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Josh and Gordon and the Fabulous Date

Okay, we stand by our stern chiding of single gay men in Olympia. Turns out, one of the most desirable Fortnightly Singles we’ve ever had got snatched up by a recent transplant from Rochester, NY, while the entire population of datable gay Olympia men sat around twiddling their fingers. We’d like to offer our sincere gratitude to the City of Rochester for their generous donation of this charming bachelor to our cause.

At 8 p.m. on a recent Friday, two reporters sat expectantly at the Lacey Pints & Quarts. Josh, our Romantic Gladiator, had found himself a date.

Josh arrived, and ordered himself a gin and tonic. Then Gordon arrived. We separated them for the requisite preview of background and expectations.

So why did Josh agree to be the Fortnightly Single?

“I have no idea,” he confesses. “Over cocktails it seemed like a good idea.”

He went through a break-up a year ago and hasn’t been on a date since then – “I work too much” – except last week when he went on a “practice date”.

What was that like?

“It was really bad! I hope this guy doesn’t talk about himself incessantly.”

Since becoming the FNS, he’s had some interesting revelations. When no one answered at first, he was “disappointed and surprised”. (So were we.) He has since “become aware of the number of really amazing hot women who I could get dates with.”

His friends said what friends should say: they encouraged him, and they reminded him of his very reasonable limits (he’s not allowed to date Pisces or bass players).

So far, he knows very little about Gordon, since Gordon just arrived in Oly a month ago. “I know absolutely nothing about him, except where he came from and his name. Normally I would do reconnaissance, ask all the bartenders… when I used to be a bartender it was so much easier” to get the down-low on someone new.

“I hope he’s got interests and passions. I like people whose life and worldview are aligned, who know what they want.”

What’s tonight about?

“Okay, this is silly, but the moon phase is all about going with the flow. My horoscope today said to ‘be a ship case upon the ocean’, so basically to go with it, whatever happens. We’ll see.”

As mentioned previously, Gordon is from Rochester, NY. He trained as a cook at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, interned as a cook in Portland, and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.

After moving back to Rochester, he broke off a long-term relationship, and he picked up and moved to Oly with “pretty much whatever I could fit in my car” and no job lined up.

“Since I work in healthcare, I wasn’t too concerned about finding a job.”

Gordon is currently working with developmentally disabled folks, but has been a cook, a dishwasher and a hospice worker. He moved from food-service to healthcare because he “wanted to have more of an effect on people’s lives”.

What moved him to write to FNS?

At Radiance, a friend suggested he check out the OP&L for the article on Josh. He was interested, but he was “too busy for a couple of weeks”. Then he saw the next issue, at Sizizis, and Josh was still in it.

“If no one’s applied by now,” he figured, “I believe that raises my chances, so I might as well apply.”

We rejoin each other at the table, ready to order food and let Josh and Gordon get to know each other. Initially there’s a little awkwardness, but these two are clearly competent socializers, and they quickly move past it. (It should probably be said here at the beginning that Josh and Gordon developed an almost instant rapport, and began slinging bon mots faster than the reporters could write. Very early on, the conversation became multi-layered and laden with innuendo, oblique puns, and enviable cultural references. If it seems like the reporters missed some dialogue, you bet we did.)

Gordon: “Wow. You’re wearing a full vest and suit. Props for that. It speaks volumes about your sense of style.”

Josh: “There are a lot of Rochester people who come to Olympia.”

Gordon: “Rochester, Washington, or Rochester, New York?”

Josh: “New York.”

Gordon: “I’m sorry I don’t have better shoes.”

They both look down at the menu.

Gordon: “What are you in the mood for? I’ll order along the same lines.”

Josh: “I usually just pick a few choices, then go with something totally different.”

Gordon orders a chicken Caesar salad and a Cab-Merlot. Josh orders another gin and tonic, and a steak very rare with salad.

“I think men ought to eat meat,” he opines.

“I agree with your carnivorous philosophy,” Gordon concurs.

Josh asks Gordon why he left Rochester.

“You know when you think you know someone really well, and then that 3-eyed monster pops out of their chest? That’s what happened.”

“I’ve seen that monster!” Josh exclaims.

They move on to the topic of jobs, which is actually an interesting topic for these two, given their combined variety of occupations.

“Every time I come back to Olympia I get a really interesting job,” Josh explains.

“One time I got a day labor job installing drywall.”

“Did you wear a suit?” Gordon teases.

“I wore a sweater and tie,” says Josh, without cracking a smile. “They made fun of me.”

"Ha! Pearls before swine!"

“Such Philistines can’t appreciate style!” Gordon laughs. Now they’re both laughing.

“Ha! Pearls before swine!” Josh says when he catches his breath.

Gordon talks about his former job as a hospice worker. He explains that it’s not like other healthcare jobs, where you perform a task for someone. In hospice, there’s not really a task.

