. . . As I followed the three of them upstairs, they warmed up to me quickly. I didn’t waste any time — once they seemed comfortable, I asked whether the daddy and the boy I was interested in were together. They laughed, which gave me hope. Then the other young guy put his arm around the boy and explained that they, in fact, were the couple; the daddy was just a friend.
I should’ve just passed out on my sofa that night. I quickly resolved myself to the fact that nothing was going to happen tonight — I was going home alone. “Well, I’m going to check out the backroom,” I said. The daddy seemed amused and asked me to report back to him afterward. I promised I would.
It wasn’t busy back there. There was one naked couple in the corner with their jockstraps around their ankles, and a few other guys who were fully clothed and kissing like they were at a drive-in movie. It was oddly tame, which isn’t usual at the Eagle. After circling through a couple of times, I left.
“That was quick,” the daddy said when I returned.
“I didn’t find what I was looking for.” He laughed and we started chatting a bit. I learned he was visiting from DC, and he explained that he wasn’t into darkrooms — they were too predictable, he said. Having had some good times upstairs in the Eagle myself, I didn’t fully agree with his assessment. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Have you ever used Craigslist?” I had — that’s how I found my apartment. But he was referring to the personals section, claiming that it was much more conducive to precarious encounters. “How so?” I asked.
He told me about a daddy he’d met on Craigslist, a rancher in the suburbs of Virginia. He was a strange fellow into heavy bondage and role-play. He could remember driving up to the ranch for the first time — it was dark, and all the lights were out, but he knew the guy was waiting on the porch because of the red burn of a cigar. When he approached by foot, he found the rancher daddy wearing nothing more than a cowboy hat and jockstrap.
“He treated me like a dog servant all night,” the daddy bragged to me.
“Wow, that sounds amazing,” I said. It was certainly something that I would be up for.
“You two would get along,” his friend said, laughing at us.
We probably would, but we agreed that it was best that we didn’t live in the same city, considering the lengths we’d go to get off.
We chatted until after last call. The bar was emptying out and his friends were discussing what they were going to do next. I’d accepted that I wasn’t going to find whatever it was I was looking for. I considered going home, drinking alone and checking out the listings on Craigslist. I said goodbye to the DC daddy and his friends, then left.
I grabbed a poutine at Hero Burger as a consolation for going home alone — if you can’t get sex, you may as well get gravy. When I ordered, I pronounced it like the name of the Russian president: “Can I have a putin, please?”
While I waited for my order, I watched a table of young men with their fag hags. They were all drunk, way past their limits, shouting and laughing uncontrollably. I watched them and smiled. They reminded me of when I first came out, and how exciting Toronto seemed back then. I was suddenly thinking of the friendships in my life that have come and gone; the boyfriends; the compromises; and the things that have enlightened me and made me more aware. If you’d asked me back then where I’d be at 34, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be sitting in a Hero Burger, waiting for my poutine at 2am, single and completely unsure of my future. But the thing is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Young, naive Mike would be shocked to see how I’m living now — he was a very sheltered boy — but I’m proud of the life I’ve lived, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I walked back down Jarvis Street toward home, shoving fries and cheese curds into my mouth. As I stepped into my apartment and locked the door behind me, I suddenly realized that DC daddy wasn’t a daddy at all. My brain worked hard at the gay math: logic would have it that he was a boy, since he was into daddies. But he looked like a daddy! I had to really focus on that concept of subjective identity. And, on top of it all, he was pretty hot. How did I not see that before? I looked at my watch: it just was after 3am. They’d never let me back into the Eagle, and he’d probably left anyway.
Standing there, alone, all I could think was: Maybe he’d been what I was looking for?