Vancouver
3 min

Waiting in the shallow end

Why do I keep coming up for air just when things are getting hot?

Forgive the lame metaphor, but over the last two years my love life has been like a swimming pool.

I walk out onto the deck, toss my towel aside and stand at the edge. The water looks warm and inviting, but looks are often deceiving. I proceed with caution, unsure whether I want to completely submerge myself.

I take a stroll along the perimeter and become less certain the longer I wait to jump in.

There are several options in front of me. I can step down the ladder and let the water inch its way up. I could inflate a small raft and glide across the surface. I might even don a life preserver jacket and jump right in, safe in the knowledge that I won’t drown.

Or I can climb onto the diving board and let gravity plunge me into the abyss.

As recent history suggests, I opt for the easier, noncommittal action of dipping in a single toe and testing the waters before I make up my mind. Gone is the frolicking wonderment of my 20s when cabana boys would come and go.

Now I rarely seem to get past the toe dipping stage. If I do, I tend to wade in the shallow end.

A couple of years I ago I met a man online. He had been someone I had seen in the Village in my days as a coffee slinger at Delaney’s on Denman. Back then I never spoke to him. I usually just kept to myself.

Any exchange was limited to “What can I get you?”, “Is that for here or to go?” and “Have a good one, dude!”

As he dressed his coffee at the condiment stand, I would let my gaze wander over to him. I could not help but admire his kind face and incredibly tight body.

It wasn’t until we met up online that we found something to talk about that did not involve coffee.

“Renaldo” must be the most patient man in the known universe. On our first date, we met up at his place for a movie. Roughly three minutes into The Illusionist we were all over each other. Did not take very long at all. Approximately 10 minutes into a feverish makeout session, something compelled me to stop and come up for air.

We started again sometime later. The action made its way to the bed. A rush of intense longing and desire shed some of our clothing.

This is it. Two bodies entwined. Tongues wagging. Hands groping. And then I felt the need to come up for air once again.

Catching my breath, I said I had a wonderful time and found the lamest excuse to extricate myself from the business left unfinished.

I left his apartment and my date with a scorching case of blueballs.

Six months later. We have not conversed since I said I would call and never did. We find each other online once again and decide to meet up. Realizing it would not be wise for me to just show up at his place and cut to the juicy centre, I opt to peel some layers away first.

We have our first official date, dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant. We actually have something resembling a conversation. While I savour my Kway Teow, I look forward to spending time alone with him. We return to his place and it is not long before we are all over each other once again. We smooch, we cuddle, and we smooch some more.

Hands grow daring. Articles of clothing find themselves cast to the floor. In a heated embrace, both our bodies anticipate a moment of blissful release… until, that is, I feel the need to come up for air.

Is it performance anxiety? Is it a fear of just letting myself go? It is not as though I am a stranger to sex. Whatever the reason, I zip up and button down before heading back out into the night.

A vicious cycle repeats itself over the next year and a half. The same scenario gets played out. Six months go by and we meet up again. I am out the door before things get to a certain point.

Another six months roll by. We discover a little more about each other each time. Yet I continue to leave a trail of sexual frustration behind me. Somehow he remains sweet and understanding.

When exactly did sex evolve from frisky and superficial pleasure into something else entirely? I am no prude. Yet my sex glands seem to have developed a consciousness of their own.

Knowing the toe dipping must come to an end and realizing that if I am not going to jump in (sexually or emotionally) then I should back off and spend some time by myself in the cabana, I asked him out on yet another date.

Determined not to let the matter play out the way it has, I am ready for something else. Taking it slow is one thing. Dragging things out over the course of 16 months is another. To this I say, “Cannonball!”