Birthday Debacle

I have never been big on celebrating my birthday. I much more enjoy casual gatherings. In years past, I have notified friends of my own plans to spend my birthday and invited them to accompany me.

My 30th was no different. I told everyone that I would be heading to Central Park for a picnic to enjoy the beautiful weather, encouraging them to join me.

From the onset, CK was not happy that one of my ex’s and one of my best friends who also happens to be gay made the guest list.

Smiles, a slightly older man I “dated” for a mere three months, reached out to grab coffee a few months earlier. This was very out of the blue. I found it far-fetched that this meeting would be of a romantic nature. I agreed to meet him, but rather than stirring the pot, until I knew the topic of the meeting, I chose not to tell CK.

It turned out that Smiles wanted my help in making a proposal for a new initiative he was bringing to the city of New York. I was excited by the project and agreed to work with him, but it was caveated with the condition that CK was ok with it. When I got home that night, I ran the idea by CK. Begrudgingly, after much conversation on the topic, he agreed I could work with Smiles. I reassured him that even when Smiles and I were dating, we only had sex three times, let alone that happening now.

When I was making the guest list for my birthday gathering, it only felt natural that Smiles and one of my best (and one of very few gay) friends, Boston be a part of it. The night before the picnic, CK and I got into somewhat of an argument about it. He made an underhanded comment regarding the matter I didn’t appreciate but tried to ignore rather than dignify with a response.

The morning of the picnic, CK told me he invited a friend from work. I responded, “Sure. The more the merrier!” The irony of all this is that I learned the his coworker is gay the minute my ass touched the blanket in Sheep’s Meadow, and not a minute before. I’d heard his name time and time again. He told me how they started going to Cross Fit together. They were getting lunch together. But, he never mentioned the fact that he was gay. That detail seemed to slip his mind, but wouldn’t soon leave mine.

When we arrived at the park, it was a beautiful day, and friends were coming from near and far. I was in such good spirits and thrilled to spend the afternoon with my closest friends with such great weather.

I have never been very good at introductions. It is one of my biggest social faux pas. I try to be better about it, but historically, I fail. This day was no different. Many people were arriving at the same time and everyone wanted to chat with me. I failed to introduce CK to a few friends as they arrived. I was in conversation, and he was as well. But, I should have done a much better job introducing. I think it stung a little more when I failed to introduce him to both Smiles and Boston. He’d heard lots about them but never met them in person.

As the afternoon progressed, the wine flowed. None more so than for CK. He actually began to flirt very heavily with Boston. Let me remind you, that Boston is ONLY a friend and nothing more. We are each other’s sanity check. That said, I think CK felt he was going to teach me a lesson. I noticed the flirting, the comments, the fact that he was laying his head in the small of Boston’s back while Boston awkwardly appeased… But, I chose to ignore all of this and have a good time.

What I couldn’t ignore was the scene that followed shortly after. I am NOT big on PDA. I do not like making out in front of people. Those are meant to be private exchanges, not exhibitions. CK made it clear that he had something to prove. He mounted my lap and began shoving his tongue down my throat. The more I resisted, the harder he pushed. I noticed the awkwardness on the countenance of my friends’ faces. I finally had to literally shove him off and say, “Enough!”

At this point, CK was sufficiently drunk, and this of course did not thrill him. Things did calm down. I wasn’t going to let CK ruin what was turning out to be the best birthday I’d ever had. Or was I.

I did my best to deal with the situation that was CK, but there was only so much I could do. When CK asked if he could go to his coworker’s apartment to smoke, I was so tired of him, my immediate reply was, “Sure!”

I didn’t trust CK one bit with this coworker now that I knew a little more about him and seen them interact, but I needed him gone! He was making everyone uncomfortable, including myself.

Of course I wasn’t 100% sober, but I think it was in that moment that I had a serious moment of clarity. Before we left the apartment, CK asked if he could bring some pot to the lawn. I requested he not. I could see the disappointment and confusion on his face, but we’d fought about this very topic for so many months. I wasn’t giving in on this one. This was my birthday, and I didn’t want to risk anyone getting a ticket or arrested. We were already breaking the law with wine in solo cups. We didn’t need to do anything to draw anymore more attention to ourselves.

It was in this simple request that I learned CK’s true nature. He was always going to look out for numero uno above all else. It didn’t matter that the gathering was for his boyfriend’s birthday. He wanted to smoke, so that’s what he was going to do.

