Friday, September 26, 2014

ONLINE DATING TIPS—Part 1: THE RIGHT “CHEESE” MATTERS

Okay, given my track record, I am the last person who should be offering advice about online dating. But you could flip things and realize that I have extensive experience in this realm. I may not know what works, but I have an idea or two about what doesn’t.

I keep seeing the same ill-conceived tactics and I feel compelled to comment. Give yourselves a better chance. And if you think I am completely off base, please leave a comment. Prove me wrong. Maybe I am the one who needs a new approach.

Just One Look:  Basic rule—Must include a photo on your profile. Actually, photos. In the age of the selfie, how can you only have one photo? Snap away. Change your clothes, move to another part of your home. Snap again. Upload. Post. I’m a brain-stunted techno-sloth, but even I can figure out how to do this.

Why do you need multiple photos? Everyone can have one insanely good photo. The stars aligned and the shot gives off a slight resemblance to George Clooney. Not the National Enquirer caught-off-guard-with-some-mistress-in-Madrid Clooney, but the photoshopped swoon-worthy Clooney. (And we’d all settle for “slight resemblance”, wouldn’t we?) I’ve gone out with a few of these one-shot wonders. I don’t recognize them in the coffeehouse. How could I? Heck, they’re not even a slight resemblance of the slight resemblance of Clooney. From the in-person intro, the interaction is doomed. No match between the photo and this coffee mate. No match at all.

Keep Current: Think of your photos like that carton of milk in the fridge. Eventually it goes sour. Chuck it. Even if it’s the best picture of you. Ever. I’m getting to be a schoolmarm over this. A guy messaged me yesterday with a brief, complimentary note about my profile. I glanced at his. Common interests,…great. Multiple photos,…super. But the captions under each of them noted they were from 2008. Ah, a very good year, to be sure. Katy Perry Kissed a Girl, that cute little American Idol kid sang about a Crush, Betty was still Ugly, the Housewives still Desperate. But time didn’t stand still. This guy even anticipated ogler perplexity by writing, “I still look as young as these photos.” We all like to think that. Prove it. Again, selfies have become so much more commonplace in the past SIX years. Don’t be lazy with your profile. This is not how to stand out amongst hundreds of other alleged singles.

Even if you are less forthright and don’t disclose the date, people will make assumptions. If you say you’re 53 and your main photo looks like you’re skateboarding to a pep rally, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Eventually you’re going to meet a few of these online browsers—that’s why you created a profile, isn’t it?! You’re ensuring disappointment for the first coffee. A dated photo is deceiving, even dishonest. Is that how you want to come off on the first meeting? If you happen to look much younger than your age as people say I do, add the month and year that each photo was taken under each photo. Be real. Eliminate the doubt.

The Devil Is in the Detail: Once you’ve mastered the phone photo, take a look at all that appears in each photo. Go beyond marvelling at the astonishing feat of minimizing your crow’s feet. What else will an online peeper see? Maybe you want to share your continuing obsession with Iron Maiden on a date—I’d suggest the fourth or later—instead of letting a sloppy t-shirt do the talking. Fashion might not matter to you, but is this really your best first online impression? (Iron Maiden?! I'm not making this up.) Same for holes just below the t-shirt collar. It may be your favorite shirt for lounging around the house because you can splash bacon grease and ketchup all over it, but it’s too homey. (Hint: Put on a shirt that matches your eyes. You want someone noticing them more than a t-shirt flaw.) These sites are designed to get browsers to keep clicking and you’re making it so much easier. If a shot of you provides a glimpse of your unfolded laundry strewn all over the sofa, I’d suggest kicking all the garments to the floor, out of view, and taking another picture. (Folding and putting them away would be preferable, but I am not your mother. I’m guessing that if a first date goes really, really well, you’ll lobby hard to go back to his place instead.)

I’ve passed on a few profiles of self-declared non-smokers who have a cigarette in their hand in a photo. For a growing number of us, it’s as bad as having a ring on a certain finger. Is this a dated photo? Delete it. If you are a smoker, then be honest about it. Non-smoking means just that. My ex has been “trying to quit” for twenty years. Until he actually succeeds, he’s a smoker. There’s no sugar coating that.

