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 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 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.

The Needy Reporter

It’s late at night and I am amazed that I am here on an assignment.

I am actually here to interview a few athletes, because my editor wants me to write about something I could care less about, sports. I am at a press event wondering if the first lady ever had to do something as dull as attend a press event where I can’t even elude to sex with all the sexy black guys, or flirt as I bend down to tie my shoe.

All around the opulent space, burly bodies talk to bigger reporters who all have suits and ties, compared to my black pants and collard shirt with no tie. I walk around with my recorder in hand as if I am looking for the special punch bowl. The kind that holds the punch that’s reserved for “the other” nerds in the far corner.

The room I am in is a plush atmosphere inside of a really big hotel in Chicago. PR treated me to this wonderful event, but, alas, I am learning that PR can’t do everything. They can’t make a tap dancing poodle materialize out of thin air, suddenly disperse the bigger journalists so I am not left wandering like a lost boy, or provide flavored water. PR do have limits, after all.

I head away from a Channel five reporter who glares at me as if I stole all the flavored water and stashed it in my shoe. I head into another room where giant bodies congregate, like they are mutant ants trying to build an anthill. They are all hunched over in their Jerseys, fingers swiping their phones so fast they resemble massage therapists.

I am so excited that I don’t see any reporters around who can steal my subjects away from me that I dash to a player with a hawk on his shoulder. He stares at me like he’s going to ask me if his wife got drunk one night and I’m here to claim child support.

“I’m a reporter for,” I begin, but a high pitched voice springs out of thin air behind me.

“Greetings! I’m Jessie! I’m with the Chicago Sun Times, and the Windy City Times.” I whip around to see a very tall thin black boy standing there with a pad and pen, clicking the pen as he talks. He’s new. I can tell. What sighted expert reporter uses a pen to take notes. Really?

“Excuse you. But I was interviewing him first.” I snap. He smirks as he looks at my name tag.

“So, you write for a very small north side publication, huh? I think we both can understand the importance of the Sun Times over, well, THAT.”

he’s dashingly swab, even though he is more annoying than a dirty fork. He doesn’t have any hair on his head at all. He has small golden earrings that compliment the ebony complexion. He is easily six feet tall, and he is getting on my last nerve with his dashingly good looks and his attitude.

“I think that really depends on the writers at the publication, don’t you?” I suddenly remember that he said, The Windy City Times. that’s a gay paper. Could it be that I am battling with the next queen with a pen? I hope so! My god he’s gorgeous.

“So,” he says, addressing the players. He interviews them, with me randomly tossing in my own questions, trying to get something down for tonight. After they leave us, we stand in the open room going over our notes. He looks up at me and slinks closer to me. I can’t help it, I try to remain a brat but his piercing eyes melt me.

“My notes are better than yours.” I say, my voice cracking. He grins and steps even closer to me. As it turns out, he has read my work in the Windy City Times, and has hoped he would see me at an event. I can’t help but believe I was stalked. My eyes dance over him as he shoots off random bursts of personal information, like his tongue is a machine gun.

“I just absolutely love Twitter.” he says after I explain how I promote my stories via Twitter. “so, how many followers you got?” his voice is the most annoying siren I have ever heard, but his looks keep me entranced.

When I tell him how many followers I have his mouth turns into a tunnel with a uvula at the end before uttering, “really? Is that all? I thought you’d have more! Oh my god, who do you follow? Any big journalists?” I listen to my cell announce that almost an hour has gone by and I groan aloud. He’s been asking me if I know X, Y, and Z, from ABC publication or TV station or whatever blog.

Whenever I try and talk about a subject, such as global warming, for example, the sentences swivel back to him and his need to know I’ve hung out with this editor or that editor. He’s really good looking, though.

“What about you?” I ask, wishing to get the subject off of me and who I know. “who do you follow?”

“I follow tons of editors and such.” he gushes. “it’s a great way to network with editors to really get your foot in the door.” when I tell him I don’t use it to converse with people, he is utterly horrified.

“So you don’t follow John from the Tribune and reply about stuff?” he asks.

“No. I think Email is a better way to establish yourself to someone you’ve never met.” I explain but he’s spitting out why that’s not a good idea. In other words, I am a social media ditsy who does not have a tie at a press event. I really want to go home and eat some chocolate right about now, but he’s so good looking I want to stay, even if he is annoying.

“You know what?” he says after the rambling about my Twitter activity. “I want to go out with you sometime. Wait, no, wait a minute, hold on! I want to see who you know first.” he flicks his phone then looks back at me with a smile.

I feel like I am about to have sex with LinkedIn.

“So, can we please connect? I’d really love to interact with you!”

I shake my head and hold up my phone, showing him my private Facebook profile.

The Job applicant

If someone tells you to always expect the unexpected when dating, believe them with every inch of your soul. It isn’t that people will fall out of the sky unexpectedly, but people will definitely do some weird things. To them, however, everything is utterly normal. Poodles could be laughing about the end of the world and to some people, that’s utterly normal.

As I’m sitting in a rickety old chair in an apartment complex that could be the birth child of a direct hurricane hit, I am comparing my own level of weirdness as I watch a very attractive brown head look for something in his bag. I assume that we’re going to have sex, just as I assume Denzel will come out of the closet so I can marry him, but neither prove to be coming true at the moment.

