At this point in Alphabet City, I have left my job as a celebrity publicist and been traveling the world on behalf of Condé Nast Traveler.
My hectic travel schedule left little time for dating story lines on Alphabet City. While I had a few recurring fan favorite boyfriend characters, including the Taxidermy Tax Attorney, there were no romantic episodes that were particularly award winning or earth shattering. A few years on the other side of 30, and the loneliness was wearing on me. While I was constantly forced into close proximity with a lot of eligible bachelors in this massively congested city, I just wasn’t connecting with them on a level other than quickie sex. What little free time I had at home when not traveling, I didn’t want to spend cruising for guys in a bar.
The Internet as hook up engine burst onto the gay scene in the late ‘90s. I signed up enthusiastically hoping that online matchmaking would prove superior to suggestive winks at seedy bars. Gay.com might expand my dating horizons, and so I fished in its online pond as NYCBUCKY.
My boyfriend search skills honed from years in gay bars were no help in cyberspace. It took several painful dinner first-dates to learn that chances were good the guy in real life will be the opposite of his description. DowntownHUNG was actually from the suburbs and had a widely inflated sense of his tool. STUDMuffin69 needed to lay off the pastries. 2Hard4U spoke about his dick non-stop—two hours of cock talk over noodles proved too hard for me.
Some guys would have given up on the online thing altogether. But I couldn’t resist the Internet temptation—the gigantic desktop computer in my basement living room stared me down with the possibility that Mr. Right was right there waiting for my charming banter in the NYC chat room. The sound of static as the modem connected always sent a shiver of anticipation through me—Pavlov’s gay dog. I scanned through the typical assortment of evocative screen names with requisite summary descriptions. There was always a “NYCockTop—8inches of meat, ready 2 pound U” and a “VillageDaddy—ready to spoil U and spank U.”
One night, the screen name STARBSTRD caught my eye—nothing particularly sexual about that. Bastard? A little bit off putting really. Was that some kind of kinky sexual thing? But his description was tantalizing, endearing and funny: “Happy soul, well endowed.” This STARBSTRD seemed different. I fretted over a good opening line for at least 30 seconds—an online eternity. He could be deeply involved with someone else by the time I finally messaged him.
NYCBUCKY: Are you a happy soul because you’re well endowed?
Few second pause. No reply. I must have lost him. Then POP—a reply.
STARBSTRD: Funny 😉 I never connected the 2.
NYCBUCKY: Really? Most gay boys would!
And we were off. Over the course of the next 73 chat screens, I uncovered that he was:
30 years old—finally a boy my age!
Worked as an economist living on Wall St.—I’d never dated a banker!
From Mexico City—I loved Latinos!
Enjoyed dancing, food, yoga, rollerblading—I loved two of those things!
STARBSTRD: What’s ur name?
NYCBUCKY: Jon Paul
STARBSTRD: That’s funny!
Why was that funny? People making jokes about my name exhausted me. The next line was usually, “Oh, like John Paul Jones?” Or John Paul Sartre. Or John Paul George and Ringo. It’s just one of those things I’ve heard my whole life and am prickly about. The chat had derailed and I was ready to end it over the name game.
STARBSTRD: Wanna come over and cuddle?
NYCBUCKY: Gimme a break.
Cuddle? What self-pronounced well-endowed gay guy thinks I’m going to believe that? Besides, if I did drag myself all the way to his apartment, I certainly hoped we would do more than just cuddle if his penis size lived up to proclamations.
STABRSTRD: Want to go on a date, then?
NYCBUCKY: Not really. I don’t even know your name.
STARBSTRD: Juan Pablo.
NYCBUCKY: Not funny.
On the one hand, I gave him points for being clever—translating my name into Spanish. English Jon Paul became Spanish Juan Pablo. On the other, he had taken the name thing too far, and was living up to his screen name, acting like a bastard. I was tiring of this seemingly endless banter; it was hard to stay witty and disinterested at the same time. I was thinking of a nice way to shut down the chat, and then Pop Pop Pop—three screens in a row.
STARBSTRD: No, I’m not kidding.
STARBSTRD: We have the same name.
STARBSTRD: That’s why I thought you were kidding.
What were the chances? Oh, the Internet. We had the same name—my Texas Jon Paul to his Mexican Juan Pablo. Of all the horny gay boy gin joint chat rooms in the world he had to log on to this one.
How could I not go out on a date with someone who had my same name? So I gave him my number and he phoned immediately to make plans for a date the next day. His voice was a surprise—no rolled “R’s” or deep Latin baritone; instead his speech was slightly high pitched with an odd Pan-European accent we’ve come to associate with Madonna.
“If you could come downtown that would be great. Want to go rollerblading?” he asked.
I hated Wall Street and used Canal Street as the marker for my personal DMZ, and had only recently learned to roller blade. I imagined making a fool of myself splattering all over Battery Park.
“Blading doesn’t seem like a first date kind of thing,” I said.
“How about a stroll along the West Side?”
A stroll? He sounded positively Parisian, a flaneur. I was intrigued. In the hustle of New York City, I rarely just wandered aimlessly, but Happy Soul (well-endowed) sounded like he had a plan.