the door, put the book down, and walked to the window.
“Where are you?”
“Oh, I’ve left the area. I’m about ten blocks away, heading south.”
I looked for him anyway, and my eyes came to rest on the gaping hole that the fire left in the building.
It was an old hotel, the framework of which had been there for at least a hundred years. The middle third of the building had collapsed and the twisted pipes and girders had melted down to the ground.
“It was the Lincoln Apartments.”
“I don’t know it.”
“It’s been around forever. My new hobby is exploring all the old architecture of the city.”
“So you’re inspecting yourself?”
“Ha, ha. I was online, finding pictures of all the old hotels and theatres, and I came across it. And I found this picture of the place, looking at it from the same angle I have up here.”
“Well, in your internet searching, and I know you’re the guru of all that stuff, try and find me a boyfriend, will ya? I’m at the end of my rope.”
“Honey, if I knew where they were, I would gladly tell you. I'd be there now, waving. But there’s not a "watering hole"; they don’t all just gather and feed.”
I knew that wasn’t true; one of the most popular bars in town is right next to my building. There's a whole lot of gathering and feeding going on all the time.
“I just can’t bring myself to go there. Last night -- Friday night, okay -- I thought, ‘You should try it again. Get off the computer. Get out of the house.’ But, after I finished my Stouffer’s turkey dinner and swigged the last of my diet coke, I thought better of it. Besides, there was a fight on, and I figured it was a better way to spend my time.”
"Plus, it was a good fight.”
“You are the only gay man I know who gets excited over boxing.”
“Well, you obviously have a very narrow viewpoint. Very stereotypical.”
I sat on my window ledge and looked at the Lincoln. I love buildings where you can still see traces of what they once were. The word, “Lincoln,” can be seen very faintly, painted on the side of the brick building. There are a couple cranes hovering over it, like vultures. I wondered if they were going to wreck the whole place.
“I also like ‘Nanny 911’, so, I run the gamut.”
He laughed again, but perfunctorily.
“Seriously, where am I going to find a man?”
Obviously, J was not going to let the conversation flow far from his frustration. He is a handsome guy, in good shape, smart, funny. He has a touch of American Indian in him, which only enhances his good looks. I got up from the ledge and paced around the room. If he couldn’t find a guy, maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad.
“Try one of those online dating things. I was talking to R, and he’s hell-bent on finding a husband. He swears by Match.com, or whatever he’s using.”
“Uch, I hate those ---”
“---so do I, but try it, if you’re feeling so bad. Have coffee. What can you lose?”
“You have to pay for that, right?”
“Yes, hon; it’s a business. They make money off of desperate men like you and me. I’ve had bad luck with all that stuff before, but I might go back and try it again.”
“How much is it?”
“Like, thirty bucks a month or something.”
“Geez, I could drink that much in a night.”
“So, what are you up to?”
A chance to change the subject. Grab it.
“Things are good. Class is going well.”
“I came this close to taking it.”
“Take it in September, then.” He didn’t answer. “Great bunch of singers. A guy with a guitar, some big opera guy, and the rest are all the usual suspects.”
“Huge. I have thirteen people, which is about two more than I should have, but Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. It’s a very good vibe, very positive.”
“I can’t figure out what’s changed with men. With the level of quality.”
Oy. I opened the door and picked up the trash bag. A milk carton and a wet Time magazine fell out.
“I mean, when we grew up, there were – well, you -- you’re a funny, witty, intelligent kind of guy -- ”
I closed the door quietly and walked down the hall toward the elevator, carrying the garbage and the library book, trying to keep the cell phone in the crook of my neck. “ – so, where are all the guys like that today?” I pressed the down button.
"You’re just getting old. They don't want you.”
A quiet chuckle.
“But I’ll always be older,” I added, taking any sting out of my remark.
“Hey, I had an affair this month. Well, it was only one date and he turned out to be a sex addict, but what the hell. I got a little action.”
“Good for you! That’s good to hear.”
“Of course, he’s twenty-one.”
“I know, but how many times does twenty-one go into forty-five?”
“Twice, with a little left over.”
The elevator doors opened and I dragged the trash inside. The carton fell out again. Shit; time to wrap things up. I felt the phone slipping. “So. I’m glad you called.”
“Me, too. And I’m glad you had some sex.”
“Me, too. So let’s get together, okay?”
“Yes. Things should free up a little in a couple weeks. Maybe we can go out looking for guys.”
Why did I know there’d be one more stab at this?
“Uh huh. Or maybe a movie.” I said, and the elevator doors opened.