A Real Boy

After one too many times riding the roller coaster that is dating boys who think they’re the biggest thrill you’ll ever find, I was ready to leave the amusement park. For a couple of weeks, I was on a self-imposed boycott so I could straighten out my life. Three months short of graduation, I still had yet to find a stable entry-level slave camp that would take me solely on the fact that I’d overpaid for my education.

The last thing I needed was the twists, turns and inevitable bumps of a new guy, especially since I’ve noticed recently I tend to attract men who rely on me to carry on a big chunk of their baggage. Eccentric like from another planet, if not completely psychotic, my previous paramours had the tendency to drown me in drama when all I wanted was to stay afloat.

I’ve often wondered what it is about my personality that makes me a magnet for extremity. Perhaps, I’m too accommodating to their demands, or maybe a more suitable explanation is that I’m the one drawn towards them. I do admit: I’m like a month flying mindlessly towards the flickering light in the dark until it gets burnt. I find something oddly alluring about a boy engulfed in his own flame.

So if it’s me, then it’s a behavior I can change, I thought. No more game-playing, ego boost-craving, manipulative boys. When everything is covered in starry facades, a down-to-earth attitude is what really shines. And so I made it my mission to look for that, a real boy.

It was this ongoing quest that convinced me to make one exception to my boycott and head down to the Gold Coast to meet my latest fling, a guy I had met two weeks before at a clothing boutique in Lincoln Park while looking to purchase a new pair of jeans.

“Hi, do you work here?” I asked pretty sure that he worked there.

“No, but I’m sure I can help you,” he said self-assured that he could work there.

“Ah, I don’t know about that. I’m pretty picky when it comes to jeans.”

“Everyone should be; it’s hard to find the right pair.” And with that he walked over to the wall where all the jeans were hanging and offered his advice on several styles. As it turns out, he’s somewhat of a denim connoisseur who hunts down rare denim through thrift shops and on eBay.

We exchanged numbers that afternoon and had been texting incessantly ever since. I’m weary of sparks that stem from impersonal communication like texts or online, but when I started getting all giddy whenever my phone vibrated, I knew it wasn’t forged.

I perceived this guy to be somewhat of a different breed from the self-aware, superficial fireflies I had encountered in the past. In the many conversations he initiated, he illustrated an aversion to the Boystown merry-go-round: mind fucking, disposable eye candy and all things crafted to impress. He was just comfortable staying in his apartment, cooking dinner for his friends and watching a Tim Burton flick. Which is what he had planned for me that night. A date at his place, exactly the type of real boy behavior I longed for.

I arrive at his Gold Coast apartment building, and I’m initially taken aback by the high-priced décor of the building. I wonder how a junior in college has the resources to indulge in such a lavish living arrangement. After signing in as a guest, the doorman calls him up, says my name, and after a subtle nod lets me through to the elevators.

Denim Boy opens the door to his pad and gives me a hug. He had gotten a hair cut since we had last seen each other, his curly black hair is now more rectangular in shape, but his light blue eyes had stayed just the same. He is delighted to see me carrying a brown bag with not one but two bottles of red wine to complement the penne pasta with vodka sauce he has prepared especially for the occasion.

After dinner, we sit on his black leather couch perusing though old issues of fashion magazines while Batman Returns blares on his television screen. Our favorite Batman movie, we concur. After the scene where Michelle Pfeiffer trashes her modest secretary apartment and turns it into a twisted Hello Kitty fetish bordello, I grab his attention and point out the new Louis Vuitton ad with a very naked Marc Jacobs decorated in bright neon pink lettering.

“You know I’m really good friends with his ex-boyfriend,” he says assuming I had no idea about Marc Jacobs’s personal love life.

“Jason Preston?!” I ask knowing every detail.

“Yeah, that’s who I stay with whenever I’m in New York.”

Real boys don’t associate with Marc Jacobs’s ex-boyfriends, I thought. So then I have to ask, “How do you know him?”

“Well, for a while… I was seeing this guy… who… you know… used to model for Diesel,” he says quite aware of how ridiculous that statement is on a first date. How ridiculous this whole conversation is in general.

I make a face to indicate to him my utter lack of words. Like there’s no way I’m going to compete with a Diesel model. But I’m partly just playing up to the ridiculous scenario. It doesn’t really get to me. What I do ponder is whether Denim Boy has any other secrets that propel him further out into the stratosphere, where fashion models, reality TV stars and lunatics reside.

So maybe he isn’t as ordinary and uncomplicated and real as I had hoped, but we’ve been having a great time and social circles don’t necessarily dictate the true nature underneath. Besides, if I ran away from every guy with connections to the glossy glossy lifestyle, I would be stuck somewhere between Nebraska and my own private Idaho, and I can’t even tell you where those states are on a map. My only concern now that I had learned of my predecessors is to… work it. Better than a model.

Which to me, at that time, drunk on red wine, means to start making out hard core on the couch to the very loud sounds of Danny Elfman.