But, of course, I know why. I’m not that kind of guy. All I’ve ever wanted is a solid, loving relationship. Get out of The Dating Game. Re-establish Starbucks et al. as my writing hangouts instead of convenient hubs for dating interviews. Let weekends pass debating what color to paint My Guy’s hall closet. Enjoy evenings with the two of us sitting on the sofa, channel surfing. (I’ll let him have the remote. It’s not at all about the TV for me.)
Then there is reality. My Guy has been missing in (in)action.
Perhaps someone else scooped him up.
What if he’s not a coffee man? Why, oh why, doesn’t tea do anything for me?
The wonderings are infinite. The fact is, My Guy is a no-show. I searched and searched. I waited and waited. And in the back of my mind, there is an unwelcome voice. It’s from a talk show psychologist whom I can’t stand: Dr. Phil. I see him prying a bit of steak from his front teeth with a toothpick, totally bored with my relationship whining, completely unimpressed with my efforts. When I stop to take a breath, he says what he always says, “So how’s that working for you?”
The answer is obvious. It’s not. There are no signs of life in terms of relationship opportunities.
And so I’ve decided to be the Not that Kind of Guy. I’ve decided to live in the moment. Step out of my comfort zone. Hello, hookup. Allow myself some superficial satisfaction. I am single, after all, as I am acutely aware and, frankly, I’m neither a cat guy nor a knitter. I need other ways to keep busy.
It’s not an either-or scenario. I can continue to check more reputable dating sites and I can go back to trying to rebuild a social network, dropping in on the gay volleyball league (when my dang pinky heals!) and the gay running group. I don’t need to completely turn my back on One Day.
This is not ever what I thought I would do. This is not who I imagined becoming. Far from it. Eighteen years ago, not long after I moved to Vancouver, naïve and hopeful, with the lyric “You’re gonna make it, after all” from The Mary Tyler Moore Show dancing about in my head, I rented a room in an older gay man’s townhouse. Older. Ha. He was fifty-two, a mere year older than I am now. Alvin had most everything going for him. He was an intelligent professional, an avid art collector, a master gardener, a keen conversationalist, fit and active. More than anything, he was a kind, loving soul. But he had two strikes against him as a single, gay man: he was old and his face bore the scars from what must have been one helluva battle with adolescent acne.
I’m not sure that an online version of Manhunt existed then. I do recall chat lines by telephone, with billboards at Davie and Burrard showing men in well-packaged Speedos inviting the needy to give them a call. Maybe Alvin tried that, I don’t know. What I do know is he frequented the bathhouses. No shame about it. On occasion he’d continue the connections in his bedroom. Married men whose wives couldn’t give them all they needed.
Alvin and I only talked about it once after a guy named Scott rushed out one Sunday morning, an awkward “Oh, hello” to me as he frantically put on his shoes and scrambled to get back to his wife after having fallen asleep after a particularly noisy romp that disturbed my efforts to sleep at two in the morning and again at four. I asked Alvin a simple question. Why? I was curious, but I’m sure there was extreme judgment in my voice. And Alvin said, “I’m done. I’m not going to find a partner, but I like a good fuck.” I wanted to offer Alvin a dose of naïve positivity. You’re such a great guy. Don’t give up. I know you’ll find love. But I kept my mouth shut. The way he said “I’m not going to find a partner” was definitive. And negative. Door closed. Game over. I wanted to cry for him. I felt such sadness. But I knew he didn’t want my pity. I have no poker face so I fled the living room almost as swiftly as Scott and went for a walk, leaving Alvin to enjoy his morning coffee alone.
I don’t know what’s become of Alvin. I hope he was wrong. I’d like to think he found love. But my gut tells me he didn’t. You’ll find it when you’re not looking is an empty phrase. I suppose the speaker says it to offer hope, but there seems to be a subtext: Stop obsessing and stop rambling on about it to me. Yes, Alvin is still single. I’m sure of it. And a part of me hopes he’s still hooking up if it fills a temporary need. Alvin deserves to be connected at whatever level it may be.
And, yes, so do I. I’m not sure how long I’ll want to be Manhunting. What’s interesting is that I don’t feel as much of the dating pull now. I don’t hold my breath when I log in on Plenty of Fish or OkCupid anymore. It’s more of a going-through-the-motions thing. Part of the routine but thankfully no longer a twice or thrice daily habit. Manhunt serves as a distraction—a pleasant one, at that.
I’d like to think that I’d still be up for The Dating Game should the right opportunity arise. In the meantime, I’m living in the right now. It is what it is.