While CK was off with his head in a cloud of smoke, it was as if someone swept away all the clouds in that singular moment. We’d been through so much, and I’d always kept hope that we’d be together forever. But, in that moment, I realized we would not be. It was the straw (or joint) that broke the camel’s back.

After we got home, I spent a lot of time thinking. It wasn’t an easy decision. A lot went into it, and I’ll get into the turmoil of my decision much more in-depth in another post on another day…

 

So now that you know the end, let me go back to bring you up to speed. In the past my blog was very chronological. Now, however, it will be topical. Mainly because it’s been a while and I don’t remember nearly as many of the details when I was writing consistently. I hope you can follow along!

 

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Trust

Merriam-Webster defines trust as: Assure reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something — one in which confidence is placed — dependence on something future or contingent (hope).

The irony of me starting with the definition is that I don’t believe trust can ever be defined or codified. Trust is relative. It’s an fragile, unspoken contract between two individuals.

Everyone approaches trust in a different way. Some give it all, and then slowly tighten the reins. Some start with no trust until it is earned. Neither approach is wrong, as every situation and individual experiences trust in different ways.

From the beginning, I never fully trusted CK. After all, our first interaction was over Grindr. We started chatting one morning, and that same evening after messaging him on my way home, he propositioned me with sex. Of course he didn’t realize it was me in that instance, but all the more reason for my sensors to be heightened.

I’m a very monogamous individual. Cleary, if you’ve read any of my posts you know that when I’m in not in a relationship I have my fun with multiple men. But as soon as I start dating someone, I flip the monogamous switch.

CK and I were dating a few weeks before I conveyed to him my desire to move into monogamy. I didn’t trust that he was only with me, and I somewhat forced him to make a choice. Verbally, he chose me, but I quickly learned that his words were just that. Words. His actions were speaking louder than words. Because of my lack of trust in CK, I was looking at his phone every once in a while. I know how wrong this is, and I’m not proud of it. But, I also don’t regret it.

One month after we met, I met CK’s mother. I took this to mean something. I thought it was a BIG step. Sure, it was fast, but she lived in Miami, so I went with it. Who knew the next time the opportunity would arise? Apparently, CK didn’t see this as quite the milestone I did. In looking through his texts, I learned he was not yet being monogamous. I didn’t end things then and there and accepted this reality because I did somewhat force monogamy upon him before he was ready. But, I did learn that CK was lying to me. He was quickly losing my trust.

Throughout the entire two years we dated, small things ate away at my trust in him. He lied and betrayed my trust on a consistent basis. I would explain to him, “I notice everything. You’re probably not going to get away with it, so it’s best just to be honest with me.” That didn’t seem to matter. He would lie about the most insignificant things. So I always wondered, “If he’s lying about these insignificant things, what else is he lying about?”

There were times I would “test” him to see if he’d tell the truth. I already knew the answer before I asked the question. Inevitably, he would still lie straight to my face. Even when I would give him a second chance to be honest, the lies kept coming until I proved to him I knew he wasn’t being truthful.

This relationship fully illustrated to me how trust is paramount in every relationship. Without it, a divide is inevitable. I don’t think he ever fully trusted me either; otherwise I feel he would have let himself be more vulnerable and open with me. Trust is a two-way street. It’s a mutual contract. It thrives on balance.

When I decided to finally end things, trust was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I celebrated my 30th birthday with a Central Park picnic and all my closest friends. Even after an explanation, he pitched a fit over me inviting Smiles and Boston. For starters, I’d never been intimate with Boston other than a Miami beach make out. And, Smiles and I certainly didn’t have the strongest track record for intimacy when we were dating for those three months. He had nothing to worry about on either accounts. However, at the gathering, he got drunk and made a scene. Furthermore, he and his new best friend from work, who also happens to be gay, disappeared for about an hour when he asked if they could go to his place to smoke.

Now that exercised my trust muscle. But, all that’s a story for another day…

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Cohabitation

Moving in with a significant other certainly comes with its set of challenges. The key to overcoming these challenges is compromise. That being said, when you have two very strong personalities coming together, compromise is no easy task.

