When I said yes to meeting Gavin (Edinburgh, if you’re keeping track of Gap Year cities), I knew he was married. Because when I asked him what the story was, he was completely honest.
“The open relationship is relatively new and weird and works well for us, but I understand it’s not for everyone. I can be of assistance in three ways:
1. I’m old with kids. So I know how hard/fun it all is. I’m not a demanding fellow. I know what I want and I’m finally a good communicator.
2. Sex is best with someone you know. I can read in a park with you. I can nighttime date you and I can lunchtime ramen you. I love talking on the phone and I’d love to throw you down on the couch and make-out.
3. I don’t need a lot so you won’t get any pressure from me. We’re just a middle-aged married couple that has emotionally matured beyond expectation but can also remember being young and dum and into having fun. But I am happily married and don’t wanna blow anything up.”
You guys, this sounds ideal for where I’m at right now. Plus I LOVE talking on the phone. And being thrown down on a couch for make-outs. The only thing that’s bothering me (other than him being married), is that the dating app settings were set to metric, and I have no idea how tall someone is in centimetres. Gavin is a GIANT. Literally the tallest man I know. Taller than Lars of the Peaches, who is my tallest friend.
My house is a wee Hobbit house. My bedroom ceilings are only 6’2. I stupidly built my bathroom under the bulkhead and it’s only 5’7! This dude will not fit in my home.
But he’s married, so he will never need to fit in my home. He just needs to be able to make it to my bed without getting a concussion. And before you get all judge-y, his wife has a steady boyfriend, so this is not a modern way of excusing adultery. If all adults are consenting, then maybe it’s not for us to judge.
Gavin the Giant was supposed to come over Friday night, but I got a nasty head cold and needed to rest. With good reason.
Midweek, midday, on a walk with a female colleague, I butt-dialled Mr. Saturday Night while talking about how big Gavin the Giant’s dick might be. And I left a message.
“Sorry, I butt-dialled you by mistake.” I texted, hoping the butt-dialled message was garbled and incoherent.
“What did your butt want?” SWOON. I adore Mr. Saturday Night, who had tried to engage me several times with some basic “Happy Mother’s Day” (sweet), “Happy [insert public holiday here]” (WTF), and my personal favourite, “Full moon tonight…” He’s mostly a terrible texter, who reveals nothing too personal in writing, but I can’t help but get swoony.
“My booty wanted to know what it would take to get your buns to ask her out sometime.”
“What are you doing Saturday night?”
I was going to an outdoor concert. I’d bought tickets months ago, thinking, fuck it, I can’t find anyone to go with, it will just work out. And by that I mean, I’d sit on a blanket and run into someone I know. Except by this point, I had a small posse going, including Lars of the Peaches and his wife Zofia and another friend from my writing circles, Matryoshka, who knows Lars from way back to junior high. Matryoshka is a Russian doll of a woman, who looks all sweet on the outside and is full of layers of deep writer inside. She also has two of the cutest, sassiest girls ever.
“I would love to accompany you to THE OUTDOOR CONCERT OF THE YEAR…” Clearly the message my butt left did not come in clearly. Or if it did, this hombre is chill AF and way too sophisticated a dater for a small-fry like me to even be steppin’ to.
SO I PROCEED TO FREAK THE FUCK OUT FOR DAYS WITH NERVES, BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING GUPPY OF A DATER WHO HAS ZEROOOOOOOO CHILL. (We’ve already established this, n’est pas?)
I meet Mr. SN at the venue, which is a historical place that he knows A LOT about as a historian of our city. I am 15 minutes late, which I feel terrible about. Like so bad I’ve convinced myself I should give him head to make up for it. He’s cool and I look good and he immediately notices, but plays it ice cool like he does. He says, “You’re wearing your jewels,” or something like that, noting the crystals around my neck which I fucking baked in the full moon a few nights before, along with my intentions for a good life, because I am now a semi-witch who does this shit. He doesn’t bat a fucking beautiful eyelash, because he’s totally down with witches. SWOON.
OMG you guys, he’s so fucking hot, telling me about the 200-year-old history of the city we live in and the spot on which we stand. He walks me over to a cannon to give me its significance and at this point I’m basically an emoji with hearts for eyes because he’s saying smart shit and he fucking knows it and his confidence on his subject matter is so sexy. Also I am seriously hoping that on Date #4 he’s gonna invite me home after to show me his CANNON. We sit on the deck that supports the cannon and watch some kids playing soccer, while the French Canadian equivalent of Amy Winehouse takes the stage and I just want to sit in the sunshine in this beauty with him for a long time. He suggests we move closer to the stage.
