FriDATE: Not Going to Lie

Him: So, I’ve noticed something.

Me:  What’s that?

Him: Just that things are different this time.  You’re behaving differently this time around.

Me:  Oh, no…  it’s not –

Him:  And I’m not going to lie…

Me:  Are you sure?

Him:  What?

Me:  I was hoping we might lie to one another.

Him:  You’re an idiot.  I was going to say that I’d be lying if I didn’t notice your change in attitude this visit, and in all honesty, I’ve been linking it to my own negative feelings about myself…

Me:  What?

Him:  Just…  It’s been making me feel unattractive, or inadequate otherwise.  Which is CRAZY, Michael.  Just crazy.  Everyone  loves my personality.

Me:  Myself included.  You’re a great guy.  Very fun, and funny and super attractive.  Don’t do that to yourself.

Him:  I don’t know how else to explain this distance I feel from you.

Me:  I’m doing this to everyone these days.  I’m sorry.  Look, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed lately, and somehow that’s making me withdraw from quite a few people.  I’m sorry.  It has nothing to do with you.   You’re very attractive and all, but I just don’t feel like being physical right now.  With anyone.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with me….

Him:  If you wind up committing suicide can I have your ukulele?

Me:  Of course you can.  Not the big one that I play onstage, but the smaller one that I use for composing – sure.

Him:  Thanks.

Me:  BUT.  Only if it’s a suicide.  If I die of natural causes you get nothing.

Him:  Of course.  I understand.

Me:  Look.  I’m sorry I haven’t been as physical with you as I was before, but I’m really glad you’re here.  You’ve been a lot of fun, and I’ve had a good time with you.

Him:  Me too.

Me:  Good.

Him:  Hey.   Don’t freak out, but I love you, okay?  Not in some grandiose romance movie sort of way, but just in the way that I know I’ll care about you for my whole life, and that I hope to have a very close friendship with you.

Me:  Okay.  I feel the same way.  I have a whole lot of fondness and respect for you, and hey…

Him:  What?

Me:  I think you’re funny.

Him:  So are you.

Me:  Okay then.

Him:  Thanks for chatting.

Me:  Should we play some Skyrim?

Him:  YES!!

Me:  Okay, but don’t go around pickpocketing people in broad daylight, or attack the town guards just to get a rise out of them.

Him:  Callista does what she wants.  She’s a renegade.

Me:  You’re impossible.

Him:  You’re a jerk.

Me:  I know.



photos by allison michael orenstein

Hi there,

I was bumming around on the internet and found a link to your entirely amazing blog. My plan of heading to the library and working collapsed completely as I got more and more dragged into your site. It’s now half past 5 in the evening in the UK and the only time I have left my bed is to get a pint of sugar and caffeine just so I could read yet still more of your blog.

I am not normally the sort to get vocal at what happens to gay people, despite being a politically active gay man. I have other causes that I spend most of my waking hours working on, and tend to leave the LGBT fight to others. But this week has been different. The Pope ragged all over us, Canada just tried to effectively divorce thousands of gay couples and a young boy in London has been made homeless because Facebook outed him to his parents. I was at a low ebb frankly. And then I found your blog.

The pies, dates and NY city life are hilarious and wonderful enough, but when you talk about shame and alienation, you talk directly to my own thoughts and feelings. We need more and more people like you at the head of our communities around the world, inspiring young gays to challenge the worlds around them, and yet remember their humanity. When you talked about respect needing to be the opening of dialogue and the formation of a better society, you spoke absolute truth. To find absolute truth anywhere is rare enough, but for it to be surrounded by wit, hot boys and some tasty looking pies is amazing. Though perhaps, it’s more inherent in day-to-day life than anywhere else.

