When a black gay man reaches their 40th birthday, they should receive a signed letter from Patti Labelle. The letter should congratulate the old soul on making it thus far against all the odds, without strangling any friends for innocently asking “So, are you seeing anyone?” or remarking “Let’s face it, you’re not getting any younger”. Let’s face it, except for my best friend who has managed to make a deal with time, nobody is getting any younger.
Every billboard, every magazine, every acquaintance, every romantic comedy is asking me to pick a mold to pour myself into: hopeless romantic, hedonistic bachelor or desperate spinster. I have tried all three. None fit.
I have made half-hearted attempts to address my pariah status, to never again face that tilt of the head accompanied by an “aww”. A couple of years ago, I dated extensively. I found that, after a 6-year relationship, I didn’t know how to date.
I joined Jack’d and Hornet. Again, I did it wrong. The first message I received laconically inquired: “Dick pic?” and obligingly attached a sample from the sender. That pretty much set the tone. After a couple of months of exploring casual encounters, I found myself thinking: “Look, we’ve discussed precisely what we’re going to do for hours. We’ve exchanged pictures, videos, diagrams and presentations. Are we meeting? See, there is this documentary at 8pm on Small people in China that really sounds more interesting than this lengthy chat that we have been having for 3 years!” Friends inform me that straight hook-up sites are no better.
I even joined Grindr – I was Bill Paxton in Aliens: “30 feet, 20 feet, 10, five… They’re inside the room. They’re right on top of us! Game over, man, game over.” I deleted the application, returned the phone to factory settings, switched it off, burned it, then put it in the freezer. Not to mention that Grindr was more for Whites than blacks…lol.
I even went on a blind date. The friend who set me up (and to whom I may never speak again) believed, like an inexplicable number of straight women, that the two single gay men she knew would “get on like a house on fire” because they are both “hilarious” and of course gay. I went. Don’t judge me – my situation was desperate. I had thought single was an absolute situation and why not accept the help. I hadn’t though it possible to feel so single. So, I went.
“A little younger,” she had said. Any younger and the placenta would have still been attached. This has been a feature of my singlehood. The moment I sashayed over 40, I magically transformed into an older gay man that fitted the online cliché “No Old heads”. Apparently, I was told I look good “for my age” so I’m doable – ok thanks for, uumm the compliment I guess – for attractive, perky people who only serve to remind me how much older I am and with whom I have nothing in common.
So, I sat there and attempted to make small talk, to take a reasoned view on who is better – Beyoncé or Rhianna. Realizing that the person had more of conversation while texting me however, in person nothing; the lack of any interesting conversation was profound.
After a while, deafening silence and 4 downed whiskeys with ice tea, the conversation turned to ballroom. “I always wanted to be Garcon?” he retorted. “Oh, really that’s wassup.” I replied Silence followed. Yea that’s one of my pet peeves, never talk about ballroom on the first date.
Finally, it was over. Polite goodbyes, awkward little peck, done. As I was driving home, I received the following text message: “Had gr8 time wnt 2c more of u y is a hot d8 like u sngl? LOL.”
But the question, mangled as it was, stayed with me: y is a hot date like me sngl? The truth is I am at an awkward age, caught between hopeless romantic, hedonistic bachelor and desperate spinster. I am not jaded enough to compromise for someone who is not a good match, too old to enjoy mindless hedonism and not old enough to resign myself to my situation.
Until the underlying facts change, I’ll just have to be single. And, if I can shed 40 years of stereotypes, I may come to feel what my mind already knows to be true: it doesn’t mean I am broken or incomplete in some way. I just want to find someone with similar interest as I. I really feel at the place I am right now my partner and I should really be my companion we should be fucking, traveling and making money.Follow Shannon Garcon: