Posts Tagged stranger

The Perfect Ending on a Cloudy Day

Saturday morning, I woke up to CK’s lips caressing mine with a gentle kiss. “Morning baby,” he whispered. As my eyes opened and slowly adjusted, his face came into focus and a smile grew on my face. What a great way to wake up!

NYCSkylineAfter taking my sweet old time getting out of bed, I made my way to the kitchen to start making us coffee and breakfast. We planned to hit the beach for the day, but our coffee wasn’t the only thing with clouds in it. I realized trekking out to Long Beach wasn’t worth it if the weather wasn’t going to shape up. So, instead of having cereal, I cooked us eggs and pancakes.

CK asked if there was anything he could do to help as he wrapped his arms around me from behind. “No. I think I have it covered,” I responded.

While I didn’t need his help in creating the food we were going to eat, I was hoping he would keep me company while I did it. However, while I was cracking eggs, he was off in the corner tweeting, Instagramming, GetGluing, and emailing away. This was a point of contention between us. At times, I felt he put more importance on his virtual friends and followers than he did with the man who was physically present at the moment. When I asked him a question, and it fell on deaf ears. I started to feel unappreciated. I felt like making breakfast for us was my duty. It was simply expected of me.

PhoneBusinessAttireI asked him, once again, to be more present and put the phone down. I pointed out how often he was glued to his phone. Even though I understood how important social media was to him, I felt overshadowed by it. Of course, he responded quite defensively, and an argument ensued.

This continued for some time before he used the same phrase I heard on Friday: “Do you really want me, or do you want some changed version of me?” I reiterated for him how much I loved him and how I was not trying to change him. There were so many inherent qualities he possessed I loved about him, but there were also a few behaviors by which I felt disrespected. This was something new for both of us, and we were both learning what it means to be in a substantial relationship.

Instead of diving into another world while I cooked his breakfast, perhaps he could have sat at the counter and engaged with me. I know I’m sound like an unappreciated housewife, but at the time, that’s exactly how I felt.

PhoneScreenTextingIn an isolated incident, this would have been nothing. However, I’m a very analytical person, and I notice patterns, sometimes in their infancy stages. I didn’t want this to become a typical behavior. We’ve all seen it in movies — The dad who doesn’t engage with his family because he’s glued to his blackberry putting out fires for work. I wanted him to take the time to separate out the noise. I wasn’t asking him to give up his virtual world. I was just asking him to be conscientious of when and where he engaged. Obviously, I have my own social media accounts to manage, but I never put them before the people I am with in real-time, especially him.

I’d been on the other side of this paradigm. Before I met CK, when I went out to straight bars with my friends, I was often engaging with others on Grindr. My friends complained I wasn’t present, but I explained how that was the trade-off for spending time with them in places I was much less likely to meet a man. Looking back, I can see how insulting it can be to be physically with someone while mentally, they are in a virtual world.

The fight grew and grew much bigger than the initial sentiment merited. I tried to calm things and explain I wasn’t looking for a fight. I was simply trying to point out something I didn’t appreciate so he could do something about. I was trying to communicate. I didn’t want him to get defensive, and I wasn’t looking to take the offensive. In time, hopefully these situations wouldn’t escalate like this. I was trying to lengthen my fuse, while he was learning to deal with the enigma that is myself.

Diner BreakfastEventually, cooler heads prevailed, and we sat to eat our breakfast. He thanked me for making breakfast with a kiss.

Since the weather was far from motivating, we spent a majority of the day on the couch watching Game of Thrones and fooling around. Our ever-healthy libidos were calling out to be quenched as well. Fooling around soon turned into more vigorous exercises.

The front of my apartment is nearly all windows. This doesn’t exactly allow for privacy unless the shades are drawn. I didn’t want to interrupt the moment by closing the shades, and I knew it would only feed CK’s exhibitionist side to leave them open. Self-consciously, I glanced out the window and noticed a woman across the street. I had a feeling she’d seen us and tried to decipher whether or not she was continuing to watch us. I couldn’t decide either way, and I was far more distracted by the gorgeous man in front of me than the stranger across the street. If she wanted to watch, let her. All this commenced with a climax, and me taking an afternoon nap on top of him.

