The strange comfort

I can’t stop gaping at my sent messages. The number seems to rise without a reply every day these days. I look back at some of the older messages wondering when I made that first introduction. I spot some messages dating back a few weeks ago and even more still a few months ago. I look at my dating inbox to see if I missed any replies. I never have. I don’t think that I will, either.
I go hunting for new dates anyway because I hope that I will spot someone who I have not assaulted with my genuine nature. The browse page fills up with so many familiar profiles; I feel like an expert on every one of them. I know that Tommy corrected a spelling mistake on his page a few days ago. One that he had up there for years. I know that George updated his favorite books after I suggested a few to him because one of my suggestions appears there. Still, I hunt for someone new.
Maybe it’s because I am desperately hunting that I don’t hear the beep. It’s an earcon that tells people that they have a new message. When I look at my inbox, though, again…there’s an unread message. It’s from a guy I messaged months ago.
“Hi!” it reads, perhaps with a sigh, perhaps not. “I’m Jamie. I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I was debating if we were going to be a good fit, even.”
I value his honesty more than anything, and I begin to compose a novel about how I don’t know what I am even looking for anymore because people are afraid of genuine behavior. So, if he didn’t want to date me, go out with me, or even talk to me, that I’d appreciated it if he just blocked me and moved on because all I want at this very moment is a hug and for someone to tell me I am special, even if it’s not true.
His reply comes back quick as a flash. He says he values my honesty. He says he doesn’t get a lot of replies because of his height; he is six foot six and his skin. Apparently, he’s black. I guess I will just have to take him at face value.
We continue to send novels to each other. I tell him about the dance party I attended where I swung my hips with such vigor that a hurricane manifested in downtown Chicago. He explains he missed the disaster because Netflix kept his attention that night. He was watching House of Cards. We reveal how lonely we are and how we have nothing in common with one another. He hates intellectual conversation and loves small talk, and I don’t understand his love of bugs and ants. He doesn’t like my voice, and I don’t like his. Still, we pour our hearts out to each other on the phone and through email. Neither of us knows why.
Soon after a heated exchange over the phone, one afternoon, I ask him if he can come over and we could argue in person about something. To some people, this seems wildly bizarre, but I have always been a blue traffic light in a world of green and red traffic lights. Nothing is normal to me anymore. When he says that he will visit me in my apartment, I am elated, not terrified that a man who towers over me is going to be in my apartment all alone. My blue traffic signal can’t stop pulsating with anticipation.
He arrives at nine that night and bends over to hug me. Even though I can’t see him or what he looks like online, I picture him as a Denzel Washington clone. His height doesn’t quite fit my mental image, but I figure adding a pink traffic signal to my arsenal won’t hurt the economy any more than normal people will.
When he sits on my bed, the mattress sinks a little. Even when I sit on his lap, I still must look up at his voice to face him.
We start off by talking about our dating accounts. As we talk, we realize that we may not like each other in the slightest, but we are both in the same boat. We are lonely outcasts in our own gaggle of brothers who want a lot of things like; for example, love, marriage rights, and someone who’s true to who they are. I wish  they knew how to say all they want is someone who you can have sex with and never look back. As we talk, we become even more heartbroken and emotional and worried.
His arms shake as his voice trembles with the desperate cry for answers that I am sure we all asked ourselves at some point, “is there someone out there for me?”
“I have no freaking idea,” I say and hug him back. We hold each other, and we wish the world was better about being honest. We argue about what honesty is. We argue about other gay men. Even though we are not getting along, we need each other, just for tonight. I take his face in my hands and gaze up at his heavy breathing. We continue to hold each other until, finally, his annoying voice and loving embrace steps towards my apartment door. Before he leaves, though, I grab his arm to say a final goodbye. Something weird blurts out of my mouth instead.
“We just can’t give up,” I say. I tell him that there’s someone out there for everybody, even weirdoes like us.
“I hope you’re right.” He says.
“I hope so too,” I answer. I don’t know how loudly our weirdly colored hearts are beating at this moment, but I’d like to hope that someone, somewhere, notices they exist.

The Confused Conspirator

Many things are ironic in my life. Situational irony is smacking me in the face as I listen to George sitting across from me babbling about his love of oil and cars. I can’t stop tuning him out and thinking that I told myself, many times over, that I’d never lose all of my vision. I don’t know what he’s doing here because he said he would never date a bookworm. I’m in shock because he’s been fine with it up until now. Then again, every stance he has taken or opinion he has spewed has been the polar opposite of what he told me this morning. I wonder if his name is even George.

My profile is splattered with sentences about how many audio books I consume on a weekly basis and my love of sentences, words, and publishing. I told George that I love books when he first messaged me on the website. He said, as I am sure he tells everyone, even his unknowing friends, that it’s definitely no problem because he’s open minded. I bet he’s a trump supporter even though he’s black.

“So guess what?” he rambles, a word which here means, fires off without any regard to the other person’s thoughts or feelings about the presidential election, a topic he was just spitting about. “Guess what! I haven’t read a book in over ten years!”
“Really?” I ask, in utter awe, a phrase which here means completely proud to be anyone other than this forty-year-old overachiever.
“Yeah!” he cheers, “I feel great! I don’t have any bias because of my choice, you know? Reading is for the [people who just want portable ways to be brainwashed.”

