Magazine article Out

Are You Interested?

Magazine article Out

Are You Interested?

Article excerpt

WHAT IS SALVAGED WHEN A RELATIONSHIP YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU WANTED ENDS.

A couple of years ago, I was in New York one early spring weekend when I "met" Markus on Are YOU Interested?, a Facebook dating app. After a few ribald back-and-forth emails, we moved quickly to the phone. During our initial talk, I told him I had a car at my disposal - a friend had loaned it to me - and asked if he'd ever been to Jackson Heights, Queens, for Indian food. He said he hadn't. He also said he'd never made out in a parking lot and that, if I were interested, he'd like to make out in the back seat with me. Was I interested? "Yes," I said, though I wasn't sure.

For years, I had carried around a mental picture of the man I would end up with - ruggedly handsome, masculine yet sensitive, brilliant- yet with every go at love he slipped further away. In the hopes of running into him, I rarely turned down an invitation to a party or any social function. I put up ads on a dating website or two, called friends to beg them to set me up, and went so far as to get in touch with Brunch Buddies, an avenue I would have scoffed at a decade earlier. At 39, 1 was no longer the youngest or the prettiest in the room, and the guillotine of time was quickly beheading my rosy chances at love. The last one hadbeen a dermatologist who, after our first night together, had told me he "wasn't feeling it." Though that torturous affair lasted only a few months, I was nonetheless devastated when it was over. I wept for weeks and even wrote a haiku about him - "You were the last one/ in a long line of mistakes./ Now get the fuck out"- swearing I would never again get involved with "that kind of guy."

Unfortunately, I discovered that he lived within me too. He sat across from Markus at dinner that night. He kept pressing me to get rid of him, so that he could troll the computer for someone better (i.e., someone for whom he did "feel it").

"Are you blind? Just look at him," he said. "Tight black jeans and a tight pink T-shirt? You've got to be kidding. He's not part of the plan!"

It was true that Markus's outfit alarmed me a bit, but more alarming was how adamant and how certain I was that I had to bring the date to a close. After dinner, I drove us toward the subway, where I'd picked him up earlier, yet the nearer to the station we got, the less adamant and less certain I was that I wanted him to go. To cut the date short would have been rude, I told myself; besides, I liked hearing about his childhood in Munich, and telling him about my own in San Antonio. A cup of coffee and that's it, I thought. No harm, no foul.

But there was nowhere to get good coffee, so we drove to the canal and sat on benches in a small park that overlooked Manhattan.

"I thought New York was the perfect place to find a husband," Markus said. "But no one wants a skinny, fey translator who reads Thomas Hardy." He shivered against the chill in the air. I shucked off my lightweight jacket and handed it to him. "Thank you," he said, and sniffed the sleeve. "It smells like you, David."

I'd love to say that the kind of guy I was- untrusting, devoted to his solitude, cynical- melted away, and was replaced by a new and improved me who grabbed Markus and kissed him. But it didn't happen that way. That guy was still with me when I eventually dropped him at the subway, and he was still with me when Markus called me a few days later to ask if he could visit me in Gettysburg. By then, I had already considered my date with him a fait accompli; I simply hadn't felt it. Yet what exactly hadn't I felt? I thought, as I surprised myselfby tellinghimhe was more than welcome to come. I had been living in Gettysburg for almost an entire year, and neither my family nor my friends had ever made such an overture. Markus was the first.

On the morning of his arrival, I threw a load of laundry in the washing machine, did the dishes, and dusted the little furniture I had. …

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