When we woke, I continued with my plans to bake a few pies. This time, when CK asked if he could help, I welcomed his assistance with open arms. Together, we made two pies, torturing ourselves with the delicious smells coming from the oven as they baked. We engaged in Instagram together, taking pictures of our masterpieces and uploading them together. At least our heated conversation earlier that morning was finally bearing fruit.

AnthonyDavidsThat night, to properly celebrate three months together and make up for the previous night, we decided to hit up a restaurant I’d been dying to go to for six years, Anthony Davids. It was always difficult to get into because there was usually a line of people waiting for a table. We didn’t have any other pressing plans, so we decided to give it a shot.

We were seated in the coziest table in the joint. The ambiance was already setting the perfect mood for the night. All the fighting and bickering from earlier in the week slowly disappeared from my consciousness. Our stellar waitress opened the Malbec we brought with us, and CK proposed a toast. “Here’s to the beginning of our 2nd quarter,” he boasted. It was a very cute sentiment, and it put a smile on my face.

 

AnthonyDavidsDiningOver the course of our amazing meal, I slowly began to realize the bigger picture. I realized it was all worth it. No matter how much fighting there was, the good times – times like these – were priceless!

Our night could not have gotten much better. The service was impeccable, the food was divine, the ambiance was indescribable… We finished our meal and walked back to my apartment hand-in-hand. We were exhausted from a long day of lounging about on the couch. When we got home, we brushed our teeth and climbed straight into bed. I could not have been happier. I was utterly in love, and my relationship with CK was really starting to take shape.

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The Navigator

In my Grindr surfing, I’d hit up more than a handful of guys. I struck up a few conversations and blocked a few I wasn’t interested in, but since I don’t pay for Grindr Xtra (I refuse to pay for the service on principle), there were a lot of guys floating around my screen in no man’s land. I casually kept a conversation going with a handful since I’d be there a few days and wanted to keep my options open.

On in particular didn’t really stand out from the crowd. We had weak conversation going — Just the pleasantries. “Hey. What’s up? What brings you to Grindr?” etc.

When I woke, I called Hertz and confirmed they would be picking me up that morning to take me to the lot. A woman drove me while I chatted some more on Grindr. Of course, when I got there they upsold me: “My only compact is at the car wash. You can wait, or for $10 more a day, you can take the convertible.” “Sold!” I exclaimed. I was like a kid in a candy store. I immediately put the top down and sped off back to my hotel. I couldn’t wait to hit the beach!

While I ate my breakfast in the hotel restaurant, I continued to poke around Grindr. I had plans to go to the beach that day, but I would be returning in the evening. Maybe I could find someone to hang out or hit up the bars.

The guy I’d briefly chatted with the previous evening messaged me once again and said, “Good morning.” We talked about what we had planned for the day. I mentioned my plans to hit up the beach when he replied, “What time should I be ready.”

A huge smile lit up my face. “How bout now?” I quickly shot back. Much to my surprise, he was just as serious as I was. “I have a few errands to run, but I can be ready at 11:00,” he added. That was in a half hour. “Perfect. I just got back from picking up my rental, and I’m eating breakfast now. Shoot me your address, and I’ll swing by around 11:00 to get you,” I said.

I gathered my beach things, hopped in the car and sped off to pick up my beach buddy. When I arrived in front, I called him, and he came out. I had only seen a few pictures, but was pleasantly surprised that he was a masculine good-looking man. This was going to be a good day!

We introduced ourselves, and I thanked him for joining me. I immediately asked him if he knew the area and told him my plans to go to Manhattan Beach. He agreed that was the best idea, but told me he had no idea how to get there. I told him he’d be playing navigator while I drove.

We talked casually about our different and similar Grindr experiences. This guy was real. He was very open about things and seemed very smart and very savvy. The longer the conversation drew on, the more I liked this guy. It was an extremely risky move to pick a stranger up in a car and spend the day with him, but it was really paying off. For once, luck was in my favor.

I learned a lot as we drove to the coast. He told me all about his job and what he wants to be doing in the future. I told him about my job, and he asked a lot of questions. He really wanted to know the intricacies of my day-to-day. It was quite apparent we were both really digging each other, and the conversation was so casual like we were friends for years.

On top of it all, he was chivalrous and super sweet. Everything he said came with a gentleman’s tone. He wasn’t self-centered, and from the stories he told, I could tell he was a popular, well-liked guy.

