With the latest installment of my fundraising series We Are Halsted over, I’ve been able to regroup. Fundraisers can be exhausting, it took about 20-30 hours on average a week for the last month to get all the volunteers, raffle items, performers and film crews coordinated and even with all the amazing help I’ve gotten, some of my personal, ongoing projects got put on hold.
One project that I’m taking a break from in December and launching into in January is OutLoud Chicago. It’s a production effort to bring queer entertainment to mainstream, legendary Chicago venues. After doing a live music show at The Hideout and a monthly comedy series at Zanies comedy club, OutLoud did its first college show last week. I’m excited to expand the brand to include schools and stages that may not be performance venues but are synonymous with Chicago.
I’ve been working on a huge new project called Gay Chicago TV. A great production company added me as one of the first hosts and producers for their line-up of shows for their new site. My show is My Funny Town and it features Chicago comedians through interviews and performance. In the first episode, queer stand-up comedienne guest Cameron Esposito talks about her one-woman show Side Mullet Nation, hecklers and David Cross. For the first episode, click here.
Another project I’m really excited about is my weekly dating column from Inourwordsblog.com. I approached a dating column with the intention of writing about dating from a self-imposed perspective to dating. The result is Serial Dater. The following are the first many posts. Tomorrow, like every Wednesday, you can find the new entry.
Hi my name is Adam Guerino . I’m 26 and I’m a serial dater. It has been thirty days since my last impersonation of a long term relationship.
I’m single. I’m incredibly single. Not even suitors in waiting. I’m singler than I’ve been for months yet it’s been over a year since I’ve had a serious relationship. This isn’t a personals ad, a casting call nor a cry for help; it’s a sobering reality. Every time I’d have a new guy on my arm, my friends would respond “Who is this? I can’t keep up!” I’d be so offended, proclaiming my love for said stranger then trailing off when it came to remembering his name. I even dated a guy for a month without knowing he was a vegetarian. We had dinner together at least ten times. I realize now, I didn’t know this person; I wasn’t dating them–I was dating dating.
I’ve tried word association to understand the addiction. I replace the words “relationship” and “date” with the words “crack cocaine.” For example, this isn’t like the last crack cocaine, this crack cocaine is different and it’s only one crack cocaine, I can quit anytime.
So I’m single. Intentionally. Turning down even innocent coffee dates with the understanding that it will be like creeping over the hill of a roller coaster. It doesn’t matter if the car stays on the tracks, it will be a plunge, a thrill ride and I’m an adrenaline addict. If I thought I was meeting a friend and find they think it’s a date, I will scream and run. And controversially, I will not sleep with the same person twice. Having a “friends with benefits” is just a trick; watered down crack cocaine is still crack cocaine, isn’t it? As far as sleeping with people, well, I’m an addict but I’m still human.
I’ve set the parameters for my social commentary; my science experiment about singledom and now I need to crawl in the test tube and try not to claw the eyes out of my own reflection. I’ll spare you the moral and instead offer a threat, a battle cry: I see you loneliness. And I’m coming for you. You’re not going to scare me away with chilly winter nights perfect for cuddling. When I fall in love, it will be for… more than a few months, damn it!
Hi, my name is Adam Guerino. I’m 26, and I’m a serial dater. It has been thirty days since my last impersonation of a long term relationship.
If you’re not hip to fashion or give a blind eye to fads, I suggest you take note of my recommendation. This season, the accessory found on every happening person’s arm is a boyfriend. Don’t get caught with the fashion faux paux of singledom.
It’s not just this season, either; it’s a perennial tradition. In the fall, as the leaves gracefully give way to gravity, the population couple together, reduced to base survival instincts — strength in numbers, staying at home and conserving heat by getting as close together as possible. Not to say people can’t make mature decisions in this nesting period, but what does it say about a couple if their new-found relationship is based upon Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The danger being the inverse when, in Spring, everyone opens their windows to let out that awful relationship stench. Then, on their way to the watering hole, they leave their lover on the curb. Boyfriend season is over, and now, it’s open season on fast love and fun care-free flings. Your love wasn’t everlasting. It was an equinox.
