On Wednesdays, Amanda Chatel will be sharing stories about her strange, fascinating and sometimes wonderful dating life. If it makes you want to date, check out TheGloss dating page.
It was easy to have a crush on Zach. He fit perfectly into the mold that I had decided at 15 was exactly what I was looking for in a boyfriend. He was tall, but not too tall; well-dressed, but not obsessively so; and I won’t even get into his taste in music because that would be several paragraphs of swooning unto itself. But let’s just say we were on the same page in that area.
I had been single for just over six months, and although I was still nursing a broken heart I jumped at the chance to go on a date with him. I had been trying since my breakup to corner him at every party we were both at after too many cups of “death punch,” but my advances had not gotten me anywhere.
I was pleasantly surprised (read: shocked) when he swung by my radio show to ask me out on a date. Although part of me immediately jumped to the fact that we’d both be graduating from college in less than three months (he from grad school) and a long distance relationship would be difficult (I do have a bad habit of getting ahead of myself), I agreed enthusiastically. I also took this as an opportunity to officially max out my last credit card on a new outfit for the date.
The plan was simple: we were perfect for each other and after one date, he’d know it, so would all our friends and the world, too. I decided that day Will Oldham would be singing our wedding song so as to not only solidify to ourselves what we had in common most but to prove that why, yes, we are that pretentious.
I prepared for my date in the normal fashion as any 22-year-old would when her crush has finally noticed her existence by freaking out and asking my roommates over and over again to reassure me that this wasn’t a dream and that our future together was inevitable. As good friends and roommates do, they agreed with my nonsense, and after one final look at myself in the mirror, I headed to the Licker Store coffee shop to meet Zach.
He was wearing a Belle and Sebastian t-shirt and a navy blue cardigan, and I thought to myself that I had finally found my very own Lou Barlow — all was right with the world. We talked about his masters program in philosophy, my goal to move to New York City when I graduated in May and the friends we had in common. For not having liquid coverage pumping through my veins, the date was going quite well.
At one point there was a lull, and Zach immediately chose to fill it by explaining to me why he asked me on a date. There are some things you want to know and some things you can go without knowing. I was intrigued to know exactly how it was he came to his senses, but at the same time I was hesitant to be told the truth. I had been forced on dates by friends in the past, and if that was the case, my already bruised ego could go without it.
“I don’t know if Michael (his roommate) told you, but I’ve recently come out of the closet to a few close friends,” he said. I was silent; this was not the explanation for which I was hoping. “But I thought if we dated maybe the feelings would go away and it will have just been a phase. I sort of go back and forth about whom I’m attracted to,” he continued to tell me.
At the time I was confused, but looking back I can now see that being a 23-year-old gay man in a small town in New Hampshire was no walk in the park. Our circle of friends may have been liberal, but the world outside our college campus was less so.
Before I could say anything, Zach reaffirmed that he was having a great time and we should do it again.
“Like a date?” I asked.
“Yes,” he laughed, “like a second date.” Again I paused and waited for someone to swoop in and untie the box of confusion that was sitting on the table between us. “I’m just thinking it’s a phase. I had a girlfriend all last year so that means it’s probably just a phase, right?”
It was not just a phase for Zach. I know this because we kept in touch after college and he’s now married to a man and they have twin daughters together.
Zach was one of two men I dated during my college career who were gay. The first was someone I dated for a couple months before it fizzled. This particular fella would go on to date several girls after me before eventually coming out toward the end of college. Officially, we can’t say I dated Zach because it was just that one date, and considering the news he had given me that night, a second date didn’t seem like the best idea so it never happened.
Not to be selfish, but I was looking to fall in love with someone who was well aware that he was into women, and not someone who was unsure. Having allowed myself to be Zach’s trial run would have not only been a disaster but potentially set us both up for heartbreak.
When we parted ways that night, he leaned in for a kiss and I pulled away; there was no sense in complicating things even more. Like I said, we kept in touch after college but we never mentioned that one date we had so long ago.
I still have yet to meet a fella who looks so dashing in a Belle and Sebastian t-shirt and a navy cardigan. Someday…
Whether you like boys who like girls who like girls to be boys, you can find someone special at TheGloss dating page.