Andrew has always driven me nuts, and sometimes I am surprised that I have not driven him away.
We had an endless series of “tiffs” (the term Andrew always uses) the first ten weeks we knew each other, and then the tiffs miraculously stopped. Andrew and I have not had a “tiff” since April 2006.
I was responsible for all of these tiffs, because I was too immature to deal with what was happening at the time and because I knew that I would never again meet another guy like Andrew, even if I were to live to be 100 years old. This knowledge made me frantic, if not panicked, at the time these events were occurring.
My emotions only settled down when I became certifiably confident that Andrew indeed liked me as much as I liked him. It took me almost three months, however, to come to this conclusion.
When I read the old email messages I sent to a friend at the time of the events described in these messages, I cringe.
I was a different person at the time, even though these events happened less than two years ago.
The following is the complete text of an email message I sent to a friend of mine at 5:14 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, 2006, the seventh day I knew Andrew. I was over at Andrew’s apartment at the time, and I was using Andrew’s computer while he was preparing dinner
Silvio, I am over at Andrew's right now.
I see from the website that the reading is Saturday night.
The play sounds interesting and I asked Andrew whether he wanted to go. He said he has to go to a birthday party Saturday night for one of his classmates. He said he was going to ask me tomorrow whether I wanted to go to the party. We are talking right now whether I should go to the birthday party with him.
My friend and I exchanged a few email messages over the next half hour, until I sent this message at 5:48 p.m.
God, I am acting like a jerk.
I asked Andrew, with reference to the party, how he was going to introduce me if I went.
"I was going to introduce you as the King Of Belgium--unless that would imperil your security", he said. "Don't forget your orb and scepter."
I went into a little outburst, Silvio. I am so ashamed. "That's not what I mean", I said. "I mean, what will these people think? Will they think we are friends, or FRIENDS? What are you going to say to them?"
"I'm not going to say anything to them", he said.
"Then what will they think?", I asked.
He answered "I have no idea. They can think anything they want."
I practically shouted at him, Silvio, "Well, are we dating, or not?"
I did not like his answer: "Well, I have not thought about assigning a verb to it yet, but I guess I would like to think so. What are your thoughts?"
Silvio, I hated that "assigning a verb" reference, and I repeated it back sarcastically, and just then two of Andrew's roommates walked in the front door, back from school.
Now we are both being silent.
Later that night, after I returned home, I received this email message from my friend and confidant.
I hate to say it, Joshua, but introducing each other as "friends" at this point makes total sense. Although I cannot condone Andrew's sarcasm (or yours), I have to say I agree with his point.
If I were you, I'd apologize for the outburst, explain that you really like him and you're a little on edge because you want this to work out. Tell him that he can refer to you however he wishes, and that what is important right now is that you continue spending time together and getting to know each other.
This is my email response, sent at 2:11 a.m. that morning.
I am such an asshole.
I don’t think I should be permitted to go out in public, Silvio.
I arrived at Andrew's house a little before 12:45 today, and I rang, and no one was in. Two minutes after I got there, Andrew arrived, back from class. Outside his house, on the street, he put his hand on the back of my neck, and held it there for a few seconds. He always appears happy to see me, but today he appeared particularly happy to see me.
We went in, had lunch, and stayed in the apartment all afternoon. We talked, we studied, we joked, we listened to "Jenufa" (at my request), Andrew prepared dinner, but he did not touch me again.
Then I had my little episode I already passed on to you, and dinner was a very quiet one. After dinner, I sat down at Andrew's computer while he cleaned up in the kitchen. I did not even offer to help him wash dishes--because I was still furious at him. I am such an asshole!
When he was done, he came into the living room and stood behind me and put his hand on my neck, in exactly the same way he put his hand on my neck in front of the house at midday, and said "Let's go to the library" in a very, very quiet voice. He was almost inaudible. I didn't move, and he said, again, "Let's go to the library" in a very, very quiet voice.
I rose and got my stuff together, and went out with him.
As soon as we got outside, he stood right next to me and put his right arm around my shoulder and kept it there, and said to me, "So, are we dating or not?"
I was still irritated at him about that "assigning a verb" remark and I said, "Oh, are you ready to assign a verb now?"
