One of the many perks to working as a teaching assistant at NYU is the continued ability to enjoy a school year schedule. Despite having graduated from college almost 7 years ago (wow, does anyone else feel the need for a strong drink?), I still get to revel in things like having Columbus Day off, and get to look forward to the summer as a time where my workload significantly shrinks. Unfortunately, being an employee rather than a student means that with this decrease in workload comes a decrease in paychecks, but I find if one does their best to pickle themselves in tequila as soon as May hits, one doesn't really seem to notice the decreased income quite so much.
One of the times that I look forward to every year is spring break. Ironically, this was not something I remember looking forward to that much while actually in university. Sure, I would be excited for the hiatus from papers and lecture halls, but I never anticipated it with the same fervor as I have found myself caught up in over the last few years. Situated in mid to late March, spring break always seems to come at the exact moment in time where I think to myself, "My God, if one of these children cries just one more time, that's it. I'm calling in the SWAT team and having them all hosed down so I can have just a moment's respite from their...incessant...prattling!" This year was no different, as I gratefully left my final class, looking forward to a long week of no one needing to be coddled, burped, comforted or spanked. Although if it was a really good week, with a lot of alcohol, spanking might not be completely ruled out.
It coincided, coincidentally, with a renewed commitment to myself to seek a boyfriend. I tend to go through waves of action and repose when it comes to seeking out dates; loneliness catapults me into something like speed dating, a quasi-successful relationship crumbles around me, I decide that I will no longer allow people the privilege of dating me if they can't comport themselves like adults, and I remain single until the inevitable loneliness creeps up again and I sign up for a new dating website. As I stepped out into the dawn of my spring break this year, I was definitely on the upswing of one of these cycles, with my complete lack of faith in strangers being defeated by the boredom of always lying in bed by myself, and the impending beginning of my 29th year. So, I decided to use my free week to really try to put myself out there.
It started with Saturday evening with a birthday party. I was a peripheral invitee to the soiree, taking place at The Hudson Hotel by Lincoln Center, and hence thought that I might have a shot at meeting some other gay men who I didn't yet know. Upon hearing of the location, I steeled myself to be annoyed with the crowd, the employees and the pricing, put on a button-down and attended. As I walked in, I looked around at the crowd and was overcome with the thought "Wow, you really CAN'T polish a turd," and then and there decided that this would be the one and only heterosexual bar I would be attending for my week of vacation. Surrounded by coked-up, arrogant bankers and the two-bit trash that loves them, I walked up to the bar, and ordered a Corona, which I was promptly informed would be $9.
Allow me to say right now that I enjoy Corona. I like the lime, I like that it's light, and I find it very refreshing on a hot, summer day while I'm watching David Wright look pretty as he bends over and...fields ground balls. This does not mean that I am unaware that Corona is basically carbonated Mexican piss with a citrus twist. $9 for piss is something that's an add-on to your escort's bill at the end of a kinky night, not a game-opener in a lousy hotel straight bar. I swallowed my bile, paid up and vowed to depart the premises as quickly as possible. My friend Brian arrived, whom I immediately gripped by the shoulders and hissed in a whisper that probably could have been heard two states away "Coronas are NINE DOLLARS!" Being a man of decisive action and limited bank account, he quickly proposed a change of venue to a local homosexual watering hole, Vlada, where rumor had it Lynda Carter would be performing. I quickly agreed, though part of me wished that Lynda Carter would arrive my current location in full Wonder Woman regalia with her Lasso of Truth, round up a few people getting to know each other, and see what pearls fell out of their mouths, like "I'm only after you for your money," or "I'd totally fuck you...after a boob job," or "I have a RAGING case of crabs."
Excusing ourselves, Brian and I traveled over to Vlada, accompanied by two more refugees, a gay couple who were also interested in not having to sell a kidney in order to tie one on. When we arrived, we found out that we had missed Lynda Carter (BOOO!), but that beers were only $3 (YAAY!). Actually, we had another half an hour before that special started, but Brian unbuttoned the top of his shirt while ordering, and the the bartender was more than happy to help us out. A few hours in, after numerous drinks and extensive conversation, I decided to announce that not only was I drunk, but I was drunk enough to take just about anyone who would present themselves. And like I had purposefully conjured the exact opposite of anyone I would want to sleep with, next to me appeared a fey, elfin little man by the name of Dom.
While I had not noticed Dom earlier, my compatriots had, and Brian informed me that he had been circling us for almost the whole night like a vulture waiting for the sickly zebra to finally give up the ghost. Well, my announcement was apparently the equivalent of shuffling off this mortal coil, because Dom's face lit up like a kid at Christmas, and before I could turn around, I was caught up in a conversation with him. Once I had gathered my thoughts, I moved to make my escape...and was foiled by Dom's friend Alicia, who immediately launched into how much fun Dom was. Caught without my wits about me, I did what any normal person would do...I pretended that Brian had called me, and walked away without a word of explanation.