Anyway. Please keep spreading the good word. I can only hope that you, your band and your blog are seen by more and more people. You are much needed. 
With love from across the Atlantic,
(You wanker – I am British after all…)
Dear Jez,
Normally I don’t publish letters of praise, but to be honest I was having a rotten day and this particular correspondence really turned things around for me in a major way.  Thanks for the words of kindness and affection.  I’m sure I don’t deserve the praise you’ve heaped upon me – but I’ll take it anyway, if just for today, because I need a lift.
So – thanks for that.  You really made a difference.
I’m glad you agree with me – that mutual respect is crucial to an open line of communication with each other – whether we’re dealing with members of our own community, or reaching out to another one.  I’m glad, too, that you realize the importance of living without shame.  So much negativity and internalized homophobia seems to haunt our motley, diverse community – and so much of that is pointless.
If we could learn to stop feeling ashamed of ourselves, maybe we could stop pointing fingers at one another and start a more optimistic dialogue.  One based on love and brotherhood.  Acceptance.
It’s ironic.  So many Gays are quick to find fault with each other for the most minor things.  I wonder if these are the same Gays that rush to celebrate when the government begrudgingly admits that we are indeed human, and can now serve in the military?  I wonder if these Gays can see the truth behind battles like marriage equality?  Do they see that when the government ‘grants’ our right to marry, they’re actually tacitly admitting that they’ve been oppressing us for hundreds of years, and that they’ve been wrong to do so?
I guess my point is, maybe some of that internalized Gay anger is misplaced?
Wow.  I’m off on a tangent, now.
I’m glad you found my blog stimulating, and I’m glad that you agree with me – that we could all do to live with a little more respect and a little less shame in our lives.  That probably applies to straight people too, come to think of it.  Jez, thanks for writing in – you really made my day.

ThursDATE: They’re Playing Our Song

photos by eryc perez de tagle

Him:  So that was the afternoon I got my acceptance letter to Sarah Laurence College.  And I got a scholarship, so I told my parents to suck it.

Me:  Haha – good for you.  That was a great story.

Him:  Thanks.  You know – I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about you…

Me:  Heh.  Thanks.  But give it a second – you’ve only known me for 15 minutes.  I get progressively less charming with time.

Him:  Oh, I don’t believe that.

Me:  It’s been proven scientifically.  Oh hey – I love this song.

Him:  Neutral Milk Hotel?

Me:  Yeah – I always really liked this one.

Him:  Oh my God, me too…  This could totally be our song!

Me:  Huh?

Him:  When we come here five years from now, on our anniversary – we can ask the bartender to play it because it’s our song!

Me:  Heh – all right, all right.  You’re getting ahead of yourself, just a little bit, no?


Him:  Haha – yeah, I’m just joking, silly!

Me:  Oh.  Of course.  Of course you are…  heh…  So, what do you do for work?

Him:  I’m a freelance grant writer.

Me:  Oh?  Wow.

Him:  I know – you didn’t picture yourself with a grant writer, did you?  Nobody does – every time I ask that question, nobody does…

Me:  I…  I don’t know.

Him:  Do you like kids?  I love children.

Me:  I have some nieces and nephews and I gotta say, I like them so much more than I thought i was going to.

Him:  What does that mean?  That sounds horrible.

Me:  Hm.  I guess it does, in a way.  What I mean to say is – I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to actually like/love them.  They’re really quite wonderful.

Him:  That sounds better – do you want kids?

Me:  I don’t know.  I went through a phase where I thought I did, but now I’m wondering if there aren’t advantages to not having them too…  I’m a writer and a comic and it’s pretty enticing, not having to slow down your work load because you had a kid.

Him:  Um, ew.   We’ll have to work on that answer, mister!  I want two kids – a boy and a girl.  Holden and Hanna – after Salinger and Woody Allen.

Me:  Really?  Holden?

Him:  You’ll get used to it.  So have you thought about a survival job?

Me:  What?

Him:  Well freelance writing and comedy can’t pay that well, can they?

Me:  Well they can, but in my case, no.  I barely scrape by.  But I’m kind of okay with that.

Him:  But how are you going to support a family??

Me:  What?  I just said that I might not have one.

Him:  I know – I was just kidding!  Even so, what about Holden and Hanna?

Me:  I don’t…  What do you do for fun around here?  When you’re not grant writing?

Him:  I hope you know I plan to retire by the age of 50, if at all possible…

(long pause)

Me:  I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Him:  Oh you!  You always say that!

Me:  I do.  Always.  For the last 25 minutes.

Him:  You know, I’m starting to think you’re not even looking for a boyfriend.

Me:  I’m not.

Him:  What??

Me:  I’m not – well not actively, at least.  I pride myself on  not being the type of guy that needs to find validation through having a boyfriend.  Not that I’m dead set against it, I’m just not desperately searching for one.

Him:  Ugh.  I wish you would have said that online.  I feel like my time has been wasted.

Me:  I’m sorry you feel that way.