I stare at the spot where his booming voice is rocketing from. Even though I can’t see any more I can tell a few things. He’s spitting as he talks. I feel small droplets pelting me in the face every time he utters a vowel. He’s shoveling chicken into his mouth. I can smell the hot sauce as it smacks my face. He loves to talk about himself. And, lastly, he can’t keep one detail about himself consistent. I wonder if he even read my words or if he just guessed my sentences. I decide to try to reason with him.

“I know you don’t like to read,” I begin, “but, I have to wonder, did you even read my profile, did you even look at the messages you were sending me on the dating site?”

“Oh! Those?” he snorts. This time carrot flavored spit peppers my face. My stomach churns. “well, see, I thought you weren’t serious about any of that. I thought you were writing them journalisms because you wanted to weed out all of the stupid people who like to be brainwashed by words on a page or a screen. Now, me, I’m a free thinker. I haven’t been brainwashed at all. Hell, I don’t even know what the word conspiracy means, for example. Who makes up these definitions anyway? The media and books tell us how we should think but they don’t help us think. You feel me?”

I stare in bewilderment, a word which here means, eager to brainwash him with the definition of the word stupid instead.

“But, see… that’s just paranoid thinking. People read for all kinds of different reasons. To be entertained. To be informed. To explore different worlds. To learn something new about an old event. There’s more than one kind of book and there’s more than one kind of writing.” I can feel his eyes staring at me with confusion. He seems like he’s having trouble processing what I just said.

“I don’t get why people read. I don’t get why people read the media or books. It’s all portable hypnotizing devices anyway.” He adds, as if to add insult to injury, “it’s such a shame you participate in that brainwashing process. You seem like a really sweet and nice and caring fellow. I mean, here you are, cute as a button, and you are one of them media people that tells the public what to think and how to believe. The corruption has reached you!”

Even though I have only been sitting here for ten minutes I want to flee, a word which here means, scream and run away. I smile, stand up, and pop my cane out. I take a deep breath to prepare for the scream of a lifetime, when he drops a bombshell.

“I love movies though!” he says. “maybe I can show you some good movies that will make you read less.”

A few minutes later I am figuratively running as fast as I can to the nearest library. I want to apologize to the structure. I want to let the building know that I will literally never speak to George again. I feel relieved when I reach the library. I pick up a few classic audio books from their shelves and stroke their spines tenderly, a phrase which here means, supporting all the writers rolling over in their graves who are begging for a reproduction license requirement.

The Gibbering Jew

The text flies into my inbox after I tell him that I am sick and have been throwing up all day. “I am right outside; I can’t wait to see you!
Jesus Christ.
David, the knight and shining armor I really don’t want to see right now, sends me text after text, a novel slamming its way down my phone’s inbox. They are old messages his cell didn’t push until now, asking me when he can come over and see me, perhaps, take me out to a lovely Jewish gathering, even though he knows full well I am an atheist and would most likely offend someone at an event like that.
My fingers pound out the phrase in capital letters. It’s all I can do at this point. He’s here and he’s about to make his way to my apartment when I don’t want him here. “Go away.”
As there’s a knock at my apartment door, followed by one of the staff at the supportive living facility telling me that David is here to see me, I reflect how in the world I got here. I am sure the fever was caused by the anxiety and the stomach bug caused by something I ate the day before, but, in my moment of despair, I can’t remember how David even knows me or how we met for a short second. Just as I start to panic memories of his messages flood my memory.
We met on the same dating site that so many others have landed on that it’s a wonder how we weeded out one another. He found me. I didn’t find him. He was interested in me because he said that my profile, filled with six novels about myself, was so very different than so many on the website. His novels to me made me smile and they were refreshing so, like any other very lonely young adult, I gave my number out as if it were a free lottery ticket.
The novels continued, but even for a person like me who thrives on differences and differing perspectives, they were just too much. He talked a lot about Jewish event she wrote me a personal blow by blow of each one. He went to one every week. Each play he attended had a Jewish theme. He wrote me a personal review after each and every one. He attended plays every few days, asking me to come with him. He told me where he could meet me, even after I said no. his requests started coming in every hour., finally, I had to block him on Google voice but he still had my cell number. The novels continued, telling me about why a Jewish dinner would be great for me. He even went looking for me, to bring me food from one such dinner.
Now, my mind is utterly racing as I can feel my soup about to come up again after eating it a few minutes ago. David enters the room and sits down on the chair. He is very tall. His blonde hair is in a ponytail and his white shirt has some sort of sauce stains on it. he scoots over to me, studying me with eyes I cannot see but I can feel them drill holes into me. he soon registers where I am, and the scene that’s around me. Ginger ale and soup on a chair beside me alongside a trash can that definitely has an odor emanating from it.
“oh. You really are sick!” he gushes. I want to sock him dead in his thin jaw. “I came here to take you to a dinner!”
“well, obviously, I can’t go. By the way how did you find me anyway? I Didn’t give my address.”
“I asked your friends on Facebook. They told me the facility you stay in and so it took me a long while to look you up and get here but I finally did!” I am appalled that he has no idea what he has done. He babbles for a very long time. it’s such white noise that I don’t even recall what he babbles about. It’s about why this great Jewish writer was a Jewish writer. He continues talking as I wretch. He stops and looks at me bent over, coughing and trying to recover from my illness.
“I had no idea you were sick!” he trills. I wonder if he’s this observant when filling out his income tax or during sex. I picture him and a faceless man passionately getting into it when the man suddenly gets up, sighs, and leaves as David is still gushing about how they can definitely start a life together.
“did you seriously think I was lying?” I ask.
“yes!” he says without a trace of irony. “now that I am here though, I think you need some fresh air! It will help!”
“no.” I mutter. I don’t have the strength to say anything else. David sighs, stands up, and starts towards my door before stopping and turning back to me.
“I never could keep a guy.” He reveals. I am not shocked.
“I will call you tomorrow.” I say wishing he would leave immediately. He leaves and I manage to stand long enough to lock my door behind him.
The next day, I change my cell number as well as my Facebook privacy settings. This makes me feel better way more than any medication has done so thus far. I look at David on the dating site to see that he’s dating someone. Actually, he’s talking to someone else. I feel sorry for that person. I hope they are smart enough to disable their Facebook account after talking to him.

