This wasn’t the first time Jack had canceled our evening plans. He needed a night alone, which I understood. I often did, too, though I hated knowing that our once promising romance was slowly wilting away. We were averaging one night a week together lately, but only ever on my prompting. We took a rain check for the upcoming weekend, where we would surely have incredible sex, conversation, food, and sex again. Our relationship—whatever it was—was intoxicating, passionate, but not without frustrations. I had told him multiple times that I wanted to be his boyfriend. And the dance worked like this: the more affection I showed, the less he reciprocated.
I met up with Bart and Peter for dinner in Crown Heights instead of seeing Jack, a nice consolation to be with my best friends. Peter had just been dumped by his boyfriend, kicked out of the apartment they shared. He moved to be closer to the two of us, which made for many frequent dinners together. We chatted briefly about Jack. I made excuses for him. Bart’s phone buzzed—he got a message on Scruff, his preferred hook-up app for its more hirsute users. He used a photo of his torso on his profile—to stay somewhat anonymous—and had just received an invitation from a pouty-faced Jack, asking him over for anonymous sex.
“Do you want to run with this?” Bart asked, as my stomach churned. I did. I did want to run with it. Bart handed over his phone. Peter was more cautionary: “He’s not your boyfriend, just remember. Don’t make this harder on yourself.” Jack had no idea he had propositioned one of my best friends. I flirted a bit with him through the app, which prompted him to send a picture of his crotch. I laughed in disbelief. “He told me three months ago he was seeing me and only me. Yet he’s on here, not-so-secretively using a photo of his face. And now his junk.”
Jack requested a face photo, so I screenshot some other guy on the app and sent it to him. Then I got him to give me his address—yep, that was certainly his address—and told him I was on my way over. At this point, Bart and Peter were having their own conversation about Bart’s recent fling, and I finally returned his phone. They stared at me silently, as I pouted and flattened my pinto beans into a mush. “Eric. Sorry.” Bart put his hand on my thigh. Then I texted Jack from my own phone, asking him how his night was going. No response.
I confronted Jack about his Scruff profile that weekend, saying that a few friends had seen him online. “You’re embarrassing me, as I go around telling people we’re exclusive.” “We aren’t boyfriends,” he said, echoing Peter’s sentiment. “Right,” I responded. “But three months ago we agreed to only date one another, so I guess I thought we were on our way to being boyfriends.” His retort: “I’m not going on dates with anyone else. I’m not looking for dates on Scruff.” He said it like it made perfect sense, like I was in the wrong. “Now, Eric, let’s go to bed and I’ll make you feel better.” It felt wrong to oblige—rather, when I obliged.
After two hours together in his bed, Jack spent the evening unknowingly reminding me why I was holding out for him: he made dinner at his apartment in East Village, surprised me with tickets to a concert, and then laid me down once more when we got home—fully clothed, but with German chocolate cake in tow. I thought it was one big blanket apology, until he rolled over on his side and said “I can’t believe it’s been six months. Happy anniversary, babe.” I choked on a piece of cake, thinking it was a joke. But he was completely serious, adding: “I really love every second with you.” Finally, a change.
I made breakfast the next morning while Jack showered. His phone buzzed beside the stove, and I saw a text from someone named Kev Scruff: “Hey handsome. We still good for noon?” Then, another buzz: “Craving you.” When Jack was finished, I asked if he wanted to see a movie. “Yes, let’s,” as he checked his phone. “Oh, wait… I forgot, I’m seeing a friend this afternoon. Maybe sometime this week?” I left his apartment at 11:45, but I didn’t leave the building—I sat on the stairs one floor up. At 11:58, a text from Jack: “Always the best time with you. xo.” At 12:01, I peered around the corner to see a stranger knocking at his door. Short. Muscled. Like a running back. Like a punch to the gut.