My pal Sarah – yes that very Sarah who graces my paltry list of ‘followers’, whom might better be termed people I follow when they write (or IF they do), reminded me in a private communication of a technique for achieving goals which I once practiced successfully in achieving material goals. Her suggestion was not quite the same as that I recall, since mine involved visualizing and hers feeling, and mine involved the material, while hers, not surprisingly was more about feelings engendered by success – but anyway. In an attempt to try out her suggestion in the matter of solving my lonely current state, I winnowed all my conclusions from past happiness down to that which was common in all my past loves and my greatest friends.
One of the uses of this technique, both as I once practiced it and as she enhanced and amended it, is that one does not take into consideration such things as the likelihood, the practicality, or the how, merely how the end result feels. Thus one begins to cast aside considerations that once were blocks – in the matter of finding someone to love such things as distance, fitting in with various preconceptions and so forth - many of which are subconscious or only partially realized or which are far less important than one had been making them out to be.
I have for sometime, in a desultory way, been keeping up a presence and a search on an online dating site, because I was either new in town wherever I was living, or I was back here in my lovely, but tiny, hometown, where oddly enough, older gay men do not seem to be found behind every bush. Or any bush, let alone out in the open. This site has resulted in meetings with five men over a longish period of time, with none of whom did I ‘click’, although I had some very enjoyable dates, and do not regret any of the time we spent together. Older gay men are one of those demographics that are not high on the list of desirable catches (we are the skanky fish that get thrown back when netted by the tuna fishers); I am well aware of this; and those few who have much to offer among this rather large group also have a large pool of attractive, willing and often younger, suitors.
Well, I have long suspected that Sarah has an ‘in’ with the forces of destiny or whatever is floating around out there which is denied to such cynics as me, but even so, I have to say that following her suggestion has resulted, or MAY have resulted, in amazingly quick service. Because one of the points I have previously overlooked, is that with retirement I have gained flexibility in the location department, and when I cast my net over an area within the nearer thousands of miles, rather than within the range of a weekend drive, I just may have netted something interesting. “Interesting” is but a pale and sickly word for what I may have turned up, actually.
I am remarkably prone to counting chickens prior to their arrival at the local hatchery, and I am well aware that all kinds of things can go wrong, but I have always been one who believed in leaps of faith, leading with the heart and so on. The pain sometimes suffered as a result is well worth the fun and happiness that have also been found more often than those who constantly warn me of outcomes would expect. So anyway, a few days ago, I sent one of those ‘you sound nice’ feelers to a man on the West Coast who is (or who claims to be) in his mid fifties. This man had no photo on his page on the dating site; this is not uncommon on gay dating sites for what may be obvious reasons – and what the hell – the whole idea of dating is finding out things. One nice thing is that his user id was just a name, not ‘hotnhorny’ (not that the latter is a bad thing!). He said in his profile that he had a very busy life, loved his job but was always willing to make time for someone he cared about. Now, one sends about 30 of such feelers for every response one gets, and I was not sitting around with bated breath (and no it is NOT ‘baited’ which would be rather fishy and awful) awaiting this man’s reply.
But reply he did, which was terrific, in and of itself. The guy mentioned that the name on the site – his user id - was a pseudonym he had used in the military service where a cautious double life was required for gay men, since he had an unusual name which if leaked or overheard by anyone would lead to quick identification. I will call him Maxwell for purposes of this blog. He said many old friends still use his military pseudonym although they now knew his real name. I responded to him; he replied again – actually two replies a minute apart which I assumed was an accidental re-send, so at first I read only one of his notes. He said he liked my picture and profile. He also gave me his e-mail address. I sent an email with a very brief (for me) bit about whom and where I am. Then, just because I was a little thrilled to get this far along and wanted to extend and savor the moment a bit more, I went back and read what I thought was the accidental duplicate message. But it wasn’t a duplicate, it was another message saying he had now posted his photo for a brief time so I could see it, but that he did not like having it up for long. He said it was a poor picture, taken at the recent Emmys, which he had been able to attend because his firm did work for the producers.