I woke the next morning, feeling slightly disappointed, but not defeated. After all, spring break was young and I had not yet begun to fight. So, naturally, I called my mother, and whined to her about how I didn't have a boyfriend. My mother is incredibly generous in this regard...she allows me to regress completely and throw what verges on a temper tantrum, all the while managing to continue to love me. I'm half convinced the woman's body naturally produces Xanax. As I wailed about the desolate state of my love life, my mother patiently told me that all I had to do was "keep living life, keep meeting people" and everything would work out fine. To which my response was "Really, Mom? That's what we've come to as far as advice on this topic? Don't die?" Amazingly, she managed not to hang up on me, calmly informed me that I knew exactly what she meant, and smoothly reiterated her stance on the matter.
So I decided to sign up for an internet dating website. Now, while I have the sneaking suspicion that I've already plumbed the depths of that extremely shallow pool, I really felt like this was the easiest way to meet people. And as I had no plans on dying, I would be fulfilling my mother's prescription for future happiness, and I have never gone wrong following her advice in the past. So I looked for some dating websites. One had a $29.95 start-up fee (we're in a recession). One was only available to citizens of Great Britain (cute accent, hell of a commute). One greeted me with a picture of a frightenly large erection on the home page (I don't need a website to meet a penis). And then I remembered that eHarmony, the mothership of all dating websites had been required to launch a gay site.
First of all, let me say that I didn't really want to give any money to Dr. Neil Clark Warren or any of his websites. He long refused to accept gay couples on eHarmony, and only finally launched an affiliate after being threatened with a discrimination lawsuit. To use his website seemed to be the equivalent calling someone who had repeatedly spit in your face your best friend. However, then I thought how gloriously spiteful it would be to find a husband on his website and send him regular updates on how fantastically our love was blossoming, and how he made it all possible with his website, and how the world is just a little gayer because of him. Needless to say, with visions of fairies (both sugarplum and otherwise) dancing in my head I gleefully went to eHarmony and prepared to sign up. Unfortunately, as it turns out, rather than simply including us in their website, eHarmony set up a new destination.
First of all, is there any more ghetto sign off to a website than ".net?" I mean, seriously. You have ".com" which is the default, and, it's worth noting, is the end of the URL for the eHarmony mothership. Then ".edu" has the advantage of automatically being associated with an institution of higher learning, and ".org" is a not-for-profit, which immediately seems noble. And while no one is particularly happy with the current state of the economy, ".gov" retains a certain level of respect. I realize that this is a completely silly complaint, but I'm just saying "CompatiblePartners.com" was available...I checked.
However, let's really get to the crux of the matter here. This website is the obvious equivalent of civil unions; something that places gay relationships in a separate category from straight ones. There is not one single good reason that eHarmony itself could not have simply started matching gay relationships. But no, we had to go and start up an entirely separate site for those dirty homosexuals. Suck it. Separate is not equal, you ass-hats.
Furthermore, the name makes my teeth itch. Straight people get eHarmony, and we get Compatible Partners? Anyone who has ever spoken to me knows how grating I find it when people, gay or otherwise, refer to their "partner." I realize that this is, for many people, the accepted vernacular, and that the people who created the website meant no harm in using it. But I really don't care, it makes me violent. A male spouse is a husband, and a female spouse is a wife, now everyone get the fuck over it. Besides this, we're looking for "compatible?" Really? It couldn't be LovingPartners, or LifePartners, or even HarmoniousPartners? I'm giving them the word "partner" on this one, and let me tell you it is chapping...my...ass. How many people think "Gee, when I get married, I REALLY hope we're compatible?" Compatibility is something I worry about if I'm buying new software for my computer, not the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the love of my life.
And after all that, they weren't even launching until April 1st, so I couldn't sign up anyway.
I admit to feeling a bit defeated at that point. Sure, there was more drinking to be done, but would I really have any more luck than I had in my first outing? I'm sure there were more websites to explore, but surely they too would only serve to piss me off. I sat there in front of my computer, torn between annoyance, defeat and boredom. And I did something that I always ALWAYS warn people against: I googled myself.
Now, we've all done this. It usually leads to results ranging from horrifying to boring, but almost never yields anything that can truly be categorized as a good thing. I clicked through the expected old theater reviews, and the hits for a gentleman by my name that is apparently a lawyer, and stumbled upon something I had never seen before: a blog written by an old college classmate of mine, someone who I remembered vaguely. In it, he confessed to having had a "palpable crush" on me (Clueless, party of one? That's me!), said that I looked like Edward Norton, and admired my "puppy dog eyes." His point was that he missed having crushes on people...now all that was left was dating, which was infinitely less fulfilling.
I can't claim to have had a crush on him in return. I was about 18 or 19 at the time, so I was probably too screwed up with all the hormones running through my system to know what I liked. But do I ever owe him a thank you for writing that short paragraph about me. It not only proved to me that there are people out there who do want to date me, it reminded me that sometimes the journey is better than the destination. Maybe I didn't meet anyone special on spring break, but I had a great night out with friends, a good temper tantrum about injustice, and discovered that there is someone in the world who would describe my eyes as "puppy dog." Having crushes is fun, and they usually lead to something silly happening...so that's my new goal for April. I'm not looking for a boyfriend anymore. I just want to meet a boy who gives me butterflies.