by: Adam Guerino
I was recently at a bar having a few drinks with friends when a very handsome guy walked up to me. If not for his big, sweet smile I would have thought it a tacky, brazen move. But, he was cute enough that he pulled it off. “Hey, how are you?” he asked. And we talked about everything from what we did earlier that night to the weather to music. Then, maybe twenty minutes later, I said, “You know, I haven’t even asked your name yet. I’m Adam” and extended my hand. He looked at me rather confused, his charming smile melted and with a curious, raised eyebrow he replied, “I know. We used to date.”
You might think this a strange scenario, and you’d be right. How dare I forget a handsome man? But it get’s worse. “Oh, right, you know… it has been… years?” I asked, feigning recognition. I felt awful, what I thought was a handsome stranger was someone that I, somehow, spurned. Always quick to recover, I turned to a friend and introduced them and in turn, he introduced himself by name. We’ll name him Bobby, because his name is Bobby, but I doubt you know him.
I figured it out eventually. In all honesty, we had different definitions for dating. He was dating me, apparently and I thought he was out of my league and we were just hanging out. “Hanging out” isn’t code for anything, either. If I had a dime for every guy that I talked to that I thought was out of my league, I’d be retired. We never touched nor made romantic declarations. All this and add eight years of time and I felt slightly better about forgetting. But regardless, nothing is more pathetic than realizing you’re not meeting anyone new like you hoped. In fact, you’re in repeats. My dating life has gone into syndication.
It has happened before, to a smaller degree. There have been times when a guy catches my eye and I offer to buy him a drink and they scoff, “You don’t remember me, do you?” But these instances can best be explained by a lack of sobriety, not respect. If it’s past 2 am and someone is drunk, I won’t hold it against them if they can’t recall my thoughts on politics or what I do for a living. It takes quite the knockout to remember how someone looks when you’re blacked out.
I asked Bobby if, way back when, he wanted to date more than we had. He said he never wanted to stop but thought I wasn’t interested. I grew bold: “Then I’m sorry for the confusion before but I can say with certainty that I’d be flattered and delighted to meet for a drink. On purpose, next time. Sometime soon.” His smile twisted around in a sour look and his eyebrows knotted like there was long division at work. “The thing is… I’m kind of seeing someone,” he explained. “How long have you been dating? Are you exclusive?” I asked. I don’t like dating multiple people at once, frankly I’ve never been one for multi-tasking but I figure if we went on a few dates and he liked me, maybe he’d drop this other guy? “Two years,” he said and added, “We live together.” “Great!” I responded quickly if not sincerely. He was unconvinced, “Sorry.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation but I’m pretty sure I made an extraction that 007 would be proud of.
I know I’m transitioning into dating again. I know that I needed to take a break. I know I’m ready for it. But what I didn’t know was that it might be too late. Maybe all those times I was serial dating, I was running through all of my available options. On top of my usual dating neurosis of “Will I find the man of my dreams?” and “Will they like me?” now I have to add, “Will I have already fucked it up before it even started?” Maybe I should just cut out the middleman and start calling up my exes and ask if they want to go on a date? But if I’ve learned any lessons from this, it’s that even if I did, they might not remember me.
Adam Guerino is a writer in Chicago who works nationally as a stand-up comedian event producer. Guerino is the creator of OutLoud Chicago a production effort bringing queer entertainment to the mainstream with rotating venues including Queer Comedy at Zanies and Barefoot Ballad at The Hideout. His benefit series We Are Halsted seeks to get the queer community to support the queer community by raising funds and awareness for queer homeless youth. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, www.adamguerino.com.