I once read that there are about 590,000 gay people in Los Angeles. Divide that roughly in half, and that's 295,000 gay men, which might seem like a lot, but when you take into account different gay tribes and neighborhood proximity, the number dwindles. That means there are a lot of familiar faces when you head to the Abbey in West Hollywood on a Saturday night. Trust me.
Let me explain. With the countless dating apps on the market today, we're flooded with faces. You might swipe left, you might swipe right, but we're exposed to so much "content" (i.e.: headless, impossibly toned torsos with suggestive emojis splayed across their profiles), it's hard to keep track of just who you come in contact with online. So, when the day comes that you do, in fact, strike up a conversation with someone, online or otherwise, you could be reigniting a former flame.
And, in fact, that is just what happened to me.
I'll start by saying that I'm a hopeful romantic — yes, you read that correctly — hopeful, not hopeless. I'm an anomaly in that I want to have a traditional "straight relationship," but like, way gayer. I want kids, I want a house, I won't tolerate extramarital affairs. I want love in the grand Fitzgerald-esque romanticism of what the word evokes, but with a dude. Thus, when I came out of the closet, I was shellshocked when I learned that promiscuity is not only a stereotype of gay men, but it is also totally and completely the truth in my experience. Great. Of course. Just my luck.
In an effort to satisfy my idealistic expectations of love, I did what every self-serving masochist does and downloaded Grindr. (If you're unfamiliar, it's basically a hook-up app that alerts you to men who are in close proximity to you.) Why I thought I'd find "love" in such a hopeless place, to borrow the Rihanna lyric, I have no idea. Remember, I'm hopeful. And as it would turn out, stupid too.
As I perused the findings of gentlemen close to my apartment, I found some absolutely loathsome subjects who would send graphic, unsolicited pictures. Person after person, pic after pic, I was close to deactivating my account when for a split second, I saw it. It was a headless torso, sure, but it was a good headless torso. Good enough that it piqued my interest enough that I wanted to see more.
I sent a perfectly reasonable "Hey, what's going on" and was pleasantly surprised when said torso replied with a casual "not much man you." In gay talk, that means he's for sure interested. I was delighted. And P.S. — my picture was of my face, because, duh, I'm a gentleman.
After some more small talk for the next 20 minutes or so, he and I both knew that since we were connecting, and he had clearly stated that he was on the app "just to check it out," one of us inviting the other over to hang out was imminent. What would actually commence during the hangout sesh remained to be seen — it could have been something totally PG, but given that it was around 9 p.m. at night, I got a sense the MPAA rating was leaning more toward a hard R.
Sure enough, he asked if I wanted to come over, and, abandoning my inhibitions, I obliged; he could turn out to be Mr. Right after all. Plenty of marriages stemmed from one-night stands, right?
He was close by, so I walked the block or so away and buzzed up to his apartment. I knocked on the front door, delirious with anticipation. The door swung open and when it did, my jaw dropped. In front of me stood a very handsome guy, about 6 feet tall, light brown stubble with a kind smile and blue-green eyes, and I immediately realized that he was the stranger I had totally made out with in the bathroom stall of a nightclub about a year prior.
The expression on his face, though, was one of genuine delight, so I doubted he made the connection I just had to our previous rendezvous.
"Hey," I said, warmly.
"What's up," he replied, as he ushered me inside.
As I stood awkwardly in his living room I figured there were two ways the situation could play out. I could admit my recognition of him, in which case he would either laugh and we could joke about it, or he could say he had no recollection of the kiss, which in turn would make me feel like a complete loser and an awful kisser, which knowing myself, would be a complete mood killer. Or I could totally play it cool, act suave, and give this thing another go.
My decision? Well, let's just say he was a better kisser the second time around. And also let's just say, I got mildly duped. Because my face picture was on the app, he later confessed to remembering me too from the nightclub and returned my message only so he could see me again. Hardly the F. Scott/Zelda romance I was searching for, but it was cute. And I was flattered. And I realized that I must be a pretty decent kisser.
I haven't seen him since, but I made a mental note of his torso before deleting Grindr, just in case I stumbled upon him again. Which I knew I probably would. Because the gay community is small. And everyone knows each other. In fact, it's basically like the "Cheers" bar, but filled solely with dudes who have most likely all made out with each other already.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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