When I was 18 years old, I frequented a phone party line, essentially a hookup chat room before the days of the internet.
One of the callers I met was a guy named Mickey. He got into the general chat area (which, if you've never called such a line, is usually a bunch of guys saying "Hello? Hello? Is anyone on the North Shore? Hello? Who's in Boston?") and boldly said, "My partner and I are looking for a hot young guy to play around with tonight. Anyone interested?"
It sounded like a good night to me. Though I'd had experience with more than one guy at a time before, it was never with two guys who were partnered. I figured it would be an interesting adventure. I grabbed their attention (saying you're 18 generally does that. Actually being 18 does even more), and got moved by my favorite moderator (I was addicted so much to the lines back then that I had a "favorite" moderator. Don't ask about my phone bills during those years.) to a private chat room.
Mickey and his partner Rick lived in Lynn, the same town my good friend (at the time) Janet lived. I knew how to get to Lynn by public transportation (no license until 20, remember), and got directions from the commuter rail.
The night was as much fun as I expected it to be. I liked it a lot, because Mickey and Rick were in agreement about what they wanted, why they were bringing a third partner into their relationship, and were as into each other as they were into me. They asked me to stay the night, but I had to get home, so Rick drove me. He asked for my phone number when he dropped me off, and I gave it to him.
A couple of nights later, Rick called. He and Mickey agreed that I was a lot of fun, and would I be interested in hooking up again? I said sure, and they came by, picked me up, and we went to dinner before heading to their place. They were older than me (close to 30!), but we talked about everything; they loved the same kind of music I did, they were both into movies and reading, and I felt really comfortable with both of them. The night was fantastic again, and at the end of it, I said, "I'm really jealous. I wish I could date both of you."
"Why don't you?" said Mickey.
"Why don't I what?" I asked.
"We talked about it," said Mickey, with a look at Rick, who nodded. "We'd like to start seeing you."
"Um....together? But you're boyfriends!" Yes, I'd had a lot of experience, but I was also 18. Some concepts were kind of foreign to me, and I don't think I'd ever heard the term "polyamory" before.
"Yeah," said Mickey. He tended to do the talking when they made mutual decisions. It was a pattern I noticed as I got to know them better. "But we'd like you to be our boyfriend."
"Both of us do," said Rick.
And so I had two boyfriends; just like that.
In the beginning, it was odd, because Mickey and Rick lived together, and I was living with Mom at the time, so I was still the outsider. They'd been together for a couple of years, so there was a lot of history I had to be caught up on, or had to realize I'd never know enough about to make inside jokes.
However, as things progressed, we really did become a threesome. Every time we got together, it was the three of us. We held hands at the movies (the middle person being a bridge between the two ends), went to parties as a unit, went out to dinner where we'd switch sides as to who sat with whom in the booth.
I felt equally about both of them. Mickey was very outgoing and boisterous, but he had a temper that flared up really quickly. Rick was more quiet and introspective, but he had a wicked sense of humor; you just had to listen carefully to catch it. I don't know what they thought about me, but I know they liked me, and even though the sex was a big part of the equation, it wasn't the only thing that kept us together.
About two months into our relationship, we decided to go out to eat and to a show (as we usually did). Mickey ate something bad, and we had to leave the movie halfway through so he could go to bed.
Rick and I got him safely tucked away, then went to the living room to watch TV. Eventually, Rick started scratching my head (something that gets to me every time), absently at first, and then with more purpose. Eventually, we were making out on the couch. Clothes came off, things progressed, and we ended up in a heap on the fake-fur rug on their living room floor.
After we were done, Rick quietly whispered for me to follow him into the bathroom. "Take your clothes with you," he said. I did so, and we washed up, checked our hair in the mirror, and got dressed.
Both of us walked into the bedroom, where Mickey was fast asleep. Rick nudged him gently and said, "Babe, I'm driving Patrick home." Mickey smiled at me weakly. I gave him a quick kiss and Rick drove me home. We didn't say anything during the car ride.
Things went along for the next couple of weeks as usual. I didn't quite know whether what had happened between Rick and me was kosher or not, but both of them treated me exactly the same way, so I got comfortable in our pattern again.
Then one day after classes, I got a message on the answering machine. It was Rick, asking me to call him at work. I thought something was wrong; he never called me from work. I don't know if I even had his work number at the time.
I called, and Rick said, "I really want to see you again."
"Sure! When?" I said.
"Alone," said Rick.
"Why?" I was having a hell of a time with the two of them. I didn't understand what was going on.