Go Easy on the Gear: Apparently there is some online dating advice guru who advocates extremism. I suppose the correct term is xtremism. Get your tandem skydiving bud to snap you in the air. Throw in shot of yourself motocrossing through a muddy course. Have your guide take a picture of you rappelling down a rock cliff. All very impressive. But there is no way to make out your face or your body. Too much equipment. You might as well be this guy  or one of these guys. Type your daring endeavors in the Interests section of your profile and stop hiding under a helmet. And as an aside, don’t cover the top of your head with baseball caps and toque in every single shot. Whether you’ve got hair or not, give the browsers a glimpse. If you are self-conscious about a receding hairline, gray hair or a full head of hair that doesn’t shine and bounce like in those shampoo commercials, so what? There’s a whole spectrum of head hair and an equally broad range of what guys are attracted to. Show what you’ve got (or haven’t got).

Got Teeth? I know there’s a study out there that says men are deemed more attractive in photos in which they don’t smile. You can find a study that concludes just about anything. This study keeps popping up online because it’s utterly ridiculous. If you want a stud shot—all sunglasses and stoicism—go for it. Let it be one photo. But it can’t be just me who finds a half dozen unsmiling pics distressing. Why so serious/sad/grumpy? Are you hiding braces or some dental disaster? I can’t bear the thought of coffee with you. I fear I’d spend the hour watching you sit in silence or listening to you blather on about that goldfish that died when you were five and your thoughts on the apocalypse. Lighten up. Smile.

 

So have fun with that phone camera. Snap away! Delete what doesn’t work. You’re bound to come up with a few decent pics. Give it a shot.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A WALK IN THE PARK


Beautiful September day! Sun shining, temperatures warm but merciful thanks to a gentle ocean breeze. Perfect day for a walk in Stanley Park. This walk is more special, more than just an extension of summer. This is AIDS Walk Vancouver. It’s a far cry from the chilly, rainy day last year when I walked alone along with a threadbare entourage dedicated to the cause. This time I have a good friend with me and the larger group, while nothing the size of the hordes from twenty years ago, is boosted by a human injection as well.

                             
 
 
                             
 If you are a teenager now, it is unlikely that you knew us well. We are your shadow uncles, your angel godfathers, your mother’s or your grandmother’s best friend from college, the author of that book you found in the gay section of the library. We are characters in a Tony Kushner play, or names on a quilt that rarely gets taken out anymore.
       --David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing

AIDS Walk numbers will never match the masses from a generation ago. That’s a good thing. Great strides have been made in terms of research, treatment and other care issues. Still, I feel that those of us who lost and feared the most back then have to recommit to the cause. Without the urgency, the front-page headlines and the sensational letters to the editor, people less impacted by AIDS are no longer stirred to action. They have moved on to bike rides for cancer and opportunities to garner several dozen YouTube views from getting cold water poured on their heads.

I am one who believes each person’s charitable priorities should be private—only you, the organization and the taxman need to know. I will, however, continue to post about my renewed commitment to supporting AIDS charities to encourage you to consider whether there might be something in your wallet that can go to a local AIDS entity. The competition among charities nowadays is fierce. All the more reason why we must keep AIDS in focus.

It was an exquisite irony: Just when we stopped wanting to kill ourselves, we started to die. Just when we were feeling strength, it was taken from us.
 –David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing

This year I walk in honor of my friends Farrell and José. Farrell was a guy I befriended in a tennis class in Dallas in the late 1980s. We formed a tennis connection that evolved into a friendship, albeit one that was limited by our reserved dispositions. Only after he visited me in L.A. did he come out to me in a letter, the self-hate as a lifelong Bible Belt native pouring out on the page. By telling you I’m gay, I know you must detest me. I wrote back to say that what I truly detested was the fact both of us felt so compelled to live(?) in the closet. The friendship became stronger but not enough for him to tell me he was sick with complications from AIDS. I only found out in late 1994 when a letter I mailed was Returned to Sender with “Deceased” stamped on the front. There was no funeral service.

