Monday, March 31, 2014

Did I Just Have a Date?

I may have actually had a possible blind date. But, I'm not sure.
I'm serious.

I don't know if it was or not.

I belong to a social organization called MeetUp.

Through MeetUp, people can organize smaller groups based on interests as varied or specific as they want. If someone wants to organize a group for Jane Austen lovers or Gay Left-Handed Aquarian Pomeranian owners, they can. Then the leader of the group schedules events around the focus of the group. And those who can attend, meet up and socialize. 

Anyway, I belong to a couple of MeetUp groups, some with an LGBT focus, some not. 

I received an email from a guy with a question about an event I had suggested for the Gay Photographers' group I belong to. 

He also sent a second email about an event a separate LGBT-oriented social club that he belonged to was hosting and he thought it would be another great opportunity to take some great photos; whale watching.

I replied and thanked him for sharing it with me, and said I'd check it out.

And then I did what any normal hot-blooded gay male would do; I checked out his profiles on MeetUp and the other club.  Between his two profiles, I gathered that he was young, I would say, about 25. He was Asian, and a classical musician.  He was looking for friends and networking.  Not a lot to go on.

He replied and asked me to seriously consider going as he was and it would be nice to know someone on the boat.

But, wait. We hadn't met, yet. Red flags, bells, sirens and whistles all started going off in my head......

Yet, what did I have to lose? At the very least, I'd be out of the house, probably see some whales, and have a nice afternoon. So, I applied to join this new club, was approved and then bought my ticket. I emailed him, said I was going and got a one word reply, "Yay!" All this took place the week before the trip. As the day approached, the organizer announced there might be 40 people attending, then it grew to 50. 

I hadn't been around so many gay men at once in a long time, especially without an escape hatch. I'd be trapped in my anxiety on a boat with a young Asian man seemingly interested in me solely based on my profile photo. 

Where's my Xanax?

I went ahead and went, even though I was in the second day of a headache, a possible low grade migraine, brought on by anxiety and other stressors.

So, I'm sitting on the boat, trying to find this guy which, statistically, shouldn't be hard to do, but I wanted to be sure as there were a few Asian men on the boat. None of them seemed to match the photo I was looking at on my phone, though I suspected I had spotted him behind the over-sized sunglasses. I checked my email and there was one from him with his phone number.

I dialed. The man I was looking at answered. 

"Hi, I'm here on the boat and I think I've spotted you," I said.

We hung up, I walked over and we exchanged pleasantries. 

"How could you not know it was me? I'm the only Asian on the boat." 

"No, there are a couple of others, and I wanted to be sure I introduced myself to the right guy." 

"Okay," he said, laughing a bit too dramatically. 

It went screechingly downhill from there. He was older than I was expecting. I'd now put him in is mid- to late 30s as he had a few gray hairs and heavy crows' feet. He had a heavy accent so what I could hear between the wind and the conversations going on around us was difficult to understand.  The conversation became somewhat forced as he sometimes didn't always return the question; he'd answer mine but not ask any of his own. I felt I was serving aces in a tennis match, nothing was being returned.  And we still had two hours left on this two-and-a-half-hour excursion.  How many trips to the head could I make?
Two young women, not attending with our group, were seated near him, okay, near us, and we seemed to become a foursome. One of them wanted a group picture and "Quick, Jeff! Get in here!" and suddenly I was pulled into this group shot with Asian Guy and these two young women. 

After a few more moments of alternating stony silence and stilted conversation, I just went to the lower deck to the bow. I promptly got splashed as we were heading into the wind and crested a wave. As there was more sun on the lower deck, I chose to remain below to dry off. (And check out the other men while there.)
I remained below until the ship docked some fifteen minutes later, and it wasn't until I was off the deck and in my car I saw a text message of the picture of the four of us, and a message wondering where I'd gone, as "we can't find you." We? He'd enlisted the two women in a search party? 
And one last message, "Did I say something to offended (sic) you?" 

So, was that a date? No one ever said the 'd' word? Maybe it was. After all, he asked me to consider an event, so we could meet, kind of like an online meeting. But, neither organization was designed for online dating. So, does it count as a date?

Well, anyway, it was an adventure and we saw five baby gray whales, and one even breached! 
Damn, my camera wasn't ready!

To explore MeetUp in your area, click here.

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