The Strange Comfort

I can’t stop gaping at my sent messages. The number seems to rise without a reply every day these days. I look back at some of the older messages wondering when I made that first introduction. I spot some messages dating back a few weeks ago and even more still a few months ago. I look at my dating inbox to see if I missed any replies. I never have. I don’t think that I will, either.

I go hunting for new dates anyway because I hope that I will spot someone who I have not assaulted with my genuine nature. The browse page fills up with so many familiar profiles; I feel like an expert on every one of them. I know that Tommy corrected a spelling mistake on his page a few days ago. One that he had up there for years. I know that George updated his favorite books after I suggested a few to him because one of my suggestions appears there. Still, I hunt for someone new.

Maybe it’s because I am desperately hunting that I don’t hear the beep. It’s an earcon that tells people that they have a new message. When I look at my inbox, though, again…there’s an unread message. It’s from a guy I messaged months ago.

“Hi!” it reads, perhaps with a sigh, perhaps not. “I’m Jamie. I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I was debating if we were going to be a good fit, even.”

I value his honesty more than anything, and I begin to compose a novel about how I don’t know what I am even looking for anymore because people are afraid of genuine behavior. So, if he didn’t want to date me, go out with me, or even talk to me, that I’d appreciated it if he just blocked me and moved on because all I want at this very moment is a hug and for someone to tell me I am special, even if it’s not true.

His reply comes back quick as a flash. He says he values my honesty. He says he doesn’t get a lot of replies because of his height; he is six foot six and his skin. Apparently, he’s black. I guess I will just have to take him at face value.

We continue to send novels to each other. I tell him about the dance party I attended where I swung my hips with such vigor that a hurricane manifested in downtown Chicago. He explains he missed the disaster because Netflix kept his attention that night. He was watching House of Cards. We reveal how lonely we are and how we have nothing in common with one another. He hates intellectual conversation and loves small talk, and I don’t understand his love of bugs and ants. He doesn’t like my voice, and I don’t like his. Still, we pour our hearts out to each other on the phone and through email.

Neither of us knows why.

Soon after a heated exchange over the phone, one afternoon, I ask him if he can come over and we could argue in person about something. To some people, this seems wildly bizarre, but I have always been a blue traffic light in a world of green and red traffic lights. Nothing is normal to me anymore. When he says that he will visit me in my apartment, I am elated, not terrified that a man who towers over me is going to be in my apartment all alone. My blue traffic signal can’t stop pulsating with anticipation.

He arrives at nine that night and bends over to hug me. Even though I can’t see him or what he looks like online, I picture him as a Denzel Washington clone. His height doesn’t quite fit my mental image, but I figure adding a pink traffic signal to my arsenal won’t hurt the economy any more than normal people will.

When he sits on my bed, the mattress sinks a little. Even when I sit on his lap, I still must look up at his voice to face him.

We start off by talking about our dating accounts. As we talk, we realize that we may not like each other in the slightest, but we are both in the same boat. We are lonely outcasts in our own gaggle of brothers who want a lot of things like; for example, love, marriage rights, and someone who’s true to who they are. I wish  they knew how to say all they want is someone who you can have sex with and never look back. As we talk, we become even more heartbroken and emotional and worried.

His arms shake as his voice trembles with the desperate cry for answers that I am sure we all asked ourselves at some point, “Is there someone out there for me?”

“I have no freaking idea,” I say and hug him back. We hold each other, and we wish the world was better about being honest. We argue about what honesty is. We argue about other gay men. Even though we are not getting along, we need each other, just for tonight. I take his face in my hands and gaze up at his heavy breathing. We continue to hold each other until, finally, his annoying voice and loving embrace steps towards my apartment door. Before he leaves, though, I grab his arm to say a final goodbye. Something weird blurts out of my mouth instead.

“We just can’t give up,” I say. I tell him that there’s someone out there for everybody, even weirdoes like us.

“I hope you’re right.” He says.

“I hope so too,” I answer. I don’t know how loudly our weirdly colored hearts are beating at this moment, but I’d like to hope that someone, somewhere, notices they exist.