José was a friend I met in Malibu while I was going to law school. He owned an independent clothing store in a large space that is now a Banana Republic. José was a jovial individual, the guy whom everyone in my group of club-going gay friends kidded, sometimes mercilessly. He played into it, soaking up any kind of attention. He was generous to a fault, sweetness to the core. In 1995, after I’d moved to Vancouver, a friend called to say José had died suddenly. A brain aneurism. Two summers ago, as I had dinner with that friend, the real story came forth. He’d died of AIDS, but the shame was too great. None of us knew. He retreated and died alone.

For both Farrell and José, the shame was too great. It saddens me to think they couldn’t reach out. I know that each died completely alone.

This is part of the past devastation from AIDS. This is what I cannot forget. This is why walking remains imperative. Circumstances are drastically different, but I need persons with HIV or AIDS to know they will continue to be supported. I know that shame remains. I read it in the dating profiles of men who are HIV+ and I occasionally see it manifested as anger on Twitter.

This is not over. AIDS still matters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ESCAPE-ISM


Two drowned and five are listed as “missing and presumed drowned”. That should have deterred me. But I yearned to escape.

For two nights, I barely slept. Part excitement, part self-doubt. Both feelings manifested in a single thought: I can’t believe I’m doing this!

I told everyone I know about my pending adventure. Heck, I even blabbed about it to the U.S. Homeland Security officer at Vancouver Airport. Main purpose of my trip to San Francisco? Castro cruising? No. A search for BarbaryLane? No. A ploy for a free hug at some impromptu love-in at Haight and Ashbury (or at least a scoop of Cherry Garcia)? No.

“I’m swimming from Alcatraz to shore.”

Remarkably, the officer let me through. No psychiatric examination. Not even a cursory round of Rorschach testing. Clouds. More clouds. Blood splatter from a murderous crime scene.

Swimming from Alcatraz. Why? Well, why not? I’m wanting to shake things up these days. I need to feel alive.

I’d gone to considerable expense for this previously unknown bucket list item. Airline ticket. Hefty registration fee. Wetsuit purchase. Hotels (including one to stay overnight in Vancouver as I’d miss the last ferry home when I returned).

Why hadn’t blindfolded hopscotch made the list instead? Sidewalk chalk, bandana, large bandages,…done.

By 6 a.m. Saturday, I knew it was time to discontinue the charade of sleep. I got up, showered, dressed and walked the two blocks to Fisherman’s Wharf. The morning was overcast, a tad chilly with grey skies. The Pacific would be cold. Would the wetsuit be enough?

Another chance to talk myself out of it. Why not just hop on a bus tour and see the city the normal way? Warm sourdough bread seemed more enticing than cold ocean water. Neither the seagulls nor the homeless folks stirring at this hour offered anything to counter my exit strategy.

Do it. Do something. For once. You’ll remember this more than a loaf of bread.

And so I went back to the hotel. I slowly consumed a banana and a cup of coffee. I unpacked the wetsuit and stuffed a change of clothes in the plastic dry cleaning bag that always hangs in hotel closets. I fretted over the fact I’d left my swim goggles in a backpack in the trunk of my car back in Vancouver. How much would the salt water sting my eyes? I’d know soon enough.

When I couldn’t wait any longer, I headed back to the meeting place, one block from the Wharf. On the sidewalk, two dozen adults milled about in various stages of wetsuit dressing. I asked the obvious: “Is this the place for the Alcatraz swim?” And suddenly I was not the only crazy one. I had my flock of crazies.

Milling about lost its appeal. Ten minutes felt like an hour. I wasn’t in the mood for chitchat. I wanted to get aboard the boat and head out to sea. I didn’t want any more opportunities to talk myself out of this. Finally, we boarded. Our numbers had grown to forty. One woman graciously loaned me an extra pair of swim goggles. My last excuse disappeared. Our “coach” gave last-minute instructions. “We may have to reposition some of you,” he said. Apparently the currents might take some of us off course. Or we just might not be able to handle the waves. “If you experience distress, float on your back and raise your hand. A boat will come by to pull you out. If at any time we determine that you need to stop, you must board a boat. The Coast Guard requires that you comply.”