The Grieving Gorgeous

My body is gyrating to the pop music that is blaring from the giant speakers in this packed house. Everybody around me is dancing with just as much zest as I am. My moves don’t quite go along with the music but I keep on dancing because I am incredibly lonely and I am here to fulfill some desire that I can’t get rid of, let alone deduce. The people dancing beside me are way better at it than I am, and possibly carry less baggage than I do, but, I am a man who does metaphorical things because I read a lot.

When the dancing stops I make my way around this party to meet and greet various men of various statuses. There’s a guy who’s in a relationship but he is here because his sex life is quite dull and his husband will never know, besides. Not to mention, they have an open relationship because of course they do. There’s a lesbian who thinks that I am straight, asking me what on earth I am doing at a gay party. There’s a couple who understand my loneliness and they offer me words of encouragement about my flailing limbs. They tell me I didn’t dance that badly before walking off to slow dance with one another.

I am here at this party because there just has to be someone who will not let me down. My mood has placed me here, amidst a sea of people who understand me and know nothing of my existence. Many friends have let me down so often in the past week that I figured going to bed with a total stranger would solve all of my problems.

As I make my way into the kitchen I spot a very tall guy with a yellow shirt on playing with his phone at a table. I sit down across from him, wishing I had a mobile phone to play with. His ebony finger massages the screen with such speed I assume he’s playing a modified version of Flappy Bird. He looks up upon hearing me sit down.

“I figured you’d sit down eventually.” He says and this causes me to cock my head.

“I’ve never seen anyone dance so much in my life. I figured you would get tired or something!”

“I was dancing because, basically, I’ve just had a bad couple of weeks and I just needed to let go of a few things in my life.” He puts down his phone and folds his buff arms on the table. His muscles are enchanting, but his gleaming white teeth are what utterly captivate me. Why, oh, why does it always have to be the great teeth!

“I hear you dude. I came here because the same thing happened to me. My whole family was killed a few days ago, and, so, I figured the best thing to do would be do the dumbest thing possible and go to a party where nobody knows you and you can be whoever you want to be.”

“Are you serious? This seems really weird, doesn’t it? Like, shouldn’t you be morning right now? Not here where there’s a bunch of fun happening?”

“That’s the thing though. What if I don’t want to grieve right now. What if I want to be somewhere where nobody can see me even though I am standing in the same room as them.”

“You’re weird.” I say and he laughs. I don’t know why I feel the urge to treat him like any other person, why I shouldn’t say I am sorry for his loss, but I get the feeling that isn’t what he wants or even needs right now. Mark introduces himself to me very quickly and soon, we are lost in sorrowful chemistry. His plight is so much worse than friends letting you down, so, what better thing to do than make the worst jokes possible. We joke about the nice things people say in funerals, never meaning anything they say. We joke about religion, he’s an atheist too, and the afterlife, but we never poke at any dead people. With so much death of police officers and fellow members of the LGBT community, somehow, this seems like the best kind of medicine we can give each other at this moment.

Mark is a man with a darker sense of humor than mine but he is very kind. He asks me why I am single and I tell him I have no idea why I am single.

“Why do people always tell you that you will find the one you need if you just do your own thing and never look? That seems like a poor excuse to say that, maybe there’s nobody out there for you.” I blurt.

“I disagree.” Mark says, fixing me with his intense brown eyes. “there’s someone out there for everyone. You just have to try a little more. You know?”

“But then if I try, I am not doing my own thing, right? I am searching. Isn’t that what people are always saying we should not do is search?”

Some people, yes, but you have to understand that there’s a personality type for everybody. You just have to be aware that there’s something out there and keep your eyes, or, in your case, ears open.”

“Do I have fat ears?” I suddenly blurt. He looks closely at each one, standing up and coming over to me, holding me close as he studies my ears in mock intensity.

“Nope. Your ears are cute!” A slow song starts up then and we look into each other’s eyes. To be accurate, since I can’t look anywhere, he gazes into my eyes.

“Since we bonded over making fun of funerals, do you want to do something normal, like slow dance?”

“Sure!” I say, “but can we get cookies afterwards? Do you have a car?”

“I have a car!” He says, and guides me onto the floor in the living room. There are non-dead couples dancing beside one another, swaying to the song that’s playing. I have no idea what it is but it’s a song about some guy who ran over this woman’s dog yet she still loves him. We dance, with his hands wrapped tightly around me. I feel as if I am his life support tonight. The more the song plays the tighter he holds onto me. Just as the song is about to end, I feel blotches of something wet hit me on the head. I think it’s rain at first so I don’t even notice the smell until I lean my face up to kiss mark. When I catch the smell of tears and it registers in my brain, I take him into my arms and wipe his tears away as another song invades our lives. He doesn’t need to say thank you. His embrace is enough.

