Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney -- these exciting cities are standard fare in the life of flight attendant Todd Eisenbraun, and he chases a romance with sexy-but-straight Josh through them all.
Closer to home, a new neighbor in his San Francisco apartment building has a huge crush on Todd. His friends -- Katie, a flight attendant-turned-small appliance repairwoman, and Marzipan Q. Thespian, a man-dangling local philanthropist -- think Todd should at least give Chris a shot. Sure, he’s overweight, but he’s also handsome, a hilarious playwright, and a great cook ... what’s not to love?
Todd and Chris become quick friends, but Todd’s idea of the perfect man is skinny and straight, and Chris is decidedly neither. Josh may have a fiancée and a teenaged son, but Todd just knows he’s “the One.”
But if Josh is straight, the road to love is not; Todd is jostled by internalized homophobia, body image issues, exotic locales, the glamorous world of sewing machine repair, and a community theater musical salute to the life of Judy Garland before he arrives at the realization that he’s been looking way too hard for something he may have already found.
"So," I said, not beating around any bushes, "tell me about this new guy."
"Oh, he's wonderful!" she gushed. "He came into the café the other day, and we got to talking. He's an incredible sweetheart, and I think he's got some talent. So I offered him a job," she told me, "I want for you to meet him. I think you and he just might hit it off, Todd."
"Katie mentioned that you might have something like that up your sleeve," I told her. She flashed the briefest cross expression at Katie for spoiling her big idea. "You've never had a man behind the counter that I wouldn't willingly marry," I went on, "and you know my taste, so I am sure I would be delighted to meet him."
"Oh, Chris won't be counter help," she said. "He's my new chef, and I have only the highest hopes."
And he's a chef. This keeps sounding better. "But whatever happened to your motto?"
Marzipan flashed another look at Katie, this one slightly guilty. "Which motto is that, darling?"
"'Never trust a skinny chef,'" I reminded her.
"Todd, those are words to live by. Chris is no one's vision of skinny. In fact, he's rather ... abundant." It took her a second to land on the exactly right euphemism, I couldn't help but notice.
"Abundant." She sipped her tea, not meeting my eye.
"You mean he's fat?"
"I mean he's positively a treasure, and the more of him, the better," she said, without contradicting me.
"But I'm into skinny guys," I pointed out.
Groans from both Marzipan and Katie. "Todd," Katie insisted on reminding me, "You're into unattainable guys. You're into torturing yourself over straight guys and men who live three continents away."
It is a particularly prickly thorn in the side of many of my friends, including these two, that I spend much of my free time whining about being single, and yet I seem unable to break free of a counterproductive and irresistible attraction to straight men. I mean, I've been out of the closet for years, to all of my friends and my conservative small-town family, and I live in the city known throughout the world as the Center of the Gay Universe. I am more confident in my looks and comfortable in my skin than I was when I was a hunky twenty-two-year old new hire -- in an industry, no less, where to even get close to a straight guy, I have to push three or four hot gay guys out of my way. And yet, surrounded by eligible gay men, I throw myself again and again at guys who invariably have to sit me down and explain how they're flattered, but ...
Ignoring Bobby Dutta's taunts of internalized homophobia and Katie's diagnosis of a Fear of Intimacy, I prefer to think I just like a challenge. After all, if a man's worth loving, he must be worth some psychic torment, mustn't he?
Marzipan arched an expertly-plucked eyebrow at me. "Do you suppose," she asked, "you might be able to overlook something like your waist size preference if the otherwise-perfect man came along? I think you might really like this guy, Todd. He struck me. He's handsome, sweet, funny, he's an excellent cook."
"And," Katie chimed in, "unlike the last fifty guys you've chased around the world, he's gay."
Okay, she did have a point there. The idea of a lean, muscled straight guy renouncing women because he can no longer ignore his smoldering love for me has been my requisite for "Happily Ever After" since I set out after my first straight guy in high school. Traveling the world for a living, I have certainly had my share of one-night stands with straight (and "straight-acting") guys, a couple of which were fantastically hot. And, at 34, I am decidedly still single. A guy could do a lot worse than the men who usually surround Marzipan.
"You don't have to become life partners just because I want to introduce you," Marzipan continued, after I had gone several beats without responding. "I just thought maybe you'd like to sample a new dish from the man buffet that is your life. You can always go back for something else if it doesn't satisfy."
A dyed-in-the-wool monogamist, Katie burst out laughing at this description of my dating style. "And it sounds like this Chris guy might be all you can eat!" she cracked, getting into the spirit.