The brown head belongs to a striking fellow named Anthony. Anthony had a basic profile, just like all of the rest of the contestants I haven’t wheedled out yet, but his writing is utterly stellar. It’s actually something that keeps me writing messages to him, back and forth. Our longest debate has been about Gummy Bears and if they would be good on pizza.

The phone conversations were just as flawless, even though he sounds as if he has stepped out of a stereotypical sperm. usually, I have to check in with guys when we want to meet and or, even, if they want to keep talking to me, despite my gummy bear love and other weird thoughts.

Anthony, however, immediately makes me like him because he has been checking up on me when he does not hear from me for a day or so. The texts are polite, and sincere, which makes me feel guilty and immediately want to buy him gummy bears as a thank you.

Hey Robbie. I hope you’re doing OK. I am good. I am just relaxing at home and thinking about the book I will read next, text me back when you can. I hope you have a good day.

XOXO

It’s a rare feet that someone can have me so starstruck via text messages but I can’t help it. Something inside of me swoons when he sends me a message.

It didn’t take me long to give him my Google voice number. His picture emphasizes his words beautifully. He displays photos of casual poses, with a slight smile in every one of them. He always has a hat on, and his muscles are a bit larger than I’d expect in a guy that is 6.5.

What draws me to him are the pictures of him engaging in various activities. There’s one where he is smiling with a PS4 controller in one hand, sporting white teeth that accentuate the slight mustache. His eyes are big and inviting. They scream friendliness. There’s another picture where he and a great Dane are laying down in the grass at a park. These entrance me, because it demonstrates that he is active and he engages in many types of discussions.

It isn’t long before I agree to step into his studio apartment, the apartment I am in now, watching Anthony dig around in his bag as if it holds a can of string cheese.

so,” I say, looking a bit closer at my surroundings. “what you looking for?”

i almost gots it.” he trills, lowering his head deeper into the bag. I feel as if I am being punked, so I look around for some hidden cameras or a roommate to play his video game system with. I have been sitting here for almost twenty minutes. This isn’t what Anthony promised me. I was sure we wouldn’t be having sex right away, but I didn’t expect him to sort out his mail, muttering to himself as he reads the envelopes, all of which he has to pay soon. I don’t listen to this red flag, however, as I think he’s been really busy at work and didn’t have much time to fill anything out.

Even though I didn’t ask, I assumed he had a job. As his head goes even deeper into the tenth compartment in his bag, I stand up and have a walk around the apartment.

The apartment is really bland. There’s a 30 inch TV set with an entertainment center resting across a love seat that sits against a white wall. My journey takes me to a very clean kitchen. In fact, it’s so clean, it looks as if it hasn’t been occupied at all. The black counter tops are so glossy that the overhead light bounces off of the surface and onto a gray wall near the refrigerator.

Because I am very adventurous, I open the refrigerator. What I see in there is all sorts of healthy foods, such as yogurts. the cabinets show clean plates that have been stacked carelessly on top of each other. Dog food rests on the counter. This is for his dog who greeted me with more attention and affection than Anthony had once I stepped in the door. The dog barrels me over as soon as I step in the apartment and Anthony has to rescue me from having to force that dog to attend my funeral.

I make my way into the bedroom, where it is an utter pigsty. Clothes cover the bed in a pile that’s as tall as my stomach. There’s a spot with a pile of clothes surrounding it, like it’s a reserved seat in a public bathroom. I wonder if he sleeps with his backpack. The room can’t hold much, just a bed and a few dressers, all of which have a huge array of colognes and deodorants lined up, as if I am at the store or something.

Next, I make my way into the bathroom. I look in everywhere I can think of, but I can’t find anything of the sort. There’s a note with math equations scribbled on it resting on the toilet. I have no idea what that’s for. In the dining room, I can actually hear him talking to himself as he starts opening another bag. I am amazed he isn’t looking for me. I know I’d be watching anyone who enters my house.

I flush the toilet, just so I can have an excuse to my disappearance. Though, something tells me that he does not notice and will never notice, even if I strip down to my boxers in front of him with a backpack on.

The dog meets me at the bathroom door and it stares at me with eyes that make me instantly melt inside. When I start petting the dog, it immediately snuggles up to me, almost knocking me over. The longer I scratch and pet, the happier the dog becomes. It even smiles.

My hand travels down the thin body, where I can even feel his ribs. This definitely isn’t the same dog I saw in the pictures. This one is thinner and looks a bit older. I stand up again and return to where Anthony is returning from the center of the earth.

yo dawg. Hea it iz yo!” he plops down a piece of paper on the table before smiling at me. “i be finding it!”

Due to my limited vision, I peek at the paper with a magnifying glass. It’s a McDonald job application. Holy shit. Taxes will never go down in this country.

great. You can leave that here, and we can finally hang out!” I say, unable to hide my annoyance at being left to snoop his home for almost an hour.

but first I gots to fill dis out.”

“do you need any help?” I ask. I am sure he doesn’t need any help, and I am correct because he shakes his head. I want to spend some time with him though. that’s why I came here, after all. As soon as he bends over to begin the application, I immediately race into his room, grab one of his socks from the bed, and turn to the sad looking dog trotting behind me.

