I believe I’ve been uncommonly lucky, considering decades of friends and weddings, to have been a bridesmaid only twice. Both of those were for the same bride, different grooms, nine years apart. So that means only two bad bridesmaid dresses in my many celebrations of my thirty-fifth birthday–and since I’ve had two weddings of my own, my ratio is good.
In David Puterbaugh’s story in the forthcoming Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Peter and Natalie have gone to Provincetown to be in their best friends’ wedding. Natalie has made an exception to her “never again a bridesmaid” rule for Brian and Jason. To Peter, the couple is the perfect contrast to the bad relationship stories he and Natalie have collected over the years. The two aren’t sure there’s any hope for their own happily-ever-afters, and Natalie suggests they start an advice blog called “How to Be Single at a Wedding.”
While they brainstorm in the hours ahead of the ceremony, Peter begins reflecting on his romantic failures.
“Check your past at the door,” Natalie said now, typing at an impressive speed given how much champagne she’d drunk. “No one will want to slow dance with you to a Michael Bublé song if the ghost of your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend keeps cutting in.”
Since coming out at age twenty-five, Peter had had three boyfriends: Joseph, a waiter at a steakhouse; Tom, a freelance graphic artist with a studio loft; and Michael, a travel agent. All three relationships ended badly. Joseph had wanted an open relationship; Tom had wanted to be with someone more “artistic”; and Michael had just wanted to get high. Though Peter didn’t hate any of them, he’d seen them all naked, and couldn’t stop seeing them in his mind, sleeping in his bed beside him. I don’t understand how some people can stay friends after breaking up, he thought. When it’s over, it’s over.
Six months ago he’d met a man online named Matthew. Matt was a forty-five-year-old special education teacher with a great sense of humor, a cute cocker spaniel named Chloe, and an impressive cookbook collection. Matthew was crazy about Peter, and Peter told himself he was crazy. This was everything he wanted, wasn’t it? Everything and more?
Matthew is a lovely man. A lovely man I don’t love.
Last weekend he’d tried to send Matthew a message, to tell him again how sorry he was. But Matt had already unfriended him on Facebook. When it’s over, it’s over.
Is there a time when we should stop believing finding love is possible? Read more in Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, on sale January 14, 2014.
Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cleis Press. All rights reserved.