I did it. I went on my first gay, Grindr-initiated, homosexual date. If you missed how this first man-on-man meeting came to be, check out the first part of my story in last month’s column.
“Joe” and I spent a few days chatting online and finally coordinated our full schedules to meet for dinner. I was so nervous about meeting the only normal guy to engage me with real conversation on Grindr. And while I’ve seen more dicks and assholes (literally and figuratively) than I ever cared to, I hadn’t seemed to find anyone else with much substance.
After obsessing over the perfect location, I decided on a new Nashville restaurant that serves inventive cocktails and has a user-friendly menu. “Joe” seemed excited about my choice, for he had wanted to try it out himself. I gave myself a small pat on the back for the victory and headed out.
Having seen a number of photos of “Joe,” I knew his face right when I walked in a few minutes late. He jumped up to greet me with a hug and we sat at our little two-top in the corner. He immediately launched into telling me about a fascinating New York Times article he read while he waited. Nervous and scanning the room, I half-listened. Not seeing anyone I recognized, I began to relax. When the waiter came to take our drink order, I added a hummus plate for us to share. After applauding another good choice, he immediately began complimenting my outfit. He admitted he wasn’t sure what to wear, which explained why he looked much more dressed up than the casual appearance in his photos.
Our conversation throughout the night remained easy and comfortable, as it had been over the last few days. We were hitting it off! Then my stomach dropped as I noticed one of my loud-mouthed, nosy colleagues walk in. My attempts to look engaged in a deep conversation and avoid eye contact were a losing battle, as he walked right up to the table oblivious to the situation. The co-worker asked if I had gotten tickets to one of the city’s most coveted upcoming concerts. I told him I had.
“I’m so jealous,” “Joe” said. “You better be bringing me with you.” I laughed off the comment and shut down conversation with the co-worker so he would leave “Joe” and me to what was becoming a fantastic first date.
Testing the waters to see how he might react to learn I hadn’t been out with a guy before, I told him I had just joined Grindr for the first time when we met. He was excited to learn that I was a newbie at the online dating circuit, and he began explaining the other apps loaded on his phone: Jack’d, Scruff, Ok! Cupid, etc. I didn’t know if this was a sign of how many men he’d actually been with or not, but his expertise led me to believe he might be turned off by my inexperience.
As drinks continued, so did “Joe’s” compliments. “If you weren’t sitting in front of me right now,” he said, “I’d be convinced you weren’t real.”
“The guys you date are not real?” I joked.
“Guys in this town are just really boring, but you seem like the real deal. Boyfriend material,” he concluded with a smile.
Confident that I’d landed a second date, I paid the check and offered to walk him to his car. As we strolled down the well-lit street, he grabbed my hand and I realized “a kiss” was imminent. This was not just any kiss. This was the first, first kiss. I panicked.
When we reached his car, “Joe” asked if we could see each other again over the weekend. I agreed, but all I could think about (or overthink about, in my case) was the impending kiss. Not sure what he had just said, I took one quick look down the street, grabbed him by his jacket and went in. Our lips met.
The shock of feeling another man’s lips on mine made me pull away, but “Joe” hadn’t had enough and pulled me in for another. Feeling equally relieved and accomplished, I said goodnight. We shared a hug, another light kiss, and he was on his way.
“Joe” sent a text to let me know he’d gotten home okay and had a great time. “Me too,” I replied, “see you on Saturday.”
Waking Up (RISE & GRINDR)