By Mark Davidovich, Truth Teller
It’s 2014 — cheers to new beginnings, experiences, relationships, and maybe even a new dating approach (or two). I’d like to start 2014 off with a story that (almost) everyone can relate to: being stood up by a date or someone you really liked. The lesson is finding positive moments in each situation and walking away feeling good because you know you acted with integrity.
Back in November, I took a break from the app world to mix up my dating life a bit. I knew I was (finally) ready for a deeper connection with someone, and it was time to start acting that way. There was also a certain someone on my mind, who I thought was particularly swell. I wanted to do something nice for him: make him smile, laugh, in hopes he’d go out with me. I didn’t want to make him my boyfriend, marry him, or even just hook up — I simply wanted one date to get to know each other and, hopefully, walk away smiling. I was excited about the effort and all the possibilities to make this dude’s face light up.
As a publicist by trade, I tell stories for a living, so let me digress with some context about this gent, who I’ll affectionately call “El Greco.” We first met four years ago at my friend Michelle’s birthday party at New York’s Standard Hotel. It was summer, and he was there with a mutual friend. El Greco wore a light blue button down shirt, unbuttoned about halfway down his torso, chest hair in full view (I admittedly have a weakness for furry chests and appreciate guys who unbutton their shirts below the first two buttons … which I’ve also done myself). I already had a few drinks in me and got the nerve to introduce myself. He didn’t seem the least bit interested — or friendly — but I didn’t take it personally. A few months prior I had broken up with a long-term boyfriend and was nowhere near ready to start dating at the time anyway, so I simply appreciated EG’s beautiful eyes, smile, and of course that chest, and then quickly forgot all about him.
The next time we saw each other was a year and a half ago, when our mutual friend decided to play matchmaker and invited us both for drinks. We all had a great time (EG and I even got our friend to sing karaoke live in a crowded bar, no easy feat when there’s a room full of drunk gays judging you). There was clearly chemistry between us, numbers were exchanged and I tried to get this fool to go out with me, which never actually happened. He had just started a new job and joined the cultish Cross Fit, so he had no time for a personal life — so he said. After being blown off, I once again forgot about EG and started dating the rest of NYC.
I didn’t see or think about El Greco for another year and a half until my birthday in October. There I was at XES (coincidentally where EG and I met our friend the previous year), just about to leave for dinner when I heard my name. Sure enough, there’s EG with friends, shirt unbuttoned and looking at me with those penetrating eyes. We chatted briefly before I left, but I enjoyed this time together even if it was only for a hot second.
We saw each other at a fashion event a couple weeks later at the launch of the new Club Monaco flagship store in the Flatiron district. It was a cold November night and my friend Randi had all but dragged me to this event. We made the rounds, then settled near the hosts at the candy bar, where I went to get yogurt-covered pretzels. I came back to hand her one when I noticed someone (yes, EG) looking at me through the corner of my eye. Naturally, I said hello. There he was with those eyes, chatting in his charming yet somewhat awkward style, but our conversation was short as Randi and I were off into the night to our next destination.
After running into EG again so randomly in such a short time span, I decided the Universe was sending a message: Ask this guy out (again). Though initially reluctant, what did I have to lose? Maybe he wasn’t ready last year (and I probably wasn’t either) and timing is crucial. A few days later I texted, saying it was fun running into him these past few times and that it might be even more fun to run into each other on purpose. He responded in kind and we decided to touch base after I returned from a three-week trip.
While in sunny California I thought about EG. I was genuinely excited to go out with him, but strangely wasn’t thinking about getting in his pants — or envisioning our future together. I just wanted to see if I could make him laugh. The idea of putting a smile on his face put one on mine. Back in NYC, I messaged to make plans … and didn’t hear back.
A determined fucker, I chose to not give in to his flakiness and thought of fun date ideas. He worked in nightlife so I decided a concert would be best. I called our mutual friend to ask her what music he liked (pop). As luck would have it, P!NK was on tour and she would be at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center the next couple of nights. I texted and asked EG if he was up for it, my treat. He immediately said yes and I bought the tickets. Done and done. Or so I thought.
I was excited and told Randi my evening plans. When I got the cancellation text from EG (three hours before the show, mind you) I wasn’t terribly surprised. His excuse? A girlfriend invited him to a networking opportunity with music industry executives at Barclay’s, supposedly taking place right before the show. He wasn’t sure he’d be done in time. He felt horrible, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in front of these VIPs, and he was looking to make a career move. He even said I’d hate him for it. Being an understanding guy, I let him off the hook. After apologizing profusely, he asked how he could make it up to me. “I’ll let you figure it out.”
I called Randi and off we went to Barclay’s. We arrived 15 minutes before P!NK took the stage, got drinks and settled into our seats (lower level, to the side, with a great view). I commented that the row in front of us was strangely empty, and just as I finished my sentence, a group of 10 filled up the entire row, the very last person being EG in the flesh, who ended up sitting DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME. I had a feeling I’d run into him that night, but hadn’t anticipated this.
EG was sitting next to his cute chick, who apparently (Randi and I decided) may have been under the impression that she was his actual girlfriend. I tapped him on the shoulder and the look of surprise on his face was PRICELESS. Still, I was happy to see him and glad we (kind of) got to experience the show together.The chemistry was still electric between us (at least for me). I was also happy that my efforts weren’t in vain. I put serious thought into this evening and just wanted to make it fun and memorable.
In an effort to beat the crowds, Randi and I left the show before the encore and I said goodbye to EG, leaving the ball in his court. He owed me a make-up date, and a good one at that. In the cab ride home, Randi called EG out on his shade (and was probably right). However, I took our run-in as yet another sign from the Universe. What are the odds? There were 20,000 people at the show and he ends up sitting right in front of me. I couldn’t seem to get away from this guy, even when he stood me up!
I woke up to a “hey handsome” message from EG. He engaged me pointless texts, boring details about his day working from home, but not asking me out on proper date as promised. After a few more, I gave it to him straight. “Listen babe, this textual banter is cute, but you should really be asking me on that awesome date, which you should be busy planning on your work-from-home day.” I don’t think EG was ever called out, and I didn’t hear back until the next day with a non-committal, “I’ll get back to you!!” followed by a few (even) more pointless texts.
Not surprisingly, I haven’t heard from him since. While I was disappointed for a hot minute, I was still happy I put in the effort because I enjoyed each and every moment. I liked brainstorming ways to make him smile. I loved the anticipation, excitement, and also the nervousness that came with asking him out, hoping he’d say yes and even the plans themselves. Some would say it was a waste of time, energy and money, and that this was desperate or I humiliated myself.
But I wholeheartedly disagree.
I’m so grateful to EG, for he awakened a side of me that had been dormant for years. I was finally, once again genuinely happy to do something nice for someone else (in a romantic capacity), even though I knew there was no guarantee that I would achieve my desired result. He made me feel the joy of thinking about someone other than me and with that came the realization that I might actually be ready for a more intimate connection at this point in my life (as opposed to telling everyone I was ready but acting very differently). He also got my creative juices flowing again, and with that came so much FUN.
I know many of my fellow gay mates are in a similar situation in their lives. Either you’re ready to date but are afraid to be vulnerable, or you say you’re ready for a meaningful connection but still act like you’re looking for anything butt (pun intended).
So guys, find happiness in the doing and don’t focus on the end result so much. Life’s a journey! It’s within these tiny moments where we find the most joy. If gay men could see that, maybe they wouldn’t be so afraid to truly put themselves out there. And just maybe, we’d find whatever it is that we’re seemingly also searching for, but too afraid to touch.