“When someone is dying, they reach out or you reach out. You help them come to terms with it. You make them comfortable and make them feel like people. Pain and isolation are the two biggest fears of someone who’s passing.

Well, but there are those who just want to be alone.

“I can’t imagine being that close to death constantly,” Josh murmurs.

“You get used to it,” says Gordon, matter-of-factly. “For a while I didn’t hang out with anyone with a longer-than-six-month prognosis.”

“Wow. On a scale of cosmic goodness, that’s sort of at the top.”

Gordon accuses Josh of being Machiavellian.

“No! No. Well, what do you mean by that?”

“Just that you’re working to your own ends, not tipping your hand.”

“Well, I guess you’ve got me all figured out. We’ll take the check now.”

This turns into a conversation about waiting tables.

“I was a terrible waiter,” Josh confesses. “I was really nice, and I always go them what they wanted, but on my schedule.”

“The closest I ever got, I was a busser at Chili’s. I never made waiter. I think I was too – well, let’s just say I didn’t fit the demographic they were looking for in a waiter.”

In response to some muttered dialogue, Gordon feels the need to apologize for something unprintable (and, if you read the rest of this piece, you’ll find there’s not much we think of as “unprintable”).

“By the way, sorry if I swear.”

“I was a cook on a fishing boat. I don’t give a sh*t. Let it f*cking fly,” Josh replies flippantly.

“Well, you should’ve just f*cking said so in the beginning.”

“It’s my Machiavellian side, waiting to see if you’d slip up.”

Gordon admits to being a bit of a wine snob, and asks Josh if he also appreciates wine.

“I enjoy wine like I enjoy poetry. I may read it and enjoy it, but I eventually put it down and move on.”

“Wow,” Gordon marvels. “You have an excellent wit!”

At this point, barely audible through the Friday-night-pub cacophony, three and a half notes waft from the jukebox.

“Oh my god, is this Abba?” Gordon perks up.

“Yeah, it’s Fernando.”

Okay, at this point, the reporters are in awe of the sheer talent across the table. How did they just do that? And turn it into a casual conversation?

Gordon launches into a story about how his father loves Abba so much, they only had a bunch of Abba tapes when he was a kid, except that his mother kept some Garth Brooks on hand “just to butch it up a little”. That was the entirety of young Gordon’s early music education.

All of a sudden, the chorus comes on, unmistakable now. And everyone at the table is singing along (your otherwise-dignified reporters included):

There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando!

They were shining there for you and me, for liberty, Fernando!

If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando!

Josh says, “My father listened to Joni Mitchell.”

He tries to think of a movie – “everyone was in it: Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, everyone…” – in which Emma Thompson’s character says something like, “Joni Mitchell taught this cold British bitch how to feel.” (The actual quote, from Love, Actually, isn’t half as good as this paraphrase.)

They discuss birth order (both are eldest children).

“I felt like an only child,” Josh says. “I set extremely high standards for myself.” But he was also kind of a screw-up. “I’d get great grades, then go smoke pot after school.”

“Were you the one who never did any homework but aced all the tests?” Gordon asks testily.

“I did the homework when I felt like it. I probably should have failed out of math.”

“Well, in this country it’s all about faking it.”

“Fake it till you make it.”

Gordon begins a joke, then stops. “I’m waiting for the punchline,” says Josh.

“I’m afraid it won’t come out well…”

Josh encourages Gordon to finish the joke, and “Meanwhile, you should put some of my beef in your mouth.”

(Yes, it is all downhill from here, in case you were wondering. Turn back, ye of faint or prudish heart!)

“So, what do you do for fun?” Josh asks. “What makes you happy? And you can’t say masturbation because it’s going in the paper.”

“Actually, I’m a geek.”

“Good!”

“I like Dungeons & Dragons,” says Gordon. “And black and white cinematography. Everything’s more dramatic. You can only do black or white, no shades of color. I’m a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock, not just his work but the man himself. I also used to argue with people about theosophy.”

“Theosophy? Or theology?” Josh squints at him.

“I like to say theosophy. I think of theology as the rigid structure, whereas theosophy is an approach, thinking aboutit. I also watch Dr. Dobson… Just kidding! I hate that guy! I eat an apple a day to keep him away. And when I say ‘apple’, I mean–”

(Muffled words followed by hysterical giggling)

“So, what do you do for fun?” Gordon asks.

“I have so much fun in my work that I often don’t do much extra for fun. I’ve been in like a million musicals. I direct and music-direct and give lessons. It’s how I make a living. Working in the arts is difficult but it’s very rewarding… which is the biggest cliché I ever heard.”

“It seems difficult,” Gordon agrees. “I mean, you could be brilliant and very few people appreciate you, or on the other hand you could be really mediocre and everyone loves you.”

“So… you’re a nerd.”

