The Gay Agenda, Part 6

Relationship Management 101: Dating Rituals

Good morning, class! And don’t we all look bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and moisturized-skin this morning? I trust we all had a good night’s rest and didn’t spend too much time staring into the mirror to perfect our body dismorphia. Me, I just squeeze a few pores, pluck a few longish eyebrow hairs, inspect the nostrils for stray curls and out the door go I, ready to face another day under the harsh glare of the religious right, making sure I’m not thinking too hard about marriage or babies. Mustn’t get them all in a tizzy, heaven knows! It’ll only make them all wrinkly.
Anyhoo, rather than waste any of our precious time together going over the roll call nonsense, I’ll just take a moment here to announce where you are to make sure you’re in the right place, much like what a friendly and compassionate airline steward would do for you minus the wink, the nod and the ‘meet you later in the loo’ smile. This is Relationship Management 101, a required course for all homosexual electors. So, honey, if you didn’t choose to be a homosexual during Sexual Orientation Selection or if you’ve already attended this class, you should beat a hasty retreat. And/or, if you’re one of those gay-curious hets wondering if you’ve made the wrong decision, or a bisexual who just can’t get enough of a good thing, or are merely bored with school and need a place to hang out — literally or figuratively, but preferably the former — please feel welcome and just sit there on your pert little butt cheeks and listen up.