CK and I moved into our apartment the weekend of hurricane Sandy. When we learned of the impending storm, I insisted we stay in Hoboken because it’s attached to the mainland. Manhattan is an island, and I feared being stranded. At least in Hoboken we could get out to my parents’ house or a friend’s place further inland. Furthermore, the majority of contents for our new apartment resided in Hoboken.

Later, I would learn in a sharp twist of irony, CK’s apartment never lost power, Internet, TV, etc., and his neighborhood didn’t flood. And don’t think CK didn’t throw it in my face that he wanted to stay at his place on the 52nd floor.

When the water finally subsided, we needed to begin moving into our new home. It was literally just around the corner from where I was living, but that didn’t matter as we were moving boxes via hand truck past piles of sewage and gasoline soaked trash.

In the middle of moving, three of my friends showed up out of nowhere to help. I was fried from the stress the storm and having to move, so when I saw them all walk through my door, I was moved to tears. I realized then how awesome my friends are. It meant so much to me that they would think to come help unsolicited after having no electricity or running water themselves. I never forgot what they did for me that day, and when I was the first one to get power back, I invited them over to shower, watch TV, surf the Internet, etc. We were so disconnected from the outside world. We had no idea what was actually going on.

After moving as much as possible without the use of a truck, we only left with furniture. My friends drove us to U-Haul to pick up a truck and grab a hot breakfast at McDonald’s on the way. Let me tell you. McDonald’s never tasted so good!

CK and I transported all my furniture from one apartment to the other without the aid of an elevator. When we were finished, the sun was beginning to set, but we needed to head into the city to collect all CK’s belongings. Luckily, we’d packed as much as possible well before the storm hit, so there wasn’t much of that left to do. But, we still didn’t finish until about 1:00 am.

The time finally came to actually begin living in the our home together, and that meant decisions needed to be made. We fought about everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything.

Most of the items in the apartment were mine. I take a lot of pride in my home and invest heavily in the comforts of it. I think CK seriously resented that. He had very little to contribute, and much of it did not fit the space or match in style. There were many objects that were not necessary, but because he had them, he felt the need to find a home for it. Many of these objects, as well as my own, began to develop magic powers, as they would move around on a daily basis “of their own volition.”

One night after work, as we were hanging pictures, we were literally fighting and screaming at each other over inches. I wish I were exaggerating.

The atmosphere in our new home quickly grew toxic. Because of all the stress, our sex lives were nonexistent. There were a few nights we fought so bad, the second bedroom became an asset. Yes. We had a second bedroom. I learned a great lesson from an old roommate of mine. Get a second bedroom so you each have your space. And, if things don’t work out, you don’t BOTH have to move. I’m pretty sure I owe him a few rounds of beers for that little tidbit of advice.

I knew the fighting wouldn’t last forever. I felt we could get back to normal once we were settled and everything was set up, but that wouldn’t happen over night.

I take a majority of the responsibility for the fighting and the lack of inroads made. I am not the best at compromising, and there were a lot of instances where I should have given in or backed down, but I didn’t. Looking back, I actually believe this was when I began to develop and acute ability to manipulate situations to ensure my interests were met above his. Perhaps it’s the Taurus in me (I don’t actually believe this). I am rather stubborn. This living experience has taught me to be far more self-aware of my stubborness moving forward so I don’t make the same mistake.

I knew we just needed to get over the hump. CK wasn’t so optimistic. It was this toxic environment CK attributed as the root of his philandering. “I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen with us. We were fighting about everything,” he remarked.

I should have learned then and there he didn’t have what it took to stick out a monogamous relationship. Literally, the writing (and a few extra nail holes) was on the wall…

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The End of an Era

Two years ago I said goodbye to you, the readers of this blog to start an adventure with the man you know as Superman or CK. It seemed there was nothing we couldn’t conquer. We were ready to take on the world.

In order to respect his privacy, I agreed to stop writing this blog. I needed to prioritize my relationship over this community because he was incredibly important to me. Many of my readers still reach out to me and request that I do a follow-up piece to give everyone an update. After nearly two years, I’m here to give you what you want. Please be patient as I have far less time to write than I used to…

To start, I’ll have to begin at the end. After just over two years of dating, CK and I parted ways. A lot happened between my last post and the end of our adventure, so let me catch you up on what you’ve missed…

After dating for six months, CK and I moved in together against my friends’ advice and maybe my own better judgment. He had a terrible living situation in New York City, and I was tired of living with my roommates. I was also tired of having to commute to see each other. Moving in would make life so much simpler on top of saving a boat load of money for our future. Little did we know that Hurricane Sandy would also be joining us in our move.