“you want to play fetch?” I ask. The dog nearly yips with excitement.

For about twenty more minutes, we’re playing fetch with his sock when I have the urge to check in on Anthony. I have no doubt that our tax dollars will be worth him working. After all, McDonald has health benefits.

I approach the employee of the year and gently take a hold of the application. To my shock, it’s complete.

“totally cool!” can I read it?” I ask.

“yeah!” he exclaims, as if I asked him if I could teach him how to give oral sex. I start reading.

NAME: ANTHONY DIXON

DATE OF BIRTH. 09/09/1984

SEX. NOT AT WORK PLEASE.

Five minutes later, I am in a cab, speeding away from the best employee I have ever met. Before I leave, however, I give the dog a dozen of his socks to play with. I know he will need them.

The Hot Air Balloon

I am in his room. A small TV is playing a game of basketball as we kiss awkwardly on the bed. I say awkwardly because his hulking girth is squishing the life out of me and I haven’t even learned what his favorite color is. I amin his place because I can’t sleep. It’s 5 AM.

His name, as I fleetingly remember alongside trying to get some air, is Donnie.

Donnie is a man of very weird words. I dont even remember the messages back and forth but I am sure they were, at least, spicy, like hot Cheetos otherwise I wouldn’t be here suffocating under his girth

I must have sunk so low that I accepted somewhere during the phone conversation but I can’t remember anything he said that made me interested. I can’t remember anything he has told me, mainly because he’s pushing my stomach into the center of the earth.

He messaged me very eagerly on the dating site and we really did have a good time, obviously. The phone conversations were very short. Thats possibly why I dont remember what they were about. He lived close to me. I am a lonely soul in a sea of emails and Netflix TV shows to watch when I get home so I figured it couldn’t hurt to go and see Donnie.

He’s really nice, but he’s very keen on me being his boyfriend when we have only met a few minutes ago. I can’t wait to see what the divorce will be like. His studio apartment is very dimly lit, and is the size of a hotel bathroom. The bed takes up the entire apartment. To my left there’s a small stove and kitchen area complete with tiny fridge. A small TV rests on a miniature entertainment center something I didnt even think existed, and his bed sheets are a very dull green color. It’s obvious the bed is the star of the show. It doesnt need a dashing entrance. Its presence is overwhelming, like a purse with grazers hidden in the handles.

As Donnie continues to slowly kill me, I realize that I am, literally, three steps from the door. Somehow, I have to get my breath back and bolt for the door while a cab is on the way.

“Whoa! Donnie. I seriously can’t breathe!” he stops rubbing his CROTCH with mine, and he sits facing me, somehow becoming even heavier in his still state. I regret not having life insurance.
“Oh. Really?” he asks, as if I’ve told him I’m, indeed, gay.

“Yeah. Can we switch positions?”

“Huh? You want to what?” I wonder if he’s going to start taking notes, like this is a lecture. He looks as if I’ve just asked him to stare at the wall and tell me when it moves.

“I want to switch positions. Let me be on top for a while. OK?” his face dies, then pouts, then dies again.

“But I’m always a top. Always.” I don’t know what else to say, so I utter,

“but your weight was killing me. Literally.”

“You want to top? But why? I’m a top. Thats who I am.”
Suddenly, I want to go away and return to my nice apartment via cab. He, however, is literally freaking out over the fact I want to change positions. He’s offended, hugely, and has stopped talking to me to tweet about it. I presume he will put his phone away but he continues tapping something he’s used to tapping without any back-lip, his phone.

“So… I like this place…”

“One moment,” he says, like I’ve interrupted his own funeral, clacking away. “I’m on Twitter.” I soon dig out my cell and text the cab driver that brought me here. I want him to come get me as soon as possible. He will be here in two minutes.

When Donnie sees me getting ready to leave, he literally clings onto me, and asks me to stay during the day so I can skip various things, including my usual writing routine at my favorite gay coffee shop. I haven’t been sleeping well at all so I am tempted, but he was just a distraction from my Netflix account and things. I ask him if he will let me top and he says I have to be his boyfriend to do that.

Three minutes later I am in the cab speeding away from whatever just happened. I know that I am definitely at the top of something, because his mentions about me on twitter just now, about how I’ve turned him down, and all of this, have gained me followers and has lost him some.

When I get home I play the movie Top Gun, just to have an ironic chuckle.

Daralict Dreamer

Getting into a relationship is always a road that has been paved by many dates. The dates serve as declarative statements that tell one another what the other is like even though people don’t want to divulge everything. Eventually all quirks flesh out and everyone knows about everything. After this happens the love interests can look past all the faults or figure out a way to deal with them without filling up their bank statements with the phrase “the local bar.”

While a relationship is definitely something we all hope for in our lives it’s good to figure out a few things in one’s life. It’s good to wonder what could have been, or what would be. It’s healthy for the soul to think about the alternative.

I’m not thinking either, however, as I perch at the front desk of the facility I inhabit. It’s hard to think any cohesive thought past the chortles I’m exuding as I’m listening to my favorite receptionist, the Feminist Receptionist, as she gallantly tells my next potential how to get to the facility on a Thursday night. Wondering, I’m sure, how big of a shovel hit me.

