Thursday, October 7, 2021

Yuri Helps Me Make the Roommate Switch

East Village, October 1998

I met Blake in the fall of 1998, when I was in grad school in New York.  At first he seemed like an ideal boyfriend, with four of the five characteristics I find attractive: religious (devout Episcopalian), dark-skinned, muscular, and mega-gifted below the belt (#10 on my Sausage List.)

(Two years later, I would meet a guy with all five, by definition the Hottest Guy in the World).

But there were problems:
1. He was pretentious, one of those intellectual-artsy guys who doesn't own a television set, has season tickets to the opera, and won't eat at any restaurant without a Zagat rating.

2. He was closeted, bringing a female "beard" to work-related events. Who in 1990s Manhattan was closeted?

3. He always had a glass of wine in his hand.  I can't stand drinking.

4. He slept to opera music.

Time to dump Blake, right?

Except I was entranced by his roommate,  Joe.

The Roommate: Regular Guy

Short, muscular (a Chelsea gym rat), Mediterranean, and a "regular guy": I could hear him listening to Friends in his bedroom while Blake inflicted opera on me.  And he cooked: every time I stayed over, I woke up to the smell of bacon frying (Mom always told me to marry a guy who can cook.)

But how to get Joe?  I couldn't date him behind Blake's back, and if I dumped Blake, or did something heinous to get dumped, I would be labeled "bad news," undateable.

I had to get Blake to dump me without any character flaws or wrongdoings of my own.

Strategy #1: Kink

I had never yet met a black guy who was into S&M, getting tied up, spanked, whipped, and so on.  It sounded like a great way to get a "sorry, we're not compatible" speech.

Blake is into bondage

One night after dinner, I told Blake, "I'm really into S&M.  Do you think we could do a scene?"

He stared for a moment.  "Oh, wow, I didn't think you were up for that!"  He took me into the bedroom and opened a dresser drawer containing a large collection of whips, chains, handcuffs, and miscellaneous bondage toys.

"You're a top, right?  Could you flog me to Der Fledermaus?"

Strategy #2: The Menage.

On an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry likes his girlfriend's roommate, so he comes up with a scheme to make "the switch." He'll suggest a "menage a trois," thus insulting the girlfriend into dumping him, but intriguing the roommate enough to date him afterwards.

Back in West Hollywood in the 1980s, "sharing" one's boyfriend with friends and roommates was commonplace, even expected, but New York in the 1990s was much more conservative.  It might just work.

One night I said "Joe is kind of hot.  Do you think we could invite him to join us?"

Blake didn't even hesitate.  "Sure, no problem."  He yelled into the back bedroom, "Hey, Joe, wanna join us?"

That just made it worse.  Joe was warm and affectionate and passionate.  I had to find some way to make the Switch!

The Queen Victoria
Strategy #3: Yuri.

Since coming out last year, the Russian meteorology major had been a firestorm of dating activity (including competing with me over Jaan the Estonian Mountain Climber).

My friend Alan in West Hollywood could get any Asian guy he wanted, but Yuri could get anybody, period. Whatever you liked, he had it. Bodybuilder physique.  Pretty, somewhat feminine Cute Young Thing face. Good dancer.  Sexy Russian accent.

So I invited Yuri into the City for a Saturday of sightseeing, followed by dinner with Blake at the Queen Vic in the East Village.

I saw Blake's hungry look as they shook hands for a little too long; how he wrapped his arm around Yuri's shoulders to help him read the menu; how he suggested "off the beaten path" outings, like Roosevelt Island and the Cloisters, with the implication that I might not be coming along.

He didn't cruise Yuri, not exactly.  But he was obviously thinking about a Switch.

After dinner and a stop at the Eagle, we took Yuri to Penn Station to catch the train back to Long Island.  Blake offered to send him a book on the Episcopal Church, but he'd need his address.  Yuri helpfully provided his phone number, too.  And a goodbye hug.

Later I asked,  "Do you think he took the bait?"

"Don't worry," Yuri said.  "It was easy.  He's going to call me by Tuesday."

He was mistaken.  Blake didn't call for a week.  Not until after he gave me the "this isn't working out" speech.

Yuri and Blake went out once.

A few days later, I asked Joe to have coffee and "talk about my feelings."

We dated for almost a year.

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