How do we deal with breaking up when we lack role models?
In the words of Stephen Sondheim, here’s a little story that should make you cry.
My friend Dale decided it was time to fall in love. Again. It had been about a month since he and his last love split up, the last love having come to the conclusion that Dale was not the love that would last. Dale had reached the same lifeless plateau about two hours later. But the other guy got the call in first, so he got to walk away with the Dumper laurel wreath on his brow. And Dale picked himself up, brushed his hair back, and started all over again.
We do this a lot, lately, don’t we? That is, turn to romance as though it were yet another commodity to obtain and neatly fit into our daily routine, like updating a database or attending a monthly steering committee. I blame Oprah, as I’ve blamed Oprah before. Oprah, surprisingly, sails on, my disapproval notwithstanding.
I blame the internet, too. The last thing humankind needed was further blurring of the line between sex and love and, with the possible exception of eBay, it’s the biggest thing the net provides. Dale is but one of an army of men who see a posted profile, feel a stirring beneath the fabric of their 2-Xist boxer shorts, and confidently foresee a zillion nights of perfect compatibility broken up by occasional bouts of passion. So I blame Dale as well. But I’ll go easier on him; he’s suffered enough for his folly.
To the story, then.
Dale found Jeff. Jeff found Dale’s finding of him fine. Let the dating begin. For maybe three weeks – a Grant Wood portrait of enduring couplehood, as gay pairings often go – all was grand. There were movies, there were bites had at fun little bistros, and there were bites enjoyed in passion. Favorite CDs were traded, that a hot new band could be shared. Disks of movies were left in apartments, not worried about because, well, they could be remembered and taken back home after next time’s bites.
Then this love that was fizzled out and died like a Pepsi cracked open and left on the side of a highway. Cell calls got increasingly bitter. Somebody was inconsiderate, somebody else turned out to be a moron. New pictures were uploaded to gay dating sites because everyone knows that life must go on. All that was left were the few loose ends.
They always say it’s the children who suffer when straight couples divorce. When gay men break up, it’s the DVDs that are the forgotten ones. Lost, ignored, uncared for in the maelstrom of grown-up heartbreak. In this instance, two particular films were the casualties: Dale’s copy of Bjork’s ‘Dancer in the Dark’, and Jeff’s less aesthetic – if more watchable – copy of Kristen Bjorn’s ‘Hot Times in Little Havana’. Modern love may be a mess, but at least it’s eclectic in its viewing habits.
Dale finally remembered his Bjork, and wanted it back. Jeff in turn realized he missed his Bjorn. Each in its way a tool of seduction, each was again needed to round out each man’s arsenal d’amour. But neither man wanted to make the trip to the other’s place, for the exchange. Pride is a strange thing. We will throw our legs up in the air for an acquaintance, yet be unwilling to hand over a lousy movie when on our feet once again.
Anyway. The mail man became the third, kind of hot, and blissfully otherwise uninvolved element in the affair. His job made him the liaison, and two DVDs were delivered to two, now despised, addresses. Just in time, too. Dale had a date he wanted to impress with Icelandic virtuosity, just as Jeff had arranged a night with a partner for whom the cavorting of Latin men was just the ticket. That same evening.
The end of this story does not need to be told. What is important is that it be recalled how very similar the names of ‘Bjork’ and ‘Bjorn’ are; that young men today are not good about slipping back into their original cases the correct DVDs; and that, when any of us scans our entertainment collections, we do so with a peripheral eye at best, and with barely even that when we are pissed off and only grudgingly seeking something to return to someone else.