"I thank God for bringing me my new lover," Cal announced during the "joys and sorrows" segment of the service at the West Hollywood MCC. We all looked eagerly, and with some envy:
Cal had only been attending the church for a few weeks. He was new to West Hollywood, newly out, with an ex-wife and kids back in Baltimore. Middle aged but too scrawny to be a bear, bald, eyeglassed, not attractive.
But he was holding hands with a stunningly handsome, curly haired beach boy in tight jeans.
During the coffee hour after the service, several guys approached the new lovers to congratulate them and invite them to "do brunch," perhaps hoping that they would be able to "share" Cal's prize.
The next week, Cal sat in church alone, brushing off the questions of "Where's your lover?" During the "joys and sorrows," he announced, teary-eyed, that he and the beach boy had broken up. "It's been hard on me, but I trust that God has a plan, and He'll get me through this!"
During the coffee hour after the service, several guys approached Cal to offer their sympathy and invite him to "get back out there."
The next week, Cal sat with a stunningly handsome, curly-haired gym rat in a white tank top.
"I thank God for bringing me my new lover," he announced during "joys and sorrows."
I stared. How did he find a new lover so fast?
It was the height of the AIDS crisis, and tricking (our term for hookups) was strongly condemned. You never went home with someone you had just met; you asked him for a date (in four or five days, to avoid appearing over-eager).
The first date involved going out to dinner, a movie if there was a beefcake-heavy one playing, dancing, cruising (looking at cute guys), and then home to spend the night.
The second date was more of the same, except that at some point you met his friends, who approved or not.
The third date was a momentous step: it marked you as lovers (permanent partners).
Treated as a couple by all of your friends.
No other sex partners except for shared friends
Planning to move in together.
And requiring a tearful, face-to-face, "it's not you, it's me" breakup.
There were a lot of first and second dates in West Hollywood, but not many thirds. In a decade, I only had about five. How did Cal manage to get two in two weeks?
The next Sunday, Cal was sitting alone in church again. He explained that his lover wasn't feeling well.
But the following Sunday, he was praising God for giving him a new lover -- a slim, curly haired twink who worked as a waiter at the Cafe Etoile.
Ok, what was going on? Did Cal meet guys on Tuesday, have the dates Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, become lovers in time for Sunday morning congratulations and brunch invitations, and then break up?
Why would you do that?
Unless you were using "lovers" as a socially acceptable way of tricking, going through guy after guy at the speed of light?
I decided to do a little sleuthing. I tagged along on one of the brunch invitations to start a friendship with Cal. Then, the next Sunday, when he announced that he and his lover had broken up, I invited him to dinner next Wednesday, with Lane.
And a guy from the gay synagogue: Joel, a lawyer, early 30s, pale, bookish, with glasses and a sparse beard (top photo). Black curly hair. Conservative, not into "sharing" (we tried -- he's #5 on my list of the Guys Who Got Away).
And most importantly, an interest in older guys.
The matchmaking worked fine: Cal and Joel were both impressed, exchanged phone numbers, and went home (separately).
At Shabbat on Friday night, Joel told us that for their first date, Cal was taking him to dinner at in the restaurant at the top of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
"Yeah, it's really more of a third date place," Joel agreed. "He said he works for Paramount. Maybe he has money."
The date was on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, like clockwork, Cal announced "I want to thank God for sending me my new lover. He's Jewish, so he's not here today."
Lover? Permanent partner? How was that possible? They had only been on one date!
At the coffee hour after church, invitations to brunch were scarce, perhaps because there was no hunk on Cal's arm, or because congratulating people becomes tiresome when they have a milestone every week.
"So, you and Joel hit it off pretty well?" I asked, tentatively.
"Pretty well!" Cal exclaimed. "He's fantastic! I never met anyone like him before. We have everything in common. We're soulmates, for sure."
"After one date?"
"When it's The One, you know after one glance! He's moving in next weekend."
"Well, after the dust is settled, invite us over for dinner. We're the guys who brought you together."
"Sure -- but no sharing!" Cal said with a smile. "I want Joel all to myself."
I didn't get a chance to talk to Joel during the week, but at Shabbat on Friday, I asked, "How are things going with Cal?"
"That's funny -- in church on Sunday he announced that you had become lovers."
"That's the thing. During the first date -- we had only just barely climbed into bed -- he started saying we were soulmates, meant to be together, he had never met anyone like me before, and so on and so on. Sunday morning he talked about moving in together! It was way too fast!"
"Poor guy. I'm surprised you hung around for the second date."
"Well, I thought he would calm down a little. Besides, I wanted another chance in bed with him."
"Good in bed, huh?"
Joel grinned and spread his hands apart like a fisherman. "Biggest I ever saw."
Unfortunately, I never saw it, but from other guys who dated Cal, I'm estimating a Kovbasa+.
See also: My Top 15 Sausage Sightings; 10 Guys who Got Away