Baloney on the Wall
The world of dating is a hellscape for a gay man. The odds are already stacked against him, with a one-in-twenty chance of any given man being on the same “team.” And even if he finds that one-in-twenty, there’s the possibility that they simply aren’t compatible. Then arise the thousands of other factors that come into play, those that everyone has to deal with, on top of the one in twenty handicap.
This is why dating apps are so important for the gay community, even though they typically lead to casual hookups. They’re the fast food of dating, but that’s mostly because many gay men don’t look for meaningful relationships. Those in the closet want quick hook-ups with minimal risk to their reputation, and open gay men don’t often know how to date. It isn’t like anyone taught them. So, they stick to one-night-stands.
An inherent problem with these dating apps is the lack of accountability. Sometimes you’ll be having a great conversation and the other person just disappears. Sometimes you’ll set up a date, be halfway there, and then they cancel. And you never hear from them again.
After a dry spell of particularly bad first dates, and a few good first dates, and no second dates, I threw my hat in the dating app ring again just to see what would happen. It was a numbers game as I saw it. If I kept throwing baloney at the wall, then it would eventually have to stick. Besides, it was college. I couldn’t graduate without having a single boyfriend.
I could talk to a hundred guys on an app and only go out with a handful. Like I said, a numbers game. One night the baloney stuck, clung to the wall like a spider, and I got a date. I made myself pretty, put on a nice shirt, even sprayed some cologne, and went to pick up the dashing young man.
Scrawny as hell, bleached hair, and earrings. My gaydar was having a seizure. He was cute, he was flirty, and he held my hand. Everything I look for in a man. Maybe that’s my problem.
I didn’t usually go for guys with unusual hair colors. Gotta stick to tradition somewhere I guess. But he made the look work. It looked vaguely sinister, but not like a fantasy villain. I could have done without the earrings, but he made up for it with his charm.
Inevitably, we took our date to the parking lot of a Hampton Inn. It was the only place we could find. Before you think less of me, there wasn’t a chance for sex. Not even a lackadaisical handjob. It was a first date and I have standards, even if they’re low.
There were headlights in the lot but we ignored them, figuring it was some other young couple making out or a couple of stoners hot-boxing. We were in the backseat and I was pretty distracted. I blame him for not being more attentive. It’s not like it’s my job, right?
After a few minutes, some more cars show up. Then a third headlight flicked on, right next to their windshield. For those who aren’t as hip and urban as me, that means it’s a cop.
I wasn’t an idiot. I knew what was coming. So, I texted the necessary people in case I wound up in jail for some frivolous misdemeanor. The bleached boy, whose name has long disappeared from my memory, had a mild panic attack when the officer knocked on the window.
“You understand this looks suspicious,” the officer explained.
“Did you seriously call backup over two boys in the backseat of a Volkswagen?” I asked. I was tempted to ask if he should be at a frat house ignoring a rape or uptown shooting a minority, but I had no interest in getting shot myself.
The officer was a pudgy man, maybe a finger shorter than me, whose chin blended evenly into his neck. It felt kind of like a sting operation or the climax of some action movie, having the headlights of three cop cars pointed at me.
He took my license and my date’s name, since he didn’t have an ID. That was a red flag to both me and the pudgy cop, but I was too preoccupied with the possibility of an arrest to notice.
The bleach boy stammered over the spelling of his name three times, making one of the other cops laugh, so it wasn’t a surprise when the cop asked him to step out of the vehicle. He ran our names and he was not happy.
“Quit playin’ games, kid,” he said to my date, just loudly enough for me to hear him. “Tell me who you really are.”
I was expecting an outstanding warrant or something similarly exciting. Maybe I went out with an international terrorist or a legendary hacker or a renowned jewel thief. Nope. Nothing so thrilling.
No, Officer McPudgers just couldn’t spell the damn name. We were free to go as long as we didn’t trespass at other hotels.
“And take your sixteen-year-old friend home before curfew,” he said, dropping a megaton yield bomb before he let us go.
“Sixteen, huh,” I said, looking at the bleach blond boy in the passenger seat. “I’ll get him home safe alright.”
Just like that, the baloney peeled off the wall. Mr. One-in-Twenty was a minor, and not even a Romeo and Juliet law could make it work. It was a pretty resounding disappointment. Like biting into mozzarella stick and finding that there isn’t any cheese. There’s no rhyme and reason to the bad things happening to okay people. An odd diversity of misery and more misery.
“You’re a little man full of big lies,” I told him, circling the car back to his house.
“I’m sorry I wasted your time,” he said sheepishly, looking down at his crotch. I didn’t even want to think about his crotch. That would be illegal.
“I’m sorry you wasted my gas,” I said. I wasn’t afraid to let him know I was annoyed. I could visualize the baloney slipping off the wall.
I could blame the app for not verifying his age. I could blame him for lying about his age. I could blame the cop for ending my blissful ignorance. Instead, I think I’ll blame myself.
Dating is a numbers game alright, and boy am I bad at math.
About the Author: Alexander DeRose is a student at Stetson University, a writing tutor, and a Minister of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He is a founding member of New Yoslia, a nation that exists only in his dorm-room. The quickest way to his heart is with long walks through radioactive deserts, bad fan-fiction, and essayists who think they are the new David Sedaris.