Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's the opposite of love?

It's great that boyfriend T and ex-boyfriend S get along with each other. Although ex-boyfriend S and me stopped being boyfriends a couple of years ago, I'm still very fond of him, so it's good that he can be included in the circle of friends that me and boyfriend T are slowly building. However, a few days ago, the subject of my other ex-boyfriend came up.

"So when do I get to meet ex-boyfriend P," asks boyfriend T while we're having dinner at home one evening, "I'm ready :-)."

"I don't know," I answer, with a disgruntled tone in my voice, "I broke off all contact with him when we split up. If I ever see him again it'll be too soon :-(!"

"Hmmm," replies boyfriend T, "so you still have feelings for him!"

"What do you mean?" I snap back at him, "he seriously misled me, and although I don't actually hate him, any feelings I have for him are very negative."

"But you obviously still think about him sometimes."

I'm still thinking about the fact that ex-boyfriend P sometimes does come into my thoughts when boyfriend T has a question for me.

"Anyway," continues boyfriend T, "what do you think the opposite of Love is?"

"Hate, of course, why?"

"No it's not," answers boyfriend T sagely, "the opposite of Love is Ignore. Even if you hate someone, then they're still in though your thoughts, so there's something that they can probably do to alter your perception of them. However if you don't even think about them, then that's the furthest possible distance from Love. Love can turn to Hate quickly and vice versa, so if you think about it, you'll realise that they're quiet close!"

It's an interesting idea which had never occurred to me before, so later I do a bit of research on the internet. It turns out that boyfriend T isn't the only person who thinks that way, because I find the following quote from the American psychologist Rollo May:
Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.
Although I remain unconvinced, I can't help wondering whether any readers have any thoughts on this subject?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A guy in the gym

Every now and then, I wonder what's happened to all the guys that I've encountered over the years, and whether I'll ever run into any of them again. This thought wasn't in my mind yesterday when I went along to one of my usual group exercise gym classes, but during my class, I notice that there are a couple of new male participants that I haven't seen there before.

"That new guy looks cute :-)," I think to myself during one of the pauses between exercises.

Then suddenly I recognise him! It's a guy who I'd visited for fun on a few occasions early last year. I'd even gone out for dinner with him once, after which he came back and stayed the night with me in my house. I had wondered whether he'd make a nice boyfriend, but after the dinner I'd decided that he was a bit dull, so I didn't pursue anything with him.

Nonetheless, I remember that he's a nice guy so all through the class I keep glancing in his direction, trying to smile at him and make eye contact. However, either he doesn't notice, or he doesn't want to notice! Perhaps he's upset that I wasn't interested in deepening our casual friendship.

"Hey," I say to him after the class, "I think I visited you in your apartment last year :-)."

He looks at me and smiles, but it's quite a distant smile.

"Yes," he says after a short pause, "I think we have met before."

"Have you done that class before?" I ask, trying to make the conversation last, "I haven't noticed you in there before."

"I only started recently," he replies, "but I'm quite enjoying it."

We chat a bit more as we both head to the men's changing room, and gradually the conversation becomes easier.

Once in the changing room, we make our way to our own lockers, which turn out to be quite close to each other. He's a bit faster than me at stripping off, and as I'm about to take my shorts off, I look up to see him smiling at me.

"Hey," he says, with a cute smile on his face and looking me straight in the eye, "are you coming into the sauna?"

All his muscles are glistening slightly with sweat. Indeed, he looks magnificent standing there wearing nothing except a white towel around his waist, which only just covers his essentials so that it's possible to see a bit of pubic hair peeping over the towel.

"Um," I reply, hesitating, "actually I got to get back to work :-(".

"Pity ...," he says, looking me up and down approvingly.

"See you soon I hope :-)," I say smiling at him, and with that he heads off towards the sauna.

Later, I tell boyfriend T all about what happened.

"So why didn't you go into the sauna with him?" he asks me.

"I don't need to do that kind of thing any more, not now that I've got you :-)."

"Well indeed," says boyfriend T looking at me disapprovingly, "so you're supposed to tell him that you've got a boyfriend in that situation!"

"But I couldn't say that I've got a boyfriend in the middle of the changing room with lots of other guys around," I protest, "because that would have given all the other guys more information that they probably want to know about me!"

"And anyway," I continue, "although I knew that 'Are you coming into the sauna' meant 'shall we have fun in the the sauna', no one else would have known that, so saying 'No, I have a boyfriend' would have been a strange answer!"

"Don't worry," laughs boyfriend T, smiling at me now, "just kidding! You know that I'm OK if you want to do whatever, as long as you're honest with me :-)."

