My back was killing me. I had been standing for what seemed like hours. Roy, one my best friends, was celebrating his fifty-fifth birthday with a cocktail party in Manhattan, his hometown. One of his dear friends had loaned his chi-chi Columbus Circle apartment for the celebration.
I plopped down on what appeared to be a fifteen thousand dollar sofa to give my aching back a rest. An acquaintance, Richard, joined me; his back hurt too.
Within minutes, Richard and I were comparing notes on dating. In addition to having bad backs, we are both fifty-something single gay men. Richard lives in New York, though, and I live in Asheville, North Carolina.
“I could be dating a twenty-five-year-old right now,” he said, “but it’s impossible to find someone who’s close to my own age.”
I was shocked. To me, Manhattan seems like Mecca for gay men.
“Get out of here,” I challenged. “You’re attractive, successful, and you live in New York City. I would think you would have lots of options.”
“Not so,” he said. “For some reason, there aren’t many options in here, and most gay men my age want a younger man.”
Not me, I thought. I have no desire to be anyone’s daddy.
I remembered when I lived in Atlanta. Atlanta is considered the “Gateway to Gay” in the South. Yet I had a similar problem; finding a date was tough. On the other hand, finding someone to have sex with was a walk in the park. (Sometimes literally—if you happened to be walking in Piedmont Park.)
Many singles—gay or straight, male or female—blame geography for their lack of dates. If I had a dime for every person in Asheville who complains about the tiny dating pool, I’d be a rich man.
If geography doesn’t dictate dates, what does? Could the self-help books be right? When you’re ready the right person shows up?
It happened that way for my Asheville friend Charles. After a particularly nasty breakup, he took a year off from dating. Four months ago, Charles met a great guy who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Recently his boyfriend landed a job in Asheville and is moving here. Charles is elated.
“You found the needle in a haystack,” I commented to Charles recently over cocktails.
“Or attracted it,” he offered.
Maybe we’re like magnets; we attract “the one” when we’re ready. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s more like playing the lottery.