“You make a left.” She patiently tells Einstein’s double. “Towards the lake.”

“I don’t know where I am!” the panicked voice bellows. The fright emphasizes with every frantic syllable. He’s lost and since I’m new to the windy City, I issued the number to the facility so he could successfully get here.

I didn’t expect this magnificent navigation device to be so terrible at directions, especially since he’s lived in Chicago his whole life and I have not.

Our first exchanges via instant messages, text messages, and emails, were so short they would rival a thumbnail but the phone conversation gave me a bit of hope. His long-winded descriptions about what kind of man he wanted lead me to believe that he wanted someone more “his level.” He doesn’t say a lot of things that stick as he’s talking to me however. There are no thoughts that make me think. The only thing that invades my ears is observations about different gay guys and soliciting their bad qualities as if they are a job applicant.

Despite the boring phone conversation and the worse email exchange, I assume that this potential is done playing games, and I want to give him a chance. I invite him to my apartment because I want to pick his brain in my domain, and it would be nice to cuddle for a while as we debate and talk.

As I’m listening to the worried voice on the phone however, I begin to wonder how far the drop on his head was. He didn’t charge his phone and now his voice is seeping through the receiver, squeaking a little as he tells all of the people who have gathered nearby that “my phones dying! I didn’t charge it!”

“Okay…” the Feminist Receptionist says, thinking empowering thoughts, “are you heading east, to the lake? Or west?”

“Huh? I don’t know we be havin’ a lake! I’m lost! I dunno know where I am!”

“I know. That’s why I’m staying on the phone with you so that I make sure you get here okay,” the empowering employee tells him, exuding a level of professionalism and kindness I’d never be able to muster in this situation.

“My phone’s dying! I am not chargin’ it!” the lost six-foot wonder bellows as if he’s announcing a headline for the New York Times.

After 20 more minutes he arrives, says hey and thank you to my favorite receptionist and then we trudge up to my apartment. I’m walking behind him trying not to cackle at his navigation attempts. I’m sure he’s a really wonderful guy with a lot of substance to offer.

It turns out that he puts an even darker spin on my day after we get into my apartment. Conversation consists of free flowing thoughts and opinions on many subjects by me, with questions tossed in to give him a chance to express himself. His mood isn’t all that stellar because he’s been complaining about his exes for the last half hour. He gives a raincloud competition.

“You like the Butterfly Effect. Why do you like it? Is it the story?” I ask, desperately moving the subject away from a black guy he’s complaining about.

“yeah.” he replies, definitely telling me why he likes the movie The Butterfly Effect.

“What was your favorite part, since it’s your favorite movie?” I Say, feeling like I’m talking to my showerhead. he suddenly grabs me and pulls me onto his lap, his jutting stomach very obvious in such close proximity.

“I don’t know,” he mumbles… “You wonna cuddle?” sighing, I let him cuddle with me.

That’s all we do for another 10 minutes, however, and I really want to send him away as soon as possible. I’m really confused because he isn’t stroking me, he isn’t even talking. He isn’t doing anything other than breathing and slightly snoring, with one arm around me increasing the awkward feeling I am beginning to have. I should have spent tonight alone. I soon tell him he should leave very soon because I am busy tomorrow, and he starts to get up. After he stands he turns and holds me. At least his hugs are wonderful. He smiles at me making me feel good inside.

“You’re a really sweet guy Robert.”

“Thank you!”

“Can I ask you something? It’s very important, but I feel really, really good about us and where we’re headed.” I blink, wondering if this raincloud possesses ANY deduction skills. I nod, despite myself and he grins as if he’s found gold behind my eyes. He suddenly kneels down on one knee and clasps my hand.

“You’re so sweet… I want to have you be my boyfriend; I want to have you marry me!”

I shake my head, giving him a sad smile as I lead him out of my apartment, vowing never to see him again. “I’m very sorry, but I have a pathological fear of weddings, they give me nightmares.”

The Fair Fan

Text can show a lot of things about a person. When someone sends an email, it shows the reader three very important traits.

How articulate they are. Email requires thought in order to expand on thoughts and if the message is short then the person can’t even think their way out of a shirt.

Effort. If the person writes a long message then the person has a lot of diligence and it shows that he can stay on task and get things done.

How deep their head goes. A long email shows more than what they want to reveal, such as how deep their well is for example. Short messages usually translate into “there’s a lot of hot air in this blimp”

But Email can’t show you everything about a person and this is why that initial phone call is important. This next contestant in my quest to find my forever catches me on a Sunday.

Sundays are dangerous days for me, but not nearly as dangerous as my wandering fingers when I’ve exhausted all work and have no video games to play. My boredom, or hormones, finds me goggling at brown abs and bulging arm muscles in the wee hours of the afternoon. I’m looking at a stomach the color of brown sugar pulsating with biceps when a message flies into my dating inbox. It’s very rare this happens so I eagerly click into the message. The spelling and grammar is as flawless as a tax-free society but the message is very short – waving red flags at me that I don’t see.

“Hi. My name is Jason. I recognize you. You’re a journalist. Love your work. I want to chat more, Babe. Is that okay? Please say yes. I think we should. I think that’s fair.”

