My Gaydar is Broken

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I thought Dave wanted to be my friend.

Fine by me. I’m friendly and stuff, and pretty much everyone I know locally already had plans or couldn’t come out. Dave, sitting at the bar to my left, introduced me to Leslie, a woman 25 years my senior, sitting to my right. Dave and Leslie are both 60-ish and know each other.

Leslie’s a widow and she owns the bar across the street from the one where we were sitting.

We had lively conversations about local economic development projects and future plans and how those were impacting residents and local business owners.

We had lively conversations with others nearby. A pretty blonde who thought a little too highly of herself named Marisa suggested Dave should date her mom. A pretty brunette named Becca tends bar at another nearby place and she remembered my name but I didn’t remember hers.

Dave asked questions about what I did professionally. I work in the corporate office of a large company just outside of town. And me and two partners have a start-up agency that’s finally getting a little traction.

I handed over a card.

He asked whether I’d be interested in attending Chamber of Commerce networking events.

Sure, I said.

He said he’d be in touch about it.

Cool, I said.

We moved across the street to Leslie’s bar. More drinks. More fun. More laughs.

Everything seemed normal.

My house is pretty close, and I got home around 1 a.m. For venturing out alone on a Friday, which I rarely do, I’d had fun.

Dave sent me a text the following week asking whether I wanted to go to a business-networking event downtown.

I didn’t have plans. My son was at his mom’s. I like talking about my new business and passing out cards. And I like beer. Of course I wanted to go.

There’s a scenic riverfront pedestrian walkway where I live closed to traffic, and I met Dave at one of the local businesses there which was hosting the Chamber event. I had a few beers. Met economic development officials. Met business owners. Talked, as people do, about how our businesses might be able to help each other.

Yet another local bar/restaurant—the one where Becca, the pretty brunette works—was celebrating its two-year anniversary with outdoor live music, and food and drink specials. It was just a short two-minute walk away.

Do I want to go?, Dave asked, because some of his friends were down there.

Of course I do. The alternative is going home to hang out alone. I always choose fun and people over that.

Pints of beer kept flowing. I met two very nice elderly married couples who have been friends with Dave for as long as I’ve been alive. One was celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary. We had alcohol-infused conversations about marriage, and everyone got to hear the Cliff’s Notes version of what I’ve come to believe about why my marriage failed, and why I think many marriages fail.

The patio environment was festive. The live music was excellent. The laughs were plenty. The drinks were delicious.

The two couples took off around 9 p.m. and I agreed to have one more drink inside the bar with Dave before going home because I had housework to do.

I chatted with a pretty 48-year-old named Renee who looked much younger than she was, but is nonetheless a little too old for me.

When my glass was empty, it was time to go. I shook hands with Dave, thanked him for inviting me to the Chamber event and introducing me to his friends, and said I’d see him next time.

Sending Mixed Signals

I didn’t know it at the time, but sending the text was a mistake.

I finished my work, and it was just before 10, and being at the bar with people was so much more fun than being home alone.

“Yo. Are you still at the bar?” I texted to Dave.

“Yes,” he wrote back.

“Cool. I’m coming back. My chores didn’t take as long as I thought. Bars are more fun than my empty house. Be back in 10 minutes or so. That woman I was talking to. Her name is Renee. You should go talk to her and her friend.”

I got back to the bar when I said I would. The ladies had left. Dave and I had another drink while he gauged my interest in the Thursday Night Football game on TV. Denver was playing Kansas City.

I told him I’m a pretty big football fan, but that it doesn’t rule my life as much as it did 10 years ago. That marriage and having a son had changed my priorities, particularly after my individual interests started negatively affecting my marriage.

He asked whether I’d like to go check out another bar. One I said I’d never been to even though I’d lived in town close to 10 years.

Sure. I like new places.

It was an old townie bar with an old townie bartender named Lester.

But the beer was cheap, the football game was on, and the Thursday night regulars were friendly.

It was about 11:30 p.m. the first time it happened.

Everyone was laughing and having a good time, and after I made a joke that earned a few laughs, Dave, sitting to my left, took his index finger and forcefully drug it down the length of my forearm. Like, from my elbow to my wrist.

I didn’t react, because funny things happen when people are drinking and I generally try to be cool.

But then, a few minutes later, Dave did it again.

He took his index finger, and drug it down my arm in a way that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than: “Surprise! I’m gay and trying to fuck you!”

Dave’s a nice guy. I like him. Being a dick didn’t feel like the right play. I calmly looked him in the eye with a look on my face that I thought clearly conveyed straightness, and said: “C’mon now, Dave.”

Not Come on, please do that again, big boy. More like Come the fuck on, dude. What have I done—EVER—to suggest that I’m either, A. gay, or B. want to have gay sex with you right now?