The Gold Digger

Jaxson has my full attention for two reasons. The first reason is his declarations about comics from the New Yorker. Since he reads comics from the New Yorker, something he didn’t tell me when we were emailing one another on the dating site, I am transfixed. He’s cultured, and he has a sense of humor about him. The other reason I am staring at him has to deal with his left index finger and where it’s currently digging. As I talk about a great essay I’ve read in the magazine a week before, I become aware of the floating finger. It drifts towards his face and rockets up his left nostril.

The restaurant we are in has enough light to aluminate multiple caves. I wish I didn’t have any sight. Our food has arrived some time ago and he seemed to be doing fine. Where did this new talent spring from? Most importantly, why couldn’t he have picked a place with less light? His finger looks like it’s exploring the inside of a straw.

Jackson has eaten a little bit of his food. I wish he would pay more attention to what’s in front of him as opposed to where his finger is currently digging. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he were an expert at scavenger hunting. His mouth contorts as his finger wedges deeper into the crevices of his nostril. At least his determined identifier on his profile was accurate.

Jackson messaged me with words that immediately peek my interest. He likes to go to museums and he loves a hearty game of poker on a Friday night. His profile doesn’t say anything unique, however. It states all about his willingness to try new things and his willingness to have an open mind. He’s a very determined person though. He’s a person that loves a challenge. This is why he likes to play poker and an assortment of other games. He didn’t say that his worst adversary, amidst all of his financial and cultural adversities he has overcome, was a human body part. I am amazed that someone who got a master’s degree in engineering can’t outsmart a booger.

Perhaps I am way too nice for my own good. Perhaps I am willing to put up with obscure happenings because the guy is just so great underneath. Perhaps I am really desperate. I am sure all of these play a hand in me attempting to ignore his wiggling finger. The plate of pasta before him has been forgotten in favor of a new life altering quest.

“So,” I say to his contorting face. “Where do you plan to vacation? I am huge into travel so I am always interested in where people are going and what they will see.”

“Huh?” he asks, completely fixated on whatever he’s searching for in the dark recesses of his nostril. “What you say? I was distracted.”

At this moment I have a surge of sympathy for the Booger. It has a stubborn graduate student after it. I try to draw his attention back to the food and the conversation we were having.

“This soup is fantastic! Did you ever figure out what spice was in yours? What’s your favorite New Yorker comic?” I pick up my spoon and pretend to lick something off of it, hoping he’d see the reflection and realize what he’s doing. At that precise moment, the waiter approaches us to see if there’s anything he can do to make our dinner more enjoyable. I try to mentally will him to bring some tweezers but that doesn’t work. Jackson still digs. I feel like I should do something but I have no idea what to do. The waiter is perplexed that mucus could be more interesting than flavorful food.

“Excuse me, sir, would you like to try another dish? Is this one not to your liking?” Jackson faces him and the finger almost pops out. At least it stops twitching and twirling so he can quickly say he doesn’t need anything else. The waiter asks me if I am taken care of. When I say that I am, he says he will dig up the checks. When he leaves, Jackson’s finger starts wiggling again.

I am at a loss as to what to do so I pick up a clean spoon and ask Jackson if he wants to see a trick. When I finally get him to say yes, I balance the spoon on my nose. I pray he is looking at the back of it to see his reflection. When he continues his relentless hunt, I decide that it’s time to come right out and ask him about it before he turns himself inside out.

“Jackson? Would you like to come with me to the bathroom? Maybe you’d do better with a mirror. I have a spare napkin here if you need it too.”

“I almost got it!” he says, and the crowd goes wild. I should have placed my bet early on if I’d known that this Olympic sport was going to take place right in front of me. I try again.

“Your food is going to get cold. Are you sure you don’t need a napkin?”

“I’m almost there! I almost got it! I don’t need any help”

Just as I begin to reply he lets out this gigantic sneeze. Snot flies all over the napkin on his side of the table. He looks at it with a sense of wonderment.

“Well, what do you know? Nothing was in there!”

As I am waiting outside for the bus to take me back home I brandish some napkins and admire their clean surfaces. Jackson asks me if I feel like meeting again, the next day. I can’t be mean to him. I really did enjoy his company before his finger ruined everything. Taking a deep breath, I turn to him and say,

“Not tomorrow. I’m going to go to the store. I’m running out of Kleenex!”

The Infamous Ceelebrity

My mouth is working a piece of steak as I listen to George sitting across from me in a suit and tie. This isn’t the first time for both instances. I am sure my tongue is just as skilled as I am at deathly masticating meat, but George is intriguing enough to where we can agree to focus on him.

As I am marveling at my multitasking skills, I notice something I didn’t pick up on upon first meeting him. Maybe I should have given him a better screening process. George, the fun seeking guy before me, who is a vet for a local animal hospital, has been neighing about his ex husband for the past twenty minutes.

George didn’t give me any indication that he was going to be the reincarnation of a middle school essay, though. His profile was simple, without the misspellings; fun, without the need to be real, and funny, with an actual sense of how to use textual irony. I wrote him, eager to see what lay beneath the vail. I wanted to poke around a bit to see if he was hiding any more goodies from me, like the fact he likes to watch fireworks and he can find humor in the last scene of Old Yeller.