"I'll let you pick one. OK?" was his response.
All I could think of to say, Silvio, was "I can't think of a good one", to which Andrew responded, "Well, let's stick with 'dating' then until you come up with a better one. OK?"
I nodded, and we walked down the street. Until we got to the corner, he kept his right arm around my shoulder.
Andrew didn't take me to the library, however--he took me to Union Station, and we went and got coffee and talked.
After we sat down, the first thing he said to me was "Maybe you need a day off tomorrow."
"You mean a day off from you?" I asked. "Yes" he responded.
That really ticked me off, Silvio, and I snapped "I don't need a day off. Do you?"
"No" was Andrew's answer, but he added "I don't want you to get mad at me, Joshua, just because you think things should be moving along a little faster. I am only 25, you are only 22, and we have lots and lots of time ahead of us. Let's take things nice and slow. I need to take things nice and slow. Go with me on this."
I told Andrew I could "go with him on this" as long as I knew he really liked me. I told him, Silvio, that what I really needed to know was what he thought of me.
Silvio, do you know what Andrew told me? He said "Joshua, you already know what I think of you. You have known what I think of you since fifteen minutes after we met."
That's not what I wanted to hear, Silvio, so I said "That being . . .?"
"That I like you very much. That I want to get to know you. That I want to spend time with you. That I look forward all day to the time I get to be with you. That I wonder if you're the person who is meant to be my partner in life."
That absolutely made me melt, Silvio, but I was still in my asshole mode, so I said "Then why did it take so long for you to say all this?"
What I said must have pressed Andrew's buttons, because he burst out "Take so long? Take so long? Joshua, I haven't even known you a week! How can you say this is taking so long? And besides, you know all this already! I'm not telling you anything you don't already know! Admit it--I didn't say anything you didn't already know. Am I right?"
And, Silvio, I said "Yes. You are right. I knew all that already."
"So why are you making an issue of this? Why in the world are you making such an issue out of nothing?" is what Andrew said.
"Because I need to be told! That's why!" was my response.
So, do you know what Andrew said, Silvio? He said "Let me repeat: Joshua, I like you very much; I look forward to getting to know you; I like spending time with you; I look forward all day to the time we spend together. Is that good enough?"
My response was "You left out the part whether I'm the person meant to be your partner in life."
"We'll get to that in time. OK?" was Andrew's response. "OK" I said.
By this time we were laughing, and Andrew said "OK. You need occasional reinforcement. I can see that. That's fine. I can give reinforcement. It's no problem. And, from now on, whenever you get like this, I shall just assume that you need some reinforcement. Reinforcement is not going to be a problem."
"We'll see" I said skeptically.
"Yes, you'll see" he said.
"And I want you to touch me more!" I blurted out. "That will be no problem" said Andrew. "It will be a pleasure, I assure you."
Then, Silvio, we had a very important talk about friends.
[At this point, I went into a very tedious discussion about how I compartmentalized my friends into four groups. I do not include that tedious discussion here.]
I explained to Andrew that each group was compartmentalized, and for a reason, and that each set of friends gave me something important, but that no one set of friends gave me everything I needed in a friendship.
I explained to Andrew how each group provides for a discrete set of my needs, but that no single group was capable of providing for more than one set of my needs at a time. I explained to Andrew that this is why I had not introduced him to anyone I know yet.
My friends from groups one through three I would only want to introduce to Andrew once we (Andrew and I) are firmly together, and not until (otherwise, these people have no need to know I am seeing Andrew). My friends from group four I would definitely NOT want to introduce to Andrew because they would try to take him away from me--and I told him exactly that!
I asked Andrew "Do you understand this? Does this make sense to you?"
Do you know what he said to me, Silvio? He said "Yes. I already knew all that."
"How could you know all that?" I asked him.
"Because of things you said, indirectly, and because of things I gathered" he answered. "Plus, I remember how my friendships were segregated when I was a senior in college. You will find out that all that will change in law school."
I told him how surprised I was that he seemed so keen and so pleased to introduce me, so naturally, to his roommates and to his parents' friends and to all of his friends and acquaintances at school. I remarked, especially, upon how many persons he had introduced me to at the library last night, and how he had introduced me so naturally.