Him:  Aw!  Our first fight!  I’m sorry too – I didn’t mean that thing about wasting my time.

Me:  …

Him:  I’m just kidding!  Let’s have another drink.

Me:  No.

Him: No?

Me: No.  But thanks for meeting up.  Jerk.


photos by erwin caluya


So, I was wondering if you know – how do you know when a guy wants you to stay?

A week ago I went into the city to hang out with this guy.  He was really cute and nice, with a sexy Spanish accent.  I get to his place and we talk for a while and we seem to be hitting it off.  We then move it to the bedroom and do the dirty – and it was fun.  Then we take a shower and jump back into bed and watch tv.  This is where the awkward part comes – we watch a movie and then another tv show and then he gets hungry and makes a salad and opens a bottle of wine. 

You think “this all sounds great,” but the whole time I’m wondering when I should leave.  The stupid guy that I am, I don’t leave after the food and stay to watch more tv.  By now it’s 12:30 and he’s getting tired and I have no clue if he wants me to stay the night or not.  I give him a back rub.

Then he says, “I’m assuming you want to sleep over.”

I respond, “Only if you want me to.”  He gets really silent.  Then I ask him again and he responds, not really – he has to wake up early.  I knew that I had over-stayed my welcome and to make matters worse the area he lived in had no taxis around.  Finally he called me a taxi, but I wound up missing my last train home and wound up walking around the freezing cold in Manhattan for 7 hours.

What should I do to avoid this in the future?

Thank you, Jerk


Dear N.,

Thanks for your letter.  You sound like maybe you’re new to online hook-ups.  There’s a certain amount of etiquette involved, but that etiquette is, unfortunately, different for every person.   As a general rule of thumb, if it’s a hook-up and not a date then you should fully expect to leave shortly after the sex happens.

This is not to excuse any amount of poor behavior on the part of your Spanish accented friend.   Unfortunately, guys have a way of being super charming with a new conquest right up until the point of orgasm.  After the deed is done, however, reality comes crashing back in and you’re left there in your own home with a relative stranger that seems to want to eat all your salad and watch West Wing re-runs until 2 in the morning.

Next time, explain your situation before you go over to the guy’s house.  Let him know you live outside the city, and if he wants you to come over he’ll have to let you stay the night.  If he says no, then at least you know what you’re dealing with -a guy who wants to bone you and say goodbye shortly afterward.

If I may say so – it does sound like you might be looking for a date, instead of a hook-up.  In which case, I think you’d be far better off using websites like OkCupid rather than Craigslist or Grindr.  Just a thought.

Be honest about your intentions and you can’t go wrong.


P.S.  Next time you’re walking around freezing in Manhattan, go to Penn Station.  It’s warm in there and you can pretend you’re waiting for a train to leave.

Rice Queen

Him:  Hey there.  What’s up?

Me:  Not much.  Just hanging out.

Him:  That kid you were hitting on was really cute.  Was he Chinese?  He looked Chinese.

Me:  I don’t know.  He said he was from New Mexico.

Him:  Yeah but where was he really from?


Me:  I don’t know.  I didn’t ask him the story of his epic family saga.  Maybe he was born in a refugee camp?

Him:  Hot.  Now you’re talking.  But that would make it more likely he was Vietnamese.  He looks Chinese or Korean maybe.

Me:  I’m not well versed enough to make the distinction.

Him:  Oh?  Are you new to Rice?

Me:  What??

Him:  Are you new to the world of Rice Queens?

Me:  Oh man.  I don’t know how to answer that.  That term is so brutal.  I’m not sure I identify with it.

Him:  Why?  Rice is a staple…

Me:  Uh…  I don’t know.  Seems like there’s a weird stigma attached to some dated racial hierarchy.  No offense.  I’m sure it was probably different in your generation.

Him:  It sure was.  The Rice was a lot less uppity.

Me:  Hey, old timer – we don’t use the word ‘uppity’ to describe ethnic minorities.  I’m pretty sure that’s a bad idea across the board.

Him:  Well, it used to be easier.  They were less demanding.

Me:  That guy went to Yale, and he’s super good looking – I’m sure he has every right to be selective about who picks him up in a gay bar.

Him:  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been a Rice Queen for a long time.  I’ve had lots of great relationships with Asian guys.  Mutual respect is always key.  How long have you been a Rice Queen?