This was turning out to be a pretty great trip, and I was just getting started…

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Ozzy Bonobos

Today, I am bringing you a tag team post created for you by myself and another one of my faithful Australian readers, J. Argenta. I hope you enjoy.

Recently, I posted about Bonobos. As a result, one of my readers, J. visited the site and did a little shopping.

“I’m one of his avid readers and couldn’t help but check out the Bonobos site after he spoke so highly of it! I found some great stuff on there, but when I got to the checkout and it was $91 to get stuff shipped to Australia! — More than the pair of pants I was going to get. I was basically a stranger and hoped what I was about to ask wasn’t too strange, but I asked if he wouldn’t mind placing the order for me and sending it over for me? I offered to transfer you the money to cover it all and do so before he placed the order. I just don’t happen to know anyone in America and figured the shipping would be cheaper this way. I knew it was a long shot, but I hoped he would be comfortable with this.” – J. Argenta

This posed many challenges. I wanted to help him out. I was totally game to do whatever I needed to do, but this would certainly force me to give up anonymity. He would need to know my name and address to mail me payment. I didn’t feel comfortable breaking down the fourth wall.

I thought about how else I could help. I knew as a blogger, I had a certain level of power. I could reach out to the Bonobos PR team and see if there was anything they could do. I sent them an email:

Hey there Bonobos PR team. 
I am one of your biggest fans (I bought the Shortboards – Lapis Lazuli and ABSOLUTELY love them! and have since bought some pants and hats because I love how everything fits me well. I digress) I have an odd request to make. I am a blogger. My blog mainly (but not limited to) attracts a specific audience, but one that fits well with the Bonobos brand — the gay community. You can check out my daily blog at onegayatatime.com. That being said, I love Bonobos products and am not shy about telling my readers about this. In one of my posts, I mentioned your brand and how much I enjoy it. Afterwards, I received an odd email from one of my readers in regards to your products. 
[I attached his original email]. 
I’m not 100% comfortable making this transaction for him, but I was hoping maybe by reaching out to him I could help him solve his high-priced shipping problem. I told him I would reach out to you and see what you could do for him. I work in media, so I know the value of word-of-mouth. You can expect me to continue to speak positively about your products in my blog and can be assured I will make special note if you find a viable solution for my reader. Thanks for your assistance with this issue.
I look forward to hearing from you!   
— O.G.A.A.T.

I was CC’d on an email to the Ninjas who take care of this, and they replied back, “Done. Thanks.” I was surprised how brief the response was, but I decided to wait and see what they sent to J. Argenta. I also asked them to keep me up-to-date with what they were doing so I could share the positive story. I got an email in response:

Sure no problem. Sorry about the curt email. Your message was forwarded to us from the PR team so I though I was giving her a direct reply. My apologies if that came off as short. I can definitely keep you updated. I didn’t know your friend/fan’s name but I shot him an email outlining our international shipment options (we actually pay for outgoing shipments but have to do it manually due to shipping negotiations and site shortcomings). 
Thanks for reaching out on this.
Cheers.  

— Nick

“I told O.G.A.A.T. they offer free international shipping, but because of ‘how the young program is and various logistic negotiations/planning/tweaking,’ Bonobos covers the cost of shipping manually in the form of store credit. Nick also said I would have to cover customs charges, but I’ve never had to do this with other international orders from other sites. I’m not sure if other sites maybe cover this cost or just include it in their selling price.” — J. Argenta

I emailed the Ninjas again and told them the issue:
Because of this, I think you may be losing a sale and a customer, and I am disappointed in how this problem is being handled. I was hoping to report a viable solution on my blog with a happy story of great customer service to match a great product, but as of now I can’t do that. A store credit of $91 doesn’t sound like a viable solution to me. The problem would just represent itself when he attempts to apply said store credit. I would hope you would further investigate this issue or possibly escalate it to a higher level. I look forward to hearing a happy ending to this story.
Thanks for your help!

