She’s a Girl and I’m a Man

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As turned out, Monday was a lot sooner than I might’ve hoped, meaning I had less than one day left to talk to Colin…and he didn’t seem to be home. Not in the basement. Not glued to his computer. Not in the back yard. Not doing pull ups.

Far as I knew Colin didn’t have a pager. Chris hadn’t heard him go out and didn’t know where he went.

Neither did Courtney, though she had a guess. “He’s been on again off again with a woman named Leah or Raya or something? Sometimes when he disappears he’s with her.”

“Okay, but how do I find him?”

She shrugged. “What time are we leaving tonight?”

“Seven, maybe?” I guess it was my job to set a time. “We can stop in Connecticut for dinner.”

“Is that Chris’s laundry in the dryer?”

“Think so.”

“I’m gonna get another one started in the washer,” she said. “Good luck finding Colin.”

Amazingly Courtney didn’t pry about why it was so urgent for me to talk to him. Maybe she already knew.

I ended up going into Colin’s room to look around, didn’t touch anything, then went down to the kitchen and realized that written on the white board, among the phone numbers for calling a local taxi, getting ice cream (or anything else) delivered, and our old landlord (because that’s how long it had been since anyone had erased a number from that board), was one that said “Reah.” Hm.

What the hell, I gave it a call. A woman answered. “Yeah?”

“Hi, I’m looking for Reah? Or, well, actually I’m looking for someone named Colin–”

“Who the hell is this?”

“I’m Colin’s roommate–” That seemed the least difficult word to use. “–Daron.”

“Oh. Hang on.”

There was the sound of muffling and then the rather loud noise that must’ve been the phone hitting a table or countertop.

I could hear voices very distantly. A minute or two went by.

Then another clatter as someone picked up the phone. It was a different woman’s voice this time, I think. “He’ll be home soon. Okay?”

“Okay, cool, thank you. Um, I’m hitting the road at seven–” I think she had hung up after “thank you” and I just slowly pressed the receiver back on the hook at my end, thinking what the fuck, whatever.

It was six-thirty when he came in, and I had already packed and was basically gnawing bits of black nail polish off my nails that were still left from Pride day. (I really needed to strip it off and reapply just the clear coat I put on the right hand to keep them strong.) His hair was hanging flat and he was in a white tank top, denim shorts, and flip flops. Still sexy as hell, by the way, just much much more “normal” looking than I was accustomed to seeing Colin, especially for leaving the house.

“Hey.” He sat down next to me on the couch and kicked the flip flops off.

“Hey. Whereya been?”

“Revere Beach. Took my ex’s kids there today.” He let out a long sigh. “The boy’s nine and the girl’s six and, god, kids are exhausting.”

“I…yeah.” I really didn’t know what to say to that and didn’t want to step into a potential minefield, of course.

“She really really wants to marry someone who’ll be a good dad to them,” Colin said. “Which is why we’re exes.”

I think I actually said something dopey like, “But you’d be a good dad.” As if I was any kind of judge of that kind of thing.

“I am really not looking to settle down into a two-point-five kid life,” Colin said.

“Wait, didn’t we have this conversation once before?”

“I think maybe we avoided this conversation once before,” Colin pressed on his arms and made white ovals in his sunburn. “Whoops. I forgot what going out in the daytime was like.”

“I have some stuff for that upstairs. Come on.” I had a tube of sunburn stuff that I’d used once after Pride but hadn’t bothered with since then. Makeup had actually protected me surprisingly well from sunburn that day but I’d gotten a bit of a burn on my shoulders where the straps of the wings had rubbed.

It wasn’t even a question of whether he was going to strip down so I could slather the stuff all over him while he sat on the lid of the toilet. That part was totally natural.

Talking about kids was not so natural to either of us, though. “But you went to take care of her kids anyway?”

“She called this morning, desperate, in tears. Promised the kids a day at the beach, having a migraine, her sister crapping out somehow, the usual.” He sighed. “It’s not just the kids with Reah, it’s everything is a drama or a crisis, which is fun for a short while when you’re passionately involved but gets real old real quick in the day-to-day.”