After surviving a natural disaster without killing each other, we barely survived moving in together. We fought EVERY night about things literally as insignificant as inches when hanging pictures on the wall. We were not in a good place, but we eventually got through it.

What I never expected was that CK would take that as an opportunity to explore other options. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but I really began to question my trust in CK. He never fully had it, but alarms were going off in my head.

One night when he was in the shower, I searched through the text messages in his phone. What I found broke my heart and made me feel like my stomach turned inside out. Obviously not my finest moment, as I invaded his privacy, but I can’t say I regret it after finding messages and pictures he was exchanging with another man. I wasn’t sure what to do with the information I learned at the time, so I did nothing.

The following night, he was meeting an old friend in the city after work. I had other plans, so I told him to go without me. He came home rather drunk late that night, and after telling me about his dinner, he tried to have sex with me. I felt sick knowing what I knew. I questioned if this dinner ever even happened. Did he use this as an excuse to see this other guy?

I could only imagine the other guy all over him, and I was so disgusted. I turned him down. He hopped in the shower, and I made the choice to look at his texts again to see if my suspicions were right that things progressed further with this man. I found exactly what I didn’t want to find. All the exchanges led to my conclusion they had sex that night in some way shape or form.

I was crushed. When I started dating CK, I made one request — “Please don’t cheat on me.” I told him about my baggage regarding cheating, and I wasn’t sure I could deal with it again. He betrayed me in the worst way possible. I would never be able to trust him again.

I cried, and my head was spinning. I composed myself, and when he came back out of the shower, I began to ask general questions to see if he would come clean. Question after question, he lied, until I was fed up. I told him we were due for a round of testing. I knew that would send him into a panic, wondering if he was caught. He casually agreed, but I could see the panic in his eyes.

I felt trapped. We had only been living together for two weeks. I wanted out, but I didn’t know how I could end things. I felt embarrassed and crushed and a flurry of emotions I can’t begin to describe. We moved in together way too soon. I didn’t know how I could face my friends and tell them they were all right. My hope and pride got in the way of better judgment.

The next morning, I checked his phone once again. I figured at this point, I’d already crossed that line — No turning back now. I read the message he sent the man he’d been cheating on me with: “You’re clean right? My boyfriend wants us to get tested now.” This message painted to perfect picture in my mind of what transpired between them. I was livid. Not only was he betraying my trust, but he was also gambling with my life.

That night after work, I called him out on the fact that he was cheating on me. In his mind, this came out of left field and there was no way I could know the truth. I gave him every opportunity to come clean, but he never did. He insisted he did NOT cheat on me.

I knew he was lying. I had proof. I told him I knew what was going on. When he asked how I came to this conclusion, I admitted to going through his phone. He turned things around on me, but I wasn’t going to stand for that. I admitted what I did was a breach of trust and apologized, but I wasn’t going to let him make this be about me. He admitted to being inappropriate with this man, but insisted he didn’t cheat on me.

Beyond the betrayal, what hurt even more was that he was willing to risk my life just to get his jollies. He tried to have unprotected sex with me the same night he was having unprotected sex with this stranger. I explained this to him through tears and pain, but it never had the impact I’d hoped it would have.

An entire week went by without me speaking a single word to him. Eventually, he apologized for straying, but I knew I could never trust him again, specifically since he could never admit that he did indeed cheat on me. It would take a year and a half before he finally did not deny cheating on me when accused of it, let alone admitting to it himself.

For years, I told no one about this. I held on to this and tried to bury it down deep. Deep where it would fester and grow until I couldn’t take it anymore.

But this… This is just the beginning…

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Stay Tuned — An Update is Coming Soon!

Curious what’s been going on? Been missing your One Gay At A Time fix? I’m here to give you what you’ve all been asking for. An update is releasing soon!

After almost two years, I have some major news to share with all of you, my devoted readers and any new ones who have stumbled upon my blog over its years of collecting dust.

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Thank You

Dear readers,

In April 2011 I began chronicling my life when I came out as a gay 25 year-old man. Since then, I’ve shared some of my most intimate stories with you. Stories about love and heartbreak. Stories about one-night-stands and STDs. I’ve recounted my coming out to my family and friends and so many more.

