Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Date Wrecks, (Or - L is for Larceny)

My recent return to the 'intellectuals' chat room on has had a very amusing series of effects on my psyche and / or love-life. As I have mentioned before, I have a complete and seemingly eternal inability to be loved - or even liked much - in this city; so, it's nice to have attractive men offering to fly to San Antonio - from Portland, or San Francisco, or Kabul - to enjoy my company (and innumerable charms).

It sets the bar rather high, and - while there were no men in this city interested as it were - now, I am chomping at the bit to make the run (away) to some fine, intellectual paradise - where I may once-again find tiny studios with hardwood floors and lots of natural lighting, where I can sleep with a guy who gets my erudite references and has seen "Death on the Nile" or "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and so on ...

Of course, under the auspices of intellectualism, the strangest bed-fellows (and - at least in my case - potential bed-fellows) do combine. Someone with whom I was chatting, in one of the cities to which I am most interested in moving - Portland, OR - asked me about my type. I responded that I like a man who is pale, thin, smells of patchouli and beeswax - someone with polyester pants, beat-up shoes, waist-length (blond) dreadlocks - someone with an affinity for jazz music, great sex, and over-priced aesthetic thrills, who learned at some point how to acquire them on a grad student budget, a charming mo-fo who has the good sense to prefer a vintage Mercedes to a Volkswagen Bus, and who looks damned good naked - which he would often be.

But that's just an idea. I haven't given it much thought.

The man who asked, and who lives in Portland, is paralyzed. He is young, around my age, and no longer has use of his hands (or legs). He, as we discussed one odd night, can still get an erection (but cannot cum).

And then there's the guy in the VW Bus; for one reason or another, I know two or three guys who have one (or several), and only one of them lives in Portland. The guy I met online lived in his Bus for five months - until the seals that leaked every time it rained, drove him mad to the point of renting a studio apartment with hardwood floors and lots of natural lighting. I think, however, that he is one of those people who has draped blankets (or vintage '50s curtains) over the windows in order to suit his odd schedule / life-style.

Victor has the stink of patchouli, and a pot-dealing ex who he visits with some regularity. Through the haze of crippling poverty, he has forsworn his affection(s) - along with a willingness to visit, or host, and get naked.

And then there's Kenney - who reminds me of the worst combinations of both Brian Kinney and Justin ("Queer As Folk") - in Framingham, MA; we met over a discussion about physics, and its impact on the end of the world. I barely held my own - influenced largely by two Stephen Hawking articles and a few chapters from Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. He barely held his own - influenced by the instructor (who - I'm guessing - reeks of patchouli). They take "smoke" breaks together, Kenny and this instructor. He, Kenny, is a high school senior, caught somewhere between 17, 18, and 1965.

I am enamored of a cursor. My greatest romantic entanglements have been, and are at present, the result of clandestine connections across thousands of miles.

Some years ago, there was Adam - Adam Mizer (which bore far too close a resemblance to the perfume bottle) - who was at a very exclusive North East school - earning his Master of Fine Arts degree. He was, as I affectionately dubbed him, the "cyber stalker." He would always show up when I got online, called me often and we spoke for hours, sent me an Hermes scarf and tried to send a Mies van der Rohe chair - but the shipping was too pricey. I inspired his affection, and he answered my desire for romance and a nightly chat partner. We never met, but somehow that added to the charm. He dumped me when - after months of being afraid to send me his picture, owing to his major self-esteem issues ... and a propensity to sweat profusely for no apparent reason - I sent him one. He never responded - just disappeared one day.

The pain was unbearable for whole seconds, and then bitchy set in.

Recently - in a moment of weakness (and sincere longing) - I messaged the guy I'm seeing with the simple missive, "I miss you." - to which I received the reply, several hours later, "Miss me? Reload." What I initially took to be humor proved later to be another instance of cool indifference; I say this because my reply, "You are a strange, but lovely man ..." went unanswered, and the implications - to a couple who did drugs together - of the word, 'reload' suddenly set in.

I digress. Also recently, my dear friend and frequent commiserate, Ellen - who, you may recall, is presently dating / doing the ex (husband) she spent most of the last two years divorcing, wants me to submit something to
. Frankly, I find the concept amusing - and there does need to be a bigger gay presence on that web-site - but really? Where does one begin?

There was the date - with the hair-dresser - who, when I agreed to have coffee after the movie, took me to AA; "the coffee's great here, and you can meet my friends ..."; there was the guy who turned our second date into a drug run - replete with driving all over the worst parts of the city, chasing a drug dealer with a cell phone, a bus pass, and a difficulty with both truth and scheduling, and then there's James.

