Monday, October 29, 2007

It's a Small World After All

I am often amazed at how small the world can be sometimes. Sometimes this is a good thing; more often, it's a somewhat awkward thing; from time to unfortunate time, it's a metaphorical herpes outbreak that just won't go away.


Picture this, Washington, 1999. I'm in my mid-20s and in what I now realize to be the prime of my life. I have long come out of the closet and am comfortable with having gay friends and frequenting gay venues.

Meeting gay people is difficult for me, mostly because meeting people in general is difficult for me. I'm not naturally outgoing, and making lifelong friends with guys who just happen to be standing next to me in a bar just never seems to click for me. So in whatever diverse ways I meet people (usually on line or through friends), I end up developing several small networks for friends, none of whom I have ever introduced to the other.

And for (relatively) good reason: in the context that I meet these people, I am a different person at different times. Sometimes I feel like a social chameleon: I can be a party animal with one set of friends, and the quiet, brunch-and-International Coffee kinda guy with another group of friends. I can be pretty comfortable in both worlds. I think that as a result I developed several sets of friends, each one catering to one of my moods. Call me Sybil. "I ain't no slut!"

One night, I and some of my friends decided we were going to hit Nation, the warehouse dance club which was such a hit among The Gays in the '90s. I was looking forward to dancing, hanging out, staying up to all hours with this crew of friends...

... and as we were in the bar area waiting for the main dance hall to open, I bumped into another, complete distinct, set of friends. "Hi!" we greeted each other happily. I felt so popular, knowing so many people without even planning it that way.

Being the polite guy that I am, I (however grudgingly) introduced my one set of friends to the other): "Blah Blah, this is Blah Blah."

And, of course, they already knew each other. In fact, they were pretty good friends.

Here I was, thinking that I had given myself so many different options for my own personal gay posse, only to realize that really I was just cherry-picking from the same large group of friends.


On Thanksgiving Weekend of 2004, I visited some friends from high school who have now moved to Seattle. Joining us was C.W.T., another high school friend. Sometime during the course of that weekend, C.W.T. -- who until then I had considered a friend, if only one who made cameo appearances in the screenplay of my life -- referred to me as "the most superficial person [he] know[s]," in absolute seriousness. In fact, when I made clear how taken aback I was at the characterization, he took pains to defend it.

I reflected on the situation for a long time after it happened, and I decided that I didn't want to remain friends with C.W.T. any longer. I was, and am, perfectly comfortable with the decision to voluntarily remove myself from the life of someone who thinks so little of me. I generally don't think of him much anymore. Were I to visit the metropolis that he lives in, I would not really be inclined to look him up.

We take you now to Provincetown, July 2007. I am standing outside of the Paramount Video bar with my friends trying to figure out our plans for evening when I feel a tap on my shoulder. Turning around, I find that the finger belongs to none other than C.W.T.

How, oh how, is it that of all the times and places for us to end up vacationing, we end up vacationing in the same place at the same time? Oh strange Fate!

We exchanged various pleasantries -- oh everything's good, I'm having a great vacation, there are my friends, we're going to go find more drinks now, bye! -- and I departed the scene. C.W.T. suggested that we catch up, but I definitely knew we would be doing no such thing, not if I could help it.

I flash you ahead now again to the events of these past two weeks. I had been itching to go see a play, so I contacted my friend David, with whom I have developed a theater-buddy relationship. It had been a while, so I just sent him an email rather than bug him on the phone.

He was too busy to respond to my email promptly (my bad anyway), but when he did, he included this P.S.:

P.S. I met two friends and former classmates of yours in New York
recently. One was Blah Blah,* who has been a friend of mine for years; the other was another gay Asian guy who was a classmate of yours (but I'm blanking on his name right now).

* It's shocking how many friends I have named Blah Blah. It's quite a common name. Sometimes I'm surprised I can tell them apart.

Knowing this Blah Blah as I do, there is no doubt in my mind that David is referring to C.W.T.

I feel like my world is becoming smaller and smaller. My worlds are colliding, and it scares me.


It is, indeed, a small world after all. And now that damn song is going to be stuck in your head for the next 12 hours. Ha ha!

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