I began using One Gay At A Time as an outlet to share my feelings. I had no idea it would blossom into an entire community of followers who shared their stories and feelings as well. That has become one of my proudest accomplishments. At its peak, One Gay At A Time drew in over 1,700 visitors in one day. While I was flattered that many people cared about what I had to say, I realized it was simply because others shared such a similar story to mine.

I hope I have been able to help my readers get through their issues knowing they were not alone, but I am no longer able to keep up with the blog. My private life has grown rather busy as you can tell from my lack of posts. I do not think myself so important that readers are still waiting on the edge of their seats after so long. I do however realize I need to be realistic and fair by telling you not to expect posts to continue.

If you are coming to this blog for the first time today, I encourage you to start from the beginning. There is a plethora of content I hope you can learn from, or at the very least, will be entertained by.

I do hope to be able to continue to use this platform in the future when my schedule allows for it, but until then I have to say so long.

I will be checking my emails as usual, so if you’d like to reach out to me directly, I welcome your emails, and I will respond in a timely fashion.

Thank you for your time and dedication.

Much love,
O.G.A.A.T.

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The Next Chapter

Two years ago, I started this blog. I began writing because I felt alone. I knew there had to be other gay men out there who were looking for the same thing I was, and I wanted a way to connect with them.

grindrAt the time, I just ended my first gay relationship, and I found myself in very unchartered waters. I was already out to close friends, but not publicly. Because I had so few gay friends and a strong aversion to gay bars, I had to find a mate digitally. I began serial dating, at one point going on four dates in four days — And thus, One Gay At A Time was born.

Since the beginning, I have gone on MANY dates and put myself in many situations well outside my comfort zone. I have not only grown more comfortable in my own skin, but I’ve also grown up as a gay man. I got all the hookups out of my system and began searching for a meaningful, long-term relationship.

This blog began as an open forum diary of the daily occurrences I encountered navigating the gay world. I told my side of the story honestly in hopes that others out there would be able to relate, comment and most importantly, realize they are not alone.

The time has come for the next chapter of my life and for this blog. For quite some time I’ve been blogging about CK (aka Clark Kent or Superman). You’ve gotten to know him through my eyes in the early stages of our relationship. It’s been some time since I’ve blogged, and I apologize for leaving you, my readers in the lurch. I do not mean to abandon the small community I’ve worked so hard to foster, but I’ve been struggling with the next chapter of the blog.

When I first told CK about the blog, he was very open to and even grew excited about the idea of my writing our relationship. Over time, as you could probably understand, his excitement waned, and we began to argue about the content of the blog.

I had to make a choice between the blog and my man. It’s quite obvious which I chose. As a result, I will no longer be blogging about the specifics of my relationship with CK. However, in lieu of continuing to finish our story in a daily dairy format, let me catch you up on what has happened since July. Here are some of the highlights…

In July, CK joined my family for our annual beach vacation. While I went for the entire week, he only joined us for a few days. It was the first time we’d spent an extended period of time apart, and with my trust/cheating baggage, it was a true test of my sanity. I was thrilled and relieved when he finally arrived. It was also nice that he would finally get to spend some real-time getting to know my parents.

In early August, I traveled to Miami, CK’s birthplace to surprise his family with a visit to celebrate the birthdays of his two beautiful nephews (turning 1 and 2 only a week apart). I felt incredibly special taking this trip with CK. I was meeting his ENTIRE extended family. Before this point, I’d only met his mother. I was welcomed into the family with open arms and came to grow strong bonds with them over just a handful of days. This was unchartered territory for both of us, as I’d never been brought home to meet the family by anyone other than my high school girlfriend, and he’d never brought a man home to meet everyone before. It could not have worked out better!

Around Labor Day, CK and I went on week-long vacation to the Hamptons with 15 of my friends and family. While there, our relationship grew very strained. I felt he was trying too hard to impress my friends. I wanted him to be himself so all of them would come to love the man I knew, not the man I felt he was trying to be for them. By the end of the week, I reached my breaking point. I was so stressed out from organizing the vacation and ensuring everyone was happy that I made myself miserable, and I took it out on the person closest to me. In the penultimate moment of the trip, one night we not only exchanged words but also fists and shoves, as my closest friends and sister witnessed the lowest moment of our relationship.

