Who knows how I end up on Todd’s Facebook page? He lives in California, but I’ve never met him. We have two mutual acquaintances: one I met at WorldPride in The 519’s Green Space when I was really drunk. He was there from Oakland with his boyfriend, and we danced for a bit. I chatted with the other on Scruff when he was in town on business from San Francisco, but we didn’t actually meet.
I creep Todd’s page and learn a bit about him: he lives in Fresno County in the Sierra Nevada mountains, but is originally from Montana. He has liked an article about daddies on Facebook, so I make the assumption that he identifies as one. I estimate his age as late 40s to early 50s. He also has a post about playing video games all night long, which I ordinarily wouldn’t find attractive, but with him it seems endearing. I look at his pictures: he and his dog by a waterfall and on a beach; him in a cowboy hat, backpacking through forests, fields and across cliffs. He and is smile are alluring.
He is exactly what I think I need: wild and genuine, with the strength to live on his own in the mountains. He is almost always shirtless in his photos but seems unaware of his body. I admire that he embraces his age. He stands 6-3, with boulder-esque shoulders and an untamed beard peppered with blonds and greys, like Grizzly Adams. Wearing his spectacles, he is particularly paternal. I want him as my daddy.
He is living the sort of simple life that I’ve often contemplated — off in the country, far away from the distractions of civilization. Although, he did go to Burning Man last year. He is too perfect not to be moderate. I study a few photos of him with goggles and glow sticks, wandering through the Black Rock Desert. His lifestyle awakens and reminds me of a part in myself that I haven’t seen in some time.
I send him a friend request. He accepts within a few hours, so I follow up with a message. I tell him that I’ve trekked through Yosemite several times and that it’s rare to meet gay outdoorsy types. I mention that I visit my sister in California once or twice a year. To my surprise, he responds almost immediately and addresses me as “sexy man.” Hardly, I think, but still, I am giddy — and I never get giddy. He says that there is some incredible country that he’d love to show me when I am in California next. “I’m in the same boat for meeting homos in the mountains,” he says. “I’m a country boy.”
I want to live in the mountains, and in my head I am already there.
I don’t know if I will ever meet Todd, but I am creating a fantasy, imagining myself travelling around California with him and his dog. I’ve been feeling dispossessed and frivolous recently, missing the dynamic I shared with DH, my first daddy. I imagine Todd as a kind, forgiving stud who will teach me and take me to new heights, and depths. A photo of him grinning in a leather biker cap and suspenders (how perfect!), that tells me he is a pervert at the core. I’m being stupid. I don’t know anything about him. I have to stop obsessing.
I go to the Daddy Next Door night at WAYLA, a bar on the east side of Toronto, hoping to satisfy my craving. It’s filled with starched and pressed sleek silver foxes in button-up shirts. I appreciate the tidy group, even though I usually prefer more rugged men.
I grab a beer and migrate to the back of the bar on the edge of the dancefloor. I eye a man in the corner with broad shoulders and a bit of a gut, like the illustrated daddies on the flyers for this party. His forearms bulge out of the rolled-up cuffs of his plaid shirt. I watch him for a bit, then walk over and stand beside him with my back to the wall.
“This isn’t the greatest place to come on your own,” I say. “It’s far too small. You can’t disappear into the shadows.”
“You like to disappear into the shadows?” he asks.
“If I’m alone,” I reply . . .