to prompt Joe’s (and Addie’s) parents to step up.  Again, I thought, If only...

Howe’s first-person narrative is zippy, often amusing and totally entertaining.  At times, it’s poignant without being preachy.  Here’s an excerpt wherein Joe recalls an early obsession:

                                My mom says that I played wedding for about a year and that
                                I kept asking everybody if they would marry me.  Even Jeff
                                [Joe’s brother].  (That was the only time anyone can
                                remember Jeff threatening to clobber me on a regular
                                basis.)  I had my Lainy doll marry my Ken doll.  I also had
                                her marry some of my Barbies.  And G.I. Joe.  (I hated that
                                the soldier doll had my name.  I mean, please.  I didn’t play
                                with him much.  He was another Christmas present from my
                                clueless grandparents.  One time when they were visiting,
                                my grandpa asked me if G.I. Joe had been in any wars lately.
                                I said, “No, but he and Ken got married last week.”  Every
                                Christmas since then, my grandparents have sent me a
                                check.)

Totally Joe is a quick read that would be a perfect book choice for a gay-straight alliance or, maybe one day, in a regular grade seven classroom.  The Joes—and Not-So-Joes—of this world need the exposure and the understanding.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NOT A WILD LIFE, BUT WILDLIFE

After a productive writing session, I called my dog and off we went on a car ride, my schnauzer’s head sticking out the back seat window, taking in all the glorious rural scents.  It was 7:30 p.m. and I wanted to snap a few view shots I came across during yesterday evening’s bike ride.  With all my griping about being stuck here, I thought I needed to balance things out with a series of pictures on the blog to show the natural beauty that lured me here in the first place.

Seven kilometres up the road, I’d come across a new road leading to a proposed development that would become two dozen luxury lots with ocean, forest and mountain views.  I’d dismounted my bike last night to get better glimpses of the water views in particular.  If I win the lottery, I thought.

Returning by car, I got three-quarters the way up the biggest hill and stopped the car.  On the side of the road seventy feet ahead of me were a mother bear and her cub.  The cub was oblivious to the new intruder, but Mama looked my way.  I cut the engine and rolled up the windows.  Seeing that I was not advancing, Mama refocused on the cub who kept circling Mama and pawing her.  The two drifted to the gentle, foxglove-covered hillside that edged the road.  It proved a much better play area for the cub who kept tumbling before getting back up and trying to goad Mama into a play fight.  Mama even fell on her back twice, paws flailing in the air momentarily.  She pawed back at the young ‘un who showed no sign of slowing down.

After ten minutes, the duo drifted ten feet uphill, the curve in the road and tall grasses obstructing most of my view.  Then I saw Mama raise her head, looking further ahead.  The cub scurried up a tall pine and Mama sauntered over for guard duty at the base of the tree. 

For a moment, my mind envisioned a worst-case scenario.  Could there be some numbskull hunters round the bend, the dolts who shop at that cursed hunting supply store I pass every time I drive into town?  I cracked the window to listen for a car motor or a sound more ominous.  Nothing, thank goodness.

Five minutes later, as I strained to make out the cub high in the tree, a movement made me turn left.  On the hillside directly beside the car was a deer, the likely impostor who’d likely disturbed the bears’ play.  Another gorgeous creature, so gentle, so curious as our eyes met.

I waited until the deer moseyed another twenty feet past the car before starting the engine and turning the car around, heading for home with a sense of utter calmness and satisfaction.

Do I have any pics to document my nature sightings?  No.  The bears looked like brown blobs through the lens of my cheap digital camera.  I didn’t bother to click.  As for the deer, there was too much of the car in the frame.  I didn’t wish to stick my head out and startle the creature.  Respecting the animals was more important than having my perfect photo op.  I am completely satisfied with the images that will stay in my mind.