Me:  I’m not entirely sure that I am?  I’ve had lots of types of boyfriends – Latinos, Jews, White, Asians…

Him:  You were really into that Chinese guy.

Me:  True.  Lately they’ve been turning my head a lot.  I dunno…  I go through phases.  There was a couple years there where I was hot for red heads too.

Him:  Have you ever been to Asia?

Me:  No.

Him:  Oh, you’ve got to go!

Me:  Why’s that?

Him:  Oh the boys there are just lovely.  They’re so sweet and accommodating – they’re not spoiled by Western thinking like the Asian Americans are.

Me:  Oh my God, you have to be kidding, right?

Him:  What?

Me:  Well…  I mean, you realize how you sound, right?  ‘Spoiled?’

Him:  How do I sound?

Me:  Kind of racist.  No.  Totally racist and also imperialist, too.

Him:  Oh please.  Asia is the most racist place on earth.  If you don’t believe me, then ask your next Chinese trick how many Black people he’s slept with.  Chinese people are super, super racist.

Me:  That doesn’t make it –

Him:  BUT – I love them.  They all have hard exteriors but inside they’re marshmallows.  So sweet – and once they decide they like you, you’re in for good.

Me:  Hm.  Okay.  Just for the sake of hearing your opinion – what do you think about Japanese people?

Him:  Uh…  they’re a little superior for my tastes.  Also, they’re emotional labyrinths.  You can never tell what they’re really feeling or thinking.

Me:  Koreans?

Him:  They drink a lot, and chain smoke.  Hey – why do Koreans make good bottoms?

Me:  Why?

Him:  They’re used to being occupied.  Get it?  I made that one up.

Me:  You’re a horrible old man.  (pause)  That joke would also work for The Philippines.

Him:  Oh yeah!  You’re totally right.   But I prefer Thai boys the best.

Me:  Why’s that?

Him:  They have no qualms about sleeping with older men.  I mean, you have to give them some money, but we’re talking twenty bucks for the most depraved things you can think of.

Me:  All right.  Okay.

Him:  I have a scrapbook of all the Thai boys I’ve slept with at home.  You should come see it sometimes.

Me:  Hey, thanks for chatting, racist old man.  I was alternately horrified and amused.  I think I’m going to make better use of my time, and hit on that guy over there.

Him:  He looks Vietnamese.

Me:  If you say so.

Him:  They taste like cilantro, sometimes.

Me:  I…  What?  Okay I’m leaving.  Have a good night.





photos by ryosuke kumakura

Dear Michael,

I’ve been trying expand my horizons as some might say, and have gone on dates with a few guys I’ve met (relatively new for me); however, this hasn’t been working out very well. I went on a few dates with a guy that I really like (very handsome and refreshingly articulate) and I would say they went well; he seemed more than happy too. After our last one, we couldn’t help but fool around – which was overly enjoyable to say the least. After this though, our communication kinda just stopped. 

We both were visiting our home town for the holidays (Neither of us live there anymore – semi long distance type of thing) and he just left without saying anything and I haven’t heard from him since. Being the type of person that doesn’t like to serial text, I sent him a message and he never responded; thus, I am assuming that he is not going to – being that it has been a week and we used to chat all the time.

My fear is that people just use me because of my face in order to get what they want and then toss me aside. This leads me to the point of advice. How do I know if a guy’s intention is to simply get into my pants and ditch, or if someone actually wants to go on dates with the intention of dating? And, if you have any idea, what should I make of the above situation?  
The attached pic is me – sorry I don’t have any fun baking pics 😉
Hey Duke,
Thanks for writing in.  I’m sorry to hear that you recently experienced disappointment in the dating world.  Dating it tough, and being able to process and manage a certain level of disappointment will help you in the process.  It sounds like you’re already on the right track –  if you’re looking for a guy to date for  a while, rather than just fool around with a few times.  Making him wait until the second or third date is a good strategy.  As far as being able to tell whether the guy is just looking to date or just fool around, that’s difficult – most of the time people don’t quite know what they’re looking for, even as they’re out and about in the dating world.
My main piece of advice to you is this:  even as you’re looking for a suitable long term partner, try not to be goal-oriented when you’re dating.  Just see each date as a chance to get to know the other person and have fun.  Try not to read too much into an experience, even if you do wind up fooling around with your date.  People don’t respond well when they can palpably feel your expectations.
Why not consider yourself the commodity?  Be friendly, and have fun, but ultimately make the other person prove to you why they deserve your time.  Always value your own self and what you want most of all.
I’m not exactly sure what it means when you say that people just want to use you because of your face, but as far as faces go, it’s a pretty cute one.  Don’t be surprised if people want to use it for kissing, or other more aggressive activity.
Duke, you’re young and attractive.  Keep your chin up and have a good time.  If you look like you’re having a good time that breeds an attractive energy.  I’m sure there’s plenty more crushes, dates, and foolings-around in your future.
Thanks again for writing in – Jerk.