It took a lot of time for CK and I to figure things out. This wasn’t the first time our relationship reached physicality, but I hoped it was the last. It also took a long time for things to return to normal between CK, me and my circle of friends. My sister wasn’t speaking to me for over a month and my friends had semi-ostracized me from typical gatherings. I burned a lot of bridges on that trip, and I am still working to rebuild them today. You can expect to read about my experiences and feelings dealing with issues such as physical violence in a relationship as one of the topics I will cover in coming posts.

In September, CK and I found an apartment in Hoboken to call our own. We moved in together in the midst of Hurricane Sandy’s wake on November 2. Although the experience of moving immediately following a hurricane is incredibly overwhelming, we are both stronger as a result of the experience. In my experience, moving in with a lover is unlike sharing a space with any other. You’ll certainly be reading about my experiences and the things I’ve learned from this experience as well.

After Sandy exhausted my last modicum of energy, I decided I was too tired to shave my upper lip. CK and I both decided to raise awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer by growing mustaches for Movember. I proudly raised over $500 for charity as a result of my stache, and I was thrilled when we both shaved them off — We both looked like pedophiles.

For the first time in my life, I had someone to take home to meet my family for Thanksgiving. Before venturing home, I sent my extended maternal family an email to get the awkwardness out of the way. You’ll be pleased to know my family welcomed him with open arms. I imagine coming out to extended family creates a lot of anxiety for man, as it did for me, so I hope sharing my experiences will encourage more to share the truth with the ones they love.

When I returned to Hoboken after Thanksgiving, preparations began immediately for what would have been my Sixth Annual Holiday Bash. This year, it became Our First Annual Holiday Bash. I finally had someone to share the hosting duties with, making it extra special.

Although CK and I spent Christmas apart, after all the festivities with my family, I hopped on a flight down to Miami to spend the rest of the holiday season and New Years Eve with my man and his family. CK’s sister and brother-in-law planned a trip with their two boys to Disney World for two days. After a little persuading, I convinced CK we should join them. I preferred Disney to a raucous gay party any day, and it was truly magical to see Disney World through the eyes of a two-year-old.

In February, CK and I took a romantic trip to Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Although it seems we can’t go anywhere without having some kind of quarrel like an old married couple, the trip was amazing and couldn’t have come at a better time. We went ice skating, snow shoeing, swimming, hiking, and much more. It was a perfect escape for both of us to get out of the city and away from the bustle of it all after the holidays.

In between, there have been countless brunches, parties, trips, nights out, Broadway shows, fights… Oh yea, and plenty of sex — Can’t forget the sex! Overall, things have been going well for us. You have good days and bad days, but you have to realize the bad days are just there so you appreciate the good ones all the more. I am thrilled to announce, this past Saturday, CK and I celebrated our one-year anniversary at the restaurant we went to on our first date, Frankies Spuntino 570. Although we waited nearly an hour, the evening was perfect, and I look forward to many more years together.

Although I won’t be detailing the specifics of my relationship going forward, I hope to share with you what I have learned along the way. It’s not easy being in a relationship, but then again, the things that are worth it never really are.

To my most dedicated readers who haven’t let me lack of posting stop them from commenting words of support on my blog, thank you. You are what has motivated me to get back into this once again. I feel like many of you have integrated my writing into your daily routines, and I have left you with your morning coffee in hand and no reading material. You will not see the frequency of posts you may have grown accustomed in the past, but I still hope you find time in your lives for One Gay At A Time.

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Visit From the Sugar Plumm Fairies

We all know that red roses are the queen of Valentine’s Day, and chocolate is king. If you read my blog, you know just how much I like chocolate. Although I never heard of them before this weekend, I am thrilled to introduce Sugar and Plumm, the Purveyors of Yumm!

Chef Pichet Ong spoke to our intimate group about the delicious creations they are whipping up. Perhaps best known as a judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts, award-winning corporate pastry Chef Ong is the whimsical creator behind the sweet and savory confections of Sugar and Plumm. He combines the fond flavors of his childhood with modern cooking techniques to create culinary offerings that are seasonal, pure, light, and delightfully experimental, yet nostalgic.

