It’s 2 in the afternoon on a perfect August Monday in Salt Lake City, and I’m in my favorite coffee spot with a tall drip coffee and my journal. Down the table from me, an older man loudly lauds his career accomplishments to an unimpressed woman as two teenagers who type on their phones frantically. Across the room, three college aged men type on their computers, and a beautiful girl reads the newspaper.
Behind me, I hear a guy talking on his phone. I turn around and catch a good-looking guy, beard, likely in his early 20s , stirring his coffee as he talks to a friend on the phone.
He isn’t here. I told you he wouldn’t be here. We chatted for a few weeks, but he’s gonna be a flake like all the others… I know, I know. I gotta keep trying or I’ll be single forever. It’s just–oh wait, he’s walking in. Gottagobye.
I look curiously toward the door and see a blonde guy, early 20s, both ears pierced, cute, walking in. I see him make eye contact with the guy behind me and walk toward him. I turn back at my coffee, thinking it’s rude to eavesdrop, but what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
Hey, you made it.
Yeah, sorry I’m late. I couldn’t find parking.
No worries, I got you a coffee. Hope it isn’t cold.
Thanks, man. That’s nice.
As I jot the weekend’s events in my journal, they discuss the basics: what they do for work, some of their hobbies, where they are from, and I find myself writing less and listening more.
Yeah, I’ve only been in Utah about a year. Came here for school. I like it, though.
Oh, I hate it here. I grew up here. My family is all here. I mean, I don’t hate it-hate it, I just haven’t ever been anywhere else, except for my mission in Brazil for a couple years.
So you grew up Mormon?
Yeah, super Mormon. My whole family is Mormon. I came out like two years ago and they are going crazy with it all. They think I’m an apostate and treat being gay like I’m a drug addict or something.
Oh, that sucks. I didn’t know much about Mormons before I moved here. It’s a real thing here, though.
Oh definitely. I try not to date guys who used to be Mormon anymore. Too much drama.
What do you mean?
Oh all these shame issues. Guys who grew up totally ashamed of being gay. Family problems. Did the whole mission/BYU thing. Some guys even got married and had kids before coming out. I just get sick of the drama.
But doesn’t that–I mean, did you go to BYU?
Well, yeah. I just, I mean I don’t judge. I just get tired of the same stories.
I hear that. I don’t like drama either. But everybody’s an individual. I mean, every gay guy had to come out to their family and like take that whole journey. My family is cool now but they weren’t at first. Utah isn’t so different.
I think Utah is different. Mormons are different though. Especially in Utah. It’s like the church is the government and the families all follow it and it’s just such a big deal.
But have you ever lived anywhere else? I mean after you were out of the closet?
No. Just the mission.
Okay. Anyway, what do you do for fun?
I hear them talk about hobbies and interests for a while. One mentions his dog while the other talks about the gym. I realize I’m not even writing now, engrossed in their conversation, and thinking of the billion first dates I have been on that sound exactly like this in some form.
So what do you look for in a guy?
You kind of asked me that when we were chatting. Sense of humor. Guy who takes care of himself and can hold a conversation. Not in a hurry, but looking for a relationship ultimately.
Oh yeah, I remember. I’m all of those things. I’m one of the good ones.
Yeah, you said that in chat too. It’s been good getting to know you, John, but I probably better get back to work.
I had a good time. Would you like to get together again some time?
Yeah, that’d be cool. Text me later.
Before it gets too awkward, what was your name again?
The guy laughs, tells John to look back at his chat, and then leaves to head back to work. In seconds, I hear John get back on his phone.
Hey, he showed up. I totally screwed up and forgot his name, though… He’s cute, looks like his picture. Ugh, I’m going to be single forever. Why can’t I find a guy who wants to date me?… Yeah, I’ll call you tonight. I’m meeting a different guy from Grindr for dinner in a bit.