“So why’d you do it?”

“My mom was a single mom. I felt sorry for the kids. But she really has to get her act together and meet someone who can actually father them and provide, you know? Which I realize isn’t so easy when you’re in your late thirties and have obscenities tattooed all over your boobs. For some crazy reason, guys tend to treat her like total shit when they see that.”

“Punk guys?”

“Well, no, which is half the problem, although there are plenty of dirtbags in the scene, too, I guess.” he spat into the sink. “But I keep telling her if she keeps trying to meet a stock broker or a lawyer or something all she’s going to get is a steady stream of assholes who are going to use her like a whore and treat her like trash.” He sucked in a breath as a put a fresh cold dollop on the back of one lobsterine shoulder. “Then again, a lot of guys like me who will appreciate a middle-aged anarchist either hate kids or are not necessarily the best steady providers.”

“You’re an accountant,” I pointed out.

“And I’m a weirdo,” he said, as if we completely agreed on that point. “But I can’t solve her problems. I can’t be who she wants me to be, but she keeps trying to sucker me into trying.”

I hesitated a moment, because I didn’t want him to think I’d suckered him into a position where my argument would be especially compelling, but here it was. “Well, if you want to avoid the two-point-five-kids lifestyle, I have a gig in a road crew for you.”

He nodded slowly. “Yeah. Been thinking about that.”

No reason to hold back now. “I talked to Ziggy about it last night. He really wants you to come along. Supposedly so if things melt down between him and me, you’ll be my safety net. Also Ziggy really likes surrounding himself with people he’s slept with.” I shrugged.

“Yeah, I can see that.” Colin pulled a clean undershirt on carefully, so as not to scrape any of his skin. “And you want me to go, too?”

“I do.” I still had some nagging worries but, well, one of the big things I was starting to realize at that point in my life was that if I let nagging worries rule my decisions I would never do anything.

He nodded. “Yeah, it seems like all the stars are aligning, doesn’t it.”

“If you mean I want you to go, Ziggy wants you to go, and you want to go, then yes.” Seemed really logical when I put it that way, eh?

Colin laughed and hugged me, wrapping me up in the cloying damp scent of moisturizing cream. “Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense for me not to go. I guess my only question is when you actually need me to show up.”

“You don’t have to come to New York tonight. But come when the band starts rehearsals again after I get off the road with Nomad. I’ll tell Carynne to start the paperwork.”

“Great. That’s a load off my mind.”

Then came a knock on the bathroom door. Courtney. “Are you guys actually fucking or is there some chance we might leave on time?”

“We’re not fucking,” Colin said and opened the door. “If you guys need to hit the road, don’t wait on me.”

“Yeah, we should head,” I said, and squeezed his hand. “I’ll be back to do laundry and re-pack in like two weeks and then I’m off again.” We had another quick hug and he patted me on the back. “Unless you want to tag along to New York?”

Colin laughed. “Not this time, rock star. See you in two weeks.”

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Comments 2

  1. G wrote:

    Huh. Maybe with Colin, things just really don’t have to be that deep. That was comfortable. I don’t want to assume that “something” is missing from the conversation, like, “Where are we, what are we doing?” Getting all emotional and shit. Maybe they just are what they are to each other at any given moment, or maybe it just didn’t need to happen right now. Again, huh. It didn’t feel like either of them were actively avoiding anything too deep.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Agreed. I keep forgetting that Colin is uncomplicated. Then again, it’s what makes him Colin.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Hmmm I’m not so sure. I feel like Daron had the conversation he wanted to have while lucking into a reason to put off the conversation he needs to have. He can be very very good at avoiding anything too deep when it makes him uncomfortable. Look how long it took him and what he had to go through to finally start having real conversations with Ziggy.

    Also I think everyone is complicated, they just show it in varying degrees.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I find the last bit funny because you are the least complicated person in my life, and I adore you for it.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Haha. Maybe that’s why I find everyone else complicated? *shrugs*

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    This kind of moment is why I advocate so hard for a Colin/Ziggy/Daron poly arrangement long-term. He’s just easy and fairly straight-forward with where he is and what he can offer, with his own life happening when Daron’s not around.

