I am described by my friends as fearless. I am glad to now have a Pema Chodron quote about that: We think the brave are fearless, when actually they are quite intimate with fear. This is true, Pema. Very true.
I’ve been having one of those strange are we flirting, are we not flirting situations going on for months now. Yes, it is with the server at my little bistro, which is quickly becoming a den of love-doom. Like the other five times this has happened, everyone who sees us interact of course encourages me because the attraction is obvious. The other night I was there as I usually am, accompanied by two attractive young women. “He hardly looks at us, You’re the only person he ever sits down next to and chats up. The only person he does that with ever.”
Buoyed by these revelations, I woke Friday with the pit of despair in my belly. It was truth day. This is the end of every one of these flirtatious scenarios. I’m done with the wondering, it’s time to know. After work I did my laundry, and when that delightful chore was done, I walked right in there and gave him my number. This was greeted with a hand slapping, fist bump guy thing. Is that to let me know he’s straight? It’s Sunday, and my phone’s not ringing, so I think I can safely say, I have effectively ended my flirty friendship and need to find a new place to hang out.
This has left me with the inevitable inner dialogue to negotiate peace with. What I have come up with, is I cannot feel shame for these instances any longer, especially since this is as close to a relationship as the universe seems compelled to offer me. I know what attraction feels like, and I know what platonic friendship feels like, and I know when someone wants to be my friend. I am lucky to have a charismatic personality, and have always been rich in friends, but this was not a straight man drawn to my charm. Straight men just don’t do that; they just don’t spend time sitting down chatting up attractive, eligible gay men.
Who knows where this will go. Maybe he’s busy this weekend, and just couldn’t call, but he is actually gay or bi or curious, and he will call later in the week. No matter what, I will carry no guilt or self-loathing over this. I man up every time and make my feelings known, which not an easy thing to do. It’s terrifying, but I can own my feelings and be honest about them. It’s time for guys who are flirting with, attracted to and chatting up guys like us to grow some goddamn balls. Own your feelings, men or forever be boys.
Maybe there is some thrill in these homoerotic attractions. Maybe there’s an element of ego feeding, having this person you can string along and because of the same gender nature of the situation, you can do so without having the threat of being handed a number or asked out as quickly if it was happening with a lady. Maybe it’s shame or fear of what that mean. Would they have to come out? Would they have to choose a label? Would they now be subject to discrimination and fear and violence?
Whatever the situation, I can always say that I have been intimate with the fear of how this will all turn out, and I always have the courage to find out.