Okay, yes, I see you, and how could I not, what with you sitting all courageous and excited here in the front row? Please put your hand down, there will plenty of time for questions later. If, O-T-O-H, your bladder is telling you it’s time to shake the weasel, just go do it. We rarely stand on formalities, here, unless the formality specifically requests to be stood upon and is wearing leather chaps. And those of you in the back, please come forward. No need to be shy, I shan’t be picking on anyone’s proclivities or curious little errors in judgment or complete misunderstandings of what it means when one person wants to be with another person or persons — at least, not until Relationship Management 102: What The Hell Were You Thinking?
But let’s dive in, shall we, and see what pearls of wisdom I can dredge up for you.
Dating. Dating. Hmm, hmm, hmm. Yes. Okay, so, dating is like hell, only there are nice cold drinks to imbibe, but you still sweat like a pig. There are several stages to dating, just as there are several ways in which one may find the subject of said dating. Dating, it must be said, is not the same as hooking up. And hooking up isn’t really a relationship so much as a way of masturbating using someone else’s body.
If all you’re looking for is a little action, ladies and gentlemen, it’s hardly challenging to go find that. There are myriad Web sites and 800 numbers in the back of free periodicals and, hell, you could probably wander outside into the hallway and go up to the first young person you spy and ask, “Hey, want to get off?” and the answer is likely to be “Do you have to ask?” because you’re all so horny all the time anyway and even though I’m not supposed to, as a teacher, even mention sexual intercourse without also mentioning, you know, “Don’t do it!” and waving my arms around like some demented robot and basically just ignore human nature in all its naked, lustful, lubricated glory, I must admit, if I am to be honest with you all and you promise not to go all Falwell on my ass and run home and tell Mommy and Daddy I said any of this, that sex, in and of itself, is simple and easy and have some. But be sure you’re clear at the outset that what’s going on in such situations has everything to do with glands and pleasure centers and nothing at all to do with love.
I trust we’re all clear on that, and if not here’s my e-mail address, AIM ID and cell number, feel free to hit me up later and I’ll tell you all about it as we disrobe.
But… dating is another matter altogether. Dating involves commitment, sacrifice, compromise, tolerance and a certain degree of masochism. There’s a right way and a wrong way of going about it, and we’ll try to cover both of them and let you decide which is which.
A first date is always frightening to some degree. You’re throwing caution to the wind and admitting you’re lonely and desperate enough to want to put on your best clothes, shower, shampoo, shave… some part of your body, and leave the comfort of your home, apartment or cave and meet someone else who, one is safe in assuming, is exactly as lonely and desperate as you are. It is likely you have only the slimmest knowledge of who this person is or even what they look like, regardless of how many friends told you he’s cute and perfect, or the number of digital camera images they’ve provided of their genitals on their dating site profile.
First rule of thumb: Meet for drinks. If you don’t drink — and after a few first dates, you’re going to either start to or take a header off the wagon and back into addiction — meet at a coffee house or tea room or some other simple, liquid-based meeting place but under no circumstances agree to an entire meal. The reasons for this are two-fold; first, you don’t want to commit to sitting with a stranger for two hours over food only to discover that their favorite movie is “The Care Bears On Rainbow Pony Island” and you get to hear all about it. Second, if you meet for a drink and then discover, surprise! This might be someone you want to know better, you can then innocently ask “Have you eaten?” which is their cue to either answer “No, I haven’t! (Yay! He likes me and I like him, too!)” or “Actually, I need to get to another appointment. (Oh my God, he wants to eat dinner? And he’s not even into the Care Bears? No thanks, Mary!)”
Another important consideration is locale. For example, do you really want to be sitting so close to another party that they hear your first-date conversation? And if, for some reason, you need to beat a hasty retreat out of there, would you rather be closer to his place or closer to yours? Chances are he feels the same way, so try to pick a destination approximately equidistant between your two abodes, or if you live in the same gay ghetto, someplace that’s considered “safe ground” where neither you nor he is likely to be spotted by any friends who will then come over to your table and make your life even more of a living hell than it already is. The simplest answer is to establish your own safe dating haven where you always go for that first date, and that way you always have an escape route, a nearby dinner location and you’re relatively safe from the prying eyes of friends and strangers.
Now, let’s throw the whole same-sex angle into this stew of emotional excess. You may be one of the lucky few fags who have elected to live in a major metropolitan area where the image — let alone the idea — of two people of the same sex going out on a date is not cause for the local populace to start collecting Bibles and firewood, not necessarily in that order. But for the rest of you, it’s just not easy to find a place that fits all the above ideals within the narrow confines of your average, everyday homophobic community. What, then, do you do and where, then, do you do it?
Ideally, you end up back at his or your place, where you’re guaranteed privacy and you can organize the environment to suit — either loud, obnoxious, overtly gay music (example: The Best of Kylie Remixed) to drive him away because you find him loud, obnoxious and overtly gay, and then you change into something “more comfortable” which ends up being that plushie outfit you wore last Halloween when you went out as “bloody canary half-eaten by cat,” or subdued lighting, scented candles and something soothing to listen to because you want to put your hands on his body and your lips on his mouth, like, right now.
But as we both know, this violates many precepts about the First Date because now you’re stuck with him and if you’re at your place, you can’t leave and if you’re at his place, you have to either be forthright about your sudden disgust with his unusual grooming decisions re: nostril hair or make something up on the spot, i.e. “Where’s your bathroom, I have to go figure out the easiest way to come up with an excuse to leave and I think it’ll probably involve a lie about me having some sort of gastro-intestinal distress.”
So my suggestion, as harsh and icky as it sounds, is meet that potential mate at Starbuck’s. Why? Because the good people at Starbuck’s rarely give a rat’s ass what you’re doing there as long as you keep buying their overpriced, absurdly confusing caffeine-based beverages. Get a giant frappuccino, and just let the fucking ice melt.
Now, if Date One has gone well and you’re already contemplating Dates Two through marriage, take a step back and give yourself a couple of days to contemplate the evening before jumping in with the statement you can never take back, “Let’s do this again!” Because no one wants to do a First Date again. First Dates suck. Second Dates, however — that’s when the fun starts. But you’re also making a commitment of sorts, which for some of us is where the fun comes to a crashing, bloody, bone-crushing halt.
Let’s imagine, however, that you’re on the lookout for Mr. Right and obviously what you don’t want is to reconnect with the object of your affection and discover you’re not exactly his cup of tea, or even his cup of warm phlegm. Want to know how to know? It’s “the goodnight kiss.” If you got a goodnight kiss at the end of the First Date, you’re in. Doesn’t matter if he targeted your lips or your cheek, you get another go at him. If it was on the lips, you’re definitely in there, and probably about as deep as you’re willing to go if you get my drift.
Otherwise? Not so much. Sorry. You’re only consolation is if he ends up calling you back, and it’s not by mistake.
The second date is definitely for dinner. This is a 2-hour meal wherein you are both seated and wearing your most fetching outfits that highlight your most fetching physical traits, for example a shirt that brings out the color of your eyes, a shirt that brings out the definition of your chest, a shirt that says “I am a whore,” anything along those lines. Watch the use of cologne, guys. It’s a proven fact that many men are turned off by someone who smells more like a forest glade or some furniture polish than, you know, a man. On the other hand, a shower is mandatory. If you want to go unshaven for that rough and rugged look, by all means skip the razor, but wash the pits and please, please, please floss and brush your entire dental array. Someone else’s tongue might find its way in there, if you’re lucky, so provide a delightful rendezvous.
On the subject of your mouth, pay attention to what you order from the menu. Avoid garlic and onions, obviously, but also be careful of farty vegetables. Me, it’s broccoli and the entire bean family. But if you have no choice, having some gum or those delightfully painful breath strips is recommended.
What about dinner chit-chat? Are there any topics to avoid? In my experience, there is only one: the ex. Never, never, never speak of the ex, either in a positive or a negative light. When you’ve moved past dating into something resembling an actual relationship, then you can start to bitch and whine about how he treated you and how great the sex was but how much you don’t miss the bastard at all, and so on. Keep all your head games well hidden until later, now is not the time for comparisons and commiserations. Instead, talk about work, though not so much that it sounds like you live there, and talk about TV and film, regaling him with your obvious taste or lack thereof and how cute and kitsch you are, and talk you can even talk about politics and religion, because those are important points of interest and may make or break your dreams of togetherness when you find his Log Cabin Republicans membership card when he asks you to get the Trojan from his wallet.
On Date Two, you’re free to have sex. I know you avoided it on Date One, and even on Date Two I’d not recommend you plunging in too quickly, but what with the wine and the candlelight and his mouth and the way he sucked the warm chocolate ganache from your spoon when you offered him a taste of your decadent dessert choice, it’s not hard to imagine that you’ll be stripping down and oiling up once dinner is through. Again, this is not the time to “surprise” him with all your talents, nasty and amazing though they may be. Take it slow, gentlemen. Take is easy. Kiss him all you want, all over him. Let your hands explore, don’t get naked too quickly, there is much to be said for the undressing of another. Plus, it’s always a nice surprise when you discover that under that blowsey Ben Sherman shirt he’s hiding a tight tummy he’s been honing for months at the gym. Not to mention the always welcome nudge of a hard cock against your hand as you brush his pants and discover, much to your mutual joy, that he’s as much into you as you are into him.
We’ll go into more about sex later, but for now let’s leave those two lovebirds to their nesting and call it a day, shall we? From Dates Three on, it’s usually just more of the same as you discover things about each other through the slow process of uncovering the truth of another person from what they like to eat and drink to the shows they TiVo to how well they get along with their family to which of their friends you absolutely cannot stand.

July 21, 2005

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