His messages to me have always been very open and honest. He told me that he just got out of a bad relationship, with a previous husband, not footwear, and decided to try to meet a few people. We introduced ourselves and even got into a debate about the fact that gay guys have better hair than straight guys. I loved countering his assertions of my utter insanity. If that wasn’t textual chemistry, I didn’t know what would be, so I wanted to meet him for dinner one night.

That was a direct contrast to how I feel now, as I twirl my straw around my cherry coke with enough force to start a quinine based tsunami. His nostrils continue to flare as he neighs about his husband, yet again. We haven’t talked about much else for the last twenty minutes. I even tried asking him if he wanted to get a drink with a straw, just so he could stick something in his mouth, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

“You know what?” He bellows. People near us turn and stare at us, wondering if this horse will present a box with a ring and hay beside it. I give them a small smile, apologizing for this very awkward moment in my dating life. They should never be subjected to people who just got out of bad relationships with husbands instead of footwear. At least footwear won’t take your sanity.

“No, but I know who, though.” I say, but he doesn’t even crack a grin.

“What did you say you was?”

“You mean, like, what I do? For a job?” I ask, wondering if he’s going to blow all of his air supply through his nostrils. Every time he speaks, there’s a small burst of air wafting towards my face from his nose. I am just waiting on him to order an apple.

“Yeah. A job!” he bleats before shoving a piece of potato in his mouth.

“Well, I am a writer,” I begin but he cuts me off so fast I feel as if I am in an auction.

“Oh my god. Another one!”

“What’s so wrong with writers?” I argue. I shouldn’t have. After telling me, everything! He goes on another twenty minute screed about his last boyfriend and that he was a writer. I know I feel extremely ironic as he belches out endless tirades about how his ex-used him to write a popular book.

“Really?” I ask, despite myself. I can’t help but think I may have stepped into the Twilight Zone because George is no easy person to write about. He makes me believe that a bowling ball would have more interesting things to say.

“Yeah. Can you believe that?” he put me in a book about bad dates. What a loser. Now, he makes money off book sales. What a loser. Just as bad as my ex-husband! Just as bad as my ex-husband I tell you!”

“What was so bad about it, though? The fact he wrote about you?”

“Yeah! And even got my name wrong! I’m not George! Jesus Christ. I swear, if another writer does this crap, I’m going to pound them!”

“But George…” I begin but give up, collect my check, and stand up to leave. Once I sign the check, his eyes grow wide.

“So, that’s it? You’re gonna leave me just like Rick did?

“Yeah. I am.” I say, not feeling ashamed at all about this monumental choice. He, however, is enraged.

“Of course! What is it with you writer types? Always on some higher ground than others. I guess you’re going to just leave and not say goodbye?”

“Actually,” I begin, “I do have a question. Do you read the South Florida Gay Times?”

“No. I hate reading! Too many words! Why?”

“Oh, no reason, goodnight!”

The Pick Me up Part two.

Humans have a tendency to believe what we hear when it comes to certain things, especially when we are at our most vulnerable. Dating is a kind of confessional. Two strangers meet only to reveal random facts about themselves as if they are applying for a job. The confessional comes in at all hours of the dating process, even, when someone such as I has a lonely night and texts Rodger because I just want a little TLC.

My fingers fly so fast on the keys that they type out nonsense at first. I want to have him come over. He agrees, and, soon, we’re in my bed holding each other talking about stuffed dogs and the epic movie Avatar. It’s a calm night for the both of us. We needed a simple night even though we don’t admit it out loud. Subsequent dates are just as calming and serene. We talk, of course, but the meetings are not about that. There about relishing in the fact that we have someone who enjoys each other.

Perceptions, however, have a way of falling. One night, Rodger sends me a text that says he’s going to pick me up and take me to dinner at a fancy restaurant. One, in which, he is going to pay for. I don’t trust anybody, however, and sneak my wallet in my pocket before he comes to whisk me away.

There are always conversations that lead up to the main one and both parties know when the other forces these conversations, including us. Rodger and I both know full well that the small talk about his job and new cat are a warning sign for the best conversation or the worst conversation, depending on how you look at it.

It isn’t until the dinner arrives and we’re masticating delicious meat that the throat clears and the napkin is placed on the table. For some reason I don’t brace myself. I am eating delicious food and I am enjoying every last swallow.

“So, Robert,” he begins, sounding as if he’s about to tell me a Deep dark secret about the US Army.

“Yeah?” I say with a gob full of potatoes with lavishly melted butter, “what’s up? Do you want to tell me that you don’t know the plot to the new Star Wars movie? Even with the internet?” he doesn’t laugh. This is a warning sign I don’t pay attention to. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m either, really desperate or really stupid. Either that or the voices in my head don’t give me dating advice or warning messages. They seem to only work when I’m writing fiction. How unfair.

“I’ve been thinking, actually, you know, about us?” I become excited. Elated, almost. Is he going to be the one to make me close the dating blog for good? Is my soul searching finally over? Is he going to ask me to share a bucket of ice cream with him? He’s crazy if he thinks I will share.

“Good. Usually, that comes before a really devastating piece of news!” I grin, but he doesn’t. Mine slowly wilts and I feel like I’ve just said that the air and the sun were the same, thing.

“Well, that’s just it, though, I’ve been thinking about us, and, well, I don’t know how I will keep doing this?”

