Keeley is 37 years old, works in corporate communications, and lives at Yonge and St. Clair. She describes herself as a social bookworm who is ambivalent about marriage, but resolute about love—and books. She calls her dating life “haphazard,” and says, “If I could stomach being more strategic about it, I would, but treating love as a ‘measurable outcome’ disgusts me.” She met Jason at a book launch.
When I struck up a conversation with Jason at a book event, neither of us had actually read the work being feted, which created an instant rapport between us. I liked his sense of humour, his openness, his manners, his pocket square, and his coif. As we chatted, I thought he was interesting and witty—and gay.
Later that week, when Jason texted me to partake in a city-run festival, I responded with enthusiasm, believing I had found my new gay best friend. When I saw him that Saturday, nothing registered for me but the same sense of admiration that I’d felt before. He was such an elegant man, and the vibe was light and fun. As the event wound down, Jason suggested dinner. I agreed.
We hit the first patio we could find and traded tales of foreign travel. Nothing seemed out of place at all—that is until we were finishing up. I found out he’d paid the bill secretly, on a pretend trip to the bathroom. Finally, it dawned on me: This was a date. A date-date.
When I balked at his sly chivalry, Jason laughed and said I could buy him dessert. At that point, I shut down. I bought the ice cream, but left him to fill the silence. He didn’t seem to have a problem doing just that; in fact, I’m certain he didn’t read my mood shift as anything but fatigue. I uncomfortably re-examined the afternoon—the brief hand-holding as we jaywalked, the shoulder squeezes when we saw something interesting. There was zero romantic attraction on my end, plus I felt guilty. There seems to be no polite way to say to a straight guy, “Hey, sorry, I totally thought you were gay. Want to be friends?” I realized my gaydar must be totally broken.
Jason chatted amiably and made jokes, and I fake-smiled at the appropriate moments, wondering how to put a stop to everything.
In the end, he dropped me off and I hugged him, and we parted in polite dishonesty. When I got inside my apartment, I felt the deflation so common after an unsuccessful date. If only I’d known there was a romantic expectation attached to it! I felt I had let both of us down. It was a lovely date, even if I didn’t really realize it was a date at all.
Keeley rates her date (out of 10): 5
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