“No! No, I distinguish between nerd and geek,” Gordon protests. “I’m a geek. Or a dork. I enjoy subcultural memes like D&D and video games and weird cartoons. Nerds need to be intellectuals, on subjects which tend to be obscure. Okay, but not everyone who knows a lot about something is a nerd. Someone who knows everything about how to fix a car, that’s just a mechanic, not a nerd. But someone who knows about the history of the development of automobile design in Europe and North America in the 20th century and can look at a muffler in a junkyard and say ‘oh my god! That’s a 1930-whatever, precursor to all modern mufflers!’… that’s a nerd.”

“That’s a nerd? Yeah, I’m a nerd, too.”

“What with?”

“History. I love history. And I also love historical fiction and shows based on historical fiction.”

The conversation drifts back to food.

“So what did you think of the steak?” Gordon asks Josh.

“It was good. It was rare.”

“It looked like they just shot it like five minutes ago.”

“Yeah, if I’m going to eat meat, I want it to be at least a little alive. It was great. And it was big, too.”

“…and it was nice and wide,” Gordon adds. “Length isn’t everything, you know.”

Silence. “Ha! I’ve rendered you speechless!”

“I’m just not sure what my published response to that should be,” Josh says indignantly, focusing on his salad.

“I have to say, I admire your sophisticated approach to that salad.”

“Iceberg lettuce is a waste of space.”

Gordon accuses Josh of censoring himself (again, following a conversation the reporters didn’t transcribe). The reporters assure the daters that anything truly humiliating or inappropriate will be edited out by us.

“Oh, I’m not editing myself for you guys – I like to maintain an air of mystery.”

“Well, with what you wear,” Gordon says. “What is this? A sweater-vest? Who knows what’s under that?”

He reaches over and pulls back Josh’s lapel to demonstrate the layers.

“ – and you would be so presumptuous as to look!” Josh exclaims.

“Well, you did leave the jacket unbuttoned.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I did.”

At one point, Gordon very nearly says something seriously un-gay, but stops himself.

“I would say it,” he explains, “but I’d probably get my gay card revoked.”

“It’s been revoked several times tonight,” Josh informs him. “But you can appeal to Ellen to get it reinstated. No, just kidding, I don’t really have card-revoking powers.”

Later, Gordon compares himself to a crouton: “delicate, with a bit of body…”

“Oh my god,” says Josh, “you’re like ten points away from getting your card back.”

“Yeah, when you lose it, you go through this sort of – “

“ – depression?”

“ – probation.”

“Have you squealed in a while? You might need to squeal.”

Later still, amid drunken silliness, Gordon admits to liking a song that’s playing.

“It’s pretty gay,” Josh admits. “You get like five points for that.”

Then Gordon gets to tell a story about working at Chili’s as a busser and singing Lady Gaga songs.

“You could hear me from the dish-pit, literally: ‘umbrella, -ella, -ella’.”

Gordon may as well be singing Lady Gaga here...

One reporter takes Josh out for a smoke break. How are things going for him?

“It’s going really well. I like being around people who make me feel charming and intelligent and good looking.”

And this is that? Nod.

Is it okay that he’s a Leo? (Josh is a Libra.) “Yeah, my mom’s a Leo, and so is my good friend. My friend who will tell me what I need to hear whether I want to hear it or not.”

So far, Josh is definitely “having lots of fun.”

What about Gordon?

“It’s going really well,” says Gordon. “He’s very funny. There’s this kind of natural ease that I really enjoy… now that I think about it, I’m nervous. Damn you, reporter!”

Back to the date. They are talking about what kinds of music they like. Josh likes “folk, jazz, some singer-songwriters of the 70s and 80s, and Nordic death metal.”

“You know, a little Billie Holiday, a little screaming in Swedish, it’s all good.”

They turn their attention to the football game on TV, and pretend to chat knowledgeably about the game.

Josh: “Number 10 should do something important next. He’s gotta take the tight end… to the end.”

Gordon: “…and then at some point he’s gonna… touch down.”

“If he plays his cards right.”

(Giggling.)

“We should probably be drinking beer for this conversation.”

“If we were drinking beer, I’d be in a very different place right now.”

“Where?”

“Somewhere they don’t require shoes, shirts and pants for services.”

Now we’re to the point where Josh ordering a glass of water makes Gordon laugh uncontrollably. The reporters decide to pack up and go, wishing the daters the best of luck. They barely even notice us leave, they’re so focused on each other.

And now, some leftover, out-of-context quotes for your amusement:

If your stories are going in the paper, well, I don’t want my name attached to alleyway blowjobs or anything like that.”

If it weren’t for the gays and the African-Americans, we’d have no culture. I’m really proud to be a part of that.”

The intellectual has no place in modern society.”

I’m sorry, I sound like a Methodist housewife when I get plastered.”

If I didn’t think your face was so pretty, I’d punch you in it.”

It’s not my fault if you think ‘synthesis’ is a dirty word”

I look at myself in the mirror every morning and say, ‘Okay, that’s what we’ve got to work with here.’”

Charm!?

That’s overrated.”*

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