When we get to the stage, I check my phone, because we ran into Matryoshka and her older kid and then she had texted to say she lost her daughter. Meanwhile, Lars messages to ask where I am and I look over and see him. And I know I should give Mr. SN a heads up that I have friends here, but I’m so grateful to see my best guy friend in the wild that I say, “I’ll be right back” and then next thing I know they are meeting. Lars knew to expect Mr. SN. In fact we had a funny text exchange the night before where I joked, “When did I become Lars circa 2009?”
I’m fully excited that Lars meets Mr. SN, because they are both totally my kind of dude who knows shit about this city and can talk dreamily about just about anything smart. It’s funny that intellect is something that attracts me, because my mother always goes on about how my dad was “college educated” but had no social skills or earning potential and I shouldn’t fall for that kind of thing. Sigh.
We smoke some ganja and maybe that wasn’t so smart. Because it’s not what I’ve brought, which is mostly CBD and just super effing relaxing without the head-buzz. It’s Lars’s shit which is kinda heady, and I don’t know how Mr. SN will react. So he kinda goes further into his not-touchy, cool-headed self, while I’m horny AF, but SO FARKING INSECURE that I’m stuck, not able to ask for what I want. And what I want is for this hot piece of walking art to hit on me a little bit, but no dice. Or if he feels like he is, he’s not speaking my language, which is more OPAQUE that a pair of 40+ denier tights. BE A LITTLE OBVIOUS, MAN! Sigh.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Ali Ahmed, it’s that a person’s hotness can build up in your mind. Because how Ali sees me, every single time, even with no makeup and a saggy stomach from having two kids, is so incongruous with what I see in the mirror. I know I’m bigging up Mr. SN in my mind and that there’s the risk of it all being disappointing. But I want to find out for reals this time, you know? I don’t want to talk myself out of it due to fear. I know conceptually that it’s probably nothing, but maybe I’m totally wrong about that. Right now, Mr. SN is like a glass of wine that I don’t need to share with anyone else, but who makes me feel amazing when I’m indulging in its company.
If I sit with the Buddhist books I’m reading, I should basically enjoy that Mr. SN and I are both alive and that our aliveness is somehow speaking to each other. But as I have ZERO CHILL, I died a little when I saw the tattoo over his heart peek through his shirt. I wanted to kiss that hairless spot BADLY. But I couldn’t help but feel like our date had grown platonic, my friends being around not helping this situation. We snuck off to eat some paella in the grass together. He produced some hard-boiled eggs, which I’m actually not a fan of, but ate because a man brought them to me like a slaughtered beast, and then I burped egg the whole night after. SPEAK UP, MARIA!
I wanted him to hold my hand. But yet I never reached for his. I was waiting for some bullshit patriarchy version of romance. And he’s smart enough not to fall for that shiz, I think. Because he’s probably played all those roles, to varying effects. And he’s 50 and has even fewer fucks to give than me. But will it work for me? I have had difficulty accepting male energy and detachment in my marriage. Can I accept this now?
We parted ways at the end of the amazing concerts. There was a moment of perfect happiness mid-day, where he was lying back on my picnic blanket, and I leaned back to look up at the quintessentially sky blue sky while my favourite band played, and I was a bit buzzed, this gorgeous human specimen beside me. I looked over at him and smiled, “I’m really happy right now.” And everything about that moment was as true as the sunrise when my second child was born.
The crowd existed en masse and I really felt like he should grab my hand and guide me through the crowd. My ex would have done that. Ali would too. But nope. Maybe he’s a bigger feminist than me? Who knows? He walked with me to my bike, and I STUPIDLY PUT MY HELMET ON, because I was trying to play it cool when he asked me which route I take home, and I sputtered my actual route when what I really wanted to say was, “Which way are YOU going Billy?” Which is not his name but a Susan Jacks song I have on vinyl that my mom always played for me, but considering I’m writing this after three glasses of rose, you’ll have to permit me the indulgence of this bullshit. Our kiss goodnight felt lacklustre. Helmets make heads safe but make kisses too safe for my liking.
I went home and settled it with battery powered devices. I texted Ali the next day to give me a testosterone embrace, fully out of weakness. But I don’t feel bad about it at all. I chose it consciously. And it was perfectly what I needed on that day. I fired up the apps, disappointed at the ending of the date the night before, but not ready to tell Mr. SN what I can’t tolerate, which is someone playing it TOO COOL.
I made a date for Gavin the Giant to come over, but even though he’s all cool about the situation, I can’t shake my puritanical good girl need to understand if I can morally accept that I made that choice. But he’s so fun and flirty. Just SO WHITE and SO TALL and SO MARRIED. How will this go? Is him not needing anything what I need right now? And yet he needs something, and it seems to be flirting and sex. For me that comes at a cost. But what is my value? And what exactly is open for business? I’ve yet to figure that out dear reader. I’ve yet to shag anyone other than Ali. But maybe, just maybe, I’m going to go to a new town just yet. So far, I’m not very good at this Gap Year thing…