I can hear the eagerness behind his message so I check him out. His face is brown, as I hoped it would be, and it sports a smile that’s brimming on being cute. He has a balled head, and I can see that he’s 10 years older than me. His smile is wide though and this tells me that there are guys who enjoy having fun outside of the bedroom. Because the fridge is being unusually quiet tonight I dish out my cell number like it’s a lottery ticket and wait for the winning call.

Not even a minute later my phone vibrates. I answer it almost expecting Denzel Washington to greet me and propose but what meets my ear is a husky mesh of needy and overwhelming clinginess. There’s also slurring in his voice that I don’t pay attention to because it’s deep, and a baritone always gets me going. The pleasantries are out of the way very quickly and we know a bit about each other. Before long, we’re discussing what kinds of sexual acts we like to do, and then we focus on each other and what we’d do to one another.

The entire time this is happening I try and throw in questions where he’ll have to give me a detailed answer but he somehow doesn’t hear them and proceeds to tell me what an inspiration I am with a slur behind a few syllables. I notice how frequently the slur happens. A lull in the conversation comes when he admits that he’s not a man’s man. He also keeps asking me if random points he’s made are fair, like we’re having an argument over the remote and he needs Jerry Springer to tell me that he knows the buttons better than I do.

“Really?” I say, not shocked at all given the way he’s been telling me that I’m good looking for the past 45 minutes.

“Yeah. I’m not a mankind of guy. I don’t attract them very much. I want to listen to you more. Is that fair?”

I don’t understand the question but I plow on before I idly remember that I really should be turning in for the night because I have an important meeting to get to in the morning.

“That’s a definite shame. I hate to be a prude, but, I have a meeting I have to get to in the morning and I need my sleep.” The reply slams into my ear with quick bursts of syllables, as if he’s dying and my voice is a resuscitator.

“Listen, babe… I know you don’t like me, and I get it, no one does, but please baby, I want to talk some more. I think you’re hot! Just stay and talk. I want to talk. Is that fair?”

“It’s not you. I don’t think you understand that I have a meeting in the morning that I can’t sleep through.” There’s a heavy sigh on the other end, followed by the unmistakable swigging of a bottle. I then realize that he’s been drunk this entire conversation. I make even louder noises about having to go, but the crying reply makes me stop and gape.

“Please… baby, I’m an alcoholic, I get it, but I think that we deserve to talk things over, is that fair? Is that fair? I mean, we’ve both been alone so…” there’s another swig. “We need to cuddle with one another.”

“You know what? I agree!” I gaily squeal, and begin doing a Google search on my computer. The slur is emphasized as he asks me where I live. I tell him the address to Alcoholics Anonymous in Chicago, and I give him their number instead of mine – he’s forgotten mine already.

“Please call me tomorrow baby. I love you.” I say, hanging up the phone knowing that I will never hear from this diplomat again. Given the last hour, I’d say that’s pretty fair.

The polyandrous proposer

There’s an old saying that people often say when they’re torn between telling little white lies that lead up to heaping twiddle. It’s a phrase used all the time in movies and TV shows and other forms of media that I find very educational because they make me want to read books. It’s the phrase “honesty is the best policy.”

People are afraid of online dating because they are afraid that they won’t get an honest contestant. Of course people won’t be honest but dating is like fishing with different kinds of fish – some of which don’t know how to swim the right way – and others will never bite the bate. The point of dating is to try something new and meet someone new and see if you have the right kind of bate for that particular fish.

As I’m dangling my hook in the vast recesses of the World Wide Web I come across a young lad that I have never seen before. Usually on this site faces become so familiar you can tell how much they have aged when they upload new pictures. The new picture captures my good eye at once because the smile flashes blinding pearly whites at me instead of other body parts. I eagerly click into the profile and gaze at an enlarged image of this new potential. He’s tall – standing up straight as an arrow, this mocha brown spirit displays his photogenic talent by leaning against a wall, elbow resting slightly poised so that his cheek is resting on his hand. The blinding pearly whites draw me in even deeper upon closer inspection because their emphasized by the smile. His smile is so friendly bricks would fawn over him. The eyes compliment the smile. They are very open and easy to see – the picture is very clear – something that’s a rarity on this dating site.

He’s an erudite grammarian as evidenced by the spelling and grammar he displays when he writes about his various interests and thoughts. He’s a cat collector. This makes me want to marry him immediately. He loves to read any genre. He even includes a link to his Goodreads profile.

Since he includes a Goodreads profile I vow to stalk this ebony deity. Something that I notice, however, is all the basic details are missing even though the descriptive text makes up for that. The height, weight, relationship status, and hair color are all blank. The only fields that are filled in are HIV status and the smoke and drink slots – he’s a no on both. As I’m staring at his stimulating picture, I hear angels singing. A notification pops up saying that he’s viewed MY profile. Another notification pops up a few minutes later and I realize that I’ve been in heaven these past few minutes. A message has arrived. I open it with shaking clicks.

“Hello! My name is Alex. I just have to say that you’re cute.”

This game is not new to me, so I smirk before I have a chance to read the next line.

“I realize that sentence above won’t make me win you over, given your profile, so I want to introduce myself formally. I just wanted to tell you something you may not know.” the perception gets my fingers flying so fast they stir up weather patterns.

