Monday, August 17, 2015

Stood Up (Again)

I could see this one from a mile away. I agreed to go out on a date with a guy from okcupid who messaged me a few days ago. The message complimented me on my looks, interests, and spirituality. I replied with similar compliments. A dialogue began about faith, religious practices, and our beliefs. At a certain point the conversation grew stagnant and he turned it toward the physical. This is an area I'm just not good at on the phone. via text, or even in person. After six months of celibacy that was preceded by a few years of chastity in increments of 6 months or a year, I don't have the palette for dirty talk. I can write it in my plays and joke about it, but I have no sense of how to place myself in XXX world. I give the needed information, throw in a few jokes, and try to ease the conversation on to other topics without making it seem obvious. I did this and the conversation dried up.

A day later the conversation began with the suggestion of meeting. I knew this was probably meant as a pass for sex. Instead I invited him to dinner the next night: my treat. I picked out the restaurant so that it would be in his neighborhood, he agreed. My day went along as planned: I went to boot training fitness class and then yoga. I wrote an article for TPM, edited a short play I finished the previous night, answered emails, and fought off the sneaking suspicion that I had made arrangements with a 'flake.' When it came time to drive, I left late, but still managed to arrive at the restaurant early. It was a quiet Thai food place in gay hub of Ft. Lauderdal: Wilton Manors. The host looked at me and I said "two...we'll see.'

I was sat down with two menus and two glasses of water near a giant fish tank teeming with colorful fish. At a few minutes past our planned meeting I ordered an appetizer. When the appetizer came, I ate it quickly, and considered pigging out on meat as punishment for being gullible enough to be a 'man of my word' and fulfill a promise, even when I was sure the other person was going to flake out. Instead I ordered an entree of noodles with mushroom. As I looked around the restaurant, I noticed that I was the only person sitting at a table alone .Everyone was paired up in couples. There was what appeared to be a mother and son and a straight young couple sitting next to me taking selfies of themselves. Perched by the window, an elderly gay couple sat in relaxed smiles. A short Asian man was there with a tall blonde transexual. Mercifully, the waiter placed me off in a corner so that I didn't feel like I was being watched by all the happy couples. As I paid the check there was that flash of a voice I recognize all too well...

You're never going to find anyone.

You're going to die alone. 

I took a selfie of the date: me sitting in a booth. Even the joking selfie depressed me: who is this sad-looking man? I looked at my eyes curved down by the gravity of low expectations. I pushed the rising din of forecasting voices aside and paid my bill. I checked my email and my inbox had from a journal that wanted to publish one of my plays, while a indie book company sent me cover graphic for an upcoming printing of one of my plays that is about finding love. I replied to the book publisher about how simple, clean, and exciting this new idea seemed to me in this moment.

Outside the restaurant, a steroid duo walked their dog. I drove down Wilton Manors Drive and caught the sign for the Dairy Queen. Yes, this sounds like a good pity stop. U-turning the car around, I parked and went up to the window. I hadn't been to Dairy Queen in years. I stared at the options. Everything seemed a disgusting concoction of colored corn syrup and dairy powder. Places like Dairy Queen used to be a tried and true coping mechanism so I ordered a brownie batter Blizzard. Large. I planted my red spoon in the mud brown goo and started shoveling. I drove and caught the eye of a single muscular guy in a tank top walking his dog. He stopped in his tracks and waited for my car. A fantasy flew by of stopping the car and pretending to be lost. Instead I kept driving and slurping up the fast-melting blizzard of diabetes in my cupholder.

 A few minutes later I found myself at a gas station refilling the tank and chucking the half-eaten mass of brownie byproduct into the trash. I read an email from someone else on my phone who annoyed me in the past. I imagined calling them a 'stupid cunt' and pointing out the flaws in their life. After a minute this vision past and I was back to me.

I drove past old haunts where I used to pick up guys in another era of reckless sexual immolation. These places existed for the anonymous, easy, numbing palaver of encounters I fed off of in my 20s.  It began to rain which added to the overall mood of the evening. I chanted a few mantras and remembered my day: exercise, writing, taking care of my Dad, two publishing opportunities, and now this. This minor slight which avalanched so many insecurities and coping mechanism. I observed how my mind ran through all of these thought so smoothly. The road had been traveled many times before and the trajectory of thoughts flowed with ease. The only difference is that now I'm aware of these emotional swings. A calm settled over me. I couldn't tell whether the existential shroud of silence that blanketed my thoughts was funereal or zen-clarity. Maybe both. As I drove home it occurred to me that this was something I should journal.

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