Archive for the Passion Category

… shocked/spinning around.

Posted in Passion on August 2, 2008 by moderngatsby

 Despite the fact that I have a million things to do the most important at the moment seems to be choosing a new mobile to replace my almost redundant upgrade which is only 11months old. With the new phone I have also elected to get a new number since my current one is 8yrs old and seems to have as much baggage as a woman recently separated from her alcoholic wife-beating husband. And while that comparison isn’t far from the mark – minus the separation and the husband – the abuse and anticipation is the same from years of first dates relationships, and subsequent break-ups.

I have also discovered that I’m not as unique as I would have liked to be. Having caught up my online reading of some of my favourite blog’s, I had one of those ‘Ah-Ha!’ moments and realised that perhaps my whinging and whining isn’t as bad as I sometimes think it is and that there are guys out there with perhaps as much bad luck in choosing men or for having that ever hopeful romantic outlook that seems to be squarely squashed when someone with a better definition or slutty disposition comes along. Despite there is an ocean between us, reading his words this morning written in moments of honesty were almost my own.

And since the feeling of living on borrowed time still hasn’t dissipated, I am getting used to living with it in kind of the same way that you get used to the blubber where love handles once were. Either situation hasn’t been helped much since my aunt was down from Cape Town et family cooking up a storm for breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks and alcoholic refreshments every 2hrs to boot. But with the welcome distraction, the extra few Kg’s which was part and parcel I must have picked up wreaks havoc with my plans of snagging that adorable someone, somewhere at a time still to be determined.

But for the most part my time is now filled up with blah, blah, blah and I’m looking forward to going to sleep. I guess it’s good to be me right now.


… principles of lust.

Posted in coccooning, Passion on June 6, 2008 by moderngatsby

 As I sat at the kitchen table, shrouded in a cable-knit cashmere blanket, the silence of the croft cottage was unsettling and yet comforting at the same time. Outside I could see the uncut grass in the field as it swayed and bowed waist high to some unseen wind while in the distance, under the grey clouds that hung menacingly, the semi-naked trees held firm their autumn foliage. A pot of Rooibos tea with ginger stands on the granite counter, the steaming aroma pungent and inviting but untouched. The piece of toast, only moments ago glossy with butter had already congealed while waiting to be eaten.


Depending on whom you asked, tomorrows match was either the most important game of the calendar, or the least, but as we were both old boys of our respective schools. The Bradley Cooper-esq guy suggested we brave the weather and travel down to the country, if not to support our schools, then at least to spend some time together. Which was odd because we had been spending an increasing amount of time together already – late afternoons and early nights filled with the unspoken understanding while he, enraptured with rare breed Tarquin’s and I, a foundling publishing empire.


And then, a knock on the back-door broke the deep thought/spell that had overtaken me. Unashamedly cheery so early in the morning, he stood there with a clutch of the morning papers, a litre of fresh milk from the dairy, 6-eggs and a small almond-shaped loaf of bread. ‘Thought you might like a little breakfast’ the estate manager said in that Boland bray that I so loved. The last time I was here I was invited to a local farmers’ party by he and his wife, I forgot myself to the music, numbing alcohol and the welcoming embrace lust brings in the cold of the early morning with a son of ‘martizburg college. Unfulfilled, I left satisfied in the morning.


But now in a few hours we both had to be up and ready for lunch with the new headmaster of my old school. Accepted at the last minute, the offer to bring someone along was implied. And so, implicating the naked man still asleep in my bed, it was to be my first truth in 13years since leaving these Cape-Dutch walls. But after I left lunch, I took a wrong turn and found myself right back where it had all started. I had come to the midlands for a mini-break hoping to get away from lawyers and old-friends and most of all myself. But sitting on the fake set in the theatre my issues felt more real than ever. I couldn’t help but wonder no matter how far you travel or how much you run from it can you ever really escape your past?


Back at the farm, with the Bradley Cooper-esq guy out for a guided walk with the Boland caretaker, and with nothing to do I cleared out some old closets, no pun intended, and found a forgotten packing box filled with VHS tapes, cassette tapes and other souvenirs of holidays past. With a goose roasting in the oven, I broke a family tradition and started cocktail hour an hour early. With a slosh of whisky in a glass, a fire already prepared in the grate I had nothing but time to wait. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I let the moment wash over me and imagine what it would be like having someone permanent in my life to share moments like this with.


