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.
My friend Mattie started dating Chris roughly about the same time that I started dating Willem. Although they were completely different men in almost every regard, they did have two things in common.
First of all, they were both born in other countries — or at least if you consider Salt Lake City another country — and Mattie did. So while Chris was from Utah, Willem was from “all over,” although he had spent the majority of his formative years in the South Pacific.
The other thing that the two gentlemen had in common was the way they addressed people. Whether it was a waiter, a delivery person, the guy at the corner bodega or, I imagine even if they had met the Queen of England, the two would still stick to their, um, interesting way of greeting everyone.
Chris, from Utah, had lived a somewhat closeted life as a gay man, came to NYC with, to quote Fitzgerald‘s Daisy Buchanan, “more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before.” He was an explosion of delight and color in every room he entered, and so it almost made sense that his chosen greeting was what it was, although it didn’t make it any less difficult for Mattie in social settings.
“So nice to meet you, Silly!” was what Chris said to me when we first met. Mattie had prepped me for this, of course, and I thought he was exaggerating, as both he and I tend to do, but no; Mattie was by no means exaggerating. Over the next several hours of a leisurely brunch that took us all over the West Side, everyone was “Silly.”
“Can we have the check, Silly?” “Thanks so much, Silly.” “Have a nice day, Silly.”
While initially charming and cutesy, it became an issue in which you sort of wish one would stop talking — yet Chris never did. “Silly” this, “Silly” that. See that dog over there? The brown one chasing the ball and doing what dogs do? Well, he was “Silly.”
Enter Willem who also shared Chris’ penchant for addressing people in an annoying and socially inappropriate (read: stupid) way:
“Can we have the check, Boss?” “Thanks so much, Boss.” “Have a nice day, Boss.”
Although “Boss” wasn’t as bad as “Silly,” in my humble opinion, it still had the same effect on me as those ASPCA commercials: cringing, dry-heaving, then jumping the couch to change the channel before I kick something. A wounded puppy and a grown man telling the cab driver to “drop us off here, Boss,” are both things that should not exist in the world. They’re both tragic, wrong and infuriating.
The problem that added to these awkward social interactions for both Mattie and I was that the sex part was pretty great with these two, well for lack of a better word, bizarros. We’d laugh over how many times Chris had said “Silly” and Willem had said “Boss” in one day and think us so tolerant to put up with such ridiculousness, all while knowing that each scenario had a shelf life of less than a month. As reasonable people, when it’s absolutely demanded of us, we decided enough was enough and that we needed to put an end to both our situations– but not before we had Chris and Willem meet.
Over Bloody Marys and goat cheese-spinach omelets in Chelsea one spring Saturday afternoon, Mattie and I sat back and watched the nonsense unfold. It should be noted that we were not making fun of them, merely accepting their quirks and enjoying the spectacle. A spectacle, I should point out, where neither Chris nor Willem seemed to notice that each overused their preferred greeting method; or if they did, it was never mentioned. A few days later, things came to an end for Willem and I; and soon afterward, Mattie was literally “dismissed” by Chris, which to this day is still something that haunts him. When you’re told by someone who calls everyone “Silly” that they “don’t see this working out, Silly,” you really start to question your place in the world. In my case, I beat Willem to the punch; something for which I’m quite proud of myself. I would not want to live with Mattie’s inner turmoil of being dumped by Mr. Silly.
Not long afterward my parents were in town and we happened to run into Willem. Because I was forced to do so, I introduced him to my parents as politely as I could. Of course, he called them both “Boss,” and my mother, from whom I get my less than subtle facial expressions, was visibly confused and horrified. My father, on the other hand, was amused. After Willem walked away, my father asked, “There’s only one ‘Boss,’ Mandy. And you know who that is, right?”
“Yes, Daddy; it’s Bruce,” I responded. He has a point — not everyone can be a boss, even if Willem seems to think otherwise. Without minions, who the hell is the boss supposed to boss around? Oh, Willem, that’s who. Silly me.