Life With Dick

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

If my boyfriend and I we were characters in a newspaper comic strip, we would be The Lockhorns, as opposed to the cherubic "Love Is…" nudists. That’s just about all you need to know going in.

I started running again recently. Or rather, I went for a single run in the desperate hope that more would follow. At the .7 mile mark I hit a red light at Spring Garden and Delaware Avenue and started jogging in place. It was then that I realized just how much weight I’ve put on since I met my boyfriend. I mean, I know how much weight I’ve put on: 30 pounds. But knowing a number and literally feeling the push and pull of man-boobs battling against gravity are two very distinct kinds of realization. I had to give myself a short pep talk at that traffic light just to prevent myself from evaporating out of embarrassment. I promised myself that one day I wouldn’t have to contemplate my need for a sports bra, or contemplate whether or not the passing motorists shared my sports bra contemplation. The promises didn’t stop there. A mile and a half later, I had sworn myself into future body right off a Men’s Health magazine cover that’s probably not even genetically possible for me, but I had to keep my spirits high if I was going to dupe myself into getting more exercise. Later that afternoon, Dick came home from work and I enthused at him about my new healthy lifestyle.

"I went for a two-mile run today!"

"That’s great."

"I’m gonna be skinny again!"


"You don’t understand. If I keep this up, if I go for a run every single day, after two weeks I’ll –"

"–  after two weeks you’ll have shin splints."

It’s two days later and I still haven’t gone back out. My calves are sore and my man-boobs hurt from the upper body workout I subjected myself to after my run. I have to be honest, motivation is also hard to come by. When I was single, I exercised a lot, and I didn’t do it for my health. I did it to get laid. Things are different now. I’ve been with Dick for about two years. Whether I work out or not, I will probably not get laid.

* * *

I was walking up Spruce Street the other day and caught a glimpse of the last guy I dated before I met Dick, and I decided to trap him in an awkward conversation. There’s a bit of a minor sociopath in me who gets a kick out of coercing people into making small talk against their will. I like to watch them put effort into being polite because it reminds me that human beings are capable of it, and in a city like Philadelphia you really need those reminders.  

He was already a quarter of a block away when I called after him. He turned around, smiled plastic, and didn’t remember my name. I shook his hand with vigor.

"Hi!" I chirped. "I actually recognized you by the back of your head! Isn’t that something?"

I meant it literally. He’s under 25 and styles his hair like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. It’s distinctive. But he took it the wrong way and our awkward conversation was off to an awkward start. I talked to him long enough to discover that he regularly purchases (relatively) inexpensive Mac laptop computers because he is always misplacing them. After that it was me forcing politeness. My (absolutely) cheap laptop is portable in name only and is only slightly less horrendous-looking than my cheap cell phone, which might as well be powered by hand crank for all its newness and practicality. I wouldn’t be caught dead with it in public in the first place, and if I did I certainly don’t have the budget to go around losing it numerous times.

I excused myself. Who misplaces a computer? Keys, sure. Cell phone, absolutely. A computer? Really? "One of these days I’m just going to forget my head! Now where o where have I left that iBook?" Or maybe the question is, who goes to so many places that they wouldn’t be able to track down a computer? A COMPUTER. WHO MISPLACES A COMPUTER MORE THAN ONCE?

Anyway. Class rage. You know how it is. Or you don’t, if you’re the kind of person who (A) has slept with me and (B) casually misplaces laptop computers. There’s a Venn diagram in there that might be worth exploring if you’ve got markers handy.

* * *

Dick works three jobs but doesn’t like when I share that with people. He’s weird. If I worked three jobs I would tell anybody who’d listen or who accidentally faced in my direction.

"Gosh!" I would bluster, "Can you believe that I work three jobs and yet I’m still here, in the produce section, getting food for my family? I can’t believe it. Can you believe it? Three jobs! And here I am, on my feet. Unbelievable."

There’s a lot about Dick that I can’t relate to. His love of cars, for example. He loves cars so much and sometimes I wish that he only pretended to love cars to appear butch so I could reassure him that I accept him for who is and now it’s safe for him to please cut out the business with the cars. If we’re driving together, he quizzes me about the other cars on the road and gets angry because I never study. If we’re home it’s a fight over the remote because he wants to watch Top Gear. There are car magazines in the bathroom and if he’s on Facebook, Dick isn’t stalking my page, he’s drooling over a video of the new Ford F-150. Yes, that’s right! There’s a new F-150! This is a thing that I know now, that is taking up precious space in my brain that I could be using to memorize the lyrics to Sufjan Stevens songs.

Doing things together can be a challenge. A little while after Dick and I moved to Fishtown, we decided to do some exploring and ended up at a trendy new gastropub around the corner that I was curious about. As soon as we saw the skinny jeans-clad smokers outside, Dick started complaining. He dislikes "hipsters" which I find a little odd coming from a guy who regularly pairs thrift store blazers with one of an assorted pair of Chuck Taylors, but there you have it. We were already in a hissing match about my choice of restaurant by the time we sat down to the bar, where a heavily pierced n’inked bartender gave us our menu and recited a long and detailed list of specials. Dick is a chef by trade, so I hoped he’d be won over by her apparent foodie credentials. He wasn’t.

"She’s just a hipster with good memory. And those tattoos make her skin look dirty. And – is that a giant saw hanging from the ceiling? This place is trying too hard."

He was sort of right about that part. Everything screamed "Esoteric Fishtown Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant Named After a German Electronic Music Group." The plaster on the walls was cracked just so to reveal the brick underneath, a feature as meticulously orchestrated as the handlebar mustache on one of the other bartenders. Even the menu was designed to within an inch of its life; its sandwich section was labeled "Production Schedule" instead of the more straightforward "Sandwiches." But because I had picked the place, it was my job to defend it. Finally we managed to agree that the food was overpriced. We ate there anyway and made up over a pizza topped with figs and prosciutto. 

Afterward, we downed the last our micro-brews and left, wandering to a decidedly downscale Irish bar down the street, where we bought two pints from the indifferent bartender and settled into a game of video bowling.

"You know what your problem is?" Dick said, "You’re too easily impressed."

"I know I am," I said. "That’s how I ended up with you."

And so we wound down our date night, a couple of guys sitting in a mostly-empty bar, chucking video bowling balls into the video gutter and taking cracks at one another in between sips of non-microbrewed beer. Not the most fit two guys, not the most agreeable two guys, certainly not the kinds of guys who go around misplacing expensive electronics all willy-nilly, but nonetheless two guys who have opted for each others’ imperfect company for better or for worse, for the time being. Like two plump thighs shoved into corduroy pants, we chafe at each other, but like those thighs we two are too, undeniably, a pair. 

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