We banter back and forth, joking about solitude and social comfort. His name is Steve and he lives within walking distance. I confide that I took a cab here and that I’m more comfortable going out alone when I’m not in Toronto than when I am. After a break in the conversation, I turn to him and smile: “So, are you a daddy?”
“A daddy? Well, I’m a real daddy,” he says teasingly. Turns out he has two girls: 20 and 25.
“But are you a daddy?”
“I always come to this night, but I do find it all a little weird,” he says.
I think it’s a weird for him to say and I feel obliged to defend the whole daddy/boy concept. It is a special type of relation, I say: the lessons that can be learned, the power exchange and the celebration of the inequality that somehow balances itself out.
“It’s fun,” I keep saying. But it is more than fun: it’s fraternal, and then there’s the idea of passing something on from one generation to the next, the mentor and the protegé. I don’t tell him about DH, about how I had it all with him and how I’m searching for those feelings again. “I think you need to have more of an open mind,” I say. He doesn’t agree or disagree; he just orders another beer and watches the crowd. It feels awkward, and I ask if it is okay for me to keep standing there next to him. He says it is more than okay and asks if I am fine with him next to me, which of course, I am.
He won’t go home with me, he says, because he doesn’t go home with people from the bar, not right away, although he keeps saying, “It’s not because I don’t want to.” Part of me believes him.
He got hurt in his last relationship — very much so, so he is exercising caution. I don’t blame him, especially since I’m not looking for anything serious. I tell him that I’m always very honest and explain that a connection is more important than anything else, so why try to define it? I try to convince him that we can just hang out; we don’t need to have sex. But he won’t have any of it, so I let it go.
His last relationship was abusive, he says, and the cops were called more than once. He confesses that he was the abuser. “Did your ex want to be abused?” I ask, wondering if it was a sadomasochistic relation gone wrong. No, his ex didn’t want to be abused. Another side of him came out, a side he’d never seen before, he says. He seems troubled by this. I don’t know what to say.
The music gets harder and faster, and makes me want to dance. His head bobs along. After a few tracks he decides to leave. “Can I have a kiss?” I ask. I don’t support non-consensual abuse in any way, but I still want to kiss him. I don’t know if feel sorry for him or if I’m just feeling desperate.
We kiss. I pull away, but he reaches for me again. “Do you want my number?” he asks.
“Sure.” He hands me a slip of paper on which his full name, email address and phone number are printed.
The experience is unsettling — he hands out slips of paper? — but it makes me realize that you can’t just go around looking for your next daddy. It’s a title that’s earned and a relation that has to happen organically — that was my experience with DH, anyway. Although I dream of finding the perfect daddy again, I am learning that life isn’t some country fairy tale in the Sierra mountains or at a daddy-themed party in the east end. Life is something else, and it goes on.