Eventually after the dishes were done, left over goose wrapped in cellophane along with the vegetables for the farm dogs in the morning we settled down with our bread and butter puddings and custard to watch one of the VHS tapes rediscovered that afternoon. As Kirsten Dunst and Huntley Ritter filled the screen with clever puns and cartwheels and dance choreography I realised that this evening was our first real night together. And as we snuggled up in bed, we talked about things honestly. It was he that reminded me that the past dictates the future. But he who masters the present controls the past.


And with that, as my racing heart started to calm, I nestled closer feeling his warm, still moist naked skin against mine under the down cover, closed my eyes and in the distance heard a dog bark and it seemed like home. This might not be real in the daylight, but for tonight, it felt as close as my heart would allow.

… a rolling stone gathers no moss.

Posted in Passion on March 25, 2008 by moderngatsby

 It sat there mocking me somehow, the brilliance of the full moon, with a sliver of cloud that hung like a shawl around her shoulders. Looking up through the driver’s window of my car I was reminded f all the things that had passed since she had smiled on me again, with her bounty of good fortune or pleasing charm. But being drunk the moment was lost on me fully and I fumbled out of the car; gathered my carry-all bag and headed into the cottage trying to get out of the predawn chill.

I was returning from an afternoon lunch at a friend’s house some 14-hours after it started, swilled with the copious amounts of white rum, champagne, and crisp white wine between glasses of home made ice-tea. In the process, I had inadvertently mixed my own long-island iced teas without realising it. And as the fatigue started to claim me to the blackness of inebriation the only thing I wanted more than an espresso was a warm body to cuddle up to and sleep off the indescribable drug in my blood.

In the space of three days I had started to shed my cocoon to emerge into the autumn sunlight a different person no longer held by finely weaved bonds of silk old school ties. Wishing I were some secret agent in a foreign land – the alien landscape around me was the cold, grey city of Jo’burg – but I was back on the gay meat market and this wasn’t a game. When it comes to finding someone to share your heart, the stakes are much higher than finding someone to share your bed.

With my ears still deafened from dancing on the parquet flooring of my hosts lounge area to a strangely mix of wannabe Portuguese pop and gay disco funk, my body had already forgotten the chemical infatuation with the lithe, beautiful stranger and instead fell into the goose down comforter that was my bed. Shadows became dreams as my body struggled with natural habits and my recent nocturnal habits. Safe to say that the natural habits won and I lay awake. Too tired to sleep.

Skulking through the cottage towards the kitchen, looking for something to calm a troubled stomach, the only thing I could find was a luke warm Bodum of coffee. My nose still tingled slightly as if I were about to sneeze but really was only residue power from the night before. And in a moment when you’re led to believe in your moment of need that he wants what you want but doesn’t you do dirty deeds for dirt cheap in the cramped guest toilet with a lithe, beautiful stranger.

The hours towards dusk passed equally slowly as I lay awake in my bed rereading a brilliant novel and quickly as I dozed through the feeling of dehydration. I wasn’t sure if the restlessness was because of the eventful Easter weekend or from a month filled with new challenges that had started with meeting an unlikely stranger and being played like a cheap hand of poker. But I was over the speed hump and gathering speed towards a new year filled with new opportunities. And new men.


… two milkshakes and a packet of jelly-tots later.

Posted in Passion with tags on March 3, 2008 by moderngatsby

In the darkness of an empty room I read recently late one night that the three most common mistakes for the average gay men in a new relationship are too much-too soon, monopolization of each other’s lives or moving in together for the wrong reasons. And while at the time all of the above seem like perfectly natural things, this above average gay man realised that these mistakes would never be made on principle.  The internet has become a repository of useless information and perhaps if Napoleon had had access to it the winter of 1812 may have ended slightly differently.

After a particularly unsettling week of treading water I had reached my emotional tether. Knowing there was little I could do about work the only thing to regain some kind of control was to call him. Leaving the last message on his voicemail I hung up and let go. Unexpectedly he returned the call and we spoke things through until we had gone full circle and reached the point we had a week earlier when we lay naked, spent and eating dark chocolate at 2am in his bed. We agreed to meet the coming Saturday to have a conversation that had come far too soon in this relationship-game-whatever but was now overdue.