Dozens of messages that could rival legislations at the white house lead us to a dashing night. We’re sitting in a flourishing restaurant that I have never been to before, our peepers fixed on each other as if we were born to stare at one another among sparkling conversation and boisterous laughter. We’re eating and talking, emphasizing our good time with flows of feelings and thoughts. When the dinner is over I can’t believe that he’s single so I ask him if he is.

“Am I single? Oh god no. I’m not single.” instantly I feel myself blanching as my brain stutters in reply. My mouth hasn’t even made it to a stutter yet.

“Huh?” I think I’m in Hell.

“I’m not single. I have an open relationship with a guy.” I don’t believe in them at all, and believe that they are more trouble than anyone notices. I tell him this but he assures me it’s the norm now.

“I just don’t understand how your boyfriend would be okay with me being here.” I splutter. He smiles, very calm, not fazed by my morals at all.

“Well, Robert. We all have different feelings and thoughts. He and I have different ideas of a relationship than you do. I thought you’d be pretty good with that. I thought you were going to be someone who we could share.” I shake my head so hard the wind halts. His demeanor has changed to a bitter simmer. It is now that I see the ring on his finger. He’s married. He didn’t have a ring in any pictures on the site.

“No. even if you tell each other what you’re doing, and I don’t even know if you do… see that’s cheating. That’s not an open anything. You’re going behind closed doors to get something that you want to get. You should get it with openness and honesty.”

He shakes his head, smiles, and pats my hand as if I’m a delirious child. “You just don’t understand – it’s okay.” Soon after, he sees me back to my apartment and then leaves, giving me a hug. His voice brimming with sincerity, he exclaims he had a good time. I have to admit, I did to.

A few days later I’m sitting in a coffee shop for gay people writing a news article when I sense someone sit down across from me. I look up and Alex is there. A worker clears Alex’s place, and they talk. Since I’m close, I gape at the matching rings on their fingers. Suddenly, another worker trips and coffee soon splashes towards me. Alex’s husband quickly comes over and mops up the mess. He’s just as friendly as Alex, with deep dark skin and very gentle hands. His smile is infectious.

“Oh gosh. I’m so sorry sweetie. Are you okay?” he asks as he cleans the spill. He’s a sweetheart – he deserves better.

“Yes. I’m fine… well; actually, I think some got on this table. Can you wipe it off?”

“Sure sugar!” he gushes. “I’ll be right back okay?” as he goes to get napkins I quickly type out a text on my phone and place it on the table. He returns in a flourish, sincerely apologizing that he’s interrupted my writing. He really is a sweetheart.

“Right here…” I say, pointing just to the left of my phone. He begins to wipe and then he reads the message I have typed. “Alex went out with me last night, and others.” As I stand up to leave, a tearful voice whispers thank you. I’m not sure how to say, “You’re welcome.”

The whimsical wonderment

“I don’t usually make a trip to see people,” he says as he sits on my bed, looking at me like I am a new kind of doctor brought back from outer space.

The guy I have sitting on my bed is quiet, yet has a lot of things to say. His looks don’t matter to me very much because we have been wrapped up in conversation for a while, an intellectual massage for the both of us. Not about facts and figures trailing down history like a curvy tail but we’ve been telling one another what we think, how we think the way we think, and why we think the way that we think. Even though Richard is dashing, with a thin build sporting a face that holds a smile that makes me instantly smile back, he’s docile too with an abundance of nonsexual body contact and that makes my guard plummet instantly.

The reason he’s on my bed is my entire fault, some my fridge’s. The steady hum just didn’t keep good company tonight so when Richard messages me I instantly think how wonderful he would be compared to my listless fridge that has been loyally filling my apartment with random cooling noises, letting me know that “I’m not going anywhere”

His messages attracted me to him; they were so short they would rival a bird’s attention span but they are very detailed and to the point. Because I specialize in writing novels just to say a simple meaning, I instantly want to meet this man, who’s a few years older than I am. Now, in my apartment, sitting on his lap, his smile hypnotizes me. His voice soothes me, and his words utterly excite me. I’d hate to see what they would do if he combines all three ingredients together.

“I know. I sensed that about you. I’m grateful you did come here.” I say, sinking into his embrace. We’ve been discussing about so many other things that the conversation has finally circled back to us.

“I bet, with you being an engineer, you see things differently than some people and this makes me glad I could win your trust.” I say, sinking even deeper into his gentle hold as we lay back on my bed, with me hoping my door is locked.

“That depends on your idea of different. Everyone has an idea of difference so my idea of difference may be incompatible with yours.”

“Just like disabilities.”

“Bingo!” he says, gently patting my stomach and making me sad that I’m not a puddle so I can melt here and now. “Of course, we all know what disabilities are, by the dictionary definition, but we both know there are disabilities that exceed the definition.

“ like jealousy, which clouds people’s minds and judgments because… they’re jealous.” I say intelligently.

“I have a disability too, but it’s a hidden disability.” I instantly look into his wide brown eyes and fight the impulse to cup his face between my hands. Some people would describe him as being brown skinned. I don’t know what I’d describe him as at the moment because I’m spellbound by everything he says and does.