Whenever I talk to boyfriend T about this, I always think I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful and understanding boyfriend :-). Perhaps that's why I don't feel the need to have fun with lots of other guys any more!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A political puzzle

"So who are you going to vote for in the general election next month?" asks boyfriend T, while we're having dinner one evening recently.

"Oh I don't know," I answer, "I'm usually pretty cynical about politics. When I look at the big picture I reckon that they're all as bad as each other, and the expenses scandal only emphasised that point."

"In that case," replies boyfriend T, which a mischievous tone in his voice, "why don't you vote for the leader that you'd most like to go to bed with?"

It's interesting to note that with the rise of TV and media in general, politicians are much better looking than they used to be. In the UK, the trend probably started with Margaret Thatcher in the late 1970's, and then when he got elected in 1997 Tony Blair was definitely much better looking and charismatic than the alternatives.

"How about him?" suggests boyfriend T later, pointing to Nick Clegg on the TV, "he's doable!"

"I guess if you're serious about who to take to bed, it would have to be him," I concede, "because Gordon Brown looks too tired and old, and although Cameron is quite a pretty guy he's far too straight looking!"

"But I just can't vote for Clegg," I continue, "Because he'd raise my taxes even more :-(. Even worse, their policy is to force banks to publish the names of all their employees who earn more than £200k :-((."

"Well in that case you'll have to go to bed with Cameron," replies boyfriend T, as though the matter has been decided, "because I don't think I could be boyfriends with a guy who wants to get into bed with Brown!"

Since I was old enough to vote, I've voted for all the major parties, so I'm a genuine floating voter. From the 1997 election onwards I've been voting for Labour, because I found Blair quite convincing, and overall I was reasonably happy with his performance. But now it's clear that none of the tax revenues from the good years were saved, so as to try and balance the budget over the business cycle, voting for Brown who was the chancellor during those years seems like a mistake.

Anyway, if any readers have any thoughts on who I should get into bed with then please let me know.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dirt could be good for you

In the morning I often wake up before boyfriend T. Although I don't want to disturb his sleep, once I'm awake I usually can't resist giving him a cuddle for a few minutes :-). After that I'll often get up, and check emails or write blog posts before getting ready for work.

A few days ago, I'm in my study as usual when boyfriend T gets up, but almost immediately he comes into my study looking terrible.

"I don't feel well :-(," he starts, with a croaky voice.

"Awww, what's the matter?" I ask, jumping up to put my arm round him.

"My throat feels very sore, and I've got a slightly runny nose :-(."

"Open your mouth," I say, trying to sound knowledgeable, "let me have a look."

Boyfriend T duly obliges so I peer into his mouth to see if I can see anything. However, the truth is that since I'm not a doctor, I don't really know what to look for! None the less, whenever I feel ill and someone offers to try and diagnose the problem, it always makes me feel a bit better because a problem shared is a problem halved :-).

"When did the symptoms first start?" I ask, continuing my doctor act.

"I didn't feel that good last night," he answers, "but it seems to have gotten much worse overnight :-(."

"Actually," he continues, "I often get this kind of thing at this time of year."

"Well in that case you need antihistamines :-)," I say authoritatively, "it must be an allergy to pollen or something like that!"

Boyfriend T nods, saying that he's got an old supply of antihistamines somewhere, and soon I'm telling him that if he doesn't feel well enough to go to work then the best thing would be to stay at home for the day.

Later, I find myself thinking about my underwear. A few days previously, boyfriend T had insisted that our underwear should be washed separately, because he didn't want underwear that I might have worn for more than one day to be washed with his!

Although boyfriend T's standards of cleanliness are highly impressive, I suddenly recall reading a news article a few years ago which suggested that too much cleanliness isn't necessarily a good thing. Thanks to google, I manage to dig up a version of the story on the BBC news web site:
Dirt could be good for you
Immediately I send the link to boyfriend T, with the suggestion that perhaps it's not good to change one's underwear every day! Although his reply points out that my argument is flawed because we're not children any more, none the less it's a fascinating piece of evidence.

So, I'm now wondering how many of my readers who insisted that underwear must be changed daily suffer from allergies? If anyone has any thoughts on this subject then please let me know :-).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"Why don’t we all go to the Karaoke in the Kings Arms one Sunday evening," says my colleague P to me before Easter, "have you ever been?"

"Err no actually," I reply, "although I’ve heard about it from ex-boyfriend S who goes along sometime. Do you think it's any good?"