“Doing what?” I ask, worried. My heart pounds and I’ve lost what little appetite I have.

“Well, just doing this… being restricted because of so many things to consider…” I am about to pick at a peace of steak on my plate but soon think about throwing the food all over him. I wouldn’t want to waste my bill on something this, well I can’t even think of a word to describe him. Instantly, my bullshit detector goes off.

“What do you mean, restricted?”

“I can’t just do something with you randomly like I want to… I can’t just do something nice for you randomly. I have to see if things are set in place and ready and…” he falters, but I know what he wants to say. Accommodating. Instead, he blurts out,

“I also have to make sure you’re not working or something.”

“But the good thing about writing, Rodger, is that I can do it whenever and wherever I want to do it. I set my own schedule. I can work nights if you want to plan a day. I can sleep in if you want to have an epic night.”

“It’s not just about your work.” he sniffs and I want to throw my fork at him. I’m done tiptoeing around the issue.

“You also need to make sure things are accessible to me. Right?”

“Well, yeah. I honestly don’t understand how anyone can plan a nice surprise for someone who always needs to plan ahead. I want to do something nice at the spur of the moment and I can’t. I don’t want to plan everything. I’m sorry but I’m just saying how I feel.”

“But Rodger, that’s, well, that’s narrow mindedness. We can have fun surprises. Is this about the lifestyle? Talking devices in the apartment? Talking phones, special movies with audio description?”

“I just can’t live in your world. I thought that I could but I can’t.” I can’t believe he ‘is ending it because of my disability. I am so stunned I just sit there with steak in my mouth. People near us turn and listen to this interesting daytime drama. I want to melt into a puddle and just slide out the door. I don’t know where this is coming from because he’s been so attentive and I’ve told him some of the deeper darker areas of my story, my past. We shared movies together. Sure, with audio description, but he didn’t seem to mind. None of this was a problem until now. He has never uttered a word about it until now. I can’t eat anymore. I want to punch him, slightly, as well, but I stand up and he grabs my cane as I start to leave.

“At least we can still be friends right?” I say with a smile. He doesn’t smile. He’s made it clear. This is our final goodbye, all because I have a disability. Anger flashes through me as he says,

“I just can’t. I need someone who I can be equal with.” This does it. As I turn to leave, with a dozen people watching and listening, I grab the water on the table, the only free item, and throw it all over him. I then snatch my plate and grab a to go bag before flying out the door and into a cab, and speed away from this nightmare. I try and think about what a bullet I’ve just dodged, but I can’t stop crying, even though I’m really enjoying a chocolate Sunday he paid for.

The pick me up

The man sitting before me hates cats, and he also loves to smile. I believe that I am going crazy. To make matters worse, he’s holding a Fudge Sunday towards me, begging me to relieve his slender fingers of the chill. It’s funny how fate works. First, I step unwillingly into a friends house where he told me there were going to be a host of dancing bodies galumphing across his floor to the song Party in the USA. I figure that everyone else needs to see how pale and unshaven I am so I agree to go. I vow to take a cab back quickly, as I still have a phobia of parties because of what the last one did to me.

I arrive and instantly I feel like an ant who’s lost in the colony. Gay boys splatter the small apartment as if they are awaiting a neck massage from God, or some other good looking man. I am the cloud to this sunny dance fest because I immediately want to retreat to the kitchen where I am alone. I’m still not used to this many people in one place. I want to go home straight away but soon warm up to the mass of gay boys flashing their smiles at me as if they are police badges.

I make It to a corner that has a table in it and sit down but stand up soon afterwords to introduce myself to a few people. All of the guys who approach me comment about my cane and about the fact that I am cute, even in my current unshaven state. Many come right out and tell me they want to know if I am a sexual freak in the bedroom. I trip them as they walk away, causing many to spill their drink.

I don’t meet anyone really stellar so I sit and hang out at my table. Soon, however, a fellow catches my attention. A tall brown boy sits in a chair opposite me. He’s holding the fudge Sunday. Soon, we’re off to the races talking. He opens with the very abrupt,

“You look like you seriously need some chocolate. You look so lost I’m worried you’d never make it home.” instead of letting a sarcastic retort fly, I give him a sad smile. I feel very vulnerable and I am not even sure why. I slowly reach out and take the Sunday, giving it the third degree by drilling my eyeball all through it’s contents, just in case. I look up at my mystery chocolate man and cock my head.

“Is it really that bad? I mean, noticeable?”

“Yes.” my face must have changed to one of pure despair because his eyes suddenly grow as wide and as sad as I feel. He doesn’t say anything however, he just watches me gingerly make progress with the Sunday. that’s good because I don’t want to talk right now. I have clammed up but he doesn’t push or prod. Instead, he appears to be fighting back the urge to hug me. His arms lay on the table, with a look flickering on and off his face during my Sunday bliss. He looks like he’s arguing with himself to hug me.

“How did you know I needed this?” I ask him, gesturing to my empty cup. He smiles.

“Didn’t you kinda ask that question just a few minutes ago?” this makes me grin a bit.

“Well, I am getting old after all so I need to double check on these things.” he beams. He seems to become much happier now that he’s retrieved a smile from me. Without realizing it, my hand is resting on the table. My eyes, however, are glued to his face. He has a brown complexion, with a boyish smile and thin cheek bones that surround really expressive eyes. His buzz cut only makes his eyes spring to life with their expressive nature. His shirt is bright yellow and his toes touch mine under the table. I can tell he’s very tall sitting down.