“Let me guess, it’s a learning disability. I bet, it’s a learning disability, and you can’t read, but then that wouldn’t explain your willingness to read my ramblings.”

“I have HIV.” He utters and looks away. I don’t bat an eye.

“Are you cutting back on the salt? Because that can be, like, really bad since you have a lower immune system.” he smiles, and holds me tighter as we lay on the bed.

“You’re quite vivacious.” He says with a gentle snuggle before switching to lying on top of me, our noses inches from one another. His eyes are really wonderful. I don’t know what’s better, his eyes or his smile or his soul or his voice. “Listen, Robert, whatever happens, I don’t want to stop being friends. Okay?” I instantly smile, and we kiss, sealing the deal.

Future dates are just as epic, with us going out to eat, having sex, and talking in my apartment, even playing video games, exploring the town, and sharing LOL cats enjoying each other’s company. The sex is partly my initiation, partly his initiation. We’re both young and horny but the aspects I value most are the moments after we both have done what we wanted to do, and we’re just cuddling on my bed, or talking, relaying our hopes and dreams and what pissed us off today and what made us laugh. We both initiate activities on our own terms, including sex and this leaves me to me believe I have finally found someone to replace my fridge’s dull hum. A month later, there’s a text angrily telling me “all I want him for is sex.”

I’m beyond angry because this definitely isn’t so, but I don’t know how to even begin to tell him this. How dare he say something like this? If only he knew what I valued most, his conversations, words, smile, mind. He’s nuts. I want to have him here holding me. He doesn’t know me at all. Why am I such a bad person?

“I don’t just want to have you for sex. That’s crazy. Your acting like a child right now!” I type hating my hormones and, worse still, angry that I don’t have anything better to say that shows Richard how wrong he really is.

“Do you remember what I told you the first day we met?” he responds. I’m shaking, I’m beyond angry. I want to have him here so I can hold him. How could I be such a typical young adult? I hate my hormones. I hate his thoughts. Why am I a bad person? Why is he such a fool right now? I want to say something better and I’m angry I can’t think of a Hollywood line to make everything right.

“No… I don’t remember… but you’re wrong. I care about you a lot, and that was a childish thing to say.” He doesn’t reply and I’m down for the count, it seems. I won’t have him to hold, to hold hands with, to debate with, to cuddle with, and to experience life with. Perhaps the blindness isn’t my only disability. I don’t know how to change to make myself better so I can make him happy. I quietly turn to my fridge, asking the hum where my faults lie. It doesn’t answer me… I immediately grab my cane and go out for some ice cream across the street. I order mint chocolate chip because that’s my favorite ice cream. And, better still, I am reading a Star Wars book, totally swept up in a different world. It’s way better than listening to my fridge, after all.

The Smashing Suprise

Clocks. All they do is tick and make people fret. I’ve been waiting for the latest contestant in the endless game show that is my dating life to turn up. I don’t believe in fashionably late – stylish punctuality is much more my kind of thing – and tardiness should always be explained with a conciliatory text or even a phone call. So far, nothing.
As I’m waiting many things become apparent to me. Its two minutes past the meeting time. I should never arrive first on a date. I should have brought an iPod so that I could read while he grips me in suspense. When I check my cell again its six minutes past the appointment time. With each cast of my baby blues I notice that the original appointment time creeps further away like a detoured fox.
I have to say that I didn’t expect to be waiting on this dashing dude wishing that I had brought my iPod. His profile drew me with quotes from S, E. Hinton and fervent affirmations about is point of view on misogynistic literature. I messaged him eagerly ready to break out the tea bags and sit in front of the screen ready for an intellectual massage. When I click on the send message button it is his picture that makes my mouth salivate. I’m a teenager again as my one good eye stares at a body that’s too good to be true. Taking up the length of the frame and only a fraction of the width, a slightly muscular beanpole stands beside a pool of bubbling water with a face that looks as if it’s been specifically designed to be sexy, cute, and friendly at the same time, sporting a smile that could inspire paintings. Black as the ace of spades, I can see that he easily stands at six feet tall. His eyes are wide and inviting and I can even see them in the picture, something I’m rarely able to do. I suddenly remember what I’m supposed to be introducing and write something about myself, preying to the gay gods that he writes me back with something fresh and vibrant and containing substance… and more pictures.
When the messages arrive I don’t care that they are so short and vague it reminds me of a shampoo flyer. The pictures kick all standards to the side and soon, after only 12 three word questions and answer sessions, a few of which are about my feelings about his skin color, even though he knows I’m only attracted to black men, I’m here waiting on this late beauty. To help ease my discomfort, I chat other people up in the restaurant asking them what they think about the stock market and the new sequel to Hunger Games that’s out in theaters.
I start to feel a bit self-conscious and wonder if the disabilities are too much despite my witty writing. Perhaps, when I told him that I had a stutter, he didn’t know if he’d have enough patience to be around me and let me finish my sentences. Perhaps he’s intimidated by my computer skills and his lack of understanding a USB drive. There isn’t anyone stopping my wild thoughts so as time increases the ponderings become constant chatter in my head.
I may have gone the extra mile with this date, telling the CNA’S to iron my clothes and I schedule to make sure I trim my hair so that my eyes can invite him within mere seconds of intense staring. I may have spent an hour choosing the best kind of shirt and pants possible for the date and I worked on not intimidating people with my understanding of metaphors.
A sudden vibration yanks me back into the restaurant and I whip the phone from my pocket as if it holds a million dollars. The text has a smiley face after it, emphasizing the anticipation. He says his “arrival is imminent” as if he’s a star fleet or an airplane.
I stand up and hastily straighten my already groomed hair and stand at attention, forgetting to breathe. I wait a few seconds but it feels like a lifetime before I hear him ask if I’m his date. The questioning way he utters my name causes my ears to prickle.
A smile lights up my face as I turn to greet the smashing soul but when my good eye processes what I’m seeing my mouth falls to the floor like an arthritic dog. Before me is a short pale man with hair that reminds me of tangled electrical wires grinning with missing golden teeth as if he’s won the lottery. My ears then pick up the buzzing of flies whizzing about his outfit. As I stand there, a dozen land on me and bite me. Continuing to smile like I’m about to issue him a grenade, I cock my head to the side, making a split decision that saves everything in a split second.
“I’m very sorry, but who are you looking for? I don’t think I know this person.”