"Well I've been a couple of times now, and I think it is good fun. I'm sure you and boyfriend T would enjoy it :-)."

So last Sunday, myself, boyfriend T, my colleague P and his boyfriend D, having had an early supper together, head over the the Kings Arms for the Karaoke. Although it's not the kind of venue that I'd normally go to, because I'm not at all into the gay bear scene, all the bear venues that I've ever been to have been very friendly. The Kings Arms, of course, is no exception.

"What'll you gave to drink?" asks my colleague P once we've arrived in the pub.

"A pint of beer I guess :-)," I reply, "do they have London Pride?"

It turns out that although they used to do London Pride, the main cask beers are now from Brains Brewery, so I settle for a pint of that.

"That singer has got a good voice," says boyfriend T, once we've settled down with our pints, "really manly too :-). But when you look at him, he's so camp!"

"That's George," says my colleague P knowingly, "and he claims to have been coming here since the 1940's!"

As the evening wears on, it becomes clear that there's a very wide variety of talent. Unlike some Karaoke venues where the organisers mix the singer's voice with the original soundtrack, and give the original soundtrack more prominence if the singer isn't very good, at the Kings Arms it's always just the singer. Although that probably makes for a more convivial atmosphere, at the bottom of the talent barrel it does test one's patience!

"Why don't you have a go, GB," says my colleague P with a glint in his eye.

"I'm too shy!" I reply, "I also can't sing! Anyway, I don't think I can remember any of these old songs that seems to go down well with the guys here."

Indeed, my idea of gay Karaoke would be lots of Kylie-style songs, old and new :-). But I didn't hear a single Kylie song all night!

Towards the end of the evening I need to spend a penny, but on entering the gents toilet I discover that the facilities are quite cramped. There are just two urinals and a single cublicle all very close to each other. There's a guy already using one of the urinals so I go for the cubicle, but finding that it's in use, I have to settle for the urinal next to the other guy after all.

When I was much younger, some of my gay friends were almost scared of going into the gents toilet in a gay pub on their own, and always insisted on someone accompanying them. I guess they didn't want to get drawn into in any activities with the kind of guys that might be hanging around in there! However, I never really understood why they wouldn't just be able to walk away from any situation that they didn't like.

Back to last Sunday and having started to use the urinal, the guy using the other urinal next turns his head towards me and looks me up and down. Given the proximity of the two urinals, he's obviously got a very good view of my willy!

"Wow," he says slowly, with a definite drunken tone to his voice, "you're GORGEOUS!"

Suddenly, the reason that my friends didn't want to be in the toilet on their own becomes crystal clear. The guy is big and beary, and not at all my type!

"Errr ...," I reply, sounding very embarrassed, "... thanks ..."

I almost feel like laughing, because it's such a ridiculous situation, but then I don't want him to take offense. However, what I really want to do is to pretend that he didn't make that comment at all! Unable to move away, given that I haven't finished doing what I'm there to do, I find myself staring at the ceiling and feeling quite uncomfortable.

"Oh, sorry," says the guy when he notices my discomfort.

"Errr ... no worries," I reply, feeling a bit more at ease as it becomes clear that nothing inappropriate is going to happen.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the evening :-). Although some of the singing could have been a bit better, some of the singing was quite good too, and there was a very friendly atmosphere in the pub. And of course, it is nice to be told that one is gorgeous, even if the situation where it happens makes one feel a bit uncomfortable!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Email from a gay guy with a difficult colleague

While I was on holiday, a gay reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

First of all thanks for the blog, and for Dear GB.

The time has come for me to ask for some advice.

I recently took up a new job. I am the youngest in the office, most of the people around me are much older.

One of them was very friendly, and was among the first people I talked casually with. We also take the same bus to and from work. My stop is before his to work.

Now I figured out that he is gay, and he does not know I am. How I found is simply because he was paying far too much attention to me, which obviously raised my suspicion. He would constantly ask me what I was up to. For example, I go to the gym every day, and he keeps asking me every day if I went to the gym. If he saw me taking the bus, he would literally run on the street to catch up. He is 50+, around my father's age, and the running I admit I find terribly embarrassing. OK so I thought maybe I'm just being an ageist. Never had a colleague run after me like that, he's just friendly I tell myself.

One day at work he comes into the urinals, and I caught him looking at my dick. I look at him, and needless to say a man at 50 is not agile enough to hide it with a head turn. I let it slide the first time, forgivable perhaps by some conjecture of justifications. Gay, young guy, dick, ok ok. I might do the same at his age, who knows. I do sneak a peek in the showers at the gym every once in a while, though it is just a quick glance! What annoys me though is this is the workplace.