James was a physics major at Trinity, the other expensive liberal arts college within a few blocks of the expensive liberal arts college from which I graduated. We had a date in our freshman year, and then met up again for a date five years later. I do not know why we decided on a "second" date, other than the obvious - that we were both lonely and, thus, open.

When James and I met, he had just lost 80 lbs. It was one of the things about which we bonded - my weight loss a few years back - and his then current (and on-going physical transformation). We enjoyed no chemistry - fumbling, as it were, through a quiet and lovely (but expensive) dinner, an even more awkward walk in the park, and then an embarrassing uncertainty regarding what may well have been a good night kiss, that wound up being just an ass grab.

As I said, I don't know why we were mutually interested in meeting again. Nonetheless, we chatted a few times online, and then the offer came up - I forget which of us proffered the notion. It was 2006, and I was optimistic. He still did not drive, and had no car - accordingly. I picked him up at the school where he was then teaching. Admittedly, we had a date five years prior, so it was not exactly a 'first' impression, but whatever the number the impression was not initially a happy one.

He had gained back those 80 pounds, and seemingly added about 60 pounds - just for good measure, or perhaps to ensure that he could withstand gale force winds. He dressed to impress in white khakis, a blue plaid shirt, a black belt, brown Velcro strapped (hiking) sandals, and white socks. We failed to plan the date, so after some hemming and hawing, we decided to have dinner and see a movie.

We went out to his favorite place - California Pizza Kitchen. He chewed with his mouth open and I kept wanting to reach over and not only close his mouth but pick from his teeth the spinach wedged there from his lunch four hours earlier. We finished our food over the course of what seemed hours - but was, in fact, just under an hour, and in just enough time for us to miss the movie.

I took two mojitos just to get through dinner,
and so - when he suggested a book-store rather than finding a different movie to see, I was amenable to the concept. We went to browse Borders Books ... which proved to be the only shining light in an otherwise dull evening. The conversation sparkled; in this area, he / we shone. We read all the same books - even the obscure philosophy texts, and one or two of the physics books. We walked and talked for over an hour - going up and down and up again every aisle and section of the store, up to and including a review of the kids' section and all the books we loved as children.

The whole time, he was picking up books and had quite an armful when we decided to go for movie tickets. There was quite a line at the main register stand, so James veered toward the coffee bar. I was two steps away from explaining that they probably wouldn't cash out his 11 books at the coffee bar, when he suddenly veered away from the counter and out the side door of Borders.

At this point, my being a black man in a very white neighborhood, I envisioned two armed guards - and some random citizens, for good measure - beating me with batons and/or clearance books. I was deciding the best course of action - which was, at that point, to either report the fat queen or run. When in doubt, the New York Times is a haven for those in question. I picked up a copy of the paper of record for our times, looking about nervously for the foot patrol, and then thought better of it. I got to my truck to find the fat queen, spinach still in his teeth, looking indignant - and having stashed his ill-gotten booty in the bed of my truck.

I was in mid-read when it occurred to us both that leaving would be good. I parked in the movie theater lot across the street and suggested to James that his behavior was perhaps uncouth. He retorted with some spiel about the evils of corporate America, that Borders had no right to charge such an exorbitant amount for the books he liked to read, that on his income he could not possibly afford to maintain his reading schedule. I reminded him of the existence of libraries - as I was starting the car, and while dropping him off at his mother's apartment took the opportunity to point out both the bits of food still in his mouth and the ill-advised choices he made re. belt, shoes, and socks worn with sandals.

Now, and I say with equals measures of shame (and amusement) that James and I actually had a second date. Essentially, he called to apologize - weeks later - but the apology came across more as an ongoing indictment of a system gone wrong than a heartfelt mea culpa on the subject of rudeness and petty larceny. Maybe because I was lonely that day, or because he asked, or because - further still - I like odd people (like a highly educated math geek who comes from a wealthy family of lawyers), I agreed to pick James up for what was - in essence - a second date.

We saw "V for Vendetta" and he talked through the entire film; I was in tears at the end (having already seen it twice, mind you). The film was perhaps a bit too heavy-handed in the midst of the Bush administration, the War on Terror, etc., but it touched all the right places. I cried. I sought political and social links. I admired Natalie Portman. I want to meet Stephen Fry. I was awash in pleasure and charm(s) - even on a third viewing, and then James turned to me - during the closing credits - to compare 'V' to Osama bin Laden. There was what I would consider a juvenile debate about the black and white aspects of the right / wrong dyad ...

Needless to say, there was no third date. I have not seen James since that unpleasant night in 2006, although he sent me a message online a few months later - to tell me about his boyfriend, a junior at Trinity - a tall, thin white boy who found him fascinating - and who, being a vegan, often had spinach in his teeth.


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