Three years ago today I was on my couch watching my new television. I’d just gotten cable and television after two years without. I was trying to read and work more while at home, but only ended up not doing that so I just said, “Fuck it. Might as well get a television instead of sitting in this horrible chair at my desk.” I was watching a popular reality show marathon when I spotted a guy who caught my attention. A booming laugh made my head fin, and I thought, “He seems fun. God, that laugh. And he has hair like Morrissey.” And then I guess I went into a fugue. I’d never done anything like this, ever. The only “fan mail” I ever sent was to the writer George Saunders after I read his story The Barber’s Unhappiness to tell him what I thought about it and that was a very long time ago. (Saunders emailed me back and gave me some total fucking sage advice that I can’t rephrase here correctly to do it any justice or I would, I swear.) I was going to a concert that night, a Valentine’s Day show. I had to get showered and ready. I got up from the television and sat at my desk to shoot out some emails. I got showered and ready and dressed. I filled my pockets, left my apartment, and went to meet a friend at Radio City. We met out front and went in together. In the middle of the show, which was a fine show, I felt my email buzz in my pocket. It was from the guy with the booming laugh on that television show. (Oh no.) Sometime after I saw him on television and while shooting out emails before I left my place, I had googled his name, found his email, and emailed him asking him out for a drink. I remembered doing it but the memory had a gauze over it. It was hazy and it felt possible that I had never sent the email out at all. I remembered it as I remember dreams and it felt as unreal as a dream. Like a giant had grabbed me by the collar with his giant fingers, stood me up and set me down at my computer to make me send this television person an email. I felt guided. One reason I say I felt guided is that I’d written some terribly gay note like:
Hey. I just saw you on television and I think you’re supercute. Wanna meet up for a drink?
This is not the kind of note I write. I then found the most recent picture of myself and attached it. It was a black and white photograph of me between two good friends at a party. They were both standing at the same height but I was on a step below them in the middle. It wasn’t my favorite photograph of myself, but I must have thought it was passable or else I wouldn’t have sent it. I had to clarify the shot for him, so closer to the attached picture I wrote:
That’s me in the middle. And by the way, I’m not really a midget. I’m standing on a step below the other two. I’m 6 foot to be exact. Oh, and I’m not as mean as I look.
Something like that. I wasn’t smiling in the picture. I kind of looked like a psycho. In his email, he said that he had in turn googled me and that I seemed fascinating or something and that he would like to meet me. (Holy shit.) He said that he would call me in a couple of days to set up a time and place. (Holy shit.) I wrote back, “Okay. Sure. Sounds great. Looking forward.” Then I kind of lost my shit.
That show he was on, and advertisements for the show he was on, were everywhere I turned. There was little escaping. His face was on buses, billboards, and on the top of taxis. His show was on a 24-hour marathon and I couldn’t bear to watch it. I didn’t even turn the television on. I thought, “Now you’ve done it. You’ve finally gone mad. All of the drinking and drugs you’ve done in your life have finally caught up to you and your brain is now snapping, clear as a bean. You’ve become one of those people you see in the movies who are crazy people and who think they have a date with a movie star or a television actor when they totally do not. You’ll soon be murdering and you will definitely die in prison. Goodbye, Mom…Dad.” I was close to convinced of this. All I had was his email as proof.
I looked at the email a lot, at home and on my phone when I was out. I googled myself. What could he have seen by googling me to make him want to meet? Seemed weird. To make him get a drink with some possibly deranged stalker and total stranger, what did he see? There were pictures and a couple of writing samples online. Shit I am ashamed of. It was hard to imagine what I seemed like to him. I knew me too well. I couldn’t get the rest of me who I knew out of the way to see what I looked like based on my life online. I would get out of bed in the middle of the night and turn on my computer in the dark. I would google myself and look at who I possibly appeared to be to him. And I’d stare, shake my head, with wonder.
We finally talked. He called. He called one night and we had a chat and my sanity was partially restored. We were to meet on February 21st at the bar at the Carlyle Hotel. I like that bar. I love that bar. The lighting is good because there hardly is any lighting. And the drinks are possibly magic drinks. It only takes one really to get the insides warm and the smiles going. We met at the Carlyle and talked for three hours. The night was flying by and we decided it was time to go. We split a taxi home. I live in Hell’s Kitchen and he lived in Chelsea at the time so he could drop me off and continue on his way. I thought the date had gone okay. I mean, I think my charms were on full point, but I didn’t feel like he really liked me. He was hard to read. When it was time for me to get out of the taxi, I shook his hand and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I walked down the sidewalk to my place thinking, “Well, I’ll never see him again. Fuck, how did I fuck that up?” When I got home, I wrote him an email saying it was nice to have met him and wished him good luck with everything. I attached a youtube clip of a video I had told him about at the bar that he said he’d never seen. I hit send. I left my apartment to go to the bar down the street where my friend worked. I told him and one of the cocktail waitresses all about the date. How I was bummed because I totally liked him but I didn’t think he felt the same. I told them how I’d blown it. I ordered a whiskey. I drank it. I ordered another whiskey. I drank it. I had my head on the bar when I felt my email buzz in my pocket. It was from him:
I had a wonderful time too. When you got out of the cab I couldn’t remember my address to tell the driver! I can’t wait to see you again. Are you free tomorrow?
P.S. Your beard is very soft.
(Ho. Lee. Shit.) I relayed the email to my friend and the waitress (who screamed), and then I paid and got up to leave. “Have a nice time floating home, honey!” the waitress called after me. Man, did I ever. I floated home, flew home. And when I got home, I floated awake in bed all night waiting until it was late enough in the morning to call. I called him around ten and we met for lunch. From that point on, I think four months passed when a day did not go by which we did not spend the entirety of it together. When we finally had to go through a day without seeing each other, it was a like some kind of big gay deal.
Anyway, that was three years ago today when I sent out that stalkery email. We are still together and I can’t see that going away anytime soon. I love him. And I think he still loves me. Like I said, he’s hard to read. You know what though? I don’t even care, even if he’s not. As long as he keeps hanging around. Just as long as I have him here sticking around, I know I’m doing okay. So, not to encourage any weird and unseemly behavior, but, you know, if you see someone on television that you might want to ask out, you should totally just fucking do it. Unfortunately, chances are not. But they also are. Even if just a little.