By Anna Merlan
By Albert Samaha
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Roy Edroso
By Carolyn Hughes
By Chuck Strouse
By Albert Samaha
At the start, dating two people you meet within days of each other seems less a dilemma than a happy problem. I always assume that bad news will eliminate someone: has jealous boyfriend in Australia. Has toddler fetish. Has absurd excuses for incompatibility"We're both cats."
Nineteen-ninety-four was the first time. Fletcher had gotten my attention at the gym, wearing spandex jogging pants on the cross-country skiing machine. We ran into each other during a drunken night out. I stole him from the guy he was talking to and spent the entire next day getting acquainted with his compact, sinewy body. Not long before that I'd met Phil at a sex club. I'd called him but hadn't heard back. Convinced that I never would, I hooked up with Fletcher. Then Phil called.
It wasn't as if I got along with one guy but the sex was lame and the other really turned me on but we were incompatible. They were both hot, and I got along with both of them. Fletcher was a musclebound shorty with a chipped front tooth who loved Johnny Rotten's autobiography. Phil was slim and had golden fur all over. He claimed to have crank-called the Rainbow Room demanding that they deliver a burrito. In bed, things were better with Phil at first. He liked to go for hours, starting with a massage and delaying climax until we could synchronize orgasms. I decided to tell Fletcher we should be friends, since I hate having to keep secrets. But then Phil kept hinting that he wanted out, and our communication broke down, sexually too.
Two years later it happened again. On a Thursday in early December, I cruised an affable Wisconsin farm boy I'll call Luke; the next day I met Raoul, a hunky film school grad. Since Luke had a gamma globulin deficiency, he was very cautious about sex. "If I got HIV," he said, "I'd be dead like that." He was very affectionate, which I liked, but innocent, which didn't go so far. We had sex only once or twice, long make-out sessions ending in mutual masturbation. Raoul, on the other hand, was quick-witted and cosmopolitan. He thought it perfectly normal to get it on five times a day.
On New Year's Eve, I invited them both to a party at my place. Luke arrived early. I felt I ought to tell him about his rival, just so he'd hear it from me. I said too much. He burst into tears and left, just in time for me to snag the 1996 Heel of the Year Award for dumping a cute farm boy on New Year's Eve. Almost like payback, Raoul traveled a lot after that and never called.
This past August, it happened a third time. On a Wednesday, I discovered that Karl had not dissed me; we'd miscommunicated. That Sunday, I met Al on the beach at sunset. They were polar opposites. Karl loved Lacan and sported rad tattoos. He'd once edited a porno mag. The soft-spoken Al worked for a charity that helped impoverished children. Glancing at the golden donkey I'd won in 1996, I decided that instead of pursuing the ironic bad boy and dismissing the mensch, I wouldn't do anything. I wouldn't sleep with either of them (actually Karl pleaded celibacy on our second datenever a good sign), I wouldn't pick favorites, and I wouldn't tell them about each other. I'd just let go and let God.
Gradually, I lost interest in Al as a potential boyfriend. Then Karl gave a Christmas party without mentioning that he runs gatherings like a waiter at Luna. I took his rudeness personally. Eventually, he shut the party down and demanded that everyone join him at a nearby hustler bar. I declined. My friend Andy, who lived in the East Village, offered me a ride partway home.
The previous week, I'd had a staring contest in an East Village bar with a tall, handsome guy who wore a soul patch, but we hadn't met. Instead of going home, I decided to return to the same bar. Andy dropped me off. "I hope you meet the man of your dreams!" he said. "I've stopped dreaming," I told him. I didn't really think I'd see Soul Patch Guy. I knew that if you blew an opportunity, that was that. Yet there he was. Joe was a doctor. He opened up the conversation by gushing about One Hundred Years of Solitude. Soon we left, and Joe hailed a cab. "Do you have a boyfriend?" he asked. "Nope. You?" "Nope." A taxi rolled up. We got in and sped away.