Let's hear it for romance




In my life I have had my heart stolen at least three times, each theft lasting less than six months. A lifetime lived in those six months of connection, beauty and loss.
1. Martin Z. -- I met Martin at an event for gay asians, though he was Latino. He was playing pool late that night. He was losing. We started talking and he suggested we grab midnight brunch across the street. He worked with fine metals and had tiny splinters of iron in his hands too small to be removed. He lived downtown and I lived north.
One night he dared me to jump in a cab and spend the night. I did exactly that. He was surprised. The next morning, he called in late to work so he could make me pancakes. They were the best pancakes.
One night it was raining and he called me from a payphone. "I'm one block away from you. Can I come over?" I said yes. He was drenched and started to take off his wet clothes. I offered him a bathrobe to which he responded, "I'm not shy." I remember that night as we lay in bed he sang a song from "Phantom of the Opera" to me in his charming, off-key voice. No more talk of darkness, he sang.
A year later I got a call. Martin had been travelling the country. My friend on the phone said, "Martin's dead." He was a veteran and died of tuberculosis. I still have pictures of us. They are the best pictures.
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2. Marshall -- I met Marshall in college in the weight room and we wound up in the bedroom. Marshall is a cool guy, into the arts, funny, childlike. I still say hi to him on facebook though he lives far away now. We were so comfortable together, like spoons in a drawer. After we parted, years later I asked him if he want to date again. "I can't date you, Dwight. I know you too well. We're like brothers now." The curse of familiarity.
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3. Frank O. -- I'm trying to remember how I met Frank O. but I'm drawing a blank. It seems we always knew each other, though that's not possible. Maybe I also met him in the weight room in college. I had a major crush on Frank. He was tall with red hair and a mustache but he had a lover. Decades later I get a call out of the blue: "Hi, this is Frank O. We knew each other in college." He wanted to tell me two things: He was sick. And he was writing poems. Would I read them?
We would go to Borders and he'd load up a tote basket with poetry books I recommended. As he lived in the burbs, he would come into the city on weekends and stay at hotel. Once he sent me a poem. At the bottom of the page he wrote, "Sometimes I imagine kissing your neck." I called him to ask him if that was part of the poem or something he really thought about. It was something he thought about. We started dating after that.
I remember driving in his convertible in the summer with the top down. He played Joni Mitchell's song "Cherokee Louise" as he drove.
I remember the night he cooked an all vegetarian dinner for me. It was the blandest meal I ever tasted. And one of the best. He wrote poems about me in which he depicted himself as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, complete with little monster drawings.
Eventually, we had a nasty fight over nothing. We left horribly cruel messages on each other's answering machines. After one month of him avoiding me, he agreed to meet over coffee. "When I start to feel close to someone, I shut down emotionally," he explained. That was the last time I ever saw him.
I don't know what happened to Frank. I don't know why we didn't try to fix things. His name is too common to be googled. I hope he is still alive and we will meet again and have scrambled eggs. If you're reading this, Frank, private message me. Let me know you are all right. There's something I want to tell you.
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NOTE:  At some point I might revisit this post and add in photos of these three men.

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