If I arrived fashionably late, then my new guy was very fashionable indeed. When you do business over breakfast, lunch or dinner the polite form is to wait until you’re half-way through the meal before you get onto the topic at hand. We started before our coffee had arrived. The well practiced thoughts from the night before seemed empty and I spoke instead from my heart to someone whom I didn’t quite love but couldn’t bare not having in my life. When I was done he smiled but remained silent. The silence pushed him to admit that I had said everything he was thinking. And wanted.

The Eskimo have hundreds of words for snow and we have even invented three times as many for a relationship. But the more words we invent the harder it becomes to define things properly. As I sipped my iced chardonnay late Friday I started to think about a world where you can date without sex, screw without dating, and in the end keep many of your sex partners as friends long after the screwing is over. As a realist who doesn’t believe that you can get everything from just one man, without losing focus from the object of your affection, I couldn’t help but wonder what really defines a relationship?

Growing up many of us look to our parents as role models for the relationships that we most want or try to avoid. But when that model neither works nor applies to you where can we turn to? More importantly with the recognition or same-sex unions and legal rights are we trying to fit our lives into a prescribed mould as a way to fit in rather than stand out. Part of the blame lies with the gay couple themselves. In not being honest upfront the breakdown that occurs towards the end because of unmanaged expectations or insecurities and emotionally immaturity adds to the cynicism of impossible relationships.

In jest my new guy often tells me that I’m a player saying all the right things at the right time. And while no truer word has been spoken in jest – underneath I can see what he fears most – that these words are just that. Like the many others that he’s heard before, the abyss between promise and delivery has grown in every relationship he’s ever had and I’m no different to the last boy that broke his heart. But with no more words to be spoken between us … the only thing left is for me to keep my promises. I may not have miles to go before I sleep again in his arms but it will be a long road to trust.

And somewhere between breakfast in Bedfordview and slowing down for some fast-food in Fourways on a lazy summer’s afternoon, I found myself in the passenger seat listening to a forgotten hit by Roxette and realised that I had started dating again. And while I wasn’t painted right, in the moment with his hand on my thigh and him glancing every now and then at me with that smile on his face, I was certainly feeling like everything was alright. It might not be what I was wishing for but now that I’ve stopped trying to make it into something it’s not – and just appreciating it for what it is – I’m somehow more optimistic. After all they might be baby steps but at least we’re heading in the same direction.

… paint (me right).

Posted in Passion on February 18, 2008 by moderngatsby

I have to admit that between my new job kicking in and my old habits being kicked out I was silently going out of my mind screaming with frustration. We’d had one of those great 2nd dates that started with coffee at my favourite barista, a hop, skip and a jump from his place, and ended up with me cradled in his arms and talking for what seemed like ages. Again. As the sun started to set, it dawned on us that we each had lives outside the walls of his bedroom and we parted ways each heading in opposite directions. But the promise of yet another date hung in the air and I drove away with that fleeting feeling of hope.

A feeling of hope that faded as quickly as the setting sun as I remembered that this was going no where I wanted it to. After all hadn’t I learnt my lesson before? When something seems too good to be true it usually is and when a guy tells you that his life is complicated you shouldn’t hear ‘perhaps this could work out’ but ‘run for the door as quickly as you can’. Being honest upfront counted in his favour but am I being naïve in wanting to get further involved when any day he might tell me he was back with his ex even though they had just become friends?

Knowing that I was in a funny place, my fuck buddy uncharacteristically became interested and supportive of my angst. The thing that brought us together is the one thing that I am most insecure about: sex. Both guys have told me that I’m their best ever but as I got into bed that night I got to thinking. Are we secretly being graded every time we invite someone to join us in it? A+? B? D? Incomplete? Is making love really nothing more than 20-questions? And if sex is a test, how do we know if we’re passing or failing? I had to ask: how do you know if you’re good in bed?

Perhaps as someone who loves sex … in every form, shape or position it doesn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been around the block a few times. ‘More than Princess Diana but less than Madonna’ is how Andie MacDowell explained it away in that dark horse movie about four weddings and a funeral. For me there is nothing more pleasing, than having your guy lay there for a while, as you please him till the point where he loses it and his primal instincts over take his reasoning and he becomes an animal. Sometimes you find yourself on automatic pilot – doing things because you know they hit the right notes, but with this guy, I want to explore every inch of his body learning it like a school boy does his multiple tables.

