The leaves rustle, in the morning there’s a chill in the air, shopping bags start becoming aggressively seasonal, and I suddenly crave every pastry near me within a ten block radius. It’s fall, jerks! And I have never embraced my dadbod more: it is the daddest of bods. Wait is that appropriation?
The text from the guy comes at work while I am lifting a pastry up to my mouth in the break room at work. I consider telling my coworkers that this is my first cheese danish. It is, in fact, my third pastry, but really I only count it as my second because I had the first one before I clocked in. I look at my phone, log into social media, bury my face in the screen. I really don’t appreciate the stares they’re giving me, I can practically hear their whispers to each other as they giggle at the crumbs in my beard, their-
I lift my head. Oh. The break room is actually empty. Ahem.
I made the decision carefully, as one would a suitor. In the morning it was an easy choice, the doughnut was eager, loyal, reliable. He was old-fashioned and cakey as f, which rendered him a little dry, but he was also glazed with sweet icing. This made up for his heavy demeanor. Later, the almond croissant beckoned me like a lover. Never mind that I knew he was just a rebound from that morning’s deeply satisfying doughnut, but I have a thing for almond flavored anything. I guess I have a type. It wasn’t until now, turning and catching myself in the breakroom mirror, eating the cheese pastry out, that I thought maybe I had a problem. Was this the “slutty phase” of my pastry addiction?
After I cleaned the cream cheese out of my beard, I attended to the text. Wait wait wait the Facebook Messenger message. We had not exchanged numbers yet. This is important. For the uninformed (or just WILLFULLY IGNORANT I AM TALKING TO YOU, LINDA), the hierarchy of single gay communication is as follows, from lowest form to highest form:
- Dating app message
- Instagram direct message
- Facebook Messenger
- Text Messaging
After graduating to text it is assumed that you have already selected the date of the wedding, the name of your first child, or the date you will both take a third person home with you in an effort to rescue your failing relationship. Ta-dah! (JUST KIDDING MY POLY MINDED READERS I LOVE YOU OPEN RELATIONSHIPS ARE AWESOME)
So Colin and I were at the Messenger stage of chatting. Let’s rewind to a few weeks before, when my good friend Matt (whose boyfriend Dan I saw on a bus once) invited me out to the opening night of Portland Center Stage’s production of Fun Home. I’m standing in line in the lobby for wine because of course I am, and I notice a dreamy beardy face in line behind me. I make a dumb joke to him, because of course I do. He pretends to laugh! I pretend to not be terrified! Shortly after, he notices me staring at him so hard he probably thinks he owes me money, but he does the normal thing that I’ve heard human adults do and strikes up a conversation. He reminds me that we have already met a year earlier, that he admired my Halloween costume (I went to our mutual friend’s party dressed as the wall from Stranger Things). He is with a guy, so I do not get too flirty, but at the afterparty I go up to them and clearly interrupt their conversation, kneeling at the table they are sitting at so as to equalize our heights, and severely misjudging the height of the table, so that I appear to be genuflecting to them from close to the floor while we exchange a few words. I then scuttle away, crab-like.
The week after that, I find him on Facebook, he finds me on Instagram. It’s weird and confusing to not have met on an app, to not already know what he’s “into”, if he has any kinks, if he identifies as an “otter” or “jock” or “guy next door”. He messages me out of the blue one day and asks if I’d like to see a show the week after at a theater he wants to get involved with. I agree too quickly, I agree to go before I even know what the show is, I agree to go with him almost before he presses “send” on the message asking me to come with him. Whatever “chill” is? I am the opposite of that concept.
Because I am slick, I ask him to get dinner with me beforehand. Sadly he cannot since he works until shortly before the show, but reassures me that we can grab a drink after and “have some quality time at least”. I obsess over that phrase: what does quality time mean to him? Does it mean he will stare at each other in total silence, hands clasped? Does it mean he wants us to read books under a blanket? Does it mean he wants me to sploosh him in the pooper (sorry but this is what I am calling it from here on out, forever)? Men are so confusing.
The day of the date comes, I buy a cute shirt and forget it at work. I go through my usual pre-date routine: I shower, I trim my beard, I pick nice socks, I smile into the bathroom mirror before I leave and cheerfully exclaim “I hate you!”
It’s on my brisk walk to the bus stop when it happens. I’m listening to my song that pumps me up for dates, “I’m Your Man” by Wham!, when I run full-tilt into the largest stickiest spider web that has ever been shat out of a spider-torso. I spend the rest of the walk, and indeed much of the bus ride, pawing at my face and hair and clothes to take off strands that of course only I can see.
I’m still batting at my hair and face when I get to the Curious Comedy Theater, we’re there to see Please Underestimate Me, and Colin shows up looking rugged and handsome and splooshable right after I get there. We spend the show laughing and looking over at each other and smiling, but that last part actually did not happen and it is not true. I spend the evening looking at Colin, who is frustratingly focused on the performances in the show (I recommend it, by the way). Afterwards we go next door and get drinks.
The conversation is light and banter-y, and then it veers into relationships, and dating apps. I roll up my mental sleeves. “This is where I’ll shine” I think, “I know these inside and out.” We talk about which apps we’re on; Hornet, Tinder. I mutter something about Scruff, he doesn’t seem to know what it is. It is then I have the startling realization:
I am on a date with a straight man who does not know we are on a date.
I confirm this shortly afterwards when we start sharing war stories about previous loves and losses. He uses the pronouns “she” and “her” to refer to his past lover, and not in a sassy gay way.
Our time together ends and we both head to our homes. I have a lovely rest of my evening with a glass of wine and the company of the rapidly-recuperating Ned. The next morning I go in to work, open the door to the office. I’m so startled almost drop my backpack. There he is: reliable, handsome, rugged. I see scenes like this in movies, where the suitor is holding a sign, or roses, he sweeps the other person into his arms, they live happily ever after. How did he get in here? I think to myself. This is The One, I realize. This is the one who won’t be flaky, or cold, or ever be hard.
I walk to the break table slowly, take him in my hands. Maybe I don’t need a man for Cuffing Season. Maybe all I need is this cheese danish, I think as I start kissing him, first slowly, then more passionately. A bit later, I’m basking in the afterglow as the strains of the song play in my head.
“You’re all I ever needed, ooh baby you’re The One.”
If you liked this, then maybe you should reevaluate your life choices. In the meantime, please check out that time a date in Seattle didn’t work out, or this piece about a recent trip to New York. Let’s be horrible people together!