Dating Diet: Eat Gay Love

By Anthony Paull

Fine, I'm going public with it - I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. Therefore, I update my Facebook status with positive self statements just to make it look like I know what I'm doing. Is that common? Am I allowed to be my biggest fan? I can't stop myself. I guess I'm trying to be optimistic about my future, even though my agent called today, advising me to completely rewrite my latest novel. It's too dark, he says. It reads like the catharsis of someone going through a bad breakup, and nobody is going to read that. Not when they're surviving their own bad break-ups. Still, I'm not going to be upset. So what if I'm stuck cohabitating with my dad for the rest of my life? I need to remain strong because my friend Hank is having a real problem. Lately, he says I haven't been there for him. Not since I got back with my boyfriend. So tonight, he's on a first date, and I'm supposed to prove myself by being available by cell, just in case he, you know, wants to flee.

God knows, it's happened before....

"Just once!" Hank exclaims. "And that's 'cause some guy said I reminded him of his son. Who says that on a date? It made me want to dial the predator hotline."

Oh. That's the thing about Hank. He likes to date older men, but he can't handle it when their age difference comes up. Therefore, he makes certain to steer the conversation during dates, leading to mindless banter and awkward revelations, such as confessing his daily battle with anorexia. He thinks admitting his disorder will make older gentlemen feel bad for him, ultimately causing them to fall in love with him because there's no chance he'll ever get fat. The theory is flawed, yes. But then again, Hank finds it best to "keep it real."

That is 'til tonight, when his dating life takes an eerie turn. "Oh dear God!" Hank shrieks, calling me. "Can you believe the nerve? This guy says he won't allow me to leave the restaurant until I eat something. Doesn't he know it's Valentine's Day? He should be kissing my ass. What am I gonna do? He drove. And now, I'm stuck at Chili's, hunched over a toilet."

"Why? Are you throwing up?"

"No. I'm anorexic, not bulimic," he scoffs, as if he were seated on the high throne of an eating disorder hierarchy. "Listen. I need you to come and get me."

"On Valentine's Day???"

"So? You have a boyfriend. He's not going anywhere. What's the problem?"

The problem is my boyfriend is preparing a romantic spaghetti dinner, and I have every intention of paying him back for it. In other words, I'm going to put out. Or so I hope! I mean, this is the first time we've been alone in awhile. Why? Well, it's been hard rescheduling my life after nine months of being single. The truth is: I'm having trouble with the transition. I go from work, to the gym, to work, to dinner, to bed. And somewhere in that time, I have to fit him in. And friends such as Hank, I barely see them at all.

Therefore, when I advise Hank to solve his dating dilemma by simply eating something, he blows up, stating I just want off the phone. "You had time for me when you were single," he states. "I liked you better when you were alone. You were miserable enough to have empathy!"

"Ugh. Are we arguing now?"

"If you have time."

Through his clever tone, I sense he's smirking. But I'm not going to feed into his drama. Instead, I'm going to hang up. Quite the idea, except Hank has me on speed-dial. Too bad, I'm not answering. Rather, I'm twirling spaghetti strands on a spoon, as my boyfriend curiously eyes me each time the phone buzzes.

"You're awfully popular tonight," he says.

"Well, I'm the dating columnist. And everyone needs advice on Valentine's Day."

"Really? Then why aren't you answering the phone?"

Honestly, because I need advice too. Tell me, how do you go from being single to being coupled without losing a single friend? Lately, I feel caught, having to choose which person I can see each night.

But tonight is Valentine's Day. Therefore, the boyfriend wins. But who was there for me when I didn't have a boyfriend? Hank....

So what I do?

"You answer the phone," my boyfriend instructs.

And I realize he's not been the one putting me in the middle; I've been putting myself there. I don't need to be everything to everyone all of the time. I just need to be someone to some people some of the time, particularly when they need someone to listen. So I answer, and you know what? Hank doesn't chew me up a bit. Maybe because he doesn't eat....

Or maybe because answering reminds him I care enough to tell him he needs to.

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