The world is a strange place.
I recently heard the story of a mother pig that adopted an orphaned baby duck and raised it as her own. She loved that little duck as much as her own brood and they lived as one big happy family.
I’ve got one better. I’ve adopted a young straight boy and I love him as much as if he were one of “my own.”
His name is Dave and there are many peculiarities about him and our friendship worth mentioning. The first is that this young man and our relationship defy simple explanation or categorization.
Dave, who is 20 years old, identifies himself as heterosexual and lives with his lovely young girlfriend, Beth, who is 19. But we often joke that since meeting me he now has two girlfriends.
I think it would be both fair and accurate to say that Dave targeted me for a friendship. After a few conversations with him in the video store where he works, it was clear that we were both looking for a friend and that we had much in common and he wasn’t about to let me slip away.
What impressed me about him right away was that he was not your typical, bubble-headed, pretty boy twink. Although he certainly torments me with his stunning beauty, what’s worse is that he has a big brain and likes to play with it in front of me.
Dave’s intelligence, conscience and sense of social justice set him apart from the crowd. He is a vegetarian, a pacifist, and doesn’t have a racist, homophobic, bigoted or hateful bone in his body. He is basically and fundamentally a decent and model human being.
Our relationship developed quickly and grew very intense immediately. Almost from day one it was normal for us to spend as much time together as we could manage. When we are apart, it is not unusual for us to spend a significant amount of time talking on the telephone.
Dave and Beth come to my apartment for dinner on a regular basis. Dave enjoys cooking for me as well and he particularly likes introducing me to his musical tastes and his favourite movies (I’m afraid I just haven’t warmed to Marilyn Manson, but the veggie burgers were awesome.)
We love to laugh together, at each other and at this crazy world. He loves to talk politics and asks frighteningly insightful and complex questions, demonstrating that his grasp of people and politics is far more sophisticated than you would expect of someone his age — and he insists I engage him in such discussions often.
Our relationship has endured no end of scorn, envy and analysis from friend and foe alike. My gay “friends” tell me I’m a foolish old queen (old being 39) for wasting my time on him when it’s clearly not going to get me anywhere. I wonder where exactly it is that they think I must go to make things “worthwhile.”
Dave’s girlfriend has on more than one occasion referred to us as boyfriends and once even commented that the way we look at each other we should “just drop to the floor and do it right now.”
Don’t get the wrong idea. That hasn’t happened and Dave says it’s not going to.
I certainly would like it to and I’ve told him so. In fact, I’ve been perfectly upfront with him all around. One thing Dave can never say is that I had a hidden agenda with him because I’ve told him exactly what’s what.
One night, during a particularly boozy chat, I told him that not only did I want to sleep with him, but that I loved him — and I have spent much time in wishful speculation about how he might feel about me deep down.
I’ve read about such unique relationships in my university studies. Relationships that sometimes happen between two straight men (or one straight and one gay in this case) that are so intense that to the outside world they look like love affairs but are in reality totally platonic.
The truth is that we are friends, friends that care very deeply for each other. He does everything he can to make my life as easy and pleasant as he can and I do everything I can to enrich his life. If that is hard for some people to understand, that’s sad for them.
If I have learned anything in this life it’s that true friends and good people are few and far between. I would neither turn Dave away because he is straight, or worse, because he won’t sleep with me. That would be a tragic and foolish mistake for which we would both suffer greatly.
I say that if you are lucky enough to find someone who brings joy to your life, it is a gift. I don’t need to categorize it into oblivion. It is what it is and it is beautiful without definition or pre-conditions. Labels are for soup cans, not people or friends.