After introducing us to the brand, he was kind enough to treat us to their For The Love of Chocolate gorgeously packaged box of some of their finest chocolate creations. It is an amazing assortment of hand-crafted artisan chocolates with origins from around the world. This box included two white chocolate blueberry and six pure dark Mexican chocolate ganache. However, the pleasant surprises didn’t end there. Hidden below were chocolates with flavors and aromas consisting of raspberry, vanilla, coconut, hazelnut praline, jasmine tea infused ganache, ginger, milk chocolate and pure dark Peruvian. On top of allowing us to sample some of their finest chocolate creations, we were also give a pair of their brightly colored, delicate French macaroons. It was all I could do to keep myself from digging in immediately.

When I untied the ribbon and opened my brightly colored box, I was blown away by the impeccably pristine chocolates before me. They were almost too pretty to eat. Luckily, that would not stop me. What did stop me was the thought of my boyfriend waiting for me at home. There’s something incredibly romantic about fine artisan chocolates that makes it sinful not to share with a loved one.

On our anniversary, the day before Valentine’s day, I told my boyfriend I had a surprise for him. I told him to close his eyes and open his mouth. After a bit of trepidation, he complied, and boy was he glad he did. His face lit up from ear to ear as he savored his first bite of the dark chocolate ganache-filled heart. I sampled the white chocolate blueberry-filled heart. I’d never tasted anything so complex and exquisite. It was heaven. I was reminded of the first time blueberry wine touched my lips, and I had to have more. The combination of blueberry and white chocolate was pure genius. I forced myself to put the box away so I could savor these the little bits of chocolate heaven for a few days; I simply did not want the experience to end!

There was no way I could possibly ignore the fresh macaroons waiting the ultimate demise. Although there were two, I wanted the best of both worlds. As it’s rather impossible to split a macaroon, I simply bit half for myself and passed the other half to my boyfriend. We made long extended moans as we enjoyed these incredible indulgences, and that was just the vanilla macaroon. I repeated our ritual with the strawberry poppy-seed, and the moans of happiness only grew louder. The flavors transported me back to the beach with my parents snacking on strawberry Twizzlers.

It was amazing how incredibly nostalgic Sugar and Plumm’s confectionaries were. How could so much be contained in such a small morsel?

I was shocked to learn that Sugar and Plumm serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and every craving in between. I was expecting a purveyor of sweets, but they create works of art from homemade ice cream and macaroons, to house-smoked salmon and Berkshire pulled pork, our team of master chefs, bakers, and chocolatiers are purveyors of all things delicious and delightful. The bake shop even makes everything handmade, from scratch. The only problem you’ll find is deciding what to order (and possibly that top button on your pants).

Although it’s too late to place an order for Valentine’s Day delivery, if you’re looking for that perfect way to show the special person in your life just how much they mean to you, this is a perfect for Valentine’s Day — Or any of the other 364 days of the year. The have gift boxes for every budget and an in-store experience you won’t soon forget! This Upper West Side spot with Parisian charm and a downtown vibe is sure to knock the socks off anyone who enters and will certainly not disappoint!

For more information, visit the on Facebook.

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Celebrating the Gift of Love

What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? Whether you embrace the holiday like the warmth of a fireplace or avoid it like the plague, you have to admit, you will always enjoy those little cocoa bits of heaven. From garish heart-shaped boxes to small delicate boxes to simple pink foil-wrapped factory-processed milk chocolates — We all love chocolate (unless of course you have some rare and exotic chocolate allergy). Chocolate makes everything better, especially when coupled with the right companion.

Move over peanut butter! I’ve found chocolate’s new best friend — Casa Noble’s “El Beso de Luz” Margarita. I can see you now. Your furrowed brow and head tilted to the side. Yes. Chocolate and margaritas. But, not just any chocolate or premixed margaritas. I myself would have never thought to put the two together before Single Edition’s Sweets in New York event, but now I will never think of a margarita again without thinking of chocolate.

No matter how you take ’em, nothing quite warms a winter night and brightens up the gloom and gray like a margarita. And, we’ve already established chocolate makes everything better. These two powers combined will warm you from the soul on outward, making any day special and unforgettable.

Casa Noble is an ultra premium tequila meticulously crafted from choice blue agave plants. Employing only traditional methods, slow-cooking the rich agave piñas for 38 hours, they use only the agave hearts to extract their sweet nectar. Their fermentation process is 100% natural and is followed by triple distillation, resulting in a tequila so pure and full of agave flavor it has globally elevated the concept of tequila to new heights.

