How you conduct your life is your business. I firmly believe that. Your likes, dislikes, preferences and lifestyle is something I do not judge. Though I have to admit I was taken back a bit by an acquaintance a few years ago.
In the winter of 2004, not long after moving from Newark to Canton, I found a local watering hole to spend some time after leaving work every now and then. My shift was 3pm to 11:30pm, and not having cable, led me to finding a place to make some friends and have a beer or two. This ended up being Harmon's Pub at West Tuscarawas and Arlington in Canton.
Harmon's is a very cool place. Not big, but not really that small, great food and inexpensive beer ($2 Miller Lite, ALWAYS). This is a great place to sit and watch Sportscenter or an Ohio State game whenever possible. It is friendly and the patrons are equally as appealing. It was maybe the third or fourth time I had stopped by and I a was amazed that one of the bartenders who had seen me in line to buy a beer had a Miller Lite opened and waiting for me. I was able to skip the line, slap down my two bucks, take a seat and relax. Cool! It was like I was a regular on an episode of Cheers. They knew me without really knowing me. It made me feel good and, of course, I'm sure that's how successful businesses are run.
One night after work when summer rolled around I was nursing a beer and watching baseball when a group near me started a conversation. Shortly there after I joined them. When the night was coming to a close I exchanged phone numbers. I had found some friends, guys and girls who I could run around with in my new hometown.
One of them, Rocko ( I'm not sure if this was a nickname or not), was usually the one to drop me a line when they were going out. Throughout that summer I tagged along and we had some good times. I never thought anything more of it.
Maybe I should have.
One night we are all hanging out at Harmon's (a good Irish bar) and as the night was winding down our crew dwindled. Soon it was just Rocko and I, shooting the bull with the bartenders and wasting time. When I finally decided to call it a night Rocko asks me to hold one for a minute or two. As those near us seem to be out of earshot he tells me, with a sheepish look, that he's bisexual. "Uhh..well..okay. I have no problem with that," I say. I'm thinking its cool he's confided in me, but I'm not sure WHY he's telling me. He goes on to say the rest of our crew doesn't know and he'd like to keep it that way. I reply, "I can do that."
Before I say farewell for the night Rocko drops another bomb. He's told me this piece of information about him because...get this...he finds me attractive?! He's curious to know if I would be interested in making more of this "friendship". I'm not freaked out, though I'm definitely stunned. He could see from my blank stare that I did NOT see this coming.
He apologizes. I gather enough thoughts to utter a sentence or two and tell him he doesn't need to apologize. He was curious and needed to know, so naturally he had to ask (I think). I kindly tell him I'm flattered (sort of), but I'm heterosexual and don't waver from that. He wonders if he's just ruined a friendship and I tell him I don't hate him, I just don't "go" that way. He's satisfied that I'm okay with his lifestyle, though I'm still trying to make sense of what happened. At this time I had not had a real date in sometime and had been turned down for such activity by a few woman couple of weeks prior. I'm even thinking, "Do I look gay?" or "Am I giving off homosexual signals?"
Stupid I know, but all of us tend to over think somtimes.
We part ways and nothing comes of it as our group continues to hang out.
About a month later lightning struck a second time. Nearly the same scenario, Rocko again asks if I'd like to make more of our friendship. I'm thinking, "Dude, there's no magic potion that's going to make me change my mind!" I tell him, again, I don't roll that way. If that's his choice, cool, its his choice. But it is not mine, I'm sorry. This kind of ticked me off. Not because he "liked me", but because he had me thinking I was doing something (unbeknown to me) that was attracting men.
That was the last time we hung out. He and the rest of the group never called me again & vice versa. I was frustrated...I was having a hard time getting a date and meeting women, but I apparently had no problem attracting men! I kept looking for the a sign that was hidden somewhere telling people I was gay. It must have been a helluva hiding place. I couldn't find it.
A female friend of mine, after hearing this story, relayed to me that it is widely considered that if homosexual men find you attractive that is a very good indication that women, too, find you attractive. I don't know if she was feeding me load of crap, but if this were true I wanted to know who these women were and why I couldn't find them. Or, at least, why they were avoiding me.
I continued to swing by Harmon's every once in awhile, though I never did see Rocko and the others again. Now that I think about it, there may have been a reason why I was invited to hangout with them to begin with. And it had nothing to do with the fact they found me to be good company. It was just a ruse to get introduced to someone who was "interested". Whatever.
I did end up getting a date few weeks later and Heather, I think was her name, and we dated for a couple of months. It was nice. When that ended it wasn't long before I met another woman. And my initial thoughts were affirmed, I AM heterosexual and I do enjoy the company of women. Guys are cool...but only for sports, beer, road trips and running from police (on occasion).
This is a funny story now, but four years ago I was definitely frustrated. Not with Rocko or his sexual preference, but with my lack of a social life. There are phases we go through and we have to deal with them. How we handle those phases is up to us. Just don't do anything drastic that you will regret down the road. I didn't and I'm better for it.
Rocko, I hope you and your friends are doing well with whatever you chose to do and thanks for making my move to Canton eventful.
I'll never look at drinking a beer & watching Sportscenter at an Irish pub in the birthplace of professional football with a gay man the same ever again.