This is when Nick really went above and beyond to clarify the situation and make sure he had a satisfied customer. He quickly sent me a reply:

Hey again,
Let me start off by saying that I don’t think your friend will have to pay duties. Sorry about the confusion here. I think maybe there was a miscommunication on our part. Basically the deal with customs is that we (or any company/site/vendor) have no control over duties and customs charges. These are determined solely by the host countries and reimbursing recipients for customs/duties is a legal ‘iffy’ area.
[He then went into detail on international shipping and customs policies, as well as breaking out costs and examples].
So basically our feeling was since we lack the ability to predict or control customs costs in other countries we would make it up to the customer by not charging them for international shipping a la the store credit option. I think the confusion here might have been due to when and how the store credit is applied.
The idea was that the most viable way of compensating for our systems/logistics shortfall was to offer a free shipping service until we could finalize a partnership with an international shipper.
Sorry for the long-winded email, I just wanted to make sure I was specifically answering your concerns in regards to, “The problem would just represent itself when he attempts to apply said store credit,” since the store credit actually resolves the problem of shipping costs, not make it worse.
I know it’s a bit of hassle if you’re an international customer which is why we really do try to do as much as we can at the moment given the resources available to us. It’s a big headache on our end as well as we would love to develop an international customer base (pants = the universal language). It’s just proven to be a much bigger bag of worms than anticipated and therefore has been much slower going in terms of negotiating with a shipping agent.
The short answer for your friend is that he will only pay for his clothes, we will cover shipping, and as far as I can tell he won’t have to pay for duties (though again, my knowledge of Australian customs law is cursory at best). The only catch is that he has to shoot us a quick email or give us a call so that we can drop the credit to cover shipping into his account. 
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot us another email or give us any feedback. I always love talking shop. 
All the best.
— Nick

I was duly impressed, and I let him know:
Hey dude. Thanks for the explanation. I indeed appreciate the long-winded email. You know your sh*t. I also appreciate the time it took to write and explain. I’ve passed along the info to my reader. I will continue to give nothing but rave reviews going forward of Bonobos and will not the extra effort you made to make a customer (and myself) happy.
THANKS!

He replied once more:
No problem dude. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We’re definitely a little behind the eight ball when it comes to international shipping so your (and your friend’s concerns) were well founded and we appreciate you keeping us honest. We’ll be in touch and feel free to give us a holler any time you have a question.
Best.
— Nick

I relayed this information to J. Argenta to make sure he knew how this would go down.

“I finally understood what they were talking about. It all sounded good! All this for a pair of pants! But, I thanked O.G.A.A.T. for being so persistent and placed my order. It’s nice to know there are people out there willing to help out a stranger in need (of some new pants).” — J. Argenta

I was happy to hear the transaction come to a positive outcome. I am happy to bring the story to you and highlight Bonobos customer service on this issue. They once again proved they are a company with not only top notch products but also top notch service. They really went above and beyond to help an Ozzy out who needed a pair of pants…

I’m Jason by the way. I live in Australia, obviously! Hello! I’ve got a blog as well — Not one that I advertise much at all, but I’ve sort of been branching out a bit with it lately. Not sure if it would be your type of thing — It’s a bit random really, just about everyday goings-on, and things that I find interesting like racism and gay-related things. I wrote my own little gay life story a few posts ago after coming across so many gay-related blogs. Anywho, check it out if you like — jaargenta.blogspot.com – and I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

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Popping the Question

Another night went by, and I was still in the dark about where I stood in Smiles‘ eyes. He had to be somewhat interested, otherwise why would he be sticking around. However, the question remained, was he interested enough for me?

Out of nowhere, Smiles asked me to come with him to see a Christmas play in New Jersey. One of the men he worked with on his movie wrote a spoof on the Nutcracker and thought to ask me to come with him.

I was so frustrated! I was getting mixed signals in every direction. He didn’t invite me to casual Christmas parties, but he invited me to be his guest for a stage-play. I graciously accepted the invitation, but informed him I had a doctor’s appointment I would have to change if we wanted to get a ride from his friends instead of taking the train.

I managed to change my appointment, so I planned to just make my way to his apartment when I finished. I called him as I walked out of my office, but he told me he was still working. I had nowhere to kill time after the doctor really, but I didn’t exactly feel welcome to go down to Smiles’ apartment and hang out while he finished what he needed to do. I figured I would walk around Union Square and try to find something to kill time.

My appointment ended later than expected, and when I called Smiles after, he told me he was wrapping up work, and I could come by. I asked him if he wanted anything from Starbucks and walked towards his apartment.

We didn’t have a lot of time before we were supposed to be picked up, but just enough time to chat a bit and move a few more of his boxes to his storage unit.