When the “El Beso de Luz” Margarita first passed Carlos Santana’s lips, he likened it to the first time he fell in love, giving the cocktail its name in tribute to his wife, Cindy. Mixing Casa Noble’s tequila with lime, orange, and Licor 43’s hints of citrus, fruit juices, vanilla and aromatic herbs and spices (43 ingredients in all), this mystical concoction is an experience for the senses worthy of Aphrodite herself.

Pairing that with artisanal chocolates from Essence By Chocolate creates a very unique and sublime tasting experience. As if by Cupid’s own hand, pairing these powerhouses of taste in tandem will leave you taking delight in luscious aromas and flavors.

After carefully preparing our cocktail, my boyfriend and I cozied up in front of the fireplace. Starting with a few sips of my margarita, I was blown away by the freshness and lightness. Before the flavors dissipated, I took a generous bite of the first chocolate. I had the pleasure of sampling the Mango, Chile Pepper & Crystal Tequila Infused in Milk and White Chocolate, the Resposado Tequila and Caramel Infused in Dark & Milk Chocolate and the Black Cherry & Anejo Tequila Infused in Dark Chocolate Dome. Alternating sips with bites until we finished, we were making sounds normally reserved for one’s bedroom. We enjoyed the symphony of flavors stimulating every inch of my tongue (And then we mixed a second drink).

This Valentine’s Day, what could be a more appropriate tribute to love than cuddling up with two glasses of this romantic drink and a box of distinctly paired chocolates?

And, should you find yourself not particularly enjoying this lover’s holiday? I think the citrus and vanilla notes, complimented by the knowledge that you’re indulging in one of Mexico’s finest exports will remedy even the sourest of moods. Top that off with some of the finest chocolates I’ve ever tasted, and you’ll be transported to your own personal heaven.

The recipe for the aforementioned cocktail:

“El Beso de Luz” Margarita

2 oz. Casa Noble Crystal

1/2 oz. Licor 43

1 oz. lime juice

1/4 orange squeeze & drop

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Match.com: Singles in America

Continuing with this week’s Valentine’s theme, I want to highlight a study I had the privilege of learning about this weekend while attending Sweets in the City, an event hosted by Single Edition.

107 million Americans are single, and match.com is trying to understand them. Under the guidance of Dr. Helen Fisher for the third year in-a-row, match.com has commissioned a national relationship study, Singles in America. After asking 200 questions to a perfect cross-section of the U.S., they learned fascinating new things you may or may not have heard in the news as of late.

I was shocked to learn both men and women judge each other first by their teeth, followed by grammar. It’s refreshing to know that in this day and age, communication is still important. Still, I’m surprised to see teeth topped the list (as well as proud of my pearly whites).

As a gay man who wants to one day get married, it was also refreshing to hear that commitment is back in style — 90% of those open to marriage believe they can stay married to the same person forever.

As Dr. Fisher reported the results, she was most-surprised by the increased emergence of friends with benefits. As a 28-year-old, I didn’t find this particularly surprising, having had my own FWB relationships.

In related results, virginity is no longer a core value in the dating world — If anything, it’s an obstacle. Gone are the days where the first instance of intercourse between couples occurs on the night marital consummation. I think it’s only natural that people want to test-drive the car before they buy it these days, even though women are less likely to admit it.

Sexting was a particularly interesting territory in the digital age. Although most singles believe sexting could jeopardize their careers or privacy, they still partook in this social taboo, proving love conquers all (including reason).

JustMarriedGayMenMy favorite statistic was that gay men fell in love more often than anyone else. We were more romantic, more experienced in “love at first sight” and more likely to be “deeply in love” with a long-term partner. Lastly, we had sex with the same frequency as other singles, finally proving the stereotypical perception of gay promiscuity is outdated.

I’m curious if this is due to wider acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage, or if this has evolved naturally. Dr. Fisher made a point about not making a point of discussing homosexual responses as a separate entity because there are very few differences from the heterosexual responses. We’re not all that different after all.

The most shocking results were that women desired independence and men sought commitment. Single men fall in love faster and want to “move in” together sooner, while women still want to hold onto their girls’ night out.

Hear Dr. Helen Fisher’s own interpretation of the facts from Saturday’s event below:

This post was sponsored by the fine folks at match.com. Be sure to check out all the fun, fresh video clips at Singles in America.

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