    I agree that it didn’t feel like either of them were avoiding anything, or that anything was missing. I do think there was some depth to it, but it was… Colin talking about his mom and understanding Reah because of her is a hugely personal thing. It feels like the kind of casual intimacy that comes of being friends for years, where you can share some piece of what makes you, you, without it being A Moment. Again, that’s what I love about Colin, all the pieces for a deep connection are there without every piece feeling like someone has to be ripped apart.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    I think my problem (and it is MY problem) is that I’m very ignorant about poly relationships so I keep seeing all these pitfalls. I have so many questions. I’ve read exactly 1 story about this, the 5 cowboys I told you about. I get how their relationship ultimately worked and it felt right for them. I loved the story. But every relationship is different, no matter how many people, what sex or gender, or whatever other variable is involved, so that doesn’t help me figure this one out. I love Colin. He’s amazing. But if I had to choose I’m Team Ziggy all the way. But I don’t want any of them to get hurt. That’s my fear because I don’t understand these kinds of relationships and how you keep jealousy and insecurities and other emotions that derail relationships out of it.

    It feels like we’re coming to a crossroads of sorts where they’ll have to figure out the dynamics of their relationships. I know it’s coming but I am impatient and I want to understand how/if they will make it work. I think Daron and Ziggy’s conversation generated more questions than it answered for me. I can’t help wondering how Ziggy would have reacted if Daron had said yes, he was in love with Colin or if the answer becomes yes in the future. He seemed happy/relieved that Daron said he wasn’t. But I don’t know if being in love matters for them or if it would change anything or if the close intimate friends thing is enough. And will Colin and Ziggy be together? How does Daron feel about that? He’s already said no threesome so will he just “love the one you’re with” like he basically is now? See? So. Many. Questions.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever read a story that makes me think outside the box as much as this one does.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I GIVE UP. My comment didn’t post as a reply, but there is a reply, it’s just as a separate comment after the initial reply got eaten. So, yeah, go down to the next thread, my dear.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    You have the same love-hate relationship with technology that I have. Lol

    [Reply]

    Alan Katz Reply:

    That’s why I hate menage, even in books. Someone is always ‘betrayed’ or ignored, or treated like a “bottom”, or disrespected, and someone is always jealous. Relationships are hard enough, one-one-one. Poly? Pretty much impossible unless one of them doesn’t think much of his or herself and is willing so be a submissive slave to the others. But a working menage? A contradiction in terms.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Fortunately I don’t see any of them as the submissive slave type or as people who don’t have any regard for themselves. I think Daron and Ziggy are pretty solid right now. My biggest concern is what happens if Colin decides he wants more and/or Ziggy gets jealous if Colin does play a bigger role in Daron’s life. With these three, I think both of those are realistic complications in a relationship that is otherwise working fine.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    Being a submissive slave is not a negative thing. Please don’t talk about it like it is. It’s really disrespectful and ignorant.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    That was not at all how I meant for that to sound! Shit, I’m so sorry. It sounded so different in my head…

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    Hey, Alan? My relationship works just fine, and we’ve all got pretty healthy senses of ourselves. No one’s a submissive slave to anyone else, unless we want to be, and that’s a completely different category of negotiations to do with our kinks and how we fuck, not what our overall relationship is.

    Thanks so much for passing judgment on those of us who are actively poly and for the bonus dismissal of those of us who are kinky subs and/or into Master/slave relationships. We absolutely don’t hear that enough when we out ourselves, and it in no way adds to the homophobia and heteronormativity we already have to struggle against, whether poly, kinky, or both.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I stepped away and thought about this, and I’m still furious, because you’re here reading a story about gay and bi and pansexual men, and people who’ve rejected the gender binary, and the things you said about being poly are the same backward thinking, offensive arguments people have made for ages about queer people. It’s the exact same argument about how someone would have to be the “female” in the relationship and give up ground somehow between two men, and how those relationships couldn’t be valid and loving. It’s the same assumption that submission is somehow natively a bad thing, and anyone who does this must be some kind of deviant.

