So there's a little Greek myth called Narcissus and Echo that goes something like this …
Narcissus, the son of the river god Cephissus and the
nymph Leiriope, was extremely handsome and strong, but some said he was
cold-hearted and conceited. In a forest near Narcissus' home there
also lived an outcast. Echo, a nymph, was a chatterbox and teller of
tales, which resulted in the punishment of having her voice stripped
When they met, Echo tried her best to tell Narcissus
she loved him, but he was unable to hear it. Narcissus ran away and
plopped down on a riverbank. The moment he leaned over to take a drink
he saw his reflection for the first time in the water, and immediately
fell in love.
He leaned over to kiss the person in the stream,
thrusting his arms in the water to embrace his love. But when he did,
his beloved vanished from sight.
"Come back," Narcissus cried, and tried to kiss his love
again but whenever he touched the water, the reflection disappeared.
"Don't flee from me," he cried, and he regretted fleeing from Echo, for
now he knew how much her heart must have ached.
He eventually wasted away and died of grief, so did Echo.
And in Toronto there's a little reality that goes something like this …
My roommate Gabe is pacing around our
apartment on his cell phone inviting his friend William over for some
drinks and to catch up. William spent a year in Israel for school. Gabe
hangs up and tells me William's bringing photos from the trip, and
booze from the Duty-Free.
"Get ready now," Gabe says, "because they'll be here soon."
"What do you mean, they?" I ask.
"He's bringing his new boyfriend. Some guy he met a couple of months ago in Israel."
Apparently booze wasn't the only thing William had to declare at Customs.
Half way into the evening and half in
the bag, I'm in the kitchen making a drink when Natan comes in and
makes a pass at me. I reject him and he tells me he's unhappy with
William. From my observations I am not surprised. William's not
attentive to Natan at all. It is Natan's birthday and they were doing
what William wanted. William wanted to catch up with Gabe, so they had
skipped dinner to come here. William is planning to go out to the club
later even though Natan expressed that he would rather go home and have
a romantic night. In fact, William had not even bothered to pay any
attention to Natan tonight at all. He pawned him off on me and my
friends, and although we were getting along fine, it still sucks to
spend your birthday evening with strangers.
Over the next few weeks it's the same
old story. At house parties William rebuilt his social standing and
Natan sat quietly on the couch. At bars William was the life of the
party and Natan floated in the background like a ghost. One night Natan
corners me in the bar and starts bitching about his situation.
"Why don't you tell William how you feel, and that you need things to change or you're leaving him?"
"I can't do that," he responds. "I'm in a foreign country, I need William. What can I do?"
It's in this moment I see just how trapped he is. I
didn't say it to Natan, but I think: why on earth would you move across
an ocean for a guy you just met?
Later that night I try to talk with
William about his neglectful behaviour. He gets defensive and we argue.
I finally tell him like it is: "You treat Natan like crap, you never
bother to do anything he wants, and you drag him around like a sad
"I do not," William says, "I can do
whatever I want. If Natan doesn't like it, he doesn't always have to
come. But I'm not going to stay at home all the time just because he
doesn't want to go out."
"That's the response of a selfish child," I respond.
"Well, this is my life, William retorts.
"Then why are you trying to share it with someone else?"
William takes a minute without
responding. I believe I accomplished what he could not: He was finally
able to grasp at his own reflection, and what he clung to wasn't
I sit there for a few minutes trying to suppress my anger as my mind
is racing and trying to process what just went down. I’m yanked out of
my trance when the group of girls sitting behind me starts laughing
and talking about guys and their lives. I look across the patio and see
another couple on a date. The woman is spoon-feeding her date a taste
of her meal and they’re smiling. At the table in front of me two guys
are leaning into one another with their hands on the table, one resting
his hand on the others.
I so badly want to get up and show all of them the text
and tell them that they’re all wasting their time. But instead I sit
there holding back the tears. Who was I to put my curse upon other’s
lives? I had to get out of there.
On my walk home I can’t fight the tears any longer. I put my sunglasses on and hid my emotions behind the thin Ray Ban veil. If anyone were paying attention they would have been able to see the wet streaks lining my cheeks.
It isn’t until I get home that I realize I had been
squeezing my keys so hard I broke skin. I go into the washroom and wash
away the blood.
I quickly recheck the POF message thread between Nick
and I to make sure I know the place we are to meet at in 20 minutes.
