Flirting 101, or How I Learned to Not Love Dating So Much.

Flirting 101, or How I Learned to Not Like Dating So Much

I’m a flirt.  Shamelessly so.  Some might go so far as to say I’m an attention seeking freak really.  I’ve been known to flirt with man, woman, animal, vegetable…I refuse to differentiate.  No one, it seems, is off limits.   I charm waitresses and bartenders into serving me first, I’m known as the dog whisperer as my canine friends come running, tails a-waggin’, through Point Pleasant Park, and it’s ridiculous the things I can make ‘pasghetti and meatballs do.   And trust me, these suave, sophisticated ways are not new.  In fact, for me, I think they practically date back to infancy.  Now, bear with me a minute…I grew up with four siblings, one of which is a mere 14 months younger then me.  It’s hard to get any undivided attention from anywhere with all that noise.  Now, imagine being a toddler with messy hair and drool on my t-shirt and a smelly and likely way too full diaper, and THEN having to compete with a  helpless tiny newborn baby girl all swaddled in pink.  I remember my great aunt Jessie telling me about how, when my sister was born, I’d sit in the corner all doe eyed while all the well wishers paraded past me while I went unnoticed, eager to see the new bundle of joy, and then she, feeling sorry for me, would scoop me up and swing me in the air, and before you knew it was laughing and clapping my hands, with a roomful of rapt followers all of my own.  So nowadays it’s a mischievous smile and a twinkle in my eyes, instead of giggles and clapping, but it all translates to that same attention seeking behaviour.  Now, that’s not to say these um…skills have made my entire dating life easy.  Quite the contrary.  Remember, I said I was as good at attracting ’em, I didn’t say I was necessarily as good at keeping ’em. And keep in mind when the time came that I was finally comfortable with my sexuality, openly gay and actively dating and all that, I was left with, statistically speaking, under 10 percent of the male population – that’s technically not a whole heck of a lot to work with, people! And so, my dating life was still full of highs and lows, of learning experiences and horror stories, of guys just “kinda curious” or so deep in the closet you’d need GPS and a really big spotlight to locate ’em.   And you know what else?  It was a LOT of work.   Having to put yourself “out there” meant BEING out there…and having to socialize.  A lot.  Bars, restaurants, coffee shops, weekend parties with friends of friends you barely know.  That stuff gets expensive!  And then there’s looking the part.  Making sure you’re dressed well and smelling pretty just in case you happen to meet the ONE in the grocery store line.  Or say working out on a treadmill when you’d rather be sucking  back beer and pizza.  And then there’s dating THE ONE and finding out, once the honeymooners over around day 3, that the love of your life is actually a stark raving mad lunatic, who thinks they’re part werewolf or a Martian in witness protection….and so then you decide not to date for awhile, maybe stay in and date “yourself”, which then turns into you watching all the seasons of Friends consecutively while binging on jellybeans and  having deep conversations with your cat.  Now none of that was me EXACTLY, but you get my point.  You see, it’s true, my “powers” didn’t seem to work so well for me in the lucky in love department, that gift to attract attention, that boyish charm to keep it…. So instead, for a time, I decided to play matchmaker for my friends.  To help them find the ONE.  Because I do believe, for everyone, the ONE is out there.  And so as far as that goes, my track record’s stellar.

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Life Partners (aka Big Gay Wedding Toasts)

`Acceptance. To feel respect and approval from our family, our friends, our fellow man. Something we all yearn for, something we all seek, whether we recognize or admit to it or not. Acceptance can come in many forms, sometimes after long periods of searching for it, after struggles and struggles to work towards it, and sometimes – out of nowhere – when we most least expect it. For me, one of the singular and most life affirming moments that I’ve felt this degree of acceptance was a few years ago at my dear friend Elaine’s wedding.

Elaine and I met through the workplace almost 8 years ago now. In just a short time, we developed an amazing friendship, in a brother from another mother kind of way….well, except she’d be a sister. We bonded over music and food and beer and dancing, and shared a very similar, very wicked Gaelic sense of humour. That, and the girl is absolutely stunningly beautiful, and DAMN – we thought – we looked good together as we went off to take on the town on one of our many adventures. Ironically, and although I am (ahem) a few years older than she, we grew up (me in Whitney Pier, Elaine in New Waterford) about 25 minutes apart in good ol’ Cape Breton, but never met until our paths crossed here.

Anyway, the fun continued, and then one day….er make that night at the Lower Deck, Elaine meets Andy, this good looking, rugby playin’ transplanted Newfoundlander now living and working in the Valley, and the sparks flew. In a magical, here come the fireworks kinda way. And then….nothing. Andy was presumably back home, but had her number, but still, no phone call. The first day I said “don’t be silly, of course he’ll call! You just wait!” The next day, seeing Elaine’s disappointed face, I said “Um, maybe he’s busy, or maybe his dog ate the phone number you think?” And after the third day of no contact, I cried “forget that loser, we’ll go cruising for another one, a better one next Saturday!” (Yes, I literally did teach my buddy how to “cruise” guys, to her great success, but that’s a story for another day!) But then, wouldn’t you know it, Andy phoned that very night. And every night after that. And suddenly he started visiting his sister Charmaine (I love this girl! And a beer rep sister….I mean, come on, seriously, how cool is that??) in the city And months later, moved himself to the city and before long they were completely inseparable, and within a year or so happily engaged to be married.

With this exciting news, Elaine’s Ma Kaye was a more frequent visitor to town, eager to help plan her youngest daughter’s wedding. After hearing so much about her mom, a very lively spirit if ever there was one, well-known in our homeland of Cape Breton for her love of music and step dancing, I was excited for the chance to finally meet her. And we did meet, although rather unexpectedly during the work day, when I ran into them in the hospital corridor where we both worked, on an afternoon Kaye stopped by for a visit. Elaine greeted me with a big hug, while her mom gave me a quick, polite smile but kept walking. “Ma, THIS is my friend Colin that you’ve heard so much about!” Kaye looked at me quizzically, then back to Elaine. “Huh, this is Colin? This guy? Really?” To me “Are you sure?” “MA!” Elaine cried, looking just slightly mortified. “Yup, 100 percent!” I laughed, assuming she must mean my sexuality, “but if I weren’t I would’ve run off with your daughter here years ago, just so you know!”. Elaine continued to apologize long after, and noted what came out of her mom later was even “worse”, something about how I didn’t seem to look gay or act gay, and people must look at me and think “wow, what a waste, with no girlfriend, no wife.” But I thought her mom’s reaction quite funny and amusing, and knew her comments were to be taken lightly. “Come on,” I’d say, “We ARE from Cape Breton! The only point of reference many of our peeps back home have these days is Jack MacFarland, by way of Jack Tripper. Kaye and I came to grow quite close over the following weeks, and she came to love Shawn even more, and the three of us delighted in each other’s company and our ability to make each other laugh, usually at Andy and Elaine’s eye popping and/or eye rolling expense.

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