They started coming last Thursday and Friday, all in a rush, without any warning. Letters from home.
My old home, that is. Not Virginia or Georgia, the homes of my youth, where I scarcely know anyone and from which all my family and friends have fled or expired. From Michigan, my chosen home for two and a half decades.
It was odd timing, too, because the day before, I’d just commented on how homesick I was. I drove out of Michigan sleepy and tired and sweating and in a car with an unhappy pet, so I didn’t really have a chance to get sentimental about saying my mental goodbyes to the area. I was basically just trying to keep the pet quiet and my eyes on the road and the air conditioner blasted on high. After that I had the issues of moving an entire house’s worth of stuff into our temporary apartment, and the challenges of getting settled in a new state.
Not until a few days ago have I had the actual leisure to reflect on what I’ve left behind. It saddens me to think of the Craftsman house I loved and left behind. Little things trigger it, like the sight of a Japanese maple that will remind me of the baby I planted in my own front yard and watched grow into a monster. The smell of a neighbor’s cut grass makes me think back to how pungent the same smell was from my own back yard, when the sun hit the yard in the late afternoon. Wednesday night I found myself staring at the cupboards in my new place, baffled at them, my hands reaching instinctively for all the spots I stored things in my old home. My hands remembered well where they wanted to go, though I tried to tell them otherwise. They were like dogs trying to find their way to an old home, out of habit and the pull of some unspeakable force.
Then these emails started coming and I thought to myself, Man, I am well out of that shit.
The first batch of emails came, you see, from a broad class of men I think of under the classification of “looky-loos.” Every time I would log onto a site like Manhunt or Adam4Adam, they’d check out my profile. I’d see it on the tracking page. A few minutes later, they’d check me out again. Then, like clockwork, every twenty minutes or so they’d peek back again. They never said anything; they never made a move or gave me any indication that they’d be interested in getting together. They just looked, and looked, and kept silent.
I don’t think there wasn’t a one of them at which I didn’t look back (at first), or winked or smiled. To most I’d send the occasional message of Hey, how’s it going? or Looking around tonight? Some of these guys were quite hot—muscular physiques, smooth young bodies or beefy bear chests. A few were, to put it gently, physically challenged. I eventually figured out that I wasn’t ever going to get any kind of response, so I just stopped trying with most.
That’s what made the emails from the looky-loos so puzzling at first. I got three of them in a row, Thursday, and then a handful more that night and the following day. You moved and I never got that hot dick, read one. Another said, I guess now we’re never going to be able to get together. They were all pretty much the same—mournful and vaguely laden with reproach.
I wanted to reply with my own initial response: what the fuck? Instead, I was kind of annoyed. You’ve been looking at my profile for the last ten years, I wrote one guy, since I joined gay.com. Never did you ever make a move to get together, and I even offered at a couple of points! To another guy whose message was roughly the same I asked, And how does moving make your failure ever to talk to me my fault?
At about the same time I started getting emails from another group of guys I call the Disappearing Acts. I think we’ve all encountered these guys. They come on strong in a very, very short period of time online, telling you all the hot and nasty things they want to do with you and promising all kinds of forbidden pleasures. Or they’ll meet you in a bar, and monopolize you quite pleasantly in a hot and sexy way for the night. Or you might even hook up with them and, at the end of a good sex session, they’ll tell you all the hot things they really want to do with you, next time.
Then, just as you’re hooked, they vanish. You don’t hear from them, they don’t return your calls, they don’t show up online. Just as you’ve either decided they’re dead or forgotten about them entirely, months or even years later, they’ll show up and expect you to be just as hot for them again as you were that one afternoon in July of 2005.
It’s a little crazy-making, because usually these guys talk a really good and convincing game—but as far as follow-through, they might as well be like the Looky-Loos. I had two of my Disappearing Acts contact me at the end of last week, both surprised to see that I had a new location listed in my profile, and both contacting me with outraged emails of, Wha’ happen?
I advertised in my profiles for two months before I left that I was moving out of Michigan, I told them both. One of them protested he’d been busy for two months. You’ve been busy for two years, I pointed out to him, after a quick review of our emails. That’s the last time I heard from you.
He wrote back that he’d been in rehab for several months, and that he’d sold his house, and moved to a different city, and then moved back, and then broke up with his boyfriend, then got back together, and now they were both living with his boyfriend’s mom and he was finally ready to get together and do all those great things we’d talked about, only I’d had the effrontery to up and leave.
There’s not really much to say to that, is there?
I think the lesson to be learned here is that we never really know how much time we have left to accomplish what we want. We don’t know what’s going to happen to that hot guy we’ve had our eye on, or that pretty boy in the apartment below ours, or that sexy bartender with whom we’ve always longed just to exchange a few words. You don’t know when that guy you’ve wanted online is going to move. If you really want someone, whether for sex or for conversation or something more, nothing’s going to happen unless you act. And act today.
I can get as tongue-tied over beauty as the next guy. There are men I see who make my jaw drop and cause every insecurity to come roaring into life like tornado sirens during a severe weather situation. There are men I see whom I know, just know, that if I approach them, they’ll cut me with a word and a look.
But you know, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes that beautiful guy who makes me feel like a gawky thirteen-year-old with braces turns out to be friendly, and we’ve had a good talk and become friendly acquaintances. Sometimes they’ve turned out to be just as horny for what I have to offer as I am for what they can give me, and we’ve fucked. You won’t know unless you say something—and even if the guy cuts you down (or more likely, gently sends you on your way, because only assholes behave badly in those situations), what’ve you lost, really? Not dignity. Going after what you want never makes you lose that. Not pride, or anything important. A simple no is not going to end your life.
And I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised how many answers of yes you’ll actually get.
Not all of my mail from home was annoying. I did receive from The Decorator a note that read: I miss you more than I thought possible. I’ve never had better sex with anyone, compared to you. I’d seriously pay to fly you back here to spend a few nights with me, if it’s possible.
That, my friends, is the kind of email a man likes to receive.