Thursday, December 6, 2007

Uh Huh

I saw a friend of mine online this past weekend. I'd invited him to our holiday party, but I hadn't heard back from him yet, so I figured I'd say hello. He apologized for not getting back to me and said that he was on his way out but would call me later in the day. Which he did. He told me that he might be able to make the party but he would have to let me know for sure later because he might be going to San Francisco with his boyfriend. And the following conversation ensued:

TED: You have a boyfriend?
Custer: Yeah. Didn't Jeff tell you?
TED: He didn't mention it, no.
Custer: We've been dating since before Labor Day
TED: Wow. More than two months. Serious.
Custer: But he doesn't live here.
TED: No, of course, he wouldn't.
Custer: What do you mean?
TED: Nothing. Where does he live?
Custer: Colorado.
TED: Ah.
Custer: But it's serious. He's actually been out here to see me a couple of times. Jeff's met him.
TED: Ah.
Custer: But his current assignment is in San Francisco.
TED: Ah.
Custer: First he said that he was too stressed out, so we wouldn't be able to see each other until after the holiday.
TED: Uh huh.
Custer: But then he said that he was too stressed out, so maybe I should come see him next weekend. So I've got passes on Jet Blue, in case he decides he wants me to come out.
TED: Ah. How's the job hunt coming?
Custer: I've really got to buckle down and start looking soon. It's been over a year now.
TED: Yeah. Well, congratulations on the boyfriend.
Custer: Thanks. He wants to be monogamous.
TED: And you're okay with that?
Custer: Sure, why not?
TED: Colorado. And San Francisco.
Custer: He's worth it.
TED: So I'll put you down as a maybe.
Custer: Right. I'll let you know.

Custer's 55, but he's Asian, so he looks about 40. He's reasonably attractive and a very nice guy, and he's never had a real LTR. For the first few years I knew him, there was this guy, Bubba, who Custer called his partner. Bubba (I am, alas, not making this name up. I assume, however, that it was a nickname. I hope that his given name was not "Beauregard," but I fear that my hope is not well founded) lived in Mississippi or Alabama or some other godforsaken part of the Confederacy, and neither I nor any of Custer's other friends actually ever met him, but I'm pretty sure he was real. He and Custer would get together two or three times a year and they'd talk on the phone two or three times a day, and he called that a relationship.

I think it went for about four years before it became clear -- even to Custer, who can overlook anything -- that the two of them were never going to live in the same state. During that time, Custer fooled around once and felt immensely guilty. Despite the fact that Bubba had lied to Custer before they ever met in the flesh, Custer was convinced that Bubba was faithful to him. Every time he said this, I would roll my eyes, inhale, and then hold my peace. Chacun a son gout, I reckon.

Custer and Jeff are part of a circle of friends that I don't see much any more. Not because of any falling out: just because of geography. Every one of the guys in that group looks at the bf/ltr as a sort of holy grail. If they can but find the man, they believe, they will attain enlightenment/happiness/whatever. These guys spend a lot of their time on the hunt, and none of them goes about it the right way. Jeff does finally seem to have settled down with someone nice, and I'm happy for him, but I think it puts additional pressure on the other guys who are still single.

Of all the guys in that group, Custer seems like the one who should have the easiest time finding a boyfriend. He's extremely affable, he's a top, and he's not a Republican. And he's semi-butch, which the bottoms love. Or at least he follows college sports, though I think that's mainly because he went to one of those big Florida universities. I actually remember which one, but I always pretend that I don't just to annoy him. Apparently, there is some sort of animosity between the Gators and the Seminoles. Whatever.

Anyway, despite being a highly eligible bachelor, Custer's awful at dating. A couple of years ago, b&c and I went to Rehoboth to visit Jeff, and Custer was there with a guy (from upstate New York, alas) that he was dating. The guy was hot and really into Custer, but there was another guy (not at Rehoboth) who also wanted to go out with (or at least play with) Custer, so Custer brought both of them to a concert. Together. And they were both annoyed. Quelle surprise. He never dated either of them again. I usually try to be supportive in such situations, but I quickly lost track of the number of times I said, "What were you thinking?"

His other problem is that he wants the LTR RIGHT NOW. This scares some guys off. The guys that it doesn't scare off have big (and similar) issues, so while they've usually agreed to be monogamous by about the third date, they never date for very long. So who's left? Guys who want an LTR but who aren't close enough for the whole thing to burn out quickly. Guys who are desperate enough for an LTR to promise monogamy even though they know that conjugal visits will be extremely infrequent. Guys who live in Colorado.

Anyway, he's a grownup (sort of), and he can do what he likes. I've tried to explain gently why his behavior is misguided, but if you don't want to learn, you can't be taught. And -- who knows? -- maybe Mr. Colorado/San Francisco will turn out to be Mr. Right. Maybe one of them will move to be with the other one, and they'll end up in a gay retirement village in Sarasota.

Or not.


Paul said...

For many, it's all about the hunt. Not the prize.

Will said...

I always wonder about guys who want/need/expect/demand fidelity in a gay male relationship. I mean, we're MEN for God's sake and gay men at that. In this era of AIDS, I do not condone irresponsible promiscuity, but some totally responsible adventuring seems to me to be part of gay life.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I just needed to say it.

jason said...

Poor Custer....
I feel like calling him Custard. Gay, Asian....