Him: Hello there. Are you Michael?
Me: That’s right… Are you –
Him: Ed. Edward.
Me: Which is it?
Him: Ha. I dunno. Whatever you like. It’s Ed at work, but I’m Edward to most of my friends.
Him: Don’t get mad, but you’re better looking in person than on Grindr.
Me: Thanks. I’m not mad, by the way. I don’t think it’s rude. I’m intentionally less attractive on Grindr and OkCupid.
Me: I want to be a pleasant surprise, rather than an immediate disappointment.
Him: Oh no!
Me: No. NO. Stop, Edward. I was speaking only for myself.
Him: But I don’t look like my Grindr profile, do I?
Me: No, Edward. You don’t. But that’s totally okay. Okay?
Him: Yikes. Why don’t you be brutally honest?
Me: Edward. Your Grindr profile says you’re 35.
Him: How old do I look?
Me: How old is that photo?
Him: Guess how old I am.
Him: Ha. I’m 51.
Him: Is that old?
Me: No. But it’s older than 35.
Him: I know. Sorry.
Me: Don’t be sorry. It’s fine. Sit down and talk to me.
Him: You, uh… You don’t seem that disappointed or surprised by this turn of events… People are usually relatively put out.
Me: Why’s that?
Him: Because they think they’re going out with a significantly younger man.
Me: Then why do it? Why post old photos of yourself and meet up with younger people?
Him: That’s complicated. A lot of reasons.
Me: Well… What are a few of those reasons?
Him: I didn’t have a lot of gay friends when I was younger. They were all straight. Now they’ve all got children, and lives, and some even have grand-kids at this point. I’m lonely. I miss being young. I like spending time with young people.
Me: And sleeping with them.
Him: Well, most of them don’t want to sleep with me, and I don’t blame them – but lots of them will spend some time with me, and I like that. And yes, some of them don’t care and will take pity on an Old Faggot.
Me: Ha. I like that…
Me: The way you say it – Old Faggot. Like a title.
Him: Well. I started sleeping with guys when I was 16. I’ve been a faggot for 35 years.
Me: That’s an Old Faggot.
Him: Thank you. So, Michael?
Him: Why did you seem so unfazed by my appearance-slash-age?
Me: Uh… I kind of guessed it – that you were Secretly Old.
Him: Secretly Old?
Me: Yes. Hiding your age online.
Him: I don’t get it? Do you like old guys?
Me: I wouldn’t say so specifically. I mean, most of the guys I sleep with are under 40. There have been exceptions, but mostly I keep it my age and younger.
Him: So why meet up with me, if you knew I wasn’t being forthcoming about my age?
Me: I do that, sometimes. I meet up with people online that seem off-beat, or troubled, or lonely.
Me: I write a blog about it. About awkward dates.
Him: I see. So do you want to go back to my place and have sex, Young Man?
Me: I do not. But maybe we can sit on this bench and watch people go by and chat with one another?
Him: That sounds lovely.
Him: Can I say? You seem very kind and intelligent.
Me: Thanks, Old Faggot. So do you.
Him: You’re welcome Young Man.