In the absence of good friends or great theatre, a single man should always remember his option of having a tryst.
It is abroad, in the popular moral culture, that hook-ups are everything from tawdry, to dangerous, to immoral to perhaps vaguely sad.
Personally, I find such judgements lacking in nuance, as a tryst is a distillation of life in all its merry hues. It may be relived as an occasion of rapture or regret, but, in the moment, it is the keeper of dreams.
And dreams are never tawdry.
One of the great benefits that the smartphone brings to the mating game is that of GPS, and the realisation that one becomes more attractive simply by dint of being near.
In social psychology this nearness is termed ‘propinquity’, and constitutes one of the leading predictors of exactly who you will choose as your life partner (education and social class are two others).
It is a sobering thought that the majority of those who profess to having finally found their ‘one true love’ in life also report to have grown up in a 20km radius of their beloved. Propinquity rocks.
But I ramble.
Because this is the account of a particular tryst which very swiftly became a talking shop, and a very interesting one at that.
It was a grey, damp evening.
Needless to say, once he and I agreed to meet, he was knocking on my Cork city hotel room door within ten minutes. Being close by is, as psychology and my experience can attest, so darned attractive.
In he bounded, positively bursting with happy energy. He was in his late 20s and, something remarkable, more handsome than his photo suggested.
Usually, Grindr (our smartphone application of choice, dedicated to finding ‘the right guy, right now’) operates on the premise that you display the best photo you’ve ever had taken. Often, to a point that you are rendered unrecognisable.
A core principle of marketing is also the online dater’s mantra: best foot forward.
He was an exception.
We chatted for a bit. He was all talk about the rain (absolutely desperate and pelting), his day (hectic) and the reason for my being in Cork (Cycling around Ireland? Fair fucks to ya).
It became evident after some time that things were not going to progress far on the romantic front. The connection was good but the chemistry less so.
Sorry, he said. It’s not going to happen for me. I dunno. I always get freaked out when I realise it’s a man in front of me. He smiled and shook his head as he said it.
The final words were uttered as if an admission. He seemed perplexed, but somehow more relaxed for having told me.
Ok, I said. Does anyone know?
He shook his head, and said nothing at all.
Ok, I said again.
I was lying stretched out on the bed. He was sitting up, beside me. We chatted for a long time.
I was studying psychology recently, and completed a piece of primary research regarding the reasons and mechanisms for LGB people to come out in their workplaces.
One of the stark findings was that, whilst gay men and lesbians tended to act in similar ways regarding coming out to their colleagues and the bosses, bisexual respondents had a different experience.
Overall, they were far less likely to come out at all in work, and frequently reported an atmosphere of hostility and judgement in their regard. Notably, they perceived that this judgment came from straight and gay people alike.
During that study I began to see bisexuals as a forgotten tribe, a little left behind in all of the fanfare of positive social change.
I was myself aware that this guy sitting on the bed in front of me was the first bisexual man I had ever knowingly and openly conversed with.
I told him so.
People assume that I’m selfish, that I can’t choose. He looked dismayed at the difficult situation this placed him in.
I just don’t want to be put in a box.
He had acted, during our little Grindr preamble, in a way that meant privacy was important to him.
He connected with me using a blank profile (with no public picture), only sending a picture privately. When I suggested we meet in the hotel bar he thought that would ‘defeat the purpose’. I began to wonder what this ‘purpose’ was.
He was dealing with two things – being in a smallish city where people know people, and becoming comfortable with a sexual identity which placed him somewhat on the outside track.
It’s not that I don’t know what I want, he said. It’s that I freak out easily. It happens.
He was not in a relationship right now.
Of course not!
He was a little indignant that I should ask the question.
I changed the subject. He loved his work, had completed his Masters, was enjoying the professional challenge. The same boundless energy returned as he spoke. I imagined his employers totally loved having him as part of their team.
We also spoke about my work, my experiences living abroad, and how life was in Dublin.
After a long and enriching chat – there is a unique intimacy to be found in strangers – he left my hotel room, a little furtively, lest anyone would see him go.
On his departure, I returned to see his profile and our original conversation on Grindr. I wanted to send him a message, to tell him how much I enjoyed meeting him.
But his profile was already zapped. Wiped clean by one hit on the ‘block’ button. His choice. His way.
The man I had just spent the evening getting to know no longer existed.
The rain continued outside, and there was talk of twisters.
Brian McIntyre. August 2013
About Rothar Republic
My name is Brian McIntyre. During late July and August 2013 I am cycling the coast and borders of the Republic of Ireland, and using the opportunity to raise money for charity (The Peter McVerry Trust).
In the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of 1916, I’m interested to see how our little country is doing. Cycling its perimeter, observing and talking to its people, is my own way of taking the lie of the land.
I figure this is a 27 day-long expedition covering about 2,200km.
All monies go directly to the Peter McVerry Trust which supports young homeless people in Dublin to break the cycle of homelessness and move towards independent living.
If easier, consider sending me a pledge through private message.