"I don't know," said Rick. "I love Mickey, and I think we're falling in love with you, but what happened when Mickey was sick was great."
"Uh-huh." I felt kind of sick myself. I knew things were going to take a turn for the worse, but I didn't quite know how to handle what I was being asked for.
I made what was possibly the worst move I could have. "Okay, Rick," I said. "Let's get together sometime."
I could feel the relief sweep over him through the phone line. "Great! Mickey's going to his Mom's tonight, so I have the place to myself. I'll pick you up after work."
"Okay." I hung up the phone. I was as nervous as I would have been on a first date. I'd been alone with Rick before, but usually that was because Mickey liked to go to bed earlier, so Rick was the one to drive me home. I didn't quite know how to approach an entire evening with just one of them.
The night came, Rick beeped outside of the house, and I hopped into the car. He looked as nervous as I felt...and a little guilty. We didn't have a lot to say to each other as we drove to Lynn. He let me into their apartment, and we just sort of stood there in the dark hallway, unsure of where to begin.
Eventually, he took me by the hand and led me to the bedroom. The full-sized bed that I'd always been crowded in with lots of other arms and legs and tangles of hair felt huge. Rick and I quietly undressed on opposite sides of the bed, facing away from each other. I felt his hand run down my back, and I turned to look at him. He looked eager, but sad.
When we were done, Rick held me tightly, running his fingers up and down my back lightly (which is my favorite sensation ever). "What are we gonna do?" he said.
"I don't know," I said.
"Me neither," he said, his grip loosening. He slid to the edge of the bed and picked up a sock. "I guess I'd better get you home."
Two days went by. I didn't hear from either one of them, and I was a little scared to call. The third day, I got a call from Mickey.
"It's over," he said. "Rick told me what you two did. That's not cool. Not cool at all."
"I'm sorry," I said.
"Yeah, right," Mickey said, and hung up.
I was devastated. I had such a good thing going, how could I have fucked it up so badly? I had fallen for both of them, and while the sex with Rick alone was good, I missed Mickey's stockier, more forceful presence to balance out Rick's gentle touch.
I felt like a cheater. I'd cheated on my boyfriend...with my boyfriend.
Eventually, as 18-year-olds are so capable of, I got over it. I met another guy who was my age, but had tons of money (he said he was from a rich family, it turned out he stole a lot...and was a serial arsonist, but I didn't know that at the time). He spoiled me with presents and I made him laugh. Mom met him and liked him. We were trying to figure out what to do when I went back to UMass Amherst (I'd been going to UMass Boston for a semester when all this happened). Things were on a normal course.
Then I got a call one night.
"Hey, Patrick, it's Mickey."
"Hi." I had no idea what he wanted. The last time we talked, I fully expected him to show up at my house and beat the living shit out of me. That night, he sounded jovial.
"I was just wondering if you wanted to get together," he said.
"I haven't heard from you and Rick in--"
"Rick's not here," said Mickey. "He's away for the week. I figured we could get together."
"I'm sorry, Mick, but I'm seeing someone now," I said.
"That's really not fair," said Mickey. "He had you alone. I never got to."
"I'm sorry--" I started, but he hung up.
Since then, I've been "involved" (as opposed to just a one-night thing) with two other couples. One was an extremely rich couple living in a fabulous brownstone in the South End (I think I was just about as impressed with their steam shower as I was with them). The other was an older guy with a younger guy (one in his 40s, his partner in his early 20s, about the same age as me).
Both instances turned out exactly the same way that it happened with Mickey and Rick. I'd play Switzerland, making sure to spend the same amount of time with each of them. I'd always abide by the rule that each guy was just as important to me as the other.
And each time, I'd get the call from one, or the other, or both (at separate times), asking me if I wanted to get together alone. It was never an invitation offered with the other partner's knowledge, and each time it happened, I'd politely decline, and try to keep going the way things were.
And each time, it ended badly.
Eventually, I decided that I was just a one-man guy. If I date, I feel perfectly fine about dating more than one guy, as long as he knows that we're just dating and not exclusive. (Though to be honest, the time between "dating" and "exclusive" is generally very short for me. I'm the jealous type.) If I'm with someone, I'm with him, and that's it. If he wants to explore an open relationship or bring someone else into the mix, I usually end up breaking up with him sooner rather than later, because I just don't want to get involved in that type of drama.
