Just a date

Dates are easy. So much easier than random hook-ups.

I had originally arranged to get a train to Kent to see my Polish ex-priest, but he was working in London yesterday, so we decided to meet for a meal here instead. It was clear from our texts that we were both going back to our respective beds, and though this was a little disappointing, it was a relief as well. My date had also made it clear that this would be a purely vanilla evening. Nobody was going to try and twist my body into a shape it didn’t go. I wasn’t going to end up with pubes in my teeth. Nobody was going to try and put a dog collar on me. Nobody was going to put their hand over my mouth and force me to sniff poppers. Nobody was going to ask to watch me go to the toilet. Nobody was going to tell me that they’d been tested “last week” so it was fine if they didn’t wear a condom. Nobody was going to try to force-feed me, or ask me to help them become fat. Men are awful. We really are. All of us.

Anyway, I felt so relaxed on the way to the date, and I wondered if this was how heterosexuals felt about romance. There were no ulterior motives. We were just going to eat dinner and get to know each other. Like people do on TV. Pre-London me wouldn’t have been relaxed about going on a date, certainly not about going on a date with an actual ex-priest, but now a date is easy for me. I’m still nervous before a man takes me home, because I kind of assume he’s going to murder me. But no one’s going to murder me in the Spaghetti House by Marble Arch.

My date was lovely. We talked so much at first that the waiter had to come back three times to take our order because we were too busy getting to know each other to read the menu.

I like Polish people a lot. I wouldn’t have lived in Poland for three years if I didn’t. But I had forgotten quite how whiny they can be. He had a cold and no one has ever complained about their cold as much as he did. I also heard all about his problems at work, but all along, all I was thinking was “This is easy. This is so easy. Dates are great!”

He got meatballs and I got gnocchi. He made some really bad jokes about offering me his meatballs that I laughed too hard at.

He has lovely eyes.

We talked about his past in the priesthood and I told him about my family. He knew the religious group they were part of. In fact he’s said masses for them. (Could this date be more of a rebellion against my upbringing? No.) His response when he heard that I’d been brought up in that community was to say “They’re crazy. They’re not OK with you being gay.” It was surprisingly lovely to have someone understand. Most people either think that my family are like old-fashioned Irish catholics, or that they’re like Southern US Evangelicals, and they’re neither. He just got it. And that was nice.

As a priest, he used to be in a choir of priests that travelled around to different parishes performing until they got in copyright trouble. I told him about my own choir experience, singing in the Eurovision when I was a child. My one moment of fame.

He, like basically every gay I’ve met in London, is a total sci-fi geek. He was stunned when I said I’d never seen a Marvel movie. “Not…not even Guardians of the Galaxy?” he asked incredulously. I told him about the first man I’d met when I arrived in London, the bearish Italian who’d invited me over for “Netflix and a cuddle” and how we’d watched the first five minutes of Guardians of the Galaxy and then got too distracted by the cuddling to watch any more. He told me about all the various sci-fi and superhero shows he watched. I told him about how I preferred teen dramas and he said I should watch The Flash and Supergirl and I said I’d probably like them but my kind of teen show is something like Glee or The OC. “Glee? Oh, you’re very gay then.” Yes I am. And I’m not sorry for it.

He said he’d rather die than watch a musical. I am now determined to make him watch one.

We chatted a lot about men. He has quite a few semi-boyfriends on the go. As he said, there are more fat men looking for slim men than slim ones looking for fat ones, and he takes advantage of that. There are two different men in America who want to marry him, even though they’ve never met. I told him about all the various men, sweet and sleazy, I’ve met since I arrived in London and he expressed horror at the antics of some of them. It is good to have a gay who I can tell all the gory details to. I guess this was the part of the date that was the least heterosexual. I don’t think straight people tell each other about all their other options on a first date. But I enjoyed it. I think it was my favourite part.

We got the bill and I asked if I was meant to offer to pay for him. No. We’re both men apparently, so we split the bill.

We walked to the Tube station, where we were going in different directions. We chastely hugged goodbye. But that’ll change. I’m going to stay at his place in Kent next weekend.

Everything is looking up. I’m viewing a room in a house today. Hostel life is going to end soon. Very soon. I’ve had good news at work. And as well as my ex-priest, the deputy headmaster who did nasty things to me the night before my birthday has been in touch. He wants a rematch this weekend. I love London.

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