The thing that gets me about this new guy is that sexually we seem to click. The same things that turn me on do him and therefore sex is something that flows rather than the stop-start thing it can become. There are no boundaries and things that I was averse to before now seem like forbidden fruit served up on a silver platter. But before I change my eating habits I think that I need to go on that third date first. I think that I need to let go of him as a potential boyfriend and rather see him as who he is … someone I could have fun with.

… and I know that I could which makes it all that much more frustrating.

…two beds and a coffee machine.

Posted in Passion on January 22, 2008 by moderngatsby

The message on Facebook absorbed and left me feeling like a cheap moisturiser that you sometimes get as part of a ‘designer’ gift pack for pagan holidays or some other raison d’affair. Immediately it was shadowed with something I had recently read in a paper while sipping a latte somewhere. South Africa has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. More importantly 59% of married women would divorce if financially feasible. Statistically the chances of one of the engagements announced to me in the past month or so would fail. Or so the bookies would have us believe.

Personally I don’t like to bet on things like this, particularly when friends are the cause for joyous celebration, and you have only their best wishes at heart. But since the 3rd engagement was more the pot being stirred than momentous inclusion, I would in a drunken moment slap my hard earned money onto a table and take the odds as they came. But the news brought back a timeline in my recent past and I realised that the tea cup that once stormed was as empty as the memories. And like many of the people that I have said good-bye to in the past few months I turned the page and ended the chapter.

As I sat waiting for my flight to board back home, flipping through my magazine when really I was checking out the cute banker opposite me I started thinking about what it takes to make a relationship work till death do you part. Most singles have more long term success with friends so maybe it is a better strategy to marry a friend. However, in the absence of sex, whether that’s the arrangement or just what happens over a few years, what distinguishes this companion for many other companions? When it comes to saying I do, is a relationship a relationship without the zsa, zsa zsu?

That butterfly feeling in your stomach when you not only love the guy but just have to have him. Often mistaken for love is another of the deadly sins: lust. As it turns out the cute guy on the plane wasn’t a banker but a chartered accountant. Coffee turned into light bondage and afterwards as I stood watching the view from his cluster home in Morningside I was reminded of someone else who shared not just proximity but predilection. Perhaps subconsciously I could smell his musk like a dappled deer on the wind or just that he was ever present whenever I ventured this far out but the Squirrel always managed to get me to this place just with a smile.

I didn’t let my own cynicism spoil the moment of one particular couple as I sipped their champagne and floated away on a cloud of sweet potato puffs rolled in smoked salmon that were being passed about on silver trays. And in the darkness in the distance that is the Jo’burg Zoo their 100-or so nearest and dearest networked their happiness into financial prospects and it felt like we had merely exchanged 24 Central for the pool terrace of a certain pale pink hotel on the Westcliff. As the night progressed I became less certain about my own prospects in a town like Jo’burg. But I have a theory on that.

Just as dogs can smell fear subconsciously your partner in love can sense distance. And as the past few years have been the most productive I learnt that love wasn’t enough to carry it through the tough times. When you have to deal with your own shit you don’t want to have to deal with someone else’s as well do you? And when things like bonds, babies, and boredom set in and you’re relatively young you want something more. And that something usually means walking out the door. And leaving behind a trail of broken glass where a heart once sat on display.

Sure wanting someone to spend those Sunday mornings with walking around the roof-top market, enjoying coffee and the papers in Parkhurst, and even those nights coming home from the office and finding someone propped on your sofa are appealing but I’ve learnt that I need to be happy with me first before anyone else can be. Because when it comes to relationships we are all living in glass houses and shouldn’t throw polo balls. After all you can never really know … some people are settling down, some people are just settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.

… Bond is being snooty while ordering a watered down drink.

Posted in Passion, Uncategorized with tags on November 20, 2007 by moderngatsby

He was a Commander in the Royal Navy” I grumbled from the corner of my mouth to the dinner guest to my left, “Not a bloody Captain from some Banana Republic!” It was said in jest, of course, as one of the party goers walked past our table heading outside for a cigarette but to me spoilt the theme of the evening a little. Yes he had made an effort but that much polyester could be labelled ‘fire hazard’ rather than ‘black-tie’ as the invitation had requested.