I do believe that there are polyamorous people out there who can have an arrangement where the division of affection, sexual attraction and love can be equal; I just haven't encountered it personally. For me, it's always ended up lopsided, and I hate the feeling that I've become the problem that drives a wedge between a couple.
I have vowed never to get into that type of relationship ever again. It works for some people, but I don't do it well. Since then, I've never seen a couple and thought, "Gee, I'd really like to join in."
Well, until tonight.
I admit it, after the Duran Duran concert, I felt pretty sad that John (my blind "date") was attached. I read his partner's writing, and got a little bitter about the fact that "all the good ones are taken." But I was going to be a grownup. When John said that Donn (yes, Jon and Donn...it's too cute) was in town looking for a job and a place to live in the Boston area, I invited them both to go see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged with me. I thought I'd meet the boyfriend, change my attitude, and have a couple new friends to hang out with.
And I do. I have to stress that right now. They're great guys, and I can't wait to get together with them again. They have a lot to work out right now (Donn got a job right away, and he basically has a couple of weeks to move his life from the Midwest to the East Coast, and John is visiting Donn in his home state), but once things settle, I think we're going to get along famously.
We agreed to meet at a vegetarian restaurant in Brookline. Since I am the King of Suburbia, I went to Brookline via Chestnut Hill (even though that's the long way 'round), and ended up being about 25 minutes late in the process.
I found the restaurant, apologized being late, and saw just about the cutest couple in the world.
I don't think I've met two guys recently who looked as right together as those two. I told Laurie tonight that it was like looking at a basket of puppies...it was hard to tell who was cuter. They were eating their "chicken" fingers (we met in the kind of restaurant that uses wheat gluten and tofu and such to make faux meat) and having a grand time when I arrived. Donn stood up with a smile and an outstretched hand, and I realized there was no way in hell I was going to be able to muster up any sort of jealousy towards him. Of course John was with him! Who wouldn't want to be?
We chatted about veganism and what good service was (all three of us having worked in food service helped with conversation) and Donn's new job and a few other things I can't recall right now. It was fun and easy, and then I led them up the many, many blocks (I thought the restaurant was on one side of Coolidge Corner, when it was actually on the other side).
Donn got to experience my unique sense of Massachusetts direction (just go one way, and you're bound to hit something you recognize), and we made it to the theater a bit late. The director there gave me my house duties (essentially taking money and nothing else...this was the easiest volunteer gig I've had in awhile), and J&D meandered around the lobby until the house opened.
I saw a few more people I knew (one of whom was totally thrown when she gave her name and I said, "I know who you are!" I don't think she knows me from Adam), and then I was relieved of duty to watch the show.
I love this show. The three guys who were in it did a terrific job, and the director did exactly what one is supposed to do with this show; throw in enough references about current events and local in-jokes to make it personal, but let the hilarity of the words written by the original cast stay. It was fast, the quick-changes were amazing, and I laughed my ass off at a show that I've seen performed four times before.
During intermission, I got into a long chat with another playwright named Patrick (we're always in the same festivals around town, and usually our shows perform the same night, so that people who don't know us are constantly asking, "Which Patrick are you?" A question you don't ask after you've seen shows by both of us, because our styles and themes are completely different), who complimented me on my work and encouraged me to join a playwriting group with which I've been involved before, but has changed considerably according to him. When he heard that I didn't get accepted into a graduate playwriting program, he said, "You're kidding!" which made me like him all the more.
After the show was over, I drove J&D home. Donn asked me about the theater scene in Boston (he's an actor, so I promised to give him leads to auditions and such), and what kind of plays I've written. John asked about the process of playwriting (which is a silly question to ask me, since my "process" makes "haphazard" seem organized). We talked freely and had a great time.
I dropped them off and as I turned the car around to head home, I realized that I totally wanted to date both of them. Not individually, either. (Though if circumstances were different, either one of them would be at the top of my list.) I briefly had a flash thought of asking them out on a "date."
Luckily, I talked some sense into myself (and sang along with Marina Belica) on the way home. That way of thinking only leads to trouble.
They both have read this site, and may be reading this now (Hi John! Hi Donn!). I'm not writing this as a back-door attempt of starting something. I'm a little too old to be playing that type of game, and I know that it never works for me.
I can compartmentalize with the best of them. D&J are new friends, even if they are as cute together as a basket of puppies. Like I said before when I met John, I have attractive friends, and I don't thrash around at night, pining away for them. Eventually, the people in your life are just the people in your life, and I hope that they want to be people in my life.
Heck, they expressed interest in going bowling. Why would I want to fuck that up?