I pointed out to him, however, that when he introduced me by saying "This is my friend, Joshua", a connotation could be derived from that introduction, and that he could avoid that connotation by simply saying "This is Joshua".
Do you what he said to me, Silvio? He said "I don't think anyone interpreted my introduction that way. And, if so, I don't care. But tell me, how do you want me to introduce you? It's up to you. Just tell me. Do you want me to go with that King-Of-Belgium thing?"
I answered him, Silvio, by saying "I want you to introduce me however you want."
"Then I'm going to stick with 'This is my friend, Joshua' and leave it at that" said Andrew. "Anytime you want me to change it, just let me know."
Isn't he sweet?
So, we got a lot of issues hashed out--my issues, I mean--so now I should not have to worry about so many things: worry about introducing Andrew to my roommates, or worry about being a heel for not introducing him to my friends, or worry about how things are moving along between us (as long as he is genuine about offering me "reinforcement" frequently).
I never thought of myself as the "clingy" type before, Silvio, but I can see in myself "clingy" characteristics in my dealings with Andrew today. I hope they are short-term, and will pass, and I hope they are the result of my need for a bit of "reinforcement", as Andrew calls it.
One of the problems, if that is the right word, is that Andrew is so smart that he assumes that everyone else picks up what he picks up and, consequently, that there is no need to articulate the bloody obvious. Sometimes I think I need a little articulation of the bloody obvious.
Once everything seemed settled, Andrew said to me "Since you've been such a good boy, I think I'll have to get you some ice cream."
So we went to another place to get ice cream, and sat down.
What was the first thing Andrew said to me as soon as we sat down? "So, do you need a day off tomorrow?"
"No" I cried.
"Then let's go see 'Brokeback Mountain' tomorrow. Have you seen it?" he asked.
I have already seen the film, Silvio, but I lied and said no. Silvio, Andrew knew that I was not telling him the truth, and, without saying anything more, he said "Well, then let's see something you haven't already seen. What else would you like to see?"
"I would like to see 'Brokeback Mountain' WITH YOU" I said.
"OK. Then we will. But if you change your mind, and you want to see something else, just let me know" was his response.
"I WILL NOT CHANGE MY MIND" I said.
"OK. What about Saturday? The birthday party? Is that on, or not?"
Silvio, I fell back on my standard response: "What would you like me to do?"
"Well, I would like you to come" said Andrew.
"Then I will come" I said.
"As the King Of Belgium?"
"No, as Joshua."
"Then I guess you can skip the orb and scepter bit."
Silvio, I think that means that your play reading is off the schedule for Saturday night. Sorry.
So Andrew walked me back to his place and, before I got into my car, he hugged me. He had never hugged me before. He put his right arm around my upper back and neck, and he put his left arm around my lower back and waist, and he hugged me, tight and hard. Then he pulled back, put both of his hands on my waist, and asked "So, we are dating, right? I just want to make sure that I have my terminology down."
"Yes, we are dating" I answered.
"Good" he said. "So, you will call me tomorrow shortly after 2:00 and let me know what time you want to get together and what time I should come get you?"
"Yes, I will" I said.
"Unless you need a day off."
"No, I don't need a day off."
So, there were no lingering after-effects of my little outburst, Silvio, and when I got home I had already been sent an email message containing numerous definitions, from several different dictionaries, of the word "dating".
Now, reflecting upon all of this, I realize now that Andrew handled me very well, didn't he? He did not get mad at me, he tried to be funny, he listened to me, and he did his best to address my concerns--and he did it all in the most charming possible manner.
God, I am lucky. And, God, I am such an asshole!
Thirty-five minutes later, at 2:46 a.m., I sent my final email message of the day.
Silvio, you hit it on the nose: I really like him and I am on edge because I want this to work out. I could not have said that better myself.
I did not apologize to Andrew, but things worked out OK, as I wrote in my other message, sent just a few minutes ago.
The only reason things worked out OK is because Andrew is more mature than I am. In hindsight, I think he handled the situation beautifully.
You were already in bed, I am sure, when I got home, or I would have called you.
Thank you for your advice, which is greatly appreciated. I truly am a jerk.
Do gay guys give Valentine gifts?