She almost choked on her mozzarella salad as she chuckled and just like that all the others became fair game as we hunted our way through the party list. Here to celebrate a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party at a seen-but-not-seen restaurant in Illovo that had been resplendently restyled for the evening everyone knew everyone but few were friends. When the party-circuit in Jo’burg is as small as ours you are bound to bump into one another over and over again and it’s easier to nod than it is to be knobbed.

Earlier I had tried my hand at the cards table and while the game of the evening was not Black-Jack but Texas-Hold ‘Em I bluffed my way through the game as if I knew what was going on. As we struggled to catch up with the other tables which had been served first I was about to start my plate of food when my presence was requested back at the table once again. It seems that while I wasn’t at the head table I was at the heart of their circle and hurried off without having finished my fillet, grilled veggies or creamed mash potato.

Of course by this time many of the men around the table had removed their clipped on bow ties, unbuttoned their shirts a little and rolled up their sleeves to a serious game of cards. Back and forth the little discs representing money flowed between the players. Higher and higher the buy-in became eventually separating the wheat from the chaff as the players tried to show-off their gambling prowess. One by one they flew too high in the betting stakes and with weaker hands fell to earth as Ickerous.

As the numbers counted down from 7, 6, and 5 and finally down to 4 I was the next one out of the top 3. Which was a good thing since dessert was now being served and I had been looking forward to my Crème Brûlé and double espresso. With many of the guests equally split between the dance-floor and the card tables I walked among the groups outside and briefly stopped if I knew someone to catch up. Although I had recently moved to a smaller town the conversation made me feel like I had moved to another universe.

As I stood there watching all the people as they sat around the various tables playing cards from a distance, or even catalogue couples reunited through drinks orders or desserts being passed around on silver trays, I got to thinking about the gamble we take when we date. In life People go to casinos for the same reason they go on blind dates: hoping to hit the jackpot. But mostly you just wind up broke or alone in a bar. As I sat looking at my bête noir winning I had to ask: if we know the house always wins, why gamble?

This question hit home as a friend of mine told me he was in the middle of ending a 14-yrs relationship because of a boy that he met while in Europe a few months ago. His leap of faith towards the unknown leaves me in awe because at 55-yrs old he wants something more than a comprise that he’s settled for. But it’s not just him. Lately everyone I seem to talk to all seem to be falling into love whether it’s Cooper in London, Ethan in New York, Peter in Zurich or even more locally Mike in Cape Town. They all seem to be over the moon but some cynical part of me remembers the courting stage.

That magical time in the first few weeks or months of the relationship when everything just floats past you, as you sit there disconnected from the world holding hands, or kissing in a park, and talking through dinners that last late into the night. Frenetic love-making under the stars and lazy Sundays in bed with nothing but the papers, crumbs from that croissant you fought over and the smell of coffee mixed with sex. Hours apart seem like days that will never end and weeks separated seem an eternity.

But then slowly it falls apart as brick by brick you heart slowly starts to build that wall around to protect you from the car crash that will become your life shortly. When you get that call when a frustrated voice says ‘… we have to talk’ or a SMS that once excited your heart now breaks it. It’s over. These are memories that I try and avoid every time I go out on a date set-up by a well meaning friend or couple. And after that great first date all the euphoria comes back as your body remembers the tingle of being in love again.

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? The frantic scramble to find someone to start a family and to grow old with. But the older you get the less frantic the search becomes as you become comfortable with quite Friday or Saturday nights in your own company and knowing that you can do whatever you like without having to check with someone else first. And then from across the table in your own secret garden you look up and smile at the crumbs of toast that are caught in his stubble. Affectionately you brush them away. He’s comfortable enough to let you do that without it meaning more.

After all the Bradley Cooper-esq guy might tease you like a friend, help fix a damaged wheel spoke like a friend or even butter your toast like a friend but sometimes even friends fall in love right? Not that that’s my angle but I wouldn’t say no on Christmas morning. Because let’s face it: it’s easy to wish for the perfect job, townhouse or boyfriend to come along but sometimes in life you just have to play the hand of cards you’ve been dealt. Who knows that King of Hearts might be the card you need for a Casino Royale Flush.