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Shortly before I left New York, I told Norman about my plans to retire from this long spell of unintentional celibacy, and to, well, embrace everything that San Francisco has to offer.

“Oh God,” he said, “are you going to end up in the Bare Chest Calendar?”

As if being pictorially rewarded for your manly manliness was something to frown upon. Instead I did the next best thing, and went on a date with a Bare Chest Calendar model. We met at Cafe Flore, the default location of a million first dates.

“What do you do for a living?” I asked.

“I produce child pornography,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Just kidding.”

Inappropriate humor is a huge turn-on for me, so he’d just scored points. Later, when we discovered a mutual passion for Almodóvar films, he suggested that for our next date I bring my copy of Bad Education over to his place. Code for: let’s screw around on the couch. Which we did. I had occasion to wonder at some of the innate differences between gay and straight foreplay while watching the movie. At one point, Gael García Bernal, clad in nothing but a pair of skimpy running shorts, is doing push-ups on the living room floor, his hips dipping and rocking to the salsa music coming from the television.

“Look at that chair,” my date said. I was sort of lying in front of him on the couch: totally his idea. He was lying behind me, with his arm wrapped around my chest.


“That chair.”

“What chair?”

“Behind him.”

I glanced at the screen. Indeed, behind Gael was some kind of wacky, multi-colored piece of furniture, as if Piet Mondrian had been let loose in Design Within Reach.

“Isn’t it fabulous?” my date said.

“Whatever, dude,” I said. “Go back to pinching my nipple.”

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