In the fall of 2000, I was depressed. I was writing my doctoral dissertation, and my committee was making lots of unwelcome "suggestions":
Take out that section about gay people not being able to get married, and concentrate on the important issues.
Put in a section about the guilt and pain that all gay people feel.
But I followed each of the suggestions, worried that they would say "Sorry, your dissertation is on gay people, switch to something else," like my committee at USC did, the first time I tried getting a Ph.D.
Plus Yuri had moved to Florida, and my boyfriend Ari had just broken up with me.
So I wasn't thinking, and I didn't follow most of the rules of gay cruising. Neither did my partner.
1. Select your cruising venue properly. Check. I met Jorge at the Eagle, the leather bar in Chelsea. He was shorter than me, in his mid-20s, dark-skinned, and very muscular. Exactly my type. Or so it would seem.
2. Cruise early. No. It was nearly 2:00 am, and at last call people get desperate and weird.
4. Do not drink while cruising. Check.
5. Gather information. No. we only exchanged first names.
6. Don't discuss sizes or sexual acts. No. We discussed in detail the sexual acts that we were interested in.
7. Word the invitation carefully. No. He just said "Let's go," and we went.
8. Invite him to your place. No. I followed him out into the cold New York autumn.
9. Take your own cars. No. He drove us to New Jersey. We had to drive around for about an hour to find a parking space on the street, and then walk about ten blocks through a desolate, scary neighborhood. I was completely lost. How would I ever find my way home again?
10. Make sure someone knows where you are. No. I didn't even know where I was.
We walked into a row house, through the living room, and up the stairs. "Be quiet, my mama and brother are asleep," Jorge said.
He lived with his parents!
11. Clean your apartment in advance. No. His bedroom was a mess, unmade bed, dishes from a snack on his desk, the floor littered with bodybuilding magazines and gay porn.
12. Hide your valuables. No.
13. Bring condoms. Check. But they weren't necessary. We undressed and squeezed into his narrow single bed. And Jorge promptly fell asleep.
I like cuddling with musclemen as much as the next guy. But I couldn't sleep in such a cramped space, and Jorge did not respond to my attempts to wake him.
14. Don't kick him out afterwards.
We awoke to bright daylight that made his room look even messier, and a yell from downstairs, "Jorge, quieres desayuno?" (Breakfast is ready!).
Jorge pushed me away and leapt to his feet. "Dios mio, it's late!" he exclaimed. "My girlfriend and her padres will be here soon, to go to Mass!"
He had a girlfriend!
"Quick, get dressed!" He pulled on his briefs and started fumbling with his jeans. "I'll sneak you out the back door."
"But...I don't know where I am."
He led me downstairs, through a little foyer and into a laundry room. I could hear a conversation in Spanish and clattering plates from a room nearby.
15. Don't pretend that you want a relationship.
He ushered me through to the back porch, and made the "call me" gesture before shutting the door.
Call him? I never got his last name, email address, or telephone number.