“Any questions?” I thought of raising my hand then and there. So much easier than while floating on the ocean, swallowing salt water. But the boat pulled away.

No backing out.

I happened to stand beside a very good looking man, shirtless and buff. Coach told us we needed to be smiling. We needed to say hello to our neighbors. Swim coach and dating coach. I chatted briefly with a Frenchman, Pierre. His first time. Nervous and excited. Then Bonnie. First; nervous; excited. Trent. Fourth time. Still nervous; still excited.

At last, Buff looked my way. Nineteenth Alcatraz swim. La di da. Infatuation ended. I wanted to push him over. But he’d have liked that. Something new this time ‘round.

I stared out at the water and at my foe. No, not Nineteen. Alcatraz. You wicked slab of sand. Just as the captain cut the motor on our boat, a small passenger ferry pulled alongside the island. Here was a taunting reminder of the more obvious way to experience Alcatraz. Coach played the theme from “Rocky” and one by one we jumped ship. Walked the plank.

“Wetsuits first,” said Nineteen. There he stood in just a swimsuit. Of course. The only surprise was that he didn’t have his arms and legs bound, too.

Treading in the water, I quickly adjusted to the temperature. It wasn’t as cold as my practice ocean swims back home. Not exactly bath water, but tolerable. I glanced around at the kayakers and paddleboarders that surrounded us. They would be our chaperones, staying close by just in case. I glanced at the passenger ferry with its tinted windows. Were people still aboard, gawking at us?

We counted down from four and then we were off, a green-capped school of fish hoping to beach ourselves. Within thirty seconds, I’d swallowed a large mouthful of ocean water. I quickened my stroke until my arms tangled with another swimmer.

“Sorry.”

“Sorry.”

We stroked onward. After a few minutes, we’d spread ourselves out. I didn’t have to keep putting my head up to navigate around green buoys. Every thirtieth stroke, I peered forward to ensure I was on course, with two towers and a small strip of beach directly in front of me. A rower shouted that I was too far to the right. I tried to alter my path. After ten minutes, I glanced back. Alcatraz didn’t shrink in the distance. I wasn’t making any headway.

Why the hell are you doing this?

I miss the pool. I miss the lane ropes.

I miss my towel.

Self-doubt doesn’t leave when you set sail. It stays with you even after you jump ship. It swells with the waves. Float on your back. Raise your arm.

You don’t need to prove anything. Lie if you must. Tell them you did it. They’ll never know.

But I swam on. Another five minutes. I looked back again. Alcatraz loomed just as large. And the rowers and kayakers weren’t anywhere near me. I may not have to surrender. They’ll force me aboard. Against my will, of course. Bloody Coast Guard.

I started looking up every twelfth stroke. I glanced at the number they’d written on the back of both my hands. 29. So they could ID me in the morgue weeks later when my body washed up. If the sharks passed on me.

Stroke, stroke, stroke. I became annoyed. Where had all the escort craft gone? I glance about and saw a green cap a short distance away. Stroke, stroke, stroke.

Eventually, Alcatraz did fade. Instead of looking back, I glanced ahead at the towers and the small opening between piers that would get me to the beach. I continued on.

“You’re too far to the left,” an approaching paddler said. An ocean companion! But two minutes later, he was gone. Eventually, I glanced up and saw tourists watching from the pier. Gawking, no doubt. Taking over from the ferry folk.

At last, I swam between the piers. I saw the beach more clearly. I needed to swim past a pirate ship replica and then I’d reach shore. Easy. Five minutes more. I swam on. Foreign heads bobbed on the water’s surface. No green caps. Apparently some other fools craved an ocean dip.

I swam until my right arm touched sand. I stood up in two feet of water, took a second to right myself and then trudged onto the beach where a guide with a clipboard congratulated me and checked me in.

Done.

No. Make that Done!

DONE!

Finally, I smiled.