The seasons not only compliment each another: they flow into one another like a tapestry so rich, you need distance to truly appreciate the intricacy. This vicious cycle, often mistaken as a search for “the one,” is an easy trap for single hopefuls. Like a rat with cheese, a single person’s desire to be in a relationship takes all focus from the realization that you’re trapped within a maze. When the want is strong enough, you don’t even realize when you’ve made a lap and ended exactly where you began.
Do we have to be slaves to the seasons? Do our only hopes for a long term relationship lie in the arctic? And even more puzzling, can we settle down in the fall yet not be settling?
I, for one, refuse to follow the fad. My strategy depends upon discovering these patterns and breaking them, by seeing the maze for what it is. If I’m used to taking someone home and waking up with a boyfriend — as has happened before and is either a testament to my keen judge of character or old fashioned desperation – I’ll recognize the frequency and go against the grain. Or, in this instance, go against the groin.
I will not be party to a Seasonal Affective Disorder relationship, and I will never be a seasonal boyfriend. Seasons – and fads — are just another pattern to break.
My ex is back. In awkward coffee date edition. See, I haven’t seen him for a while because when I broke up with him, he left — not the neighborhood, nor city, nor state — the country. Well, he’s visiting coincidentally at our would-be anniversary. Would-be if he were-not crazy. What a coincidence, right? This was no coincidence. “So good to see you,” I says. He says, “Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary.” I felt like the kid who gets in the car thinking he’s going to get ice cream but really you were going to the dentist.
But as I looked across the table over his coffee and into the beautiful former future father of my children’s eyes, I’ll admit it, I wonder if I made the right choice. What if maybe he was right and I was being too judgmental about his infidelity? But there’s no way to tell without having to actually date him again. And if that’s the answer, I don’t see why I have to be the one to find out when a lab rat can find out for me.
I’ll send the lab rat, with a pair of electrodes strapped to either side of its beady little eyes on dates with him and give them a shock every time they try to leave the maze. The maze is a metaphor for what it means to date my ex. And as an expert on dating my ex, I can tell you, it isn’t much of a metaphor. I’ll check in periodically, asking the rats questions like “Does he still cry if he can’t make you cum in five minutes? Does he still get jealous when you masturbate? Does he still get drunk before he meets your parents?” Depending upon the results from the first few trials, we may have a reconciliation. But there is a small chance the rats will be driven insane and pursue a career in writing.
I’m worried PETA will find out and start following me around, throwing buckets of red paint on me, screaming “Dating your ex is murder!” To which I’d reply, “I know, and I want to live!” During my social experiment of singleness, I haven’t allowed even a romantic fling into my life. I’ve learned that when you have no current interests, the longest relationship you’ve ever had, no matter how far gone, is still the love of your life. I was prepared for the temptation of a future relationship but I hadn’t thought of being attacked from the flank, too. I’m under fire from all sides and I’m not sure I can win this war. But the alternative is defeat; settling for an idea that I recognize as bad for me. I deserve better than that and so does this hypothetical person I’m doing this for.
How did coffee go? Well, you can’t spell sex without ex. I didn’t even prep myself to not have sex with him (intentional evasion of showering or unflattering underwear) because I couldn‘t imagine it even being a possibility. I hadn’t realized how tempting it would be because he’d already been housebroken. Trained. It’s like a duet in a musical, a song starts without prompt and both partners know all the words and dance steps. And in that musical interlude, I had all the warm, familiar feelings of our now defunct flame. I could see in his eyes a series of tired cliches ala “This time will be different.” I was tempted but he was a cheater and now I’m a hypocrite because I was cheating on myself. I was supposed to be learning about myself, dating myself, and instead I became a parody of myself. I wasn’t giving him a second chance like he wanted, I was syndicated.
Not dating someone includes re-dating. And as much as I like the idea of getting back together, it would be a relapse.
WARNING:DO NOT FEED THE STARVING ARTISTS
It’s difficult to explain to someone over music at a bar that I’ve declared myself incompetent to date. So instead of trying to explain, I simply decline saying, “I’m broke.” But it sounds like I’m being cheap and wanting them to buy. So if they offer, “Let me pay,” I have to explain that it’s not about my not being able to afford a dinner date, it’s about my not being able to afford dating. And it’s true, even if it’s not the only reason I’m not dating right now.
