How far would you travel for sex?
You can tell a lot about someone from the lengths he or she would go to in order to get lucky. Cyndi Lauper once drove all night, but at least her effort resulted in one of her best singles and her final Top 40 hit.
Marti wasn’t so fortunate.
Six years ago during our first and only date, he told me a couple of travel stories that shook my faith in long-distance lust. The then-23-year-old student from Estonia had found me a month or so earlier on Manhunt, a few days after one of my regular returns to Melbourne, my on-off home between 2011 and 2013.
I made my latest Melbourne comeback nearly two months ago, around the same time that Marti made a comeback, too, after spotting me on Grindr in Melbourne. Alas, he didn’t even remember me. I was just another pretty new face on the grid.
But I digress. Back to 2013 …
Shortly after we started chatting online but still about a month before we finally met face-to-face on the aforementioned date, Marti told me he was about to go on a two-week holiday to California. I felt a twinge of envy. Although it had never been my favourite US state, I had fond memories of California. It sounded a lot warmer than Melbourne — even though it was winter in the US and summer in Australia — and I had great friends in all of its key cities.
A long, strange trip
My envy turned to disbelief when Marti, just a few hours off the return flight from California and seriously jet lagged, met up with me for cider on a lazy, lovely Saturday afternoon in Melbourne. I asked him how his trip had gone, and he filled in all the blanks that I didn’t even realise had been empty.
He wasn’t back from just another holiday. He’d planned the trip to meet up with a “friend” in San Francisco, a “friend” who turned out to be a guy Marti had been talking to online for six months, a guy he’d never actually met.
He tried to spin long-distance booty call as secondary to what he identified as his primary motivation for going to Cali — the weather. He said the “hot” Melbourne summer had been murder on him, as he was accustomed to Estonia’s Baltic chill. Escaping the heat seemed like the perfect excuse to go to the Northern Hemisphere.
Unfortunately for Marti, even the best-laid plans to get laid don’t always go as planned. A few days before his departure, he and the guy had a huge online falling out. Although they broke up before they even got together, Marti went on the trip anyway.
He decided to spend one week in Houston, where he visited a friend — someone I assumed he’d also met online but not in real life, judging from his vagueness about him — then a few days in L.A., then a few days in San Francisco, where he said he’d been the toast of the gay scene.
The things we do for lust
As I listened to Marti’s holiday story, my mind wandered to the Golden Girls disc in the DVD player at home. I would have preferred to have been watching the episode in which Blanche pretends to be selling a new Mercedes in order to meet men. At least the lengths of subterfuge – Dorothy’s word – she was willing to go to in order to get laid were amusing. And it was fiction. It’s not like any sane woman would ever drive a Mercedes — or even fly — from Miami to Canada just to mount a Mountie.
I tried to downplay the horror of it all after Marti finished by sharing stories of the times I’d taken trips from New York to other cities – Amsterdam and Milan – in other countries on other continents to visit guys I didn’t know too well (but never ones I hadn’t met in person at least three times).
Maybe I should have been commending Marti for being so gutsy. Most people can’t even fathom travelling alone. Here was this 23-year-old who not only travelled solo from Australia — a country that was already so far from home — to the United States. He initially was going to do it to meet a guy he’d never actually seen in person. It wasn’t even the first time he’d taken such a leap of faith in the name of lust, or love before first sight, or whatever.
He’d once planned a three-night getaway in Amsterdam with a Dutch guy he hadn’t met yet. Though he was disappointed when they were face-to-face for the first time in their shared hotel room – “His photo must have been 10 years old,” explained Marti), Marti stuck it out for the entire weekend. I couldn’t decide whether he was incredibly nice or totally crazy.
While I was weighing both sides, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. Five minutes later, he hadn’t returned. I began to wonder if perhaps he’d accidentally flushed himself down the toilet. Just as I was about to go and check on him, he returned to the table, his phone pressed up to his ear. He made an “I’m sorry, important phone call” gesture and went out onto the terrace.
About 10 minutes later, he was still there, chitchatting away. He’d given me just enough time to finish my cider and decide that someone who continent-hops to meet up with total strangers might not be worth wasting the rest of my Saturday night on. I couldn’t believe he actually expected me to sit and wait patiently while he spent 15 minutes and counting chatting away on his mobile phone with God-knows-whom.
Was it an early twentysomething poor-social-etiquette thing? Or was it a weaned-on-online-dating thing? Was he so accustomed to socialising with unseen strangers online that he didn’t know how to treat someone sitting across from him?
I hadn’t even really wanted to meet up with Marti, but he’d been so insistent and persistent that I finally gave in. At least I’d travelled only two train stops, not across several continents. I finished my cider, got up, and left. No explanations, no goodbye.
Out of sight, out of mind
As I walked to the train station, I wondered if he’d even notice I was gone. If he did, would I go down in his personal history as being just as bad as the guy who made him book a flight to the other side of the world for nothing. I was certain he was talking on the phone to someone he’d never met, planning his next holiday.
My abrupt departure must not have left much of an impression. When I told him the story six years later, after he contacted me on Grindr upon my latest return to Melbourne, he didn’t remember anything about our date. He apologised anyway, but that wasn’t enough for me to agree to go out with him again.
Over the course of the six years since our ill-fated date, Marti had probably racked up multiple blow-offs from guys who had required much more effort to meet than I did that Saturday in Melbourne. My abrupt departure must have paled so much in comparison that it disappeared.
He was disappointed that I declined to give him a second chance, but I knew he wouldn’t hurt, or even remember me, for long. There are plenty of other fish in the sea — especially when you’re willing to swim from Australia to California to catch them.