I Can See Better Through the Fog is a storytelling podcast series in the vein of This American Life and the Moth. It tells the ongoing story of an echo boomer’s quarter life crises, featuring life, art, love, and San Francisco. Press the play button below to hear an audio recording of this latest entry. If it doesn’t work, you may need the latest version of flash software. (click here to download). Another troubleshooting tip would be to go directly to the soundcloud website. Sit back and let your ears do the work. The text version of this entry is provided beneath the list of selected tracks.
Runtime: 4 minutes and 28 seconds.
“So, what you’re telling me is I’m not going to get into a relationship if I don’t put out as easily?” I asked. Bernie sat next to me in the back patio of a bar in the Castro. He gripped a Corona. The prescription glasses he wore were tinted to repel the sun’s rays. They hid his eyes, but not his gaze. He stared right back at me silently, as if he was telling me I already knew his answer.
I didn’t want to believe his analysis to be true, but he was the only gay male friend I had. And he had lived in San Francisco for fifteen years, feasting, in a matter of speaking, upon every inch of the city’s gay scene. “You may be right,” I acquiesced. Bernie put a hand on my shoulder and interrupted me before I could continue.
“I’m not gonna sugar coat it honey. You’re like my little sister.” The imposed feminine identity never appealed to me. I like my masculine features. I let the sister comment pass, as I usually did. “I’ve seen what I’ve seen. And I don’t want your little heart to continue to get broken. Over and over and over again.”
“I don’t want you to sugar coat it,” I responded. “How am I ever going to learn if no one’s there to give it to me straight.” I was half appreciative and half despondent.
Most of my friends are straight men and women, or lesbians, so their advice can be limited to encouragement and consoling. Bernie knew so much more about gay men from first hand experience. However, he was not one for relationships. What would he know about holding on to one partner? He jumped from one guy to the next, fearing attachment. He knew all too well that percentages were vastly in favor of heartbreak when it came to mutual monogamous, or polygamous, commitments. He had decided long ago that the best amends for that train wreck was to seek out men lustily, let the fire burn one night, and be done, without any delicate emotional strings attached. I respected Bernie’s lifestyle, and even understood his motivations, but I knew it wasn’t for me.
To help myself fully understand Bernie’s perspective, I began to think of his advice in another way. Would I be willing to date someone who didn’t want to be sensually touched or kissed? Even though I was unsure if this comparison worked, it did help me get Bernie’s point. Perhaps I was limiting myself by being so timid about sex. I was open to kissing, cuddling, foreplay, pretty much anything up to the actual action. Certain men have certain sexual desires. And if these men perceive that those desires will not be filled by someone, they’ll move on to another who will.
Nonetheless, I was not willing to concede that someone would not be willing to take it slower with me, trusting that I would get to a place where I could meet their pleasures. I met Bernie’s advice with a somber acknowledgement that my sexual comfort zone and the type of intimacy I sought, effectively shrunk my dating pool.