Yes, this is why I moved here in the first place.  At times, bears worry me.  When I moved in, my neighbor to the left told me his dog was killed by a bear two years prior.  My neighbor to the right told me his schnauzer also succumbed to a bear attack at some point before my arrival.  I have seen a bear once a bike ride and a few recently on the roadside while driving into town, but until tonight, that’s all.  (This is my first ever cub sighting.)  The deer are more commonly spotted in my area at dawn and dusk.  Two nights ago while out for our last walk, I scooped up the dog so as not to spook a deer on our street.  If anything, it’s the coyotes that make me the wariest.  I’ve seen them many times as darkness falls when I’ve been out walking the dog or make the trek back from the ferry.  One chased my dog down our street a year ago.  My schnauzer wisely yelped frantically to get my attention and ran right into my arms.  Assuming my own Mama Bear persona, I stomped and hollered until the coyote retreated into the bushes at the top of the hill.  On warm summer nights when I leave the window open, I am sometimes awakened by the coyotes' pitchy choir practice not too far off in the woods behind my house.  Personally, I prefer that din to the early morning howls of the neighbors' kids.

Nothing much happens here.  No White Parties.  No drag shows.  Not even a gay sighting at the gym or, well, anywhere.  Sometimes the sense of being all alone overtakes me, disheartens me, leaves me longing for anything and everything that the city—any city—offers.  But for tonight, I am completely content. 

Well, almost.  There’s the matter of What-the-Dog-Brought-in while I wrote this.  A few days ago, he discovered an animal bone somewhere in the neighborhood.  It’s given him oodles of pleasure as he scurries in and out to scoop it in his mouth, wandering the back yard in search of the perfect hiding spot.  Turns out that spot is the carpet in my living room.

A huge animal lover, I like them alive and intact.  The bone?  It would be irreverent to chuck it in the trash can so back to the yard it goes.  If only my dog could learn to dig in the ground instead of atop my chairs and on the rug.  Some beasts have become too humanized.

Monday, July 9, 2012

HOUSE ON CLEARANCE

I’m trying to simplify my life, take the “Rural” out of Rural Gay.  Trouble is, no one else wants to take on that title.  For eighteen months out of the past two and a half years, a For Sale sign has been pitched in the front yard.  (During one gap in time, I experienced the joys of renovations.  All I’ll say about that phase is there were a lot more commercial breaks than on the television reno shows.)

Things are getting desperate.

For the past two years, I’ve commuted five hours a day by foot, ferry and car to work in the Lower Mainland.  I leave home at 5:45 in the morning and return at 6:30 on a good day, 8:30 or 10:20 p.m. on more typical nights.

I’d thought the house would sell within a reasonable period of time.   And during the interim, I’d thought that having some time in the city would reconnect me with friends and revive me with the urban conveniences I’ve always been accustomed to, having lived in Hamilton, Dallas, L.A. and Vancouver. 

But no. 

I am a slave to a ferry schedule which, for ten months of the year, has sailings that run once every two hours.  I’ve had many races to the terminal, speeding recklessly down the highway, anxious to avoid yet another unfortunate 1h 55min wait.  Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t.  I’ve frequently arrived on time only to discover the ferry is late due to yet another “operational delay”.  Even when all goes right, I cross the water on the vehicle deck, sitting with my dog in a caged area that rarely gets a mop down.  (All that classic imagery of lowly mateys swabbing the deck has no application on a union-run ship.) 

I know I sound negative.  The ferry system wore me down.

In my desperation, I reapplied for a position with my former employer here in town.  There was an opening forty miles away in another rural area, no ferry required.  I knew I’d have to commit to 3-7 years at that site and I knew that taking the job would shut the door on any chance of finding a life partner.  It didn’t seem a huge sacrifice.  That door is only slightly ajar as it is.

I made the short list and interviewed before a panel of six a few days ago.  I ran into one of the interviewers at a café the next day.  She said, “You blew everyone away!”  No one else came close.

And there it is, I thought.  My future set.

But then she blurted this nugget:  “We knew you wouldn’t want a job that far away.”  My mouth dropped.  I asked her to elaborate.  She said the job responsibilities weren’t enough.  (God forbid, I should have an easy go of things!)  They wanted to save me for a more demanding position that would surface when retirements occurred in 1-3 years.

I abruptly made my exit.  I don’t like to break down in public.  All I could think about was months, years longer, suffering the ridiculous commute.  When they finally “needed” me, would I have anything left to give?

I slept an hour that night.  My dog conveniently chose to stay up with me, battling a little sickness that made me believe he too was ruing a longer sentencing on the ferries.  I hadn’t broken it to him yet, but he read the vibe off me.  Man’s best friend, indeed.