    If someone came in here and said “This is why I hate gay relationships, someone’s always conflicted and pathetic”, you would lose your entire mind with every other commenter, so how dare you trash someone else’s way of living and loving? You should know better.

    [Reply]

    Alan Katz Reply:

    I think you need to re-read my post. I never said that what I felt was anything but a personal opinion based on my own personal experiences. I’m sixty-eight years old, and I’ve lived through all kinds of relationships from a committed couple to a houseful of Hippie partners. I was, as it were, a child of the ’60s. And I’ve had all kinds of menages, with various orientations, genders and dispositions.

    I just, quite honestly, just haven’t ever experienced or seen a fully-equal, non-competitive, menage free of jealousy.

    If that’s your relationship, more power to you, and I’m glad to see it’s working for you.

    But since you’re obviously deeply offended, I will apologize, even though my intention was nothing more than to speak my truth.

    And since many of you who hated my comment (and me, by extension – it got quite personal, didn’t it?) are frequent posters here, I will, in future let valor be the best part of discretion and forego posting here anymore. I certainly don’t want to poison your experience of Daron or your comfort coming here with my “discordant” and “judgmental” thoughts.

    Sorry for offending you.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    Making sweeping generalizations about relationships and people in them, just because you personally haven’t seen them is pretty far from speaking your truth. It’s drawing faulty conclusions and projecting them onto entire groups you clearly know nothing about. Again, no better than the homophobic bigots who kept Daron closeted. If you can’t see why what you said was offensive, your apology is meaningless.

    If you chose to silence yourself rather than engage, that’s your choice. Don’t project it on the rest of us in faux concern for our experience of the story.

    [Reply]

    Alan Katz Reply:

    There’s nothing passive-agrressive in my decision to leave this forum. It’s the sheer vitriolic nastiness of your posts that have chased me away, to be quite honest, your own intolerance and smugness.

    I’m too old, too busy, and been too deeply invested in the LGBT movement since 1965, to put up with personal insults. So, Bye, and you can keep your nasty comments to yourself. This IS my very last post.

    [Reply]

    Posted 21 May 2016 at 9:16 am
  2. sanders wrote:

    UGH. I had a whole treatise typed up and it got eaten.

    All the “yucky” emotions don’t go away, no more than they do in monogamy. There’s no such thing as keeping jealousy out. My experience is that you just deal with it, the same way I would if I only had my girlfriend and not her husband along for the ride, or the way I would if I had some kind of emotional landmine with you and Cecilia as two dear friends. So much of polyamory is about communication and naming what you feel, what you need, and asking for it, but no more so than negotiating the emotional space between two friends or with a single partner.

    Daron saying he doesn’t have to turn his head to see both Ziggy and Colin, that they’re right there next to each other in his head, that’s an important piece to this. Colin is one thing and one set of needs met. Ziggy is another and a different set of needs. There’s some overlap, but it’s not a competition. Think about it this way: you love both your kids. One’s into the same books. One’s into the same movies. Both of them love the same music. This is both a gross oversimplification and an understatement of how I know you are as a mom, but go with me. So, you have one you do movies with, one you read with, and all three of you (or you and kid #1, or you and kid #2, or the kids without you) can go to concerts. You don’t love one more than the other, but you do love them a bit differently. You have different experiences with each of them, and they have different ones together without you. Some of that will spark envy or jealousy, some of it will make them ask “What if she had a better time with other!kid?” and you just deal with it. Sometimes you handle it well, sometimes you want to strangle yourself or them, and sometimes, it just takes a simple sentence to fix it all. And sometimes, the kids don’t speak to each other for a week and you have to play go-between.