Nick’s a lawyer and he has a great profile. His pics are of him in a
tight bathing suit that show off his tanned, muscular body. I look at
his pics again and get excited because I find his subtle smile
engaging, as his upper lip curls a bit on the right side. It’s sly and
However, the second I meet up with him I get a weird
feeling that he has taken one look at me and decided that he wasn’t
into me. We shake hands, say hello, and proceeded into 7 West Café. We
are seated on the third floor patio and we each order a drink. We begin
some casual small talk, which quickly becomes more of an interrogation.
Nick asks me what I do, how long I’ve been doing it, where I went to
school, and what I plan to do with my future. I oblige his questions
but feel that he is obviously one of those guys. So, I answer
honestly, throwing in a few self-deprecating jokes to try to keep the
mood light, even though I feel like I’m reciting my bloody resume. Nick
excuses himself and goes to the washroom.
When he gets back we continue chatting but it feels
forced. Stupidly, I order another drink and he doesn’t. I should have
been more intuitive to the signals that Nick just wanted to end the
date. We talk about his plans for the evening, and being a Friday
night, he’s going to some bar with friends. We get the bill and both
put down a $20 and wait for our change. He goes to the washroom again.
As I’m waiting for him to get back a large group of girls are seated at
the table behind me.
And then my cell goes off. It’s a text
from Nick that reads: “I ran into an old friend downstairs and I should
really catch up. Have a good night.”
Seriously!? I’m in shock, this asshole
just ditched our date. He didn’t even have the guts to come back and
finish the date in person!
I text him back: “how dare u just leave me sitting here. Ur a coward. What a horrible thing to do.”
He text back: “I think horrible is a harsh way to put it.”
The waitress came back with both of our change and put it on the table.
I continued to text Nick. “Who raised u! u know what u did is wrong.”
“r date was pretty much over anyway. Have a good night.”
“ur an asshole! FYI I’m taking you’re change, mother fucker!
I dry my hands and wash my face. I lie on my bed and
look out my window at all the people lounging
I turn away from the window and think about how this
kind of bad date used to just make me laugh, and how differently I seem
to be internalizing it nowadays. Why does this shit keep happening to
me? I really don’t know how much longer I can endure.
on the pool patio on the
mezzanine 10 floors below. They all seem happy and relaxed. They’re
basking in the setting sun and also in the fulfillment they get from
the love in their lives. No one appears unhappy and no one seems alone.
In the spirit of Valentine's Day I thought I'd repost this entry for a good laugh and some perspective.
so this made my day, a Craigslist Missed Connection from the place we
go to get our sins taken care of. It goes to show that some people never
learn! Or that you can find love anywhere. (click the image to see the
Maybe the fact that you only ever see this Prince Charming at the
Hassle Free Clinic should tip you off that he's obviously more of a
Prince Charm-ydia. Oh wait, in your defence he did hold the door for you. OK, go for it.
There was yelling, door slamming, and there was crying. This was the
scene during the hour-long breakup I had with Eric. We’d only been
dating for about three months but he had apparently fallen for me, and
hard. I could tell because this breakup was supposed to be quick and
easy, I didn’t expect it to be so dramatic.
When Eric finally left I felt guilty
because he was a sweet guy, I just wasn’t feeling a spark. However, I
felt relieved because it was finally over. Little did I know the sparks
were about to start flying.
Eric’s first act of revenge is a slew of online
pettiness. He trash talks me in Facebook statuses and quickly takes
down pictures of us from his albums. I’m bothered a little but brush it
off because it’s so immature. Then I notice some of our mutual friends
that I had met through him begin to defriend me. For most of them I
say good riddance, but there are a few I’ll miss, dammit.
A few days later, it escalates from the online world
into reality. One night out a bar security asks me to leave and are
tight-lipped about why. As I am escorted out, I see Eric in the corner
with a smirk on his face and I remember that one of his good friends is
the owner. This is ridiculous!
Outside I start to blow up his phone with texts and
voice messages, some politely asking him to stop, but eventually they
became angry tirades threatening to sue his crazy ass for harassment or
something. On my walk home I pass a big pink mattress propped up
against a fence and it has huge shit stains all over it. Eww, as if I
need to see that right now. What is wrong with people! Is everyone
psycho? I keep walking, shaking my head at how horrible the night
I get home and crawl into bed. Dealing with all this
drama is exhausting. I thought about the shit-stained mattress and
giggle as I doze off thinking how people can be so fucked up.