the insecure showoff

Appearances can be deceiving. If someone says they can’t they have never been on a dating site or to an outlet mall. Regardless of this vastly different world we must draw our own conclusions from what we perceive, but only after several glimpses of appearance

It is a Tuesday when I receive the message in my dating inbox. Since this is a site primarily for men of color, the man looking back at me with a suit and tie and pleasantly inviting eyes is, indeed, black as the ace of spades. Before reading the message I take a look at his profile. There isn’t anything in the about me field or even, what I’m looking for field. Pictures dominate the profile. There are a whopping 90 of them open to the public. I finally read what he has to say admiring his looks and image. His writing, however, is something just above chicken scratch.

“hi ther. ma name s paul. how r u doin”

I continue to Email Paul hoping that I can get something a bit more revealing from his emails but he can’t write. He can barely string together a word that’s spelled correctly “to” is 2 and “people” is “niggart” (what is that, anyway?) even though he knows I’m white. His images are a misleading hope, however, so I dish out my Google voice number and he calls me. Perhaps he is the kind of fellow who isn’t very articulate with writing. Perhaps he is a poodle in disguise, as well, but I will never know unless I get past this awful Email exchange.

From the word “hello,” I am swept off my feet. A calm and collected, thoughtful voice invades my ear for a smashing two hour discussion about why Magic is such a popular card game to the wonderment of metaphors. In short, he has won me over immensely and I almost forget how to hang up the phone.

I have enjoyed our phone conversation so much that when the date has arrived we meet one another at a bar in Chicago. I’ve managed to save up enough money to go on this date via cab so I have agreed to meet him in one of the many gay bars in Chicago. When he sees me he immediately runs over, stands still long enough for me to tell that he looks as he does in the photos but he sounds so opposite of his attire that I have to actually force him to say a word, complete with syllables. It’s completely different from the phone conversation a few nights ago.

“What up nigga.” is the greeting I finally receive after endless mumbled fucking trite. I think about calling him a cracker but I doubt he would even get the joke. Soon, I want to go inside really badly. I want to get a drink. I will definitely need one to finish this night.

The first golden moment shines just before we enter.

“Hold up,” he says before turning and loudly spitting on the sidewalk. Worse still, people near the glob glare at him. I want to be a puddle so I can sink through the nearest crack in the sidewalk but I am already at the entrance. As I enter the bar, I can’t help but think, “poor example of evolution.”

When we are finally sitting down I decide to see if my assumptions are wrong. Either I am really stupid or really gullible because the alarm bells are ringing in my ears so loud I can barely see, never mind hear, but I believe they are false. I ask him a bunch of questions. He talks exactly like black stereotypes on TV, speaking at 400 words a minute while bobbing his head. He is loud, too, and won’t tone his voice down. I literally have to grasp straws to say things to try to keep the conversation going. With every minute I am reaching for my drink, something he does not notice.

“So what do you think about voting?” I ask, clearly stupid beyond measure.

“Voting good!” he bleats. A child of five could understand this but, sadly, there are no children in sight. I down another glass, staring at him like a white carpet would eye a dog with diarrhea. He turns his bleating chasm towards me and utters a series of sounds. I am tempted to drink the bar out of wine but he suddenly gets up and walks in the direction of the men’s room. I look at my cell and realize I have been listening to him for twenty minutes and I haven’t understood anything he has said except for “nigga” and “voting good!” I call a cab but the cab won’t get here for another 10 minutes. Oh, the horror.

Machine mouth comes back, sits down, says something, drinks some more, and calls me a white something. I could play scrabble with his sounds. I finally give him a beam. He beams.

“I am so glad you have returned! “I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.” he doesn’t falter though. To him, I have endorsed him. I decide that I better not order any more alcohol and order water.

“I guess you can have it,” he says with a straight face. Like I needed his fucking permission. The alcohol is slowing his speech down, but he is also taking off his clothes. I am horrified. Luckily another black man calls my name and I stand up. He is my cab driver. My date grabs me, drunkenly kisses me and says, before I tear out of the door and his life forever, “what you think nigga?”

“Well,” I say, “I never forget a face, but in your case I will be glad to make an exception.”