I felt a burning sensation on the back of my neck. I feared it was an intense sunburn. As I have skin cancer issues, I don’t go out in the sun during the day. Barefoot and in my wetsuit, I dodged tourists on the street as I headed back several blocks to the boat near Fisherman’s Wharf. But it, along with my change of clothes remained at sea. I raced to the hotel, begged them to open my room, showered and changed. The burn wasn’t from the sun; instead, it was chafing from the wetsuit. Proof to take home with me. I’d done the swim.

I smiled again. This time, that grin remained plastered on my face the rest of the day.

For the rest of the weekend, I eyed Alcatraz from so many vantage points. The island represents so much more than a piece of history or a tourist stop. It inspired me, it challenged me and ultimately it strengthened me.

Mission complete. I escaped Alcatraz.

Friday, September 12, 2014

DID I DO THAT?

Yep, timing is everything.

My two weeks as a newbie on the dating site OkCupid have come and gone. Lots of looks at my profile, a few messages and a prolonged never-going-anywhere date an island away.

Still single.

The profile looks and messages have dried up. I’ve already been too long on the scene. There are newer men to ogle. I’m just another of the hangers on, sticking around, creepily lurking after closing time.

But there aren’t any newer guys. I’ve checked. Same potential matches. Nothing—no one—stands out. I guess I am lying in wait, along with all the other sad-sacks.

And then it comes. A new photo. Dashing man. Looks terrific in all four photos. Demonstrates a great fashion sense. I read his profile. Noble profession. Extraordinarily thoughtful responses. He stands out.

Okay, he lives in Seattle and that’s four hours away (at least) when I factor in ferry times and the border wait. But I am intrigued.

Too far. Intrigued. Too far. Really intrigued.

I message him. Must act fast. It’s 10 p.m., prime feeding time for the lonely-hearted online. And it’s like the lottery:  you never know.

I sign in again early the next morning. My profile has had one visitor, one message.

It’s never the guy you want. Maybe a twenty-two-year-old from a foreign country, a scam profile that will eventually lead to a request to wire a few thousand dollars. Maybe a man a generation older than me, in “average” shape, if average means fifty pounds overweight. (That’s fine, really. Just not a dating match for me.) Maybe a guy with a photo from the ‘80s. The acid-washed jeans and Steve Perry hair are a dead giveaway.

But this time it’s Seattle Man. That Seattle man. He visited my profile. And, yes, he sent a message in reply.

I click to open it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write me. I don't come on here often and should really take the profile down. I'm in a bit of life transition right now and might/hopefully be moving soon. Third job interview coming up in a couple of weeks. I don't have the capacity for romantic yearnings right now. I'm honored that a many like yourself found interest in me. There is hope!

I wish you love and joy. You sound like a lovely person.

Peace

It’s the loveliest of kiss-offs. But still it’s a kiss-off. Without the slightest of lip action. Drat.

Drat, drat, drat.

And then another message follows:

Okay, I decided. I'm taking the profile down for now.

You've provided the most thoughtful response of anyone on here.

Peace

Oh, he’s lovely, isn’t he?

But that gets me nowhere. Still single. Still no excuse to be Sleepless in Seattle.

There’s an amused, yet negative inner voice that says, Look what you did. You chased him away. Now no one can have him. Man, you’ve got power.

Ah, but I am still smiling. Job interview. A possible move. Other things on the mind. Bad timing again. That’s how it goes. I continue to wait for my charming How We Met to come to fruition.  

I have to believe that, eventually, I’ll get the timing right. Come on, kismet. You’re needed. Stop dragging your feet.

Please?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

AFTER YOU

Maybe it was inevitable.

Who you follow matters. Don’t schedule Bob Dylan to sing after Mariah Carey. Don’t allow Paul Rudd to be a presenter after Brad Pitt. Don’t let, well, anyone dance after Alex Freaking Wong. (Google the guy. Start typing Alex Frea- and the search engine completes your thought. He’s earned that middle name.)

Some acts are too hard to follow.

After the promising first dates with Tim, the next first date was destined to disappoint. I don’t mean to compare. And, no, I don’t pine for Tim. (When a guy says he’s not attracted to you, be it the truth or not, it’s so much easier to move on—from the guy, if not the damaging statement.) What does linger is a sense of true connection that can come when two people meet. Something beyond strained pleasantries and the exchange of biological factoids.

