During my first year in New York, I was living in graduate student housing near the university on Long Island, nearly 2 hours from Manhattan by train, and trying to figure out a way to move to a gay neighborhood.
While looking, I spent a lot of time in gay chatrooms.
You actually met people by "instant messaging" them. Inside the room itself, the conversations were usually limited to "anybody here?", stats, and insults.
A guy named Troy terrorized the Long Island chatroom. There all the time, making insulting comments about everybody and everything.
Me: Grad student in sociology.
Troy: There's an exciting degree. The art of studying the obvious!
Me: I lived in West Hollywood for 13 years.
Troy: How many auditions did you bomb before you gave up on your dreams of stardom?
Me: I just got back from visiting my parents in Indiana.
Troy: How fun, chawin' tobaccy at the general store with Ma and Pa Kettle!
Even his profile was obnoxious: "I take care of my body and expect you to. No fats, femmes, or grandpas. If you aren't extra large beneath the belt, don't bother."
So I was surprised one day when I announced, "Looking for a room in Manhattan or nearby," and Troy instant messaged me. He wanted to share his apartment in Kew Gardens, only 25 minutes from Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad.
"How far is it from the train station?" I asked. "I don't have a car."
"Only five minutes."
It sounded ideal, but -- share an apartment with the nastiest guy in the world? Well -- maybe if he was in his room most of the time, making snarky comments in chatrooms.
So one Wednesday afternoon I took the train to Jamaica Station, and Troy picked me up.
He was much older than his profile picture, with a weird Satanic goatee, but quite muscular, almost a bodybuilder's physique. If it wasn't for the nastiness, I could see us dating.
We drove down Jamaica Avenue, three, five, six blocks.
This was a little far to walk every day.
Under the Van Wyck Expressway -- then to Kew Gardens Road, then to Lefferts Boulevard. Finally we pulled up to a weird apartment complex 1.5 miles from Jamaica Station!
"This is easily a half-hour walk, across two busy streets and under a freeway!" I exclaimed. "I told you I don't have a car."
"Oh..I thought your car was in the shop."
That was crazy. Most people in New York didn't have cars. "No way can I live here!"
"I guess not." He paused. "Tell you what -- I feel bad for bringing you all the way out here, so how about I buy you dinner, and then I'll drive you home."
"Sure, ok." He owed me that much.
He took me to Mehak, an Indian restaurant with very good tandori chicken, with ice cream for dessert. I refused the wine.
Troy turned out to be very nice in person. No snark, not even when said that my mother was from Kentucky.
"Why are you so nasty online?" I ventured.
"I'm not nasty, I'm just honest. I won't lie to you. I'll tell you if you're a chubbo, or you have a twig down there."
"Most people prefer a little tact. You know, to avoid hurting someone's feelings."
"It's not tact, it's lying."
Maybe I actually found him attractive, maybe I was flattered that he hadn't called me a chubbo with a twig down there, or maybe I wanted my "money's worth" for the wasted time, but when he suggested that we go back to his apartment, I agreed.
After kissing, cuddling, and criticizing Wednesday night sitcoms, Troy suggested that we move into the bedroom, and I agreed again.
He started to pull out the couch.
Then it dawned on me -- this was a studio apartment!
"Wait -- I've heard of guys with one bedroom apartments renting out their living rooms, but in a studio -- where did you expect me to sleep?"
"So you conned me into coming over?" I asked, stunned. "Ever hear of asking someone for a date?"
He grinned. "This way worked, didn't it?"
It did. I spent the night with him anyway.
The next day, online, The Nastiest Guy in the World was back: "Boomer is bigger than me, but inside he's just a little sissy boy. Oh, use a little tact! Oh, you're hurting my feelings! Wah, wah, wah!."
See also: A Search for a Roommate in Philadelphia