Beyond any psychological circumstances of being “ready” or not, there is one reason people should not date but rarely consider: Financial stability. Pavlov had a lot to say about what you need before companionship such as food, shelter, employment and health. If you’re uninsured, unemployed and live in fear of losing your home, but trying to date then you’re the equivalent of someone who won’t get out of the way of an oncoming train because they were checking their hair. In short, it’s a demonstration that some people need to sort their priorities.
Dating costs money. You’ve heard about this before? It’s true. There’s only so many romantic “walks in the park” you can take before someone asks to go to the movies. Dinner and drinks are the best way to get to know someone and generally you won’t win any points for inviting someone to your place for dinner and making grilled cheese. Trust me, I’ve tried. Even if someone resigns to a courtship in reclusion, where you never leave the house and every date is spent on the couch under one big blanket–what does it mean if your compatibility is based upon poverty? Meeting in any kind of transition makes it hard to foresee future compatibility. Coming from a starving artist, I can tell you that dating is complicated enough without adding these unique challenges.
Last year I left my day job at a bar. (Which technically is a night job but that’s not important.) What’s important was, I chose to leave the stability of regular paychecks because my writing and shows were doing well enough to pay for my rent. But just barely. For me, dating isn’t an option. Even when I’m painfully honest about my lack of being able to “go out to dinner,” dating has its own unique complications. Such as, when someone suggests to go to dinner explaining, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll get the check,” I have to admit that I can’t get the next one, either. Or the one after that. Struggling to make art a career is a solitary endeavor. Or at least it should be if you want to avoid dragging someone into your pursuits.
On the other hand… maybe a starving artist is the best potential mate for someone with money. Forget real estate or stock investment, dating an artist is a sound investment for the future. For example, you take an artist out for a burger, they’ll be so thankful to not have to eat ramen for the second time that day that they will marry you. And when they become the next Julia Roberts/Salman Rushdie, they’ll be rich! And half of what’s theirs is yours. All for the simple price of one burger.
I’ll be the first to admit that money is weird to me. Mostly because of a lack of familiarity. Consequently, I try never to judge someone if they don’t have money. It’s as superficial as judging someone based on their family or education–it has more to do with where they’re from than where they’re going. But if money shouldn’t determine who I date? Then by the same logic, it shouldn’t determine who I don’t date.
I don’t know the last time I’ve dated someone. But I feel it. Like an itch or a bodily function. Like pooping. I can’t describe it any other way than to say, I know it’s been a while since I had a good date the same way I know it’s been a while since I had a good crap.
Before my deliberate aversion to dating, I had a routine. I’d be dating people constantly. I was regular. I’m worried now because I’ve closed off the pipes. Out of order. But do the pipes shut off when they don’t have an exit or do they just build in pressure until they burst? Is my abstinence from dating just a stall; a delay of the inevitable? Or will I only end up suffering from dating diarrhea?
I can see it now: unexpectedly on the bus, street or at the gym, I will have to go on a date. I might not even have enough time to rush to the nearest potential BF. I might just explode—dates flying everywhere. The bus driver. The streetwise guy. A woman.
My god, man, what’s the point in holding off on dating if you only end up more starved and desperate than before? I feel like a ticking time bomb that could go off at any time. Gone are the days where my addictions didn’t set off metal detectors. Hell, you wouldn’t even need a metal detector, you could smell it walking by me on the street. Snif. That guy really needs a good date.
Or perhaps this hold-up will only refine my dating abilities. Like wine that only gets better with age. Like fois gras. Fois gras is a fancy liver dish best served with a port wine. The only catch is that it is likened to torture by animal rights activists. To make it, you have to fatten a duck or goose up, sometimes achieved by stapling its butt hole shut for it’s last few hours on this world. Literally forcing constipation. The end result is a delectable liver.
Aside from the whole “killing and eating” portion of the experience, this may be a silver lining to my endeavors. I mean, this is one fancy dish. Although controversial, it is a staple of both French cuisine and fine dining. Bottom line, my proverbial dating butt hole is stapled. I can only see two options, I either become a treasured delicacy or I “date” my pants. Then again, I could just be full of shit.