I should be glad that Griffin filled the unenviable deli counter role: Next!

Griffin was never going to be the one. Sadly, I knew it as soon as I stepped out of the café’s bathroom—a pre-date last minute check to ensure I had no foreign substances stuck between my teeth. Yes, he resembled his photos,…to a degree. But degrees matter. I felt no attraction. I ordered a latté instead of a regular coffee to delay joining him at the table he’d staked out. I needed to shift gears from hopeful to hospitable. Griffin is a painter and, if nothing else, we could have a good chat about pursuing a passion in the arts. That would be satisfactory.

Of course, I can be too hospitable. Coffee turned to dinner followed by a visit at his place. No, not for that. (It feels like I’ll never experience that again. Sigh. The more time that passes, the more pressure there seems to be.) We went back to his place to see his art and his dog. At least, those were my reasons. He may have expected something else. Maybe that. (How would I know anyway?)

I should have ended the meet and greet when we were looking at dinner menus and he said, “Not to sound racist, but—“ I mean, really. Anything anyone says after that is going to be blatantly racist. A qualifier does not absolve the speaker of saying something racist. And, yes, he did. Something to do with too many Asians in Vancouver as a reason he’d never move there.

So there I was,…hospitable and lacking a backbone.

In the end, we spent three and a half hours together. He’d said, “So what do you want to do now?” Finally—yes, FINALLY!—I found my voice and replied, “I want to go.”  And I’d known the ending after three and a half seconds.

I suppose I should work on my exits.

But at least The Date After is done. I am reminded of what a bad first date is like. I have a buffer between that promising start from June and the search for tomorrow. I can start from scratch once again.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BUILDING A WEEKEND



I have a date. In Victoria. That’s not very practical. It’s a two-ferry trip plus a fair amount of driving. So is a coffee with a guy I don’t know worth it?

Who knows?

True enough, the coffee date was the beginning point. But the stakes are too high when you go through all that bother for a single purpose. How good can the latté be? The date is part of my new Go for It attitude. Just do things. If it gets to the point of working out the details, so be it. If not, so what?

I am always looking for an excuse to explore Vancouver Island and, especially, Victoria. Victoria and I have a love affair of sorts that is just waiting for the right circumstances to bloom into something bigger. I took the dating opportunity and made it something bigger. Time for another weekend in Victoria!

I am making it a grander experience this time around. Forget that ferry madness. I am taking a float plane to Nanaimo, then renting a car and driving south to the city. Given that I have a decades-old fear of flying, hopping in a teeny tiny aircraft is sheer craziness. But I’m doing it. And, at this point, a few minutes before takeoff, I am more excited than nervous. Adventure!

Who is this guy who has taken over my body?

I’ve Googled bakeries and ice cream shops to sample on the drive down and in Victoria. I plan to stop at my favourite furniture store on the highway. (I don’t need anything, but a browse seems safe. I don’t think they can fit in a sofa on the return flight.) I have a favorite running route along the water that I look forward to doing Sunday morning. And then there’s a café I discovered during my last visit that will be my breakfast stop. Pan-fried oatmeal with lemon curd and blueberries. Amazing! My backpack has some choice reads along with my beloved laptop. It’s going to be a glorious weekend!

So much more than coffee with a stranger. I’m ready to soar!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

MR. MESSY

I don't fit the gay stereotype, but at least the color is right.
Let’s start with the logical solution:  I’ll pay for the maid.

Maybe the only discussion is weekly versus live-in.

 
My mother used to warn me that my habits would destroy a relationship. “Your wife will never stand for this! She’ll blame me and all I’ll say is ‘I tried.’”

Of course, my mom was dead wrong. I’d never have a wife.

But admittedly my messes did create strain on my relationship with my ex. We lived together for five and a half years. Somehow I thought it might be romantic if we cleaned together. At the very least, misery loves company. But I, a lifelong challenged cleaner, had to do it all. “I have dust allergies,” he’d say. Oh, if only that’s all he had.