It was officially awkward. I sat there having a HOLY SHIT, I’ve been sitting with Keyser Soze this entire time moment, replaying the evening’s events in my head and realizing that Dave’s friends, the people he knew here in the townie bar, and Dave himself, probably thought we were on a date.

And that by texting him after I’d gotten home and coming back to hang out probably sent the most mixed of mixed signals, ever.

This isn’t the first time a gay man tried to sleep with me. But it was the first time I was completely blown away by how poorly I’d misjudged the situation.

I pride myself on my awareness and powers of observation. On my ability to communicate. And I feel strongly that my conversations about marriage, combined with my totally observable talks with the self-absorbed blonde, the name-remembering-savant bartender, and the eye-fucking 48-year-old conveyed an adequate amount of heterosexuality.

But, no.

Gay Dave was having none of it.

He did the weird finger rub down my arm a third time, and added his right shoe on top of my left shoe, and sort of pressing down and moving it back and forth as if I hadn’t already gotten the message.

I gave him another “Dave,” with a cut-that-shit-out-right-now,-please look.

I pointed to the clock: 11:53, and told him and townie bartender Lester it was time for me to go. I signed the bar tab. Thanked Dave again for the invitation, and went home, trying to figure out what I’d said or done over the course of two pretty long hangouts to give him the impression I was available for, or interested in, man love.

The following afternoon, he sent me a text apologizing for keeping me out late and being a negative influence on me, but not for the bizarre and unwelcome arm strokes and footsie maneuvers.

I didn’t know what to write back, so I never did.

And neither did he.

Seriously, I just thought Dave wanted to be my friend.

41 thoughts on “My Gaydar is Broken”

    1. Yeah. I was like, “Pretty cool of Dave to introduce me to all these local business people out of the goodness of his heart.”

      1. That’s a happy outlook. C’mon, you(we) can’t seriously start to second guess happy outlooks. It is what it is. Maybe he was just inviting you… but then your return was simply irresistable. You can’t dull your shine – you’ll just have to learn to live with it.

  1. Okay… I was having a fairly shitty day and you wrote this. THANK YOU! I’m sorry to laugh at your awkward moment, but we’ve all had them!

    Most men I know would say that all women are two drinks away from becoming a lesbian and that all lesbians are three drinks away from having sex with a man.

    Not sure if it is a gaydar issue or just a dude issue.

    I think that most of us that have put ourselves out there have had moments like these. It is far better than the alternative of being a wallflower that no one of either sex has any interest in.

    Be flattered, just as you would if a supermodel walked up and did the same thing.

    Enjoyed the hell out of this post! Thanks, again!

    1. I’m pleased to have been a tiny part of making your fairly shitty day slightly better.

      Rest assured I’m not as flattered as if a supermodel walked up and finger-stroked my arm. But I’m not offended by any of it either.

      Just, confused. I always want to know why.

      Maybe I’ll call Dave to go out for drinks so I can ask him about it.

      (Shakes head no.)

  2. You must have been all lively and happy and just plain attractive to him. I remember that one time I was at a party, having good conversation with no kind of sexual content whatsoever, no way could we be doing anything but talking. Later that guy told a mutual friend that I was coming onto him – just because I talked to him like I would do to anyone who conversed back. His guages were very different from mine.

    1. Yeah. Certainly this isn’t the first documented instance of human beings miscommunicating.

      We get lots of stuff wrong.

  3. …ugh….. I HATE living in the anticipation of ultra-awkward experiences. Whenever we watch “Back to the Future” and Marty starts playing at the prom, I have to literally get up and walk away … AWKWARD!!!! That’s how I felt reading this post…I knew it was coming. I’d read a few lines, then look down and take a couple of breaths,…read another paragraph, look down and stir my salad while murmuring and teetering a little… It wouldn’t have happened that way if you were a sub-par writer.

    I have quite a bit of knowledge on the subject so may I remind you that sexuality is on a spectrum and I have come across lots of guys who identify as “straight” but still enjoy the dude-on-dude stuff on the side….which makes me think that even if Dave knew you were not gay, it might still have been worth it (for him) to see if you were open in other areas (forgive the unintentional pun there). I s’pose those above a right. It’s a compliment.

    1. I suppose it is a compliment. I’m not offended by any of it, and I’m not particularly bothered by it, minus the part where he reached out to apologize, but for the wrong thing.

      I’d have probably even agreed to hang out with him again, had he apologized and promised not to do it again.

      More importantly, what is your problem with Marty McFly playing guitar?

      And let’s get one thing straight right now, missy. It’s the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. Not the prom.

      But I don’t understand why Marty’s playing is as awkward as being finger-rubbed by Dave.