Robert Kingett is a bestselling author and award winning journalist who just can’t stop pouring his personal life onto a screen. While most admired for his personal essays, human stories, boldly told, and short memoirs, he also covers various beats, such as satire, politics, crime, travel, food and drink, and entertainment. He is a dating advice columnist and actively campaigns to make the world a better place for disabled people as well as other minority voices. His website is www.blindjournalist.wordpress.com

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The Confused Conspirator

Many things are ironic in my life. Situational irony is smacking me in the face as I listen to George sitting across from me babbling about his love of oil and cars. I can’t stop tuning him out and thinking that I told myself, many times over, that I’d never lose all of my vision. I don’t know what he’s doing here because he said he would never date a bookworm. I’m in shock because he’s been fine with it up until now. Then again, every stance he has taken or opinion he has spewed has been the polar opposite of what he told me this morning. I wonder if his name is even George.

My profile is splattered with sentences about how many audio books I consume on a weekly basis and my love of sentences, words, and publishing. I told George that I love books when he first messaged me on the website. He said, as I am sure he tells everyone, even his unknowing friends, that it’s “definitely no problem because he’s open minded.”

“So guess what?” he rambles, a word which here means: fires off without any regard to the other person’s thoughts or feelings about the presidential election, a topic he was just spitting about.

“Guess what! I haven’t read a book in over ten years!”

“Really?” I ask, in utter awe, a phrase which here means: completely proud to be anyone other than this forty-year-old overachiever.

“Yeah!” he cheers, “I feel great! I don’t have any bias because of my choice, you know? Reading is for the people who just want portable ways to be brainwashed.”

I stare at the spot where his booming voice is rocketing from. Even though I can’t see anymore, I can tell a few things. He’s spitting as he talks. I feel small droplets pelting me in the face every time he utters a vowel. He’s shoveling chicken into his mouth. I can smell the hot sauce as it smacks my face. He loves to talk about himself. And, lastly, he can’t keep one detail about himself consistent. I wonder if he even read my words or if he just guessed my sentences. I decide to try to reason with him.

“I know you don’t like to read,” I begin, “But, I have to wonder, did you even read my profile, did you even look at the messages you were sending me on the dating site?”

“Oh! Those?” he snorts. This time carrot-flavored spit peppers my face. My stomach churns. “Well, see, I thought you weren’t serious about any of that. I thought you were writing them journalisms because you wanted to weed out all of the stupid people who like to be brainwashed by words on a page or a screen. Now, me, I’m a free thinker. I haven’t been brainwashed at all. Hell, I don’t even know what the word ‘conspiracy’ means, for example. Who makes up these definitions anyway? The media and books tell us how we should think, but they don’t help us think. You feel me?”

I stare in bewilderment, a word which here means: eager to brainwash him with the definition of the word ‘stupid’ instead. “But, see… that’s just paranoid thinking. People read for all kinds of different reasons. To be entertained. To be informed. To explore different worlds. To learn something new about an old event. There’s more than one kind of book and there’s more than one kind of writing.”

I can feel his eyes staring at me with confusion. He seems like he’s having trouble processing what I just said.

“I don’t get why people read. I don’t get why people read the media or books. It’s all portable hypnotizing devices anyway.” He adds, as if to add insult to injury, “It’s such a shame you participate in that brainwashing process. You seem like a really sweet and nice and caring fellow. I mean, here you are, cute as a button, and you are one of them media people that tells the public what to think and how to believe. The corruption has reached you!”

Even though I have only been sitting here for ten minutes I want to flee, a word which here means: scream and run away. I smile, stand up, and pop my cane out. I take a deep breath to prepare for the scream of a lifetime, when he drops a bombshell.

“I love movies though!” he says. “Maybe I can show you some good movies that will make you read less.”

A few minutes later I am figuratively running as fast as I can to the nearest library. I want to apologize to the structure. I want to let the building know that I will literally never speak to George again. I feel relieved when I reach the library. I pick up a few classic audio books from their shelves and stroke their spines tenderly, a phrase which here means: supporting all the writers rolling over in their graves who are begging for a reproduction license requirement.


Robert Kingett is a bestselling author and award winning journalist who just can’t stop pouring his personal life onto a screen. While most admired for his personal essays, human stories, boldly told, and short memoirs, he also covers various beats, such as satire, politics, crime, travel, food and drink, and entertainment. He is a dating advice columnist and actively campaigns to make the world a better place for disabled people as well as other minority voices. His website is www.blindjournalist.wordpress.com