I first met Dan about six months ago and I was immediately enthralled. He was a bizarre character with his own art studio and an ambiguous fashion sense. Outsiders have always electrified me and Dan was certainly entertaining. It was with chagrin that I found out Dan had recently graduated from high school.
Dan and I orbit within some of the same circles so occasionally we bumped into each other. Shame on me for being this taken with someone so young. But I was. I found myself enchanted by an electromagnetic artistic intensity that reminded me of a younger version of myself.
These secret thoughts of Dan were never impure. In my wildest fantasies, I had visions of us being a creative and controversial power couple. In my imagination, Dan surpassed the maturity of the average eighteen year old.
About a month ago our relationship began to morph. It started with a MySpace comment in which I told Dan to paint me a painting. His reply was “give me money and I will.” And my response was, “why should I buy you a painting when I’d rather just move you in and make you my wife!” Did I seriously have visions of moving in an eccentric artist a decade and a half younger than me? Absolutely. And the internal mental boxing match that ensued was violent and bloody.
For the next few weeks, Dan and I were socially husband and wife. It was an ongoing joke. Random meetings in the middle of dance floors that commenced with a dramatic embrace. “Hello wifey!” “Hello husband!” It was wildly forbidden yet wildly romantic.
During our first friendly dinner date Dan confided in me about his Craigslist ads. The gimmick was to meet older men and to have them buy him clothes. No sex was involved. He would provide the men with companionship, they would provide him with his weekend attire. I jumped at an opportunity. I told Dan I would buy him clothes. The thought of my precious little artist meeting “creepy” men off the internet for clothes made me sad. So I told Dan it would make me feel good to buy him things. I should have told him the truth. I should have told him about the desperate gaping loneliness I’ve always felt inside myself and how I was so desperate to win him over at any cost. But I didn’t tell the truth.
Our final date took place on a cold Florida evening. We sat face to face in his art gallery and dished about men, relationships, sex, art, and our futures. The silly husband/wife dynamic was still intact … but the ongoing joke was less funny. Socially I was presenting this entire experience as a comedic interlude. Internally I was developing serious feelings. I found myself full of shame and embarrassment from the self-awareness that I was dangerously close to being like those “creepy” men that Dan met from Craigslist.
As we began to see our breath in the heatless Gallery’s air Dan and I snuck off to a back room to cuddle. And for a short amount of my lifetime I found myself embracing someone sixteen years younger than myself. I held onto him tightly … maybe trying to grab onto a piece of his heart as well as the wild creative exuberance you only feel when you are young.
Dan questioned why I was being so g-rated. He kept touching me everywhere. I didn’t mind … but my primary interest lied in his creative imagination and his spirit. What hid in his pants was the least of my concerns.
As he continued to touch me, I gave in first to him and then to myself. I went for it. It wasn’t an enjoyable sexual experience. I found myself nervous with a laughter that covered up my confusion. I was late meeting friends, so after all was said and done, I kissed him goodbye and rushed into the cold Florida night alone. The air was forty degrees. My spirit was sub-zero. I just wanted to hold him.
The following day Dan and I text messaged each other, but after that I stopped texting him. After a four-day silence I gave in and resumed the dance. But the artificial magic was gone. Dan told me he didn’t want to date me, he just wanted to be my “wife”. And he still wanted those new pants I said I would buy him.
And so for the next couple days via text we continued to talk about me buying him stuff. In his mind I’m sure it beat paying for it himself. And in my mind it beat confronting my cavernous loneliness.
I last saw Dan at a club two nights ago. He looked as golden and adorable as ever. A long black trench coat and perfectly sculpted hair. As he hugged me I noticed two things. His hands didn’t feel as warm as they once did, and my heart didn’t feel as warm as it once did. And I felt a red hot anger surge within myself with the realization that for the millionth time in my life I’d provided someone the opportunity to use me in exchange for a reprieve from my loneliness.
And that will be the closest I will ever come to being a sugar daddy. I walk away with this situation feeling empathy. I’ve always understood loneliness. Now maybe I also understand the dark place that morphs gay men into creatures so desperate for companionship that they buy it. At 34 years old I’m still struggling to conquer the canyons and cracks that have always haunted me. In my creative imagination this was a gorgeous forbidden romance where the younger and older artist fall in love and conquered the world against all odds. But in harsh reality I am a just a lonely man and he is a teenager who doesn’t want to pay for his own pants.