My comment causes his pearly whites to gleam with his beaming smile. I suddenly feel much better than when I arrived here. The neat thing is that Mr sweets notices this too so he keeps the conversational ball rolling with,

“Double checking is always good, but I noticed you guzzled that Sunday down quick!”

“That’s because I thought you slipped in some IQ enhancing substances in there,” I smile. He beams even more before he morphs into a serious train of thought.

“I could just tell that, one, you needed someone to just get you, two, that you had a bunch of bad things happen recently, your face is like a neon sign, by the way, and, three, it makes me sad to see other people sad. It really does.”

“And yet, you hate cats?” I grin.

“Indeed, I hate cats!” his face shifts into serious mode again. “do you want to talk about it?” I am glad he asks because I don’t want to talk about it…

“No. I’m not ready to talk about it yet, but you know those times where you just want to have someone hold you, and bask in the silence?”

“Yeah. they’re the worst. Especially when you expect your friends to do it because they are supposed to just get you but they push away instead.”

“Yeah! Well, that’s the circle of life for you.” instead of replying, he reaches over and grasps my hand with the caution of a kid on a tricycle. It feels so welcoming I forget where I am even though I remember who I am with.

“I bet you’re a very kind person.” he softly says.

“Why are you willing to take such a big gamble?” I quip.

“Your eyes tell me everything I need to know. That, and, well, I just have a hunch.” he squeezes my hand and I squeeze his. He knows he’s having an effect on me and he appears to treat me with even more tenderness. Suddenly he starts to get up. I don’t want him to go so I hold his hand and try to pull him down again but he gently pulls away from me.

“trust me, I’ll be back.” a few minutes later, I am working my way through another chocolate Sunday as he holds my other hand and just talks to me. He talks to me about the social work classes he’s taking at DePaul, he tells me all about the work he does as a vet’s secretary, and he just rubs my hand with his thumb as he relishes in my brief bliss. He listens to me as I ramble on about the complex facets of life and he poses questions to get me to explain what I mean or to pose a different point of view. He tells me that he’s stuck on the latest LEGO game and I give tips because I’ve beaten the game several times.

Soon, a slow song comes on, and we both stand up as if we were conditioned to strut to the center of the room. People must sense somethings happening because everybody vacates, leaving us to slow dance to a female singer. It’s so wonderful the song ends in seconds. Soon, it is time for me to leave. My mystery man takes me outside to wait for the cab. He beams as he helps me into my jacket. I can’t help it, I can’t stop beaming. Outside, he turns to face me.

“You know how people usually say that someone is a beautiful person, and they usually mean, like, models and stuff?”

“Yeah?”

“Would it be corny of me to say I think you’re a beautiful person?”

“You know what? I don’t know!” I grin and he beams again.

“You really do have a wonderful smile. It’s contagious.” I smile again, just before his face shifts to serious mode again.

“I’m gonna ask you a few questions…”

“Just so you know, I can’t even answer third grade geography questions.” he beams before placing his hands on my shoulders, and slowly moving them to my face. Soon, we’re staring right at each other.

“First. What’s your name?” I giggle. I start blushing.

“Robert. What’s yours?” his hands feel like clouds on my face.

“Rodger.” he answers. I grin up at him. His hands slightly tighten as he swallows.

“so, Rodger, what’s question number two?”

“Robert, he says. Can I kiss you?” a dozen replies rush into my brain but I quickly settle on one.

I did it, reader. I let him kiss me.

The Two Wheeled Competition.

Bikes line the front of the restaurant as if they are soldiers about to march into battle. I should know what’s ahead of me but I don’t even give the massive line of muscle powered machines a second glance.

The guy I am meeting in this restaurant has a simple profile. When you’ve been soul searching as long as I have, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell one unique person from the other unique person who’s also very quiet and very simple.

I’m beginning to think that I am a diamond in the ruff, but then scold myself for having superior thoughts. Just because people can’t express themselves on paper to save their life, that doesn’t mean they are soulless. I believe that I should say hello anyway, just to get the ball rolling.

Jamaal, the man I’m messaging, has the common buzz words sprinkled out his profile as well but there’s something that makes me want to keep reading. Sure, he’s just as calm, fun seeking, simple, and boring, as the other billion guys on the site who share the same traits, but he’s very much into biking.

He illustrates this with really in depth descriptions about how he really enjoys biking for pleasure and competition. He works on bikes, including motorcycles, and he even trains people on riding cross country. At the bottom of his profile, however, are the words,

” compatibility is VERY important to me. You MUST BE A BIKER TOO!”

I’m so eager that I’ve found a needle in this haystack that I message him right away, asking him if we can meet for tea or something. I tell him a bit about myself, making sure I note I did in fact read his page, by asking him questions about his bike passion. I follow up by telling him that, sadly, I don’t share the same feelings as he does about the two wheeled wonders, but I’d be more than happy to meet and greet and become friends, if nothing else. I briefly tell him my interests, and he asks me questions back. We’re educating the other and that’s epic to me from the start.

I ask him about his declaration at the end of his profile. The one that’s in all caps.

“Oh? That? That’s just to keep all the trolls and idiots away. It’s really just something to scare people away who are not serious about a relationship.”

