Raw & Spicy
By Kevin Dallas
I am not, nor I have I ever been, associated with the graduate schools of Harvard. Goldie brought me in as a ringer because of a deficiency in her database. Nick was, put simply, the only homosexual in the match-making database. At Harvard? Really, people! Therefore, ours was not the most precise of pairings.
Conversation number one went well. Nick brought me up to speed on Goldie’s recent matches and the escalating stakes, with each new couple trying to outdo their predecessors. We agreed to tone things down: just dinner, somewhere modest. Restaurant choice was left undecided, but Nick dropped a hint that became my choice of title. The stage was set.
Our date fell on a Wednesday, and we arranged to meet late, since my work schedule has a tendency to stray beyond designated office hours. After a long day I rushed home to change and ran out the door to get across town to the South End. The phone rang; Nick was running late, by about a half hour… thank God, I went from being 10 minutes behind schedule to 20 minutes ahead. By the time Nick actually arrived, he was more than an hour late. Not a big deal, but a date faux pas. He turned out to be cute, so all was forgiven.
After a brief debate, we moved to “On the Park,” a cute restaurant known primarily for desserts. Did I mention that I don’t eat dessert? The food was not compelling, and we struggled with conversation. When Nick was asked for ID after ordering a glass of wine I thought we had an opening, but somehow we snapped back into a mix of business-speak and requisite first date questions. Nick revealed that he rarely leaves campus, that he’s just “passing through” Boston, and that, even if he wanted more time off campus, he doesn’t have the time. Things were not looking positive.
The bill came. I wandered off mentally into a discussion with myself about date payment etiquette. With straight couples it’s easy. Unless she will take great offense with you acting manly, you pay. With same-gender couples it’s more complicated. In the time I was off in space, Nick had gone ahead and paid the bill, by credit card, without my even noticing. Briefly disoriented, I forgot to say “Thank you,” and I still feel guilty about that, really.
One compelling (and very redeeming) thing that came out of dinner wasn’t tangible. I got the sense that Nick had a desire to be more of a rebel and more “alternative” than outward appearance suggested. Now that was something I knew what to do with. We did a brief tour of some of Boston’s shadier gay bars – well, two to be exact – but one of them was a leather bar, so that counts for something special, especially on a Wednesday. With the social crutch that is alcohol, I found it easier to open up. His professional manner had thrown me off earlier, but grew on me as time went on. Unfortunately, I also found it harder and harder to suppress the urge to yawn. I didn’t mean what it implied. I wasn’t bored, I was just so tired I couldn’t help it. Now I understand why people stay home and watch television on Wednesdays.
Perhaps Nick saw a hint where there was none, or perhaps he really wanted to get away, or maybe, even, he just saw that I was exhausted. Regardless, we headed for home, sharing a cab. My stop was first, and with a farewell flirty remark, that was it, game over. All in all, not a bad date, but not a resounding success either. I did what the modern urban boy does: I waited 4 days and emailed, saying cute but nonspecific and vague things. He replied in kind. Where do we go from here?
Power Has Its Privileges
By Nick Will
Editor in Chief
The cards were stacked against me, and I only made matters worse. I had to call and delay our date by a half-hour because I foolishly scheduled the date on the night before a Harbus deadline, and then I was a half-hour later than that (I did call again, though). I know, I know…
We agreed to meet in the South End, sort of a typical gay spot for a first date, but at least we knew it ranked high on the
“not-likely-to-get-stared-at” scale. We really didn’t plan, so we decided to meet for a casual dinner. (Note: when you can’t rely on social conventions like “the guy always plans, pays, and decides,” you have to figure such things out in other ways. I won’t lie and say it isn’t often confusing.)
When I finally met him at the caf‚, he was wearing what I wished I’d worn: jeans and a sweater. And he was cute and looked great in them. I, however, was in head-to-toe Kenneth Cole, and I’m ashamed to say it. But it was the South End, and hell, I had no idea what we were in for.
He suggested we go to “a restaurant around the corner owned by an angry lesbian,” and I thought that sounded like fun, so off we went. The staff was actually very nice, especially given our late arrival. Our conversation began with talk about work (he’s a consultant) and a bit of Enron for good measure.
But I was over that in the first few minutes and so, at the risk of prying, I decided to put on my best Barbara Walters routine to really get to know this guy. I asked about his upbringing, his education, what he wanted to do with his life. I even asked about his “coming out” story, always a sure-fire starter between gay men.
No traction. Somehow the conversation kept going back to consulting. But he is interested in pursuing a Master in Public Policy and “saving the world,” so I knew there must be some fiery passion in there somewhere, and I was eager to find it.
Finally, at a local bar after dinner, I gave cracking that hard shell of his one last try. We noted a few unusual characters in the bar, including a guy in glimmering synthetic fibers and a lot of gold jewelry, and one old oddity standing at the bar in an ancient football jersey and sweatpants stuffed with a sock. I pointed all these out and explained how, as strange as such sights are, they remind me that there are many mysteries in life left to be explored. …Nope. Nothing. Blank stare.
To my stunned horror he then somehow turned the conversation to McKinsey (not his employer), and so I did what I always do when that name comes up: I stopped it. We went outside and took our picture and then shared a cab back to Cambridge.
When we got to his tower on the river, he said, “I’d invite you in, but that would be scandalous news.” I wasn’t opposed to scandal. But though the view from his apartment must have been as spectacular as the view of him on the outside, I knew that on both counts he wasn’t going to let me in. So we kissed goodbye, and I returned home where, for now at least, my true love was waiting: I still had half of the next Harbus to edit and an editorial to write.