The next morning I wake up to the sound of my phone.
It’s my friend wanting to go to lunch. As we’re walking, I’m filling
him in on the craziness my ex was doing when I’m stopped dead in my
"OMG!" I yelp. Across the street is the soiled
mattress only now someone had spray painted "Jesse Trautmann's
mattress" across it!
We cross the street and I ask my friend to help me move it.
"Eww, hell no," he screams back in a panic.
"I'm not touching it!"
I go to move it but my friend stops me.
"Don't touch it! It probably has bed bugs."
"Well, I can't just leave it!"
"Here," he says handing me the issue of Xtra! he's carrying. "Use this."
I grab the newspaper and use it to
push the mattress forward. My friend screams like a girl and jumps
backwards out of the way. The mattress slumps over with a loud thud.
During all the commotion we didn't realize the large crowd that had
gathered. They were all pointing and laughing. A few people were taking
pictures and filming the incident with their camera phones.
I am mortified and fuming with rage.
"I swear to God if I ever see Eric again I am going to literally murder
Just then, a guy who was filming said
out loud, "I don't know who Jesse Trautmann is, but he and his scat
mattress just made it on to Youtube."
I jump out of my sleep so high I smack my head off of
the shelf above my bed. It was only a nightmare. The mattress incident
didn’t really happen. Thank God.
I notice a missed text on my cell from Eric at 3:15 a.m. It reads: "I hate you!"
Oh crap, I think as I hold my throbbing head.
My roommate Grant has had a crush on our new neighbour
across the hall for months. Grant's family lives in Europe so he's
spending the Easter holidays alone in Toronto.
My brother and I are going home to the
suburbs for a few days over the Easter weekend. One night we decide to
play a practical joke on Grant. We had to go back downtown to run an
errand so we swing by the apartment and tape a fake note to our door.
It reads: "I've seen you around and I think you're really cute. I see
you're alone for the holiday, too. Feel free to come over if you get
lonely. Apt. 1503."
Later that night I get a call from Grant who had found the note. He fills me in and I play dumb.
"I think I'm going to go over and say hi," Grant tells me.
"No, don't do that," I respond.
"Why not," he asks.
"You don't want to seem desperate. I think you should wait a few days before making a move."
We wanted to keep the prank going a little while longer
so I refrain from coming clean. After some coaxing I persuade Grant to
hold off. I figure I would call him the next night and reveal the joke
and we'd all get a good laugh.
However, the next day I'm busy with
visiting family and cooking Easter dinner. I totally forget to call
When we get home on the Monday, Grant
is in a state of confusion and embarrassment. As soon as I see him I
know exactly what's gone wrong. The little ditchpig couldn't resist! He
went to the neighbour's apartment last night. "So I go
knock on his door," Grant explains, "and he answers. I tell him that I
got the note he left on my door and that I was excited to take him up
on his offer."
"Uh huh," I say like a deer in headlights.
"The guy had no idea what I was talking about. So clearly nothing happened."
"Well that doesn't sound too bad."
"It gets worse," Grant says. "Then the guy's boyfriend came to the door!"
"Shit," I say knowing that I was about to be in big trouble.
"The boyfriend was pissed and neither of us could
explain what the hell was going on. Anyway, I just apologized for the
misunderstanding and ran across the hall."
"OK, I have something to tell you but you have to
promise not to kill me," I say and proceed to confess the whole
To my surprise Grant starts laughing. "Why would you do that?"
"I didn't think you'd actually go over there," I say laughing as well.
"It's really not funny," Grant says. "That could cause them to break up."
"I know. OK, I'll go over and clear things up."
I head over and explain the situation. Our neighbours are not amused but I'm sure it'll blow over.
As time goes by I see them in the hallway and the
lobby but they make no effort to say hello to me. It serves me right.
It's a beautiful day and patio season is in full
swing. I'm on the edge of the Firkin patio with two friends. I notice a
hot guy walking by and he gives me a smile. I smile back but he keeps walking.
My friend comments on the obvious flirtation. I agree and say, "I know, he was hot! He looked just like Tupac."
"Yes, that's what I was thinking," my friend says.
