When I finally got to know him better—again, through Traci and her boyfriend and her group of musician friends—it was with music that we communicated the most. It was our common fluent language. He invited me to some jams. I met lots of other players. He invited me to hear some traditional music and to see some Chinese instruments played. We swapped MP3s and shared our musical goals while limping on a dictionary, and we discovered a lot of similar musical tastes and direction. We were both interested in the combination of Eastern instruments with Western groove. He had started a Chinese reggae band, Long Shen Dao. I had started writing LENTIC.
He told me later that he hadn’t talked to me in that bar because he was too nervous. He knew that he had to be careful with a connection with me and didn’t want to screw it up by flirting with me. It was a good plan, I told him. Smart move.
We got to know each other slowly, as a result, and I liked him immediately, and not just for his dimples. He was fun, he was inclusive, he was interested in my music and person, he was patient with my Chinese, and he wasn’t raising his eyebrows and giving me that creepy look every time he talked to me. (Oh yeah, and he wasn’t married.)
I had no idea that we would be anything but friends.
The first time we kissed, it was a surprise to me. I hadn’t seen it coming.
The thing is, I hadn’t realized I was being courted until that first kiss. I mean, I liked the attention, and I thought he was (and is) adorable, and more specifically the most beautiful man I had ever seen, anywhere, but surely he was gay. Aren’t all the beautiful men gay?*
When his hairless lips kissed mine, it felt like I was kissing a woman and I immediately relaxed. Well, at least his upper lip was hairless and his wispy goatee didn’t get in the way! His dreadlocks cascaded around my face and enclosed our kiss like a curtain. All of the longhaired women I’ve kissed came to mind with fondness. He was a gentle kisser. I love kissing. Doesn’t everyone?
I’ve since learned that kissing isn’t as important to him as it is to me. For me, it’s essential. For him, it’s a bonus. It’s been the subject of a few fights. For me, it should precede everything, but for him it’s not necessary. Is this a guy thing?
The first time I went over to his apartment, it was spotless.
I learned later that he had hired someone to come in and clean it for him. He’s actually a slob. I was totally tricked. We’ve had our share of housework arguments since then. That’s the subject of a whole other blog post.
The first time he made me food, he was engaged and serious and gave me the impression that he loves to cook.
I’ve since learned that he’s incredibly lazy in the kitchen. He’ll cook if it’s easy and if I compliment him enough, but the ‘impressing me with food’ component of our relationship has up and flown away!
What I simply didn’t realize was how much there is a ritual involved in a man securing the affection of a woman. It’s a dance! But, once the dance was completed and we were engaged in a romantic connection, he slumped back down in a chair and relaxed. There I was all excited and still standing, alone on the dance floor. Where did he go?
My straight friends tell me that this is when the “training” begins. I feel great sympathy for all the straight women in the world who have forever had to “train” their partners to continue to engage in the rituals of courtship. I resent it.
That being said, it’s not just his job. In the past, I have been very well cared for by partners who were “givers.” It’s been their personality. I recall that I once resented that imblance too, when I was in it. He says, “Why should I have to do something sweet for you all the time? What about you doing something sweet for me?” He pushes me to acknowledge that balance takes action on both sides.
The truth is that I’m sort of a slob too. I also don’t like to cook. I get pretty absorbed in my own life and I often forget the ‘sweetnesses’ that make an early relationship flow. I only dance in short bursts. I have to admit these things.
We’re so alike that he drives me crazy. I didn’t expect that falling in love with someone so similar to me would be this infuriating!
(insert retroactive ‘sorry’ here to ex-partners…)
So, please friends, give me some clues. Tell me about training. Tell me all of this sounds normal. Tell me if it doesn’t! I’ll look forward to your comments, friends…
*Sidenote: when straight men say that beautiful women are too beautiful to be lesbians, (which is to say that if they’re attracted to the woman, then she can’t possibly not be available to him,) I’ve learned that the best comeback is this: “If a beautiful woman can’t be a lesbian, why is it that all the beautiful men are gay?” This shuts them up fast. (Thanks to my friend Virginia West for that one.)