Two years after the first.
The first almost didn’t happen and the second wasn’t supposed to be a date. I think Clive causes lice. Whenever I see him, I’m left scratching my head.
In October 2013, Clive showed up out of nowhere. He appeared on Plenty of Fish, a site largely comprised of smelly dead fish in an algae-filled mud puddle. I viewed his profile and, to my surprise and delight, he messaged me. “Hey there, handsome.” Three words, but at least he knew what to do with a comma. He had me.
But then he didn’t. As I took the ferry over to meet him, he cancelled. Work and all.
I pushed. What about the next weekend? I had to go into Vancouver again anyway. I’d bought a chair and needed to pick it up. Clive would be a quick coffee. Closure to something that would never be. As an event planner, his work peaks on weekends. He figured he could dash over to the nearest Starbucks from the Hotel Vancouver for twenty minutes. Hello and goodbye. But then I caught an unfamiliar look as soon as he rushed into the café. He stopped, stared and barked. Okay, he didn’t bark. But the thought bubble over his head said, “Woof.” Maybe even with an exclamation mark.
Now I’m known for misreading guys all the time. They absolutely confound me. But he woofed. I am sure of it. And, yes, there was an exclamation mark. I just tend to be modest.
The twenty-minute coffee lasted an hour. He didn’t want to leave. Damn work. I’ll never forget the goodbye. Standing in the middle of Starbucks, he wrapped me in his arms in the warmest hug I’ve ever had. It lingered. My legs literally weakened. I was completely his.
But, really, I wasn’t. He messaged later: “Ur a super sexy guy and I would def like to see you again. I think you might need to show me where you live. I see a ferry trip in my future.”
I never heard from him again. Yes, I texted. I messaged on Plenty of Fish, too. Nothing.
Until last Sunday.
But I’ve got some backstory first. If you have read this blog in the past, you may know that I’ve gone through a dry spell. A drought. One of those biblical ones that leads to utter devastation. I have not had full-on sex in the new millennium. Yes, yes, I know it is 2015. And, no, I have not been locked in a room or living in a biosphere all by myself as some sort of evil science experiment/reality show premise. I am fifty-one and the prolonged drought may in part explain why I’ve acquiesced to taking antidepressants. Dating has been dreary.
After a dozen dates with a music professor with erectile dysfunction, I ended things. No, it wasn’t about what wasn’t happening in the bedroom (though that didn’t help). Our connection just wasn’t growing. And so after ending that, I filled out a profile on a hookup website, Manhunt. Typing that last sentence made my fingers shake. Literally. They’re still shaking. Please don’t judge me, dear reader. Not too harshly, at least. Reread the previous paragraph. The one about the drought.
It’s gotten to the point where I don’t care anymore. (Hence the antidepressants.) For now, I’ve stopped hoping. And I’ve decided it’s time to end the drought. I need some fun. So what if it’s temporary. So what if it’s superficial. The miserable streak has become a deep crevasse or a high hurdle. I’ve decided it must end.
And, yes, that’s how Clive re-entered my life. He messaged me on Manhunt.
I ignored him, of course. For five minutes. And then I thought, Why not? Within the past year, he tried to Friend me on Facebook and Liked me on OkCupid. But I didn’t want a friendship or relationship with this guy. He’d let me down in terms of a significant relationship. This would be a test of the more evolved me. Free love or maybe sex as a weapon. Get what I want and move on.
And so we negotiated the re-introductions with sexually playful banter. We arranged to meet the following evening. Why wait? 7 o’clock, his place. No coffee necessary.
I shouldn’t be surprised by what came next. My body resisted. Actually, it was my pinky finger that spoke up. I’d dislocated it weeks before and suddenly it looked newly bruised and out of whack. My work colleagues grimaced at the sight. See the doctor, they urged.
And so I did. After work, I took the ferry and the bus back to the city and headed for Emergency, feeling stupid for taking up time when more urgent matters may need attention. Any guilt subsided as I realized I wasn’t taking up time at all. I sat in an ER waiting room. And sat. And sat. By 6 p.m., I sensed my tryst with Clive might not come to be. The Pinky Objection.
I texted Clive and explained the circumstances. Clive responded: “Do you want me to come there? Did you have dinner yet?” What and what?! No! This was supposed to be meaningless sex. No dinner and definitely no hospital TLC.
“I’m fine,” I said. “Just letting you know I could be late.” I had the sense that guys on hookup sites flake a lot. I was not that sort. I had a valid reason for being tardy. A doctor’s note would be forthcoming.
Clive continued to check in. Hospital waiting rooms can be might boring. This one didn’t even have a stack of four-year-old People or Reader’s Digest. Nothing to do but surf on my phone and, yes, reply to Clive’s queries.
7 o’clock came and went. The window for a simple romp was closing. I focused on the matter at hand. My health is more important. Give the runt digit its due. Splint it. Ice it. Do those exercises the physiotherapist suggested. Fine, fine. Message received. At 7:10 my name was called. An orderly escorted me inside ER, sat me down and pulled the curtain around my new space. “You’re in, at least,” she said. “But it’ll be a while.” Yes, of course.
I listened as a doctor talked to the drifter couple on the other side of the curtain. I knew them from the waiting room where they made out in between her hacking cough fits. “When did you last have a place to stay? Indoors?” Winter. Montreal. The couple had since wandered to California and up the coast to Vancouver. “We’re hoping to find a place in a week or two,” she told the doctor. “You’ll he’ll faster,” the doctor said. And then the good doc lowered the boom: dislocated shoulder, full anaesthetic required. This to the guy. Apparently her uncontrolled cough was not the issue. The guy muttered, “Whoa, man”, then regained composure, asking to step out for a smoke first.
Again, I felt stupid for taking up space. A tender pinky. I had it good.
Clive texted, “Where r u?”
After I explained, he replied with “Ok. I’m here in the waiting room. I’ll just hang out here with the other crazy people! Are u sure u don’t need me to hold ur other hand right now?”
Above and beyond. A hookup is not supposed to meet you in ER. He’s supposed to go online and find another right-now guy. Dammit. That ol’ tug came back. Sexy Clive just might be a good man.
The finger turned out to be nothing. Swollen, sure, but the X-ray was clear and I hadn’t re-dislocated anything. Basically, I’d been a big wuss. I got the standard mini-lecture about splinting and finger exercises and I nodded convincingly enough before being sent on my way. And there in the waiting room was Clive, tall and handsome, standing up and giving me a great big hug. A hello as warm as the goodbye from two years ago.
“Hey, handsome,” he said. “I’m taking you to dinner.”
No, no, I thought. This is just about sex. Nothing more.
But as we left St. Paul, we headed to Davie Street, away from his condo, and settled on Malaysian food. His treat. Over dinner, he talked at length about a four-month relationship he’d been in during the time since we’d last met. I don’t know why. I assumed he was just filling the space. Two strangers passing time. But he talked of falling in love and realizing for the first time in his life he could be monogamous. Again, interesting. Yet here we were, the two of us, connecting from a hookup site.
I don’t need to go into detail about the rest. Things happened. No regrets. But it was more than sex. I swear that’s all I wanted but the chemistry—that which I felt so sure of on our first date way back when—came right back even stronger.
There is a strong attraction and it is mutual. But Clive is a man of the moment. He’s not the kind of guy you settle down with. I learned that the hard way two years ago. Not sure if I know what I’m doing now despite the fact I tell myself I am totally aware of the boundaries and limitations.
Damn you, Clive. This could get messy.