        1. Like I said. I pride myself on my general awareness, powers of observation, and attention to detail.

          (When I care.)

          The rest of the time I just blame ADHD.

    1. He texted me to come out for drinks this past Saturday and I didn’t write back because, honestly, I just have no idea what to say at this point.

      A couple of my friends have taken to texting me an emoji string that’s supposed to depict a finger stroking an arm. Makes us laugh.

      Such as: index finger #1 emoji + arm showing bicep muscle emoji = heart emoji

      We’re like children.

    1. Live and learn, indeed.

      I’m glad you got a laugh out of it, Jenny. And I hope you’re well. Nice to hear from you.

  4. Hahaha I can relate to having a broken gaydar. I didn’t know one of my closest friend is gay up until he came out to me last year, and looking back I realised he’s been hinting for a while that he was -_-

    1. I have no idea why I couldn’t tell, but I suppose I’m glad to be that way. I don’t really like judging or defining people by things like that, and maybe my malfunctioning gaydar allows me to better treat everyone equally.

  5. I admit that I have no gaydar, of course it usually comes up with men I find attractive not finding me attractive in that way. Sorry this happened to you; I get making that friend connection and how it becoming awkward is a loss in a way. Hopefully time will heal all perceived wounds and slights.

    1. It did get weird. I’m sure I’ll pump into the guy again someday, and I’ll be kind and polite when I do.

      Thank you for taking a minute to chime in. Hope you’re having a great day.

        1. That’s entirely too hilarious to edit.

          I assure you, it wasn’t Freudian. Just not enough coffee.

          HA. Good God.

          Thank you for making me laugh.

    1. Seems judgy and cliche’ to agree, but I do. It does somehow seem different.

      I hope you’re having a great day, lady. Always nice to hear from you.

  6. Ha! That was quite charming to read. You handled it with much grace. I’m sorry that your friend turned out to want more. Welcome to the world of women, right? Although most of do quite enjoy getting hit on, sometimes you do just want a friend, rather than an awkward moment..

    If it’s any consolation, my gaydar has been so broken for long, I am the stuff of jokes.

    1. You know, I thought a lot about that. How so many women I’ve talked to over the years have had to deal with men touching them in ways they didn’t like or want.

      For the most part, men don’t deal with that. Even if we ARE touched in an uninvited way, we don’t usually feel violated if it’s from the gender we are sexually attracted to.

      This just happened to not be one of those instances.

    1. Are you saying the forearm finger-stroke isn’t sexy!?!? I was totally going to add that to my repertoire.

      (*shakes head no*)

  7. I am sorry, I laughed through the entire thing. Awkward? Yes I suppose it is. But you know, I have to say Dave might could become a friend once you establish boundaries. I don’t know, just say ‘hey, not into man love there buddy but thanks for the offer’.

    Gaydar? Not a real thing. Most of us have had similar experiences in our singledom. It happens.

    1. No apologies, needed. I was intentionally having fun with an otherwise-bizarre life moment.

      Dave’s really not a bad guy. I just need to get over the weird arm thing. He’s local and there are only so 10 or so viable neighborhood hangouts, so the odds of running into him are reasonably high.

      Hope all’s well in your world. Nice to hear from you.

  8. I have similar malfunctioning “gaydar” but I’ve never been hit on that hard by the same sex. An awkward thing that happened to me a while back was being in the restroom at a stand up stall and a guy stands right next to me and talks while deliberately looking down at my reproductive weapon of destruction. It was weird to say the least. :/

    1. Vince.

      You just called it a “reproductive weapon of destruction.”


      Awesome to hear from you.

      So, it’s been–what?

      A little over a year for you now? Going on 18 months? Do I have that correct? How are you doing? How are your kids? How’s the relationship progressing with their mother?

      1. Yes it has been 18 months actually. Life is good and I do believe it’s getting better. The kids are doing great and my relationship with their mother is..well we are excellent at coparenting and there has never been any disrespect or harsh words said but then again that was never an issue. I started dating again but just keeping things casual. I’ve never been one to rush into things and won’t now BUT you know it’s nice to be looked at that way again, met with a smile and a kiss from someone who really thinks you’re good stuff. I missed that for such a long time. Thanks for asking and I trust all is well with you.

        1. That’s very good to read, Vince. All of that. Exactly the same here.

          It’s pleasantly surprising how strong and resilient we ultimately prove to be.

  9. Somehow this made me laugh so hard. Seriously. That probably makes me a horrible person.

    Probably because I’ve read this blog for a while, and second of all because you are always like “Seriously, most of the time women are contacting me through here”… at least in a nutshell. As a woman, I can laugh at that. And I laughed even harder at this.

    Sorry Matt – you should have gone with the 40-something. That would have sent the message and she sounded nice. 😀

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