A few minutes later Tupac walks by
again and my friends encourage me to call him over. We chat for a bit
and I invite him to a party later that night.
A good while into the apartment party,
Tupac hasn't shown up and just as I'm about to write him off, he shows
up. I introduce him around and we have a drink before the group heads
out to Woody's.
Our group takes refuge at the front of the bar,
dominating most of the tables by the front windows. Tupac and I are
huddled in the corner together listening in on one of my friend's
Woody's bathroom sexcapade stories. I mention to Tupac that I've never
done anything in the Woody's bathroom before.
"I have no stories to tell," I say sipping my beer.
"Maybe we should change that," he suggests.
"Oh right," I laugh as I think that he's joking.
"Why not?" he responds with total seriousness.
We go down to the bathroom and slip into a stall and
lock the door. I'm ready to reek the benefit of the stereotype attached
to every black man, and when I get his undies off … it's average. So
much for that illusion! We begin to make out and just when we start
getting into it I hear a loud tap on the stall door.
"Security," a loud voice booms, "come out of there immediately."
We comply and security asks us to leave as they escort us out of the bar.
Tupac and I cross the street and get in
line at another bar. My friends spot us and are all gawking through
the front window wondering why we left. I call one of them and explain.
I can see the eruption of laughter as my friend tells the others.
After my friend stops laughing he coaxes me to sneak back in through
the other door.
I decide I am going to try but Tupac is
too chicken, so we exchange numbers and he heads home. I sneak back in
the other door without incident and re-join my friends. We all get a
good laugh, and to this day I believe they were laughing with me and
not at me.
Later the next week Tupac calls (which I
did not expect) and we engage in small talk until he finally asks: "so
do you think we're OK?"
"Yeah sure," I reply "I know that's an odd thing to happen on a first date but I'm glad you called. I think we're fine."
"No, I meant to get back into Woody's," he replies.
"Oh," I reply in disappointment.
He didn't give a shit about us, he just wanted to know if he could get back into the bar. Lovely.
"Yep, you should be fine," I say and make some excuse to get off the phone. I never heard from Tupac again.
Kevin and his boyfriend, Randy,
are curled up on the couch for a night in. Just after midnight, Randy’s
roommate bursts in half drunk and escorts a guy into his bedroom.
The roommate wonders back into
the living room and starts chatting and laughing with Randy as if they had a
dirty little secret.
Kevin asks what’s going on and
Randy finally tells him. The roommate had got an STD from some trick last
weekend and he still hasn’t treated it yet.
“And you’re going to spread it
to this guy now?” Kevin asks the roommate.
“Oh, it’s just an STD.”
"It's STI now," Kevin
"What?" The roommate
"It's not termed STD
anymore, it's STI because they're not sexually transmitted diseases, they're
"What's the diff,"
the guy asked.
"Infections are curable,
so things like Chlamydia and Syphilis shouldn't be termed diseases."
“Exactly. So who cares,” the
roommate says and goes back to the bedroom.
Kevin is in shock. He’s also
pissed at his boyfriend for thinking this was funny.
Kevin quickly realized that
even though infections are curable, some people's ditchpig behaviour was not.
A few days later, Kevin is
telling us the story over lunch.
“This is exactly why I don’t do
one night stands anymore,” I explain, “because most times I’d always get
something. And now with Grindr I’m sure guys are even worse.”
“What have you had?” Kevin
“Do we have to talk about this over lunch?” Matt says.
“Well you're free to get a table for yourself,” Kevin
“I might just do that. I've never had an STI,” Matt
“Hence the table for one,” Kevin quips.
“Well you’re really lucky you
haven’t had to deal with an STI,” I say to Matt.
“What have you had?” Kevin asks
“I’ve had crabs, and the worst
“Oh big deal,” Kevin says.
“It is a big deal. Have you had
it?” I say.
“Exactly,” I state.
“So you don’t have sex because
“No, I just don’t do randoms
“You can still get an STI from
a guy you’re dating,” Matt adds.
“Well if that happens I’ll have
to deal, but at least I can control it more.”
Kevin and Matt give one another
“If that helps you sleep at
night. You’re being ridiculous,” Kevin says.
“Yeah well get back to me when your dick is spewing green
shit like Linda fuckin' Blair!”
Just then Matt’s Eggs Benedict comes smothered in creamy
green guacamole-hollandaise sauce. Kevin and I can’t help but laugh, but Matt
looks queasy. “OK, someone is switching lunch with me,” Matt demands.
