Stop Me Before I Date Again

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November 17, 2010 by jamesessj

My 41st Christmas is fast approaching, and I am single.  Either one of these two facts, individually, would be enough to send most gay men running to their therapists, but in conjunction, they’re cause for quitting one’s job, selling one’s home, moving oneself to Boca Raton, and wasting one’s days away at the canasta table with the other retirees waiting for the cold hand of death to descend.

This is, in fact, the course of action I am considering.  Florida is a nice place, or so I’ve heard.  The weather is good.  The people are friendly.  Rents are reasonable, or at worst, comparable to the Bay Area.  They have the Marlins and the Rays, and Orlando and the Keys and the Everglades and Miami Beach and spring break and fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.

Because I just don’t see how I can continue this way.  I can’t envision beginning another relationship at this point in my life.  All the time invested in getting to know each other, all the hours spent at movies and dinners and on the phone talking about my past, his past, my family, his family, my ex’s, his ex’s, my insecurities, his insecurities, my needs, his needs, my sexual proclivities, his sexual proclivities.  It’s too much!  It takes too long to document another human being; to assess his worthiness, his compatibility.  You can live with someone for forty years and they can still surprise you, so how are you supposed to figure them out in a month or two?

Because that’s about all the time I’m willing to give a guy.  Two months, max.  To decide whether he’s a potential mate or a definite moot.  To decide whether we have a future together, or a future apart.  To decide whether it’s a wedding ring of commitment, or the boxing ring of a break-up.

I know two months is nowhere near long enough to make these appraisals, but I’m sorry, I can’t afford any longer than that.  How many men do I have to go through, at two months per man, before I find The Right One?  I’m not getting any younger, and neither is my dating demographic.  Before too long if I go out clubbing I’ll have to order from the senior menu.  Gay men aren’t known for their tolerance for the aging process — every minute, every second, that goes by diminishes my attractiveness to other men, and therefore the scope of my possibilities, by a factor of…well, by a factor.  And that’s a lot.

The real problem is that I have no illusions about how I came to be in this state.  I came to be in this state because I am an idiot.  I am never satisfied.  I cannot help looking a gift horse in the mouth.  I don’t know how to be happy.  I nitpick.  I take things for granted.  I am immature and unable to forgive.

–I am providing too many reasons.  Suffice to say, I’m no good at relationshipping.  I am the Bay of Pigs of boyfriends.  I seemed like a good idea at the time, but at the last minute I withdrew support and left me to fend for myself.  I never had a chance.  Now I am ruled by bitterness and regret, not to mention a socialist dictator, though I am the darling of the liberal media.

I don’t mean to imply that the boyfriends I have had have been perfect.  They have not.  The overwhelming majority of them have been at least as challenged, relationshipping-speaking, as am I.  A couple of them ought to have been arrested for masquerading as human beings.  But even this, to my mind, speaks to my inability to make rational judgments:  I always choose the wrong guy.  Set down Mr. Right and Mr. Half-Right in front of me, and I will invariably pick some third guy who was just cleaning out the ashtrays, or passing by the room on his way to another appointment.

Do I fear success?  Is that my problem?  Do I not want a healthy relationship?  Do I thrive on chaos and drama?  Do I think a relationship’s not a relationship without blood, sweat, toil, and tears?  Do I choose the wrong guys so as to undermine the relationship before it’s even begun?

Could be, but I’ve gone past caring.  I don’t like being single, but what I like even less is the thought of putting forth all that effort to get to know somebody, only to find out he’s a woman, or wants to be a woman, or used to be a woman, or wants to have sex with a woman.  I’m like an ex-con who can’t afford one more strike on his record:  I’d like to do the crime, but I’m not about to risk the time.

So if you see me walking down the street, please take a moment to remind me, in a friendly way, that I have no business dating.  Remind me that there are worse things in the world than being single; starvation, for instance, and cancer.  Remind me that I am a worse judge of men than is Whitney Houston.  Remind me that at least two persons have returned to their countries of origin rather than remain in the United States with its memories of me.  Remind me that people can go for years and years without sex.  Most of all, remind me that I’m not supposed to care anymore.

Of course, if you have a brother who’s gay, or a friend who’s just come out, then feel free to pass along my number.  A date or two isn’t going to kill me.  I think I can handle a date or two.  But I have to say, best-case scenario, he knows how to play canasta, and can teach me.

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the author, if he lives that long

Willkommen, bienvenue…

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