I ask him, yet again, if he really meant what he wrote on his page because I am not a biker, nor will I become one just so I can marry a good looking fellow. I will continue to be an avid bookworm, through and through. I want to know if he really does get that. He says he does but he’d still love to hang out with me despite the fact I’m not into biking.

That message keeps nudging the back of my mind as I enter the hub of clinking silverware and delicious smelling seafood, making my nose twitch with fragment scents of sauce, meat, and fresh fruit. As I make my way to my usual table, I bring all of my first dates here when I can, I wonder if something isn’t right about what he told me the other day, about the fact he didn’t care if I don’t bike. I sit down and wait on him to show up. Seconds later, his brown head pops into my vision, flashing blinding pearly whites at me as we shake hands. He sits down, and I am taken aback by how good looking he is.

He resembles a beanpole. He’s tall and he’s skinny but clearly fit. His arms don’t ripple with muscles but they are toned and developed. He has a balled head, witch accentuates his alluring smile. His eyes are so open and expressive even I can see them. His face isn’t gaunt or flat. His face is like a neon sign and it’s refreshing.

“You know what? You’re really cute.” he blurts, causing me to gasp and choke on my pop. I recover before I die of soda suffocation and grin up at him.

“How’s THAT for a pickup line, eh?” He grins and folds his arms on the table, which makes me absolutely crazy. Those arms shouldn’t be holding thin air. Those strong arms should be holding me as I sit in his lap, or some other fun position.

“I’m so sorry I nearly killed you on our first meeting, but I really do think you’re cute. I like your smile, you have a very inviting smile.” I smile, and can feel my face grow hot

“Thanks! The feeling’s mutual. Honestly, it is.” he beams, and I nearly attack his face with my lips right then and there.

Instead of making out in a public place, we settle down to a discussion about ourselves. The topics swivel to our interests again, and we detail more about our hobbies. I am a gamer, he enjoys puzzles. I enjoy Crossword puzzles, horror movies, and dancing. He enjoys court shows. I love writing even though it’s my career and job, and he enjoys a bit of graphic design. He always ads, however, that biking is his true baby.

“I’ve got a question,” he asks, sounding as if he’s about to ask me why there’s a cat on my head, “so, I know you said you’ve never tried biking, or you’ve never wanted to go biking, but why not just try it, at least once. Biking is really fun to me. You’re really missing out.”

I doubt I am missing out on anything that I will enjoy. I can definitely talk about biking, and I can support him since that’s his passion, I just don’t want to do it.

“I mean,” he continues, “I thought you had an open mind. Just try it. It wont kill you.” I add that, in some cases, it will kill me, and other people, but I stress, again, that I just don’t want to.

“You have no idea what you’re missing, at all.” he lectures. I don’t feel like I am on a date anymore, I feel like I am sitting across from my grandmother telling me I should try to eat a salad. I smile, and try to brush off his patronizing comments.

It doesn’t work for long, however, and soon, he’s back to how shocked he is that someone doesn’t like biking. I’ve lost all apatite and want to leave. I do want to see his bike though, and I tell him this. He takes me out to the front where all the bikes rest. He introduces me to his bike, the husband I can never compete with.

I’m feeling a bit like I’ve stepped into an intimate make-out session. Jamaal rubs the bike’s seat as if he’s petting a spouse before turning to me with a gleam in his voice.

“So, do you want to ride him?”

“Honestly, I don’t think I like biking all that much. Remember? I told you that and you said it was fine on the website.” his face morphs into an expression reserved for pinching one off in a hurry.

“What? You mean you wont even TRY it?”

“To be honest with you, I didn’t come all the way here to have medal between my legs. I came here to enjoy YOUR company.” his constipated look becomes more profound, and I feel like I am watching someone on the throne. I feel like I’ve walked in with his pants down as he looks at porn on his laptop. I’ve verbally slapped him. I don’t know how to make it right, but I can’t let it go. He pats the seat.

“Here, you can ride, and I will run beside you. Just try it. Please?”

“I don’t feel confident on a bike,” I say. His eyes light up and he blurts out, “so, you’re scared, then?” I nod, sadly. He’s done with me, and I know this as he turns to shake my hand.

“It was really, really nice to meet you, Robert!” sadly, I can’t say the same for him.

An hour later I am back in my apartment, perched at my window listening to the various traffic noises below. Cars swoosh by, bikers peddle their way past drunk people on the streets, skid to blast around corners, and people just now entering bars are chatting with gusto about final exams and their recent graduations. Suddenly, there’s a sound of a biker swearing as he skids to avoid a woman who is trying to walk towards the street corner. As he pulls away, she yells, “you stupid prick!” I nod to her outburst as I turn away from the window.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Ask Robbie: What is the best gay dating app?

If you want to send in an ask Robbie letter, hit the contact link above!

Dear Robbie,

I am a gay man who is looking for the best free dating site and or app. I’ve tried Grindr and didn’t like it. I also want to know how many times have you used Macadam?

Sincerely, selector.

Dear Selector,

I’d have to say that some of the best apps and otherwise are actually the hookup apps you mentioned. While they are hookup ads, you will find surprises on these sites. In fact, a few of my good dates have come from these hookup apps. I use OK Cupid, mainly because it’s free and it has just a bit more substance. There’s a few others out there but I’ve never used them because I don’t want to and because I want to narrow myself online because I am looking for something specific. The best thing to do, is try some new apps and delete your account if you don’t like them.

I wouldn’t keep an account open on an app I never use.

Robbie.