When we got picked up, the driver/writer asked me what my connection was. “I know [Smiles],” I responded. I was purposely ambiguous because I myself would like to know the answer to that question. When he asked for clarification, Smiles spoke up and said, “We’re dating.” I was happy to hear him say it publicly for once, but I still didn’t quite know what that meant. At least it was verbalized. He then elaborated as to how long we’ve been dating. He pinpointed it to around the time of the NYC screening of his film. In my mind, I did the math. That was about a month after I met Smiles. Apparently I was one month ahead of him as far as our timelines were concerned. I’d already journeyed out to The Hamptons to see his film once before that night.

The rest of the ride was casual. Smiles even playfully reached his hand down and tickled my crotch. “That’s going to make for an interesting car ride,” I said to him. Smiles sat between myself and one of his friends I’d met twice before. Some in the car were joking about Jersey, and it was interesting to see Smiles defending it now that I’ve given him a more positive opinion about it. I kinda got to know his friend a little better, and I thought he was a good guy. I liked knowing that I could get along well with one of Smiles’ best friends.

When we arrived in the town, we all went out to dinner. It was pleasant, and I met a few new people. Over the course of the meal, somehow it came up that Smiles used to be a dancer. He’d taken classes throughout childhood. This was news to me. Even his good friend didn’t know about it. When I went to make a comment, Smiles jokingly shushed me out of embarrassment. He told me I wasn’t allowed to bring it up again.

We got to the theater and took our seats. Our group was all over the auditorium. Smiles and I were nowhere near anyone else. Before the show started, we cracked a few jokes and made some sexual innuendos about the Nutcracker on the stage curtain. I liked the playfulness I was witnessing in Smiles for once.

The show was far from good, but I had fun with it. I wasn’t expecting a Broadway hit. Smiles was nonplussed.

We got a ride back, and swapped Smiles’ friend for another. When we were getting in the car, Smiles had the friend sit in the middle. I’m significantly taller than anyone in the car, so I wasn’t going to sit in the middle, but the fact that Smiles wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice to sit next to me I found VERY off-putting. I sat next to a stranger, which I’m comfortable with, instead of the man I was dating for an hour-long car ride.

I became the topic of conversation once again. This time it was about my origins. They were surprised to learn I grew up on a farm. “Oh. A farm boy. Better hold onto this one [Smiles],” the driver exclaimed. The rest of the ride home was casual as well. They were kind enough to drop us at my apartment since Smiles was spending the night.

It was late, so we immediately began to get ready for bed. “What’s with you and the purple underwear?” he said. I informed him it was navy. I showed him my one pair of purple underwear and said, “This is purple.” I continued with, “What? Don’t you like it?” He told me he did. He was just surprised I had such colorful underwear. I hardly find navy boxer briefs all that arresting, but I went with it.

We hopped into bed and spooned for a little while we chatted about a few random things. I wasn’t going to see Smiles for some time after that night because of the Christmas break, so there was no way I was making it through the night without getting my answer on where we were. Somehow the topic of chatroulette and manroulette came up. I explained to him how it worked and told him it was how I met the first guy I dated.

As time passed, we turned out the light. We were still snuggling when I finally built up the courage to say, “So where are we?”

“Somewhere between Hoboken and SoHo,” he joked. I responded, “That’s an avoiding answer if I ever heard one.”

After a pause, Smiles said, “I can’t be in a serious relationship right now. When I am, I put a lot of myself into it, and I can’t let myself do that. I need to concentrate on my career right now. But, I really enjoy hanging out with you and spending time with you.”

I took a second to absorb what he just said to me. It wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but it also wasn’t a crushing blow. My response was: “I was pretty much okay with whatever answer you had for that question. I just needed to know where I stood. I would like to continue to move forward, but I’m not in any rush or anything.” He knew I wasn’t thrilled with his answer. I don’t know if it was out of fear I would leave or if he truly was concerned with my feelings on the situation, but he added, “If it becomes a problem, let me know.”

We cuddled some more and went to sleep. I was relieved to finally have the answer. I felt a huge weight lift off my back. I was also horny. I tried to seduce him. “If you keep rubbing me, I’m never going to fall asleep,” he retorted. I quickly quipped, “Maybe that’s what I’m going for.”

I didn’t keep putting up a fight. I knew it was useless. He was stubborn enough that he’d certainly win that battle. I made myself comfortable to sleep and tried not to dwell on the news I’d just received. It was time to sleep. Worrying about what he said would only get in the way of that. Tomorrow was another day…

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