by Beau Burriola -
SGN Contributing Writer
'I've lived in Paris since I was 19,' Emilio said, staring out at the pond. About a dozen ducks floated in front of us looking at us hopefully, giving an audience to his story.
The story was deep, short, heavy.
'I had sex at least twice a day. I would go to the parks, to the bars, to the saunas, or meet guys on the Internet. I just wanted to feel close to someone. I had a lot of sex, but I've never had a boyfriend. I've never been lucky like you.'
The 'like you' seemed resentful, angry.
'Lucky?' I asked him, a little confused. I'm not sure about luck, but it isn't every day you come across a guy who is 34 years old, has lived in a major Gay city and has never, ever, had a boyfriend. For me, Emilio is the first.
'Yeah, lucky. I never had the luck you had to find a boyfriend.'
Emilio was, to me, very beautiful in the way only Spanish/French guys can be. He's fit, he's got deep eyes, a flavor for life, and a decent job. He's a little dramatic, but as a story collector, I appreciate the color.
But I don't want to date him.
At 34 years old, my life can be broken down into three long-term relationships. My first was when I was open to pretty much any kind of love I could find. My second was when I was slightly more picky, but not mature enough to meet my own expectations. The last was the longest and even when it ended, I felt confident that how it ended was right.
But here is a guy who has had sex with (by his count) thousands of men from all over the world and not found a single one who could become a boyfriend. As a story collector, I'm fascinated. As a potential partner, I am running from all the warning bells and alarms. He is either the pickiest guy on earth or there are more layers than I am seeing.
We watched the ducks for a while, lost in our own thoughts before he threw this out: 'You think I'm in another caste.'
I was quiet at first, because I wasn't sure about the French word for caste. When I understood it, I got a chill. Did I? Did I think because he had sex with thousands of guys, that he was in another category I didn't want to touch? Did that take him immediately out of consideration?
Kind of. Yeah.
I suddenly felt very ugly. But even if I didn't think that meant he was untouchable, I did feel like that meant the potential risk outweighed most of the gains I could get here. That's the difference for me dating at 34 versus dating at 20. I want kids, a family, a future. I know myself and imagine I know enough about who I want to date to make smart decisions about it.
We sat in the grass there talking for two hours - our lives, our pasts, our hopes for the future, and how we looked at different things in the world. As a storyteller and as a feeling person, I admired the raw honesty of his story. I appreciated the way his family life was hard, how his mother and he still don't talk, and how the only family in his life is an uncle. As a story, he reminds me of a French movie I once saw with an ending that left me feeling unsure, grasping for meaning and unable to process in my small American mind the motivation for such a script or the characters.
But that was that. Thirty-four-year-old me had made my judgment and moved on, and felt awful the whole time. I still feel awful now. But I'm no less sure of my tradeoff. I was judgmental, quick to decide, uncompromising in my decision, and uninterested in pushing that limit.
I can only hope with every fiber of my being - for all my hopes for the future - that this is wisdom and not cynicism.
'Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.' - journalist Norman Cousins
Beau Burriola is a Brussels-based Gay expat, rediscovering dating in the middle thirties. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!