“I CAN’T believe you did this without my permission!” Nick was fuming. He couldn’t imagine the audacity of his best friend, roommate, and cowriter.
“I’ll tell you what gives me the right. I’ve been watching you work, work, work all day and all night without going on a single date in as long as I can remember.” Ken stood with his hands on his hips like some put-upon housewife.
“It’s paid off, hasn’t it? We have two plays running Off Broadway and two in production. Not too shabby for two thirty-five-year-old men from Upstate New York.” Nick pushed his shaggy, too-long hair off his forehead and rubbed his temples.
“But you’re a healthy man, too, and you need some companionship. I worry about you. You’re becoming a hermit.”
“I’m not becoming a hermit! I went out just two nights ago.”
“With our producer and his wife. Even if she is his beard, what is he, like seventy-two years old? Hardly fucking fodder.”
“Give it up with the cute alliterations. I’m not impressed.” Nick stared at the computer screen again. The profile of the newest, upcoming online dating service for gays, The Male Room, was plastered across the screen. Below it was the list of their newest clients. Next to his assigned number, he glared once again at the lead to his blurb: “Hot, hunky homo with fantastic imagination.”
“It’s the truth. You are hot to people who aren’t your BFF.”
“Stop talking in computereze. I may puke.”
“Well, I may puke if I have to leave you here alone one more time while I actually have a social life. At least one of us is dating.”
“I date. What about that guy last Saturday night?”
“What was his name?” Ken smirked, his eyes bright as he realized he was about to prove his point.
Nick stood up from his chair at the computer desk, and crossed the room to stand directly in front of Ken. “I don’t remember. We only had one date.”
“It’s not a date if all you do is dance for five minutes, get a blow job, and then leave without exchanging names or phone numbers. I believe, if my off-computereze is still up to date, that’s called tricking, my friend.”
Nick ground his teeth. “Shut up.”
“The truth hurts, honey.” Ken’s voice softened. “Look, how can you write about romance and love if you never give yourself a chance to experience it?”
“I guess it’s a good thing you’re my writing partner. You can fill in all those blanks.” Nick brushed his hand through his hair. He really did need a haircut. His hair was too wavy to let it go this long. He knew he was beginning to look like an out-of-date hippy.
“Job security is great. But I don’t think my place in this partnership would suffer if you actually had some life experience.” Ken put his arm around Nick’s shoulders. The two men stood silently side-by-side.
“I did try the love route once. You must remember.” Nick bit his lip, thinking back to a time when he thought he’d found the man he could spend the rest of his life with.
“Oh, Nicky, how could I forget? That asshole was buried so deep in his self-made closet that, instead of marrying the person he loved, he married the person his parents loved. If my mother’s gossip is still accurate, his wife is pregnant with their third child.”
“I can’t go through something like that again.” Nick hated sounding defeated, but he knew his words and feelings were safe with Ken.
“That’s why you start with an online dating service that caters to men like us.”
“And who’s to say one of these guys isn’t in the closet?”
“The pictures. Everyone has to submit a picture. Let’s face it. People in the closet do not want to advertise at a homo site. They’re looking for anonymous hook-ups.”
Nick looked in a nearby mirror. It was summer in Manhattan, and his tan was perfect, achieved the old fashioned way, through hours of jogging. He was kind of hot. At just shy of six feet tall, he had a six pack, and his arms were toned. Despite approaching middle age, he even still had all his hair.
Ken’s eyes brightened as if he had just won a prize. “Okay what?”
“Okay, we’ll see if I get any nibbles worth a dinner.”
“You’ll get plenty. And then we can finally double-date like we’d always planned.”
“I thought you were doing this for me.” Nick grinned.
“I’m doing this for you, your writing, and our mutual social lives. Could there be a better set of motivators?”
“You know, you can be such a geek.” Nick poked Ken in the ribs.
“I may be a geek, but I’m a geek with a boyfriend and a successful career.” Ken winked. “Now it’s time to work on my fabulous physique. Keeping up a swimmer’s build isn’t easy after you turn twenty-eight.”
“Twenty-eight?” Nick snorted.
“I feel twenty-eight; therefore I am twenty-eight.” Ken spun around as if modeling the jeans and wife-beater he was wearing.
“Sometimes you can be so gay.”
“Bobby loves it that way.”
“By the way, how old did you make me in my profile, since I haven’t dared to read it yet?”
Ken looked away and started running toward his bedroom. “Gotta go. The gym waits for no man, and I have a date tonight—a real date.”
Nick opened up his online profile at The Male Room. His eyes widened. “Thirty!” He yelled loud enough for Ken to hear him in his bedroom. “How come you get to be twenty-eight and I’m thirty?”
“You’ll look and feel much younger once you start dating. Besides, I always think of you as more mature anyway.”
“Get a man, one whose name is worth remembering.” After putting on a T-shirt and Vans, Ken grabbed his gym bag and started to walk out the door. “I’ll be home in a couple of hours. We can work on the scene the director doesn’t like, although I think it’s perfect.”
“Of course you do, you wrote it.”
“My point exactly.” Ken’s words were punctuated by the slamming of the door as he left the apartment.
Nick sat down again at the computer. “So how creative have you been lately?” He started to read his online persona, courtesy of the creative genius he lived with.