September 1997
s m u g
three dollar bill
by Willie Love



Recently I woke up alone and decided that although I find myself to be an exquisite lover capable of satisfying my every need, sometimes it's nice to have someone to have breakfast with.

After a long relationship followed by several false starts, I gave myself a timeout until I could decide exactly what it was I wanted in a partner, and eventually realized that I had no idea.

There are as many different types of people as there are people and as much as I try to assert that it's imperative I find someone brilliant, witty and urbane (like me), who doesn't take life too seriously who can get his act together when he needs to - I recall some of the people I've dated, successfully in the past. They all weren't smart, or funny, not all of them were good looking, they all just - on some level, clicked with me.

Oh, no, this isn't where I take my cue from the other Willie and lament to All The Boys I've Loved Before (and of course, the two girls when I was "experimenting") I'll launch right into my most recent debacle.

Time was, and I missed this completely living in a whitebread suburban town, when gay men still self identified through things like earrings and handkerchiefs. Bruce Willis has an earring and wears bandanas all the time, and I think if I made a pass at him, he'd beat my ass. (No, I'm not calling him a fag hater, before you toss off a quick note to Matt Drudge, I'm just setting up a premise here. I'm sure Mr. Willis is perfectly enlightened and might I add, damned attractive.) I've done the mating dance before, in bars and inevitably, it's easy to spot the players from the watchers. If someone walks up to you and asks if you're a bottom or a top, I assure you he isn't making an inquiry as to which bunk bed you favored as a lad.

Drinks get bought, the subtext creeps from the underbelly of your inner desires, the flirting, the dance, that all animals do when what they really wnat to do is mate. I can be coy, but I'm not good at it, and eventually, I find myself pulling back, trying not to ask the questions I really want the answers to. Like "Will you still be there when I wake up?" and "When was the last time you read a newspaper?" I have learned not to, it spoils any semblance of a moment you may have worked up to by that point, so I just keep smiling and nodding, and trying to drop words like "nefarious" and "existential" to see if I get that confused look that serves as an effective alarm that my libido has over taken my rational mind.

I think the hanky system has merits, and gay and straight people alike could benefit immensely from it. It would have to be complex, and would likely involve stripes and dots to work, but a pocket reference card would help until I was used to the new standard. Granted, the old system was about having that quick and dirty sex we gay men are notorious for, but the millenium is upon us, and I think we're ready for something more sophisticated.

Personal ads have that edge to it - tall dark buff wrangler seeks bear for long term commitment, and successful married man seeks discreet male for hot encounters, two right out of this week's offerrings, but without any context, even the one personal ad that would speak the loudest to me "32 year old tall, articulate, creative bartender/writer sought by tall creative, intelligent, articulate Sonic Youth fan who likes to stay up late, cooks well and never leaves the cap off the toothpaste" fails to beckon to me, because I can't see what I'm getting.

But, if we used a modified hanky system, imagine the amount of time we could save when we were cruising. Beyond the obvious desire for level of commitment to be seen, we could combine it with some sort of IQ bracket and hints at the bearer's political leanings. Naturally, there would have to be a way to add the nuances involved, like the approximate weight and scope of emotional baggage someone is carrying around. I realize this is perfectly ludicrous, but a boy can dream, no?

It's a good idea, in theory and I already see all the obvious holes in the system, but there's still time to perfect it before I die of old age. I just hate the thought of another fix up. Usually, it's my straight married friends who want to fix me up, their sole criterion for the match is that they know someone else who is gay besides me. "Willie, this is Ponce, he works at my firm in billing, and he's gay too!" Then Ponce and I have to sit through an arduous meal in which the straight people squirm to get Ponce and I to start talking. Unfortunately, Ponce is usually some 52 year old who barely speaks english and has only one interest in life, frequently a stamp collection. I have to pull my host into the kitchen and inform them that Ponce is an imposter, he merely accepted the invite because he was lonely, not gay.

As if gay on gay fixups are much better. "Willie, meet Steve, we had sex once in college, but after he dated my roommate and then my current lover, I lost track of him, till I ran into him at the gym today and he looked so lonely, I knew you two should meet." Uh, thanks. Gotta go, I think Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is on somewhere.

It's all hit or miss. So for now, I'll be my own best friend.



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