(Photo: It’s always quitting time somewhere on the planet. My workaholic boyfriend’s windowsill of satellite-office time clocks.)
It wouldn’t be so bad if I was the only one totally pwned in this relationship, but did my cat have to be brought into it, too?
When I first met Overly Frank online in the wake of my relationship with the dreaded Doctor Dementia, it was only to have something to do that I agreed to meet one day in July. The recently relocated Texan and I were headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo when I met him outside his Lincoln Park apartment. His first words to me were something on the order of, “Let me tell you why I think the Chicago Public Library has the worst customer service on the planet.”
He proceeded to recount the tale of his day’s annoyances and tribulations starting with the CPL and moving on from there, while I followed him to the giraffe exhibit wondering how to politely excuse myself. He told his backstory too: a conservative-raised, small-city southerner who one day woke up in the midst of an Oklahoman oil-industry IT job and decided he wanted to live in a blue state.
I had to respect the contradiction in that. Take me, for instance. I’m a overly frank person myself, at least on the blogosphere. People always tell me I’m a lot nicer than they expect when they meet me in person. I hate to be pinned down, I know I’m both of those things: obnoxious and sweet.
When you get right down to it, my frank nature is as much defense mechanism as stick-to-my-guns blogger prowess. I want to tell you exactly what I think. And I want to keep you at arms length, to insulate myself in case you reject me by dismissing my point of view. By the end of our visit to the zoo, I realized just how much Frank and I really had in common.
In the past few months of dating, it’s been like a tightly danced tango. Backwards then forwards, holding each other close out of affection as much as from the strategic tactic of keeping potential enemies close to you. Liking each other a lot–especially at arm’s length.
What do you know, it’s working. It’s actually the first time I’ve been slow and measured in a budding relationship in my life, and that’s probably why. Finding myself moving forward with a boyfriend out of a restrained approach rather than a headlong rush was totally unexpected for me.
So was becoming the de facto cat sitter for Frank’s lately frequent back-to-Texas work trips. We scheduled a play date to try and pair up my nine-year-old death-defying male cat, Camões, with his 11-year-old, declawed grand dame, Ryza. One hiss from the toothless wonder and Cam ran to cower behind the couch. Yet they both kept sniffing around each other from a minimum safe distance and, more importantly, both were still alive when we returned from an hour’s walk around the Loop, so there may be something there with those two after all.
Frank and I bitch-slap each other in a similarly passive-aggressive way. We have a rule: no finger-thumping above the neck. But points are awarded for suitably speechlessness-inducing putdowns and surprise-inducing tickle attacks. Occasionally, we even look at each other fondly, even in the presence of my Lido’s Caffé coffee klatsch confidantes. Privately, hugs and sex have been known to happen.
Then it’s back to our respective corners. But each time we retreat to them, those corners seem to get a little bit closer. If that keeps up, at some point there’s not going to be anywhere left to run from the unexpected romance that keeps on growing despite all our best efforts.
And if that happens, God help all four of us. Two bitchy gay men together is discourteous enough. But two bitchy gay men and their equally passive-aggressive cats? Why, that’s the stuff Logo shows are made of…
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.