The night after Henry's boyfriend, Jurek, told Henry
about his plan to marry Piotr in order to get citizenship, the two of
them headed to Petior's apartment for dinner. The elevator ride up was
drenched in silence. Henry didn't tell Jurek that his mind was racing
with jealousy. Henry tried to fight it but ideas plagued his mind. What
if this guy was hot? What if Jurek eventually fell for this would-be
As they walked down the long corridor Jurek noticed and asked, "Are you OK?"
"I'm fine," Henry said cracking a shabby smile to upkeep the facade.
They reached the door and Jurek
knocked. Oh God, this is it, Henry thought as he anticipated his
competition to swing open the door.
The door opened and a hefty man in his 50s greeted them.
"How are you," Petior said shaking Henry's hand.
"I'm great," Henry replied, "just great." Henry had a grin from ear to ear, and this time the smile was 100 per cent genuine.
It’s been three months since Jurek and Piotr got
married and Henry is making the trip down the long corridor yet again.
He has been invited to Piotr’s for dinner more times than he could
count. Now that Jurek lived there as well it was kind of hard to say
no. Henry tried to get Jurek to come to his place more often or to go
out, but his efforts were futile. Piotr insisted that Jurek stay home
and Henry could see that Piotr’s passive aggressive ways were gaining a
stronger grip on Jurek.
At first Piotr was acting like an overbearing mother hen, but lately it was transforming into the behaviour of a bitchy wife.
After dinner, Jurek asks Henry: "What are you doing on Wednesday night?"
"Good, Piotr insists you come here for drinks and American Idol."
"Also, Saturday night for dinner."
"I can't, I have plans with Jesse," Henry replies.
"No, no I insist," Piotr says.
Henry looks at Jurek, but gets no help. Henry says, "I guess I can invite Jesse here."
"That would be lovely but I think we should just keep it in the family," Piotr says.
Henry desperately looks at Jurek to intervene. He doesn’t, so finally Henry does.
Even though Jurek was the married one,
Henry quickly began to feel like the old married couple. Henry and
Jurek were only in the early stages of dating yet they were already
bolted down by "family" commitments.And this wasn't the first time
Henry had to cancel on Jesse. When Henry thought about it, he realized
that he's been blowing off many of his friends because of Piotr.
"Jesse comes or I’ll have to pass," Henry says taking a stand. "And we can watch it at my apartment."
Piotr doesn’t say anything but takes a long look at Henry, and finally agrees.
"Why are you dragging me into this?" I say to Henry after he explains that I have to come on Saturday night.
Henry begs some more and I cave in. "OK, I’ll bring a bottle of wine."
"No bring a box," Henry says.
"Is it that bad?"
"No, not really but you’re gonna need a lot of wine to wash down the goulash and pickled eel. See you then. Bye." Henry says and quickly hangs up.
On Saturday morning I get a call from Henry. He tells
me that I don’t have to worry about coming to dinner because he broke
it off with Jurek.
Henry had put up with his boyfriend
marrying another man. Henry dealt with the fake husband's overbearing
expectations. Henry is tolerant of many things, but on Friday Jurek did
something that Henry considered a deal breaker; he asked for money.
Piotr must have sensed Henry’s
insubordination and took it out on Jurek by upping his fee for their
arrangement. Jurek didn’t have it so he asked Henry to loan him the
"It was getting way to messy," Henry tells me on the phone. I can hear that he’s upset but I can also tell he’s relieved.
"I’ve still have this box of wine," I say.
"I’ll see you tonight," Henry replies.
When we're children we are meticulously taught not to talk to strangers. Now as adults it seems as if that’s all we do. Dating and the need to find someone special is a driving force in dulling down our ‘spidy sense’ allowing for frivolous interactions whether it's on the internet, a coffee date, or meeting a guy in a dark bar. But dating and relationships don’t always play out so well. Sometimes the ones we expect to go smoothly can take an unpleasant turn leaving you disappointed and thinking: I shaved my ass for this? Follow me into the gay dating [and otherwise] arena, which can be filled with bad decisions, angst, and sometimes, downright cruelty. These cautionary tales are to remind us that maybe our mothers were right in trying to paint the act of talking to strangers with such a dangerous hue. So, to all my city gays out there: read and learn.