Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WHILE I CLEANED OUT THE LITTER BOX...

Not so long ago—July 6th, to be precise—I compared the gay dating scene to a litter box filled with cat turds. I declared that I was stepping away from it all. It seemed like the obvious option, a self-policing sort of thing. Step away from the litter box. Comparing dates to cat shit seemed like a clear sign that I was not in a dating mindset. How could anything blossom from manure? (Okay, yeah, the analogy is flawed. This is why I’m not meant to live in a rural setting and proof I’d have sucked as a farmer.) Still, after deep reflection and complex thinking, I’d come to the conclusion that dating is poopy. Time to wash my hands of the whole stinky charade.

But, of course, I didn’t. There was unfinished business.

You see, online dating can be glitchy. Sometimes things get postponed due to technicalities. Like when the guy replying to a message is on vacation in New York City. And as I waited for Daniel to return, I got a message from Jack. With less than a week before my extended summer vacation, I had two coffee dates to get through, two guys to cross off my dance card.

First up was Jack. I knew in an instant that he was a nice guy to the core. It only took a few more minutes for me to realize he was an open book, sharing very personal parts of his life in a natural way that never felt like Too Much Information. He talked with warmth, welcoming me as he would a good friend. Everything was easy.

We left the café and strolled along the seawall. Jack and I didn’t have much in common. I sensed his school teachers would have used the term hyperactive regularly in parent conferences. Jack worked as a bus driver, had no interest in reading for pleasure and talked passionately about his new pastime, skydiving. Where was the connection? There didn’t seem to be one but maybe this was a case of opposites attract. Something felt right.

Early into the walk, Jack said, “I have a confession. As I was looking for parking, I saw you standing there and I thought, please let that be him. I’m so glad it was.” His unguardedness caught me off-guard. He had me. If a heart could melt, mine had instantly become a slush puddle. My legs wobbled. I needed a bench but there was none. Somehow I managed to walk on, outwardly giddy, trying to imagine letting Jack in.

After a half hour, we shared a bench and gazed out at a couple of kayakers on the water. Once again, Jack’s words jolted me. “Yes. I can see us being friends. I’d like that.”

Friends?! I had the wherewithal to say, “Me, too” but I was baffled. Clearly, Jack liked what he saw at first glance. Somehow, through one conversation, I’d blown it. What had I said or done to put us on the let’s-just-be-friends track? Ten minutes later he warmly hugged me and I walked home alone, the whole way asking the unanswerable: What the fuck? I rarely swear, but the f-word fit perfectly in the situation.

I turned my thoughts to Daniel, back from the Big Apple. We met for coffee two days later. As I joined him at the table he’d staked out at a café two blocks from my home, I immediately sensed his attraction. It came off as nervousness, a slight tremor in his voice, eyes darting away. I know more than anyone how difficult dating can be; to my surprise, I was two-for-two with men finding me attractive. How rare. I wondered if this was some sort of full moon phenomenon. Maybe an eclipse. Stars colliding. A distant planet exploding.

This time I was determined not to lose the guy. I fully invested in the conversation. Yes, I’d done the same with Jack, but I kept seeking to know Daniel, never bracing for the “just friends” knockout jab to the gut. I learned that Jack was a university professor, an American quite happy to have found a home in Canada, an avid tennis player and fan, a man well-read. He shared deeply personal facts about his family, the kind of unintended revelation that comes in the natural flow of good conversation. I connected. We clicked.

Fast forward to the present. Almost three months later, Jack and Daniel are both still in the picture. Online dating yielded back-to-back success stories—a friend and a boyfriend. I’d moved back to Vancouver to reconnect with old friends, but my time was been filled by two newbies. It’s affirming that this old dog can still navigate social situations, at least when they are one-one-one.

Still, a change is coming. I’ve always felt that early connections when you’re the new kid in town serve as important introductions but often don’t last. They are convenient but not necessarily long-term fits. One relationship continues to grow; the other has run its course. As summer evolves into fall, one will last, the other will fade. Two-for-two becomes fifty-fifty.  Good people, good odds. But goodbyes are always tough.

2 comments:

oskyldig said...

A few weeks ago I was using the analogy "you can't polish a turd" with my students in relation to their work. At the beginning of this post it came to mind, but then towards the end I started thinking maybe you can. But then I realized poop is poop, and it sounds more like reincarnation.

Rural Gay Gone Urban said...

The scatological titles were aplenty for this post. There's lots of poop out there.