Match Mr. Messy with a guy with OCD. We were doomed. He’d do laundry. Once, often twice a day. And that was just for our very own towel service. Towels were only used once. After a shower, he dried off with one clean towel for the upper body, one for the lower. I had to do the same. After work, he took another shower. Couldn’t let outside clothes make contact with the inside. Toss them in the washer. Along with another round of towels. Again, I had to do the same.

I am certain he loved the washing machine more than he loved me.

He’d supervise how I cleaned. “Aren’t you standing too close?” I’d say. “I’m sure I’m stirring up dust.”

But he’d keep me on task with “What kind of person doesn’t wipe down all the tomato splatter after cooking?”

“A hungry one,” I’d mutter. If only I could discuss such things with, oh, say, a wife. Surely that would be easier.

I don’t think I’ll ever get that close to a certifiable neatnik like that again. I’ll watch for the warning signs and run the first time a guy fits “antibacterial” into the conversation during a romantic evening walk.

But I got to thinking again about how much of an issue my bad habits will be with Mr. Hypothetical. I’ve joined a new dating website—time to bang my head against a different wall!—and it purports to create matches based on comparing responses to a series of questions.

“Are you messy?”

Yikes. I skipped it. The stereotype is that gay men are neat. Maybe even fussy. My answer might eliminate every potential candidate on the planet. Much too revealing. Far more so than my religious beliefs, my political views or whether I’m a top or bottom. Some things he’ll just have to find out much later. After I’ve hooked him, made him cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and all that.

I am Pig Pen with better hygiene. I generate debris. I don’t see it happening. I usually don’t see it when I re-enter the room. I have to trip over it. But even then I don’t act. I’m too busy nursing my wounded big toe.

I need to have guests over more. It’s only as I anticipate their arrival that I see the catastrophe all around me. In every room. At eye level, foot level and every other possible level.

Maybe we can just have a nice long chat in the driveway. After I sweep it. And power wash it. And mow the lawn and tame the hedges.

Let’s just meet at Starbucks. My treat!

Yeah. It’s a problem. It’s been my New Year’s resolution every single year since I was ten. I still have time to work on it, as long as Mr. Hypothetical remains just that. Maybe I should try out my vacuum again—it’s in the house somewhere—instead of answering more of that endless list of questions for my dating profile. I’ll get started tonight. As soon as I get home. Skip that extra shower. Keep the outside clothes on. I have more glaring issues in that overwhelming realm of cleanliness.

If not tonight, tomorrow. Or next week. What’s the rush, really?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LEAGUE SUSPENSION

I think you’re out of my league.

Well, here’s a role reversal. A guy online thinking he’s not good enough for me.

My response: “Silly man. That whole ‘league’ thing is a dating myth.”

Even if there are leagues, I quit. I don’t need that kind of organization. None of us do. There is no caste system in gay dating.

Just be.

Chat. Meet. See for yourself.

That’s always made perfect sense to me, especially when someone else initiates the league talk. In this moment, I am living it. No fear. Put things out there, see what happens. Or doesn’t.

Gotta try. Gotta live.

It’s intimidating communicating with you. You’re a Greek god and so well-rounded. I’m just me.

Oh, I know that negative self-talk--lifting someone up while assuming one's place in quicksand. Who is he talking about anyway? Maybe he’s mixing up the online profiles. Silly man, indeed.

I’m tired of talking myself out of possibilities. Sure, Doubt still festers within me, but I’ve been catching him and cutting him off. It’s working so far. No doubt, he thinks I will lose my resolve. He’ll have my ear again and he’ll unleash all he’s been storing up. And another thing…!

But if I cling to profanity, I can hold him off. “Fuck it” sounds crass but it’s working for me. Doubt and Hesitation don’t know how to respond. As they take time to regroup, I move on. Let’s see who prevails after the next bad coffee date.

But I’m not anticipating a bad date. I plan to meet that silly man, referred to above. I’m confident that I will make my best possible impression. And I hope he’ll be ready to do the same.

No more league, no more rules. Time to navigate a wholly original course.

Ready.

Set.

Go.