Readers have been asking me about the custom of "sharing" one's boyfriends with friends, especially roommates, which was common in Florida and West Hollywood. Didn't it provoke hurt feelings, if the boyfriend was more into you? Wasn't there a danger of breaking up the relationship?
Not very often. There were unspoken protocols in place.
1. You never "shared" your roommate's casual dates, only committed, trusting partners.
2. You never met with the boyfriend without the roommate present. Ever.
3. If it was obvious that the boyfriend liked you a little "too much," then you never asked or offered to share again.
4. After a breakup, you could only date the ex-boyfriend with explicit consent of the roommate.
It was mostly foolproof. I can only recall once, in 20 years in West Hollywood, New York, and Florida, when it backfired.
|Bodybuilder who looks like Stan|
Yuri had just broken up with Jim the Baseball Player, so he came alone.
Barney invited his current boyfriend, a fellow bodybuilding enthusiast named Stan.
I invited Randy, a cute 30-ish guy with red hair and a nice physique, who worked in a drug store. We had only been out on one date, but I figured this would give us plenty of time to get to know each other.
This was my first big hurricane since I got to Florida, and we lived just outside the evacuation zone. It was as frightening and spectacular as I had anticipated.
The power went out after less than an hour, and we turned on the generator.
We played Trivial Pursuit, talked about our coming out experiences, and had pie.
When it was time for bed, Barney and Stan invited Yuri to join them, leaving me and Randy alone. It was only our second time together.
|Randy lookalike with a friend|
The real Hurricane Party began: a week of power outages and cleanup, and three days of "stay inside your home orders."
We cleaned up the debris, played croquet, watched a DVD, exercised on Barney's bike in shifts, worked on our computers. I noticed Randy giving Yuri weird, hungry looks, but didn't think anything of it -- everybody gave Yuri hungry looks. He was quite attractive.
Dinner was steak and corn grilled in the backyard, another salad, and cookies. Then we played a few rounds of Gay Monopoly.
When it was time for bed, I invited Yuri to join us.
"Are you sure?" he asked. "You have only been boyfriends for a little time."
"It will be fine," I said.
But it wasn't exactly fine: Randy completely ignored me to lavish attention upon Yuri, trying every act in The Joy of Gay Sex and a few others of his own design. Then he fell asleep with his arms around Yuri, and nearly kicked me off the bed.
Another DVD, more exercise, reading, and nude sunbathing. Randy positioned himself to set next to Yuri at every activity.
In the afternoon, I was getting cabin fever, so I walked around for awhile, looking at the downed trees, the damaged buildings, and the traffic lights that were flashing randomly. When I returned, Yuri pulled me aside;
"Boomer, before I was in my room reading a book, and Randy comes in and wants to be with me. I said he's your boyfriend, he should be with you, but he grabbed me anyway! I push him away, and he gets mad!"
When I confronted Randy, he apologized. "I don't know the rules. I figured, we were together last night, why couldn't we be together this afternoon?"
"Because I wasn't around!"
Dinner was cold fried chicken, warmed up on the grill, and the last of the milk.
At bedtime, I expected Barney and Stan to invite Yuri into their room again, but they went off alone (later I discovered that Randy had been cruising Stan when Barney wasn't around).
The three of us were alone in the living room. Randy looked at me hopefully.
"I'm really tired," Yuri said, trying to defuse the situation. "I will sleep alone tonight."
"Don't be silly. You can come to our room, it's no problem."
Yuri was very careful to pay a lot of attention to me, and all but ignore Randy, who became more and more agitated. But what could he do? When it came time to fall asleep, he said "It's too hot in here. I'm sleeping on the couch!" and left.
The power was still out, but the "stay inside" order was lifted, so we all drove up to open Barney's gym and have a decent workout. Except Randy: he made an excuse and went home.
And didn't return any of my phone calls or emails.
I'm pretty sure he dumped me because of Yuri.