He certainly looked his age or thereabout, but I have to say if I were asked to sketch the perfect 50-year-old man for me, the result would have been very close to him. I sent him a bit of effusion on that topic, and a long bio plus thoughts on life and love – and y’all know, when I say long, I don’t meant two paragraphs. Then I got all panicky because he was SO good-looking and maybe I overdid it, or went on too much or maybe I let out a lot of thoughts better left till later, or unsaid altogether. It is very hard for anyone, and doubly so for me, to write at any length and not reveal a lot that might be entirely what is intended. I am often shocked at the sort of things people will put on dating site profiles: mean-spirited, or arrogant or demanding. There are a lot of folks whom I would be astonished to find had received any responses. So I was shaking in my boots, after I sent the e-mail off.
But no, he loved the flattery (and acknowledged that he knew it for flattery) – and he had the grace to say he liked my looks and my personality and my writing (which I took for fact, not flattery, because I am much needier than he is). And he wrote me back at some length, while apologizing for writing less than I had done. And he’s interesting and great-looking and just what I want, and I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach that you get when you are about to jump off an unusually high ledge, or when you almost fall downstairs and catch yourself at the last minute. Sort of pre-love. So yesterday I wrote and wrote. For me, writing is like talking, when I am interested in what I am saying, or in whom I am saying it to, it just flows. I often discover how I feel about something only when I see what I have written about it. And I sent all this off, and there has been no response. And I am tense and nervous and can’t settle down because even though the man I have in my mind is only 5% real and 95% my fantasy or projection, I am so already almost in love that I can’t see straight. He’s busy, he goes to a gym, he has a lot of friends, he has a house that needs attention, he’s off this weekend with a group of friends to Vegas – there are a lot of reasons (I tell myself) for him not to have written back yet. He did say, when last he wrote, that he was taking his laptop with him to Vegas, so “don’t worry, I will be still be around”.
But I focus on that ‘goes to the gym’ – I don’t, so he must be much fitter than I; will he find me disgusting? His last partner, to whom he was ‘true blue’ for the duration of their relationship he says, passed away 8 years ago. This partner was a former model in New York. Oh dear. But he likes what I say about the feelings I want with a partner (thanks, Sarah!). We were both raised Catholic – this doesn’t matter on one hand, but I have found that I do tend to discover when I connect with people well, that they are or have been either Catholic or Jewish. So from that viewpoint this is a plus.
I have spent two restless nights hoping against hope; working out how much time I can spend away from home and the like, should the issue arise (Count those chickens!). He acknowledged that he too worries when he writes about seeming too needy, moving too quickly (as if there were a “quickly” for me that could remotely fall into the “too” category!). I have already made us a pair in my inner thoughts and am already at a point where a failure to launch will be hurtful and much like a break-up.
Shortly after his last longish email, another was sent labelled “Photo”. I actually hesitated before opening this, because I feared it was one of those topless gym sort of photos to which I would feel somewhat pressured to reciprocate in kind. Not, I fear, a pretty picture. I always feel I appear at my best when I am weaving a symphony of chatter to distract full attention from the sad remains of my corpus. I actually confessed to this, when I responded to the actual photo, saying that the thousands of years that had carved the Grand Canyon into an object of beauty had largely had the opposite effect on me. If rejection must come let’s get on with it, is my general idea. But no, the photo, when opened, was a threesome of men with arms about each others’ shoulder with himself in the middle, looking better than ever. The other two men were a current judge on one of the popular reality/talent shows and a former major teenage heart-throb recently making a comeback as an adult actor. I pray that he wants to impress me. But what impresses me here is his wide smile, his handsome face, and the surprisingly self-effacing emails he has sent.
So here I am – all abuzz with excitement and scared to death that I am set for a fall.
Otherwise, I have decided that there must be a bit more in my current life than sitting around thinking about yard chores which I do not seem to get around to actually doing, or about Max. So when my old pal from National Upsy-Daisy sent an email saying he and his friend have moved to Ft Lauderdale and why didn’t I come down for a long weekend, I booked a flight for late October. And when a good friend whom I met as a colleague many years ago said she was visiting California for some time in November and come on and visit, I booked a flight to do that too. And when an unexpected couple of sums of money showed up in the mail (I had one more pay cheque from Smallville Solutions than expected, and a pretty fat return-of-escrow cheque from my former mortgage holder), I wrote my cousin Warren and told him the Bali trip in January is on. So I guess, however things go with Max, I won’t just be sitting around in the coming days.
But everything pales utterly in comparison to the question just raised: with Max, or without?