The gay community isn’t known for its yentas. Sure, we have a certain fondness for Dolly Levi—but that’s mostly about the music. (“Take my wrap, fellas; find me an empty lap, fellas…”) What I have noticed, however, is a smugness among some partnered guys who, after years of casual dating or careless cruising, suddenly get all high-and-mighty about their coupledom. These are the ones who have a tendency to either look down upon their still single friends or try to “fix” them—i.e., welcome them into the fold of the happily married.
That noblesse oblige was clearly what was motivating Tom when he invited me out for drinks with him and his partner, Cole. They had been together for a year or so—albeit not entirely in the flesh. Their relationship had started virtually, in an ethery chat room, the kind of place where romance can flourish undeterred by the realities of high-pitched voices, bloated bellies, and errant nose hairs. In cyberspace, anyone can look good. In cyberspace, anyone can be good: it isn’t just their appearance that they lie about, but potentially every personal characteristic. People are kinder in chat rooms (if they’re not “flaming” someone, that is, but that’s a special circumstance), more flexible, hotter, more romantic. But I digress….
After a few weeks of virtual dating, Tom came to San Francisco for a visit, and that was it. He claimed it was love at first sight. Tom moves quickly.
Literally. The U-Haul was parked outside Cole’s door within a month. Tom was eager to leave the East Coast, anyway; Cole was the perfect motivation.
I met them through mutual friends, once they were comfortably ensconced in their antique-laden, granite-countertopped home in one of the trendier neighborhoods in town. And within weeks, I became Tom’s special project.
The three of us were having drinks in a cozy bar on the outskirts of the Castro when Tom started grilling me about the type of man I liked. In those days, I didn’t have a type per se. I suppose I didn’t think I could afford a type; it limited the pool too much.
So, based on scant information from me—I claimed to want someone “nice,” “smart,” about my build—Tom pondered for a moment and turned to Cole.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asked.
Clearly, Cole was not. He stared cluelessly at Tom over the salted rim of his margarita.
“George,” Tom said dramatically, impatient with the obvious—as if he had actually asked for the name of the president of the United States.
Cole’s blank stare continued, aided now by a slightly scrunched chin that he quickly hid behind the glass for another long sip.
And before I could ask a word about the famous George, Tom was dialing his cell phone. Cole kept drinking. We looked at each other like two guards in a lunatic asylum, wondering how we were going to get the patient to bed before he hurt himself.
“George?” Tom said into the phone, his lips curled into a grin that would make the Cheshire Cat envious. “Guess who I’m sitting here with.”
He shook his head for a few seconds, as George apparently ran through the list of the usual suspects—mutual friends, movie stars, Stephen Hawking.
“Your future husband,” he said finally, eyes glittering.
The yenta had spoken. I didn’t even have to pick up the phone before our first date was planned. George and I would meet for coffee the following evening, and Tom would start picking out bridesmaids’ dresses.
There’s a reason they call them blind dates. But sometimes, deaf and dumb would be more appropriate adjectives. I could see Tom’s attraction to George as a friend—the overgrown mustache that matched his own, albeit a tad blonder; the party grin that never seemed to go away; and the fondness for small talk—a strange obsession with celebrity gossip, and brand names.
Despite his loquaciousness, I can barely remember a word. That in itself tells you how much we had in common. Suffice it to say, there was no second date. And there would be no U-Haul in our future.
Tom never tried to fix me up again. Within a few months, he had a more important task on his hands, when his relationship with Cole started to deteriorate. While Tom was busy playing matchmaker for me, Cole was busy falling in love with someone else: George.
Yenta, heal thyself!