Ah, yes. Larry. He was the first person I messaged when I joined OkCupid last August. His body was beyond buff. Too much? Maybe. But the dating site gave us a 95% match rating and I guess I was new and overly optimistic.
He never replied. Well, not until six weeks ago, the same day I first messaged Jeff. I don’t like messaging more than one person at a time. It takes more thought in remembering what is shared. I’d tried to get one date out of the way, but these guys lived in Seattle. This was the weekend both were available. Brunch with Jeff and now the possibility of meeting Larry. It was up in the air as he was spending some time at a campsite. Might come back early, might not.
He texted just as I was heading for a jog around Alki Beach, a part of Seattle I had yet to see. “Let you know when I’m back,” I replied. After my run, the text exchange went something like this:
Larry: Going for cocktails on the hill around 9:30 or 10.
Me: How about a bite to eat or ice cream at Molly Moon’s?
Larry: Come for drinks.
Me: How about ice cream before you hit the bars?
Larry: The club is called Diesel.
Me: Okay. See you at 10.
Damn. I can still have fun at a gay bar when I’m with a group of friends, but it’s not my scene at all. Times have changed. The bar used to be the social centerpiece. Now I’d prefer coffee, a walk, even a quick sniff as two cars idle at a stoplight. But I told myself to turf the reticence. This was a chance to shed the shell I’d crawled back into during my ten years living in oblivion.
I went for dinner and ice cream on my own. Then came another text:
Larry: My friend insists on going to CC Slaughters first. Meet us there.
Great. So we’re barhopping. Reticence can show persistence.
Me: Text me when you get to Diesel.
Larry: We’re near the front door?
Me: Which club?
Larry: CC Slaughters. Come.
And so I Google-mapped the location. No getting lost this time. Slaughters had a line out the door.
Larry: Are you in line yet?
I thought he’d come out to meet me. A moment to be the gentleman. A chance to chat before being lost in the crowd and drowned out by the music, an opportunity to talk without the friend in tow.
Nope. I waited solo as the two men in leather in front of me fondled one another, the two guys behind practiced their hyperactive bitchy shtick and a guy yelled “Suck dick!” from a passing car.
I miss the bars.
Oops. The bitchiness from behind me was merging with the reticence from within.
As I entered, I put on my happy face. Yes, isn’t this fun?! I LOOOOVE THIS! And, hey, it’s Saturday! But then I got bumped by one sweaty man, and then another, and another. Sweaty men in leather getups that flashed a whole lotta skin. It was officially Fetish Night. What a bonus.
The smile fled and I tried to figure out where the line was to order a drink for those who couldn’t do Cash Only. I inched through the human maze and kept getting trapped in dead ends. Where was Larry?
And then he found me. My knight in regular clothes. Hurrah! A form-fitting tee and jeans. He looked good. We hugged and as I pulled away, he didn’t. We carried on our first round of chitchat fully in hug. A far cry from the awkward start to brunch with Jeff.
We left the club immediately. With Jeff’s friend, Amir. They’d arranged for a cab. We were going to another club. Not Diesel, but The Cuff. Apparently the Seattle bar scene is thriving more than what we’ve got in Vancouver.
Turns out Amir was great to have as the third wheel. (I suppose, to him, I was the third wheel.) Amir had me laughing from the outset. In Cuffs, Larry seemed to know everyone—or, at least, all the studs. A club within the club. Everyone got a warm hug. I’d stand there with my smile, trying to like the music a little too much before Larry introduced each friend. Darren. Hank. Joe. John. On and on.
I had tried to remain open, but there was no denying that Larry was a barfly. And, despite his hotness (“just right” in the muscle sense, it turned out), there was no way we were a match. Not sure how many times “cocktails” was part of the conversation. He’d bought the first round so I felt I needed to stay long enough to get the second. I have no idea what he does or if he’s close to family. We didn’t talk of that or of art, politics or much of anything. It was gay bar banter. Quips about cum, tops and bottoms, and fetishes. I’m not a total prude. I laughed freely, even relaxed thanks to Amir’s warmth. Unfortunately, Amir headed home so my relative ease shifted back to unease as Larry continued to hold court with an endless stream of drinking buddies. He’d keep me in the loop when he could but my introversion surged.
Larry went off somewhere and his friend John said, “This is hard, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Why fake what I couldn’t? “I think I’m ready to go.”
“No!” said John. “Larry’s great. He’s on the dancefloor. Come.” And I followed John, but somehow lost him. Couldn’t find John, couldn’t find Larry.
Admittedly, I didn’t look too hard—a squinty-eyed 360 and I headed to the exit. I texted goodbye. Tacky, sure, but I was done. We live in different countries. A hot body was not enough. And, most likely, neither was I.
Maybe things would have been different if we’d met for ice cream. (There’s a beer flavor.) We could have talked at normal volume and gotten a better sense of who we are. But then maybe the bar was the perfect site. Maybe it’s what I needed to get; if not the full essence of Larry, what really mattered.
And so Sunday in Seattle was for me. An art gallery, a vegan bakery, a walk at Madison Park and, yes, more ice cream.
Two dates down. I used to think that each time you crossed off one guy, you were that much closer to finding the right one. But I am no closer. And it’s not just a geographic thing, having coffeed (yes, that’s my verb) with all of Vancouver and Seattle. I don’t feel the leftovers in Calgary or Portland will be any more promising. My message box is empty. Perhaps it’s time to switch from Plenty of Fish to a bowl of clownfish with a scuba dude lurking at the bottom. All I need, right? If only…