Let me tell you the single worst pick-up line ever. “Wow, you’ve got a lot of gray hair, if you dyed it, you’d look a lot younger.” Don’t use it. It’s the opening line to a cautionary tale about tactless morons sleeping alone. Without fail, having gray hair will make you seem at least ten years older than you are.
Gray hair makes it hard to date. Either guys who are a decade older than me think we’re the same age and have so much in common are scared away when they find out I’m “Just a kid!” Even people my age who like the gray hair will still think I’m older. And what chance do we have at a relationship if they were hoping I was ten years our senior?
I have gray hair. I’m not sure which part I am from salt to pepper, but I’ve been going gray since 16. I’d be sitting in class or on the bus when I’d get a sharp shooting pain in the back of my head. Turning, inevitably, I’d see someone eye-balling a silver sliver of hair in a pinch between their fingers. Scientists can only hypothesize just how many grays I might have actually had if not for brutish interference.
One of the perks of the grays is that people give me more responsibility and trust assuming I’m a thirty-something. It has helped in careers, even if not in love. Where someone might assume I have had more experience in dating…well, they would be wrong. Inevitably, I will attract people under the assumption that I am something I am not. Should I dye my hair for dating? Whether it is superficial or not, it will make people who are attracted to my actual age more comfortable with approaching me.
This superficial feature is seen from society as distinguished, authentic and unique. You can dye your hair blond, black, brown or red, but it’s next to impossible to make your hair genuinely look gray. It inadvertently adds to your character. Think of George Clooney, Steve Martin or Anderson Cooper. I can only imagine how much pressure they faced to color their hair (actually I don’t have to imagine) and what if they had? How much of their careers’ success has been seasoned by their salt and pepper? Maybe their talent is inherent and their gray helped them get noticed for their talent? Or maybe, some of their talent comes from the fact that their hair threw them from the norm?
Now that I’m in my mid-late twenties, going gray is more… believable. And I enjoy a financial comfort of food and shelter. I could dye my hair. I could do it regularly enough that no one would notice otherwise. So I understand the pressure. But pressure to do what? Stand out by how well I fit in? I might get annoyed by being judged prematurely for my premature gray, but how much is me and how much is my hair?
And, no, the carpet doesn’t match the drapes.
RUN, IT’S A TRAP!
During my dating sabbatical, friends have been priceless. They fill my former date nights with great conversations over dinner and dancing till dawn. And as most people can claim, my friends have been around longer than any love interest so they know me better than any romantic interest. We slim down the time that might be spent on “Getting to know you” and replace it with plenty of “Remember that one time?” They might not be able to fill the void left from sex and cuddling, but they fill my life with love of a different nature. This makes it all the more troubling when they stab you in the back.
Sure, you were hoping for a nice dinner or drinks with friends but when you arrive, you find you’re not alone. Who is this stranger that your friends smile and gesture toward? “Hey!” your friends say like you’re the newcomer, “This is my friend from work/school/home/the bus.” And you realize, the social outing was a set-up. They’ve stopped being the Chewbacca to your Han Solo and turned into the Lando Calrissian.
The most hilarious instance of this with me comes from the well-intended and ongoing set-up from one of my dear friends to date her hairdresser. At first, I smiled and thanked her for the suggestion that we should, “Totally hang out.” Then, when she sprang the trap, I thought my polite evasion of one-on-one time would be a hint to both my friend and her hairdresser. I heard back, “He’s really into you.” Finally, I asked her, “Why exactly do you think we’d make a good couple?” and she had a hard time coming up with a reason.
I’m sure everyone can relate to being set up, but the queer community has to suffer more than the side affects of good intentions. They often fall victim to heterosexual math wherein gay plus gay equals couple. And heterosexuals are mathematicians of the highest order, endlessly trying to solve the formula that is your singledom. I want to shake them and scream, “I’m gay, I’m not desperate!”
Even though I haven’t sent out a press release about my reprieve from dating, it’s hard to see my friends’ good intentions as anything but a sign of pity. I’m not single for lack of options. I know plenty of gay guys and many of them are high quality dating material. And don’t ask me why, some of them even want to date me. My concern isn’t that I’m single, it’s that I want to be single. And no number of potential suitors will change that.