After the meeting that I had with the Stranger at the end of Shitty Dates, all was shanty banty for a while there.
When you aren’t spending all your time looking for someone to date, it’s amazing how much energy you have. I was having a blast in LA. But then of course, the doubt starts to kick in, and the loneliness. Ah, the loneliness. His advice had been to stay single till that went away.
But after six months of dating me, I convinced myself I had a handle on it. Even though if I’m really honest, I could tell that all those feelings I’d drowned in the ocean were bobbing back up to the surface. Beating loneliness is like giving up cigarettes; you haven’t had one in ages, so it should be OK to have just one puff, right?
That couple that broke up John and Tim, well, this is how we met.
I met John online and was thrilled when we arranged to meet for a coffee. I was thrilled when I turned up and there he was looking exactly like his photos because we all know how that can go.
I was less thrilled by the ring on his fourth finger.
Me: You’re wearing a ring.
John: I have a boyfriend.
Me: Oh, I didn’t know that.
John: It’s on my profile.
Note to self: don’t just look at the pretty pictures.
Ah well. But we really hit it off and then I meet Tim and we all get on like a house on fire. Turns out they were looking to meet more gay friends and grow their circle.
So a nice little routine began where I’d drive to Long Beach once or twice a month, pick up some steaks, we’d grill in the backyard and drink and have a great old time. And there was always that spark between me and John, which sometimes makes a friendship even more fun; the knowing and the not doing and the unspoken private joke that that becomes.
Then came the Flickr posting.
Then came the dilemma. What to do now? They are both great friends and I wonder if it’s OK to see John. Around this time, the film The Pursuit of Happyness comes out and somehow I turned the scene where Will Smith tells his kid, “If there is something that you want, go and get it,” into a mantra to plant my flag in the ground.
Tim had already met someone else and was planning to move to Tennessee so I decide to make my play for John. He comes to mine for dinner and for dessert, I lay my cards out on the table. But I tell him also that you know, he’s been monogamous for ten years, he needs to go and get his groove on and shag the planet. But I don’t want to be one in that line of a hundred. When he’s ready to date again, I’m right here.
He cries, tells me how much that means to him and we have a moment that I think we will look back on and say that was the start of us.
There’s a second where I consider throwing him to the ground and ripping off all of his clothes, but I’m happy to say that there was nothing more than a friendly peck goodbye and a plan to see each other next week.
Then I never heard from him ever again. My phone calls are not returned, my emails unanswered. Flickr informs me that the man is mowing through LA as he should. But I thought I might get a call in the midst of the frenzy. Even for a water break.
A month later we bump into each other in a bar and there are the most profuse apologies. I even tell him that it’s OK, and that he can still call, the door’s not closed, the single thing is new for him etc. I offer him a whole drive through menu of excuses he can choose from.
And then I never hear from him ever again. Again.
Then later when I did have a look at Flickr, I find he’s dating a guy in SF. A guy that I used to like but whom I couldn’t even get on the radar of. And it’s all love and rockets.
Tim also doesn’t speak to me now. I guess he thinks that we were all only friends because I fancied his boyfriend. And if I’m honest, while that’s not true now, it was at the start.
So I was left with the most profound feeling of being dumped. And a three-way loss. Two friends and one something that might have been something. So I wrapped myself up in a blanket woven of “what’s wrong with me’s?” and a thousand regretful replays of how I should have done it differently.
Will Smith advice works well for a six year old on a basketball court in 1982, not so well for dating in LA 2008.
I was relating the whole tale to a German friend of mine who had some sage words. You can always count on the Germans to let you know the real deal. “Karl, just because you’re a nice guy and do the right thing, doesn’t mean you get what you want.”
Note to self: Start dating me again. And stop taking advice from Will Smith movies.