If we end up on the same bus, he sits next to me to talk. Fine. But he stares at younger guys in the bus. Sure we all take a look, but he literally STARES. And he is sat right next to me. Makes me extremely uncomfortable. At this point I wonder if some distance would be a good thing.

Now obviously as a result of all the friendly chats over lunch and in the bus, over the past four months, he has a fairly good idea of how I think. A work issue comes up, and he uses this knowledge to arm twist me into doing something his way. It was not relevant at all, and I was able to brush it aside, but I did not like the fact that he was using that information to get his way.

At this point I decide distance is most certainly necessary. I reduce conversation to the casual and make it very impersonal.

And then the urinal thing happens again. He makes this "Oh.." with a gurgling giggle as if he was surprised to see me there, I give a quick smile and turn back, he is to my left and I can literally see him looking at my dick from the corner of my eye. That is one too many for me, and this time I give him a proper angry stare. Again slow head movement, this time he is staring at the ceiling to his right. Even seen someone pee with his head turned right and looking at the ceiling? He makes some stupid conversation about work to diffuse the situation and I do not reply.

Now I am positively furious. I absolutely avoid him. In the bus, I make all conversations extremely terse. I put on music as soon as I see him at his stop. I just nod when I see him. He still just behind me in the bus, and then starts questioning me when we leave the bus."Did you go to the gym?" "What were you reading?" I answer with lies and then switch the conversation to some work thing. I even tried walking really slow from the bus to make him go further, but he simply waits for me.

When I think about it, I am furious for a number of reasons:
  1. I am new to this city, have no friends and I really want to go out, checkout the gay scene. I know he frequents it, he told me as much, and together with his manipulative behaviour means I cannot really be seen out. I am not sure what will happen at work if he knows I am gay.

  2. He gives gay people a bad name. Where the hell does he come from peeking at my dick! Twice!! At WORK!!!

  3. He is now involving himself with my area of work, where he has almost no relevance. He comes up with "suggestions" for me, and then I get into long conversations having to explain why it is not sensible. I now make it very terse and say "Don't know", "I'll think about it", "Let me see" etc. I do not like that kind of a reply, as it makes me seem less flexible at the new job.

  4. After all the distancing and terseness, he now has started making this fucked up puppy eyed look if we do make eye contact in the bus, which makes me seriously want to punch him. I have turned from very friendly, to casual and impersonal, to downright borderline rude. Can't he take a fricking hint to just fuck off! He has not yet asked me WHY I have changed my behaviour, which is the first thing you do if it were all innocent. If he thinks I am homophobic all the more reason to just leave me alone!
I would like to give him a earful, but my new job, his lack of morals and his manipulative flair has left me very angry and confused. He's been working for the company a mighty long time. Everyone else is much older than me, married, kids, 35+, there really isn't anyone around my age to talk to.

It's been five months, I moved here to make gay friends. It has really taken a lot of planning, as I am not out and really want to deal with my sexuality!

So GB, what do I do? I am literally hoping he retires or is fired tomorrow! If I had some evidence, I would file some sexual harassment charges or something!

Please help!

Subsequently, after I'd sent this reader an email to let him know that I was on holiday, he replied with a suggestion of his own:

I might probably just talk to him straight if he happens to be at the bus stop, clear the air once and for all. Easier said than done.

In any situation like this, and certainly in advance of any straight talking, it's a good idea to try and put oneself in the other person's shoes to work out how they're likely to react to any plans. Judging from the reader's description, I'd guess that although this guy must be gay, he doesn't have a boyfriend. So he might be quite a sad and lonely guy, and gradually becoming more so as he gets older. His work is likely to be a big part of his life. Given all this, since the reader is probably the cutest male in the office, it's not surprising that this guy is interested in the reader. Unfortunately this also means that the guy's interest in the reader is unlikely to go away, at least not until the firm hires another young guy.

The reader mentions sexual harassment law. However it's worth pointing out that anyone who ever needs to rely on the law or the human resources department to solve these kind of issues are identifying themselves to the management as 'difficult' employees, and that's unlikely to be a good idea. So other ways of solving the problem must be found.

It's clear that the way the reader is actively trying to ignore this guy is not having the desired effect. It's like a tug of war. However hard one side pulls, the other side tries to pull harder. Using the tug of war analogy, we need to find a way of letting go of the rope.

