When I moved to Upstate New York in the fall of 2008, my social calendar was soon crowded with invitations from members of the Gang of Twelve, guys who had known each other for years, and who shared everything, from gossip to boyfriends.
1-2. The Rich Kid and the Crying Truck Driver.
3-4. The Rapper, and the Grabby Nurse.
5. The Satyr and his roommate Chad, who I dated through the fall and winter.
A few days after Chad and I broke up in February, the Klingon emailed me for a date.
We met last fall, and saw each other occasionally at the Neptune or the Gay Men's Potluck in Utica. But when I asked him out, he refused. Later I figured out that the Gang of Twelve was a class-based society.
The Upper Class -- the Rich Kid, the Male Nurse, and the Satyr -- got the first chance with all of the New Kids in town.
If no romance resulted, or if a romance began and then ended, The Middle Class got their turn. (The Truck Driver and the Rapper were middle class, but cut in line due to the special circumstances of their recent breakup).
So the Klingon had to wait until the Upper Class guys (and Chad) were finished with me.
Date #6: The Klingon
He was in his 30s, shorter than me, husky, with a round face, a beard, and a very hairy chest, very cute. And a science fiction fan! I figured we would be wildly compatible, maybe even soul mates.
On our date, we saw Coraline, an animated movie about a girl who discovers a secret world, followed by gyros and a visit to the Bearded Dragon Comic Book Store, and then back to the Klingon's apartment.
Discussing the Klingon language was lots of fun, but I got a little bored hearing about role playing games, anime, manga, and the Dark Knight. He was like the Comic Book Guy, who I dated in Florida.
Except the Klingon's bedroom was perfectly comfortable.
On our second date, we ordered Chinese food and watched a DVD of X-Men: The Last Stand. His bedroom was still perfectly comfortable.
On our third date, we drove 1 1/2 hours into Albany for a very boring role-playing championship at the Zombie Planet, followed by a visit to the bear bar, and then 1 1/2 hours back to Delhi, where the Klingon lived.
The 3 hour trip and 2 hour role-playing made me realize that the Klingon and I would have been soul-mates in college, or maybe in West Hollywood, but not anymore. I hadn't played role-playing games, bought comic books, or read fantasy and science fiction for about 30 years. I last saw a Star Trek movie in 1982, and a Star Wars movie in 1983. It was like hanging out with my teenage self. Time to yell "Next!"
There was only one problem: in gay communities, after the first or second date, it's perfectly acceptable to just not call him back. But on the third date, you become a romantic couple, and you have to go through the same break-up process as couples who have been together for years.
I invited the Klingon to lunch, but before I could say anything, he gave me the "it's not you, it's me speech." Then he sent notes to the Gang of Twelve: "Cute, but dull! Doesn't have any hobbies or interests!"
Date #7: The Sword Swallower. This one didn't take long.
I invented all of the other nicknames, but the Gang of Twelve really did call this guy Sword Swallower. I assume because he liked to swallow...um...swords and things.
He was in his 40s, tall, lanky, with a long face and thick, wavy hair. Long fingers and rings -- an immediate turn-off. ...
On our date, we went to dinner at the Mid Town Grille in Delhi, where he talked about his rather dull job doing things with numbers, and I talked about my job teaching sociology.
Things were a little awkward, but when he invited me back to his apartment, I thought "Well...he's good at swallowing..um, swords and things."
We sat on the couch, talking and drinking coffee. And talking and drinking coffee. He didn't make any moves. He didn't even touch me. I checked the clock. Then, suddenly, he reached over and took my hand.
"Well, it's not sword swallowing, but it's a start," I thought.
Staring intently, he brought my hand to his lips as if he intended to kiss it -- but instead he swallowed it!
My hand was in his throat! Saliva and mucus,and his tongue!
With a shriek I ran into the bathroom, splashed water on everything I could think of, and then said I wasn't feeling well and ran out the door.
It wasn't a lie. I felt like I was going to be sick.
I went home and called the Satyr. "Oh, he does that with everybody. And then the poor boy wonders why he doesn't get many second dates."
"When you have a crazy fetish, you should tell people in advance, not just dig in!"
"It's a rite of passage around here," the Rapper told me. "Once you've been swallowed by the Sword Swallower, you know you belong."
The Sword Swallower sent notes to the rest of the Gang of Twelve: "Cute, but not into sex. I tried my best move, but I couldn't get him interested!"