When the official call came the next morning, I could barely contain the seething.  The exec tried to put a positive spin on things, but I wasn’t having any of it.  He told me who got the job, someone I knew.  A nice fellow, yes, but I had far more experience, more education, more knowledge of the structures.  The exec confirmed that I was overqualified even though the positions that would come in a year or two (or three!) pay the same.  “To be clear, we want you,” he said.

I promptly called my realtor and okayed an aggressive price reduction even though we’d just lowered the price two weeks ago.  “Sell it by the end of August,” I demanded.  “Work a miracle.  Just help me get out of here.”

I should be thanking my former employer.  I know accepting a position would have meant a shot of sanity but also a step backward and a lock on a life lived alone.  In due time, I will be grateful.  Ego bruisings heal quickly. 

And a Sold sign will make everything right.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

THE FACT IS, I’M WAITING


“The fact is, I’m gay.”

Anderson Cooper’s grand coming out last week met with a yawn by the Told-Ya-So public.  I had a different reaction.  I immediately checked to see if he was a new member on Plenty of Fish. 

Not there. 

Drat.

Yes, I am well aware that it is unhealthy to crush on celebrities who don’t live in the same country, much less the same city town rural area.  But I’m the same guy who thinks that rescuing slugs from my driveway will bring good karma in the way of a modest lottery win.  (Don’t need $50 mil; 3 or 4 will do, thank you.) 

Until Anderson stepped out, I’d made very good progress on detaching from such crushes.  I haven’t thought of Parker Stevenson in at least a month and I’m steering clear all screenings of “Magic Mike”.  I’ve found the best way to deal with visual taunts from Hugh Jackman is to accept that he is indeed a happy heterosexual who innocently steals jobs from gays on Broadway.  As for the gay Green Lantern, I’m told by reliable sources it’s not Ryan Reynolds; in fact, he’s apparently a complete work of fiction.  Good to know.

But then Anderson came along and upset the balance of my sad single life.  Yes, Andy—no, scratch that...can’t see you as anyone but Anderson...or maybe Coop...or, after we split a bottle of wine, Cooper Anderson—you are my great white-haired hope.  I’d endure the heat of Atlanta for you.  I’d endure a spate of anecdotes about Larry King’s days on CNN and jealous rants about that scoop stealer, Christiane Amanpour.  I’d even travel to a war-torn country with you.  (A guy with your clout can rent the pope-mobile, right?) 

Don’t dismiss me so quickly, my blue-eyed beau.  We have so much in common, Coop.  Your maternal grandfather was a railroad heir and mine worked the trains—not sure his exact role, but he’d wave from the caboose while passing by our summer cottage.  If our train stories don’t connect, we could just listen to Train.  Maybe amuse ourselves over the ending to “SaveMe San Francisco”. 
We were both born in the 60s.  Presumably, you were also heavily influenced by the late 70s/early 80s.  That means you should be able to relate to all my references to pre-schmaltzy Rod Stewart (shockingly, at one time, I did think he was sexy), “The Bionic Woman” and, yes, Parker Stevenson.  

We both have vowels in our names.  And consonants! 

Moms love me.  Gloria will, too.  My eventual prom date wore Gloria Vanderbilt jeans on our first date.  (Yes, Anderson, I succumbed to high school dating peer pressure.  I was just thankful that those tight pants stood between me and All Things Girly—or at least one thing girly.  How many girly things are there, I’m really not sure.) I’ll ooh and aah convincingly as I view her latest paintings.  In no time, your lovely mother will permit me to call her Glo, just as Kathy Griffin does.  (And, yes, Kathy and I are sure to hit it off.  She was clearly the best thing about “Suddenly Susan”.  Sorry, Brooke.  And ex-crush Nestor.)

I’ll never belittle your giggle, snort and all.  In fact, I’ll relish it, even encourage it.  (Maybe we can read Green Lantern comics together.  They’re supposed to be funny, aren’t they?) 

Yes, Anderson, the fact is, I am gay, too.  And now all my years of being single are beginning to make sense.  I just needed to wait for you.  Surely you’re not considering a famous boyfriend.  Clay Aiken?  If only he could stay “Invisible”.  Boy George?  You’ll never get any counter space in the bathroom.  And don’t ever get in a car with George Michael at the wheel. 

Call me, Anderson.  You’re guaranteed more than a maybe in return.