Why have I been on my own for this long? Beats me. My friends have some theories. They think I'm too choosy for my own good. They think most guys get either intimidated or bored quickly with what I do, what I like, how I live my life. They think I'm too square--doesn't drink or smoke, hardly bar-hops, prefers movies or long dinners with friends to partying, digs the standards instead of Mariah and R&B, wears his shirt with downturned collar, is not into color-coordinating his outfits or dyeing his hair the latest shade of burnt sienna, thinks Starbucks is overpriced, can't dance if his life depended on it. I'm, in a word, old-fashioned. Sige na nga.
I also happen to be reasonably well-read, sensible, generally cheerful and easy-going, fair and fiercely loyal to my friends. And my scruples are, I think, still intact. I steer clear of going beyond casual friendships with theater people (even if Lord knows there are many good-looking chaps in their midst) because I cover the industry, and getting entangled with anyone from there risks conflict-of-interest complications. No, if The One is to come, he has to emerge from somewhere unrelated--an astrophysicist, perhaps, but with a liking for Rodgers and Hart? Hahaha. Someone I'd bump into not in Bed but at Fully Booked? Someone who'd understand that I, having had my time in the scene, can afford to be "old-fashioned" at 36?
There, that's what my friends mean when they say I'm too choosy. Can't help it, though. I've never felt the need to hop on the bandwagon out of envy--just because friends, gay and straight, have begun settling down one by one. After my last breakup (a bad one) years ago, I told myself I could be happy and contented with just my friends around me. For the most part that's been true, but then you realize as they start getting hitched themselves that you, the single, fancy-free buddy, can become less of a priority--and naturally so. You learn to accept it, and wish everyone well. When it does get damn lonely on some days, you find yourself chuckling at the juvenile bravado behind your promise to forget love and stick it out with your amigos.
So much for the posturing. Nowadays whenever I go to a play or watch a movie or head off to the mall, I do wish I could have someone along with me--aside from friends of course, steadfast as they are. Paul Monette in "Borrowed Time" wrote that he met his beloved at a party. They found out they both loved the Greek classics, and by the end of the night Mr. Monette was hooked--forever, it turned out, because he was by his lover right up to the AIDS-afflicted end.
Hello, forget Medea, Broadway musicals will do for me! (Grin).
And Denzel Washington and his wife--they were seated beside each other at a play, and that's how they met. So whenever I watch a show these days I remember to look left and right at my seatmates--you never know, you might end up literally rubbing elbows with, ahem, The Effing One. But no luck so far. (What you do get are the occasional misfits, like these prattling girls who watched "ZsaZsa Zaturnnah." "Ay, andaming bading na manonood, ang gugwapo pa naman, sayang," they said. To which a friend of mine seated in front couldn't resist purring back: "Mga miss, 'ZsaZsa Zaturnnah' po ito. Dun na lang kayo sa 'Peter Pan.')
That "intimidating" tag--I wonder where that came from, and how I can live it down. This blog, for example. "It's a great site, but I get the feeling that most readers feel hesitant to comment, kasi editor ka," said my filmmaker friend Ed. "Baka nahihiya o natatakot." Ows, really? One look at the traffic stats, and he must be right: I get some 150-plus visitors a day, and yet no post has ever breached 30 comments in the five months I've been blogging. Hey everyone, I don't bite! As Allan K. would say, don't shy!
But, yes, I admit to this: my inner geek/grammarian can be a spoilsport. I don't think I can suffer for long someone who doesn't read. Does that make me a snob? I hope not. I don't mean, after all, that one has to bone up on Proust or Nabokov (I've never read Proust myself!), just that he likes soaking up new ideas and enjoys the magic of words. But, oh, what to do with bad grammar? I say everyone else gets a pass, but the person I'm supposed to go all gooey for--he at least should know his tenses and subject-verb agreement, or I'd never hear the end of it from friends raring for payback time for all the petty lait I'd made of their dates.
Kuwento: Once, in Puerto Galera, a cute guy--cool and cono-looking--caught our collective eye. He also seemed to like the attention, because he kept looking our way. Thereafter, it was a race among us seven friends to see who could approach him first. That night, I sat at a bar and there he was opposite me, chugging beer and swaying to "Happy." But he was with someone else who seemed extra-solicitous--his lover, I presumed. He saw me in a bit, recognized me, and raised his bottle in a toast. Ha, was I giddy. After a while, he motioned for me to join him as he slid out of the bar and walked towards his room. Introductions, hi, hello, where are you from. Then, just to be sure I wasn't entering dangerous territory, I asked the question: "Are you with your lover?"
"No, third party lang ako," he said. "He have a lover."
Toink! See libido going down, down, down!
My friends were hysterical when I told them about it afterwards. Now you know why I'm still single.