    All of that is to say: it’s both more and less complicated, but I think you’re making it *too* complicated in your mind. None of it’s idealized, the relationships for poly folks are still messy, but they’re not necessarily any more or less so than monogamy.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    Alright, that helps. Jealousy is such a toxic emotion and this would not be the stupid insecure don’t-look-at-my-boyfriend type. Ugh okay, okay, I’ll stop. Essentially what it boils down to is I need to trust them to work their own shit out. Trust boys…oh dear. Lol.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    Jealousy is very toxic. With Daron, Colin, and Ziggy, it would be “What does he have that I don’t?/What’s he doing that I’m not?” and they all kind of know the answer to that already. Ziggy laid out what his interest is (six foot, eight inch fuck machine who also acts as a safety net for Daron), and we know what it is Ziggy and Daron share. Colin knows what they share that he can’t offer (their musical relationship, which is the pinnacle of being ‘in love’ with someone for them both), and he knows what he can give them.

    Honestly, I think most situations of jealousy in interpersonal relationships come down to the same kind of thing, “Why does X think Y is better than me?” It’s not really a question they have to ask here, and if they do get a point of having to ask each other, the answers are pretty clear.

    [Reply]

    G Reply:

    This makes so much sense to me. I think that was what I meant in my comment before about Colin being what Daron needs at a given moment. Maybe the “deep” conversation will have to happen between Ziggy, Daron and Colin for everything to come out – I guess I see Ziggy as the one who really understands how to pull Daron’s feelings out of him and make him understand what everyone’s role is. But I really can’t see that conversation as being a bad one, you know? Just more like clearing the air and making sure everyone is on the same page. I love that Colin thinks so much about the needs of the people he cares about; I think that is why he is not a threat to Ziggy and Daron’s relationship. He knows what it means to them, maybe? Thanks again s and sanders for opening my eyes even more. That was a good explanation, sanders.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    I’ve had a long time to figure out how to break polyamory down, in my own head to understand why monogamy didn’t work for me, and then to other people who thought my relationships were doomed. The book The Ethical Slut helped a lot, and I wish I could send copies to everyone I meet. It’s a fascinating read and raises one thought exercise that’s stuck with me: What if we were allowed and encouraged to have as many sexual partners and lovers as we wanted but could only have one true friend to meet our emotional and social needs?

    I agree with you, I can’t see a conversation between the three of them being a bad one. Difficult for Daron, because ~~~feelings~~~, but I think what would come of it is realizing he’s got more love in his life than he ever thought possible. I absolutely think Colin knows what Ziggy and Daron have, and that it’s not something he could ever offer either of them, or even be interested in offering them. My long-term vision of them is something like Ziggy and Daron shacking up in New York, and Colin showing up when he can/wants to and when they need him, almost like feeding a semi-feral cat. No obligation to stay but all the welcome in the world when he’s there.

    [Reply]

    s Reply:

    “Like feeding a semi-feral cat.” You speak my language.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    thanks, sanders.

    The one area where jealousy is likely to create significant conflict is music. Daron got far more upset with Ziggy for making music without him than with Ziggy having sex with any biped with a pulse. Ziggy seems to have gotten more upset with Daron for “whoring himself out” as a musician than with his relationship with Jonathan.

    I stand by “Colin is uncomplicated.” That doesn’t mean he isn’t smart; he is very smart. He can’t replace Ziggy’s musical connection with Daron, which is as important as the sexual connection. He’s not going to spark jealousy in the important area.

    There is at least one in the picture who can: Jordan. We know about the sexual tension between Jordan and Daron. Siince everyone on the planet (perhaps not Digger) is sexually attracted to Ziggy, we have to assume that Jordan feels something there. I do NOT expect Jordan to cause a problem for more reasons than there is space to list. As Ziggy noted, he’s not a temptation, more of a possibility.

    [Reply]

    sanders Reply:

    For once, I agree almost completely. I’m just not terribly concerned about Jordan since he seems almost as invested as Colin in Ziggy and Daron making their relationship work. Whatever else they are, I think Daron will always want to see Ziggy as HIS singer, and Ziggy will always see Daron as HIS guitarist, both of them seeing each other as their collaborator and co-creator above anyone else.

    [Reply]

    Posted 22 May 2016 at 12:10 am

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