Rather than actively trying to distance himself from the guy, a better strategy might be for the reader to try passively ignoring the guy. This means that he wouldn't try and escape if the guy comes over and talks to him, but equally he wouldn't bother with conversation. So if the guy starts talking and asking questions, the reader wouldn't show his irritation, but would simply smile and perhaps occasionally reply with short uninformative answers ("OK", "maybe", "perhaps" etc). After following that strategy for a week or two, a casual bit of straight talking might work better. The reader could smile and ask very casually "Why do you like talking to me?" and perhaps later still smiling "I don't think we have much in common", but most importantly never showing any irritation with the guy.

It's also worth asking whether the reader likes his job, given that there isn't anyone closer to his own age to talk to. It would be a pity to change jobs just because of this one annoying older guy, but if there are other reasons to move too then it might make sense. In any case if he does stay in his current job, he needs to forge alliances with other employees. That might also help in connection with this annoying older guy, who'd see that this reader isn't alone in the office any more.

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this situation?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Still on holiday :-)

After visiting Oman, we decided to visit another country on our way back to the UK. In the past I've asked readers to try and guess where we are from a couple of photographs, and each time I'm amazed at how quickly the locations are identified (see e.g. Oman, Amsterdam, Mykonos, Santorini, Tuscany, Rome). So in a serious attempt to make it harder, I'm only going to post one pic this time, and I'm hoping it's a hard picture to identify too! So ... can anyone tell me where we were when I took the picture below?

PS: sorry for the dirt on my camera lens!

Friday, April 02, 2010

A night in the desert

While on holiday in Oman, boyfriend T and me decided to take an overnight trip away from our hotel to spend a night in a tent in the desert.

In the car on the way to the desert, our guide tells us a lot of things about Oman.

"Before the current Sultan came to the throne in 1970, Oman was a very tough country," he says, "no roads, no schools, no hospitals, there was nothing here. A lot of Omanis left for India and Africa, although some of them have come back now."

"So everything has been built since then?"

"Yes. Actually, the Sultan had some of his education in the UK, which I'm sure is where he got some of his ideas from. But we're all worried about what will happen when he dies."

"Doesn't he have a son to take over from him?"

"Nobody knows!"

"Isn't he married?" asks boyfriend T.

"Again, no one knows," answers the guide.

Being aware of Islamic sensitivities to homosexuality, I don't ask the question that's on my lips about the Sultan (although a comment on my previous post later confirmed what I was thinking). Instead I ask a different question.

"But what are the taxes here to pay for all this infrastructure?"

"No taxes here :-)," answers the guide, smiling, "the oil pays for everything!"

When we booked the night in the desert, I had in my mind the image of a tent fit for a Sultan. It would be full of white fabric flapping gently in the breeze with sumptuous red cushions and luscious embroidery everywhere, expensive Arabian carpets and maybe the odd hunky eunuch to tend to our needs :-). However the reality was slightly different!

"So we've given up a night in that lovely hotel for this :-(," says boyfriend T in disbelief, "I can't imagine an Arabian prince staying in a tent like this!"

"Well a Bedouin style tent is OK for one night, isn't it?" I reply, determined to enjoy myself, "it's not every day that we get to spend the night in the Arabian Desert!"

There are two double beds in the tent, both with thick duvets, which seems a bit unnecessary given how hot it is inside the tent.

"Which bed shall we sleep in?" I ask.

"Which bed do you want?" he replies.

"Awww, can't we sleep in the same bed as usual?"

"I think it's going to be too hot for that!"

After dinner, even though it's 4 hours since the sun went down it's still very hot inside our tent, so we duly get into separate beds. Eventually I fall asleep, waking up just in time to get up and see the sunrise over the sand dunes.

"It was amazingly quiet in the desert," I say to boyfriend T the following night when we're back in our hotel, as we're cuddling up before getting to sleep, "did you sleep well last night?"

"Actually NO!" he replies, "didn't you hear all the goats with the bells round their necks that kept wandering past our tent?"

"Um no, I must have fallen asleep."

"Yes you did! Your snoring was another thing that kept me awake."

"Ahhh, sorry about that, I hope that doesn't happen too often"

Boyfriend T doesn't reply, and as he lays there in my arms, soon I can tell that he's fallen asleep.

"So did you sleep well?" I ask him the following morning.

"Yes thanks, I slept very well :-),"

"You see," I reply triumphantly, "sleeping in the same bed is always best :-). You can't get to sleep properly without cuddles!"

"Sleeping in the same bed IS better," answers boyfriend T, "but only because I can elbow you to stop snoring if I have to. When we were in the desert, I might have slept better if only I'd had a long stick to use on you!"