Friday night featured a lesbian film I’ve never heard of, screening at the local playhouse. On Saturday night there was a Stonewall Dance at a community hall in a former hippie enclave, now facing gentrification as retirees and Albertans wanting waterfront summer homes attempt a takeover.
I passed on the movie and the dance. That’s right, I bemoan my single status in post after post on this blog and then, when opportunity knocks, I hide under the bed. (My dog and I think it’s quite nice there.)
You have every right to give up on me and to go back to spending your online time reading Gwyneth’s goop or scanning Lady Gaga’s tweets.
Skipping the movie was a no-brainer. I didn’t have my car Friday night as I had to leave it at the ferry terminal on the other side. Besides, I knew I’d feel self-conscious being the only guy in the audience.
I still feel shame over the dance pass. Could’ve, should’ve, didn’t.
Since you’re still reading, I assume you are up to date on Gaga and goop. Allow me to share my So I Think I Can’t Dance excuses.
I ‘d left my dog alone all day while dashing into Vancouver to see a local production of Avenue Q. I’d gone with a couple of gay friends, there were other gays in the theatre,...surely, this country boy exceeded his gay quotient for the day (heck, the week,...even the month). My dog’s sad eyes demanded I stay in. Besides, I needed to recover from my first exposure to naked puppet sex. (Since when did puppets start getting luckier than me?!)
It was a hot evening. I’d been in that community hall on a hot night before. No air circulation. I hate meeting new people as sweat clings to my forehead and creates broad pit stains in what is supposed to be an eye-catching fashion-forward shirt. Damn you, summer heat. (But please stay.)
I’d gone before. Two years in a row, years ago.
The first time, I lasted twenty minutes. I was forty-one and a guy immediately started talking to me. It had been a perfectly normal, superficial first conversation until he said, “So, are you retired?” Just how old did I look? Crushed, I casually excused myself, fled to the car and zipped home to stare desperately in the mirror, contemplating Botox, plastic surgery and the miraculous effects of Oil of Olay.
The second year, I dragged a friend from the city to come along. Amongst the tiny cluster of gay men, he was the star attraction. I didn’t get my feelings hurt. Not that much anyway. They all started smoking pot and, being as I’ve always found all kinds of smoke extremely unappealing, I grabbed my friend and insisted on leaving. Still, I left feeling like I’d grown. Staying forty minutes, I’d doubled my time. For some reason, my friend has refused to come again for future dances.
The LGBT events I have been to—there is the occasional potluck as well—are always heavy on the L, lite on the G. (No idea if the Bs and Ts have a presence at all, but it is imperative that we’re inclusive, even if in name only.) Past dances have had about a hundred people in attendance—85 women, 15 men. I knew the odds were stacked against me meeting someone special, even having a conversation beyond, “I’ll have a Diet Coke with lime, please.” Why should I have to launder another shirt? Why set myself up for a miserable drive home, fighting to keep the disappointment in check. Besides, there are enough risks with night driving here. I’d never forgive myself if I hit a deer.
The last Saturday of June is when I look my absolute worst all year. Schools in British Columbia remain in session until the last possible day of June. As a principal, things do not die down. The May and June calendars are loaded each year with more and more celebratory events that require loads of planning and result in regular crises that I must manage. (No, I didn’t realize the school carnival’s co-coordinator was sleeping with your husband. Can’t you two settle this in the dunk tank?) Add the work happenings to ten months of a five-hour daily commute and I look and feel ragged by the time Alice Cooper tells me it’s all over.
Why hadn’t Stonewall come at a more convenient time? How about mid-July when I’m rested and I’ve worked off the few pounds that always show up during the final months of the school year? (I tried to have donuts banned from the staff room, but that whole apple-for-the-teacher thing didn’t go over well.)
If I’d gone to the dance and actually met Mr. Right, the timing would be all off. In a week, I’m off to West Hollywood for the summer. I’ve done the “Let’s go for a date six weeks from now” thing before—twice, in fact. It doesn’t work—too much anticipation, a certain letdown.
It all comes down to how painfully awkward I am when surrounded by strangers. The confidence gets harder to find as the years go by and I remain single. I realize that nothing can possibly happen when I don’t even show up. Still, I need some rejuvenation. Maybe the trip to West Hollywood will help. Maybe a guy will give me that look. That’s exactly what I need—a little affirmation, a sign that perhaps I can fall in love a fourth time. Maybe with the right guy even.
I am not proud of opting out of Pride weekend. Let’s hope I don’t have to wait until next June to put on a brave face and step out again!