FriDATE: I’ve Done That

photos by ryosuke kumakura

Him:  Nice coat.

Me:  Thanks.  It’s my heavy winter coat.

Him:  Is it warm?

Me:  Yeah, it’s my heaviest one.

Him:  Looks like it would be warm.

Me:  It is.  It’s a warm coat.

Him:  Looks like it.

Me:  Yeah.  It’s warm. (pause) How long have you been here?  Long time?

Him:  Nope, only a little bit.  Five minutes.

Me:  That’s not too long.

Him:  Not at all.  So…

drawings by naruki kukita

Me:  So…

Him:  So tell me what you do.

Me:  Well you know about the website.

Him:  Obviously.  I used to have a website.  I used to run a very well attended blog.

Me:  Oh?

Him:  Yeah, I kept a sex blog when I was 15, and it became a bit of a thing.  

Me:  What?  I can imagine!

Him:  Especially because I was sleeping with older people, so it was illegal too.  I got a lot of heat for it.

Me:  I can imagine.  Wow.  That’s crazy.  What happened?

Him:  I took it down.

Me:  Why’s that?

Him:  I kind of outgrew it.

Me:  I can see that.

Him:  Plus, I was applying to schools and I Googled myself and my sex blog came up immediately.  I had like 5000 hits a day.

Me:  Wow.  Not too shabby for a 15 year old.  Good job.

Him:  So what else?  What do you do?

Me:  I teach.

Him:  Oh me too!  I used to teach literacy to remedial students.

Me:  Wow.  That’s noble.

Him:  It was a student job.  I outgrew it.

Me:  Oh, okay.  I teach improv to adults.

Him:  Do you do improv?

Me:  I do, yes.

Him:  I’ve done that.  I was in an improv class once.

Me:  Did you study here in the city?

Him:  No, there was a class offered at my university.

Me: Oh, okay, cool.  Did you like it?

Him:  Not really.  I thought it was dumb.  Sorry…

Me:  It’s not for everyone.

Him:  I was good at it.

Me:  I’m sure.  You seem like you would be.

Him:  What type of improv do you teach?

Me:  Musical improv.  How to improvise musicals.

Him:  Oh my God, I used to do musicals.

Me:  Surprise!

Him:  In college I did a slew of them.  Well, three. But then I outgrew musicals too, I guess. 

Me:  How so?

Him:  They started seeming frivolous or dumb, somehow.  Then I stopped doing them.  My teachers were super upset about it.

Me:  Think of the talent you denied the world!

Him:  By the way I like your shirt.  Where did you get it?

Me:  In Hamburg.  I went with my brother once.

Him:  Oh my God, I went to Hamburg with my cousin!

Me:  No kidding?

Him:  How long were you there? 

Me:  15 days.  I liked it a lot.

Him:  We stayed for three weeks.  It was pretty boring.

Me:  It’s not for everyone.

Him:  (burps)  Whoops!  Sorry.  I had bodega Chinese food before I came here.

Me:  Oh my God, I’ve done that!

Him:  What?  Burped on a first date?

Me:  No, eaten Chinese food.  It was a long time ago, when I was in the Peace Corps in Romania.

(long pause.  we lock eyes)

Me:  I’ve been to 33 states.

Him:  37.

Me:  I can do a cartwheel.

Him:  Handspring.

Me:  Double jointed.

Him:  Trained contortionist.

Me:  I have six fingers on my left hand.

Him:  I was born with a vestigial twin face growing from my abdomen.


Him:  Do you want to go make out?

Me:  Obviously.  Let me get coat on.

Him:  That’s a very warm looking coat.

Me:  It’s very warm.

Him:  Looks like it.

Me:  It is.  It’s a warm coat.  It’s very warm.  My coat is warm.